This week’s Raw was built around a first-time match that has never happened before: Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe. Last week’s show ended with Samoa Joe attacking Seth Rollins and injuring his knee, so Reigns decided to step up to challenge Raw’s newest superstar. It led to a very physical main event match this week.
Before getting to the Joe vs. Reigns story, the news on Rollins is as follows. He has a torn MCL in his right knee. When Samoa Joe took him down in the main event of Raw last week, Rollins’ right knee buckled. There was no timeline given by WWE, but the Wrestling Observer reports from last week said it would be about eight weeks for Rollins. Announcer Michael Cole noted that Rollins’ participation for Wrestlemania is “in serious doubt,” meaning that WWE likely won’t risk putting him in a WrestleMania match.
During last night’s Wrestling Observer Radio show, Dave Meltzer noted that Rollins may be “good to go” for the WrestleMania match against Triple H, after all. A similar update was provided by PWInsider as well, using the same “good to go” for WrestleMania phrase. Once again, nothing is confirmed and WWE is obviously avoiding specifics for the sake of the storyline. I hope Rollins will be cleared by WrestleMania on April 2. He has less than two months to do so.
Raw began this week with Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and General Manager Mick Foley with their newest signee Samoa Joe, who was wearing a suit. Foley seemed upset about the whole thing because, as the babyface in the scenario, he hated how Joe debuted and who he aligned himself with (Triple H). Stephanie was a lot more enthusiastic about it since she’s married to Triple H. She greeted Joe with a hug.
Samoa Joe signed his Raw contract. Joe did a promo about how it took him 18 years to get to that moment, which is true. He started wrestling in 1999 and last week was his Raw debut. He said that one man believed in him (Triple H), so that’s why he did what he did to Rollins last week. Joe threatened everybody on the Raw roster by saying that he will beat up our heroes, choke them out and when they get back up, he’ll beat them down again. I liked the seriousness of the promo. He has a lot of credibility because of his wrestling style and his reputation as a tough guy.
Roman Reigns — also a Samoan whose real first name is Joe, by the way — got in Joe’s face. Reigns introduced himself saying they’ve never met (I find that to be silly) and said it was his yard. Reigns told Joe that he has to go through him. Foley made the match for later on Raw. I thought it was smart to do that at the start of the show because fans wanted to hear from Joe after his attack last week. Setting up a match against Reigns put the spotlight on Joe immediately by showing he’s already a main eventer on Raw.
If you're not on notice already … you should be. @SamoaJoe is exactly where he belongs… the main event of Monday Night #Raw. pic.twitter.com/QCLRaEoq2Y
— Triple H (@TripleH) February 7, 2017
The first ever Reigns vs. Joe match took place in the main event. As Reigns made his entrance, Joe attacked him in the aisle just like he did to Rollins last week. It was a cheap attack which once again shows that Joe is a dirty heel who will do anything to get the advantage. They went to a commercial and started the match after a break.
The match was built around the idea that Reigns was in a lot of pain due to the attack, but he kept fighting back. Reigns did a good job of selling the attack. He kept trying to get the advantage, but Joe was aggressive in keeping him grounded. Reigns took control with a Samoan Drop and a Drive By dropkick. That’s when Braun Strowman showed up. Reigns hit him with a Superman Punch, but that allowed Joe to hit a kick to the back and a uranage slam for the win the match at around the 11-minute mark. That was Reigns’ third loss in the last eight days counting the Royal Rumble title loss (not clean), the Rumble match loss (he was second to Orton) and this match, which also wasn’t clean.
I thought the match was good, but I hated the finish. Strowman’s interference isn’t even the part that bothered me. What bothered me was that they copied the same finish as the Jax/Bayley match from earlier. Strowman was on the apron and Reigns knocked him down. That’s what Bayley did to Charlotte. After knocking the heel down, Reigns was pinned shortly after, just like Bayley was. They shouldn’t copy the same finish as a match from earlier in the show. That didn’t make sense to me. Other than that, I thought it was the right move to have Joe get the win.
After the match was over, Strowman attacked Reigns with several power moves. It ended with Strowman delivering his Running Powerslam on Reigns through the barricade at ringside. It was announced earlier on Raw that Reigns will face Strowman in a singles match at Fastlane. I think that will be a win for Reigns, which would mean Strowman finally gets pinned for the first time since the brand split last July.
I agree with Triple H in saying that Samoa Joe is exactly where it should be. It shouldn’t have taken him 18 years to be there, but I’m glad it has happened.
This Week’s Raw Matches
Nia Jax defeated Bayley
Jax dominated much of the match. Bayley did a good job of trying to come back, but she wasn’t able to get the win. The big moment was when Bayley shoved Jax into the ring post and looked like she was going to win by countout. Charlotte showed up, distracted Bayley leading to a dropkick by Bayley and it allowed Jax to hit a Samoan Drop to win. It was an okay match that went about 10 minutes.
It was also announced that Bayley gets a shot at Charlotte’s Women’s Title next week on Raw as well. What a way to build her up, huh? Typical WWE booking where they have somebody lose when they have a title match the next week.
Braun Strowman defeated Four Losers in a 4-on-1
The four losers were smaller indie wrestlers who were no match for Strowman. One of the guys ran away while Strowman beat up the other three guys. Strowman piled two guys on top of a guy on the bottom, so he pinned three guys at once for the win in about two minutes.
After the match, Strowman wanted more competition. He found Raw GM Mick Foley, who put Strowman in a match against Roman Reigns at Fastlane.
Akira Tozawa defeated Drew Gulak
Tozawa made his Raw debut, so they put him over with a clean win. I like Tozawa as a cruiserweight wrestler that has a strong personality and a connection with the crowd, thanks to the yelling that he does during the matches. Great bridging German Suplex by Tozawa to win.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson defeated Cesaro & Sheamus
This was a the title rematch for Cesaro & Sheamus after losing the gold at Royal Rumble Kickoff. The team of Enzo & Cass were seated at ringside, so it was obvious they would be a part of the finish. Gallows was sent to the floor, he kicked Enzo in the head and Cass replied with a kick to the head of Gallows. The ref saw it, so it led to the disqualification.
It’s probably going to lead to a triple threat tag match for the titles at Fastlane. I would have Gallows & Anderson retain there and drop the titles to Enzo & Cass at WrestleMania for a huge moment that the fans would love.
The New Day’s Big E & Xavier Woods defeated The Shining Stars
Basic tag match to put over New Day. Woods was worked over by the heels for about four minutes, Big E got the hot tag and Woods tagged back in for the Midnight Hour double team move. Easy win for New Day, who hasn’t had much to do for over a month now.
United States Championship: Chris Jericho defeated Sami Zayn to retain the US Title
This was a rematch from last week since Zayn pinned Jericho on Raw last week in a non-title match.
They had a competitive match with each guy coming close to winning a few times. Every time Zayn hits that Blue Thunder Bomb, the crowd reacts to it in a big way, but he never wins with it. Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho, leading to Zayn getting to the ropes. Jericho celebrated as if he won, but the ref told him he didn’t. While that was going on, Kevin Owens nailed Zayn with a cheap superkick while Zayn was against the ropes. Jericho capitalized with a Codebreaker for the win in about 10 minutes.
The finish put over the idea that Jericho and Owens are still on the same page. It’s not going to be the case for that much longer, so enjoy it for now. As for Zayn, he continues to be booked poorly and has no positive momentum. He’s the guy on Raw who is booked the worst. He should be in a much better position.
Cedric Alexander, T.J. Perkins & Jack Gallagher defeated Neville, Tony Nese & Noam Dar
The tag match was set up with a promo before the match. Neville bailed on his team because he’s a selfish heel who has no allies. Alexander hit the Lumbar Check on Dar to get the win for his team.
Other Key Items From Raw
1. Goldberg Gets Universal Title Match At Fastlane, Accepts Lesnar’s WrestleMania Challenge
IT'S OFFICIAL! @Goldberg will challenge @FightOwensFight for the @WWE #UniversalChampionship at #WWEFastlane! #RAW pic.twitter.com/646lYVpxzQ
— WWE (@WWE) February 7, 2017
During a promo segment with Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, Bill Goldberg decided to interrupt them. Goldberg was advertised all night for Raw, but they didn’t say he was going to be a part of this segment. Goldberg stood in the ring and accepted the Brock Lesnar challenge for WrestleMania.
After Goldberg accepted the WrestleMania match, Kevin Owens said it would make for a great undercard match at WrestleMania since Owens vs. Jericho would be the main event. Goldberg told Owens that the only reason he’s still Universal Champion is because KO hasn’t faced Goldberg yet. Jericho got in Goldberg’s face, threatened to put him on the list and Goldberg ended up putting himself on the list, which drew some laughs and a big ovation. Jericho was so mad about it that he accepted the Goldberg challenge for Owens, which should lead to problems between the best friends Owens and Jericho down the road.
The expectation is that Goldberg will win the Universal Title from Owens. It wouldn’t shock me if it’s a quick victory that takes five minutes or less for Goldberg.
PLUS: The final battle has been accepted as @Goldberg goes toe-to-toe with #TheBeast @BrockLesnar at @WrestleMania! #RAW #WrestleMania pic.twitter.com/NRKjWsM2Dc
— WWE (@WWE) February 7, 2017
Looking ahead to WrestleMania, I think Lesnar will win the title from Goldberg to put an end to that rivalry and that’s going to be the last Goldberg match.
As for Lesnar, he was at Raw, but only appeared after the show was over for the local fans in Portland. He gave Big Show a F5 and that was it. Easy job if you can get it.
2. Chris Jericho Added Tom Brady to “The List Of Jericho”
This deserves its own acknowledgment because Jericho was fantastic during his promo as well as his match with Sami Zayn.
Jericho had a bone to pick with somebody that others were calling the “GOAT,” aka the Greatest of All Time. Jericho asked the crowd if they know what happens if somebody does that and it’s not Jericho. The crowd knew.
“Tom Brady — you just made the list!” It drew cheers from the crowd.
The Super Bowl was memorable, but also painful because I bet on the Atlanta Falcons and that was a crushing defeat. Atlanta Falcons, I’m sure I can speak for others when I say this, but you just made the list for blowing a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl.
3. Rock ‘N’ Roll Express Added To WWE Hall Of Fame
It was announced earlier on Monday that the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express tag team of Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson will be a part of WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2017. They were one of the most popular babyface tag teams in wrestling history, making a name for themselves in the NWA during the 1980s and had some brief runs in WWE as well, although they were older by then. They are one of those teams that should have been in a long time ago, but were kept out for some reason. I’m glad they will finally be WWE Hall of Famers.
The only other name announced for the Hall of Fame so far is Kurt Angle. Another name expected for the Hall of Fame this year is former WCW and WWE star Diamond Dallas Page. It’s not official yet, but it should be soon.
Looking Ahead To Fastlane
The @WWE #UniversalChampionship is on the line at #WWEFastlane as @Goldberg challenges @FightOwensFight! #RAW pic.twitter.com/L6l7WfBMeL
— WWE (@WWE) February 7, 2017
The next WWE Raw brand pay-per-view is Fastlane on March 5.
Two matches were made official on Raw this week.
** WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Goldberg
Owens would like a beard alteration on that graphic above.
Can you guys photoshop my beard too? You don't need to change the color though. Maybe just make it thicker. https://t.co/BDlX1GPnHE
— Kevin Owens (@FightOwensFight) February 7, 2017
** Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Brock Lesnar isn’t scheduled to wrestle at that show. His next televised match will likely be at WrestleMania against Goldberg.
I thought it was the best Raw of the year, but that doesn’t mean it was a great show. It was just better than the typical average quality shows we usually see. They had a few good matches, quality promos at the start the show, as well as the Goldberg/Owens/Jericho exchange, and aside from the boring New Day match, everything on the show felt like it was building to something for the future. Some of the match finishes felt repetitive with heels getting help to win a match, but that’s typical WWE booking that we are used to. I hope this is what a typical Raw feels like going forward because I enjoyed it a lot more this week.
Next week, Charlotte defends the Raw Women’s Title against Bayley. Also, a “Festival of Friendship” provided to us by Jericho and Owens. Don’t miss it, according to Jericho.
I’ll be back later in the week for an in-depth preview of the WWE Elimination Chamber PPV, presented by Smackdown, that takes place this Sunday night.