April 2 2018
We’re in Atlanta, Georgia. Hosts are the usual guys.
This is the go home show for WrestleMania. I’ve been checking out RAW in the lead up to ‘Mania and it’s hardly been a thrill ride. The card was set some time ago and anything they’ve done since has been killing time.
Promo Time: Triple H & Stephanie McMahon vs. Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey
They have a sit down chat where Triple H disparages Kurt for his lack of intelligence and Steph gets into it with Ronda verbally. Steph’s dig about Ronda not being able to handle losses. Ronda’s response is to ask whether Steph is left or right handed, so she knows which one to break at WrestleMania. The segment ends with Steph putting Ronda through a table after Triple H blindsides Kurt. I guess they have to create the illusion that Steph can beat Ronda, however unlikely that is.
Bayley vs. Sonja Deville
This is a nothing match, designed to remind everyone that Bayley can actually win pro wrestling matches when Sasha Banks isn’t around. It’s tidy enough although I worry about Absolution as a unit and Sonja is the one who’s suffering by association. Bayley wins with a roll up before Mandy jumps her and Sasha Banks makes the save.
Sasha then acts like a dick about it, trying to steal Bayley’s glory so Bayley kicks her ass. They’ve done a nice natural slow burn on them feuding. Because they’re obsessed with each other Absolution get to beat them both down. Good stuff.
Final Rating: **
Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
This was needed to set up an issue between Rollins and Balor so they don’t just double team Miz all match on Sunday. Balor laid out Seth last week so that’s put a little tension between them. This is a really well executed match with awesome near falls from the most rudimentary of spots like roll ups. The kick outs are really well timed and Miz is on commentary loving every minute because it’s his two opponents beating each other up. My favourite spot of the match is Rollins calling back to the Barricade bomb that broke Finn’s shoulder in their Universal title match only for Balor to counter it in an act of desperation. They wrestle at breakneck pace before Rollins hits the Curb Stomp for the win. Blinding stuff and a demonstration of what their Universal title match could have been like if Finn hadn’t got injured. I was very generous with that Universal match, taking the injury into consideration. I probably shouldn’t have. This was better.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Promo Time: The Bar
They talk about Braun’s lack of preparation for a tag match as they’re up against a real team. Braun turns up to say it’s true that he doesn’t play well with others. Braun introduces his partner for Sunday; “Brains Strowman”. Which is just Braun with glasses on. If they change the music to “Braaaaaains” Braun can have a zombie gimmick.
“The resemblance is striking” deadpans Corey. When he takes the glasses off; “Oh my God, it’s Braun Strowman”. Well played, sir, well played. Anyway, Braun throws the champs around and we still don’t know who his partner is. Unless he rolls under the ring and turns into Brains every once in a while.
Matt Hardy vs. Goldust
What year is this? I feel like we flashed back to 1999’s midcard here. Only Matt has different hair. They throw in some nice spots showing recognition of each other’s moves. The counter from Goldust’s sit down punch is a nice touch. Matt wins with Twist of Fate and gets obsessed with the Andre the Giant trophy.
“Procure! Procure! Procure!”
Final Rating: *1/2
Promo Time: John Cena
Big Promo John is out here to call out the Undertaker. But they’re out of time and silence means no. Cena getting the crowd all fired up is nice, but I really don’t want to see the Cena-Taker match. “You left your hat in the ring….but you left your balls at home”. Holy shit the crowd actually chant Cena’s name! Will they do this match? I would have thought so as they’ve hyped it for a month but should they? God no.
Video Control takes us backstage where the Big Dawg gets ticked off by Kurt Angle. He doesn’t want Roman to fight Brock Lesnar tonight and endanger their ‘Mania match after Kurt lost Cena-Taker.
Elias vs. Heath Slater
Elias spends longer taunting Atlanta than they wrestle for.
The match is about a minute long and Drift Away finishes.
Final Rating: Squash
Video Control gives us a sit down interview with Nia Jax ahead of her title shot at WrestleMania. It’s a nice little video package where Nia talks about respect and being yourself. It’s almost an anti-bullying PSA and I’m fine with that.
I like that it’s an emotionally tinged promo, coming from down deep.
Asuka & Dana Brooke vs. Alexa Bliss & Mickie James
Why is Asuka still on RAW? I guess she is until WrestleMania where she challenges for the Smackdown belt. They run a bunch of heat on Dana. She’s not a sympathetic character and it drags. Asuka’s hot tag is very heated though and Mickie does a great job of taking a bunch of her best stuff in rapid succession. Much like Mickie had a sensational match with Asuka in NXT to get this gig.
Mickie taps to the Asukalock. The heels clean the faces out but Nia runs in for the save to remind everyone what the ‘Mania match is. Mickie again has to take the beating as she’s not in a big match and her bumps look incredible. Whatever they’re paying Mickie it’s not enough. She’s a star maker.
Final Rating: **
Promo Time: Paul Heyman
This is the ‘main event’ slot. Heyman promises Brock will beat Roman with the F5 at ‘Mania. “Spoiler”.
Heyman also promises if Brock loses you’ll never see Brock and Heyman on RAW every again. It makes me wonder what Lesnar’s contract situation is, as I figure he’s looking pretty tired at this point. The Big Dawg turns up and strikes quickly enough to lay Brock out. It’s like Steph earlier, you create the illusion that Reigns can beat Lesnar. Only this is completely different as Reigns is likely to beat Lesnar come Sunday…to another chorus of boos. Roman spends too long celebrating and gets hit with the F5. “The F5 puts him down” yells Heyman, still in Brock’s ear after all these years.
This was a decent go-home show for ‘Mania. They covered their bases and showcased what RAW was bringing to Mania weekend. The focus has been heavily on Roman/Lesnar and Ronda Rousey with the underlying Cena-Taker thing going on. I have been WrestleMania ready for some considerable time. I really don’t need the extra hype. Mania week starts here though! I’ll be here all fucking week bashing out reviews until the middle of next week sometime. Get ready for the biggest weekend of the year.