So, it's the go home Raw before WrestleMania, meaning it needs to be big. We start with a bang as Sting comes out to speak to open the show. He says that he's the last soldier from WCW but isn't doing this for them, he's doing it to take Triple H down. Sting was in form and seemed full of energy as Stephanie McMahon came out. She was looking nice and ran down Sting for a bit. She went to slap him, which she always telegraphs by turning sideways, so he blocks it. Someone has been scouting Stephanie! Triple H is out, and gets serious. Stephanie gives him the sledgehammer so Sting busts out the bat. They don't rumble, as Steph talks Hunter down and they leave. Sting wants to fight as the segment ends. This was fine as having Sting around is cool, it just needed more of just him before it was cut off. He seemed pumped to be out there alone. Moving on, Nikki Bella announced on the Pre-Show that she will give either AJ Lee or Paige a Divas Title shot tonight, but the catch is that they must choose which one of them gets the shot. Also, the fans get to choose Randy Orton's opponent tonight. Will it be Kane, Big Show or Seth Rollins along with J&J Security? Our opening contest is a tag team bout consisting of some of the IC Title ladder match contenders. Dean Ambrose and R-Truth bested Luke Harper and Stardust. These have to be two of the oddest teams in history. Truth gets the win for his team and dances with Ambrose. Bad News Barrett was on commentary throughout. Decent stuff.
Our next bout was a ten man tag featuring participants in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. Miz, Mizdow, the Ascension and Adam Rose lost to Ryback, Erick Rowan, the Prime Time Players and Zack Ryder. Look at Ryder getting a win on Raw, even though it was Ryback who scored the pin. What made this rather annoying was guest Bill Simmons and his back and forth with JBL on commentary. I'm fine with Simmons being on Raw, especially to promote the upcoming E:60 special that looks excellent, but the bickering was annoying. Next, the fans picked Seth Rollins and J&J Security to face Randy Orton. J&J did most of the work while Seth avoided combat. That was fine because we should keep their interaction to a minimum. Obviously, Orton wins after Mercury takes an RKO.
We see a recap of Michael Cole's interview with the patriotic John Cena before being told that we are gonna have our favorite match tonight, Rusev vs. Jack Swagger. Guess how that will end? Paige and AJ Lee decided Paige would get the title shot tonight, even though she called AJ crazy. These two girls got eleven or so minutes and killed with it. It was a candidate for match of the night. The worst thing about it was Brie's grating "COME ON NIKKI" all throughout. The finish came as AJ accidentally elbowed Paige, allowing Nikki to retain. Paige and AJ brawled after the bell. Really good match that the crowd was pumped for it, which is good. I still wish the Mania match was a Fatal Four Way but still.
Tonight's other guest star, Snoop Doog, is out as Summer, Rosa and Alicia dance with him. I'm surprised Emma didn't dance too. Or at least Sasha Banks since she's related to Snoop. Anyway, he promotes Mania until Curtis Axel interrupts. This leads to a Hulk Hogan appearance, which was a cool surprise since it wasn't advertised. Hogan gets in his catchphrases before Axel rips his AxelMania shirt. Hogan lays into him, Snoop tosses him over and out and poses with Hogan, despite having the skinniest arms I've ever seen. We get told that the Tag Team Title match on Sunday is Tyson Kidd & Cesaro vs. New Day vs. Los Matadores vs. the Usos on the Pre-Show. Sigh. Yet we have to see Kid Ink and others perform. We get a rematch of the 6 Being Interspecies match from Smackdown. This time, El Torito wins for his team by pinning Natalya. This was just there.
We are told of an eight man tag for Smackdown pitting John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns and Mark Henry against Bray Wyatt, Seth Rollins, Big Show and Kane. Meh. Time for Rusev vs. Jack Swagger for the 11th or so time. Rusev wins easily. Swagger should leave and go to Lucha Underground as the Todo Americano character from the video game. No? Oh well. Rusev doesn't stop the attack so John Cena comes out. He saves Swagger here but not his teammates back around Survivor Series? Rusev beats up Cena and poses with the title and Russian flag. Decent Mania build here. Bray Wyatt came out for a promo, which was excellently delivered again. He did the signature Undertaker pose and it's a pretty incredible feat that he built this match all by himself.
Next, we find out that Kevin Nash is going to get inducted in the Hall of Fame this year. They then do a Burger King Chicken Fries segment with Kidd and Natalya that was funny. Our main event followed as Dolph Ziggler took on Daniel Bryan. The fans voted in the other most popular guy in the company, Dean Ambrose, as the special referee. Solid main event, though I've see these guys do better. I liked the fact that they started friendly before getting aggressive. Dolph surprisingly won clean, which made me a bit sad because Bryan should be headlining Mania, not losing in the midcard. Anyway, Ambrose attacks Ziggler after the bell, bringing out all of the Ladder match participants. They all brawl and it ends with everyone laid out. The match has been poorly built but should be fun regardless.
It's now time for what the WWE has promoted all night long. Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns coming face to face. Brock and his odd looking stubble was out with Paul Heyman first. Heyman cut another excellent promo that built the WrestleMania main event a million times better than creative, Brock or Roman has been able to do. After he talks for a ton of time, we finally see Roman Reigns appear. Brock raises the title in his face, and Roman snatches it. That gets an "ooh" from me and the fans. I was like "this is gonna be good." Then it wasn't. Because all that happens next is Brock and Roman play tug of war with the belt. That's it. Face to block. Like two toddlers wrestling over a toy. Seriously? You pay Brock a TON of money per appearance and you waste it on this? A fucking tug of war? This has been the worst built Mania main event that I can remember and this segment was one of the worst possible ways to end the go home show for Mania.
Overall, I thought the episode of Raw itself was really enjoyable. Nothing was spectacular, but it was still good. Sting was great to see, the Divas absolutely killed it,Bray's promo worked and Dolph had a damn good match with Bryan. The only real issues I had with the show was the lazy Smackdown rematch with the Tag Team Champions and the pitiful ending to the show. Words can't describe how bad that was. 7.5/10.