Monday Night Raw Review: Goldberg Returns

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This week, Monday Night Raw hailed from Tampa, Florida, and it featured the highly advertised return of Goldberg. What did WCW’s biggest draw have to say? Did Brock Lesnar return for revenge? Has Emmalina made her debut yet? Are there more than three tag teams on Monday Night Raw? There’s only one way to find out. Here’s Ryan Smith‘s Monday Night Raw Review: Goldberg Returns.

Monday Night Raw Review: Goldberg Returns

Mick Foley, JeriKO

When the show kicked off, good ol’ Mick Foley was in the ring. He made fun of himself for saying the wrong city two weeks ago, saying he wrote the name of the city on his hand, before saying the wrong city anyway. Foley reminded everyone that Chris Jericho would be locked in a shark cage during the Kevin Owens/Roman Reigns Universal Championship match the Royal Rumble, when the champ himself and his best friend came to the ring.

Jericho and Owens villainized Foley, saying he’s abusing his power by locking Jericho in the “Cage of Jericho… Lock me in, maaaaan” like “a sexy pinata”. These two were the best thing about Raw after the Brand Split, and it looks like they’re going to carry that into 2017. Foley then announced that the Kevin Owens Show would become an actual talk show, and that Goldberg would be his first guest.

Unfortunately, Stephanie McMahon came out. Fortunately, she was announcing that Roman Reigns would be defending his United States Championship against Chris Jericho, and if Reigns was disqualified, he would lose the title.

Great opening segment. Really fantastic. Though, does everyone need a talkshow? The Highlight Reel, the Ambrose Asylum, Miz TV, the Rollins Report, what’s next, the Daily James Ellsworth? Sorry. I tried.

Segment/Match Quality- 9/10 Woo’s

Kevin Steen vs. Tyler Black Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins

Edgy Ring of Honor Ryan hijacked my computer. I hate that mark. Anyway, Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens faced off with the caveat being that the loser would be banned from ringside during the United States Championship match.

How much Kevin Owens are we gonna get tonight? 20 minute opening promo, match with Rollins, Kevin Owens show with Goldberg, and then the main event? This really is the Kevin Ownens show.

Anyway, Rollins came out flying in this match, he threw Owens around the ring and flew over the ropes twice in the first minute of the match. However, after a fast start, Owens took over and slowed down the pace of the match. This was a great bout because both guys played to their strengths.

Rollins was flying all over the place, relying on his athleticism, while Owens was wrestling like a heavyweight should, using his brute strength. It felt like Rollins could get the upper hand if he could get a running start, but every time Owens hit him, it took something out of him.

A spot that I’ll never get tired of seeing is Rollins reversing the pop-up powerbomb into a leapfrog. During this match, Owens kicked Rollins on the inside of his leg, and Rollins sold it a little throughout the rest of the match. The problem here, and this is true for almost every WWE match, is that he didn’t sell it consistently.

Everything On Sale

Go back and watch Omega vs. Naito from the G1 climax. Kenny Omega sells his knee for the entire match. He would go to hit certain moves, or to pick Naito up, and his knee would buckle. Seth Rollins limped for a second, and then was totally fine.

However, when Kevin Owens hit Seth Rollins with the ringbell, he was disqualified, and banned from ringside for the Reigns/Jericho match. This was interesting. This show has gotten off to a good start.

Segment/Match Quality- 9/10 Woo’s

Cesaro vs. Karl Anderson

This match could and should be really, really, really, really good. The Machine Gun is a seriously underrated worker, and Cesaro is one of the best in the company. Weirdly, Sheamus was on commentary, but Luke Gallows was at ringside.

In a battle of the bald guys, Cesaro and Anderson worked well together. The only problem with this match is something I’ve noticed about a lot of Cesaro matches. They become less about wrestling, and more about displaying Cesaro’s athletic ability. He displays increidble and athleticism and the other guy just kinda takes it.

Correction- Halfway through the match, Sheamus addressed that he and Cesaro agreed to stay out of each other’s business, and that’s why he’s staying on the bench tonight.

Of course, immediately after saying this, Luke Gallows got involved so Sheamus came down to the ring. Cesaro was going to superplex Anderson when Gallows got on the ring and started barking. Sheamus knocked Gallows down, but on the way, he hit the rope, which cost Cesaro the match. It was a solid bout, but Karl Anderson is much better than the WWE is letting him be as a heel.

Segment/Match Quality- 7/10 Woo’s

Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman

As the first hour ended, we started the “Last Man Standing” match between Braun Strowman and maybe the most underrated wrestler in the world, Sami Zayn. As has been the case, Zayn came out in the full Mayweather, using his superior speed to steal hits and evade Strowman.

Then he got a kendo stick and proceeded to attack him. This worked well for a minute, before Strowman ripped it out of his hands and snapped it in half. I like this. Far too often, big guys use weapons, and that’s stupid. The big guys should wrestle like they are the weapon.

Perfect Match

This is a great match for these two. Strowman can’t simply win by pinfall, so he can just keep assaulting Zayn, and Zayn can just keep getting back up. It does wonders for both of these guys, and barring a stupid finish, it’s gonna get 10 woo’s.

These two have the best feud on Raw. It’s fresh, it’s believable, and it’s amazing what they’re doing with one guy who is still pretty green and another guy that’s just incredibly talented. This is the opposite of what I was talking about with Cesaro earlier.

The match eventually made it’s way backstage, then back onto the stage, and eventually back onto the stage. Strowman was teetering on the edge of the stage and Zayn hit him with a diving cross-body, sending them both onto the concrete.

Eventually, Strowman hit his finisher on Zayn outside the ring, and that was enough to finally put Sami Zayn away. This was an amazing match, and both men deserve a world of credit. Easily the best bout of the night so far, and I can’t imagine anything topping it.

Segment/Match Quality- 11/10 Woo’s

The New Day and Titus O’Neil

The New Day announced that they would be in the Royal Rumble, and then something weird happened. Someone came out, mocking the New Day’s theme. That someone turned out to be Titus O’Neil, and he wanted to join the New Day.

He desperately tried to prove he fit in, and while the crowd was feeling it, the New Day weren’t. Xavier Woods had the burn of the century when Titus said his box would look great on the box of Booty O’s, and Woods said the only place people would want to see his face is on the back of a milk carton.

To his credit, Titus responded by saying that Woods was the weakest link in the New Day. That got a reaction from the crowd, so Woods challenged him to a match. O’Neil responded by punching him in the face. Solid segment, and it’s great to see a strong segment from Titus after a rough patch.

Segment/Match Quality- 7/10 Woo’s

Titus O’Neil vs. Xavier Woods

Titus dominated early, using his superior athleticism, but eventually Woods rolled him up for the win. The New Day celebrated, and remember kids, never, ever, ever, shove Vince McMahon. Or else.

Segment/Match Quality- 5/10 Woo’s

Drew Gulak vs. Cedric Alexander

I was okay with this feud before Neville came back. Since that happened, it’s been just annoying. There was a backstage segment where Noam Dar hit on Alicia Fox again, but then some weird stuff happened during the match. Alexander was beating Gulak, but then Tony Nese showed up and bickered with Fox and then Alexander got rolled up. What? What?

Segment/Match Quality- 3/10 Woo’s

Roman Reigns vs. Chris Jericho

The crowd was really, really not fond of Roman Reigns, and they let him hear it. It was a pretty good match. Jericho is really good at wrestling to someone else’s strengths, and Roman is really good at wrestling his style. Jericho sold well, and you could tell they built the match very meticulously.

Reigns was almost counted out, and by almost, I mean he was, but the referee waited an extra second to count. There’s a difference between kicking out at two and kicking out at 2.9999. At two, it was just an unsuccessful move. But at 2.99999, you think for half a second that the match is over. This was a two count.

Halfway through the match, Jericho went full Eddie Guerrero. With the ref distracted, he went and got the United States Championship and pretended that Roman hit him with it. It was great. When the ref didn’t DQ Reigns, Jericho hit him with the codebreaker, but Reigns kicked out, and then he won with the Spear.

Segment/Match Quality- 9/10 Woo’s

Brian Kendrick vs. T.J. Perkins

Gee. Have you seen this match before? The crowd was absolutely dead. The match was brief, iffy, and Perkins won easily with a submission. I can’t wait for the day when Austin Aries makes his cruiserweight debut by running down from commentary and attacking one of these guys. Blah.

Segment/Match Quality- 4/10 Woo’s

Rusev & Jinder Mahal w/Lana vs. Big Cass w/Enzo Amore

This feud is, in fact, still happening and Enzo Amore rolled down to the ring in a wheelchair covered in leopard print. That’s not a typo. Jinder Mahal and Rusev eventually got the win by overwhelming Cass with the numbers game. This is reassuring, because it means they’re not quite ready to give Cass the big singles push just yet.

Segment/Match Quality- 6/10 Woo’s

Bayley vs. Nia Jax

These two match up very well in the same way that Strowman and Sami do. One is the ultimate underdog, and one is a freakish monster. In fact, these matches had a lot in common. Bayley used her superior quickness to escape, and Jax punished her. In fact! That’s the same booking logic that Owens and Rollins used earlier.

Jax was about to attack Bayley from the top rope when, surprise, Sasha Banks’ music hit. Nia Jax was temporarily distracted when Bayley hit Bayley to Belly from the second rope for the win.

Segment/Match Quality- 8/10 Woo’s

The Kevin Owens Show w/Goldberg

The two best friends that anyone could have came out, and instead of a TV, they had someone standing in the ring with a Kevin Owens show sign over his head. The genius continued when Jericho put the entire city of Tampa Bay on the list for chanting Goldberg.

Then Jericho announced that he was going to be in the Royal Rumble match. Kevin Owens was not happy about this, despite Jericho insisting that if they fought at Mania, they get to keep the title. In the middle of their bickering, Goldberg apparently got bored and started making his way to the ring.

Goldberg started threatening Owens and Jericho when Paul Heyman appeared! He was threatening everyone in the ring when Roman Reigns appeared. He stood face to face with Goldberg, and in a moment of Alderaan-esque horror, I realized that could potentially actually happen.

Fortunately, the jolly green giant, fresh off an 11/10 Woo performance, also made his way to the ring. And ya know what happened? Goldberg and Reigns speared him at the same time. Cool spot? Sure. Good storytelling? NO. You’ve spent so much time building this guy, and you just job him out because one guy was entertaining 20 years ago and the other one is kinda related to the Rock. Stupid.

Segment/Match Quality- 5/10 Woo’s

Best Segment/Match of the Night- Strowman vs. Zayn

I mean, this was perfect. This put the rest of a pretty good Raw to shame. It worked wonders for both guys, and it could’ve gone on for hours without getting stale. This is the best feud in the WWE right now, and it’s not even close.

Worst Segment/Match of the Night- Drew Gulak vs. Cedric Alexander

Not only was this match totally forgettable, but it didn’t make sense. Gulak and Nese are buddies, but neither of them are really feuding with Alexander, and at this point, there’s no real contender system for the CruiserWeights. Dar didn’t even get involved, and this all felt pointless.

Show Quality- 8/10 Woo’s

It was a good show that started fast and kinda coasted for the next hour and a half. The match between Strowman and Zayn was fantastic, and we got great matches out of all the great wrestlers. It was good, but the CruiserWeights were boring tonight, and there were too many boring segments like Titus vs. Woods or the Cass handicap match.

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