By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. Samoa Joe debuted on the main roster last week when he ambushed Seth Rollins on Triple H’s behalf. The beat down became all too real when it was revealed that Rollins suffered a torn MCL in his surgically repaired knee during Joe’s attack.
WWE announced that they would update fans on Rollins’ condition. Will he be good to go at WrestleMania or will his match against Triple H be delayed for the second year in a row? The answer can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.
· Samoa Joe officially joined the Raw Roster by signing his name on the dotted line and put the locker room on notice that he plans to destroy them one-by-one.
· Roman Reigns had something to say about that and advised Joe to shut his mouth or he was going to cave it in.
· Mick Foley announced that Joe will face Reigns later tonight as the opening segment came to an end.
· This was a good way to start the show. Foley wasn’t pleased with how Joe debuted on the main roster by doing Triple H’s dirty work. Stephanie McMahon had her ball snippers out, but Foley kept them at bay as he reasserted his authority as the Raw General Manager. His days as GM might be numbered, but his manhood remained intact.
· Joe vs. Reigns should very good, but I question the match taking place on free television. This bout is better suited on PPV, but the network era has changed the way WWE books matches on television. There are no buy rates to worry about because the PPV market has been cannibalized by the network.
· Therefore, the company is content with giving away freebies that don't affect their bottom line. They run the risk of burning through high profile matches because the dreaded 50/50 booking will do more harm than good when it comes to getting stars over. That trend might change tonight because a certain monster has his eyes set on a certain Samoan Badass. Which one? Stay tuned.
· Nia Jax defeated Bayley with a Samoan Drop thanks to an assist from Charlotte. Bayley was about to win the match via count out when Charlotte made her way to the ring to distract Bayley. Bayley drop kicked Charlotte out of the ring, but the diversion gave Jax enough time to recover. This was a good way to add heat for next week’s Raw Women’s Championship match between Charlotte and Bayley.
· Braun Strowman destroyed four random dudes. That’s the extent of my analysis for this match.
· Mick Foley informed Strowman that he will face Reigns at Fastlane next month. That should be an interesting match, to say the least.
· Akira Tozawa had a solid debut match against Drew Gulak as he pinned him a Bridging Snap German Suplex. Tozawa got the crowd involved with his audible yelling. This is a smart way to keep the fans’ attention during his matches. Tozawa is a very good wrestler that has the tools to get over in the Cruiserweight Division if WWE plays their cards right.
· Tom Brady being added to the List of Jericho just made my night. Yes, I’m a sad Falcons fan...
· Goldberg accepted Brock Lesnar’s challenge and will have one final showdown against The Beast at WrestleMania. Goldberg might have some hardware to put on the line as he challenged Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship at Fastlane. Owens was hesitant to accept while Jericho was about to put Goldberg on the LIST for having the audacity to put himself in such a high profile match.
· Goldberg snatched the LIST from Jericho and did the honors himself as the fans went crazy. Jericho accepted Goldberg’s challenged on Owens’ behalf which put a wet blanket on their Friendship Summit.
· Goldberg told Owens that he was next as the segment came to an end.
· This was a nice bounce back segment for Goldberg because he was able to adapt to the comedic stylings of Owens and Jericho this time around. Their first rodeo in Tampa last month was hit and miss in terms of execution, but the creative team worked out the kinks as Goldberg maintained his heat while coming off as legit badass at the same time. It should be noted that no doors were harmed prior to his ring entrance.
· Owens was not pleased with Jericho as he chewed him out backstage. Their friendship is back on shaky ground. Expect the bottom to fall out sooner rather than later.
· Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows retained the Raw Tag Team Championship in fluky fashion when Big Cass nailed Gallows with a Big Boot. Big Cass was provoked when Gallows nailed Enzo Amore with a Big Boot of his own while they were watching the match from ringside.
· The automatic disqualification cost Cesaro and Sheamus the Tag Team Titles. The booking suggests that a Triple Threat Match featuring Gallows and Anderson vs. Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Enzo and Big Cass will happen at Fastlane. Just a hunch.
· If The New Day come out with their own brand of ice cream, a certain Straight Edge Superstar is going to be pissed off to the nth degree.
· The New Day defeated The Shining Stars when Big E and Xavier Woods dropped Epico with the Midnight Hour. This was a surprisingly competitive match as Epico and Primo took 75% match until Woods made the hot tag down the stretch. Nice maintenance win for New Day as they build momentum towards WrestleMania.
· Congrats to the Rock N’ Roll Express on being inducted into the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame. It’s long overdue.
· Chris Jericho retained the United States Championship thanks to an assist from Kevin Owens. Jericho and Zayn had a very good match and it appeared that a title change could take place because Owens was laying it on a bit thick about having Jericho’s back prior to the match.
· The ending came when Zayn grabbed the ropes to break the Walls of Jericho submission hold. While the referee was busy pulling Jericho away from Zayn, Owens nailed Zayn with a Superkick. The distraction allowed Jericho to nail Zayn with a Codebreaker for the win. Jericho and Owens’ dream of headlining WrestleMania together remains intact. For now.
· Austin Aries announced that TJ Perkins, Noam Dar, Cedric Alexander, Tony Nese, and Jack Gallagher will face off in a Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match on 205 Live tomorrow night. The winner will go on to face Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship at Fastlane. Rich Swann rematch is on hold because he suffered an ankle injury during his attack on Neville last week.
· Aries asked Neville if he was afraid of any in the division and Neville emphatically said no. This led to all five men making their way to the ring to confront the King of the Cruiserweights. The talking was kept to a minimum when Perkins clocked Nese in the face which ignited a brawl. Foley booked a six-man tag team match during the commercial break to restore some semblance of order.
· Noam Dar failed to follow Neville’s lead when he made the hot tag from Nese which led to the heels’ demise. When Dar needed help, Neville bailed on his team which allowed Cedric Alexander to hit Dar with the Lumbar Check for the win. This was a solid match, but the dreaded 10:00 Lull Period of Death tempered the crowd reaction.
· Emmalina is finally debuting on Raw next week. It’s about damn time.
· The first annual Festival of Friendship starring Owens and Jericho will take place next week in Las Vegas. Owens didn’t seem thrilled with the news which plays into their fracturing bromance.
· Samoa Joe picked up his first win on Raw as he defeated Roman Reigns with an Uranage. As expected, Braun Strowman provided the assist when he came out to distract Reigns. Reigns nailed Strowman with a pair of Superman Punches which startled the big man momentarily. The distraction gave Joe enough time to kick Reigns in the head from behind to set up the finish.
· Joe vs. Reigns was a very good match that was hard hitting and physical throughout. Joe carried himself like a true badass who should be feared while Reigns tried his best to fight back. The fans were 60/40 against Reigns’ comeback and were glad that Strowman cost Reigns the match.
· After the match was over, Strowman dropped Reigns with a Running Powerslam. The carnage continued when Strowman chucked the steel steps into Reigns’ face. The grand finale came when Strowman delivered another Running Powerslam to Reigns through the barricade as fans chanted “Holy Shit!” as Raw went off the air.
· In a perfect world, the heel would be booed for destroying a beloved babyface. Sadly, Reigns is unable to garner that kind of sympathy and was cheered for getting his ass kicked. This was an impressive beat down by Strowman, but it feels hollow because he is not supposed to be celebrated for taking out the top face on Raw. It’s the same booking dilemma that has plagued WWE Creative for the past couple of years. The Reigns Experiment is a bust and it’s time to jump ship and re-strategize.
· Unless the Festival of Friendship rubs off on the Las Vegas crowd, Reigns is in for another rude awakening next week. Sad, but true.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw was decent at best. The first two hours zipped by, but the 10:00 Lull Period of Death began to set in during the six-man tag team match featuring the Cruiserweights. Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns turned things around while Braun Strowman put an exclamation point on things by taking out Reigns as Raw went off the air.
· The recurring theme of the night was distraction finishes. There were four on this show that made things predictable from a wrestling standpoint. The distraction finishes benefited the heels, but it became redundant after a while. It would be nice to see some variety in the booking department to keep things fresh and interesting.
· Next week should be a fun show with Raw taking place in Sin City. Bayley will face Charlotte for the Women’s Championship while the first annual Festival of Friendship hosted by Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens is sure to bring love and happiness to everyone who is fortunate enough to have a best friend. Something tells me that this celebration will not be chockful of rainbows, unicorns, and lemon drops.
· Seth Rollins’ heath status for WrestleMania is still up in the air. WWE didn’t offer a timeframe for Rollins’ return and it appears that the company is in wait & see mode until next month. The medical timeout might be a blessing in disguise because he hasn’t gotten over as a true babyface since his de facto turn last fall. Let’s hope the creative team can rehab his character while Rollins is doing the same for his torn MCL. Fingers crossed!
On that note, this wraps up another edition of the Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!