WWE Raw: The WrestleMania 33 Go-Home
March 28, 2017 5:28 AM - Season 25, Episode 29 - Subscribe

With a WrestleMania card all but locked into place and bursting at the seams, Team Red heads to Philly to finishing setting the stage.

This is man-on-the-inside SpiffyRob. Last night, I blew the lid off of one of WWE's greatest mysteries: It turns out, the Undertaker just comes from under the ring! He doesn't teleport at all!

Pretty unremarkable show! I was mad at the crowd the moment the CM Punk chants started during the women's promo, but we were blessedly free of significant "What?" chants. Excellent "Trust the Process" chants towards the end of what was another ho-hum live event. Seems the next thing we'll get is Battleground in July, but alas, I'll be out of town.

Onto The Grandest Stage of Them All! The Showcase of the Immortals! The Show of Shows! The Greatest Spectacle in Sports Entertainment! Potentially the last mixed PPV before the next draft! (Don't even get me started on that. Not ready to think about Styles on Raw.)

ATG Battle Royal: Strowman, Big Show, Zayn, others.
Seems like anyone other than these three winning it would be only slightly more pointless than one of these three winning it. Winner gets the honor of having this added to his entrance announcement for the next year. Corbin's entrance will never be the same, so soak it in tonight!

WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries
Because we can't have nice things, what may well be the best technical match of the night happens before the damn thing starts. Aries' push has been a lot of fun, and Neville continues to thrive as the heel champion the Cruisers needed from the get-go.

Unconfirmed: Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. TBD
Legit surprised they won the belts last week, but great call. They're awesome as heels and AA, much as I love them, wasn't doing much of anything except wrestle well.

The Real Show (in no particular order):
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
Money Mack's luster has certainly worn off a bit, and it's frustrating that this is the best match they could put together for Styles. I am sure this will be better than most are expecting because AJ can pull 3.5 stars out of just about anyone. Have to imagine this will turn into a no DQ match tonight, or suffer from some serious sleepy ref syndrome.

Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
It's certainly easy to believe that Reigns wins, Brock wins, and they square off at SummerSlam in some kind of clumsy "Guy who beat the streak vs. guy who also beat Undi at WM" kind of thing. Undertaker looks bad in the ring and for everyone's sake, I really hope this is his last match. The build up to this feud has been entirely forgettable and largely about ownership of somebody's yard, I think? Certainly not impossible that Roman turns heel but see above re: nice things.

Non-Sanctioned Match: HHH vs. Seth Rollins
Dumbest stipulation of the night, but arguably the best build of anything on the card (Orton/Wyatt the only other real contender.) What seems to have been an entirely legit injury of Rollins has been worked into a really great story. The Samoa Joe piece of this seems to have fallen by the wayside as he was kind of sort of folded into the Owens/Jericho feud, but with Zayn in the Battle Royal, it seems like he might be involved. Wonder if any of his old friends from NXT might drop by as well?

John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse
Mixed tag matches are dumb when played by WWE rules. This one might be alright. Miz's heel work continues to impress, and Cena's current stint has been pretty enjoyable. With so much talk about the match ending with a proposal, you'd think there might be a swerve (SmackDown is usually a little more unpredictable) but given that this is the match they're giving Cena as a sendoff, that's probably the WrestleMania feel good moment. Yay.

Raw Tag Team Championship: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Cesaro and Sheamus
Congrats to everyone involved with Raw in making sure I don't care even a little bit about this match, even though I like all three teams. The Tag Team and Women's divisions of both brands desperately need to be reworked in the draft.

Raw Women's Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
See above. This tag match was actually a lot of fun last night, and a Sasha heel turn could spice things up a bit, but they're running out of ways to have these four square off against each other.

United States Championship: Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens
I've largely been assuming that Owens would win the blowoff and Jericho would bounce for a while, but he might be the most over person in the company right now, so it's hard to imagine him taking a walk. My understanding is his agreement with WWE is largely ad hoc, so who knows! Regardless: This could go on for another year and I'd be thrilled. Both are great on their own, but whether best friends or feuding, they are amazing together.

Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Baron Corbin
Probably Corbin's biggest match to date, and I think he'll deliver. I saw on reddit that Ambrose probably logged 190k miles of travel on behalf of WWE last year. What a guy. I doubt this will be the end of these two working together.

Smackdown Women's Championship: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Everybody
This got messy and weird. I hope things go back to normal after WM, because this women's division is working. They have, at times, had as many as three totally separate storylines going, sometimes all in the same night. Not bad for a two hour show with only one Horsewoman!

WWE Championship: Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Randy Orton
The actual main event, but I bet it's not last! Orton burning down the cabin was some really great horrific WWE stuff. Wyatt proved he still ain't no face last week. Heel vs heel for the top belt in the company. What a time to be alive! Given that Randy has been solidly caring since Summerslam, this is probably the favorite for non-preshow match of the night.

WWE Universal Championship: Goldberg (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
Saw a comment elsewhere that this feels like a friend of yours told a joke once, and it absolutely killed, and now he tells it to you every time he sees you. In WWE's defense, the joke worked at least twice: Both Survivor Series and Royal Rumble were legitimately shocking. But then Fastlane. Maybe Goldberg can actually, somehow, wrestle for 10 minutes. Regardless of who wins, another stunty result is gonna leave a bad taste in most people's mouths, I think. It's a shame, because there really is something to this. Heyman was, of course, masterful last night.
posted by SpiffyRob (11 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Blast. Typo in the first sentence spotted right after I posted. Saddest trombone.
posted by SpiffyRob at 5:29 AM on March 28, 2017

Raw Tag Titles match is now a ladder match. I... literally have no idea how I didn't see that coming after last night.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:04 AM on March 28, 2017

Raw Tag Titles match is now a ladder match.

They're really laying down the hints for a Hardy return, ain't they.
posted by Etrigan at 11:29 AM on March 28, 2017

Did... did they just blow Naomi's return on SD?
posted by Etrigan at 11:59 AM on March 29, 2017

I feel like that signals both that she'll take the belt back AND that there's probably a bigger debut/return than that in store...
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:15 PM on March 29, 2017

Anyone have any interest in filling out Prediction Cards for Sunday? I'm gonna be doing one at my watch party so I figured I'd ask.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:54 AM on March 30, 2017

Honest to goodness, I can not fathom attending WM itself, let alone the fact that people who go seem to go to other shows over the course of the week. I skipped the kickoff show in its entirety, despite it having matches I would have liked to have seen. I was falling asleep during the Taker match, which felt like a great shame on my part due to the clear historic nature of the match. I will say this: if you skip everything between matches and all musical interludes I think you legitimately shave 90 minutes of WM, which is really a staggering amount of non-wrestling time. I started the show very late but easily caught up before the main event by jumping from one match's end to the next's start. I think I missed some cool entrances and probably a few amusing backstage bits, but whatever.

Now, nearly a whole week removed and with a RAW and Smackdown behind me, here are the thoughts that have stuck with me:

Shane is a hard working, dedicated SOB. That match exceeded my expectations and Shane in particular had clearly busted his ass in order to be able to come out and do more than throw dumb looking rabbit punches and some mauy thai knees. AJ is obviously the best partner one could hope for in the WWE at the moment.

Brock/Goldberg also exceeded my expectations, which came from a combination of really low expectations but also some clever writing. Whoever said "you know what, let's have 5 minutes of finishing moves, 1 surprise kickout, and a 50 year old man landing on his head 10 times" really had a great idea there.

The Hardy's return was amazing, but I swear to god if someone doesn't get in Vince's ear fast and say "you know, folks didn't really want a Hardy return because they missed Team Extreme" it will have been an epic waste.

Crossing my fingers that The Revival doesn't get lost in the stacked tag division of Raw.

I'm actually pretty nervous for where Finn goes from here. He doesn't seem to fit at the top of RAW right now.

God I want Dillinger to get over on the main roster. I think that guy has legit (if raw/inexperienced) talent, and he got a completely shit gimmick over in NXT.

I love Kurt Angle. Recently I've been wondering if the "Angle years" aren't my favorite WWE period. Not strictly because of Kurt, though he played a huge part, but the time between his debut and departure always stand out in my memory as enormously entertaining. Here's to a second golden age of Kurt!
posted by jermsplan at 9:41 AM on April 7, 2017

And just like that, The US Title is the hottest belt in the company.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:04 AM on April 12, 2017

And just like that, The US Title is the hottest belt in the company.

I'm really intrigued as to how they're going to handle the World title in the wake of the Universal Champion being a part-timer. It makes it seem significantly less to have Orton out there defending the belt (or, worse, not defending the belt in pointless grudge semi-squashes), especially when Owens has the "secondary" belt and is far more over in every sense.
posted by Etrigan at 6:40 AM on April 13, 2017

Right: How do you get the belt off of Lesnar without him losing, and surely he loses to Roman and that isn't until Summerslam.

Or do you strip him of the belt for some "violation" and let him go rogue/chew up the league until Roman finally stops him?
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:48 AM on April 13, 2017

For what it's worth, the shake up really did move around a lot of folks I wouldn't have predicted. Hopefully the next couple weeks prove out that they have a plan, because right now the title picture on RAW looks a little questionable.

Oh! They actually have a totally stacked lineup on RAW just no big-draw champ. Is it too much to dream that we won't even miss the Universal or US Title because there is going to be a giant King of the Ring or Bound For Glory tournament or something?
posted by jermsplan at 1:46 PM on April 14, 2017

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