3/20 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman, Chris Jericho exposes “the real Kevin Owens”

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Brooklyn, New York at Barclays Center

[Q1] Raw opened with a recap of the Mick Foley, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Seth Rollins angle from last week… Michael Cole introduced the show as the PENULTIMATE Raw on the road to WrestleMania. He was joined on commentary by Corey Graves and Byron Saxton…

Mick Foley headed to the ring for a promo and the fans chanted his name. Foley read a prepared statement in which he said he stands before the fans a humbled man. He thanked Triple H and Stephanie McMahon for giving him the opportunity of a lifetime. He said he put his job in jeopardy last week when he put Mr. Socko in Triple H’s mouth and for that he apologized. Foley said the last thing he wants are his personal problems with Stephanie to distract from WrestleMania.

“For the good of WWE, WrestleMania, and his own personal sanity, effective immediately I am taking a leave of absence, Foley concluded. Foley tore up the paper and screamed about Triple H handing him index cards ten minutes before the show. His mic started cutting out while he yelled about there being so much more he wanted to do.

Stephanie made her entrance. “What’s a matter, Mick, your mic not working?” she mocked. She accused Foley of worrying about what is best for him and getting Foley chants than doing what’s best for business. Stephanie said she had two words she’d been waiting to say to him for a long time. “You’re fired,” Stephanie said. Off mic, she told Foley to get the hell out of her ring. Foley went to the ring apron.

Sami Zayn’s music played and he came out with a mic in hand. Sami told her that what she was doing to Foley was wrong. He said she’s been wrong about a lot of her decisions, but no one has had the guts to tell her to her face. She asked him to help his “broken down old mentor down the stairs” so they could get on with the show. The fans chanted for CM Punk. Foley went to ringside.

Zayn entered the ring and said Foley has shown more class during his time as general manager than she has in her whole life. Zayn said she should be ashamed of herself. Stephanie said Zayn is a talented guy, but he’s not at a level where he can interrupt her or even speak to her. She told him to go backstage and think about how he would make it all up to her.

Sami teased leaving and then stopped. She said they could play his little ska music and he could do his little dance. Zayn said the smart thing would be for him to leave, but he’s more about doing the right thing. Samoa Joe’s music played and he headed to the ring dressed in his ring gear. Stephanie told him it was okay and she had it covered. Stephanie told Foley he was out once and for all. Stephanie booked Zayn vs. Joe as the opening match. Joe jawed at Foley. Zayn performed a flip dive onto Joe heading into the break…

Powell’s POV: A strong opening segment with Foley once again showing good fire after reading the prepared statement. I was hopeful they would leave it as a leave of absence while Foley goes away to get legit hip surgery, but Stephanie made it an all out firing. Of course, nothing has to be permanent in wrestling, so we probably haven’t seen the last of Foley, who really shined over the last two weeks. Meanwhile, I love that Zayn was given the chance to stand up to Stephanie. He handled it well.

[Q2] [C] 1. Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn. The match was joined in progress with Joe throwing knees to the gut of Zayn. Cole said the venue was sold out with 16,160 fans in attendance. Joe performed a suicide dive on Zayn at 3:45 that drew gasps from the live crowd. [C]

Joe remained in offensive control and they showed highlights of him dominating during the break. Zayn beat a ref’s ten count at the last moment. Zayn came back with a clothesline and got a two count off a top rope cross body block. At ringside, Zayn ran Joe into the ring post. Zayn did his dive through the ropes into a DDT.

[Q3] Back inside the ring, Joe caught Zayn going for the Helluva Kick and slammed him down with a uranage. Joe applied the Coquina Clutch for the win…

Samoa Joe defeated Sami Zayn in 12:20.

Footage aired of Braun Strowman putting Roman Reigns through a table. The broadcast team hyped their match for later in the show. Saxton hyped a “special look” at “one of the WrestleMania main events” between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar. Cole hyped details on Seth Rollins’ condition following last week’s angle for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: A very entertaining television match. Zayn continues to show fighting spirit, and Joe looks like a badass. The broadcast team even put over the fact that he was run into the ring post and that didn’t even knock him off his feet.

An ad for Smackdown focussed on Shane McMahon and AJ Styles…

Backstage, Foley told Zayn that what he did was dumb, but he also thanked him and said he appreciated it. Zayn said they need Foley to stand up for them. They hugged. Sami said they say never meet your heroes, but he’s glad he met Foley. Mick started to make his exit. Cesaro and Sheamus were there to thank him for putting them together. He also gave quick handshakes to a trio of cruiserweights.

Foley stopped when he spotted Bayley. They shared a long hug. Foley turned and spotted Triple H. After a staredown, Hunter smiled and said, “Have a nice day.” Foley was shown walking out an exit door…

The broadcast team recapped Triple H attacking the knee of Rollins last week. They showed footage of Rollins working out in Birmingham, Alabama and said he was there a day later, determined to make it back for WrestleMania. They said the question is whether he will make it.

Cole interviewed trainer Kevin Wilk, who said the only thing that saved Rollins last week was his knee brace. Wilk said Rollins is the most driven athlete he’s ever worked with. Cole said they are only 13 days away and asked whether he think he will be ready for WrestleMania. Wilk paused and said it will take several months before he’s really ready to compete. Wilk said no doctor in America will clear him for WrestleMania…

Charlotte made her entrance. Saxton said she will get revenge on Dana Brooke after the break…

Powell’s POV: I know a doctor who will clear Seth Rollins.

[Q4] [C] 2. Charlotte vs. Dana Brooke. Brooke was the early aggressor. Charlotte took a powder at ringside. Cole said it would be an embarrassing loss for Charlotte if she lost to Brooke. It sounded like there was an audible “We Want Paige” chant. Charlotte caught Brooke with a big boot and pinned her clean. Charlotte kicked Brooke to ringside afterward…

Charlotte pinned Dana Brooke in 3:35.

The broadcast team hyped upcoming segments…

Powell’s POV: The message here seemed to be that viewers who were excited about Brooke’s turn last week should calm down. The broadcast team tried to make it seem like Brooke made a good showing, but the finish was decisive and flat that this match defined her as an undercard wrestler within the women’s division. And that’s realistically where she belongs at this point, but why not keep them apart for now and try to get a little something out of a feud between them post WrestleMania?

A Superstars Facts graphic focussed on Chris Jericho’s title wins and him beating Rock and Steve Austin in the same night…

Backstage, Stephanie McMahon approached a sad Bayley and asked if she needed a hug. Bayley told Stephanie that she didn’t want a hug from her. She said she admired Stephanie when she was growing up because she thought she was such a strong woman. However, she has seen her use her power to hurt other people throughout the seven months she has been on the roster. Stephanie said it takes a strong woman to do what she does, just as it does to be Raw Women’s Champion.

Stephanie booked Bayley vs. Nia Jax for later in the show. She said that if Jax wins then she will get a spot in the Raw Women’s Title match at WrestleMania, making it a four-way. She said the match would be a No DQ match…

Powell’s POV: What chapter of WWE history did Bayley watch when the Stephanie character come off as something other than ruthless and awful?

[Q5] Chris Jericho made his entrance to host the Highlight Reel with his guest “the real Kevin Owens.” Jericho said he doesn’t need Owens as his best friend. Jericho had a photo of Kevin Owens appear on the big screen. Owens was wearing a Y2J t-shirt and posing in Jericho style. Jericho noted that Owens had a Jericho poster on one side of him and a busty blonde (Sunny) on the other. “He was markin’ out, man,” Jericho said.

Jericho also had a text or DM exchange from July 5, 2014. Owens asked Jericho for advice because he was worried about “pissing people off.” Jericho said he wanted to see the real face of Owens at WrestleMania. He showed footage of Owens looking shocked to see him at Fastlane.

Jericho said they were never best friends. Jericho said he’s not his friend, he’s his hero and his idol. Jericho said that when they meet at WrestleMania, it will send Owens back to being a 16 year-old nerd and he’ll realize what he got himself into. Jericho asked what happens when you betray him. Jericho held up his pen.

Samoa Joe walked onto the stage without entrance music. Owens attacked Jericho from behind. Owens roughed up Jericho and then put him down with a Popup Powerbomb. Owens picked up Jericho’s list and tore it, which drew loud boos from the fans. Owens did the Jericho pose over Jericho and then left the ring…

Cole hyped a sit-down interview with Triple H that will occur in the ring later in the show. Cole set up footage of Strowman battling Reigns… [C]

Powell’s POV: A really good segment. I was worried this would be more of a comedic segment with the teases of Jericho’s depiction of what the real Owens is all about, but it was really well done. I also like that they put more heat on Owens. It’s not an even battle going into WrestleMania, it’s Owens gaining more and more heat. The only negative is that there’s no focus on the U.S. Championship aside from Owens saying he wants to take it from Jericho because Jericho cost him the Universal Championship.

[Q6] The broadcast team recapped the Owens attack on Jericho…

3. TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick. Kendrick offered a handshake. When Perkins was going to accept, Kendrick turned away. Perkins dominated the opening minute, but Kendrick came back and hit Sliced Bread No. 2 for thew in…

Brian Kendrick pinned TJ Perkins in 1:25.

After the match, Kendrick asked where Akira Tozawa is. Kendrick said he was a sitting duck. However, Kendrick said Tozawa is not in the country. He said that in order to travel in the U.S. you need a passport. Kendrick pulled out what he said was Tozawa’s passport, which he claimed to find on the ground…

Cole hyped the video on Goldberg vs. Lesnar… [C]

Powell’s POV: The match didn’t even get 90 seconds. Why bother? The presentation of the cruiserweights on Raw continues to be lousy. Most of the matches feel random and pointless. Worse yet, it feels like these matches can’t end soon enough for WWE officials.

Cole set up a video recap of the Roman Reigns and Shawn Michaels segment from last week, including the clip of Braun Strowman clotheslining Reigns on the ramp…

Reigns was shown backstage and the fans booed. Charly Caruso interviewed Reigns, who did the “with all due respect” line again before saying the only time he thinks about Undertaker is when he pictures him lying flat on his back in the middle of the ring at WrestleMania. Reigns said he has to teach Strowman a lesson because “this is my yard”…

[Q7] The broadcast team set up the Goldberg vs. Lesnar video. It featured footage of what led up to their Survivor Series match and concluded with Lesnar being asked how he handles that. Cole said we’d get the answer later in the show…

Nia Jax was shown walking backstage. Saxton recalled the story being that she can earn a spot in the Raw Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania by defeating Bayley… [C]

Backstage, Stephanie informed Sheamus and Cesaro that they would face Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass in a handicap match to keep their spot in the Triple Threat at WrestleMania. She said they would be off the show if they lose. The broadcast team explained that she was punishing everyone who showed support for Foley…

Powell’s POV: Except for those stupid cruiserweight wrestlers because Stephanie apparently doesn’t care about men who weigh 205 pounds or less. Okay, there’s probably one more cruiserweight segment to go, so perhaps she will target them yet.

4. Raw Women’s Champion Bayley vs. Nia Jax in a No DQ match. If Jax wins, she enters the Raw Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania. Sasha Banks was shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Bayley went for a huracanrana off the apron, but Jax caught her on the floor. Bayley ended up on the apron and kicked Jax, who pulled her fast first onto the apron. Bayley avoided a hip check from Jax, who slammed into the steps. [C]

[Q8] Jax dominated Bayley out of the break and rag dolled her into the barricade. Jax grabbed a chair and Cole reminded viewers that it was legal given the No DQ stip. Bayley kicked the chair away and went on the offensive. Bayley got a two count off a clothesline. Jax kicked out aggressively. Jax came back with a Samoan Drop for the win. Charlotte and Sasha were both shown reacting while watching backstage monitors…

Nia Jax pinned Bayley in a No DQ match in 10:35 to earn a spot in the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania.

Powell’s POV: They took an odd path, but the heavily rumored four-way match is now official.

Saxton set up the latest Women’s History Month video. This one featured Mae Young and features quotes from Stephanie McMahon, who said it’s important to remember what Mae went through at a time when women’s wrestling was not accepted. It also featured footage of Fabulous Moolah, and additional comments from Mark Henry, Ivory, Beth Phoenix, and Pat Patterson. The fans gave the video a nice round of applause…

Cole hyped his in-ring interview with Triple H… [C] A WrestleMania video aired. We are 13 days away…

Michael Cole stood in the ring and introduced Triple H for the sit-down interview. Hunter made his entrance dressed in a suit. A graphic noted that he will be on ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday at 9CT/10ET. Once in the ring, Hunter shook Cole’s hand.

[Q9] Hunter asked the fans how they are doing. “I am having a nice day,” he mocked. Cole asked him about the diagnosis for Seth Rollins. Hunter said he’s disappointed. He said he wanted the fight badly and he’s in the best shape of his life. Fans chanted CM Punk, but Hunter kept talking over them.

Hunter said it’s not his fault that Rollins won’t make it to WrestleMania. He said Rollins made the biggest mistake of his life when he stopped listening to him and started listening to the fans. Hunter said that is addictive even though he never got it himself. He labeled it an insecurity and said he never needed it because he knows how good he is.

Hunter pointed to Mick Foley as proof. “How many times have they ruined Mick Foley’s life?” he questioned. He said Foley missing part of his ear and the way he limps is on the fans. Hunter recalled Rollins dropping the crutch and how the fans reacted. He said it lasted for all of 30 seconds before he beat Rollins down and left him in a heap. “How did your cheering work out for him?” he asked.

Footage aired of last week’s angle. “That’s on you,” Hunter told the fans. Hunter said people call Rollins the architect, but he is actually the person who gave Rollins the blueprint. Hunter stood up and mocked the millennials in the crowd for running their mouths. He said he made things too easy on Rollins. He said it was laughable that the crutch picked up an actual crutch and beat Rollins with it.

“At this moment right now, I am officially done with Seth Rollins,” Hunter said. He pulled out an envelope. Hunter said it contained nosebleed tickets for WrestleMania, and he asked Cole to give them to Rollins. Hunter teased leaving and then stopped.

Triple H questioned if there was a way they could still fight at WrestleMania. Hunter said he could draw up a contract for an unsanctioned match so that Rollins couldn’t sue him once he destroyed him. Hunter asked the fans if that’s what they want. “Show up here next week, I’ll draw up the paperwork, sign the document, and it will be at WrestleMania, Seth Rollins vs. Triple H.” Hunter played to the fans again and got them to cheer for the match, then told Rollins to show them. “Or are you just a friggin’ coward?” Hunter asked before leaving…

Powell’s POV: Hunter’s first promo on Rollins sounded like he was trying to be the babyface in this feud, but I have enjoyed his mic work since then. The crowd wasn’t playing along as much as I think he would have liked, but he did manage to get them to respond once he provoked them.

[Q10] Most of us learned how to pronounce Tinashe when Graves hyped her performing “America The Beautiful” at WrestleMania…

5. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass in a handicap match. Sheamus and Cesaro must win or they are out of the Raw Tag Title match at WrestleMania. Enzo and Cass did their mic work beforehand. Gallows and Anderson attacked Enzo and Cass before the bell. Cass recovered and pulled Gallows to the floor. Cesaro held Anderson and then Sheamus gave him a Brogue Kick that led to the pin. After the match, Cass and Enzo worked over the tag champions…

Sheamus and Cesaro beat Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass in a handicap match in 0:35.

Powell’s POV: Well, that was quick and painless.

The broadcast team hyped WrestleMania and WWE Network…

Backstage, Big E and Kofi Kingston looked at Xavier Woods. E asked if there was something Woods wanted to talk about. “WrestleMania,” Woods said before they went into their schtick about the matches they are looking forward…

Austin Aries made his entrance for a cruiserweight match… [C]

Powell’s POV: New Day having fun with the leak situation even briefly should put an end to any concern over anyone being fired. It makes sense that New Day would acknowledge it the way they did. It fits their characters and tells the audience that they’re not hiding from it, which should take some of the “fun” out of it for jeering fans. However, there was still a “New Day F—s” chant, so they haven’t deflated the fans completely.

[Q11] 6. Austin Aries vs. Tony Nese. Nese attacked Aries at the bell and jumped out to a quick start. Aries came back with a suicide dive heading into the break. [C] Aries did a big play to the crowd before delivering a pendulum elbow. He followed up with a rolling senton and then performed a missile dropkick. Aries performing a running forearm in the corner and followed up with a “discus five arm” for the win…

Austin Aries beat Tony Nese in 8:05.

After the match, Neville made his entrance. Aries said he didn’t remember scheduling an interview with him. Neville said it’s no interview. He said he could obliterate him on the spot just like he has done to everyone else. “Why would I bother?” Neville asked. He added that Aries is beneath him.

Aries said Neville just delivered the worst interview segment that he’s ever been a part of. Aries said he hears the words coming out of Neville’s mouth, but he sees a man who knows he has to step in the ring with a man who is above his level. Aries said he will end the facade of Neville being King of the Cruiserweights…

The Emma video aired. She’s coming soon… [C]

Powell’s POV: Graves explained that it’s the discus five arm because it’s better than a forearm. The verbal exchange was fine. They haven’t really found a way to position this as the dream match that it really is yet, but at least it feels like the biggest cruiserweight title match to date.

[Q12] Footage aired from the Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar match at WrestleMania… The broadcast team set up the second part of the Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar video package…

Backstage, Braun Strowman told Charly Caruso that he would destroy Roman Reigns. He said that if Undertaker wants to face Reigns at WrestleMania then he better bring a shovel to scrape him off the mat… Reigns made his entrance to boos… [C]

Graves hyped Austin Aries delivering another message to Neville for 205 Live. Cole hyped the “hold harmless agreement” contract signing between Seth Rollins and Triple H for next week. Graves hyped Reigns vs. Undertaker for WrestleMania…

[Overrun] Strowman made his entrance for the main event…

7. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman. Reigns punched Strowman repeatedly and backed him into a corner. Strowman shoved Reigns into the other corner. Reigns came back with more punches. Strowman tossed Reigns to the floor. At 1:00, Reigns went for a Drive By, but Strowman knocked him down with a clothesline instead.

Strowman performed a spinebuster back inside the ring for a two count. Strowman worked over Reigns for the next couple minutes and then applied a chinlock, giving production a perfect glimpse of the WrestleMania sign over his shoulder. The fans chanted “We Want Taker” as Strowman worked over Reigns.

Reigns dodged a shoulder block in the corner. Reigns kicked Reigns and then threw a series of clotheslines in the corner that led to some counting and others booing. Strowman went for a chokeslam, but Reigns avoided it and punched Strowman before powering him up for an impressive Samoan Drop.

At ringside, Reigns connected with a Drive By. Strowman ran Reigns into the ring steps. Strowman threw a piece of the steps in the ring and set up to ram Reigns with them, but Reigns caught him with a Superman Punch. There were loud boos. A short time later, Strowman tossed Reigns into the air, but Reigns connected with a punch on the way down. Reigns set up for his finisher in the corner. Undertaker’s gong sounded and the lights went out.

Roman Reigns fought Braun Strowman to an apparent no-contest.

When the lights turned on, Taker was standing in the middle of the ring between Reigns and Strowman. Fans chanted “holy shit.” Taker turned and looked at Strowman, then looked back at Reigns. Fans chanted for Undertaker. Strowman approached Taker from behind. Taker chokeslammed Strowman. Taker appeared to look like he regretted what he did, and then turned into a spear from Reigns.

Reigns boasted off-mic to Taker briefly before leaving the ring. Taker sat up and then got to his feet and made the throat slashing gesture. Taker’s music played as Reigns watched from the ramp to close the show…

Powell’s POV: The main event match was nowhere near as good as their Fastlane match, but it served its purpose. The post match angle was well done. I’m not sure if the story was Taker showed regret over chokeslamming Strowman or because doing so left himself vulnerable. Overall, the show focussed almost entirely on WrestleMania, which is obviously a positive. However, I can’t say it really increased my anticipation for the show in a meaningful way. I will have more to say in my audio review later tonight.

Readers Comments (4)

  1. OK. The Dr. Nick thing that you included in one of your Powell’s POVs…that was just too funny. XD

  2. I wonder if they could get Donald Trump’s doctor to make an appearance to clear Seth Rollins?

  3. Stephanie’s over the top bitchiness almost ruined this show for me. She somehow manages to get worse and worse by the week. UGH. And then she lamented about how difficult Mae Young had it as a woman as if she ever cared prior to discovering who Ronda Rousey is and as if she is the reason women are treated better. I despise that woman.

  4. They need to blow up Raw in every way. The show is way to focused on Stephanie every single week. Smackdown has it right. Shane is not even there every week and when he is, the show is not based about him. I’m getting more and more bored by the week by watching Raw with my buddies.

    I still don’t get Vince’s infatuation with Roman Reigns. He can’t talk. He can’t wrestle. He can’t have a good match with anyone. That’s the difference between Cena and Reigns. Cena can cut a promo with the best of them and can have a 4 or 5 star match with anyone. Sure, he doesn’t have the biggest moveset but occasionally he brings out another move and makes everyone look good and he can sell the hell out of anything.

    At this point, I’m looking more forward to the Hall of Fame than I am WrestleMania.

    In the future, get rid of the 2 PPV’s between Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania and use those 2+ months to build storylines that will matter come WM.

    PS – If you’re not going to book the Cruiserweights properly and give them time to establish storylines and wrestle more than 90 second matches, don’t even bother using them at all. Send them all back to NXT and make that an even better show. They are being booked like the Divas were for all of those years.

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3/20 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman, Chris Jericho exposes “the real Kevin Owens”

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Brooklyn, New York at Barclays Center

[Q1] Raw opened with a recap of the Mick Foley, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Seth Rollins angle from last week… Michael Cole introduced the show as the PENULTIMATE Raw on the road to WrestleMania. He was joined on commentary by Corey Graves and Byron Saxton…

Mick Foley headed to the ring for a promo and the fans chanted his name. Foley read a prepared statement in which he said he stands before the fans a humbled man. He thanked Triple H and Stephanie McMahon for giving him the opportunity of a lifetime. He said he put his job in jeopardy last week when he put Mr. Socko in Triple H’s mouth and for that he apologized. Foley said the last thing he wants are his personal problems with Stephanie to distract from WrestleMania.

“For the good of WWE, WrestleMania, and his own personal sanity, effective immediately I am taking a leave of absence, Foley concluded. Foley tore up the paper and screamed about Triple H handing him index cards ten minutes before the show. His mic started cutting out while he yelled about there being so much more he wanted to do.

Stephanie made her entrance. “What’s a matter, Mick, your mic not working?” she mocked. She accused Foley of worrying about what is best for him and getting Foley chants than doing what’s best for business. Stephanie said she had two words she’d been waiting to say to him for a long time. “You’re fired,” Stephanie said. Off mic, she told Foley to get the hell out of her ring. Foley went to the ring apron.

Sami Zayn’s music played and he came out with a mic in hand. Sami told her that what she was doing to Foley was wrong. He said she’s been wrong about a lot of her decisions, but no one has had the guts to tell her to her face. She asked him to help his “broken down old mentor down the stairs” so they could get on with the show. The fans chanted for CM Punk. Foley went to ringside.

Zayn entered the ring and said Foley has shown more class during his time as general manager than she has in her whole life. Zayn said she should be ashamed of herself. Stephanie said Zayn is a talented guy, but he’s not at a level where he can interrupt her or even speak to her. She told him to go backstage and think about how he would make it all up to her.

Sami teased leaving and then stopped. She said they could play his little ska music and he could do his little dance. Zayn said the smart thing would be for him to leave, but he’s more about doing the right thing. Samoa Joe’s music played and he headed to the ring dressed in his ring gear. Stephanie told him it was okay and she had it covered. Stephanie told Foley he was out once and for all. Stephanie booked Zayn vs. Joe as the opening match. Joe jawed at Foley. Zayn performed a flip dive onto Joe heading into the break…

Powell’s POV: A strong opening segment with Foley once again showing good fire after reading the prepared statement. I was hopeful they would leave it as a leave of absence while Foley goes away to get legit hip surgery, but Stephanie made it an all out firing. Of course, nothing has to be permanent in wrestling, so we probably haven’t seen the last of Foley, who really shined over the last two weeks. Meanwhile, I love that Zayn was given the chance to stand up to Stephanie. He handled it well.

[Q2] [C] 1. Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn. The match was joined in progress with Joe throwing knees to the gut of Zayn. Cole said the venue was sold out with 16,160 fans in attendance. Joe performed a suicide dive on Zayn at 3:45 that drew gasps from the live crowd. [C]

Joe remained in offensive control and they showed highlights of him dominating during the break. Zayn beat a ref’s ten count at the last moment. Zayn came back with a clothesline and got a two count off a top rope cross body block. At ringside, Zayn ran Joe into the ring post. Zayn did his dive through the ropes into a DDT.

[Q3] Back inside the ring, Joe caught Zayn going for the Helluva Kick and slammed him down with a uranage. Joe applied the Coquina Clutch for the win…

Samoa Joe defeated Sami Zayn in 12:20.

Footage aired of Braun Strowman putting Roman Reigns through a table. The broadcast team hyped their match for later in the show. Saxton hyped a “special look” at “one of the WrestleMania main events” between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar. Cole hyped details on Seth Rollins’ condition following last week’s angle for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: A very entertaining television match. Zayn continues to show fighting spirit, and Joe looks like a badass. The broadcast team even put over the fact that he was run into the ring post and that didn’t even knock him off his feet.

An ad for Smackdown focussed on Shane McMahon and AJ Styles…

Backstage, Foley told Zayn that what he did was dumb, but he also thanked him and said he appreciated it. Zayn said they need Foley to stand up for them. They hugged. Sami said they say never meet your heroes, but he’s glad he met Foley. Mick started to make his exit. Cesaro and Sheamus were there to thank him for putting them together. He also gave quick handshakes to a trio of cruiserweights.

Foley stopped when he spotted Bayley. They shared a long hug. Foley turned and spotted Triple H. After a staredown, Hunter smiled and said, “Have a nice day.” Foley was shown walking out an exit door…

The broadcast team recapped Triple H attacking the knee of Rollins last week. They showed footage of Rollins working out in Birmingham, Alabama and said he was there a day later, determined to make it back for WrestleMania. They said the question is whether he will make it.

Cole interviewed trainer Kevin Wilk, who said the only thing that saved Rollins last week was his knee brace. Wilk said Rollins is the most driven athlete he’s ever worked with. Cole said they are only 13 days away and asked whether he think he will be ready for WrestleMania. Wilk paused and said it will take several months before he’s really ready to compete. Wilk said no doctor in America will clear him for WrestleMania…

Charlotte made her entrance. Saxton said she will get revenge on Dana Brooke after the break…

Powell’s POV: I know a doctor who will clear Seth Rollins.

[Q4] [C] 2. Charlotte vs. Dana Brooke. Brooke was the early aggressor. Charlotte took a powder at ringside. Cole said it would be an embarrassing loss for Charlotte if she lost to Brooke. It sounded like there was an audible “We Want Paige” chant. Charlotte caught Brooke with a big boot and pinned her clean. Charlotte kicked Brooke to ringside afterward…

Charlotte pinned Dana Brooke in 3:35.

The broadcast team hyped upcoming segments…

Powell’s POV: The message here seemed to be that viewers who were excited about Brooke’s turn last week should calm down. The broadcast team tried to make it seem like Brooke made a good showing, but the finish was decisive and flat that this match defined her as an undercard wrestler within the women’s division. And that’s realistically where she belongs at this point, but why not keep them apart for now and try to get a little something out of a feud between them post WrestleMania?

A Superstars Facts graphic focussed on Chris Jericho’s title wins and him beating Rock and Steve Austin in the same night…

Backstage, Stephanie McMahon approached a sad Bayley and asked if she needed a hug. Bayley told Stephanie that she didn’t want a hug from her. She said she admired Stephanie when she was growing up because she thought she was such a strong woman. However, she has seen her use her power to hurt other people throughout the seven months she has been on the roster. Stephanie said it takes a strong woman to do what she does, just as it does to be Raw Women’s Champion.

Stephanie booked Bayley vs. Nia Jax for later in the show. She said that if Jax wins then she will get a spot in the Raw Women’s Title match at WrestleMania, making it a four-way. She said the match would be a No DQ match…

Powell’s POV: What chapter of WWE history did Bayley watch when the Stephanie character come off as something other than ruthless and awful?

[Q5] Chris Jericho made his entrance to host the Highlight Reel with his guest “the real Kevin Owens.” Jericho said he doesn’t need Owens as his best friend. Jericho had a photo of Kevin Owens appear on the big screen. Owens was wearing a Y2J t-shirt and posing in Jericho style. Jericho noted that Owens had a Jericho poster on one side of him and a busty blonde (Sunny) on the other. “He was markin’ out, man,” Jericho said.

Jericho also had a text or DM exchange from July 5, 2014. Owens asked Jericho for advice because he was worried about “pissing people off.” Jericho said he wanted to see the real face of Owens at WrestleMania. He showed footage of Owens looking shocked to see him at Fastlane.

Jericho said they were never best friends. Jericho said he’s not his friend, he’s his hero and his idol. Jericho said that when they meet at WrestleMania, it will send Owens back to being a 16 year-old nerd and he’ll realize what he got himself into. Jericho asked what happens when you betray him. Jericho held up his pen.

Samoa Joe walked onto the stage without entrance music. Owens attacked Jericho from behind. Owens roughed up Jericho and then put him down with a Popup Powerbomb. Owens picked up Jericho’s list and tore it, which drew loud boos from the fans. Owens did the Jericho pose over Jericho and then left the ring…

Cole hyped a sit-down interview with Triple H that will occur in the ring later in the show. Cole set up footage of Strowman battling Reigns… [C]

Powell’s POV: A really good segment. I was worried this would be more of a comedic segment with the teases of Jericho’s depiction of what the real Owens is all about, but it was really well done. I also like that they put more heat on Owens. It’s not an even battle going into WrestleMania, it’s Owens gaining more and more heat. The only negative is that there’s no focus on the U.S. Championship aside from Owens saying he wants to take it from Jericho because Jericho cost him the Universal Championship.

[Q6] The broadcast team recapped the Owens attack on Jericho…

3. TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick. Kendrick offered a handshake. When Perkins was going to accept, Kendrick turned away. Perkins dominated the opening minute, but Kendrick came back and hit Sliced Bread No. 2 for thew in…

Brian Kendrick pinned TJ Perkins in 1:25.

After the match, Kendrick asked where Akira Tozawa is. Kendrick said he was a sitting duck. However, Kendrick said Tozawa is not in the country. He said that in order to travel in the U.S. you need a passport. Kendrick pulled out what he said was Tozawa’s passport, which he claimed to find on the ground…

Cole hyped the video on Goldberg vs. Lesnar… [C]

Powell’s POV: The match didn’t even get 90 seconds. Why bother? The presentation of the cruiserweights on Raw continues to be lousy. Most of the matches feel random and pointless. Worse yet, it feels like these matches can’t end soon enough for WWE officials.

Cole set up a video recap of the Roman Reigns and Shawn Michaels segment from last week, including the clip of Braun Strowman clotheslining Reigns on the ramp…

Reigns was shown backstage and the fans booed. Charly Caruso interviewed Reigns, who did the “with all due respect” line again before saying the only time he thinks about Undertaker is when he pictures him lying flat on his back in the middle of the ring at WrestleMania. Reigns said he has to teach Strowman a lesson because “this is my yard”…

[Q7] The broadcast team set up the Goldberg vs. Lesnar video. It featured footage of what led up to their Survivor Series match and concluded with Lesnar being asked how he handles that. Cole said we’d get the answer later in the show…

Nia Jax was shown walking backstage. Saxton recalled the story being that she can earn a spot in the Raw Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania by defeating Bayley… [C]

Backstage, Stephanie informed Sheamus and Cesaro that they would face Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass in a handicap match to keep their spot in the Triple Threat at WrestleMania. She said they would be off the show if they lose. The broadcast team explained that she was punishing everyone who showed support for Foley…

Powell’s POV: Except for those stupid cruiserweight wrestlers because Stephanie apparently doesn’t care about men who weigh 205 pounds or less. Okay, there’s probably one more cruiserweight segment to go, so perhaps she will target them yet.

4. Raw Women’s Champion Bayley vs. Nia Jax in a No DQ match. If Jax wins, she enters the Raw Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania. Sasha Banks was shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Bayley went for a huracanrana off the apron, but Jax caught her on the floor. Bayley ended up on the apron and kicked Jax, who pulled her fast first onto the apron. Bayley avoided a hip check from Jax, who slammed into the steps. [C]

[Q8] Jax dominated Bayley out of the break and rag dolled her into the barricade. Jax grabbed a chair and Cole reminded viewers that it was legal given the No DQ stip. Bayley kicked the chair away and went on the offensive. Bayley got a two count off a clothesline. Jax kicked out aggressively. Jax came back with a Samoan Drop for the win. Charlotte and Sasha were both shown reacting while watching backstage monitors…

Nia Jax pinned Bayley in a No DQ match in 10:35 to earn a spot in the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania.

Powell’s POV: They took an odd path, but the heavily rumored four-way match is now official.

Saxton set up the latest Women’s History Month video. This one featured Mae Young and features quotes from Stephanie McMahon, who said it’s important to remember what Mae went through at a time when women’s wrestling was not accepted. It also featured footage of Fabulous Moolah, and additional comments from Mark Henry, Ivory, Beth Phoenix, and Pat Patterson. The fans gave the video a nice round of applause…

Cole hyped his in-ring interview with Triple H… [C] A WrestleMania video aired. We are 13 days away…

Michael Cole stood in the ring and introduced Triple H for the sit-down interview. Hunter made his entrance dressed in a suit. A graphic noted that he will be on ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday at 9CT/10ET. Once in the ring, Hunter shook Cole’s hand.

[Q9] Hunter asked the fans how they are doing. “I am having a nice day,” he mocked. Cole asked him about the diagnosis for Seth Rollins. Hunter said he’s disappointed. He said he wanted the fight badly and he’s in the best shape of his life. Fans chanted CM Punk, but Hunter kept talking over them.

Hunter said it’s not his fault that Rollins won’t make it to WrestleMania. He said Rollins made the biggest mistake of his life when he stopped listening to him and started listening to the fans. Hunter said that is addictive even though he never got it himself. He labeled it an insecurity and said he never needed it because he knows how good he is.

Hunter pointed to Mick Foley as proof. “How many times have they ruined Mick Foley’s life?” he questioned. He said Foley missing part of his ear and the way he limps is on the fans. Hunter recalled Rollins dropping the crutch and how the fans reacted. He said it lasted for all of 30 seconds before he beat Rollins down and left him in a heap. “How did your cheering work out for him?” he asked.

Footage aired of last week’s angle. “That’s on you,” Hunter told the fans. Hunter said people call Rollins the architect, but he is actually the person who gave Rollins the blueprint. Hunter stood up and mocked the millennials in the crowd for running their mouths. He said he made things too easy on Rollins. He said it was laughable that the crutch picked up an actual crutch and beat Rollins with it.

“At this moment right now, I am officially done with Seth Rollins,” Hunter said. He pulled out an envelope. Hunter said it contained nosebleed tickets for WrestleMania, and he asked Cole to give them to Rollins. Hunter teased leaving and then stopped.

Triple H questioned if there was a way they could still fight at WrestleMania. Hunter said he could draw up a contract for an unsanctioned match so that Rollins couldn’t sue him once he destroyed him. Hunter asked the fans if that’s what they want. “Show up here next week, I’ll draw up the paperwork, sign the document, and it will be at WrestleMania, Seth Rollins vs. Triple H.” Hunter played to the fans again and got them to cheer for the match, then told Rollins to show them. “Or are you just a friggin’ coward?” Hunter asked before leaving…

Powell’s POV: Hunter’s first promo on Rollins sounded like he was trying to be the babyface in this feud, but I have enjoyed his mic work since then. The crowd wasn’t playing along as much as I think he would have liked, but he did manage to get them to respond once he provoked them.

[Q10] Most of us learned how to pronounce Tinashe when Graves hyped her performing “America The Beautiful” at WrestleMania…

5. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass in a handicap match. Sheamus and Cesaro must win or they are out of the Raw Tag Title match at WrestleMania. Enzo and Cass did their mic work beforehand. Gallows and Anderson attacked Enzo and Cass before the bell. Cass recovered and pulled Gallows to the floor. Cesaro held Anderson and then Sheamus gave him a Brogue Kick that led to the pin. After the match, Cass and Enzo worked over the tag champions…

Sheamus and Cesaro beat Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass in a handicap match in 0:35.

Powell’s POV: Well, that was quick and painless.

The broadcast team hyped WrestleMania and WWE Network…

Backstage, Big E and Kofi Kingston looked at Xavier Woods. E asked if there was something Woods wanted to talk about. “WrestleMania,” Woods said before they went into their schtick about the matches they are looking forward…

Austin Aries made his entrance for a cruiserweight match… [C]

Powell’s POV: New Day having fun with the leak situation even briefly should put an end to any concern over anyone being fired. It makes sense that New Day would acknowledge it the way they did. It fits their characters and tells the audience that they’re not hiding from it, which should take some of the “fun” out of it for jeering fans. However, there was still a “New Day F—s” chant, so they haven’t deflated the fans completely.

[Q11] 6. Austin Aries vs. Tony Nese. Nese attacked Aries at the bell and jumped out to a quick start. Aries came back with a suicide dive heading into the break. [C] Aries did a big play to the crowd before delivering a pendulum elbow. He followed up with a rolling senton and then performed a missile dropkick. Aries performing a running forearm in the corner and followed up with a “discus five arm” for the win…

Austin Aries beat Tony Nese in 8:05.

After the match, Neville made his entrance. Aries said he didn’t remember scheduling an interview with him. Neville said it’s no interview. He said he could obliterate him on the spot just like he has done to everyone else. “Why would I bother?” Neville asked. He added that Aries is beneath him.

Aries said Neville just delivered the worst interview segment that he’s ever been a part of. Aries said he hears the words coming out of Neville’s mouth, but he sees a man who knows he has to step in the ring with a man who is above his level. Aries said he will end the facade of Neville being King of the Cruiserweights…

The Emma video aired. She’s coming soon… [C]

Powell’s POV: Graves explained that it’s the discus five arm because it’s better than a forearm. The verbal exchange was fine. They haven’t really found a way to position this as the dream match that it really is yet, but at least it feels like the biggest cruiserweight title match to date.

[Q12] Footage aired from the Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar match at WrestleMania… The broadcast team set up the second part of the Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar video package…

Backstage, Braun Strowman told Charly Caruso that he would destroy Roman Reigns. He said that if Undertaker wants to face Reigns at WrestleMania then he better bring a shovel to scrape him off the mat… Reigns made his entrance to boos… [C]

Graves hyped Austin Aries delivering another message to Neville for 205 Live. Cole hyped the “hold harmless agreement” contract signing between Seth Rollins and Triple H for next week. Graves hyped Reigns vs. Undertaker for WrestleMania…

[Overrun] Strowman made his entrance for the main event…

7. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman. Reigns punched Strowman repeatedly and backed him into a corner. Strowman shoved Reigns into the other corner. Reigns came back with more punches. Strowman tossed Reigns to the floor. At 1:00, Reigns went for a Drive By, but Strowman knocked him down with a clothesline instead.

Strowman performed a spinebuster back inside the ring for a two count. Strowman worked over Reigns for the next couple minutes and then applied a chinlock, giving production a perfect glimpse of the WrestleMania sign over his shoulder. The fans chanted “We Want Taker” as Strowman worked over Reigns.

Reigns dodged a shoulder block in the corner. Reigns kicked Reigns and then threw a series of clotheslines in the corner that led to some counting and others booing. Strowman went for a chokeslam, but Reigns avoided it and punched Strowman before powering him up for an impressive Samoan Drop.

At ringside, Reigns connected with a Drive By. Strowman ran Reigns into the ring steps. Strowman threw a piece of the steps in the ring and set up to ram Reigns with them, but Reigns caught him with a Superman Punch. There were loud boos. A short time later, Strowman tossed Reigns into the air, but Reigns connected with a punch on the way down. Reigns set up for his finisher in the corner. Undertaker’s gong sounded and the lights went out.

Roman Reigns fought Braun Strowman to an apparent no-contest.

When the lights turned on, Taker was standing in the middle of the ring between Reigns and Strowman. Fans chanted “holy shit.” Taker turned and looked at Strowman, then looked back at Reigns. Fans chanted for Undertaker. Strowman approached Taker from behind. Taker chokeslammed Strowman. Taker appeared to look like he regretted what he did, and then turned into a spear from Reigns.

Reigns boasted off-mic to Taker briefly before leaving the ring. Taker sat up and then got to his feet and made the throat slashing gesture. Taker’s music played as Reigns watched from the ramp to close the show…

Powell’s POV: The main event match was nowhere near as good as their Fastlane match, but it served its purpose. The post match angle was well done. I’m not sure if the story was Taker showed regret over chokeslamming Strowman or because doing so left himself vulnerable. Overall, the show focussed almost entirely on WrestleMania, which is obviously a positive. However, I can’t say it really increased my anticipation for the show in a meaningful way. I will have more to say in my audio review later tonight.

  1. Brittany says:

    OK. The Dr. Nick thing that you included in one of your Powell’s POVs…that was just too funny. XD

  2. Wiliam Wellek says:

    I wonder if they could get Donald Trump’s doctor to make an appearance to clear Seth Rollins?

  3. Greg says:

    Stephanie’s over the top bitchiness almost ruined this show for me. She somehow manages to get worse and worse by the week. UGH. And then she lamented about how difficult Mae Young had it as a woman as if she ever cared prior to discovering who Ronda Rousey is and as if she is the reason women are treated better. I despise that woman.

  4. Jeff says:

    They need to blow up Raw in every way. The show is way to focused on Stephanie every single week. Smackdown has it right. Shane is not even there every week and when he is, the show is not based about him. I’m getting more and more bored by the week by watching Raw with my buddies.

    I still don’t get Vince’s infatuation with Roman Reigns. He can’t talk. He can’t wrestle. He can’t have a good match with anyone. That’s the difference between Cena and Reigns. Cena can cut a promo with the best of them and can have a 4 or 5 star match with anyone. Sure, he doesn’t have the biggest moveset but occasionally he brings out another move and makes everyone look good and he can sell the hell out of anything.

    At this point, I’m looking more forward to the Hall of Fame than I am WrestleMania.

    In the future, get rid of the 2 PPV’s between Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania and use those 2+ months to build storylines that will matter come WM.

    PS – If you’re not going to book the Cruiserweights properly and give them time to establish storylines and wrestle more than 90 second matches, don’t even bother using them at all. Send them all back to NXT and make that an even better show. They are being booked like the Divas were for all of those years.

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