By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on March 5, 2018 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin at BMO Harris Bradley Center
Hour One: Raw opened with general manager Kurt Angle making his way to the ring. The broadcast team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Jonathan Coachman recapped the Ronda Rousey angle from last week. Angle said he’d had to swallow his pride a number of times since returning as the general manager, but last week went way too far when Triple H sucker punched him.
Angle called out Triple H and told him to come face him like a man. Angle removed his jacket. Stephanie McMahon’s music played instead. Stephanie headed to the ring and said Hunter had not arrived yet. She mentioned Angle’s children and noted that he is remarried and thus his alimony payments must be pretty steep.
Stephanie brought up Angle’s achievements and asked whether they pay the bills. She said that being Raw general manager does. Stephanie said Hunter got even and they are on the same page now. She told him to know his role and make the matches and they could it all behind them.
Ronda Rousey’s music played and she came out smiling to a favorable reaction. Rousey entered the ring and stood between Angle and Stephanie. A loud “Ronda Rousey” chant broke out. Rousey told Stephanie that what they did to Angle was enlightening and she’s figuring out that the people who employ her are not who she thought they were. She said that’s okay and she’s put up with a lot during her career.
Stephanie said employees sometimes don’t understand their bosses and boasted that she signed a WWE contract. Rousey noted that her deal gives her the right to face who she wants at WrestleMania. Stephanie said that’s right, but the person has to be an active wrestler on the roster. Stephanie called for a drumroll. “You” Rousey immediately replied. Steph said she’s not a member of the active roster.
Triple H came out and said it wasn’t happening. He told Angle to focus on doing his job. Hunter told Rousey that Stephanie is an executive and the commissioner. Angle cut him off to recall Stephanie claiming Hunter wasn’t there. Angle also announced that Stephanie has an executive contract and a second contract as a superstar. “So Stephanie, you will be facing Ronda at WrestleMania,” Angle said.
Angle also noted that Triple H has a second contract. He recalled telling Angle after Survivor Series that he would go after him if he ever touched him again. Angle said that if it’s okay with Rousey, he would team with her to face Hunter and Stephanie at WrestleMania. Fans cheered. Stephanie got in Angle’s face and went to slap him, but Rousey caught her arm. Hunter tried to calm things down and said they would leave.
Triple H tried to sucker punch Angle, who blocked it and then got the better of a punching exchange. Angle ran into Hunter’s foot in the corner, but then took him down and tried to apply the ankle lock. Stephanie entered the ring and struck Rousey from behind and knocked her down. Rousey got to her feet and Stephanie ran away.
Rousey looked back at Triple H, who kicked Angle and tried to give him a Pedigree, but Angle countered into an ankle lock. Hunter reached the ropes and Stephanie helped pull him to ringside. Rousey reached out and grabbed Stephanie by the hair and pulled her onto the apron and then into the ring. Stephanie begged off. Rousey hoisted her up and gave her a Samoan drop. Angle and Rousey posed in the ring to end the segment… [C]
Powell’s POV: An excellent segment that set the stage for one of the bigger WrestleMania matches. I’m surprised that Rousey got her hands on Stephanie, but I’m sure there will be plenty that will happen over the next month to put heat on the heel duo to make fans want to see Steph get hers again.
1. Asuka vs. Nia Jax. Jax pressed Asuka over her head and performed a modified airplane spin heading into a break. [C] Asuka applied an armbar and Jax eventually tapped. Jax held her arm while the broadcast team spoke about how devastated she seemed to be and questioned how much damage was done while she was in the armbar…
Asuka defeated Nia Jax.
Powell’s POV: My apologies, but I will be going back to watch that match either during commercial breaks or after the show. I received word that a former co-worker accused Jonathan Coachman of inappropriate behavior during their time at ESPN. Check out the lawsuit here.
2. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. “The Revival” Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder for the Raw Tag Titles. The match was set up by the broadcast team recapping Wilder’s tweet in which he pointed out that they had yet to receive a tag title shot shortly after Sheamus and Cesaro boasted they had beaten everyone. The Revival had the offensive advantage heading into a break. [C]
Late in the match, Dawson superplexed Cesaro and then Dawson splashed him from another corner for a near fall. The Revival set up for their finisher, but Sheamus broke it up with a Brogue Kick on Dawson and then Cesaro performed the Neutralizer on Dawson and scored the pin…
Sheamus and Cesaro defeated The Revival to retain the Raw Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: We can cross The Revival off the list of potential opponents for The Bar at WrestleMania. My best guess remains that the Authors of Pain will be called up.
The broadcast team hyped John Cena appearing later in the show. Graves set up a trailer for a horror movie… [C]
Hour Two: John Cena entrance while the broadcast team recapped how he got a spot in the WWE Fastlane main event. Cena said he was on Raw to talk to the fans about Smackdown. There were boos. Cena said he will win the WWE Championship on Sunday for the seventeenth time. Cena said all records are made to be broken.
“I will do this because this is my only road to WrestleMania,” Cena said. He said he has earned every opportunity. He said he was not given success, he was given a chance, and he earned his opportunity by beating AJ Styles. Cena said he will never be someone to enter the ring and hold someone back.
Cena said when he wins on Sunday the critics will come from everywhere to say he robbed Styles of a WrestleMania moment. Cena encouraged Styles to use his rematch clause right away to make the WWE Championship match a Triple Threat featuring Cena vs. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania.
Goldust made his entrance. Goldust quoted “On The Waterfront” by saying he could have been a contender, but instead he’s a bum. Goldust entered the ring and said his dream will start by stopping John Cena on his road to WrestleMania. Goldust said his dreams never have the perfect ending, they are just taken from him. He said the dreams of perfect rainbows have turned grey and very, very evil. He said that ends today.
Goldust referred to himself as Cena’s new director for an epic motion picture. He said Cena’s dreams will be shattered. Goldust took a cheap shot at Cena and knocked him down heading into a break… [C]
Powell’s POV: The Cena promo wasn’t well received by the live crowd, but I really liked it in terms of him making the Fastlane main event seem less predictable. If nothing else, it gives fans who are anxious to see Styles vs. Nakamura in a singles match at WrestleMania something to fear on Sunday. The Goldust interruption was odd, but I also liked it even if it does set up a one and done match on Raw.
3. John Cena vs. Goldust. The match was joined in progress coming out of the break. Goldust controlled the early offense and hit a powerslam for a two count. Cena came back with his signature spots including an Attitude Adjustment for the win. The broadcast team hyped the Fastlane main event after the match…
John Cena defeated Goldust.
Kurt Angle was on the phone backstage when he was interrupted by Elias playing the guitar. Elias suggested that Angle cancel his Symphony of Destruction match with Braun Strowman. He said there would be musical instruments all over and he thinks music should bring people together, not tear them apart. Angle said the match was on and then told him he couldn’t run away like last time because it was also a falls count anywhere match…
The broadcast team hyped The Mizzies and Paul Heyman appearing to address Roman Reigns. A shot aired of Bayley walking backstage. Cole said Bayley would explain her actions from last week after the break… [C]
The broadcast team set up the Hillbilly Jim video package to announce his WWE Hall of Fame induction…
Bayley made her entrance while the broadcast team recapped her recent issues with Sasha Banks. Charly Caruso asked if Bayley was sending a message or ending a friendship when she dropped off the apron as Banks tried to tag her last week. Bayley said it was every woman for herself at the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber.
Before Bayley could say more, Absolution’s music interrupted her. Paige mocked Bayley by saying that she’s a big girl now and doesn’t need Banks to change her diapers. Paige said WWE is easier if you have backup and if you have no one then you have nothing…
4. Bayley vs. Mandy Rose (w/Paige, Sonya Deville). Bayley had offensive control when Rose rolled to ringside to regroup heading into a break. [C] Bayley won the match with an inside cradle. Afterward, she was jumped by Rose and Deville. Sasha Banks ran out and cleared the heels from the ring. Banks helped Bayley to her feet. Bayley was apprehensive, but Banks raised her arm. Banks went for a hug, but Bayley put her hands up, blocked her, and left the ring alone…
Bayley defeated Mandy Rose in 7:55.
The broadcast team set up a Women’s History Month video on Eunice Kennedy Shriver… [C]
Powell’s POV: The post match angle was more interesting than the match in this case. I’m still not sure if either woman is turning or if they are simply attempting to build up friction between the two heading into a multi-woman title match at WrestleMania if Asuka ends up challenging Charlotte. By the way, the movie trailer they aired earlier was for “The Strangers: Prey At Night” and it included some clips of Undertaker, Kane, Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan. None of those men are actually in the movie. Thanks to Dot Net reader Greg N for pointing out those clips.
Backstage, Jax was misty eyed as she held ice on her bad arm. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James entered the room. Bliss told James she had it and dismissed her. Bliss said Jax lost at Elimination Chamber and again on Raw and won’t be going to WrestleMania. She said she knows Jax is disappointed in herself and never saw her give up like that. She said Jax must be embarrassed.
Bliss said Jax has friends and wanted her to pick herself up and know that she will be on the WrestleMania card next year. She talked about Jax being bullied and scorned because she was so much bigger than the other kids. Jax cried as Bliss said she sees the way people in the airports look at her. She said Jax can’t quit or everyone would lose all respect for her…
Powell’s POV: Graves framed it by saying Bliss was rough around the edges, but her heart seemed to be in the right place. In other words, this wasn’t an overtly heel promo by any means. The softening of Jax is surprising and I assume she is babyface bound.
The broadcast team set up a recap video of the opening segment with Rousey, Angle, Stephanie, and Triple H…
Braun Strowman delivered a selfie style promo about the Symphony of Destruction match. He said Elias would get his hands and anything else he could get his hands on… Elias was shown walking backstage. Graves said the match was up next… [C]
There were guitars and musical instruments on the stage as ring announcer JoJoe explained the rules.
Hour Three: Elias played a piano on the stage. He said he’d been living amongst the dead, but he brings life to everything he does, touches, and says. He also sat down behind a drum set and said he’s not a one trick pony like Strowman. He played the drums briefly and then picked up a guitar to perform a song about how Wisconsin sucks. He had JoJo introduce him. The lights went out and then a spotlight shone on his empty stool in the ring. They cut to Elias running out of the arena.
Elias hustled through the backstage area and into a car that was waiting for him. He looked in the mirror and slowly turned around. Strowman was shown holding up the back end of the car so that Elias couldn’t drive away. Elias ran back into the building. Strowman put the car down and chased him into the arena and eventually into the ring.
5. Braun Strowman vs. Elias in a falls count anywhere Symphony of Destruction match. Elias hit Strowman with a guitar and a top rope elbow. Elias covered Strowman, who kicked out strong at one. They ended up on the stage where Strowman wanted to put Elias through the broadcast table, but Elias raked his eyes. Strowman came right back and grabbed the giant bass cello on the stage and broke it over Elias’s back.
Strowman slid Elias under the piano and then sat down and slammed his fingers on the keys a few times. Strowman picked up one end of the piano and slammed it down. Strowman tossed the piano aside and then covered Elias for the win. “I told you I’d get you,” Strowman said while standing over Elias. EMTs came out and stretchered Elias out of the building…
Braun Strowman beat Elias in a falls count anywhere Symphony of Destruction match.
The broadcast team hyped Paul Heyman’s appearance and the Mizzie Awards… [C]
Powell’s POV: I’m disappointed there was not a “more cowbell” joke somewhere during all that silliness. The baby grand piano spot seemed a little risky, yet Elias came out safely because the edge hit the ground in front of him. The biggest pop was for the return of the giant bass guitar. Another week and we still have no idea what Strowman will be doing at WrestleMania.
6. Bray Wyatt vs. Rhyno (w/Heath Slater). Wyatt knocked Rhyno down and then leaded half his body over the apron by Slater, who acted afraid. Wyatt won quickly with Sister Abigail. Slater teased entering the ring afterward, but he stopped in his tracks and backed away…
Bray Wyatt beat Rhyno in 0:45.
Wyatt took the mic and called out Matt Hardy, who popped up on the big screen and agreed that the Great War was not over. He said the only battlefield worthy of their cosmic combat is the Hardy Compound. Footage aired of Matt at the compound. Hardy said the battlefield has been prepared for annihilation and Wyatt should prepare himself for the ultimate deletion…
A shot aired of Miz, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel walking backstage… [C]
Powell’s POV: Finally! This Hardy vs. Wyatt feud has been stalled in neutral since it started. It’s taken them forever to go to Cameron, North Carolina, but it’s finally happening and Hardy finally has a chance to make this gimmick work in WWE. Meanwhile, I guess Rhyno’s big plan to toughen up Slater never paid off.
The Miz, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel hosted the third annual Mizzies in the ring. Miz said the Darkest Hour was that The Shape of Water won the Oscar over The Marine 5. He said Get Out is what Kurt Angle should do as general manager.
The nominees for the superstars who is best at patting himself on the back were Seth Rollins for bragging about his performance in the gauntlet match, Kurt Angle for being a good father to Jason Jordan, Finn Balor for bragging about being the first ever WWE Universal Champion, and The Miz for being 55 days away from being the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of all-time. Rollins and Balor won, but Miz said they were not there because they were not invited.
The nominees for worst decision by a Raw GM were Angle bringing Jordan to Raw, Angle for adding Rollins to the Elimination Chamber match, Angle not having a WrestleMania match for Miz. In a shocking twist, Angle won. Miz said Angle couldn’t accept the award because he was too busy sucking up to Rousey, but having The Mizzie on his resume will be helpful when he’s out of a job the day after WrestleMania.
The Miz was about to give himself a lifetime achievement award when he was interrupted by Seth Rollins’ entrance music. Rollins came out and said he came out because the people of Milwaukee were begging for someone to liven things up because the segment was dragging. Finn Balor’s music interrupted Rollins and he joined him on the stage. Rollins wasn’t pleased.
The Miz said neither man deserves to face him for the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania. Miz said Balor had the WWE Universal Title for one day, but he’s done nothing since then. He said Balor tells everyone how over he is. He said it’s not Japan, it’s WWE. “To be over, you need more than a hand sign that’s not even yours,” Miz said. Miz challenged Balor and Rollins to face him, Axel, and Dallas. Rollins and Balor agreed and then headed to the ring. Miz and company took a powder… [C]
Powell’s POV: The awards were a lot more fun than Miz predictably giving him and his posse all of the awards. Some of the jabs for the first award were well done and he continued that theme by ripping into Balor once he came out.
7. Seth Rollins and Finn Balor vs. The Miz, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel in a handicap match. The babyface duo largely controlled the early offense, but Balor was clotheslined by Dallas at ringside heading into a break. [C] Late in the match, Rollins was running the ropes when Balor tagged himself in. They jawed at one another briefly. Balor hit his signature moves on Miz and then went up top for his finisher, but Rollins tagged himself in. Rollins hit the Stomp on Miz and pinned him…
Seth Rollins and Finn Balor defeated The Miz, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel in 11:30.
After the match, Angle came out and booked The Miz vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor in a Triple Threat match for the Intercontinental Championship for WrestleMania…
The broadcast team ran through the previously advertised WWE Fastlane pay-per-view matches… Graves hyped Paul Heyman responding to Roman Reigns for after the break…
Powell’s POV: The expected Triple Threat for the IC Title at WrestleMania. No complaints. I was fearful that they would end up adding wrestlers and turn that match into the annual ladder match. Hopefully this match sticks and perhaps the ladder match is for the U.S. Championship.
Overrun: Paul Heyman carried the WWE Universal Championship to the ring while introducing himself. Heyman said he wasn’t looking for the meaningless affirmation from the fans. He said he was there to deliver a message from Brock Lesnar to set the record straight.
Heyman placed the championship belt in the middle of the ring. Heyman said that once Lesnar successfully defends the championship at WrestleMania and then chooses to defend the title at SummerSlam, Heyman will come to the ring and lay the title down again and then lay the UFC Championship down next to it.
Heyman gave props to Reigns for being one of only two men to defeat Undertaker at WrestleMania. Heyman asked if anyone pointed out that Taker wrestled only one time that year. He said no one made that statement because if they did make that statement it would be bullshit (censored). Heyman said Undertaker is the Undertaker 365 days a year. He said Reigns beat Taker so props to him.
Heyman said Lesnar is Lesnar 365 days a year and Reigns isn’t going to beat him and take the title. Heyman said that if Reigns doesn’t like what he’s saying then next week he can do something about it when he brings out Lesnar. Heyman said Reigns can seek a new title to challenge for after WrestleMania because the Universal Title belongs to Lesnar.
Heyman looked at the belt. Heyman said Reigns called Lesnar a bitch last week. Heyman held up the title and said, “This is Brock Lesnar’s bitch. She belongs to Brock Lesnar. And Roman Reigns, you are eyeballing Brock Lesnar’s bitch and you can’t have her.”
Heyman recalled Reigns talking about his bloodline. He pointed at the belt and said this is his bloodline. “That’s not a belt, that’s not a strap, that’s not a prop,” Heyman said of the title belt. “That’s a declarative statement that you’re number one or better than everyone in the universe.”
Heyman said it’s not how bad Reigns wants the title, it’s how bad the title wants him. Heyman spoke about the sacrifice you have to make as champion. He said if he got a call saying something happened to his father, he couldn’t go home because the title needs to be defended. He said that if Reigns wants to be the Universal Champion then he knows that Reigns needs him, loves him, and lusts for him more. Heyman said his client would appear on Raw in Detroit next week and he could say anything he wants to his face. He said he thinks Reigns has learned that you don’t want to shoot on the mic with him and you don’t want to shoot in the ring with Lesnar.
Roman Reigns made his entrance. Heyman remained in the ring and Reigns got right in his face and jawed at him and told him to pick up the title belt, which Heyman did before handing Reigns the mic. Reigns said this is what he was talking about. He said what he said the week before was harsh and completely true. He said he thought Lesnar would be a man about the situation, but he sent Heyman for his rebuttal.
“Brock really is a bitch, isn’t he?” Reigns cracked. He said the fans aren’t asking for much, they’re merely asking for their champion to show up for work and to actually want to be there. Reigns told Heyman that if Lesnar would be in Detroit for Raw then so will he. Reigns said Lesnar can say what he wants to his face, but he shouldn’t come dressed for a promo segment, he should come dressed for a fight. Heyman raced from the ring as Reigns’s music played.
The broadcast team hyped Lesnar and Reigns meeting face-to-face on Raw to close the show…
Powell’s POV: A very good segment with Heyman making the belt feel prestigious. He didn’t go as heavy with the heel mic work as I thought he might, but he did make it clear he wasn’t looking for adoration from the fans from the start. The Roman comeback was well delivered. The live crowd wasn’t hot for this segment, but there’s only so excited you can expect them to be while watching two guys promote a segment for next week when they paid money to see this week’s show. Overall, this was a good edition of Raw with strong bookend segments and some interesting developments in between. I will have more to say in my Raw audio review later tonight for members. Join Jake Barnett for live coverage of Smackdown on Tuesday, John Moore for NXT live coverage on Wednesday, and me for live coverage of WWE Fastlane on Sunday night. Thanks for watching along with me.
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The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features ProWrestling.net staffer John Moore returning for an in-depth discussion on NXT, AEW, Impact Wrestling, MLW, and the NWA, and more...