Tonight’s RAW is the WrestleMania go-home show, which is in one of the smarkiest wrestling cities on the planet, and will for sure let WWE know when they don’t like something. That means WWE is going to up the ante, doing things for the crowd in attendance that will give them something to cheer, far more than they may have if RAW were being done in say, New Orleans, which has a typically quiet arena. A month or so ago, I felt like the build towards ‘Mania would be the perfect time to bring up Enzo Amore and Big Cass, both because the Tag Team division needed a boost, and because the go-home show was in Brooklyn, which is more or less home-base for Team SAWFT. I’m done expecting that to happen though, the Tag matches are set, that’s not going down, and if we see Ezno and Cass, it won’t be until next week’s after ‘Mania RAW. Still though, I expect for some craziness tonight, if only to get people pumped up for ‘Mania; that’s not to say we’ll see a debut or a Title change, but we will get some interesting setups, and “final showdowns” –I say that because Smackdown will actually be the final face-to-face interactions before ‘Mania.–
I think my biggest question heading into ‘Mania is, “what will main event the Grandaddy of them All?” I’m not entirely sure whether or not we’ll get the answer tonight, because I would imagine the decision won’t be made until we’re knee deep in WrestleMania itself; but, the way we see The Undertaker and Shane McMahon interact, along with what closes out RAW, if it’s the aforementioned feud, Roman Reigns and Triple H, or even Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose. Rumors have circulated that Triple H and Vince McMahon have argued back and forth about whether or not the Title should main event, with some rumors claiming Triple H was for the Title, and others saying Triple H feels like the Title match doesn’t have enough weight behind it, and the Hell In A Cell (HIAC) match should headline. Personally, if it comes down to Reigns winning clean, with nothing major happening after the match –no heel turn, no run-in,– then the HIAC match should be the one to take the stage at the finish of ‘Mania. Shane and Taker have more at stake in the grand scheme of things, with the power of RAW at stake, along with Taker’s possible exclusion from future WrestleMania’s and/or retirement. If The Deadman is in essentially a Retirement match, he should be headlining or at least be the co-main event.
That brings me to what happens between Shane and Taker tonight. The two of them interacted two weeks ago, with Shane saying that Taker is indeed Vince’s “bitc*“, and Taker not taking that too kindly. The last time out, Taker gave Shane a Chokeslam with a little help from Vince shoving Shane into Taker; but has Taker seen the light, has The Deadman realized that he’s merely doing the bidding of Vince? Is that why Vince added the stipulation of Taker’s WrestleMania career being on the line, to prevent Taker from backing out? I see Vince bringing Shane and Taker to the ring one last time before ‘Mania, Taker removing Shane with another Chokeslam, Vince celebrating that his son is getting beaten up, and then Taker grabbing Vince by the throat, and sending the Chairman of the Board for a ride as well. If this is the last time we’re seeing Taker out there, why not have him also be the last one to do a finisher to Vince? If it’s not going to be back to back Chokeslams, then Perhaps we’ll see Shane get the upper hand, hit Taker with all he’s got, then leave the ring, only to see his father get in Taker’s face for letting Shane get the advantage; either way, Vince is going for a trip to Hell.
Reigns and Triple H haven’t had much of a successful build towards their Title match, but if we can get an explosion out of them tonight, with the two having to be separated by the entire roster or else they’re going to tear the arena down to its foundation, it would go a long way. Reigns has done himself a lot of favors by being less talkative, and going straight for the throat whenever he’s been on screen; but this is how he should have been acting since the Royal Rumble, instead of returning to the version of Reigns that so many fans rejected, and then trying to backtrack. I’m still looking forward to this match, because I think it’s got potential to be a great outing for them both, but I wish the story had more feeling to it. I see Reigns pissing Triple H off at the start, then Triple H sets up a multi-man Handicap match for Reigns, Triple H comes out at the end of the match to kick Reigns while he’s down, Reigns finds a boost of energy, goes after Triple H, and they have to be yanked apart.
Charlotte faced Sasha Banks on Smackdown in a singles match that seemed to come out of nowhere. I was shocked WWE would pit the two against each other so close to ‘Mania, but perhaps that was a way to have Charlotte face one on Smackdown, then tonight on RAW Charlotte will face the other. If Charlotte faces Becky tonight, I see Becky getting the win, and Sasha returning the favor, rushing in to attack both women, just like Becky did last week. The worrisome thing is the fact that Sasha won against Charlotte last Thursday, Becky hit her Bexplex on both Sasha and Charlotte, then Sasha hit Charlotte with the Backstabber before leaving the ring. If Charlotte suffers a similar fate tonight, it almost solidifies that Charlotte will leave WrestleMania with the Diva’s Championship in hand, only to lose it to the incoming Bayley in the very near future. I hope I’m wrong, I want to see Sasha get her ‘Mania moment, but could also understand giving the Title to Becky, who could really use it to amplify her young career.
Kalisto and Ryback have had plenty of backstage segments, where Ryback tells Kalisto that The Big Guy eats Kalisto’s body weight in food every morning, but we’ve not seen them come to blows yet. I question whether or not it will happen, but if it does tonight, I see Ryback kicking Kalisto in the stomach, lifting the high-flyer up for the Shell Shock, only to have Kalisto flip his way out, sending Ryback flying with a variation on the Hurricanrana. While I could definitely picture a world where WWE just has Ryback do something big and mean to the US Champion, so we feel like Kalisto really doesn’t stand a chance, the fact that none of that has happened yet makes me wonder if that’s the route they’re going to go. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Ryback to be beating up Kalisto this whole time, tearing the Luchador down and then getting in Kalisto’s face to brag about being the bigger dude? WWE didn’t go that route for a reason, but I’m not sure if it’s because they’re waiting to unleash the full weight of this match at ‘Mania, not giving any hints at all as to how it’ll play out, or if it’s because WWE hasn’t wanted Ryback to look like a full blown heel, like he would have if Ryback was blindsiding a guy who’s a quarter the size of Ryback.
Kevin Owens found out last week that he wasn’t just facing a single opponent at WrestleMania as Owens had been planning, instead, Owens has six superstars all vying for his Intercontinental Championship. Owens was in a Tag match with The Miz against Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler last Thursday, where Owens tried to abandon Miz not once, but twice, with the second time resulting in Owens getting caught on the ramp between those in the ring, and Owens’ other three opponents at ‘Mania, who had come out to block off Owens’ escape. The fact that Zayn picked up the win, but then got attacked by Stardust, which led to Sin Cara getting taken out, and Zack Ryder finding a way to be the last man standing, says to me that we’ll get a 6-Man Tag match tonight, with Owens, Miz, and Stardust on one team, Zayn, Ziggler, and say, Ryder on the other, with Sin Cara being the odd man out. I could also see Owens being taken out of the equation, with the IC Champ sitting on commentary, while Ryder takes his place on the heel side, and Sin Cara joins Zayn and Ziggler. We’re guaranteed a match between these seven tonight, in some form, but I don’t think it would be a singles match; although that would be preferred for sure. If we could get a Zayn vs Ziggler match, where Ziggler wins, leading to Ziggler calling out Zayn if/when Zayn wins the IC Championship at ‘Mania, because Ziggler defeated Zayn recently. It would make it so Zayn would immediately have two feuds going at once, one with a heel, another with a fellow baby face, where the feeling is totally different, but the Title seems more important because more than one person is competing for it at once.
Chris Jericho still hasn’t accepted AJ Styles‘ WrestleMania challenge, which makes me think it’ll happen tonight. AJ has a match against say, the one person who isn’t in the IC 6-Man Tag match, with Jericho interfering at the end once again, attacking Styles, and as Y2J stands over a battered Styles, Jericho accepts, but adds a stipulation. We’ve seen these two go at it three or so times now, so for me, it’s time to add a little heat to the match; if only so it feels different than the other ones we’ve witnessed already. I’m not sure the route that could be taken, with the popular stipulations already taken, but maybe WWE can find a way to hang a Cage and the HIAC above the ring at the same time. In the past, feuds would end in the Cage, but with a HIAC match taking place as well, I’m not sure that makes sense. I worry it’ll be a normal match, which will feel like them competing on Smackdown, but if it’s booked in an interesting way, it’ll be elevated by the stage they’re performing on.
The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal will find it’s next say, 5 entrants on RAW tonight, with the remaining entrants being revealed on Smackdown. Thus far we know it’ll be the Social Outcasts, Kane, Big Show, and Tyler Breeze; tonight, I think we learn that The Wyatt Family are officially in as well, minus Luke Harper, who’s apparently suffered a pretty severe knee injury. I’d be more than okay with the full rundown being shown tonight, where 17 get in the ring at once, fighting one another, and then Bray Wyatt‘s theme hits, him, Braun Strowman, and Erick Rowan come confidently down the ring, get inside, and clear out the ring. It’d be a big moment for sure, show the domination the Wyatt’s are capable of, and shine Bray up a bit heading into ‘Mania.
Ambrose got beaten to hell at the hands of Lesnar on Smackdown, but tonight, Ambrose gets one final gift from a hardcore legend, who will it be and what will they be bringing? I’d love to see a shocking ECW name, maybe Raven gives Ambrose a shopping cart to carry everything, with a few of Raven’s favorites in the basket? I know Raven sued the WWE years ago, so he might not be in the best position with the company, but it’d be a coold thing to see. Lesnar is going to be on the show as well, so if Ambrose is getting something from a legend, I expect to see Ambrose wielding it tonight to fend off Lesnar or even getting the chance to attack The Beast Incarnate. If we get Ambrose attacking Lesnar in the parking garage or somewhere in the back, I will squeal without shame.
Then there are the surprises and question marks, like Nikki Bella showing up, which confuses me to no end. Nikki isn’t capable of getting in the ring, so what use would she be in backing up her sister when Lana and her squad show up? On top of that, John Cena is in New York today doing other TV stuff, and hinted he might show up as well. Cena coming in to hype up ‘Mania is fun, but I don’t know what he could really be capable of, especially after hearing that Cena is out until August. It’d be fascinating to see if Cena comes out to talk to Taker and Shane, saying he would like to see Shane make some changes, but also noting that if Taker finds a way to win, Cena wants a shot at The Deadman at next year’s WrestleMania or even at SummerSlam later in the year this year. If Cena utters a word about ‘Mania next year, the HIAC match finish is 100% going in Taker’s favor, but if it’s SummerSlam, then that technically could happen, since Vince said no more WrestleMania’s, not that Taker would flat out have to retire.
That’s The Lowedown on what I think happens on RAW tonight. Thanks for reading, and remember to watch more wrestling!
The future is bright and full of suplexes!
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