Raw rolls in to the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA tonight. Last week, Chris Jericho made fun of Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson which drew their attention. Will we see a celebrity appearance tonight where the duo ends up helping someone get the better of Jericho – or will he give them the gift of Jericho? It seems like Rusev and Roman Reigns might be destined to a Hell in a Cell match after last Monday. Will that get set up? Also Charlotte granted Sasha Banks her one on one rematch for the Raw Women’s Championship for this week. Will Banks make a statement and regain her championship, or will Charlotte hold on to the belt?
Show Open, live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA:
We got the opening video then Cole, Graves and Saxton checked in. They hyped up previously advertised segments. Roman Reigns made his entrance right off the top, and he got booed of course. “Listen to that reaction for Roman Reigns,” Graves said. The commentary team talked about Reigns winning the US Championship over Rusev at Clash of Champions. Someone on color said that some cheer and some boo, but everyone is making noise.
Reigns talked about his family history in the business, saying he was the first member of his bloodline to win the US Championship. Lana interrupted him and joined Reigns in the ring. Lana claimed that Rusev didn’t know where she was, and Reigns called her out on that. Lana said that Rusev wanted to challenge Reigns to a title rematch.
She went on to say that Reigns has no respect for her or her husband, and tried to destroy their wedding celebration. Reigns smiled and she told him to wipe the smile off his face. Reigns told her to relax, go backstage “and deliver your husband his Bulgarian bulge and tell him to come out and say it to my face.” Lana told him to shut up and go to hell. Rusev came out and a brawl started.
Reigns initially got the better of Rusev, but when he tried a Superman punch Rusev caught him and worked him over. Rusev caught Reigns with a punch and the fight moved back to ringside. Reigns jumped off the steps and into a kick, then Rusev threw him into the steps. Rusev landed a big boot that sent Reigns over the barrier, then he grabbed the US title and posed with it.
As Rusev moved back to the stage, Reigns found him and landed a Superman Punch. Reigns took the belt back as fans booed and he got a mic. He told Rusev that if Lana wants him to go to hell, then he’s taking both of them with him. He said the rematch would take place inside Hell in a Cell. The commentary team said Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon would have to make it official.
Reigns just keeps getting the better of Rusev. No doubt he will seem like the heavy favorite to win inside the Cell. They have time, so they need to build Rusev back up and make him seem like a credible threat, because right now he doesn’t feel that way.
Cole hyped TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick in a non-title match as coming up, and they went to a video package on both men.
A good video package, and we got a good recap of their storyline from it.
Match #1 – TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick; Non-Title Match;
Winner: Brian Kendrick
The Summary: Cole noted that Kendrick and Perkins spent a lot of time together back when Perkins was in high school, with Kendrick taking him to wrestling school. The pair shook hands, then Perkins hit a drop kick. Kendrick came back and sandwiched Perkins’ fingers in the buckle then stood on them.
Late in this one, Kendrick hit Sliced Bread #2 and got a near fall, then locked in Captain’s Hook. Perkins rolled it over to a pinning predicament. A short time later, Kendrick hooked Perkins’ nose and relocked the hold, and got the submission win.
The match was solid throughout. I might have gone a different route to get to the rematch rather than have Perkins lose, but I’m okay with it. Kendrick is really standing out in terms of personality right now. I’d like to see both guys get some time to really establish their offense and get some key wins between now and Hell in a Cell where (presumably) the rematch takes place. Submissions are no problem, but Sliced Bread #2 – which has been a finish for Kendrick in his past in WWE – feels like a transition move.
They ran a pre-taped sit-down interview with Seth Rollins. Rollins said his doctor advised him to not appear in Los Angeles “but you know me.” Rollins complained that Kevin Owens was handed the title by Triple H and he deserved a rematch.
Cole drew parallels between Owens’ rise to prominence and Rollins. Rollins said he could understand why, saying he alienated a lot of people on the way p and they were sitting in a room with his friends. He said Owens is the guy in the office who does half the work yet gets the promotion. He brought up Hunter handing him the title a second time.
Rollins said no one was there to help him when he cashed in Money in the Bank to win the title at Wrestlemania. He said everyone has a Kevin Owens in his life, and he has the Kevin Owens. Cole mentioned Hunter replacing him with Owens, and Rollins said Owens is a cog in the machine. Rollins said his eyes are opened and he will tear the machine apart, starting with Owens and the title.
Rollins said he had Owens beat at Clash of Champions, but Stephanie brought out the referee at the right time. He said he knows how the game is played and will end the Kevin Owens Show to prove he is still the man.
This was a small step in the right direction for Rollins as he makes the transition to babyface. We still need that bonding moment with the fans that his character seems to lack, because it’s going to take a longer time for him to get over as a face without it.
Cole hyped WWE’s work with Susan G. Komen Foundation – get ready for pink ribbons all month long.
Match #2 – Braun Strowman vs. Chase Silver;
Winner: Braun Strowman
The Summary: Silver got a pre match promo where he said he moved to Hollywood where dreams come true. He said he dreamed he would beat Strowman, who laughed at him. Squash match. Afterward, Strowman said he is the gift of destruction and his talent is being wasted. Strowman told Saxton to tell Mick Foley that if he doesn’t get real competition next week, there may not be a next week. This is just more of the same really.
They hyped Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks as the main event – something we’ve not seen in a long time. Sasha was backstage stretching out when Bayley showed up. She called it “Trish and Lita territory” for Banks and Charlotte to main event. Sasha said it’s more than that – it’s about what she worked her entire career for. Bayley said she can’t think of a more deserving person than Sasha, who said that she will dethrone the wanna be queen because she was born to be a champion.
They hyped AJ Styles, John Cena and Dean Ambrose going face to face on Smackdown. Drew will have you covered on that. Cole hyped the Royal Rumble heading to the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX. They also hyped Reigns vs. Rusev inside Hell in a Cell.
Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens made their way to the ring, Jericho carrying his “list” clipboard. Owens said that he saw the interview with Rollins, and said Cole was terrible and Rollins is stupid. Owens said that Rollins was looking for someone to blame for his loss at Clash of Champions but Rollins is responsible for it. Owens noted Jericho standing by his side and Jericho said it’s because they’re best friends.
Owens said that’s true, but it’s not why he had him come out. Owens said Rollins blamed the official for his loss. A small “stupid idiot” chant got traction, and Owens said it was ironic that the fans chant that and think they’re cool, because they’re the idiots.
The pair talked about making Jericho the official for his match against Rollins. Jericho said that since they beat Enzo and Cass last week, they should challenge New Day for the titles. Owens noted that Cesaro and Sheamus already have a shot lined up. Jericho said they aren’t best friends, and he and Owens could be tag champs and Universal Champion at the same time. Owens said it sounded like a lot of work and he had a lot on his plate. Jericho said it’s not like he’s asking for a shot at the Universal Championship. That drew a Y2J chant. Owens agreed that they should go after New Day. That brought out the tag champions.
New Day cut a promo from the stage, with Kofi saying that they have the best friendship in WWE. They talked about having a champion’s huddle and Jericho wasn’t invited. Jericho put them on the list. Owens said New Day knows what they want, and if they weren’t going to give it to them they should just go away.
Owens mocked them for feeding children questionable cereal and said they jumped the shark seven months ago. Woods said they should know that they don’t swim, and told Owens to look at himself and ask when was the last time he jumped over anything. Owens told Jericho to re-list them. Woods said they were going to watch Luke Cage, but if they want a match they can have it. Woods told them they would never beat New Day to win the titles.
That was fun, with a lot of good back and forth. The crowd reacted to Jericho getting a title shot – which was encouraging. I think the heel run won over a lot of people, even if the babyface part of his run so far has been a flop. There are rumors that it would be Jericho vs. Rollins vs. Owens at the Hell in a Cell event, so this would be a logical step to get there.
They showed actor Ryan Phillipe, then Cole noted that Bill Goldberg will be on ESPN to talk the WWE video game and his relationship with WWE.
Match #3 – Sami Zayn vs. Titus O’Neil;
Winner: Sami Zayn
The Summary: They showed a video to open of Titus saying it was the grand opening of the Titus Brand. He said it’s taking over everything. No clue, sorry. Anyhow, Titus got the early advantage but Zayn came back with an exploder suplex and the Helluva Kick to win. I’m not sure where this means anyone is going, and seemed designed to fill a couple minutes of TV. A decisive loss to Zayn doesn’t mean this is going anywhere, right?
Backstage, Cesaro and Sheamus argued about which one was responsible for them getting lost. Foley showed up and told them they should be bonding while on the road. He said the two were good last week but not on the same page and he encouraged them to go prove him right. I guess Foley just overlooked the whole exchange between Daniel Bryan and Cesaro about him jumping to Smackdown?
They showed Gallows and Anderson looking dominant in past matches, and Graves said their eyes are on the tag titles. He hyped them being in action next.
Golden Truth came out and the lyrics to their entrance ran on the screen with a bouncing Goldust head. Yes, that happened. They recapped Gallows and Anderson saying New Day ruined the tag division.
Match #4 – Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. R-Truth and Goldust;
Winner: Gallows and Anderson
The Summary: Anderson used a kick early that sent Goldust into the pink ring rope. Late, Truth hit a scissor kick for two, but Gallows saved Anderson. They hit Truth with the Magic Killer to win, then hit Goldust with it for good measure. This isn’t a big moment for the duo, really, because Anderson nearly lost to Truth. But, hopefully it’s a start of a build to rehabilitate Gallows and Anderson and make them badasses again.
Backstage, Owens and Jericho ran into Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson. Jericho threatened to put them on the list, but Masterson took the mic and said the list had people who don’t appreciate a good scarf and lost to Fandango at Wrestlemania. Ouch. Jericho denied the last one.
Kutcher said that he and Masterson are brothers, where Owens and Jericho are in question. Jericho said they could be Siamese twins. Owens said that That 70’s Show could have been better with him and Jericho. Owens walked off, and Kutcher told Jericho that he and Masterson would be watching their match with New Day later. Cue the celebrity shenanigans.
In the ring, Enzo and Cass stood in the ring with three breast cancer survivors along with a covered table. Enzo had “aunt” and “Ellen” written on his wrist tape. Cass noted the five year anniversary of teaming up with Komen for October. Enzo said the three women in the ring were survivors, and Cass noted that you’d see the women all month long as they shared stories. Enzo called out for a spoiler alert and said the women won their battles. They removed the cover to reveal three WWE Women’s Championship belts that they presented to the three ladies, and said they are not SAWFT.
A nice gesture and a fun moment, making use of the good mic skills of a popular pairing. My misgivings about Komen aside, this was a nice gesture.
Match #5 – New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods, w/Kofi Kingston) vs. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens; Non-Title Match
Winner: New Day
The Summary: Kutcher and Masterson sat in at commentary, and they hyped their Netflix show “The Ranch” and said that city folks might not get it. Way to alienate an audience. Anyhow, Jericho got a bloody nose at one point, and the heels controlled the action going into a break. Out of break, Cole noted that New Day has held the titles for 407 days, and Kutcher asked what the longest reign is. Cole had it at 478 and Demolition. Good boy, Cole.
Late, Seth Rollins showed up to watch from the stage, and that upset Owens. Owens ran into a kick from Woods, then after some tag sequence Big E worked Jericho until Owens cut him off momentarily. In the end, Jericho locked Woods in the Liontamer, but Rollins made his way down to ringside which made Jericho release the hold. New Day hit Midnight Hour to win.
Kutcher and Masterson worked for some people on commentary, but not for me. They didn’t seem invested in the storyline issues with Jericho and spent a lot of time pimping their show.
Cole set up a video package to recap the opening segment between Reigns, Rusev, and Lana.
Backstage, Tom Phillips interviewed Charlotte. She said she is genetically superior and the only reason that Sasha is in the main event. Charlotte said she was born for these moments, and would expose Sasha as the overachiever she is. She said she would knock Sasha off of the pedestal that social media has put her on.
Cole hyped Rich Swann vs. Tony Neese, then set up a video package on Swann.
They showed players for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Josh Reddick of the LA Dodgers (Major League baseball) in the crowd.
Backstage, Steph scolded Rollins for getting involved in the match when he’s not cleared. Rollins told Stephanie that she doesn’t get to tell him what to do. Steph recalled Rollin saying he’s on his own, and he’s right. There is no Shield, nor is there an Authority. She told him he won’t last and find out he’s replaceable like everyone else.
Rollins told her that he made the second worst decision of his life by stabbing him in the back. Steph asked what was the first and Rollins said it was marrying her. Daaaaammmmmnnnnn! He said he would burn Raw to the ground and take Owens and Jericho with him. Rollins walked off and Stephanie made a face.
Match #6 – Tony Neese vs. Rich Swann:
Winner: Tony Neese
The Summary: Not much reaction to Swann dancing and clapping his hands to play to them. Neese got an entrance and they ran a promo clip. Neese said all he hears is about how everyone loves Swann, but maybe he should twerk like a second rate Amber Rose.
They did shake hands to start the match. Neese used a cheap kick at one point and got scolded. Swann got in a lot of offense, but Neese put him away with the Michinoku Driver (“or whatever you call it…” – Corey Graves). More flashy moves than personality yet again. I like Swann’s charisma and I think he will click eventually, but they have to give the fans a reason to care, just like they need to for all of the cruiserweights.
We got a Hispanic Heritage month package focusing on Mil Mascaras, then they showed Sheamus and Cesaro cutting each other off backstage.
“The makeover of Emma to Emmalina” will be showing up on Raw soon. Not going to condemn it til I see it, but I liked what she was doing pre-injury.
Match #7 – Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Raul White and Mark Carradine;
Winner: Sheamus and Cesaro
The Summary: More arguing between the two men, Cesaro’s music interrupted Sheamus’ “Fella” yell in his entrance. Sheamus tagged himself in at one point to Cesaro’s disdain. There was a cool spot where Cesaro ran and jumped off of Sheamus’ back into a DDT. Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick for the win. They continue to tell the story of the duo not getting along. Eventually, they will I suppose.
They showed Oscar De La Hoya in the crowd. They went to a Charlotte vs. Sasha video package that recounted their history in NXT, being a tag team together then Charlotte saying there’s only one title. They also recounted the recent matches at Wrestlemania, on Raw when Sasha beat Charlotte for the title, and Charlotte winning it back at SummerSlam.
This was a great package, but if they’d have done something like a 30-minute special on the Network (like, this instead of the pre-show tonight) it would have meant more. Time given though, it was fantastic. They should have put it out there earlier though to get fans invested in the match.
Backstage, Charlotte and Dana mocked Bayley, calling her “everyone’s favorite little sister.” She said some day Bayley will grow up and be a big girl and be a main eventer. Bayley tried to respond but Charlotte said the title was talking too loud and she has to go main event. Brooke mocked Bayley some more, but Bayley tossed her into a crate and Brooke held her leg.
This was good. It showed that Bayley can dish it, and it also put heat on Charlotte. That’s the stuff that gets fans to rally behind the babyface (in this case Bayley). I wonder if Brooke feigning an injury is an out for Charlotte, or just a red herring?
Sasha made her entrance first.
Match #8 – Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks; Raw Women’s Championship
Winner: Sasha Banks to win the Raw Women’s Championship
The Summary: JoJo gave us the introductions in the ring, with Sasha clearly the fan favorite here. Charlotte was booed loudly. Cole emphasized while Charlotte is 12-0 in pay per view defenses, she has lost on Raw previously to Sasha.
Charlotte teased her finish early, but Sasha kicked her away and followed with a suicide dive. Charlotte continued to control the offense coming out of a break. Into the overrun, Sasha hit her double knee press. They ended up with a botched spot where Charlotte swept Sasha’s legs and she tried to catch her and drive her to the apron, but Charlotte ended up falling forward and awkwardly tossing her in the ring.
About 10 minutes in, Charlotte looked for a superplex but got blocked, surprise. Sasha sent her to the mat with a headbutt then followed with a knee press from the top that got a near fall and a good reaction. Sasha sold back pain, then tried for the Backstabber, but Charlotte held the ropes and dumped her to ringside. Charlotte came back with a corkscrew moonsault that got the crowd to pop.
Back in the ring, Charlotte hit Natural Selection for a good near fall, then slapped Sasha repeatedly yelling at her to stay down. Sasha caught her in the Bank Statement moments later. Charlotte countered it over into a pin, but Sasha rolled it back over to get the submission win. Afterward, Charlotte was in tears and venting about losing as Sasha posed in the ring. Cole sent the show home by saying “It’s Boss Time.”
A good main event that the live crowd was hot for. They bought into the near falls and reacted to the big spots appropriately. This didn’t feel like it was rushed out there to put the women in the main event for the sake of having them in it. They did it the right way and they put two women out there who can put together good matches and deliver. I also like that WWE didn’t go crazy with the self congratulatory hype and “look how progressive we are as a wrestling company, our women main event!” stuff. Because they kept it low key and didn’t go down that road, it felt like the women were supposed to be there, and the match was supposed to be there. And they do clearly deserve it.
Overall, not a terrible show this week. I’m a bit on burnout from pay per views on Friday and Sunday, so I might not be the best barometer of how the show really was. There are still a boatload of issues with the three hour marathon show, but at least for one week it seemed like they did a better job of finding roles for guys in the mid-card that mean something. I still see strong need to develop the cruiserweights better, and there are characters I want to see better direction for, but at least for one week WWE gave us a better Raw than we have been getting.
Drew Koscelek will be by tomorrow to talk about this and all other things wrestling, then he and I will get together for Ring Rap Audio on Wednesday to talk No Mercy among other things. Thanks for hanging out tonight and see you then.