WWE rolls out to the West Coast, making a stop at the Moda Center in Portland, OR tonight. Last week, Brock Lesnar threw down the gauntlet to Goldberg after being embarrassed twice in a row, challenging him to a match at Wrestlemania. Goldberg will be on the show tonight – will he accept Lesnar’s challenge or walk away? Roman Reigns took it to Braun Strowman last week, costing him a chance to win the Universal Championship. Will these two big men clash tonight and decide who goes after Kevin Owens again? And will Owens be happy to escape without having to face either man right now? Also, we will find out the fate of Seth Rollins, who was injured at the hands of Samoa Joe last week at the end of Raw. Is he gone for an extended period of time, or will he return to action quickly and look for vengeance on both Samoa Joe and Triple H?
Show Open, Live from the Moda Center in Portland, OR;
They opened the show by recapping Triple H’s promo from the end of last week’s show, footage of Hunter and Rollins together in the past, as well as footage of Samoa Joe attacking Rollins. Cole, Graves, and Saxton were on the call.
Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley were in the ring at a table. Foley welcomed viewers and said he was introducing the hottest free agent signing. He looked to Steph for approval on how he said it. Foley said he hopes Triple H is happy, but he is not. He introduced Samoa Joe.
Joe made his way to the ring wearing a suit. Graves put him over as one of the baddest men on earth. Graves said Joe might be unstoppable with Triple H pulling the strings. Saxton said that getting Joe on Raw was a huge coup. Steph gave the huge buildup, and noted Joe has held titles all over the world. “Let’s get on with it, Joe. There’s a contract here for you.” Foley said. Steph asked Foley why he wasn’t excited and asked if it was because he didn’t land Joe himself or that she once again had to do his job for him.
Foley said he has been a fan of Joe and pushed for him for a long time. He said he doesn’t particularly care for the way he got the contract or the people he is associating with. Joe got a mic and approached Foley. He said it took him 18 years to stand in a WWE ring. Foley said one man gave him the opportunity. Joe said if loyalty meant beating up Rollins and putting him on the shelf, then so be it.
Joe put the locker room on notice, saying he will choke them out and beat them down all over again once they come to. Joe said the Destroyer has arrived, and there’s nothing Foley can do about it. Joe signed the contract, then Roman Reigns’ music hit and he came to the ring to a chorus of boos.
In the ring, Reigns said he heard Joe talking tough and making threats. Reigns said he was there and told Joe to threaten him. Reigns said he didn’t think they had met before and he introduced himself as the baddest man in WWE. Joe signing meant he was in his yard now. Reigns told him to shut his mouth, or he would cave it in.
Foley said Joe and Stephanie might have loyalty to one man, but as general manager he has loyalty to the fans. Foley said he still makes the matches, and booked Joe vs. Reigns. The fans loved it and cheered as Reigns and Joe jawed at each other off mic. The broadcast team hyped the match, and Joe and Steph left the ring while Reigns’ music played.
Bill Says: This was solid. Foley’s role was done well, and you can’t help but wonder if it’s going to be his dismissal in the works (he is trying to get hip surgery done from what some have said) as a result. Joe was great here, and Reigns played into what he told Undertaker about it being his yard now.
The commentary team hyped Goldberg appearing later to respond to Brock Lesnar’s challenge. They showed Sheamus, Cesaro, and Bayley clowning around and said Bayley vs. Nia Jax was up next.
Bill Says: Why on earth show Bayley clowning when she has a serious opponent up next? Felt off to me.
Match #1 – Bayley vs. Nia Jax;
Winner: Nia Jax
The Reax: Cole pointed out that Charlotte would defend the Raw Women’s Championship against Bayley next week in Las Vegas. Jax controlled the early offense, responding to a Bayley flurry by pushing her head-first into the turnbuckle. Late, Jax followed Bayley to ringside, where she tried a charge but Bayley moved, so Jax collected the ring post instead.
Charlotte came to the ring and argued with the referee. Bayley knocked her off the apron but turned into a Samoan drop from Jax, who scored the win. Charlotte got back in the ring and stood over Bayley with the belt held high.
The match was good, and the finish worked. With the champion causing the distraction finish, it makes a bit more sense to have the challenger lose. Bayley ends up being protected, and Jax still looks like a beast despite the fight Bayley gave. Not bad.
They hyped Chris Jericho vs. Sami Zayn for the US Championship later, and Graves hyped up the tag team championship match. Saxton said the main event of Joe vs. Reigns was “big, marquee main event match.”
Bill Says: Odd that they didn’t hype up Jericho vs. Zayn more. Should be a good match, and this is one I thought they would save for the pay per view.
They ran an ad for Smackdown featuring John Cena vs. Randy Orton as the main event.
Match #2 – Braun Strowman vs. TC Bonus, Rob Kelly, Dusty Wallace and James Stock in a Handicap Match
Winner: Braun Strowman
The Reax: Strowman ended up destroying all four men and stacking three of them up for the pin. He got a mic and yelled at Foley, asking if he thought this was competition. He said he warned him and now he’s coming to find him.
Backstage, Strowman found Foley and said he wants “everyone.” Foley booked Strowman vs. Roman Reigns for Fast Lane. Strowman stormed off.
This was squash match fun, though it felt like a rerun from a couple months ago. Graves threw in a good line where he said anyone facing Strowman should call a priest or reserve a spot in the ER. I’m not high on Strowman vs. Roman at Fast Lane, but I guess that feeds into something else with Joe and Reigns later.
They ran a Black History Month graphic, along with a picture of Aretha Franklin and a quote.
Match #3 – Akira Tozawa vs. Drew Gulak;
Winner: Akira Tozawa
The Reax: Austin Aries was on commentary and put over Tozawa’s German suplex as the best in the industry. Late in this, Tozawa hit some kicks then pinned Drew with a German suplex. After, Brian Kendrick got in the ring and shook Tozawa’s hand.
Tozawa played well to the crowd and got a pretty good reaction as opposed to what other cruiserweights get. Last week on commentary, Brian Kendrick was heelish toward Tozawa in his debut on 205 Live, so it looks like that might be his first program.
They hyped Goldberg appearing later in the show.
Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho came out for a promo. Owens boasted about still being champion despite facing Braun Strowman last week. Jericho put Tom Brady (New England Patriots QB) on his List for stealing “GOAT” (greatest of all time) and called him a stupid idiot.
Jericho pressed the idea of a champion vs. champion match between him and Owens at Wrestlemania. Owens admitted he didn’t know if he could fight his best friend. Cue Goldberg, as his music played and he made his normal entrance to a big reaction.
Goldberg said he’s never turned down a fight, so he accepted Brock Lesnar’s challenge for Wrestlemania. Owens said that was a good choice, and it will be the perfect undercard match for KO Mania II. Owens said Jericho is right and they are the main event. He asked Goldberg if he knew why Owens was the longest running Universal Champion. Goldberg said it’s because he has never faced him. Goldberg says he understands Owens has an open card for Fast Lane, and challenged him.
Jericho scolded Goldberg for interrupting him and Owens while they were “spitting fire.” Jericho asked if Goldberg knew what happened to people who made their own matches. He was going to put him on the list, but Goldberg took the list and wrote something on it before handing it back to Jericho. Goldberg told the fans that he just made the list. Fans chanted for Goldberg and Jericho yelled at them to shut up.
Jericho told Goldberg he has a fat mouth and he has never liked him. He told Goldberg that if he he wants a match at Fast Lane, he’s got it…with Kevin Owens for the WWE Universal Championship. Owens wasn’t happy. Jericho told Owens Goldberg can’t talk to him like that. Goldberg told Owens that he and the title are next.
Bill Says: So, here we go. Looks like it’s going to be Goldberg defeating Owens, then taking the title on to Wrestlemania to drop it…err…defend it against Brock Lesnar. Honestly, the Goldberg/Lesnar feud doesn’t need the belt. And, Owens will go on to face Jericho for the US Championship, assuming all that holds true.
They talked up the Goldberg/Owens match for Fast Lane, then hyped the tag team title match next after break. Graves added hype for Joe vs. Reigns.
Backstage, Owens asked Jericho how he could do that (book the Goldberg match) to him. Jericho told him he always has his back. Owens told him that accepting a match with “that maniac” doesn’t qualify for having his back.
They ran still shots of the Gallows and Anderson victory at Royal Rumble to claim the Raw Tag Team Championship
Match #4 – Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (c) vs. Sheamus and Cesaro; Raw Tag Team Championship
Winner: Gallows and Anderson by DQ
The Reax: Enzo and Big Cass sat in at ringside to watch this one. At some point, Anderson ended up with a bloody nose. Sheamus continued to work on him though, hitting his Ten Beats of the Battern. Cesaro threw forearm shots at Gallows which sent him to the floor. Gallows kicked Enzo, and Cass booted him in return, throwing the match out.
Looks like we’re heading to a triple threat for Fast Lane, at least, between Gallows and Anderson, Sheamus and Cesaro, and Enzo and Cass. Will they go to a bigger match for Wrestlemania? Hard to tell, but they might need to find ways to get people on the show and that would certainly help them out.
Graves hyped an update on Seth Rollins, then Byron Saxton fed it to a Black History Month feature on Jackie Robinson, narrated by Darren Young, Cedric Alexander, Kofi Kingston, Naomi, and Alicia Fox talking about him.
Cole fed it into a replace of the angle between Triple H, Seth Rollins and Samoa Joe which was basically the video package that started the show.
Cole noted that Rollins tore his MCL in the surgically repaired knee and “his participation in Wrestlemania is in serious doubt.” Cole recapped some tweets from Rollins.
Bill Says: I thought they would do more to establish that this was a legitimate injury, but the update was very brief. There are grades of MCL tears (sadly, I’m personally familiar), so that doesn’t do much in terms of establishing a timeline for his return.
New Day did their entrance schitck while the Shining Stars waited in the ring. Big E fed Booty O’s to a fan. He asked what more they could do after giving the fans real cereal. He brought up ice cream, and that drew a pop. Cole hyped them facing the Shining Stars after the break.
Bill Says: I figure CM Punk is kind of over everything WWE, but what would he say to New Day Ice Cream?
Match #5 – Xavier Woods and Big E (w/Kofi Kingston) vs. The Shining Stars;
Winner: New Day
The Reax: They joined it in progress, where Woods was selling for a kick to the face. Big E took the hot tag, hit some belly to belly suplexes then a splash, then he and Woods teamed for the Midnight Hour for the win. It was alright for what it was.
They hyped WWE Network, Elimination Chamber, Fast Lane, and more. Graves noted Goldberg vs. Owens for Fast Lane was official.
Backstage, Charly Caruso talked to Jericho about his issues with Owens and whether that would affect his concentration for his match against Sami Zayn. Jericho called last week a fluke and said best friends have minor disagreements at times. Owens showed up and told Caruso to leave. Jericho assured Owens he had his back. Owens said he knew and it has always worked out. He said he would beat Goldberg and leave as champion because he knows Jericho has his back, just like Jericho will leave Raw as US Champion because he has his back.
Bill Says: Hey, um, couldn’t Owens just say “no” to the match with Goldberg? Why does Jericho agreeing make it happen? I guess the promo here is one more step toward their split. Owens assuring Jericho that he would successfully defend tonight makes me wonder.
They ran a video package to introduce the Rock N Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) as the newest inductees in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Match #6 – Chris Jericho (c, w/Kevin Owens) vs. Sami Zayin; WWE United States Championship
Winner: Chris Jericho to retain the WWE United States Championship
The Reax: JoJo gave the introductions, and Cole noted that all championships will be defended at Wrestlemania this year. Jericho controlled the early action. Zayn rallied with a small package, then hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Graves noted Sami’s career has been defined by close calls and asked if he could win the big one. The fans chanted “this is awesome.”
Zayn went top rope then jumped over a charging Jericho. Zayn tried a DDT but Jericho countered to the Walls. Zayn got to the ropes to break it. Owens got involved, hitting a superkick while Jericho had the official distracted, then Jericho hit the Codebreaker for the win. Jericho and Owens hugged and celebrated.
These two know all of the “it might happen tonight” teases so the earlier drama was fine and the match itself was entertaining. WWE has not gotten much out of the US Championship since Cena did the open challenges, and that’s a shame. This could have been a much bigger deal if they built that up ahead of time.
The commentary team talked about the match, then recapped the Goldberg/Owens/Jericho segment from earlier. Graves hyped Owens vs. Goldberg for the Universal Championship, noting Jericho shown in the background of the graphic. Cole hyped Lesnar vs. Goldberg at Wrestlemania. They showed Samoa Joe warming up backstage for his match with Reigns later in the show.
A trainer tended to Sasha Banks backstage when Charlotte showed up. She said not long ago, people viewed them as equals, but now Sasha is in therapy while she’s rewriting history due to her pay per view streak. Charlotte said she would put Bayley next to her in the trainer’s room. She mocked that she thought Roadblock End of the Line was just a pay per view name, not the end of Sasha’s career.
Austin Aries stood in the ring and said he had secured an interview with Neville. He mentioned Swann’s ankle injury while attacking him last week. Aries announced that there would be a five-way elimination match between TJ Perkins, Tony Nese, Cedric Alexaner, Noam Dar, and Jack Gallagher to see who faces Neville at Fast Lane.
Aries asked Neville who scares him most, and Neville glared back. He said he must be delusional if he thinks anyone in the division scares him. Neville said the outcome would be irrelevant because the winner will be forced to bend a knee and pay respect to the king.
Cedric Alexander came out, then Noam Dar with a mic. He said he thought it would be a good idea to steal the title, like he stole Alicia Fox from Cedric. Gallagher made his entrance and said the king of the cruiserweights should be a gentleman. Tony Nese followed behind with no mic.
TJ Perkins came out last and said he was a past cruiserweight champion and the first. He said he knows what it’s like to win the title and, “spoiler alert, I’m going to do it again.” He said that he and Neville have unfinished business.
Perkins jumped the ring and attacked Neville, and the other wrestlers fought while Aries ducked out. Gallagher worked on Neville with uppercuts and a drop kick, but he got tripped by Dar. Perkins took Dar out then Nese dove on them. Alexander followed with a dive of his own. Neville teased another big dive but didn’t deliver and mocked the crowd.
Bill Says: The upside of this is that they set up a match on 205 Live (Drew will cover that tomorrow night) rather than simply call it the most exciting hour of television. It wasn’t great, but it’s better than what they normally give us for these guys on Raw. And Perkins is still the most arrogant babyface in wrestling.
They hyped the “Makeover of Emma to Emmalina” for next week. Really? You trollin’, bro?
Match #7 – TJ Perkins, Jack Gallagher, and Cedric Alexander vs. Tony Nese, Noam Dar, and Neville;
Winner: Perkins, Gallagher, and Alexander
The Reax: Joined in progress, Graves told Aries he did a great job with the interview, putting him over like it was replacing Nancy Grace with Diane Sawyer. No reply from Aries. Eventually he said he was thinking about Bart Sawyer.
Late, Dar tried to tag Neville in but he dropped off the apron and left to boos. Perkins caught Dar in a small package, but Nese broke it. Dar and Nese yelled at Neville, but Perkins hit the Detonation Kick on Nese, then tagged in Alexander to hit the Lumbar Check for the win.
This was fine, as it set up tomorrow’s match and forwarded the story of Neville walking out on Dar yet again. But, it was what it was.
Backstage, Owens and Jericho were chumming it up. Jericho said they needed to show the world how unbreakable their bond is. He said they need a Festival of Friendship. Jericho called it the Wrestlemania of Friendship and encouraged viewers to not miss it. Owens loved the idea. Cole fed it to footage of Roman Reigns addressing Samoa Joe and hyped their match, up next.
The commentary team hyped Elimination Chamber coming up Sunday for the Smackdown brand, recapping John Cena beating AJ Styles to win the WWE Championship. They aired other Elimination Chamber footage with comments from Booker T, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, Shawn Michaels, and Dolph Ziggler. Cole noted that there will be an all new chamber on Sunday.
Graves hyped the five way elimination match on 205 Live and Cole hyped Bayley vs. Charlotte for next Monday on Raw for the Raw Women’s Championship. Saxton hyped the Festival of Friendship.
Roman Reigns came to the ring for the main event but Samoa Joe jumped him from behind. Joe was in ring gear. He slammed Reigns’ head into the apron, ran him into the barrier then clotheslined him. He ran Reigns into the edge of the ring then got in the ring to a chorus of boos. Reigns sold. Joe went out and worked on him some more and hit a senton then went back in the ring again. The official went to ringside to check on Reigns as Cole questioned if the match would happen.
Match #8 – Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe;
Winner: Samoa Joe
The Reax: Reigns continued to sell the beating, but as soon as the bell rang Joe attacked him. Joe stayed on the offense until Reigns reversed him and threw him to the floor, then followed with a kick. Reigns went out to ringside with him and roughed Joe up before throwing him into the barrier.
Later, Joe caught Reigns with an inverted atomic drop, a big boot and a senton for two. Reigns crawled to the corner and Joe waited on him. Joe took a Samoan drop for two, then Reigns called for the Superman punch. Joe bailed, so Reigns hit the Drive-by kick instead. Reigns tossed Joe in and hit the Superman punch then set up for the spear.
Braun Strowman’s music hit, and he came to the ring. Strowman got on the apron and took two Superman Punches, but Joe used the distraction to throw a kick then a uranage for the three count.
Joe exited, then Strowman attacked Reigns. Some fans chanted “Thank you Strowman” as he attacked. He rammed the top half of the ring steps into Reigns’ face, then picked him up in powerslam position and drove him through the barrier. That drew some holy shit chants as Cole hyped Reigns vs. Strowman for Fast Lane and sent the show home.
Joe needs to look like an unstoppable monster, so I could have done without the Strowman interference. The post match angle was fine, but for some reason I kept watching the ramp for Braun to come lumbering out and that’s not a good thing. I like that Joe got the win and did so “mostly” cleanly but they still could have gotten there without Braun factoring into the finish at all.
All in all, not a bad show though. The past couple weeks haven’t been terrible television and it seems like they’re on their way to setting up at least the Fast Lane matches if not Wrestlemania as well. I can’t say that all of them blow me away at present, but at least it seems like they’re finding a long range plan rather than throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks.
Drew will have more commentary tomorrow, as well as Smackdown and 205 Live coverage tomorrow night. I’ll be back on Wednesday with Ring of Honor and Ring Rap Audio, where Drew and I will preview Elimination Chamber this coming Sunday. See you then.