You better believe there’ll be sign pointing.
The Road to WrestleMania can be scenic and exhilarating. However, tonight’s show was more of a bathroom break. Storyline progression mostly grinded to a halt as WWE looked to fill in the space between now and Super ShowDown. Let’s take a look at what was watchable from the February 17 edition of RAW.
Aleister Black def. Erick Rowan
Riddick Moss def. Mojo Rawley for the 24/7 title
Drew McIntyre def. MVP
Angel Garza and Bobby Lashley def. Rusev and Humberto Carrillo
Kairi Sane def. Natalya
Ricochet def. Karl Anderson
KO and the Viking Raiders def. AOP and Murphy by DQ
Randy Orton promo
Watch. RAW kicks off with “Voices” and The Viper making his way to the ring. Orton tells the fans that Matt Hardy won’t be cleared to fight him tonight. In accordance to wrestling, this means Hardy has to come out and confront him, which he of course does.
Matt comes out sporting a neck brace, a reminder of last week’s devastation at the hands of Orton. After the threat of an RKO and an apology for his attack on Edge, Randy leaves the ring and starts walking to the back, leaving a vulnerable Matt standing in the middle of the ring.
This, of course, is not the end. Randy turns around and heads back towards the ring while a steal chair brandishing Hardy shouts at Orton to “finish him.” Orton, of course does this, dodging the chair shot and eventually RKOing Hardy and beating him down in the center of the ring. Randy struggles over the decision to hit Hardy with the Con-Chair-to, but eventually settles for another option. Orton lays Matt’s face on the steel ring steps and brutalizes him with a pair of chair shots.
It must be said. The Everett, Washington crowd was garbage throughout this whole segment. They couldn’t decide whether to boo Orton’s attack, even chanting for more destruction on Matt Hardy. It just shows how badly WWE have handled the once beloved superstar. Get out of there Matt and let your creativity shine elsewhere.
Aleister Black vs Erick Rowan
Watch. After weeks of these two being involved in squash matches, the decision to put the two together was an interesting choice, but a good one as the pair showed off some decent chemistry together. This was a short, but intensely physical match. It was Black who picked up the win, catching Rowan with the Black Mass. However, a single boot wasn’t enough to put the giant down. Black hits Rowan again to end the match. Aleister Black’s push continues, and while Rowan looked good in defeat, it’s weird to see a guy go from squashes to losing his first apparent feud. This is probably a sign that creative doesn’t have anything for him and can’t figure out what the hell to put in that damn cage.
Charlotte Flair promo
Watch. Flair comes out to show the Everett crowd her handiwork last night at NXT TakeOver: Portland. After the video package, Flair absolutely kills the promo. She champions her time on NXT as the reason it is now seen as the third brand rather than developmental and says she will humble Ripley at ‘Mania. Flair finishes the segment saying “everybody is the next big thing, until they are not.” This may have been the best mic work I’ve seen from Flair and it did everything to help the build towards this star-making match.
Riddick Moss vs Mojo Rawley vs R-truth for the 24/7 title
Skip. In theory, I like that WWE is making the 24/7 championship a part of the show, but this was mediocre at best. Just as Rawley is about to pin Truth for the title, Moss scoops him for the roll up win and quickly flees the ring. On to the next segment.
Drew McIntyre vs MVP
Skip. Drew comes out and does a little promo, gets the fans to point at the WrestleMania sign, but is eventually interrupted by his WrestleMania opponent’s advocate Paul Heyman. Heyman is there to tease his client’s appearance which never comes. Instead, he verbally spars with Drew before introducing “The Scottish Psychopath”’s fodder for the night in MVP. Mr. 305 explodes out the gate with a quick attack, completely shifting McIntyre’s demeanor. The Royal Rumble winner hits MVP with the Claymore for the quick win. I liked how Drew was able to turn a switch from his affable, comedian self and straight to badass Drew, but WWE has to be careful. The comedy is nice, but if they keep over doing it, they’ll make McIntyre a joke as well. He needs to keep his killer edge to make his (hopeful) win over Brock all the more impactful.
Becky Lynch promo
50/50 booking. The 99.9% of Becky Lynch remaining after Shayna Baszler sunk her teeth into her comes to the ring and just drops a bag full of bills on the mat. Lynch says the cash is a down payment on the fine she’ll receive once she gets her hands on Baszler. After a bit more rambling, Baszler appears on the TitanTron and says everything is lining up for her to challenge Lynch at WrestleMania 36. First she’ll will win the Women’s Elimination Chamber match, and after she does, she will “tear the living shit out of Becky” at ‘Mania. Spicy language aside, this was a decent segment despite Lynch’s schtick starting to wear a little thin.
Rusev and Humberto Carrillo vs Angel Garza and Bobby Lashley
Watch. The premise behind this match was stupid. The mixing of these two feuds was unnecessary. However, this was a fun TV match. Carrillo impressed early with some luchador style arm drags, but it was Garza who stole the show. After hitting Carrillo with the dropkick, he rips off his tights, tosses them at Rusev, and receives a kiss from a “random fan” in the front row. Rick Rude would be so proud.
The action really started to pick up outside the ring. Carrillo hit Garza with the top rope Tope Suicida, only to immediately get speared by Lashley. Rusev then went to the outside and began battering Lashley before turning his attention to Garza inside the ring. However, before Rusev could lock in The Accolade, he is distracted by Lashley which allows Garza to get the roll up win. As long as WWE keeps building Garza I will remain happy.
Natalya vs Kairi Sane
Skip. Can anyone name another Women’s tag team on RAW?
The story of this match is a pissed off Natalya who received a shiner two weeks ago courtesy of the foot of Asuka getting revenge. Since this is wrestling, the only recourse is to obviously challenge her tag team partner to a match.
Shoddy booking aside, this was an ok match. The finish comes as Natalya is spilled to the outside. With the ref distracted, Asuka kicks Natalya in the face again which gives Kairi the count out win.
As an unabashed fan of Asuka and Kairi, it’s a little disconcerting to see how poorly the pair have been booked, especially after all the work WWE just put in to rebuild Asuka. Unfortunately, a feud with Natalya is where momentum goes to die. Let’s just see if WWE can prove me wrong on this one.
Seth Rollins Sermon
Skip. Embracing full on deluded heel Seth Rollins was the smartest decision RAW has had in a while. He was always going to get booed so may as well make it work for the weekly programing.
Seth begins to deliver his sermon. Much like the teachings of Jesus, Rollins states his goal is to eradicate the weak and non-compliant on the RAW roster (wait a minute). Before Seth finishes his sermon, The Viking Raiders come in and clear the ring of Rollin’s Apostles. A pissed off Rollins makes his way up the ramp, where he’s ambushed by Kevin Owens and Stunnered. While the sermon was mostly used to set up a match later in the night, the shift in doctrine from disingenuous to ominous was a nice step forward for the “Monday Night Messiah.”
AJ Styles and OC promo
Skip. Imagine a world where AJ Styles is uncompelling, because we’re living in it. After rattling off a list of names of who he could beat for the Universal Title, out comes Ricochet for a fight. Of course, we don’t get that. Instead it’s Karl Anderson who steps in for his OC leader.
Ricochet vs Karl Anderson
Skip. The match would have been more watchable had half of it not been taken up by the commercial break. Ricochet picks up the win with a GTS/Pele kick hybrid. Thanks for the reminder that WWE Super ShowDown is coming I guess.
Kevin Owens and the Viking Raiders vs AOP and Murphy
Watch. The main event was mostly a re-hashing of the multi-man tag team matches these men have been having over the last few weeks. The entire first half of a match was a build up for an Owens hot-tag, but once it was received, RAW inexplicably went straight to a small screen commercial break.
Once the show returned, the faces eventually took control with The Viking Raiders dominating The AOP. Eventually Kevin Owens is in line for the pinfall win, but Rollins runs in and interferes for the DQ. A heel beatdown ensues, but who will come in for the inevitable save?
It’s The Street Profits. Rollins does the usual chicken-shit heel tactic of running to the top of the ramp where he witnesses his Disciples get hit with twin top rope splashes from Montez Ford and Ivar. A livid Rollins yells at his men to crawl back to him while the babyfaces stand tall in the middle of the ring to end the show. The ending was a highpoint in a very weak second half of the show. The seeds were sewn for resentment inside the RAW locker room towards Seth’s diatribe, as well as a reason for his disciples to abandon him in the future. Despite the match structure being a little stagnant, they have done a good job advancing this storyline as one of the more compelling segments on Monday Night RAW.