Kevin Owens is mad as hell and he’s not gonna take it anymore. After weeks of Twitter insults from Goldberg, not to mention the WWE Universe over his betrayal of Chris Jericho, the Universal Champion finally took one prod too many. Owens opened Raw by confronting his No. 1 contender, ultimately challenging Goldberg to settle their differences in a Green Bay Street Fight — just kidding, he totally didn’t.
True, Owens did come out for a few last-minute volleys of smacktalk before he and Goldberg battle at WWE Fastlane this Sunday, and the whole Street Fight thing was a bait-and-switch to rile Goldberg up. But the Universal Champion didn’t have any interest in throwing down with the iconic Superstar this evening. With a promise to end the Goldberg chant at Fastlane, Owens got the last word. But he shouldn’t take too much heart in that: Words won’t save him on Sunday.
Good news: The New Day finally has ice cream … themed T-shirts. The men of 1,000 merch items debuted new threads on Raw, while also continuing to hype the possibility of New Day ice cream to the WWE Universe. In even better news, New Day once again prevailed in a bout over Rusev & Jinder Mahal. (The Shining Stars were originally and incorrectly introduced as their opponents in an Oscar-style mix-up; a clerical error revealed they’ll be facing Big Show later in the evening.)
The rarely used duo of Big E & Xavier Woods turned in solid work against The Super Athlete and The Maharajah, though Rusev had Woods on the literal ropes for a long, long time. An eventual surge by Woods forced Rusev to tag in Mahal, though an outside confrontation between Rusev and Kofi Kingston left Mahal high-and-dry and ripe for a surprise roll-up from Woods. Now, for the bad news: Rusev & Mahal did not seem to take their loss too well, bickering and jaw-jacking after their defeated. Are the days of “Handsome” Rusev and “Hard-body” Mahal numbered?
When it comes to his “lessons” to Akira Tozawa, The Brian Kendrick seems to be taking the route of the old saying: The beatings will continue until morale improves. The Man With a Plan waited until after Tozawa’s latest victory on Raw — a textbook defeated of Noam Dar, who nearly rode an assist from Alicia Foooooox to victory before suffering the Snap German Suplex — to make his presence known. For the second week in a row, Kendrick beat Tozawa down before announcing the gist of his latest lesson: Even when the match is over, it’s not over, and one must have eyes in the back of one’s head at all times.
On the one hand, Charlotte Flair’s quest to demean Bayley ahead of their Raw Women’s Title Match at WWE Fastlane still isn’t going all that great. For one, Bayley is still the champion despite the fact that Flair still leans on the excuse that Sasha Banks had to help her seal the deal. But on the other hand, The Queen finally got one over on the titleholder as the result of a tag match, though she needed to pull a last-minute switcheroo of her partner — a clearly dejected Dana Brooke was subbed out for Nia Jax.
Once again, Bayley had Charlotte more or less at her mercy when the bout was down to them, but Jax’s entry into the bout changed the complexion of the match completely. Even Banks attempting a sneak attack backfired horribly when Jax slammed The Boss on top of Bayley before finally finishing The Huggable One off with a leg drop to the head. And she might not be done there: As announced later in the evening, Jax will be in action on Sunday — against Banks.
Enzo Amore & Big Cass’ path to the Raw Tag Team Titles just got a whole lot clearer. During the final Raw before WWE Fastlane, the resident big men of both champions and challengers clashed, and it was smiles all around for Don Parmesan, who roared to a surprisingly early advantage against Luke Gallows that seemed all but sealed on the back of an Empire Elbow. When Enzo Amore neutralized Karl Anderson’s shenanigans on the outside, The Suntan Biker Man was left defenseless, and Cass sprang into action with a full-force big boot that earned him the win.
With a bout sanctioned against Samoa Joe for later in the night, Cesaro is potentially heading face-first into the meat grinder. Sensing opportunity, Titus O’Neil wasted zero time in pitching himself to Sheamus as The King of Swing’s replacement in their tag team. He didn’t take the Irishman’s refusal to form “The Irish Connection” lightly, beating the former WWE Champion down before their singles match to such a degree that Sheamus’ participation was in question. The Big Deal continued the punishment until Sheamus gained a little bit of separation and — Faith and begorrah! — nailed a Brogue Kick out of nowhere to claim the win. Irish Connection, we hardly knew ye.
The Man is coming home — whether he’s ready or not. Seth Rollins’ status for WrestleMania has been up in the air ever since Samoa Joe attacked him and re-injured his knee a few weeks ago, and The Architect initially didn’t seem optimistic on Raw about his status for The Show of Shows. In Rollins’ first appearance since his injury, he was the picture of pity. He hobbled down to the ring on a crutch, expressing regret over allying with Triple H in the first place and half-heartedly informing interviewer Corey Graves that he probably wouldn’t be cleared in time for April 2.
Then Triple H showed up. The King of Kings sauntered to the ring to salt Rollins’ wounds. He even brought out Joe for backup so he could talk trash (“I used you up and spit you out — so friggin’ what?”) without fear of reprisal. Triple H delivered a final warning that Rollins best stay away from WrestleMania, or it would be the last thing he ever did. And Rollins snapped, promising Triple H he would be at WrestleMania regardless of whether the doctors cleared him, and if appearing in Orlando, Fla., was indeed the last thing he did in WWE, he would take The Game down with him.
Rough as it was for the “La La Land” crew to find themselves mistakenly introduced as the Best Picture winner at the Oscars, at least they didn’t have to go into a match against Big Show when everything got straightened out. The same could not be said of The Shining Stars, who thought they were facing New Day, ended up getting the giant instead, and ended up exactly the way you thought they would. Their pamphlets were tossed aside. Their bodies were battered. Their chests were chopped. And despite a brief glimpse of hope, their efforts were dashed when Big Show KO Punched Primo and, ultimately, chokeslammed him straight into la la land.
With seemingly everyone in the Cruiserweight division angling for an opportunity at Neville’s WWE Cruiserweight Title, the last thing anyone needed was miscommunication. And yet that was all the WWE Universe witnessed in a tag team match that combined Neville and Tony Nese against TJ Perkins and Jack Gallagher, who’ll challenge Neville for the title at WWE Fastlane.
From Perkins accidentally knocking Neville off the barricade to Neville’s aggressive tag of Perkins, it seemed like nobody would get on the same page. Then at the last minute, Gentleman Jack and Mega TJP found their groove. After Gallagher headbutted Neville out of the ring, Perkins softened The Premier Athlete up with a Detonation Kick and Gallagher locked in a Byzantine submission for the win while the King of the Cruiserweights kept his distance.
If not for a tweaked knee, Samoa Joe might have suffered his first defeated on Raw. Alas, Cesaro came down hard on his knee early on in his bout with The Samoan Submission Machine, and The Swiss Superman was fighting from underneath for the majority of the earth-shaking contest — the duo’s first ever on Monday Night Raw.
The King of Swing worked hard to play through the pain, hauling Joe up for a stalling suplex on the bad leg despite a barrage of offense from “The Destroyer” that targeted the cartilage. With his power maneuvers like the Cesaro Swing, Swissblade and Neutralizer taken away from him, Cesaro tried to go back to basics, but Joe was ready for him. The heavy-hitter tripped Cesaro up in the ropes, kicked him in the knee one more time, and quickly unleashed the Uranage to put his foe away. But Joe’s night wasn’t over, as Sami Zayn jumped him during the post-match interview for some long-awaited payback, leaping over a crowd of security to leave Joe laying for the first time in a loooong time. Let's see if he can do it again at Fastlane.
One week after toppling Big Show and decimating Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman demanded that Raw General Manager Mick Foley organize a contract signing to render their Fastlane bout ironclad and prevent Reigns from backing out. Though Foley, who’d been demeaned by Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon all night, briefly got the better of Strowman in a verbal confrontation, The Monster Among Men was, once again, the night’s big winner when things turned physical.
Reigns resurfaced to take the fight to his monstrous opponent, and briefly seemed to come out on top — though it took a fight through the crowd and a Spear that took out Strowman, the barricade and a security guy to do it. Strowman ultimately rose from the ruins and got the last word, driving Reigns so hard into the turnbuckle that the whole top row of ropes snapped off the ring. His work done, The Gift of Destruction departed the ring, but Reigns still managed to grab hold of the contract and sign his name. So it’s official, now. Better reinforce that ring again, boys.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) (w/ Xavier Woods) defeated Rusev & Jinder Mahal (w/ Lana) (9:45)
Other on-screen talent
Kevin Owens confronted Goldberg
The New Day v Rusev & Jinder Mahal
Akira Tozawa v Noam Dar
Charlotte Flair & Nia Jax v Bayley & Sasha Banks
Big Cass v Luke Gallows
Sheamus v Titus O'Neil
Seth Rollins addressed his WrestleMania status
Big Show v The Shining Stars
Jack Gallagher & TJ Perkins v Neville & Tony Nese
Samoa Joe v Cesaro