This week’s Raw continues the road to Fastlane, which is WWE Raw’s next pay-per-view event on March 5. Going into Raw, the advertised big match is Braun Strowman vs. Big Show. Is that supposed to excite people? I’m not so sure, but I’m here to review it, so let’s get through it together.
Live from Los Angeles, California (go Rams) is the Raw Deal for episode #1238. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks Melo Man for the banner up top.
Raw began with a graphic saying “In Memory of George ‘The Animal’ Steele 1937-2017” on it. May he rest in peace.
Kevin Owens Explains His Actions
Kevin Owens, the Universal Champion, began Raw seated in a chair in the ring with his title. There was a spotlight on him. Fans chanted “you suck” at him. He was wearing a suit.
Owens said that now that the spotlight is solely where it belongs he can answer the question that’s on everybody’s mind: “Why?” He said the question was about why everybody thinks he’s going to walk out of Fastlane still the Universal Champion. Owens noted that when he was 15 years old, if somebody told them he’d main event a PPV against Goldberg he would have said they were crazy, but he always believed he would be in the main events. Fans chanted “Goldberg.” Owens noted that the chant is what makes Goldberg believe the hype. Owens said that he never believed the hype even when Goldberg was beating people in WCW in mere seconds. Owens claimed that Goldberg never impressed him back then, not now or ever. Owens said that Brock Lesnar took Goldberg lightly and Bill got lucky, but that won’t happen to him. Owens said he will know what to expect and what to do at Fastlane.
Owens claimed that no one thinks he has a chance to win at Fastlane, but he knows he will walk out still the champion. Owens noted that he doesn’t have to beat Goldberg, he just has to outlast him. Owens said it’s his match and in his match, he just has to outsmart Goldberg – everybody knows Goldberg doesn’t come close to Owens. Owens bragged about how he knows how to play the game better than anybody else. (Good Triple H reference.) The fans chanted “Goldberg” again as Owens said there is nothing he won’t do to keep the title. Owens mentioned that Goldberg said that he came back because he wanted to show his wife, son and prove to kids think that superheroes still exist. Owens said that at Fastlane he’s going to show Goldberg, his son and everybody else that superheroes don’t exist.
Owens got out of the chair. The spotlight was still on him as he stood in the ring. Owens said that at Fastlane, the people can chant for Goldberg, but Owens told him that he is just wasting his time. Owens: “As far as I’m concerned, you’re nothing.”
Owens mentioned Chris Jericho. He dropped the microphone and left. The crowd booed as the segment came to a close.
Analysis: Awesome promo from Owens, who is one of the best talkers in WWE. Perhaps the best talker in the company because of his ability to do serious promos as well as comedy when needed. I liked the serious tone of the promo with Owens talking about how Goldberg isn’t going to beat him easily and that he’s going to outlast him. It fits the Owens character to have that kind of confidence even though we all know most of his title matches had cheap finishes thanks to Jericho’s help. As for not saying much about Jericho at the end, that’s fine. It keeps us wanting more. It’s smart to have Owens focus on the Goldberg match. As for Goldberg, he’s not booked for Raw this week.
Later on Raw: Braun Strowman vs. Big Show.
Enzo & Cass were shown walking backstage for a match up next.
The next tag match is to determine the number one contenders to the tag team titles with the winners getting a title match at Fastlane on March 5.
The Raw announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton were shown on camera welcoming us to the show.
Enzo and Cass did their entrance. Enzo grabbed a sign from a fan in support of the team. Cass said they are the next Raw Tag Team Champions because Cesaro & Sheamus are SAWFT.
Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
There’s a “Delete Roman” sign in the crowd. Clearly a Matt Hardy fan. Sheamus went after Cass early on and brought in Cesaro for a double team forearm shot to knock Cass down. Cass came back with a body slam on Sheamus. Enzo tagged in, so Cass launched Enzo into Cesaro on one side of the ring and launched Enzo at Sheamus on the other side. Cesaro got the tag, ran around the ring and crushed Enzo with an uppercut. The show went to break two minutes into it.
The show returned from the break with Sheamus hitting a backbreaker on Enzo. Every Enzo & Cass match has Enzo as the face in peril. Cesaro tagged in with a double foot stomp. Graves did his usual deal on commentary where he ripped on Enzo. They did a great spot where Enzo tried to break free, but Cesaro crushed him with an uppercut. Graves called Cesaro “Claudio” during a moment, which is his real name. Cass got the hot tag, he booted Sheamus out of the ring and Cesaro got the tag leading to an impressive cross body block by Cesaro for two. Cass with a back body drop, but Cesaro came back with a corkscrew uppercut. Enzo jumped on Cass’ back to prevent a Swing attempt. Cass nailed the East River Crossing slam on Cesaro for the pin at around nine minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Enzo & Cass
Analysis: **1/4 It was a solid tag match. I thought that Sheamus would be there to break up the pin when Cass covered, but he wasn’t there for it. I’m surprised that Cesaro was pinned that easily because he didn’t take much of a beating before losing. Cesaro and Sheamus were on offense for 90% of the match (as Saxton pointed out) and got beat, which is a formula that often happens for Enz0 & Cass matches. The win means E&C move on to a title match. I hope they save the title change until WrestleMania to make it a bigger moment.
After the match was over, Enzo was bragging about the win at ringside. Sheamus didn’t like it, so he nailed Enzo with a Brogue Kick to knock him down. Some fans chanted “thank you Sheamus” for it.
Analysis: That was a well timed Brogue Kick that looked nasty as well. It wasn’t the whole crowd that was happy about Enzo getting knocked out, but there was a good portion of the crowd chanting it.
Owens was shown walking backstage. Raw GM Mick Foley walked up to him and told Owens he has a match with Sami Zayn. Owens told Mick: "You're gonna end up with more guys on the injured list than in your locker room.” Owens went back towards the building as Foley stood there to end the segment.
Analysis: Owens vs. Zayn isn’t a new match by any means, but it’s usually very good.
Coming up later: Big Show vs. Braun Strowman.
A video aired about Bayley winning the Women’s Title last week in controversial fashion thanks to an assist from Sasha Banks. A few days after the match, I wrote a column about how I thought WWE should have waited for Bayley’s title win until WrestleMania.
There was a tweet shown from Charlotte talking about how Bayley should give her back the title.
Later on Raw: “Bayley Addresses Charlotte’s Demands.”
Foley was in the office talking to somebody on the phone. Roman Reigns walked up to him. Foley told Reigns he has to wait for Strowman until Fastlane and mentioned fortifying the ring for Strowman vs. Show. Gallows & Anderson showed up to talk about their unfinished business with Reigns. Foley told Reigns to find himself a partner against Gallows & Anderson, but Reigns said he can beat them by himself. Foley did a cheap pop by saying “Los Angeles” (written on his hand) to end it.
Analysis: Last week’s handicap match with Reigns going against Gallows & Anderson was a mess. I don’t see why they need to do it again, but they are.
The announcers were joined by Austin Aries, who replaced Byron Saxton for the cruiserweight match. A clip aired from 205 Live with Tozawa saying he didn’t like Kendrick.
Brian Kendrick vs. Akira Tozawa
They looked like they were doing a handshake, but Kendrick decked him with a clothesline. Kendrick hit Tozawa with a clothesline to knock him down. Kendrick stretched the back of the neck of Tozawa against the steel by the turnbuckle. Kendrick applied the Captain's Hook submission to end the segment.
The match never started. It was about one minute.
Analysis: Kendrick is doing a good job as a heel that can put over “new” cruiserweights well. He fits perfectly in that role.
Reigns vs. Gallows & Anderson is up next.
Kendrick was backstage with Charly Caruso there to interview him. Kendrick said nobody will disrespect him. He said tonight’s lesson was in respect and that was just the first lesson.
Analysis: Basic heel promo. Charly was looking excellent there. Just saying.
Roman Reigns entered the arena as he was greeted with a lot of boos like usual. Some cheers were in there, but the boos were loud. A clip aired of his match against Gallows & Anderson last week that ended in a disqualification and Reigns cleaned house after the match was over.
The Raw Tag Team Champions Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson made their entrance. It’s Gallows & Anderson vs. Enzo & Cass at Fastlane on March 5.
Roman Reigns vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Reigns hit Anderson with two shoulder tackles early on. Reigns knocked down both guys with punches and the Drive By dropkick on Gallows on the apron. Anderson grabbed Reigns by the hair, so Gallows hit Reigns with a kick to the head while on the floor. Gallows nailed a suplex on Reigns and grabbed a headlock. The crowd did a “Let’s Go Roman/Roman Sucks” chant. Gallows picked up Reigns with a two handed chokeslam for a two count. Anderson tagged in, but Reigns sent him to the floor. Reigns sent Gallows to the floor as well. The bald champs did some clubbering (Dusty Rhodes term for double team punching) to Reigns on the floor. Reigns punched Anderson in the ring while Gallows brought a chair into the ring, but Reigns kicked it out of his hands. Reigns jabbed Anderson in the ribs with the chair. Reigns hit Gallows in the ribs with the chair as well. Reigns hit Gallows in the back with chair shots. Ref called for the bell after the first chair shot at the four minute mark.
Winners by disqualification: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Analysis: *1/4 A quick match leading to another disqualification finish just like last week. The heels Gallows & Anderson brought the chair into the ring, so Reigns used it to defend himself.
Post match, Reigns punched Anderson out of the ring. Reigns hit a Superman Punch on Gallows. Anderson went up top, he jumped off and Reigns crushed him with a massive Spear. That was very impressive. It was timed well.
Analysis: It was just like last week with Reigns looking strong after the match ended in a disqualification. That’s a running theme on Raw where they like to make Reigns look strong.
Later on Raw there’s an interview with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman conducted by Michael Cole.
The New Day are in a match against Rusev and Jinder Mahal up next.
A clip aired of The New Day on TMZ Live earlier in the day as it was announced that New Day will be the hosts of WrestleMania.
Analysis: The best part of the video was Big E’s fake enthusiasm.
The ravishing Russian Lana was in the ring to announce Jinder Mahal and her husband “Handsome” Rusev. Rusev is still wearing a face guard due to his broken nose.
The New Day trio made their entrance. Xavier Woods said that his Youtube channel UpUpDownDown is about to hit one million subscribers. He said he’s hosting some gaming awards that I’ve never heard of. Woods said the three of them want to be the hyenas in the new Lion King movie. Woods also mentioned the New Day ice cream. Woods mentioned they are also hosting WrestleMania. Kofi Kingston mentioned the ice cream, so fans chanted “we want ice cream.” Kingston mentioned last week Bo Dallas destroyed the blueprints for the ice cream machine. Kingston said they put the blueprints back together, but this time they went digital on a tablet. Big E said that after they are done with this match they will work on these plans.
Lana interrupted them. She had a tablet in the ring as well wondering if they meant those plans. Lana read some of their plans noting unicorn horns. They wondered how she got the plans and Big had a funny line: “You know she’s Russian, right?” That drew some laughs. The New Day guys went into the ring and the match began.
Analysis: It was a whole lot of nothing there except for Big E’s line about Lana being Russian. That was clever. The whole point of the segment was to get that joke in.
“Handsome” Rusev & Jinder Mahal (w/Lana) vs. The New Day - Big E & Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods)
The heels worked on Kingston as the show returned from break. Kingston nailed a leaping DDT off the ropes. Big E got the tag with three belly to belly suplexes on Mahal, which is what he usually does after the hot tag. Big E nailed a running splash on Mahal. Rusev into the ring and he nailed Big E with a kick to the face. Kingston sent Rusev over the top to the floor and Kingston followed that with a jump over the top to the floor. Woods went over to Lana, blew the trombone at her and she tossed the tablet into the air. Woods broke the tablet as the crowd cheered. Back in the ring, New Day hit the Midnight Hour (double team Big Ending) for the pinfall win after about three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The New Day
Analysis: * It was a silly match built around Lana having the tablet with the ice cream plans and Woods destroying it. No surprise that New Day got the win or that Mahal got pinned since Mahal rarely wins any matches. I keep saying it all the time, but I hope Rusev gets a push one day.
Post match, Lana freaked out about having her tablet broken while New Day celebrated the win.
A contract signing for Neville vs. Gallagher at Fastlane is up next.
A video package aired about the late, great George “The Animal” Steele. He was a colorful character that stood out from the pack as a hairy man that had a green tongue and a bald head. There were comments from different people in WWE as well as actors like Kevin Hart and David Arquette. Ricky Steamboat talked about how Steele played a big part in his career as a clip aired of Steele helping Steamboat beat Randy Savage during their famous IC Title match at WrestleMania 3. It ended with a shot of the crowd and a graphic noting that he was alive from 1937 to 2017. May he rest in peace.
Analysis: I remember Steele well when I was a kid because his persona really made him stand out. I had action figures of his as well that brought back a lot of fond memories. It wasn’t always about great matches in the 1980s. It was about larger than life characters and that’s what he was.
Contract Signing For Cruiserweight Championship Match
The purple ropes were in the ring for the contract signing. There was a table in the ring with leather chairs, some tea, biscuits and cups.
Austin Aries was in the ring to moderate the proceedings. Jack Gallagher was in the suit. Gallagher signed the contract before Neville was even introduced. Neville walked out in his wrestling gear and he signed the contract right away. Aries left.
Neville was about to leave when Gallagher told him to stay for some tea and biscuits. Some fans chanted “tea and biscuits.” Neville told Gallagher that he was exactly what the American imbeciles expect an Englishman to be. Neville told him he should be ashamed of himself. Neville said that Gallagher was a stereotype that doesn’t really exist. Neville spoke about how some Englishmen are ugly and they’re rough around the edges. Neville told Gallagher that the people aren’t laughing with Gallagher, they are laughing at him. Neville said after what he does to Gallagher at Fastlane, the only person that will be laughing is Neville.
Gallagher said that he’s not playing a gentleman, he is a gentleman. Gallagher said this is the way he was raised. Gallagher told Neville that his problem is that he believes he’s better than everybody else and Gallagher will not stand for that.
Neville flipped the table over. Neville wondered what Gallagher would do about it. Neville shoved him, so Gallagher took him down. Gallagher nailed a headbutt that sent Neville out of the ring. When Neville went back on the apron, Gallagher held out his umbrella and Neville left.
Analysis: It was an effective promo in terms of building up their match. I thought Neville did an awesome job as he usually does because he’s a lot more comfortable on the microphone as a heel. Gallagher’s shtick is different and makes him stand out, so he’s able to draw some laughs. The headbutt looked great at the end of the segment. I’d be shocked if Neville lost the title to Gallagher at Fastlane. No reason to do a title change there because Neville should be a long term champion.
Later on Raw: Big Show vs. Strowman.
Nia Jax is shown backstage walking to the ring and she’s in action next.
Nia Jax vs. Sarah Pierce
Pierce went for a dropkick that had no effect as Jax tossed her across the ring. Jax nailed a running splash in the corner. Samoan Drop by Jax for the pinfall win in under one minute.
Winner by pinfall: Nia Jax
Analysis: 1/4* I don’t know how to rate squash matches. It put Jax over like it was supposed to.
Jax was interviewed in ring by Charly Caruso, who asked her thoughts on the Raw Women’s Title match last week. Jax said she wants a shot on the Women’s Title. She said if Bayley and Banks tried that on her she would shove the crutch down their throats. Jax said she is putting the champion on notice.
Analysis: The rumored WrestleMania match is Bayley vs. Banks vs. Charlotte vs. Jax for the Women’s Title. Having Jax talk about the title after all these months should put her into the title picture soon.
A video package aired about Barack Obama for Black History Month. The black wrestlers in WWE talked about him by reading off a script WWE provided them.
Bayley was shown backstage with the Raw Women’s Title around her waist. She hugged some dudes as she made her way to the ring.
Bayley, the new Raw Women’s Champion, made her entrance with the title around her waist at the top of hour three. Good ovation for her in her home state of California.
A replay aired of last week’s title win when Sasha Banks hit Dana Brooke in the back with a crutch and Banks also hit Charlotte with a crutch leading to Bayley hitting the Bayley to Belly for the title win. Charlotte sent out a tweet about how Bayley should relinquish the title.
Bayley Addresses Her Women’s Title Victory
Bayley was greeted by “you deserve it” chants. So many title changes lately and so many of those chants. Everybody deserves it. Bayley talked about how she grew up California. She spoke about how her and her friends has the biggest dreams, but all she wanted to do was be in the WWE ring while having the honor of calling herself a champion. She noted that the dream came true last week. Bayley talked about how it was crazy how she was in the Figure Eight in one moment and the next moment she had her hand raised. She said it was awesome. Bayley spoke about when she got backstage last week she called her dad. She mentioned how her dad took her to so many WWE events and said that he’s there right now. She said: “Dad, I did it.” Bayley talked about how it was a phone call she’ll never forget.
Bayley mentioned that Charlotte is trying to tarnish the best week of Bayley’s life. Bayley told Charlotte to face the facts because Bayley is the new Raw Women’s Champion. Stephanie McMahon’s music hit. (Face the facts? Curt Hawkins gimmick infringement!)
Stephanie McMahon, the Raw Commissioner, entered the ring. She shook Bayley’s hand. Stephanie wondered if Bayley’s dream envisioned Bayley in the main event of Raw and people chanting "you deserve it" at her. Stephanie wondered if Bayley dreamed about a tainted victory like what happened last week. Stephanie wondered if Bayley’s dad wondered if Bayley did it on her own or if Sasha did it. Stephanie gave Bayley credit because the people love her including Stephanie’s three daughters. Stephanie wondered if Bayley wanted to throw away what Bayley is to hold onto a championship that Bayley didn’t really earn. Stephanie said the Bayley she knows would do the right thing and relinquish the Raw Women’s Championship. Stephanie told Bayley she doesn’t want to win that way. Bayley had a sad look on her face. She took the belt off from around her waist as the crowd chanted “no” at her. Stephanie said that those kinds of decisions are never easy and told Bayley to be the hero for those kids to stand up to. Stephanie told her to win the championship on her own terms for the right reasons. Fans chanted “no” as Bayley held the title in her hands.
Sasha Banks joined the party in her ring gear. Stephanie wondered why Banks had to be out there. Banks told Bayley not to listen to this garbage. Banks told Bayley she won it fair and square. Banks told Bayley that she won’t let her give up everything that she’s worked for. Banks told Bayley to listen to the fans. Banks pointed out the little girls in the front row and the guys in the “Hugger” shirt because they love her and Banks loves her. Banks asked the crowd if Bayley should give up the title and the fans chanted “no.”
Stephanie wondered if Sasha was out there because she knows she can’t beat Charlotte, but inside Sasha knows she can beat Bayley. Banks wondered who Stephanie thinks she is.
Bayley spoke about how this title means everything to her and that the title is bigger than Bayley, Banks and even Charlotte. Bayley said that she didn’t work to be a champion just to look like it was handed to her. Bayley said that the title should represent happiness and competition, not controversy. Bayley: “Should I give up the Raw Women’s Championship?” Bayley said there’s only one answer. Bayley said “hell no” she’s not giving up the Raw Women’s Championship. Bayley said it’s because of the WWE Universe that she became champion, not because of Sasha. Bayley said she’ll defend the title any time, any place and there’s nothing anybody can do about it.
Charlotte Flair, the former Raw Women’s Champion, joined the fun wearing a robe and her ring gear. She slowly walked down to the ring. Charlotte said she would like to apologize for the entire women’s division for these two ingrates being so disrespectful. Stephanie thanked her. Charlotte said she is going to take back her title at Fastlane because she’s invoking her rematch clause.
Sasha told Charlotte to shut up. Sasha told Charlotte that her knee is feeling 100%, so for old times sake why don’t they have a match right now? Charlotte accepted the match by telling Banks she’ll put her in a wheelchair forever. Stephanie said the match will start right now.
Analysis: That was a long segment that went about 15 minutes. I thought all four women did a good job and the crowd was into it, but it’s a typical Raw promo segment where they dragged on too long. They spent all that time having Bayley wonder if she should give up the title only to say that she’s going to keep the title. No surprise that they are doing Charlotte vs. Bayley at Fastlane. I’ll pick Charlotte in that match.
Bayley joined the commentary team for the match.
Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks
Charlotte went after the knee, but Banks fought out of an attack with a nearfall. Banks missed a knee attack in the corner, avoided a corner attack by Charlotte and Banks knocked her down. Charlotte came back with a knee to the back of the head to gain control. Charlotte did a leg lock around the head leading to her driving Banks’ head into the mat a few times. Charlotte did a kip up, Banks hit a boot to the face and Charlotte hit a running boot to the face to knock her down. Charlotte dumped Banks to the floor as the show went to break three minutes into it.
Back from break, Charlotte applied a dragon sleeper like move as she wen for a submission win. Banks fought back with knees to the head and a rollup for two. Banks came back with two clotheslines followed by a dropkick and a counter into a bulldog for Banks for two. Charlotte with a knee to the ribs. Banks went for the double knee attack in the corner, but Charlotte bailed to the floor. Bayley nailed a double knee attack on Charlotte on the floor. Dana Brooke jogged down to the ring, so Bayley hit Brooke from behind with a punch to the back. Back in the ring, Banks was on the top rope. Charlotte knocked her down. Charlotte kicked at Bayley. Banks capitalized with a Backstabber into the Bank Statement submission. Charlotte tapped out to give Banks the win after ten minutes.
Winner by submission: Sasha Banks
Analysis: **3/4 It was good like a typical Banks/Charlotte match although it was shorter than what they usually do. There weren’t enough of nearfalls and near submissions to end the match in a believable way. Having Bayley help Banks win continued the story from last week when Banks helped Bayley win. That could mean the finish at Fastlane will be something where Banks tries to help her win, makes a mistake and costs Bayley the title.
Post match, Bayley hugged Banks in the ring to celebrate the win while Charlotte looked upset with Dana Brooke. No replays of the finish.
A video package aired about Diamond Dallas Page being in the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame. He is a former WCW World Champion that was one of their most popular wrestlers. His WWE career only lasted about two years because he was older and booked poorly as a heel when he first came in.
Analysis: It's very well deserved. His work in helping the likes of Jake Roberts and Scott Hall improve their life thanks to his DDP Yoga program is just as important as what he did in the ring.
Sami Zayn was interviewed backstage by Charly Caruso. He spoke about how Samoa Joe was like Kevin Owens because they are terribly selfish people. Zayn talked about how he’s seen Owens doing it for years and now he sees Joe doing it. Zayn spoke about how his story with Samoa Joe is far from over. Zayn noted that Owens must deal with Goldberg at Fastlane, but he has to deal with Zayn kicking his teeth in tonight.
Analysis: Zayn is one of the best pure babyfaces in all of WWE, but they don’t push him that way. His promos and work in the ring should mean more of a spotlight for him. I hope it happens after WrestleMania.
Kevin Owens made his entrance for his match. A clip aired from last week when Owens attacked his “best friend” Chris Jericho. Great segment that was also sad because I already miss them being together.
Sami Zayn made his entrance. Samoa Joe attacked him from behind. Joe pounded on Zayn with punches to the head. Joe tossed him into the ring post two times. Joe sent Zayn into the ring post again as Owens looked on from inside the ring. Joe nailed a running senton splash on Zayn. Joe yelled at Zayn: “This is your world now!” Joe rolled Zayn into the ring. Joe left as officials made him go to the back.
Analysis: The cheap attacks from Joe continue. It fits what his character is supposed to be as a hired gun type of heel.
A referee checked on Zayn. Zayn said they are doing it. The bell rang.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
This is not for Owens’ Universal Title.
Owens nailed Zayn with two hard clotheslines and a cannonball attack. Owens nailed another cannonball in the corner. Owens nailed a Popup Powerbomb on Zayn for the pinfall win after two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kevin Owens
The announcers talked about how Owens looked as good as ever and sent a message to Goldberg with that win.
Analysis: 1/2* Easy win for the champ since Zayn was attacked by Joe. Pushing the idea that Owens is dangerous now that he’s alone is a good way to build him going into the Goldberg match. I still think Goldberg is winning the Universal Title at Fastlane.
A tale of the tape was shown hyping up Strowman vs. Show. It noted Strowman is 6’8” so they aren’t lying about his height because I believe that is right.
An interview with Lesnar and Heyman is up next.
A graphic aired that said “In Memory of Ivan Koloff” as the show returned from break.
Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley were in their office. Foley said he enjoyed seeing Stephanie embarrassed earlier. Stephanie said that Foley’s behavior during the Samoa Joe contract signing on Raw two weeks ago and his disrespect towards her was insubordinate. Foley told her not to treat him like he’s stupid. Foley spoke about how Seth Rollins is on the shelf injured because of Samoa Joe. Foley said he refuses to let her greed get in the way of what he knows is right. He stared at her and left. Stephanie noted that there’s a cord on the floor and how she wouldn’t want him to have an accident.
Analysis: Good to see Foley calling out Stephanie for being a bitchy heel that she is. The problem with Stephanie’s character is that nobody ever really stands up to her. This could be the start of the angle to have Foley replaced as Raw GM perhaps around WrestleMania. I like him in the role, but he is having major hip surgery soon and will be unable to travel for a while. I think it would be a smart way to have Kurt Angle return to WWE as the Raw GM post WrestleMania.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman Interviewed
Lesnar and Heyman were seated in an interview area as Michael Cole talked to them. Cole noted that Lesnar will face Goldberg at WrestleMania on April 2. Heyman cut him off to note that Lesnar is on edge lately and he’s anxious. Heyman suggested that Cole lowers his voice and adjusts his tone. Lesnar got up, Cole got up, Lesnar grabbed Cole’s chair and stared at the camera. Heyman spoke about how people think Kevin Owens should be recognized as a violent champion. Heyman said that he thinks Owens established himself last week and that Owens is prepared to shock the world at Fastlane. Heyman said that he thinks Owens can beat Goldberg at Fastlane, but Lesnar disagrees. Heyman said that if Goldberg hits a Spear and Jackhammer at Fastlane then he goes to WrestleMania as Universal Champion, then that’s just one more thing that Lesnar will conquer at WrestleMania. Heyman said regarding that, Lesnar agrees. Lesnar just smiled into the camera.
Analysis: It was fine for what it was – a typical Heyman promo hyping up Lesnar being angry and ready for Goldberg. It would have been nice if Lesnar actually said a line or two because he speaks so rarely that if he does actually say something it would mean a lot.
The ring crew was shown reinforcing the ring for the main event because there’s nearly 800 pounds competing in the match. When Strowman wrestled Mark Henry nobody cared about reinforcing the ring for that match. Way to go, ring crew. I’m just being silly.
Braun Strowman made his entrance for the main event match against Big Show.
It was mentioned that Goldberg will be on Raw next week in Green Bay. Also next week, Seth Rollins will have an exclusive interview.
Analysis: Goldberg was off the last two weeks, so it makes sense to have him on the last Raw before Fastlane. Rollins is likely going to say he’ll be ready for WrestleMania.
Big Show made his entrance. The main event started at 11:01pmET, which is later than usual.
Big Show vs. Braun Strowman
There was an interesting spot early on with Strowman doing a kip up to get back to his feet. Strowman powered Show back into the corner. Fans chanted “this is awesome” because they must be easily impressed. The kip up was pretty good. Show shoved Strowman down. They replayed Show shoving him down using a trip as an assist. Strowman bounced off the ropes with a running clothesline. Strowman nailed a big boot to the face. Show went for a choke, Strowman hit him in the gut and hit a DDT for a two count. Cole was really going heavy on putting over how impressive Strowman was as Strowman hit a clothesline in the corner. Strowman hit a clubbing blow to the back. Another clothesline by Strowman for two. They teased a suplex spot, but neither man could lift the other guy until Show hit a suplex. Show nailed Strowman with two boots to the face and a corner splash. Running shoulder tackle by Show knocked Strowman down. Show picked up Strowman and hit a Chokeslam for a two count. Strowman got back to his feet and wanted a Powerslam, but Show slipped out of it. Show placed Strowman on the top rope teasing a superplex. Strowman fought out of it with punches. Strowman jumped off the middle rope and Show hit the KO Punch leading to a two count. Great nearfall there. Show went for a splash off the middle rope, but Strowman moved out of the way. Strowman picked him up and hit a sloppy Running Powerslam for a two count. Show tried a Chokeslam, but Strowman slipped out of it and hit a Running Powerslam for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Braun Strowman
Analysis: ***1/4 That was a very entertaining big man match where they built up all of the big moves well. I was really impressed by that match. I had low expectations going into it and I thought it might be over in five minutes or less, but they told a good story. The nearfalls were really good with Show almost winning with the Chokeslam and the KO Punch. The crowd was mad when the superplex was teased and it didn’t happen. I also like that Strowman didn’t win with the first Powerslam. Show kicked out of that one, so Strowman had to do it again to put him away. Kudos to both guys for working their asses off to deliver a good match and whoever helped them put it together set up all of the spots well.
Roman Reigns entered as soon as the match was over. Reigns went into the ring and nailed Strowman with a Superman Punch. Reigns hit him with another Superman Punch. Reigns wanted a Spear, but Strowman nailed a dropkick. Strowman picked up Reigns and hit a Running Powerslam. Strowman stood over Reigns as Cole called Strowman the most dominant man in recent history.
Strowman left the ring and walked up the ramp as Raw came to end at 11:16pmET.
Analysis: It would have been easy to give Reigns the advantage after Strowman was in a grueling match. Instead, it was another dominant performance by Strowman. They have really booked him like an unbeatable monster in the last few months. I like that a lot. I’m picking Reigns to win at Fastlane and I think the match will be better than most people are expecting.
My biggest gripe is that they shouldn’t have a 16 minute overrun. Five minutes is enough. I’d like it even better if it ended right at 11pmET. The show is long enough as it is.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Braun Strowman – He was booked really strong and also impressed me with his moves.
2. Big Show – The old guy still has it while looking like he’s in the best shape in his career. Too bad he’s in his mid-40s and doesn’t have a lot of ring time left because if he was in that shape in his prime he would have been pushed even more.
3. Kevin Owens – Enjoyed the promo to start the show.
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 5
2017 Average: 5.44
Average since brand split starting July 25/16: 5.77 (Smackdown is 6.63)
Last 5 Weeks: 5, 7, 5.5, 6, 5
2017 High: 7 (Feb. 6)
2017 Low: 4 (Jan. 9)
I give it a 5.5 out of 10.
The rating was probably a 3 after the first two hours, but I liked some of the things in the last hour like the main event because it really helped Strowman appear to be a bigger star. Show put him over in a big way, which is what a veteran wrestler should do.
I like the way Owens was booked all night long. He did a lot of comedy with Jericho in the last few months, but there was no comedy here. He delivered a very good promo that was serious to start the show and his win over Zayn (after Joe attacked Zayn) was a vicious beating. It’s a smart way to present Owens as a heel champion.
The stuff surrounding the Women’s Title was okay. Promo was a bit long and I’m not a huge fan of Charlotte losing again, but it’s not a big deal.
Most of the rest of the show was uneventful and dull.
Here’s the announced lineup for the Fastlane PPV presented by Raw on March 5. It takes place in Milwaukee, WI.
WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens vs. Bill Goldberg
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Raw Women’s Championship: Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair
Raw Tag Team Championships: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
Cruiserweight Championship: Neville vs. Jack Gallagher
They will probably add Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn as well.
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