The last Raw before Sunday’s WWE Fastlane event featured a contract signing main event which didn’t involve much talking. It was all about doing a hard sell for the Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns match that is the second-biggest match at Fastlane.
During a backstage segment on Raw, Braun Strowman went up to General Manager Mick Foley to ask for a contract signing with Reigns. Foley told him the match was announced weeks ago, so it wasn’t necessary. Strowman said that he wanted it so that Reigns doesn’t back out of the match. Foley told him that Reigns isn’t like that, but agreed to do the contract signing in the main event.
The contract signing started with Foley in the ring with Strowman. After Strowman made his entrance, he told Foley to leave, but Foley told him that as the GM, he had a right to be there. Strowman did a great job of ripping on Foley by calling him a “broken down, suburban dad.” Foley fired back at him saying that he was a WWE legend and everybody knows that a WWE legend lives on forever. Foley told Strowman to learn to respect him or else. The fans chanted “Foley” for the GM, but Strowman just knocked the microphone out of his hand. That’s when Reigns showed up and Foley left.
— WWE (@WWE) February 28, 2017
When Reigns made his way down to the ring, Strowman was waiting for him and the fight was on. They set up two key spots in their brawl. The first spot saw them go into the crowd. When they went back towards the ringside area, Reigns nailed Strowman with a crushing Spear that broke the “security wall” at ringside, which is a thin barricade surrounding the ring. A security guard was standing there, so he took the bump as well. Whether that was planned or not, it looked good.
Reigns went back into the ring to sign the contract, but Strowman got back to his feet while yelling at Reigns: “Is that all you got?” They battled in the ring with Reigns hitting a Superman Punch on Strowman to slow him down a bit. Strowman came back by whipping Reigns into the turnbuckle, which Reigns took sternum-first and he lifted the top turnbuckle up to make it look like Strowman’s power broke the turnbuckle. It’s not a spot they do very often, so I liked it.
After replays aired of the big spot, Strowman left the ring while Reigns grabbed the contract and signed it while he was on his knees in the ring. That’s how Raw went off the air.
It was one of those segments that would have been fine if it happened as a top-of-an-hour segment, but as the main event? It wasn’t that exciting. I realize that WWE has high hopes for their match at Fastlane and Reigns is obviously a main event talent, but it felt like a weak ending. Their interaction in the last month has mostly been pretty good, so the Fastlane match will be better than most people are likely expecting. However, it didn’t feel like a great way to end the show.
As for the Fastlane match, I’ll be surprised if Reigns loses. I’ll get into some theories and ideas in the preview that will be posted right here at The Comeback (cheap pop) later in the week.
This Week’s Raw Matches
Match quality on this show was not strong. Here’s a look.
Xavier Woods & Big E defeated Rusev & Jinder Mahal
There was a terrible pre-match moment where The New Day guys were given an envelope saying that they weren’t facing the Shining Stars (who made their entrance) and instead faced Rusev & Jinder. It was WWE’s way of mocking the Best Picture mix-up at the Oscars. The joke failed miserably and the crowd was dead for it. Please get better writers, WWE. Or just avoid the stupid comedy. The “comedy” segment was so predictable, I even tweeted about WWE using New Day on Sunday night after the Oscars.
— John Canton (@johnreport) February 27, 2017
The match was an easy win for Woods & Big E with Woods pinning Mahal, who the announcers keep calling “Hardbody Mahal” since Jinder is so ripped now. It just sounds so awkward. As for Rusev, he’s been poorly booked for such a long time. He could be doing so much more.
Akira Tozawa defeated Noam Dar
It was the standard cruiserweight match on Raw that got about three minutes. Tozawa is new in the division, so he won clean with a German Suplex.
After the match, Brian Kendrick attacked Tozawa from behind and said he hoped Tozawa was learning his lessons.
Charlotte Flair & Nia Jax defeated Sasha Banks & Bayley
It was advertised as Charlotte/Dana Brooke vs. Sasha/Bayley. They did a 10-minute promo before the match with Charlotte informing the opponents that Jax would be her partner instead. I thought the promo was repetitive from what they have done in the past, but there was a good line from Charlotte saying Sasha was trying to steal Bayley’s spotlight. That will play well into Banks’ upcoming heel turn.
The match was pretty average because Jax is still learning on the job, while the other three are much better in the ring. WWE has booked Jax like an unbeatable monster (the female Strowman basically) since the brand split last July and she was dominant here as well. Jax pinned Bayley, the current Women’s Champion, with a leg drop to win for her team after about 13 minutes.
@totaldivaseps when you actually know what your talking about then please tweet @ me! Annoying when all u do is this i mess up ! get a life
— Dana Brooke WWE (@DanaBrookeWWE) February 28, 2017
There was a mistake in the match as well with Dana Brooke failing to trip Bayley when she was supposed to. Brooke ripped a fan on Twitter for mocking her, as seen above.
Big Cass defeated Luke Gallows
This was done to preview the tag title match on Sunday. After Karl Anderson distracted Cass, Enzo Amore threw Anderson into the ring steps. Cass used the assist from his partner to nail Gallows with a boot to the face for the clean win. It was only about four minutes.
Sheamus defeated Titus O’Neil
Prior to the match, O’Neil attacked Sheamus on the floor. When they got into the ring, the ref made O’Neil back off and Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick to win easily. It took less than 30 seconds.
Big Show defeated The Shining Stars in a handicap match
Squash win for the big guy. I’m not sure why WWE felt the need to have their giant in his mid-40s win a handicap match in two minutes, but that’s what happened. I’m not saying the Shining Stars should have won. I just felt like it was a waste of time.
Jack Gallagher & T.J. Perkins defeated Neville & Tony Nese
Like a typical Raw cruiserweight match, they got about three minutes. The face team of Gallagher and Perkins won when Gallagher made Nese tap out. Neville could have saved his partner, but he’s a selfish jerk of a heel, so he chose to leave the ring. The win gives Gallagher momentum going into the Cruiserweight Title match against Neville at Fastlane on Sunday. I doubt Neville loses that match.
Samoa Joe defeated Cesaro
This was my favorite match on the show, but I was disappointed that they only got eight minutes with three of them taking place during the commercial. I assume that was done because they didn’t want Joe to look weak for much of the match and have him wrestle longer. It’s about making Joe look dominant as a newcomer on the Raw brand.
Good story to the match with Cesaro selling a knee injury early on. That made it difficult for him to do some of his power moves. Joe capitalized several times by going after the knee with vicious attacks and got the win with a Uranage slam. It’s like a Rock Bottom. When The Rock started using The Rock Bottom about 20 years ago, I would tell people it was like a Uranage slam that was popular in Japan. Funny how wrestling works sometimes!
Post-match, Joe did a promo about how he’s there to beat people up and Sami Zayn showed up to attack him from behind. Good brawling segment by them, leading to a “Sami” chant. It shows that the fans love Zayn, even though WWE doesn’t push him strong enough. They have a match at Fastlane on Sunday.
Other Key Items From Raw
1. Goldberg Promises a Win Over Kevin Owens at Fastlane
The opening promo segment this week began with Goldberg making his entrance to a big ovation from the crowd. He spoke about his upcoming match with Kevin Owens at Fastlane for the Universal Title. Goldberg promised this: “Spear, Jackhammer, 1, 2, 3, Goldberg becomes Universal Champion.”
Goldberg also went on to promise to the fans in the arena, everybody at home, his wife, his son and even Kevin Owens that he will deliver on that promise to be the Universal Champion.
Kevin Owens interrupted the promo to talk trash to Goldberg, saying that he has done a lot in WWE by beating the likes of John Cena (in his first main roster match), AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and others while continuing his evolution (a Triple H reference) as Universal Champion. Goldberg challenged him to fight right then, but Owens said that Green Bay didn’t deserve it. Basic way to get cheap heat. Owens said that at Fastlane, the Goldberg chant dies.
It was an entertaining promo exchange. Goldberg was fired up as usual, the crowd loves him because he’s a good guy who is honest with them. Goldberg promising everybody that he was going to be Universal Champion was an interesting way of him basically guaranteeing victory. I think he’ll win the title and I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t happen.
Neither man appeared on Raw after that opening segment.
2. A Motivated Seth Rollins Tells Triple H He’s Going to WrestleMania
Seth Rollins was interviewed by Corey Graves in the ring. Rollins had a big brace on his injured right knee and he used a crutch on his right side for support. Rollins sounded distraught and looked stressed while the crowd wasn’t very interested in the segment. There was even a “CM Punk” chant at one point, but it went away quickly. Rollins claimed that he lost sight of who he is and he felt that the knee injury was his fault. When asked if he would be at WrestleMania this year, Rollins admitted that it’s not looking great.
Triple H showed up to brag about Rollins being hurt. Samoa Joe stood on the ring apron during most of the speech. It was an excellent promo by Triple H as he ripped on Rollins for being in the condition he was in. Hunter told Rollins that he chewed him up and spit him out because that’s life and Rollins needs to get over it. Hunter called him a washed- up superstar that is worthless.
When Triple H was about to leave, Rollins yelled at him to stop. Rollins said he had nothing left to lose. Rollins: “I will be at WrestleMania and if it’s the last thing I ever do then I swear to you it will the be the last thing you ever do.” It ended with staring likely because Rollins isn’t cleared to take bumps. No need to risk it.
The segment was effective when Triple H spoke and Rollins ended it with intensity in his voice. I thought the part where Rollins was alone looking sad was poor. I assume that they will have another segment in a few weeks where Rollins has the crutch again and he’ll attack Triple H with it to show that he’s fine. The expectation is that Rollins will be ready for WrestleMania for the match against Triple H. It might take a few more weeks for WWE to tell us that while the story plays out.
3. Beth Phoenix Added to WWE Hall of Fame
It was announced on Monday afternoon that former WWE Women’s & Divas Champion Beth Phoenix will be a part of the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.
Phoenix had a very successful run in WWE from 2006 to 2012. She was mostly a heel who dominated smaller women wrestlers and was booked very strong for much of her career. Unlike some women from that era, she was a true wrestler who put on entertaining matches with the likes of Mickie James, Melina, Michelle McCool and others. I always wanted to see her in a real feud with Natalya, but it never happened.
Once Phoenix got out of WWE, she stopped wrestling. She has two daughters with WWE Hall of Famer Edge and the couple got married last year They are the only husband and wife duo who can say they are WWE Hall of Famers, so kudos to them.
As of this writing, the Hall of Fame class is Kurt Angle, the Rock N Roll Express, Teddy Long, Diamond Dallas Page and Beth Phoenix. A few more names could be added.
Looking Ahead To Fastlane
— WWE (@WWE) February 28, 2017
The next WWE Raw brand pay-per-view is Fastlane, which is this Sunday, March 5 in Milwaukee. Here are the matches announced for the show.
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
Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn
Cruiserweight Championship: Neville (c) vs. Jack Gallagher
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
Akira Tozawa & Rich Swann vs. Brian Kendrick & Noam Dar (Kickoff Match)
Brock Lesnar isn’t scheduled to wrestle at that show. No match for US Champion Chris Jericho, who is out selling injuries from two weeks ago.
I thought Raw was poor this week. Maybe the worst Raw of the year so far. I don’t know how to say kind things about a show that had so many short matches and really didn’t mean a lot. The one match I wanted to get more time – Samoa Joe vs. Cesaro – didn’t even go 10 minutes while worse matches got more time. I’m not sure what WWE is thinking sometimes when they book these shows with so many matches going under three minutes as well.
As for the promos, most of them were good. The Kevin Owens/Goldberg interaction at the start of the show allowed both guys to show how confident they are. Triple H was excellent as a jerk, which is a role he’s been playing for many years. Some of the Rollins stuff could have been better written. Like I said, nothing was that memorable.
I’ll be back later in the week with a full preview of WWE Fastlane, which takes place this Sunday night on WWE Network.