Holy shit. We heard there was supposed to be a big start to Raw and we got one. Vince McMahon presented his daughter Stephanie with the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award. While Stephanie was accepting, "Here Comes the Money" played and Shane fucking McMahon returned for the first time in nearly ten years. The crowd reaction for him was insane. He declined a hug and handshake from his dad before telling Stephanie that he cut a deal with his dad where he didn't lose his spot in line and he wants control of Raw and the company. Vince agreed but only on the condition that Shane earn it in a match at WrestleMania. Against the Undertaker. Inside Hell in a Cell. It's a random match but goddamn it sounds fun and intriguing. Shane is going to potentially die in the Cell to try and save WrestleMania. This is the kind of start I want from Raw more often. Give me something of interest instead of the same old tired format.
That opening segment literally took up 31 minutes of hour one, but it was very well earned. It was followed by a lengthy but fun six man tag, pitting Neville and the Lucha Dragons against the New Day. It was enjoyable but my only issue was that Neville doesn't really feel important as US Champion. Kofi pinned Sin Cara with Trouble in Paradise. Hours before Raw, Dean Ambrose arrived at the arena, only to be assaulted by Brock Lesnar and taken out in an ambulance and neck brace. Brock and Paul Heyman came out and Heyman complained that Brock didn't have a Mania opponent and it's all Dean's fault for costing him the match at Fastlane. Before they could leave, the ambulance returned with Dean driving, complete with the neck brace. He crawled to Brock who just walked over him. Dean got on the microphone, told Brock to kiss his ass and challenged him to a No Holds Barred match at WrestleMania. Brock laid him out with the F5 and accepted. Well, outside of the main event, WrestleMania sounds much better now.
Up to this point, the show was great, firing on all cylinders. The Usos beat the Ascension next in a short match. It was fine and saw the Dudley Boyz cut a promo on the Usos. It was fine and seems to be leading to another multi-team Mania match. Chris Jericho came out to put over AJ Styles after losing to him. He respect him now. Styles comes out and they shake hands until the Social Outcasts show up. They talk smack (while Bo Dallas is amazing in his role, actually being moved by Jericho and AJ's bonding). It led to a tag team match that Styles and Jericho won. I didn't mind this, but I'm not sure what the plan is for Styles at Mania. Jericho again? Backstage, HHH tells Stephanie to give Roman some news. She finds him and the news is that he'll face Sheamus tonight. Oh joy, because we've never seen that before. Also in the back, we get more teases for R-Truth and Goldust. These segments have gotten progressively worse after starting out pretty funny. Truth smashed a cake in Goldust's face, leading the fans to boo. This whole thing is odd.
The low point of the show is next, and it's a rematch of the bad Wyatt Family Fastlane tag. This time, Bray was actually in the tag and they won. However, they only won because Ryback walked out on his team. Afterwards, he said that he needs to start looking out for himself. Next up, Sasha Banks went one on one with Naomi. It was decent at best and Becky Lynch made the save when Tamina got involved. Becky and Sasha stood tall until Charlotte and Ric Flair came out. Charlotte was wearing a top that mocked Brie Bella's. Charlotte says that next week, Becky faces Sasha to determine the number one contender. She tried to build tension between them, shouting that Sasha was attacking Becky and making Becky jump. The match should be good and hopefully leads to a Triple Threat at Mania because that would easily be the best route.
The main event pit Roman Reigns against Sheamus for the 100th time. They worked their normal match until Triple H showed up in his leather jacket. Michael Cole was awful here, flat out saying "YOU KNOW HOW I KNOW TRIPLE H MEANS BUSINESS? HE'S NOT WEARING A SUIT." God, he's the worst. HHH and Reigns brawled and it was pretty glorious. Triple H beat his ass, bloodying Reigns and hitting him with a Pedigree on the steel steps. While he did all of the this, the crowd chanted for him and even chanted "one more time". When the heel destroys the "top" babyface and the crowd loves it, there is something seriously wrong. Triple H was tremendous in this segment though.
This is what I want from my episodes of Raw. I don't need work rate matches that go through two commercial breaks and mean nothing. Most things on this show felt important and moved things forward. We got build for Dean/Brock, Shane's return, HHH's excellent close and more. 8/10.