John Cena is on a mission to get to Wrestlemania, more seeds planted for the big show this week in WWE
Chris Novak: A Brock-Roman encounter… more seeds planted for Mania… maybe some Bayley-Sasha interaction? It’s time for MONDAY NIGHT RAW!
Robert O’Neill: After a recap of Sunday’s events, we get Alexa Bliss and Mickie James to open the show. Fun! Alexa remains awesome on the mic and is probably the best female heel in the company. Bliss and Mickie lured Asuka into a trap and Nia Jax came out to beat her up. Bayley and Sasha ran in for the save and we got a six-woman tag match.
Chris Novak: Hard tag by Sasha? YOU AREN’T FOOLING ME BOSS. In the words of the wonderful human being who yelled at at ringside, WHY ARE YOU SUCH A BAD FRIEND?
HELL YES BAYLEY! HELL. YES.
Robert O’Neill: The six-woman match was good! I’m pretty interested in what everyone other than Alexa and Asuka are doing at Mania, though it’s pretty clear they’re heading towards Bayley/Sasha in the Eddie Guerrero/Rey Mysterio WM21 spot.
Chris Novak: Good gravy. WHAT A PROMO BY JOHN CENA! When this dude is on, he’s ON. That line about disappointment was incredible. I will say that we’re likely going to get Nakamura vs. Cena for the right to face AJ Styles at WrestleMania at Fastlane. Hopefully he’s not put in that stupid five-way match.
Robert O’Neill: Yeah that Cena promo kicked ass. All of Twitter got worked that he was facing Undertaker, which isn’t something that happens in 2018, so props to Cena for still being able to do that.
Chris Novak: Oh good. Bray-Hardy is continuing.
Robert O’Neill: Yeah we’re gonna ignore that. Miz is here! Neat! He’s gonna find out his Wrestlemania opponent.
Chris Novak: Miz is such an incredible promo. That was a damn good segment (again). And hey, here comes Monday Night Rollins. This should be a hoot.
Robert O’Neill: Seth’s slowly but surely becoming the best wrestler on the roster again. Everything he’s done of late has been awesome, including picking up a win over The Miz by doing a frog splash three quarters of the way across the ring!
Chris Novak: God. I haven’t seen a Frog Splash like that since RVD used to dish ‘em out on the weekly. That was INCREDIBLE! I’m so glad Seth is back to being elite again. After all he’s dealt with the last two years. Just outstanding. Looks like we’re getting a Triple Threat at Mania for the IC Title. Should be freaking dynamite.
Chris Novak: Hey, that Miz match with Finn was also really good. Cool. Dope. This episode of RAW is A-grade again.
Robert O’Neill: Seth wants to face Miz at Mania for the IC title. I’m here for it!
Chris Novak: IT’S A SHOOT!
It’s probably a worked shoot. But hot damn, Roman. Reigns slammed Lesnar for not showing up, for taking pictures with Dana White, and about his part-time schedule. That was effective, strong, and actually really damn good, to be honest.
Robert O’Neill: Roman Reigns is very good at professional wrestling.
Chris Novak: Well, The Bar just swept through Titus Worldwide in a ⅔ Falls Match. Now they’re here, running down their past opponents.
Robert O’Neill: That was the sixth time we’ve seen these teams wrestle this calendar year. They really need to give Raw’s tag team division a jolt somehow.
Chris Novak: You might get your wish soon. *Hand hovers over TOP GUYS WATCH siren*
Robert O’Neill: Ladies and gentlemen, Elias.
Chris Novak: Love the dig at Corey. Somehow, gulp, I have a bad feeling about this match.
That is a damn fire extinguisher!
Robert O’Neill: How long has it been since we had a fire extinguisher spot? Love it!
Chris Novak: Who’s in the limo?!?!?!?! Is it… Dwayne? Anyways, here’s The Authority.
Robert O’Neill: I thought Triple H was in the limo, so this is interesting…
Chris Novak: Hmm. So the “limo” is just there. And that segment was… much better than Sunday’s. Hey, Ronda did better on the mic. Cool. Ended awkwardly.
- Asuka/Bayley/Sasha Banks d. Alexa Bliss/Mickie James/Nia Jax
- Seth Rollins d. The Miz
- Finn Balor d. The Miz
- The Bar d. Titus Worldwide
- Braun Strowman d. Elias (DQ)
Robert O’Neill: What an excellent Raw for what seems like the hundredth straight week. I really enjoyed how they made everything from Elimination Chamber seem consequential and started the build toward the road to Wrestlemania. The continuing tension between Bayley and Sasha Banks is great, Roman Reigns cut an all-time great promo, Seth Rollins continues to kick ass, and Ronda Rousey looked far more comfortable than she did Sunday night. The tag titles match didn’t really hit the mark for me, if only because it’s been done so many times of late, but all in all I can’t complain. A-
Chris Novak: As always… RAW brings the heat. The lowlight was probably the tag match, as it was quick and not all that great. But it still did its job. Apart from that though? My word. The highlights for me were… what, you think I wasn’t going to say Bayley jumping off the apron and leaving that snake, Sasha Banks, hanging? Of course that was. Plus Rollins being elite again, an outstanding Roman Reigns promo - the best of his career - and a lot of seeds planted for ‘Mania. RAW is the A-Show, so it gets an A.
Robert O’Neill: And we’re off with a bang as John Cena’s heading to the ring for his BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!
Chris Novak: I wonder what he has to say!
Robert O’Neill: He wants to get to Wrestlemania, and wanted to insert himself in the fatal five-way. Shane McMahon was having none of it.
Chris Novak: I am on Team Shane here. Don’t overload this dumb match more than it needs to be. Oh, here’s Bryan. Cena’s going to be in the match.
Robert O’Neill: He’ll only be in if he defeats AJ Styles in the main event! This is going to be the best match on Smackdown in months.
Chris Novak: We can only hope.
Robert O’Neill: Alright! We have our first match of the night. Sami Zayn is facing Baron Corbin. Sure! And Kevin Owens is on commentary. After some back and forth action and entertaining quips from Owens, Dolph Ziggler superkicks him. Corbin takes advantage of the distraction and hits Zayn with the End of Days for the win. Then Ziggler Zig-Zags Corbin.
Chris Novak: There were, like, three things going on at once there. Way too much. Fine match. But way too much going on.
Robert O’Neill: Shane McMahon sends Owens and Zayn home for the night after Bryan also leaves. That’s… interesting.
Chris Novak: Kevin and Sami are going to wreck the main event because Shane’s a dope and they don’t care about him. Anyways, here’s all of the SDL women’s division in one segment again.
Robert O’Neill: As good as the Raw women’s division is, that’s how bad the SDL one is. Ruby beat Naomi. It was a good match but like… who cares?
Chris Novak: I don’t. That’s a shame also, because between Charlotte, Becky, Naomi and Ruby that’s a REALLY good Top 4. In fact, I’d stack it up against Sasha, Bayley, Alexa and Asuka and it’s probably closer than most people realize. This has just been so bad though.
Robert O’Neill: FASHION FILES IS BACK! Technically. To promote the Biggie/Tupac show on USA Network later. Josh Duhamel is talking to Breezango about the show, cause he’s on the show. Breezango solves the mystery by bringing in Big E. Big E, Biggie. It was honestly phenomenal.
Chris Novak: That was actually extremely and genuinely hilarious.
Robert O’Neill: Ah, yes. New Day/Usos happening again means New Day/Usos promo battles happening again. Fire.
Chris Novak: Holy shit. I didn’t know Big E had that in him. That was AWESOME stuff from him there. The Usos were there typical A-grade promo. But wow, Big E brought the heat. I actually really dig the slow burn with The Bludgeon Brothers, too.
Hey, Shinsuke Nakamura’s still here. And he’s facing Aiden English! God. That bouncing head kills me all the time.
Robert O’Neill: It’s pretty cool what’s become of Aiden English. Goes to show that any gimmick can be a success if you put your mind to it. Shinsuke won with a Kinshasa, which was hardly a surprise. Perhaps he’ll face Rusev at Fastlane?
WAIT A MINUTE, John Cena is coming out. It appears this is both due to the fact that he has a match AND to tease a match with Nakamura. That was cool.
Chris Novak: Alright. Cena-Styles IV. Buckle up.
Okay! That was really good. May have been the -- okay, it was the weakest of their series so far. But it was still really good!
Robert O’Neill: The fatal-five way has become a SUPER SIX-WAY.
- Baron Corbin d. Sami Zayn
- Ruby Riott d. Naomi
- Shinsuke Nakamura d. Aiden English
- John Cena d. AJ Styles
Robert O’Neill: I started my final thoughts on Raw by saying how the show has been good week in and week out for months. Smackdown, on the other hand, has not. But this was a pretty good Smackdown. I imagine it’s not a coincidence that things seemed to flow together more with John Cena around, but I enjoyed his segment and his match if only because it freshened up the generic Smackdown formula of late. The New Day/Usos promo work was incredible and I’m excited to watch it all the way to Wrestlemania. I think the women’s division is still a mess, but all in all this was a step in the right direction for the blue brand. B.
Chris Novak: The main event scene was dry. Cena-Styles IV was very good. The tag team division was the highlight again. The women’s division… was the women’s division. Basically, SmackDown Live is SmackDown Live. B-.
MIXED MATCH CHALLENGE
Chris Novak: Glad that snake, Sasha Banks, lost. Snakes don’t prosper.
Robert O’Neill: Sasha’s rough month continues. First the Patriots, then she doesn’t win the Elimination Chamber, then she turns into a snake, then she loses the MMC. How sad.