I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m a little heartbroken about Raw being in the UK and me having absolutely no way of getting there, but it’s fine, I’m okay, we can do this. Time for our scheduled recap, and I’ll do my best not to be too bitter. But I’m super jealous of all my friends who were there.
We open in Manchester with a huge union jack flag and the screams of the English, because we’re not exactly known to be quiet. We start off hard, with Seth’s championship belt on a pedestal in the middle of the ring, and Triple H coming out to give us an important announcement. Commentary as usual is Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and JBL. We see a few tweets about what’s going to happen with the title, and then it’s time for Trips to speak. He seems pretty happy with the ‘Triple H’ cries from the elated audience.
Trips says he wants to acknowledge Seth, and the crowd noises are conflicted, somewhere between hurt and wanting to cheer. They start a ‘thank you Rollins’ chant, which is pretty hard to listen to, and you can see how Triple H is actually having a few emotions over this. The crowd boos that Seth has to vacate the title, and Triple H talks about Roman Reign’s number one contendership, and calls Roman out to the ring. As Roman walks down, we get the cry from commentary of ‘chaos brings ladders’. Thank you, commentary team.
Reigns nods to Triple H, and this is all a bizarre show of respect as Roman looks at the title, and Trips says it’s unfair that Roman earned the number 1 contender slot but goes back to the bottom of the pile. Roman’s nodding at this, and Trips says he can make it a lot easier for him, that everyone else has to fight for the right to face Roman at Survivor Series. Trips says that back when they chose Seth, they strongly considered taking Roman in. Roman doesn’t look impressed. Triple H brings up Wrestlemania, saying how Seth stole the title from him, and how he’ll never know whether he could have kept that title or not, because Seth had the will to do anything in order to win, and Roman did not.
Triple H says he can make those walls go away, that he can make it different and easy for him, how he can make the championship happen, if Roman becomes Triple H’s man. Roman doesn’t look convinced, and Triple H tells him not to stick to silly morals. Triple H drapes the title over Roman’s shoulder, tells him this is all Roman’s wanted since he was a boy, that Trips is offering to help his family, to help what’s most important in Roman’s life. He holds out his hand to Roman, offering a handshake. The crowd are divided between yes and no chants, but when Roman says he’s never taken a handout, they cheer for him, and Roman tells Trips to shove his offer. Trips says thank you to Roman for reminding him why he picked Seth over him, and that his match starts now, where he’s at the back of the line.
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match One – Roman Reigns vs Big Show
Big Show ambles down to the ring like a mudslide disguised as a wrestler, and we realise that if they are going to put the title on Roman, they’re going to make him work for it. Big Show gets a good to Roman’s gut, then a headbutt, covering his for a kick-out at one. Flinging him out of the ring, Big Show throws Reigns into the barricades twice, but Reigns gets Big Show into the ringpost, before Show throws him back into the ring. Reigns goes for an elbow, but Show catches him with a big paw, and then bounces Reigns’ head off the apron, using the ropes.
Roman barely gets a shoulder up at two, but he’s lying in the ring like he can barely move, and when Big Show throws him outside of the ring, Reigns lies still, almost unable to get back up to his knees. Thankfully, the way Big Show moves without speed or urgency, Roman gets the chance to recover, but makes the mistake of trying to lift the weight of the giant, and gets planted onto the mat as his reward. After a commercial break, Reigns seems to be doing a good job of getting on his feet, but Big Show catches him for the bear hug, and Roman’s losing his breath and starting to sag, but gets a couple of good elbows to Big Show’s face, breaking the hold. He lifts Big Show for a Samoan drop, but it seems to have taken a lot out of him, with Big Show out of the ring. Reigns gets up for kicks to Big Show’s head on the apron, but Big Show swats him down to the ring floor. Reigns gets a couple of boots to Big Show in the corner.
The Manchester crowd try a few chants, but it’s the North of England, and unless the chant is ‘tea’, it’s a little difficult to understand. Roman gets Big Show with a drive-by, but when Reigns goes for the superman punch, Big Show catches him in a chokeslam. Reigns gets his superman punch as Big Show goes for his finisher, and takes Big Show down with a spear for the three count. Upon winning, he shakes his head, like he can’t believe he had to go through that.
We get a reminder that Survivor Series is the anniversary of The Undertaker, and that the Wyatts are doing great things in video production these days, before we go to a commercial break.
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match Two – Kevin Owens vs Titus O’Neil
So, we realise that Cole and JBL still don’t know how to pronounce Manchester, and want to put ‘the’ in front of the name of Manchester United. Oh dear. Wayne Rooney is in attendance tonight, presumably with his kids. Aww.
Kevin Owens complains about his music being cut short, and shows us that his wrestling gear has pockets. He talks about how he’s going to bring change to the WWE, and how the UK fans are dumb because they worship the Queen. Knowing Manchester, I’m figuring someone’s going to glass KO after the show. In fact, it being Manchester, they might not wait until the show is over.
Titus comes down, and KO is straight in there, but taken down with a boot and over to the crowd, who roundly abuse him for what he’s just said. Titus hits him hard into the barricade, and you can practically feel the joy of the Manchester crowd. When we come back from a commercial break, Owens has Titus in a headlock, but Titus gets him in the corner, before Owens gets a kick to him and then a running senton. Owens never stops with the trash talk, giving a few good chops to O’Neil, who grips him by the hand and goes for him – but again, when the official pulls him away, KO gets a knee to him. Two shoulder tackles from O’Neil, who showcases his power and superior mobility by planting KO. Owen gets him into a rollup, but Titus gets himself back up. Impressive power from Titus, who lifts KO easily, but the pop-up powerbomb is what it takes from KO to get Titus down for the three count. Owens also steals JBL’s hat, because why not.
Renee Young interviews Paige, and complains about how Renee accused her of something she didn’t do. Renee asks if Paige is worried she’s awoken a sleeping dragon in Becky Lynch, and Paige replies that she thinks of her less as a dragon and more as a rat. Paige calls Charlotte ‘Baby Flair’ and says she’s going to take out Becky Lynch, take the ‘B’ out of PCB, and then all she’ll have left is ‘that C’. Careful, Paige, it’s still PG, even if you are on home turf!
Again we get a reminder about the Wyatts and The Undertaker, and how the Wyatts are going to pay their respects to Kane and The Undertaker tonight.
Becky Lynch comes out to a good pop for a match against Paige, but Paige gets incredible noise from the crowd, as she’s on home ground tonight. Again, so good to be seeing the Divas being real people again, rather than groups of bitches. We get a quick recap of how Paige won to face Charlotte at Survivor Series, which still looks awesome.
The match is out of the ring straight away, Becky and Paige locked at the shoulders, and Paige doesn’t last long before Becky gets her in a submission move. We see Charlotte watching backstage, and Paige gets free, tugging at Becky’s hair and getting a good cheer from the crowd for her ‘this is my house’ cry. She has Becky in the corner, pulling at her arms as she’s upside down on the ring post. One more submission move from Paige, but Becky fights her way out of it and pulls Paige into the same, before Paige plants Becky.
The lass Kicker doesn’t stay down, though, getting good kicks in to Paige, until she gets the roll up for the pin, which Paige kicks out of at the two count. Becky kicks out of a similarly quick pin, and then lifts Paige easily. One more kick out from Paige, but as Becky goes from the ropes, Paige catches her with a kick. Becky’s showing off her flexibility and skill, which is awesome to see. Paige hits the RamPaige, but Becky’s close enough to grab the ropes. She goes for the tap out, but again, Becky gets to the ropes. Two roll ups later, and Paige is pinned, but she doesn’t wait long before bouncing Becky off the announce table, and hits her with the PTO on the announce table. Charlotte’s music hits, and Paige makes a retreat, roundly booed by the crowd as Charlotte checks on Becky, helping her friend walk out of the ring. Paige mimes ‘boo hoo’ as she leaves to Becky’s music.
We shill Wrestlemania tickets, and Stone Cold, because apparently we’re still selling him – especially as our normal superstars are off in Europe – and we see excited Texan fans, hearing about record-breaking ticket sales.
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match Three – Dolph Ziggler vs The Miz
I’ve got a soft spot for Dolph Ziggler a mile wide, so I can’t help but smile when The Miz gets zero reaction from the crowd, but Dolph gets a cheer. The bell rings almost before Dolph has got his shirt of, and I can’t lie that I’m a little disappointed that he’s wearing trousers and not trunks today. The match seems pretty evenly matched, with The Miz trying to get out of the ring to get away, before Ziggler’s injured knee is getting stomped on again and again. We are reminded that The Miz once headlined Wrestlemania as Dolph gets the injured knee stretched. Miz goes for the figure four, but Ziggler gets him pinned, though he kicks out.
Another pin, this time to Ziggler, and it looks like he’s down, especially with the knee, but he kicks out, and rolls up Miz for a two count. Miz gets the figure four locked in on Dolph, Miz screaming for him to tap and Dolph looking to be in intense pain. You can hear the crowd calling out for Dolph as he gets to the rope. Miz is pushing the counts as far as he can, but Ziggler crawls himself up, gets the superkick in to Miz, and wins the match. He’s barely standing at this point, but gets himself out of the ring and onto the floor, hopping his way over to put his hands near the title, raising it above his head.
Another reminder that the Wyatts are going to talk our ears off at some point, so we’d better hope that Kane and Taker are enjoying whatever dank basement they’re being kept in. Probably feels a lot like home.
Zeb Colter needs no introduction, talking about MexAmerica, saying he’d let England join in if they weren’t so universally despised. We talk about the economy, how England is Germany’s bitch, and how England doesn’t want refugees and also how Scotland wants to leave the UK. Wow. Shots fired. I’m actually just really impressed to hear this, to be honest. Mock our global policy! Do it! We get told that Del Rio will be having his championship match on SmackDown on Thursday night, and Zeb and Del Rio leave, having made their statement.
Team BAD are walking the hallways, and we’re informed that Nattie has challenged Naomi but saying Sasha is the leader. Nattie’s out of the ring quickly, but grabs Naomi by the leg and slams her face onto the apron. With the official not looking, Sasha gets a cheap shot into Nattie, so Naomi can drag her into the ring and hand out punishment. Nattie moves out of the way and takes Naomi down with a clothesline. Nattie tries to start ‘We want Sasha’ chants, and Sasha jumps out onto the apron, distracting Nattie for Naomi to hit her. Nattie get the pin, and Sasha leaps into the ring, eventually getting the Bank Statement, making Nattie tap out to them as Tamina and Naomi mock her.
Sad to see this match cut short for yet another Brothers of Destruction promo, but I guess two decent length Diva matches would be a calamity or something.
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match Four – Sheamus vs Cesaro
Sheamus walks out with his best buddy Barrett – clearly having some English back-up there – to face Cesaro, who’s been having a hell of a push lately, so I’m not going to be surprised if he takes the win. Cesaro gets a huge pop from the crowd, and the Cesaro Section signs are up. We see that Rooney and Barrett have had a small altercation, and Barrett has to be told to get out of the ring. Cesaro’s enjoying the chants, tapping his ear.
Sheamus looks like he’s pretty strong against Cesaro, putting him in an arm bar, and we’re reminded this match is to meet Roman Reigns in the semi finals. Sheamus takes steps outside of the ring, and gets a pep talk from Barrett as the ‘you look stupid’ chants rise from the Manchester crowd. Cesaro gets the impetus, and gets a fantastic uppercut over the ropes to send Sheamus onto the floor, before throwing him back into the ring. Sheamus gets him into the Irish curse backbreaker, Cesaro looking to be in some pain as Sheamus gets some good slaps in before laying him out on the apron.
Sheamus is trying to get Cesaro to fade, but he gets back to his feet and gets a good kick to Sheamus. He tries for the top rope, but Sheamus gets him down. The Cesaro chants rise, and Sheamus gets Cesaro pinned for the two count. Sheamus tries some trash talk, but Cesaro comes back, lands of his feet from doing a full rotation, and plants Sheamus easily. Sheamus tries to get back up, and Cesro goes for the swing, Sheamus getting his way to the bottom rope to break the hold. Taking them out over the top rope, they’re both out of the ring, and Cesaro looks like he’s got a stinger, shaking life back into his arm and moving his shoulder. Sheamus is making an effort to get back in the ring as the official is counting them out, at a count of eight. Sheamus is back in, but Cesaro just makes it. He bounces off the second rope but Sheamus catches him, hitting white noise, but Cesaro kicks out at two.
Cesaro gets the sharpshooter after Sheamus grandstands for the crowd, but Sheamus makes his way to the bottom rope. Cesaro seems to be having trouble with that right arm hanging loose, but he gets some good hits in with it before swapping to the other arm. He lifts Sheamus to the top of the ringpost and dropkicks him off the ring. He gets him into the timekeepers’ area before some good high fives to the Cesaro section, including Wayne Rooney. Barrett’s getting involved, shouting at him, and Manchester likes nothing more than a good fight. Sheamus goes for Cesaro, and Barret gets a slap from trash talking Rooney. Cesaro seems to take this as a personal affront and gets the pin on Sheamus, before going to stand with Rooney and then the Cesaro section. He’s still holding that arm oddly, but looks happy with his win over Sheamus. So that’s Cesaro through to face Roman Reigns in the second round – sucks to be Cesaro, because of course Reigns will go over him, but that’s a great push for Cesaro.
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match Five – Dean Ambrose vs Tyler Breeze
So we all know how this one will go, because we need to see Ambrose vs Reigns in the title match, but it’s a massive push for Breeze to put him up against Ambrose so soon after his debut, so I’m excited to see how they play this out and whether they make it look like a fairly even match.
Renee interviews Tyler Breeze, who insists Renee is ugly. Uh, you’re about to fight the girl’s man. Maybe don’t suggest she’s not hot. Summer Rae and Tyler call Dean homeless, and say his ensemble was found on a trash heap. Seriously, Tyler, I adore you, but Dean Ambrose is going to wear your skin.
There’s a little circling, with Tyler stepping into the corner before Dean’s in and getting Tyler down. Tyler’s ready to climb out of the ring to keep that precious face pretty. Summer Rae puts herself in harm’s way, screaming, but Breeze still manages to get hit with the clothesline from Ambrose. Outside of the ring, Dean sets himself up on the barricade in Tyler’s selfie pose, and blows a kiss as the crowd scream for him. Charisma in and out of the ring is Ambrose’s forte, and at the very least, this looks like it’s going to be an entertaining match.
When we come back from the commercial break, Tyler’s lost his perfect ponytail, and he flings Ambrose into the barricades, pulling him back into the ring and getting the pin for the two count. Dean looks to be reeling from the punches, unstable on his knees as Breeze talks about how Dean isn’t better than him. Good chops to the chest from Ambrose and a couple of clotheslines before there’s a back and fall roll up, with pins for two. Dean gets the bounce of the ropes, ripping his tank top, because Raw needs the ratings. He comes off the top rope to hit Breeze, but his shoulder’s giving him a little trouble. Tyler’s flat on the mat, but with the shoulder, Tyler is sending him into the turnbuckles over and over. He gets another cover, with Ambrose kicking out for two, and Breeze is trying to get Ambrose to tap out. Dean crawls to get a foot on the ropes, holding it to the four of out the five count. Ambrose is nodding to continue, but his face is a mask of pain.
Dean get Breeze out of the ring for some time to recover, and one he’s back in, gets the pin. Best kid in the audience is screaming ‘that’s what you get for messing with Dolph Ziggler’. Yeah, you and me both, kid. You and me both. Also noting that Tyler’s hair is pretty ginger right now, like he didn’t get enough toner on fresh bleach. Rookie error. Dolph wouldn’t make that mistake.
The New Day come out to cheers and ‘New Day Rocks’ chants. The crowd roundly boos the idea that all the members of the team were left out of the 16-man match up. They make their way to the ring and get a good cheer, Xavier Woods holding his trombone. Big E flops onto the mat, aping Dolph Ziggler, and they love the boo for Cena that England gives them. They give a tribute to their ‘fallen captain’ Seth Rollins, and insist on the unicorn horns – but European magic is ‘garbage’ and apparently Harry Potter sucks. Awkward, guys. I know you’re playing heels, and that’s hard to do in England, as we tend to root for the bad guys (as we so often play them) but still. Coming out is Neville, who gets a huge pop, and then The Usos – who get an even bigger one. It is so good to see them back, and the crowd are loving it, too. So we get our six man tag here, New Day vs Neville and The Usos.
Jimmy Uso first against Kofi Kingston, who’s straight out of the ring with Big E trying to call for a time out, saying Kofi wasn’t ready. When we come back from the break, Jey is being stamped on by The New Day over and over. You can hear the crowd struggling to decide who to root for, because The New Day are spectacular, but Neville’s incredible in the ring and The Usos have been terribly missed. Big E gets a splash on Jey with punishing impact, before Big E taking a cheap shot to Jimmy. Jey gets the Samoan drop onto Big E, and Jey tags in Neville to face Xavier Woods. The speed of Neville is incredible, and you can hear the crowd going for him. The missile dropkick hits hard, and it’s a standing moonsault from Neville, but the rest of The New Day come in to break it up.
Jey and Jimmy go over the ropes onto Kofi and Big E, and Neville throws Xavier into the mass of bodies onto the floor, before flipping off the top rope onto all of them. Neville’s going for the top rope, but Big E and Kofi tussle with The Usos. Xavier Woods uses the rope to get the pin on Neville after Big E pulls him off the ropes while the official is worried about moving the trombone out of the ring. I think about how much I want those New Day leggings, and how easy and cheap it would be for the WWE to stock leggings and simple dresses like Black Milk and similar places do, but how they won’t, and I get a little upset about.
FINALLY we get to the section where the Wyatts are going to talk about the Brothers of Destruction, with less than FIVE MINUTES left of Raw. If Taker and Kane aren’t there, and we’ve been suffering promos all night for little reason, I might have to go and scream a little.
We waste time with Bray Wyatt slowly ambling out to the ring like he’s been taking lessons from Big Show, because there’s no rush or anything, and we get another recap about how apparently Bray’s been eating souls again, naughty boy. The crowd cheers Bray, because England loves a creepy man, and they sing ‘he’s got the whole world in his hands’ for him. Bray says we’re celebrating the spirits of Kane and the Undertaker, and how they’ve been the benchmark of power for over two decades. Pushing it a bit, as Undertaker has shown up once a year for the last few years, but okay, we’ll go with it. Bray asks us all to bow our heads and pay our respects to the Brothers of Destruction. The ‘Undertaker’ chants rise, and Bray laughs at the crowd, saying they will no longer pay respect to such ‘relics’, that there was no passing of the torch, because he stole the torch and burned Undertaker and Kane. Haven’t they been burned before and been fine?
Bray teases his apocalypse again, drops the mic and kneels in the centre of the ring – and the Brothers are here. We see how Taker and Kane have destroyed so many wrestlers, together, and we’re reminded that what is dead can never die. The lightning hits and Kane’s usual pyro goes off, and Bray is alone in the ring as Taker’s bell tolls, the darkness only broken by the screens. Taker and Kane walk down to the ring, Bray looking alternately confused and delighted, and the screams of the crowd are defending. Bray drops to one knee in the ring, utterly floored by this result.
There’s no need for speed here, just slow menace as Taker and Kane climb to the steps and finally the lights go up to show Kane and Taker stepping into the ring, both moving slowly towards Bray. Taker looks to Kane, then slowly turns his head to Wyatt as the crowd chants a well-deserved ‘holy shit’ before the Wyatt video teleports Strowman, Harper and Rowan to ringside. Kane and Taker take out Rowan and Harper easily, Strowman stepping into the ring as Bray lies in the corner of the ring. Harper and Rowan get a double chokeslam before Strowman knocks down both of the brothers – but they sit up easily and send him over the ropes before taking down Bray. Strowman gets sent over the announce table by the Brothers of Destruction, and Bray is left alone in the middle of the ring. The so-called Eater of Worlds gets double-team chokeslammed by Taker and Kane, and Undertaker’s music hits to the destruction of the Wyatt family, total devastation of a powerhouse that have been taking out everyone. The brothers slowly leave the ring, leaving the decimation of the Wyatts behind them. They turn to look behind them as Harper tries to help Bray sit up, then raise a hand, and Raw is over – twelve minutes over time, and well worth it for that.
A really intense Raw, unsurprising as a lot of it was created on the fly, due to Rollins’ knee injury knocking out a lot of the plans, and it was compelling and exciting to watch. And two Divas’ matches, too! I’m pretty impressed, and looking forward to more high-stakes matches come SmackDown, as well. Very glad Undertaker and Kane were actually there, which was possibly the only bit of the Raw we just saw that went as planned! See what happens when there are consequences to losing matches, WWE? You get actual excitement.
This is what the match ups look like after tonight’s Raw:
Finally, as it’s Tuesday already in the UK, and we know Seth Rollins is in for his knee surgery today, good luck and well wishes to Seth. Hope surgery’s all good, and we’ll get you up and recovering at a good pace. We miss you Seth – we’re just enjoying seeing who’s going to keep that title warm for you for a few months.