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The Royal Rumble took place this Sunday night with some interesting developments. There were title changes, there was some heavy interference in the Universal Title match, the WWE Title match was amazing and a Smackdown wrestler named Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble, which means there are a lot of questions heading into Raw this week. To read my detailed recap of the Royal Rumble with plenty of analysis, click here. In addition to that, you should also read my Royal Rumble review article at The Comeback because I dive even deeper into the results from that show while looking at potential WrestleMania matches. In short, I thought it was a very good show and one of the best Rumble PPVs ever even though the actual Rumble match was slightly above average. The two major title matches really carried the show, in my opinion. Let’s see what Raw has in store for us this week.
Live from Laredo, Texas is the Raw Deal for episode #1236. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport as well. Thank you Melo Man for the banner up top.
Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho are in the ring to start Raw. Owens is the Universal Champion and Jericho is the United States Champion. There were images from Royal Rumble that showed how Owens found a way to retain the Universal Title against Roman Reigns due to an assist from Braun Strowman. The Raw announcers explained what happened.
Owens said that people gave him no chance to beat Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble, but he proved them wrong and he’s been proving people wrong his whole career. Owens had bandages on his right arm and his left wrist. Owens also has a Quebec flag on his left bicep because of murders that happened at a Mosque on Sunday. Owens was fired up in talking about how he is the guy and he is the one. Owens admitted that he had someone to thank, so he thanked the man that helped him – Chris Jericho. He said that Jericho helped him get through it even though it was actually Braun Strowman.
Owens spoke about Jericho’s history making performance in the Royal Rumble match. Owens claimed that Jericho is the greatest Royal Rumble competitor of all time. Jericho said 4 hours, 56 minutes and 12 seconds – almost five full hours, that’s how long he has been in Royal Rumble matches in his career. It’s more than any other superstar in WWE history. He bragged about being the 61 minute man in the Rumble match. He said to put #61MinueMan and #GreatestOfAllTime on Twitter, so of course I did that. I'm a Jerichoholic. Of course I have to support the man.
Braun Strowman walked out to interrupt them. Owens said he wanted thank him and Strowman said he did what he did for two reasons. Strowman said he can’t stand Roman Reigns and he wants the title shot that Owens promised him. Fans tried a “thank you Strowman” chant (for attacking Reigns), but it didn’t get that loud. Owens told Strowman that he is not owed a title shot. Strowman said that Owens promised him a title shot and he has the proof. There was a clip from Raw last month when Owens told Strowman that he was next to get a title shot. Strowman repeated himself and said that Owens is going to give him a Universal Title shot tonight or he will break Owens in half. Cue Raw General Manager Mick Foley.
Foley is in a green and black checkered suit for some reason. Foley said that Owens did claim Strowman the title opportunity. Jericho and Owens whined about it with Owens saying that a match like he had with Reigns was difficult. Foley said that Owens will face Strowman for the Universal Championship right there in Laredo, Texas. Foley’s music played to end it.
Analysis: Typical Raw opening segment to set up a match either right away or for later in the show. Good job by the creative team in remembering that Owens promised Strowman a title shot, which explains why Strowman interfered – along with his dislike for Reigns. It’s nice to see some story continuity. That doesn’t always happen when watching Raw. Some funny lines in the promo, but otherwise standard stuff here.
Up next is Jericho vs. Sami Zayn.
Sami Zayn entered the ring for a match with Jericho. He spent 47 minutes in the Rumble match. It said #61MinuteMan was trending on Twitter, so Jericho’s promo worked.
Chris Jericho vs. Sami Zayn
This is not for Jericho’s US Title, so that should tell you who gets the win.
Zayn, like his fellow Quebecer Owens, is wearing a black arm band on his right bicep for the people that were murdered in a Mosque near Quebec City. Zayn worked over Jericho for a couple of minutes. Jericho bailed to the floor, so Zayn hit a dropkick to knock Jericho down. Jericho came back with a springboard dropkick while Zayn was on the apron. Zayn with a clothesline. When they were outside the ring, Zayn hit a moonsault off the barricade to take out Jericho on the floor as the show went to break.
Jericho was in control with a headlock as the show returned from break. Zayn came back with a clothesline. Jericho set up for a hurricanrana off the top and he connected with it. Zayn got a rollup for a two count. Zayn avoided a top rope attack and hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count as Jericho got his shoulder up. Jericho bailed to the floor and ran around the ring. Zayn followed him back, Jericho tripped him up, Zayn fought it off and Zayn hit a sweet DDT off the ropes. Jericho got a rollup to avoid a Helluva Kick and applied the Walls of Jericho in the center of the ring. Zayn fought it off and crawled to the bottom rope to break the hold. Zayn came back with an Exploder Suplex into the corner. Zayn connected with the Helluva Kick and covered for the win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sami Zayn
Analysis: **3/4 It was a good match with a predictable finish because WWE loves having champions losing non-title matches to build up contenders for titles. They went through all their spots, teased different finishes and went with the right move in having Zayn win clean. The result will probably lead to a US Title match at Fastlane on March 5 or perhaps they’ll do it on Raw earlier than that. I don’t expect Zayn to win the title at that point because I think Jericho will hold onto until WrestleMania for a likely match with Owens for that title because I think Owens will lose the Universal Title at Fastlane to Goldberg. It’s all connected.
Later on Raw: Owens vs. Strowman and Seth Rollins takes over NXT Takeover on Saturday.
Images were shown from the Royal Rumble as the “blow your mind” song played. I won’t miss that song. Not saying it’s bad. It’s just that if you watch WWE with any regularity you heard it way too often in the last month.
Cesaro and Sheamus were shown arguing backstage. Sheamus complained about how Cesaro tried to swing him and Cesaro said that Sheamus tried to eliminate him. Bayley showed up to say they have a six person tag against Charlotte, Gallows and Anderson. She suggested a group hug. Cesaro liked it, but Sheamus was reluctant as a heel. Charlotte, Anderson and Gallows showed up with their titles. Anderson said that they are the loser support group. Charlotte bragged about how the champs would beat the chumps. Gallows: “Nerds!” Charlotte said they were failures. The heels left.
Analysis: Six person tag later. They don’t do those that often, so at least it will be fresh. Gallows calling people "nerds" is fun.
A video package highlighting Seth Rollins’ problems of late that including him losing on Raw last week to lose his spot in the Royal Rumble match. Rollins showed up at NXT Takeover on Saturday, called out Triple H and was hauled out of there by security.
Analysis: It was a good moment at Takeover. Made sense to do it. Now they can really start to push the Rollins vs. Triple H story leading to a WrestleMania match. Speaking of Takeover, I loved that show and wrote a review of it live on Saturday night, so check it out here if you missed it.
Later on Raw is Rollins “face to face” with Stephanie McMahon.
Stephanie McMahon was in her office. Kevin Owens showed up to complain about what Foley is making him doing. Owens said he was hurt and went through hell at the Rumble. Stephanie said that she had no idea that Foley would make him defend his title. She said after she deals with Rollins she’ll talk to Foley about getting KO’s match cancelled. KO thanked her, she thanked him for talking to her and he left.
Analysis: Owens whining about facing Strowman works because KO is a cheap heel, but also puts over Strowman as a badass. They are booking Strowman really well and it’s working.
The announce team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves were joined by Austin Aries for this cruiserweight match. I hope Aries is back in the ring soon from his eye injury, but he’s a good commentator too.
Mustafa Ali vs. Tony Nese
Ali showed off his athleticism with a headscissors leading to the advantage, but Nese came back with a knee to the gut. Nese with a running forearm to the face followed by a bicep pose since he’s an arrogant heel. Nese with a hard whip into the corner. Ali countered a suplex attempt into a rollup for two and Nese came back with a hard clothesline for two. Ali with a clothesline, back elbow, kick to the face and sweet neckbreaker for a two count. Spin kick to the head by Ali. When Ali was on the top rope, Nese tripped him up and Ali crashed to the mat hard. Nese with a running knee to Ali’s head while he was against the turnbuckle and that was enough for the win. It went about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Tony Nese
Analysis: *1/2 It was a four minute cruiserweight special, which has sadly become the norm on Raw. They get a bit more time on 205 Live, but on Raw it’s usually five minutes or less. I was a bit surprised by the outcome since they had Ali get a pin in a tag match recently and now he’s doing the job in four minutes. Nese is a good heel, so the win gives him some momentum.
Nese was interviewed on the stage by Aries. He asked Nese questions that insulted his personality. Nese said that he didn’t have to answer questions from his critics. Aries summarized it saying that Nese gives you nothing.
Stephanie and Seth segment up next.
There was a plug for Philadelphia earning the rights to get Royal Rumble 2018 next year. It’s on January 28, 2018. I don’t know who is going to win. It’s too early to ask. Ask me in September. I probably won’t know by then either.
Seth Rollins and Stephanie McMahon “Face To Face”
Seth Rollins made his entrance to a good ovation from the crowd. He called out Stephanie McMahon, who walked out in her pantsuit attire.
Stephanie said that Triple H isn’t there. Rollins wondered when Stephanie was going to let Triple H off his leash. Stephanie said that Triple H is afraid of what he might do to Rollins because at one time Hunter thought Rollins was his greatest creation. She wondered when the last time Rollins has seen championship gold and noted it was last year’s Money in the Bank. She pointed out that Rollins sat out WrestleMania because he was injured and he was out of the Royal Rumble last night. Stephanie told Rollins he should be begging for forgiveness from them.
Rollins said that he’s sorry that over the last two months he’s exposed Triple H as the gutless snake that he really is. Rollins said that Hunter’s legacy will go up in smoke because he won’t face Rollins. He called out Hunter at NXT, but Hunter had security do his dirty work. Rollins said that Triple H is now a scared dude because Rollins is the greatest threat to his legacy that he’s ever seen. He said that Hunter knows it, the people know it and Stephanie knows it too.
Stephanie said that she looks at Rollins with nothing but disgust. She talked about how Triple H is a creator, destroyer and king while Rollins is just an architect. She said that Rollins will be the architect of his own demise. Rollins yelled at her about how he has nothing left to lose. He wondered what will happen when he shows up at WWE headquarters to get at Triple H and wondered how Vince is going to feel up about it. He also wondered what it would be like if he showed up at their house and one of Steph’s kids (they have three daughters) answered the door. Rollins said this won’t end until he gets Triple H and he slays the king. Stephanie said that she lied – Triple H is headed to the arena and he’s coming for Rollins. Crowd fired up for that as the segment ended with Steph leaving.
Analysis: Good promo from both of them. The crowd wasn’t into it as much as WWE probably would have liked, but so far up this point the crowd was quiet for a bunch of things that have happened. Rollins made some good point about how he has nothing left to lose, so he has no problem going to Stephanie’s house to even get his hands on Triple H. Once that happened, it set Stephanie off and that’s when she told him that Hunter would be there. They covered a lot in about six minutes without dragging too much.
The announce team of Cole, Graves and Byron Saxton recapped the Universal Title story for the match coming up later.
Six person tag match up next.
Cesaro had streamers on his hands for Bayley’s entrance. Sheamus did not join in the celebration during the entrance. Graves had a funny line about how he never related more to Sheamus than he did at that moment.
Gallows & Anderson made their entrance. They are now the Raw Tag Team Champions after a cheap win on the Kickoff Show. Charlotte made her entrance as well, she’s the Women’s Champion.
Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson & Charlotte vs. Cesaro, Sheamus & Bayley
It’s guys vs. guys and girls vs. girls in this match. If you think the champions are winning this match you haven’t watched Raw enough.
As the match began, Cole put over Charlotte’s 16-0 record in PPV title matches. Cesaro got a big boot on Gallows. Charlotte yelled at Cesaro when was on the turnbuckle, so Gallows kicked Cesaro and knocked him to the floor as the show went to break one minute into it.
Anderson had Cesaro grounded with a headlock as the heels isolated him. Cesaro came back with a forearm, but Anderson prevented a tag and hit a spinebuster for two. Gallows tagged in, Cesaro broke free and tagged in Sheamus. Forearm shots by Sheamus to Gallows followed by a shoulder tackle and spin kick in the corner. Sheamus up top with a clothesline on Gallows for two. Sheamus hit ten forearms to the chest of Gallows. Charlotte hit Sheamus in the back to stop it, so Gallows came back with punches. Cesaro got the tag for his team as they did a double team White Noise like move for two with Anderson making the save. Sheamus clothesline on Anderson sent Anderson out of the ring. Charlotte got the tag, so Bayley went in as well. Bayley with a leaping cross body block to take out Charlotte. Cesaro jumped to the top, stumbled down, jumped back up and took out the other guys on the floor. Bayley hit a Bayley to Belly suplex on Charlotte to win the match for her team in 8 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Bayley, Cesaro & Sheamus
Analysis: ** It was an ordinary match with a predictable ending. They book Charlotte so strong in PPV matches, yet she just lost to Bayley, who only did a cross body block and a Bayley to Belly to beat her. I know that they wanted to end in a flurry, but that was a weak finish. As I noted above, it was obvious that the heel champions were going to lose this match as soon as it was announced.
Stephanie and Foley were in the office arguing about things. She was mad about Strowman having a match with Owens. She said that Triple H will be there and Foley wanted her to allow him to keep the Owens vs. Strowman match on as advertised. Foley wanted a high five, but she didn’t oblige and she just left.
Analysis: It’s halfway through the show. Already too many “office” segments.
Neville has a coronation up next.
Neville walked out with the Cruiserweight Championship, which he won from Rich Swann at the Royal Rumble. Neville posed with the title on the apron.
Neville did a promo in his evil voice talking about how it was the coronation of the king of the cruiserweights. Neville said that he will not be denied while noting that 205 Live belongs to the king. Neville said he proved the sniveling little peasants wrong because they never believed in him, never supported him and never cared about him. He said he was the undisputed king of the…but here comes Rich Swann.
Swann walked out with a microphone in hand as he walked down to the ring. Swann said he’s going to wait on his opportunity because he has a rematch coming. Swann said he couldn’t take the garbage that Neville was spewing. Swann told Neville that the fight between Neville and the WWE Universe is only taking place in Neville’s head. Swann said he didn’t like Neville, but he admits that Neville is one of the very best. Swann said he respected Neville for proving he was the best. Swann wanted a handshake, but Neville didn’t shake his hand.
Neville told Swann that he does not simply offer a hand to the king – you bend a knee and you bow. Neville tried a punch, but Swann decked him with a punch. Swann took him down with a Thesz Press followed by a roundhouse kick to the head. Neville was on the floor, so Swann hit a suicide dive to take him out on the floor. Neville went up the ramp while Swann went back in the ring to end the segment.
Analysis: It was a five-minute segment to continue this rivalry with Swann talking about getting a rematch for the title down the road rather than on this show. The crowd wasn’t into the match that much at the Rumble and they didn’t react very well for this segment. The cruiserweights are putting the effort in, but it’s hard to get the crowd invested in their stories.
There’s a Tag Team Tornado Match later: Rusev & Jinder Mahal vs. Big Cass & Enzo Amore with Graves talking like it’s the end of the rivalry.
Analysis: I thought this awful feud was over. Apparently not. One more match.
A commercial aired for WrestleMania 33, which is 62 days away as of Monday on April 2 in Orlando.
There were images that showed Nia Jax beating Sasha Banks in about five minutes on the Kickoff Show at the Royal Rumble with the announcers saying Banks re-injured her knee.
Banks was shown in the trainer’s room getting her left knee taped up. Bayley showed up to check on her. Bayley said it’s better for Banks to wait until her knee is healed up. Banks stopped her saying that she has a lot to prove and unlike some people she is not okay with coming up short.
Analysis: Banks ended that promo with a shot at Bayley by noting that Bayley came up short on Sunday. There’s a rumor that Banks will be turning heel soon, so this could be the start of that.
The announcers talked about the big Raw story from the Rumble match with Goldberg eliminating Brock Lesnar easily after Goldberg entered the match.
Kevin Owens was backstage in the locker room. Chris Jericho showed up to say that Foley said the KO match with Strowman is still on. Jericho said that no matter what happens they are still the United States Champion. Owens mentioned how Strowman eliminated seven guys in the Rumble match on Sunday. Owens told Jericho that they have to do this together. Jericho noted that Owens wasn’t with him against Zayn and Owens said that he was trying to get his match cancelled. Owens told Jericho he needs him to have his back with him. Jericho assured him that he has his back. Owens said that they will shove it down Foley’s throat and will beat Strowman. That match is next.
Analysis: The “best friends” appear united for now. I think the next month will see them continue to have problems leading to a split around Fastlane, which gives them a month to build up a WrestleMania match. I’m going to miss them being together, though. They are the highlight of Raw pretty much every week.
Kevin Owens made his entrance with Chris Jericho. Jericho was wearing his US Title and Jericho joined the commentary team. Owens wanted him to be at ringside, but Jericho decided to stay at the announce table by the ramp. Jericho said he had a plan and a strategy. Images showed the highlights from Royal Rumble of Owens retaining the Universal Title thanks to Strowman.
Braun Strowman stared at Jericho as he made his entrance. Strowman went over to Jericho and kicked him. Strowman cleared off the announce table, picked up Jericho and gave him a Chokeslam through the table.
Analysis: Strowman is a clever dude for taking out Jericho like that before the match. Are we really supposed to boo a smart heel like that? He is going to get cheered if he keeps doing stuff like that.
WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens vs. Braun Strowman
As the match began, doctors and referees helped Jericho to his feet. They helped him to the back.
Owens bailed to the floor as the bell rang. Strowman followed him, they went back in and Strowman did a running body attack to knock him down. Strowman whipped Owens hard into the turnbuckle. Corner splash by Strowman on Owens followed by a corner clothesline by Strowman. With Owens on the floor again, Strowman charged at him with a running body attack to send Owens into the barricade. Strowman sent Owens back into the ring. Clubbing blow to the chest by Strowman to Owens led to KO going to the floor again. Strowman charged at him, Owens moved and Strowman ran right into the ring post. Owens capitalized with a cannonball against the barricade as Strowman was seated against the barricade. Strowman stumbled into the ring, so Owens did a somersault leg drop to the head and a running senton. Owens went up top and hit a Frog Splash. Owens covered with Strowman doing a power kickout. Kick to the head by Owens. Strowman grabbed Owens off the top rope and hit his Running Powerslam. Strowman didn’t cover right away because he was selling. Here comes Roman Reigns as his music played during the match. Owens was out on the mat as Reigns nailed Strowman with a Superman Punch. The match went about five minutes with the DQ finish.
Winner by disqualification: Braun Strowman
Analysis: **1/4 That was fun while it lasted. It was building to a decent match when Reigns predictably showed up to end it. I liked the story with Strowman showing dominance, Owens fighting back and getting in quite a bit of offense. Strowman did the big move with the Powerslam off the top, which was the setup to get Reigns out there for the predictable attack.
Reigns with a clothesline that sent Strowman out of the ring and another Superman Punch on the floor by Reigns. Reigns ran onto the steps and took down Strowman with a Spear on the floor. Reigns went back into the ring to hit Owens with a Spear. Reigns left as his music played. Strowman got back to his feet fairly soon and marched to the back as well.
Analysis: It was a segment to keep Reigns strong. That’s always a goal of WWE’s creative team. It was notable that Strowman didn’t stay down for that long and went back up the ramp to look for Reigns.
A replay aired of Stephanie telling Rollins that Triple H is headed to Raw.
A truck was shown rolling up to the arena. Brock Lesnar emerged from the back and he had Paul Heyman with him.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman Have Things To Say...Or At Least Paul Does
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman entered for a promo. Fans chanted “Suplex City” for them.
Heyman reminded us that he is the advocate for Lesnar. Heyman talked about how there comes a time in everyone’s career where…the crowd cut him off with a “Goldberg” chant. Heyman thanked them for their irrelevant opinion. Heyman spoke about how every legend has that one opponent that might have his number. He spoke about how Andre the Giant was undefeated for 15 years, but then he faced Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 3 and lost. Heyman talked about how Ronda Rousey kicked everybody’s ass, but then she got her faced smashed in by Holly Holm. Heyman mentioned The Undertaker was undefeated at WrestleMania, but then he stepped in the ring with Brock Lesnar and lost. Heyman spoke about John Cena winning the WWE title, but Brock Lesnar was a guy that beat Cena. Heyman also added that as good as Kurt Angle is, there’s Brock Lesnar. Heyman continued talking about how his kids remind him that Goldberg beat Lesnar in 1 minute, 26 seconds at Survivor Series. It led to Heyman mentioning that Goldberg eliminated Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. Heyman said he hated the “yeah but” because it tarnishes the legacy and takes away all that somebody has accomplished. Heyman said the “yeah but” needs to be wiped out and killed, which is why this is the moment where you hit the record button.
Heyman said that Lesnar challenges Goldberg one final time…Lesnar pointed at the sign…at WrestleMania. Heyman added that one conqueror will stand over the vanquished victim. Heyman said that the odds are in Goldberg’s favor to be the conqueror that will stand over the vanquished victim, to which Lesnar replies with a “yeah but.” Heyman dropped the microphone to end it. Lesnar and Heyman left.
Analysis: Great promo work from Heyman as usual working in the “yeah but” analogy to explain how Goldberg seems to have Lesnar’s number. The WrestleMania challenge was obvious. I didn’t expect it this early, but there’s nothing wrong with doing it two months before the show. What hasn’t been announced yet is that Goldberg is scheduled to work a match at Fastlane with the rumor being that it will be for Kevin Owens’ Universal Title. That would mean that Goldberg vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania would be a Universal Title match. Lesnar isn’t currently scheduled for a match at Fastlane, but he is booked on every Raw except one between now and WrestleMania.
Rollins and Triple H confrontation still to come. That’s the main event.
Sasha Banks made her entrance for a rematch from the Royal Rumble against Nia Jax, who entered last.
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
Jax missed a charge in the corner with Banks moving out of the way and Jax hit the post with her shoulder. That sounded loud. Banks with a kick. Jax grabbed Banks with a Full Nelson outside the ring. Jax whipped Banks around so that her left knee hit the ring post two times. They went back in the ring with Banks trying to kick her away. Jax jumped on her back and wrenched on the knee. The ring bell rang even though Banks didn’t give up. Jax pulled back on Banks’ head. Banks was out in the ring. It was about three minutes.
Winner by stoppage: Nia Jax
Analysis: 1/2* It was another destruction of Banks from Jax. Similar to Royal Rumble except this attack focused on the knee even more than what Jax did on Sunday. The bell rang even though the ref didn’t call for it. There was some miscommunication there.
After the match was over, Jax stretched the leg of Banks again. Bayley ran down to the ring to yell Jax to back off. Jax let go as Bayley checked on Banks.
Analysis: They can have Bayley take on Jax in the near future to try to fight for Banks. This could be the start of that Banks heel turn I mentioned earlier because she won’t want Bayley to fight her battle. Slow burn on the turn. Build it up a bit. No need to rush it.
Up next: Enzo & Cass vs. Rusev & Jinder Mahal.
More images shown from the Royal Rumble.
Back from break, Banks was helped to the trainer’s room by Bayley and a trainer.
Lana was in the ring in a tight dress. Thanks for spinning around. She told the crowd that they are not a city, they are a small, pathetic village. She introduced “Handsome” Rusev. He has Jinder Mahal with him. Rusev has a protective mask on his face to protect his broken nose.
Enzo & Cass did their promo to start the match. They asked about Mahal’s veins. Enzo said that Mahal looks like a road map and said that too bad he (Mahal) isn’t going anywhere. They kept going, but I was losing interest a bit because this show is too long.
Tornado Tag Match: Rusev & Jinder Mahal (w/Lana) vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
The rules of a tornado tag are that you don’t have to tag your partner in. All four guys are legal.
The four guys paired off on the floor with Cass working on Rusev and Mahal attacking Enzo. Mahal attacked Cass by jumping on his back and punching him. Enzo came back in the picture by jumping on Mahal’s back as the show went to break one minute into it.
Back from break, Cass fought off a double team and Enzo hit a cross body block to knock down Mahal. Suicide dive by Enzo on both heels, but they caught him and dropped him on the barricade. Forearm by Rusev on Cass. The heels double teamed Cass by throwing him into the barricade. Rusev brought Enzo into the ring and delivered a body slam. Mahal hit a knee drop on Enzo. Cass was still out on the floor as the heels worked on Enzo in the ring. Cass got back to his feet to start the back. Shoulder tackle by Cass on Rusev, punch to Mahal and he dumped Mahal over the top to the floor. Cass caught Rusev with a body slam followed by the Empire Elbow for two as Mahal made the save. Enzo was out of the ring. As the heels worked on Cass, Enzo pulled Jinder out of the ring and tossed him into the steps. Cass nailed Rusev with a big boot to the face. Enzo off the top with the Bada Boom Shaka Laka splash or whatever the hell it’s called. That was enough for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Enzo Amore & Big Cass
Analysis: *3/4 That was boring. The heels worked on one guy for most of it while the other guy was on the floor until the faces made the comeback. The crowd was more interested in the pre-match promo than the actual match. I don’t blame them since this feud was terrible and went on too long. Enzo & Cass are likely going to get into the title picture leading to a possible title win at WrestleMania against Gallows & Anderson.
A limo arrived to the building. When the door opened it was Triple H in a suit.
The announcers plugged a WWE Network show after Raw that is “WWE 24 WrestleMania Dallas.” Cole think it’s the best documentary they have ever done. A preview aired of the documentary.
Analysis: I enjoy their documentaries especially about WrestleMania. It wasn’t a great WrestleMania, but the documentary is probably going to be good. I will definitely check it out.
There was a replay of Brock Lesnar’s challenge to Goldberg for a match at WrestleMania with the message delivered by Paul Heyman.
It was announced that Goldberg will be on Raw next week in Portland to answer the Lesnar WrestleMania challenge.
Triple H Addresses Seth Rollins
Triple H walked out to his “King of Kings” entrance song. Hunter is rocking the heel beard for his return to television. The crowd gave him a big ovation even though he’s a heel in this scenario. As mentioned, he was wearing a suit and tie.
Triple H talked about how he made Seth Rollins the first NXT Champion and then Rollins became the leader of The Shield although really there was no leader. Triple H spoke about how standing by his side, Rollins became the face of WWE and the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Triple H talked about because of Hunter, Rollins had everything given to him. Triple H spoke about how Rollins collapsed when the pressure got tough for him. He got mad about how Rollins handed back everything that Hunter had given him. Hunter continued to rip on him some more.
Hunter said that he is trying so hard to not be “that guy” anymore. He is trying so hard not to be that guy that ends career, crushes dreams and doesn’t give a crap about what anybody thinks. He is trying so hard to be something more, so he puts on that suit and ties that stupid tie to try to put that behind him. Hunter says that he tries to create something more for everybody here, but then a guy like Seth Rollins decides he wants to come to NXT on Saturday. Hunter said he was trying to create the next Seth Freakin' Rollins. He added that he is done trying…he is so done trying.
Hunter took off the jacket, he took off the tie, he unbuttoned some buttons on his shirt and he stared into the camera. Hunter told Rollins he doesn’t have to worry about going to Hunter’s house because he is standing right there, right now. Hunter: “Seth Rollins, get your ass to this ring and meet your destroyer.”
Rollins entered and made his way down to the ring, but when he got there Samoa Joe was there! It’s the main roster debut of Samoa Joe! Joe beat on Rollins and sent Rollins into the side of the ring apron. Joe whipped Rollins into the barricade at ringside. Hunter left the ring without touching Rollins and he went up the ring.
Joe sent Rollins into the ring. Back elbow by Joe followed by an enziguri and three senton splashes to crush Rollins in the ring. Joe applied the Coquina Clutch submission on Rollins while wrapping his legs around the waist of Rollins. Joe choked him out in the center of the ring. Rollins was passed out in the ring as the crowd chanted “Joe” for the big Samoan. Joe stood over Rollins to end Raw at 11:09pmET.
Analysis: Great ending. I was expecting a brawl between Rollins and Triple H like I’m sure most people were, but Joe attacking Rollins in the aisle before he could get in the ring was a nice surprise. Rollins couldn’t get any momentum against the former NXT Champion as Joe beat up Rollins in dominating fashion. It was notable that Triple H didn’t even touch Rollins there. They can build up to that at another time. Rollins will have to try to stop Joe in the near future, perhaps leading to a Fastlane match.
As for where things are headed, I believe the plan is still Rollins vs. Triple H at WrestleMania. I’m not sure who Joe would match up with on the Raw side. Finn Balor is an option because he should be back soon and they had a long rivalry in NXT. There are some other options too. Anyway, that’s another topic for another time.
I’m glad that Samoa Joe is finally on Raw. He’s been one of my favorite wrestlers for about 15 years when I first saw him in Ring of Honor. His TNA run was pretty good in the early going, but you could tell he was losing interest. The NXT days saw him start as a face and then go heel. I like him more as a heel, so they have him in his best role at the moment. I’m happy he’s finally there.
Does this mean that Nakamura will be on SD Live when he finally debuts? Hope so. That’s not really relevant to what happened here, but the thought was always if one guy is Raw then the other goes to Smackdown.
There were rumors of Samoa Joe vs. John Cena at WrestleMania. Since Joe appears to be a Raw guy, perhaps they are going in a different direction. I'm not sure what that means for Cena at this point or if he will lose the WWE Title at Elimination Chamber. More thoughts on that in the SD Live review after Tuesday's show I'm sure.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Samoa Joe – It took him 17 years as a wrestler to finally be on Raw. He deserves that spot.
2. Kevin Owens – Strong performance from the champ on the microphone and in the ring.
3. Braun Strowman – I thought he had a great night.
I was going to put Lana in that dress as a star. She is ravishing.
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 6
2017 Average: 5.2
Average since brand split starting July 25/16: 5.77 (Smackdown is 6.57)
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 5, 4.5, 5.5, 5
2017 High: 6 (Jan. 23)
2017 Low: 4 (Jan. 9)
I give it a 5.5 out of 10.
It was an average show with an ending I enjoyed. Great way to debut Samoa Joe as a heel that came out of nowhere with a cheap attack on Rollins.
I was tired while watching Raw this week. I’m not sure if that’s my fault or if I’m just a bit tired of writing about WWE after NXT Takeover and a long Royal Rumble show on the two nights before. It really is a lot for fans to consume. That’s probably part of the reason why the crowd didn’t seem that interested in the show. I also think the lack of quality matches hurt too.
This review is about 800 words longer than a typical Raw Deal mainly because of all the promos. There's too much talking on Raw. The in-ring action was poor this week with only Zayn/Jericho as an average match and everything else was below average.
There was nothing announced for the next Raw PPV called Fastlane. It’s on March 5, so there’s plenty of time to do that.
That's all for now. See ya next time for the Smackdown review.
Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Raptors. Go Toronto Maple Leafs.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org