It was the last edition of WWE Monday Night Raw before Sunday’s WrestleMania event. In wrestling terms, they call it the “go home show” because it’s the last time (for the Raw brand) to sell the television audience on the event they are going to watch on Sunday. As is usually case this time of year, it was a Raw filled with a lot of promos, replays of things from the past and video package. There were only four matches in three hours this week.

There was no General Manager on this show. Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon fired GM Mick Foley last week. They didn’t announce a new GM this week or give any idea of when a replacement might be tapped. It may be on next week’s Raw after WrestleMania, but we don’t know yet.

I’m going to format the column a bit different this week and touch on the three major feuds that were featured heavily in prominent spots: Rollins vs. Triple H (top of hour two), Reigns vs. Undertaker (top of hour three) and Goldberg vs. Lesnar (main event).

Triple H warned Rollins as they signed their contract

WrestleMania season is also contract-signing season, so they had a segment where Triple H and Seth Rollins signed their deal for a WrestleMania match. It was the “hold harmless agreement” where Triple H told Rollins that if he signed that and got hurt at WrestleMania, then he can’t sue Triple H, Stephanie, the company or anybody else. Rollins was happy to sign it.

After the signing, Triple H kicked the table into the right leg of Rollins. That led to Rollins to selling the leg in pain until he came back with a jumping kick to the head of Triple H. Each guy went for a Pedigree and couldn’t connect with it. Rollins hit a back body drop that sent Hunter over the top to the floor. When Hunter went back in the ring, Rollins hit him in the back with a crutch and that ended the segment.

The match is officially a Non-Sanctioned Match. I thought it was well done because it showed Rollins is going to be physically okay for the WrestleMania match. The story is that Rollins shouldn’t be wrestling, but he wants to do it. It’s easy to root for a guy like that.

I’m not sure if Rollins is going to get the win at WrestleMania or what kind of match they are going to have. However, it makes no sense for Triple H to get the win since he’s a guy in his mid-40s who is a part-time wrestler.

Roman Reigns and The Undertaker exchanged words

The build up to Reigns and Undertaker at WrestleMania saw them each hit signature moves on the other man. Undertaker hit Reigns with a Chokeslam a few weeks ago and Reigns came back with a Spear last week.

This week on Raw, there were clips of The Undertaker digging a grave a few different times during the show to build to what was to come later.

Reigns went to the ring and was booed heavily by the Philadelphia crowd. He smiled as he said he won the 2015 Royal Rumble in that building. The crowd hated him for saying that. When he noted he headlined the last two WrestleManias, the crowd booed him for that as well. When speaking of The Undertaker, he said with a lot of confidence: “I’m going to put the Deadman down.” Reigns didn’t care about Goldberg, Lesnar, Cena or Undertaker because the sold out arena is his house and the ring is his yard. That was an awesome promo by Reigns if he’s going to be a huge heel. If he’s still a face, then that promo seemed way off base because he came off as very arrogant.

The Undertaker showed up on the video screen speaking from a grave site. He spoke about how he dug Reigns a grave isolated from the other souls in his collection. There was a shot of a tombstone that said: “Roman Reigns – April 2, 2017.” The lights went out in the arena and when they came back on, The Undertaker told him at WrestleMania, he’ll rest in peace. They stared at each other, The Undertaker lowered the lights again and that ended the segment.

Their other segments they did were better than this, but I liked Reigns’ promo a lot. Undertaker digging the grave is good symbolism. I’m picking Reigns on Sunday since he’s the younger guy and I really hope it’s the start of his heel turn.

Goldberg delivered another Spear to Lesnar

The main event segment was promoted as a face-to-face segment between Universal Champion Bill Goldberg and Brock Lesnar.

It started at 11 p.m. ET with Lesnar walking out to the ring with his advocate Paul Heyman. It featured Heyman talking about how Lesnar was going to beat Goldberg. It’s the same stuff Heyman has said for months.

Goldberg showed up after about seven minutes, said they didn’t have to wait until WrestleMania and charged to the ring. Lesnar left the ring, Goldberg charged and hit a Spear on the floor. Goldberg went back in the ring, Lesnar sold it as a big deal and that was it. I left the show thinking: “That’s it?” It felt anticlimactic. If they did a wild brawl to end the show, I guarantee you people would be talking about it the next day. Instead, I doubt anybody cares too much about what they saw here.

Lesnar should leave with the Universal Title at WrestleMania. He’s ten years younger and Goldberg appears to be limited in what WWE wants him to do. I’ll have more thoughts on their match in the preview later in the week.

That’s a wrap on the big segments. I didn’t think any of the three major segments stood out as being that exciting or special. That’s a big problem with Raw these days. They don’t know how to make things feel that important anymore. I don’t think I’m being negative in saying that. It’s just how Raw is in 2017.

This Week’s Raw Matches

There were only four matches on the show. Two other segments were teased as matches, so I’ll include them as well.

Bayley & Sasha Banks defeated Charlotte Flair & Nia Jax

The Raw women started the show off with a promo. Bayley talked about growing up a wrestling fan, Charlotte interrupted to insult her, Sasha talked trash to Charlotte and Nia Jax joined in to say they all better be worried about her.

Prior to Raw, it was announced that Bayley vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha vs. Jax would be an elimination match instead of a one-fall match.

They got about 13 minutes with the heels working over Banks for most of it. Bayley got the hot tag, Banks sent Jax into the ring post on the floor and Bayley finished off Charlotte with the Bayley to Belly for win. It was smart to give Bayley the win since she lost two weeks in a row to Jax.

After the match, Jax knocked down all three women and held up the Women’s Title to show what she hopes to do on Sunday. I’m not sure who my pick is on Sunday. It’s either Bayley or Charlotte. I’ll decide when I write the preview later in the week.

Austin Aries defeated Noam Dar

It was announced that the Cruiserweight Title match between Neville vs. Aries will be on the Kickoff Show.

Aries got the win after about seven minutes using the Last Chancery submission hold. Dar got some offense in, but not that much. Nobody believed he was going to win the match.

Over The Top Rope Challenge Featuring Big Show

There was an “Over The Top Rope Challenge” where Big Show was booked in a dominant way. He eliminated the likes of Jinder Mahal, Bob Dallas, Primo and Epico easily. Those guys were joined by Goldust, Curtis Axel & R-Truth. Those Raw losers teamed up to eliminate Big Show together. Show went back in the ring and beat them all up.

After the exhibition was over, Braun Strowman did a promo telling Show that he’ll see him in the Battle Royal at WrestleMania. Strowman is the likely winner of the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. This segment was done to tease the obvious Big Show/Strowman showdown in the Battle Royal at WrestleMania. It was fine, but do people care about battle royals in 2017? I don’t think so.

Neville defeated Jack Gallagher

The match went seven minutes just like the Aries match earlier. Funniest moment of the night was Gallagher jumping off the top rope with an umbrella in his hand as he jumped onto Neville on the floor. Neville came back with a Superplex followed by the Rings of Saturn submission to win.

After the match, Aries did a promo talking trash to Neville. They should have a great match on Sunday.

Tag Teams Feuded With Ladders

There was a backstage segment earlier in the show with Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson attacking Cesaro & Sheamus with ladders.

During Gallows & Anderson’s entrance for a match against Enzo & Cass, Cesaro & Sheamus showed up to attack Gallows & Anderson with ladders. All three teams brawled around the ringside area with Gallows & Anderson standing tall after using the ladder as a weapon.

As I was writing this today, WWE announced that this would be a ladder match at WrestleMania. Why not announce it during Raw? I don’t know. They prefer to do things on their website and social media sometimes.

I think Enzo & Cass will win the Tag Team Titles. If they don’t do it that would be an opportunity lost.

Sami Zayn defeated Kevin Owens in a No Disqualification Match

The match was set up by evil Stephanie because she doesn’t like Zayn. She said if he wins then he can be in the battle royal at WrestleMania. If Zayn lost then would be fired.

There have been a lot of Zayn/Owens matches, which isn’t a bad thing since they are great. This felt different from the norm because of the No Disqualification stipulation. I like how they fought into the crowd, did big spots like Owens hitting a DDT on the steel steps and Zayn hitting his leaping Tornado DDT on the floor as well. Samoa Joe showed up to try to distract Zayn, but Chris Jericho was there to help Zayn because Jericho hit Joe with a chair to the back. The distraction allowed Zayn to get a rollup for the win.

Post-match, Jericho hit Owens with a chair to the back. After Owens left, Jericho put Owens on “The List of Jericho” and was cheered for it.

That was the best match of the night. It wasn’t outstanding by any means, but I liked the intensity and the finish drew a good reaction. Of course, it would be better if Zayn went over clean. That doesn’t happen often enough.

Other Key Items From Raw

There wasn’t much else worth talking about, but I thought the video package summarizing the Triple H/Rollins feud was outstanding. I included it above.

Looking Ahead To WrestleMania

The next WWE pay-per-view event is WrestleMania 33 in Orlando, Florida on April 2. Here are the matches announced for the show.

WWE Universal Championship: Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar

The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns

WWE Championship: Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton

Non-Sanctioned Match: Seth Rollins vs. Triple H

AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon

United States Championship: Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens

John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse

Raw Women’s Championship: Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax

Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin

Raw Tag Team Championships: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Enzo & Cass vs. Sheamus & Cesaro

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. other Smackdown women – match type not yet confirmed

Andre the Giant Battle Royal – Some of the names announced so far are Braun Strowman, Sami Zayn, Big Show, Mojo Rawley and Apollo Crews. I think Braun Strowman will win it.

Cruiserweight Championship: Neville vs. Austin Aries (Kickoff Show)

That’s 13 matches, and if they include the Smackdown Tag Titles then that’s one more.

Also, Pitbull, Flo Rida and friends will be there performing the “Greenlight” song as well. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I actually don’t mind a musical act because we’re all going to need a bathroom break.

In Closing

It was an average edition of Raw. I don’t think they promoted any of the WrestleMania matches in such a way that it drove up interest even more for Sunday. Fans are going to watch because it’s WrestleMania and not because of anything they saw on this week’s show. The wrestling was standard stuff, there was a lot of talking and the main event was pretty boring considering what it could have been.

I’ll be back later in the week with a WrestleMania preview and then on Monday I’ll be right here with a recap of WrestleMania as well.

About John Canton

John has been writing about WWE online since the late 1990s. He joined The Comeback/Awful Announcing team in 2015. Follow John Canton on Twitter @johnreport or email him at mrjohncanton@gmail.com with any comments or questions. For more of his wrestling opinions, visit his website at TJRWrestling.net. Cheap pop!

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