SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MARCH 27, 2017
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, Charley Caruso, Mike Rome.
GO AD-FREE WITH A PWTORCH VIP MEMBERSHIP – CLICK HERE FOR INFO
•Ad-free version of mobile and desktop versions of PWTorch.com with bonus VIP-exclusive articles
•Ads & Plugs edited out of PWTorch Livecasts + over a dozen more VIP-exclusive podcasts per week
•VIP Podcasts all accessible on iTunes and many popular podcast apps on iPhones and Android devices
•Instant access to nearly 1,500 back issues of Pro Wrestling Torch Weekly newsletter dating back to 1988
-They opened with video footage of a graveyard with Undertaker’s music.
-The Raw opening aired.
-As pyro blasted, Cole introduced the show and touted the sold out crowd. The announcers shifted immediately to hyping Raw including a “Hold Harmless Agreement” contract signing with Triple H and Seth Rollins and a segment with Brock Lesnar and Goldberg in the ring together face-to-face.
-Bayley made her way to the ring to what sounded like a tame reception. She entered the ring and said this is her favorite time of the year. She talked about being a kid and saving up money to buy WrestleMania each year, but this year she’s going to be defending the Raw Women’s Title at WrestleMania. Charlotte interrupted and called her a paper champion. She said “The Boss” Sasha Banks is conning her and made Bayley her pawn. She said Bayley has been dying to find a way back into the title picture, “and she found one in you, her best friend – the naive fan girl living in a woman’s world.” She said if it weren’t for Sasha, she (Charlotte) would still be champion. Bayley shook her head no. Charlotte said she’ll be walking out of WrestleMania as a five-time champion, whereas Bayley will be leaving with no friends, no title, and no future.
Bayley asked if she really expects her to believe her. Charlotte pointed at the big screen and there was an old tweet from Banks saying, “Keep you friends close, and your enemies closer.” The fans began chanting “C.M. Punk” for a few seconds. Charlotte told Bayley that Sasha is waiting to stab her in the back. Sasha walked out to her music. Sasha said her friendship with Bayley is nothing like their past relationship. She said Charlotte can try to stir the pot between them, but they’re big girls and they understand the difference between friendship and business. Banks said she beat Bayley to get into the title match at WM and she will beat her at WM. Bayley stepped back and smiled. Charlotte tried to interrupt, but Sasha talked over her. It all felt a little off. Nia Jax walked out next.
Jax said they’re pathetic how they trade the title back and forth and engage in high school drama. She said it all won’t matter because after WrestleMania, the title will have a permanent home. Charlotte said the only reason Jax is in the match is because Sasha doesn’t have to pretend to care about Bayley anymore. Sasha jumped Charlotte, Bayley and Jax brawled. Cole said all four were scheduled for a tag team match next. [c]
(1) CHARLOTTE & NIA JAX vs. BAYLEY & SASHA BANKS
Back form the break, Charlotte and Sasha brawled at ringside. Sasha drove Charlotte back-first into the edge of the ring. Back in the ring, Charlotte kicked Sasha to regain control. Cole talked about Bayley’s confidence being at a low point. Jax knocked Sasha off the ring apron and they cut to break. [c]
Charlotte had Sasha down and she strutted a little. That brought out the “woos!” Bayley tagged in and rallied against Charlotte. Charlotte knocked Bayley off balance and then worked over her knee and applied the figure-four. Sasha dropkicked Charlotte before it turned into a Figure-Eight. Jax entered and charged at Sasha. Sasha ducked and Jax fell to the floor. That spot looked very orchestrated and sloppy. Sasha dove at Jax at ringside, but Jax caught her. Sasha slipped free and shoved Jax into the ringpost. Charlotte went after Bayley with a boot, but Bayley caught her with a Bayley-to-Belly for the win.
WINNER: Bayley & Banks in 11:00.
-Afterward, Bayley helped Banks to her feet. As they celebrated together to Bayley’s music, Jax attacked them from behind. She then went after her partner tonight, Charlotte, who will be among her opponents on Sunday. Cole touted the Fatal Four-way Elimination match-up at WM. The elimination stip has been added.
-Cole wondered if Seth Rollins would be on Raw tonight. He threw back to the Triple H-Seth Rollins brawl two weeks ago that led to Seth getting re-injured in the storyline.
-A Snicker’s commercial aired with New Day being all zany. [c]
-A video previewed this Friday night’s WWE Hall of Fame with clips of Kurt Angle, DDP, Teddy Long, Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, Beth Phoenix, and Rick Rude in that order. It starts at 8 ET on WWE Network.
-Saxton plugged that the red carpet show begins at 7 ET and he’ll host and show the Superstars arriving with their families. Graves said Angle is his personal favorite. Cole said after Raw next week, the Hall of Fame will re-air (edited) on USA Network.
-A video package aired of Stephanie McMahon firing Mick Foley.
-An unidentified woman (Charley Caruso, the only announcer on the show rarely if ever officially mentioned by name) interviewed Sami Zayn who said he’s going to honor his legacy. He said he’s going to stand up for what’s right and take on challenges that might seem insurmountable. He said there is no bigger challenge than the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. He said Foley will be watching from home and he’s dedicating his effort to Foley. Stephanie walked in and said things are different now with Foley gone. “He is gone, he couldn’t do his job,” she said. She said that during her regime, you can’t just declare yourself in a match, you have to earn it. She said he can earn it tonight by winning a no DQ match against Kevin Owens. She said if he loses, though, he’s fired.
(Keller’s Analysis: Seriously, another match between those two. Is this a joke? It’s always good and all, but they’re burning it out to the point it might never be anticipated again.)
-Neville joined the announcers. Austin Aries walked out onto the stage. Neville stood up and taunted Aries with his Cruiserweight Title belt.
(2) AUSTIN ARIES vs. “SCOTTISH SUPERNOVA” NOAM DAR (w/Alicia Fox)
Neville said this is yet another chance for Aries to impress him, because he has yet to. As the match was about to begin, Saxton asked Neville why he’s so confident he’ll retain his title at WrestleMania. Neville said he must not have been watching “205 Live” the last couple of months. He told him to do his research. An “Austin Aries” chant broke out early. Aries opened with a running dropkick to the face of Dar as the bell rang. They cut to an immediate break as Dar regrouped with Fox. [c]
Dar was in control after the break. Neville kept extra distance between himself and Saxton at the announce table, which was pretty funny. A couple minutes later, Aries dove through the drops and tackled Dar to the ground. Neville said Aries is a better talker than a fighter and he will expose him at WrestleMania. Fox stood on the ring apron and distracted Aries. Dar schoolboyed Aries from behind for a two count. Aries came back with a discus forearm. Then he applied the Last Chancery for a tapout win.
WINNER: Aries at 7:35.
-Highlights aired of Triple H’s promo last week calling out Seth Rollins.
-They showed Seth on a crutch backstage. There were a few cheers, but nothing big when the big screen showed him. [c]
-A Smackdown ad hyped the contract signing between Shane McMahon and A.J. Styles, plus Bray Wyatt vs. Luke Harper one-on-one.
-Cole said earlier they saw a cemetery, then wondered if he was “digging a new yard” for Roman Reigns.
(Keller’s Analysis: Is that the new euphemism for “digging a new grave?”)
-Seth Rollins made his way to the ring. When he arrived and his music stopped, he got scattered cheers, but nothing close to what a top returning star should get. He told Triple H, “Let’s get this done.” Triple H walked out. He warned Seth that if he attacks him, he will defend himself and that won’t go well for him. He also said he will lose the chance at wrestling at WrestleMania. He told him to sit down and sign the contract. Seth said he’s listened long enough, so get in the ring with the contract. Hunter told him to sit down. Hunter told Seth that listening to the fans tell him not to is a bad decision. Triple H said if he doesn’t want to sit, the match is off. He turned and left. Seth sat. Hunter returned to the ring. Hunter said, “Good boy.” A “C.M. Punk” chant then started again. It didn’t last long.
Hunter explained that when he signs the contract, he must understand what it means. He said at WrestleMania he is going to destroy what he created. He said he can’t sue anyone afterward. Seth said he gets it, so hand over the contract. Hunter said he didn’t sell his soul when he aligned with him, he secured his future. He said he doesn’t understand the world today where “success is a bad thing” and if you’re a millionaire you’re evil and if you’re a billionaire you’re the anti-Christ. He said it’s because of “their” (pointing at the fans) jealousy. Hunter said if he’s worried about how the locker room feels, if he isn’t making enemies, he isn’t making money. He said instead of sleeping well at night, he’d rather eat well and drive a nice car and fly a private plane and live in a mansion. He said you get one shot at life and you grab it by the throat and make it give you what you want “and screw everybody else.” He said if he wants to grow a conscience, he will end up flying back to Birmingham, Ala. to get his knee patched up again. He said maybe he can go back to working in front of a couple hundred people at armories again.
He told Seth to sign the contract. He said he’ll be a one-legged man in an ass kicking context, and no one-legged man has ever won a fight. He said he understands what’s hanging behind him – the WrestleMania logo. He said if he doesn’t sign the contract, he won’t wrestle for the second year in a row at WrestleMania. He said if he signs the contract, he will walk to the ring at WrestleMania, “but you can bet your ass you won’t walk out.” Seth stared at the contract, paused, and said that is the “same line of bullcrap he bought into three years ago.”
Seth said when he was going through rehab, he had a lot of time to think about himself. He said he realized he used to like himself before he met Triple H. He said he was proud of himself and he didn’t mind wrestling for a hot dog and a handshake in the Philadelphia National Guard Armory. He said it didn’t bother him because he “loved this business.” He said he gave up a lot when he aligned with Triple H. He said it’s not about fame and power or even one match at WrestleMania. He stood up and said, “This is about redemption.” He said he gave up everything to stand next to Hunter, “but for what?” He said he better be prepared to tear his leg off his body and beat him with it because there will be nothing to stop him from tearing him apart and getting back what means the most to him “which is who I was before I met you.”
Seth signed the contract, then shoved the folder into Hunter’s chest. Hunter kicked the table into Seth’s bad knee, then kicked his bad leg out from under him. Graves said Seth should have known better. Hunter threw the chair over the top rope. It bounced and some fans in the front row had to block it. Seth hit an enzuigiri. When he set up a Pedigree, Hunter broke free and clipped Seth’s bad knee with his arm. Then he set up a Pedigree himself. Seth backdropped him over the top rope. When Hunter tried to return, Seth hit him with his crutch, bending it. Seth’s music played as Cole wondered if that was his last stand and final flurry. “He can barely stand,” Cole said. “What will he have left come Sunday?”
(Keller’s Analysis: Straight forward. Hunter being a jerk, Seth being a stand-up guy explaining how he realized he didn’t like himself after aligning with Hunter and selling out several years ago. This would have all been so much more effective last May the first time around. It feels much less effective now, but Seth and Hunter played their roles well here.)
-A short video package aired on Goldberg. Saxton hyped the Lesnar-Goldberg segment later on Raw. [c]
-Superstar Facts: They touted Mark Henry’s weightlifting credentials.
-A clip aired of the Hunter-Seth angle from before the break.
-Cole touted the WrestleMania Superstore in Orlando, Florida at the Orange County Convention Center.
(3) OVER THE TOP ROPE CHALLENGE
Big Show came out first. Then Jinder Mahal. Show tossed Jinder over the top quickly and easily. Then Bo Dallas came out and Show easily and quickly tossed him. Then he eliminated The Shining Stars. Next out with Goldust, R-Truth, and Curtis Axel. They triple-teamed Show. Bo and the Stars joined in and they dumped Show over the top rope. Show came back and beat them all up. Graves called him a sore loser. Strowman then walked out and said the fans want to see him come to the ring and kick his ass, but he does what he wants, so they’ll have to wait until WrestleMania. Show yelled at him to get his big ass to the ring. Strowman just stood there and his music played again.
WINNER: No announcement.
(Keller’s Analysis: They had a match without an ending and nobody seemed to care there wasn’t any official decision. So why, exactly, care about the match in the first place if no one could be bothered to care there was no winner? Strowman, by the way, deserves better than this.)
-An unidentified man interviewed Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson regarding their triple threat match at WrestleMania. Andrew said tonight first they face Enzo Amore & Big Cass. Anderson called them idiots for screwing up their match last week. Gallows said they’re really stupid and you can’t teach that.
-They showed Undertaker “digging a yard.” It went on a little long. [c]
-Graves said earlier today Pitbull announced that he will be performing at WrestleMania this Sunday. Stephen Marley, Lunchmoney, Lewis, and Flo Rida are also on the musician list this weekend.
-Charley Caruso asked Roman Reigns backstage about his reaction to the yard digging graveyard videos. Reigns said he’s a grown man and he doesn’t read into signs or worry about mind games or believe in dead men. He said he believes in the big fight, so he’s going to go to the ring and say what he plans to do to Undertaker at WrestleMania.
-They went to the announcers on camera on the stage standing with their backs to the ring. Cole threw to a clip of New Day ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Stocks dropped $45 today.
-They showed New Day at the Philadelphia Museum of Art by the Rocky statue. Big E had Booty Os. They decided to have a race. Big E took his time eating cereal as Kofi and Xavier ran up the stairs and tied. Somehow, Big E ended up at the top before them. Xavier and Kofi were shocked and lifted him into the air. Cole said they were “having fun in Philadelphia.”
-The announcers said New Day would be at ESPN all day tomorrow starting at 10 a.m.
-Cole threw to “my colleague, Mike Rome” by name to interview Cesaro & Sheamus backstage. Anderson & Gallows jumped them. They rammed them with a ladder. [c]
-The announcers hyped the WrestleMania weekend schedule including a “WrestleMania Monday 24” special next Monday night after Raw, going head-t0-head with the Hall of Fame rerun on USA Network. It’s focused on crazy post-WrestleMania Raw crowds.
(4) NEVILLE vs. JACK GALLAGHER
They cut to an early break. [c]
After the break, Gallagher got a small rise out of the crowd when he grabbed his umbrella and then launched off the top rope with it opened and landed on Neville. Cole called it “Mary Poppins-lke.” He then said, “That is what 205 Live is all about.” Graves emphatically said that is not what 205 Live is all about. Neville came back with a clean win after a superplex and a Rings of Saturn for the tapout.
WINNER: Neville at 7:30.
-Afterward, they broke in with an “AANN Special Report” (Austin Aries News Network). Aries appeared on the big screen and asked if what Neville said is true, that nobody thinks Aries can beat Neville. He brought in New Day for their opinion. They did their “who’s.” Kingston said a man’s success in the ring is reliant on a man’s ability to move his hips. Aries said he’s trying to do a serious journalistic interview. Aries swivvled his hips and asked them who they think will walk out of WM at Cruiserweight Champion. New Day then sang “A-Double.” Aries signed off by saying, “Neville, I will see you at the ultimate thrill ride, WrestleMania.”
-They showed Reigns walking in the hallway.
-The announcers said John Cena announced on the Today Show that Al Roker will be the special guest ring announcer for his mixed tag match at WrestleMania.
-A video segment aired on the Cena-Miz feud. [c]
-Another plug aired for Goldberg and Lesnar later.
-Reigns made his ring entrance.
-Reigns soaked up boos. He smirked and began: “In 2015, I won the Royal Rumble match right here in Philly.” Boos just erupted. He said he went on to headline WrestleMania. Louder boos. “Twice,” he added. Even louder boos. He said he thought that was the biggest moment of his career, but he was wrong because this year he faces the Undertaker. He said this is the biggest moment of his career because he’s “going to put the Dead Man down.” He said he doesn’t care if you’re Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, or John Cena. The crowd chanted “Un-der-taker.” He said funny they should mention him because he doesn’t care about him, either. “This is my house now,” he said. “Because this is my yard.” The Undertaker bell sounded.
Taker’s voice then said Roman has made a big mistake. He told Roman that the ring he is standing in is his yard. He said this is going to be his yard. Lots of graveyard and digging images. Taker said he’s isolated a special corner of the yard for him. Taker finally appeared on the big screen. He said at WrestleMania, the Roman Empire will fall and the Ultimate Thrill Ride will be his last ride. He showed a gravestone that said “Roman Reigns: Apr. 2, 2017.” He advised Roman to live each day as if it’s his last because soon it will be.
The lights went dark. The crowd cheered with anticipation. The lights came on. There stood Taker behind Reigns. Reigns turned and stared him down. Taker stood frozen and glared at Reigns. A “Holy sh–” chant got nowhere, as Taker lifted the mic and said, “As I was saying, at WrestleMania, you will rest in peace!” He slowly lowered his extended arms and the lights faded with sounds of lighting in the background. [c]
— Meta Meathead (@meta_meathead) March 28, 2017
Keller’s Analysis: That segment shouldn’t give anyone hope Reigns is turning heel, but it should comfort some people that if he stays babyface, he might be more tolerable without corny scripted lines. There was a lot of jet black in that ring – hair, pants, shirts, jackets, boots.
-Enzo Amore and Big Cass came out. Graves said in times like this, he wishes they could just flush the entire New Jersey-Phaladelphia region as a whole. Enzo said this Sunday he and Enzo are leaving with gold around their waists because they practice what they preach. Cass drew from former Philadelphia 76er star Allen Iverson’s “practice” speech. The crowd ate it up. They closed with, “It’s always sunny in Philadelphia” and then Anderson & Gallows’ music played. Sheamus & Cesaro jumped them from behind with a ladder. The three teams brawled in the ring with the ladder. Anderson & Gallows were the last team standing.
-Saxton threw to a “Celebrating Women” segment on Maya Angelo.
-Charlie interviewed Kevin Owens backstage. He wore a WrestleMania t-shirt with “KO” taped over “Wrestle.” He told her she was wrong when she said she’d be facing a former best friend at WrestleMania. He said Jericho was never his best friend. Owens said Jericho was right that at one time he was a Jericho fan and he was right to make fun of him for that because Jericho fans are morons. He said he should have never wasted his parents’ money on Y2J merchandise. He said he should have ripped it all apart, just as he’ll do to Jericho on Sunday and Sami tonight. He said tonight he is going to single-handedly take Sami’s career away from him, just as Jericho took his away from him. He said in six days at KO-Mania 2, he’s not going to get even with Jericho, he’s going to one-up him. He said he’s going to turn “the Ultimate Thrill Ride into Jericho’s ultimate demise.”
(Keller’s Analysis: At least Owens said “Ultimate Thrill Ride” with a mocking tone. Every time a wrestler says WWE’s corporate phrases, it undercuts any sense they’re anything but pawns in a big corporate production.) [c]
-They showed the exterior of Wells Fargo Center.
-The announcers were on camera plugging the Kurt Angle Exclusive Interview on WWE Network on demand as Angle’s music played. They threw to a Triple H-Seth highlight package.
-The announcers ran down the entire WrestleMania line-up including Smackdown matches. When they got to the Raw Tag Team Title match, no mention of it becoming a ladder match yet. Graves said Strowman and Big Show “and countless others” are in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
-Kevin Owens ring entrance took place. [c]
(5) KEVIN OWENS vs. SAMI ZAYN
During Sami’s ring entrance after the commercial, Graves told Saxton: “Self-loathing is totally acceptable when you get to fly in a corporate jet.” Sami went on early offense until they went to ringside at 2:00 when Owens took over. Cole said they “took the fight into the sellout crowd here in Philadelphia.” Will he be scolded for saying they “took the fight into the WWE Universe” like Tom Phillips dutifully did last week on Smackdown? They brawled to the stage area. Sami did a running flip dive off the stage onto Owens on the floor. They cut to a break with Cole declaring that he is fighting for his survival with his career on the line. [c]
Back in the ring Owens scored a near fall after a to rope frog splash. Sami came back with a Blue Thunder Bomb out of nowhere for a near fall. Both were slow to get up. Samoa Joe then walked out in a white button up shirt and dress pants. He picked up a chair at ringside. Chris Jericho’s music played. He came up behind Joe through the crowd. A fan in the background was very excited to see Jericho arriving from behind. He jumped Joe. Sami then schoolboyed a distracted Owens and scored the pin.
WINNER: Sami Zayn at 11:55.
-Afterward, Owens jumped Sami. Jericho quickly made the save with a chair. Owens fled. Jericho told Owens from the ring, “You know what happens when you betray Chris Jericho? (Dramatic pause.) You just made the list!”
-The announcers plugged the Goldberg-Lesnar segment as they showed their locker room doors with their respective names on them. [c]
-Another commercial aired for the WrestleMania Raw special next week.
-Graves plugged Akira Tozawa would finally face Brian Kendrick tomorrow night on 205 Live.
-Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman made their ring entrance. Heyman said Lesnar will personally derail Goldberg’s “Ultimate Thrill Ride” this Sunday at WrestleMania. Heyman was interrupted by some “Goldberg” chants. He said their differences get settled one way or another this Sunday. He said Lesnar wants, needs, and lusts after the title that Goldberg holds. He said Goldberg accomplished what Sting and many others couldn’t. He said he is “the man,” but Lesnar will chew him up and spit him out like no one has seen before. He said bad bad things happen to superheroes when they step into the ring with Lesnar. He said he will F5 him into oblivion.
Goldberg stepped out and fans chanted “Goldberg!” Goldberg from the stage said people didn’t show up to hear them talk, so how about they bring a little WrestleMania to Philly. Lesnar went after Goldberg at ringside, but Goldberg tackled him. Goldberg marched right to the ring. Heyman and Lesnar retreated.
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s it? I suppose that’s probably best all things considered, but it still was a lot of build up for not very much payoff.)
END OF SHOW
TONIGHT LIVE RIGHT AFTER RAW, JOIN ME & PWTORCH COLUMNIST GREG PARKS FOR THE POST-RAW PWTORCH LIVECAST. Stream it HERE.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT 3/20: Fallout from last week’s angle with Stephanie and Mick Foley, more WrestleMania 33 hype