BY: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Brooklyn has been a notoriously hot crowd in recent years and tonight’s show should be no different as we are a little under two weeks away from WrestleMania. After Mick Foley and Seth Rollins were taken out by The Authority last week, did the Triple H and Stephanie McMahon continue their reign of terror or did someone mercifully rain on their parade? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.
· Triple H handed Mick Foley a prepared statement written on index cards to announce his leave of absence as Raw General Manager. Foley got through the speech, but he flipped the script by tearing up the cards and tried speaking from his heart. Triple H had the production crew cut off Foley’s mic as Stephanie McMahon made her way to the ring.
· Stephanie read Foley the Riot Act before firing him in front of the live crowd. Sami Zayn came out to his mentor’s defense, but Stephanie had an ace up her sleeve in the form of Samoa Joe. She booked Zayn in a match against Joe as a form of punishment. Zayn laid out Joe with a flip dive over the top rope as the opening segment came to an end.
· This was a good way to kick off the show. Foley’s firing was expected for a while because he needs time off to get hip replacement surgery. Stephanie was deliciously wicked while Zayn tried his best to be the moral compass in a tough situation. The Brooklyn fans were hot as they couldn’t resist throwing in a “CM Punk” chant to get under Steph’s skin. Their plan backfired, but I digress.
· Sami Zayn put up a good fight, but it wasn’t enough as Samoa Joe made Zayn tap out to the Coquina Clutch.
· Zayn and Joe had a much better match than the one they had at the Fastlane PPV two weeks ago. Joe dominated most of the match, but Zayn had more moments to shine which kept things interesting down the stretch.
· Zayn nailed Joe with a beautiful Tornado DDT through the ropes onto the outside. Joe got back in the ring and tried to catch his breath in the corner which allowed Zayn to attempt the Helluva Kick for the win.
· Joe caught Zayn in mid-stride with an Uranage Slam before making him tap out to his submission finisher.
· Mick Foley saying goodbye to Sami Zayn, Cesaro, Sheamus, and Bayley was very heartfelt until Triple H pissed in his Corn Flakes by telling Foley to “Have A Nice Day!” in the most condescending way possible. It was hilariously cruel.
· Charlotte defeated Dana Brooke with a big boot in a decent match. Brooke showed fire, but the outcome was never in debut. The fans decided to chant “We Want Paige” to the tune of “New Day Rocks” during the match. This is clearly in reference to Paige’s nude photos and sex videos leaking on the internet this past Friday. Paige is currently recovering from neck surgery which would prevent her from being on television in the first place. Stay classy, Brooklyn... *Insert Sarcasm Here*
· The Highlight Reel was very informative as Chris Jericho revealed some interesting tidbits about his former best friend. Jericho showed a picture of Kevin Owens when he was sixteen-years-old wearing a Y2J t-shirt while doing Jericho’s signature pose for good measure. What pushed the photo over the top was the posters plastered on Owens’ wall. He had a picture of Jericho on the left and a pic of Pamela Anderson to his right. It was the perfect mix of 90s awesomeness and Canadian religiosity when it came to paying homage to Anderson’s peak hotness on Baywatch.
· Jericho even revealed a real-life direct message exchange on Twitter as Owens asked his hero for some advice shortly after signing with WWE in 2014.
· Y2J noted that Owens viewed him as a hero which transcended their status as best friends. Jericho planned to take advantage of Owens’ fandom at WrestleMania by psyching him out mentally before taking him out physically.
· Jericho called Owens a stupid idiot and was about to put him on The List when Samoa Joe came out. The distraction allowed Owens to attack Jericho from behind.
· KO dropped Y2J with a Popup Powerbomb before ripping up the List of Jericho in an act of sacrilege as the segment came to an end.
· This was a great way to add another layer to the Jericho-Owens feud by making things more personal. Owens’ hero worship of Jericho as a teenager is a smart nod to history which adds an extra thread of realism to their match at WM. Jericho has yet to one-up Owens in a brawl, but I expect that change on the go-home show next week.
· The Brian Kendrick dropped TJ Perkins with Sliced Bread #2 for the quick and decisive win. The match was too quick to judge it properly, but the action was solid while it lasted.
· Kendrick called out Akira Tozawa, but he knew that Tozawa wasn’t in the building because he stole his passport while it was laying on the floor in the locker room last week. It was a cute lesson, but Kendrick was too winded to pull off his promo effectively. Who knew that a two-minute match could a wear a wrestler out so fast?
· Nia Jax punched her ticket to WrestleMania after she pinned Bayley with a Samoan Drop. The Triple Threat match for the Raw Women’s Championship is now a Fatal Four Way featuring Jax, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Bayley.
· Jax vs. Bayley was fine, but it was completely marred by the crowd going into business for themselves. Something happened in the audience that triggered the fans to go nuclear on the match. They did The Wave and it’s not even the night after Mania yet!
· If someone told me that the crowd would turn on a Bayley match two years ago, I would have called him or her crazy. Unfortunately, I witnessed the unthinkable which sucks because Bayley is such a wonderful character that has been dragged through the mud in recent weeks. Her match dying on the vine was a sad sight to see. L
· After much hemming and hawing, Triple H offered Seth Rollins the chance to face him in an unsanctioned match at WrestleMania. All Rollins had to do was show up to Raw next week and sign a hold harmless agreement. By doing this, he couldn’t sue WWE if Triple H ended his career at Mania.
· Triple H’s promo was good, but he had to fight through “CM Punk” and “What?” chants in order to get his point across. The final sell job was nice, but it was a chore to get to the finish line.
· Cesaro and Sheamus kept their WrestleMania dream alive when Sheamus nailed Karl Anderson with the Brogue Kick for the win. Enzo Amore & Big Cass and Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows weren’t on the same page which allowed Cesaro and Sheamus to take advantage of the situation. This was another match that was too quick to judge properly. I am starting to sense a pattern here...
· The New Day was safely kept backstage during their backstage shill for WM. They got the biggest pop of the night for obvious reasons.
· Austin Aries nailed Tony Nese with a Discus Forearm for the win in a solid match. The crowd heat was muted because the bout was slotted in the 10:30 P.M. Lull Period of Death which prevented both men from getting over in a meaningful way.
· Aries’ promo exchange with Neville salvaged things as he encouraged The King of the Cruiserweights to believe the hype for the next thirteen days because he was about to face someone who was above his level at WrestleMania. This was a nice way to forward their Cruiserweight Championship match at the biggest show of the year.
· Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman ended without a finish when The Undertaker’s Gong went off towards the end of the match. Undertaker appeared in the ring as he stood between Reigns and Strowman, Taker dropped Strowman with a chokeslam only for Reigns to nail The Dead Man with a Spear moments later.
· As Reigns headed up the ramp, Taker sat up and did his signature throat slash to send a message to Reigns that he wouldn’t go down that easily at WrestleMania as Raw went off the air.
· Reigns and Strowman had a decent match, but it wasn’t on the same level as their previous encounter at Fastlane. It was slow in spots, but the action picked up towards the end. Strowman getting choke slammed by Taker was questionable because Strowman should be protected as the next big monster in the making.
· His loss to Reigns stunted his growth a bit. Throw in Taker bitching him out in the middle of the ring and it’s been a rough few weeks for Mr. Strowman. Here’s hoping that Strowman moves on from being a sideline player in the Taker-Reigns feud by winning the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania. It would do him a world of good by reasserting himself as a force to be reckoned with heading into the spring and summer months.
· As for Taker and Reigns, the Battle of the Yard continues as the Original Big Dog and New Big Dog battle for Alpha Male supremacy. Reigns is trying to maintain the balance of being a babyface while acting heelish towards The Dead Man. This dance will continue as Raw emanates from Philadelphia next week. It should be interesting to see how their final encounter plays out heading into Mania.
· Overall, I tonight’s episode of Raw was pretty run-of-the-mill. The in-ring action was ho-hum once again with Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe having the best match on the show by default. The Highlight Reel wins best talking segment honors while the rest of the show was so-so at best.
· The fans were absolutely terrible during the Bayley vs. Nia Jax match which turned the broadcast upside down for a bit. They were disrespectful to both ladies which is a shame because this was the same crowd that begged for change two years ago. If the women start having two-minute matches again, we can look back on this moment as to why the bathroom break segments are back. I don’t want to speak that scenario into existence, but perception is everything in this day and age. Let’s hope my typed words don’t become reality.
· Next week is the go-home episode of Raw before WrestleMania. It’s a huge show that needs to be hyped to the fullest. The Road to WM has been bumpy in spots and the creative team needs to be on their A-Game as we take the I-4 towards Orlando. Here’s hoping they can get the job done. 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!