2/13 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Charlotte vs. Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship, Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho’s Festival of Friendship, Emmalina

newrawlogo1By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Las Vegas, Nevada at T-Mobile Arena

[Q1] The Raw opening video aired… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on commentary. They hyped the Festival of Friendship between Kevin Owen and Chris Jericho, and Charlotte vs. Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship…

Ring announcer JoJo introduced Raw commissioner Stephanie McMahon, who received the usual flat reaction. Cole hyped the Fastlane pay-per-view and the broadcast team quickly hyped the two previously advertised matches. Once in the ring, Stephanie welcomed viewers to Raw. She said Mick Foley was feeling tired and overworked last week when he embarrassed himself during the Samoa Joe contract signing. She said she gave him the week off and assumed he would have his priorities in order when he returns.

Roman Reigns made his entrance and received loud boos. Once in the ring, Reigns told Stephanie that he wasn’t waiting until the pay-per-view, he wanted Braun Strowman. Stephanie teased the crowd by asking if they want to see the match on Raw. Stephanie said it’s the sound of ambivalence. She said the people don’t care about his well being. Reigns said he doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him, especially her. Stephanie said Reigns will have to wait until Fastlane to face Strowman.

Stephanie announced that Strowman was already booked to face Mark Henry. Reigns said it sounded like a hell of a fight and he might just come to ringside to watch it. Stephanie threatened to take away his Fastlane match and his role at WrestleMania. “Maybe I’m not making myself clear enough,” Reigns told her.

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson came out with mics and spoke on the stage. Anderson said they couldn’t listen to Reigns disrespect her. Gallows offered to face Reigns in a handicap match. Stephanie said that in honor of Teddy Long, “I think we have a match, playa.” Stephanie made the handicap match official. Anderson and Gallows walked to ringside and Reigns was there to fight them. Gallows shoved Reigns into the apron. Reigns sold ass pain heading into the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Everybody knows that Teddy would have found a way to book a tag match. Meanwhile, WWE has a history of having their top guys plow through top tag teams, so I can’t blame you for being worried if you’re a fan of Anderson and Gallows.

1. Roman Reigns vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in a handicap match. The match was joined in progress with the tag champions working over Reigns.

[Q2] Reigns recovered and worked over Anderson with a clothesline and then more clotheslines in the corner. Reigns punched Gallows and then caught Anderson with a boot to the head. Reigns went to the corner and set up for his spear. Gallows distracted him briefly, and Anderson rolled him up for a two count.

Reigns caught Anderson with a Superman Punch. Gallows distracted Reigns and prevented him from hitting his finisher. Anderson and Gallows worked over Reigns until they were disqualified. They set him up for the Magic Killer, but he fought out of it and ended up working over both men and clearing them from the ring…

Roman Reigns beat Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson by DQ in 3:05 of TV time.

Cole hyped Strowman vs. Henry, and the Festival of Friendship. A montage of Jericho putting various people on The List aired… [C]

Powell’s POV: I have no idea what the point of that handicap match was. Perhaps it will make more sense if we find out that Anderson and Gallows are in cahoots with Triple H, Stephanie, and Samoa Joe. If not, it seemed pointless. Sure, it could have been worse in that Reigns could have actually beat the tag champs clean, but this still made them look weak for seemingly no good reason.

The broadcast team covered the news of the WWE and HBO documentary on Andre the Giant…

New Day made their entrance. Bo Dallas was in the ring waiting for a match with Kofi Kingston. Kofi said Bo was alone and questioned if he’s a social outcast. Big E had blueprints for New Day Ice Cream…

2. Kofi Kingston (w/Big E, Xavier Woods) vs. Bo Dallas. There was a “we want ice cream” chant as the match started. Bo still has his stupid political sign. He also ended up taking the ice cream blue print and tore them to up. The New Day members acted devastated. Kingston flipped over the top rope onto Dallas. Bo attacked Kingston once he returned to the ring and performed a neckbreaker for a two count. Kofi caught him with the SOS for the win…

Kofi Kingston defeated Bo Dallas in 2:15.

[Q3] After the match, Big E opened Bo’s mouth and poured BootyO’s inside. Graves said everyone knows you don’t feed breakfast cereal to an unconscious man…

Backstage, Charly Caruso interviewed Neville about Jack Gallagher becoming No. 1 contender. He cut her off and said his 205 Live opponent TJ Perkins is more of a threat to him. Gallagher showed up. Neville said he’s just a boy who is out of his depth. Gallagher said they will find out about that at Fastlane. Gallagher called him a bloody pillock…

Footage aired of Chris Jericho helping Kevin Owens beat Seth Rollins in the Hell in a Cell match… [C]

3. Jack Gallagher vs. Noam Dar (w/Alicia Fox). Austin Aries replaced Saxton on commentary for the cruiserweight match. He said he had another interview planned, but he scrapped it because he was disrespected last week. Footage aired from 205 Live of the elimination match. The wrestlers shook hands before the match. Graves, who always praises Gallagher, said he’s not ready to face Neville.

Dar had the early advantage, but Gallagher caught him with a couple of dropkicks. Gallagher followed up with a headbutt and then performed the dropkick in the corner. Gallagher covered Dar for the win. Afterward, Neville made his entrance and held up his title on the stage…

Jack Gallagher beat Noam Dar in 3:15.

A limo arrived backstage. Triple H and Samoa Joe emerged from it dressed in suits. Cole said they hope to have an interview with Joe later in the show… An Emmalina teaser video hyped her as premiering after the break…

Powell’s POV: A solid three-minute match from the cruiserweights. It’s too bad those two couldn’t get more time because they are two of the stronger personalities in the division and may have won over some Raw viewers. If you didn’t see 205 Live last week, go out of your way to catch the five-way elimination main event, as it was my favorite match from the show’s brief history. Meanwhile, I have no idea what to expect from the Emmalina character at this point, but it’s nice that the payoff appears to finally be here.

[Q4] [C] Cole said Saxton was back after going to the Donny & Marie show at one of the hotels on the Vegas Strip… Another Jericho and Owens flashback video aired…

Emmalina made her entrance wearing a dress. She said the fans have waited 17 weeks for the makeover of Emma to Emmalina. “Well, here I am,” she said. “And now you will see the makeover of Emmalina to Emma,” she said before storming off…

Powell’s POV: Well, okay then. Let’s see where this goes and whether it affects the Raw Women’s Championship match.

Charly interviewed Bayley backstage. Bayley said she was nervous heading into her title match against Charlotte. She said Stephanie doesn’t think she belongs, and Charlotte reminds her that she’s the last of the Four Horsewomen to make it to the main roster. She said she keeps smiling because she believes in herself. Bayley said she’s hitting the jackpot and will achieve her dream by winning the title…

Backstage, Jericho told Owens that it’s going to be the greatest night in WWE history. Owens said he couldn’t wait. Jericho mentioned surprises. Triple H showed up and said he needed to talk to Owens. He made it clear that he only wanted to talk to Owens… Graves hyped Strowman vs. Henry… A Smackdown commercial focussed on Bray Wyatt defending the WWE Championship against John Cena in a rematch… [C]

After the break, Triple H was talking with Owens, who was listening and nodding. Cole said he wished he could be a fly on the wall for that conversation…

4. Braun Strowman vs. Mark Henry. Footage aired of Strowman interfering in the Reigns vs. Joe match last week. Strowman took advantage of a rope break by punching Henry as the ref was between them.

[Q5] Henry made a comeback. He went for the World’s Strongest Slam, but he fell back with Strowman falling on top of him as the broadcast team explained he’d suffered too much damage. Strowman followed up with a big boot and a power slam for the win…

Braun Strowman beat Mark Henry in 4:55.

After the match, Roman Reigns’ music played. Cole noted that the match was over and Stephanie’s threat pertained to the match. Reigns made his way onto the ring apron, but Strowman knocked him off. Strowman motioned for Reigns to enter the ring. Reigns returned to the apron and this time clotheslined Strowman with the top rope.

Reigns caught him with a Superman Punch that didn’t knock Strowman down. A second one knocked Strowman down to one knee. Reigns charged at Strowman, who power slammed him. “You can’t win!” Strowman yelled at Reigns before leaving the ring…

The broadcast team hyped the women’s title match for later in the show… Samoa Joe was shown taking a seat for a backstage sit-down interview… Footage aired of Jericho saving Owens in his Roadblock match against Reigns by hitting the Codebreaker on Owens and getting him disqualified… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good angle with Reigns showing heart, while the monster stood tall in the end. I hope they continue to play it that way until the pay-per-view.

A shot aired of baseball star Bryce Harper in the crowd… Backstage, Shemaus and Cesaro were getting Bayley warmed up when Enzo Amore and Big Cass showed up and did the haters bit. Sheamus said they were haters after they cost them the tag titles last week. Cass said he always has his partner’s back. Cesaro pointed out that they are former tag champs. Enzo challenged them to do something about it. Enzo waited for Cass to cut in front of him and then talked big…

Graves and Saxton spoke briefly about the tag team bit, then noted that Cole was backstage for the interview…

[Q6] Backstage, Cole interviewed Samoa Joe and said people are accusing him of using dishonorable tactics. Joe said that’s a fair description because he came to WWE to hurt people. He said the only man he cares about is Triple H, who gave him a chance. Cole asked why Hunter picked now to call up Joe from NXT. Joe said his actions speak for themselves. Cole questioned if it’s because Hunter is afraid of Seth Rollins. Joe said Hunter doesn’t need to justify anything. Joe said the only reason he wasn’t in WWE is because they company was afraid to hire him.

Joe said he is a dangerous man. He said Rollins was the crown jewel of WWE, yet he couldn’t last two minutes in the ring with him and will now miss WrestleMania for the second year in a row. Cole brought up Rollins saying he was going to slay Triple H. Joe asked if the interview was about him or Hunter. Joe said it was getting annoying to me. He said that if Rollins shows up, he has no problem putting him back on the shelf.

Cole brought up Joe’s debut. Joe said he beat Reigns. He said that in two weeks “I beat the man and I beat the guy.” Joe said he is there to take everything. He said he’s not a Sami Zayn who is just happy to be on Raw. Joe said he is there to make a statement and no one can stand toe to toe with him. Cole said there have been others who have been put in similar positions by Hunter. He listed Shawn Michaels, Batista, Randy Orton, and Seth Rollins. He said all those men had relationships with Hunter and they all went sour, and were relationships that Hunter left in his wake.

Joe said the difference between him and those men is that they all needed to be propped up by Triple H. Joe said he is not those men and he doesn’t need Hunter’s help. “I don’t need to be propped up, I don’t need to be his heavy,” Joe said. Joe added that he gets the job done on his own and now he has someone he can rely on because he knows what’s best for business. Joe said anyone who gets in his way will learn why the creator unleashed the destroyer. Joe took off his mic and walked away…

Sami Zayn made his entrance for a match… [C]

Powell’s POV: That was fantastic. Joe came off as cold, confident, and intelligent. The last one is important because fans who were unfamiliar with him had to be wondering if he was just dumb muscle, and this interview had to clear up any misconceptions. He came off as more than just a heavy even though his character is currently loyal to Hunter. I also love that Joe never got worked up and yelled. It was much more effective to have show a calm intensity. I actually felt a sense of danger for the Cole character, and I like the way Cole stood his ground and asked good questions.

5. Sami Zayn vs. Rusev (w/Lana). Cole was back on commentary. Rusev wore the face shield again. Rusev caught Zayn with a kick that knocked him to ringside at 3:00. [C]

[Q7] At 8:50, Ruev caught Zayn with an enziguiri for a two count. Rusev showed frustration as he covered him two more times and Zayn kicked out. Zayn pulled himself up only to have Rusev splash him in the corner. Rusev charged Zayn in the corner. Zayn moved and Cole played it up like Rusev’s broken nose hit the turnbuckle before he tumbled to the floor. Zayn waited on the apron, but Rusev stood up and pulled him down. Rusev tossed Zayn back inside the ring. Zayn caught Rusev with a Helluva Kick as he was getting back inside the ring and then scored the pin…

Sami Zayn pinned Rusev in 11:00.

After the match, Caruso interviewed Zayn on the stage and asked about getting his momentum back after losing to Chris Jericho last week. Zayn said it was a step in the right direction and a huge win over a huge opponent. Zayn said he’s all about coming back from a tough loss. He said he heard Samoa Joe’s comment that he’s no Sami Zayn. Sami said that’s true, because he doesn’t clean up messes for others, do what he’s told to do, or sell out. Zayn started to talk about WrestleMania, but he was interrupted.

Samoa Joe’s entrance music played. Zayn looked behind him, but Joe blindsided him by coming out from a spot where Zayn wasn’t expecting him. Joe worked over Zayn with punches on the stage and then slammed his head into the video screen. “Say my name,” Joe barked. Joe applied the Coquina Clutch on Zayn and released it once Zayn acted like he was out cold. “If you say my name, you put respect on it,” Joe told him…

A shot aired of Charlotte getting ready for her match in her locker room… [C]

Powell’s POV: I hope this means they are going with the match that I’ve said I was hoping to see at Fastlane. Zayn is the perfect opponent for Joe’s first pay-per-view because he’ll take one hell of a beating. There’s a sense of realism and danger with Joe tonight that is off the charts good.

[Q8] Cole set up the Hall of Fame announcement video for Teddy Long…

6. Akira Tozawa vs. Ariya Daivari. Aries replaced Saxton for the cruiserweight match, and Brian Kendrick also sat in on commentary. Kendrick said Tozawa reminds him of himself. He said if you went backstage there would be one cruiserweight playing video games and two looking at their phone. He said he and Tozawa realize you have to pour everything into it. Kendrick said he was the first independent darling.

Tozawa and Daivari traded chops. Tozawa yelled and the crowd responded. He teased Daivari with another chop. Daivari covered up and Tozawa waited until he uncovered and slapped him across the face. Daivari came back with a nice clothesline for a two count. Tozawa took offensive control with a Frankensteiner. Tozawa performed a suicide dive and then rolled Daivari back inside the ring. Moments later, Tozawa performed his wicked German suplex and scored the 1-2-3…

Akira Tozawa defeated Ariya Daivari in 3:15.

Powell’s POV: Another brief, yet entertaining cruiserweight match. This might be the first time that both cruiserweight matches on Raw left me wanting more. Tozawa is going to win over WWE fans quickly if they spotlight him properly.

Another friendship flashback aired. This time it featured Jericho agreeing to give Goldberg the title shot against Owens at Fastlane… [C] An NXT TV ad hyped Tyler Bate vs. Trent Seven for the UK Title…

Chris Jericho set up the Festival of Friendship. Vegas showgirls danced onto the stage. Jericho came out and was in full showman mode with a jacket and a hat. Jericho introduced Owens, who was low key and dressed in a t-shirt and warmup pants.

[Q9] Jericho and Owens headed to the ring where a few covered pieces were set up. Jericho first introduced a sculpture he said was made by a man named Ralph Gugenheim. Jericho said it cost $7,000. Owens was baffled by the piece and the price tag.

Jericho unveiled a painting of the two of them wearing very little and touching fingers. It was a take on “The Creation of Adam” painting, so Jericho dubbed it “The Creation of Kevin.” Owens was uncomfortable. Jericho said it’s art so you don’t need to wear pants.

Jericho introduced “Friendship the Magician.” The man did a couple of quick tricks. Owens said his son can do the same tricks and he’s only nine years old. Jericho turned on the magician and ended up putting him on the list. Jericho told him to do another trick and disappear. Owens asked where he found the magician. Jericho said Craig’s List.

Jericho said the last gift was something he should have given Owens last week. He said he should have made sure Goldberg didn’t make it to Fastlane. Jericho said he was going to do it this week by calling him out. Jericho said that when Goldberg came to the ring he was going to get it. [C]

Powell’s POV: This is amazing so far. Jericho is at his over the top cheeseball finest. He’s keeping things moving quickly and the crowd loved the painting.

Jericho was waiting for Goldberg coming out of the break. Goldberg’s music hit. Gillberg (Duane Gill) made his entrance. Owens attacked Gillberg on the ramp and left him lying. Jericho boasted that Owens beat him. Owens said he thought the point of this was to get Goldberg out there so that they could beat the hell out of him. “I don’t understand this,” Owens said. “What is this?”

Jericho said he thought the Gillberg thing was funny. He said he was sorry that it wasn’t what Owens thought it would be, but he wanted to do something special for him. He said working with Owens over the last year has made it one of his favorite years. He said he’s had a lot of partners, but he didn’t have the chemistry with them that he had with Owens. Jericho guaranteed Owens that he would beat Goldberg because he would have his back.

[Q10] Owens apologized. He said Jericho obviously went through a lot of trouble and it was great. “I love you too, buddy,” Owens said before hugging Jericho. Owens said he felt bad because he got Jericho something too but it was nothing compared to what Jericho did, but it came from the heart. Owens presented Jericho with a gift box.

Jericho opened the box and said it was perfect. “A new list,” Jericho said. Jericho asked Owens why his name was on it. He pulled out the list and the back read “The List of KO.” Owens’s demeanor changed and he attacked Jericho. Owens put the boots to Jericho. Owens ran Jericho into the barricade at ringside and ripped his jacket off and whipped him with it. Owens powerbombed Jericho on the edge of the ring. The broadcast team questioned why. Two referees checked on Jericho.

Owens picked up Jericho and rolled him inside the ring. Owens ran Jericho’s head into a TV that was set up in the ring as part of the festival set. Fans chanted Holy Shit. Owens picked up his title belt and raised it over his head. The fans booed loudly. The referees placed a towel over the head of Jericho while tending to him in the middle of the ring. Owens left the ring and then backed up the ramp…

Powell’s POV: How great was that? They have teased us with breakups so many times that while Owens’s uneasiness with the festival certainly suggested a turn, I honestly didn’t know if they were going to pull the trigger or end the segment in another hug. The key here is obviously the one thing the broadcast team hasn’t acknowledged yet, which is Triple H speaking to Owens backstage earlier in the show. Jericho did a great job of going from over the top Vegas showman before the break into sounding sincere as he explained why he held the festival when Owens questioned him afterward.

The broadcast team recapped highlights from Owens turning on Jericho… A shot aired of Jericho being stretchered into an ambulance. The ambulance drove away while Cole said Jericho likely suffered various injuries and emotional trauma. Graves said he didn’t have anything to say and he couldn’t believe they just watched that…

Cole switched to recapping the tag title match last week that resulted in a DQ finish due to Enzo and Big Cass…

[Q11] Enzo and Big Cass made their entrance and did their mic work. Enzo said Cesaro came out as the Swiss Superman and then the next minute he was James Bond. He also brought up the breakaway suits and how he looked like something off of Baywatch. Enzo told him to take his best shot because he’s going to Swiss miss because he “choc-a-lotte.” Enzo asked Cass if he got it. Cass said he did and said they could toss in marshmallows and then did the sawft routine… [C]

Powell’s POV: Are they intentionally lame now or is it just a really bad night? I’m honestly not sure.

Cesaro and Sheamus made their entrance…

7. Enzo Amore (w/Big Cass) vs. Cesaro (w/Sheamus). Cole said Enzo’s mouth keeps getting him in trouble. Graves said he hoped Cesaro would swing him for an hour straight. Early in the match, Cesaro tossed Enzo at the ropes. Enzo bounced into the ropes. Then apparently decided to put himself over the rope for a momentary powder.

Back in the ring, Cesaro continued to control the offense until Enzo caught him with a DDT. Cesaro rolled to ringside, returned, and performed a popup uppercut for the win. After the match, Cesaro had to hold back Sheamus, who was bickering with Cass…

Cesaro defeated Enzo Amore in 2:40.

Powell’s POV; Cesaro played it like he just toying with Enzo Amore and was far superior. He didn’t really do it in a heelish manner, though, so I’m not sure what they wanted viewers to feel.

Saxton set up a Black History Month video on Rosa Parks. It featured narration by Mark Henry, Apollo Crews, Darren Young, Alicia Fox, Rich Swann, Naomi, Jason Jordan, and Titus O’Neil…

A shot aired of Charlotte walking backstage. Sasha Banks approached her. Charlotte said it’s nice that WWE lets Sasha sit backstage and relive her glory days. Charlotte said she would have her banned for being bad for morale because she provides a constant reminder of how easy it is to see someone fall. Sasha said she got Charlotte just as good as she got her, and she’ll do it again anytime. Charlotte pointed to Sasha’s bad knee and said she can’t walk the walk, so she needed to find a spot and do what she can’t do – win…

Powell’s POV: Are they going back to Charlotte vs. Sasha at WrestleMania? A three- or a four-way for the women’s championship? By the way, my guess is Emmalina “transforms into Emma” during the main event.

[Q12] [C] Braun Strowman vs. Big Show was announced for next week’s Raw in Los Angeles… Ring entrances for the main event took place. Graves called Charlotte one of the greatest female performers of all-time…

8. Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Bayley performed a couple of arm drags early. Charlotte tried to roll out of it, but Bayley rolled along with her to maintain the hold twice before letting go and attempting a rollup. Charlotte shoved Bayley in the corner. Bayley fired back with a slap. Charlotte headed to ringside. [C]

Bayley remained on the offensive until Charlotte looked like she was rolling her up, but she actually slammed the back of Bayley’s head onto the bottom turnbuckle pad. Cool spot. Charlotte gloated and ended up performing a backbreaker and then a neckbreaker.

[Overrun] Cole reset the show at the top of the hour. Charlotte strutted and dropped a knee on Bayley. Cole brought up the Owens and Jericho angle. Charlotte applied a standing dragon sleeper, which Bayley escaped by walking the ropes and flipping over. Bayley kicked Charlotte in the corner.

Charlotte rebounded with a big boot to the had of Bayley that knocked her from the apron to the floor. Charlotte went to ringside, climbed onto the barricade, and performed a moonsault onto a standing Bayley. Charlotte brought her back inside the ring and covered her for a two count. Charlotte showed frustration after three failed covers.

Charlotte chopped Bayley, who fired back. They both ran the ropes and went for cross body blocks. Both women were down at 13:10. Bayley got to her feet first. Graves questioned how. Bayley threw a serious of clotheslines and suplexed Charlotte. Bayley went to the ropes and performed a springboard elbow for a two count. Bayley sold neck pain.

Charlotte came back with a knee, but Bayley caught her with a side suplex. Bayley went to the top rope and performed an elbow drop for a good near fall. Bayley shot Charlotte into the corner and she flipped over the top and then kicked Bayley. Charlotte went up top, but Bayley cut her off. Bayley performed a huracanrana from the top rope for another good near fall. Bayley showed frustration this time.

Bayley set up for her finisher, then ran to the ropes and punched Dana Brooke, who was on the apron. Bayley applied the Figure Four on Charlotte. Brooke reached in and raked the eyes of Bayley, causing her to release the hold. Charlotte applied the Figure 8. Sasha Banks ran out and hit Brooke with her crutch, then struck Charlotte with it to break her submission finisher. Bayley performed the Bayley to Belly on Charlotte and scored the pin…

Bayley defeated Charlotte in 17:30 to win the Raw Women’s Championship.

Powell’s POV: A really fun match, but I can’t say I’m crazy about the outcome. For one thing, it’s another new champion less than two months before WrestleMania. Second, it’s another title change involving the hot potato known as the Raw Women’s Championship. Third and most importantly, it feels too soon for Bayley’s character to win the title. I’m actually hopeful that Stephanie McMahon is going to overturn this next week. I’m sure I’ll be in the minority on this from fans who want the short-term payoff, but it is worth nothing that Stephanie already overturned one controversial Bayley win over Charlotte, so keep it in mind as a possibility. There’s no denying that Bayley’s win closed the show on a high note and is fun in the moment, but I feel like we were deprived of a great build and long term payoff.

Overall, though, this was a really good show. The Joe interview and attack on Zayn, the Owens and Jericho angle, and the Bayley championship win at the end of the night made this a fun and memorable night. Raw has definitely taken a turn for the better so far this year. I will have more to say in an All Access audio edition of my WWE Raw audio review, and in my WWE Raw Hit List on Tuesday. Thanks for watching along with me.

Readers Comments (1)

  1. “Bayley ran out and hit Brooke with her crutch, then struck Charlotte with the crutch. Bayley performed the Bayley to Belly and scored the pin…”

    I’m not watching the episode so I really don’t know WTF is going on based on that.

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2/13 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Charlotte vs. Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship, Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho’s Festival of Friendship, Emmalina

newrawlogo1By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Las Vegas, Nevada at T-Mobile Arena

[Q1] The Raw opening video aired… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on commentary. They hyped the Festival of Friendship between Kevin Owen and Chris Jericho, and Charlotte vs. Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship…

Ring announcer JoJo introduced Raw commissioner Stephanie McMahon, who received the usual flat reaction. Cole hyped the Fastlane pay-per-view and the broadcast team quickly hyped the two previously advertised matches. Once in the ring, Stephanie welcomed viewers to Raw. She said Mick Foley was feeling tired and overworked last week when he embarrassed himself during the Samoa Joe contract signing. She said she gave him the week off and assumed he would have his priorities in order when he returns.

Roman Reigns made his entrance and received loud boos. Once in the ring, Reigns told Stephanie that he wasn’t waiting until the pay-per-view, he wanted Braun Strowman. Stephanie teased the crowd by asking if they want to see the match on Raw. Stephanie said it’s the sound of ambivalence. She said the people don’t care about his well being. Reigns said he doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him, especially her. Stephanie said Reigns will have to wait until Fastlane to face Strowman.

Stephanie announced that Strowman was already booked to face Mark Henry. Reigns said it sounded like a hell of a fight and he might just come to ringside to watch it. Stephanie threatened to take away his Fastlane match and his role at WrestleMania. “Maybe I’m not making myself clear enough,” Reigns told her.

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson came out with mics and spoke on the stage. Anderson said they couldn’t listen to Reigns disrespect her. Gallows offered to face Reigns in a handicap match. Stephanie said that in honor of Teddy Long, “I think we have a match, playa.” Stephanie made the handicap match official. Anderson and Gallows walked to ringside and Reigns was there to fight them. Gallows shoved Reigns into the apron. Reigns sold ass pain heading into the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Everybody knows that Teddy would have found a way to book a tag match. Meanwhile, WWE has a history of having their top guys plow through top tag teams, so I can’t blame you for being worried if you’re a fan of Anderson and Gallows.

1. Roman Reigns vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in a handicap match. The match was joined in progress with the tag champions working over Reigns.

[Q2] Reigns recovered and worked over Anderson with a clothesline and then more clotheslines in the corner. Reigns punched Gallows and then caught Anderson with a boot to the head. Reigns went to the corner and set up for his spear. Gallows distracted him briefly, and Anderson rolled him up for a two count.

Reigns caught Anderson with a Superman Punch. Gallows distracted Reigns and prevented him from hitting his finisher. Anderson and Gallows worked over Reigns until they were disqualified. They set him up for the Magic Killer, but he fought out of it and ended up working over both men and clearing them from the ring…

Roman Reigns beat Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson by DQ in 3:05 of TV time.

Cole hyped Strowman vs. Henry, and the Festival of Friendship. A montage of Jericho putting various people on The List aired… [C]

Powell’s POV: I have no idea what the point of that handicap match was. Perhaps it will make more sense if we find out that Anderson and Gallows are in cahoots with Triple H, Stephanie, and Samoa Joe. If not, it seemed pointless. Sure, it could have been worse in that Reigns could have actually beat the tag champs clean, but this still made them look weak for seemingly no good reason.

The broadcast team covered the news of the WWE and HBO documentary on Andre the Giant…

New Day made their entrance. Bo Dallas was in the ring waiting for a match with Kofi Kingston. Kofi said Bo was alone and questioned if he’s a social outcast. Big E had blueprints for New Day Ice Cream…

2. Kofi Kingston (w/Big E, Xavier Woods) vs. Bo Dallas. There was a “we want ice cream” chant as the match started. Bo still has his stupid political sign. He also ended up taking the ice cream blue print and tore them to up. The New Day members acted devastated. Kingston flipped over the top rope onto Dallas. Bo attacked Kingston once he returned to the ring and performed a neckbreaker for a two count. Kofi caught him with the SOS for the win…

Kofi Kingston defeated Bo Dallas in 2:15.

[Q3] After the match, Big E opened Bo’s mouth and poured BootyO’s inside. Graves said everyone knows you don’t feed breakfast cereal to an unconscious man…

Backstage, Charly Caruso interviewed Neville about Jack Gallagher becoming No. 1 contender. He cut her off and said his 205 Live opponent TJ Perkins is more of a threat to him. Gallagher showed up. Neville said he’s just a boy who is out of his depth. Gallagher said they will find out about that at Fastlane. Gallagher called him a bloody pillock…

Footage aired of Chris Jericho helping Kevin Owens beat Seth Rollins in the Hell in a Cell match… [C]

3. Jack Gallagher vs. Noam Dar (w/Alicia Fox). Austin Aries replaced Saxton on commentary for the cruiserweight match. He said he had another interview planned, but he scrapped it because he was disrespected last week. Footage aired from 205 Live of the elimination match. The wrestlers shook hands before the match. Graves, who always praises Gallagher, said he’s not ready to face Neville.

Dar had the early advantage, but Gallagher caught him with a couple of dropkicks. Gallagher followed up with a headbutt and then performed the dropkick in the corner. Gallagher covered Dar for the win. Afterward, Neville made his entrance and held up his title on the stage…

Jack Gallagher beat Noam Dar in 3:15.

A limo arrived backstage. Triple H and Samoa Joe emerged from it dressed in suits. Cole said they hope to have an interview with Joe later in the show… An Emmalina teaser video hyped her as premiering after the break…

Powell’s POV: A solid three-minute match from the cruiserweights. It’s too bad those two couldn’t get more time because they are two of the stronger personalities in the division and may have won over some Raw viewers. If you didn’t see 205 Live last week, go out of your way to catch the five-way elimination main event, as it was my favorite match from the show’s brief history. Meanwhile, I have no idea what to expect from the Emmalina character at this point, but it’s nice that the payoff appears to finally be here.

[Q4] [C] Cole said Saxton was back after going to the Donny & Marie show at one of the hotels on the Vegas Strip… Another Jericho and Owens flashback video aired…

Emmalina made her entrance wearing a dress. She said the fans have waited 17 weeks for the makeover of Emma to Emmalina. “Well, here I am,” she said. “And now you will see the makeover of Emmalina to Emma,” she said before storming off…

Powell’s POV: Well, okay then. Let’s see where this goes and whether it affects the Raw Women’s Championship match.

Charly interviewed Bayley backstage. Bayley said she was nervous heading into her title match against Charlotte. She said Stephanie doesn’t think she belongs, and Charlotte reminds her that she’s the last of the Four Horsewomen to make it to the main roster. She said she keeps smiling because she believes in herself. Bayley said she’s hitting the jackpot and will achieve her dream by winning the title…

Backstage, Jericho told Owens that it’s going to be the greatest night in WWE history. Owens said he couldn’t wait. Jericho mentioned surprises. Triple H showed up and said he needed to talk to Owens. He made it clear that he only wanted to talk to Owens… Graves hyped Strowman vs. Henry… A Smackdown commercial focussed on Bray Wyatt defending the WWE Championship against John Cena in a rematch… [C]

After the break, Triple H was talking with Owens, who was listening and nodding. Cole said he wished he could be a fly on the wall for that conversation…

4. Braun Strowman vs. Mark Henry. Footage aired of Strowman interfering in the Reigns vs. Joe match last week. Strowman took advantage of a rope break by punching Henry as the ref was between them.

[Q5] Henry made a comeback. He went for the World’s Strongest Slam, but he fell back with Strowman falling on top of him as the broadcast team explained he’d suffered too much damage. Strowman followed up with a big boot and a power slam for the win…

Braun Strowman beat Mark Henry in 4:55.

After the match, Roman Reigns’ music played. Cole noted that the match was over and Stephanie’s threat pertained to the match. Reigns made his way onto the ring apron, but Strowman knocked him off. Strowman motioned for Reigns to enter the ring. Reigns returned to the apron and this time clotheslined Strowman with the top rope.

Reigns caught him with a Superman Punch that didn’t knock Strowman down. A second one knocked Strowman down to one knee. Reigns charged at Strowman, who power slammed him. “You can’t win!” Strowman yelled at Reigns before leaving the ring…

The broadcast team hyped the women’s title match for later in the show… Samoa Joe was shown taking a seat for a backstage sit-down interview… Footage aired of Jericho saving Owens in his Roadblock match against Reigns by hitting the Codebreaker on Owens and getting him disqualified… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good angle with Reigns showing heart, while the monster stood tall in the end. I hope they continue to play it that way until the pay-per-view.

A shot aired of baseball star Bryce Harper in the crowd… Backstage, Shemaus and Cesaro were getting Bayley warmed up when Enzo Amore and Big Cass showed up and did the haters bit. Sheamus said they were haters after they cost them the tag titles last week. Cass said he always has his partner’s back. Cesaro pointed out that they are former tag champs. Enzo challenged them to do something about it. Enzo waited for Cass to cut in front of him and then talked big…

Graves and Saxton spoke briefly about the tag team bit, then noted that Cole was backstage for the interview…

[Q6] Backstage, Cole interviewed Samoa Joe and said people are accusing him of using dishonorable tactics. Joe said that’s a fair description because he came to WWE to hurt people. He said the only man he cares about is Triple H, who gave him a chance. Cole asked why Hunter picked now to call up Joe from NXT. Joe said his actions speak for themselves. Cole questioned if it’s because Hunter is afraid of Seth Rollins. Joe said Hunter doesn’t need to justify anything. Joe said the only reason he wasn’t in WWE is because they company was afraid to hire him.

Joe said he is a dangerous man. He said Rollins was the crown jewel of WWE, yet he couldn’t last two minutes in the ring with him and will now miss WrestleMania for the second year in a row. Cole brought up Rollins saying he was going to slay Triple H. Joe asked if the interview was about him or Hunter. Joe said it was getting annoying to me. He said that if Rollins shows up, he has no problem putting him back on the shelf.

Cole brought up Joe’s debut. Joe said he beat Reigns. He said that in two weeks “I beat the man and I beat the guy.” Joe said he is there to take everything. He said he’s not a Sami Zayn who is just happy to be on Raw. Joe said he is there to make a statement and no one can stand toe to toe with him. Cole said there have been others who have been put in similar positions by Hunter. He listed Shawn Michaels, Batista, Randy Orton, and Seth Rollins. He said all those men had relationships with Hunter and they all went sour, and were relationships that Hunter left in his wake.

Joe said the difference between him and those men is that they all needed to be propped up by Triple H. Joe said he is not those men and he doesn’t need Hunter’s help. “I don’t need to be propped up, I don’t need to be his heavy,” Joe said. Joe added that he gets the job done on his own and now he has someone he can rely on because he knows what’s best for business. Joe said anyone who gets in his way will learn why the creator unleashed the destroyer. Joe took off his mic and walked away…

Sami Zayn made his entrance for a match… [C]

Powell’s POV: That was fantastic. Joe came off as cold, confident, and intelligent. The last one is important because fans who were unfamiliar with him had to be wondering if he was just dumb muscle, and this interview had to clear up any misconceptions. He came off as more than just a heavy even though his character is currently loyal to Hunter. I also love that Joe never got worked up and yelled. It was much more effective to have show a calm intensity. I actually felt a sense of danger for the Cole character, and I like the way Cole stood his ground and asked good questions.

5. Sami Zayn vs. Rusev (w/Lana). Cole was back on commentary. Rusev wore the face shield again. Rusev caught Zayn with a kick that knocked him to ringside at 3:00. [C]

[Q7] At 8:50, Ruev caught Zayn with an enziguiri for a two count. Rusev showed frustration as he covered him two more times and Zayn kicked out. Zayn pulled himself up only to have Rusev splash him in the corner. Rusev charged Zayn in the corner. Zayn moved and Cole played it up like Rusev’s broken nose hit the turnbuckle before he tumbled to the floor. Zayn waited on the apron, but Rusev stood up and pulled him down. Rusev tossed Zayn back inside the ring. Zayn caught Rusev with a Helluva Kick as he was getting back inside the ring and then scored the pin…

Sami Zayn pinned Rusev in 11:00.

After the match, Caruso interviewed Zayn on the stage and asked about getting his momentum back after losing to Chris Jericho last week. Zayn said it was a step in the right direction and a huge win over a huge opponent. Zayn said he’s all about coming back from a tough loss. He said he heard Samoa Joe’s comment that he’s no Sami Zayn. Sami said that’s true, because he doesn’t clean up messes for others, do what he’s told to do, or sell out. Zayn started to talk about WrestleMania, but he was interrupted.

Samoa Joe’s entrance music played. Zayn looked behind him, but Joe blindsided him by coming out from a spot where Zayn wasn’t expecting him. Joe worked over Zayn with punches on the stage and then slammed his head into the video screen. “Say my name,” Joe barked. Joe applied the Coquina Clutch on Zayn and released it once Zayn acted like he was out cold. “If you say my name, you put respect on it,” Joe told him…

A shot aired of Charlotte getting ready for her match in her locker room… [C]

Powell’s POV: I hope this means they are going with the match that I’ve said I was hoping to see at Fastlane. Zayn is the perfect opponent for Joe’s first pay-per-view because he’ll take one hell of a beating. There’s a sense of realism and danger with Joe tonight that is off the charts good.

[Q8] Cole set up the Hall of Fame announcement video for Teddy Long…

6. Akira Tozawa vs. Ariya Daivari. Aries replaced Saxton for the cruiserweight match, and Brian Kendrick also sat in on commentary. Kendrick said Tozawa reminds him of himself. He said if you went backstage there would be one cruiserweight playing video games and two looking at their phone. He said he and Tozawa realize you have to pour everything into it. Kendrick said he was the first independent darling.

Tozawa and Daivari traded chops. Tozawa yelled and the crowd responded. He teased Daivari with another chop. Daivari covered up and Tozawa waited until he uncovered and slapped him across the face. Daivari came back with a nice clothesline for a two count. Tozawa took offensive control with a Frankensteiner. Tozawa performed a suicide dive and then rolled Daivari back inside the ring. Moments later, Tozawa performed his wicked German suplex and scored the 1-2-3…

Akira Tozawa defeated Ariya Daivari in 3:15.

Powell’s POV: Another brief, yet entertaining cruiserweight match. This might be the first time that both cruiserweight matches on Raw left me wanting more. Tozawa is going to win over WWE fans quickly if they spotlight him properly.

Another friendship flashback aired. This time it featured Jericho agreeing to give Goldberg the title shot against Owens at Fastlane… [C] An NXT TV ad hyped Tyler Bate vs. Trent Seven for the UK Title…

Chris Jericho set up the Festival of Friendship. Vegas showgirls danced onto the stage. Jericho came out and was in full showman mode with a jacket and a hat. Jericho introduced Owens, who was low key and dressed in a t-shirt and warmup pants.

[Q9] Jericho and Owens headed to the ring where a few covered pieces were set up. Jericho first introduced a sculpture he said was made by a man named Ralph Gugenheim. Jericho said it cost $7,000. Owens was baffled by the piece and the price tag.

Jericho unveiled a painting of the two of them wearing very little and touching fingers. It was a take on “The Creation of Adam” painting, so Jericho dubbed it “The Creation of Kevin.” Owens was uncomfortable. Jericho said it’s art so you don’t need to wear pants.

Jericho introduced “Friendship the Magician.” The man did a couple of quick tricks. Owens said his son can do the same tricks and he’s only nine years old. Jericho turned on the magician and ended up putting him on the list. Jericho told him to do another trick and disappear. Owens asked where he found the magician. Jericho said Craig’s List.

Jericho said the last gift was something he should have given Owens last week. He said he should have made sure Goldberg didn’t make it to Fastlane. Jericho said he was going to do it this week by calling him out. Jericho said that when Goldberg came to the ring he was going to get it. [C]

Powell’s POV: This is amazing so far. Jericho is at his over the top cheeseball finest. He’s keeping things moving quickly and the crowd loved the painting.

Jericho was waiting for Goldberg coming out of the break. Goldberg’s music hit. Gillberg (Duane Gill) made his entrance. Owens attacked Gillberg on the ramp and left him lying. Jericho boasted that Owens beat him. Owens said he thought the point of this was to get Goldberg out there so that they could beat the hell out of him. “I don’t understand this,” Owens said. “What is this?”

Jericho said he thought the Gillberg thing was funny. He said he was sorry that it wasn’t what Owens thought it would be, but he wanted to do something special for him. He said working with Owens over the last year has made it one of his favorite years. He said he’s had a lot of partners, but he didn’t have the chemistry with them that he had with Owens. Jericho guaranteed Owens that he would beat Goldberg because he would have his back.

[Q10] Owens apologized. He said Jericho obviously went through a lot of trouble and it was great. “I love you too, buddy,” Owens said before hugging Jericho. Owens said he felt bad because he got Jericho something too but it was nothing compared to what Jericho did, but it came from the heart. Owens presented Jericho with a gift box.

Jericho opened the box and said it was perfect. “A new list,” Jericho said. Jericho asked Owens why his name was on it. He pulled out the list and the back read “The List of KO.” Owens’s demeanor changed and he attacked Jericho. Owens put the boots to Jericho. Owens ran Jericho into the barricade at ringside and ripped his jacket off and whipped him with it. Owens powerbombed Jericho on the edge of the ring. The broadcast team questioned why. Two referees checked on Jericho.

Owens picked up Jericho and rolled him inside the ring. Owens ran Jericho’s head into a TV that was set up in the ring as part of the festival set. Fans chanted Holy Shit. Owens picked up his title belt and raised it over his head. The fans booed loudly. The referees placed a towel over the head of Jericho while tending to him in the middle of the ring. Owens left the ring and then backed up the ramp…

Powell’s POV: How great was that? They have teased us with breakups so many times that while Owens’s uneasiness with the festival certainly suggested a turn, I honestly didn’t know if they were going to pull the trigger or end the segment in another hug. The key here is obviously the one thing the broadcast team hasn’t acknowledged yet, which is Triple H speaking to Owens backstage earlier in the show. Jericho did a great job of going from over the top Vegas showman before the break into sounding sincere as he explained why he held the festival when Owens questioned him afterward.

The broadcast team recapped highlights from Owens turning on Jericho… A shot aired of Jericho being stretchered into an ambulance. The ambulance drove away while Cole said Jericho likely suffered various injuries and emotional trauma. Graves said he didn’t have anything to say and he couldn’t believe they just watched that…

Cole switched to recapping the tag title match last week that resulted in a DQ finish due to Enzo and Big Cass…

[Q11] Enzo and Big Cass made their entrance and did their mic work. Enzo said Cesaro came out as the Swiss Superman and then the next minute he was James Bond. He also brought up the breakaway suits and how he looked like something off of Baywatch. Enzo told him to take his best shot because he’s going to Swiss miss because he “choc-a-lotte.” Enzo asked Cass if he got it. Cass said he did and said they could toss in marshmallows and then did the sawft routine… [C]

Powell’s POV: Are they intentionally lame now or is it just a really bad night? I’m honestly not sure.

Cesaro and Sheamus made their entrance…

7. Enzo Amore (w/Big Cass) vs. Cesaro (w/Sheamus). Cole said Enzo’s mouth keeps getting him in trouble. Graves said he hoped Cesaro would swing him for an hour straight. Early in the match, Cesaro tossed Enzo at the ropes. Enzo bounced into the ropes. Then apparently decided to put himself over the rope for a momentary powder.

Back in the ring, Cesaro continued to control the offense until Enzo caught him with a DDT. Cesaro rolled to ringside, returned, and performed a popup uppercut for the win. After the match, Cesaro had to hold back Sheamus, who was bickering with Cass…

Cesaro defeated Enzo Amore in 2:40.

Powell’s POV; Cesaro played it like he just toying with Enzo Amore and was far superior. He didn’t really do it in a heelish manner, though, so I’m not sure what they wanted viewers to feel.

Saxton set up a Black History Month video on Rosa Parks. It featured narration by Mark Henry, Apollo Crews, Darren Young, Alicia Fox, Rich Swann, Naomi, Jason Jordan, and Titus O’Neil…

A shot aired of Charlotte walking backstage. Sasha Banks approached her. Charlotte said it’s nice that WWE lets Sasha sit backstage and relive her glory days. Charlotte said she would have her banned for being bad for morale because she provides a constant reminder of how easy it is to see someone fall. Sasha said she got Charlotte just as good as she got her, and she’ll do it again anytime. Charlotte pointed to Sasha’s bad knee and said she can’t walk the walk, so she needed to find a spot and do what she can’t do – win…

Powell’s POV: Are they going back to Charlotte vs. Sasha at WrestleMania? A three- or a four-way for the women’s championship? By the way, my guess is Emmalina “transforms into Emma” during the main event.

[Q12] [C] Braun Strowman vs. Big Show was announced for next week’s Raw in Los Angeles… Ring entrances for the main event took place. Graves called Charlotte one of the greatest female performers of all-time…

8. Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Bayley performed a couple of arm drags early. Charlotte tried to roll out of it, but Bayley rolled along with her to maintain the hold twice before letting go and attempting a rollup. Charlotte shoved Bayley in the corner. Bayley fired back with a slap. Charlotte headed to ringside. [C]

Bayley remained on the offensive until Charlotte looked like she was rolling her up, but she actually slammed the back of Bayley’s head onto the bottom turnbuckle pad. Cool spot. Charlotte gloated and ended up performing a backbreaker and then a neckbreaker.

[Overrun] Cole reset the show at the top of the hour. Charlotte strutted and dropped a knee on Bayley. Cole brought up the Owens and Jericho angle. Charlotte applied a standing dragon sleeper, which Bayley escaped by walking the ropes and flipping over. Bayley kicked Charlotte in the corner.

Charlotte rebounded with a big boot to the had of Bayley that knocked her from the apron to the floor. Charlotte went to ringside, climbed onto the barricade, and performed a moonsault onto a standing Bayley. Charlotte brought her back inside the ring and covered her for a two count. Charlotte showed frustration after three failed covers.

Charlotte chopped Bayley, who fired back. They both ran the ropes and went for cross body blocks. Both women were down at 13:10. Bayley got to her feet first. Graves questioned how. Bayley threw a serious of clotheslines and suplexed Charlotte. Bayley went to the ropes and performed a springboard elbow for a two count. Bayley sold neck pain.

Charlotte came back with a knee, but Bayley caught her with a side suplex. Bayley went to the top rope and performed an elbow drop for a good near fall. Bayley shot Charlotte into the corner and she flipped over the top and then kicked Bayley. Charlotte went up top, but Bayley cut her off. Bayley performed a huracanrana from the top rope for another good near fall. Bayley showed frustration this time.

Bayley set up for her finisher, then ran to the ropes and punched Dana Brooke, who was on the apron. Bayley applied the Figure Four on Charlotte. Brooke reached in and raked the eyes of Bayley, causing her to release the hold. Charlotte applied the Figure 8. Sasha Banks ran out and hit Brooke with her crutch, then struck Charlotte with it to break her submission finisher. Bayley performed the Bayley to Belly on Charlotte and scored the pin…

Bayley defeated Charlotte in 17:30 to win the Raw Women’s Championship.

Powell’s POV: A really fun match, but I can’t say I’m crazy about the outcome. For one thing, it’s another new champion less than two months before WrestleMania. Second, it’s another title change involving the hot potato known as the Raw Women’s Championship. Third and most importantly, it feels too soon for Bayley’s character to win the title. I’m actually hopeful that Stephanie McMahon is going to overturn this next week. I’m sure I’ll be in the minority on this from fans who want the short-term payoff, but it is worth nothing that Stephanie already overturned one controversial Bayley win over Charlotte, so keep it in mind as a possibility. There’s no denying that Bayley’s win closed the show on a high note and is fun in the moment, but I feel like we were deprived of a great build and long term payoff.

Overall, though, this was a really good show. The Joe interview and attack on Zayn, the Owens and Jericho angle, and the Bayley championship win at the end of the night made this a fun and memorable night. Raw has definitely taken a turn for the better so far this year. I will have more to say in an All Access audio edition of my WWE Raw audio review, and in my WWE Raw Hit List on Tuesday. Thanks for watching along with me.

  1. Nigel says:

    “Bayley ran out and hit Brooke with her crutch, then struck Charlotte with the crutch. Bayley performed the Bayley to Belly and scored the pin…”

    I’m not watching the episode so I really don’t know WTF is going on based on that.

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