Monday Night Raw Review: Royal Sendoff

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Monday Night Raw hailed from Cleveland, Ohio, and it was the final episode of the Red show before the Royal Rumble. Brock Lesnar and Goldberg are scheduled to appear, and like we do every week, we question if Emmalina will finally make her debut. Will Rumble positioning be announced? Will Triple H return? Find out in Ryan Smith‘s Monday Night Raw Review: Royal Sendoff.

Monday Night Raw Review: Royal Sendoff

Roman Reigns, JeriKO

The number one contender for Kevin Owens’ Universal Championship opened the show, and Chris Jericho’s shark cage was already in the middle of the ring. The big dog circled the cage and declared that with Y2J in the cage, he would easily win the ugly red belt.

This brought upon the wrath of the Cleveland crowd, and then eventually Jericho and Owens. The two came out and received a massive pop from the Cleveland crowd. Jericho was brilliant as always, calling Reigns a stupid idiot and coining the nickname Chris Salamico.

Jericho said he could go beat up Reigns anytime he wanted, and there was some breaking news. Because apparently, without any announcement, Reigns is the match-maker for Monday Night Raw now. Yep, because he decided Jericho’s boast was a U.S. title rematch challenge.

Suspiciously, Owens accepted the match, obviously with nefarious means. He made it seem like he wanted his buddy to prove he was better than Reigns, but it was obvious that he wanted Reigns to be beat up for their title match and Jericho beat up for the Royal Rumble. Well done.

Segment/Match Quality- 8/10 Woo’s

Cesaro vs. Luke Gallows

So after the confusion in last week’s match between Sheasaro and The Club, we get Sheasaro vs. The Club at the Royal Rumble, but if that week is too long to wait, we also get Sheasaro vs. The Club tonight on Monday Night Raw. Get all that? Good thing the Rumble is only $9.99.

Raw has to do something about this tag team division. The Club, the Certified G’s, Sheasaro, and the New Day are the only legitimate tag teams on Raw, and frankly I’m tired of seeing them wrestle. This has been the biggest problem with the brand split.

Karl Anderson interfered early, but Sheamus chased him out of the ring, and basically out of the arena. After a while, Cesaro matches all start to look the same. He gets beat up, and then he displays his truly fantastic strength, and then uppercut city.

Then, because this is Monday Night Raw where the rules are made up and the wins don’t matter, Cesaro distracted the ref long enough for Sheamus to hit Gallows. Back in the ring, Cesaro had Gallows tapping out but the ref was distracted by a returning Anderson.

A superkick and a sideslam later, Gallows pinned Cesaro, and I really hope they just put the straps on the Club already. It’s about six months too late.

Segment/Match Quality- 7/10 Woo’s

Backstage, there was a segment with Stephanie, Mick Foley, and Sami Zayn, where it was announced that Sami Zayn could only be in the Royal Rumble if he beat Seth Rollins. However! If Zayn won, then Seth Rollins would be removed from the Royal Rumble.

Seth Rollins vs. Sami Zayn

Indy wrestling doesn’t matter. Nowhere on the indies could you see a match like Seth Rollins vs. Sami Zayn. Guys like Tyler Black and El Generico better watch this match and take note, this is what wrestling looks like.

This was a wrestling clinic. Hard to get emotionally invested though, as it’s almost definitely going to end in a funky finish. WWE is doing a good thing in raising the stakes, but a band thing when you know it doesn’t really matter.

These two have fantastic chemistry. Next time either man is champion, they need a title program. A pay per view long match could be phenomenal. It’s so much fun to see Rollins wrestling someone other than Jericho, Owens, or Strowman. These two are easily the best wrestlers on Monday Night Raw.

I can’t say enough about this match. Plenty of false finishes, fast-paced action, and *gasp* in-ring psychology. How embarrassing is it for WWE that neither of these men will be competing for the WWE championship at the Royal Rumble?

After a ton of great spots, including a Pedigree on the ring apron, Triple H’s music hit. The Cleveland crowd marked the hell out, and Zayn was able to roll the distracted Rollins up for the win.

Segment/Match Quality- 10/10 Woo’s

Ariya Daivari, Drew Gulak, and Tony Nese vs. Mustafa Ali, T.J. Perkins, and Jack Gallagher

Hopefully throwing six cruiserweights in one match means we won’t have three meaningless matches. Back in WCW, the CW’s had their own division, but the matches meant something and they showed up other places.

However, this match did involved the Monday Night Raw debut of Mustafa Ali, a wildly talented cruiserwright from the greatest city on Earth, Chicago. He was dressed like a power ranger, but that didn’t stop him from displaying the athleticism the division has been missing. He rolled in and out of the ring effortlessly, including one great spot where he rolled through the ropes and without stopping, hit a cutter. Ali got the win, and it wasn’t a bad segment.

Segment/Match Quality- 7/10 Woo’s

The New Day, The Certified G’s, Rusev and Jinder Mahal w/Lana, Titus O’Neil

The New Day were bragging about how they were going to win the Royal Rumble when the Certified G’s came out, and Big Cass announced he’d be joining the Rumble. Then! Jindesev came out and something beautiful happened.

Rusev said he was joining the rumble, but also that he thought it was ridiculous that Big Cass and Big E need to call themselves Big. “It’s obvious that you’re big, nobody has to call me Handsome Rusev”. So it’s done. From now on, in these articles, he’s Handsome Rusev.

Titus O’Neil came out, and I fell asleep for a minute, but he announced an 8-man tag. This caused Titus to introduce his tag team partner… Braun Strowman.

Segment/Match Quality- 4/10 Woo’s

Handsome Rusev, Jinder Mahal, Rusev, Titus O’Bore, and BRAUUUUUUN Strowman vs. The New Day and The Certified G’s

Why is Xavier Woods sitting this match out but Enzo Amore isn’t? Enzo is fantastic on the microphone, but not a good worker, and Woods is hideously underrated in the ring. This is absolutely ridiculous to me, but what do I know, I just work here.

Matches with Braun Strowman are like time-bombs. The first part of the match is a formality as eventually, Strowman is going to come in and crush everyone. At one point in this match, Jinder Mahal was in the ring with Enzo Amore and hey kids! It’s the attitude era!

Thankfully, the time-bomb went off, Strowman came in, and quickly pinned Enzo, bringing this match to a close. Is Strowman going to win the Rumble?

Before the segment ended, the Big Show came out, and I’m not lying, the crowd popped. The crowd popped for the Big Show. In 2017. The two giants stared each other down before Strowman eventually walked away. Not a bad segment, but the Big Show’s involvement was the best part.

Segment/Match Quality- 5/10 Woo’s

Chris Jericho vs. Roman Reigns

There was a match inside this match. While Jericho vs. Reigns 900 was great, Kevin Owens was destroying Byron Saxton on commentary. He took every chance to belittle Saxton and put Jericho over. It was fantastic. At one point, Jericho and Owens had a long-distance high-five, and I’m really dreading the obvious breakup.

Meaaaaanwhile, Reigns and Jericho were actually having a pretty good match. You don’t need details, because it looked the same as every other Jericho/Reigns match ever. Eventually Owens came in and hit Reigns for the DQ, and then he called for the shark cage.

For whatever reason, the cage started lowering, and it looked like the best friends were determined to lock up the number one contender. Owens got Reigns into the cage, but the Samoan Superman escaped and locked Owens in the cage.

The cage started rising with Jericho holding on, but he ate a Superman Punch and fell down. It would’ve been so much better if it was a spear, but, oh well. Still a fun spot. Reigns hit the spear on Jericho, and the Cleveland crowd responded nicely. Great segment.

Segment/Match Quality- 8/10 Woo’s

Nia Jax vs. Ray Lyn

This match was 15 seconds long. That’s not an exaggeration, I googled Ray Lyn to make sure I was spelling her name right and the match was over. Nia Jax was cutting a promo on how she broke the boss when Sasha Banks came out on a crutch.

However, it didn’t look like she actually needed the crutch as she beat Jax with it. After tossing Jax through the ropes, Banks hit her with the double knees and apparently she was fine with that because she watched Banks walk away.

Wait, that’s it? Really? Really? *Raspberry*

Segment/Match Quality- 2/10 Woo’s

Rich Swann vs. Noam Dar w/Alicia Fox

As great as Rich Swann is, his title reign has been overlooked by Neville’s heel turn. If Neville doesn’t win the CruiserWeight Championship, then they should just throw the belt away. I guess Alicia Fox is with Dar now?

So does Neville or Alexander interfere first? Let’s find out! As great as Austin Aries is, and as wonderful as it is to see him on Raw every week, they’re messing with the commentary dynamic.

During the rest of Raw, Corey Graves plays heel commentator. But when Aries joins up, he becomes the heel commentator and Graves plays babyface. It’s small, and easy to ignore, but still! Nitpick away!

Swann won pretty easily, which we haven’t seen a lot of on Monday Night Raw. It doesn’t feel like the cruiserweights have a booker as much as someone who kinda haphazardly throws matches together at the last minute.

After the win, Swann called Neville out to the ring, saying they didn’t have to wait until Sunday. Neville granted his wish, power-walking to the ring. The King of the Cruiserweights tried to walk away, but Swann dove through the ropes at him. Swann threw Neville into the ring but the man formerly known as Pac escaped.

Segment/Match Quality- 5/10 Woo’s

Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, and the Undertaker

Before we get into the actual segment, I have to laugh about the guy that tore his shirt off during Goldberg’s entrance. Never change, WWE Universe. This segment was super, super weird. Goldberg was randomly bleeding from his face and he couldn’t get through this promo about the Royal Rumble.

Thankfully, the master of promos, Paul Heyman came out. He broke down the possibilities for the Royal Rumble, and all the opponents that Goldberg could face, and then he brought out Brock Lesnar. Heyman predicted that Lesnar would be the one that would eliminate Goldberg.

Lesnar got in the ring and was staring Goldberg down when… GONG!

Friendly reminder-

Undertaker was in the ring with Goldberg and Lesnar and! and! and! the show ended.

Really? Really? No chokeslam, F-5, or jackhammer? oh.. okay.

Segment/Match Quality- 6/10 Woo’s

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

Great match? Check. Good story? Check. Unexpected spot? *Motorhead Plays* Check. Wow. What an amazing match. It won’t keep Rollins out of the Royal Rumble, but it was unexpected and a ton of fun. More of this please.

Worst Segment/Match of the Night- Nia Jax vs. Ray Lyn

WWE is still using jobbers to enhance Jax because there just aren’t enough women on Raw. Did SmackDown REALLY need Mickie James? Because seriously. Ray Lyn. And then bringing out Banks, so she can pretend to be injured, so she can barely attack Jax, who sells it even less, and then nothing happens? Horribly dumb segment on a great episode of Raw.

Show Quality- 9/10 Woo’s

Before the show, acclaimed broadcaster and two-time BITWC Champion, Conner Fleegle said that he had a feeling it would be a good episode. Well, he was absolutely right. This show had plenty of action, stories that evolved, and few bad spots. A lot happened, but it didn’t feel like a three hour show. Plenty of mark out moments for the Cleveland Crowd, and the Royal Rumble should be a blast!

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