It’s the last stop for the Raw brand on the road to Wrestlemania, and they do it in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, PA. Goldberg and Brock Lesnar will both be on the show tonight. The last time they got together, Lesnar got the better of the Universal Champion and hit him with an F5. Will Goldberg have an answer tonight? Plus, all of the feuds all head to their conclusions. Will Seth Rollins sign on to face Triple H in an unsanctioned match? How will adding Nia Jax to the Women’s Championship match affect that dynamic? Will Chris Jericho finally get a leg up on Kevin Owens going into their battle? And can all of this happen without the guidance of a General Manager now that Mick Foley is fired?
Show Open, Live from the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia, PA:
They ran the “then, now, forever” video that got interrupted by Undertaker images. The normal Raw intro ran and Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton checked in for the call. Cole hyped the attendance and Graves hyped the contract signing between Seth Rollins and Triple H. Saxton noted that both Goldberg and Brock Lesnar would be there tonight, days before their match.
JoJo welcomed Bayley to the ring and Cole hyped the Raw Women’s Championship four-way match for Wrestlemania. Bayley said she was feeling it and asked who was ready for Wrestlemania. She had an Ultimate Warrior shirt on. She said she used to get together with friends and beg their parents to order the event. She said this year she won’t be in the crowd, but now she will be at Wrestlemania.
Charlotte cut her off and asked if Bayley really dreamed of going to Wrestlemania as a paper champion. She said Sasha made Bayley her pawn and used Bayley to get back into the championship picture. Charlotte called her a naive fan girl and said she would praise Sasha for being so clever, but even she isn’t that cruel.
Charlotte said she would walk out of Wrestlemania as a five time champion while Bayley will walk away with no friends, no title, and no future. Bayley asked why she should believe anything Charlotte said, then Charlotte pointed to tweets on the screen from Sasha, who said “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” It pertained to her and Charlotte in NXT. Charlotte said it was her first, now it’s Bayley.
Sasha came out and pointed to the fact that the tweet was in 2015 and had nothing to do with her friendship with Bayley. Sasha said Charlotte was trying to stir the pot and that she and Bayley are big girls. She said she would beat Bayley at Wrestlemania, which drew a look.
Nia Jax came out and said the three of them and all their drama is all she has heard. She called them pathetic and said she would eliminate each of them, and the title would then have a permanent home. Charlotte said the only reason Nia was even in the match was because Sasha didn’t need to pretend to care about Bayley. The brawl was on, with Sasha attacking Charlotte and Nia attacking Bayley. Cole noted the four would be in a tag match after a break.
Bill Says: A good job to sell the four way match. It now has a new stipulation – elimination – which makes me excited about it too. They did a nice job of getting Bayley to question whether or not Sasha has been conspiring against her too. This match had such a strange path to get to this point, but ultimately the final sell seems to work.
They ran a video package to hype Wrestlemania being six days out.
Match #1 – Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte and Nia Jax;
Winner: Bayley and Sasha Banks
The Reax: The heels focused on Sasha after an early commercial break. Bayley eventually got the hot tag and worked on Charlotte while the crowd reacted. Charlotte cut her off, but Bayley rallied right back with a side suplex. Charlotte cut her off again and clipped her leg then locked in a Figure Four that Sasha broke.
Sasha dove on Nia at ringside but got caught. Sasha slipped out and ran her to the post, but ate a knee from Charlotte. Bayley dodged a kick and hit Bayley to Belly for the win. Jax got back in and roughed up all three women then held up the title belt before dropping it and leaving.
They did a nice job of spending television time early in the show spotlighting the women’s championship match here. They made Nia look like a monster for sure with the closing angle. They didn’t play into the tension much with Bayley and Sasha, but that’s fine as they’ve established it and can get there in other ways.
The announcers recapped highlights before switching to hype for Triple H and Seth Rollins signing a “hold harmless” agreement later. They recapped Hunter attacking Rollins.
They ran a video package highlighting the WWE Hall of Fame honorees. Saxton hyped the Hall of Fame red carpet event and noted he and Maria Menounos would be co-hosting the show. Graves hyped the ceremony and Cole noted that USA will air a one-hour special of the ceremony next week.
They recapped Steph firing Mick Foley last week. Backstage, Sami Zayn was asked about it, and he said it’s his job to stand up and do what’s right and take on challenges that seem insurmountable. He said the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale seems the most insurmountable, and he announced his entry to the match. Not so fast, Sami.
Steph arrived and told him he had to earn his way in and said she wanted the trophy on Raw so the best of the best have to be in the match. She booked him in a no-DQ match against Kevin Owens and told him he would be fired if he didn’t win.
Bill Says: A good job of hyping the Hall of Fame and red carpet event, but a lousy appearance by Stephanie and her traditional “do this or I’ll fire you” Authority bullshit threats. Thumbs down. I would say, though, that the no-DQ match will help hype Jericho vs. Owens.
Neville sat in on commentary for the next match.
Match #2 – Austin Aries vs. Noam Dar (w/Alicia Fox);
Winner: Austin Aries
The Reax: Neville glared at Aries when he made his entrance. Early, Aries hit Dar with a drop kick then pointed to Neville and jawed. After a break, Dar controlled the offense, throwing a nice uppercut. Aries rallied with a kick then hit a suicide dive to ringside. Aries hit his discus five arm then locked in Last Chancery. After, he stood on the ropes and jawed at Neville.
A solid match between Aries and Noam, with Aries introducing his submission finish to the fans. Cole overran the staredown by setting up footage of something else (more in a minute) which looked bad but it was decent hype for the match overall.
They set up footage (the referenced overrun above) of his interview with Triple H and the hold harmless agreement. They showed Seth Rollins walking backstage with help from a crutch. They ran an ad for the AJ Styles/Shane McMahon contract signing and Wyatt vs. Harper.
They ran more teaser footage of Undertaker and Cole noted that they saw a cemetery earlier. He questioned if Taker was digging a new yard for Reigns.
Seth Rollins made his way to the ring wearing a brace and using a crutch. The ring was set up for a contract signing. Rollins grabbed a mic quickly and demanded Hunter come to the ring “to get this done.” He obliged, wearing a suit and carrying the agreement in a folder. He stood on the apron and warned Rollins the match was off if he attacked. He said it also wouldn’t go well for Rollins if he did. Hunter told him to sit and listen to the terms of the agreement. Rollins initially didn’t want to comply, and Hunter teased leaving. Rollins sat down and Hunter joined him.
Hunter told Rollins he would be signing away the ability to sue him or the company. Rollins said he was aware and told him to sign. Hunter said Rollins made the right decision when he joined him and said you only get one shot at life. You have to take it by the throat and you make it give you everything you want. Hunter told Rollins if he wants to grow a conscience his family would have to understand him giving up money and working in armories in front of 200 people.
Hunter called him a one legged man in an ass kicking contest and said the term is popular because the one legged man doesn’t win. He said Rollins could sign and not miss Wrestlemania two years in a row, but he guaranteed Rollins would not be walking out.
Rollins said it was the same line of bullcrap he fell for a few years ago. He said he liked himself before he met Hunter and he didn’t mind wrestling for a hot dog and a handshake at the Philadelphia Armory because he loves the business. Rollins said this isn’t about one Wrestlemania match – it’s about redemption.
Rollins said he gave up everything, including his friends, to stand by Hunter. “And for what?” Rollins told Hunter to plan on ripping his leg off and he better have an ambulance and stretcher on standby because nothing will stop him from getting back Seth Freaking Rollins. He signed the document.
Hunter teased leaving, then kicked the table into Rollins’ bad leg. He grabbed the crutch and waited for Rollisn to get up, but Rollins got him with a kick. He teased the Pedigree but Hunter clipped him and went for a Pedigree of his own. Rollins backdropped him over the ropes. Rollins hit Hunter with the crutch as he got in the ring then held the bad leg while Hunter backed away.
Bill Says: While some might roll their eyes and say “gee, another segment where Hunter didn’t get his…,” this was fine. It didn’t stay too long, Hunter laid out the aspects of the match and the agreement well, and Rollins showed some good reaction and explanation of his character. All in all well done. I liked that neither man was able to hit the Pedigree here. Don’t give that away til Sunday.
They focused on Lesnar and Goldberg at Survivor Series, then Saxton said the two men would face off later. They ran an ad for NXT Takeover: Orlando and hyped the three title matches.
They ran a video focusing on Mark Henry’s amateur weightlifting experience. Cole recapped the Hunter/Rollins segment then they hyped the non-sanctioned match. They then focused on the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale trophy and we got an over the top rope challenge.
Match #3 – Over the Top Rope Challenge featuring Big Show, Jinder Mahal, Bo Dallas, and others;
Winner: No Apparent Winner?
The Reax: Big Show started with Jinder Mahal and made quick work of him. Then it was time for the Superstars of Main Event as Bo Dallas came out and got eliminated, then the Shining Stars came out to get destroyed, then R-Truth, Goldust, and Curtis Axel all came out. They all ganged up on Show and dumped him to the floor. Cole said seven men eliminated Show.
Show got back in and hit chokeslams and knockout punches. Golden Truth ducked out to not get anything from Show. Braun Strowman came out and said he could kick Show’s ass if he wanted to, but that’s what everyone wanted. He said he does what he wants and everyone will have to wait for Wrestlemania. Show called for him but Strowman pointed to the Wrestlemania sign and left.
Meh. I don’t know how I feel about this, but then again I don’t know how I feel about the battle royale in general. It’s a catch-all match. I guess we get Show and Strowman in a featured spot, or the last two standing.
They hyped the Raw Tag Team Championship and recapped the Sheamus and Cesaro match where they kept their spot last week. Mike Rome interviewed Gallows and Anderson about facing Enzo and Big Cass, and they mocked the “and you can’t teach that” line.
They showed a man in black digging a hole in a cemetery and ran another Taker video.
Graves hyped up the various musical acts that will perform at Wrestlemania.
Charly Caruso asked Roman Reigns about the ominous signs from Undertaker. Reigns called himself a grown man that doesn’t read into signs, worry about mind games, or believe in dead men. Reigns said he believes in the big fight and will go to the ring to tell everyone what he will do at Wrestlemania.
The commentary team ran video of New Day ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange and appearing at the “Rocky” steps in Philadelphia. Cole noted New Day will be on ESPN on Tuesday.
Rome interviewed Sheamus and Cesaro, but Anderson and Gallows attacked them and jammed them with a ladder. Neville came to the ring for a match.
They ran an ad for the WWE 24 documentary on the night after Wrestlemania 32 airing on WWE Network.
Match #4 – Neville vs. Jack Gallagher
The Reax: Gallagher escaped an early headlock that Neville laughed about, then Gallagher did a headstand on the top rope and Neville took a kick. Gallagher got a two out of a roll-up then threw upper cuts. Neville hit a release German suplex. Gallagher did his umbrella spot onto Neville out on the floor. Neville came back with a superplex and the Rings of Saturn for the win.
After, an “Austin Aries News Network” graphic appeared. Aries called it a special report and welcomed New Day into the shot to ask them who they thought would win the cruiserweight title match. Kingston said success is determined in the ring by a man’s ability to move his hip, and Big E told him to move his hips. Aries said he wanted to do a serious interview, then rephrased the question while talking about the title in New Day style. Neville golf-clapped in the ring.
This was oddly competitive for Neville, then the follow up segment was just cheesy garbage. Bad play for what should be a really good match that should not be relegated to the fucking pre-show….
They showed Roman Reigns backstage headed toward the ring, saying he had a message for Undertaker next. They noted Al Roker will be the guest ring announcer for the mixed tag match between The Miz and Maryse and John Cena and Nikki Bella.
They ran a video focusing on Goldberg eliminating Lesnar from the Rumble, and Saxton hyped that the two would face off later.
Roman Reigns came out to a chorus of boos. Cole reminded us that Reign won the Royal Rumble in the same venue. Reigns soaked up the reaction, then smiled and recalled winning the Rumble there. He headlined Wrestlemania twice. The boos grew – Philly is not a fan.
Reigns said he thought that would be the biggest moment of his career but he was wrong since he’s facing Undertaker this year. Reigns said he would do what no one before him did – “I’m gonna put the Dead Man down. So this goes for anybody listening, and I say this with all due respect…this is my time now, because this is my yard.” Reigns said the sold out arena is his house.
The gong sounded and they showed Undertaker in the cemetery. Taker said Reigns is standing in his yard, and the grave he is digging is going to be Roman’s yard. He said he carved a special place in hell for Reigns. “At Wrestlemania, the Roman Empire will fall, and the ultimate thrill ride will be your last ride.” The camera panned back to show a tombstone with Reigns’ name on it and the April 2, 2017 date. Taker told Reigns to live every day as if it’s his last because it soon will be.
“At Wrestlemania, you will…” then the lights went down. The lights came back up and Taker was in the ring behind Reigns. “As I was saying, at Wrestlemania you will rest in peace.” Taker held his hands up and thunder clapped. He lowered his hands and the lights came down. Taker’s gong sounded and the lights went out.
Bill Says: This was okay, but I think WWE could have capitalized on the personal issue of Reigns saying with such boldness that the ring is his yard now. I think there was a little bit of money left on the table with this one. The graveyard video could have been for anyone. I like the match and I’m into it – I just think that they could have capitalized on a specific item to make the build better.
The commentary team hyped up the usual programming for WWE Network as well as Bring it to the Table on Thursday as well as all of the Wrestlemania weekend broadcasts.
Enzo and Cass came to the ring. Enzo boasted that they would walk out of Wrestlemania with gold around their waists. He said they practice what they preach. Cass called back to the Allen Iverson “practice” speech, then they closed with lines from “it’s always sunny in Philadelphia.” Gallows and Anderson cut them off.
They stood on the stage, but Sheamus and Cesaro attacked them with a ladder. Cesaro was selling rib injuries with taped up ribs. Sheamus brought the ladder to the ring and roughed up Enzo Cesaro and Sheamus worked on Enzo and hit him with the ladder, then Cass shoved the ladder into Sheamus and hit Cesaro with a boot.
Anderson and Gallows recovered and hit the ring to work the babyfaces with the ladder. Enzo got knocked off the ropes with a ladder, then Graves laughed and said Philly hadn’t seen a home run like that since Ryan Howard stopped playing. Gallows and Anderson stood tall to end the segment.
Bill Says: So, the tag title match becomes a ladder match?
Saxton set up a video package for Women’s History Month featuring Maya Angelou.
Charly Caruso interviewed Kevin Owens, who laughed at Jericho thinking he was once his hero. Owens said he was a fan and Jericho was right to make fun of him of him for being a fan because Jericho fans are morons. Owens said he had the chance to send Sami Zayn home for good. He said he would take Zayn’s career away from him just like Jericho took his Universal Title away from him. Owens said he would take the US Championship from Jericho and make the ultimate thrill ride into Jericho’s ultimate demise.
The commentary team hyped Rollins vs. Triple H in a non-sanctioned match and hyped a special look at the match after the break.
They hyped Corey Graves interviewing Kurt Angle on WWE Network. His music played and the fans did the “You Suck” sing along bit.
They recapped the earlier segment with Rollins and Hunter, then fed it to a video package of their history and their feud. Back live, the commentary team ran down the rest of the Wrestlemania matches. Noteworthy that the tag title match is still a triple threat match. They hyped Big Show, Braun Strowman, and “countless others” as being in the Dre.
Kevin Owens made his way to the ring to face Sami Zayn;
Match #5 – Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn, No Disqualification Match. If Zayn wins, he’s in the Dre, if he loses, he’s fired.
Winner: Sami Zayn
The Reax: The fight went to the stage early where Owens sent Zayn to the announce table. Zayn came back with a flip dive onto the floor on Owens. They worked back to ringside out of commercial, and Zayn dismantled the steps. Owens hit a DDT on the bottom part of the steps then hit a senton. Owens got a near fall.
Zayn came back with an exploder suplex and followed with his DDT through the ropes at ringside. Owens hit a superkick for two, then hit a frog splash for two. Zayn rallied with a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Samoa Joe made his way to the ring, then Chris Jericho’s music played. Jericho charged with a chair and hit Joe from behind. Owens hit Jericho but got rolled up by Zayn for the win.
After, Owens attacked Zayn and Jericho landed chair shots on Joe. Jericho got in the ring but Owens and Joe backed up the ramp. He got the mic and asked Owens if he knew what happened when one betrays Chris Jericho. Jericho put him on the list.
A good match and a decent post-match angle to get some hype on Jericho vs. Owens. I don’t think the crowd bought into the “firing” stipulation much for Zayn. Either that or they hoped he would lose and head to Smackdown where he might actually get a better push.
They showed Goldberg’s locker room door and hyped him and Lesnar appearing after the break.
Graves hyped 205 Live, with Akira Tozawa facing Brian Kendrick.
Brock Lesnar made his entrance with Paul Heyman. Heyman introduced himself and said he proudly serves as the advocate for the extremist who shall derail Goldberg’s ultimate thrill ride. Heyman waited out a Goldberg chant, then once those chants stopped a Suplex City chant started.
Heyman said there’s a difference of opinion and it all gets settled at Wrestlemania. He said Goldberg will walk down the aisle as the Universal Champion, and said the title is everything around here. He called it the Holy Grail of WWE and said it means you’re the one centerpiece of the flagship show of WWE.
Heyman said Lesnar wants needs and lusts after the title. He said Goldberg has the title and added that Sting tried to pull off what Goldberg has accomplished. “Where Sting fell short, Goldberg, yo rose to the occasion with dominance and destruction.” Heyman said Goldberg has his respect and admirations and is a real life superhero. He said Goldberg is the man.
“But my client Brock Lesnar is the beast.” He said Lesnar will chew Goldberg up and spit him out at Wrestlemania. He said bad things happen when they get in the ring with Lesnar. He said he assumed fans need a reason to buy the network, a pay per view, or a seat. He said it would have to be on the secondary market since Wrestlemania is sold out. “Thank you Brock for hte house.” Heyman said Goldberg will go to Suplex City, where they check in, but don’t check out.
The fans chanted for Goldberg but Heyman said it would be the last time they chant Goldberg on Raw. He said they should rename Wrestlemania the death of a superhero and said something in Latin. “My client, Brock Lesnar, does not fear the spear.” He said Goldberg can’t survive the F5.
Goldberg’s music played and he made his way to the stage. He waited out a chant and then said people don’t come to listen to them talk, they came to see a fight. Goldberg said he can’t bring everyone in Philly to Wrestlemania, but he can bring Wrestlemania to Philly. Lesnar left the ring only to take a big spear from Goldberg. Lesnar sold while Goldberg held the title up over him and played to the fans. Cole asked what Lesnar has to do to beat Goldberg as the show ended.
Bill Says: A solid ending segment. Philly is Philly, and there’s always the fear that they’d turn on one or both of these men, but they didn’t. Heyman delivered a solid promo that had them reacting the way they wanted, and put focus on the championship. The big spear was a good call and plants the thought in some fans’ minds that Lesnar really is owned by Goldberg. Most people (myself included) are assuming a Brock win, so why not plant that idea that Goldberg has his number and Lesnar won’t get it done?
This show overall had quality moments that paid attention to the various Raw brand matches on the Wrestlemania card. I felt like they spent too much time on a few of them (the tag title match stuff being one of them) and that sort of slowed the pace down a bit. That said, they did try to hype the matches and put some effort into them, and that’s to be commended. I can’t say this show pushed my overall excitement for Wrestlemania from a 3 to a 10 or anything like that, but I do feel better about the show now than I did a week ago.
This is Wrestlemania week, and Drew will be by tomorrow with Smackdown and 205 Live coverage as they wind down their feuds going into the biggest show of WWE’s year. There will be a TON to talk about all week long, and we will do our best to keep you up to date with news and notes surrounding Wrestlemania, NXT Takeover: Orlando, and all of the other events that take place around the Wrestlemania weekend schedule. If you are going to any of those events, we’d love live reports from you – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
I’ll be back on Wednesday with Drew for our Wrestlemania preview show and Ring of Honor weekly TV coverage. Until then, thanks for hanging out with me tonight.