Monday's episode of Raw was an important one. The show was going to set up a number of performers in terms of their direction for WrestleMania and players like John Cena, Braun Strowman and others who had yet to find opponents were about to punch their ticket to the biggest show of them all.
Nia Jax had another strong showing, Cena and Roman Reigns cut promos that were unlike any the WWE have seen in, well maybe forever and some of the storylines added layers of depth that will make them intriguing to watch over the next few weeks. The show wasn't perfect though.
The company announced a Battle Royal that is receiving all sorts of controversy, they had one man run through an entire tag team division and the hottest thing on Raw in the past few weeks wasn't there to further her match.
Here your winners and losers for Raw on March 12, 2018.
Winner: Bayley and Sasha Banks
There could be a number of ways to run the storyline between Sasha Banks and Bayley and WWE appears to be choosing the right one. With Bayley hesitant to help her "friend" she was out there to ensure Sasha wasn't taken advantage of during her match but as soon as that match ended, left. Of course, Sasha then received a beatdown at the hands of Absolution and Bayley was nowhere to be seen.
Fans watching were likely waiting for Bayley to come back for the save (that's what often happens) but she never did. Who is the heel here? How will this end? Not knowing is refreshing.
Loser: Ronda Rousey
Understanding that Ronda Rousey is not going to be on every episode of Raw, this was the first time since her debut that she wasn't on the show and Raw felt like it missed her a little. Her story and the feud with The Authority has the most buzz in WWE right now and without three of the four members of that match on the show, there's a little concern some of the momentum will be lost.
In stark contrast to how the absence of Lesnar is helping the storyline with Roman Reigns, Rousey's absence has the opposite effect. Hopefully, WWE doesn't keep her off too long.
Winner: Nia Jax
With two strong performances in consecutive weeks, Nia Jax is proving to be worth the screen time. She's both emotional and dominant and believable in each role. Alexa Bliss will have her hands full and WWE made a wise choice moving Asuka over to Charlotte so Bliss and Jax could do battle.
By the time WrestleMania rolls around the WWE Universe will want Jax to completely destroy Bliss and that's the way these types of feuds should go. Make the heel absolutely hated and make you want to cheer for the challenger in the worst way. Fans feel sympathy for Jax now, despite the fact she's a force, unlike anything the women's division has seen in ages.
Loser: The Bar and The Tag Team Division
The Bar will have to face Braun Strowman (and likely a partner of his choosing) at WrestleMania 34. That's the bad news. The worse news is that fact that now The Bar represents a tag team division that just got manhandled by one person and looks extremely weak.
Is what just happened really a good look for WWE? We know Strowman is a Monster Among Men but did the WWE really need to punk out the entire division to prove that point? The company already ran an angle that no team could match up to The Bar, now no team (actually five teams together) can match up to one man? Strowman walked through ten other WWE Superstars and won the battle royal with relative ease. It was a poor choice on the part of WWE.
Winner: John Cena
When was the last time anyone called out The Undertaker the way John Cena did on Monday? Better yet, when was the last time a WWE Superstar blurred reality and storyline with The Deadman? Never. The Undertaker is one of those characters you play up all the way but Cena called him out in a way that means he'll have to respond. Referencing his Instagram workout videos on his wife's account is a new way to come at The Undertaker and it's refreshing.
The idea of Cena not being at WrestleMania could have been intriguing if done right but a match between Cena and The Undertaker trumps that.
Loser: The Fabulous Moolah Battle Royal
With all due respect to the Women's Division in WWE, the idea of a Fabulous Moolah Battle Royal is ridiculous and for so many reasons. First, there aren't enough women on the roster to make this match worth watching. If we thought the men's match was bad enough having all the leftovers of the roster thrown in, the women's match will be filled with competitors fans have absolutely no passion for. Second, it's just another way to get everyone who works in WWE on the card and will make the kickoff show and WrestleMania far too long. Third, Moolah is not who the match should have been named after.
There's already a petition to ban this match considering Moolah was known for pimping out, bullying and serially abusing women during her run as an in-ring competitor. According to many, she was the most selfish female athlete WWE had ever seen and the company is celebrating her with a match at WrestleMania.
Winner: Roman Reigns
What WWE is doing with Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns is smart booking. We can't always say that about storylines heading into WrestleMania. Trying to keep Lesnar's appearances lower and get fans behind Reigns' cause, WWE is suggesting Lesnar is abandoning WWE and Reigns is standing up for the fans and the company, but he's doing so in a way to get right in the face of the authority who he believes is representing the wrong side.
By blurring the lines between in front of the camera and behind the camera action, the story feels fresh and inventive. All the while, Reigns is cutting some of the best promos of his career.
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