March 20, 2017
From the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY
Your hosts are Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, and Michael Cole.
We get a video package from the end of last week’s show where Mick Foley “fired” Stephanie McMahon only for Triple H to come out and berate him. Foley put him in the Mandible Claw that Stephanie broke up with a low blow and just as Triple H was about to destroy him, Seth Rollins came out on one crutch then dropped it down as he ran in and beat on Triple H for a bit until he got hit with a crutch in the knee.
Foley comes out to start the live show. He talks about being the RAW GM for the past nine months and thanks both Stephanie & Triple H for the opportunity of the lifetime and jeopardized by putting Mr. Socko in Triple H’s mouth last week. He then switches focus to WrestleMania and reads off the piece of paper to say that effective immediately he is taking a leave of absence. He then screams “index cards” and rips them up saying after 31 years he knows what he is doing and that Triple H handed him then right before going off and starts to rant but his mic keeps getting cut out as Stephanie comes out and does not look pleased. Stephanie yells at Foley for messing up his opportunity to give his farewell address in his home state and cannot even do that right and needs index cards because he cannot get anything right. Stephanie gets more pissed then impersonates her father by yelling “you’re fired.” The crowd chants “no” as Foley leaves but Sami Zayn comes out instead. Zayn tells Stephanie what she is doing to Foley is wrong as he is the only one with the guts to tell her things to her face. Stephanie wants Zayn to help his broken down mentor down the stairs so they can continue the show. We now get a “CM Punk” chant as Zayn gets in the ring and says Foley has shown more integrity and class in nine months than she has in her entire life. He even thinks she should be ashamed for how she’s been acting as Stephanie completely blows him off and berates him for not being at her level and tells him to leave and jokes about playing his theme song. Zayn decides to stay and says he wants to do the right thing, not the smart thing, and that’s to sit in the ring but Samoa Joe comes out to interrupt. Stephanie tells Joe its okay as he stays in the aisle. Stephanie kicks out Foley and tells Zayn he will be facing Joe right now as his mouth is getting him into trouble. Zayn then flies out to hit Joe with a tope con hilo and heads back inside right before the break.
Not the most inspired segment I’ve ever seen. I don’t think anyone expected Mick to have the GM job any longer after last week anyway so the firing was not a shock. Truthfully, it was stale and your typical segment where Steph talks down the roster and the underdog tries to make a stand but she blows that off then puts them in a match. Zayn tried though and Foley did a fine job. The crowd was into Foley and a bit into Zayn too. But overall, a really dull way to start off the show.
Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe
This is joined-in-progress during the break. Joe beats on Zayn as the announcers talk about Foley getting fired and as a result, RAW does not have a GM heading into WrestleMania. Zayn makes a comeback but Joe blocks a Blue Thunder Bomb and knocks him down. He gets two with an elbow then goes back to beating on Zayn. Joe catches Zayn with a powerslam for a nearfall then no-sells an overhead chop and knocks Zayn down with an elbow smash. Zayn blocks a muscle buster attempt but Joe knocks him to the floor with an enziguiri. Joe then flies out with an elbow suicida as we head to break. We return with Joe working a surfboard. He takes Zayn down with another enziguiri then heads outside and runs him into the post. Joe heads inside as Zayn just beats the ten count. Joe is mildly shocked then hits some kicks to the face but Zayn comes back with a clothesline. Zayn fires away and gets two with a crossbody. Joe rolls outside as Zayn sets up for a tope but Joe pulls him outside. Zayn reverses an Irish whip to send Joe into the post then hits his dive through the ropes tornado DDT. Zayn rolls inside as Joe just beats the ten count now. Zayn sets up for the Helluva Kick but Joe plants him with an uranage then puts on the Coquina Clutch as Zayn has nowhere to go and ends up tapping out (15:59) ***1/2. On commentary, Graves said in life, the underdog gets squashed.
Thoughts: Really good TV match. They are back to stressing Zayn as the underdog now and Joe is further established as a major threat. Joe now has two clean wins on Zayn and has really been a great addition to the RAW roster. Zayn did a fine job in this match too and really does a great job in the ring at portraying an underdog. His strength here is making others look good.
We get a video package on the Roman Reigns/Braun Strowman feud to hype up their match tonight. Plus, an injury update on Seth Rollins that will happen next.
After the break, Foley tells Zayn that he appreciates what he did for him, even though it was dumb. Zayn cannot believe Foley is leaving and that they have no one to stand up for them to Stephanie as Foley tells him to do the honor for the rest of the roster. Foley then walks backstage and hugs Sheamus & Cesaro, who thank him for the chance they got and for believing in them. A few of the cruiserweights thank him then Bayley gives Foley a hug but behind them is Triple H. He smiles and stares at Foley before saying “have a nice day” then he walks off and leaves. The real takeaway here is Foley more or less passing the “stand up to the Authority” torch over to Zayn.
We now hear from Rollins’ physical therapist, Kevin Wilk, via satellite as Cole asks whether or not he will be at WrestleMania. Wilk puts over how he is doing “miraculously well,” he will still need several more months and not a doctor in America would clear him for the show. Wilk also fears that they will see him the day after WrestleMania should he choose to attend.
Charlotte Flair vs. Dana Brooke
Before the match, we saw Dana turn on Charlotte and stand up to the abuse by knocking her down. Dana tosses Charlotte down and fires away. She beats on her in the corner and screams how she will never be her protege. Charlotte rolls out for a breather then heads back in as Dana puts on a full nelson. She knocks Charlotte down then hits a clothesline for a nearfall. Dana stays in control as the crowd chants are mostly muted but she ends up running into a big boot for the win (3:36) 1/2*.
Thoughts: The first thirty seconds or so started out fine but after that it fell apart. No one cares about these two splitting up in the first place as the duo have been significantly downplayed the past few months. The fan chants might have distracted them and could have lead to the abrupt finish. Speaking of the finish, it did not do Dana any favors whatsoever and made her look like a lower card talent.
Stephanie is walking through the halls backstage and sees a sad Bayley and asks if she needs a hug. Bayley said she used to look up to Stephanie as a strong woman but since being here has saw her just abuse her power. Stephanie says being the WWE RAW Women’s Championship means you need to be a strong woman. She says Nia Jax beat her and if she wins will be put into the WrestleMania Title Match and to insure Nia will not get disqualified again,, tonight’s match is a No Disqualification match then leaves after saying Nia likes to use her power to hurt people.
Chris Jericho comes out for the Highlight Reel. He tells us his guest is the “real” Kevin Owens then mentions the “Friends of Jericho” as they go nuts. We then get a photo of a 16 year old Owens wearing a Y2J shirt with wrestling figures and posters on the wall. We then get a direct message on Twitter Owens sent Jericho as he wanted some advice after singing with the WWE. We see a clip of Jericho distracting Owens at Fastlane in his title match against Goldberg as Jericho says at WrestleMania, Owens will go back to being a 16 year old nerd in his parents basement and will become faint and dizzy when facing his hero and idol. Jericho then gets the fans to chant “stupid idiot” regarding Owens and is about to put him on the List of Jericho but Owens attacks him from behind. Owens beats him down and hits the Pop-Up Powerbomb before taking the List of Jericho and ripping it up as he tosses the pieces of paper on Jericho as the crowd chants “asshole.”
Great segment. The crowd was into Jericho, who showed how much Owens adored him as a kid then even asked for advice when signing with the company as it shows Jericho as a nice guy. It also showed Owens as a prick who would destroy anything to benefit himself, like he did here. Owens heel mannerisms and demeanor was terrific and he got tremendous heat at the end by ripping up the list.
TJ Perkins vs. The Brian Kendrick
Before the match, Perkins gives his shades to a young fan in the crowd. Kendrick fakes a handshake then after that Perkins takes over. He connects with the wrecking ball dropkick then heads inside for a crossbody that gets two. Kendrick yanks Perkins hair to escape a Detonation Kick attempt and shoves him into the ref then hits the Sliced Bread #2 for the win (1:23). After the match, Kendrick shows us that he has Tozawa’s passport then says that he’s not in the country right now as
Thoughts: Really just a way to continue the Tozawa/Kendrick. It also feels that they are subtly building towards a Perkins heel turn as he was upset with the ref here at one point and has been on the losing end of some matches due to miscommunication lately too. A heel turn would serve him and the division well as he can go in the ring.
Charly Caruso is backstage with Roman Reigns. She wants to know if the Undertaker is distracting him from his match tonight. Reigns says he’s not concerned with the Undertaker tonight and will teach Strowman a lesson.
We get a video package on Goldberg from his time in WCW as various superstars comment on how awesome he was. It finishes then we see Goldberg talking as he wanted his wife and son to see him wrestle then get a summary of the events that have led to his match at WrestleMania against Lesnar. It ends with a teaser of Lesnar’s comments on the feud, which we will hear later tonight.
Sheamus and Cesaro are talking in the hallway when Stephanie interrupts. She mentions how they thanked Foley when he was on the way out and will have to compete against Enzo Amore & Big Cass and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson tonight in a 2 vs. 4 match and if they lose, they are out of the Tag Team Championship triple threat match at WrestleMania.
Bayley vs. Nia Jax
Bayley ducks an attack then fires away until Nia shoves her down and that repeats until Nia shakes Bayley off during a sleeper attempt. Nia kicks Bayley outside then heads out. Bayley fights back and tries a hurricarana from the apron but Nia catches her. Bayley fights off but gets yanked off of the apron then dodges a charging Nia, who hits the steps as both women are down heading into the break. The match returns with Nia working a headlock in the ring. She hits a shoulderbreaker for two as we see Sasha Banks watching from the locker room. Nia runs over Bayley then works a Cobra Clutch but Bayley get out. Bayley slaps Nia across the face and ends up getting tossed outside. Nia grabs Bayley by the head and keeps swinging her into the barricade. She grabs a chair after rolling Bayley inside but Bayley kicks it into her face. Bayley has Nia trapped in the ropes and takes her down with a running knee as Nia falls back into the ring. Bayley gets a nearfall with a clothesline. Flying body press gets two. Nia yanks Bayley off of the top then hits a Samoan Drop for the win (10:20) **1/4.
Thoughts: They both worked hard but the crowd was disinterested, chanting all sorts of things throughout. The No DQ stipulation was pointless here though and the overall direction of RAW’s Women’s Division is just awful and can very well be attributed to the crowd’s disinterest. Really a lazy way to build up to a fatal four way match.
We get a video package on Mae Young to promote “Women’s History Month.”
Cole welcomes Triple H to the ring for an interview. Triple H will also appear on ESPN’s “First Take” tomorrow at 10am EST. Triple H asks how the crowd is going and says he is “having a nice day.” Cole asks Triple H about the comments from Rollins’ physical therapist and wanted this fight at WrestleMania, as he is in the best shape of his life, but once again Rollins is hurt. The crowd chants “CM Punk” so Triple H speaks faster and continues to do so as he drowns that out. He then talks about the fans ruining guys like Rollins and even Mick Foley, who the crowd chants for, as they dictate their actions. Triple H wants to know how the crowd chants worked out for Rollins last week and wants the footage shown again as we take another look. Cole asks Triple H about Rollins being his one-time protege. Triple H said he gave Rollins the blueprint to succeed in wrestling but when it came down to it and there was no one there to pick him up, he whined and cried like a millenial. He calls himself Rollins’ crutch and how its ironic he picked up a crutch to beat him senseless last week. Triple H then declares he is officially done with Rollins and gives Cole an envelope containing WrestleMania tickets, which are up in the nosebleeds so he can hear the roar of the crowd. Triple H then said what if there was a way to make it possible to compete against Rollins at WrestleMania and that is Rollins will have to sign a waiver to say he will not sue the company, his wife, or himself and if he wants the fight, he can bring the contract for Rollins to sign next week. Triple H yells at Rollins to show him he wants the fight then ends by wondering if he is a coward.
Triple H did a damn good job here in drowning out the crowd chants by speaking faster and essentially not stopping. The promo itself was fine and he got the crowd into the idea of his match against Rollins as they have a segment for next week to hype the show.
Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson & Enzo Amore & Big Cass
Enzo & Cass taunt both their opponents and teammates then get attacked by Gallows & Anderson. Enzo & Cass fight back then Cesaro holds up Anderson as Sheamus hits a Brogue Kick and that gets the win (0:33). After the match, Cass boots Gallows to the floor then hit the Bada Boom Shakalaka on Anderson.
Thoughts: This whole segment was idiotic if you ask me. The champs attacked their teammates then lost and then got laid out again after losing by their teammates, looking like complete chumps from start to finish.
The New Day run down the matches at WrestleMania. It started with Big E asking Xavier if there was something he had to say and that led to them talking about the show as they lightly hinted at the leaked videos he was in with Paige.
Austin Aries comes down to the ring for his match, which will take place after the break.
Austin Aries vs. Tony Nese
Nese immediately attacks Aries after the bell. He hammers away but Aries uses a cartwheel then a bell clap to stun Nese. Aries gets caught with a kick as Nese then hits him with a crossface. He hits a leg drop after a slam as that gets two. Aries ends up backdropping Nese outside and follows with a tope as his arm crashes into the barricade. We head to break and return with Nese using a Torture Rack. Aries escapes with a sunset flip then avoids a double jump moonsault. Aries fights back then hits the STO/Facebuster combo before dropping the pendulum elbow. He follows with a rolling senton then hits a missile dropkick before the rolling elbow puts him away (7:54) **3/4. After the match, Neville comes out. Aries jokingly refers to him as the “King of the Cruiserweights” and says he does not have an interview scheduled. Neville refers to him as “lad” and that he can obliterate him right now but why would he do that as he’s beneath him and he can sit back and watch his ego spiral out of control to make his WrestleMania victory more satisfying. Aries says that was the worst interview segment he has ever done because Neville is a man who is below the level of himself and he wants Neville to tell everyone he knows about being the King of the Cruiserweights because that facade will end after WrestleMania.
Thoughts: Good match. Nese got some shine here as he was put over on commentary as someone feeling overlooked and frustrated. He even showed more personality than usual here, which is his weakness. The Aries/Neville stuff has been decent and I would not be surprised to learn if Aries hurt himself on that tope as he hit the barricade hard and really sold his arm throughout the match.
Emma is coming soon to RAW.
We get the video package on Brock Lesnar to hype the Universal Title match at WrestleMania.
Charly is backstage with Strowman, who cuts her off and said he is here to destroy Reigns and not “face”him.
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Reigns attacks Strowman after the bell. He tries for the Drive By but Strowman decks him then takes control of the match. He whips Reigns into the corner then works a chinlock. Reigns escapes and hits a clothesline then fires away. Strowman gets out of a Samoan Drop attempt then runs Reigns over. Reigns dodges a charge in the corner as Strowman hits the post then he hits ten clotheslines. He then picks him up for the Samoan Drop and gets two. Strowman rolls outside where Reigns its the Drive By. Strowman fights back then tosses the steps into the ring and enters but Reigns hits a Superman Punch. They counter each other’s finishers then Reigns hits a Superman Punch as Strowman holds him up and sets up for the spear but the lights go off and they come back on with the Undertaker in the ring. Undertaker stares at Reigns then looks at Strowman, who he hits with a chokeslam. Reigns then spears Undertaker and says this is his yard then glances into the camera briefly as he leaves when his music hits. As he heads up the ramp, Undertaker sits up as Reigns turns around then makes a throat slice gesture (10:00) **.
Thoughts: The match was ruled a no-contest and really just a way to hype the Taker/Reigns feud and not have Strowman get pinned. Strowman did not come out of this that strong and its clear he is not involved in anything major at WrestleMania this year. The match was nowhere near as good than what they did at Fastlane.
Final Thoughts: Overall, the show flamed out after the first hour. There were some good interview segments and the Zayn vs. Joe match was a blast but the rest of the show was largely uninspired. The Women’s Division is poorly booked and the Tag Team segment was horrendous. They have focus on the top Mania matches but they do not seem like must-see events and everything else comes off as filler with just 13 days away until the show.