WWE Raw and WWE Smackdown Live
Mike Miceli – Staff Writer
Welcome to another edition of Bell2Bell where we recap both WWE Raw and WWE Smackdown LIVE every Sunday right here on TwoCentsTV!
WWE Raw 3/20/17
Well… I’m glad I didn’t let Raw get my hopes up last week with those “Attitude Era” teases, because this week only continued the downward spiral along the road to Wrestlemania. It’s like WWE knows it needs to crush the heart and soul out of its fans so that they’ll just give up wanting and accept what’s happening….
Lucha Underground is now on Netflix and it’s awesome… just saying…
Raw begins with Mick Foley coming down to the ring to read a pre-written statement apologizing for his actions last week. Foley says he’ll be taking a “leave of absence”. But, he gets frustrated and tears up the cards. He tries to cut a promo on HHH and Stephanie but his microphone keeps getting shut off.
Stephanie comes down to the ring and says Foley is a screw up. She then does her best Vince impression and tells him he’s fired. Foley goes to leave, but Sami Zayn’s music hits and he comes out. Zayn says Foley has more class and integrity than Stephanie and that what she’s doing is wrong. Samoa Joe comes out and Stephanie makes a match between Zayn and Joe and it starts right now.
Zayn hits an immediate suicide dive onto Joe before the match could even start. They proceed to have a pretty good match, albeit relatively short and similar to what we’ve seen before. But, the match was hard hitting and faced paced overall. Joe hit a suicide dive as well and managed to dodge a “Helluva Kick” attempt by Zayn. Joe slapped on the “Coquina Clutch” and Zayn passed out.
I really want to see these guys have a true match, which we haven’t really gotten yet. Yes, this was better than their match at Fastlane, but still not the knock down, drag out, 20 minute clinic that I keep wanting from them. I’m hoping that maybe that will be at Wrestlemania because we know these guys could have a truly incredible match, they just haven’t been given the proper opportunity.
SIDE NOTE: There have been rumors circulating that Zayn will be making the move to Smackdown at some point and Sami keeps angering Stephanie (and she already has it out of him as it is). Could be get a loser leaves Raw stipulation for Zayn at ‘Mania? I hope so, because a move to Smackdown could be nothing but good for Sami.
We come back from commercial and Foley is leaving the arena. He runs into Cesaro and Sheamus who thank him and wish him luck. Sheamus gives Foley a hug. Zayn says Foley was a hero to him and asks Foley to stay, but Foley hugs him and walks away. Foley comes face to face with HHH who looks smug and tells him to “have a nice day” before Foley leaves the arena.
Michael Cole interviews Seth Rollin’s trainer about the condition of his knee following HHH’s attack. The trainer says there’s no doctor in America who would clear Rollins for Wrestlemania and he fears for Seth Rollins’ health if he were to try to compete.
Charlotte put the final nail in Dana Brooke’s coffin with a pathetically short match. Brooke got in a some strikes and brief offense to start the match, but Charlotte threw Dana into the ropes and hit her with a big boot to pick up the quick win.
SIDE NOTE: The crowd chanted “We want Paige” during this match. Two things about that. First, given recent developments in Paige’s personal life, this was inappropriate to begin with. Secondly, it’s beyond rude and downright obnoxious to the performers in the ring (even if one of them is Dana Brooke). Here’s an idea, don’t chant things that make the rest of us ashamed to be wrestling fans.
Bayley is moping around backstage. Stephanie approaches her and asks if she needs a hug. Bayley says she didn’t like Stephanie’s actions last week. She calls Stephanie mean and says she “hurts people”. Stephanie responds by booking her in a match with Nia Jax (again….) and if Nia wins she is put in the Raw Women’s Title match at Wrestlemania. (Damn it…)
SIDE NOTE: This sad, little girl schtick that they’re doing with Bayley is terrible. It’s an awful direction for her character to take.
US Champ Chris Jericho comes down to the ring for the latest episode of the “Highlight Reel”. He says tonight he’s going to show everyone the “real” Kevin Owens. He says Kevin used to be a fan of Jericho (“he was marking out, maaaaan”). Jericho then shows an old family photo of Owens, in a Y2J t-shirt, doing Jericho’s signature pose next to a Jericho poster no less.
Jericho says that when Owens made it to WWE, the first thing he did was ask Jericho advice on Twitter. Jericho calls Owens a “stupid idiot” and says that at Wrestlemania, Owens will suffer the humiliation of losing to his idol. Jericho is about to put Owens on “The List of Jericho” but Samoa Joe comes out and stands at the top of the ramp. This is just a distraction and Jericho is blind-sided by Owens who came out of the crowd.
Kevin Owens mercilessly beats Jericho down. He kicks him repeatedly and screams at him. Owens grabs Jericho and hits him with the pop up power bomb. He takes Y2J’s list and tears it to pieces (even eating a piece of it) before striking Jericho’s pose over his unconscious body.
This… THIS is how you properly build a Wrestlemania match. And across both brands (no, Orton/Wyatt doesn’t count) this is truly the only match that was given time, thought, energy and consideration over the course of the year. It’s been so well executed and it is one of the few (very few) matches I’m actually excited to see this year.
The Brian Kendrick faced TJ Perkins in a ho-hum match that didn’t do much more than the basics. After the match, Kendrick said that Akira Tozawa is traveling, but he might have some trouble because he has Tozawa’s passport. Ok then…
Roman Reigns is backstage and he cuts a painfully scripted promo on Braun Strowman and The Undertaker. Roman looked bored… so was I.
Stephanie McMahon approaches Sheamus and Cesaro backstage. She tells them that they’re going to be in a 4 on 2 handicap match against Enzo & Cass and Gallows & Anderson where they’ll have to re-earn their Wrestlemania title shot. Apparently this is in retaliation for them showing Foley some love on his way out the door.
Next up is Nia Jax VS Bayley again… where Bayley lost… AGAIN. This is just becoming comically sad and more over it’s frustrating to watch. This is your champion. She’s supposed to represent the best the women’s division has to offer and yet she’s losing every single week. Not only that but she’s losing in decisive fashion. And when she’s not losing in the ring, you’re making her look like a weak, scared little girl backstage who can’t stand up for herself. This is not good for Bayley, the Women’s Title, or the division as a whole. Jax being in the mix just makes it worse as it seems most of what’s happening is in a desperate attempt to continue to get her over and it’s failing, pathetically.
If you look at where the women’s division was at last year’s Wrestlemania (and the 4-5 months following) and where it is now, the difference is staggering. Putting the belt on Bayley so early, essentially stagnated the women’s division. It halted the progress of the only interesting storyline it had going for it. They reached their conclusion before they had a chance to tell the story. So, they’re wandering blindly in the dark looking for more story, but there’s none to be found. Now, we’re all suffering through their bumbling attempts to self-correct as Wrestlemania inches closer and closer.
So, Nia Jax wins and now she makes the match at Wrestlemania a fatal-4-way. And I hate this idea. The triple threat, while bit of a rehash from last year, would have been a fast paced, technical marvel of a match. A combination of what Bayley and Sasha did in NXT and what Sasha and Charlotte have done on Raw. It could have been awesome. But now each of those women have a giant, talentless anchor tied to their legs, dragging them down into the abyss of mediocrity. Because, instead of focusing on having a truly killer, show stealing fight, they have to focus carrying Jax through the match to make it half-way decent.
Make sure you point at that stupid sign…
… There you go.
When we come back, Michael Cole is in the ring and he introduces Triple H. Hunter comes down to the ring to cut a promo on Seth Rollins. He blames the fans for egging Rollins on and forcing him to do stupid things at the expense of his health. Much like they did to Mick Foley. The crowd chants “CM Punk” which is great… when they could have been chanting for Foley, you know, the guy HHH was actually talking about. The guy who put his body through hell to entertain you. But no, let’s chant for “CM Punk”; the guy who ditched the business and hasn’t looked back.
Triple H says he’s done with Rollins. He hands Michael Cole two tickets to Wrestlemania and tells him to pass those on to Rollins. As HHH goes to leave he stops and thinks twice. He takes the tickets back and has a proposition for Rollins. He’ll have a contract drawn up that absolves WWE of all legal responsibility and he and Rollins could still have their match at Wrestlemania.
Sheamus and Cesaro beat Enzo & Cass and Gallows & Anderson in what was a supreme example of nonsense filler to get to that 3 hour run time. Nothing new was learned or gained here. In fact, to even get this match to occur, Stephanie had to basically rehash what we already saw between these teams over the last 3 weeks. At the start of the match Gallows and Anderson attacked Enzo and Cass. So much for that handicap stipulation. The entrances and Enzo’s pre-match nonsense promo was longer than the match itself.
Trying to find something positive here… I did like Cesaro and Sheamus’ double team “Brogue Kick” move.
Backstage The New Day are taking about some of the matches they’re looking forward to at Wrestlemania. There was a subtle joke here about Xavier Woods’ involvement in the Paige photo/video leak where Big E asked Woods if there was “something he wanted to tell” them.
SIDE NOTE: WWE was smart to keep New Day backstage here, considering how classless the crowd had been so far all night.
Austin Aries and Tony Nese had a pretty good match that was fast paced and entertaining. Aries looked great here, getting in some stellar offense and Nese proved to be a good opponent for Austin. Aries hit Nese with the “Discus Five-Arm” (which is a discus forearm with a horrible name) for the win in what was a pretty good match. Austin continues to connect with the audience and after Neville, is the most interesting part of the cruiserweight division.
Speaking of Neville, the “King of the Cruiserweights” came out after the match and said that he could come down to the ring and destroy Aries right now if he wanted. But, he says he won’t bother because Aries is beneath him. Aries says at Wrestlemania he’s going to end the facade that Neville is “King of the Cruiserweights”.
There was a video package touting the return of Emma. Not Emmalina. Emma. This entire thing is stupid. Just bring her back already. Emmalina was a colossal failure.
Strowman is backstage and cuts a brief promo on Roman Reigns. Strowman says that he’s going to destroy Reigns tonight and if Undertaker wants Reigns as an opponent at Wrestlemania, he’s going to have to scrape him off the mat.
Roman Reigns VS Braun Strohmann was our main event and I have to say, despite this Raw being pretty terrible, it closed strong with a really good match between these two. Storytelling aside (of which I hate every single bit of) the match was technically sound and told a good story throughout.
Roman was booed out of the building for every move he performed, but these two really had a decent match with good back and forth. As the match was ramping up, Undertaker’s gong hit and the lights went out. When the lights come back up, Undertaker is standing in the ring. Taker chokeslams Strowman and turns around into a spear from Roman Reigns (cue the boos).
Roman hops out of the ring and makes his way up the ramp. As he looks back, Undertaker sits up in the ring as only The Undertaker can. Taker gets to his feet as his music begins to play. He stares down Reigns as the show goes off the air.
Why we didn’t get this match booking at Fastlane instead of the shlock we got, is something I’ll never understand. This should have been the ending to the Fastlane match, instead of feeding Strowman to Reigns for no discernible reason.
SIDE NOTE: I love The Undertaker. He is one of my all time favorite wrestlers. Mark Calaway is one of the most talented performers to ever grace a ring in any promotion, at any time. Full stop. That said…. Undertaker is looking old. And it showed here. He’s struggling. All the years of beating up his body for the sport of professional wrestling has obviously taken its toll. Retirement is right around the corner for him and I think he knows it. It’s been said that he requires a hip replacement that he’s apparently ignoring so he can continue to perform. At this point we, as fans, have to start weighing how much we want to see Taker at ‘Mania against how much it could be affecting his health.
I apologize if I’m coming off as bitter, angry, and cynical… but…
I am. I am those things. WWE made me those things with their garbage booking of one of the least interesting Wrestlemanias that I can remember. So while I am attempting (futilely) to find some of the positives here, I just can’t. There are so few positives to begin with, that what remains is nothing but a empty feeling in my wrestling fan’s soul where the excitement of Wrestlemania season should be.
Click below to head on over to page 2 for the Smackdown recap!