By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. With this being the final wrestling event at The Joe, one has to assume that WWE was going to send the arena off in style. Throw in the Road to WrestleMania and we the perfect marriage to kill two birds with one stone in the gentlest way possible.
On last week’s show, Goldberg was dropped on his ass for the first time since 2004 by Brock Lesnar while The Undertaker choke slammed Roman Reigns to make their presumed WM match official. Did Goldberg and Reigns respond with their actions instead of saying their truth out loud for the world to hear? 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.
· According to Paul Heyman’s Theory of WrestleMania Relativity, an F5=Lesnar Up and Goldberg Down. The greatest championship comeback in WWE History would come to an end at WrestleMania. The Resurrection of Goldberg would be put to rest at the hands of Brock Lesnar. These were the main talking points covered during the opening segment of Raw as Heyman offered a possible glimpse into the future in three weeks’ time.
· This was a good way to start the show as the crowd was hot and attentive throughout Heyman’s promo. He was entertaining on the mic as he riled up fans when he shut down their “Goldberg” chants. Lesnar was more animated than usual which pushed things over the top. Goldberg’s response should be interesting if he continues to speak in his own voice instead of reading from a script.
· Stephanie McMahon decided to take Mick Foley under wing by teaching him the harsher realities of running a business. Lesson #1: Fire someone on the spot. At the end of the night, Foley has to fire someone from the Raw roster in order to trim the fat according to Stephanie. Someone getting the pink slip before WM is cold and harsh, but those are the breaks…
· Sasha Banks picked up the win against Dana Brooke in a quick match when she pinned Brooke with a roll-up. The match was fine while it lasted.
· Charlotte was about to give Brooke her walking papers, but Brooke beat her to the punch in the literal sense when she attacked Charlotte. The breakup was sudden, but not unexpected because Brooke has been skating on thin ice for a while.
· Eric LeGrand is the recipient of the 2017 Warrior Award. His strength, courage, and resiliency is remarkable and seeing him continue to live life to the fullest is a reminder that the word “can’t” should never be used in our everyday vocabulary. LeGrand is the epitome of what it means to be a Warrior.
· The Brian Kendrick and Tony Nese defeated TJ Perkins and Akira Tozawa when Nese rolled up Perkins for the win by grabbing the tights for extra leverage. The match was decent as it hyped the Fatal 5-Way Match featuring TJP, Nese, Kendrick, Tozawa, and Austin Aries which takes place tomorrow night on 205 Live with the winner moving on to face Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship at WrestleMania.
· The feud between Tozawa and Kendrick was forwarded with Kendrick dodging Tozawa for most of the match while Nese picked up a rare win on television. The action was somewhat subdued, but the end game was accomplished for the most part.
· Kevin Owens continued to explain why he stabbed Chris Jericho in the back during the Festival of Friendship a few weeks ago. Owens noted that Jericho was gunning for his Universal Title and decided to strike first. He outsmarted his pseudo-best friend, but Y2J paid him back tenfold when he cost Owens the Universal Championship at Fastlane. KO vowed to return the favor by winning the United States Title at WrestleMania.
· This was another strong promo by Owens that contained a kernel of truth as Jericho had his eye on the Red Kryptonite Belt prior to their acrimonious breakup. Either man could have torpedoed the greatest bromance of the 21st Century first, but Owens decided to do the honors before Jericho could strike. It was a sound strategy on his part despite the twisted logic involved.
· Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn and Chris Jericho ended via Disqualification when Owens and Joe continued to attack Zayn against the referee’s orders. Jericho made the save, but the numbers game caught up to him as well.
· Joe held Jericho up as Owens nailed him with a couple of cheap shots before dropping him with the Popup Powerbomb as the segment came to an end.
· The tag team match was fine while it lasted, but this was more about Owens getting a measure of revenge on Jericho leading up to WrestleMania.
· New Day Talks? I rather watch The Rollins Report in the coldest place in hell…
· Enzo Amore and Big Cass are back with a vengeance. Their promo was on point and Enzo was back to being his zany self without being a complete jerk. The Cuppa Haters mug is a thing a beauty which will fit nicely in my cabinet one day in the very near future.
· Enzo and Big Cass vs. Sheamus and Cesaro ended via DQ when Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows attacked Cass and Sheamus at ringside. Cesaro came to Sheamus’ aid, but he was dropped with The Magic Killer. Enzo tried to make the save as well but ate a big boot from Gallows instead.
· Enzo & Cass. Sheamus & Cesaro, Anderson & Gallows will face off in a Triple Threat Match for the Raw Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania. This was the expected match at Fastlane, but it appears that WWE wanted to wait until WM to make the match official. It makes sense in the grand scheme of things, but it’s another multi-person match on a crowded card. Some variety would be nice, but I digress.
· The Undertaker’s Gong distracted Roman Reigns momentarily, but he was able to recover as he nailed Jinder Mahal with a couple of Superman Punches for the win. Mahal actually had Reigns pinned for a near fall, but the improbable never came to fruition as Reigns took care of business.
· Shawn Michaels is in the building!!
· Michaels tried to give Reigns some advice about facing Undertaker at WrestleMania, but Reigns declined HBK’s words of wisdom because Taker retired him at WM 26. Reigns planned to do the same to The Dead Man this year’s show.
· Reigns was heading up the entrance ramp when he was blindsided by Braun Strowman. Strowman knocked Reigns off the ramp as he shouted to Michaels that he could easily do the same thing to him.
· WWE officials came to Reigns’ aid as the fans chanted “Thank You, Strowman” as the segment came to an end.
· Michaels’ surprise appearance was nice as he tried to help Reigns overcome the mind games Taker was playing in his head. Reigns was cocky but tried his best to remain somewhat respectful. However, his mellow demeanor will continue to get tested because Strowman still has it out for him along with Taker. Reigns is multitasking his way through WrestleMania season. That’s quite the Herculean feat.
· Austin Aries defeated Ariya Daivari with the Rolling Elbow. Aries had a nice debut match on Raw leading up to the Fatal 5-Way Match tomorrow night on 205 Live.
· The Big Show defeated Titus O’Neil when he dropped O’Neil with three chokeslams. The match was serviceable while it lasted.
· Chris Jericho putting “Tom Philips” on The List of Jericho was so awesome. Mike Rome is a Philips doppelganger minus the sexting scandal…
· Bayley vs. Nia Jax ended via DQ when Jax got overly aggressive which caused the referee to call for the bell. Jax continued her attack as she tossed Bayley into the barricade before heading backstage.
· The match was a one-sided affair as Jax was in control throughout. The crowd heat was so-so while Bayley was made to look like a chump for the second week in a row.
· Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns II will take place next week in Brooklyn. It should be quite the spectacle.
· Mick Foley had come to a decision when it comes to who should be fired from the Raw roster. Foley decided that Stephanie McMahon should get the boot. Stephanie thought Foley was joking, but he was dead serious.
· Stephanie tore into Foley for being a weak man, but he had a great comeback when he accused her of lying about Triple H’s involvement during the Fatal Four Way Match for the vacant Universal Championship last August. He was done with her double talk and decided to take a stand.
· Triple H made his way to the ring to confront Foley. The bad blood between HHH and Foley was on full display as both men traded verbal barbs.
· Hunter told Foley that he didn’t want a big lawsuit on his hands by taking Foley’s bad hip and beating him over the head with it.
· If Foley wasn’t careful, he’ll end up back on the road with his bad leg telling wrestling stories from yesteryear. He would be without a job just like his son Dewey if he didn’t tuck his tail between his legs and leave the ring like a good boy.
· Foley started to walk away but decided to pull out a familiar friend for old time’s sake. Stephanie was on the mic reprimanding the audience while Triple H tried to force Foley out of the ring.
· Foley surprised Hunter with Mr. Socko as the crowd popped with excitement. The good vibrations were short-lived as Stephanie delivered a low blow to Foley as HHH regained his composure.
· He was about to beat Foley up when Seth Rollins’ music hit. Rollins limped his way down the ramp, but he had a surprise for Triple H when he dropped his crutch and made his way to the ring to attack his former right-hand man.
· Rollins knocked Hunter out of the ring, but there was a fatal flaw in his plan. He left his crutch on the floor. This allowed HHH to gain the upper hand as he attacked Rollins’ injured knee with the crutch.
· Hunter put Rollins in a leg lock to do more damage before attacking him with the crutch one time as Raw went off the air with Rollins writhing in pain as a group of referees tended to him.
· This was a fantastic final segment that accomplished a few things. First, Mick Foley was the perfect conduit to get Seth Rollins over as a mega babyface. He was a sympathetic figure that people respect. When Triple H tried to tear him down, the fans were not having it. Rollins was the perfect guy to make the save as he was unanimously cheered for the first time in months.
· Second, it appears that Rollins will be back in time for WrestleMania. He wouldn’t get this physical unless he had medical clearance. Despite getting destroyed by Triple H, he was viewed as someone fans could get behind. The next couple of weeks should be interesting in terms of crowd reaction, but Rollins felt like a conquering face for the first time since his de facto turn last fall.
· The Triple H-Rollins feud finally feels important. The heel/face dynamic has been established and their match at Mania seems to be a go. With two more live shows until the biggest show of the year, let’s hope both men can bring the heat during the home stretch. Fingers crossed!
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was subpar at best. The show was buoyed by the four promo segments that bookended each hour of the broadcast. In that respect, the creative team deserves kudos for a job well done.
· However, the matches were merely background noise that left a lot to be desired. Three matches ended via disqualification. Sasha Banks, Roman Reigns, Big Show, and Austin Aries won their matches in decisive fashion while Tony Nese picked up the tainted win in a tag team match with The Brian Kendrick. None of these matches set the world on fire which made the show feel pointless at times.
· Fortunately, the talking segments salvaged things with the main event being the best thing on the show by a country mile.
· Next week’s penultimate episode of Raw before the go-home show emanates from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The Brooklyn crowd doesn’t accept mediocrity which should light a fire under the creative team’s ass. If not, it won’t be a pretty sight in the house that Jay-Z partially built…
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!