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 3/6/17
So after a completely disappointing Fastlane PPV by every measurable standard, we come to Monday Night Raw and it was hands down a better show than Sunday’s debacle… but that’s not saying much.
Raw was live from Chicago, IL and begins with Chris Jericho coming down to the ring. He’s in full-on babyface mode here and I love it. Jericho says tonight is the “resurrection of Jericho” because at Fastlane he screwed Kevin Owens out of the Universal Championship. Y2J says Owens had it coming for his betrayal at the “Festival of Friendship” but he wants an explanation.
Kevin Owens comes out and cuts a pretty good promo telling Jericho he was never his “best friend” and he was only using Y2J to help him keep the Universal Championship. He needed someone with experience but someone that was also gullible. Owens says that Jericho outlived his usefulness the second he accepted a match with Goldberg on Owens’ behalf.
The crowd chants “Goldberg” and Owens continues saying that last night, at Fastlane, he would have beaten Goldberg. He would have outsmarted Goldberg if he had the chance. But Jericho was able to outsmart Owens first. But that won’t happen again. Owens says that is the biggest mistake he’s ever made. At the “Festival of Friendship” he let Jericho off easy, but that won’t happen again either.
Jericho says he doesn’t need Owens as his best friend because he has the “Friends of Jericho” (“Cheer me on, man”) and the crowd cheers. Jericho says screwing Owens was just the beginning and he wants Owens at Wrestlemania. Owens agrees, but only if the US title is on the line. Jericho accepts but invites Owens to do it right now.
Owens storms the ring and attacks Jericho and soon Samoa Joe joins the fray. They beat down Jericho until Sami Zayn runs down the ramp with a chair and helps Jericho clear the ring.
SIDE NOTE: I know I’ve been talking about a faction with Joe and Owens for a few weeks now, but did I miss an episode where it actually happened?
When we come back from commercial we’re in the middle of a match between Zayn and Owens that was apparently made official during the break. These two, as usual, had a pretty good match hitting some of their familiar spots. But, of course, Zayn lost. I don’t think anyone even expects him to win anymore. The match was short, but served a great purpose of making Owens look more vicious than ever.
SIDE NOTE: Remember when they said at Battleground a few months ago that we’d never see Owens VS Zayn again? Good times.
Next up we had a Cruiserweight Title match between Neville and Rich Swann. I don’t know what happened creatively, but it seems the cruiserweights have been given a little more leeway in the ring and more time to perform. Because after Neville stole the show at Fastlane, he had a fantastic match here with Swann.
These two guys worked stiff and snug, with some excellent ring work and nonstop action. This is what cruiserweight matches are supposed to be. Interesting moves and counters, superkicks out of nowhere, top rope dives. It was all here and I thank whoever has decided to let them off the leash and give us something different and akin to the CWC. The match was competitive throughout and Neville was able to submit Swann after he missed with the “Phoenix Splash”.
Austin Aries conducted a post-match interview with Neville. Neville says he’s the “king of the cruiserweights” and there’s no one who can stand up to him. Austin Aries asks “No one… are you sure?” and the crowd begins to chant “Austin Aries”. Neville tells Austin to keep to his announcing duties and cheap jokes because this is his ring. Austin says he’s just trying to do his job and he has “one more question… well, it’s more of a statement”. He then attacks Neville and nails him with a huge forearm.
This looks to be setting up Aries VS Neville at Wrestlemania for the Cruiserweight Championship and this is a match that I can truly say that I’m excited to see.
Our new Universal Champion, Goldberg, comes down to the ring to a decidedly mixed reaction from the smarky Chicago crowd. I gotta admit, the belt looks good on him. He holds the belt up and says it belongs to the WWE Universe. The crowd chants “CM Punk” which I can try to look past considering it’s Chicago, but come on guys. He’s been gone for over 3 years. Let it go.
Paul Heyman interrupts and brings out Brock Lesnar. They circle the ring and eventually climb in. Goldberg and Lesnar come face to face. Heyman says they came out to congratulate Goldberg on his win. He says Goldberg has proven himself every bit the beast, every bit conqueror that Lesnar is.
Heyman continues saying that he has a spoiler for Wrestlemania. Lesnar will take that Universal Championship and he’s going to make Goldberg his “b*tch”. Lesnar then hoists Goldberg up and nails him with a huge F-5.
SIDE NOTE: Leave it to Heyman to sell this match singe handedly with nothing but a microphone and incredible verbal skill.
SIDE NOTE 2: Despite being back for months, this is the first bump that Goldberg has taken.
Gallows and Anderson faced Enzo and Big Cass in a waste of time… err… rematch. The match barely got started before Sheamus and Cesaro made their way down the ramp to watch.
Gallows and Anderson took turns beating the snot out of Enzo (which is all he seems good for these days). Enzo eventually tags in Cass to save him, as usual. Enzo finally hit a move (surprise!). It was a suicide dive onto Gallows. Enzo was so happy he finally got to do something other than lose that he celebrated and accidentally knocked Cesaro’s coffee out of his hand.
Cesaro chased Enzo but accidentally hit Anderson causing a DQ. This led to an all out brawl between all three teams.
When we come back from commercial, Enzo & Cass and Sheamus & Cesaro are arguing backstage. Mick Foley appears and steps between them. Foley says that next week the two teams will have a match and the winners will face The Club at Wrestlemania.
SIDE NOTE: Enzo and Cass aren’t a tag team. Cass is a wrestler with an annoying sidekick that either gets his ass kicked and needs to be saved or loses the match for him. In kayfabe terms, I don’t know why Cass would even keep Enzo around.
Here come the cruiserweights!
Akira Tozawa beat Ariya Daivari with his snap german suplex in a “blink and you miss it” match.
There go the cruiserweights!
Mick Foley is standing in the ring and he calls out Raw Women’s Champion Bayley. Foley congratulates her on her win, but Bayley says she’s doesn’t feel good about the way she won due to Sasha’s interference. Bayley says she needs to keep moving forward to Wrestlemania (points to stupid Wrestlemania sign) even if she doesn’t feel as great about being champ. Foley says it doesn’t matter how you get there and asks who she will face at Wrestlemania.
This brings out Sasha Banks who comes down to the ring. She says she should be Bayley’s opponent. Foley says that sounds like a good idea and asks what the crowd thinks. They chant “yes” but are cut off by Charlotte and Dana Brook appearing on the entrance ramp. They come down to ringside and Charlotte says Banks is only using Bayley to get another title shot because she wasn’t going to get another chance after her last loss to Charlotte at Roadblock. Flair said she was robbed of both the title and her PPV streak and she deserves a rematch.
Stephanie McMahon comes out (to massive “CM Punk” chants) and says the crowd always cheers for the wrong people. She agrees with Charlotte that Banks is pretending to be Bayley’s friend and it’s obvious that Charlotte deserves a shot. Stephanie then emasculates Mick Foley yet again, saying she’s the boss and she makes the matches (so why do we even have a GM?). Stephanie makes a match: Bayley VS Sasha Banks and if Banks wins, the match at ‘Mania is a triple threat. That match is right now.
So Bayley faced Sasha Banks and all I can say is… what happened guys? I mean really. What happened here? This match was slow, clunky, and poorly timed. The two kept trying to break the match down into brief sequences that were meant to seem like competitive mini bouts, but it just didn’t work. If you look at what these two women did at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn two years ago and this, you’d think they were completely different wrestlers. I don’t know what was going on here, but this match was just not good.
The crowd was also pretty quiet for this match, which didn’t help. I don’t blame the wrestlers for that, though. The women’s division has been woefully misused and awfully booked for the last 3 months, killing its momentum dead. The fact that the crowd is fed up with it shouldn’t surprise anyone.
The second half of this match started to pick up a bit, but unfortunately it was plagued with constant outside interference from Dana Brooke (who now only appears on TV for storyline convenience, it seems) and Charlotte Flair. Banks was eventually able to lock Bayley in the “Bank Statement”. Charlotte climbed the ring apron and tried to interfere, but Banks kicked her away as Bayley tapped out. This officially makes the Wrestlemania match a triple threat (just like last year…)
After the match, Charlotte stormed the ring and took out both Bayley and Banks with a couple of big boots before raising the belt and pointing at that damn Wrestlemania sign.
SIDE NOTE: I’m really starting to hate that sign. This over-used pointing and looking at it is obnoxious. I get it… Wrestlemania… yay…
It just seems like there isn’t much going into this match because WWE has already squandered the big story points on earlier shows. Bayley was given her first Championship win on a Raw. Charlotte was given her first PPV loss at a D+ event like Fastlane. Instead of saving those story building ideas for a big ‘Mania match, there’s now not much to invest in the Raw women at this point.
WWE showed a video package of Seth Rollins training at a rehab center for his supposed in-ring return at Wrestlemania. HHH then appeared “via satellite”. He said that WWE’s medical staff are “the best in the world” and Seth should listen to them when they say Rollins isn’t cleared. He says Seth Rollins lies to himself all the time and wants the world to believe that he’s “The Man” because he calls himself “The Man”. But that’s the furthest from the truth. HHH says the fact is if Seth Rollins shows up at Wrestlemania to all him out, it’ll be the last thing he does in a WWE ring.
SIDE NOTE: I wonder if HHH’s comment about their medical staff being the “best in the world” is a not-so-subtle dig at CM Punk and his ongoing lawsuit with WWE medical staff. Considering this was Punk’s hometown of Chicago, I wouldn’t be surprised. WWE is nothing if not vindictive.
Next up is Samoa Joe VS Chris Jericho and I was legitimately excited for this match… but stupid me, right?
The match started off well enough with Joe and Jericho exchanging blows and chops. A fast pace kept the crowd invested. Joe hit a great corner pele kick to the back of Jericho’s head and, despite some minimal offense from Y2J, he commanded much of the match from then on.
This was an incredible opportunity to see these two veterans go at it the first time and this could have been an awesome encounter, but sadly that wasn’t meant to be. The match, brief as it was, was good. But I would have hoped that the first match between these two would have been something really special. Instead it was a typical Raw match in every sense, that ended with a pathetic finish.
Eventually the match spilled to the outside where Joe got Jericho trapped in the “Coquina Clutch” where he choked Jericho unconscious. The referee was counting the whole time and as Jericho lay unconscious on the outside, Joe rolled back in he ring to win by countout.
After the win, Joe threw Jericho back into the ring to continue the beat down, but Jericho surprised Joe with a “Codebreaker”. Joe staggered out of the ring and back up the ramp as the two stared each other down.
Braun Strowmann comes down to the ring to call out Roman Reigns. He says Chicago doesn’t like Reigns and neither does he. So come down to the ring for a fight. Fair enough.
Roman Reign’s music hits for few brief seconds, but it’s interrupted by the gong. Undertaker’s music hits and The Phenom appears on stage. He makes his way down to the ring looking a little more mobile than his appearance at the Royal Rumble. Undertaker comes face to face with Strowman and the crowd goes absolutely ballistic and I gotta admit, it was a hell of a moment. They even chanted “Holy sh*t” before anything happened. This would be an incredible match especially considering how Strowman has been built up over the last year (well, had been built up, since WWE fed him needlessly to Reigns at Fastlane).
SIDE NOTE: Braun Strowman and Undertaker staring each other down got a bigger and more positive reaction from the crowd than Roman could ever hope to achieve. EVER. And that in a nutshell shows everything wrong with what WWE is doing with Reigns. Forcing him into situations and matches that the crowd doesn’t want will never get the crowd behind Reigns in any capacity. But WWE (read: Vince) is incredibly stubborn and will keep shoving Reigns down our throats, crowd reaction be damned.
So Strowman backs off and exits through the crowd, disappointing the audience. Roman Reigns then comes out to an incredible chorus of boos and stands face to face with The Undertaker. The crowd continues to boo and chant “Roman sucks”. Roman says this is his yard now. Undertaker then looks at the Wrestlemania sign and Roman does as well (groan).
SIDE NOTE: Michael Cole said “This is what Wrestlemania season is all about!”. Is it Cole? Is it really? Is Wrestlemania season about giving fans matches with pathetically short-sided build up, involving wrestlers they don’t want to see? If so than, yup… this is what it’s alllll about…
Undertaker grabs Reigns by the throat and delivers a chokeslam. He then exits the ring and heads up the ramp, raising his arm as the show goes off the air. The whole time I was thinking… man, Cena VS Undertaker would be so much more interesting. Instead we get this… and Cena is in a mixed tag match. Just what we always wanted. Thanks, Vince!
Click below to head on over to page 2 for my Smackdown recap!