Hey! It’s @TheMagnumDA here for another edition of the Raw report. Fast Lane was a pretty good show…my only complaint would be that there are some booking decisions that make me shake my head. But enough of that! We are LIVE in one of my favorite cities in America…Chicago, Illinois. Hello to my many friends there. Love you all, hope to see you soon.
Speaking of friendship, we start with CHRIS JERICHO, the man who cost Kevin Owens the Universal Championship at Fast Lane. Chris says that Y2J was born RIGHT HERE in Chicago. He wants to know why Kevin Owens stabbed him in the back. KO interrupts! KO tells a story about Jericho playing the fool…until Jericho stepped in and challenged Goldberg on KO’s behalf. Kevin says he spared Jericho by beating him down at the Festival of Friendship, because it could have been much worse.
Jericho said he doesn’t want KO’s friendship…he wants a match at WrestleMania. KO tells him to put up the US Championship, and it’s a deal. Jericho immediately says “You got it” as the crowd laughs. Jericho challenges KO to a fight right now, and Owens charges into the ring. THE FIGHT IS ON! Out of nowhere, SAMOA JOE appears and beats Y2J to the mat. Just as the double team begins, SAMI ZAYN appears with a chair! He lays out Joe, but KO catches up to him. As a double team on Zayn starts, Jericho shows up to even the odds! They separate as the place goes wild. What a great opening segment!
After the commercial, Owens vs. Zayn and Joe vs. Jericho are booked for tonight. However, nobody can interfere in each others matches tonight.
Match #1 – Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
CHAPTER CII: Stop the Insanity!!!
Sami starts with a somersault tope, but that’s about all the offense he will get. When they go back in, KO destroys him with a Pop Up Powerbomb. KO hits a cannonball to Sami’s neck, followed by a SICK neckbreaker suplex. He hits a SECOND Pop Up Powerbomb on Zayn for the ONE, TWO, THREE! Another beatdown by KO on Zayn. Will Sami ever learn?
Winner: Kevin Owens (*)
Chris Jericho vs. Samoa Joe is booked for later tonight! Goldberg is also announced for later, which gets HUGE boo’s from the Chicago faithful.
Austin Aries joins us to talk about his beautiful (video) package! This leads to…
Match #2 – WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match – Neville (c) vs. Rich Swann
The CM Punk chants start right away. Swann hits a running clotheslines and fists to start. Swann hits a huge dropkick after that. Neville gets thrown to the outside, where Swann continues the offense. Neville counters an irish whip, and an incredible moment happens: Neville throws Swann headfirst into the LED board on the apron curtain, but the momentum actually throws Swann arse-first onto the surface of the apron. I’ve never seen anything like it. I DVR’ed it and watched it 12 times to make sure that it actually happened. Incredible.
After the break, Neville has Swann in a…you guessed it! A chinlock! Swann tries to fight out, but he gets dropped. A huge “AUSTIN ARIES” chant breaks out. Swann gets in a fist fight with Neville on the apron, and crotches Neville to the outside. Swann climbs up and hits a somersault swanton version of the Bombs Away! This match is just miles better than the Rumble match. Swann hits a GREAT headscissors, a kick, and a Michinoku Driver gets ONE, TWO, NO! Swann goes back up but Neville catches him. Neville climbs for the Windham Superplex and CONNECTS. Swann rolls outside to the ring, in a move that reminded me of Warrior vs. Hogan from Halloween Havoc 1998. On the outside, Neville throws Swann into the barricades as we go to ANOTHER break. Wow, it’s cool that they’re getting this much time.
We come back to Neville hitting Swann with kicks. Swann fights back with a vicious set of rights. Neville and Swann trade counters, leading to a sick suplex by Swann on Neville! SICK KICK! ONE, TWO, NO! Swann goes back up, flips off another Neville charge, and hits ANOTHER SICK KICK. Swann goes up for the Phoenix Splash, but he misses! Neville immediately catches him in the Rings of Saturn!!! Swann taps!!! An absolutely fantastic one-on-one cruiserweight bout. One of the best that Raw has put on since last year.
Winner: Neville (***3/4)
After the match, Aries tries to interview Neville but a huge AUSTIN ARIES chant breaks out! The fans give Neville the “What?” treatment. Come on, Chicago, you’re better than that. Aries asks Neville to clarify…”Are you sure that there’s no one on your level?” Aries polls the fans and they cheer for him. Neville tells Aries that he is delusional if he thinks he’s on a championship level. Adrian tells him to GET OUT and go back to his announcing desk. Neville spits in his face while talking, insulting him and calling him a lowly “commentator”. Austin has one more question for Neville, but actually it’s more of a statement…BAM! Aries puts the mic right in Neville’s mush! He knocks him down once more, and Neville runs off. This could be a WrestleMania match!
Enzo & Cass walk up to Sheamus & Cesaro, who call the boys “chokers.” Enzo sasses back by calling Cesaro a loser last week (in his match vs. Samoa Joe). Enzo & Cass get a rematch against Anderson & Gallows later tonight for the tag titles!
Up next, we have the NEW Universal Champion GOLDBERG with us. He poses with the title and the mixed reaction immediately becomes apparent. Goldberg tells us that he could not have done it without the fans. He tells the audience that he stands humbled to be here as Universal Champion. Bill starts to speak but he’s interrupted by a CM Punk chant!
THAT is interrupted by Paul Heyman! He introduces BRRRROCK LESNAR! Brock wants to shake Goldberg’s hand in congratulations for last night’s win. Heyman mentions that on April 2nd at WrestleMania, Goldberg will be the one who walks out the loser. Heyman then announces the “spoiler”, which is that Brock Lesnar will become the Universal Champion. Lesnar then drops Goldberg with an F-5. Sorry, but Goldberg looked like a complete loser just getting picked up like that without putting up any sort of fight. I don’t like it…the crowd’s going to shit all over this at XXXIII just like they did at XX.
Match #3 – WWE Tag Team Championship Match – Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows (c) vs. Enzo & Big Cass
Gallows immediately beats down Enzo to start. Enzo counters and tags in Cass. Cass gets thrown into the corner and Anderson tags in. Cass powers him into the corner, and takes a knee to the gut. Gallows tags back in, and so does Enzo. As Enzo’s about to fly outside, we have SHEAMUS and CESARO walking down the aisle as we go to break!
When we return, Enzo fights out of a sleeper, but Anderson knocks him down. A suplex gets two. Anderson gets European Uppercuts in the corner, and then tags in Gallows. Gallows beats Enzo down, but a spinebuster is countered into a DDT. CASS TAGS IN AND HE’S A HOUSE OF FIRE. Fallaway Slams on Gallows and Anderson! Splash in the corner to Anderson! Cass hits the Empire Elbow for two! Gallows breaks up the pin, and Enzo flies in to nail Gallows. Enzo with a suicide dive to Gallows! Enzo hits Cesaro during the celebration, knocking his coffee into his shirt! What was Cesaro even doing with coffee? Anyways, Cesaro is pissed and hits the first person that gets in his way, which happens to be Anderson. The ref calls for the DQ. Well, that finish sucked! Afterwards, there’s a Pier 6 where Cesaro and Sheamus get the last word.
Winners by DQ: Anderson & Gallows (*1/2, retain titles)
RICK RUDE IS GOING INTO THE WWE HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017! YES! YES!
Foley makes a match for next week between Enzo & Cass vs. Cesaro & Sheamus, where the winners get Anderson & Gallows at WrestleMania. After that, Stephanie McMahon demands that Foley join her in her office immediately to “have a nice day.” Anything but.
Match #4 – Akira Tozawa vs. Ariya Daivari
They lock up and Daivari beats Akira down in the corner. Daivari takes Tozawa down with a gnarly half-nelson lariat. Ariya hits the knee on the back of the head and puts him in a chinlock. Akira fights up, but Ariya knocks him right back down. They trade chops, and Akira screams to the audience. He drills Daivari with a hard right, a kick, and a senton for two. Daivari rolls outside, and Akira hits a suicide dive. They both come in, and Akira immediately hits the Snap German Suplex for the win!
Winner: Akira Tozawa (**1/4)
After the match, The Brian Kendrick comes out to warn him that LESSON #5 IS COMING. Oooo.
Match #5 – The New Day vs. Shining Stars
New Day comes out with their new ice cream trolley! THE NEW DAY POPSICLE! Big E considers themselves great hosts, qualified to host WrestleMania and other events as well! Tonight, they plan on hosting their foot up the butts of the Shining Stars! Stars get the early advantage, as Epico hits a SWEET gutbuster onto Kofi. Primo gets tagged in, but then both Stars go down to the Popcycle to start trouble. Big E thwarts their effort, and back inside Kofi and Big E hit the Midnight Hour for three! Damn, that was short.
Winners: New Day (*)
Bayley is introduced by Mick Foley! She comes out to the cheers of the Chicago crowd. The announcers continue to tease that Bayley hasn’t won her championship matches fairly. With Bayley’s victory last night, she ends the 16-month PPV winning streak of Charlotte Flair. Bayley starts to tell fans that she doesn’t feel like a champion today. With Sasha’s interference, Bayley feels guilty about winning the match last night. Bayley told herself she needs to look forward to WrestleMania, because it’s a dream that she has waited her entire life for. Foley assures her that she doesn’t need to feel guilty about her situation, and that she should look forward to her next opponent at WrestleMania. This brings out Sasha Banks, who tries to persuade Bayley into a Championship Match at WrestleMania.
Just as Foley is about to make the match official, Charlotte interrupts! Charlotte tells Sasha that she knows exactly what she’s doing with Bayley. Charlotte considers herself the victim, and before Foley can say anymore…we get Stephanie McMahon. Another HUGE CM Punk chant breaks out. Stephanie calls them all losers. Steph says that Charlotte’s right…Sasha is trying to play everyone. We then get a bizarre set of stipulations (or missed lines) that lead to the following: If Sasha beats Bayley (booked for RIGHT NOW), then the Championship Match (Bayley vs. Charlotte) becomes a triple threat.
Match #6 – WWE Women’s Champion Bayley vs. Sasha Banks (play-in match for Sasha)
Bayley gets an early advantage with a headlock on Sasha. Sasha tries to counter, but Bayley continues to ride the headlock to the ground. Sasha finally gets an armbar on Bayley and drags her to the ground. Bayley breaks out and gets an early cover for one. Bayley gets another headlock and a hiptoss for two. This has a “Pillman vs. Owen Hart” speed to it. Sasha gets a hiptoss and an armdrag to bring Bayley down. This crowd is getting restless. Bayley gets another armbar and a second rope armdrag, followed by a splash in the corner for two. She goes back into the armbar, but Sasha counters out and tries a few rollups for two. Sasha gets the headscissors on Bayley, sending her to the outside. They come back in and Sasha takes advantage with a huge lariat.
After the break, they are trading rollups for two. The crowd is just not into this. Sasha tries another headscissors, and turns this into a potential crossface. Bayley fights her into the corner and tries her finisher from there. Sasha fights out, and they take turns in the corner. Charlotte walks ringside as Sasha rolls Bayley up for another two. Banks puts Bayley in the corner, but misses a double knee attempt. Bayley tries a body press but misses! Sasha catches her in the Bank Statement, but Bayley gets to the corner. Bayley gets caught in another Bank Statement in the middle of the ring. As both Dana and Charlotte try to interfere on Bayley’s behalf, Banks kicks Charlotte away and rolls back into the submission move in the middle of the ring for a second time! This is enough for Bayley to tap!
Winner: Sasha Banks (*3/4, just thought it never really got going)
After the match, Charlotte lays waste to everyone. Then she poses with the belt. We have a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania XXXIII!!
We get recap videos of Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns from last night at Fast Lane. It was a pretty good match, to be honest. Strowman promises to finish what he started last night. Charly interviews Roman about this, and Roman says that Strowman knows where to find him. We then get a recap video of Seth Rollins training to get back in shape for WrestleMania.
Triple H is then interviewed about the video, which he scoffs at. Triple H has a ridiculous promo where he says “I never had to give myself the title of ‘”The Man'”. No, but you DID call yourself “The Game”. We have video proof of this, Paul. Triple H tells Seth once more…don’t show up at WrestleMania.
Match #7 – WWE US Champion Chris Jericho vs. Samoa Joe (non-title)
Joe jabs Jericho down into the corner. Jericho fights out of the corner, but gets beaten down some more. Joe puts a foot on Jericho’s throat in the corner. Jericho gets sent outside, but he catches Joe with a flying press for two. Joe takes Chris down and hits a Senton for two. Joe continues to stomp Jericho to the ground. Joe with a Fujiwara Armbar on Y2J as the crowd cheers on Jericho. Jericho fights out, and tries the Walls on Joe. Jericho hits Samoa Joe with a set of kicks, including a dropkick to the apron. Jericho slides outside but gets caught in the Kokina Clutch! Joe takes him down the the Clutch as the ref continues to count! Joe gets back in the ring, leaving Y2J outside for the count-out loss.
Winner: Samoa Joe by Count-Out (**)
After the match, Joe says “Now the REAL pain begins!” but Chris Jericho catches him with a Codebreaker! Joe heads outside in retreat.
MAIN EVENT FIGHT!
Braun Strowman vows to end Roman Reigns once and for all. Just when Roman’s music hits, we get the BELLS! IT’S THE UNDERTAKER!!! In a very strange occurence, Braun nods in respect to The Undertaker and walks off, eyeing him down all the way. After this, we get Roman Reigns’ music. Roman stands at the top of the stage and makes his way down to the ring. He tells The Undertaker that this wasn’t his business, and this isn’t his yard. Those are fighting words, son. The Undertaker is back to reclaim his yard! He stares at the WrestleMania sign, which is his way of challenging Roman (I guess). Taker then GOOZLES Roman and chokeslams him to hell! I guess we have another match at WrestleMania!
Final Thoughts: This was a great way to start the Raw matches for WrestleMania. Everything meant something. I liked this show a lot…I just worry about that title match. If it goes longer than 10 minutes, the crowd is going to turn on it. For now, though, this is a solid thumbs up. See you next week!