WWE Raw rolls into the Windy City as we make the final run to Wrestlemania in Orlando, FL in just under a month. Goldberg is now the Universal Champion, and Kevin Owens has to be seething. Not only did he lose his title, but his best friend Chris Jericho had a hand in it. Will Owens demand another shot at Goldberg, or focus on Jericho? Bayley is still the Women’s Champion, retaining the belt in controversial fashion. Will Stephanie McMahon address this, and in what way? Also, Braun Strowman has to be reeling after his first loss at the hands of Roman Reigns. Will Strowman seek revenge? Will the Deadman surprise us and challenge Reigns, who keeps claiming the ring is his “yard?”
Due to other commitments, this is not a live report but is instead “delay live” format with abbreviated coverage.
WWE Raw from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, IL:
They recapped Goldberg defeating Kevin Owens for the WWE Universal Championship at FastLane with help of a distraction from Chris Jericho. They touted Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar for the title at Wrestlemania, then Cole, Graves and Saxton checked in for the call.
Chris Jericho came to the ring to a strong reaction as Cole hyped the attendance. Jericho said Chicago is the birthplace of Y2J and the home of the resurrection of Jericho. Jericho said he screwed Kevin Owens out of the championship. He recalled being betrayed during the Festival of Friendship and said Owens stuck the knife in the back of Jericho and “twisted it in, man.” He said he was angry and confused and wanted to know why Owens did what he did.
Owens came out and asked if Jericho really thought he would get the answer he wanted after what happened at FastLane. Jericho told him to be quiet and demanded the answer. Owens said he didn’t stab his best friend in the back because Jericho wasn’t. He said Sami Zayn was once his best friend, and he stabbed him in the back and would do it again. He called Jericho “just a tool” and he used him.
Owens said Triple H told him everyone would be coming for him once he became champion, and Owens needed a person who knew what it took and would be gullible. “You were a perfect tool.” He said Jericho outlived his usefulness when he accepted the Goldberg match on his behalf. Owens said he would have outsmarted Goldberg if Jericho did not get involved, and admitted Jericho outsmarted him. He said he actually spared Jericho at the Festival of Friendship, and said he let Jericho walk away for his family because he’s a good person. He said sympathy cost him the title.
Jericho admitted he would have done the same thing eight years ago, but enjoyed having a best friend and was complacent. He said he has friends and played to the fans who chanted for him. Jericho said costing Owens the title doesn’t make them square, but just the beginning of the road leading to the two meeting at Wrestlemania.
Owens said he was promised a rematch for his title when he wants one, and will take it back in time. All he could think about now was taking Jericho’s US Championship. Owens told Jericho to put the title up, which he quickly agreed to. Jericho challenged Owens to come to the ring and face him, and he obliged and they fought.
Samoa Joe ran out and helped with the attack, but then Sami Zayn ran out for the save. He threw chair shots until he was outnumbered then Jericho got the chair and cleared the heels.
Bill Says: This was a good segment to start the show, with Jericho coming off sappy and endearing. The crowd was hot for him, they reacted to Joe and Owens as the heels well, and I assume we’ll get these two in a tag later.
Match #1 – Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn;
Winner: Kevin Owens
The Reax: So much for the tag match. And so much for keeping these two apart long term. Cole said Foley banned Jericho and Joe from ringside during the break. Owens won with a pair of pop up powerbombs.
This was a good win for Owens, with Zayn doing his normal underdog hope spots. I thought Owens did a good job of being violent and sadistic here too. Raw does have a couple of strong heels going for them in Owens and Joe, and even Braun Strowman depending on where he goes after losing to Reigns.
Cole hyped Jericho vs. Samoa Joe for later, and Goldberg appearing later. He got some boos. Graves hyped the Cruiserweight Championship next.
They thanked Pitbull for one of the themes of Wrestlemania.
Match #2 – Neville (c) vs. Rich Swann for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship;
Winner: Neville to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
The Reax: Austin Aries was on commentary and included plenty of package jokes along with getting his video package played. Swann got a quick start, hitting a kick for two at one point. Neville recovered for a superplex, and Swann rolled out to avoid a pin. Neville tried a German suplex but Swann landed on his feet and blasted him with a kick. Neville avoided a Phoenix Splash which led to a two count. Neville locked in Rings of Saturn for the win.
This was really good, even with multiple breaks. When they put something on the line, the cruiserweight division seems to click. By the way, Cole is very noticeably serious tonight, and that’s a good thing.
Aries interviewed Neville and noted he had two wins over the last two nights and asked how it felt to stand on top of the mountain. The fans chanted for Aries, and that upset Neville. Aries thanked the fans and tried to quiet them down before going back to Neville about the last 24 hours. Neville said he did what he said he would and said “look at me now” to everyone who overlooked him. He bragged about laying waste to contender after contender and no one could hold a candle to him on 205 Live. Aries asked for clarification on that point.
The Aries chants started again, and he said it sounded like the fans disagreed with Neville. “You cannot seriously be suggesting yourself. You must be delusional if you think you’re even close to being on my level.” Neville told him to go back to the announce table where he can make cheap jokes and to get out of the ring before he rearranges his orbital socket.
Aries said he was just trying to do his job, and Neville asked what he planned to do about it. Aries said he had one more question, which was more of a statement. He threw a punch then ran the ropes and hit a running forearm.
Bill Says: A really good angle that seems to be pointing ahead to a Wrestlemania match. I think they can get there and I personally am excited at the prospect of seeing Aries and Neville.
Enzo and Cass jabbed at Sheamus and Cesaro verbally. Sheamus said Enzo and Cass choked last night, and Cass said they would win tonight. Enzo mocked Cesaro for losing to Samoa Joe, and Sheamus held him back. Cesaro called Enzo annoying.
Graves hyped Goldberg coming up after the break. They ran a Wrestlemania video hyping that it’s 27 days out.
Goldberg got his entrance to a good reaction with the normal Goldberg chants. He walked through the backstage in street clothes with the title. Once in the ring, he held the title up to a mixed reaction. Goldberg said the belt belongs to the fans as much as it does him, and he couldn’t have done it without them. He said he stood before them as a humbled man as Universal Champion. More boos than cheers.
Goldberg said he had information that he never made public. A “CM Punk” chant started. Goldberg acknowledged it, then Paul Heyman interrupted him and came to the stage. He said he didn’t come alone, and Lesnar’s music played. He glared at Goldberg, then he and Heyman made their way to the ring. They stood face to face, and Lesnar eyed up the title belt.
Heyman stood next to Lesnar and introduced them, and said his client is willing to shake Goldberg’s hand because has proven to be every bit the conqueror Lesnar has proven to be. Heyman said both men need to win at Wrestlemania, but only one man will walk out as the winner and the other will walk out the loser.
Heyman said he doesn’t predict but reveals spoilers. He said at the end of the match there will be a new champion and his name is Lesnar. Heyman said that when the match is over, everyone can look at Goldberg and say “there he is, Brock’s bitch.” Goldberg looked at Heyman momentarily, but Lesnar hoisted him up and hit the F5. Lesnar and Heyman left and Goldberg sold.
Bill Says: This got a mixed at best reaction. Chicago is tough, and they went from cheering Goldberg to booing him when he referred to being champion. The average fan hasn’t turned, but the Wrestlemania crowd might turn on him. Milwaukee was hot for him. But, a decent start to the final build to their match.
They recapped Roman Reigns beating Braun Strowman, showing footage of Strowman slamming Reigns through the announce table and a still shot of the missed splash. Graves said Reigns survived Strowman, he didn’t beat him. Cole said Strowman would finish what he started, and then hyped the tag championship rematch.
Cole hyped John Cena hosting the Kid’s Choice Awards on Saturday, then it was time for the tag championship match. Graves said Cass is like the Cubs in that it will take 100 years for him to win a championship, and if Enzo wins one it will be like the White Sox and a scandal will be involved. Enzo and Cass did their normal pre-match mic work and worked in Chicago references, including Michael Jordan references.
Match #3 – Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass; WWE Raw Tag Team Championship;
Winner: Apparent No Contest
The Reax: Sheamus and Cesaro came out to observe early on. Later, Enzo hit a dive where Gallows saved his life on the overshot suicide dive. Enzo spazzed and knocked Cesaro’s coffee out of his hand. That led to Cesaro chasing him into the ring, where he tried a clothesline that connected on Anderson instead. That threw the match out, then all three teams brawled.
Looks like we’re going for a triple threat tag team championship at Wrestlemania by this indication.
They aired video for the induction of Rick Rude to the WWE 2017 Hall of Fame Class. The fans applauded, and they showed the rest of the class on a graphic. Very long overdue for Rude to join the Hall. Ricky Steamboat will be handling his induction.
Graves said that Bayley should be thanking her lucky stars after her controversial FastLane win. He said she will be addressing her title defense at Wrestlemania.
Enzo and Cass and Sheamus and Cesaro were still trying to brawl but were separated by officials. Mick Foley calmed them down and said that they don’t settle things backstage. He booked the two teams in a contender’s match to determine who would challenge for the tag titles at Wrestlemania. Foley said he was going to try and have a nice day, but an angry Steph McMahon told him that if he wanted to have a nice day, he should follow her to her office.
Match #4 – Akira Tozawa vs. Ariaya Daivari;
Winner: Akira Tozawa
The Reax: They recapped the Aries/Neville angle, and Aries was not on commentary this time. Tozawa dominated the offense, took a kick, then came back with his snap German suplex to win. Tozawa called out Kendrick afterward, who came out to face him. Kendrick said he couldn’t make any promises about facing Tozawa, but he would answer him on 205 Live. Kendrick said lesson #5 is to be careful what you wish for.
A lopsided two-minute affair and a lackluster hook for Tuesday’s 205 Live show which Drew Koscelek will be covering.
Cole hyped up Jericho vs. Samoa Joe for later. New Day came out with their ice cream cart again. They played up ice cream again.
Match #5 – Kofi Kingston and Big E (w/Xavier Woods) vs. The Shining Stars;
Winner: New Day
The Reax: Big E and Kofi teamed up for Midnight Hour for the quick win. This show has been going downhill since the Goldberg/Lesnar segment.
Cole noted it was Women’s History month, and fed it to a video package on Trish Stratus and Lita. Graves noted Bayley would be out after the break to announce her Wrestlemania opponent.
Mick Foley was in the ring and he welcomed Bayley. The commentary team recapped the Women’s Championship and played up Sasha Banks getting involved despite Bayley asking Charlotte to leave Dana Brooke backstage. Foley congratulated Bayley on a successful title defense. She thanked him and added that she wished she could feel like a champion. She noted Sasha getting involved and added that she is trying to wrap her head around what happened. She said she needs to move forward to Wrestlemania.
Foley said at this time of year it doesn’t matter how you get there, it only matters that you’re going. Bayley is going to Wrestlemania. The question now is who her opponent will be. Sasha Banks came out and said because Charlotte sent Dana backstage didn’t mean she would stay. She said she didn’t want to talk about them, but wanted to talk about Wrestlemania. She said they used to talk about tearing the house down at Wrestlemania, and now they should make it happen.
Foley polled the crowd, who cheered. Graves asked when the fans got to make matches. Charlotte and Dana came out, and Charlotte immediately told Sasha she shouldn’t get a title shot due to the Roadblock stipulation. Charlotte said Sasha didn’t think Bayley could beat her, and she used Bayley by pretending to be her friend.
Charlotte lamented being robbed of her title and pay per view streak. Charlotte said Foley didn’t care as long as his favorites are going to Wrestlemania. Foley said he cared, but Charlotte lost her contractually obligated rematch. Charlotte pointed out the controversy, and before Foley could say much Stephanie McMahon showed up.
She said she is the boss, not Foley or Banks. The fans chanted for Punk again, which Stephanie called predictable. “That’s right, you’re all losers.” She said they cheer for the wrong person, just like Sasha. Steph called Sasha manipulative and accused her of cozying up to Bayley. The fans kept chanting for Punk and Steph picked up the pace of her promo to talk over them. Steph said Charlotte was robbed and deserve the match. Foley tried protesting.
Steph booked Charlotte vs. Bayley for the Women’s Championship at Wrestlemania. Foley said Steph couldn’t leave the Boss in the cold. She asked who the boss is, and Foley said Steph is his boss, but Sasha is the boss. Foley proposed a number one contender’s match between Charlotte and Sasha for next week. Steph said Sasha would get a chance to earn a spot in the match – if she wins it’s a triple threat. Steph then booked Sasha vs. Bayley for this show.
Bill Says: Finally, a sense of right and wrong from Bayley and some remorse over how she’s won the belt. Odd how initially she was all smiles after the show last night though. Still, at least they’re trying to right the wrong even though it might be a bit too far down the road now for same. They may have damaged her quite a bit. She is good at her character though, and should be able to recover.
Match #6 – Bayley (c) vs. Sasha Banks; Non-Title Match
Winner: Sasha Banks
The Reax: They must have changed their minds as Sasha gets in the match if she wins here. They shook hands, and Charlotte sat in on commentary. She said Sasha is the most manipulative woman in the division. The match started slow, with Cole saying they were feeling each other out.
Late, Charlotte and Dana went to ringside. Sasha avoided a cross body block then locked in the Bank Statement. Bayley got to the ropes to break it, but Sasha locked it back in. Bayley nearly got the ropes, but Dana interrupted the referee. Charlotte tried to break the hold but Sasha disposed of her and locked it back in. Bayley tapped.
Charlotte got in the ring and booted both women then held the title up. Graves said it was only 27 days until the queen reclaimed her crown.
Corey, I could live with you NEVER calling her the Queen ever again. Thanks. The match was a bit of a mess. The fans didn’t know who to cheer for, and in the closing sequence Bayley was close enough to grab the ropes so Charlotte interfered for no real reason. This has been a mess, but it seems now like Sasha is indeed conspiring against Bayley.
Roman Reigns was interviewed by Charly. She mentioned Strowman saying he would finish what he started, and Reigns said that Strowman could find him in the ring at the end of the night. They recapped the Triple H/Seth Rollins segment from last week.
They ran the Rollins video package, which focused on him working out and rehabbing his injury. He said he would be at Wrestlemania and wants it more than anything, adding he would do whatever it takes to make it a reality.
Triple H cut a “via satellite” interview. He said you have to take your hat off to WWE for providing world class care to its athletes. He noted Kevin Wilkes in the video and called him the best in the world. He said they just have to hope Rollins listens to the experts and uses that advice.
He said when you have the best doctors in the world telling you not to do something, and you do it anyway, it’s stupidity. He said Rollins claimed to be the man and it’s a lie. Hunter ran down all of his nicknames and said others came up with them because they were obvious. Hunter said if Rollins makes it to Wrestlemania, all that awaits is a nightmare. Hunter said if Rollins shows and calls him out, it will be the last thing he does in a WWE ring.
Bill Says: Hunter was very focused here. Rollins, on the other hand, seemed to be in nice guy mode and didn’t show much interest in getting his hands on Hunter. We need more of that intensity from Rollins wanting to get to Hunter to sell whatever is going to go down there.
We got an Emma video package. Here we go again. This time with the cop shades, and she’s coming soon. Bets on how many weeks?
Match #7 – Chris Jericho vs. Samoa Joe:
Winner: Samoa Joe by count out
The Reax: Owens and Zayn were barred from ringside. Joe hit an early enzugiri, but Jericho came back momentarily. Joe hit a senton for two. Jericho hit a springboard drop kick that didn’t knock Joe down. Jericho slid to ringside and Joe caught him there in the Coquina clutch. Joe released it and went back to the ring to get the count out win. Joe tossed Jericho in afterward, but ate a Codebreaker. Joe was sent to ringside and Jericho’s music played.
I guess creative tried to use these two as a hook to keep viewers interested since both characters feel hot at the moment, not because they’re dream match opponents. I would rather see Joe continue to destroy the undercard rather than get a count-out win over Jericho. Maybe we’ll see the purpose unfold over the next few weeks.
Graves hyped that Austin Aries would have a message for Neville on 205 Live, and Cole and Saxton hyped the number one contender’s match for the tag team championship next week.
Braun Strowman came out and said Reigns got lucky at FastLane. He said he didn’t need a match, but needed Reigns to come out like a man so he could rip him limb for limb. Strowman said Chicago doesn’t like Reigns, and neither does he. Reigns’ music started and then stopped, but then….
Undertaker’s music started, and the crowd popped big. Taker headed to the ring and faced Strowman, and the live crowd chanted “holy shit.” Braun nodded, then backed away and left the ring to boos. Taker’s music started again, but this time was cut off by Reigns’ music. He got heavily booed.
“Braun didn’t call you out, Deadman, he called out me. So with all due respect, this is my yard now.” Taker looked at the Wrestlemania sign, and fans chanted Roman sucks. Reigns looked up at the sign, then the two looked at each other. Taker chokeslammed Reigns to a big cheer, then his music played as he left the ring.
Bill Says: A good final segment. Strowman came off like he was showing respect by leaving the ring. When you throw in the line about knowing Chicago hates Reigns, you wonder if they might be thinking of turning him. I hope not, sort of. Strowman has been on a run as a strong heel and one loss shouldn’t change that. And for Reigns, well, a million times over they could have gone heel but didn’t. So, there’s that.
A good first hour was followed up by two weaker hours. The second hour was the pits and probably a lot of folks turned the show off. They got a high note to close the show with Roman and Taker, and overall the show was newsworthy in terms of setting the path to Wrestlemania. We’ll see how subsequent weeks go.
Drew will have more to say on this show and all things wrestling tomorrow on Around the Ring, as well as your Smackdown Live and 205 Live coverage. I will rejoin Drew on Wednesday to talk pro wrestling and more as we bring you Ring Rap Audio, and I’ll also have your Ring of Honor coverage. See you then.