The Greatest Raw After The Raw After The Raw After WrestleMania

There’s, in the best way possible, a real Edge and Christian “Five Second Poses” era vibe to Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens right now, which given their considerable comedic chops is probably the best thing for them. They need to pull back from the vicious, violent killers that they were on SmackDown, in part because they need to build the animosity with Kurt Angle as an extension of everyone’s relationship with Stephanie, not as an extension of their issues with authority figures. Even in his (relatively) diminished state, Kurt could mess their worlds up in a way it’s just not feasible for Shane to have ever been capable of. They also had a taste of what wicked might be coming their way at WrestleMania with Daniel Bryan, so it should be understood if they don’t want it with Kurt.

On top of that, Angle being able to wrestle but not being an active “injured” performer or real-life authority figure like HHH adds a kind of sizzle in his feuds with talent that hasn’t been on Raw since William Regal was (and is still the) GM (of my heart). HHH’s character is great — I’m in agreement with The Masked Man that he’s at the best he’s ever been right now — but a feud with him represents always such an opportunity cost for the rest of the card because of the gravity of the performer himself and the idea that if you beat him, he just comes back stronger eventually. When someone defeats Kurt, it will be an event unto itself and not a means to an end, which is precisely what you want from a character like that. And in the mean time, he can mess with the performers feuding with him by proxy.

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Which is how we got Braun Strowman/Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn. Normally, we try to keep things as chronological as possible, but given that the match was both somewhat meaningless and of a piece with this segment, it just feels right to jump to it as soon as possible. As is the case with most tag matches involving him, Braun’s ever expanding star power pulsates through the crowd. While I hope he never becomes a full time tag team performer, if you haven’t see him take a hot tag, you haven’t seen Shakespeare the way it’s meant to be played. The rest of the participants “get their shit in” before building perfectly to Braun’s supernova entering the frame. In this week’s case, it involved him literally running through two of the biggest stars in the company without making them look like chumps. Or, at least total chumps, as KOSZie are douchebag heels if there ever have been. Even Bobby Lashley looked good, if not great, working with Sami and Kevin. It’s unclear what Bobby Lashley’s ceiling is, but it’s obvious that his floor is “better than Bobby Lashley.”

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