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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
APRIL 17, 2017
COLUMBUS, OHIO AT OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Booker T
-They opened with a heavy-produced for maximum drama video package on the Roman Reigns-Braun Strowman angle last week.
-Braun made his way to the ring. Cole explained that while they acquired David Otunga in the Superstar Shake-up, he’s off making a movie, so Booker T is joining them for a few weeks. Booker said he’s happy to be back and has the best seat in the house. Well, it used to be the best seat. Now it’s less than that on the stage.
Braun said he’s proud to say that last week he broke Roman Reigns in half and that he left in an ambulance and that he has a separated shoulder and cracked ribs. He said he’s damn proud to announce that Reigns won’t be there tonight. A mix of mostly cheers and some boos followed by a brief “Yes!” chant. He said he’s ready to tear through the locker room and show that he’s the “monster among men.” Suddenly Kurt Angle’s entrance music played. The crowd affectionately chanted “You suck!” as Angle walked to the ring.
Angle asked Braun what he was trying to prove. He said he’s done enough damage. When he said he flipped over an ambulance with Reigns inside, Braun chuckled. Braun said there’s more to come. Angle said he’s going to give Roman what he wants, which is a match against him “at the appropriately named Payback.” Braun yelled, “What?!” He looked mad at Angle at first, then gathered himself and said, “It will be Roman Reigns’s funeral.” He asked about tonight.
Angle said his ass should be suspended. Braun said Mick Foley tried to play those games with him and everyone knows where that got him. He said he wants competition “or else.” Angle asked what that meant. Braun dropped the mic and left.
-The announcers reacted to the segment, wondering what “or else” will amount to. Then they plugged Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James vs. Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks, plus Miz TV with guest Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho vs. Samoa Joe.
-Seth Rollins’ music played and he walked out to join the announcers on commentary. [c]
(1) CHRIS JERICHO vs. SAMOA JOE
Seth said he really is looking forward to the scheduled match at Payback against Joe, saying other than the WrestleMania match with Triple H, it’s the match he wanted the most. Joe made his ring entrance. They replayed Kevin Owens and Joe slamming Jericho through a table backstage two weeks ago on Raw. Jericho then walked out with a scarf that was flashing colorful lights. Cole noted that at Payback, Jericho challenges Owens for the U.S. Title, and if Jericho wins, he goes to Smackdown with the U.S. Title. Joe went after Jericho aggressively in the corner as the crowd chanted “Y2J!” Jericho caught him with a dropkick as Joe charged him, then followed with a top rope crossbody for a two count. He set up a Walls of Jericho, but Joe powered out. When Joe charged at Jericho, Jericho ducked and Joe tumbled to the floor. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Joe was in control. Graves asked if Seth expected to come away from WrestleMania without repercussions after knocking Stephanie McMahon through a table. Seth said technically he didn’t put her through a table, it was Triple H. He said Steph stuck her nose where it didn’t belong, typical for a McMahon. Cole said no one gave Seth a chance with his bad knee at WrestleMania. Seth said one person at the table did. Booker asked if Seth is 100 percent yet. Seth said it’s improving every day. He said he knows Joe will come for his knee just as Triple H did, but he is prepared for it and has a defense in mind. Joe powerslammed Jericho. Jericho came back a minute later with a Walls of Jericho. When he turned him and sat down on it, the crowd cheered. Cole yelled, “Is Joe going to tap?!” Joe twisted out, but Jericho went for it again. Joe powered Jericho hard into the ropes, and then applied the Coquina Clutch mid-ring. Graves said Jericho should submit and live to fight another day for the U.S. Title. Jericho tapped seconds later. Graves said that was smart.
WINNER: Joe in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: There real value gained in Joe, a newcomer to the main roster, having a match against Jericho on Raw, just linking one generation to another. Joe winning clean like that is an additional boost. Nice to see a clean decisive finish, even if it does diminish the sense that Jericho has a chance to beat Owens.)
-Joe grabbed the mic afterward and asked Seth from a distance if he remembers what it sounded like when he arrived. He said he remembers it well, the sounds of Seth’s ligaments and joints popping when he collapsed to the ground and his screams of agony and pain and his pleads for mercy. Joe said that was just business, because Seth was just a designated target by his benefactor, Triple H. He said he cares about his clientele, so for what he did to Triple H “and more disgustingly what you did to his wife, Stephanie McMahon,” at Payback, it won’t be business, it’ll be very very personal. Seth said he looks forward to facing him one-on-one, and of course it will be personal because he almost cost him his career. He said: “You know what they say: Payback is a bitch.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Seth is seeming more relatable and likable. Joe was good on the mic here, too.)
-Backstage they showed Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows. They happened upon The Drifter who was strumming his guitar. Anderson & Gallows looked at him and nodded. Then they cut to Goldust & R-Truth strolling to the entrance. Braun attacked them. R-Truth stood up. Braun bashed him. Three producers – Adam Pearce, Fit Finlay, Jamie Noble – ran up and told him that’s enough. [c]
-They replayed Braun attacking Goldust and Truth.
-A referee in the locker room told “Mr. Strowman” that the G.M. made it very clear he had the night off. Braun said he’ll leave when he wants to. He stood up and intimidated he ref, who left.
-In the ring, Anderson & Gallows addressed the Strowman attack on their scheduled opponents. Anderson said Braun gave Golden Truth “the United Airlines treatment” and they’re now on standby. Gallows said that’s not good. Anderson said they left Japan for two reasons – to be mean and make green. Gallows asked Angle to round up some nerds so they can do both right now. Enzo & Big Cass came out. Graves said, “Well, they did emphasize nerd.”
(2) ENZO AMORE & BIG CASS vs. KARL ANDERSON & LUKE GALLOWS
Enzo and Cass did some mic work ending with SAWFT. Cole called it an impromptu match-up. From a storyline perspective, are fans supposed to wonder why Enzo and Cass were dressed and ready to wrestle or if they have a scheduled match that was cancelled? At ringside early, Cass lifted a running Enzo and threw him into Gallows. They celebrated in the ring as they cut to an early break. [c]
Enzo and Cass were in control after the break. They showed that during the break, Anderson hit Enzo from behind when Enzo was distracted by Cass. Gallows worked over Enzo’s arm. Booker said the style in Japan is totally different than in the U.S. Enzo eventually avoided a running knee by Anderson. He then leaped to Cass and hot-tagged him. Cass went to work on the two heels. He gave Anderson a side slam, then yelled, “How you doin’!?” He dropped an Empire Elbow and landed a big boot. Cass knocked Gallows over the top rope with a running knee but tumbled over the top rope himself. Back in the ring, Anderson caught Enzo mid-air off the top rope and threw him into the top turnbuckle. Enzo took a flailing flip fall. Anderson made the pin. Cole said he’s never seen that before. Booker said you have to do what you have to do to get a victory and Anderson & Gallows did beautiful tag team work.
WINNERS: Anderson & Gallows in 11:00.
-Cole hyped the return of Mickie James tonight after seven years away from Raw, with a chance to become the no. 1 contender for the Raw Women’s Title. [c]
-Cole narrated a short introductory video on Nia Jax. He called her one of the most dominant Superstars in history.
-Miz TV: The Miz and Maryse made their ring entrance. A video aired of Dean Ambrose’s return to Raw last week and taking some digs at Miz & Maryse. Live in the ring, Miz welcomed everyone the most must-see WWE talk show in history – Miz TV. He said his beautiful, gorgeous, and sexy wife shocked the world when they jumped from Smackdown to Raw on the Superstar Shake-up.
Dean walked out. He apologized for being a little excited last week. He said they’re in neutral territory this week, since Miz is from Cleveland and he’s from Cincinnati, but they’re in Columbus. He played to the crowd and got some chants going. “That was so cool; I’m glad it worked.” Miz asked if this is a joke. Dean said his maroon suit is a joke. Miz said he dresses and walks and talks like he does because he has respect for what a WWE Superstar is. Miz said Dean makes them look like ‘rasslers instead of true Superstars. “Why don’t you go ahead and put on a fanny pack and Zubas and take us back 30 years?” he said. Miz said despite that, the WWE Universe loves him. The crowd cheered.
Miz talked about Ambrose being the World Champion at Summerslam, and by WrestleaMania, he was barely a blip on the map. He said Dean isn’t a bigger deal because he’s lazy and complacent. Dean said he could be wearing Zubas and a fanny pack, but it doesn’t matter what he’s wearing. He said what is in his heart is what matters. He said a lot of Superstars are worried about their image and being something big and fancy and care what people say and Tweet about them. He said he doesn’t even know what “branding” means. “I’m not a brand, I’m Dean Ambrose,” he said. He said he does what he does because he loves it, and he’d do it front of 20 people or 100,000. He said he loves busting his ass, getting black eyes, coughing up his own teeth, bleeding and sweating, and kicking ass. He said that is why he is Intercontinental Champion. Dean walked up to Miz and said Miz ought to know since he beat him for the title.
Maryse called Dean “a dirty little street rat.” She said the saying goes a championship doesn’t make a man, a man makes a championship.” Miz agreed. He said he made the IC Title the most prestigious in the company. He said he did what he could to bring it back to what it meant when he was a kid. He said now the title is what he is – a joke. Miz said it’s not a funny joke, either. Dean attacked Miz. Maryse hit Ambrose from behind with a mic. Miz went after Dean from behind. Maryse and Miz both escaped to the floor. Graves said Miz is right about Ambrose not representing the IC Title the way it should be. Dean’s music played as Cole said Dean has been an awesome Intercontinental Champion. Cole said Miz crossed a line and Ambrose made him pay.
(Keller’s Analysis: Cole is saying what Booker T should be saying as the color commentator defending the babyfaces. Good segment with Miz and Ambrose. Miz came across as arrogant and a sore loser. Ambrose got to establish what he’s about and why he’s admirable – because he doesn’t care about what people think of him, he just loves fighting.)
-Backstage, Braun was dragging Kalisto by his arm like he was a United Airlines passenger. He threw him into a garbage bin. Big Show checked Braun hard into a storage room garage door. He yelled for Braun to pick on someone his own size. [c]
-A replay aired of Show checking Braun into a door and yelling at him. Graves said Angle has signed Braun vs. Show for later on the show.
(3) T.J. PERKINS vs. JACK GALLAGHER
Graves said he still doesn’t want to hang out with TJP because all he seems to want to do is play video games, but he’s impressed with a new attitude that has surfaced. After TJP and Gallagher came out, Neville also made his ring entrance. Booker T said he’d be scouting. As Neville’s pyro blasted, TJP plugged his ears. Not sure if that was supposed to be caught camera. Neville stared down Gallagher who didn’t blink. He also glared at TJP who looked at Neville admiringly. Graves said as far as anyone can tell, Neville might be the champion forever. Neville sat on a chair at ringside. Suddenly Austin Aries came out to his music. He said his invitation to the viewing party must’ve been lost in the mail, but he’s inviting himself. Aries sat at ringside near Neville and ate a banana. Neville glared at him, then rolled his chair 20 feet away and sat down. Booker said he admired Gallagher who reminds him of William Regal.
TJP grabbed Gallagher’s umbrella. Cole said: “Never grab another man’s umbrella.” Gallagher didn’t like it when TJP dropped it to the ground and went on the attack with European uppercuts. TJP ducked a charging Gallagher, who flew to the floor. They cut to a break. [c]
After the break, Gallagher retrieved his umbrella and then opened it. Cole said Booker is going to love this. He leaped onto TJP at ringside with the umbrella giving him extra air time. Cole said the umbrella doesn’t do much to break the fall. Graves said it’s all about style points. They fought to the floor where TJP shoved Gallagher hard into Aries. Aries jumped onto the ring apron, but Neville swept his legs out from under him. Aries took a great bump. The ref yelled at them. TJP kicked the middle rope into the eyes of Gallagher and then gave him a Detonation Kick for the win. Graves said the new attitude of TJP paid off.
WINNER: Perkins in 9:00.
-Cole narrated a brief video introduction for Bliss, noting that they are in her hometown. Graves hyped Jeff Hardy vs. Cesaro.
(Keller’s Analysis: Why did they wait until 90 minute into the show to let viewers know Jeff Hardy would be wrestling a singles match? That defines it down a bit, doesn’t it?)
-Titus O’Neal congratulated Apollo Crews on being about to become a father. Crews said he’s feeling great about that and being back on Raw. Titus asked what he’s planning on doing to make an impact. Crews said he’s going to keep kicking doors until he knocks one down. Titus said he has all the talent in the world, yet “that’s all you want to do?” He said the Titus Brand can skyrocket his career. He suggested playing off his name “Apollo Crews” with a cruise pun and then rhymed with it such as blues and sues. He gave him his card and said they should link up. He said he’s not cheap. Crews didn’t look impressed.
-A guy without a name (Mike Rome) interviewed the Hardys backstage. He asked them what has surprised them about WWE this time around. He said the lights are brighter, the pyro is louder, and the current crop of WWE Superstars is the most athletic Superstars they have ever faced. He said “Evah” instead of “Ever,” a nod to Broken Matt. Jeff said what he felt at WrestleMania 33 words cannot describe. He said they’re excited to be part of this new era of Raw. Cesaro & Sheamus walked in and welcomed them back to Raw. Sheamus talked about watching them steal the show at WrestleMania 17. He said they were the innovators of TLC and earned everyone’s respect in the WWE Universe. Cesaro said when they wrestle later, it’ll be a dream match. Sheamus said they’ll regain their Raw Tag Team Championships at Payback. Matt said at Payback they’ll learn they don’t need ladders to beat them. Cesaro said Sheamus was being a bit rude, but he wanted to keep things respectful.
-They went to the announcers on camera who reacted briefly to a few segments. Cole asked Booker for his thoughts on Titus. Booker said, “He’s a big guy.” Then he laughed at his own “joke.” Cole narrated a brief video on Sasha Banks. [c]
(4) NIA JAX vs. ALEXA BLISS vs. SASHA BANKS vs. MICKIE JAMES
Cole said his money is on Jax. When Bliss tried to avoid Nia at the start of the match, Mickie and Sasha threw her into Jax. He bounced off and hit the mat hard. They showed Bayley watching backstage. Mickie and Sasha battled for a while with Bliss and Jax at ringside recovering When Mickie went for a cover, Jax yanked her out of the ring by her leg. Sasha then dove onto both Mickie and Jax. They cut to a break. [c]
Jax dominated after the break. She had Sasha in a bear hug. Then Mickie in a bear hug. She lifted Mickie by her throat high in the air and shook her. Mickie countered into an armbar. The director cut away as it was clear her grip on the arm slipped. She wasn’t able to fully recover the hold as Jax rolled out of it. Jax then lifted Mickie into the air and threw her into Sasha in the corner, although she didn’t have the strength left to give Mickie any lift. Bliss teased jumping at Jax, but backed down when Jax noticed her. Mickie avoided a charging Jax, and Jax went shoulder-first into the ringpost. Bliss ran in and rolled up Mickie, but Mickie countered with a clothesline and a couple kicks. She played to the crowd. Mickie then set up a DDT, but Sasha broke that up. Sasha rallied and covered Bliss. Jax yanked her out of the ring. Mickie yanked Jax off the ring apron. Bliss knocked Mickie off the ring apron into the arms of Jax.
Bliss and Sasha faced off. Bliss yelled this is her division now, but Banks seconds later put her into a Bank Statement. As Bliss was about to tap out, Mickie broke it up with a boot. Banks and Mickie went at it. Mickie kipped up and played to the crowd again. Banks knocked Mickie off balance on the top rope. Jax picked up Sasha and used her to knock Mickie off the top rope. Then she gave Mickie a Samoan drop. Bliss dropkicked Jax out of the ring and then stole the pin on Sasha.
WINNER: Bliss in 13:00 to become the no. 1 contender for the Raw Women’s Title.
-A woman without a name interviewed Big Show, who said Braun has to find out what it’s like to be intimidated. He said he’s seven feet tall and in the best shape of his life, so Braun is going to get a piece of his own medicine, “giant style.”
-They went back to the announcers at ringside. They talked about Payback and threw to a generic WWE Network commercial listing the variety of content.
-Curt Hawkins stood in the ring. He said last week Big Show stepped foot in the ring with him and this week he’s in the main event. He said if you want to be a main event Superstar, you step foot into the ring with him. He asked who wants to come out this week and join the Curt Hawkins Star Factory. Finn Balor answered the challenge. As Balor came out, Cole said he’s already a Superstar. “James Dean cool, John Wayne tough,” said Graves. Booker said, ‘This kid has star written all over him.”
(Keller’s Analysis: While that blend of Dean and Wayne works pretty well, it might be a little more dated than is ideal, like a 70 year came up with it.)
(5) FINN BALOR vs. CURT HAWKINS
The announcers talked about Bray Wyatt calling out Finn. Booker said Finn is an enigma to most Superstars in the locker room. Balor won immediately with a Coup de Gras.
WINNER: Balor in 1:00.
-They showed Dule Hill who stars in WWE Film Sleight in theaters on Apr. 28. They aired a trailer. [c]
-A guy without a name interviewed Jericho backstage regarding his loss earlier. Jericho said Joe is one of the best he has ever faced, but he also feels sidetracked by his rematch with Owens at Payback. He said Owens calls himself the Face of America. He said that’s an ugly face. “He is not a good looking guy,” he said. “America deserves better.” He said it deserves his face. “Frame it in, man,” he said as he smiled and put his arms around his face like a frame. Jericho said he loves Raw, but it doesn’t matter whether he’s on Smackdown, NXT, Sunday Night Heat, Velocity, or Nitro, the Jerichoholics follow him. Jericho called the interviewer “Tom.” The guy said his name is Mike. Jericho insisted it’s Tom and tricked him into saying it’s Tom. he said he doesn’t even know his name. He said when you don’t know your own name, you make The List. The Drifter strummed his way into the background, photobombing the interview. He then switched who made The List to The Drifter.
-Bray Wyatt appeared on the screen. He said he has a question: “What are you afraid of?” He wondered if you are afraid of the dark, the unknown, or the monster who lives underneath your bed. He said that fear is a common bond, but he doesn’t bow down to fear, he controls it. He said he harnesses it. “Fear lives within my House of Horrors.” They showed haunting images. He said he can smell Orton’s fear and said all of his fears will come to light. He said Orton’s pains and screams will fuel him. He said he will leave the House of Horrors alone, but before he goes, he will burn it to the ground with Orton inside. He closed with “Run!” [c]
-Backstage Emma walked in on Alicia Fox and Dana Brooke chatting. Emma said Dana was making fun of a gift she gave her all week. Dana denied it. Fox believed Emma and said she didn’t want to be Dana’s friend anymore. Emma said “Oops” when Dana said that was a lie.
(Keller’s Analysis: That segment didn’t make anyone look good.)
(6) JEFF HARDY (w/Matt Hardy) vs. CESARO (w/Sheamus)
Cole said Jeff is 6-1 and 220 pounds and “an imposing dude.” Cole shouldn’t say “dude.” A couple minutes into the match Jeff sold an injury at ringside. Cesaro gave him a running uppercut. Jeff made a comeback in the ring and they cut to a break. [c]
At 12:00 Cesaro set up Hardy for a top rope superplex. Jeff blocked it and dropped Cesaro on the top rope crotch-first. Hardy then dropkicked Cesaro to the floor. In the end, Jeff hit the Twist of Fate and then leaped off the top rope with the Swanton Bomb for the win. The two duos shook hands afterward.
WINNER: Hardy in 14:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match, but the crowd didn’t seem to have a real passion for one or the other winning.)
-They replayed Braun attacking Goldust and R-Truth and then Show coming to their defense.
-Backstage Heath Slater & Rhyno were excited to be back on Raw. Braun walked past them and they cowered in fear. They cut to Show elsewhere heading to the entrance stage. [c]
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-A commercial hyped Ride Along with Gallagher and The Brian Kendrick airing right after Raw on WWE Network.
-Graves hyped TJP vs. Aries on “205 Live” tomorrow night.
(7) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. BIG SHOW
Graves said this isn’t a Cruiserweight match. Cole said Strowman’s right thigh weights 205 pounds. They brawled at ringside at the start. In the ring, Strowman threw a dropkick and scored a two count. Strowman eventually outpowered Show and battered him with forearms. Show came back with a chokeslam and a two count.
Show set up Strowman for a top rope superplex. The crowd stood in anticipation, but Strowman knocked Show off balance crotch first over the top rope just as Hardy did to Cesaro in the previous match. When Strowman leaped off the top rope, Show gave Strowman a KO Punch out of mid-air. When Strowman kicked out, Graves said this is evidence that Strowman is not human. Show climbed to the top rope and set up a superplex. The ring collapsed upon impact. The ref took the biggest bump of everyone. The crowd exploded with cheers. Two medics and extra refs checked on the wrestlers. The crowd chanted “Yes!” Booker said this was a treat to see. Strowman stood up first. Cole said Show hasn’t moved and “Monster Among Men” is back on his feet. His music played.
WINNER: No contest.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was an awesome visual that people will be talking about tomorrow. They can’t go to that too often, but this was the right time to bring it back. It was a good battle of giants before the ring collapse, too. I wish they had rebuilt Show a bit more in recent weeks, but still.)
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