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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled A solid iRaw/i is capped off by a thrilling, emotional third hour
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Because The A.V. Club knows that TV shows keep going even if we’re not writing at length about them, we’re experimenting with discussion posts. For certain shows, one of our TV writers will publish some brief thoughts about the latest episode, and open the comments for readers to share theirs.

  • Yes, Raw reviews have now gone the way of the Discussion Post. We hope you’ll find them just as engaging, insightful, or anger-inducing!
  • Raw makes a great choice by starting out with the two people every single crowd loves to boo: Stephanie McMahon and Roman Reigns.
  • That said, I enjoy angry, to-the-point Roman. That handicap match felt exceedingly pointless though; just another instance of Roman “up against the odds.”
  • I really don’t understand Steph’s motivation for punishment. What does her putting Roman in a handicap match achieve in terms of storytelling? A whole lot of nothing.
  • Every single New Day-Bo Dallas segment is reliable. Here, Bo rips up the New Day’s blueprints for their new ice cream after executing a little New Day dance. Perfection.
  • A small moment, but I love Jack Gallagher telling Neville to “calm down.”
  • So, that was Emmalina. Now we wait for Emma, I guess?
  • Braun Strowman picking up Mark Henry was really all I wanted from that confrontation.
  • Cesaro beating Enzo with a pop-up uppercut is exactly how you book that match.
  • Rusev vs. Sami Zayn is the Reliable Raw Match Of The Week. Solid work from both, and that promo from Zayn afterwards, followed by a Samoa Joe beatdown, sets up a feud that I think more than a few of us can get behind.
  • The Cruiserweights wrestled some matches and Tozawa was cool and that’s about it.
  • Samoa Joe is kind of good at this whole pro wrestling thing, huh? That interview was intense, and Joe, with his physical capabilities already proven, really feels poised to destroy everyone on Raw. That’s the kind of shakeup this show needs, and hopefully WWE continues to use Samoa Joe in this way.
  • An Ode to Friendship, Betrayal, and JeriKO: This isn’t going to be easy to write. As of today, February 13, 2017, JeriKO is no more. What started out as a Festival of Friendship, and an appropriately jubilant one at that, turned into a nightmare. Kevin Owens turned on his best friend and fellow Canadian Chris Jericho, and hearts around the world broke. I’m not sure I can even describe what this segment does so perfectly, but I’ll give it a shot. Jericho and Owens share a special chemistry—Jericho even acknowledges it in a touching ode to Owens before uttering “I love you.” They’re two guys who really understand the art of mic work, of manipulating a crowd and making them buy in to just about anything. They’ve carried and been a highlight of a stagnant Raw for months, and Owens has shined in a spot that was thrust upon him after Finn Balor went down with an injury. Those circumstance sometimes breed magic, and such is the case with Jericho and Owens. This was lighting in a bottle, a friendship that the audience could get behind, and cheer for or against depending on the circumstances; that’s how good Owens and Jericho have been. Tonight’s Festival Of Friendship embodies everything that made their run as Best Friends work. It was genuine—Jericho’s words to KO, thanking him for making this current run one of his favorite WWE runs of all time, sure feels genuine—absurd (Gillberg, anyone?), and always engaging. The two turned goofy ideas like lists and shark cages into real tools of storytelling, using them to get heat and pops when needed. The Festival Of Friendship is the payoff, and it’s so wonderfully constructed. It’s at once an emotional ode to male friendship and vulnerability, and a tragedy about betrayal. The “I love you” is real, but so is the beatdown courtesy of KO. This is how you tell a story of two friends falling out. The beats aren’t predictable; few of us saw this coming at this moment, and that allows Owens to gain some truly massive heat. From the “Creation of Adam”-inspired painting and the callback to Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels, to the slow reveal of The List Of KO, this segment is a masterclass in emotional storytelling. We’ll miss you, JeriKO, but we’re damn excited to see what happens from here on out.
  • An Ode To Hope: After the destruction of a friendship, it’s only appropriate that we shift to a tale of hope, determination, and dreams coming true. Raw’s third hour delivered in spades, and the main event was the final act. A stirring, hard-hitting, beautifully told story about one woman finally achieving her childhood dream. Sure, this moment, where Bayley raises that title above her head, could have waited for Wrestlemania. And yes, it’s getting tiring seeing Charlotte only lose on Raw. But there’s no denying that this match delivered in every way possible. Bayley and Charlotte killed each other in that ring, and the run-ins, usually detrimental to momentum, worked to enhance the story. Go back and listen to that crowd. It’s an electric atmosphere, yet another statement that these women should be main eventing more often. Plus, Bayley, the eternal optimist and ultimate underdog, comes out on top. Hope and perseverance wins, at least for today.

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