03/21 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Roman Reigns in Philly, WrestleMania hype continues

Logo_Raw_dnBy Jason Powell

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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at Wells Fargo Center

[Q1] Raw opened with a graphic for Mary Katharine Stewart… A recap of the Roman Reigns attack on Triple H from last week aired… Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton were on commentary. Cole said there were 16,927 fans in attendance…

Stephanie McMahon headed to the ring for a promo segment. She welcomed fans to Raw and said Triple H would not be there. She said fans who want refunds have “exactly 60 seconds” to go to the box office. Funny. She said Hunter’s absence was not due to Reigns attacking him last week. She said Reigns proved that he lacks intellect by jeopardizing his title match at WrestleMania. Stephanie boasted that she and Hunter can buy anyone or anything.

Roman Reigns made his entrance via the stage. “I don’t know if this man can be bought,” Cole said. Reigns was booed by the Philly crowd. Reigns entered the ring and Stephanie labeled him opportunistic. She mentioned what he did to Hunter last week and said now he’s trying to intimidate her. Stephanie started to talk about what Hunter was going to do to Reigns at WrestleMania, but Reigns took the mic.

Roman asked the fans if they want to know why Hunter isn’t there. “Triple H didn’t want to come to Philly because he knew I would whoop his ass all over Broad Street,” he said. “And if you thought last week was bad, wait until we get to WrestleMania.” The fans continued to boo Reigns, who said he was going to take the title and there’s nothing Stephanie or her daddy’s money can do about it. Stephanie tried to slap Reigns, who caught her arm with his hand. “Now I’m the authority,” Reigns said. Roman’s music played and he headed backstage…

The broadcast team hyped a major announcement from Vince McMahon regarding Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania, and then announced AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens for later in the show… [C]

Powell’s POV: That could have gone so much worse. Yes, the live crowd booed Reigns, but they paused whenever he spoke. It’s not like he was completely rejected to the point that they didn’t want to hear what he had to say. His verbal segment was kept short and sweet, and he was wisely scripted to play opposite Stephanie, who is the least likely person for any crowd to side with.

[Q2] 1. Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles in a non-title match. The broadcast team recapped Chris Jericho attacking Styles on Smackdown. Cole pimped Smackdown tickets for Tuesday. A fan held up a CZW sign in the crowd. Styles threw a nice dropkick. Owens went to ringside and avoided a flipping Styles, then shoved him into the barricade heading into the break.

Powell’s POV: Drink whenever someone is run into the barricade. Just don’t sue me if you end up with alcohol poisoning.

Styles regained offensive control and got a two count off a face first slam. Owens dodged a Pele kick and then turned Styles inside out with a clothesline. Styles avoided a cannonball and slammed Owens onto his knee for another two count (Cole compared it to an AA into a neckbreaker, so there’s a 50/50 chance that Styles is forbidden from performing that move in the future).

Styles had Owens on the ropes. Owens shoved him off and then performed a frogsplash for a near fall. At 11:30, Owens and Styles traded punches in mid-ring. Owens caught Styles with a superkick, but Styles came right back with a Pele Kick. Both men were down heading into the break.

[Q3] [C] Owens set up for a superplex, but Styles slipped under and tripped him up, so Owens fell face first onto the turnbuckle. Styles put him in a Torture Rack and then powerbombed him for a two count. Owens caught Styles on the ropes, but Styles recovered and performed a sunset flip powerbomb for a two count.

Styles went to the ring apron for his Phenomenal Forearm finisher, but he was distracted by Chris Jericho, who came out saying “AJ Styles” repeatedly over the house mic. Owens tried to take advantage of the distraction, but Styles rolled him into Calf Crusher position. Styles released it when Jericho climbed onto the ring apron. Owens rolled up a distracted Styles for the win…

Kevin Owens defeated AJ Styles in 19:25.

After the match, Owens took the mic and said, “This is the Kevin Owens Show.” Owens said everyone wants to know who he will defend the Intercontinental Title against at KO Mania. Dolph Ziggler made his entrance in a suit and Chuck Taylor shoes. After a brief very exchange, The Miz came out to add to the verbal battle.

Sami Zayn came out to state his case. Zayn said he’s been waiting a long time to get his hands on Owens and he can’t think of a better time or place than for the IC Title at WrestleMania. Miz called Sami “skinny Seth Rogan” and said he’ll have to wait longer. Owens left the ring and said none of them deserve a shot at the title. Owens said that in the interest of fairness, he would go to The Authority to see if they would book a Triple Threat match with the winner getting a chance to face him at WrestleMania…

Powell’s POV: Styles vs. Owens was really good and it was easily the performance Styles has turned in since he started with WWE. That made me look forward to WrestleMania more than the majority of the hype has throughout WrestleMania season. I assume we’re getting Owens defending the title against all three men at WrestleMania.

Cole hyped Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman for later in the show. Footage aired of Ambrose at a Philly tavern earlier in the day talking about how Brock Lesnar isn’t ready to go as far as he is at WrestleMania. The camera pulled back and showed that he was talking with Terry Funk, who went on a rant before saying that he had something for Ambrose. Funk said if he had a son, he’d want him to be just like Ambrose. Funk gave him a chainsaw. Ambrose looked a little thrown off, but then started up the chainsaw in the tavern and cut into one of the tables while the patrons turned their heads…

Powell’s POV: As great as it was to see Terry Funk again, the real highlight was the extras in the background. They acted like they were carrying on conversations in the background even while Funk was going on a rant. And then they just turned their heads in fear when Ambrose fired up the chainsaw. Call me a pansy, but I’m gone the moment a strange man fires up a chainsaw in a tavern.

[Q4] [C] Backstage, Stephanie McMahon was checking out Prowrestling.net app and mobile site on her telephone (I could be mistaken) when Kevin Owens entered the room. Owens made his pitch about facing the winner of a Triple Threat. Stephanie approved. Owens, who was in suck up mode, told her to tell Hunter that he says hi…

Cole set up a video package on the Shane McMahon and Undertaker match. The video included comments from Mick Foley, John Cena, Michael Hayes, Booker T, Chris Jericho, Ric Flair, Edge, and Jerry Lawler… New Day were shown getting anonymous backstage personnel to dance… [C]

Powell’s POV: I thought they might cast Cena as the special referee for the match, but I’m doubtful now that he was shown in the video. However, they didn’t include any comments from Steve Austin in the video, so read into that however you will. This was a really good video package. I say every year that I wish WWE would produce these types of videos with everyone talking about the WWE Championship match, so I’m all for the approach they took.

League of Nations delivered an in-ring promo. Sheamus said New Day isn’t in the same class as LON. He set up a video package of the beating they gave New Day last week. Alberto Del Rio tried to start a New Day Sucks chants.

[Q5] New Day interrupted with their entrance. There wasn’t a strong reaction, but they cut to shots of various fans dancing to the New Day theme. Big E said New Day doesn’t suck and never has. New Day entered the ring while LON stood at ringside. Xavier Woods used flashcards to say “You Are Trash.” LON clapped at ringside. New Day said it a couple more times.

Kofi Kingston said he was happy that Rusev finally started wearing boots on his stinky, sweaty, bunion and corn infested feet. Ugh. Kingston asked Del Rio what happened to his limo and his own ring announcer, then noted that now he’s stuck in LON.

Powell’s POV: The comments about Del Rio would be funny if they weren’t so true.

New Day turned their attention to King Barrett and Sheamus. They said Sheamus’s parents were on to something because they included “shame” in his name. They did a BootyO’s pitch, then delivered their New Day Rocks bit. LON tried to enter the ring and they ended up fighting with New Day at ringside. Cole said they were supposed to have a match. JBL said he doesn’t think anyone cares. He’s right. Cole noted that the official was trying to restore order for Rusev vs. Big E…

2. Big E (w/Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods) vs. Rusev (w/Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, King Barrett). E put the boots to Rusev and Woods played the trombone at ringside. E performed a big splash on the ring apron heading into the break. [C]

Powell’s POV: I missed the memoriam at the top of the show for Mary Katharine Stewart while switching over from the Raw pre-show. Mauro Ranallo noted on Twitter that it was for the daughter of one of WWE’s longtime cameramen. I’ve added that to the top of the page.

[Q6] Footage aired of Kingston and Woods being taken out at ringside by the LON members. You guessed it, one of them was run into the barricade. Woods eventually recovered, but Sheamus put him down with a shot to the head. Rusev went for the Accolade, but Big E powered up and performed the electric chair. Sheamus jawed at the ref from the apron only to be speared by E. Kingston caught Rusev with Trouble in Paradise. E performed The Big Ending on Rusev and pinned him to win the match…

Big E beat Rusev in 11:10.

Cole hyped the Vince McMahon announcement for later in the show. Saxton hyped Ambrose vs. Strowman… The Wyatt Family cut in with a backstage promo. They spoke about being reborn and new beginnings. Strowman said the god of war watches over him tonight and he offers the soul of Dean Ambrose as sacrifice for his family. Wyatt said that when the sun rises he will finally ascend to his throne…

Powell’s POV: When you’ve run out of things to say about the apocalypse, I guess you move on to being reborn.

Alicia Fox and Naomi were shown in a makeup area about a huge match. Todd Chrisley showed up and spoke about the match. They handed him a Snickers bar that had “Drama Mama” written instead of the logo. When Chrisley took a bite, he turned into Natalya…

Powell’s POV: I think we all suspected that Chrisley had a secret, but I didn’t know he was married to Tyson Kidd all these years.

The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy was shown. Last year’s winner Big Show delivered a promo. He thanked the Philly crowd for always keeping it real. Show said he shoots his mouth off about being the greatest giant of all-time. He said he believes it because he has to, but then he said the greatest giant is actually Andre, who is the first and greatest. Show said all other giants strive to be like Andre. Show said he wants to become a two-time winner of the trophy.

[Q7] The Social Outcasts made their entrance and claimed they won’t have any trouble eliminating him from the battle royal. Show said the only trouble he will have is figuring out which one of them he will knock out first. The Outcasts entered the ring. Show grabbed Heath Slater by the throat. The Outcasts outnumbered him. Kane made his entrance and cleared the Outcasts. Show hugged Kane and then yelled, “Kane’s the man.” Show went to the ropes and played to the fans. Kane tapped him on the back, then chokeslammed him from the top rope…

Powell’s POV: And I thought the Todd Chrisley commercial was corny.

Cole hyped Chris Jericho vs. Fandango in a WrestleMania Rewind Match… [C]

The broadcast team discussed Stan Hansen being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame while footage from his career aired…

3. Chris Jericho vs. Fandango. Jericho had the early advantage and told Fandango that he is a stupid man and then called him an idiot. Fandango fired back. However, Jericho avoided his top rope leg drop and then set up for the Walls of Jericho. Styles came out and chanted “Y2 Jackass” as he walked to ringside. Fandango rolled up Jericho for a two count, but Jericho came right back with the Codebreaker for the win.

Chris Jericho beat Fandango in 2:15.

After the match, Styles hit the ring and Jericho slide to ringside. Styles took the mic and said Jericho seems to be the best in the world at running from him. Styles said he’s competed all over the world, but WrestleMania is the one place he hasn’t competed.

[Q8] Styles challenged Jericho to face him at WrestleMania and said that he would show him and the world why the fans chant his name. The crowd didn’t play along by chanting…

Cole hyped more from legends on the Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker match… [C]

Powell’s POV: I’m happy they didn’t have Jericho lose the match to even the score via distraction. Jericho is the heel and he should be a step ahead of Styles. As good as AJ’s match was earlier, he didn’t make the most of his mic time and it had to be embarrassing when the live crowd didn’t take his cue to chant his name. Meanwhile, another round of hype for Shane vs. Taker. It’s possible they will give the Hunter vs. Reigns match just as much attention next week, but it really looks like they are banking on Taker vs. Shane as the main event regardless of which match closes the show.

The next round of Shane vs. Taker hype aired. Pat Patterson, Renzo Gracie, Ajarn Phil Nurse, JBL, Shawn Michaels, and Steve Austin commented on Shane along with some of the previously mentioned legends. Cena said Taker wins at WrestleMania. Edge said his mind says Taker and his heart hopes Shane wins. Jericho said it could be the biggest WrestleMania main event in history…

Kevin Owens was shown speaking with a pair of referees as Cole hyped the Triple Threat match… [C]

[Q9] Owens stood in the ring and introduced the participants in the Triple Threat match with the winner getting a IC Title match at WrestleMania. Rather than introduce Zayn, Ziggler, and Miz, Owens introduced Stardust, Sin Cara, and Zack Ryder. Hilarious…

4. Stardust vs. Sin Cara vs. Zack Ryder in a Triple Threat. Owens sat in on commentary. Cole told him to explain why these men deserve a title shot. Owens said it’s because they are not Zayn, Ziggler, or Miz. Sin Cara wore red gear rather than the black outfit he’s been wearing the last couple weeks.

Sami Zayn walked to ringside at 2:40 and confronted Owens. Ziggler and Miz followed and they all bickered with Owens. Stardust was sent to ringside near the bickering trio. Ryder went out to get him. Owens attacked him and the referee called for the bell. After being attacked briefly, Owens headed backstage while the other side men stood in the ring and watched him…

Stardust fought Sin Cara and Zack Ryder to an apparent no-contest in 3:50.

Powell’s POV: They always tell us that Triple Threats are no DQ and no count-out matches, but I think we’ve learned from this match and last week’s TNA Title match that they apparently can end in weak no-contests.

Footage aired from earlier in the show of the Roman Reigns and Stephanie McMahon segment…

Backstage, Stephanie was on the phone and she told the person on the other end she would meet him in the parking lot in a few minutes. She told the man he did the right thing by not showing up at the arena. Kevin Owens entered the picture and breathlessly stated that none of those men deserve a title shot. Stephanie said it’s WrestleMania, not KOMania. She booked him in a ladder match at WrestleMania against Zayn, Ziggler, Miz, Stardust, Sin Cara, and Ryder… [C]

Backstage, Hunter arrived in the building to pick up Stephanie. He looked nervous as he got back in the car. The garage door opened and Roman Reigns was standing there in a shot straight out of a cheesy movie. Reigns stormed over to the vehicle, opened the door, and pulled out Hunter. Reigns got the better of Hunter, who eventually landed a punch and then climbed back inside the vehicle. The vehicle left the backstage area while the fans booed the closeup shot of Reigns…

Powell’s POV: Hunter nor Stephanie nor the driver knew how to lock the doors. This never would have happened if Meechum from House of Cards had been the driver.

[Q10] [C] Cole recapped the previous segment and hyped the match for WrestleMania…

Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch were on commentary as Cole recapped their latest bickering session and then beatdown of Charlotte on Smackdown…

5. Charlotte (w/Ric Flair) vs. Natalya in a non-title match. Cole pushed the MSG live event for Friday night. Cole acknowledged it was a rematch from Roadblock. Natalya threw a slow discus clothesline at ringside. Charlotte took control when they returned to the ring. Natalya came back with a powerbomb Charlotte for a two count. Natalya applied the Sharpshooter. Charlotte reached the ropes to break the hold. Charlotte slammed Natalya’s face in the ropes and then used the ropes for leverage while getting a two count. Natalya went for another Sharpshooter, but Charlotte caught her with a punch and then hit the Natural Selection for the win…

Charlotte defeated Natalya in a non-title match in 4:45.

Powell’s POV: Sasha and Becky bickering with one another isn’t endearing. They come off as catty rather than two women the fans should want to see win the title. Fortunately, the WrestleMania crowd will know them well from NXT, so they should get strong reactions.

A recap of the Terry Funk and Dean Ambrose segment aired… Cole hyped Ambrose vs. Strowman…

[Q11] [C] The Rock was featured in the WrestleMania commercial… The broadcast team hyped WrestleMania Week on WWE Network. The listing now includes NXT Takeover and a WWE Hall of Fame red carpet special…

6. Bubba Ray Dudley (w/D-Von Dudley) vs. R-Truth. The Dudleys drew the obligatory ECW chant from the Philly crowd. Bubba jawed at Truth as he beat him up to start and brought up Goldust and asked, “What do you want a piece of this for?” Bubba let out a Stan Hansen yell. A tables chant started and faded. Truth came back yelled “What’s Up?” before knocking D-Von off the apron. Bubba caught Truth with a big boot and pinned him while saying, “That’s what’s up.”

Bubba Ray Dudley pinned R-Truth in 2:05.

After the match, Goldust ran out to help Truth, but the Dudleys took care of him quickly. The Uso Brothers ran out and got the better of the Dudley Boyz. They put D-Von down with superkicks and then pulled out a table and set D-Von on top of it in mid-ring. The Usos went to the top rope, but Bubba returned to the ring to save D-Von by knocking the table over…

Cole hyped the Vince announcement for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: The strategy seems simple enough. Leave the crowd waiting to see the Dudleys go through tables until WrestleMania.

[Q12] Vince McMahon made his entrance and told the crowd to be kind “and let’s be nice now.” Vince spoke about the Shane vs. Taker match and how Shane would run Raw if he were to win the match. Vince said Hunter and Stephanie would probably quit the business and that would probably mean that the fans have seen the last of him. The crowd liked the idea of Vince going away. Vince set up a replay of last week’s closing segment.

Vince said it was absolutely sweet. He said it will take more than a few chokeslams to stop Shane McMahon. Vince said Shane will fight. Vince actually said Shane is the most formidable opponent that Taker has ever had at WrestleMania. Brock Lesnar’s music played and he came out and killed Vince McMahon, er, that didn’t happen. Vince said Undertaker is indeed his bitch. Yes, that really happened. Vince said that if Undertaker fails to beat Shane, then this will be Undertaker’s last WrestleMania…

Powell’s POV: So Shane wins and Taker finishes up at SummerSlam in a match against John Cena? The announcement was delivered poorly by Vince and didn’t get much of a reaction from the crowd.

Dean Ambrose made his entrance for the main event and exchanged looks with Vince… [C]

Brock Lesnar was advertised for Smackdown…

7. Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman (w/Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Erick Strowman). Paul Heyman was on commentary. Wyatt whispered instructions for Strowman following their entrance. Heyman said he didn’t know what to expect from Ambrose at WrestleMania, which his one of the reasons he was at ringside for his match.

[Overrun] Heyman said the legends helping Ambrose seems like people are worried about Ambrose and they should be worried because he’s facing Lesnar. Strowman worked over Ambrose and the crowd was so entertained that they chanted “this is boring.” Ouch. Ambrose came back with a missile dropkick from the second rope. Ambrose threw running forearms at Strowman. He went for Dirty Ddeds, but Strowman picked him up and tossed him to the corner. Ambrose dodged a charging Strowman in the corner. The crowd chanted “We Want Lesnar.” Ambrose struck Strowman with a chair for the DQ.

Braun Strowman beat Dean Ambrose by DQ in 6:20.

After the match, Strowman came back briefly, but Ambrose stunned him with a teetering clothesline and then performed Dirty Deeds onto a chair. Ambrose went to ringside and leaned on the boadcast table next to Heyman, who said, “I’m just an advocate.” Ambrose jawed at Heyman and the show went off the air with a shot of Ambrose and the WrestleMania logo over his shoulder…

Powell’s POV: The Vince announcement felt telling in that he didn’t say Taker would never wrestle again, he said it would be Taker’s last WrestleMania. Thus, he could return to work other shows. Does that mean fans will be more likely to cheer for Taker than Shane? I think it certainly makes the finish with John Cena helping Shane McMahon feel more likely, as it would seem that they want to set up Taker vs. Cena sooner rather than later (SummerSlam?). Again, it’s possible that Taker simply wins the match, but if that’s the case then why wouldn’t Vince simply say that Taker would never wrestle again?

A flat penultimate edition of Raw heading into WrestleMania. The show peaked with the Owens vs. Styles match in the first hour. The bulk of the hype for WrestleMania felt flat and uninspired, as did Vince McMahon’s promo about the Taker stipulation. WrestleMania may be a good show, but the build to WrestleMania has been a creative mess. They can blame injuries all they want, but it doesn’t explain the sloppy booking or storylines with massive holes and logic gaps.


Readers Comments (3)

  1. Unless That comment about Shane being the most formidable opponent Undertaker has ever had lead to HHH turning on Vince, F— everything about this. On paper this is the worst mania ever! Worse than 2.

  2. I disagree. Good Raw and I feel better about the build up for the undercard. Sting will face Undertaker at SummerSlam. Don’t be a dope.

  3. I was most intrigued that Roman came off as a heel tonight more than ever before.

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