We have arrived at the go-home episode of Raw for the Royal Rumble and I have enjoyed much of the build for the Rumble. Raw has done a good enough job in showing who could possibly win the Rumble from the red brand. Meanwhile, Seth Rollins has truly shined as a heel and I am loving this version of Seth. The Asuka/Becky feud has been building nicely and tonight we get a ladder match between Rey and Andrade. So, let us see how Raw did in the show before the Royal Rumble.
Monday Night Messiah In-Ring
As I said in the intro, I love Seth in this role, and he has built himself a nice looking stable. Last week, Mitch decided to join Seth and the two, along with AOP, came out to the ring to start Raw. Seth told the crowd that they are the reason he has become the “Monday Night Messiah” and I loved it. He then thanked Mitch for coming to his aid and deciding to follow him last week and introduced him as his newest disciple. Seth moved on and spoke about how they beat Owens and Joe last week because they are inevitable. Seth reiterated about being with him or against him and that would bring Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe to the arena. They came out there and wanted to fight and Seth told them to bring it. They then said they had some backup and out came the Viking Raiders and I must say that those four make quite the foursome. This led to a short brawl and the faces would eventually stand tall and clear the ring of the heels. Nice opening segment from these men.
Seth Rollins Backstage
Seth, Mitch and AOP were backstage after the last segment and were interviewed about what just happened. Seth said that he knew Joe and Owens would hide behind somebody bigger than them. Seth then said that he and Mitch would challenge the Viking Raiders for the tag titles and AOP didn’t look all that pleased by it. When Seth first started talking about it, they looked ready for a fight but had that disappointed look when Seth revealed what the team would be. That match would be made official later in the night and we will see how it plays out.
US Championship Ladder Match
I was honestly surprised to see this match happening so early because I would have thought this would either main event or be the final match of the second hour. Either way, we all knew this would be a fun match and that it was. Rey and Andrade have had great match after great match during this feud and this was a good way to cap it off. I will say that while this match was fun, it was a bit botchy at times. One key one was when Andrade looked to suplex Rey but they both lost their balance. Thankfully, both men were able to save the spot and go through with what was planned. Fun match all the way around but there was another bit of a botch towards the end of the match. Andrade was clearly supposed to catch a dangling Rey and powerbomb him but he couldn’t catch him clean so there was an ugly looking spot instead. It looked like Rey was going to have the title won but Zelina Vega would prove her worth once again by sitting atop of the ladder to stop Rey. That allowed Andrade to catch Rey and hit him with the Hammerlock DDT off the ladder and onto another one that was set up as a bridge of sorts. Andrade grabbed the title and remain the US Champion. Andrade looked to DDT Rey on the outside, but a “fan” came out to stop Andrade. That person ended up being Humberto Carrillo and boy did that get no reaction from anybody. Even I was left feeling “meh” and that is solely because Humberto simply isn’t over. He is a great in-ring worker, but he just hasn’t done anything else to make you want to care about him. Looks like he is next for Andrade and I honestly hope he can do something to make the audience care because he could be floating towards that Rocky Maivia territory.
What more can be said about this tribute to Martin Luther King? The man stood up for rights and his life was sadly cut short because of it. His message is one we need in this current climate because, if you see how it is, we desperately need it.
Aleister Black vs Local Talent
Black Mass and that is it. SKIP!
Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman In-Ring
It was going to be hard for Heyman and Brock to top last week’s segment and it didn’t. I will say that Heyman’s suit this week reminded me of one that Al Pacino’s character wore in the Dick Tracy movie. If you have ever seen that movie, you may know what I am talking about. Heyman came out and did what he has been doing since Brock announced he would be in the Rumble and that is hype up that nobody can hang with Brock. Right when Heyman started talking about how nobody in the back could hang with Brock, I knew someone would interrupt him and I was just wondering who it would be. I was surprised that Ricochet came out to say that he isn’t afraid of Brock. Heyman and Lesnar were both dismissive of him and Ricochet would get in the ring to get in Brock’s face. Ricochet baited Brock into coming back into the ring and Brock would kick Ricochet low to show that he isn’t scared of him. Interesting segment but just more of the same we have come to expect from Brock and Heyman.
Randy Orton Backstage
Yada, yada, yada, RKO. SKIP!
Randy Orton vs Drew McIntyre
I wondered how this match would go considering Orton’s matches are very hit or miss. I am happy to say that match was actually pretty good and makes me wonder how a real feud between these two can go. Both have finishers that can be hit from out of nowhere and that would make for a nice finishing sequence. The other thing is that both men are pretty close in size and that allows them to be a bit more physical with one another. Again, the match was better than I expected, and I was really wondering who would come out on top. We ended up not finding that out though as the OC would make their way down and attack the men in the ring. Orton and McIntyre were able to fend off the OC though and stand tall in the ring. Orton gave McIntyre props before leaving the ring but gave him an RKO before stepping through the ropes. I thought that would be the end of it, but McIntyre would get on the mic to pretty much reiterate that he plans on winning the Rumble and getting the title shot that has long eluded him. He also said he should have seen the RKO coming and hopes he and Randy are in the Rumble at the same time so he can kick his head off. Solid match and solid promo by McIntyre after the match.
Charlotte Flair Backstage
Charlotte Flair was being interviewed backstage about her chances in the Rumble and Becky Lynch would pop her head in a bit. Charlotte gave a smile and a part of me feels like Becky did that to see if she could get Charlotte to corpse. I say that because of the smile Becky had when she popped in and the smile Charlotte gave was definitely one of that she knew what Becky was doing but she wouldn’t crack. This promo, like the Heyman one for Brock, was more of the same we have gotten from Charlotte in recent weeks since she declared. She is confident she will win because she is ready for everybody that will be in the Rumble. Not much else to say about this other than that.
Becky Lynch vs Kairi Sane
Becky cut a promo prior to the match and it was darn good. Becky’s promos are always the best when she has fire behind them with her opponent and she brought that here. She spoke about the contract signing from last week and how she has figured out Asuka. She says that Asuka attacks the way she does because she is afraid, and she is now ready for Asuka. That led into the match with Kairi and I do wish it was a bit better than what we got. Obviously, Kairi is coming back from the injury she suffered at TLC, so it was good to see her work the ring. It did look like she had a bit of ring rust though because some of the moves were not as crisp as they normally are. Love how Asuka just sat atop of the ring post at one point to watch the match and didn’t get down when the referee told her to. Back and forth between the to ladies and Becky would eventually pick up the win. Right after the bell though, Asuka would come in and attack Becky. She would put Becky in the Asuka lock and is looking strong going into Sunday. Asuka would cut a promo after the match backstage in Japanese and sum it up with saying that Becky isn’t ready for Asuka. If their match is anywhere near what they did last year, it should be a doozy.
Raw Tag Title Match
This match was good, but it also didn’t totally click with me. Maybe it was because I was expecting more shenanigans because of AOP, Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens being ringside, but they would take themselves out of the equation rather early. The match itself was good but I guess I was expecting something more considering the story that Seth is involved in. I will say that I love seeing the Viking Raiders in an actual match because I have grown so tired of them squashing talent after talent. I guess that is also why I was hoping this would be AOP versus the Vikings because that has the potential to be a nice hoss battle. Solid back and forth action in this match and I expected the Vikings to retain by pinning Mitch but that ended up not being the case as Rollins hit a stomp on the ring apron allowing Mitch to pick up the win and the titles. This makes the fourth year in a row that Seth has won the titles and the fifth person he has one it with. Seth cut a promo after the match backstage where he made it known how Mitch made him proud and that he is planning on winning the Royal Rumble for the second year in a row. I will also say that it looked like AOP were eyeing the tag titles so maybe they are coming up with their own plans.
Monday After Weekend Update
Last time they did this segment, I was laughing but this time, not so much. I am all for talent having segments to call their own, but I want the Street Profits to get over by wrestling and not random segments. They are talented enough to do both so let them do both. This would normally end up with a skull and a “SKIP!” but I will give it something because of how R-Truth nailed it when he came in as a correspondent. Outside of that, nothing much of note.
Erick Rowan vs Matt Hardy
Look! Erick Rowan is in a match with someone that isn’t a local talent. Sadly, the result is the same and this is another squash. I am so tired and over this Rowan stuff. I wish I could even muster up the strength to rant about it, but I don’t even feel like bothering with that. I think that is more telling to how I, and many others feel about this, than writing a rant.
Samoa Joe & Kevin Owens Backstage
Owens and Joe were backstage and spoke about what they plan next for Seth and his crew. Owens spoke about how he plans on being in the Rumble and Joe had the same to say. Joe told Owens that he will be by his side against Seth but will go right through him during the Rumble. Owens nodded his head in agreement because he knows he feels the same way. I have loved seeing these two work together and I like how it looks like they won’t have any hard feelings if one of them eliminates the other in the Royal Rumble.
Mojo Rawley Backstage
Mojo was backstage to talk about what he plans next as the 24/7 Champion and he said that he is tired of seeing the champion run away from a challenge. The Singh Brothers then came in so they could try and roll him up, but Mojo beat them down instead. Looks like Mojo is trying to treat the title as more than a comedy belt and I am intrigued by this.
Lana/Lashley vs Rusev/Liv
I think the promo Lana cut before the match was just about as long as the match itself. The problem I have with this match, and many angles like this WWE has run in the past, is that the face never wins the matches. The face will win a brawling segment but when it comes to the matches themselves, they lose. That just buries the face when they should be the triumphant hero instead. Lashley has beaten Rusev in every match so I was hoping that things would change here. I will say that seeing Liv work the ring was such a nice sight because she showed that she has improved. Sure, she was working with Lana, but that shows how good she has gotten when working with someone as green as Lana. I was hoping they would give Liv and Rusev the win here because it makes the most sense but no, like I said earlier, the heels came out on top. This honestly made Rusev and Liv look like shmucks and I do not know what they will do next. They need to move Liv on from this and put her in a better feud because this is doing nothing for her. Same goes for Rusev and I really wonder what the man needs to do to show the brass he has the skills to be someone. I guess this solidifies Lana and Lashley as the top heel couple, but they already were that, so this was just overkill. Rey and Andrade should have been the main event, and this should have been in the first hour of Raw.
Overall, this was not the best go-home episode for a pay-per-view in some time. WWE has had a good string of them over the last few months, but this was not one of them. There were highlights for sure but there were plenty of low points. Andrade/Rey was a definite highlight even with the lackluster reveal of Humberto. Orton/McInytre was great too and so was the ongoing saga of the Monday Night Messiah. The Becky promo prior to her match with Kairi was good and the match wasn’t bad either. The low points had to be the Rowan stuff, Black being in a squash match, Orton’s promo, the Monday after weekend update, and the Lana/Lashley versus Liv/Rusev match. Rusev and Liv totally should have gone over and given Rusev the last laugh, but they did what they always do and gave the heel couple all the big wins. Again, definitely not the strongest go-home episode of Raw in my eyes. Make sure you join us Royal Rumble weekend as there will be Dignified Discussions for the Rumble and for Worlds Collide on Saturday as well. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you next week for another Sovereign Statement.