February 20, 2017
From the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA
Your hosts are Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, and Michael Cole
We get a graphic honoring George “The Animal” Steele, who passed away this weekend.
Clips of last week’s “Festival of Friendship” where Kevin Owens attacked Chris Jericho.
The live show starts off with Owens in the ring, sitting on a chair while the spotlight is on as the arena is dark. Owens says the spotlight is now where it belongs and he can answer the question of why does everyone think he can walk out of Fastlane as the Universal Champion. Owens says if you asked him when he was 15 years old if he would be wrestling Goldberg in a PPV, he’d never believe that Goldberg would be there. The crowd chants for Goldberg as Owens says he does not believe the hype and never did when he was a child. Owens said Brock Lesnar took Goldberg lightly and lost in one minute and twenty-six seconds but he will not make the same mistake. Owens says all he does is have to outlast Goldberg as the longer it goes the less effective Goldberg becomes. He then talks about not letting Goldberg use his Universal Title as a prop in his superhero fantasy and at Fastlane will show Goldberg, his son, and everyone else that superheroes do not exist. Owens then says Goldberg can chant “you’re next” all he wants because as far as he’s concerned Goldberg is nothing. Owens is then about to address Chris Jericho but instead drops the mic and walks out of the ring.
Good promo from Owens. I really liked how they presented this with the spotlight and having him not even address why he attacked Jericho was a great way to piss off the crowd. Owens ditching the comedy act is for the best and he carried himself quite well in his new heel role. This was a good way to start off the show.
#1 RAW Tag Team Championship Contender Match: Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
Enzo & Cass did their routine before the match and called themselves the next RAW Tag Team Champions. Sheamus and Cass fire away in the corner to start. Sheamus hits a spinning heel kick in the corner after Cass misses a corner splash. Cass biels Sheamus back inside from the apron but Cesaro tags in as the ex-champs are briefly in control. Cass catches Sheamus with a scoop slam then Enzo tags in as they run wild. Sheamus knocks Enzo to the floor then Cesaro tags and hits a running uppercut and mocks Enzo’s dance as we head to break. The match returns with Sheamus working a chinlock on Enzo. He hits the Irish Curse then drops a knee for a nearfall before tagging out. Cesaro gets two with a double stomp then shortly after that backdrops a charging Cesaro outside. Enzo ducks out where Sheamus chases him back inside where Cesaro blasts him with a uppercut in midair for two. Cesaro misses an attack in the corner then tags out as Cass runs wild on Sheamus. Cesaro makes a blind tag and hits Cass with an uppercut then gets a nearfall with a double jump crossbody. Cass counters a Neutralizer with a backdrop and hits a springboard corkscrew uppercut but Enzo breaks up a swing attempt. Enzo gets dumped but Cass catches Cesaro with the East River Crossing for the win (9:20) **. After the match, Enzo taunts his opponents on the mic and eats a Brogue Kick as a result. A “thank you, Sheamus” chant breaks out from the crowd.
Thoughts: Nothing great here and the finish was abrupt. Enzo still really struggles in the ring and Cass really is not showing much either right now to be honest. Enzo is also becoming increasingly grating and the crowd even chanted thank you at Sheamus for kicking him in the face after the match. What Enzo was doing after the match works as a heel, not a babyface. The Tag Title match at Fastlane has potential to become a trainwreck to be honest.
Backstage, Owens is walking out as Mick Foley tells him he has a match tonight against Sami Zayn. Owens tells Foley he thought he liked Zayn and to be careful or else he’ll have more injured guys in his locker room.
We get a video package to hype the Big Show vs. Braun Strowman match that will take place later tonight.
Now, we get a video package on Bayley with clips from her match last week where she won the RAW Women’s Championship. After it ends, a tweet from Charlotte today demanding her title back as Bayley will address that tonight.
Foley is on the phone with “one of the greatest guitarists in the world” when Roman Reigns walks in the office. Foley tells Reigns he will have to wait until Fastlane to face Strowman. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson walk in and talk a little bit of trash as Foley tells Reigns he can get a partner and they can have a match tonight but Reigns does not want a partner. Looks like we are getting a rematch from last week.
Brian Kendrick vs. Akira Tozawa
We get clips from last week’s “205 Live” where Kendrick tried to mentor Tozawa but got denied. Kendrick gets pissed as Tozawa refuses a handshake so he attacks Tozawa before the bell. He snaps Tozawa’s head off of the steel that holds the turnbuckle and puts him in the Captain’s Hook. Kendrick then puts on his jacket and leaves as Tozawa looks irate in the ring. The match is ruled a no-contest as the bell never officially started. Backstage, Charly Caruso is with Kendrick, who flips out over Tozawa disrespecting him and that what happened tonight was a lesson in respect.
Thoughts: A decent segment to start a feud between the two. Tozawa did look like a bit of an idiot in that he did not trust Kendrick’s handshake but at the same time took his eyes off of him. Hopefully, this is just a feud to put Tozawa over.
Roman Reigns vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Anderson attacks Reigns before the bell. Reigns fights back and hits a few shoulder blocks then he slaps Gallows off of the apron. Reigns fights off both men and hits Gallows with the Drive By but Anderson grabs him by the hair and that allows Gallows time to recover and hit a boot to the face. Back inside, Gallows hammers away on Reigns. He gets two with a spinebuster but Reigns dodges a Boot of Doom attempt. Reigns gets dragged outside and beaten down by the champs. Gallows grabs a chair but Reigns kicks him down. Reigns stares at the chair before picking it up as he hits both men and gets disqualified (3:58) *1/2. After the match, Reigns beats on Anderson but Gallows cuts him off. Reigns catches Gallows with the Superman Punch then catches Anderson in midair with a spear in a cool spot as the champs limp up the aisle.
Thoughts: This match did not do those involved any favors. The champs looked weak and Reigns’ beatdown was not his best stuff. The spear looked fine but he has done that spot before (Survivor Series) and it looked better. The crowd did not care for Reigns as a whole but they found two girls in Seth Rollins’ shirts that appeared to be fans of the Big Dog.
Clips of Owens from earlier in the show.
We get clips of the New Day on TMZ.com as they talk about being the hosts for WrestleMania 33.
Before their match against Rusev & Jinder Mahal, the New Day inform us that their Ice Cream Machine blueprints are back as they remembered them and they are now on an iPad. Lana then informs them she has the plans and reads them off as its all ridiculous stuff as they work in a Russian hacking reference as they all are in the ring arguing as we head to commercial. Way too long of a set up for a Russian hacking punchline.
Rusev & Jinder Mahal w/ Lana vs. Kofi Kingston & Big E w/ Xavier Woods
This match is joined-in-progress. Rusev puts Kofi in a bearhug then connects with a dropkick. Jinder tags and drops some knees before Rusev comes back in and roughs up Kofi, who comes back with a tornado DDT. The crowd rallies behind Kofi as he tags out as Big E is tossing around Jinder. Big E hits a splash but Rusev runs in to break up the Big Ending with a super kick. Kofi dumps Rusev and flies out with a plancha as Lana is flipping out for Rusev to get up. Xavier then shocks Lana with the trumpet and tosses the iPad up in the air as Xavier catches it and has the plans. Back inside, Big E beats on Jinder then the New Day hit the Midnight Hour for the win (3:40) *1/2.
Thoughts: The crowd dug the New Day’s antics. The match itself was not anything special as the New Day are really without direction at the moment. This ice cream comedy routine is really hit or miss depending on your comedy style.
We then get a video package on George “The Animal” Steele. It was a great video and the crowd gave it a standing ovation when it ended.
Austin Aries is in the ring for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match contract signing between Jack Gallagher and Neville. There is tea and biscuits on the table with miniature British flags. Gallagher signs the contract as Aries welcomes out Neville, calling him “delusional” for thinking he is the King of the Cruiserweights. Gallagher wants Neville to come in and have some of the tea and biscuits and go over their differences. Neville tells Gallagher he is exactly what these “American imbeciles” expect from the English and that he is a caricature, not a real person. Neville says real people from England are ugly and tough before he tells Gallagher the fans laugh at him. Gallagher then corrects Neville by saying he is not playing a gentleman but in fact he is the gentleman. However, Neville’s problem is that he believes he is a king and better than everyone else, whuch is something he does not stand for. Neville tips over the tables and asks Gallagher what he will do about it and mocks him for wanting to start a duel but Gallagher takes Neville down and hits a headbutt to the jaw. Neville gets back up on the apron but Gallagher takes his umbrella and puts it at his throat so Neville gets pissed off and leaves.
I thought this segment was really good. Gallagher stood up to Neville, who ran him down for essentially being a clown, and showed off his intensity while Neville continues to excel in his role as a heel. Both of these guys sold me on their match at Fastlane and they even planted the seeds for a future Neville vs. Aries match since Aries called Neville “delusional” here.
Nia Jax vs. Sara Pierce
Jax pushes Pierce down and tosses her across the ring. She continues to overpower Pierce until putting out of his misery with a Samoan Drop (0:35). After the match, Charly heads to the ring and asks Jax about last week’s RAW Women’s Championship match controversy. Jax says the only controversy is that she has not received a shot at the championship and would have snapped the crutch in half and shoved it down their throats as she puts Bayley on notice.
We get a Black History Month segment on Barack Obama.
Bayley heads out to the ring after the break. We get another clip of her winning the RAW Women’s Title last week. A “you deserve it” chant breaks out from the crowd then Bayley talks about growing up in California and how her friends all had their own dreams as she always wanted to become a WWE Champion. Bayley talks about the match and how people are asking her to explain the moment as she cannot put it in words other than saying it was awesome. Bayley then talks about Charlotte how she is the WWE Champion and to face the facts but Stephanie McMahon interrupts. Stephanie asks Bayley about her dreams and if she pictured it in front of a sold out crowd on RAW or to almost lose and win due to a cheap shot, calling her win a tainted victory. Stephanie then asks Bayley if she is willing to throw away everything she stands for by holding on to a Championship she really did not earn. Stephanie says the Bayley she knows would do the right thing and relinquish the RAW Women’s Championship. Bayley looks sad and unhooks the belt around her waist as Stephanie wants her to stand up for the children and win the title the right way as she holds out her hands. Sasha Banks then comes out as Stephanie tries to create conflict between Sasha and Bayley but Sasha tells Bayley not to listen to this garbage and listen to the fans. Stephanie wants to know if Sasha is out here because she cannot beat Charlotte for the Championship (something she did three times mind you) and can defeat Bayley instead. Bayley said she worked her whole life to be a champion and did not work this hard to be handed a title and the title should represent something else. Bayley is then about to give an answer as she says “hell no” to relinquishing the belt and its not because of Sasha as she pinned Charlotte in the ring for the third time. She then thanks the fans but Charlotte comes out and apologizes to “Ms. McMahon” on behalf of the Women’s Division due to the disrespect shown by Sasha & Bayley. She also tells Bayley she is determined to get her title back as she will invoke her rematch clause at Fastlane. Sasha cuts Charlotte off and says her knee is better and how about they wrestle for old time sake as Stephanie orders the match to take place after the break.
The segment was long and I did not think the performances here were all that good to be honest. Charlotte’s line about putting Sasha in a wheelchair was very wooden and Bayley still struggles on the mic and she had to talk a lot here. The setup of Stephanie trying to get Bayley to give up the title is trying too hard to recreate a Daniel Bryan vs. Authority storyline that main evented WrestleMania almost three years ago.
Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte
Sasha slaps Charlotte, who then attacks the leg. Bayley is on commentary as Sasha comes back with a rollup for two. Bayley talks about how she cannot give up her dreams as Sasha beats on Charlotte in the corner until she misses a double knee smash. Charlotte blocks a sunset flip and drives Sasha’s face into the mat as that gets a two count. Charlotte drives Sasha’s head into the mat then works a headscissors for a bit. She dumps Sasha outside right before the break and we return with Charlotte working a Dragon Sleeper after hitting a neckbreaker. Sasha flips out and gets two with a reverse rollup then runs wild. She gets two with a wheelbarrow bulldog but Charlotte rolls outside to avoid a double knee drop but gets hit with a Meteora. Dana Brooke runs out but Bayley attacks her from behind and beats her down. Back inside, Charlotte takes Sasha off of the top rope but Sasha comes back and makes Charlotte tap out with the Banks Statement (10:01) **1/2.
A video package on Diamond Dallas Page being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Backstage, Charly is with Sami Zayn. She asks him about his match against Kevin Owens tonight and if what happened to Jericho was not a surprise. Zayn said that Owens ends up turning on everyone and like Samoa Joe, will do anything and justify their behaviors. Zayn says they think its okay because Triple H believes in them and that time will catch up with Samoa Joe as their story is not over and that before he deals with Goldberg at Fastlane, Owens will have to deal with him “kicking his teeth in” tonight.
Zayn comes out to the ring for his match against Owens but gets ambushed from behind by Samoa Joe. Zayn gets destroyed then Joe grabs Zayn by the face and screams “This is your world now” as he tosses Zayn into the ring. The ref calls off the match but Zayn, who can barely pull himself up by using the ropes, demands the match go on as planned. Another tremendous beatdown by Joe. He’s really excelling on the main roster and comes off like a force.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
Owens clobbers Zayn with a pair of running knee strikes in the corner then hits a cannonball. Owens stomps a mudhole in Zayn as Cole notes something changed in Owens after last week as he is destroying Zayn. Owens then pulls Zayn up and hits the Pop Up Powerbomb for the win (1:13).
Thoughts: Owens reverting back to the persona he used in NXT is for the best. He had a tremendous performance tonight as he is no longer cracking jokes and using Jericho to his own advantage.
We get a graphic for Ivan Koloff, who also passed away this weekend.
Stephanie and Foley are backstage. Stephanie is upset about being embarrassed by Bayley as Foley is messing around as Stephanie dresses him down for being insubordinate. Foley then stands up for himself and demands to not be treated like he is an idiot. He then blames Stephanie for Seth Rollins missing another WrestleMania and refuses to be belittled by anyone or let her greed get in the way of what he knows to be right. Foley is about to leave as Stephanie says she wouldnt want him to have an accident after informing him their was a cord on the floor. They are setting up Foley’s exit of the GM role here.
Cole conducts a sitdown interview with Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman. He asks them about Goldberg but Heyman tells him to lower his voice as Lesnar chases Cole out of his seat and stares into the camera as Heyman talks about how Lesnar disagrees that Owens will beat Goldberg at Fastlane and if Goldberg wins he will go into their WrestleMania as the Universal Champion.
Next week on RAW, Goldberg and Seth Rollins will appear.
Braun Strowman vs. Big Show
These two have a stare down then back off before locking up. A “this is awesome” chant breaks out as Strowman rolls through and kips-up to counter a wrist lock. He works a side headlock on the mat after getting tripped. Strowman drops Show with a clothesline then again with a big boot. He boots Show in the ribs but gets caught around the throat. Strowman counters a chokeslam with a DDT for two then goes back to beating on Show. He gets two with a clothesline but Show blocks a suplex and they fight over that until Show finally gets him over as both men are down. Strowman gets up but eats boot on a charge. Show fights back and hits an avalanche then a flying shoulder tackle. He then hits a chokeslam but Strowman is able to kick out. Show then heads up to the second rope but Strowman cuts him off. Show slips out of a powerslam attempt and places Strowan up top. He hits a chop as the crowd stands as Show sets up for a superplex. Strowman fights him off and leaps but Show catches him in midair with the KO punch. He covers but Strowman kicks out of that too as the announcers are shocked. Show goes back up top for a Vader Bomb as Strowman ducks underneath then lifts him up and almost drops Show but manages to hit a powerslam for a two count. Strowman fights off a chokeslam and hits another powerslam as that gets the win (12:10) **1/2. After the match, Reigns runs out and hits Strowman with a few Superman punches as the crowd boos. He sets up for the spear but Strowman hits a running dropkick then Strowman hits a running powerslam to end the show.
Thoughts: This match was well-paced but started to dip in quality towards the end. The crowd was engaged the entire time though and both men worked hard. I also though the commentators did a great job at making this feel like a main event. Strowman did some athletic stuff for a guy his size as he continues to improve in the ring and the match accomplished what it needed to with Strowman going over. Having Reigns come out at the end was never going to get a favorable response from the crowd as once again the Reigns experiment failed in front of a live crowd.
Final Thoughts: Overall, a really good show this week. Owens reverting back to his old character was great as he cut a tremendous promo to lead off the show. I also thought they did a great job with the video packages tonight too. They did some different production techniques for Owens and the Lesnar/Heyman segment and it was for the best The only negatives where the way they pushed Roman Reigns and the women’s segment lasted too long for its own good. The wrestling itself was not the greatest but it was not terrible, either.
Fastlane has been built up better than any other “B” show since the brand split, IMO, and I am excited to see the show.