Tonight’s Raw takes place in Philly at the Wells Fargo Center.
They start off tonight’s show with an opening graphic in memory of the daughter of a longtime WWE Camera man. Sorry to hear about the passing. Very cool for the tribute.
Steph out to start the show. Trips not in attendance. Crowd boos. Steph trashes the crowd and their lack of responsibilities. She mentions Reigns and they boo him out of Philly. Ouch. Reigns interrupts the promo and it’s a drowning chorus of boos. A few cheers, but it’s rough. He’s on the entryway and not coming through the crowd. He won the Rumble and the world title belt in Philly and they were rough on him then too. She keeps on and he covers her mic with his hand and “shhh”‘s her. Shades of Always Sunny in Philadelphia. That was a great episode with the Gin bar. Reigns says HHH isn’t there cause Reigns would whoop his rear end all over Broad Street. Crowd warming up a little for the hometown reference. Reigns will get his belt back and “There’s nothing you or your daddy’s money can do about it.” She tries to slap him, but it’s blocked. He says “Now, I’m the Authority”. Quick and precise. That’s how they need to be booking Roman. Crowd reaction or not, it was quick and clean. Commercial.
Up next it’s a SD rematch of Styles and Owens. Well color me interested! Excited for this one! They had a fantastic match then and this should be match of the night.
AJ out first after the commercial and a great Philly reaction. Highlights of SD and a KO victory with a Jericho distraction. KO out next and a great reaction for him as well. Great back and forth and the crowd is mixed. Very cool. Beautiful dropkick by AJ. On the outside and KO launches AJ into the barricade before commercial. Great spot. After the commercial, we are back in the ring, AJ with a grounded rana to KO. Flurry of rights and back fists. Running springboard forearm. Up for a back suplex and planted with a reverse facebuster. Beautiful move by AJ. Pele kick, Owens moves and a lariat reminiscent of Stan Hansen! Beautiful “AJ Styles” and “Fight Owens Fight” dueling chants. Good stuff. AA into a neckbreaker as Cole calls it, lol. Ushigoroshi as Ranaullo calls it. Shades of New Japan’s Hirooki Goto, who got name dropped on Smackdown. I was okay with that for sure! Two count by AJ. Back and forth action. Top rope frogsplash by KO. Two count. Ode to RVD in Philly, that was cool and the crowd dug it. Elbow counter and an exchange of rights by both men. Superkick by KO, but a Pele kick counter and it hits. What a match. Action continues and AJ hits the top rope, Owens up and counter shots. Owens looking for the Steenalizer but AJ counters with a sunset flip powerbomb. Holy cow, what a contest. Two count by AJ. Dueling chants even louder in Philly. AJ setting up for the Phenomenal forearm and Y2J out with “AJ Styles” taunting chants. AJ tries for the calf crusher, but Jericho is on the apron with the distraction. Owens with a rollup and he’s beaten AJ twice. Feather in the cap of KO and heightened intrigue for AJ and Jericho. Two wins over Styles by KO and that could certainly lead to a title match down the road. I’d certainly be glued to the tube for that one.
Owens with a mic after the match. This is the Kevin Owens show. In 13 days at KO Mania, KO will face…Ziggler’s music hits and he’s out in a suit. He doesn’t care if KO calls it Botchamania, Beatlemania, Axelmania, it doesn’t matter. There is nobody more fitting to beat KO then Ziggler. I came to Play! Miz out. Plays his hand for an IC match. “What makes you think you deserve a match Dolph? Losing to HHH?” Good line by Miz. Rehashes the glory days of being champ, Ziggler says go watch it on the network. Back and forth banter. Ska music and Zayn’s music hits. Looking like a four way dance. Probably would have been five, but Neville out with a broken shin and ankle. 2-3 months of recovery time for the Man that Gravity forgot. LOUD “Ole” chant for Zayn. Miz calls him Skinny Seth Rogen. KO says he’s gonna ask the Authority to set up a three way dance for tonight. Winner goes to KOMania for a title shot.
Promo for the main event and it’s Dean Ambrose against Braun Strowman. Hmmm. We cut to earlier footage of Ambrose in Philly. He’s at The Philadium Tavern. Doesn’t look like a place, but what do I know? Ask Roman Reigns. Apparently he’s familiar with Broad Street. Dean is talking to someone about smearing Brock Lesnar’s blood and guts all over the ring, talking to a local. Camera pans out and it’s TERRY FUNK! The Hardcore Icon from the Double-Cross Ranch! He calls Dean crazy like a fox in a henhouse amongst other things. It’s great.
“If I had a son, I’d want him to be just like you. If I had a daughter…”
…And it trails off. That was the line of the light. Funk gives him a chainsaw. Oh wow. Shades of the old Chainsaw Charlie days where he teamed with Cactus Jack. That led to the formation of the new DX with HHH, X-Pac and The New Age Outlaws. A key point of the attitude era for sure. A Loud “ECW” chant. Ambrose wonders if it’ll fire up. It does and he chainsaws a table. Locals sitting there with cold brews and cocktails like it’s just another day in Philly. Who knows? Commercial. That was fun.
Back from commercial, KO is backstage and gets Steph to set the triple threat. Kevin Owens asks Steph to say hello to Hunter. We go to a video on Shane and Taker. John Cena, Foley, other comments. Talking about Shane leaving in ’09. Booker T. comments. Jericho. He calls it a Game Of Thrones scenario. Cool reference. Hell in a Cell highlights. Comments from Edge, Arn Anderson, Ric Flair, Jerry Lawler, etc. This is a cool video.
Backstage and we’ve got The New Day. Loud pop. They are with some intern who is twerking. League of Nations are in the ring. Graphic of their 4-3 match at ‘Mania against New Day. Rusev with a mic. LoN will crush the New Day. Sheamus says New Day got a taste of what to expect at Mania. Highlights of last week’s beating.
It’s a New Day, Yes it is! Loud “New Day Rocks” chant. They do Philly! They do. Big E. with a mic. Last week you might have put hands on your boy, he says. New Day has never sucked by the way, as he also lets us know. Woods has a mic. Xavier not surprised that they are talking hot garbage. He has sign cards. Exhibit A. You. Are. Image of a trash can. They repeat the same a second time. That was good. Kofi with a mic. Kofi thanks Rusev for wearing boots now. Fans appreciate the feet not stankin’. New Day love da kids (Trick Daddy reference). What happened to ADR having his own driver and limo? Now he’s stuck in the League. And King Barrett, no cape, no sceptre, no crown, such a waste of a king. What if New Day were three kings of the ring? Xavier with a fun British accent. Asks fans to shame Barrett. “Shame”. Wait. ‘SHAME-US”. Parents knew that he was gonna be a failure early. Coulda been Mike, John, Steven. They chose Sheamus. Booty O’s plug. Chant follows. That was gold. Hilariously enough, Sheamus’ real name is Steven. The two teams mix it up.
Big E. vs. Rusev underway. Back and forth. Commercial. Back and Rusev in control after putting Big E. into the ring steps. Big E. with a “belly to booty” suplex back in the ring to regain control. Three of them. Splash off the ropes. Knees up by Rusev. Spinning kick and a two count from Rusev. Big E. hits a one-armed rock bottom out of the corner. Big E. tries for the running spear, but a knee from Rusev gets him. Kick and a two count. Back body drop counter and a big splash off the ropes from Big E. Two count. Superkick by Rusev and another two count. Woods takes out LoN on the outside. Buisaku knee kick on Barrett from Woods. Beautiful spot and cool to see that move. Daniel Bryan used it soundly, but KENTA (Hideo Itami) used that like a thing of beauty. Rusev boot and Accolade attempt in the ring. Big E. powers him up and hits an electric chair drop. Sheamus on the apron. Big E takes Sheamus out with a spear through the ropes. That always looks fantastic. This one was especially good. Kofi hits Rusev on the opposite side of the ring. Big E takes charge and a Big Ending gets a three count for The New Day. New Day celebrates and Woods plays Francesca 2.
Promo from Bray Wyatt. “The Equinox symbolizes rebirth of the human soul.” He’s to be born again. Harper and Rowan add comments. They have to sacrifice another. Strowman set to sacrifice Ambrose to the god of war tonight. When the sun rises, Bray will ascend to his eternal throne.
A commercial with Alicia Fox. Naomi and Todd Chrisley. It’s a Snickers commercial. It’s Natayla. That was cute. Chrisley is a funny guy. I’ve never enjoyed the show, but the highlights alone make it look like comedy I’d enjoy.
A video package talking about the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Here comes Big Show. Big Show pandering to Philly fans. Tells them he appreciates them keeping it real. He says he’s the greatest giant of all time in his mind because it keeps him motivated. Show then says Andre is actually the greatest though. Andre carved the path. Show hopes to become a 2-time battle royal winner. Social Outcasts out. Show will be their victim. Bo says they are a Cinderella story. Axel says not Cinderella, they are super cool like Voltron. “Yee” from Axel. Rose says the “Yee” is ridiculous. Show says only trouble is figuring out which hashtag troll to toss first. Outcasts swarm and Show handles business. The Outcasts turn the tides. Pyro and Here comes the demon Kane! He cleans house. Bo tries for a handshake and gets dumped. A hug from Show and Kane chokeslams him as he celebrates in the corner, setting the stage for the two giants to meet. I’m okay with it. The Battle Royal is always fun. Cesaro won the first, Show took it last year. This year who knows? Bray? Strowman? Depends who all is in it.
Up next, a Wrestlemania rewind match. It’s Jericho and Fandango. Oh, this is brilliant. If you know how much Jericho hated that program and the booking, this should hopefully be a squash. This just screams AJ interference and Fandango with a W, but we’ll see. Commercial. They added NXT: Takeover Dallas to the Wrestlemania week programming. Someone got set straight on that after the error. That’ll be a fantastic show. Check out the card for it, I’ll certainly be covering that for Scrum Sports and you’ll probably have me going bananas for the Nakamura debut and that match against Sami Zayn.
Back from commercial and we’ve got a Fifth Dimension song. They’ll be doing the Anthem at ‘Mania. Graphic for Stan Hansen in the Hall Of Fame. Wow. JBL dropped the fact that he beat Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki. He drew some great money for Japan. Very well earned entrance. Stan Hansen was truly one of the great outlaws in the business. There is a very cool “Legends Roundtable” special on the network about him and Brusier Brody along with others. They joke about him being nearly blind because he certainly worked a “strong style” if you will. That Lariat was a thing of beauty and inspired the great finishers used by JBL and Satoshi Kojima of New Japan fame.
We get back to the ring and Fandango gets the already in-ring treatment. Break the wall down! Jericho out. In-ring and Jericho with the early assault. Back elbow. “HE NEVER BEAT ME AT MANIA!”. A further assault. “YOU ARE A STUPID MAN!”
“Jericho is Awesome.” -Byron Saxton.
Yes he is, Byron. Spinning heel kick from Fandango. Jericho down. Top rope leg drop attempt by Fandango. Jericho moves.
“Y2Jackass. Y2Jackass.” AJ Styles has a mic on the entryway.
Fandango counters the walls of Jericho in the ring. Codebreaker and a 3 count. Jericho still wins, despite the interference. Styles hits the ring and Jericho retreats.
“Thought you were the best at what you do? Maybe you’re the best at running from me.” -AJ Styles.
AJ talks about competing at Mania. “AJ Styles” chants and Jericho is frantic. AJ proposes a Mania match. AJ will show Jericho why they chant his name. They need to book that yesterday. It’ll be one to appease even the most casual fan. That’ll be a tremendous introduction to quality matches at ‘Mania for those unfamiliar with the product.
More video for Shane/Taker and thoughts from Foley, HBK, Booker, Cena, Edge, Flair, Austin, Pat Patterson, and others. The video shows Shane training with Renzo Gracie. Great hype package.
Up next, Triple threat for IC Title match at Mania. KO in the ring introducing his opponents. He introduces Stardust, throwing a curve-ball into things. Owens is awesome. He puts Stardust over on the mic beforehand. Introduces Sin Cara next. A man who has competed all over the world. Who’s Next? Breeze? This is funny, but sad at the same time. Both of these guys are good hands. Zack Ryder introduced third. Hey, we get to hear “OH RADIO!”. I assume that would have been Neville had he not been sidelined with that terribly timed injury. I certainly wish him a speedy recovery.
Owens very Jericho-esque from Slamboree ’98. That was great. JBL says there is nothing KO can’t do. He appreciates this exciting contest. Stardust and Sin Cara with a great exchange. What’s funny is that on a grand RAW stage, they are putting on a good match. Ryder working Stardust on the outside. Sin Cara with a springboard moonsault to the outside taking out both men. Action continues and we’ve got a collision in the center of the ring as Sami Zayn is heading down the ramp. Miz follows suit. Dolph too. They are arguing with Owens as the action continues in ring. The match is eventually called off due to action on the outside. We’ve got everyone beating on KO. Commercial.
Backstage after the commercial and Steph is on the phone looking to leave Philly because of Reigns. It’s assumed that it’s Hunter. KO interrupts her and asks if she saw what happened. She is frustrated that he has interrupted her and Steph books KO vs. Zayn, Ziggler, Miz, Stardust, Ryder and Sin Cara in a ladder match at ‘Mania. I would have preferred Owens and Zayn in singles action, but that is something we can enjoy post ‘Mania. Everyone in this match is very capable of entertaining fans with spots in the ladder match. I look for Owens to retain, but I’ll certainly have a good coffee while enjoying the match with great friends. Commercial.
After the commercial, Triple H is shown getting out of a limo at the arena and he gets a loud Philly pop. Steph is there and looking to make a quick escape. HHH looks around for Roman and seeing no sign of his nemesis, he puts Steph in the car. The car is ready to leave, the gate opens and Roman is standing there. Cool image. Roman up the ramp and he pulls HHH out of the limo. Steph screams as Roman works him over. Triple H counters with a hard right and he dives into the car as they dip out. Great exchange, but was the driver updating his twitter feed? Was he posting a selfie? Expect him to get the “Big Johnny” treatment from HHH as the Authority wishes him the best of luck in his future endeavors. We go to commercial.
Back and we’re at ringside. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch are on commentary. Highlights from Smackdown where Charlotte trashed the 4 Horsewomen. That was a great segment. Natayla in the ring for singles action, it’s a non-title contest against Charlotte. Charlotte out with her father, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Sasha and Becky going at each other on commentary. Becks is awesome. Sasha right back at her. If you get to enjoy the replay, listen to them, both are gold. I can’t wait for that triple threat match. In the ring, Nattie is in control, running up Charlotte’s back with a cool spot. Charlotte rolls outside and while jawing with Sasha and Becky, Nattie takes advantage and gets her back in the ring for a two count. Charlotte back in charge with flair chops.
“I’m full of charm and full of harm.” -Becky Lynch.
Byron says the ladies will have to worry about papa factor at ‘Mania. Nattie with a sit-out powerbomb in the ring. Sharpshooter by Nattie. Back and forth counters and pinfall attempts. Charlotte eventually hits the Natural Selection and gets the three count. Big non-title win.
Highlights of Dean Ambrose sawing through that table earlier after meeting Funk. That was great.
Dudley Boys music. Bubba and Devon head to the ring. R-Truth in the ring for singles action against Bubba. “E-C-Dub” chant breaks out. Bubba working Truth over with right hands. Bubba trashing the fact that Goldust won’t tag with Truth. Bubba with right hands. Truth with a comeback. Short lived as Bubba puts him down with a boot and a three count. Wow. That’s it? Double team on and here comes Goldust! Goldust eats a double team move and here comes the Usos. Superkicks for Bubba and Devon. The Usos grab a table where the Dudleys won’t. Devon laid on the table. Usos up top, set to take flight but Bubba gets Devon out of the ring. Golden Truth almost coming together. Commercial.
Back and there’s “No chance in hell”! Power strut and Vince McMahon is out. In the ring, he tells Philly to be kind and nice. Says if by some chance Shane wins, Triple H and Steph would quit and we’ve probably seen the last of Vince. Crowd pops. Vince is not pleased. “YES” chant. Vince says the fans are enablers by chanting for Shane. Footage of last Monday where Shane called Taker a female dog. Vince says the chokeslam was sweet but it’ll take more to defeat Shane. Shane is passionate and will fight with everything, life and limb. Vince says Taker better defeat Shane, he “damn well better”. Vince says Taker is his female dog and if Taker doesn’t win, it’ll be Taker’s last Wrestlemania. Vince is gonna fire him. Wow. They finally cemented why this match matters. They really should have done that several weeks back. Taker has to send Shane straight to hell or it’ll be the end of the Deadman. Vince heads up the ramp and here comes Dean Ambrose! Main event time.
Ambrose locks eyes with Vince and hits the ring for action against Braun Strowman. Commercial and when we’re back, they advertise Brock Lesnar for this week’s Smackdown. Paul Heyman is at ringside for commentary. Braun headed to the ring with the Wyatts, Bray leads the way. Literally sounds like a “Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks” chant is going. Okay? That’s funny. Dean Ambrose is always one to watch, but this is a strange main event. Strowman with the upper hand early putting Ambrose down. Dean slaps Braun. Braun charges and Dean dumps him over the top rope. Ambrose with a suicide dive and he sends Strowman into the barricade. A second try and a clubbing blow from Braun. Strowman in the ring with a nerve hold. Ambrose with a counter, but Strowman with a clothesline. Braun with a big toss out of the corner. Strowman back in control and another nerve hold. “This is boring” chant. Bad call to book this. Love Ambrose and think Braun has potential, but he’s far from Main event. This in my humble opinion, is a prime example of why booking strategy has to change for the modern fan. To start the show? Sure. But to end it? Either way, we’ve got Ambrose with a comeback and a dropkick. A Dirty Deeds attempt is countered. Strowman puts him in the corner. “We Want Lesnar” chant. Ambrose introduces and uses a steel chair and Strowman wins by DQ. Ambrose with Dirty Deeds on Strowman on the chair. Ambrose stands tall and that’s all she wrote. Almost at the end of the Road to Wrestlemania. Show is stacking up as a whole, but the final hour here? Eh, check it out and be the judge. Lotta good matches on the show save for a few slow spots. Next week should put the finishing touches on the card. Until then, enjoy your weeks!
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