WWE heads into the Queen City, Charlotte, NC tonight as the road ahead toward Royal Rumble looks to have a Roadblock in front of it. Tonight, two titles are up for grabs. Charlotte will return to her hometown and defend the Raw Women’s Championship against Sasha Banks. The last two times Charlotte defended on Raw, Sasha knocked her off. Will she make it three? Will Nia Jax stick her nose in the match to set up a future rivalry? Also, New Day is set to defend their tag championships against Gallows and Anderson. Will the numbers game make a difference yet again? Will Gallows and Anderson derail the New Day’s goal of breaking the 478 day title run of Demolition?
Show Open, Live from the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC:
We got a recap of Owens vs. Rollins from last week that ended with Jericho’s interference. Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton checked in for the call.
Chris Jericho was in the ring for a Highlight Reel segment, and he introduced Kevin Owens as his guest. Cole noted that Jericho defied last week’s match stipulation by interfering. Owens and Jericho confirmed that Owens was the first person to be a guest on the Highlight Reel two weeks in a row.
Owens made fun of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and he and Jericho called themselves a superior breed of human called Canadians. He said they had their Thanksgiving last month and “Canadians are always ahead of the curve.” That drew a USA chant. Owens said he was thankful for being “your” Universal Champion, being the face of Raw, and his best friend Jericho. They hugged.
Jericho said he is thankful for their friendship, his “wicked rad” scarf, and for Seth Rollins proving what happens when you let your ego and pride take over your life. He said Rollins proved he is the epitome of a stupid idiot and claimed he didn’t interfere in the match last Monday. “That wasn’t Chris Jericho wearing a Sin Cara mask, it was clearly Sin Cara wearing a Chris Jericho mask.”
Jericho said Sin Cara got the mask of Jericho and “he put it on, maaannn…” Owens said Rollins wasn’t medically cleared to appear on Raw after the powerbomb to the apron, which drew boos. Roman Reigns’ music hit, and he got his normal mixed reaction as he came to the ring. Cole noted that Jericho and Owens blamed Reigns for the Team Raw loss at Survivor Series.
Owens got tied up as he asked Reigns if he called him being a champion a joke. Owens said it’s a joke that Reigns calls himself the guy. Reigns defended that to boos, then called Owens “just a guy” who needs help. Reigns said he needs help with everything. “I don’t need Chris Jericho, buddy,” Owens said and that drew a look from Jericho.
Reigns told Owens that he would have lost the title several times had it not been for Jericho’s help. Jericho stopped Reigns and asked if he knew what happened when he insults his best friend. He held up a pen and started to ask again.
Owens cut him off and told Jericho to shut up, which drew a shocked and hurt look from Jericho. Owens said that Reigns can’t talk to him like that. Reigns asked what Owens was going to do. Owens said he would powerbomb Reigns like he did to Rollins last week. Reigns said that was the Owens he was looking for, and he didn’t want “Joke Owens Joke.”
Reigns issued a challenge to Owens for a match, and said if he wins he gets “another opportunity” at Roadblock. Audible groans. Owens said Reigns would get his fight and Jericho sold shock. Reigns issued a spoiler: “By the end of this episode, I’m going to be kicking your ass.”
Cole said the match would have to be confirmed by Mick Foley. Graves said that there was no way Reigns would beat Owens to earn a “title opportunity” at Roadblock. Saxton hyped Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte, and Cole noted that he talked to Paul Heyman earlier and Goldberg would be interested in what Heyman had to say.
Bill Says: As I noted before, local advertising has been hyping Reigns vs. Owens for Roadblock, so I suppose this is how we get there. I was glad to see Reigns get the chance to speak rather than be cut off. How can one improve on the mic if they don’t get the chance to talk? Putting Reigns back in the title hunt right now doesn’t feel right though – and some in the live crowd agreed by groaning. He looked a bit like a dope here, and really came off as a bit of a dick for going after the title that Rollins got screwed out of repeatedly. Jericho’s shock and reactions to being told to shut up should be an ongoing story on this show.
Backstage, Jericho questioned Owens on why he told him to shut up. Owens wasn’t interested in dealing with it, but Jericho pressed. Owens told Jericho that he thinks he’s helping, but he isn’t. Jericho said he didn’t need Owens as his best friend. Foley showed up to confirm Owens vs. Reigns and said it was for the title. Jericho told him to forget punishing him. Jericho said he was over this and “out of here.”
Bill Says: Is it a title match tonight, or does the title match hang in the balance? My guard is up for Jericho interference again in this match, but perhaps it won’t be successful this time.
Match #1 – Braun Strowman vs. R-Truth (w/Goldust);
Winner: Braun Strowman
The Summary: They recapped Strowman roughing up Sami Zayn last week as Strowman destroyed Truth with a powerslam. After, Goldust hit the ring and threw strikes, but Strowman locked him in a bear hug. Zayn ran out and locked Strowman in a sleeper, but Strowman threw him off. Strowman tied Zayn up in a tree of woe and worked on him until referees ran out to stop him. “Stop, stop it Braun” yelled Foley as he walked out.
I can’t deny that WWE is getting the booking of Strowman right so far. Will he live up to all of this? Hard to say. But right now, having him wipe out undercard wrestlers and engage in destroying Zayn until he (hopefully) gets his revenge in the future makes sense.
Saxton interviewed Mick, who said Sami won’t quit and needed to be saved from himself. Zayn said he needed to be saved from Foley. He accused Mick of taking orders from above him and forgot who he is and where he’s from. Foley got worked up and said he made the match, then said Zayn was being punished for failing to win the Intercontinental Championship. Foley said he was being destroyed, not punished.
Zayn asked Foley how many times he was told he couldn’t do something. Zayn said Foley was a hero to all the people, and now he doesn’t think he is looking at a hero, but just a guy standing in the way. Zayn called Foley a hypocrite and left.
Backstage, Dana Brooke entered Charlotte’s locker room and said she was planning a homecoming celebration. Charlotte said she would cement her legacy as the greatest female superstar of all time, and she would give her people hope in their meaningless lives. She told Brooke to prepare for the celebration.
Bill Says: The hometown fans were a bit too worked up and wooing to even really care about Charlotte’s insult. I do hope that they’re not planning another title swap tonight. I don’t care which woman (Charlotte or Sasha) holds it, but I don’t want them to play hot potato with the title either. I just feel like it defines the title down.
205 Live starts tomorrow night. Not sure who has coverage, but we’ll have something for you.
Match #2 – Cedric Alexander vs. Tony Nese (w/Drew Gulak);
Winner: Tony Nese
The Summary: Alexander got a good reaction because he’s from there. Alicia Fox was shown watching from backstage and being smitten by Alexander. Cole finally referred to the two seemingly flirting last week. Late, Alexander knocked Gulak off the apron but turned into a rough looking pump handle slam from Nese for the win.
This wasn’t long term heat for Nese – it was just fluky ‘pest heel wins’ heat. We’ve said all along that we want to see character development in the cruiserweights, but this didn’t seem to click with me. I thought they could have gone with Alexander getting the crowd pleasing win in front of his hometown fans as the babyface here as the more effective move.
They showed Enzo and Cass pimping merchandise, then Cole hyped the main event. After a break, they showed a graphic that hyped WWE as number one on YouTube. They then recapped the Highlight Reel segment.
Jericho was walking with his luggage backstage when Charly Caruso approached him. She asked if it was serious this time. Jericho said it was, and he thought Owens was his best friend but now he’s not so sure. He said if Owens didn’t need him, then he doesn’t need Owens. Jericho walked on and the driver opened the door of the limo. The door knocked the list out of his hand, and Jericho called the driver a stupid idiot.
Seth Rollins attacked Jericho from behind. Rollins threw a piece of barricade at Jericho, who moved. The barricade glanced off a car. Rollins slammed Jericho into a car, then dragged him up on the roof and hit him with a Pedigree.
Bill Says: They are going all out to tell us that Jericho will be a non-factor in the main event tonight. I’m guessing there’s a segment that hopes he still does show up so that Reigns is screwed out of a possible title match, though.
The Women’s Championship match was up after a recap of the Rollins/Jericho brawl.
Match #3 – Charlotte (c, w/Dana Brooke) vs. Sasha Banks; Raw Women’s Championship
Winner: Double Count-Out, Charlotte Retains
The Summary: JoJo gave us in-ring introductions for this one. Sasha got the Bank Statement in the early going which Charlotte broke in the ropes. Dana Brooke was on the apron, and took a kick from Sasha. Sasha continued to rough her up at ringside. Charlotte regained control and worked over Sasha until both women were counted out. On commentary, they sold it as that was the result that Charlotte wanted.
Mick Foley appeared again, saying he wouldn’t allow the rivalry to end like that. He said they have transcended Raw, the division, and WWE. He said their final match deserved to end in more than a count-out, then said the match would restart as a no-count out, no disqualification, falls count anywhere match.
The live crowd liked the announcement. The problem here is that if this is their final match, WWE should have hyped this up and spent some time focusing on that if indeed they’re sincere that this is the last match between them for now. I’m betting that now with the stipulations, Nia Jax gets involved to set up Sasha vs. Nia going forward.
Graves hyped Reigns vs. Owens for later.
Lana made her appearance and introduced Rusev as “the only man who can have her.” Rusev made his entrance. They recapped the angle from last week where Enzo got caught outside his locker room naked, then Rusev destroying him in a match.
Enzo and Cass came out and did their entrance routine. Enzo said that Rusev won because it was the luckiest day of his life last week. He compared it to the Cubs winning the World Series. He said it coincided with his wife’s luckiest day, because she got to see the realest guy in the room in his realest form, and “she knows how I’m doin.” Cass did the “how you doin'” bit as they listed down what Rusev and Lana had for Thanksgiving. Enzo said Lana spent the meal thinking about a certified G stuffing her turkey.
Bill Says: There are a lot of “Certified G’s” out there thinking about stuffing Lana’s turkey…’how you doin’?”
Match #4 – Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Enzo Amore (w/Big Cass);
Winner: Enzo Amore by disqualification
The Summary: Graves cracked that the G in Certified G stands for “glutton for punishment.” Enzo ran into a kick at the bell, then Rusev jawed at him and kicked him in the Certified D for the DQ. Cass jumped the ring and Rusev fled to ringside, where he barked that Enzo should never talk like that about his wife.
No Mick Foley to restart this later? I guess he’s okay with a kick to the nuts. This feud isn’t working for me right now. I see it as a means to get Cass over eventually, but right now it feels clunky.
Saxton hyped the tag title match for later, and Graves hyped Rich Swann vs. Noam Dar coming up.
There was a Smackdown ad hyping an Ambrose Asylum segment featuring James Ellsworth and American Alpha vs. Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton to determine the Number 1 Contender to the tag titles.
They talked to Mark Henry about his role in the movie Incarnate, and they showed clips of him in the movie. They asked him about working with Aaron Eckhart. Titus O’Neil showed up and complained that the role was to be his. Henry tried walking away but Titus grabbed him. Henry shoved him down and asked if he was out of his mind.
Brian Kendrick joined the commentary team for the cruiserweight match.
Match #5 – Rich Swann vs. Noam Dar
Winner: Rich Swann
The Summary: Swann danced his way to the ring, pointing at Kendrick. He can get down! Dar got no reaction and his finger was taped up. Kendrick called Dar “a great kid, but is more concerned about having his hair right.
Cole pointed out that Kendrick seemed on edge. Kendrick said the cruiserweights have a new platform thanks to him. The commentary team said that Swann might have Kendrick’s number. Dar got in a good set of offense, then blocked Swann’s rolling thunder attempt. Swan came back with a great kick that the crowd popped for and scored the win.
After, Graves interviewed Swann about facing Kendrick. Swann addressed Kendrick. “Is that Brian Kendrick that I spy in my eye?” He asked if Kendrick was playing mind games and said Kendrick was doubting himself because Swann has beaten him twice now. Swann said the third time would be sweeter because he would be the new cruiserweight champion. “And why? Because you can’t handle this!”
This was good. Kendrick played up being agitated over Swann’s success, and Swann hit that great kick for the win. The promo was good, but would have been better if the crowd were more engaged. They enforced the story of the title match going into the premiere of 205 Live tomorrow night, even if it didn’t make things “must see.”
Cole hyped interviewing Paul Heyman, where Heyman called Brock Lesnar a victim.
The commentary team talked about how New Day is 16 days short of Demolition’s 478 day title reign. They added that Stephanie and Mick are not making it easy on them, and recapped footage of New Day beating Cesaro and Sheamus last week with a bit of cheating. Saxton justified it by noting the old saying of “by hook or by crook.”
Sheamus was at the bar, and the bartender spoke about Gallows and Anderson. Cesaro joined him, and the two men agreed that they are too different to be able to work as a team. They started arguing, then a big guy approached and welcomed Sheamus to America before mocking his hair and name. Cesaro tried to keep Sheamus calm, but another guy compared them to the Village People. He burped in Cesaro’s face, then he and Sheamus agreed to fight. They roughed up bar patrons and left them laying. Sheamus got behind the counter and declared it an open bar. He and Cesaro toasted as music played.
That was fine for what it was. Felt really cheesy though. Hopefully this means the bickering is over for good between them. Either run with them as a team, or have them go their own ways for singles pushes.
The commentary team hyped the main event.
Match #6 – Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns; if Reigns wins he gets a future title match
Winner: Roman Reigns
The Summary: Reigns of course was booed as he made his entrance. They managed to find four kids cheering him to show on camera. Owens jumped Reigns before the bell. The official checked on him and helped him up before starting the match. Owens took early control as Cole noted that Reigns might get a championship opportunity out of this.
Bill Says: Gotta love corporate speak. Why not just call it a title shot?
Reigns fought back after a break, but Owens cut him off with a kick and a DDT. Owens mocked Reigns’ war cry then hit a cannonball as dueling chants for Roman got going. Owens controled Reigns with a chinlock and yelled about his hair being greasy. Owens kept jawing, telling Reigns to go back to playing football or whatever he was doing.
Reigns started another comeback. They traded shots to “yay” “boo” cheers, then Reigns hit a Samoan Drop for two. Reigns set up for the spear but Owens rolled out. Reigns went after him and hit a Drive By. Owens hit a kick of his own and got a two count back in the ring.
Owens went top rope but Reigns cut him off with a punch. Reigns hit the Superman punch to knock Owens off the ropes. Reigns went out to the floor and hit Owens with another Superman punch from the steps. He fed Owens in and tried for the spear, but Owens threw a kick. Owens ran the ropes but ended up taking a spear, and Roman won clean.
This was fine, but I still have this feeling that it’s too soon to re-insert Reigns into the main event picture. I’d rather see him build up some equity with fans by having some good US Championship defenses before going back to the main title. Speaking of, because they haven’t done a thing with it since Reigns won it, I can’t even say I’m interested in what happens to the US title if Reigns were to beat Owens for the Universal Championship.
The commentary team hyped WWE Network as well as the tag and women’s championship matches to come, as well as Cole’s interview with Paul Heyman coming up next.
After a Smackdown ad, Kevin Owens took exception to being interviewed. He said the only reason Reigns beat him is that his head wasn’t in the match because of what Seth Rollins did to Chris Jericho.
The commentary team set up Cole’s interview with Paul Heyman. They recapped Goldberg beating Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series.
Cole’s interview with Heyman aired. Cole asked what happened, and the unkept Heyman said they screwed up and took Goldberg lightly. Heyman called Goldberg a relic. He said they thought it would be the easiest payday of Lesnar’s career, but Goldberg cracked Lesnar’s rib with a spear right from the start. “If you can’t breathe, you can’t fight.”
Cole asked how Lesnar is dealing with it. “Like you care,” Heyman cracked. He said broken ribs are a part of the game, and wiping tears from his eyes he said injuries are a part of the game. He talked about embarrassment and humiliation, and said it will be in the history books that Lesnar lost in one minute and 26 seconds. “This is embarrassing and it has put Brock in the mindset that he has something to prove, which scares me.”
Heyman said it can destroy a person or drive them to greater heights. Heyman said he doesn’t think we’ve seen this side of Lesnar before. Cole asked what was next. Heyman said if Goldberg is in the Royal Rumble, then Brock Lesnar is in the Rumble also. He said there can only be room for one winner, one conqueror, 28 losers, and a victim named Goldberg.
Bill Says: Unique. I liked the way that Heyman framed the loss and Lesnar’s eventual mindset coming out of it. I was a bit irritated with how Cole shifted right into New Day’s announcement. The Lesnar entrance to the Rumble should have been a show stopper that the commentary team put over as a big deal and addressed thoroughly, but they just kind of moved past it into the New Day situation. Disappointing and ridiculous.
We got another Emmalina teaser, and she’s still “premiering soon.”
New Day made their entrance. They cut a promo about breaking Demolition’s title streak and beating Sheamus and Cesaro last week. Gallows and Anderson’s entrance cut them off.
Match #7 – New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods, c, w/Kofi Kingston) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson; Raw Tag Team Championship
Winner: New Day to retain the Raw Tag Team Championship
The Summary: Anderson clotheslined Woods to start, while Gallows kicked Big E to the floor. The heels focused on Woods, with Gallows standing over him going to a break.
Big E tagged in to hit three straight suplexes on Anderson. He took a boot for a near fall. E followed up with his big shoulder block through the ropes and he and Anderson spilled to the floor. Later, Gallows slammed E, who rolled out. In the end, Woods rolled Anderson up and held the tights to score the win.
When E hit that dive through the ropes, he sort of rolled over and took the floor bump on his back, which was good to see. He always crashes and burns head first on that thing and it makes me nervous. Gallows and Anderson came off looking like badasses even though they lost here, and it’s a shame they didn’t do this previously because the other run they had with New Day was filled with terrible comedy. New Day cheating with the pulling of the tights here came off like turnabout being fair play here, so it didn’t seem to be out of place like last week’s interjection did.
Bayley talked to Sasha backstage, and said she knows she will beat Charlotte. Bayley brought up what happened at Survivor Series, and Sasha cut her off, saying it’s not about her or Bayley. She noted Charlotte told her own father that he was jealous of her. Sasha said she was dedicating this win to Ric Flair himself. She said she would become a three-time champion and Bayley wished her luck.
Bill Says: PLEASE, NO!! That means another rematch, and this feud without end continues. Again, it’s nothing against the women or their work which has generally been very good, it’s just an overexposed story now.
Match #8 – Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks; Raw Women’s Championship, no disqualification, no count-out, falls count anywhere rules;
Winner: Sasha Banks to win the Raw Women’s Championship
The Summary: No Dana Brooke this time around. Graves said the rules weren’t fair because the title doesn’t change hands on a double count-out. Cole plugged Raw in Austin, TX next week. Sasha hit a drop kick that sent Charlotte to ringside, then she followed with a cross body block through the ropes. A bit later, they hit the double clothesline spot and both women sold going to a break.
Out of break, Charlotte worked a leg scissor in the ring. Charlotte set up her finish shortly after, but Sasha kicked her off and hit a double knee stomp. Charlotte stood up and Sasha nailed her with double knees in the corner. Charlotte threw a kick, and the two ended up on the apron. They traded chops that Sasha got the better of, but she ate a big boot that sent her to the floor.
Charlotte covered at ringside for two, and Cole reminded us of the rules. Charlotte hit Natural Selection off the steps for another two, and Cole reminded us Charlotte won the title back at Hell in a Cell with that move.
Sasha got a kendo stick out and wore Charlotte out with it, which drew some ECW chants. Charlotte hit a neckbreaker to take back control. She locked on the Figure Eight out on the floor, but Sasha grabbed the kendo stick and beat Charlotte with it to break the hold. The fans chanted that it was awesome.
They fought to the stage with Charlotte landing chops and kicks and Sasha firing back with punches. Charlotte ripped apart the announce table and threw the monitors. Sasha punched her, but Charlotte threw her on the table then kicked her off the stage. Charlotte got up on the table and hit a moonsault to the floor on Sasha in a big spot, covering for a near fall. Charlotte sold frustration.
Charlotte sent Sasha face first to the ramp then dragged her back to the ring. She picked Sasha up and yelled at a cameraman to move but Sasha slipped away and ran Charlotte into the ring post. Sasha used a backdrop then got on the barricade and hit a knee press into a pinning predicament.
Sasha went back to the kendo stick and hit Charlotte with it a couple times. They fought into the crowd and up the stairs, and Sasha slammed Charlotte off a handrail. She wedged Charlotte between the railing, hit several knees, then locked her in the Bank Statement. Charlotte tapped out.
Ric Flair’s music hit, and he came out to the ring. Flair raised Sasha’s arm and hugged her, then bowed and high-fived her. Charlotte was in the stands crying and upset while Sasha celebrated to end the show.
This was a really intense match that I felt capped the show well. At first I found myself begging that they wouldn’t switch the title again, but I’m not as down on this as I thought I would be. The ladies worked incredibly hard – arguably harder than their Hell in a Cell effort – and the match worked with the live crowd. I do hope, however, that these two don’t get back together anytime soon. This feud in and of itself is overexposed (much like Cena vs. Orton was in years past), though they do put on entertaining work when they’re together.
We’ll see what this means for Nia Jax and Bayley going forward. I would love to see Sasha migrate to being a heel, which I feel is more natural to her persona as The Boss, and it would make sense to go to Bayley next in that case. We’ll see where they go from here.
A good show tonight. I am dead tired – my cat kept me up most of the night and I got maybe 3 hours of sleep in the past 24 hours (cats are assholes, people…lol), so this show from that perspective felt like a marathon. But, we got a solid main event from the women, a decent match from Owens and Reigns, and a good follow-up from Paul Heyman on the Brock Lesnar situation. We’re into the holiday seasons now, so we’ll see if WWE can keep giving us some solid content every week heading to Roadblock.
Drew will have more on this show tomorrow, and he and I will talk Raw, ROH Final Battle, and more on Ring Rap Audio later this week. Thanks for following along.