Roman brutalizes Brock (again), Taker ignores Cena (again) this week in WWE

Robert O’Neill: Time for another week of Monday Night Raw! And we’re starting the show with Brock Lesnar!

Chris Novak: Of course he’s here. Because he’s a coward, and he’s only here because Reigns isn’t.

Robert O’Neill: Paul Heyman has new and fresh material, and it’s very much appreciated.

Chris Novak: And… there’s Roman! Jesus, Brock just destroyed him, but now Roman is right back at it. With a chair! Okay. So, Roman absorbs another beating at the hands of Lesnar. One week is fine, two weeks is pushing it a little bit, BUT… Reigns needs to either stand tall next week or be an equal. You risk pushing the envelope.

Robert O’Neill: That was an awesome way to open the show. This is one of WWE’s best booked feuds in a while. And now we get Nia Jax vs. Mickie James. That makes sense!

Chris Novak: Hopefully, Nia mows through Mickie here. Doesn’t appear that’s going to happen though.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah, I don’t get why this is taking so long. That’s kinda dumb.

Chris Novak: Ends justified the means. But that was too long. Not exactly making me think that Alexa-Nia at Mania will be the short squash that it needs to be.

Robert O’Neill: Whoa. That Triple H/Stephanie video was awesome.

Chris Novak: As always… WWE excels with video packages. It’s the one constant. We get a cruiserweight tag match now. Ceddy’s teaming with his WM opponent in Mustafa Ali against TJP and Drew Gulak. This was a pretty fine match. The right team won. Nothing else to really say about it.

Robert O’Neill: Nice to see the cruiserweights. They’re doing good work that’s going largely unnoticed of late.

Chris Novak: And now, a special episode of MizTV.

Robert O’Neill: “If I wanted failure I never would have gone to LA, I would have stayed here in Cleveland” is Miz the best city-bashing heel since The Rock?

Chris Novak: Per usual, that was some damn great stuff from Miz, who made Curtis and Bo seem hella relevant. Finn then takes out Seth! He gets the title #hoist tonight. Alright… I will admit that it’s still a bit weird that Asuka isn’t permanently on SmackDown Live. Feels like that should’ve been established.

Robert O’Neill: Welp. Asuka killed a jobber. Onward!

Chris Novak: A look at Bayley and Sasha’s “complicated” relationship? Color me intrigued… OH SHIT FORGET IT THEY’RE SCRAPPING!!! LET’S GO!!!

Robert O’Neill: It’s about time!

Chris Novak: So Sheamus faces BRAAAAAAAAAAAAUN, and much like last week, BRAUN takes down a member of The Bar. We still don’t know who Braun’s partner. So either they know and they’re holding out on us, or they aren’t sure yet, and they’re just laboring. What’s the answer? We may never know.

Robert O’Neill: This was a fun match. I really like Sheamus, and Braun speaks for himself at this point.

Chris Novak: Here comes Kurt Angle at the top of the hour. Looks like John Cena vs. Kane is main eventing tonight then. And here comes Ronda, who says Stephanie is “personal trainer tough” and that she’s going to get everything she deserves. Ronda claims that what that means is she’s going to get her arm ripped out of her socket.

Well… um, here comes Absolution. This is definitely not what I expected. And… Mandy and Sonya get destroyed by Ronda. Not a surprising result. A decent way of making Ronda look like a badass, I will say. Some things in the segment could’ve been smoother, but it was fine, overall.

Robert O’Neill: That was weird. I get it though!

Chris Novak: So after their altercation earlier, The Club is facing The Miztourage. Neat. This was a decent match and a good win for Gallows and Anderson. Nothing really stuck, per se. But it was still an effective match.

Robert O’Neill: The Raw tag division is just like… eh. Ya know? It needs a reset.

Chris Novak: ELIAS IS HERE! Apparently he’s having a WrestleMania concert. AWESOME! Elias then sang a song, and as usual, he was tremendous. Put him in the Rock ‘n Roll HOF. Anyways, he then went on to defeat Rhyno, and hit Heath Slater with the Drift Away as well.

Robert O’Neill: Elias is a delight. I hope he’s Braun’s partner!

Chris Novak: Time for Cena-Kane. This being in the main event is … interesting. Let’s call it interesting. Alright, that was actually a pretty fun match! Of course John Cena pulled a decent match out of Kane in 2018. That’s just how this year goes.

Alright! So… I guess they’re holding out until next week. Well, damn.

Robert O’Neill: It would be hilarious if The Undertaker never shows up, right?? Tell me that’s not just my opinion.

QUICK RESULTS

Nia Jax def. Mickie James
Cedric Alexander & Mustafa Ali def. Drew Gulak & TJP
Asuka def. Jamie Frost
Braun Strowman def. Sheamus
The Club def. The Miztourage
Elias def. Rhyno
John Cena def. Kane in a No DQ Match

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: After how good Raw was the past few weeks, this episode felt like a bit of a letdown. It was… fine. But there seemed to be a lot ot posturing and getting set-up for Wrestlemania. Which is fine, if you do it now, you can cram more action in the go-home show. But all in all this was a fairly tame Raw. C

Chris Novak: I will go higher than my friend here. While it was short on tense in-ring action, everything served a purpose. Everything advanced and progressed storylines very well. There were no real duds here. It was a very safe episode of Raw with two weeks to go until the big show. I’m going to give this a solid B.

Chris Novak: Kicking things off here with an extensive but awesome video package of the events of last week featuring Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.

Robert O’Neill: The video package seemed lengthy but it was, I guess, the most significant thing to happen on Smackdown since… I don’t even know.

Chris Novak: So we started off with a tag match pitting Orton & Roode against Jinder &... Rusev! This was a solid tag team match. Nothing out of this world. RUSEV getting the win on RUSEV DAY is so fitting, isn’t it? The fact that they had him pin the champ in Orton is interesting. Will they put him in the match and make it a F4W at Mania? I think it’s probable now.

Robert O’Neill: They really need to put the belt on Rusev. But, yes. He *does* want to be in the match! He told Jinder as much backstage. And I’m here for it. RUSEVMANIA!

Chris Novak: RUSEVMANIA!!! It IS happening! Oh hey. Here’s Shinsuke and Styles. Nak asks him if he’s okay, saying he’s worried about him. He brings up last week’s events, and says AJ lost his confidence. Nak says he was surprised, and wants him at his best at Mania. Styles wants him at his best. Nak brings up that he has a match against Shelton Benjamin (which is going to OWN) and he wants Styles is to be in his corner. Styles says he will be out there, but not for him, but because he wants to protect the dream match.

And now, here’s Becky Lynch… who is facing Ruby Riott. Fun. This COULD be fun.

Hey, it was fun. AND Becky got a win. Nicely done.

Chris Novak: My God, that’s Daniel Bryan.

Robert O’Neill: Welp. Bryan and Shane are facing, ahem, Kevin Steen and El Generico, at Wrestlemania. That’s gonna be fun!

Chris Novak: Shane is 100% turning heel on Bryan. There’s no way it doesn’t happen. No way.

Robert O’Neill: The tag team triple threat at Wrestlemania continues to look to be the move. The New Day took on the Bludgeon Brothers this time, and the Bludgeon Brothers got DQ’d.

Chris Novak: Hey, looks like they announced it.

Robert O’Neill: Hey, neat! They announced it. The announcement came after a commercial break after a Dolph Ziggler match. We’re gonna just ignore the Dolph Ziggler match.

Chris Novak: That was a pretty nothing match. Anyways, Nakamura then comes out for his match with Shelton Benjamin. Styles is in his corner. Nak and Benjamin wrestle a pretty good match, and naturally, Shinsuke wins. Shelton and Gable go on the attack afterwards, and Styles comes in for the save. BUT… then Shinsuke goes for the Kinshasa… and then stops right in front of his face and pats his head. I love how Nakamura is in Styles’ head right now. It’s terrific stuff, really.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah this was awesome. They told such an awesome story in the last 5 minutes that it got me all the way ready for the Mania match.

QUICK RESULTS

Jinder Mahal & Rusev def. Randy Orton & Bobby Roode
Becky Lynch def. Ruby Riott
The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers ended in a No Contest
Dolph Ziggler def. Tyler Breeze
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Shelton Benjamin

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Much like Raw, it felt like a lot of posturing and getting ready for Mania this week. They both kind of felt like go-home shows, which means the actual go-home shows will be (hopefully) loaded. The Bryan part and Styles and Nakamura parts stood out enough to keep me interested. C+

Chris Novak: I will, again, go higher than my partner here and go with another solid B here. Maybe I’m just easier to please. But, SmackDown definitely has its groove back, and it’s hit all the right notes. Rusev getting his way into the US Title Match saves that match from obscurity, especially if they indeed decide to belt him. The women’s match was fine. I love all the tag team progression. And quietly, Nakamura and Styles have a pretty good thing going.