Because of a harrowing experience at 7-11 I missed the beginning of Raw. It involved not having a 2 for a 2 for $2, and a flustered cashier fighting the losing fight against technology. I’m about 8 minutes late so I missed whatever talking segment is kicking us off! No!
Missing the beginning is terrible because I start my viewing with a determined walk up the ramp while Kurt Angle looks flustered in the ring. I’m sure the replay will show me 10 times what exactly I missed, but from what I understand it concluded with BRAUN and Roman have a match at Payback. I thought Roman was near death somewhere in a hospital?! He’ll be okay for PAYBACK?!
Chris Jericho vs Samoa Joe
This is happening because a few weeks ago Samoa Joe and Chris Jericho’s former BFF Kevin Owens put Chris through a random backstage table. Also because Joe is a bully. Seth Rollins is on commentary because he and Samoa Joe have a match at Payback and because who doesn’t love Seth Rollins? This is also the moment I remember Booker T is on commentary for awhile and think he and Corey Graves could be fun for a little while. This is a fun match. There’s a good sequence at the end where Jericho can’t muster enough strength to turn Joe over for the Walls of Jericho to show how much of a threat Joe is. Joe wins with a Coquina Clutch despite Jericho’s noble efforts to escape.
Winner: Samoe Joe
Afterwards Joe calls out Seth Rollins on commentary and says that he remembers when he debuted and heard Seth’s ligaments snap. He’s gonna do it again! Seth gets up on the table and answers back, saying it’s never gonna happen and to remember – Payback’s a BITCH! ooooh. Swearing.
We get a backstage now with The Club walking to the ring and happening upon The Drifter sitting around, drifting, playing his guitar. I think it can’t get better when they move to show Golden Truth, who are apparently still around, coming to the ring before GETTING ATTACKED BY BRAUN! He throws Goldust into some metal gate/fence before turning his attention to R Truth who he yells “I SAID EVERYONE!!!” to. I instantly realize I missed a more exciting opening segment than I was first led to believe.
Anderson and Gallows ask for some nerds to fight since their nerd opponents got murdered by BRAUN. In an unsurprising twist we get Enzo & Cass. Haven’t seen this match in about 4 weeks.
The Club vs Enzo & Cass
I just could not care less. Enzo plays the damsel in distress well, but he doesn’t impress me and Cass doesn’t get enough time to impress me. I like The Club, getting stuck in this endless loop isn’t helping anyone. Great ending with Anderson tossing Enzo’s knee into the turnbuckle while Cass knocks himself out of the ring with Gallows.
Winners: The Club
MIZ TV w/ Dean Ambrose
Great, fun segment with Dean interrupting Miz before he can talk about Dean riding his coattails onto Raw. Miz takes some great shots here at Dean for being lazy in his wrestling. He says how he was the #1 Smackdown pick, and look at him now. Dean takes offense to this and says he just has heart! I love Dean, but I’m not sure he shows a ton of heart in his work. I might agree with Miz’s assessment a bit more. The end is nice with Dean slowly emptying his pockets and folding his coat before tossing it at Maryse to attack Miz. Good fun.
BRAUN HAS KIDNAPPED KALISTO AND IS UNITED AIRLINES’ING HIM ALL OVER THE BACKSTAGE AREA!! He is dragging him to a dumpster where he says Roman Reigns is garbage and so is Kalisto, then throws Kalisto into it. Before we can enjoy this greatness too much, Big Show interrupts and slams BRAUN into a garage door. He genuinely sounds like he might cry to me as he asks BRAUN why he doesn’t pick on someone his own size. Poor Big Show hates bullying this week.
TJ Perkins vs Jack Gallagher
TJ Perkins is a bad guy now, and his new friend Neville comes out to the ring to watch this match. Before it can start, Austin Aries introduces himself as another super special guest at ringside. Neville gets a fancy rolling chair because he was expected, but Austin just gets a folding chair. There’s a lot of umbrella shenanigans happening during this match including Gallagher leaping off the ropes with it. TJ continues his evil deeds by tossing Gentleman Jack into Austin on the outside, who goes to confront TJ but gets attacked by Neville. In all of the chaos Jack is distracted and gets a rope to the face and a loss. After the match TJ Perkins hides behind angry Neville as Austin looks on.
Backstage there is a nice little locker room scene with friends Akira Tozawa and Apollo Crews before Titus O’Neill interrupts. Will Apollo join up with Titus Brand?
Someone decided letting Jeff Hardy talk live on air would be a good idea so the Hardy Boys are backstage with not Tom Phillips. Cesaro and Sheamus interrupt and play at the good guy bad guy routine with Cesaro happy to welcome them to the roster, and Sheamus being an asshole. There are little hints of Broken Matt during this segment, though I don’t know if it’s just a nice reminder or it’s an omen of things to come.
Raw Women’s Championship #1 Contender’s Match: Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss vs Nia Jax vs Mickie James
This match is…well it’s kind of a mess. To be fair it’s Nia Jax who makes it a mess most of the time, but it really rubs off on the rest of it because she is featured so prominently. There’s a really messy spot where Nia is bear hugging Mickie and tries to turn it into an arm bar, but it goes on too long and just does not work out. The problem really is that every tough move Nia does looks soft unless she’s actually potentially hurting someone. Alexa gets some good laughs throughout, but isn’t involved a ton – until she wins! By shoving Nia away and pinning Sasha after Nia’s finisher. Which is…I should look that up. The most upsetting part of this match to me is the reaction Mickie gets which is…nothing. To be fair most of her face offense trying to energize the crowd was against Alexa Bliss who was working in her home town, but people need to respect greatness!
Winner: Alexa Bliss
Backstage with Big Show and Chuck Caruso. He…I bet he talks about fighting BRAUN but I had to leave the room.
Finn Balor vs Curt Hawkins
Curt Hawkins is out to challenge anyone since his opponent last week (Big Show) is in the main event tonight. Finn Balor accepts surprisingly since I thought he had a concussion. He doesn’t need to do much though because the match lasts about 30 seconds. He does not look alright in the head though.
Winner: Finn Balor
Backstage we get Jericho being interviewed by not Tom Phillips. It’s actually Mike and I know this now for sure because Jericho calls him Tom again and then ends it by calling him Mike-Tom before trying to put him on the list. He can’t do it because beautiful music starts to play and it distracts Jericho enough to not want to put Mike-Tom on the list anymore. Instead he’ll put the strange Drifter Dandy on the list! Who is never shown, we just have to believe he is the one who gave us the music.
Bray Wyatt interrupts to wax on about the House of Horrors match. It all started with a fire and it will end in a fire. Bray ends saying it all burns down here which just sounds like an IT rip off, which Bray already did because Pennywise is the Eater of Worlds!!
We get another backstage segment before this match involving Dana Brooke and Alicia Fox backstage being friends before Emma comes onto the scene and convinces Alicia Dana has been making fun of her. It isn’t true, but Emma wants to see how she does standing on her own.
Jeff Hardy vs Cesaro
This is a dream match for some, but I just hope Cesaro makes it out alive. I’m probably much too hard on them, but I can’t just let that go. I doubt I’ll have any love for Jeff any time soon. I think Cesaro held the match together very well, and I think Jeff Hardy didn’t kill anyone. I saw people saying they thought he looked pretty good, but I think he looked just “ok”. If we’re wanting the best out there, this nostalgia act just is not it. I hope they go with Broken Matt and let that go somewhere, but I am uninterested in this as of now. Jeff looks tired and just worn down. He manages to kind of hit a twist of fate though, and delivers a good swanton for the win.
Winner: Jeff Hardy
Backstage there is a health update on the men taken out by BRAUN tonight but Mike-Tom is interrupted by Heath Slater and Rhyno! Yeah! They only get a little bit of time before they try to blend into a wall to avoid an angry BRAUN appearing. Rhyno kind of looks like he would fight if he had to, while eating cheese whiz and crackers.
BRAUN vs Big Show
This match is awesome. I enjoyed it all. Both guys actually looked strong, and despite not believing Big Show as a worthy competitor, he more than lived up the occasion. BRAUN has to be the star of this night. Everything he did tonight was absolute gold, but Big Show was a huge part of this. There are great suplexes, Big Show’s knock out punch, and broken rings. Two Big men meeting in the center of the ring. Loving it. It becomes obvious with no digital signs that the ring is going to break, but they tease it for so long I almost didn’t believe it. I loved this match. Holy cow.
Winner: NO CONTEST BROKEN RING! But BRAUN because he stood tall.
WATCH THIS MATCH: BRAUN vs Big Show Can’t believe I’m saying it. I got worked by the god damn Big Show. I thought this match was fucking great. a Super good time and I loved every minute of it. This is an example of why big men are important. I don’t give Big Show enough credit sometime because I didn’t say it, but someone did where I saw it – what Big Show can offer BRAUN has to be invaluable. I am so impressed. This was an exciting end to the night.
SKIP THIS MATCH: Enzo and Cass vs The Club You’ve seen it, we’ve all seen it. Curt Hawkins and Finn Balor doesn’t count as a match, too short.
Final Thoughts: Well, we’re definitely outside Wrestlemania Zone. I didn’t think it was a particularly strong show, outside BRAUN, though I do think Payback is building up nicely. The BRAUN stuff is totally worth a watch though, and I have so much more respect right now than I did for Big Show even when this night began. Alexa Bliss’s facial expressions coming to Raw is real nice. Finn being alive is nice even if he did look dead inside. Miz/Ambrose Miz TV was a highlight as well. It was at least not a boring show. I would check it out if you’re mulling it over.
You can always fine me over at hm_pufnstuf on twitter if you like wrestling and talking about it. Happy Days.