WWE Raw results, review: Reigns spears Undertaker, but show grades out poorly
WWE's booking nearly grinded to a halt with just two weeks to go until WrestleMania 33
The buildup to WrestleMania can only be red-hot for so long once there is nothing left to reveal.
After a recent run of exciting Raw episodes helped WWE set forth its final plans ahead of WrestleMania 33, Monday was a considerable step backward with just two weeks until the company’s biggest show of the year.
Despite an appearance from The Undertaker in the closing minutes that didn’t quite save the three-hour show, Raw largely went through the motions this week thanks to an overreliance on video packages and a few head-scratching booking decisions.
For the most part, things were just stuck in pause with nothing left to reveal ahead of April 2 -- outside of Nia Jax’s inclusion in the Fatal 4Way Raw women’s title match. A strong start, which featured the firing of general manager Mick Foley and a spin-off intense match between Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn, quickly gave way to monotony.
Let’s look back at what went down this week on Raw.
WWE Raw results
In the ring -- Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon: Foley, the general manager, apologized for last week’s incident and read a prepared statement off flash cards, saying he’s taking a leave of absence “for the good of WWE, for the good of WrestleMania and for the sake of my own sanity.” He then ripped up the flash cards and said he did not bow to management. McMahon, the commissioner, came out to verbally undress him, claiming he only cares about himself and the adulation from the crowd. McMahon had two words for Foley, “You’re fired!” Sami Zayn ran in to defend Foley, but Samoa Joe’s music soon hit and McMahon ordered a match between them.
Samoa Joe def. Sami Zayn via submission: Strong intensity in this two-segment match. Joe dominated early. Zayn turned the tide with a stiff clothesline and diving tornado DDT through the ropes. In the end, Joe intercepted a Helluva kick attempt with a one-arm slam and secured a Coquina Clutch to force the tap.
Backstage -- Foley leaves the arena: Foley thanked and hugged Zayn, who said, “They say never meet your heroes but sincerely, I’m glad I met mine.” Foley went on to hug and share pleasantries with Cesaro, Sheamus and Bayley. Before he exited, Triple H walked by and sarcastically said, “Have a nice day.”
It will be interesting to see how the Foley angle ends and what role it plays at WrestleMania. Considering the storyline gamble Zayn took in calling out McMahon publicly, let’s hope it actually goes somewhere. Lots of heart was put into the brief backstage segment, including what felt like legitimate thank yous from a handful of wrestlers for what Foley has done for their life. Loved Triple H taking one more shot at Foley on the way out.
Interview -- Michael Cole and Seth Rollins’ physical therapist: Kevin Wilk joined the show via satellite and said that although Rollins is the most driven athlete he has ever dealt with, “there’s no doctor in America who would clear him” for WrestleMania. Wilk went on to say that Rollins needs a few more months out of the ring after reaggravating his injury.
Charlotte Flair def. Dana Brooke via pinfall: After physical start from a fired-up Brooke, it didn’t take long for Flair to turn the tables and finish off the match abruptly with a big boot.
Puzzling turn of events here considering how well-received Brooke’s face turn was just a week ago. Unless there are plans for a Brooke run-in at WrestleMania, this storyline appears to be finished.
Backstage -- Bayley and McMahon: With Bayley visibly upset over Foley, McMahon sarcastically offered a hug. Bayley said that although she grew up admiring her as a strong woman, McMahon has done “nothing but use her powers to hurt other people.” McMahon countered by booking Bayley a rematch against Nia Jax later tonight, this time with no disqualification and a spot in the women’s title match on the line for Jax.
The Highlight Reel -- Chris Jericho reveals the “real” Kevin Owens: In the ring, Jericho revealed a picture of Owens at age 16 wearing a Y2J T-shirt as well as a screenshot of Owens direct messaging him on Twitter in 2014 before they met. Before Jericho could officially place Owens on the list for betraying him, Samoa Joe came out to provide a distraction. Owens immediately attacked Jericho from behind and connected on a Pop-Up Powerbomb. With crowd chanting and booing, Owens ripped up the List of Jericho over the fallen body of his former best friend.
Getting to hear babyface Jericho play his hits in front of a hot crowd is nothing short of a treat. Strong use of Owens’ real-life backstory as WWE superfan to further tell their story.
The Brian Kendrick def. TJ Perkins via pinfall: The brief match ended with Kendrick causing a referee distraction and using it to catch Perkins in Sliced Bread No. 2 for the easy pin. After the match, Kendrick continued his beef with Akira Tozawa by revealing he had stolen his passport from the locker room.
Tough to see TJP take become so marginalized since winning, and quickly losing, the inaugural WWE cruiserweight championship.
Backstage -- Roman Reigns: “With all due respect to The Undertaker, the only time I think about The Deadman is when I picture him lying on his back in the ring at WrestleMania.”
Keeping Reigns’ speaking to short and cocky bursts has proven the best way of late to endear him to both sides of the fan base. In the two weeks since his feud with The Undertaker officially kicked off, Reigns hasn’t disappointed.
Backstage -- McMahon, Cesaro & Sheamus: McMahon told the former champions that their WrestleMania title opportunity to compete in a triple threat match went out the door with Foley. She said they need to earn back their spot by winning a 2-on-4 handicap match later tonight against the other two teams. She closed with an evil, “Have a nice day.”
Nia Jax def. Bayley via pinfall (No Disqualification): The crowd was into this one as Jax relied on brutality to secure a spot in the four-woman title match at WrestleMania. Jax ragdolled Bayley outside the ring and tossed her by her hair into the ringside barrier. Late in the match, with Bayley on the second rope, Jax pulled her leg, causing Bayley’s head to hit the turnbuckle on the way down. Jax quickly landed a Samoan drop to score the win.
It will be interesting to see how Jax fits in during this upcoming Fatal 4Way match. Her improved work since the Royal Rumble certainly warrants her inclusion.
Interview -- Cole and Triple H: The WWE COO said Rollins made the biggest mistake in his life “when he stopped listening to me and started listening to [the crowd].” Before leaving the ring, Triple H changed his tone on keeping Rollins off the WrestleMania card due to his injury and pitched the idea of a non-sanctioned match on April 2 before challenging Rollins to sign the paperwork next week.
What started out as a hot segment, reminding us how missed Triple H was on Raw over the second half of last year, grew stale over time. In the end, Triple H was too wordy in slamming home his point and once the crowd lost interest, he was forced to pull from deep to get a reaction before dropping the mic and walking off.
Sheamus & Cesaro def. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Enzo Amore & Big Cass via pinfall: After the Raw tag team champions attacked their partners, Enzo and Cass, at the start of the match, Sheamus and Cesaro quickly took over. A Brogue Kick from Sheamus on Anderson led to a pin in record time. After the match, Enzo and Cass landed a Badaboomshakalaka on an already fallen Anderson.
What a total waste of both a match and a storyline, making McMahon’s character look stupid for booking it in the first place. Sheamus and Cesaro reobtained a spot at WrestleMania while Gallows and Anderson were inconceivably buried -- again -- despite being champions.
Backstage after the match, The New Day hyped WrestleMania 33, which they will host. New Day’s creative slide continued in an otherwise painful and worthless segment, save for the opening comments. Big E asked Xavier Woods, “So is there something you wanted to tell us about?” It was WWE’s subtle way of addressing the leaked sex tape involving Woods (and others) that made negative headlines in the past week.
Austin Aries def. Tony Nese via pinfall: A stiff suicide dive from Aries, who landed chest-first like a missile into Nese, highlighted the match, which was a shorter and less entertaining version of the one they had two weeks ago in the main event of 205 Live. Afterwards, Neville came out to exchange trash talk with Aries and tease their WrestleMania match.
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman ends in a no contest as The Undertaker returns: Chants of, “We want Takerm” permeated through this physical yet lukewarm match. Following a pair of Superman Punches, Reigns set up for a spear -- with the crowd booing his impending victory -- when the lights went out. The Undertaker appeared in the ring and stared down Reigns before sending away Strowman with a chokeslam, but The Deadman turned around to eat a spear from Reigns. With “The Big Dog” walking up the ramp, Taker sat up before giving the throat slash gesture as music hit, with Reigns mean-mugging from a distance.
WWE Raw superlatives
MVP -- The Undertaker: Preventing the episode from being forgettable as a whole, The Deadman returned to give the Brooklyn, New York, crowd the big pop it had been waiting for. At 51, he didn’t necessarily disappoint, eating a stiff spear for his troubles. While the appearance was brief and didn’t quite set their feud on fire, Taker’s mere presence was undoubtedly the episode’s defining moment.
Move of the night: A man the size of Samoa Joe shouldn’t be able to make a suicide dive look this effortless. For a move that is too often punctuated with a slight push (yes, I’m looking at you Dean Ambrose), Joe made sure to lay in his forearm on Zayn as the two crashed into the barrier wall.
Line of the night: “They want to call Seth Rollins, ‘The Architect?’ You’re looking at the guy who gave him the blueprint. … If anything, what I did wrong with Seth Rollins is I made it all too easy for him. I became a crutch for Seth Rollins as he made his way to the top of the mountain. It’s almost laughable that the crutch picked up the crutch and beat him senseless with it.” -- Triple H
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