Welcome to the RAW Report for this week! I am @TheMagnumDA, and we are one week away from WrestleMania XXXIII. I wish I was going, but hey…there’s always next year, right? I wish everyone a safe trip and a great time! Have a drink on me, mates!
We open tonight’s RAW (live from Philly) with…The Undertaker?! A strange and cryptic video interrupts the opening intro. After the opening promos, we are introduced to BAYLEY, the WWE Raw Women’s Champion. It’s announced that the Fatal 4 Way Raw Women’s championship match is an elimination match. Bayley talks about watching WrestleMania with her friends, and now she’ll have the chance to participate in WrestleMania. She considers it a dream come true. Charlotte comes out and tells Bayley she’s being played by Sasha Banks like a pawn. She’s mentioned this before, so it’s not breaking news. Charlotte says that after WrestleMania, she will be a five-time women’s champion. Charlotte then pulls from an old tweet, which is essentially a BOTCH of the classic line from “The Godfather”.
For reference’s sake, the tweet was…”the path to success rule #1: Keep you friends by your side and #2: Keep you enemies closer.” Of course, The Godfather’s writing is more effective, because the actual line is “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”
Nevertheless, Charlotte warns Bayley about being stabbed in the bank by Sasha. This brings Sasha out, who says that Charlotte mentions this every week. This is true. Sasha also says that she and Bayley are big girls, and they understand that friendship is friendship and business is business. Banks made sure to get her digs in, though…mentioning that she will defeat Bayley and become the Women’s Champion. That got a look from Bayley. Nia Jax comes out and makes her presence known. Charlotte tells Jax that the reason she’s in the match is because Sasha didn’t have to pretend to be Bayley’s friend anymore. Sasha drills Charlotte and THE FIGHT IS ON!
Match #1 – Charlotte & Nia Jax vs. WWE Women’s Champion Bayley & Sasha Banks
Charlotte and Sasha lock up to start. Fierce lock-up too, to the point that it takes them out of the ring! Sasha runs Charlotte’s back into the apron, but Charlotte catches her with a kick as they go back inside. Sasha catches Charlotte with a pretzel lock, but Charlotte uses her…assets…to counter. Sasha goes outside and Charlotte chases after her. Charlotte gets hit with a wicked elbow, and Sasha rolls back in. Nia is tagged, and she attempts to slam Sasha. Sasha is able to roll off Nia’s shoulders and tag Bayley in. They hit a double drop kick a la The Rockers, and Bayley continues to nail Nia with offense, but Nia fights her off. Charlotte comes back in and throws Bayley in the corner post. Bayley counters and takes turns throwing Charlotte into the posts!
This leads to Bayley missing a cross body attempt and Charlotte getting a nearfall. Charlotte puts Bayley in a sleeperhold. Crowd cheers Bayley back to her feet! Charlotte brings her back down. Charlotte tosses Bayley into the corner and chops her coming out. Bayley’s able to kick Charlotte out of the ring during a Figure 8 attempt, leading to the HOT TAG! Sasha Banks is a HOUSE OF FIRE! Sasha hits a set of clotheslines on Charlotte, a toss into the post, and a cross body for ONE, TWO, NO! Nia gets the sly tag on Charlotte while Sasha tried to roll her up. Sasha fights back against Nia, and climbs the corner for a 10-punch. Nia’s having none of it, tossing Sasha to the outside as we go to break.
After the break, (please no sleeperholds! please no sleeperholds!) Charlotte hits a HUGE Flair knee, followed by the Nature Boy strut. Maybe they should call her “The Nature Girl”…although that’s more of Nattie’s thing, isn’t it? I’ll tell you this…her walk looks more like Jeff Jarrett’s strut than Ric’s. Back to the match! Charlotte gets a nearfall, and tags Nia back into the match. Sasha hits some elbows on Nia, but Nia ragdolls her across the ring. She hits a set of falling elbows, and then puts Sasha in the Million Dollar Dream! Sasha fights out, and desparately tries to get to Bayley. Nia simply picks her up and runs her to the opposite corner. Charlotte tags back in, and catches Sasha with a set of backbreakers, and a submission attempt. Sasha fights out of this somehow to catch a flying headscissors on Charlotte.
She tries to get to Bayley again, but Charlotte grabs Sasha’s arm to prevent her from making the tag. Sasha reverses this and throws Charlotte right into her partner! Nia flies off the apron! Sasha crawls to her corner to make the second HOT TAG to Bayley, and now SHE’S a HOUSE OF FIYAHH! She drills Charlotte with a double chop and a Hart Attack! She nails Charlotte with the apron neckbreaker, and hits her Signature moves in the corner. She goes to the well once too often, as Charlotte blasts her in the mouth with a vicious knee. Bayley misses a Flair charge and catches her with a back suplex for ONE, TWO, NO! Bayley goes up to the top rope, but Charlotte pushes Bayley’s legs off the ropes. During this exchange, one of Bayley’s legs gets entangled into the ropes. This allows Charlotte to capitalize with a SICKENING knee to the prone leg. With Bayley down, Charlotte puts Bayley in the Figure 8. Sasha is able to break the hold, but she gets caught trying to hit a cross body on Nia to the outside. Sasha counters this by throwing Nia into the post. Back inside, Bayley catches Charlotte with the BELLY-TO-BAYLEY for the ONE, TWO, THREE!
Winners: Bayley & Sasha Banks (***1/4, it was a very good tag match)
After the match, Nia Jax destroys Bayley and Sasha Banks single-handedly! Then Nia ANNIHILATES Charlotte and grabs the Championship! I have a feeling we’re going to have a new champion Sunday. This is followed by a Triple H/Seth Rollins recap video.
We get a recap of this year’s WWE Hall of Fame Inductees: Kurt Angle, Diamond Dallas Page, Teddy Long, the Rock n’ Roll Express, Beth Phoenix, and Ravishing Rick Rude. My only request is this…when Rude is inducted, can we please get a sample of his WCW music “Simply Ravishing” at some point? Please?! If you haven’t heard it, go out of your way to find it. Better yet, look up “Mario Paint Simply Ravishing” on YouTube. Someone actually took the time to write this out in sheet music, and play it using 16-bit sound effects. Awesome. You won’t be disappointed.
After the Hall of Fame recap, we get another recap! This time we’re looking back at Mick Foley’s termination from last Monday. That was not a nice day. Afterwards, Sami Zayn is interviewed with the Andre Trophy in the background. Sami says that he is entering the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania, and he’s dedicating the match to his hero, Mick Foley. Stephanie interrupts and tells Sami that he has a match tonight with Kevin Owens, with no disqualifications. If Sami wins, he keeps his spot in the Battle Royal. If he loses? He’s on the unemployment line with Foley. No pressure, Sami.
Match #2 – Austin Aries vs. Noam Dar
Neville is on commentary. He looks good on a suit! The Cruiserweight Championship match with Neville and Austin Aries will take place on the WrestleMania Kickoff Show. Wow, it’s a four-hour show and they can’t fit these guys on there? Well, it’d have been great to open WrestleMania with this match. Huge “Austin Aries” chant to start. Aries runs a full sprint and SMASHES Noam in the face with a dropkick. Dar didn’t even get out of the starting blocks! After the break, we see that Noam Dar has taken advantage. Dar catches Aries with an elbow in the corner for a nearfall. They keep cutting back to Neville, making it hard to call the match. Dar tosses Aries into the corner and drills him with a running uppercut for ONE, TWO, NO! Dar continues to stomp down Aries as they cut back to Neville again. DAMN IT, I’M TRYING TO WRITE HERE! Aries botches a tilt-a-whirl and Noam falls face-first into the mat. Ouch. Aries nails him with a running clothesline, a front shoulder breaker, and a twisting signature elbow. Aries keeps up the pace with a HEAT SEEKING MISSILE to the outside. Austin hits the neckbreaker off the ropes, and sets up for the Five-Arm. Alicia Foooxxxxx (yes, I type it like I say it these days) interrupts and says “I DON’T LIKE YOUR FACE.” It’s not a bad face. Aries is unfazed and DRILLS Noam Dar with the Discus Five-Arm and his new submission move, the Last Chancery. You know…because it’s a Front Chancery and the guy taps. Which is exactly what Dar does here!
Winner: Austin Aries (*1/2 sloppy, at points)
We get one more Rollins/HHH recap from Raw last week. The Contract Signing is next!
It’s time for the CONTRACT SIGNING between Seth Rollins and Triple H. Seth comes down ringside, and I tell you…he doesn’t look good at all. So this is either brave, or this is some great acting. Seth points out that there’s two chairs, so he challenges Triple H to come out and join him. Of course, Triple H obliges. Helmsley is looking especially trim these days…must be getting himself into ring shape for something, no? Triple H tells Seth that if he is attacked prior to the signing, the match will be off. Triple H insists that Rollins take a seat, and when he refuses…Hunter simply walks away. Seth takes a seat, and Triple H tells him “Good boy.” Wow.
Instead of reading the contract, Hunter tells him that when Seth’s career is ended, his rights are waived. Seth is aware of the risks, and tells Hunter to sign it and pass it over. Hunter tells him that he gets one shot at this life, so why would Seth want to risk all of that for this match? Hunter warns him…”If you sign this contract, you’ll be walking into WrestleMania…but you won’t be walking out.” Seth tells the fans that he was a proud man, at one point. Once he was aligned with HHH, he gave up everything he once had, and this includes his health. Rollins tells the world that he gets a shot at redemption, and signs the contract. Within seconds, Hunter attacks Seth by kicking the table into his injured leg. Hunter starts to grab the crutch, but Rollins catches Hunter with a kick! He tries to hit Hunter with the Pedigree, but this is blocked. Hunter returns serve with an attempt of his own, but Seth throws him over the top and out. Hunter runs back in, and Seth decks him with a crutch. HHH retreats, leaving Seth in the ring. Good segment!
Recap of Lesnar vs. Goldberg at Survivor Series. Goldberg won in a minute and change. Makes you really want to put down money to see this, no?
Match #3 – Over The Top Rope Challenge – Big Show vs. Jinder Mahal
Show tries to throw out Mahal instantly, but Mahal fights Show back. For about five seconds. Mahal is eliminated, and this brings out Bo Dallas. He also gets a shot to eliminate Big Show, but that lasts even less time than Jinder. Next are the Colons! Oops, I mean Shining Stars. They team up on Show, but they both get dumped at the same time. This brings out Curtis Axel, Goldust, and R-Truth to gang up on Big Show. The Shining Stars come back into the ring to help the concerted effort. Show is dumped over the top rope, but he gets back in to clean house. Just as the Big Show’s theme plays, here comes BRAUN STROWMAN. He says that he does what he wants, and that means he will wait until WrestleMania to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Winner: You tell me. (This gets no stars, by the way.)
Anderson & Gallows are backstage. They talk about how foolish Enzo & Cass were for losing last week’s tag match. Then they mock their catchphrases. Again, I need to know what they have to say that’s going to make me buy WrestleMania. It’s simple, guys…SELL THE SHOW TO ME.
Roman Reigns is backstage with Charley. Roman tells Charley that he doesn’t believe in the superstition or the hype. Roman says that he has a message for The Undertaker later tonight. Then we get a clip of The New Day at the New York Stock Exchange. Then the boys race up the steps, but because Big E had his Booty-O’s…Kofi and Xavier were no match for him!
Mike Rowe is with Sheamus & Cesaro, who are immediately ambushed by Gallows & Anderson. The champs take a ladder and destroy both challengers with it. I wonder if that’s going to be a Triple Threat Ladder Match!
Match #4 – WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville vs. Gentleman Jack Gallagher (non-title)
They lock up and Neville shoves Jack into the ropes. Neville with a headlock takedown on Gallagher, but Jack uses the handstand to escape. Gallagher is thrown into the corner, but he catches Neville with a double kick and a nearfall. Gallagher continues with uppercuts, but Neville tackles him down. Gallagher with a sweet rollover into a monkey flip. Gallagher charges at Neville, but Adrian brilliantly throws him into the ropes and catches him with a HARD Snap German Suplex for the ONE, TWO, NO! After the break, Neville DRILLS Gallagher with a kick to the guts. He hits two more kicks, but Gallagher catches Neville with the running headbutt that smacks Neville in the face and out of the ring. Jack heads to the top with WILLIAM III, his trusty umbrella. Gallagher drills Neville with a flying press. Back inside, Neville is PISSED. He nails Jack with some kicks, and then sends him upstairs for the Windham Superplex. This transitions into the Rings of Saturn, and Gallagher taps immediately.
Winner: Neville by Submission (**1/2)
We have a SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN by Austin Aries! He has The New Day with him this evening. Kofi, Big E, and Xavier are all convinced that the man who can swivel his hips the best will be champion after this match. This leads to Aries doing their dance. Oh, boy. The New Day start an “A-Double!” chant as Aries signs off. Corey Graves considers this moment as Austin’s “Jump The Shark” moment. Uh oh. Them’s fighting words in the TV industry.
Al Roker (from the American morning show “Today!”) will be the Guest Announcer in the mixed tag match at WrestleMania XXXIII (Cena/Nikki vs. Miz/Maryse).
Roman Reigns comes out for a promo! He mentions the 2015 Royal Rumble, and headlining the last two WrestleManias. Roman considers this his gravest challenge, but he is telling the world that he will put The Undertaker down. Roman says that today is his day, and this is his arena. When he calls it “His Yard”, the bell tolls! IT’S THE UNDERTAKER! Taker shows a burial plot, with him standing over the grave of Roman Reigns. Apparently, Roman’s birth date will not be on his grave. Undertaker warns Roman that he will…and the lights go out. When they come back on, THE UNDERTAKER IS IN THE RING!! He tells Roman, to his face, that he will REST…IN…PEACE. Undertaker takes the lights down (take a lifetime, will ya?!) and we go to commercials. Not gonna lie…Undertaker’s film segments are starting to look more like Ed Wood than Hollywood.
Match #5 – Enzo & Big Cass vs. WWE Tag Team Champions Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
Before the match starts, Cesaro and Sheamus flatten Anderson and Gallows with the very ladder used against them backstage! It’s a complete war inside, with Cass dropping both Sheamus and Cesaro with a boot and the ladder. The champs come back in and destroy Cass with the ladder. Then they get Cesaro with the ladder to the injured ribs. Enzo goes to the top rope, but the Gaijin Brothers are ready to smack him in the face with the ladder. I’m ready to double down on that bet for the Ladder Match.
Winner: No Match
WWE and Women’s History Month celebrates Maya Angelou. She was a brilliant writer and poet.
Charley is with Kevin Owens, who faces Sami Zayn in a No DQ Match momentarily (with Sami’s job on the line). Charley mentions the past friendships with both men, and KO tells her that his friendship with Jericho was not real. Kevin looks forward to the chance at being the man responsible for Sami Zayn leaving Monday Night Raw. KO also looks forward to WrestleMania, where Chris Jericho will meet his ultimate demise.
They play a recap video to hype the Rollins vs. Triple H match at WrestleMania XXXIII. You know, Triple H shouldn’t have threatened to cancel the match against Seth. Can you imagine how much money would’ve been flushed down the drain using Metallica’s music in that video?
They recap all the big matches for WrestleMania XXXIII, which I will do right now:
WWE Universal Title Match
Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg (c)
WWE Title Match
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt (c)
Fatal 4 Way Elimination Match for the RAW Women’s Title
Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley (c)
WWE United States Title Match
Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho (c)
WWE Intercontinental Title Match
Baron Corbin vs. Dean Ambrose (c)
Triple Threat for the RAW Tag Team Titles
Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (c)
SmackDown Women’s Title Match
Mickie James vs. Carmella vs. Natalya vs. Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss (c) (other participants possible)
Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Mojo Rawley, Apollo Crews, Big Show, Curt Hawkins, Goldust, R-Truth, Primo, Epico, Curtis Axel, Jinder Mahal, Bo Dallas, Braun Strowman and others TBA
Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker
John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
Kickoff Pre-show: WWE Cruiserweight Title Match
Austin Aries vs. Neville (c)
Match #6 – Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn (No Disqualification, Sami Zayn is fired from Raw if he loses)
Owens beats Zayn into the corner, but Sami fights out. Sami hits a lariat and catches KO with punches in the corner. KO rolls out of the ring, and as Sami chases him, Owens throws a shirt in his face. Owens throws Zayn into the barricade, but Zayn catches his footing on the top of it. Owens pushes him out to the crowd, and they fight out into the crowd. They basically throw each other into every wall they walked along. Zayn hits a RUNNING CANNONBALL FROM THE STAGE onto KO! Awesome! After the break (please no Sleeperholds! please no Sleeperholds!) Sami is ripping the stairs out of the corner. Owens hits a gnarly DDT onto the ring steps! After this, Owens absolutely CRUSHES Zayn with a Senton off the steps. Back inside, Owens gets a near fall. Owens lays Zayn out with some lariats in the corner. Out of nowhere, Sami hits KO with an EXPLODER SUPLEX into the corner! They both roll outside, and Sami goes for the Tornado DDT through the corners! I swear, that should be called the HELUVA DDT. They go back in, but Owens hits a Superkick for the ONE, TWO, NO! Owens goes up and hits the Frog Splash for the ONE, TWO, NO! Wow. Awesome. Owens tries the Pop Up Powerbomb, but Sami turns it into a Blue Thunder Bomb for the ONE, TWO, NO! We have a SAMOA JOE sighting. As he goes for a chair, Y2J HAS ARRIVED! Jericho destroys Samoa Joe with the chair. Owens tags Jericho, but this allows Sami Zayn to roll up KO! ONE, TWO, THREE!
Winner: Sami Zayn (***1/2)
After the match, Jericho fights off Owens and grabs the mic. He asks, “You know what happens when you betray Chris Jericho? YOU JUST MADE THE LIST!” What a fantastic build for this bout. Can’t wait for this whole thing to blow off at WrestleMania.
MAIN EVENT SEGMENT
Huge ECW chant for Paul Heyman as he introduces Brock Lesnar. Heyman declares Lesnar as “…the extremist who will derail Goldberg’s ultimate thrill ride!” There are dueling “Goldberg” and “Suplex City” chants! Heyman shills the match HARD, going so far as to saying Goldberg is “The Man!” However, Lesnar is THE BEAST! Goldberg will check into Suplex City, but he will not check out. Heyman is HILARIOUS here, going into Yiddish! Paul E. concludes by saying Goldberg will not “Survive the F-5!” Goldberg’s music hits, and the champ is here! Goldberg declares, “Since we can’t bring all of Philly to WrestleMania…let’s bring WrestleMania to Philly!” Then he SPEARS Lesnar halfway to hell! Awesome.
Final Thoughts: Well, it looks like we have a pretty stacked card for WrestleMania. The question becomes…can they deliver on these matches? I haven’t been impressed with the Reigns/Undertaker build (or Lesnar/Goldberg for that matter), but we’ll see what happens Sunday. I’m still pumped, though, because it’s Wrestle F’n Mania! Have a great week everybody, and we’ll see you next Monday for the wildest RAW of the year!