by Elliot Dyson
After a night of disappointment and frustration, Raw began with what we all needed: the gift of Jericho. Y2J has had one of the greatest runs of his career since his heel turn before Wrestlemania 32 and I’ve been slightly fearful that his positioning as the face in his feud with his former best friend, Kevin Owens, would be a steep downhill slope in terms of the quality of Jericho (plot it on a graph, maaaaan?). Thankfully, Y2J isn’t back in full dad-mode yet and his work as the GOAT heel will likely carry him over in our good graces ‘til after Wrestlemania.
Owens and Jericho booked a US title match at ‘Mania before a brawl between the two began. Samoa Joe emerged to help KO gain the upper hand (adding weight to the idea floating around of Triple H’s new stable), before Sami Zayn ran to the ring with a chair to even the playing field. It could be seen as illogical that Zayn and Jericho would fight arm in arm after all they’ve been through, but they’ve been bonded through mutual betrayal, because Owens apparently can’t maintain a friendship and I’m happy to buy that story.
After the break, Owens took on Zayn (again) and they put on a well balanced affair, before the former took the upper hand and let loose an assault that showcased the wide variety of his move set (ahem, Goldberg). Owens took the win after a second Pop Up Powerbomb and came out looking as mean as ever.
Later in the show, Chris Jericho took on Samoa Joe in an awkward-to-book match in which no man could really come out looking weak. The veteran performers put on a good show that ended with Jericho being counted out after being trapped in a Coquina Clutch outside the ring. While Joe was celebrating, Y2J sprang to his feet and delivered a Codebreaker to “The Destroyer”. There you go, a match in which nobody looked weak, kind of.
3-HOUR SHOWS TEND TO HAVE SOME FILLER:
– Goldberg came to the ring for a promo and was derailed by “CM Punk” chants (because Chicago). Paul Heyman interrupted the new (old) champion and welcomed his client, Brock Lesnar, to the ring for a “handshake”. Obviously, this ended with Goldberg eating an F-5.
– Enzo & Cass got a rematch against Gallows & Anderson. Sheamus and Cesaro appeared and caused a disqualification. Regardless of what Foley says, we’re still definitely gonna end up with this triple threat at ‘Mania.
– Austin Aries wasn’t on commentary for the second Cruiserweight match of the night.
– Akira Tozawa beat Ariya Daivari, then called out Brian Kendrick (nothing really came of that).
– The New Day beat The Shining Stars. Something about ice cream. I don’t know.
– Ugh, Byron Saxton. I mean, I understand his role, but ugh.
– Bayley tapped out to Sasha Banks, setting up a Women’s Championship triple threat for Wrestlemania.
– Triple H appeared via satellite (from backstage) and repeated his whole thing about Rollins and Wrestlemania.
The second segment of the night saw Rich Swann invoke his rematch for the Cruiserweight Championship and, while the match was very enjoyable, it’s not really what needs discussing. Obviously, Neville retained the title and after the match he informed his interviewer, Austin Aries, that nobody is on his level (why aye pet and all that). Aries gave Neville a few chances to rethink that comment before socking him one reyt in the ruddy kisser. The segment ended with Aries holding the Cruiserweight title aloft, likely (hopefully) setting the scene for Wrestlemania.
The night’s final segment saw Braun Strowman try to regain some face after his clean loss to Roman Reigns at Fastlane. That didn’t work out for the future mid-carder (I’m as upset about it as you). Upon calling Roman to the ring, the Titantron blared out some familiar tubular bells (probably church bells but whatever). The Undertaker strolled to the ring as fast as hip would allow, before Strowman silently backed down and left the arena, looking for the first train to the Impact Zone.
Roman Reigns showed his annoyingly beautiful face, informing ‘Taker that he’s a big dog and dogs live in yards and this one is his and woof woof etc. The Deadman responded with a Chokeslam that made my smarky editor a happy little baby. It was badass as all heck, to be fair. It’s a shame this will all end with Roman retiring The Undertaker.