Raw Gets Samoan
Mick Foley opened Raw by calling down, very gloomily, “the hottest free agent signing in the New Era” Samoa Joe. Mick wasn’t happy about the way Joe was called up, nor with the bad crowd he’s fallen in with. The tension between Stephanie and Mick was even more prickly than usual. I really enjoyed Foley’s performance here.
If you didn’t quite get that Joe’s a bad guy last week when he brutally beat down Seth Rollins, he came down here in a suit and immediately hugged Stephanie McMahon.
He boasted about injuring Rollins, and put the rest of the Raw roster on notice. This brought out Roman Reigns. Not because Joe took out his best friend forever Seth. That would be far too empathetic for your top babyface. Reigns came down because he didn’t like that Joe said he was a badder man than him. Usually I prefer wrestlers trying to out-badass each other, but there’s a ready made revenge story with emotion here. Foley made a match between the two for later in the night.
Nia Jax beat Bayley
Before her Women’s Championship rematch next week, Bayley had to overcome Nia Jax. Charlotte’s interference made sure she didn’t, building their title fight.
Braun Strowman beat Job Squad
After being screwed in his Universal Championship match last week by Roman Reigns, Braun took out his frustration beating four different men. At least, that’s what I thought his motivation was. Braun started shouting that Foley isn’t giving him enough competition – which was his motivation from about a month ago. He should be screaming about Reigns costing him the title. It was all the more bizarre because Foley ended up making Braun vs Roman at WWE Fastlane anyway – the second piece of ready-made motivation ignored in a match build.
Akira Tozawa beat Drew Gulak
After debuting on 205 Live last week, Akira Tozawa wrestled his first match on Raw in one of the strangest Cruiserweight bouts in months. The crowd were actually into it. Tozawa is great. Especially when he makes that HA! noise. It still only went the average five minutes, though.
Kevin Owens Is Next…On The List?
Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho were in the ring fretting over facing each other for the title when Goldberg’s music hit. Bill was phenomenal here – probably because he didn’t knock himself silly before coming out – being presented perfectly as a badass babyface. When Jericho threatened to put him on the list, Goldberg snatched it out of his hands, and wrote down his own name instead! And in the biggest babyface pop from me, he called WWE Fastlane just plain old ‘Fastlane’.
Just like Owens had accepted a United States title match on Jericho’s behalf previously, Y2J agreed to Goldberg fighting for the Universal Championship at WWE Fastlane, causing an argument between the best friends.
Galanderson beat Sheamaro
Enzo Amore and Big Cass were at ringside in an attempt to freshen up the 29th match between Sheamaro and Galanderson. They caused the DQ in retaliation to Luke Gallows kicking Amore, presumably adding Enzo and Big Cass to the title mix.
New Day beat The Shining Stars
The inconsequential tag team action continued as The New Day beat The Shining Stars.
Chris Jericho beat Sami Zayn
After winning a decent non-title match last week, Canadian Sami Zayn got a shot at the United States belt. A superkick from Canadian Kevin Owens while the referee’s back was turned helped give Canadian Chris Jericho the win. The best friends are back together! And they’re going to be celebrating with a Festival of Friendship on next week’s Raw.
Neville’s No. 1 Contender
With Rich Swann’s injury, Austin Aries announced a Fatal 5 Way elimination match for 205 Live to decide the number 1 contender. Screw that! WWE just ran a promo saying Emmalina will debut next week!
This all turned into a six-man tag, with Jack Gallagher, Cedric Alexander and TJ Perkins beating Noam Dar, Tony Nese and Neville.
Samoa Joe beat Roman Reigns
Building on his badass monster heel character, Samoa Joe beat down Reigns before the match even started for his main roster in-ring debut. That’s for taking his surprise No. 30 Royal Rumble spot, Reigns!
Braun ended up costing Roman the match, and then beat him down afterwards to cheers of ‘Thank You Strowman’. After his momentum from last week, the big monster finish should’ve gone to Joe.
Seth Rollins BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!
The promised big announcement on Seth Rollins’ reinjured right knee was that…there wasn’t much of one. They just showed Rollins’ tweet from last week, confirmed it was a torn MCL because of Samoa Joe and that his Wrestlemania 33 status was “in serious doubt”. Which we kind of already knew.
Thankfully, we have the Internet to fill in the blanks.
PWInsider have reported that Rollins wasn’t backstage at Raw last night because he flew back to Alabama for another visit with Dr. James Andrews, which Mike Johnson speculated “is not a positive sign”.
Dave Meltzer revealed on Wrestling Observer Radio however, “Seth is considered good for Wrestlemania. Triple H and Seth is on. That’s what they’re working towards, and maybe that’s why they didn’t tip their hand. They are going with the idea that that match is still on, and that he’ll be ready for Wrestlemania.”
So that was this week’s Raw in about four minutes. Here’s the usual ratings recap, from top to bottom – In Awe, Cor, AVERAWGE, Poor and Bore.
This week’s Raw is AvRAWge.
There was a refreshing protection of wrestlers in defeat on this episode. Sami Zayn only lost when he got superkicked by Owens when the referee’s back was turned. Bayley was cost her match by a Charlotte distraction. And Noam Dar and Tony Nese lost after Neville walked out on them. It’s not just the wins and losses that matter, it’s also the manner in which they come about.
The first hour of the show was very, very good with Goldberg, Tozawa and the opening Joe promo. But as soon as Raw hit its thin tag team division, the episode never really recovered.
What did you all think? Let me know in the comments down below…