It's the road to the Royal Rumble and the hottest three months of the professional wrestling year as we head into Wrestlemania. The #WWE has somewhat of an embarrassment of riches right now when it comes to talent, with #BrockLesnar, #Goldberg, #TheUndertaker, #RomanReigns and #ChrisJericho all sparking major heat with the fans, one way or the other.
Monday Night Raw featured the go-home show for this Sunday's Royal Rumble, cleverly dubbed "Remember The Rumble." So let's dive into our weekly review of Monday Night Raw, which saw the the ultimate stare-down between the three men who could very well be the final three in the ring on Sunday night.
Roman Reigns Talks to Open the Show
I am always nervous when Roman Reigns has a microphone in his hand. He tends to talk like Triple H wrestles: slow and methodical. He mumbled a few words about beating up Kevin Owens before we were all thankfully saved by the entrance of #ChrisJericho and Owens. Jericho, by the way, is more popular now than he ever has been throughout his illustrious career. Jericho called him a "stupid idiot" to the crowd's delight. Reigns challenged Jericho to a U.S. title shot and Owens accepted on Jericho's behalf. Reigns then delivered a harsh truth to Owens: "I am something you are never going to be around here: The Guy." Ouch. Don't blame Owens for bad booking.
Grade: B (Reigns was in the segment so it can't really get an A, but Jericho saved him.)
Cesaro vs. Luke Gallows
Cesaro and Sheamus were much better when they were chasing the tag titles. They are stuck in the swamp against Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. Cesaro was pinned by Gallows after Karl Anderson distracted the referee when Cesaro had Gallows in the sharpshooter. Dry match, just filling time.
Sami Zayn vs. Seth Rollins
The last time Triple H booked himself to face the top guy at Wrestlemania in a non-title fight, he quit the company. But enough about CM Punk. Trips is back at it again, ruining Seth Rollins' plans for Wrestlemania. Let's forget that Rollins never lost the championship, but here he is headed to Wrestlemania to feud with a guy who was on top 15 years ago. Rollins and Zayn put on a great match before The Game's music hit and Rollins lost his composure. Of course, Triple H never came out, because the WWE just likes to mess with its fans. Rollins turned his back to greet Hunter and #SamiZayn rolled up Rollins in a small package for the pin. The big news? Rollins is out of the Royal Rumble and Zayn is in.
Grade: F (Nothing is worse than playing the music of a top guy and then have him NOT COME OUT)
Mustafa Ali, Jack Gallagher & T.J. Perkins vs. Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari & Tony Nese
I haven't been to a WWE show in more than a year (#NXT doesn't count), but I have a feeling that the cruiserweight matches have replaced the women's matches as the automatic bathroom break. Or beer break. You do need intoxicants to get through the cruiserweight matches these days. Ali was the star here, getting the victory with a reverse 450 on Gulak. It's not like these guys aren't talented. It's just that they are rushed and their matches feel squeezed into the middle of the show.
Grade: B- Ali was entertaining.
Braun Strowman, Titus O'Neil, Rusev & Jinder Mahal vs. Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Kofi Kingston and Big E
Wow, Titus O'Neil actually got a win. Well, he was on a team that got a win, but when you are Titus O'Neil you take a win in whatever manner you can get it. This was a good, fast-paced matched, but it was all set up for the payoff: Braun Strowman vs. The Big Show. Strowman pinned Enzo and then Big Show's music hit. The Big Show's music, by the way, has got to go. It's so awful. Anyway, Show came out and the two stared at each other. Lame.
Grade: C (Lousy Big Show vs. Strowman angle).
U.S. Champion Chris Jericho vs. Roman Reigns
Kevin Owens was huffing and puffing at the announcer's desk, exasperated over the beating Jericho took from Reigns. This is beyond sad to see Owens play the role of bumbling buffoon. Remember how good Owens was BEFORE he won the championship? Let's hope he turns on Jericho, goes full-on heel and we see the guy who feuded with John Cena. Owens interfered after Reigns hit Jericho with the Superman punch, getting Jericho disqualified, allowing him to keep the championship. Then it got good. They lowered the shark tank above the ring and Owens almost successfully put Reigns in it, but Reigns, because he is the Samoan Superman, fought it off and locked Owens inside of the cage. The shark tank was raised to the ceiling and Jericho grabbed on to the bottom in a desperate effort to save his friend. Reigns delivered a superman punch to Jericho who fell to the ground. A spear would have been way better, but this is Reigns we are talking about so we take what we can get.
Grade: B+ (The final segment with Owens in the cage was hilarious).
Nia Jax vs. Ray Lynn
Jax is the new Goldberg. She ran through Lynn like a woman getting a big push. Nothing to see here. Jax will wrestle Sasha Banks at the Royal Rumble.
Grade: C At least they are making a new star, but Jax isn't really that impressive. She's just big.
Rich Swann vs. Noam Dar
The cruiserweights really don't belong on Raw or Smackdown. Let these guys have more time on the #WWENetwork and have occasional cruiserweight matches on the main television shows. These guys are just getting buried in these short TV matches. Even the charismatic Swann is losing his appeal. Swann won and then called out Neville on the microphone. Swann, by the way, was totally gassed when he was trying to speak, which made his already rough interview worse. Neville came out, then tried to run away, but Swann dove on top of him. Neville then fled. All signs point to a cruiserweight title change at the Royal Rumble. I am sure Neville will hold the belt for a month before doing the honors for Mustafa Ali.
Raw is Mean Looks
Goldberg should have quit at the Survivor Series. He can't talk, never could and should be kept away from the microphone. He was rambling on about how he is going to spear and jackhammer 29 guys, when Paul Heyman interrupted his promo. Thank God. Heyman started in on his usual fantastic rant about Lesnar, when Lesnar's music hit and, unlike Triple H, he did come out. Goldberg dared him to come to the ring and, unlike Triple H, Lesnar did. The two stared at each other like two big dogs sniffing each other at the dog park, when the music hit and The Undertaker, unlike Triple H, came out. Taker mysteriously appeared in the middle of the ring and the three created a stare-down triangle. Yep, that's how the go-home show ended. Three guys, combined age of 140 years.
Grade: D (Kind of a nothing go-home segment. So we saw big guys to end the show. A punch or two would have really helped).