SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE RAW TV REPORT
MARCH 20, 2023
ST. LOUIS, MO.
AIRED LIVE ON USA
Commentators: Kevin Patrick, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
-After “Then, Now, Together, Forever,” they skipped the Raw opening theme and went right to Kevin Patrick introducing the show. He said it’ll be a “blockbuster show.”
-Kevin Owens’s music played and Owens walked out to a nice pop. After about 15 seconds, Sami Zayn’s music took over. He came out, clearly psyched over having KO with him finally. As they entered the ring, Patrick said, “Isn’t it a beautiful sight.” They showed clips of the developments between them on Smackdown last Friday. Graves said it remains to be seen if Owens can truly be trusted.
Fans chanted “Sami! Sami!” Owens said, “I think they like you.” The chant shifted to “KO! KO!” Sami said, “It seems they like you, too.” Owens pointed out, with a smile, that the chant only started after he sort of prompted it. Sami said it feels great to be on the same page with him again. He said he totally gets why after Elimination Chamber for weeks he said they just need to work together and didn’t mention their friendship, treating it as a business transaction. He said he approached the whole thing wrong. He said they’ve needed each other their whole careers and worked together as brothers to get ahead.
Owens said he agrees, but he isn’t sure if he understands that he has been his biggest fan all of these years whether he was fighting with or against him. He said for the last six months it was so frustrating to see him in the Bloodline under Roman Reigns’s thumb. He told Sami he outgrew them and was better than them. He said he got through to him last week and he was right when he said it was time to take down The Bloodline together.
Sami said, “I think we both know what comes next.” He looked up at the WrestleMania sign. The Usos music then playedf and they walked out. Jey said, “That’s what a backstabber looks like.” Jey said they’re going to backstab each other because that’s the type of family they are. Sami told Jey that’s funny because everyone knows his dream is to backstab Reigns. Jimmy said they can stare at that WrestleMania sign, but it won’t happen. Owens said they all knows where this is going. “There’s only one way we can settle this and one place we can do it – at the Grandest Stage of them All.”
Jimmy said they don’t deserve a shot at their titles because they’ve been on the same page for three minutes whereas he and Jey have been on the same page since day one. Jey looked at Jimmy and said, “To be honest, this might be our one shot to put this Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens problem in the dirt.” He said they accept a brother vs. brother match. Then they attacked Sami and KO. The Usos got the better of KO and Sami at first. Sami and KO made a comeback, so the Usos backed off and picked up chairs.
-They cut backstage to Solo Sikoa getting out of a black SUV and opening the door for Reigns who stepped out of the back. Paul Heyman walked around from the other side of the vehicle. They headed into the arena.
-They went to Graves and Patrick at ringside who reacted to the developments. He wondered if the match will become official and what Reigns thinks of it all. Patrick plugged Paul Logan’s segment coming up later.
-Austin Theory made ring entrance. [c]
-A candy bar commercial included A.J. Styles telling Bron Breaker that no matter how good the soap smells, never walk out of the bathroom smelling your finger. (That ought to be documented, right?) Another commercial for a cell phone carrier included stop-action footage of a Miz action figure beating up a Drew McIntyre action figure.
(1) AUSTIN THEORY vs. MONTEZ FORD
Montez Ford made his entrance next. They showed a clip of Theory beating Angelo Dawkins last week. The bell rang 21 minutes into the hour. Theory took early control and stomped away at Ford in the corner. Ford made a comeback and clotheslined Theory voer the top rope to the floor, then tossed him over the barricade. “This is mayhem!” said Patrick. Ford sat in the laps of two guys in the front row. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Ford knocked Theory off the ropes and then landed a top rope flying crossbody press. Both were down and slow to get up. Graves touted the 15,000+ sellout crowd watching. Ford got up and rallied, including standing over Theory and doing John Cena’s “You can’t see me.” He then landed a standing moonsault for a near fall. Ford stood and pounded his chest. Theory absorbed an enzuigiri and tried a comeback, but Ford countered with a DDT. Theory ducked out to ringside. Ford landed his signature running flip dive at ringside. Ford followed up with a top rope dive, but Theory moved. Theory then landed a dropkick and called for A-Town Down. He hit the move and got a clean three count.
WINNER: Theory in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: A noteworthy clean decisive pin on Ford. That’s a sign Ford is going to be in the tag division for a while, but was utilized here along with Dawkins last week to give Theory a sense of momentum and credibility headed into the Cena match.)
-Afterward Theory stood in the ring with a mic in hand. Fans booed. “He didn’t believe in me, but now he does,” Theory said. He then said Cena doesn’t either, but at WrestleMania he will. He pointed at the sign. Theory yelled that it’s always been about him.
-The Usos eagerly walked into Reigns’s locker room. Reigns said it wasn’t the best start and it looked like they took a beating. Jimmy said nothing can hit him harder than being torn away from his brother “and then sit here and have to answer to it like it’s my fault.” Reigns looked up at Jimmy, not appreciating his tone. He then said, “I will never forgive Sami Zayn for this.” Reigns relaxed once Jimmy made it clear he was blaming Sami. Reigns called for Heyman. He said, “Everybody leave us.” Heyman was sad, but left. As everyone was leaving, Reigns told Jey to stay. Reigns then chatted with Jey, who looked like he was called to the principal’s office. They cut to a break without a word being said. [c]
-Back from the break, they went right back to Reigns and Jey who were both staring at the floor. Reigns said, “It’s been a minute. I haven’t see you, I haven’t heard from you. I gotta beg your brother to get some answers. And now you’re back making decisions. In order to make decisions, you’ve got to be part of The Bloodline. Are you with us? Are you Bloodline? Are you still my friend?” Jey looked up and said, “I’m with you. I’m Bloodline, Uce.” Reigns stared at him for several seconds and then said, “I hope so. It’s all I needed to hear.” He nodded and said he’d see him later. Jey started to stand, but Reigns stopped him and said, “I love you.” Jey didn’t say it back. He stood and left. Heyman re-entered the scene and asked Reigns if he got the answers he was looking for. Reigns said, “Yes, Wiseman.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Intriguing moments there including Jimmy seeming to vent about Roman to Roman, and then Roman asking Jey where he stands and telling him he loves him. A lot of tension in the room and a lot of ways to read everything that happened there, but it appears to be laying groundwork for several possible developments down the line.)
-The announcers hyped the Fatal Four-way tag match with The Street Profits vs. Braun Strowman & Ricochet vs. Alpha Academy vs. The Viking Raiders being added to WrestleMania.
-Byron Saxton interviewed Adam Pearce backstage about the WrestleMania Showcase matches. He was interrupted just as began to talk by Chelsea Green, who asked to see the manager. She told Pearce she made matching gear for her partner Carmella, who isn’t available tonight. She said he will have no problem agreeing to let her team instead with Piper Niven instead. Niven walked in. Green said Niven will help her destroy the competition and asked him to make sure it becomes official. Pearce said he’s still finalizing who will be in the women’s WrestleMania Showcase match. She said he doesn’t want to make her angry or he’ll complain on social media.
-They showed Omo with MVP backstage. The camera was low and aimed sharply up at Omos. [c]
-Postcard images of St. Louis were shown.
-A video package aired on the Brock Lesnar-Omos match scheduled for WrestleMania with a list of Lesnar accomplishments including UFC photos. Then it focused on Omos and compared him to Great Khali, and the Undertaker. It noted he’s two inches caller than Shaq. It also noted his hands are twice the size of the average man’s hands.
(Keller’s Analysis: Nicely done. Whatever they can do to get a slice of the WWE fanbase excited about the match, they’re making a good effort.)
(2) OMOS vs. MUSTAFA ALI
As Omos made his entrance, Patrick said, “If that Tale of the Tape didn’t get you excited about that match, what’s wrong with you?” They aired a clip of the face-to-face last week with Lesnar and Omos. Patrick said it was viewed over 10 million times on social media platforms in the last week. Graves said he admires Ali’s recent “positivity.” He talked about his music video he produced and criticized his choice of band in the video. Omos showed Ali down easily, then checked him down hard. They cut backstage to Dolph Ziggler watching backstage and shaking his head. Omos head-vice slammed Ali for the clean win. Patrick said Ali is no Lesnar. MVP said Omos fears no man or Beast, but Lesnar will learn to fear Omos at WrestleMania.
WINNER: Omos in 1:00.
-They went backstage to security knocking on Paul Logan’s locker room door. Logan walked out with several others. Miz ran up to Logan and said his publicist was trying to get a hold of him to find out what he was going to ask him tonight. He assumed Logan wanted him to be his guest, but Logan laughed in his face and said, “It’ll be a hard pass.”
-A Smackdown commercial hyped Cody’s first match on Smackdown in almost six years. [c]
-The announcers hyped Bad Bunny hosting Smackdown and King of the Ring in Puerto Rico on May 5 and 6. Patrick said tickets go on sale tomorrow.
-“Impaulsive TV”: Logan made his entrance alone. Graves called him one of the most polarizing figures anywhere today. Logan entered the ring and said, “Let’s get a little Impaulsive, should we?” He pointed at the big screen and a brief vignette aired with him having various celebrites on his podcast. He said that Seth Rollins said last week the fans don’t want him in their house. He said that’s too bad because this week, they’re in his house. He told them to boo all they want. He said the reality is he doesn’t need to be there because he’s already made his millions off of his name and his brands.
He said it’s sad they don’t love him. He said two people in the crowd love him, his dad “who I dragged to St. Louis” and a kid with a sign in the front row. He said no matter how many of “your Superstars I beat up,” they won’t ever respect him. He said he doesn’t care because it’s not his fault that “you dorks refuse to see the amount of talent standing in front of you.” More boos. He said he is a 360 degree entertainer.
He said there’s nothing he can’t do, no seat he can’t fill, and no wrestler on the roster he can’t compete with. “I am that good,” he said. He said that’s why he didn’t invite anyone to be on his show because he can do it all, plus none of his celebrity friends wanted to come to St. Louis. “They’d be out of here faster than the St. Louis Rams. Ha ha, I mean the Los Angeles Rams.” He said he’s looking forward to returning to L.A., home of the Rams, to wrestle Seth at WrestleMania.
He said Seth is “one of the top three in this business” and it’s an honor to share in the ring with him. He said he was talking to his brother Paul about how it’s hard to be afraid of a guy named Seth. He said Seth’s are nice guys, such as Seth Rogan and Seth Curry. He said he and Seth might’ve been friends if Seth was open to it. He said he’d like a replay of him knocking Seth out two weeks ago.
He got giddy as he asked them to replay it over and over. He said he could talk all day, but then his mic went out. The crowd cheered as Logan fumbled with the mic. They cut to Seth in the production truck messing with the controls and revealing he turned off his mic.
Seth made his ring entrance. Fans sang his song. Seth then tackled Logan. Referees and producers separated them, but they broke free and tumbled onto the announce desk. Seth swept Logan’s leg and he crashed onto the table. Security pulled Seth off of Logan. Seth climbed to the top rope and dove, but Logan’s two security guys stepped in and intercepted him. Seth did a last second head tuck or it could have been a bad landing. Logan then punched Seth and knocked him out again. Seth went down face-first and was motionless. Logan slid into the ring and laughed. Logan said one more time and third time’s a charm, indicating his plans for WrestleMania.
(Keller’s Analysis: Logan was tremendous as a heel. It’s nice to see WWE move relatively quickly in turning a natural heel awkwardly playing a babyface role and capitalizing on how fans want to react to him.)
-They showed Dominik Mysterio and Damian Priest walking backstage. [c]
-Miz and Maryse sang “WrestleMania: The Musical” including Mikz declaring WrestleMania will be bigger than his balls. Graves plugged the full musical on WWE’s social media platforms. He said it’s “must see.”
(3) DOMINIK MYSTERIO (w/Damien Priest) vs. JOHNNY GARGANO (w/Dexter Lumis)
No sign of Rhea Ripley with Mysterio as he walked to the ring. A clip aired of the Smackdown segment with Dominik and Rey Mysterio. Then during Johnny Gargano’s ring entrance, they went to a split-screen of the angle from NXT TV between Gargano and Greyson Waller outside of Gargano’s house. Graves plugged NXT Stand & Deliver. Gargano’s ribs were taped as a result of the beating Waller gave him last week. The bell rang 19 minutes into the second hour. Gargano dove at Dominik at ringside. They cut to an early break. [c]
Dominik took over after the break. He argued with the ref when he only counted two. Gargano caught him with a superkick for a near fall. Dominik set up Gargano for a 619 a minute later, but Gargnao ducked. Gargano then hit Dominik with a discus punch and then a running lawn dart into the middle turnbuckle followed by a superkick for a near fall. Both were slow to get up. They battled on the top rope. Dominik shoved Gargano to the mat face-first and then landed a splash on his back for the win. Graves said the injured ribs on Gargano affected the outcome.
WINNER: Dominik in 11:00.
-Afterward, Priest congratulated Dominik. Dominik then talked about his “good for nothing father” and how he denied his challenge for a match at WrestleMania. He said he isn’t going to stop he gets what he wants. He said he knows that this Friday night, the entire Mysterio family will be there live. He said that’s the same family that blocked his number and kicked him out of the group chat and wanted nothing to do with him. He said that’s okay because the Judgment Day’s group chat is much better. He said he figured out a way to get him to accept his match. He said that’s when he says hello to his mom and asked her permission to wrestle him at WrestleMania. “That is if you can get your balls out of her purse.” He dropped the mic. Graves called those comments “incendiary.”
-Backstage, the Usos were chatting as Solo Sikoa stood by. Heyman asked if they were waiting on the Tribal Chief. Heyman said the jet is ready with the seafood prepared. He said he wants them to take the rest of the night off and indulge. Heyman said, “Solo, not you. He wants to talk to you.”
-Patrick hyped Reigns returning to Raw later. [c]
-Patrick and Graves plugged the Hell in a Cell match between Edge and Finn Balor at WrestleMania.
-A promo aired with Edge who was in a dark space with candles surrounding his floating head. They added creepy music as he said he is caged so he can function in society, but inside the Cell, he is (ironically) caged no more. He told Balor to leave Finn at home “and bring your Demon to meet the devil.”
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m torn. It was kinda cheesy, but Edge was so all-in I kind of bought in by the end.)
-Rhea Ripley made her entrance. She spoke about facing Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania. She criticized Charlotte for continuing to reference her match against her at her first WrestleMania when she was still trying to make a name for herself and earn some respect. She said Charlotte sees herself as a leader, but leaders respect others. She said Charlotte won’t ever respect her. She said she brings out all of Charlotte’s insecurity “that you mask as confidence.” She told fans not to “What?!” her and said they’re pathetic. She said Charlotte tries to keep people down. She said it’s over for her and she’s washed up. She said she’ll show her that her insecurities are true. She said she doesn’t need Charlotte to respect her, but she will fear her.
Bayley walked out with Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky. Bayley said they respect Rhea for putting Charlotte in her place. She said she expected her to bring up her name when she was talking about being a leader. She said she pinned Charlotte in her first WrestleMania and she can offer her help if she needs it. Ripley said she doesn’t need help from them. Bayley said she thought she’d say that because she’s gotten so cocky lately. Ripley told her to try to knock her out of her ring. Bayley said she’s the only one in her gear, so it’ll be her. Ripley said “Bring it.” They cut to Pearce backstage who told a referee that he was making the match official. The referee ran to the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: There was a good promo from Ripley in there, but paced about 20 percent slower and 25 percent longer than idea. It’s a very odd choice to match her against Damage CTRL just two weeks before Ripley’s match against Charlotte when they’re trying to get fans to boo Ripley and cheer for Charlotte.) [c]
(4) RHEA RIPLEY vs. BAYLEY (w/Iyo Sky, Dakota Kai)
Graves said today marks the tenth anniversary of her debut on NXT TV. They battled back and forth for several minutes at a methodical pace. Sky distracted the ref as Kai raked Ripley’s eyes from the ring apron leading to a near fall for Bayley. Bayley followed with a back suplex. Becky Lynch’s music played and out walked Becky with Lita and Trish Stratus. They cut to a break at 4:00 as Graves asked, “What does this mean?” [c]
Bayley was in control after the break. Ripley eventually caught a charging Bayley with two boots to the chest. She followed with a standing Prism Lock. Bayley crawled over and grabbed the bottom rope. Ripley grabbed Sky, but Bayley then shoved Ripley’s head into the ringpost. Becky, Trish, and Lita ran over to beat up Sky and Kai. Becky went after Bayley, who re-entered the ring to avoid her. Ripley then caught Bayley with a headbutt and Riptide for the win.
WINNER: Ripley in 11:00.
-They cut backstage to Chad Gable looking for Otis who was getting a spa treatment including cucumber slices on his eyes and a manicure. Gable said Pearce got them in the WrestleMania Showcase four-way tag match. He said he’s facing Ricochet next so he needs him at ringside. Maxxine Dupri said a hand model opportunity has come up. Macé said he overexposed his cheekbones and thus the MMM vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows match has been postponed. Gable said it doesn’t make any sense. She said if you’re beautiful, it doesn’t matter if you make sense. Otis chose to leave with Gable, which made Gable smile.
-Ricochet made his ring entrance. [c]
(5) RICOCHET (w/Braun Strowman) vs. CHAD GABLE (w/Otis)
They cut to a break a few minutes in. [c]
Late in the match, Ricochet landed a high knee and then went for a suplex, but Gable slipped free and took Gable down with a Dragon Suplex for a near fall. Otis pounded the mat in support of Gable. Maxxine walked out and had a word with Otis. Otis left with her. As Gable watched, Ricochet recovered. Gable rolled him up, but Ricochet rolled through and took Gable down. He followed with his top rope shooting star press for the win.
WINNER: Gable in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action throughout. A predictable situation with Otis being lured away from ringside by Maxxine during the match.)
-They went to the announcers who discussed the opening segment. [c]
(6) BIANCA BELAIR & ASUKA vs. CHELSEA GREEN & PIPER NIVEN
During Belair’s ring entrance, they showed the scene last week when Asuka ran in and leaked blue fluid from her mouth to creep out Belair. Four-way action broke out. Asuka and Belair cleared the ring, then turned and stared at each other. [c]
Belair leaped off the top rope for a two count, broken up by Green. Asuka threw Green out of the ring. Asuka shoved Niven into the corner and she nearly hit Belair. Asuka charged and Niven moved, so Belair caught Asuka. Belair asked Asuka what she was doing. Belair then caught Piper in the corner on the second rope and delivered her K.O.D. for the win.
WINNER: Belair & Asuka in 7:00.
-As Belair celebrated, Asuka attacked her from behind. Graves called it “a declaration of war.” Asuka charged and landed a sliding knee to Belair. She smiled as her music played. [c]
-Patrick hyped a Lesnar-Omos weigh-in next week.
-Reigns, Heyman, and Solo made their entrance to The Bloodline theme. Reigns took a deep breath and then asked St. Louis to acknowledge him. Cody’s entrance theme interrupted and he made his entrance. Cody said normally he’d ask St. Louis what they want to talk about, but he knows what Reigns wants to talk about. He said he’d love it if Reigns could define for him what it means when they say they have a Cody Rhodes Problem. Heyman stepped forward and was about to speak when Cody said he didn’t want to hear from him. He asked Heyman to step back because he wanted to talk to Reigns. Heyman said he won’t like the answer.
Reigns said Cody isn’t the problem. He said the problem lies in what Cody represents. He said Cody is what they used to be, a “professional wrestler” like their fathers. He made air quotes as he said that. He said he’s a fighter, which has allowed him to become the mega-star around there. He said when Cody “didn’t want to do the Stardust thing,” so he ran away. “Then you started a company and a promotion that you couldn’t get over in and then you ran away. Then you came here.” Fans began chanting “Cody!” Reigns encouraged it. He said Cody came to WWE and he “got over,” but then his body gave out. He said Apr. 2 is like a Lotto ticket for him, but his real moment is on Apr. 3. He said when he wakes up that morning, he’ll have to look in the mirror. He said he wants to deal with adversity in a way that his dad can be proud of. Otherwise, he’ll do what he always does “and run like a little bitch.”
Cody said what Reigns is saying right now is true. He said the business broke his heart, but after he ran away, he did something that helped 100 percent of locker rooms make more money. He said he started in WWE at 20 years old. He said he wanted to be a Superstar. He said maybe he is just a runaway violent likes the taste of blood in my mouth professional wrestler.” He said he’s done hearing about his father. He said he’ll vomit if he hears it again. He said he doesn’t work there and his brother works elsewhere. He said his mother would tell him, “Knock this boy out and when he’s down, hit him again for good measure.”
He said everyone knows what their WrestleMania match means for him, but what about Roman? He said Roman is going to recall what it’s like to lose. He said when that happens, Jay is going to leave him. Reigns looked shaken. He said Jimmy will leave him too. He said Solo has been glaring at him all night. He said he learned when he was flanked by a champion that he thought he was ready, but he wasn’t. He said Solo will leave him. He said Heyman will become an Advocate again. He said Reigns will be all alone. “A Roman with no more Reigns, a Chief without a Tribe.”
Reigns regrouped and lifted the mic. A “Cody” chant started. Reigns dropped the mic and left. Cody then stepped up to Solo and yelled at him. Heyman and Reigns stopped and watched. Solo walked past Cody and began to leave. Cody said, “It’s like I said. I knew you weren’t ready.” Solo took the towel off his head and yelled. Cody kicked him to block the Samoan Spike. Reigns then leaped onto the ring apron and stopped Solo; and had some off-mic words for him. Fans chanted, “You’re not ready!” The show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: As always, I’m about to do the post-show live, so I’ll comment on the final segment and the rest of the show there. Join us or download later!)