This week’s Raw was carried by two big events that were memorable while the rest of the show represented its biggest problem: Raw is too long at three hours. The Las Vegas crowd witnessed the “Festival of Friendship” that ended up being a disaster while Bayley won her first Raw Women’s Title against Charlotte to end the show on a happy note.

In this opening space, I usually focus on one major happening during the show, but this week I’ll focus on two.

Owens Destroyed Jericho During The “Festival of Friendship”

The segment was hyped up all show with clips of their great friendship moments during Raw.

There was also a backstage segment earlier in the show where Triple H walked up to them saying he needed to talk. Jericho thought that Hunter wanted to talk to both of them, but he said it was just Owens. There was another clip of Hunter talking to Owens in a private moment. We couldn’t hear them. It was an important part of the story.

At the top of the second hour, Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens entered for their “Festival of Friendship” segment that Jericho promised last week. They had a big celebration Vegas style with showgirls as part of it. From the start of the segment, Owens didn’t look that thrilled about it while Jericho was over the top with how happy he was.

Jericho had several surprises for Owens including a sculpture representing their friendship, a funny cartoon painting that was like Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” and “Friendship the Magician” that was awful. The crowd didn’t really react to two of the gifts, but they laughed at the painting. After the magician was terrible, Jericho put him on the list leading to a big ovation.

They went to break in the middle of the segment. When they returned, Jericho brought out a “main event” surprise for Owens. The music of Bill Goldberg played, but instead of the real Goldberg (who wasn’t booked for Raw this week) it was comedy loser Gillberg, who made appearances in WWE in the late 1990s and also when The Rock faced Goldberg in 2003. Owens beat him up easily. Jericho thought it was hilarious, but Owens wasn’t impressed by it.

Owens wondered what Jericho was doing. Jericho said that he was just trying to have fun. Jericho did an awesome job of taking a serious tone in saying that he has had so much fun working with Owens in the last year, he loves spending time with him and this has been the most fun Jericho has had in his career. It wasn’t the best year of his career because 2008 was, but it was still a great year by Jericho. It led to Jericho assuring Owens that he’s going to help Goldberg retain the Universal Title at Fastlane. Owens hugged him and all seemed right in the world.

That’s when the brilliance happened. Owens gave Jericho a present in a box. Jericho opened it up, said it’s perfect because it’s a new list. Jericho wondered why his name was the only name on it and as he held up the list, it said “The List of KO” on the back. When Jericho looked at him, Owens destroyed him with punches. Owens followed up with an attack outside the ring. Owens gave him a huge Powerbomb on the side of the ring apron. They went back into the ring where Owens sent Jericho face first into a “Festival of Friendship” glass display that was in the ring. For a spot like that they use something called sugar glass, which sounds great and looks real, but it’s not going to hurt anybody. The crowd booed the attack by Owens.

After a commercial, Jericho was taken away on a stretcher. I expect him to be out for a few weeks, possibly until after Fastlane. If they had him return to Raw after Fastlane that would probably be the best decision.

The segment was excellent. It really was one of the best promo segments on Raw in a long time.

As I was watching it live, I felt like maybe it took too long because the whole thing went 20 minutes. However, after the whole thing was over, I looked back on it thinking that it was brilliant that they made it such a hokey segment. The silliness that Jericho did showed how much Owens was sick of his stupid hijinks. Owens was a massive jerk in this segment that destroyed a guy who helped him retain his title so many times. It’s very easy to hate a character like that, while Jericho will move on from this as a legendary face who wants to get revenge for what Owens did to him.

Was it too soon for the attack? I don’t think so. While I won’t admit that I expected it to happen this week, they pulled it off well and I have no problem with how they did it.

Regarding the Triple H thing I mentioned earlier, I think this could be the start of a heel stable featuring NXT guys. Triple H is the one that brought Samoa Joe to Raw and he helped Kevin Owens win the NXT Title last August. If he has those two as part of the group and they add another two or three people, they could be a dominant heel stable. I hope The Revival are brought in for it because they are true heels who would fit perfectly. This could be the start of something big and I’m excited about it.

Owens is likely going to lose the Universal Title to Goldberg at Fastlane. We can also pencil in Owens vs. Jericho for the US Title at WrestleMania as well.

Bayley defeated Charlotte Flair to win the Raw Women’s Title

The main event of Raw saw Bayley face off with Charlotte Flair for the Raw Women’s Title. In the lead-up to the match, Bayley did a promo about how big it was for her. Charlotte was featured in a backstage segment talking to rival Sasha Banks, who is still nursing a storyline knee injury.

It was a competitive match right from the get-go with the crowd excited to see the match. Charlotte dominated the first half. There was a scary spot on the floor when Charlotte hit a moonsault off the barricade (very impressive) and her knee hit Bayley in the head. I thought Bayley may be hurt from that, but thankfully she was okay.

When Bayley made her comeback, the crowd really got into it. There were some great near-fall moments for Bayley when she hit a Flying Elbow off the top rope and a top rope hurricanrana (aka a Frankensteiner) for a very believable two-count.

The finish wasn’t clean. Bayley applied a Figure Four Leglock on Charlotte near the ropes. The ref was checking on Charlotte, so Dana Brooke (Charlotte’s buddy) showed up to gouge the eyes of Bayley. That allowed Charlotte to apply her Figure Eight submission hold. Sasha Banks showed up, hit Brooke in the back with a crutch and went to the other side of the ring. With the ref looking at Bayley, Banks hit Charlotte with a crutch. Bayley capitalized with a Bayley to Belly suplex for the win and her first Raw Women’s Title. Bayley had a big celebration after the match was over.

It was an awesome match that really ended Raw on a strong note, which was needed after so many boring matches on this week’s show.

When the title change first happened, I thought that Stephanie McMahon might show up after the match to say that Bayley doesn’t get the title because of Banks. Show the replay on the screen, the ref can put the title back on Charlotte and it would get massive heat for Stephanie. It would also lead to Bayley getting even more sympathy from the crowd. Instead, it looks like she’s keeping the title unless they do something next week on Raw.

The match was good and I enjoyed it, but here’s my problem: They should have saved it until WrestleMania. In the month of March, WWE will remind fans of “WrestleMania Moments” and I’m going to sit there wondering why they didn’t have Bayley win her first WWE Women’s Title at the biggest show of the year instead of an episode of Raw in mid-February.

The Charlotte Flair character has an undefeated streak in PPV title matches. They should have had her retain the title at Fastlane and then lose the title at WrestleMania. Instead, she’s probably going to win the title back at Fastlane, giving Bayley a title reign for less than a month and what does it accomplish? Nothing. Raw has a “division” with about four women right now (Charlotte, Bayley, Banks & Nia Jax), since Dana Brooke and Emma are barely on the show. Doing title changes every two months is not the best way to book their division.

What they did on Raw was fine, but saving it for WrestleMania would have been much better. It’s about the timing, more than anything. I’m not hating on the match at all. I just think it could have been saved for a bigger moment on April 2 at WrestleMania in Orlando.

This Week’s Raw Matches

This was not a great show in terms of matches, but I enjoyed the main event as I mentioned above. Here’s a rundown.

Roman Reigns defeated Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson by disqualification

The match was set up after a boring opening segment with Stephanie McMahon and Roman Reigns. Reigns got the win by disqualification after Gallows & Anderson wouldn’t stop attacking him. When the ref tried to tell the Tag Team Champions to stop, they didn’t so he called for the bell. It was only given three minutes.

After the match, Reigns sent both guys out of the ring to make them look like losers. It’s all about keeping Reigns strong, as always.

Kofi Kingston defeated Bo Dallas

Prior to the match, New Day promised to show fans some “Ice Cream Blueprints” following Kingston’s victory. Fans chanted “ice cream” during the match. Dallas ripped up the blueprints during the match. Kingston won with the SOS in about three minutes. After the match, Big E dumped some Booty O’s on poor Dallas. Maybe Dallas should grow a beard and change his name to Wyatt like his brother Bray, the WWE Champion. Just a thought.

The New Day has lacked direction since losing the Tag Team Titles two months ago. They still don’t have a feud or interesting storyline.

Jack Gallagher defeated Noam Dar

Gallagher is getting a Cruiserweight Title match at Neville at Fastlane, so it was an easy win for him in about three minutes. Gallagher’s corner dropkick looks good, but it’s one of the weakest finishers in WWE. Post-match, Neville appeared on the stage for a staredown with Gallagher.

Braun Strowman defeated Mark Henry

They had a slow match with Henry trying to overpower him, but he failed when he went for his World’s Strongest Slam. Strowman landed on top of him and hit his Running Powerslam for the win. It went about four minutes. That was the fourth straight match that went under four minutes.

After the match was over, Roman Reigns went down to the ring to attack Strowman. Reigns stunned him with a Superman Punch. Reigns went for it again, but Strowman caught him and hit a Running Powerslam to end the segment. I think the best way to book this is keep having Strowman with the advantage. Reigns will get the win at Fastlane.

Sami Zayn defeated Rusev

The match was dominated by “Handsome” Rusev on offense. Zayn barely got anything until the finish. Rusev nailed Zayn with a clothesline on the floor. Rusev rolled him back in, then Rusev took his time getting into the ring and Zayn nailed him with a Helluva Kick to win after about ten minutes.

Zayn was interviewed on the stage after the win. He mentioned Samoa Joe ripping on him earlier in the show (I’ll get to that later) and Joe attacked Zayn on the stage. Joe applied a Coquina Clutch on Zayn on the stage to knock him out. It’s likely going to lead to Zayn vs. Joe at Fastlane.

Akira Tozawa defeated Ariya Daivari

It was a basic match to put over Tozawa as a new guy in the cruiserweight division. Tozawa won with a German Suplex in about three minutes. Brian Kendrick was on commentary acting as if Tozawa was a friend of his even though most people assume he’s lying since he’s a heel.

Cesaro defeated Enzo Amore

The match was set up after some backstage trash talk between the Cesaro/Sheamus and Enzo/Cass tag teams. Bad match with Enzo messing up a couple of spots, including not going over the top rope when he was supposed to and then he did it anyway. It looked awful. Cesaro won after tossing Enzo in the air and hitting an uppercut. It went about three minutes.

There were six matches on this show given four minutes or less. Not a strong show for matches.

Other Key Items From Raw

1. Samoa Joe Explained Himself

There was a five-minute sit-down interview with Samoa Joe conducted by Michael Cole. I thought it was a successful in terms of giving fans insight into the Samoa Joe character as a cold-blooded “killer” type of wrestler. He talked about how it took him 18 years to get to Raw because people were too scared to give him a shot, so that’s why he is loyal to Triple H for giving him a shot.

Later in the interview, after Cole kept asking Triple H related questions, Joe wondered if the interview was about Triple H instead of himself. Joe said that if Seth Rollins comes back, he’s going to put him on the shelf again. Joe also took a shot at Sami Zayn, who he claimed was just happy to be there. That led to Zayn bringing up Joe later in the show and then Joe attacking him.

When Cole mentioned names like Shawn Michaels, Batista, Randy Orton and Seth Rollins as guys who trusted Triple H and ended up having friendships that went sour, Joe replied that he doesn’t need Triple H like those guys did because he gets the job done on his own.

Joe ended the interview saying people will learn why The Creator (Triple H) unleashed The Destroyer (Samoa Joe).

2. Emmalina Premieres… Sort Of

Emmalina made her long-awaited “debut” on the stage wearing a dress. She looked great. She mentioned that for 17 weeks we have waited for the makeover of Emma to Emmalina. Fans cheered at the sight of her on the stage. She ended it by saying that now the makeover of Emmalina to Emma. She ended it by saying thank you.

This felt like a trolling segment to just upset the fans. The reason why I put “debut” in quotes is because she’s been in WWE for about four years, so calling it a debut is silly. It was more of a re-invention of her character, but it fell flat.

Bad segment. I like Emma as a wrestler, but her career is hurting because of this awful angle.

3. Teddy Long Added to WWE Hall of Fame

It was announced on Monday afternoon that Teddy Long will be a part of the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. He played a lot of roles in wrestling starting out as part of the ring crew, a manager, a referee and most notably as the General Manager of Smackdown. Long spent over 30 years in the business, so he clearly deserves it. I’m happy for him.

Right now, the Hall of Fame class is Kurt Angle, the Rock N Roll Express and Teddy Long. More names will be added in the coming weeks.

Looking Ahead To Fastlane

The next WWE Raw brand pay-per-view is Fastlane on March 5 in Milwaukee. Here are the only matches announced at this point.

WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Goldberg

Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman

Cruiserweight Championship: Neville (c) vs. Jack Gallagher

I think Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn is likely as well. A Women’s Title rematch is possible also.

Brock Lesnar isn’t scheduled to wrestle at that show. His next televised match will likely be at WrestleMania against Goldberg.

In Closing

It was another average edition of Raw that was saved by the great Owens attack on Jericho and Bayley’s title win. If those things didn’t happen, then this would have been the worst Raw in a long time. If you missed the show, I recommend skipping the first two hours, starting with Owens and Jericho and watch the last 70 minutes.

Next week on Raw, Braun Strowman vs. Big Show. Is that supposed to excite people? I’m not sure, but that’s what they advertised.

About John Canton

John has been writing about WWE online since the late 1990s. He's written for WhatCulture, Bleacher Report, Layfield Report, Rajah.com and many other places. You can follow John Canton on Twitter @johnreport or email him at mrjohncanton@gmail.com with any comments or questions. For more of his wrestling opinions, visit his website at TJRWrestling.net.