1. Samoa Joe Signed A Contract And Put The Raw Roster On Notice. – Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon started the show with Foley reluctantly announcing Samoa Joe. The Samoan Submission Machine showed up in suit & tie and walked down to the ring to sign his Raw contract. After explaining how he’d done the job of putting Seth Rollins on the shelf, he put the Raw roster on notice. Roman Reigns entered and confronted his fellow Samoan, but he had no welcoming words for Joe as he claimed Raw was his yard and challenged him on the spot. With passion, Foley said he’s still the General Manager of Raw and would not be denied his power of making a match tonight between Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe for the main event.
Reaction: Immediately established Joe as a guy who’ll gladly sell out if it means he makes big money. Also, his point of taking eighteen years to get to where he is, and Triple H being the only guy to give him an opportunity made a lot of sense for why he did what he did to Rollins. Reigns was pretty good for a change, there was no messing around as he got straight to the point. He seems to have taken The Undertaker’s “this is my yard” line; a subtle reference to a potential match at ‘mania?
2. Akira Tozawa Debuted. – After a successful debut on 205 Live, the new Japanese sensation made his Raw debut against Drew Gulak. He didn’t seem to have problems with Gulak, and got the crowd participating with his “hah! hah! hah!” taunt. Tozawa was able to finish the match much the same way as he did on 205 live with a surprise German suplex Outta’ Nowhere!
Reaction: A really positive reaction from the crowd on the night, which is a good sign as some Japanese talent have a hard time getting the WWE audience to give a crap. While he doesn’t seem to speak English (his interview on 205 Live was in Japanese), he’s able to work a solid, entertaining contest while playing to the crowd with his taunt. Also his finisher is pretty sweet and yet another reason for fans to tune in to 205 Live.
3. Goldberg Confronted Best Buddies Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho – Owens bragged about retaining his title against Braun Strowman last week. Jericho teased a possible champion vs. champion match between himself and Owens at Wrestlemania, with Owens agreeing it would be the biggest match of all time .. but he didn’t want to fight his friend. After silly antics which involved putting “Tom Brady on the list”, Goldberg’s music played and he made his way to the ring. This time completely blood free .. Goldberg took over the ring and answered “Yes” to Brock Lesnar’s Wrestlemania challenge. Afterwards, he got in Owens’ face and claimed he only held the Universal title because he hadn’t faced Goldberg yet.
Goldberg noted that Owens still didn’t have a match for Fast Lane, so he said he was coming for his title. Jericho took exception to this and tried putting Goldberg on the list, but Goldberg did the unthinkable when he took Jericho’s list, signed it, and put himself on the list! This robbed Y2J of the satisfaction of putting people on his list, so he got in Goldberg’s face and thought about challenging him to a match .. but he had second thoughts and accepted Goldberg’s challenge for the Universal title on Owens’ behalf. Goldberg said Owens and his title .. are next!
Reaction: My favourite segment of the night as it seemed like they were enjoying themselves out there. I’m really digging Goldberg’s attitude since he returned, it’s like he isn’t doing the bare minimum, he’s really trying to appease his peers and the fans with his work. I can’t see Goldberg winning the title, Lesnar will have something to say about it and likely interrupt. At least it puts the Universal Champion in the ring with Goldberg, which is a different kind of match up. I remember the story of Jericho and Goldberg having a backstage altercation in the early 2000’s, so his line of “I’ve always hated you” felt like a reference to that, but it seems they’ve settled their differences.
4. Festival Of Friendship? – A backstage segment I missed live saw Jericho and Owens talking backstage. Jericho said he wanted to celebrate their friendship in the biggest way possible, a “Festival Of Friendship” in Las Vegas next week. Owens looked confused at first, but came round to the idea as the camera panned away.
Reaction: Jericho was so excited for this! It’s going to be like .. the Wrestlemania of friendships! I’m enjoying this continuing friendship as they’re so entertaining together, but we know that it has to end one day, and when it does it will be heart breaking. It gave us something to look forward to next week.
5. Samoa Joe Faced Roman Reigns In His Raw Debut Match. – Joe fought Reigns, but in predictable fashion it seemed like Reigns was going to put an end to him with a spear. Cue Braun Strowman to enter the fray and distract Roman long enough for Joe to deliver a new signature move and win the match via pin-fall in the middle of the ring. Strowman continued the destruction and crashed Reigns through a barricade at ringside to end the show.
Reaction: The Strowman interruption was 100% predictable, but at least it showed the kind of character Joe is .. an opportunistic sell-out. Also, Joe needed to win his first match to show he can beat Reigns given the right conditions. I liked his new signature move, which is like a Super Rock Bottom .. I can see it being a safer move to use against big guys than the Muscle Buster. Don’t be afraid though! I don’t think Joe’s retired the Muscle Buster (or been told not to use it) as he was using it frequently in NXT only a month ago; I think he’s going to use it sparingly like AJ Styles saves the Styles Clash for big matches. I’m still loving Strowman’s destruction, so while the kiddies will have hated the end of Raw, I loved it as Joe won and Strowman stood tall over the evil Roman Reigns who thinks he’s the new Undertaker.
A better crowd than last weeks. The product didn’t seem to grip me as much .. as I found myself drifting out occasionally. Joe and Reigns started the show well, Goldberg/Jericho/Owens provided decent comedy half-way through, and we ended with Joe winning and Strowman standing over Roman. As Rollins was injured, much of the show was dedicated to showing the build between him and Triple H, showing why he’s out with injury and the fact he might miss Wrestlemania. Because of this, the booking needed to change and I think they did a decent job salvaging it.
When the show ended I couldn’t think of five moments. I had to ask the EWN faithful for help .. which doesn’t bode well. When you have three hours of television and label the product “sports-entertainment”, you better make it memorable otherwise people will tune out. And while the moments were not as prominent as previous weeks, it didn’t mean we got better wrestling matches either. I only really cared for two moments, the opening segment, and the Goldberg segment. Everything else could’ve been done with more impact, so after giving Raw 4 Steveweisers last week, I can only give 2 Steveweisers this time. Hoping next week’s has more going for it. And that’s all folks .. thanks for reading and see you again!
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