Hey, it’s @TheMagnumDA here with tonight’s RAW Report. We’re only two weeks away until WrestleMania, so these last few episodes should prove to be interesting as we head to Orlando! We are LIVE tonight from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where fans are clamoring for any kind of entertainment NOT called the “Nets”. Then again, I’m a lifer Bulls fan, so I have no room to talk basketball. But at least I’m not a WWE Diva, amirite? Boy, do I feel bad for them…total invasion of privacy!
We start with GENERAL MANAGER MICK FOLEY. He comes out with some prepared dialogue, basically thanking Triple H & Stephanie McMahon for giving him “the opportunity of a lifetime.” He said that he understands that he put himself in jeopardy last week, referring to the Mandible Claw on Triple H. Foley says that, “effective immediately, I am taking a leave of absence.” Foley then starts to SHOOT, BROTHER. He speaks from the heart, too…he shares his embarrassment (at having to use cue cards) on live TV. His mic starts to fade out a la CM Punk, and eventually Stephanie McMahon shows up. Steph starts to talk, but the Brooklyn boo’s are at an all-time high. Stephanie dresses down Foley and then gives him the two magic words: “YOU’RE FIRED!”
As Foley starts to leave, Sami Zayn’s music plays! Sami tells Stephanie that she’s the one who has been wrong this whole time. Stephanie tells Sami to turn and walk away. Sami tells Stephanie that Foley has shown more guts and integrity in the nine months of his GM role than Stephanie has shown in her whole life. Stephanie tells Sami that he’s not on the level to act the way that he’s acting right now. She tells him once more to walk away, but Sami stands up to her! Just as this escalates, SAMOA JOE arrives. Stephanie tells Sami that his mouth has gotten him in trouble once more. She immediately books Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn, which starts right now!
Match #1 – Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn
Sami hits a somersault plancha to start! After the break, though, Samoa Joe is destroying Sami in the corner. Sami fights back, but Joe finally takes him down. Joe with kicks in Sami’s chest while Sami lies on the rope. Sami with a spinning armdrag and European uppercuts in the corner. Sami tries a Blue Thunder Bomb, but Joe reverses with elbows. Joe, with a combination of chops and kicks, takes down Sami and beats him some more in the corner.
Sami ends up on the ropes, but he comes back in with some offense. This is immediately squashed by a snap powerslam. He throws Sami into the corner, but Sami just falls in a heap. Joe FOREARMS Sami and he goes down. He throws Sami in the corner and tries to catch a Muscle Buster on Sami. Sami fights out, but Joe catches him with the Ghetto Blaster! Zayn falls to the outside, and Joe catches him with a suicide dive! He caught Zayn with a HARD elbow as he flew out.
After the break, Zayn tries to take advantage. Samoa Joe, however, brought the Ghetto Blasters with him tonight. Joe throws Zayn into the post and drops him jaw-first onto the barricade as they continue to fight outside. Sami barely makes the TEN COUNT! Sami catches Joe with a YUGE clothesline after some kicks by Joe.
Sami chops Joe and then catches him with an elbow. Springboard splash gets ONE, TWO, NO! Sami was so close there. Joe catches Sami’s foot and tosses him outside. Joe ends up getting thrown in the post, and Sami catches him with the HELUVA DDT through the ropes! Back inside, Sami tries to hit the Heluva Kick, but Joe just smashes him with a standing Uranage Slam! Joe looks to end this quickly. Kokina Clutch ends it! Hell of an opener.
Winner: Samoa Joe (***1/4)
Recap of the EPIC (yuk yuk) feud between Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns. They settle it once and for all TONIGHT. Why do I still feel like it’s going to end in a “No Contest”…?
Backstage, Sami and Foley are talking. Foley tells Sami that it’s his responsibility to lift this locker room up. Sami calls him a hero, and thanks him for everything. Foley continues to say his good byes to everyone, including Sheamus, Cesaro, and Bayley. In the shadows…we have Triple H. He tells Foley, “Have A Nice Day!” Okay, that was kinda funny.
The announcers recap the final segment of last week, where Seth Rollins was completely destroyed by Triple H. They have an injury update for Seth, and it’s not good. Seth Rollins will not be competing at WrestleMania XXXIII. They talk with Dr. Wilke, who says that Seth Rollins is doing miraculously well. He does share, however, that no doctor will clear him for WrestleMania. He also shares a fear that if Seth shows up at WrestleMania, he will be back at the recovery center immediately afterwards.
Match #2 – Charlotte vs. Dana Brooke
Dana immediately takes down Charlotte and pounds her with shoulder blocks in the corner. Dana with punches and kicks in the corner, and an armbar takes Charlotte down. Dana pounds on Charlotte some more, but Charlotte gets out of the ring to avoid further embarrassment. Charlotte catches Dana with a shoulder charge from the apron, but Dana takes her down by the leg and rolls her back in for a two-count. Dana tries the Full Nelson! A Masterlock this is not.
Dana catches Charlotte with a clothesline for ONE, TWO, NO! Charlotte with some huge chops to Dana. Problem is, Dana’s top isn’t exposed. So it’s hard to make some sound with it. Dana fights Charlotte to the ground and gets another near fall! Dana is putting up a fight tonight. Charlotte catches Dana with a HUGE boot for the ONE, TWO, THREE! Zuh….? What a weird match. Charlotte literally had little to no offense, but one boot finishes it?
Winner: Charlotte (*)
Backstage, Stephanie asks if Bayley wants a hug. Bayley tells Stephanie that she never knew this side of her…the mean, manipulative side. Steph books Bayley vs. Nia Jax once more, and if Nia wins…the match at WrestleMania becomes a four-way! Called it! Oh, by the way…this is a No Disqualification Match.
HIGHLIGHT REEL TIME! Jericho shows us “the real Kevin Owens”. Then he shows a sixteen-year-old Kevin Steen in a picture with a Y2J shirt (and pose!) Then, Jericho shows a text message conversation where KO asks Jericho for advice after first getting into WWE. After this, Jericho shows a clip where Owens is completely helpless at Fast Lane as Jericho appeared. Jericho cuts a fantastic promo after this, telling Kevin Owens that he doesn’t have a clue what he got himself into…but he’ll find out after WrestleMania. Just to let us know he hasn’t changed, he calls Kevin Owens a “Stupid Idiot”…and then threatens to add him to the list!
Samoa Joe comes down ringside, and Jericho has the same look that KO did at Fast Lane! KEVIN OWENS NAILS JERICHO FROM BEHIND. He proceeds to beat Jericho down. KO ends this with a Pop-Up Powerbomb as the fans chant “Stupid Idiot!” Hilarious! KO then RIPS THE LIST OF JERICHO!! The fans are SO pissed at this. KO starts to eat the paper and the fans laugh. The heat for this was tremendous.
Another recap video of Reigns vs. Strowman, this time from the contract signing at Fast Lane. I like that this has a build to it. I’ll give it that.
Match #3 – TJ Perkins vs. The Brian Kendrick
A rematch of the first Cruiserweight title change! Kendrick dicks him out of a handshake, and this leads to an awesome sequence where TJ catches him with a CRUDE kick to the face! Kendrick rolls out and TJ catches Brian with a Wrecking Ball Dropkick! Back inside, Perkins with a Flying Cross Body for ONE, TWO, NO! Awesome stuff. Perkins tries the Detonation Kick, but Kendrick rolls out by grabbing Perkins’ hair! TJ takes Kendrick out of the corner, but Kendrick grabs the hair again! Sliced Bread #2 hits! ONE, TWO, THREE!
Winner: The Brian Kendrick (*1/2)
After the match, Kendrick shows us that he’s stolen Tozawa’s Japanese Passport. Apparently, Akira has been sent back to Japan?! That’s dark, dude.
We get a promo video hyping up the Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar WrestleMania main event. My personal opinion? If that match goes longer than five minutes, the Orlando crowd could turn on it quickly. I foresee this playing out just like WrestleMania XX, where the crowd (and Steve Austin) jeered them out of the building.
Backstage again, where Stephanie interrupts Cesaro and Sheamus. Steph tells the boys that she’s booking a 2-on-4 tonight against their WrestleMania opponents (Enzo/Cass and Anderson/Gallows). The stipulation is…if Sheamus and Cesaro lose, they’re out of the match. I don’t get it. This feels like WCW Monday Nitro, where they would have the PPV match on Nitro two weeks prior. Never made sense.
Match #4 – WrestleMania Qualifier (No DQ): Nia Jax vs. Bayley
If Nia wins, she’s in the WrestleMania Women’s title match.
Bayley gets forearms to start, and climbs on Nia to unload some more punches. Jax is thrown head-first into the turnbuckle, and Bayley tries a Sleeperhold. Jax fights her off, and the roll outside. Nia hits a wicked headbutt on Bayley, and then throws her back into the ring. Bayley tries to hit a headscissors from the apron, but Nia catches her for a Power Bomb. Bayley fights out by grabbing the ropes, but Nia sweeps her outside. Bayley gets thrown outside as we go to commercial.
After the break, Nia has Bayley in a…you guessed it! slepper! Bayley fights out, but Nia splashes her into the ropes! I lost my focus on the match because someone was getting thrown out of the Barclays Center! Sorry! But anyways, we’re BACK TO THE SLEEPERHOLD! Bayley fights out again, but Nia brings her back down. Bayley tries to kick her in the head, and Bayley slaps her? Uh oh. That was a bad decision. Nia takes her outside and throws her into the barricade. Then Nia proceeds to swing her from side to side.
Nia goes to grab a chair, but Bayley kicks it out of her hands. Bayley hangs Nia on the ropes, and knees her in the side, knocking her back in the ring! ONE, TWO, NO! Bayley hits a running back elbow to Jax, but that only gets two. Bayley tries a Cross Body for ONE, TWO, NO! Bayley kicks Nia and goes to the top rope, but Nia catches her by sweeping the leg! Bayley hits her head on the turnbuckle, allowing Nia to hit the Samoan Drop for the ONE, TWO, THREE!
Winner: Nia Jax (*1/2, Enters the WrestleMania Women’s Title Match)
Women’s History Month tribute for Johnny “Mae” Young. She was absolutely fantastic.
Michael Cole introduces Triple H to talk about Seth Rollins and the incident from last week. Triple H tells Cole that he’s disappointed that Seth Rollins won’t make it to WrestleMania as the crowd chants “ASSHOLE!” Awesome. Triple H is upset that he was announced by Cole as “…the man partially responsible for Seth Rollins’ injury”.
Triple H gives a heady promo where he calls everyone insecure (while telling everyone he knows how good he is). He then blames the audience for cheering for their heroes, because it pushes them beyond their limits. Just like Mick Foley. Triple H then tells everyone that it only took 30 seconds for Rollins’ little charade to fall apart.
Boy, this really makes me want to see this match. Not. Why can’t Seth be built as a resilient hero and not a hobbling goof? I blame Triple H. Just like when he booked himself over Booker T. at WrestleMania XIX. Made Booker look like a chump, and then beat him too.
Triple H says that these injuries are the fans’ fault. Cole asks if HHH has any regrets, and Hunter says that he made things too easy for Seth, because it could’ve been worse. Triple H then says he’s done with Seth, and leaves him WrestleMania tickets. Cole is about to go to commercial, but Triple H interrupts and offers a non-sanctioned match at WrestleMania. He dares Seth to show up next week and sign the contract. Triple H yells “SHOW THEM THAT YOU ARE SETH FREAKING ROLLINS…or are you just a friggin coward?”
Match #5 – Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Enzo, Cass, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson
If Sheamus and Cesaro lose, they’re out of the WWE Tag Title Match at WrestleMania
I don’t recall so many qualifiers and eliminators before a WrestleMania, do you? Enzo talks trash to Anderson and Gallows, which leads to the champs beating down Enzo and Cass before the match! Why would you do that? Anderson with a kick to the face by Cesaro. Gallows tries to tag Anderson, but Cass brings Karl off the ropes! This leaves Gallows to get nailed with a BROGUE KICK! ONE, TWO THREE! Wow. That took less than a minute. So much for those insurmountable odds.
Winners: Cesaro and Sheamus (No Stars)
NEW DAY are here. Kofi and Big E make a look at Xavier like he did something wrong. Well…maybe he did. 😉 They recap all the big matches for this year’s WrestleMania.
Match #6 – Austin Aries vs. Tony Nese
If you didn’t see it last week, Aries won the Fatal 5 Way to face Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship at WrestleMania. Nese thrashes Aries in the corner, and the nails him hard with a forearm. Aries with a cartwheel counter and an earclap! Old school! Nese counters and hits a sweet sweeping kick combo for two. Nese with a crossface and a hard lariat! Nese tries to cover but Austin kicks out. Nese catches Aries with a forearm, and tries to throw him into the ropes. Aries counters, and sends him outside the ring. Aries hits a bottom rope suicide dive! This was called the “Heat Seeking Missile” by Corey Graves.
After the break, Nese has Aries in a Torture Rack! Hey, now that’s showing some creativity coming out of the commercials. Aries rolls out of it and gets a near fall. Nese completely smashes Aries in the jaw with an elbow. Nese tries a springboard moonsault, but he misses! Aries catches Nese with a reverse neckbreaker on the ropes! Aries catches Nese with some kicks and chops, and a facebuster/STO combo! Awesome pendulum elbow by Aries! Austin heads up and hits the Missile Dropkick, followed by the DISCUS FIVE-ARM! Ya know, because it’s simply better than a forearm. ONE, TWO THREE!
Winner: Austin Aries (**)
After the match, Neville arrives and calls him a lad. Them’s fighting words…right? I don’t know, I’m from Minneapolis. 😀 Neville says that Aries is going to implode before WrestleMania, and Neville will capitalize in Orlando. Aries calls Neville’s whole build as “King of the Cruiserweights” a facade. Aries tells Neville to let everyone know he’s the King for 13 more days, because at WrestleMania it’s all over. I know how McMahon books…he will humble the TNA loyalist, just like he did with AJ Styles last year. I give the nod to Neville at WrestleMania.
We get another Brock/Goldberg recap, followed by an announcement that both men will be in Philly for next week’s Raw. Another good litmus test with a super snarky crowd. You’ll get a good feel (for how the WrestleMania crowd will react) based on the Philly crowd, no doubt.
Main Event – Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
They punch each other to start, with Roman taking an early advantage. Strowman grabs him by the throat into the other corner, but Roman fights out. Strowman throws Roman out of the ring, but Roman catches him on the ropes. Reigns with a huge boot sends Braun outside. Reigns tries the Drive-By, but Strowman DRILLS Roman with a lariat onto the apron. Back in the ring, a Spinebuster by Braun gets two. Braun with more fists and forearms to Roman’s chest. Strowman pounds Roman in the corner, and then throws him from pillar to post. Roman is getting destroyed right now! Braun gets a huge sleeperhold on Roman, which lasts approximately 42 minutes. Felt like it, at least.
Roman fights out, but Braun knocks him down. He tries to throw Reigns in the ropes, but Roman stops him and starts nailing him with some right hands. Reigns tries to slam him, but he is immediately dropped by Strowman. Braun with a huge kick to the ribs, followed by a splash in the corner to Reigns. Strowman throws Reigns to the opposite corner and misses a charge. Reigns start nailing him with the clotheslines in the corner, but gets caught in a Choke Slam attempt by Braun. Roman hits a HUGE Samoan Drop to Braun. Incredibly, Roman is propped right back to his feet after a one count! WOW! Back outside, Roman hits the Drive-By, but Strowman throws Reigns into the ring steps. Braun throws the steps in the ring, and then throws Roman back into the ring as well.
Braun picks up the steps, but gets nailed by the Superman Punch! Another attempt is blocked, but the following one hits! I think. Roman sets up to hit the Spear on Braun, but THE LIGHTS GO OUT AND THE BELL TOLLS FOR THEE!
Undertaker hits the Chokeslam on Braun (who came to his feet), but this allows Roman to hit the SPEAR on The Undertaker! Reigns starts to walk back up the ramp, but The Undertaker sits up! Taker stands and gives Reigns his last rites as we go to credits!
Winner: No Contest (**)
Final Thoughts: Told you it’d be a “No Contest”! 😀 The continued focus on WrestleMania is good, but I also like the small build to bigger Raw main events. It’s a smart move. Overall, this was another good build to WrestleMania. I’m not sure about some of the key matchups, but I know the show will be fun and exciting. See you next week in Philly! Let’s get HARDCORE!