After starting with a recap of the past two weeks we get a rousing promo with a charismatic virtuoso in the ring – a shark cage! Roman Reigns is there too though and he just does not get a show off to a hot start. I keep thinking that maybe I don’t give him a chance, but no – no, I’ve given him plenty of chances. He SUCKS in this role they’re giving him to play. He talks about his title match at the Rumble before he’s interrupted by Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. They do the exact same bickering they do every single week, and it somehow ends with Roman roping a US title match out of Chris Jericho later tonight. Jericho and KO are gold as always, and Roman is a pretty background figure I guess.
Cesaro (w/Sheamus) vs Luke Gallows (w/Karl Anderson)
Because for some reason WWE thinks if a tag team is feuding they can only have matches preceding that match that contain each other. Both partners are out in the beginning, but Sheamus eventually runs Karl Anderson off after he gets a cheap shot on Cesaro outside the ring. Cesaro shows why he is a fire performer, but the match is nothing special especially after their great match last week. Eventually Karl Anderson returns and takes Sheamus out causing the distraction as the ref misses Gallows tapping to dismiss Anderson. It of course leads to Gallows picking up the win.
Winner: Luke Gallows
Backstage speaker phone party!! Mick Foley is talking to an MIA Stephanie McMahon about the US Title match later tonight when Sami Zayn decides to interrupt and ask Stephanie to hold. Yikes. He wants to be in the rumble, but before Mick can agree – Stephanie says he has to earn it by beating Seth Rollins tonight. Mick then takes the phone off speaker to get dastardly news to give to Seth Rollins courtesy of Steph.
We get a sitdown interview with Corey Graves and Raw Women’s Champion #1 Contender Bayley! I like Bayley, but I’m often unmoved when she talks. She’s been pretty good lately, and she was fine in this, but it was a retread of the interview she gave a few weeks ago backstage where she said she was “Just Bayley”, and I liked that better. I felt it more.
Because who needs wrestling?!?! we get another backstage with Mick and he’s found Seth Rollins! Sami Zayn doesn’t just have to earn his spot tonight….he has to earn SETH’s spot. Damn. Ice cold Stephanie.
Royal Rumble Spot on the Line: Seth Rollins vs Sami Zayn
We get just a goddamn treat that should be headlining our show tonight. Both of these guys are phenomenal athletes, and I love watching them wrestle anyone but it is just great when they’re together. It’s a pretty back and forth match with some high spots and both guys proving why they’re made to be baby face performers. We get the finish when Sami tries to go for a helluva kick on the apron outside the ring but gets a kick to the gut and a pedigree that does look pretty great for his trouble. Seth is about to pin Sami and make his way to the Rumble when HHH’s music hits! It plays for awhile before Seth finally brushes it off and turns around only to wind up in a small package and on the other end of a loss. Wow. The emotion played after the match is almost as good as the match itself. Seth looks devastated to have let himself get distracted, and when Sami sees him looking so upset he gets angry as well. What a terrible situation the authority has put us in. Seth stomps off, Sami celebrates and so do we. GREAT match. I could never explain to you fully how great a match like this is with just my words. You must watch.
Winner: Sami Zayn
TJ Perkins, Jack Gallagher and Mustafa Ali vs Drew Gulak, Tony Nese and Daivari
You know I do give WWE some credit for trying to give us as many of the cruiserweights as they can even if they are short matches. I actually really liked this match too. It was shorter than I would have liked but I thought the guys we haven’t seen a lot of (or not at all like Mustafa Ali) looked great. Jack Gallagher gave a massive headbutt to Daivari during a brawl in the ring so that was nice as well. Faces get the win because they’re showcasing Ali this week. Which they should! I don’t really know him, and now I’m intrigued.
Winners: Perkins, Gallagher and Ali
I lost my place, but somewhere in here Seth Rollins is stalking around backstage looking for HHH. He does not find him of course but he comes across Mick Foley who puts the blame on Stephanie and the production truck. Seth is furious still and wants HHH. Yeah, you’ll get him. Right when ratings naturally go up so that he can claim he’s the King of Kings of ratings.
New Day is out after I am pretty sure assaulting Sasha Banks’s husband backstage. They are interrupted pretty early on by Enzo and Cass so I found this pretty annoying until good ol’ RUSEV comes out with new best friend Jinder Mahal and Lana. They get a pretty huge USA chant going against them, but once someone starts with that I find it’s easy to catch on. Easy. The highlight of this segment is Rusev asking why Big E and Big Cass need the big when he doesn’t need the HANDSOME in front of his name. He speaks truth, not alternative facts. They’re interrupted by Titus and we get a pretty funny exchange where he claims they have a 4 on 4 match up next and Xavier points out they have 5 and one of the other team’s 4 is Lana, but the laughs are over when the last partner for Rusev, Jinder and Titus is revealed as none other than BRAUN.
Enzo, Cass and the New Day (Kofi and Big E) vs Handsome Rusev (w/Lana), Jinder Mahal, Titus O’Neil and BRAUN
This match is a goddamn mess. Rusev actually gets medical attention after getting hit by Kofi which is amazing because if you told me someone hurt someone in this match I probably would have named one of two others as the culprit. It ends like you imagine it would – BRAUN destroys Enzo Amore. Enzo puts up what I guess we’ll call a noble effort but it does not work out. After the match we get what we’ve ALL been waiting for – the return of the Big Show! Good lord. He does look good, but he also looks real worn down by the time he makes it to the ring. BRAUN walks away because he does what he wants WHEN he wants and he doesn’t feel like sharing big guy status with Big Show right now.
Winners: Handsome Rusev, Jinder, Titus and BRAUN. I think this might mean Titus gets to be in the Rumble. Also, gotta find out what’s wrong with Rusev.
US Title Match: Chris Jericho (c) vs Roman Reigns
I love Chris Jericho but the most exciting thing about this match was Kevin Owens mocking Byron Saxton on commentary and even that became a bit much. It’s just not an exciting match because if you’re me, you can’t bring yourself to feel for Roman Reigns in this role or want him to win. It ends when KO interferes and there is a DQ and Jericho and Owens try to put Roman in the shark cage. They fail of course, and KO ends up inside with Chris hanging to his hands as the cage ascends. Roman delivers a pretty nice superman punch to bring him down and then gives a spear in the ring as KO looks on. The crowd outside those screaming little voices does not care. When we get back from break we get Jericho getting KO out of the cage and them yelling at Charly Caruso who has great news – Roman vs KO at the Rumble is no now DQ! Jericho have fun dropping things from the cage to your friend!
Winner: Roman Reigns by DQ
We get the sitdown between Charlotte and Corey Graves now and I think this is infinitely better than the Bayley one earlier. Charlotte is a star, and she comes across like one just like her father did. At this point I’m fine with Charlotte walking into Mania still the champ, but I don’t know that she holds off until then. That really should be where someone takes her crown though.
Nia Jax vs female jobber who kind of looks like Candice LaRae!
Nia wins this in about 10 seconds and waves away Charly before giving a memorial to the career of Sasha Banks. We get a WHAT chant because the world is a cruel and evil place, but Nia actually does okay with it. Sasha is out of course with a crutch but she loses them by the time she beats Nia down with them.
Winner: Nia Jax
Rich Swann vs Noam Dar (w/Alicia Fox)
Austin Aries: “Noam loves the hot chocolate more than Cedric Alexander!” Hahahahaha. I really enjoy Rich Swann. Nothing against Noam Dar, but I look forward to seeing if Swann can continue to get the crowd behind him. It’s hard, the crowds aren’t hip to the cruisers yet. They need more marquee matchups and more time. Swann hits a wicked kick to end the match and take out Dar then calls Neville out to the ring. Neville answers his call, but just taunts Swann by coming to the ring and leaving, but Swann suicide dives and takes him out. Swann standing tall going into the Rumble – gonna probably see Neville head out as champ from the Rumble which is probably the right move.
Winner: Rich Swann
Before we get to the big Goldberg Finale we get more crazy Alicia Fox when she interrupts a Cedric Alexander interview with Noam Dar. It just turns into Cedric knocking Dar down and Alicia screaming, really.
MAIN EVENT: Goldberg…
He spits on the way to the ring so that’s…nice. This is uh, wow a clusterfuck. He is sweating, his shirt is torn and his head is bleeding. He also has no idea what he’s saying and I am pretty sure he thinks he’s fighting Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental title. This is painful and watchable segment you have to see to believe. We’re saved by Paul Heyman who has a hard time saying Braun Strowman, but he brings out Lesnar so we’re lucky Goldberg doesn’t die after probably giving himself a concussion backstage? No idea what happened. Before Brock and Goldberg face off the lights go out and the bell tolls and when they come back on quickly Undertaker is in the ring gasping for breath. It ends with the three of them facing off and Taker’s music playing and does this mean one of them is winning the Rumble? Well I certainly hope not.
Final Thoughts: There was one GREAT match and a couple okay matches. It was not a great Raw to take us into the Rumble, but I do think there are portions everyone needs to watch. Who is winning the Rumble? I for some reason keep thinking there is going to be some Samoa Joe surprise or possibly the Balor surprise I expected a couple months ago, but it’ll probably be BRAUN. Or Taker. Or…gosh you know, the great part is that no matter what I honestly don’t know going into the show. Usually it seems like such a forgone conclusion. It’d be more exciting if we had a good Raw to lead us in.
WATCH THIS MATCH: Seth Rollins vs Sami Zayn as soon as you can! Watch this match because it is a solid effort by both men and I think the emotions are running high.
SKIP THIS MATCH: Enzo, Cass and the New Day vs Rusev, Jinder, Titus and BRAUN. It was lame. The Big Show spot at the end was lame. Only Handsome Rusev saves all.
Until next week when hopefully we’ve seen a great and entertaining Rumble that I make it home for!
HM_Pufnstuf on twitter!