2/6 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Samoa Joe contract signing, Seth Rollins update, Goldberg responds to Brock Lesnar, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Sheamus and Cesaro for the Raw Tag Titles

newrawlogo1By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Portland, Oregon at Moda Center

[Q1] Raw opened with a video package that recapped Triple H’s promo from last week and included footage Hunter and Seth Rollins from the past, and of Samoa Joe attacking Rollins… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on commentary…

Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley stood in the ring behind a table that was set up. Foley welcomed viewers to Raw and said he was introducing the hottest free agent signing. He looked at Stephanie and asked if that’s how she wanted him to say it. Foley said he hopes Triple H is happy, but he’s not. Foley introduced Samoa Joe.

Samoa Joe headed to the ring wearing a suit while Graves spoke about how he is one of the baddest men on earth. Graves said that Joe may be unstoppable with Triple H pulling the strings. Saxton said Joe being on Raw is a huge coup for them.

Stephanie gave the big buildup to Joe and said he has held titles all over the world. “Let’s get on with it, Joe, there’s a contract here for you,” Foley said. Stephanie asked why he lacked enthusiasm and questioned whether it’s because Foley didn’t bring in Joe himself or because she once again had to do his job for him.

Foley said he’s been a big fan of Joe and pushed for him for a long time. Foley said he doesn’t particularly care for the way he got his contract or the people he is associating himself with. Foley took the mic and approached Foley. Joe said it took him 18 years to be standing in the WWE ring. Joe said one man gave him the opportunity. Joe said that if loyalty means beating up Rollins and putting him on the shelf then so be it.

Joe put the entire locker room on notice, saying he will choke them out and beat them down all over again once they wake up. Joe said the destroyer has arrived and there is nothing that Foley can do about it. Joe signed his contract.

Roman Reigns’ music played and headed out to more boos than cheers. Reigns entered the ring and said he heard Joe talking tough and making threats. Reigns said he was there and told Joe to threaten him. Reigns said he didn’t think they had met before. He said he’s the baddest man in WWE, and Joe signing the contract meant he was in his yard now. Reigns told him to shut his mouth or he would cave it in.

Foley said Joe and Stephanie may have loyalty to one man, but as general manager he has loyalty to the fans. Foley said he still makes the matches. Foley booked Joe vs. Reigns on Raw. The fans cheered. Reigns and Joe jawed at one another off mic while the broadcast team hyped the match. Joe and Stephanie left the ring and Reigns’s music played to close the segment…

The broadcast team hyped Goldberg appearing on Raw to respond to Brock Lesnar’s WrestleMania challenge… Sheamus, Cesaro, and Bayley were shown backstage. Cole hyped Bayley vs. Nia Jax after the break…

Powell’s POV: Great segment. I love the role Foley played, though you have to wonder whether this will ultimately lead to his character’s dismissal or, worse yet, another emasculation from Stephanie (only half kidding about it being worse). Joe was his great badass self, and Reigns was really good in his confrontation. Furthermore, Roman’s lines played into what he told Undertaker at the Royal Rumble in terms of it being his yard now, though it’s ridiculous that the broadcast team can’t acknowledge that. Meanwhile, Bayley being all fun and games before her match with Jax felt off.

[Q2] [C] 1. Bayley vs. Nia Jax. Cole noted that it was Raw episode 1,237. Cole also hyped Charlotte vs. Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship for next week’s Raw in Las Vegas. Jax slammed Bayley early and then taunted her. She brought her to the corner and chopped her. Bayley fired back, but there was a great spot where Jax simply shoved her head first into the middle turnbuckle. [C]

Cole noted that Jax dominated throughout the commercial break. Bayley caught Jax with a few kicks from her back and then performed a running clothesline in the corner. Bayley followed up with a running knee and more strikes in the corner. Jax came back with a clothesline. Jax followed her to ringside and ended up charging Bayley, who moved, causing Jax to run into the ring post. Bayley returned to the ring. Cole said Bayley would love a count-out victory.

Charlotte walked to ringside and climbed onto the apron to argue with the referee. Bayley knocked Charlotte off the apron, then Jax hit Bayley with a Samoa Drop and pinned her.

[Q3] After Jax left the ring, Charlotte entered and stood over Bayley and raised the title belt while Cole hyped their rematch for next week…

Nia Jax pinned Bayley in 9:30.

The broadcast team hyped Chris Jericho vs. Sami Zayn for the U.S. Championship for later in the show. Graves hyped the tag title match. Saxton hyped Joe vs. Reigns as “a big, marquee main event match”… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good match with a nice finish. It may seem odd to have the challenger lose going into her title match, but it came off a distraction caused by the champion. Bayley was protected and Jax still looked like a monster despite Bayley putting up a good fight. I am surprised that they didn’t just hype Jericho vs. Zayn a week out. I thought it might be a Fastlane match, but instead they are going right to the title match tonight. A good 30 minutes to start Raw and it could be a hot show based on what’s still to come.

An ad for Smackdown hyped John Cena vs. Randy Orton as the main event…

2. Braun Strowman vs. TC Bonus, Rob Kelly, Dusty Wallace, and James Stock in a handicap match. Strowman destroyed all four men. One of them ran away. He powerslammed one of the enhancement wrestlers and then stacked the other two on top of him and got the pin. After the match, Strowman asked if Foley thinks this is competition. He said he warned him and now he’s coming to find him…

Braun Strowman beat TC Bonus, Rob Kelly, Dusty Wallace, and James Stock in 1:55 in a handicap match.

Backstage, Strowman confronted Foley and said he wants “everyone.” Foley booked Strowman vs. Reigns for Fastlane. Strowman stormed off…

The broadcast team spoke about 205 Live and still hilariously refer to it as the most exciting hour on television. They set up an Akira Tozawa video package with comments from Cesaro. Cole hyped Tozawa’s Raw debut for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Good squash match fun. Graves was great as he spoke about how anyone who wants to face Strowman should speak to a priest and reserve a spot in the ER. Strowman calling out Foley made me feel like I was watching Raw from a couple months ago. The announcement of Strowman vs. Reigns at Fastlane left a lot to be desired, but I’m guessing it was necessary to announce it tonight because it sets up something for Joe vs. Reigns tonight.

[Q4] A Black History Month graphic was shown featuring Aretha Franklin and a quote…

3. Akira Tozawa vs. Drew Gulak. Austin Aries was on commentary for the cruiserweight match. The broadcast team played up Tozawa being “a stamina monster.” Aries said Tozawa has the best German suplex in the industry. Tozawa sent Gulak to ringside at 2:35 and then performed a suicide dive.

Tozawa rolled him back inside and ended up performing a dropkick to the knee and then a shining wizard for a two count. Tozawa hit some kicks. Gulak ducked a kick, but Tozawa caught him with a German suplex and pinned him. After the match, Brian Kendrick entered the ring and shook Tozawa’s hand…

Akira Tozawa beat Drew Gulak in 3:40.

Cole hyped Goldberg for later in the show… [C]

Powell’s POV: Tozawa did a nice job of playing to the crowd during the match and got a better reaction than most debuting cruiserweights do. Kendrick was heelish on commentary during Tozawa’s 205 Live debut last week, so they appear to be setting up a match rather than an alliance between the two.

Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho headed to the ring for a promo. Owens boasted that he is still champion despite facing Braun Strowman last week. Chris Jericho put Tom Brady on the list for stealing his “GOAT” (greatest of all-time) nickname and called him a stupid idiot.

[Q5] Jericho pushed the idea of facing Owens in a champion vs. champion match at WrestleMania. Owens said he didn’t know if he could fight his best friend. Goldberg’s music played and he made his usual entrance to a big ovation.

Goldberg said he’s never turned down a fight, so he accepted Brock Lesnar’s challenge to a WrestleMania match. Owens said Goldberg accepting the challenge is a good choice. He said it will be the perfect undercard match for KO Mania II. Funny. Owens said Jericho is right, and said they are the main event.

Owens asked Goldberg if he knows why he’s the longest running Universal Champion. Goldberg said it’s because Owens has never faced him. Goldberg said he understands Owens has an open card for Fastlane and challenged him to a match.

Jericho scolded Goldberg for interrupting him and Owens while they were “spitting fire.” Jericho asked Goldberg if he knows what happens to people who make their own matches. He was about to put him on the list, but Goldberg took it from him and wrote on the list before handing the pen and list back to him. Goldberg told the fans that he just made the list. Fans chanted Goldberg. Jericho told them to shut up.

Jericho said Goldberg has a fat mouth and he’s never liked him. Jericho told Goldberg if he wants a match at Fastlane, then he’s got one… with Kevin Owens for the WWE Universal Championship. Owens wasn’t pleased. Jericho told Owens that Goldberg can’t talk to him like that. Goldberg told Owens that it looks like he and his title are next…

The broadcast team spoke about the Owens vs. Goldberg match at Fastlane, then hyped the tag title match for after the break. Graves hyped the Reigns vs. Joe main event… [C]

Powell’s POV: And so it’s set. All signs point to Goldberg beating Owens for the championship and then defending against Brock Lesnar. Meanwhile, I assume Owens will be the one who wants to face Jericho at WrestleMania if Jericho has the U.S. Title and Owens doesn’t have a title.

[Q6] Backstage, Owens asked Jericho how he could do that (Goldberg match) to him. Jericho said he’s always had Owens’s back. Owens told him that accepting a match with “that maniac” doesn’t qualify as having his back…

A chicken shack sponsored batch of still shots focussed on Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson winning the tag titles at the Royal Rumble…

4. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Sheamus and Cesaro for the Raw Tag Titles. Enzo Amore and Big Cass sat at ringside for the match. Gallows caught Cesaro with a kick at ringside heading into the break. [C] Anderson suffered a bloody nose at some point.

Sheamus worked him over and connected with a clothesline from the ropes for a two count. Sheamus did the ten forearms to the chest of Anderson and the crowd counted along. Cesaro hit Gallows with a bunch of forearms and sent him to the floor. Gallows kicked Enzo. Cass stood up and booted Gallows in the head, which caused the referee to rule it a disqualification…

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson defeated Sheamus and Cesaro by DQ in 9:00.

[Q7] Graves hyped an update on Seth Rollins… Saxton set up a Black History Month video package on Jackie Robinson that featured Darren Young, Cedric Alexander, Kofi Kingston, Naomi, and Alicia Fox talking about him… [C]

Powell’s POV: It seems like they are setting up a Triple Threat for Fastlane. It will be interesting to see if they go with an even bigger tag match for WrestleMania involving New Day, as they have to find ways to get a lot of people on the show and a big tag match like that would help.

Cole set up a replay of the Triple H, Seth Rollins, and Samoa Joe video package that opened the show…

Cole announced that Rollins tore the MCL in his knee “and his participation in WrestleMania is in serious doubt.” Cole recapped some of Seth’s tweets…

Powell’s POV: The Rollins update was very brief and I’m surprised they didn’t do more to help establish that this was a legit injury. There are different grades of an MCL tear, so it’s hard to establish a timeline based on that diagnosis.

New Day made their entrance and did mic work on the entrance ramp while The Shining Stars waited in the ring. Big E hand fed a fan some BootyOs. Big E asked what more they could give fans after giving them real cereal. He brought up ice cream. The fans popped. Cole hyped New Day vs. The Shining Stars for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: New Day ice cream? I wonder what CM Punk will think whenever he hears about this one.

[Q8] 5. Xavier Woods and Big E (w/Kofi Kingston) vs. The Shining Stars. The match was joined in progress. Woods sold for a couple minutes after taking a kick to the face. Big E eventually took the hot tag and worked over Epico with belly to belly suplexes. E followed with a running splash. Woods tagged in and they hit the Midnight Hour for the win…

New Day defeated The Shining Stars.

The broadcast team pimped WWE Network, the Elimination Chamber main event, and Fastlane. Graves said Owens vs. Goldberg for the Universal Championship is official for Fastlane… [C]

Backstage, Charly Caruso interviewed Jericho and asked whether his issues with Owens would affect his concentration during his match against Sami Zayn. Jericho said last week was a fluke. He also said best friends have minor disagreements at times. Owens showed up and Charly made her exit. Jericho told Owens he has his back. Owens said he knew that and it has always worked out. Owens said he would beat Goldberg and leave as champion because he knows Jericho has his back, just as Jericho will walk out of Raw as U.S. Champion because he has his back. They hugged…

Powell’s POV: I know this could have been asked a bunch of times already, but is there a reason why Kevin Owens couldn’t just decline the match? Why does Chris Jericho agreeing to the match on his behalf make it official? As for the promo, are they doing the split tonight or just another step in that direction? Owens assuring Jericho he would leave as champion left me wondering if that’s going to backfire.

Cole set up the WWE Hall of Fame video package for “The Rock-n-Roll Express” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson…

[Q9] 6. Chris Jericho (w/Kevin Owens) vs. Sami Zayn for the U.S. Championship. JoJo delivered the in-ring introductions for the title match. Cole said all the championships will be defended at WrestleMania this year. Zayn hit a big dive over the top rope onto Jericho at ringside heading into the break. [C]

Jericho was in control coming out of the break, but Zayn put him down with a clothesline. Jericho avoided a dropkick and hit a Lionsault for a two count. Zayn came back with a small package for two, then hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for another two count. Graves said the story of Sami’s WWE career has been “close call” and questioned if he can win the big one. Fans chanted “this is awesome.”

Zayn went to the top rope and leapt over a charging Jericho. Zayn went for a DDT, but Jericho avoided it and countered into the Walls of Jericho. Zayn reached the ropes to break the hold. Owens superkicked Zayn while the ref was distracted, then Jericho hit the Codebreaker for the 1-2-3. Owens and Jericho hugged and celebrated together…

Chris Jericho beat Sami Zayn in 9:45 to retain the U.S. Championship.

Powell’s POV: Owens and Jericho stay on the same page for another night. The tease earlier was nice and I have no doubt that these two know all of the little things to do to tease us that “tonight could be the night” until it finally happens. The actual match was entertaining. I can’t help but feel like WWE could have gotten more out of the U.S. Championship match by treating it like a bigger deal.

[Q10] The broadcast team discussed the match and Cole set up a recap of Goldberg, Owens, and Jericho segment from earlier in the show… Graves hyped Owens vs. Goldberg for the Universal Championship. Jericho was included in the background of the graphic. Cole hyped Lesnar vs. Goldberg for WrestleMania… A shot aired of Samoa Joe shadow boxing backstage while Saxton hyped Joe vs. Reigns for later in the show… [C]

Backstage, a trainer tended to the knee of Sasha Banks. Charlotte entered the room and said it wasn’t long ago that people viewed them as equals, but now Sasha is going through therapy while she is rewriting history due to her pay-per-view streak. Charlotte said she would put Bayley next to Sasha in the trainer’s room. She mocked that she thought Roadblock: End of the Line was just a pay-per-view name, not the end of Sasha’s career…

Austin Aries stood in the ring with a banana in his jacket pocket and announced that he secured an interview with Neville, who then made his entrance. Aries brought up the ankle injury that Rich Swann suffered while attacking Neville last week. Aries announced that TJ Perkins, Tony Nese, Cedric Alexander, Noam Dar, and Jack Gallagher competing in a Fatal Five-Way elimination match on 205 Live to earn a shot at the championship at Fastlane.

Aries asked Neville which man scares him the most. Neville glared at Aries and then said he must be delusional if he thinks there’s anyone in the division who scares him. Neville said the outcome was irrelevant because the winner will be forced to bend a knee and pay respect to the king.

Cedric Alexander made his entrance. Noam Dar followed with a mic in hand and said he thought it would be a good idea if he stole the title just like he stole Alicia Fox from Alexander. Gallagher made his entrance and said the king of the cruiserweights should be a gentlemen. Tony Nese came out minus a mic.

Finally, TJ Perkins made his entrance with a mic. He said he was a cruiserweight champion and he was the first. He said he knows what it’s like to win the title and then said, “Spoiler alert, I’m going to do it again.” He said he and Neville have unfinished business..

Perkins entered the ring and punched Neville. The wrestlers fought while Aries made his exit. Gallagher worked over neville with uppercuts and a dropkick. Dar tripped Gallagher. Perkins hit a move on Dar. Nese dove onto them. Alexander dove onto the wrestlers at ringside. Neville teased a big dive and then stopped and mocked the crowd…

Powell’s POV: I’ll actually take that over one of the many forgettable cruiserweight matches we’ve seen on Raw. It wasn’t very good and TJP still strikes me as the most arrogant babyface in all of pro wrestling, but I like that they took the time to set up a match for 205 Live rather than simply deliver the empty line about how it’s the most exciting hour of television. Join me for live coverage of 205 Live tomorrow night after Jake Barnett’s live review of Smackdown.

[Q11] [C] “The Makeover of Emma to Emmalina” was teased for next week’s show…

7. TJ Perkins, Jack Gallagher, and Cedric Alexander vs. Tony Nese, Noam Dark, and Neville. The match was joined in progress. Graves told Aries he did a spectacular job with the interview. He said having him out there was like replacing Nancy Grace with Diane Sawyer. Aries didn’t reply. Graves said that was a compliment. Aries said he was thinking about Bart Sawyer. Funny.

At 2:30, Dar stole a tag from Nese that Neville was waiting for. Gallagher escaped him and managed to tag in Perkins, who then worked over Dar. Perkins shot Neville a look and then went for a springboard move, but Dar dropkicked him. Dar tried to tag Neville, who dropped off the apron and walked away to boos.

Perkins caught Dar in a small package, but Nese broke it up. Dar and Nese barked at Neville. Perkins hit Nese with a Detonation Kick. TJP tagged in Alexander, who hit the Lumbar Check on Dar and pinned him…

TJ Perkins, Jack Gallagher, and Cedric Alexander beat Tony Nese, Noam Dark, and Neville in 4:30 (of TV time).

Backstage, Owens and Jericho were back in best friend mode. Jericho said they need to show the world just how unbreakable their bond is. He said they need a Festival of Friendship. Jericho called it the WrestleMania of Friendship and added, “Don’t ya’ dare miss it!” Owens liked the idea…

Cole set up footage of Roman Reigns addressing Samoa Joe in the opening segment, then Cole hyped the main event between Joe and Reigns as coming up next… [C]

Powell’s POV: A festival of friendship? Sounds festive. I spoke to soon about the cruiserweight match. And I actually enjoyed that more than most of the pointless matches we get on Raw, as that served a purpose in terms of setting up tomorrow’s match and forwarding the story of Neville walking out on Dar, just as he did on 205 Live.

[Q12] The broadcast team hyped Elimination Chamber and then a video recapped John Cena defeating AJ Styles to win the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble, along with Elimination Chamber hype footage with comments from Booker T, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Rob Van Dam, Shawn Michaels, and Dolph Ziggler…

Cole hyped that the match would take place in an all new chamber… Graves hyped the five-way elimination match for 205 Live… Cole hyped Charlotte vs. Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship for next week’s Raw, and Saxton hyped the Festival of Friendship…

Roman Reigns made his entrance for the main event. Samoa Joe ran out and attacked him from behind. Joe was dressed in his ring gear (red and black shorts) and slammed Reigns’ head into the ring apron, then ran him into the barricade, and clotheslined him.

Joe picked up Reigns and ran him into the edge of the ring. Joe entered the ring and soaked up the boos while Reigns sold at ringside. Joe went back to ringside and worked over Reigns and performed a senton before heading back inside the ring. The referee went to ringside and checked on Reigns. Cole questioned whether the matchup would happen, while the color commentators said it would… [C] Another Smackdown ad aired for Cena vs. Orton…

8. Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns. Reigns was on his feet but selling the beatdown in the corner coming out of the break. The ref called for the bell and Joe immediately attacked Reigns. Roman reversed Joe and threw him through the ropes to the floor, then kicked him through the ropes. Reigns went to ringside and punched Joe a few times before running him into the barricade.

Reigns tossed Joe back inside the ring and fired shot in the corner while Joe covered up. Joe reversed a whip and sent Reigns into the corner, then caught him with an elbow and a kick. Joe chopped Reigns, who no sold before firing back with punches.

[Overrun] Reigns ran the ropes and Joe did the same and caught Reigns with an elbow. Joe went for a cover after dropping an elbow on Reigns, but Reigns kicked out quickly. Joe waited for Reigns to get to his feet and then threw punches. Joe used the top rope to choke Reigns briefly. Joe suplexed Reigns at 4:20 and covered him for a one count.

Joe drove his knee into the back of Reigns while pulling his arms back. Reigns powered out. They traded punches with the men cheering Joe and booing Reigns. Reigns caught Joe weith an elbow off the ropes and then threw a big uppercut and a headbutt.

Joe shot Reigns into the ropes and Reigns caught him with a leaping clothesline. Reigns waited for Joe to get to his feet and tried to scoop him up, but Joe blocked it. Joe charged Reigns in the corner. Reigns moved and then threw a series of clotheslines in the corner.

At 6:50, Joe caught Reigns with an inverted atomic drop, a big boot, and then a senton for a two count. Reigns crawled to the corner and Joe stalked him. Joe ended up running into a Samoan Drop, which got a two count for Reigns. Roman went to the corner and did the lock and load bit. Joe simply left the ring. Reigns followed and hit him with a Drive By Kick.

Reigns rolled Joe back inside the ring and then connected with a Superman Punch. Reigns went to the corner to set up for his spear, but Braun Strowman’s entrance music played and he walked to the ring. Strowman climbed onto the apron. Reigns caught him with two Superman Punches to knock him down. Joe caught Reigns with a kick and then followed up with a uranage and got the three count…

Samoa Joe defeated Roman 9:55.

Joe’s NXT theme song played after the match. Once Joe left, Strowman attacked Reigns. A group of adult male fans chanted “Thank you, Strowman” as he worked over Reigns. Strowman took Reigns to ringside and then picked up the top half of the ring steps, which he rammed into the face of Reigns. Strowman picked up Reigns in powerslam position and then drove him through a piece of the barricade, which led to some “holy shit” chants. Cole hyped the Reigns vs. Strowman match for Fastlane…

Powell’s POV: I could have done without the moment they showed Reigns was on the verge of winning before Strowman showed up. It was a little too much for my taste if only because I feel Joe should look unbeatable early in his run. Still, they gave Joe a show closing win in his first Raw match. It’s just a shame they felt the need to foreshadow the interference by Strowman as much as they did because it really did seem like it was only a matter of time before he came out.

Overall, another good show. Raw was a drag to watch more often than not following the brand split (and I’m probably being kind when it comes to the timeline), but they have put together a stretch of quality shows over the last several weeks. They are doing a nice job of setting the table now that they have real plans for the top WrestleMania matches. I will have more to say in my member exclusive WWE Raw audio review later tonight, and in my WWE Raw Hit List on Tuesday. Thanks for watching along with me.


Readers Comments (3)

  1. Please don’t tell me Joe’s wrestling debut on the main roster will be getting fed to Roman. WWE can’t be that stupid, can they?

  2. I’m sure Punk will be absolutely thrilled to see his old friends make a shitload of money off of a concept that was originally his idea. NOT.

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