By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sin City would provide the backdrop for two major happenings on tonight’s show. First, The Festival of Friendship featuring Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens would pay tribute to the biggest bromance since Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. With the glitz and glamor at WWE’s disposal, how did the company celebrate this special occasion?
Also, Charlotte defends the Raw Women’s Championship against Bayley. Did lightning strike for the fourth time when it comes The Queen losing her title on free television? The answer to these burning questions can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.
· The opening segment of Raw was ho-hum as Stephanie McMahon announced that Mick Foley was given the week off after his less-than-stellar behavior during Samoa Joe’s contract signing last week.
· Roman Reigns came out and demanded a match against Braun Strowman. Stephanie polled the audience as they chanted “Yes,” and immediately shut them down because they didn’t care about Reigns’ well-being. Besides, Strowman was already booked in a match against Mark Henry. Reigns offered to watch the action from ringside, but Stephanie shot that idea down as well.
· Before things got out of hand, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson came to Stephanie’s defense and offered to face Reigns in a 2-on-1 handicap match. Stephanie made the match official as Reigns tried to get an early jump on Gallows and Anderson. The heels took advantage of the numbers game as they rammed Reigns’ lower back into the ring apron as the announcers tossed to commercial break.
· Gallows and Anderson got a little overzealous and were disqualified for not adhering to the rules as they continued to double team Reigns despite the referee trying to maintain some semblance of order. The match was decent before the DQ as Reigns tried to fend off the heels to no avail.
· Gallows and Anderson tried to drop Reigns with the Magic Killer, but Reigns escaped the move by kicking Anderson in the face and suplexing Gallows. He nailed both men with a pair of Superman Punches as the heels scampered up the ramp as the segment came to a close.
· On the Brightside, the Raw Tag Team Champions didn’t eat a pin.
· Kofi Kingston defeated Bo Dallas with the SOS. The match was fine as Dallas got instant heat when he ripped up The New Day’s Ice Cream blueprint. Let’s hope the trio saved a backup copy in the Cloud.
· Random Observation: Dallas slicked back ponytail looked lovely. Yes, I’m a sucker for beautiful hair.
· Gentleman Jack Gallagher defeated Noam Dar with a wicked head butt followed by the running dropkick in the corner. It was a fun match that had a nice flow to it for the time they were given.
· Braun Strowman picked up a key win against Mark Henry when he dropped the World’s Strongest Man with a Powerslam for the win. This was not a technical masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it was more than serviceable in terms of getting Strowman over as a badass monster.
· After the match was over, Roman Reigns made his way to the ring to attack Strowman. Reigns got the big man on one knee after nailing him with a pair of Superman Punches. He was about nail Strowman with a Spear, but Strowman cut Reigns off mid-run and dropped him with a Running Powerslam. Strowman stood over Reigns and shouted “You Can’t Win” before exiting the ring.
· This was another dominant performance by Strowman. Unless Reigns knocks Strowman out with a bulldozer, little can be done to stop the man between now and Fastlane. In reality, I expect Reigns to destroy Strowman at some point as a way to prove that Strowman can be taken down if all the stars are aligned. On this night, Lady Luck was riding with Strowman from start to finish.
· Samoa Joe’s interview with Michael Cole was intense and very informative. Samoa Joe stated that his sole mission in life is to destroy people. He does not need to be propped up to stand side-by-side with Triple H. Shawn Michaels, Batista, Randy Orton, and Seth Rollins fell under that category. He’s not just happy to be on Raw like Sami Zayn because he gets the job done on the first try. In a two week span, he took out Rollins and pinned Roman Reigns. Therefore, he doesn’t need Hunter as an insurance policy because he banks on himself to be the best.
· Joe was self-assured and confident as he answered Cole’s tough questions. He is a man that shouldn’t be trifled with and the locker room will learn that lesson soon enough. Joe’s ascension to the main roster has been a smashing success thus far.
· Sami Zayn channeled his inner Randy Orton when he nailed Rusev with a Helluva Kick from out of nowhere for the win. The matchup was very random, but both men managed to put on a good match down the stretch. Rusev had things under control after nailing Zayn with a clothesline at ringside. He rolled Zayn back in the ring and was in the process of getting back inside the squared himself when Zayn caught him with his finisher in the corner.
· Charly Caruso interviewed Zayn on the main stage as he talked about coming back with a convincing win after failing to capture the United States Championship from Chris Jericho due to Kevin Owens’ interference last week. Zayn acknowledged Samoa Joe’s comments from earlier tonight as he talked about not selling out and cleaning up someone else’s mess.
· Samoa Joe’s music hit and Zayn was ready for a fight. However, Joe attacked Zayn from behind and nailed him with a series of stiff punches. Joe slammed Zayn’s head into the LCD Screen several times before putting him to sleep with the Coquina Clutch. It appears that Zayn will be Rollins’ substitute at Fastlane as he faces Samoa Joe one-on-one. Just a wild guess.
· Akira Tozawa had another nice showing as he defeated Ariya Daivari with the Bridging Snap German Suplex. Tozawa’s audible grunting kept the fans entertained for the most part. The Brian Kendrick was on guest commentary claiming that he and Tozawa are best buddies. Something tells me that Tozawa hasn’t been clued in on this so-called fact.
· Kevin Owens looks a little down during the Festival of Friendship Celebration. Did Triple H give him some bad news during their backstage chitchat?
· The Creation of Adam redo featuring Owens as God and Jericho as Adam was amazing. That should be framed and sent to the Smithsonian for historical purposes.
· Gillberg is in the building!!!
· After months of teases, the bromance between Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho has finally come to an end. After Jericho waxed poetically about his best friend, Owens gave Jericho a gift. It appeared that it was a new List of Jericho, but he noticed that something was a little off.
· He noticed his name at the top of the LIST. The audience saw that the bottom of the tablet was entitled "The List of KO." And with that, Owens attacked Jericho as the disintegration of their friendship officially got underway.
· Owens nailed Jericho with a Popup Powerbomb on the ring apron before slamming Jericho’s head into the television monitor in the ring. The glass shattered everywhere as Jericho laid unconscious in the ring.
· Owens draped the Universal Championship over his shoulder and left his former best friend high and dry as the Festival of Friendship came to a shocking end.
· This was a great segment from top to bottom. It was very reminiscent of the infamous Brutus Beefcake Barber Shop segment back in 1992 when Shawn Michaels turned on Marty Jannetty in a similar fashion. It’s also a nice callback to Jericho slamming Shawn Michaels’ head into the JeriTron 5000 during an episode of the Highlight Reel in 2008. Both incidents were shocking in nature and this moment was no different despite Owens showing some tell-tale signs with his facial expressions and body language prior to the big surprise.
· How will Jericho respond to this act of betrayal? Will he play a role in the Universal Championship match featuring Owens vs. Goldberg at Fastlane? In any event, Owens explanation should be great. Owens is a funny guy, but playing the role of a cold-hearted bastard is his strong suit.
· Cesaro made quick work of Enzo Amore when he drilled Enzo with a Flying European Uppercut for the win. This is was a decent way to further the tension between Cesaro & Sheamus and Enzo & Big Cass leading up to the presumed Triple Threat Match against Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson for the Raw Tag Team Titles at Fastlane next month.
· Bayley’s childhood dream has come true as she defeated Charlotte to become the new Raw Women’s Champion. I was a little iffy on the outcome, but Sasha Banks provided the assist when Dana Brooke interfered on Charlotte’s behalf.
· Brooke raked Bayley’s eyes which allowed Charlotte to lock in the Figure Eight. Banks ran down to the ring and attacked Brooke with her crutch before nailing Charlotte in the neck with said crutch behind the referee’s back.
· Charlotte broke the hold and tried to pull herself together. However, Bayley didn’t allow The Queen to catch her breath as she dropped Charlotte with the Bayley-to-Belly for the win.
· Banks celebrated with Bayley before the Hugger Extraordinaire shared her moment with fans at ringside as Raw went off the air.
· As I mentioned a few weeks ago, it appears that Bayley has been infected with Sasha Banks Syndrome. The main symptom is winning the Women’s Title on free television and dropping the belt at the following PPV to Charlotte. Banks has suffered the same fate on three separate occasions. Will Bayley break the curse or will Charlotte regain the championship for the fifth time at Fastlane? Most importantly, what role will Banks play in the outcome? She helped her sister tonight, but it appears that their friendship might sour if Bayley breaks Charlotte’s PPV winning streak. It should be interesting to see how everything plays out.
· The Groundhog Day scenario of the Women’s Championship changing hands on Raw is a bit tiresome, but it’s impossible to knock the work rate of Charlotte and Bayley. They had a hell of a match that was gritty, hard hitting, and emotional throughout. Bayley had her best main roster performance to date while Charlotte continues to raise her game during big money matches. They told a beautiful story in the ring and the crowd ate it up. Questionable booking aside, this was one of the best matches of the year so far and both ladies should be commended for a job well done. Every time the women are put in the main event spot, they show up and show out. Tonight was no exception.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw was solid. The first couple of hours were a drag, but the last hour saved the show in terms of storyline development and stellar in-ring action.
· Braun Strowman continued his streak of being an indestructible monster. Samoa Joe put Sami Zayn on notice in dominating fashion. Kevin Owens severed ties with Chris Jericho in the written and physical sense while Bayley became the new Raw Women’s Champion and will take the belt to Los Angeles next week as the show emanates from the Staples Center. All in all, the key segments clicked while the rest of the broadcast was propped up with fluff segments that were harmless for the most part.
· The Road to WrestleMania is already filled with speed bumps and sharp turns. Expect the craziness to continue as we head into the last Raw exclusive PPV before Mania. Fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentleman. The fun has just begun.
On that note, this wraps another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!