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.
- Results: Kevin Owens defeated Sami Zayn; Neville defeated Rich Swann (Cruiserweight Championship match); The Club defeated Enzo and Cass via DQ (Raw Tag Team Championship match); Akira Tozawa defeated Ariya Daivari; New Day defeated the Shining Stars; Sasha Banks defeated Bayley (Wrestlemania match for the Raw Women’s Championship will now be a Triple Threat); Samoa Joe defeated Chris Jericho via countout.
- Disclaimer: This was a decent enough Raw with some pretty solid segments, but I’m also still grumpy about last night’s Fastlane.
- The opening segment tonight is hot. Both Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho continue to tell their story perfectly. It’s such a shame that the Universal Championship is no longer attached to this feud. You can feel the disappointment in the crowd too, evident in their muted reaction to Owens upping the ante for their Wrestlemania match by challenging Y2J for his United States Championship. More on this below when I talk, unfortunately, about Goldberg vs. Lesnar.
- Y2J trading Kevin Owens for Sami Zayn is such delightful shade.
- On that note, it’s ridiculous that Raw feels it’s okay to roll out Zayn vs. Owens for any old episode. Don’t get me wrong, Owens going insane and destroying Zayn is a great progression of character, but that could have been anybody on the receiving end. This is part of a larger, worrisome trend of WWE pulling the trigger too soon, or too often, on some of its potentially massive future feuds. See: Bayley winning the Women’s before Wrestlemania.
- I am very here for the Aries-Neville segment, even if I remain lukewarm on Aries in general.
- Between their match stealing the show at Fastlane, Swann and Neville really pulling out all the stops tonight, and the impending Aries angle, the Cruiserweight division is really starting to find its footing and, dare I say, a fair amount of momentum.
- Raw really did get off to a hot start tonight, shedding most of the malaise that had settled in after Fastlane. Then, came Goldberg…
- So, Goldberg is here, and he’s now the Universal Champion. He comes out and recites an empty line about the title belonging to the WWE Universe before he’s interrupted by a CM-Punk-chant-suppressing Paul Heyman, followed by a defiant, angry Brock Lesnar. The two share a staredown, Heyman refers to Goldberg as Lesnar’s “bitch,” and the champ takes an F5. It’s all pretty good, even if Goldberg is sweaty as hell after a single bump; at least Lesnar looks motivated. But here’s the thing: why is the Universal Championship any part of this? In fact, that title was hardly mentioned during the segment. It’s not a motivation for these guys. These two are motivated purely by hatred for one another. They simply want to prove who’s the biggest part-time monster, and that’s it. The Universal Championship adds nothing to their feud and their impending Wrestlemania match, which makes the Fastlane outcome all the more infuriating. Jericho and Owens should have been fighting for that title at Wrestlemania after singlehandedly saving Raw after a potentially disastrous injury to Balor, and carrying the show for months on end. It’s beyond reprehensible that the Universal strap is now slung over the aging shoulder of Goldberg, and that he’ll face Lesnar for it at Wrestlemania. This is 2017 and the Raw roster is stacked with talent, and yet here are two part-timers vying for what’s supposed to be the show’s prestigious title.
- Speaking of messy title pictures, what exactly is going on with the tag division? The Club continues to look like a bunch of incompetent goofs, and Enzo and Cass have no momentum whatsoever. At least Cesaro and Sheamus look like a real, unified, dangerous team, though their story is severely undercooked as well.
- Similarly, Charlotte is really the only person holding the Women’s division together right now. Tonight Bayley barely stumbles through a promo, and that’s followed up by Sasha going up against Bayley in the hopes of inserting herself into the Wrestlemania match for the Women’s title (cue “Sasha Banks has pinned the Raw Women’s Champion!”). The Triple Threat is absolutely the way to go, but the story being told has been lacking to say the least. Bayley is a shell of her former self, all her charisma and likability, built into her underdog person, gone at this point. And the history between Charlotte and Sasha hasn’t exactly been a focus as of late, meaning that this whole thing feels convoluted and rushed. That said, Charlotte continues to do tremendous work.
- I have very little to say about the Seth Rollins-Triple H business from tonight, other than to say that I have no idea what that bracelet was that Triple H was wearing during his “satellite” promo.
- That takes us to Raw’s final segment, and it’s a doozy. Braun is here to call out Roman for getting lucky, only to be confronted by The Undertaker!! The Chicago crowd chants “HOLY SHIT” because it’s deserved, as the two men staring each other down is admittedly quite the image. Things get confusing when Braun backs out of the ring, but then everything snaps into place. Roman’s music hits. He’s here to let The Undertaker know that this is “my yard now.” Unfortunately for him, that leads to a chokeslam from Taker. It’s an electric segment, a good use of Taker in his old age and, more than anything, it represents a chance to finally get Roman Reigns back on track. I’m not saying a full-on heel turn is on the horizon, but this feud is looking like exactly what he needs after months of directionless, meaningless wins.