SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
APRIL 3, 2017
ORLANDO, FLA. AT AMWAY CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
-A loud and sustained “Un-der-taker!” chant filled the arena for over a minute. Then a “Roman sucks!” chant began to fill the gap. Remarkably, the “Roman sucks!” chant ended up louder by the end. Then they played Reigns’s music. Loud loud boos erupted.
-Reigns walked onto the stage. Suddenly the crowd sounded muted. The director did cut to a fan pointing his thumbs down and booing. Why drop the volume if you’re going to show someone booing anyway? Cole called it one of the most remarkable moments that has ever opened a Raw. Cole said one of the reasons Reigns is being booed is because there is a lot of speculation since last night that Undertaker’s match at WrestleMania 33 will be his last. “If that is the case, we say thank you to, in my mind, the greatest performer in the history of WWE. It has been an honor to be a part of his fabulous career.”
(Keller’s Analysis: So is Vince McMahon going to coop the booing of Reigns and say it’s because Reigns “retired” the Undertaker, rather than the fans just don’t like the guy and never have?)
Reigns entered the ring, staring down the fans booing him. Others just standing with their arms crossed. He paced in the ring and then a “Delete! Delete!” chant broke out. Next came a “F— you, Roman!” chant accompanied by middle finger gestures. Then “You suck! You suck!” Then more boos. He raised the mic. The boos got louder. Then they chanted “Asshole! Asshole!” Then he raised the mic, boos got louder, he lowered the mic, and the crowd chanted, “Ro-Man-Sucks!” Then “Delete” again with the arm gestures. Then he raised the mic and they chanted ,”Shut the f— up!” This is 12 minutes into the show now. Then “Go away! Go away!”
He said: “This is my yard now!” He then dropped the mic and left the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was all played very well. Classic Raw opening 13 minutes.)
-They went to the announcers. Cole said this is an electric atmosphere, he pushed #RawAfterMania, and said, “Fans from all over, non-traditional WWE fans, impassioned as ever.” Saxton said fans are willing to exercise their right to express themselves. Graves said they might cheer those they normally boo, boo those they normally cheer, “and it’s all in the name of fun.”
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s the type of thing that pisses off the fans, when their genuine dissatisfaction with the product is reframed by Vince McMahon’s propaganda machine as “just part of all the fun” and writing them off as this bizarro counter culture minority who speak up once a year. It’s not that reaction for Roman is the opposite of usual. It’s just more intense, which is expected coming the day after he beat and retired the Undertaker. And if the fans are booing those they normally cheer, why wasn’t Undertaker booed at the beginning? Nice try, Vince, but nobody’s buying that spin.)
STEVE AUSTIN WRESTLEMANIA 33 PODCAST ALERT: Earlier today, I recorded a two hour in-depth analysis of WrestleMania 33 with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin for his Steve Austin Podcast which drops tonight. Check it out HERE.
-The announcers then talked about the surprise return of The Hardys. They hyped that they’d defend their newly won Raw Tag Team Titles against Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows. As Gallows & Anderson walked out, the announcers reviewed freeze frames of the match last night. [c]
-WrestleMania highlights aired including shots of the stadium fireworks, the musical act, Orton lying in the ring with maggots all around him, Stephanie and Triple H riding to the ring, John Cena on one knee proposing to Nikki Bella, and more.
-The announcers were on camera again. They showed the German announcers at ringside because Raw airs on a new station in Germany.
(1) MATT & JEFF HARDY vs. LUKE GALLOWS & KARL ANDERSON – WWE Raw World Tag Team Title match
Saxton said this is a bit of a proving ground for the Hardys because they had the shock and awe factor in their favor last night, but the tag team scene is a lot different since they dominated the tag team scene. “Welcome back!” chanted the crowd. Matt cleared the ring of both heels with clotheslines, knocking them over the top rope to the floor. They cut to an early break. [c]
Back live, Matt was fighting back against Gallows, but the heels remained in control. A couple minutes later, Matt avoided an elbow drop by Gallows and then hot-tagged Jeff. Lots of “Delete!” chants as Hardy punched and clotheslined Gallows. Jeff rolled out of the ring to chase after Gallows when he retreated. Back in the ring, Anderson gave Jeff the Boot of Doom and Cole declared they were going to have brand new tag team champions, WHICH TOTALLY GAVE AWAY THE MATCH WASN’T ENDING. Jeff then gave Gallows a Twist of Fate. Jeff tagged in Matt. After an awkward non-exchange, Matt dropped Gallows and then Jeff landed the Swanton for the win. As the Hardys celebrated, Graves said after Raw tonight, Renee Young & Jerry Lawler will be joined on Raw Talk by Matt & Jeff Hardy. Lots of “Delete” signs. WWE must approve since they tend to confiscate signs they don’t want on TV.
WINNERS: The Hardy Boyz in 11:00.
-The announcers hyped Brock Lesnar showing up on Raw laster. Plus, Seth Rollins & Chris Jericho vs. Samoa Joe & Kevin Owens. Cole talked about the Seth vs. Hunter match last night as freeze-frames from the match aired.
-Neville made his way to the ring. [c]
CHECK OUT LAST NIGHT’S PWTORCH LIVECAST POST-WRESTLEMANIA 33 CALL-IN SHOW HERE.
-They showed freeze-frames of the Neville vs. Austin Aries match including Neville raking the eye socket of Aries at the end to win.
-Neville stood mid-ring with his purple Cruiserweight Title belt over his shoulder. The ropes were purple, too. I was kind of hoping they’re quietly retire the purple ropes post-WrestleMania. Neville said Aries is a better talker than a fighter. He said he might not like his methods or respect his tactics, but he cannot deny his results. He said tomorrow on 205 Live, he will have a proper celebration, but tonight he couldn’t refuse the opportunity to prove every one of them wrong and remind them of what he has become – the unstoppable, irrefutable… at which point he was interrupted by Mustafa Ali’s ring entrance.
(2) NEVILLE vs. MUSTAFA ALI
Neville shoved Mustafa. Mustafa did an cartwheel after avoiding Neville. Then he backdropped him onto the ring apron and kicked him to the floor. Then he dove off the ring apron onto Neville. Neville took over and threw Mustafa to the floor. He yelled at at the crowd and they cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
Back from the break, beach balls were being batted around and security is going bonkers trying to keep up with confiscating them.
— ROMEO (@ThePrideOfNYC) April 4, 2017
Neville nailed Mustafa with a nasty clothesline. As Neville climbed to the top rope, the crowd chanted “Beach Ball Mania.” Cole acknowledged a beach ball in the crowd, and he said it was upsetting Neville. Ali took Neville down with a Springboard Spanish Fly. Both were slow to get up. This match deserved the attention of the fans. Neville came back with a quick reverse sidekick to Ali’s gut. Mustafa came back with a reverse rana. Ali then gave Aries a leaping satelite DDT for a near fall. Neville put his left foot on the bottom rope to stop the count. Ali went for an inverted 450 splash, but Neville moved. Neville then teased the Red Arrow, but stopped, dropped down, and put Ali away with his Rings of Saturn submission hold.
WINNER: Neville in 11:00.
-A limousine arrived. Out walked Vince McMahon.
(Keller’s Analysis: Vince McMahon’s tie was crooked. Symbolism at its best!) [c]
-The announcers touted the mainstream coverage of WrestleMania byBleacher Report, ESPN, and others with screen captures of the headlines. Cole acknowledged that John Cena asked Nikki Bella to marry him and noted Rob Gronkowski’s participation.
-Vince walked to the ring as fans sang “No chance in hell!” along to the lyrics his song. He was pelted with a “Roman Sucks!” chant. He said, “If that’s the way you really feel.” He talked right over the chants. He said he doesn’t often say these words, but he said, “A well-deserved thank you.” He thanked them for being the most passionate fans in the world “and making us live up to the moniker of WrestleMania being the Ultimate Thrill Ride.” It is the longest ride in the park, that’s for sure.
He said he has conferred with the representatives from Raw and Smackdown and they’ve going to have a Superstar Shake-up next week “because it’s time to shake things up around here.” He said it broke his heart and he’s sure it broke the hearts of fans, too. He pointed to the big screen where a clip aired of Seth knocking Hunter into Stephanie, knocking her through the table at ringside. Graves said, “This is hard to watch.”
Vince said that she will be out of action for a long time. When the crowd cheered, he said she was almost broken in half. He said they’re being insensitive and downright cruel. “You’re being bloodthirsty, let’s face it. What is the matter with you?!” He said the show must go on, so since the commissioner is out of commission and Mick Foley was fired, it’s time to name a new General Manager. He said the new G.M. was just inducted into the 2017 Hall of Fame. Out walked Teddy Long to his music. Vince didn’t look happy. He ordered his music to be cut. Teddy kept dancing. Vince yelled at him to stop dancing. “It’s not you!” he said. Cheers from the crowd. Long looked crestfallen. Vince said he’s not sure where the confusion came from. Teddy said, “Well, my bad. Holla, holla, holla!” He danced to the back.
Vince introduced the new G.M. again. No music. Vince said they were going to try it again. Still nothing. He said this guy is quite the prima donna. He then said, “Kurt Angle!” And Angle’s music played. The crowd exploded with cheers. The crowd chanted “You suck!”
(Keller’s Analysis: In Vince’s head, he’s thinking since the crowd really likes Angle but chants “You suck!” at him, they must be absolutely in love with Roman Reigns.)
Angle entered the ring. Vince told him, “You better do a good job.” Vince left. The crowd chanted “Welcome back!” Angle said it’s great to be back on Monday Night Raw. “It’s true. It’s damn true!” he said. There was something strange going on with his suit as it was soaked in the back and shoulders, like he was sweating profusely before the segment or something.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m kind of relieved we didn’t a speech about how he’s going to change things around here and “make Raw great again” or something.)
-Graves pushed that Brock Lesnar would be addressing the WWE Universe later on the show about his Universal Title victory. They showed the announcers on camera. Cole thanked the city of Orlando. Then they shifted to recapping the Chris Jericho-Kevin Owens match.
PWTORCH T-SHIRTS HAVE ARRIVED. CHECK OUT THE FOUR DISTINCT DESIGNS AND ORDER ONE (OR MORE!) TODAY: PWTORCHTEES.COM
-New Day danced out to the ring. Big E said WrestleMania was one for the ages. He said all of the blood rushed from his head straight to his. Kofi Kingston interrupted and stopped him. Xavier then issued an open challenge to any team in the locker room. The Revival answered the challenge. Graves exclaimed: “Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!” Cole said they are two-time NXT Champions.
(3) NEW DAY (w/Xavier Woods & Big E w/Kofi Kingston) vs. THE REVIVAL (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder)
Revival tipped over the New Day ice cream cart on their way into the ring. Graves said they’ve redefined tag team specialists. They cut to a ver early break. [c]
Back from the break, Graves explained that the Revival pick out a body part and rip it to pieces Saxton said they are durable and able to take on damage and show resiliency to come back. Cole said they consider themselves throwbacks. He said they admire Dean Malenko. Graves talked up their submission holds. Woods made a comeback, but when he went to his corner, he didn’t have anyone to tag. The Revival then finished him with their finisher. Dash and Dawson attacked Kofi’s ankle afterward. The announcers said the tag team division has changed overnight with the Hardys and Revival.
WINNERS: The Revival in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Let’s hope Vince McMahon doesn’t watch that match and think the fuss over Revival was a bunch of hogwash and start jobbing them out before they’re not as tall as Cass and as handsome and muscular as Reigns.)
-They showed Enzo Amore & Big Cass approach Kurt Angle backstage. They did some of their catch phrases on him, and he took them literally and didn’t sell their humor. Enzo said they have gold around their necks, just like Angle does with his gold medal. He said his necklace is worth 30Gs. Cass said the problem is they don’t have gold around their waists. Enzo asked for a tag team title shot and asked why is Goofy treated like a human and Pluto like a dog. The crowd laughed. Enzo said as the new G.M., he should have the answers. Angle said he doesn’t know what they’re talking about, but he is booking them against Sheamus & Cesaro to earn a tag team title shot. When they spelled SAWFT, Angle looked confused and said, “That’s now you spell soft.”
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s funny, but shouldn’t we all be a little concerned Vince McMahon has hired a G.M. who apparently hasn’t watched Raw or NXT for years. You can’t have someone running a really important and complex enterprise who isn’t familiar with how it all works and the players involved. That could lead to a complete mess.) [c]
(4) SASHA BANKS & DANA BROOKE & BAYLEY vs. EMMA & NIA JAX & CHARLOTTE
Emma appeared during ring entrances on the announce desk. Graves said he takes back every negative word he ever said. Saxton said she made him nervous. Graves said he had nightmare watching “Finding Nemo.” Cole said that’s not the first woman who made him nervous. Cole said Emma’s been on a wild ride the last few months. [c]
Sasha won with a Bank Statement on Charlotte after the break.
WINNERS: Bayley & Sasha & Brooke in 9:00.
-Afterward, Charlotte shoved Emma and then Jax. Jax attacked Charlotte. Emma bailed out. Jax tossed Charlotte to the mat and then landed a big elbow.
-Sami Zayn told Angle he had a good relationship with Mick Foley, and he’d like to have the same one with him, unless Angle doesn’t want that. He said this whole Superstar Shakeup could work against him if he gets sent to Smackdown because Shane McMahon is a McMahon after all. Angle said Sami showed he has the three I’s. He said no matter what he does in his career, he’ll do just fine. Sami said that meant a lot to him. Angle made a face behind Sami like he was a big suck-up and he was just humoring him. Sami turned back to Angle and asked if he’s talked about him with Stephanie. In walked Jinder Mahal, who was upset that he was on the verge of winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Sami interrupted. Angle booked Mahal vs. Sami. He said, “Done, over finished, go. Go!”
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure booking Sami vs. Mahal is a great decision to win over fans on week one.) [c]
-More WM33 highlights aired. Then Cole touted the record attendance at the Citrus Bowl last night. “WWE, truly a global brand,” he said, noting that 62 countries were represented.
-Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman walked out to the ring. Heyman introduced Lesnar. Lesnar smiled and pointed at his biceps. Heyman said Lesnar authorized him to get a little personal and share a bedtime story they each tell their children at bedtime. “Once upon a time there was a man who fancies himself a superhero, and this superhero represented things in life that we as a society should stand up and rebel against – honor, dignity, honesty, family, tradition. Oh, I’m going to vomit in my own mouth. One day this superhero took this spear and Jackhammer and decided to go into town. This superhero’s name was Goldberg and he was known as the baddest man in the village.” He said the villagers would run around saying Goldberg is a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad man. He said once Goldberg took everything away from the villagers, such as the Universal Title, and then he took a left turn and took an Ultimate Thrill Ride through south-central Suplex City. He said it’s where honor, dignity, honest, family, and tradition aren’t respected. He said their superhero got his ass kicked by the Beast when he visited Suplex City. He said for the little kids at home being tucked in bed tonight, this fairy tale does have a happily ever after: You won’t be seeing Bill Goldberg around here anymore. The crow cheered and chanted “Yes! Yes!” The crowd chanted “Thank you, Brock!”
Heyman said now his client is looking for new challenges which requires new challengers. The crowd chanted “Finn!” I think. Heyman ran down the possible challengers. He suggested Seth. The crowd booed or was indifferent. Heyman mentioned Matt Hardy. “Delete!” chants. He mentioned Jeff Hardy. Heyman said he could imagine both Hardys vs. Brock Lesnar. Heyman said he won’t be one of those champions who takes a bunch of selfies with the title and savors every moment, where he realizes time is fleeting and he won’t reign as champion forever. Heyman said Lesnar is the disruptor of the status quo. He said it’s time here and now to talk about the two in 23-and-2. “Because history demands those two go one-on-one,” he said, “to determine whose yard this really is.” He said, “If you haven’t heard the news on your phone, we’re out here talking about you, Roman Reigns.” He said Reigns has been running around the back barking out orders like he’s running things. The crowd loudly chanted “We Want Balor!”
Heyman paced for a moment, then he continued. He said if Reigns is the Big Dog then Brock Lesnar is animal cruelty. He said it’s time to give the Monday Night Raw after WrestleMania crowd something they will never forget. He said it’s time to deliver something special, time to deliver that one-on-one. He suggested they do it right here, right now, tonight.
Braun Strowman’s music interrupted. He walked out. Cole said, “Oh my God!” Strowman entered the ring and towered over Lesnar. He told Lesnar that when he’s finished Reigns, maybe he’ll have Lesnar’s attention. He said Lesnar damn sure has his attention. Lesnar stared back at him, then broke into a smile. He set the belt down on the mat and extended his arms, as if to invite him to try to take it. The crowd chanted “Brock” and “Braun” over each other. Strowman backed out of the ring and returned to the back as his music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: I know they don’t like to classify Lesnar as a heel or a babyface by traditional definitions, but that felt a lot like a babyface Lesnar/Heyman promo and framing Reigns as a heel. When Strowman came out, as a heel, it further indicated that’s the slot for Lesnar. Interesting. Having Reigns not answer Heyman’s challenge doesn’t make Reigns look heroic or brave.)
-Charlie Caruso interviewed Chris Jericho backstage. She asked him about teaming up with Seth against Owens & Joe tonight. Jericho said this is one of his favorite nights of the year with an arena filled with one of the most electric, entertaining crowds. “Beach Ball Mania is running wild, brother!” he said. He said this is his crowd, his pals, his buddies. He said, “Cheer me on, mannnnn!” The crowd chanted “Y2J!” He said this is the start of his revenge on Owens for beating him at WrestleMania. He said he’ll start with the top of Owens’ finger because that’s what allowed him to beat him at WM last night. The crowd chanted “Stupid idiot.” He asked “the tip of Kevin Owens’ finger” if he knows what happens. He held The List and added the tip to The List. Owens attacked him. Owens, with Joe’s help, gave Jericho a Pop-up Powerbomb through a table. A ref ran up to them and said that’s enough and to stop. [c]
-A commercial aired for Smackdown asking, “What’s next for Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt?” Not the best hook.
-Angle came out of the trainer’s room looking concerned. Seth Rollins walked up to him and asked how bad Chris was. Angle said he’s in no condition to be his partner tonight. He said the match is still on. He promised to find him a partner.
TONIGHT RIGHT AFTER RAW ENDS, LISTEN LIVE AS I REVIEW RAW AND TALK WITH CALLERS: STREAM HERE. Call to participate: 515-605-9345.
(5) ENZO AMORE & BIG CASS vs. CESARO & SHEAMUS
Early in the match Cass tossed Cesaro and Sheamus to the floor. Then Cass pressed Enzo and dropped him onto Cesaro & Sheamus at ringside. They cut to a break. [c]
Cesaro gave Enzo a big swing a few minutes after the break. Then he applied the Sharpshooter. Cass nailed Cesaro with a big boot. He delivered one to Sheamus when he entered the ring. The crowd booed. Cass ran bac to his corner. Enzo tagged him in. Cass splashed Cesaro in the corner. More boos. Then he gave Cesaro a sidewalk slam and the Empire Elbow. Then a running big boot. He tagged Enzo and was about launch him, but Sheamus ran in with a Brogue Kick to Cass. Then Sheamus launched Enzo into an uppercut of Cesaro for the win.
WINNERS: Cesaro & Sheamus to earn a shot at the Hardys tag team titles in 9:00.
-Saxton plugged the tag match with a mystery partner for Seth. [c]
-Another montage of images from WrestleMania aired. They also showed various Tweets from WWE wrestlers.
-Clips aired of Mahal getting in the face of Rob Gronkowski at the Royal Rumble.
(6) SAMI ZAYN vs. JINDER MAHAL
Cole talked about the Superstar Shakeup next week, and wondered what Vince McMahon had in mind. Mahal attacked Sami at ringside. Sami came back with an exploder suplex and a Helluva Kick.
WINNER: Sami in 2:00.
-Saxton said the Hardys, Bayley, and Goldberg will join Renee Young and Jerry Lawler on “Raw Talk” right after Raw on WWE Network.
(7) KEVIN OWENS & SAMOA JOE vs. SETH ROLLINS & FINN BALOR
Graves said Owens told him he wants to be known as “The Face of America” from now on, now that he is the United States Champion. The crowd popped big for Balor. He made his ring entrance. They cut to a break before the match started. [c]
Balor hit Owens with a nice running dropkick at ringside. Joe put Seth in a sleeper. Seth escaped and landed an enzuigiri. Balor reached for a tag. Seth leaped and tagged him in. Balor went to work on a freshly tagged in Owens. He gave Joe a shot on the ring apron. Graves admitted he hasn’t seen any signs of ring rust in Balor. Chaos broke out a minute later with all four, leading to Balor landing a Coup de Gras on Owens for the pin.
WINNERS: Balor & Rollins.
(Keller’s Analysis: Pretty straight forward, and that’s just fine. Not every match has to be a big angle. Balor returning and looking strong and establishing his big moves is reason enough for the match. That said, a lot of Twitter outrage over Seth and Balor getting along so well considering what happened the last time they were around each other.)
-As Joe and Owens returned to the back, Seth and Balor had a tense stare down, perhaps acknowledging their past in a subtle way. Seth raised his arm and they celebrated together. ###