With WWE Fastlane concluding Sunday night, the WWE’s flagship RAW brand focused squarely on WrestleMania beginning Monday. Goldberg and Brock Lesnar agreed to one final encounter on the grand stage several weeks ago, even before the WWE Universal Championship entered the equation, but the rest of RAW’s WrestleMania matches only started taking shape at WWE Fastlane and the night after.
The WWE made two matches (semi) official for Camping World Stadium on April 2 with several others being teased. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho were featured in the opening segment and proceeded to agree to a United States Championship bout in Orlando. Sasha Banks beat Bayley to make the WWE RAW Women’s Championship match a triple threat with those two and Charlotte, though Nia Jax is still expected to be added to the mix to make it a fatal four way.
The night ended with the WWE’s weapon of destruction, the Undertaker, choke-slamming Roman Reigns in the middle of the ring to further set-up their collision at WrestleMania. That program began at the WWE Royal Rumble when Reigns eliminated the Deadman from the eponymous main event, and the ever-popular stare-down ensued.
Enzo & Big Cass challenged Gallows & Anderson for the WWE RAW Tag Team Championships, but Cesaro & Sheamus got involved, resulting in the match getting thrown out. Next week, Cesaro & Sheamus will face Enzo & Cass on WWE RAW to determine definitive number one contenders for the belts, but it’s expected that the championship bout will involve all three teams in what will become a triple threat.
Neville has arguably been involved in the WWE’s best matches on consecutive nights Sunday and Monday, and his WrestleMania plans seemed to become clearer when an interview with Austin Aries got physical. It’s expected that the two will battle for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship in four weeks.
In the midst of all that, the WWE also managed to book themselves into a corner on two separate occasions Monday night, as covered in the most recent episode of Wrestling Observer Radio. Never mind that the booking for the top women’s program is coming across backward, but there were issues with two other segments that WWE had trouble putting a bow on.
In the opening segment with Owens and Jericho, WWE newcomer Samoa Joe ran in to attack Y2J until Sami Zayn evened things up. The WWE then booked a match between Jericho and Joe for later in the night. However, they went ahead with the match without a suitable way out. Both superstars needed to come out of the night protected, and that may not have happened on Monday. Jericho has his WWE WrestleMania plans set, and while Joe may be in limbo at the moment, he needs to continue to be booked strong.
The other instance of WWE seemingly dropping the ball was during the main event segment. All night they were teasing another confrontation between Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns. When Strowman called out Reigns, it was the Undertaker, instead who answered the challenge. The Deadman stared Strowman down to the point where the Monster Among Men retreated out of the ring and through the crowd.
Now, there’s the possibility that the brief stare-down between two of the WWE’s behemoths was done to tease something down the road, but after months of pushing Strowman in proper fashion, the WWE has devalued him in his last two appearances alone. For now, the proposed WrestleMania match with Reigns and the Undertaker is of higher priority, but Strowman was done no favors.
He’ll likely be plugged in as fodder and filler for the Reigns-‘Taker program until eventually he’s inserted into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. He is still expected to be the favorite in the WWE’s new annual ‘Mania match, but he’s also been dropped several pegs after getting a monster push since the brand split.
[Featured Image by WWE]