Well, guys, for the first time in a long while, I’m awake and vaguely alert at 1am, so Raw will, at the very least, be started live. It may not be finished live, but I’m going to do my best tonight, to make the most of this minor miracle that is me not wanting to be fast asleep at this time of night on a weekday. I’ve got tea, I’ve got a cat for company, and we’re all set. Or we would be, if any of my streams wanted to work.
Raw comes to you tonight, live from Charlotte, North Carolina, the city Charlotte Flair was born in. I get my stream working five minutes in, so we start without the usual guff and bluster about what happened last week. Which is a shame, as I didn’t cover last week, and could have done with the refresher course.
When we catch up, Kevin Owens is in the ring, along with Jericho, who is still in his anchor scarf from Survivor Series, on a Highlight Reel. Kevin tells us everything he’s thankful for, including the title, being the main guy on Raw, and, of course, for Jericho. Kevin says he’s thankful for Kevin, his scarf – and for Seth Rollins. Well, Chris, we’re all thankful for Seth, but we try not to talk about it on national television. Oh, no, he’s happy Seth proved he was a stupid idiot, for letting his ego get in the way of getting things done. He ‘rollined’ himself, because it happens so often now. Apparently last week, Jericho was wearing a Sin Cara mask, and got involved in the title match between Seth and Kevin. Kevin tells us that after last week’s powerbomb on the apron, Seth isn’t cleared to be at Raw tonight – and Roman’s music hits.
Roman saunters down, with his title held in that way people are calling disrespectful, like Seth never waved his around like a cheap toy, and Dean never tucked his into his pants. Roman says that Kevin and Chris have good chemistry, and that they’ve got a good shtick. He says he doesn’t think that Kevin and Chris are telling jokes, but that Kevin as a title holder is a joke. Kevin stutters over his words, and my god, Roman is so, SO much better on the mic than he was this time last year. Kevin says he doesn’t need Jericho, and Jericho looks at Kevin like he’s just said that puppies are food. Roman says Kevin would have lost his title without Chris weeks and weeks ago, and Jericho finally can’t stand it, and Jericho starts to go through the list shtick – but Kevin tells him to shut up. Kevin says Roman can’t talk to him that way, and Roman says… or what? Kevin get aggressive, and Roman says that’s who he wants to talk to – not joke Owens joke, but fight Owens fight. He refers to Jericho as Kevin’s ‘missus’, and gets himself a fight, tonight.
MATCH: R-Truth (with Goldust) vs. Braun Strowman
We get a recap of Sami getting beaten by Strowman last week – see, who needs to watch and recap every week when they give us all this info, right? – and how Foley had to get involved to get Strowman off Sami.
- Truth starts off with speed, but Strowman gets him in a corner quickly, slamming into him, before hefting him for a running powerslam – and we’re done here.
Well, that was worth turning up for already, right? Goldust looks concerned for his partner, then rises and goes after Strowman, the two of them knocking the ref off the apron, before Strowman gets Goldust in a bear hug.
Sami Zayn shows up! Goldust rolls away to safety as the crowd roars ‘olé’, but Sami takes a huge axe handle to the chest, before being slammed into the mat. He’s hooked over the top ropes in the corner, hanging limp after a blow to the head, and then officials come in to stand not-really in the way of Strowman, and Foley comes down, too, in an attempt to keep Strowman from beating Sami to death.
When we come back from commercial, Mick and Sami are arguing, because Sami’s annoyed he’s being treated like a charity case. Byron comes in to ask Mick about this, and Mick says that some people need to be saved from themselves, and that’s the case with Sami. Mick says he made the match against Strowman, because Steph wanted Sami punished for not bringing the IC title back to Raw. Sami is furious that his hero is trying to pull him away from these matches, and calls him a hypocrite. Ouch! Sami stalks away to the muted applause of the crowd.
Charlotte is backstage with her headphones on, and Dana wants to give her the rundown on the afterparty she’s going to throw Charlotte when she wins. Charlotte’s excited to make her homecoming, and show that she’s the real superstar in the women’s division.
MATCH: Cedric Alexander vs. Tony Nese (with Drew Gulak)
Hometown boy Cedric, the night before 205 Live happens, which I still haven’t worked out who I’m going to get to cover it, so that should be fun. Probably Jess. Jess, if you’re reading this, you’re doing 205 Live.
- Leg sweep from Alexander, before a waist lock from Nese. Wrist lock from Nese, Alexnader with a kip-up out of it. Hurricanrana and a dropkick from Alexander, and we see Alicia Fox watching, looking like a schoolgirl with a crush.
- Gulak distracting Alexander, who gets his legs swept out from under him, slams face first into the mat. Moonsault from Nese, who stands and flexes as Alexander lies in the ring. Blows to the head from Alexander as the crowd chants ‘Cedric City’ at their hometown hero.
- Cravate from Nese, Alexander struggling out and throwing Nese with a hip toss. Blows from Alexander, handspring kick, followed by a knee to the jaw to Nese. Alexander is distracted by Gulak, and Nese sweeps him up in a pump-handle backbreaker – and gets the pin!
Gulak looks utterly gleeful at his friend’s win, as Nese flexes for the crowd.
Cyber Monday ad by Enzo and Cass. Reminds me, I should probably pick up a shirt or two, I’ve got Seth sweats and a Seth hoodie, so I should probably get the matching shirt and accept it when my wife calls me ‘mark’ with only mild affection.
Byron wants to thank us for making the WWE youtube channel the top sports channel on there, but frankly, that requires me to think of youtube as somewhere that sports are shown. We get a recap from earlier in the show. Guys, not even an hour has passed. I’ve been watching. I don’t actually need this review every three seconds.
We see a sad-faced Jericho stalking the halls with his suitcase, and one of the brunette interviewers whose names I will learn as soon as I stop missing Renee asks if this is a serious situation, and Jericho asks if she’s kidding. He thought KO was his best friend, but now he thinks that if Kevin doesn’t need him, then Chris doesn’t need Kevin. We see the interviewer’s cute fuzzy boots as she runs away from shouty man Jericho, who calls for his driver to open the car door, which slams into the List of Jericho.
And suddenly, Seth’s there, diving through the car to get to Jericho, throwing him into barriers and onto cars, and good grief, the boy has skinny ankles. He grabs Chris not letting him get in the car, and bounces him off a number of parked cars. He goes for the Pedigree, but Chris flips him onto the roof of a car, Seth dragging him up and hitting the Pedigree on the roof. He shakes out his shoulder, and we cut away.
MATCH: Charlotte Flair (with Dana Brooke) vs. Sasha Banks – Raw Women’s Championship Match
Sasha’s out first, in red and camo, and then it’s Charlotte, in her black robe, and I just want one of those so badly. Dana Brooke is with her, of course, to take the robe and deposit it carefully so Charlotte can do her usual ring entrance. Also, have I said how much I love Jojo doing ring announcements? Because I love her.
- We start off fast, with the women diving at each other, and commentary talking over it without actually calling anything. Sasha straight in with a Bank Statement early, Dana helping Charlotte get her hands to the ropes. Sasha gets Dana thrown into the steps before she heads back into the ring for a cross-body on Charlotte.
- Charlotte gets Sasha back to the outside, and she drags Charlotte out by the ankle, Sasha with a chop to Charlotte’s chest, and Charlotte following up with another. The official is counting out the women as Sasha throws Charlotte into the crowd. She comes back, and bounces Sasha off the barricades over and over, as the official does the longest ten count ever, because this has clearly gone on for way too long – you hear the official count eight twice.
- Charlotte tosses Sasha around a little more, the two of them brawling a little in the crowd, and finally the ref counts ten, and the match is a double count out! OR IS IT?
Mick Foley comes down to stick his fingers in all the pies again, and says that isn’t an okay ending. The women will get a rest, and then the match will restart as a no DQ, no count out, falls count anywhere match. The crowd goes mad. Charlotte looks like a sulky child, and Corey echoes me in saying that he wishes Foley would leave well enough alone.
MATCH: Rusev (with Lana) vs. Enzo Amore (with Big Cass)
Lana is here to announce her wonderful husband, and I wish I knew why they were dressing her like the dominatrix version of one of the Pink Ladies from Grease. We get a recap of Enzo with his dick out on Raw last week, and Lana doing her level best not to look, before Rusev made Enzo tap out last week. Why are all of Rusev’s feuds about someone disrespecting Lana? I get that he’s a bad guy because he’s the only one allowed to disrespect her, but… he just doesn’t come across as that bad anymore, and I feel like he needs some sort of character development aside from over-protective boyfriend. Enzo says that getting to see him naked was the luckiest day of Lana’s life. Cass lists food you eat at Thanksgiving, and Lana looks so unimpressed that you could honestly bottle it, even more so when Enzo says she was thinking of ‘a certified g stuffing her turkey’. Dear god, WWE, could we try decorum?
Clothesline from Rusev straight away, Enzo going down hard. Massive kick to the balls from Rusev, Enzo falling like a felled tree, Cass running to defence of his bestie’s baby-makers, and Rusev shouts that no one is allowed to talk about his wife. The crowd chant ‘Rusev sucks’.
Oh my god, it’s Mark Henry! He’s going to be in Incarnate, apparently, which looks terrible. Titus O’Neil is annoyed that Mark Henry stole his movie part, and grabs Henry, who shoves him away. Well, nice to see Mark Henry out and about.
MATCH: Rich Swann vs. Noam Dar
Brian Kendrick is on commentary, manspreading so aggressively that it looks like his pants are about to split at the crotch. Swann has a title match against Kendrick on 205 Live. And he’s against Noam Dar, my fave cruiserweight cutie!
- Wrist lock from Dar to start, Swann rolling it through and Dar turning it into a headlock. Swann bounces Dar off the ropes, and the two trade leapfrogs and rolls as Kendrick rails about his wife starving. Dropkick from Swann, dodged back kick. Dar takes Swann out at the knee.
- Swann goes down hard, throat landing on the ropes, so the ref checks on him. Dar whips Swann into the turnbuckles, throat first, and then it’s knees to the side of the face, before he’s wrenching the shoulder of Swann, hard.
- Swann rolls up Dar, then kicks him in the back of the head. Dar pins Swann for two. Swann rolls up Dar for two, then a huge kick to the small of Dar’s back – and Swann gets the win.
Brian Kendrick doesn’t look happy on commentary anymore, as we got back through replays. Corey interviews Rich Swann about the title opportunity, but he takes the mic from Corey and addresses Kendrick directly, telling him that he’s doubting himself, as Swann already beat him twice. But the third time – that’ll be the sweet one, where he’s going to pick up the cruiserweight title.
We’re talking about the sponsors of WrestleMania. Look, guys, it’s a good few months away, alright? Simmer doon.
Cesaro and Sheamus are in a bar, drinking to never having to team again, and Cesaro wants a martini, because he’s James Bond. They’re each blaming the other for them not being the tag champs after last week, and they say that if they could get along, they’d be a good team. A man shows up and insults Sheamus, tells him he saw him getting his arse kicked, and suggests they’re part of the Village People, because… gay people are funny? Because North Carolina is bigoted as shit? Everyone in the bar falls about laughing, so perhaps this is what passes for humour in North Carolina. Sheamus and Cesaro decimate the bar, using pool cues and all sorts as weapons. Sheamus slides over the bar, gets Cesaro a pint of Guinness, and they clink glasses.
MATCH: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
Good grief, look, I only see Roman Reigns between the hours of one and four in the morning, and sometimes he’s so unbearably beautiful that I honestly think I made him up. Kevin saunters out next, cursed flesh belt slung over his shoulder as my fingers itch to touch Roman’s hair. It’s nearly 3am, guys, my self-control is questionable.
- Kevin doesn’t even wait for the bell to ring, running at Roman, knees to the face, and getting Roman down hard in the corner. The bell rings with Roman still in the corner, Kevin punching him viciously in the face, before coming off the ropes and kicking Roman off the apron so hard he slams into the barricades.
- Roman finally throws a couple of punches back, and gets Owens back into the ring, in time for him to slide back out. Roman comes out of the ring into a boot, and whips Kevin into the barricades. Whip reversed by Owens, throwing Roman into the steps, and dragging him into the ring to beat the count. Running senton from Kevin, pinning Roman for two, and leaving him gasping for air on the mat.
- Back from commercials, Roman takes Kevin down with a couple of big clotheslines, but Kevin dodges him in the corner, the ref in the way. DDT from Kevin, Roman down flat, pinned for two. Kevin’s clearly fuming as Roman struggles to his feet, corner clothesline from Owens. Kevin mocks Roman’s roar, and comes in with a big cannonball, cover for two.
- Roman’s struggling to get to his feet when Kevin comes back with a chinlock, the crowd duelling with ‘let’s go Roman’ and ‘Roman sucks’ chants, as Roman looks like he’s fading. Kevin says Roman’s hair is greasy, but he can’t slip out, looking like he’s determined to hold on until Roman passes out. Roman tries to crawl towards the ropes, Kevin raising him.
- Senton from Owens, pin for two and a half. Back into the chinlock straight away, having knocked all the air out of Roman, whose arms are going limp. Kevin goes for another senton, Roman getting his knees up in time. They both get some breathing room, before Owens is back on Roman in the corner.
- Roman comes back, lifting Owens high for a Samoan Drop, but Owens hits back, the two trading blows for a moment. Off the rebound, Samoan Drop from Roman, and a pin for two – not quite enough! Roman’s breathing hard – fuck, that’s pretty – as he gets to his feet, Kevin struggling upright. He cocks his fist, but Kevin rolls out of the ring. Drive-by!
- Kevin gets Roman into the ring, and hits a huge kick on his jaw, leading into another pin – two again. He steps on Roman’s face as he goes to the top rope, Roman punching him hard before he can launch himself. Roman looks like he’s going for a superplex, but Owens fights him away – but Roman comes back with a Superman Punch!
- Kevin rolls out of the ring, and is crawling around it, finally getting to his feet as Roman comes off the steps with another Superman Punch! Roman roars to the crowd, goes for the spear, Kevin manages to get away – but the second one makes contact, and that’s the win! Roman’s got a shot at the Universal Championship.
Roman slings his title over his shoulder as Kevin rolls out of the ring, and we get some classic Reigns grandstanding, which is always nice. Is it bedtime yet?
Kevin is backstage, and our interviewer shows up as Kevin is breathing heavily and looking despondent. Kevin says that people who get interviewed get attacked, and he says that Chris is still his best friend, and the only reason he got beaten was because he was thinking about how he wanted to be by Chris’ side. Kevin coughs, and asks the interviewer to leave him alone. He even says please.
We get a recap of the Goldberg/Lesnar match that lasts longer than the actual match did, they had to put it in slo-mo for it to look less depressingly quick. Michael Cole is interviewing Paul Heyman, who looks like he hasn’t shaved in a week, and like he’s very tired. He looks like he’s been sleeping in his car and drinking cheap hooch. He says that the reason Brock lost was because they underestimated Goldberg, that Lesnar’s ribs were broken. Cole asks how Lesnar’s doing, and Heyman says that Cole doesn’t care, that the injury is something you accept with the job, but that the humiliation is what really hurts. He says people will watch this match in a hundred years – no one’s watching it a week later, Paul. No one cares – and that it’s part of Brock’s legacy. Yeah, with the doping, and smashing Randy Orton’s head open, and refusing to give Dean a proper match at WrestleMania. And this is the most embarrassing bit?
Paul says that if Goldberg is in the Royal Rumble, then Brock Lesnar is going to be there too, basically making a match that can be brilliantly exciting into something dull and ancient.
MATCH: The New Day vs. Gallows & Anderson – Raw Tag Team Championship Match
The New Day are here, running over to commentary and pelting them with Booty O’s, which makes Byron giggle like a giddy child. Xavier says that they only need 17 more days to be the longest reigning tag team champions ever, beating Demolition, some of whom are suing the company. Last week they beat Cesaro and Sheamus – and they’re cut off by Gallows and Anderson as someone realises that we’ve only got half an hour left, and we’ve got a women’s match to come yet.
- Xavier and Anderson in the ring, Gallows taking down E and Kofi on the outside. Early pin from Anderson, Gallows tagged in, pinning Xavier for two again. Anderson tags back in, Xavier fighting his way free as the crowd chant ‘New Day rocks’. Xavier gets Anderson launched over the top rope, slamming his head off the apron, and Gallows drops Xavier – and we go to commercial.
- Back from commercials, Gallows and Xavier still in the ring, Anderson back up and on the apron, that’s good. Big E throws Anderson around, knocking Gallows off the edge. Pin from Anderson, for two, but Big E kicks out.
- E gets Anderson hooked up on the rope, and the two men go spiralling out of the ring, prompting a ‘holy shit’ chant. Gallows kicks Big E in the side of the head, felling him, Xavier coming off the top rope and being caught by Anderson, eating a spinebuster and a pin for two.
- Gallows tagged in, Anderson coming off the top rope as Xavier sits on Gallows’ shoulders – and he still manages to kick out! They go for Magic Killer, but Big E comes in, eating a chokeslam from Gallows, leaving Anderson to pull Xavier around by the hair.
- Anderson gets Xavier up on his shoulders, Xavier fighting out, goes for the Honor Roll, but he misses. Big right hands from Xavier. Roll up from Anderson, holding the tights of Xavier, but he manages to roll it through, and pins Anderson, holding the tights himself – and that’s the win!
Xavier gets dragged away by his team, while Anderson and Gallows can barely believe what just happened.
Bayley is backstage, and gives Sasha good luck, says she’s excited about the match coming up. Sasha says that she means no disrespect to Bayley, but this isn’t about her. It’s not even about Sasha. It’s about the title. She says Charlotte disrespected her own father, Ric Flair, and that she’s going to dedicate her win to him. Really? Seriously? I guess at least it gives me a chance to use the ‘lich king ric flair’ tag. It’s been a while.
MATCH: Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks – Raw Women’s Championship, No DQ, Falls Count Anywhere Match
We get the previous entrances, of course, and this just feels weird, especially with Sasha saying she’s going to dedicate her win to Ric Flair. My stream must feel the same, as it packs in, with ten minutes left to go on the show, reminding me that it’s nearly 4am, and I have work tomorrow.
- When I finally get back in, it’s an ad break, so I have no idea where we are in the actual match. Ah, the joys of being in England while trying to watch something on American television.
- Okay, back from commercial, we have Charlotte with Sasha in a hold, Sasha leaning back and getting Charlotte’s shoulders down. Apparently, there was a double clothesline before the break, and then Charlotte bounced Sasha’s head off the turnbuckles during the break. Charlotte is dragging Sasha around in the middle of the ring.
- Sasha fights her way out, coming off the ropes and flipping over the top of Charlotte, Charlotte rolling through. Charlotte goes for the Figure Eight, but Sasha kicks her away. Roll through a pin attempt, double knees from Sasha, Charlotte getting away.
- Sasha with running knees in the corner, swinging Charlotte over the ropes, but as Sasha goes for the knees, Charlotte moves. Charlotte gets Sasha hooked over the ropes, looks like she’s trying to suplex Sasha onto the floor outside, but Sasha lands on the apron. The two trade chops, which graduate into rights, with them both on the apron.
- Big boot from Charlotte on the apron, knocking Sasha down, off the apron and onto the floor. Charlotte comes to pin her, and Sasha manages to kick out. Charlotte hits Natural Selection on the outside, off the steps, and once more, Sasha manages to kick out.
- Sasha brings a kendo stick out from under the ring, taking it to Charlotte hard enough that one of the cameramen nearly gets involved as well! Charlotte kicks Sasha into the barricades, Charlotte kicking the kendo stick away as the crowd chants for ECW.
- Once more, my stream collapses, and we come back to Sasha in the Figure Eight, and she escapes by catching Charlotte with the kendo stick, as the audience chants ‘this is awesome’. Flair chops from Charlotte, followed by a boot as they brawl up the ramp.
- Charlotte heads to the announce table and starts pulling it apart, and it really bothers me that the commentary team can’t tell Charlotte and Sasha apart most of the time. Sasha gets Charlotte from behind, and then Charlotte kicks her down to the floor.
- That moonsault we didn’t get at Hell in a Cell, we get now, off the announce table! Charlotte covers Sasha, twice, both times for two. There’s a small cat meowing outside the closed door, but I can’t let her in, because wrestling. Charlotte drags Sasha down the ramp, literally, and then gets her over her shoulder.
- Sasha slips off Charlotte’s shoulder, and slams her into the ring post, then the barricades. She flips Charlotte over her body, then climbs up on the barricades, leaping off and catching Charlotte between her knees. Sasha goes for Charlotte with the kendo stick, finally letting go of it as they battle into the crowd.
- In the crowd, Sasha gets Charlotte wrapped around the metal railings between the stairs, and pulls her into the Bank Statement – and the Queen taps!
Holy shit! Well, I thought I was tired of Sasha and Charlotte matches, but if they were like that, then… no, you know, that’s perfectly fine. That was astounding, and well worth the main event spot. Sasha is now a third-time women’s champion – oh, and here comes Ric Flair to spoil it all.
Ric raises Sasha’s hand, and hugs her, and I don’t want this, I literally would rather have anything else than this, as Sasha cries a little – as she does – and then Ric leaves, Sasha’s music playing as Charlotte lies in the crowd, saying ‘I failed’ to herself as she cries. Well, it was a slow Raw, and took a while to get going, but the end lived up to the hype. Not bad, WWE. Not bad.