It’s that time again! It’s Raw! So, we start with a recap of last week, where Mick Foley tried to fire Stephanie McMahon, because of course he did, and then Triple H turned up to call him a pathetic has-been. And then the claw, and the low blow from Steph. And then Seth, throwing his crutch aside, and smack Trips around, before Trips ruins his knee again, for funsies. Also, shirtless Triple H holding onto Seth as he writhes in pain. I’d say that’s a kink I didn’t know I had, but let’s be honest here, I think we all knew I had it.
Well, here we are, Brooklyn, New York, and I’ve discovered my wife likes Mick Foley’s music, as he comes to the ring. The crowd seems happy to see him, and he pulls a note of out his pocket. He tells us that he’s humbled to have called himself the GM of Raw, and says he’d like to thank Trips and Steph, and apologises. He says that he doesn’t want to distract from WrestleMania, so instead of us having any wrestling, he’s going to take a leave of absence. He then tears up the notes and says that Triple H handed him index cards. They start turning down his mic, and then out comes Stephanie. She says that he doesn’t care about the business, just about being liked. She says the immortal line “you’re fired”, in a way that makes me feel sorry for her poor throat, and then…. Sami Zayn is here?
Sami Zayn is here. He doesn’t look very happy as he calls out Stephanie, and says that what she’s doing is wrong, and how she’s been wrong about a lot of things, but no one’s had the guts to tell her. She thanks him for the morality lesson and tells Sami to help his ‘broken down old mentor’ to the back. Mick tells Sami to walk, and Mick starts leaving, for Sami’s sake. Sami doesn’t take the hint, and climbs into the ring to tell Stephanie she should be ashamed of herself. She says she wasn’t listening to him, and that while Sami might be talented – and he is – he’s not deserving of speaking to her. Sami looks like he’s going to leave the ring, but he’s back in. He says, yeah, the smart thing would be to leave, but he’s more about doing the right thing. He says he’s going to stay right in that ring – and then Samoa Joe’s music hits, and he appears.
Steph says, no, it’s okay, she can handle it, to Joe, who doesn’t enter the ring. She dismisses Foley, and says that Sami’s mouth has got him into trouble – so he’ll be facing Samoa Joe, now. Sami doesn’t wait, just launches himself over the top rope onto Joe.
MATCH: Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe
- We come back from commercials straight into this one, Joe with Sami in the corner, throwing rights as he drags Sami around. Sami comes back with punches, and as he goes for a rebound off the ropes, Joe takes him down with a shoulder tackle. Kicks from Joe, backing Sami against the ropes.
- Sami leapfrogs Joe, and manages to use Joe’s own momentum against him, taking control for a moment and getting Joe in the corner. Sami tries for Blue Thunder Bomb, Joe elbows out, cop to the back, kick to the chest, elbow drop, and a pin for two for Joe.
- Sami gets his head bounced off the turnbuckle, and he’s send over the top rope, staying on the apron, elbow to the midsection and rolling over Joe back into the ring. Dropkick from Sami, Joe stays standing, forearms from Sami.
- Sami comes off the ropes into a powerslam, pin for two from Joe. Joe flings Sami into the turnbuckles, and Cole calls Sami a ‘social justice warrior’. Hush, Cole. Rights from Joe, Sami thrown into the turnbuckle again.
- Joe goes for a musclebuster in the corner, but Sami stops him, so Joe goes for a spin kick and knocks Sami right over the ropes. Joe comes through the second rope onto Sami on the outside.
- Back from the adverts, Sami in a stretch, Joe holding him steady, but Sami somersaults out and kicks Joe in the chest. Sami comes back with rights, whipped into the corner by Joe for another one of those spin kicks.
- Sami rolls to the outside, and Joe follows him, throwing Sami into the post and then into the barricades. Joe heads back into the ring – he’ll take the count out, he doesn’t care. Sami gets back in at nine, and looks up at Joe.
- Joe with kicks to Sami’s head, but when he rebounds off the ropes, Sami takes him down with a massive clothesline. Chops from Sami, Joe reverses a whip into the corner, Sami catches him with al elbow, and comes off the top rope with a cross-body, and a pin for two.
- Joe rolls out, Sami goes to set up for a suicide dive, but Joe grabs his feet, and Sami sends Joe into the ring post, then comes through the ropes and into the DDT. Sami gets back into the ring, Joe in at nine.
- Sami goes for the Helluva Kick, but Joe catches him, slamming him into the mat. Coquina Clutch on, and Sami’s fading, the bell ringing as Sami passes out. Joe crouches in the ring, dripping sweat, bleeding from the eyebrow. The ref checks on Sami as Joe stalks up the ramp, face in a snarl.
Backstage, Mick says thank you to Sami, and Sami says they need Mick to stand up for them. Mick says, no, Sami can stand up for them. They have a cuddle, and Sami thanks Mick for being one of his heroes. Mick goes through, cuddling superstars as he goes, and then Triple H turns up, with a smile, to tell him to have a nice day as Mick leaves the building.
Commentary are dressed like a sliding colour scale, with Graves in dark blue, Cole in blue, and Saxton in a paler blue. Once more, we recap Seth and Triple H. We get some Seth rehab stuff that I’d struggle to watch, and an update – it’ll take several months before he’s really ready to compete, and there’s no doctor who will clear him for it. ‘But if he does make it to WrestleMania’, ah well.
MATCH: Charlotte Flair vs. Dana Brooke
We get a recap of last week, where apparently something happened between these two, but I wasn’t here, I was busy being asleep or something, I think.
- Dana straight to Charlotte with a waistlock takedown, getting the queen in the corner and kicking her. Two wrist takedowns from Dana, followed by blows to the face. Charlotte rolls out to catch her breath.
- Charlotte goes to get back in, shoulder to the gut of Dana, but Dana takes her out at the legs and Charlotte slams into the apron. Dana rolls her in for a cover for two. Dana holds Charlotte in a submission move, then slams her, face first, into the mat.
- Dana comes back at Charlotte, but eats an elbow and a couple of chops. The crowd is seriously dead, which is upsetting. Dana gets Charlotte into a cover for two, then another for one. Charlotte sends Dana into the corner, but Dana comes back, big boot from Charlotte, and – that’s the win.
Charlotte kicks Dana out of the ring, and I spot Felicia’s ‘reserection’ sign, not for the last time tonight.
Steph is backstage, and she walks up to Bayley, looking all smug as she asks if Bayley wants a hug. Bayley says she doesn’t want a hug from Steph, because all she does is hurt people, which upsets her, because she always thought Steph was such a strong woman. Steph says that Bayley is going to have to prove she’s worth her championship, every night, because of what she’s said. Bayley’s match tonight is no DQ, just to make sure.
Chris Jericho is here to dish the dirt on Kevin. He’s wearing his United States championship, which he hasn’t defended in forever. He says he’s got a lot of friends, and doesn’t need Kevin. And I’m skipping most of this, but there’s a pic of Kevin as a kid in a Y2J shirt, with a Jericho poster and a Pamela Anderson poster. ‘He was marking out, maaaaaaaaan.’ We then get supposed DMs between Jericho and Owens. Eventually, he goes to put Owens on the list, and Samoa Joe appears. Kevin Owens comes from behind, stomps to Jericho, dragging his jacket off him. Pop-up powerbomb from Owens. Kevin tears up the list and even puts a bit in his mouth, spitting in on Jericho. Then he heads out of the ring, and back up the ramp.
MATCH: TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick
I love Brian’s jackets, I want one of them. They should sell that, there you are, WWE, free advice. Sell those jackets. I won’t buy one, though, because I draw the line at £150 wrestling merch unless I can actually buy someone’s kidney.
- Kendrick turns down the handshake, kicks from TJP, takes Kendriv onto the apron, Kendrick moves out of the way of TJP with a wrecking ball dropkick, but TJ hits the second. Huge cross-body from TJP, pin on Kendrick for two
- Kendrick sends Perkins into the corner, where the ref is, and while TJ is distracted haranguing the ref, he gets a handful of hair and into Sliced Bread #2, with a pin for the win.
Kendrick has a mic, and he calls out Tozawa, saying that he should come out and confront Kendrick. But Kendrick says Tozawa isn’t in the country right now, because Kendrick has his passport. Um, mate, they wouldn’t have let him back into Japan without that, so…. And with that, Brian leaves. Alright, mate, stop nicking personal belongings, yeah?
Roman is backstage, bunned hair as he talks to Charly. She asks how he feels about his match against The Undertaker at Mania, and whether that’s bothering him when he should be thinking about tonight’s match with Strowman. Roman says he only thinks about Undertaker as defeated, and that tonight, he’s got to teach Braun why you don’t mess with him. Big words. “This is my yard.” Can we stop with the dog stuff? It’s weird.
There’s a LONG video package for Lesnar vs. Goldberg, but since I don’t care about that, I skip it.
Cesaro and Sheamus are talking, and then Steph turns up to call them ‘peas and carrots’, and says that Foley is gone, and they need to earn their spot in a 2-on-4 handicap match – and if they lose, they won’t be competing at WrestleMania. Steph is literally just finding all of Foley’s faves and punishing them for existing, and I love it.
MATCH: Bayley vs. Nia Jax – No DQ
Bayley skips her way down, hugging kids and being lovely, and then out comes Nia to be indomitable and gorgeous.
- Bell rings, Nia straight to Bayley, but Bayley sends Nia into the corner and bashes her head off the turnbuckle. Bayley tries for a sleeper hold, but Nia takes her down easily. Charlotte is watching tv with her back nearly turned to it, because that’s how everyone watching wrestling backstage.
- Headbutt from Nia on the outside, she drags Bayley back to the ring, and then we see Sasha, who actually is almost at an angle she could be watching tv from. Sasha goes for a headscissors, but Nia lifts her up. Bayley gets knees to her, but Nia moves and Bayley lands face-first on the apron.
- Nia charges Bayley, but she dodges, Nia hitting the steps. Back from commercials and Nia has Bayley in a headlock in the centre of the ring. Bayley fights out, comes off the ropes into a huge clothesline from Nia.
- Nia picks her up for shoulderbreaker, and then throws Bayley around, a shoulder tackle and then two elbow drops and a pin for two. Headlock again on Bayley. Bayley fights her way out, and a huge slap to Nia, who sends her out of the ring again.
- Nia takes Bayley by the hair, and swings her into the barricades like she weighs nothing. She lies still, but Nia gets her back up and into the ring, getting a chair from the timekeeper’s area. Bayley kicks the chair away, and Nia headbutts her. Bayley kicks her as she comes back in, getting her hung up on the ropes, then a knee to Nia’s face.
- Nia’s down, and Bayley pins her for two, before going straight back to punches and slamming into her. Cross-body from the top rope, Nia kicks out at two. Nia pulls Bayley off the ropes, she lands heavily on the turnbuckles. Samoan Drop from Nia – and that’s the win!
Sasha and Charlotte don’t look too happy that Nia’s going to be in the match at WrestleMania now, making it a fatal fourway match.
Apparently we’re still celebrating Women’s History month, and this time it’s Mae Young’s turn! I’m not bitter they won’t do this for Chyna, no, not at all. And then they drag out Moolah. Bleurgh. Hey, WWE, just a thought, but maybe try working to make things better now, too? Yeah?
Triple H and Michael Cole have a chat that mostly boils down to Trips being disappointed he can’t face Seth at Mania, and saying that he’s got some comp tickets for Mania for Seth. Then he says he can make it happen, by making it a non-sanctioned match. And if Seth signs that agreement next week, then he can have that Mania match, and can’t sue if Triple H breaks him. Also, is it weird to anyone else that Cole calls him ‘Hunter’ when almost no one ever calls him that anymore?
MATCH: Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson – 2-on-4 Handicap Match
Cesaro and Sheamus are so cute now, big props to them that they’ve made this tag team thing work and turned it into something we want to see, and like seeing. I’m really impressed with that, to be honest. I automatically skip Enzo & Cass, because I don’t care, and Gallows & Anderson show up at some point as well. I don’t know, it’s late.
- Gallows & Anderson go for Enzo & Cass before the bell rings, and take them down. Bell rings, Cesaro goes for the wing on Anderson, but he grabs the ropes, and gets out. Cass takes Gallows out on the outside, and Cesaro holds Anderson up for a Brogue Kick – and that’s it?
Okay, well, that was worth the set up, I guess. Still, Cesaro and Shemaus are still going to Mania, which makes me happy, and then Enzo & Cass hit Bada Boom Shaka Laka on Anderson, because why not.
The New Day are here! Kofi and E ask Xavier if he has anything to tell them, and he says WRESTLEMANIA! They’re all excited about the matches, and tell us so.
MATCH: Austin Aries vs. Tony Nese
Aries is in a fluffy jacket and looks like he’s walked out of someone’s personal pleasure dungeon. He lays himself on the top rope in the corner, looking like he’s got all day. Tony Nese’s abs are here, along with the rest of him, in turquoise, which suits him.
- They shake hands briefly, and Aries goes for the ropes, but Nese is straight in with hard blows, backing Aries into the corner. Aries dodges a clothesline, and follows up with a cartwheel, clocking Nese on the face.
- Aries goes to the corner, but Nese lifts him, dropping him face-first onto the turnbuckles. Leg drop from Nese onto Aries, cover for one. Aries caught up on the ropes, throws Nese over onto the outside, and comes through with a suicide dive onto Nese on the outside.
- Back from commericals, Nese has Aries up in a torture rack, but Austin gets out of it with a roll up for two. Nese slams into Aries with an elbow, then poses outside the ring, before climbing back in for a second rope moonsault that find nobody home.
- Headbutt to the gut from Aries, who then drops Nese onto the ropes with a reverse neckbreaker. Facebuster, Aries plays to the crowd before the pendulum elbow, and a rolling senton. Aries takes it to the top rope, missile dropkicks to Nese before a forearm in the corner. Discus forearm, and Nese is down – that’s the win.
Neville appears, and Aries says he doesn’t remember having an interview. Neville says it’s not an interview, and he could come to the ring now and take Aries apart, but he won’t bother, because Aries is no threat. Aries says he hears the words, but he sees something else, because he’s above Neville’s level, and Neville’s afraid. He says he wants Neville to keep saying that he’s the king, because after Mania, it’ll be over. He also goes a reasonable attempt at Neville’s accent, which is sort of cute.
Strowman is backstage, and before Charly can even say anything, he says he’s not going to face Roman, he’s going to destroy him, and Taker will need to bring a shovel to Mania to scrape him off the mat. Charly’s just left standing awkwardly.
MATCH: Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Oh, Roman. Never stop being so pretty. He gets boos, because of course he does, and when Braun enters, he quirks his mouth in disgust and that’s so unbearably attractive to me. Braun is here, and Felicia’s sign crops up again. I do love to see her smiling and happy to see him.
- Blows from Roman to start with, but Strowman walks Roman back into the corner, Roman dodging out and firing back with kicks. Strowman sends Roman through the ropes, and Roman smacks Strowman as he comes back in, sending Strowman out as well. He comes round for a drive by, but gets caught by Strowman with a huge blow.
- Roman staggers to his feet, Braun hits a spinebuster, pinning Roman for two. Blows to the chest from Braun, Roman struggling to get to his feet. Shoulders to the gut in the corner, Roman falling to the mat again, looking shaken.
- Chinlock from Strowman, Roman struggling to fight his way out of it. He eventually struggles to his feet, but Strowman sends him to the ropes, Roman coming back with a clothesline, and some huge blows – but he tries to lift Braun, and so he’s smacked back down, hard.
- Slam from Strowman, Roman going down in the corner, before he’s whipped into the opposite one – but he dodges, Strowman hitting the post, and Roman coming in with a boot and then blows in the corner.
- Braun tries for a chokeslam, but Roman gets out of it, and manages to hit a Samoan Drop, with a pin for two. Roman crumples in the corner, seemingly stunned by how Strowman got out of it, but he comes back around for a drive by.
- Strowman throws Roman into the steps, throwing them into the ring, before he drags Roman in and flings him in as well. Strowman goes to throw the steps, but Roman hits a Superman Punch. He goes for another, Braun catching him, lifting him high. Braun lifts Roman off a rebound, but Roman hits another Superman Punch, and Strowman is down on the mat – when the gong goes off, and the arena goes dark.
When the lights come up The Undertaker is in the middle of the ring, and Roman’s staring at him. Taker turns to look at the fallen Strowman, then back to Roman. He seems to have his attention on Roman, but he turns to hit a chokeslam on the risen Braun, then turns in time to eat a spear from Roman.
Roman heads out of the ring, stalking up the ramp, before he turns, looks behind him – and Taker sits up. He gets up, and Roman gives a small nod, before Take does his throat-slitting mime, and his music plays, leaving us in no doubt as to what’s to come as the WrestleMania sign takes up the shot – and that’s the image we end on.