WWE Raw is repetitive. It’s three hours long and sometimes a slog to get through. And when Roman Reigns walked out to start the show last night, it seemed like we’d be getting another 20-minute opening promo segment.
What we got was something much more interesting: A gauntlet match with seven competitors that lasted about 2 hours. It ended when Braun Strowman pinned The Miz. But what happened before that was the story.
Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins wrestled for more than 20 minutes. It ended with Rollins reversing a schoolboy into his own rollup for the win. (It was a roll-up finish that worked, since both men were probably pretty tired after 20-plus minutes.)
Then it got better: Rollins and John Cena wrestled for about a half hour, with Rollins winning after his curb stomp finisher. It was, WrestleZone noted, Cena’s first clean pinfall loss in a straight singles match on Raw since 2009. (Though, really, Lord Tensai didn’t break any rules to beat John Cena in an Extreme Rules match in 2012.)
Rollins lost to the next entrant in the match, Elias. WWE said Rollins spent an hour and five minutes in the ring, the longest someone wrestled in Raw history. The match, which also included Finn Balor, went for nearly two hours. There were only three matches on the entire show.
It was different than anything Raw had done in a long time. And it was great! Sure, the gauntlet match didn’t make much sense—why would these guys kill themselves in a meaningless match just a few days before the Elimination Chamber match that determines who fights Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania—but it made for the freshest two hours of Raw in a while.
Non-stop wrestling on a wrestling show! Who knew it would be that simple?