SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW REPORT
FEBRUARY 6, 2017
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton.
-A video package opened based around Triple H’s promo last week calling Seth Rollins a letdown and massive failure with “Furies” by Extreme Music as the slogging, dark, ominous backdrop music. Then it shifted to new music interspersing Triple H sending security out to get Seth at NXT Takeover and more of last week’s promo culminating in Seth heading to the ring to “meet your destroyer,” as Triple H put it, where Samoa Joe made his Raw debut attacking Seth.
-They went live to the arena where Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon stood mid-ring at a podium. Foley then introduced “the hottest free agent signing of the new era.” He turned to Stephanie and asked if that’s how she wanted him to say it. She wasn’t pleased with Mick, but when Joe came out looking dapper in a suit to his NXT music, Steph smiled and applauded. Cole called him “one of the most dangerous men in sports entertainment.”
(Keller’s Analysis: That sounds so stupid. How can someone be “dangerous” and why even bother saying it if you call them that in the context of “sports entertainment.”)
Stephanie said Joe has held titles all over the world and he’s about to become the latest signee to Raw. She called him the Samoan Submission Machine. Foley opened the folder with the contract. Steph asked why he isn’t as enthusiastic as usual. She asked if it’s because he didn’t bring Joe into the fold or his ego is getting in the way and clouding his judgment “or are you just upset once again I had to do your job for you.” Mick said he’s not a fan of the way Joe went about getting is contract or who he associated with.
Joe picked up the mic and told Foley. “Eighteen years. It took me 18 years to be standing in the ring right now. And in those 18 years, when you claimed to be such a big fan of mine, one man opened the door and gave me an opportunity. If loyalty to that one man means coming out here, beating up Seth Rollins, and putting him on the shelf, so be it.” He said he’s putting the entire locker room on notice. He said he will come out there night after night and beat down their heroes and choke them out and when they wake up, beat the down all over again. He said there is nothing they can do about it. Joe signed the contract.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure they’ve used the term “choke out” since Chris Benoit nearly ten years ago.)
Roman Reigns’s music played. He walked out. They cut to a little girl in the front row going absolutely bonkers. They showed another small group of women in the crowd cheering with a pro-Reigns sign. Graves said he should be careful of he might not make it to WrestleMania. Reigns said Joe is making a lot of threats, so maybe he wants to make one now. He said they haven’t met, but his name is Roman Reigns. He said he’s the baddest man in WWE. He said now that Joe signed that contract, he’s in his yard now. He said he can either shut his mouth of he’s about to cave it in. Foley said as long as he’s still general manager, he makes the matches that rewards the fans for making Raw part of their evening. He said Reigns will face Joe tonight. Graves called it a blockbuster announcement. Joe and Reigns exchanged a few words off-mic, then Joe left with a snarl on his face with Stephanie.
(Keller’s Analysis: If they go through with that match, they’re giving away a big match-up that ideally would have benefited from being held off for a long time and used a centerpiece match on a PPV… Remarkably, they barely mentioned Seth. They are already moving on without him, for now at least, with the intent of putting the focus on wrestlers who can go right now… Joe looked the part well, carrying himself as you’d expect if you’ve seen his career. He looked like a polished act who belonged in that setting.)
-On camera, the announcers reacted. Cole said they’d upset Seth’s status later, but they had a loaded line-up of big time matches on the show, including Bayley vs. Nia Jax. Graves plugged Goldberg, too.)
-They showed Bayley, Sheamus, and Cesaro backstage. Bayley was heading to the stage for her match up next. [c]
(1) BAYLEY vs. NIA JAX
Cole announced that Bayley would face Jax next week on Raw live from Las Vegas, Nev. Cole said Jax holds every powerlifting record at the WWE Performance Center. Bayley mounted Jax in the corner with some punches at the start, but Jax came back with a headbutt. Cole said Jax was kicked out of karate classes, kickboxing, and judo as a kid because she kept hurting people. They cut to a break at 3:00. [c]
Back from the break, Jax pummeled Bayley. When Jax charged at Bayley at ringside, Bayley moved and Jax knocked herself nearly out against the ringpost. Bayley entered the ring as the ref began to count Jax out. Cole said Bayley would love a countout victory. Charlotte ran to the ring. Bayley turned to go after her. She dropkicked her. Jax then entered the ring and gave Bayley a Samoan Drop for the win.
WINNER: Jax in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Does someone have a stat on the number of televised WWE women’s matches that have ended because of the loser getting distracted by someone not involved in the match seconds before getting pinned? Each time it happens, it makes sense from a booking standpoint, but it shouldn’t be done more than once every couple months on TV at the most. It’s reaching a ludicrous percentage as the go-to finish.)
-The announcers plugged Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows vs. Sheamus & Cesaro in a WWE Raw Tag Team Title rematch later. Saxton plugged Joe vs. Reigns. [c]
-The announcers commented on the Braun Strowman interference in the Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns title match at the Royal Rumble and then Reigns’s revenge last Monday on Raw.
(2) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. C.C. BONAN & ROB KELLY & DUSTY WALLACE & JAMES STOCK (“Four Jobbers”)
Four fearful looking jobbers shook hands in a huddle mid-ring as Strowman entered the ring. Strowman threw them all over the ring. Saxton said they’ll need a poop emoji to describe their mood after this match. Graves said: “Shut up, Saxton!” Strowman began splashing two of them in corners of the ring. One of them just fled to the back. Cole said the other three can’t even get to their feet to run. He stacked the other three in a pile and pinned them. Graves said the fourth guy was in an Uber on his way to Seattle.
WINNER: Strowman in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I know it’s currently a format being used to get Strowman over, but WWE should do this for other wrestlers. Not necessarily four-on-one, but just basic matches where a wrestler gets to showcase his entrance and signature moves in a quick two minute match to get them out of the even-steven 50/50 booking pattern that doesn’t really do anyone any good.)
-Afterward Strowman said he’s tired of not having better competition. “I warned you, and now I’m coming to find you,” he said. He marched to the back. He went looking for Foley backstage. Foley stepped up and asked if destroying four men in one night isn’t enough. Strowman said he wants everyone. Foley then offered Strowman a match against Reigns at Fastlane.
-They went to the announcers on camera. Cole said Fastlane is a Raw-exclusive PPV taking place in four weeks. Graves then plugged that Akira Tozawa is making his debut and said he’s been in the ring with Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and many others. He said he’s one of the most intense athletes he’s ever seen.
-A video package aired on Tozawa including Cesaro touting his strong fighting spirit and his German suplex. [c]
-A quote from Aretha Franklin was on the screen as WWE said they are celebrating Black History Month. Cole noted Franklin was at WrestleMania 3.
(3) AKIRA TOZAWA vs. DREW GULAK
Austin Aries joined in on commentary. He said Tozawa made an impressive debut last week on 205 Live and said he was very well-spoken in the interview he conducted with him afterward. Graves told people to strap themselves in. Tozawa landed a flying headbutt to Gulak through the ropes at ringside. He scored a two count at 2:00 with a shining wizard. The crowd enjoyed his barking and barked back. Gulak ducked a spin kick, but Tozawa fired right back with a German suplex into a bridge for the win.
WINNER: Tozawa in 3:00.
-Afterward, Brian Kendrick entered and shook his hand and applauded. Tozawa looked suspicious, perhaps, but accepted the handshake. He then saluted the crowd and went back to barking.
-Cole hyped Goldberg coming up later. [c]
-Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho walked to the ring. A loud “Y2J” chant broke out. Owens said he has been proving people wrong his entire career, and last Monday night he did it again because he said nobody gave him a fighting chance against a monster like Braun Strowman, yet tonight he stands in the ring still the WWE Universal Champion. Jericho said he looks great. He then said he will successfully defend his title against “that muttonhead” Sami Zayn later tonight and prove he is “the greatest of all time.” He said he has a bone to pick with someone whom others call the “greatest of all time” who won a little game yesterday by a hair on his chinny chin chin. He said when you steal Jericho’s nickname and call yourself the greatest of all time and you’re not him? “Tom Brady?! You just made The List!!” He added that he’s a stupid idiot.
Jericho shifted to talking about how the winner of the Elimination Chamber on Sunday will go on to face Randy Orton at WrestleMania. He then said he has a big idea for the Universal Title – best friend vs. best friend, champion vs. champion, in the biggest main event of WrestleMania history. “Yea! Yeaaaa!” he said. Owens didn’t look thrilled. He asked the crowd if they wanted to see that. Some chanted yes, but it seemed there might’ve been some mixed feelings. Owens agreed it would be the biggest main event in WrestleMania history. He said he’s not sure he can fight his best friend. Out walked Goldberg. No headbutts this week.
He entered the ring and said, “You’ve got two choices, ladies. You step aside and live or you see if you can grow a pair, step up to the plate, and take me on two-on-one right here, right now.” He said last week Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar challenged him to one last fight at WrestleMania 33. He didn’t get the memo saying to call it just “WrestleMania”? He said he’s never one to turn down a fight, so he accepts. A loud “Goldberg!” chant broke out. Owens said he thinks Goldberg accepting Brock’s challenge is tremendous because it’ll be a perfect undercard match for KO-Mania 2. He told Goldberg that they are the main event. He asked if he knows why he is the longest-reigning WWE Universal Champion in history. Goldberg said it’s because he never faced him. Goldberg said if he’s not mistaken, he has an “open card for Fastlane.” He challenged him to a title match.
Jericho stepped in and said he can’t just come to the ring and interrupt them and make his own matches. He asked him if he knows what happens to people who make their own matches. Goldberg took away Jericho’s clipboard and pen. He jotted his down down on The List. Goldberg said, “How about that, WWE Universe? Goldberg just made The List.” Jericho told the fans to shut up. He said that’s not how it works. He said Goldberg has a big fat mouth and he never liked him. He said if he wants a match at Fastlane, he’s got one. He said at Fastlane, it’ll be Goldberg versus (pause) Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship. Owens wasn’t thrilled. Goldberg said it looks like Owens and his title are next. Saxton said this is great. Cole said while none of them can make matches, Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley can, and they’d be foolish to turn this one down. Goldberg took off his shirt and slapped hands on his way to down the aisle as Owens and Jericho had heated words.
-They went to the announcers. Graves wondered what kind of maniac puts his own name on the list. Saxton was thrilled.
(Keller’s Analysis: For those who thought WWE was going to put together weak line-ups for the off-brand PPV events, putting Goldberg out there in a Universal Title match a month before WrestleMania is indicative of their effort to stop the churn rate and try to earn people’s business year-round by delivering PPV events that feel special more often than just the Big Three.)
-Backstage Owens asked Jericho how he could do that to him because he’s supposed to be his best friend. Jericho said he is his best friend and he always has had his back. He said the 61 minute man has his back. Owens said accepting a match with “that maniac” is not having his back. Owens stormed off. The camera hovered on Jericho for a couple extra seconds, and there was no hint of whether he was either distressed or pleased with himself.
-A sponsored segment aired with freeze-frames of the Royal Rumble Raw Tag Team Title change.
-They showed Enzo and Big Cass sitting at ringside. Enzo was just talking non-stop even without an audience.
(4) LUKE GALLOWS & KARL ANDERSON vs. SHEAMUS & CESARO – WWE Raw Tag Team Titles
Sheamus opened against Anderson. Sheamus and Cesaro controlled the opening couples minutes. After a distraction, the heels took over. With Cesaro hurting at ringside, they cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, eventually Sheamus got the hot-tag in and he rallied. When he hit Anderson with forearms, they cut to a crowd shot of fans counting along. Sheamus tagged Cesaro back in and he took Gallows over the top rope with a series of alternating arm uppercuts. Gallows saw Enzo celebrating at ringside so he kicked him. Cass then stood up and kicked Gallows. The ref called for the bell.
WINNERS: Gallows & Anderson via DQ in 11:00 to retain the Raw Tag Team Titles.
-Cesaro and Sheamus weren’t happy and yelled down at Cass & Enzo afterward. Graves said they had no business being at ringside in the first place.
-Saxton threw to a Black History Month video on Jackie Robinson. Current Black wrestlers on the roster including Alicia Fox, Naomi, and Kofi Kingston spoke about his history in Major League Baseball. [c]
-They played the Triple H, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins video package again.
-Cole updated Seth’s injury, saying he tore an MCL and noted that “his participation at WrestleMania [is] in serious doubt.” Then he read his Tweet saying he won’t rest until he knocks Triple H off his throne.
(Keller’s Analysis: What I heard last Thursday that Seth’s condition was such that they couldn’t rule in or rule out Seth at WrestleMania, and that appears to be the stance WWE is taking at this point publicly.)
-The Shining Stars were already in the ring. New Day danced out onto the stage. Graves said Big E better be sure Booty O’s are gluten free and non-GMO or the hipsters in Portland will throw them back at Big E. Graves said he had a great massage at the Shining Stars Resort & Casino. He asked Byron if he knew a good massage therapist in Portland. There must be an inside story there, given how they played it. New Day said the Shining Star Resort doesn’t even exist. He said New Day give the people what they want, and they hand-feed them Booty Os. Then after Big E hand-fed a guy some Booty Os, he poured them over their heads and into their mouths, then threw the box into the crowd. Then they said they also feed people ice cream because New Day Rock. [c]
(5) THE NEW DAY (Big E & Xavier Woods w/Kofi Kingston) vs. THE SHINING STARS
Graves and Saxton continued to talk about the massage Graves got at the Shining Stars Resort. Late in the match Xavier hit Primo with a missile dropkick and hot-tagged Big E. Big E went after Epico and hit three belly-to-belly suplexes and then he gyrated. Graves said, “That’s just inappropriate.” Xavier tagged in and gave Epico the Midnight Hour for the win.
WINNERS: New Day in 5:00.
-They went to the announcers on camera. Cole said there’s no better time to sign up for a 30 day free WWE Network trial than right now. They plugged the Elimination Chamber line-up. Graves said it has been made official that Owens will defend his title against Goldberg at Fastlane.
-An unnamed woman (Charly Caruso) interviewed Jericho backstage. I have a feeling Jericho was standing on a platform as he’s not that much taller than anyone other than maybe Hornswoggle. She asked if his actions earlier put a strain on his friendship with Owens. He glared at her. Hilarious facial expression. He said it was a ridiculous facial expression. He said not that it’s any of her business, but sometimes best friends have minor disagreements. “Ya’ dig?” he asked. Owens walked up to him. Jericho said he always has the best of intentions. Owens said he knows Jericho always has his back and it always works out. He said he’s going to beat “Bill” and walk out WWE Universal Champion because Jericho has his back, just as Jericho will beat Sami Zayn and walk out as U.S. Champion because he has his back. They hugged. [c]
-The announcers revealed that The Rock & Roll Express would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017. He said CBS Sports broke the story earlier in the day. A video package aired on the R&R Express with vintage clips from the NWA, SMW, and the WWF.
(Keller’s Analysis: The Rock & Roll Express absolutely deserve this kind of recognition. They had a career that certainly reaches the threshold of 1980s acts who largely performed outside of the WWF to get into the WWE Hall of Fame. That said, I am confused how these pro wrestlers who worked in those pro wrestling territories can be inducted into the WWFE Hall of Fame, when WWE is sports entertainment, not pro wrestling. That said, it’s very generous and gracious of Vince McMahon to allow pro wrestlers in his vaunted HOF.)
(6) CHRIS JERICHO (w/Kevin Owens) vs. SAMI ZAYN – U.S. Title match
Graves said there was no way the Patriots would have won with Tom Brady on The List, so they should be thankful Jericho didn’t put him on The List last week. After Sami chased Jericho around ringside, Jericho caught him with a basement dropkick as Sami followed him back into the ring. Cole said “all the championships” will be defended at WrestleMania, including the U.S. Title. Sami rallied at 3:00. Jericho rolled to the floor. Sami flip dove onto him at ringside. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Jericho was in control. Owens did a leaping high-five to Jericho. Sami hit an exploder suplex into the corner and scored a near fall with a small package. It looked like a three count before Jericho kicked out, actually. Sami then landed the Blue Thunder Bomb for another near fall. A “This is awesome” chant started. Sami went for a DDT off the ropes, but Jericho countered into a Wall of Jericho mid-ring. He managed to crawl over and reach the bottom rope to force the break. Owens then superkicked Sami in the face as Jericho distracted the ref. Jericho then hit the Code Breaker for the win.
WINNER: Jericho in 10:00 to retain the U.S. Title.
-The announcers recapped the angle with Goldberg earlier.
-They showed Joe warning up backstage in a red Tapout t-shirt. [c]
-Charlotte walked into the training room where Sasha Banks was having her knee worked on. Charlotte said there was a time when people viewed them as equals, and now Sasha spends her days in physical therapy while she rewrites the history books and extends her PPV streak. She said it must eat Sasha alive. She said Sasha must feel terrible what Nia Jax did to Bayley since she was fighting for her honor. She said she thought Roadblock: End of the Line was just a name for a pay-per-view, not the name for the end of her career.
-Austin Aries stood mid-ring to “continue his journalistic greatness.” He introduced Neville. As Neville walked out, Cole called it quite a coup. Aries said Rich Swann suffered an ankle injury last week that will keep him out of action. He announced that on 205 Live, there will be a Fatal Five-Way Elimination match and the winner will get a shot at his Cruiserweight Title at Fastlane. Aries said the critics want to know, which of the five challengers scares him the most. Neville stared at him and said he must be delusional if he thinks there is anyone in the division who scares him. He said tomorrow’s match is irrelevant because whomever wins will be forced to bend at his knee and pay respect to the King. Cedric Alexander walked out.
Aries told Cedric to hold on a second. Suddenly Noam Dar walked out and told everyone to calm down. He said he thinks it’d be a great idea if he stole Neville’s belt just as he stole Cedric’s girlfriend. Jack Gallagher suddenly interrupted. He said if there’s a King of the Cruiserweights, it should be a gentleman. Out came Tony Nese as Aries complained that this was supposed to be a one-on-one exclusive interview. Finally T.J. Perkins sauntered out and said unlike everyone else, he was a Cruiserweight Champion. He said he knows what it takes to win the title, “and, spoiler alert, I’m going to do it again.” Paul Heyman might not be happy Perkins took his line there.
Perkins entered the ring and went after Nese. Neville jumped Gallagher, then Dar and Cedric fought at ringside. Gallagher was left alone with Neville and he hit him with several uppercuts and then dropkicked him to the floor. Graves said Neville was not prepared to compete. Perkins leaped onto Dar at ringside. Nese flip dove toward Perkins at ringside. It didn’t go quite right. Cedric then hit a running flip side onto a crowd of four at ringside. Neville teased a dive, but then stopped short and mocked the fans for being excited. He instead held up his title belt.
(Keller’s Analysis: The Cruiserweight Division still isn’t over as they don’t have that transcendent star yet, and fans know that nobody in the division is going to mix with the more established names who aren’t in the division. It’s going to take some persistence and a long-term commitment while they continue to hope two or three wrestlers break out as stars. Neville has that chance to be a credible anchor top heel, and Aries has a chance to be the Chris Jericho-like lead babyface with a mix of crowd-pleasing self-aggrandizement, credibility in the ring, and a personality you don’t want to miss when he has a live mic.) [c]
-Emmalina says “It will be worth the wait.” She debuts next week on Raw, says the screen.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m still half expecting her to show up in an ill-fitting bikini because she’s put on a ton of weight because, well, I could imagine Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn taking great delight in making fun of her for gorging, a play on Donald Trump’s highly publicized displeasure with a Miss America winner putting on weight after she won the contest. If that’s the case, JBL is going to lobby to come to Raw because he loves making wisecracks ad nauseum aimed at people who are less perfect than him physically.)
(7) CEDRICK ALEXANDER & JACK GALLAGHER & T.J. PERKINS vs. NEVILLE & NOAM DAR & TONY NESE
Cole said having Aries at the announce table is like replacing Nancy Grave with Diane Sawyer. Aries said he thinks of himself more like Buzz Sawyer. Aries wasn’t pleased the wrestlers were “rewarded” with a six-man tag match after interrupting and ruining his exclusive interview. Graves said they disrespected him. Graves said even if Cole had a body like Nese, he’d still have that face. Aries said Cole has “a body like a bag of milk.” Perkins hot-tagged in late and went to work on Dar. Perkins stared down Neville, but that dave Dar a couple seconds to recover and dropkick TJP mid-air. When Dar went for a tag, Neville dropped off the ring apron and left. After Dar complained, Perkins small packaged him for a near fall. Nose broke up the pin. Nose then looked at Neville and yelled, “What’s your problem?” Perkins threw Dar out of the ring, then gave Nese the Detonation Kick. He tagged in Cedric, who took Dar down with a flying clothesline and his finisher for the pin.
WINNERS: Alexander & Gallagher & Perkins in 6:00.
-Backstage Jericho told Owens that he was going to save this for next week, but he didn’t want to keep any secrets from his best friend. He said they need to show the world how unbreakable their friendship is. He said they need a festival. Owens wasn’t sure what that meant. Jericho said: “The Festival of Friendship.” He said it’ll be the biggest festival in WWE history. He said with Raw in Las Vegas next week, it’ll be the perfect setting. “It’ll be the WrestleMania of Friendship. Don’t you dare miss it.” Owens said he wouldn’t miss it for the world. “I can’t wait,” he said. [c]
-A video package aired on the Elimination Chamber.
-They went to the announcers who hyped the Smackdown-brand EC PPV. Then they plugged the Cruiserweight Title match on 205 Live. And finally next week’s Raw main event of Charlotte vs. Bayley, plus the Festival of Friendship. Cole said Bayley has another chance to try to make her “childhood dream come true.”
(Keller’s Analysis: One emerging issue with NXT is that they do a shorthand or half-hearted rushed version of a longer term storyline that played out in NXT, and with Bayley it feels like that’s the case. They’re improving her presentation over the last few weeks, but there’s still some catching up to do. Same with Sami, for instance.)
-As Reigns walked to the ring, the camera filmed him from the side, so you knew something was up. Samoa Joe charged him from behind. He beat him up at ringside. Cole reiterated that Joe said it took him 18 years to get to WWE. He said Triple H brought Joe to NXT where he became a two-time NXT Champion. Joe threw Reigns into the ringpost. Then came a senton splash on the floor. With Reigns writhing in pain at ringside, Cole wondered if the match would even happen. They cut to a break. [c]
-An ad for Smackdown pushed that John Cena vs. Randy Orton was airing on Smackdown for the first time ever. It’s not often Orton and Cena are framed in a “first-time ever” situation, but they’re doing it. They also had JBL in the background saying “this could be a preview of WrestleMania.”
(8) ROMAN REIGNS vs. SAMOA JOE
The match began with about two minutes left in the third hour. Graves said Joe is one of the most well-rounded athletes he’s ever been around. He touted his grappling, striking, and jiu jitsu. “Joe can do it all and it all hurts,” he said. The announcers compared Joe’s career path to Styles. Graves said they’re wrestlers who “accomplished all there was to accomplish in sports entertainment” other than succeeding in WWE. He said Styles has and Joe is looking to follow suit. Cole said Joe is very quick for his size. Graves said Seth “isn’t going to make WrestleMania, thanks to Samoa Joe and Triple H.” Saxton said you can almost sense the bitterness in Joe that it took him 18 years to get to Raw. Hard-hitting back and forth battle into the overrun.
(Keller’s Analysis: That comment from Graves about Seth sounds like they’re positioning Seth two ways: (a) he misses WrestleMania and they put heat on Joe for it; (b) some write him off only as a set-up for his surprising return to Raw to announce he’s been cleared and he’s gunning for Triple H. They might keep both options open for the next month as they evaluate Seth’s progress.)
Joe dominated Reigns for several minutes. Cole called this a monster main event on Raw. Reigns made a comeback at 5:00. Joe blocked a Samoan Drop attempt. Reigns threw some clotheslines in the corner instead. Then he gave Joe a boot to the face and went for a Samoan Drop. He couldn’t lift Joe. Joe came back with an atomic drop, a big boot, and a senton for a two count. When Joe charged, Reigns caught his momentum and lifted him for a Samoan Drop for a two count at 8:00. Reigns then delivered a Drive-By at ringside. He called a spot and rolled Joe into the ring. Reigns then hit a Superman Punch. Graves asked, “Are we about to see the myth of Samoa Joe dispelled” in his first match on Raw. At that moment, Braun Strowman walked out to his music. Reigns punched him. Braun brushed it off. A second punch knocked him off the ring apron. Joe gave Reigns a kick from behind and then a one-arm uranage suplex for the pin. Cole called Joe opportunistic. Graves said it was inevitable.
WINNER: Joe in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The four main matches on this show all came in just short of 10 minutes… Yes, Joe scored a pin on Reigns, but I’m not sure how much he gained when the focus shifted immediately to Braun-Roman instead, and given that it was tainted by Strowman’s help. That finish also too closely resembled the finish of the women’s match earlier, and all too many WWE matches these days… Strowman is really good at his character now, though. He’s more believable in his offense and especially his facial expressions… Solid debut match for Joe in terms of his offense and overall aura.)
-Strowman beat up Reigns afterward. The crowd chanted “Thank you Strowman.” I’m sure that will convince Vince McMahon to finally turn Reigns heel. Then he stared down at him as he struggled to stand. At ringside he rammed Reigns with the top of the ringside steps, then tossed them hard behind him onto the stair base, making a loud noise. He then carried Reigns upside down and powered him into the barrier at ringside, knocking it over. A “holy sh–” chant broke out. The show ended with Reigns writhing in pain.
JOIN ME & PAT MCNEILL RIGHT NOW FOR THE PWTORCH LIVECAST POST-RAW SHOW HERE: