It’s the last ppv before Wrestlemania, and it’s the event that sets clear what the Showcase of the Immortals looks like for the Raw brand at least. Last years show felt very shoehorned in but this year I’m hoping for an exciting show. Writing this one from a new perspective, live writing this review as the show goes on, so this will be different from the previous reviews. My thoughts, opinions, as the show happens. It’s almost time, so let’s get into this thing. Ring the bell, it’s on.
We kick off the show, love from Milwaukee, WI with our first match of the evening, no prelude needed.
Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe
I’ve had mixed feelings about what they’ve done with Sami as of late, he’s a phenomenal talent, who’s been reduced to being a scrappy underdog loser who rarely wins a match. Like, who did he piss off backstage, forreal. I’m not expecting anything else different here, he’ll show he has heart, but Samoa Joe will dominate him to show the WWE fans what wrestling fans have known for years, Joe is a beast.
Michael Cole brings up early in the match what Joe did to Rollins in his main roster debut, injuring him to the point where it was thought he’d miss Wrestlemania again this year. Rollins has since come out in a great promo saying that he would indeed be taking on, and taking down Triple H this year at Mania, but I guess Cole missed that promo despite being there for it, as he says that it’s unknown whether Rollins would be able to compete.
Sami hits Joe with a Blue Thunder Bomb! Now going for an arial attack, this is impressive, but Joe counters, hits him with a Senton Bomb, and this match continues! I’d like to see Zayn get a push, but this is an exciting match regardless of the outcome.
It doesn’t last too much longer, Joe is the more powerful wrestler, and in the end Sami is taken out with his sleeper hold, drool clinging to Sami’s lips and beard as he goes out for the count.
Winner: Samoa Joe by submission
Match Grade: B
Not a bad way to start off the night, gets the crowd going like “My Humps” by Fergie. Bayley, the Raw Women’s Champ gets interviewed next, where she suggests that Charlotte leave her flunky Dana Brooke behind to see who the real best wrestler is. I like Bayley but I don’t think this match is going to go her way tonight, unless WWE pulls a twist on us and they don’t just redo the Sasha Banks thing here with Bayley. (Wins title on Raw, loses at Ppv to keep Charlotte’s streak intact)
Enzo and Cass vs Gallows and Anderson for the Raw Tag Team Titles
Enzo and Cass come out first, I still like them , but their promos and matches have felt lackluster as of late, this promo being no different. I used to crack up at their references and insults but they just feel phoned in.
Out come Gallows and Anderson, no promos needed, a really fast paced match, both teams are really impressive here, in the end, Gallows and Anderson retain the titles, which is good because it seemed like they never really knew what to do with these guys after signing them. They very nearly dropped the ball here, losing matches as much as they win. But now Gallows and Anderson go into Wrestlemania as the champs. Couldn’t be happier.
Winner- Gallows and Anderson
Nia Jax vs Sasha Banks
I’ve liked the build to this match , they’ve really established Nia as this beast of a woman, and they’ve made The Boss Sasha Banks look like the underdog here, let’s see if they can put on a good fight.
Nia comes out first, and much like Katie Linendoll says on Sam Roberts’ podcast, I don’t think her entrance music really fits her character, it sounds like, well I can’t describe it but it’s not intimidating at all, which she should have that feel like coming out.
Nia just dominating the early goings here, I haven’t seen a woman wrestler this dominant since Amazing Kong in TNA. Like how she isn’t champion right now is in my book only because Charlotte had the Flair pedigree for the job. I see a strong future for her here.
This is not the same Sasha either that we saw in the past, not as dominant, but she still has some fight in her, as she reversed out of a torture rack into a sleeper hold, using her size difference to her advantage.
She hits a ddt into the Banks Statement, and it looks like this is her night, but Nia kicks out and flattens Sasha with a leg drop. Sasha pulls it off with a roll up for the pin, great match all around, using her brain to outwit the stronger opponent. And that ladies and gentlemen is why she’s The Boss.
Match Winner-Sasha Banks
It was established during the preshow that the recent team of Jinder Mahal and Rusev was no more, as our next match is the two of them trying to engage in singles competition, whoever will come out first. They argue in the ring once both come down, and Rusev showing off his new short haircut for his handsome gimmick. The two of them start to brawl until Sheamus and Cesaro come out ready for action. So is this a tag match after all..or…? No, it’s Cesaro vs Jinder here.
Cesaro vs Jinder Mahal
It seems early in the match that Cesaro is working with an injured back, which Jinder is attacking using great in ring psychology.
Jinder actually impressing me tonight, which is a phrase I’ve never said before, actually looking dominant in this matchup. Cesaro getting some momentum back his way, hitting a suplex, then some running uppercuts. Getting him in position for the “Swiss 1-9” which I haven’t seen before, a variant on the classic Rey Mysterio move. A top rope slam but then it’s still not enough. Jinder gets hit once more with a Very European Uppercut for the win.
Rusev comes back into the ring and he’s just destroying Jinder, now out comes The Big Show for his match. I’m guessing this was all to set up a match at Mania, since Shaq has backed out of the previously booked match for Mania of Shaq vs Big Show
Rusev vs Big Show
Show is looking the best he’s done in years as of late, as he was getting into shape for this match at Mania, and it’d be a shame to waste him at Mania ifShaq won’t show up, this could be just as good a match. Show is just showing Ruthless Agression like it’s 2002 again here, super impressive.
The former Bulgarian Britt is looking weak though here, as he’s done for a long time now. He used to be the most intimidating guy on the roster, but those days are long past. Rusev hits him with a running knee strike though which may have just evened the odds here.
Now it’s a back and forth fight , Rusev gaining more ground with a series of kicks to the head. But Big Show is still in this fight. Rusev sets up the Accolade but Show tosses him out of the ring, hits him with a choke slam, and then another! And one more still! Show is a beast, again! He has Rusev just waiting for the knockout punch, and he goes for the pin, and the win. Completely underestimated Big Show tbh. He’s still got some mileage yet.
Match Winner- Big Show
Also winner in my book of the unexpected great segments tonight, two matches in short order that made most of the competition look great, elevating them to the Wrestlemania level.
Kevin Owens cutting a promo on Goldberg next, and he gives some great points. In the last 10 years, Goldberg has beaten one man, Brock Lesnar, but in the past ten years Kevin Owens has beaten nearly everyone in his way, this is still the Kevin Owens show, for as long as he says it is.
Cruiserweight Championship-Neville vs Jack Gallagher
Before the match though, we get the Austin Aries highlight reel again, establishing him as still a competitor in addition to a commentator, setting up the Wrestlemania match not so subtly.
I really have to say going into this I love what they’ve done with getting both Neville and Jack Gallagher over as of late. Neville, an intense, fierce, fighter, and Jack Gallagher, the entertaining and unexpected star of the Cruiserweight Division.
Evenly paced match as it starts out, neither man getting the upper hand in this title match. Gallagher has a bit more speed it seems in this match, which is really the name of the game in this division. Gallagher hits Neville with an impressive top rope suplex but Neville isn’t done yet.
Neville takes control, dropping Gallagher on his head, he looks out of it, hits Gallagher with a Phoenix Splash but it still isn’t enough to take out Gentleman Jack.
Gallagher, dazed, fights back with a series of headbutts, and collapses on top of Neville but it wasn’t enough for the 3 count. Neville fights back, but then Gallagher makes a comeback, hitting Neville with a brutal headbutt. Neville is staggering on the top rope, but makes a comeback, knocking off Gallagher, and hitting him with the Red Arrow splash for the win.
Match winner- Neville retains the Cruiserweight title
Match Grade- A
Paul Heyman is out to do an interview backstage. The basic theme of which is, no matter who wins tonight, Goldberg or Kevin Owens, the eventual winner will be his client, Brock Lesnar.
New Day is out next, with the debut of their ice cream, New Day Pops! I love the style of the ice cream cart, with an almost Dragonball Z feel to the logo which I’m sure as anime fan Xavier Woods helped along with.
Big E appears to be drunk or on something at least during this segment, which I’m not sure is intended to be funny or what but it is indeed amusing. They say they will unveil the New Day Pops at Wrestlemania.
Roman Reigns vs Braun Strowman
This match has had a slow build to it, Strowman becoming this unstoppable monster heel since the brand split and his leaving the Wyatt Family because of the brand split, which I’ve liked. It’s all been about who can stop this monster among men?
Things came to a head in January at the Royal Rumble, with Strowman interfering and costing Roman Reigns the Universal Title, and the two men being set up on a collision course ever since.
Roman comes out first, to his usual mixed reaction. Maybe not so mixed, as we can hear the crowd yell “You suck!” To Reigns as the silence before Braun comes out.
Braun Strowman, has never been pinned or made to submit during his time in WWE, Cole makes a note of as he makes his way to the ring.
The fight starts quickly, and ends up outside the ring just as quick. Strowman tosses Reigns clear over the steel steps, which Roman follows by a Superman punch clearing the same steps, in an impressive spot.
Braun shows us why he’s called that and not Brain Strowman, taking control of this match in a big way, not letting up this vicious assault.
Reigns gets some strength back in him, attempting a Samoan drop, but is unsuccessful, unlike Braun’s own version, which allows him to regain control here, putting Reigns in a chokehold.
It’s been said that Vince McMahon is still a huge proponent of big men in wrestling, clashes of titans, well this is just such a fight here tonight.
The fight goes back outside the ring, Strowman gets a table ready to slam Roman through it but Roman fights his way out once more, taking the fight back in the ring.
He hits Strowman with a corner assault, wailing on him with punches, hitting another Samoan drop, but it’s not enough for the cover.
Roman attempts a Superman punch, but Braun counters, slamming him to the mat, but Roman fights on.
The fight returns outside, and Roman attempts a spear, but Braun counters that into a slam through a table! The crowd is losing their minds and the fight goes on.
Back in the ring, Roman hits a spear, but Strowman refuses to stay down. Roman then hits a series of Superman punches but this only staggers the monster among men.
Braun regains control, and gets on the top rope attempting a splash on the prone Reigns, but Reigns ducks out of the way, hits another spear, and hits the pin 1-2-3, and Roman wins!
What an exciting match, both men looked good here. I’m sure a lot of people are upset that Roman won, but look at the big picture here, Roman is booked to face The Undertaker next month at Wrestlemania, he needed this win to look credible against the Deadman. And it wasn’t a squash, it was a fight. I loved this match.
Match winner-Roman Reigns
Raw Women’s Championship Bayley vs Charlotte Flair
Charlotte comes out first with Dana Brooke, well Dana is with her until Charlotte tells her to get off her stage, and leaves her confused to return backstage.
Bayley enters next, full of fun and energy. With little preliminary introductions , we’re underway in this title fight.
Bayley is impressive early on in this match, but she can’t take full control over the daughter of the 16 time world champion Ric Flair.
Charlotte declares that she is going to Wrestlemania, and takes control over Bayley. The match goes back and forth, neither woman really dominant here, even though Bayley is an underdog she isn’t weak by any means.
Bayley hits her splash and a Bayley 2 Back suplex, not enough yet for the victory. Bayley still has this match in her control though, hitting Charlotte with a series of attacks.
Charlotte fights back, wanting to keep her streak of ppv victories intact. The match goes outside the ring, Bayley taking some damage to her back, as Charlotte prepares a top rope moonsault, but then out comes Bayley BFF Sasha Banks to assist, surprisingly this doesn’t accrue a disqualification. The match goes on, and Bayley picks up the victory and retains her title. Not how I thought that would go tbh. Kind of felt like a copout ending.
And now it’s time for the main event.
Universal Championship Match-Kevin Owens vs Goldberg
I was a huge Goldberg fan back in the day, and was excited to see him in WWE the first time around in the 00′ s but his last match with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 20 left a bad taste in my mouth. His return to action these past few months has been a mixed reaction, I still don’t understand the squash match against Lesnar last November, or the subsequent quick elimination at the Rumble he did to Lesnar but anyways, here we are at this title match.
I do like the throwback entrance with the security guards for Goldberg this time, feels like vintage Goldberg as Michael Cole would say.
Cole brings up that Goldberg has never lost a WWE ppv match, so he also has a streak again it seems, but he hasn’t had a title match since Armageddon 2003.
Out comes our champ, the newly revitalized Kevin Owens, this has a big fight feel to it, and I’m actually getting excited for this match as they announce the competitors. I’m buying into this.
Owens refuses to fight at first, leaving the ring and stalking his opponent from the outside like a caged animal. Entering the ring and exiting, building suspense for this fight. Already this match has gone on longer than his Lesnar fight, without any action however. By the third time though, this is getting boring. The bell hasn’t even rung yet to start the match.
Finally Owens says to start the match and out comes Chris Jericho, Owens’ former bff , whom he turned on the other week on Raw.
Owens is distracted, freaking out, saying he isn’t ready, but Goldberg spears him, hits him with the jackhammer and goes for the pin 1-2-3 and Goldberg wins the match?! The hell?
This is some crap. This means that Goldberg can’t wrestle a match like he used to. He can do like his two signature moves and that’s it. This isn’t exciting, this ain’t fun, this is crap. If he can’t wrestle a full match, he shouldn’t be in the ring, let alone hold the title.
This whole thing is crap, just total crap. The Show started out with some quality matches but that last bit, the last two matches really were decreasing quality, the show should have left us with a clear picture of the Wrestlemania card for the Raw brand but instead were just left scratching our heads. All I can grade this show with after that ending, despite the decent first half, is a D.