It’s Steph here, ready to recap raw, and it’s the Valentine’s Day Raw! Well, it’s the 13th for them, but the 14th for me, so we’ll see how we’re going to play this. I’ve been promised Emmalina, so if she doesn’t show up, Valentine’s Day is cancelled. We’re here in Las Vegas, Nevada, for a festival of friendship, a women’s title match, and that guy with the ‘Leonard’ sign who was at Elimination Chamber last night. I’ve left my wife in bed, so I’m having Valentine’s Day with all of you lovely people, instead.
Stephanie opens the show, slinking out and clearly enjoying herself, and commentary are dressed in… blue? No, it looks like Corey and Byron decided to wear blue, and didn’t tell Michael Cole. Then again, if I had to work with him, I wouldn’t tell him anything. Not even where we were going. Steph says Mick embarrassed himself at Samoa Joe’s contract signing last week – I wasn’t here, I went to bed – and also, Mick isn’t here, he’s having the night off.
Roman appears, to… cheers? I mean, I cheered. This is making my Valentine’s Day already. We get reminded that last week he had a match with Samoa Joe AND then Braun Strowman got involved, so it’s Roman vs. Braun at Fastlane. Roman stalks down to the ring, looking… unimpressed? Constipated? Like he got dragged out of a decent blowjob to be here? It’s hard to tell. Roman says he’s not waiting until Fastlane, and wants Strowman right now. Steph asks if the crowd want to see that match now, and they cheer, so she says they’re ambivalent, and don’t care about Roman, but she does care about him, so wants him to be safe. Roman says he doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him, and Steph tells us that Strowman is against Mark Henry tonight. Oh, good.
Gallows and Anderson show up to toady to Steph, and suggest that people don’t say no to Roman very often. I mean, they probably don’t, but if they do, he probably listens, because he seems like a sweetie. Steph tries to do Teddy Long’s gimmick and it’s so fucking awkward. So awkward. She sets a handicap match against Gallows and Anderson (and that t-shirt is such a bullet Club rip off), but doesn’t wait for the match, heading out of the ring and diving at the two of them. Roman gets his back shoved into the apron, and we go to commercials.
MATCH: Gallows & Anderson vs. Roman Reigns
- We arrive with the match already started, and Anderson is in with Roman, getting him in a headlock, because if there’s one thing Roman does really well, it’s lie limp and unmoving. The crowd chants for Roman, and he starts to fight out, lifting Anderson’s arms away but getting a kick to the ribs sending him into Gallows in the corner.
- Roman manages to get the better of the tag team champs, smacking Anderson around while Gallows is knocked off the apron hard. He cocks his fist and Gallows eats a right on the apron. Anderson rolls Roman up for two, and Roman comes back with a punch, going to take Anderson down, but Gallows catches him from behind, and Gallows and Anderson take Roman apart together as the ref gently asks them not to hurt the pretty man. Not grabbing them at all, you know, like they did with the women last night at Elimination Chamber, or anything.
The bell rings to disqualify Gallows and Anderson, and they go for Magic Killer, Roman kicking out and suplexing Gallows. He gets both of them out of the ring, and they leave, Roman bending over and holding his ribs like he’s suddenly remembered they’re supposed to be injured.
MATCH: Bo Dallas vs. Kofi Kingston
The New Day are here! The crowd is still a bit baffled by having to say ‘your longest reigning tag team champs’ because it doesn’t really scan, honestly. The crowd basically gets to do their jokes for them, and Kofi has cut his t-shirt into a crop top. I love him more for that than he will ever know. Apparently there’s a New Day ice cream, and bloody hell, Bo Dallas looks good these days.
- Dropkick from Kofi early, sending Bo out of the ring where E and Xavier laugh at him. Bo can’t help himself, dancing along with the chants – and then he grabs the ice cream blueprints and tears them into pieces. Kofi comes over the ropes in a somersault, landing on Bo, as Xavier cries over the blueprints.
- Getting back into the ring, Kofi gets a kick, before he’s thrown into a DDT off the ropes, and pinned twice for two. Punches from Bo to Kofi in the corner, and then he slams into an SOS, and that’s the win for Kofi! They pour Booty O’s into Bo’s mouth in a clear disregard of health and safety.
Neville! He’s looking not to talk to Charly Caruso, because he’s going to destroy Jack Gallagher, he’s going to pull apart TJP – and Jack’s here to quote Shakespeare, but Neville’s going to call him a boy, so Jack’s going to call him a bloody pillock. It might be because I’m used to Progress at this point, but I expected him to call him a fucking wanker, honestly.
MATCH: Jack Gallagher vs. Noam Dar
Aww, it’s BritWres/EuroGraps babies together! Austin Aries is on commentary, so I’m ignoring him.
- Collar-and-elbow tie, Jack getting Noam into the corner and being forced to break it, with an amused smirk on his face. They go for a test of strength, but Gallagher turns it into a wrist lock. Jack does a gorgeous, slow cartwheel out of an ankle hold, but Noam just kicks him in the knee, because he’s Scottish.
- Elbow from from Noam on Jack’s leg, and then just keeps working that knee as Alicia shouts that she loves Noam. We all do, darling, he’s a tiny poppet. Wrist lock from Noam, Jack driving his way out, elbow to the jaw for Noam. Sent to the corner, into a handstand against the turnbuckles, and then rolls through easily, sending Noam flying. Giant headbutt from Jack, putting Noam in the corner, ready for the flying dropkick – and down goes Noam for three!
Neville comes out and stands with his title aloft, and Jack stands in the ring and shakes his head. He’s not intimidated.
There’s a limo outside, and Samoa Joe appears, flanked by Triple H, whose collar is so askew it looks like they were necking in the car on the way over.
EMMALINA! She’s here, and she looks amazing, and her dress basically has a train, and she’s in gold, and I love her. The screams of the men from the crowd are insane. It’s like they’ve never met a woman before. She says we’ve waited 17 weeks to see this makeover – and now we’re going to see her go back to Emma. She leaves.
I mean, this is Eva Marie level trolling, and I fucking love it.
Bayley is talking to Charly about how nervous she is, and how no one believes in her, but she can do this, following in the footsteps of Lita and Trish Stratus, achieving her dream and hitting the jackpot in Las Vegas.
Kevin and Chris are talking about the festival of friendship, and Kevin doesn’t seem that excited. Triple H arrives, and tells Kevin he needs to see him. They both say sure, and Trips says, well… he doesn’t need Chris. Maybe Joe’s not into him, who knows. Kevin agrees to go, and Chris looks momentarily heartbroken.
MATCH: Braun Strowman vs. Mark Henry
Okay, so part of me says this should be interesting, because we’ve mostly been seeing Braun against faster, small opponents, ones where they can get out of the way, take the assault aerial, dodge attacks. Starting to see him face off against bigger guys like Roman, like Samoa Joe. It’s a chance in the offense we’ve been seeing, and makes me think that WWE are trying to vary the way he works, which is intelligent and crafty, so it’s probably not what they’re doing.
- Bell rings, and Braun does his weird little tongue thing that makes it look like he’s trying to catch a fish with it. They shout at each other for a bit, then lock up, collar-and-elbow tie. They come apart, then back together again, and this is a test of strength more than anything else. Braun gives Mark Henry a small nod, but as Henry gets closer, Strowman comes in with big hands.
- Strowman gets Henry down onto the ground, and just keeps coming through with huge blows, and I was wrong, this isn’t going to be interesting. There’s a headbutt, a kick to the ribs, but mostly this is two big men wandering around a ring like large animals trying to mostly avoid each other in a small space. Chinlock from Strowman, who mocks Henry’s World’s Strongest Man title.
- Henry to his feet, but a huge blow to the chest from Strowman sends him straight back down to the mat. He does it again, but Henry blocks this time, getting a wristlock on, before coming back with blows, shoving Strowman into the ropes. Splash from Henry, but Strowman rallies with a dropkick, lifting him into a powerslam – and that’s the win.
The match is over, so Roman’s warning to stay away or lose his Fastlane match isn’t in effect. He stalks down to the ring, and gets punched off the apron straight away. Strowman gestures for Roman to come and get in the ring with him, and Roman psyches himself up for a moment, before coming back in, getting Strowman’s head against the top rope, before Roman hits a Superman Punch, then a second.
Roman goes for the spear, but Strowman lifts him, turning it into a running powerslam. Strowman leaves, Roman bent and hurting in the ring. Christ, that was like watching glaciers fight.
Ugh, Cass and Enzo and being weird at Sheamus and Cesaro, because apparently something happened with the titles last week. Poor Bayley basically gets shoved out of shot from where she’s talking to her buddies. Sheamus fluffs his words, bless him. I would support almost anyone in storyline over Cass and Enzo, honestly, which is a sad state of affairs. Cass rolls his eyes when Enzo shoves him in front of him Sheamus and Cesaro. Yeah, all of us too, mate.
Michael Cole is interviewing Samoa Joe, who says he came here to hurt people, not get respect. He only cares about Triple H, not anyone else, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes. They show us the moment Joe injured Seth, and that makes me wince, because I don’t want to deal with seeing that. Joe says he doesn’t want to hear Triple H’s name all the time, and he’s got no issues with re-injuring Seth if he does come back. He’s not a flash in the pan – and he slanders Sami Zayn – as he says that no one can go toe to toe with him in the ring. There’s more growling, but I’m tired and it’s almost too low a pitch for me to hear.
MATCH: Sami Zayn vs. Handsome Rusev
Sami! Hello, Gingerbread Sunshine! Rusev has his face protector, and Lana looks absolutely incredible next to him. Can I see Sami fight Lana? My money would be on Lana, frankly, I think Sami’s too nice to hit a lady.
- Early scrabbling from both men, Sami getting his distance again, and it looks a bit like a slap fight until Rusev shoves Sami into the corner. Sami gets free with the help of the ref, and they’re basically doing that slow-motion fighting my cats do.
- Rusev gets Sami down onto the mat, pin for one, dragging him around by the hair and a side headlock. Sami gets to standing, only for Rusev to get him straight back down as the crowd chants they want Lana. She’s right there. Chops from Sami to Rusev, Rusev coming back with kicks until Sami’s flopped on the ropes. Leapfrog from Sami and a dropkick, sending Rusev out, Sami coming back with a somersault over the ropes and into Rusev.
- Sami goes to come over the ropes, and Rusev catches his jaw with a kick, Sami sprawling on the outside. We come back from commercials to Sami getting hit in the lower back, falling down hard. Rusev sends him into the ropes, then lifts him into a bear hug that looks like a dog humping his favourite plus toy. Sami manages to get Rusev’s nose protector off, before going to the top rope, getting punched in the head for his troubles.
- When Sami comes off the top rope, Rusev catches him with a kick, and pins him three times for two. Sami slaps Rusev in the chest and Rusev doesn’t even move, strikes from Rusev sending Sami sprawling, before a splash in the corner leaves Sami down and dazed on the mat. Rusev goes for another splash, and Sami dodges, sending Rusev right over the ropes with his own momentum.
- Sami goes to kick Rusev from the apron, but Rusev catches his foot, dragging him to the floor. He takes a moment before throwing Sami back in, but as he climbs in, Sami hits the Helluva Kick – and that’s the win for Sami!
Sami pants at Charly Caruso, and is the only person to call her by name, saying that his loss last week was hard, but this win is exactly what he wants. He’s all about coming back after he’s lost, about not giving up, and he heard Samoa Joe tell us that he’s no Sami Zayn – and he isn’t, because Sami? Sami doesn’t clean up mess for others, he doesn’t take shortcuts, and he doesn’t sell out.
Joe’s music hits, and Sami turns, waiting for him to arrive, but Joe blindsides him, punching him around the stage and bouncing him off the big screen before standing for the roar of the crowd as Sami lies at his feet.
We get a video package for Teddy Long, but I’m busy taking some migraine meds that constrict my blood vessels, so they make my head go all strange. It’s like being the last drop of milkshake in a glass.
MATCH: Akira Tozawa vs. Ariya Daivari
Brian Kendrick is here on commentary, saying Tozawa reminds him of him (but with better dress sense). Kendrick says that you can’t just be playing video games or on your phone, you have to put all the work into it, all the time. Also, I’m using last names for this, because recapping ‘Akira’ and ‘Ariya’ at speed would suck.
- Brian Kendrick respects this match by talking about himself for the whole first two minutes as the two men in the ring trade chops. Daivari pauses to block, and Tozawa lets him, then slaps him. Kick, then a senton to Daivari.
- Tozawa dives in, Daivari tripping him so he lands with his head against the turnbuckle. More chops, Tozawa ducking clotheslines as Daivari tries for a headlock. Headscissors, Tozawa over the tope rope and into Daivari. Brian Kendrick, I find cruiserweight matches hard enough to call without you walking.
- Suplex from Tozawa, bridging cover, and that’s the win!
Brian stands up to cheer his protégé, and the sound of the applause being picked up the commentary mics is going right through my head. Shush, Brian, I’ve got a headache.
It’s the festival of friendship! We get Jericho in sparkly stuff with showgirls, and hoooly shit the migraine meds just kicked in because I can barely see. I might be grateful for that later. Chris announces Kevin, who… appears, but isn’t dressed for this event. He’s trying to look like he doesn’t approve, but there’s a tiny smile on his face of disbelief as Jericho links arms with showgirls and leads them down to the ring. Kevin follows behind, looking nervous and wary, possibly because Jericho’s jacket appears to be sequinned, and Kevin’s got an allergy.
Jericho has some presents for Kevin – the first one is a statue of two figures intertwined, clearly like they’re about to kiss. Best friends forever, Chris says, this cost him seven grand, which Kevin goes to say something about, and then says he got a great deal. Chris goes to the second present, and Kevin just looks like he’s remembering when Sami would just give him a cuddle instead of all this.
Chris reveals a version of the Creation of Adam, with him and Kevin, and Kevin points out that he can’t hang it in his house, because Chris isn’t wearing pants in it. Then Friendship the Magician shows up, and Kevin honestly looks like he doesn’t know what to do. Kevin gets handed a rose, and he says that his 9 year old can do the same trick, so Chris isn’t getting his money’s worth. The magician makes the list.
Kevin’s still not impressed, and Chris is clearly struggling to think of what to do to make Kevin love him as much as he loves Kevin. So, what he says is that he should make sure Goldberg doesn’t make it to Fastlane – and he calls him out!
Shit, Goldberg is- not here, it’s Gillberg. Kevin runs to him and slams into him on the ramp, smashing him into the apron and leaving him on the floor. Kevin picks his title and his mic back up, and finally we’re down to business.
Kevin says that the whole point of this should have been beating the hell out of Goldberg together, not theses statues and this painting – he doesn’t understand. Chris says he did all this for Kevin, and he’s sad it isn’t what Kevin wanted, but Chris has had such a good time working with him, this has been one of the best years of his career, and he calls Kevin his brother, and tells him that he loves him, and that he will always have his back, and I’m crying. The crowd tell Kevinto hug it out. Kevin says he’s sorry for reacting the way he did, and he loves Chris too. He says he has a present for Chris, and it’s nothing compared to what Chris has for him, but it comes from the heart.
It’s a new list – the list of KO, he holds it up – and Jericho’s name is one it. Kevin attacks him after one of those perfect moments like we’re trapped in the amber of watching this love dissolve. Kevin stomps of Chris over and over, throws the painting, smashes Chris’ list into him, and throws him into the barricades, ripping his jackets off like this is just violent foreplay. Powerbomb on the apron, and Kevin’s face is caught that same way it was when he went for Sami, somewhere between ecstasy and agony, before he snarls and goes back after Chris. He smashes Chris into the screen and lifts the title high, face still trapped in the pain of doing what he needs to do. He casually knocks the statue over, leaving Jericho in the ring being attended to by two refs. The camera lingers on Kevin’s blank, set fact as he walks away, and does not look back.
When we come back from commercials, we see Chris being loaded into an ambulance, and commentary all look sad and disturbed with what we’ve just seen.
MATCH: Enzo Amore vs. Cesaro
Look, the migraine meds hate me, and my head hurts, and my heart is broken now, so the only bit I can enjoy about this is the way Cass looks 100% done with this whole thing.
Sorry, I’m not recapping this, because I’ve also just realised that we’ve only got 20 minutes left for the women’s title match, so I’m assuming either Emma is interfering, or we’re getting a really short title match, which would be disappointing. Also, my heartbreaking howls about Chris and Kevin woke me up.
Cesaro gets the win, but Sheamus and Cass start to brawl, Cesaro trying to hold his partner back.
Sasha is backstage, and Charlotte confronts her, telling her that she should be banned from backstage and can’t hang around because it lowers morale. I know, personally, as a disabled person hanging around wrestlers, I too feel like I’m lowering morale. Or, you know, fuck you, WWE.
MATCH: Charlotte vs. Bayley – Raw Woman’s Championship Match
Bayley is in lime green and black, which isn’t a bad look on her, with purple underneath, and Charlotte’s in her blue and gold robe that looks just as good as all the others. My wife arrives for this match, to purr quietly at my cat, but I refuse to be distracted. (She boos Charlotte. She’s a brilliant wife.)
- Charlotte starts off charging at Bayley, who comes in to lock up, Charlotte forcing her back against the ropes hard. Charlotte’s grin of evil pride is brilliant. Charlotte gets in a wristlock, and gets Bayley down to the canvas, working that arm and shoulder. Bayley tries to kip up out of the hold, but ends up being dropped to the mat.
- Charlotte grandstands, Bayley rolling her up from behind, pin for one Deep arm drags from Bayley, wristlock from Bayley, rolling with Charlotte to avoid letting her counter it. Pin for one.
- Charlotte back in and a big slap from Bayley sends Charlotte rolling out of the ring to collect herself, turning away. Back from commercials, Charlotte has regained control, slamming Bayley’s head off the turnbuckles, but Bayley reverses it, slamming her head there over and over. Bayley comes in with a springboard cross-body, pin for two.
- Charlotte manages to push Bayley away from her, rolling her up and hitting her head into the turnbuckle, then slamming her head over and over into the mat. She gets Bayley stretched over the ropes, then kicks her into the corner, just ragdolling her around in a chinlock. Bayley slams her head back, but Charlotte goes for a neckbreaker, holding Bayley in the centre of the ring and saying ‘you’ll never win’ to her.
- Bayley manages to fight out, but a neckbreaker from Charlotte, and Bayley rolls limply in the ring. Pin for two by Charlotte. Charlotte handstands on Bayley’s wrist, leaving her in the centre of the ring, then rolls her kneepad down and hits Bayley with a knee to the face. She drags Bayley up for more punishment and takes her down with a chop that catches Bayley in the throat
- Charlotte with a standing dragon sleeper, and managed to get to the ropes, using them to flip herself over to reverse the hold, kicking at Charlotte and getting her into the corner. Whip into the corner by Charlotte, but Bayley dodges it Charlotte rallies, a big boot taking Bayley off the apron to the outside. A huge kick to the throat from Charlotte on the outside, as she jeers at the crowd, then climbs and hits a moonsault off the barricade on Bayley. She drags her back into the ring, and covers her, three times, for two.
- Huge chops from Charlotte, but Bayley shoves Charlotte back, and catches a foot, unloading punches. A chop from Charlotte and a kick to the spine, and they both go for a cross-body, slamming into each other and knocking them both down. Bayley rallies, taking Charlotte down with lariats, punching her hard before a shoulder to the gut in the corner. Suplex from Bayley, going high, springboard elbow, cover for two.
- Bayley slams Charlotte’s neck off the ropes, looking like she can barely stand, Bayley running into a kick. She goes high, coming down with a huge elbow and pin for – two and a half!
- Charlotte comes back with a big boot, but she looks wobbly, going high, Bayley catching her before she can do anything, punching back at her. Bayley goes to the top rope, hitting a hurricanrana and pinning Charlotte for – two and a half, come ON, Bayley, you can DO THIS.
- Dana Brooke appears, distracting Bayley, but she’s not having it, she gets the Figure Four locked in on Charlotte, but Dana appears, raking Bayley’s eyes. Charlotte gets the Figure Four, bridging into the Figure Eight – but Sasha’s here! She takes Dana out with a crutch, then knocks Charlotte out of her bridge. Bayley hits the Bayley-to-Belly – and there’s our win!
Sasha looks like she genuinely can’t stop herself from crying over how happy she is for Bayley, who is staggering in the ring, going to the crowd to celebrate with them. Charlotte is crumpled by the barricades, looking broken, but Bayley hugs her way through the arena, before climbing back into the ring. I have emotional whiplash from this Raw – and we close out on Bayley with the title held aloft, grinning.
We’ll see you tomorrow for SmackDown. I’m not crying, I’ve just got something in my eye.