Raw and the Road to Hell wind through Oakland, CA and the Oracle Arena tonight. Last week, Sasha Banks took down Charlotte in the main event, claiming her second Raw Women’s Championship. Are they set for a rematch at Hell in a Cell, and will Charlotte claim her crown back? Where do Bayley and Dana Brooke fit into the mix, as they scrummed backstage before that match? Rusev and Roman Reigns are destined to a Hell in a Cell match after last Monday. How will Rusev become a credible threat to Reigns, who seems to have his number of late? Also Seth Rollins looks to get an edge on his opponent, WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens, heading into their matchup at Hell in a Cell. Will he be able to, or will Chris Jericho protect “his best friend?”
Show Open, Live from the Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA:
After the opening video, pyro shot off in the arena as Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton checked in for the call of the show. Sasha Banks’ music hit and she headed to the ring with her championship belt as Cole recalled last week’s main event and Sasha’s win over Charlotte. He noted that Sasha wrote on the inside of an armband that she’s not afraid and born to do this.
She soaked in a “you deserve it” chant that played out before she started talking. She said she is on top of the world, and noted how it wasn’t long ago that she was watching Raw from the last row or watching with her mom at home every week. She noted that Eddie Guerrero was her hero and wished him a happy birthday. She added that she stole the show and became a two time women’s champion last week. She said it’s for all the little girls at home who want to be like her, and told them to go get it.
Sasha mentioned her upcoming match against Charlotte, and made mention of the idea of making it a Hell in a Cell match. That brought out Charlotte, but Rusev and Lana’s entrance cut her off. Charlotte stopped cold while Rusev and Lana marched right by her and headed to the ring. Charlotte trailed them and joined the three in the ring.
Rusev ranted and said no one cared about “your stupid women’s revolution” or that the two ladies main evented last week’s show. He said he is the main event wherever he goes. Charlotte took the mic from Rusev, saying that the title might be around Sasha’s waist. She then asked Rusev who the hell he thinks he is and that no one disrespects the queen.
Charlotte noted the Hell in a Cell match, and fans chanted “yes.” “You’re on,” Charlotte said. Rusev grabbed the mic back and said he wasn’t finished. Rusev said it’s his ring, and whatever he says goes. Sasha then grabbed the mic and threw it down. Lana called out both Sasha and Charlotte, saying they need to know their place and that they whine like girls. Hell in a Cell is made for men like Rusev. Sasha and Charlotte teamed up to shove Lana down then drop kick Rusev from the ring.
That brought out Roman Reigns, who was booed. He only came out to look at Rusev and Lana then leave. Sasha and Charlotte jawed off mic at each other.
Bill Says: The idea of a women’s Hell in a Cell match seemed a bit “wow” at first, but this is today’s Hell in a Cell – not the original. It was well received by the live crowd and in the context of where their feud is, it works. There is talk that their match might main event the pay per view, which would be a fairly big deal if it happened. We’ll see where it goes. Bad part though here is that Rusev needs heat, and that won’t happen by getting drop kicked out of the ring by two women. Reigns also needs to be able to speak.
Cole hyped Paul Heyman, who would address Bill Goldberg’s comments on ESPN, and Saxton hyped up Rollins vs. Jericho for later. Back live, Cole noted you have to pre-order the WWE 2k17 video game prior to midnight tonight in order to get Goldberg as a downloadable character.
New Day came out and stood by the ramp where Big E pulled Booty O’s from his tights and tossed them by handful into the crowd. Woods talked about Bay Area sports, and Kofi mentioned the Bash Brothers. E mentioned the Splash Brothers. Kingston tossed in a Full House reference since that show was filmed in the bay area.
Big E talked about Cesaro favorably, and Kofi had a sign brought to him that called Sheamus “hot garbage.” Woods talked about Mick Foley giving Cesaro and Sheamus a shot at the tag belts, then said they will show them why they are the best. They did their “New Day Rocks” thing before Cesaro’s entrance cut them off.
Match #1 – Cesaro (w/Sheamus) vs. Kofi Kingston (w/Big E and Xavier Woods);
Winner: Kofi Kingston
The Summary: Cesaro and Sheamus stood at opposite corners of the ring and got opposite reactions. Cole noted that Sheamus would be on Facebook live during the match, and he sat on the ring steps with his phone in front of him rather than watch the match. Cesaro and Kingston faced off at ringside and the other New Day members joined Kingston. Cesaro turned to look for Sheamus, but he was preoccupied with his phone.
Sheamus got a chair and sat at ringside doing the Facebook live thing. Kingston slipped going for a springboard move and grabbed at his leg. Sheamus grabbed Woods’ trombone and shoved Woods down. E hit him with a clothesline. Cesaro got distracted and Kofi rolled him up for the win. E carried Kofi up the ramp while Cesaro and Sheamus bickered at ringside.
They got a bit more creative with Sheamus and Cesaro bickering by doing the social media thing, which was interesting. That’s better than the two just arguing back and forth.
The commentary team hyped Roman Reigns and Sasha Banks vs. Rusev and Charlotte for later.
Bill Says: Odd to pair Rusev and Charlotte given the issues to start the show, but they noted Mick Foley booked it…so, they can see issues there too.
They hyped that we would see Goldberg’s comments on ESPN after the break. Back live, the commentary team set that up, with Goldberg telling ESPN that “never say never” regarding a match with Brock Lesnar. Saxton hyped up that Paul Heyman would address those comments later.
Match #2 – Bayley vs. Cami Fields;
The Summary: They played up the fact that this was Bayley’s homecoming. Bayley won quickly with the Bayley to Belly. She ran up to the stage to celebrate with the inflatable tube men for her entrance when Dana Brooke jumped her from behind and attacked her.
That made sense, as Bayley got her shine with a squash match in front of the hometown fans but Brooke also got heat for attacking her in front of the hometown crowd.
Cole hyped Mick Foley speaking on Hell in a Cell after the break, and said we have yet to hear what he thinks about the women working a Hell in a Cell match.
Backstage, Chris Jericho vented on the phone about not getting anything in return from the muttonheads while he gives them the Gift of Jericho. R-Truth was in the background and managed to turn this into a product placement spot.
Match #3 – Sin Cara and Lince Dorado vs. Tony Nese and Drew Gulak:
Winner: Sin Cara and Lince Dorado
The Summary: The heel pair did not get a televised entrance. Cole pointed out that Sin Cara officially joined the cruiserweights and it was announced on the Raw pre-show. Despite their heel status, Nese and Gulak shook hands with the faces. Cole told us we would see TJ Perkins later in the show. Dorado hit a shooting star press on Gulak to get the win.
The fans reacted to the high spots as normal, and seemed more into those spots than other crowds have, but that’s all they’ve got to work with so far. Not a fan of the “code of honor” thing that they do when no one else on the roster but the cruiserweights do it – doesn’t make sense.
Backstage, Steph McMahon praised Mick for his attire and asked if he minded if she join him for the Hell in a Cell address. He said that would be great. Waiting for the “Steph turns on Mick” moment and I get the feeling we’ll see it here.
They ran a charity spot with Sasha Banks and a cancer survivor. Cole pointed out the relationship with Komen and noted the extra pink used on the set.
Foley and Steph were in the ring, and Steph noted that Foley’s suit was awesome. Kinda tacky, if you ask me. Anyhow, Steph noted that No Mercy was great but Hell in a Cell is coming up in three weeks and it will blow it away. Steph gave a big buildup to Foley, who noted that Sasha Banks wanted her match inside the Cell.
Foley said the women don’t get what they want because they want it. “They get what the deserve.” Foley said the women made history and he watched it from the eighth row live. He said they deserve to make history inside the Cell and Sasha vs. Charlotte will indeed be inside Hell in a Cell. That drew a brief “yes” chant.
Foley said that Seth Rollins will get his rematch against Kevin Owens, and it too will be inside the Cell. Oops, one too many HIAC matches, for my taste. Not to mention it doesn’t feel hot enough for it. Kevin Owens’ music hit and he came out with Jericho, who has the list. Owens congratulated Foley on making his stupidest decision to date. He said he doesn’t want to be in a HIAC match, but wants to have a nice long career and not end up a washed up general manager like Mick. Owens said that he is better than that because he’s the Universal Champion. Jericho asked Mick if he was granting requests “Like a genie in a stupid suit.”
Jericho asked what would happen if he asked for a private jet. He accused Foley of not liking him and taking it out on Owens. Foley said he originally liked Jericho, but hasn’t for 19 years. Jericho asked if Foley was putting the champion at risk in the same match that ended his career. “You’re damn right I am,” said Foley.
Jericho put Foley on the list, to cheers. Foley smiled and said he’s on “the stupid list” and Jericho said he made it again. Jericho asked Steph to take care of this guy, but she told Jericho to show some respect. She said she doesn’t care what list she makes, and defended Foley’s decision for the rematch. She said that Rollins wants revenge on Jericho.
Steph said that after watching No Mercy she believed Raw could do it bigger and better by doing it inside Hell in a cell. Steph said that if Jericho beats Rollins, he can be put into the title match inside Hell in a Cell, and everyone would be happy. Jericho smiled but Owens wasn’t happy. She told Owens to have a nice day and gave him a thumbs up.
Like I said, three Hell in a Cell matches is too much for one sitting, because it over exposes the gimmick and makes it feel more ordinary. I really would have thought they’d have played up the danger of the match, especially for the women, rather than Foley cheerleading the idea of the women doing that match. It would have played a lot better if Foley said something like “this match is the most dangerous in WWE, and in good conscience I can’t do this, but if that’s what it takes to settle the issues…then, so be it.” or something along those lines. Right now, it feels like the women got a reward by being given the match. Odd. Though very different and something I’m curious to see play out.
Backstage, Charly Caruso talked to Seth Rollins about what just played out. Rollins said that if Stephanie’s plan was to turn the match into a Table for Three, then he would crush that plan. He said Steph can’t control him any longer and is trying to manipulate Owens. He also questioned whether Jericho will be Owens’ friend, or another guy who will do whatever it takes to be champion. Rollins vowed to destroy the machine piece by piece.
Cole hyped the mixed tag for later, and Graves hyped Paul Heyman’s promo.
Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel were in the ring waiting for a match with Enzo and Big Cass. They showed footage from the pre-show of Axel and Dallas rhyming together and Axel asking to be booked as a team. Enzo and Cass came to the ring and did their normal mic work when Anderson and Gallows jumped them from behind. Enzo ate the Boot of Doom and Cass got hit with the Magic Killer.
That was just a matter of time. New Day beat Gallows and Anderson repeatedly, so it’s time to move them over to the only other babyface tag team that actually has any momentum for a program.
Axel and Dallas stood in the ring, and Axel asked if they were on Swerved. He said they wanted a match and wouldn’t leave until they got one, demanding Foley send out opponents. That brought out Sami Zayn and Neville.
Match #4 – Sami Zayn and Neville vs. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas;
Winner: Zayn and Neville
The Summary: Cole said that Foley had to scramble to find opponents when Zayn and Neville volunteered. Zayn hit Axel with the Helluva Kick and Neville followed with the Red Arrow to win. I can’t see this lasting long, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Neville turn heel on Zayn. The pair could put on some good matches, and Neville can be a solid heel.
Charlotte was stretching out when Lana showed up. She said she knows Charlotte thinks she’s the queen but she had no right to put hands on her. Charlotte told Lana she is superior in every way, and Lana should stay out of the way. Lana told Charlotte to stay out of her husband’s way or there would be severe consequences.
Match #5 – R-Truth (w/Goldust) vs. Titus O’Neil;
The Summary: This got set up via Facebook and Titus wasn’t happy about Truth stealing his candy bar ad. Really. Titus got the better of Truth until Titus was distracted by Goldust stomping on the steps. Roll up win for Truth.
Backstage, TJ Perkins told Brian Kendrick that he knew the real Kendrick isn’t about cheap tricks. He said Kendrick is afraid because he won’t have more lives if he loses. Perkins said he doesn’t need cheap shots, and asked if Kendrick remembered the trip they took when the N64 broke and Kendrick helped him get a new one. Perkins said it’s not too late for Kendrick to be the guy he knows he is. They shook hands, then Kendrick stood up to throw a sucker punch, but Perkins beat him to it. “Guess I was wrong,” Perkins said.
They showed members of the Oakland Raiders football team watching in the crowd tonight.
Byron Saxton interviewed Steven and Clay Splash, the local jobbers that Braun Strowman gets to squash. They thought they were a step up in competition.
Match #6 – Braun Strowman vs. Steven and Clay Splash in a handicap match
The Summary: Strowman destroyed the two quickly. Afterward, he chased Saxton away and told Foley that he wants real competition next week, or what happens will be on Foley’s hands.
Cole and Graves set up the WWE 2k17 commercial, and after Saxton pimped the last chance to pre-order and get Goldberg as a downloadable character.
Backstage, Sasha Banks admired her title when Roman Reigns approached and asked if she was ready. She said she was born ready and ready to have fun. Reigns told her HIAC is anything but fun, but that wasn’t to be worried about tonight. Sasha said she would take care of Charlotte, and Reigns could deal with Rusev.
They ran a Royal Rumble hype video that included classic footage but also noted that Raw and Smackdown talent would compete for one opportunity. They also hyped the return to the Alamodome for this event.
Match #7 – Roman Reigns and Sasha Banks vs. Rusev (w/Lana) and Charlotte
Winner: Reigns and Banks
The Summary: Rusev ordered Charlotte to the corner so he could start the match, but she tagged herself in at the bell. Cole pointed out that there will be definitive winners at HIAC because those matches require either a pinfall or submission to end the match. The faces (if you can call Reigns that) were in control.
Back live, Reigns hit Rusev with a Superman punch to a chorus of boos. Charlotte tagged in and Sasha worked her over. Sasha kicked out of a roll-up and went into the Bank Statement. Reigns speared Rusev to keep him from breaking the submission. Charlotte tapped.
The challengers to each match seem weak here. The fans liked the match and enjoyed it and I’m a bit surprised they didn’t get more time here. I just know over the next couple weeks, especially with both matches scheduled for the Cell, that they need to heat up the heels.
The commentary team recapped earlier show footage which set the stipulation for Jericho vs. Rollins later.
Backstage, Tom Phillips interviewed Jericho and Owens. Owens said it didn’t matter if it was a singles match or a triple threat, he will retain his championship. Jericho said they’re friends, so if one is champion, they both are. Phillips asked Owens why he didn’t save Jericho last week. Owens said that Jericho understands that one member of the team has to stay healthy, so the other had to take the bullet. Phillips got on Jericho’s list.
A fun dynamic to watch play out. I see an eventual turn of one on the other, and it should be good. Owens and Jericho are playing off of each other well.
They showed Paul Heyman backstage, heading to the ring for his promo.
They ran an ad for Smackdown, hyping the return of Luke Harper at No Mercy and Randy Orton and Kane vs. Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper in action. Cole fed it into a recap of the Goldberg appearance on ESPN, saying he owes Lesnar a rematch.
Paul Heyman introduced himself as the advocate for the beast that adorns the cover of the WWE video game. He set up a “most newsworthy preview” and rolled into footage that featured Lesnar and Goldberg.
“So, there it is. Just as you remember him.” Heyman said that for 12 years people have asked what if they could experience that dominance for just one more night. He asked what if there was just one more spear, or Jackhammer. Heyman said whenever a new badass has debuted or someone got on a roll, you’d hear “Goldberg” reverberate around the arena.
The fans chanted Goldberg, and Heyman waited that out. He talked about how many people Goldberg beat, and how they were beaten, victimized, and conquered. He said that you say to yourself that Goldberg’s career ran parallel to Lesnar’s. Heyman said it keeps him up at night that Goldberg is still one up on Lesnar. Heyman said he was authorized to come out and let the WWE universe know that Goldberg is challenged to a fight. “One on one, Beast vs The Myth, Icon vs. Icon.” The fans chanted for Goldberg again.
Heyman said it’s not just the wannabe gangsters and pseudo-Samoans in Oakland, it’s worldwide. Goldberg can listen to the audience and live in the fantasy of the video game and remain the one blemish on Lesnar’s career, or he can get in the ring and be beaten, victimized, and conquered by Lesnar. “In Suplex City, you’re not Goldberg, you’re next.” Heyman said before dropping the mic.
A good promo, but as I said on Twitter this is a spectacle match that I’m not sold that I want to see. I can’t help but go back to that Wrestlemania 20 match that got shat on by the crowd. Circumstances were different then, and this will sell tickets, for sure. Just a matter of time to see when it happens. Goldberg will be on Raw next Monday to address the challenge.
Cole set up shots of Emma making the transformation to Emmalina, and that premieres soon. Brian Kendrick joined the commentary team for the next match. Perkins vs. Kendrick was made official for Hell in a Cell.
Match #8 – TJ Perkins vs. Ariya Daivari
The Summary: They showed an earlier promo from Daivari in his native language and in English. They noted that he is the brother of Shawn Daivari. Perkins offered a handshake that was met with a scowl, but Daivari offered a half-hearted shake.
Kendrick said he was sick of hearing Perkins’ story and said it was no different than any other in the locker room. Fans chanted for Perkins briefly. Late, Daivari threw a couple rolling elbows and a clothesline to get a two count. Perkins avoided a splash, threw a drop kick then locked in the knee bar for the win. Kendrick applauded as Perkins walked up the ramp.
I liked that Daivari got another shot here. He was a one-shot guy in the CWC but he has skills to offer. He’s been around the independents, so here’s hoping he is getting a shot to be a regular on the division. He could slot in as a great heel in the cruiserweight division – he can draw heat walking into the building.
Backstage, Stephanie praised Jericho’s scarf and said she had one like it. Jericho said it looks better on him. Jericho said that the two of them have never had an issue in 17 years, and he removed her name from his list. Steph said she can’t wait to see the look on Shane’s face when the triple threat HIAC match blows away the main event of No Mercy. Steph said that if Jericho and Owens are as good of friends as they say, then he knows what to do. She walked off and Owens showed up. He asked what that was about and Jericho simply replied “Friendship.”
Bill Goldberg tweeted out that he will be on next week’s Raw to respond to Paul Heyman’s challenge.
Match #9 – Seth Rollins vs. Chris Jericho; if Jericho wins he is added to the Universal Title Match inside Hell in a Cell
Winner: Seth Rollins – Hell in a Cell match remains one on one
The Summary: They reiterated that Jericho will get a slot in the Universal Championship match if he wins this. Rollins got early control but Kevin Owens’ music hit. Owens walked out and caused a distraction that let Jericho take control heading to commercial.
Into the overrun that WWE keeps me guessing as to when it will end (our reader poll went live a good 5 minutes before the show ended!), Jericho worked an abdominal stretch to work the bad ribs of Rollins. Cole noted that Goldberg will be live on Raw next week in Denver. Owens shouted encouragement from ringside.
Rollins went top rope looking for a cross body block, but Jericho hit him with a drop kick. Rollins mounted a comeback, and Owens taunted him with the title. Rollins kicked Owens, but Jericho used the Walls of Jericho. Rollins broke it in the ropes.
Rollins hit Owens with a suicide dive on the floor a bit later, and Graves was quick to point out that Rollins could have gone at Jericho but chose to go after Owens with the dive. Rollins hit a springboard knee that it looked like he overshot and got a two count. Rollins went top rope again, but Jericho avoided the splash. Jericho came back with a Lionsault. In the end, Rollins teased the Pedigree, but Jericho avoided it. Jericho went back to his finish, but Rollins countered to a pinning predicament to win.
After, Owens attacked Rollins and yelled “it’s my title, I’m the man.” Rollins avoided a pop up powerbomb and set the Pedigree but Jericho hit him blind side. Rollins hit Jericho with the Pedigree. Owens had a chance to save Jericho but stayed at ringside. The commentary team hyped the Owens vs. Rollins match for Hell in a Cell as well as Goldberg’s appearance next week.
Notable were the cheers for Jericho during the match as it went on. It seems like some fans are waiting for the fun heel to give a reason to cheer. Rollins, well, his babyface run isn’t off to all that hot of a start, so it should be interesting to see all of the dynamics play out. I’m sad that Jericho lost here. I think there were some fun dynamics at play and they can still get to them if they choose. We’ll see if they go back to it.
All in all, WWE gave the fans a reason to stay engaged with this all night and they had a good live crowd as well. The show was newsworthy with all of the match announcements and of course the challenge from Lesnar to Goldberg. They did a good job of advancing stories heading to Hell in a Cell, even if I don’t necessarily agree with the direction of them (I’m looking at you, Mick Foley and your THREE Hell in a Cell matches). Not only that but the tease of a future Lesnar vs. Goldberg match was pretty newsworthy in its own right. It will sell tickets whenever it happens.
Drew Koscelek will be by tomorrow with more on this show and No Mercy in his Around the Ring audio. I’ll be back Wednesday with Ring of Honor coverage and Ring Rap Audio. See you then.