(Almost) Live Reactions to WWE RAW

Have you heard? Samoa Joe is now officially part of the RAW roster. Seth Rollins has been legitimately injured just weeks before his marquee match at WrestleMania was scheduled to take place. You know what the upside to that is? We’re only a number of weeks away from WrestleMania! How did RAW go this week? Read on to find out.

Opening Segment

Already in the ring were the GM and commissioner of RAW, Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon. Foley was less than thrilled to call Samoa Joe to the ring to officially sign a RAW contract. Joe’s incredible music hit, and he came to ring in a suit. Stephanie was nothing but enthusiastic to talk up Joe’s accomplishments. Foley tried to rush through the process again. Joe said that he beat up Seth Rollins as a favor to Triple H, and called out the entire locker room. Just after Joe signed the contract, everybody’s favor Samoan Roman Reigns came out. Roman formally introduced himself to Joe. They stared one another down. Foley made the match between the two.

Joe came off like a big deal, which he should. It’s great to see him move straight into a main-event caliber match right away. There had been rumors for the past few weeks that when he debuted, Joe had been pegged for a monster push, and so far, that theory is still intact. It was also good to switch things up, since Jericho and Owens have opened RAW for what feels like months on end lately.

Bayley vs Nia Jax

It’s announced as Bayley is making her way to the ring that she’ll have a rematch with Charlotte for the Women’s championship next week.

Bayley went on the offensive, but made no headway, as all of her offense bounced right off the much larger Jax. Jax responded with a scoop slam and some stomps. Bayley attempted to regain some momentum, but got cut off and was in trouble again as the show went to commercial. Returning, Bayley was caught in a cobra clutch. A biel toss into the corner and a running splash had Bayley down for a two count. A short arm clothesline sent an injured Bayley rolling to the outside. Charlotte ran to the ring to interfere. Bayley fought her off, but turned around into a Samoan Drop which… ended the match?

I know Jax is big and all, but it makes Bayley look terrible that she lost a match due to a Samoan Drop. A Samoan Drop doesn’t end a match in the current year. That’s nonsense. Especially insulting because I’m pretty sure Jax does a leg drop as a finisher, doesn’t she? Why couldn’t they have thrown that in to make it a reasonable finish? How am I expevted to believe that she might win next week when she can’t even handle a Samoan Drop? If she does win, how can I buy her championship reign as legitimate when it’s one Samoan Drop away from ending at any given time?

Braun Strowman Destroys Some Local Talent

Strowman took to the ring to fight four jobbers at once.

It went about how you’d expect. One bailed and ran to the back. One ate a running powerslam before he pinned all three remaining men at once. Strowman complained about the lack of competition and went off to find Mick Foley in order to complain some more. He caught up with the Hardcore Legend backstage. Foley made a match for Fastlane in four weeks against Roman Reigns, which seemed to appease the big man.

I can’t really complain about this. It’s always fun to watch Strowman beat up some tiny dudes, and a feud with Roman Reigns is probably where both men should be at the moment.

Akira Tozawa Makes his RAW Debut

Cruiserweight Classic competitor Akira Tozawa officially joined the cruiserweight division tonight, taking on Drew Gulak.

The two opened with fast paced chain wrestling back and forth. Gulak turned the match dirty with some chops to the chest, and Tozawa responded in kind. The momentum swung back and forth, the action never slowing for more than a few seconds. Tozawa hit a modified shining wizard to pick up a two count. Gulak tried to fire back, but ran into a German Suplex and the match came to a close. Brian Kendrick came out and congratulated Tozawa on his victory.

This is how the cruiserweight division needs to be handled on RAW. The two men involved didn’t have much time, so they packed as much action as possible into that timeframe. The action was fast and showcased both men well. Kendrick’s post match involvement was interesting, too. If this signals a new philosophy in booking the cruiserweights on RAW, I’ll be very pleased.

Owens and Jericho Cut a Promo

Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho made their way to the ring. Owens bragged about how he had defeated Braun Strowman last week, no mention made of the DQ nature of his victory. Jericho called himself the greatest of all time. He put Tom Brady on The List. Jericho put forth the idea of “Best Friend versus Best Friend” in the main event of WrestleMania; Jericho vs Owens in a title vs title match. Owens wasn’t sold on the idea, though. Goldberg‘s music hit, and the man himself made his way to the ring, not bleeding profusely from his forehead this time. Goldberg requested that Owens and Jericho get lost. Goldberg accepted Brock’s challenge for a WrestleMania match. Owens mocked the former WCW star, and refered to the match as an “undercard match”. Goldberg responded by asking for a title match against Owens at Fastlane. Jericho teased it, and then Goldberg wrote himself onto The List. Jericho, in a state of rage, accepted Goldberg’s challenge to Owens on Owens’ behalf. Owens was furious at his best friend. Goldberg thanked them, took his shirt off and walked away.

This was great. Who saw a Goldberg-Owens match ever happening? I didn’t. Bill has great presence, and Jeri-KO are always hilarious. There are two rules in this business: Give people what they want, but don’t give them what they expect. This segment followed that to a T.

The Club vs Sheamus and Cesaro for the WWE Tag Team Championships

Enzo and Cass sat at ringside for the match. It was explained that they are next in line for the winners of this contest. I guess that means their feud with Rusev is over? If so, I approve.

Anderson and Sheamus began the proceedings. Sheamus and Cesaro took control with fast tags to keep the Club flustered. A distraction spot by Gallows led to Anderson reestablishing control as the show went to commercial. Back from the break, Cesaro began to fight back. He made the tag to Sheamus, who cleared the ring. Gallows went after the guys at ringside, and they fought back, bringing about the DQ finish to the match, and the halfway point of the show.

Once again, you’ve got your champions looking less than dominant. I’d prefer Gallows and Anderson to look a little more dangerous than crafty, but I can’t complain too much here. It was a title match on the midcard of the weekly show; if you were expecting a classic or a non-screwy finish, what were you thinking?

The New Day vs The Shining Stars

Kofi questioned the legitimacy of The Shining Stars’ hotel and resort. The charismatic trio ran down the list of things they do for the fans, including their cereal. They asked what else they could do, teasing a New-Day Ice Cream.

Woods and Big E were the men representing their stable tonight. As the match begun, Primo was in control of Woods. Epico tagged in and they nailed a double dropkick (Hey, the Rock N’ Roll Express is going into the HOF, if you didn’t know. If that excites you, I’m lad for you). Epico kept control with a stalling vertical suplex. Despite several attempts, Woods was unable to make it to the apron to make a tag. Primo went on the offensive, but Woods made some room for himself with a missile dropkick. Big E made his explosive entry into the match and handed out some belly-to-belly suplexes. Woods and Big E hit the Midnight Hour on Epico to win the match.

I’d actually be OK if these two teams moved into a feud. The Shining Stars have more in-ring talent than they let on, and would benefit from a the exposure brought on by a feud with the premier tag team on RAW.

Chris Jericho vs Sami Zayn for the WWE United States Championship

Due to his victory over Jericho last week, Zayn got a championship match against y2J tonight.

I’ll let you know if anybody gets kicked in the stomach, and you let me know if you get that reference.

Zayn was focused right away, and got the better of the early exchanges. Zayn landed some arm-drags and sent Jericho to the outside, where he strategized with Owens. Zayn had Jericho down with a flying cross-body, and Jericho rolled to ringside. Just before commercial, Zayn jumped over the ropes and nailed Jericho with a plancha. Returning, Zayn turned Jericho inside out with a clothesline. Jericho fought back with a lionsault for a two count. Jericho countered Codebreaker attempt into a corner exploder suplex. Zayn hit a Blue Thunder Bomb, and Jericho was out at two. Zayn missed on his Tornado DDT, and Jericho countered into the Walls of Jericho. Zayn made it to the ropes to break the hold. Owens hit a sneaky superkick to Zayn while the referee was distracted. Zayn turned around into a Codebreaker by Jericho, ending the match.

I did not see any kicks to the stomach. I think the selling could have been a little better here, but that’s just a quibbling problem. This was a good match. On a bad night, these two are still some of the best in the world, so good matches are going to happen between them. Hopefully this feud can continue until Fastlane, where they can steal the show with the 20 minute classic we all know they’re capable of putting on.

Neville Interview

WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville came to the ring for an interview with Austin Aires. Aires brought up the news that Rich Swann had suffered an ankle injury and would be out of action. He announced that tomorrow night on 205 Live, a fatal five way elimination match between various cruiserweights would take place to determine the number one contendership. Neville said that he didn’t care who won. Cedric Alexander entered. So followed Noam Dar. Jack Gallagher was only moments behind. And then Tony Nese was there. And then TJ Perkins entered (Those are the five contenders tomorrow night). They all brawled, and Neville stood tall at the end.

Six Man Cruiserweight Tag Match

The faces and heels teamed up against each other in teams of three. Gentleman Jack took lots of offense from Neville, Dar and Nese. Jack knocked Nese down with a headbutt. Dar tagged in, as Jack made the hot tag to Perkins. Dar made some room for himself, but Neville refused to help out, and left the ringside area. Alexander landed the Lumbar Check on Dar to pick up the win.

I’m not going to stop pointing this out anytime soon: Noam Dar is really good. Let him do his thing, WWE. He deserves way better than to be the bottom of the division. This was a fun few minutes, and Neville looked great, leaving his partners without him.

Samoa Joe vs Roman Reigns

Main Event time!

Joe ran out and bulldozed Reigns as Roman was making his entrance. He beat down Reigns for a while. Then, he did it some more. A big senton on the arena floor had Roman clutching his ribs as the show went to commercial, match still not officially underway. Back from the break, Roman had finally made his way into the ring. Joe teed off with punches. Roman attempted to fight back, but his pre-match injuries prevented him from doing too much damage. Joe reestablished his dominance with an enzugiri. They traded blows, and Joe got the better of the exchange. Joe grinded Roman down with slow and steady pressure. Joe used a surfboard stretch. The two smashed each other with punches. Roman took control with a jumping clothesline. Joe landed an inverted atomic drop, a big boot and a senton for a two count. Roman lifted Joe and hit a Samoan Drop. Astonishingly, Joe kicked out. Roman followed Joe outside and hit a Drive-By Dropkick. Roman landed a Superman Punch. Strowman entered, interference in his eyes. Roman attacked Strowman, and was successful in driving him off. Off of the distraction, Joe hit some type of spinning side slam to pick up the win. Cole didn’t call it very well, and I don’t think it was an Island Driver. Do you recognize that move? Let me know if you do; I’ll edit this and give you a shout-out.

After the match, Roman received a parting gift from Strowman in the form of a Running Powerslam. Strowman grabbed the steel steps at ringside (Which Corey Graves claims weigh “hundreds of pounds”) and rams them into Roman. Strowman picks up The Big Dog and powerslams him through the barricade as the show ends.

Roman did a great job no-selling the pre-match beatdown after few minutes of the match. That issue aside, this was a decent scrap. Joe and Roman put on a good physical brawl, and until the end, Joe came off as unstoppable force that he needs to be booked as. I thought the decision to have Roman on top before Strowman got involved was a bit strange (Again, pre-match beatdown), but I liked the result well enough, so I can let that slide. It’s a little underwhelming that Samoa Joe wins his first ever RAW match due to interference, but whatever.

Interesting to note is that from Joe, we’ve seen the Coquina Clutch sleeper hold last week, and this move as a finisher this week. Is he maybe phasing the Muscle Buster out of his arsenal? I’d actually support that decision: I think it’s dangerous and if I’m being honest, doesn’t look that impressive to me. Joe has these other two moves that work just fine as finishing maneuvers, and are far less dangerous for the person taking the move.

And that was RAW this week. Good RAW? Bad RAW? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts, and thanks for reading!

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