It’s go-home week as Raw rolls into dairy country and Green Bay, WI tonight at the Resche Center for the final show before the FastLane pay per view. Seth Rollins is going to address his injuries tonight. Is he going to make it back for Wrestlemania? Will he be facing Triple H, or will it be Samoa Joe? Roman Reigns is looking for a measure of revenge on Braun Strowman, but it doesn’t seem like he can get it. Will Reigns finally knock the big man down, or will Strowman continue to hold the edge on him? Goldberg is looking to take Kevin Owens’ Universal Championship on Sunday, but Owens is a different man now that he took Chris Jericho out of the mix. Will Owens stand tall – or will Goldberg make his presence known?
Show Open, Live from the Resche Center in Green Bay, WI:
Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton checked in for the call and we immediately got Goldberg’s entrance. He walked through the backstage area in street clothes then did his normal entrance. The commentary team hyped the FastLane match with Kevin Owens.
The fans chanted for him after the music stopped and he thanked them. He said Kevin Owens did what he does best last week – talk, talk, and talk. He said he wasn’t going to do that, and said he was in a good mood because he’s six days out. He said he never made a promise he didn’t keep.
Goldberg promised it would be a spear, a jackhammer, and 1-2-3 with him becoming Universal Champion. He said he would take it to Wrestlemania and defend it against Brock Lesnar. Goldberg promised to his wife, son, everyone at home, and Kevin Owens that he would deliver. “I’ll see you Sunday,” Goldberg said.
Kevin Owens’ music played and he walked to the ring wearing a suit and carrying the title belt. Fans booed him. Owens said he made himself a promise when he came to WWE in that he would grab the company by the throat and make them see what he’s all about. He recalled beating John Cena, Dean Ambrose, and AJ Styles along the way. Goldberg golf-clapped at the names. Owens said he beat Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns and wouldn’t mention what he did to Chris Jericho because he doesn’t matter.
Owens said that no matter how much the fans chant for Goldberg, he’s next. Owens said he wasn’t saying it in the same cute way Goldberg does. “I’m telling you right here, right now, that you, Bill Goldberg, are next in the evolution of Kevin Owens as Universal Champion.” Goldberg clapped and said everyone should give him a hand for a moving speech. He called it entertaining, yet it pissed him off. Goldberg asked why wait until Sunday, but Owens said he doesn’t speak Neanderthal well.
Owens teased the idea of a fight but paused. “Wait, Green Bay? Green Bay doesn’t deserve to see me fight.” Owens said they would fight Sunday, and he would stand over him still Universal Champion. Owens said the Goldberg chants will die Sunday and dropped the mic and left. Owens’ music played, but Goldberg played to the fans in the ring.
Bill Says: They went heavy-handed with the promises from Goldberg that it seems that’s what’s going to happen. It’s really not a bad thing, since a lot of fans want to experience history and having Goldberg win would be historic after a 12-year absence. I think I might have saved the Owens character shift for after FastLane, personally, but I’m not hating the actual work he’s putting out there.
Graves hyped an interview with Seth Rollins for later, and backstage New Day was clowning around. Saxton said they were getting ready for action.
Saxton thanked the artist that did the FastLane song, and New Day got their entrance. Cole noted that they will host Wrestlemania in 34 nights. New Day cut a promo, saying the fans should be concerned with what’s in their bowl. They got in the ring and Kofi said the fans want ice cream. They didn’t get much reaction to that. They said they had to take the shine off of the Shining Stars, whose music interrupted.
Someone handed Woods a red card, and Woods apologized to Primo and Epico. They said they wouldn’t be facing them, but they would be facing Big Show. Rusev and Jinder Mahal came out.
Bill Says: Someone give New Day the hook! The Oscars reference bombed.
Match #1 – Big E and Xavier Woods (w/Kofi Kingston) vs. Jinder Mahal and Rusev (w/Lana);
Winner: New Day
The Reax: New Day controlled going into the break. Back after commercial, Lana and Kofi argued so that drew Rusev to ringside. Woods rolled up Jinder in the ring for the victory. Mahal and Rusev argued.
The fans were more into the match than they were the New Day mic work prior to the match. I hate to say it, New Day has gone completely stale now.
The commentary team hyped Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte and Dana Brooke for later.
They showed the Bart Starr statue outside the arena. They recapped Enzo and Cass beating Sheamus and Cesaro to earn a title shot. Bacsktage, Enzo and Cass talked about winning the titles. Enzo said he wouldn’t take the belt off. Cass said Gallows and Anderson have won titles all over the world, while they haven’t done it yet. He mentioned something about facing Gallows later.
Sheamus and Cesaro talked about not getting the shot. Cesaro said something about crap smelling, and Samoa Joe entered the picture (not really related, just bad timing). Joe said it had been a long time since he saw Cesaro and said it was still the same thing of him trying to figure things out. Sheamus stepped up, but Cesaro said he could always handle Joe. Cesaro called Joe the same backstabber as always. Cesaro said Joe is carrying Triple H’s jock. Joe said it’s clever, and wished him luck in doing more clever things, as it had worked for him so far.
Elsewhere, Steph talked to someone in production when Mick Foley entered. She called Foley a legend and talked about his ear and how it shows the lengths Foley would go to. She said it’s not the Mick Foley she has now, and noted that Triple H ended Foley’s in-ring career 17 years ago. She said she wouldn’t apologize for that, and Hunter seems to get stronger every year while Foley gets weaker. Steph said Foley doesn’t measure up to Hunter or even his own expectations. She told him he was getting even more pathetic and can’t stand up to anyone or anything, when he can’t even stand.
Bill Says: Joe and Cesaro was a fun throwback moment, but only for those of us who know their ROH history. Casuals probably didn’t get the references. Steph is a great mean girl, I suppose. Look for her and Hunter to re-form the Authority at some point – if I had to guess.
They hyped AJ Styles vs. Luke Harper on Smackdown via an ad.
Match #2 – Akira Tozawa vs. Noam Dar (w/Alicia Fox):
Winner: Akira Tozawa
The Reax: Aries on commentary as normal. They recapped Kendrick talking about how he tried to take Tozawa under his wing, then taught him a lesson on 205 Live last week. They also booked Dar vs. Rich Swann for the FastLane Kickoff Show. Tozawa controlled the opening minute until Fox created a distraction. Dar got some moves in, but Tozawa came back with a suicide dive. He hit his snap German suplex to win.
Afterward, Aries excused himself and said he was working on a scoop. Kendrick attacked Tozawa from behind then grabbed a mic and said that was lesson number three. He said when the match is over, it’s not over. “I hope you’re learning your lessons.” Cole said he would find out the next lesson in a kickoff show match on Sunday.
I liked the showing from Tozawa here yet again. He got the fans to rally behind him and that’s saying something, since the crowd hasn’t been reacting to the babyfaces of the division very well. Part of that issue is how they’re booked, of course.
Samoa Joe crossed paths with Mick Foley. “What’s wrong Mick not having a nice day?” Foley said he has not had a nice day or a nice run as general manager. He talked about how he was Joe’s biggest fan at one point but now he’s just Triple H’s puppet. Joe denied, but Foley asked him what he would call it. Joe said no one tells him what to do. Foley said he would tell him what to do as long as he is general manager, and booked him against Cesaro for later in the show.
Bill Says: Now that’s something I want to see.
Charlotte came to the ring with Dana Brooke. Cole made note that she is 16-0 in pay per view matches. In the ring, Charlotte said she thought Bayley would do the right thing, but just proved what a selfish person she is. Charlotte said she knew this all along and Bayley should have won an Academy Award. She said Bayley can’t help it because she’s normal and average like the fans are. She said Bayley didn’t care that Sasha Banks cheated, it was good enough for “just Bayley.” Charlotte called Bayley a one-hit wonder and ran through a list that included Brett Favre, the cast of Twilight, and “your quarterback (referring to Aaron Rodgers).”
Bayley came to the ring, and Cole defended her actions last week in not turning over the title. “There she is, the cheater herself.” Bayley said the words she was looking for was Bayley the champion. “This one hit wonder defeated you three times.” She added that she knows she made the right decision to keep the title last week thanks to the fans. She pointed to the Wrestlemania sign and said her dream is to walk in as the Raw Women’s Champion.
Charlotte said she’s tired of hearing about Bayley’s dreams. She said she would buy Bayley’s dad a front row ticket so she could watch her crush Bayley’s dreams. Sasha Banks came out and told Charlotte that Bayley is everything she wishes she was and everything the fans want. Bayley is more deserving of the championship than Charlotte will ever be. Sasha said she didn’t know why they were still talking when they have a match. Charlotte said Dana Brooke is not her partner. Nia Jax made her entrance for the match.
Bill Says: There’s an awful lot of posturing and explaining here to try and justify the Bayley title run. Whether you agree or disagree with her winning, or how it got done, the fact is clear: If she wins clean, there’s ZERO posturing to make it all make sense.
Match #3 – Bayley (c) and Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax and Charlotte (w/Dana Brooke);
Winner: Jax and Charlotte
The Reax: Bayley took out Brooke with a Bayley to Belly at ringside. Jax controlled Sasha in the corner, which led to a run of heel offense before Bayley got the hot tag. She sent Charlotte over the ropes with a clothesline but didn’t see her tag to Jax. Bayley locked in a sleeper, but Jax threw her off. She caught Sasha off the ropes and slammed her on Bayley then hit a leg drop for the win.
This looked good for Nia, and likely built the case for her to be involved in a title match at some point (four way at Wrestlemania, anyone?) but it didn’t help Bayley much. She’s got nothing going at the moment as champion, which could change if she got a clean legit win over Charlotte in the rematch Sunday.
Graves hyped the Rollins interview for later.
Backstage, Foley told Braun Strowman that he couldn’t give him competition. Strowman said he wanted a contract for his match with Roman Reigns at FastLane and wanted to make sure Roman wouldn’t run. Foley said he didn’t think Reigns would run, and offered the contract signing. He told Strowman not to blame him if it didn’t turn out the way he thought it would. Strowman said he wanted the contract or else.
Bill Says: That speaks to Reigns getting the better of Strowman tonight. I would rather see Strowman suckering Reigns into a bad situation instead in this case. I mean, it seems silly to have a contract signing just to “keep Reigns from running away.”
They hyped up Cass vs. Gallows for next.
Match #4 – Luke Gallows (w/Karl Anderson) vs. Big Cass (w/Enzo Amore);
Winner: Big Cass
The Reax: Enzo and Cass did their entrance gimmick and it was well received. Cass came back after some Gallows offense with a fallaway slam then hit a sidewalk slam and the Empire Elbow. Anderson caused a distraction but Enzo ran him into the steps. Cass hit a big boot for the win.
The defining down of Gallows and Anderson continues. They got roughed up by Reigns by himself for the previous two weeks, now Gallows lost clean to Cass. What a shame. These guys are so much better than this.
The commentary team hyped FastLane and WWE Network. Cole said that first time subscribers should wait until Thursday so they can get Wrestlemania as a part of their trial. They hyped the Reigns and Strowman contract signing.
They showed footage from WWE’s Facebook page of Titus O’Neil trying to team up with Sheamus as “The Irish Connection.” Sheamus wasn’t interested and tried to walk off, but Titus got offended. Sheamus shoved him over a catering table.
Match #5 – Sheamus vs. Titus O’Neil;
The Reax: Titus attacked before the bell, roughing Sheamus up at ringside. The official separated them, checked on Sheamus, and called for the bell. Sheamus threw a quick Brogue Kick to win.
Saxton hyped up Joe vs. Cesaro, saying they traveled similar roads and shared battles over the course of their career, but this is their first Raw meeting. Graves said Rollins would be watching like a hawk, and Rollins would be sitting down with him after the break.
Corey Graves was in the ring and he set up a video package focusing on the Triple H / Seth Rollins feud and including Samoa Joe attacking him. Rollins suffered a legit knee injury in the angle. Graves introduced him, and Rollins made his way to the ring with a crutch and wearing a knee brace. Graves hugged him once he got to the ring.
Rollins said the MCL tear was more serious than originally thought, and the rehab is intense. “It is what it is.” Graves asked where his head was. Rollins said it’s tricky, paused, and said it sucks. He said he felt the same snap in his knee and laid in a hospital bed wondering if he deserved it. Graves asked what he meant, and Rollins said two years ago he held the title over his head at Wrestlemania.
Rollins said he’s been asking himself what he sacrificed for that and if it was worth it. He recalled telling the fans he bought in and didn’t sell out. He said he should have known better when it came to Triple H stabbing him in the back. He noted his “redesign, rebuild, reclaim” catchphrase and said it was supposed to be about him being better, and somewhere along the way he lost sight of that. Graves said that according to Hunter and Joe, Rollins will be missing Wrestlemania. He asked Rollins what he had to say, and Rollins stammered before saying it’s not looking great. Rollins said it doesn’t look like doctors will clear him in time for Wrestlemania.
Cue Triple H. He came to the ring with a smile on his face, and mockingly introduced Rollins. He said he knows the fans won’t believe it because the fans think he’s heartless, but he said it was good to see Rollins. “Oh, and you know Joe, right,” while motioning to Joe who followed him out. Joe was standing at the floor as Hunter got on the ring apron.
Hunter said the answer is that Rollins won’t be at Wrestlemania. Hunter says if Rollins knows what’s good for him, he won’t be there regardless of what anyone tells him. Hunter asked if he was just coming to the realization that he deserves it. Hunter said Rollins knew what he was getting into from the start. “I made you, man.” Hunter said he made him the champion. He said Rollins shoved it in everyone’s face and told them he was the man. Joe had made his way to the apron.
Hunter said he did that for Rollins but Rollins bit the hand that feeds him. Hunter mocked the fans for saying he used Rollins and spit him out. “So frickin what?” Hunter told Rollins directly that he used him up and spit him out. “Get over it.” He said Rollins profited along the way. “I used to tell the whole world that you were the future, but now you’re the past.” Hunter called him another washed up, beat up superstar. Hunter told him to salvage what was left, and not to come to Wrestlemania and call him out. He said he is done playing with Rollins and warning him. Hunter swore that if Rollins showed up and called him out, it would be the last thing he would do in a WWE ring.
Rollins called Triple H back before he left. Rollins recalled saying he had nothing left to lose. “I will be at Wrestlemania, and if it’s the last thing I ever do, then I swear to you, it will be the last thing you ever do.” Rollins dropped the mic and stared at Hunter. He dropped his mic, then dropped out of the ring to the floor. Joe and Hunter headed up the ramp while Cole said Rollins will have to be cleared to be at Wrestlemania.
Bill Says: A lot of talking there but a strong segment, but the crowd didn’t react much to it. In truth, it seems they only really reacted for Goldberg. Some strong intensity between Rollins and Hunter throughout the segment. I thought maybe they’d go with some sort of trap setup here, but I think with the amount of time left to Wrestlemania, stretching things out is the smart call because it leaves viewers wanting more.
Saxton hyped the contract signing segment.
Match #6 – Big Show vs. The Shining Stars in a handicap match
Winner: Big Show
The Reax: After tossing both men around, Show chokeslammed one of them and covered for the win. This was okay for what it was, but they should have Big Show give some sort of follow-up to that strong match he had with Strowman. Give him some direction and if anything a mission statement promo. He seems content to win these kinds of squashes instead. They should have done more coming out of what was a really good main event last week.
They ran a Black History Month package on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Neville talked to Tony Nese about facing TJ Perkins and Jack Gallagher. Neville talked about how the purpose was to put Gallagher in his place prior to FastLane. Nese lost interest as Neville ranted about the contract signing. Neville asked if he understood, and Nese said he would do what was best for the Premiere Athlete.
They showed the Packers Hall of Fame, and Cole noted Aries talking about his big scoop. Cole said Aries believes he will be in the WWE Hall of Fame one day, and they ran an Aries teaser from 205 Live.
Aries came back to commentary and asked Cole if he liked his package, adding how it was massive. Yuk yuk yuk…
Match #7 – Jack Gallagher and TJ Perkins vs. Neville and Tony Nese;
Winner: Gallagher and Perkins
The Reax: Gallagher caught Neville with a headbutt, and Perkins hit Nese with the Detonation Kick. Gallagher caught Nese in a submission and Neville teased running in to break it, but he thought twice and Nese tapped.
This was quick and forgettable, and really disappointing because two of the men involved are in a title match on Sunday.
Cole fed it to a video package for Beth Phoenix, who is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. After the video package, they hyped Joe vs. Cesaro for after the break.
Bayley was icing her neck, and Sasha was rubbing her own. Sasha said no one deserves the title more than she does. Bayley talked about how Charlotte was always up to something. Sasha told her not to worry because she would be in her corner. Stephanie showed up and asked if Sasha doesn’t think Bayley can get the job done on her own. Steph booked Sasha in a match against Nia Jax for Sunday.
Match #8 – Samoa Joe vs. Cesaro;
Winner: Samoa Joe
The Reax: Cole noted Raw will be in Chicago next Monday. Cesaro got an early edge with a suplex. Cesaro fell to the floor after Joe hoisted him to the apron, and held his knee. Joe focused his offense on the knee. Cesaro got a comeback with some uppercuts and a suplex, but Joe rolled him into a knee bar. Cesaro countered with a sharpshooter, but Joe broke it with jabs.
Late, Cesaro tried for the Neutralizer but Joe backdropped out. Cesaro landed on his feet but sold the knee. He tried for a springboard move and sold. Joe shoved him off the middle rope, kicked the bad knee, then hit a uranage to win.
Charly Caruso interviewed Joe about making a big impact. Joe said he came to hurt people. He called Cesaro a world renowned wrestler, seasoned veteran and freak athlete, “but he’s not me.” Joe said Cesaro is a reminder to everyone in the back that it doesn’t matter who you ware, what you’ve accomplished, or that people leave you.
Sami Zayn’s music hit, and he blindsided Joe the same way he did last week. Zayn got the better of him with punches before officials broke things up. Joe hit a cheap shot then the officials got between them again. Zayn teased calming down but then hit a flip off the stage onto Joe. Referees stepped in again.
If you were looking for a classic Joe vs. Cesaro match, you were disappointed. But, this was smartly booked as the time is not right for that kind of a match here. Joe needs to be the destroyer, the dominant badass. The time will come for him to have the long competitive matches and I’m hoping we get to see one of those out of Joe and Cesaro. Cesaro was also protected well with the knee injury. The post match brawl angle did a nice job of setting up Joe vs. Zayn for FastLane on Sunday.
Graves announced that Joe vs. Zayn was now official, and Saxton hyped Jax vs. Banks as well.
Mick Foley set up the contract signing and Braun Strowman’s entrance interrupted him. Strowman told him to leave or else, and Foley told him he might not be long for the general manager’s position but Strowman will respect him as long as he holds it. Strowman said he would have respected him once as an opponent, but Steph is right that he is a shell of his former self.
Foley said he has had enough of being talked down to, and Strowman would respect him as a legend or else. Roman Reigns’ music hit and he came to the ring. Strowman met him at ringside and they fought. Strowman tossed Riegns, who got right back up and threw a Superman punch. Strowman caught him and ran him into the post.
Strowman tossed Reigns over the barricade and followed after, slamming Roman head first into production cases. The commentary team said Reigns didn’t have an answer for Strowman yet. Reigns blocked a shot, threw a punch and slammed him head first onto a railing. Reigns speared Strowman through a barrier, which took out a security guard in the process.
Reigns got back in the ring and grabbed the contract. He was about to sign when he noticed Strowman was back to his feet. Strowman asked Reigns if that’s all he had, and Reigns hit a Superman punch. Strowman threw Reigns into the ring post and the top buckle came off. Cole hyped it as exploding due to the strength and force of Strowman.
Strowman played to the crowd and left the ring. They replayed the turnbuckle spot a couple times. Reigns got to his knees and signed the contract as Strowman watched on, then headed to the back. Reigns’ music played as the broadcast team gave final hype for FastLane and the show closed.
Bill Says: I actually didn’t mind this as much. They departed from the norm here and I think it worked. Green Bay was receptive to Reigns, cheering him and booing Strowman. It’s one city – and they have Chicago ahead on Monday as well as the pay per view crowd in Milwaukee on Sunday so we’ll see if they end up having similar feelings about this situation. Reigns had a moment there when he got to his knees and signed the contract despite coming up on the short end of the beating yet again. Regardless of how this goes down Sunday, I think the build has been better than expected.
This show was kind of down the middle as far as go-home shows are concerned. I think the key matches got the right hype and the matches being added to the card are fitting for where the feuds are at this point. I find myself looking forward to Goldberg and Owens for the spectacle, Joe vs. Zayn, and Charlotte vs. Bayley in particular.
Drew will be by with Smackdown and 205 Live tomorrow night, as well as Around the Ring. He and I will join forces on Wednesday to preview FastLane on RingRap Audio, and I’ll be by with Ring of Honor coverage later this week. See you then.