Braun Strowman was presented like WWE’s scariest monster on this week’s Raw. Strowman won an impressive match over Big Show that was better than most people thought it would be and ended the night dominating his Fastlane opponent Roman Reigns.
A lot of times when I write about Raw in this opening space, I try to cover a show-long storyline. But in this case, they kept Strowman in the back for nearly three hours until the main event match against Big Show. They even had a “Tale of the Tape” graphic during the show, while noting that the ring was being reinforced in order to deal with their nearly 800 pounds of weight.
— WWE (@WWE) February 21, 2017
The match started at 11:01 p.m. ET and Raw usually lasts a few minutes past the 11 p.m. ET hour, so I figured they would get about five minutes with Strowman getting an easy win. Nope. I was wrong. It was a much better match than I expected, going about 12 minutes, earning multiple “this is awesome” chants and really put over Strowman in a big way. The first “this is awesome” chant happened really early in the match before they did anything but 10 minutes later, they definitely deserved it.
The two giants worked a power match with Strowman dominating most of it. Show came back as the veteran babyface who got some near-falls with his signature moves such as the Chokeslam and the KO Punch. They even teased a big superplex spot that Show has done a few times in the post leading to the ring collapsing. The crowd wanted them to do it and when Strowman fought it off, the fans booed. It wouldn’t surprise me if they do this match again at some point in the year where they do the break the ring spot just because the crowd wanted to see it so much.
They went to the finish of the match shortly after the teased superplex spot. Strowman nailed a Running Powerslam on Show that looked sloppy. I don’t want to blame Strowman for it because it’s not easy lifting a 400-pound man up like that. Show teased a Chokeslam and Show did the spot again with a better looking Running Powerslam to win the match clean. That could have been a call in the ring by Show to have Strowman pin him after hitting the move correctly.
After the match was over, Roman Reigns went into the ring to go after Strowman since they are in a match at Fastlane on March 5. Reign stunned him with a couple of Superman Punches, but Strowman came back with a dropkick to block a Spear attempt. Strowman hit Reigns with his Running Powerslam and stood tall to end the night.
To the credit of both men, the match was much better than I thought it would be. It was the best match of the night. It also earned a lot of praise from 2017 WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle, one of the best in-ring performers ever.
— Kurt Angle (@RealKurtAngle) February 21, 2017
It was a huge night for Strowman who, if you recall, was my pick to win the Royal Rumble. I still think they should have had him win because he would have been a fresh face as a Rumble winner instead of having a former winner like Randy Orton go over. Despite not winning the Rumble, it’s clear that Strowman is going to be a big focus on the Raw brand going forward.
I’m interested to see how WWE books the Reigns vs. Strowman match at Fastlane. If Reigns wins to become the first guy on Raw to beat Strowman since the brand split last July, then that’s a big deal. It’s probably going to happen because Reigns is set to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania (not official yet, but it’s coming). I doubt WWE has Reigns lose going into that match. As for Strowman, he’s likely going to be the big favorite in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal at WrestleMania assuming he’s not in a singles match.
There are a lot of things on Raw that frustrate me as a viewer, but I have to give the creative team credit for elevating Braun Strowman as much as they have over the last eight months. He also deserves a lot of praise because he has improved a lot in the ring in the last year as well. Strowman is well on his way to becoming WWE’s most dominant giant, which is an important role in the company.
This Week’s Raw Matches
Enzo Amore & Big Cass defeated Cesaro & Sheamus
The match was done to determine the number one contenders to the Raw Tag Team Titles. Typical Enzo & Cass match where Enzo was beat up for most of it and Cass got the hot tag for his team. I thought they could have set up the finish better because when Cass pinned Cesaro with the East River Crossing slam my reaction was “That’s it?” It just didn’t seem like an emphatic way to end the match.
After the match, Enzo did an annoying promo bragging about the win and Sheamus nailed him with a Brogue Kick. Fans chanted “Thank you Sheamus” for shutting up Enzo like that. I enjoyed it too.
Brian Kendrick vs. Akira Tozawa never happened
This match was set up when Tozawa told Kendrick he didn’t like him last week on 205 Live. Kendrick nailed him with a clothesline, stretched his neck against the steel by the turnbuckle and applied his Captain’s Hook submission. It was done to further the idea that Kendrick is a jerk and Tozawa is a new guy that will get his revenge some day soon.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson defeated Roman Reigns by disqualification
— WWE (@WWE) February 21, 2017
I’m not sure why WWE thought it was a good idea to do this match again, but they did. The heel tag team champs brought a chair into the ring, Reigns used it against them and Reigns was disqualified for it.
After the match was over, Reigns nailed Anderson with an impressive Spear when Anderson jumped off the top rope. It was a similar spot that Reigns did with Shane McMahon at Survivor Series that led to Shane getting legit knocked out. Anderson looked okay after it was over. The move looked really cool.
The New Day’s Big E & Kofi Kingston defeated Rusev & Jinder Mahal
— WWE (@WWE) February 21, 2017
There was a clever pre-match promo where Lana, the “Ravishing Russian,” hacked into a tablet that New Day had for their ice cream machine. When Kofi asked how she got their ice cream plans, Big E pointed out she was Russian, which was a funny reference to the Russian hacking stories in the news.
The actual match was basic with New Day winning easily by pinning Mahal with the Midnight Hour double team move after about four minutes.
Nia Jax defeated Sarah Pierce
Jax won in less than one minute over the unknown wrestler. After the match, Jax said she is putting the Women’s Champion (currently Bayley) on notice.
Sasha Banks defeated Charlotte
Prior to this match, there was a nearly 20-minute promo featuring Bayley, Stephanie McMahon, Sasha Banks and Charlotte. It was a long tease about Bayley giving up the Women’s Title because it was a tainted victory the previous week on Raw. Bayley said “hell no” to that idea. It took nearly 20 minutes to do something that could have taken three minutes. Welcome to Raw.
Banks beat Charlotte in about 10 minutes by submission due to an assist from Bayley. Dana Brooke made her way down to ringside, Bayley stopped her (Bayley was on commentary for the match) and Banks made Charlotte tap out to the Bank Statement submission.
The promo also set up Bayley vs. Charlotte at Fastlane for the Raw Women’s Title. I think Charlotte will win the title back due to Banks accidentally costing Bayley when Banks tries to help and the assist backfires.
Kevin Owens defeated Sami Zayn
It was a short match because Samoa Joe attacked Sami Zayn from behind just like last week. Joe sent Zayn into the ring post a few times and hit a running senton splash on the floor. Joe rolled Zayn back into the ring and Zayn told the ref was okay to continue.
Zayn got no offense against Owens. It was a beating by Owens with clotheslines and cannonball attacks in the corner. Owens won clean with a Popup Powerbomb to end things after just two minutes of action.
Other Key Items From Raw
1. Kevin Owens Delivers A Message To Goldberg
Raw began with Kevin Owens seated in a chair in the middle of the ring. The spotlight was on him as he spoke about how he was never a Goldberg fan as a kid and how he’s not scared of him. Owens talked about how Brock Lesnar took Goldberg lightly and Goldberg got lucky, but that won’t happen to Owens. Owens said that he’s going to outsmart Goldberg to retain the Universal Title. Owens made it a point to say that superheroes don’t exist, in reference to Goldberg talking about how he was like a superhero to the kids out there.
At the end of the promo, Owens mentioned Chris Jericho. It looked like he was going to discuss his attack on his former best friend. Instead, Owens just dropped the microphone and left.
I like the way Owens was presented in the segment because he came off as more of a tough heel who isn’t afraid of anybody or anything as the Universal Champion. The match at Fastlane against Goldberg is likely going to be physical. I think it’s going to be a win for Goldberg and I hope it’s not done in five minutes or less, but I have a feeling it might be. Until then, having Owens come across as a serious heel instead of a guy that does comedy is the right way to go with this character.
2. Brock Lesnar And Paul Heyman Interviewed About Goldberg
There was a sit-down interview with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman that aired during the end of the third hour. It was conducted by Michael Cole. As usual, Lesnar didn’t say a word while Heyman talked about how Lesnar was on edge lately and he’s anxious.
Lesnar got up out of his chair, which caused Cole to get up and Lesnar grabbed Cole’s chair. Lesnar moved the chair so that his face was right up against the main camera as Heyman talked behind him. Heyman kept on firing off statements about things relating to Goldberg and Kevin Owens as well as their Universal Title match at Fastlane. To wrap it up, Heyman basically said that if Goldberg wins the Universal Title from Owens at Fastlane, then that means it’s just another thing for Lesnar to conquer at WrestleMania. In other words, Lesnar thinks he’ll be Universal Champion at WrestleMania. I do too.
This segment and the Owens promo showed how much Goldberg is a focal point of Raw these days even when he isn’t on the show.
3. Diamond Dallas Page Added to WWE Hall of Fame
It was announced on Monday afternoon that former WCW Champion Diamond Dallas Page will be a part of the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.
DDP is in the WWE Hall of Fame because of his WCW career rather than his run in WWE. Page was a WCW wrestler that started from the bottom, worked his way up through the midcard, became a huge face during the years where the NWO was dominating and he ended up winning the WCW World Title three times. He also gained a lot of popularity with the “Diamond Cutter” finishing move that fans of current wrestling know as the RKO.
His WWE debut was handled poorly in 2001 when they brought him in as a heel. He was out of the company a year later, partly because he was in his mid-40s at that point. Still, because of his WCW career, he is definitely a worthy member of the Hall of Fame.
In addition to his work in the ring, the way he has improved the lives of former wrestlers like Jake Roberts and Scott Hall (both of whom recently made the Hall of Fame) is enough reason to put him in the Hall of Fame. He has helped a lot of wrestlers with his DDP Yoga program as well. Kudos to him for having such a positive impact on people’s lives.
As of this writing, the Hall of Fame class is Kurt Angle, the Rock N Roll Express, Teddy Long and Diamond Dallas Page. There should be a few more names added in the coming weeks.
Looking Ahead To Fastlane
— WWE (@WWE) February 21, 2017
The next WWE Raw brand pay-per-view is Fastlane on March 5 in Milwaukee. Here are the matches announced at this point.
WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Goldberg
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Raw Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Raw Tag Team Championships: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
Cruiserweight Championship: Neville (c) vs. Jack Gallagher
I think Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn is a lock to make the card as well, but it’s not official yet.
Brock Lesnar isn’t scheduled to wrestle at that show.
Raw continues to be an average show in terms of quality. For the second week in a row, I was bored for most of the first two hours while hoping for something interesting to happen. Then once the third hour arrived, we got that women’s match that was pretty good, the Heyman/Lesnar interview was interesting and the main event was much better than I thought. It would be nice if WWE cared enough to make the first two hours more exciting, but just like last week it was the third hour that was the highlight.
As I noted earlier, this show did a fantastic job of elevating Braun Strowman. He’s going to be a future Universal or WWE Champion at some point this year. It’s going to be hard to keep him out of the title picture for much longer.
— WWE (@WWE) February 21, 2017
Next week on Raw, Goldberg is back on for the final Monday before his Universal Title match at Fastlane. Also, Seth Rollins will be interviewed. If I had to guess, Rollins will likely say he’ll be ready for WrestleMania because that’s the plan as far as we know. Tune in next week to find out.