He came; he saw; he destroyed; he signed. Having marked his passage from NXT to Raw by taking out Seth Rollins last week to the tune of a torn MCL, Samoa Joe made it official at the start of this week’s show by signing an official contract to join the Monday night roster (despite Raw General Manager Mick Foley’s less-than-enthusiastic reaction). Joe declared his allegiance to the “one man” who gave him the opportunity to join WWE in the first place. But Roman Reigns wasn’t exactly willing to kiss the ring of Raw’s newest signee, stepping to Joe in a pointed confrontation moments later. Foley, sensing a matchmaking opportunity, capitalized on the tension between the two and sanctioned Joe vs. Reigns for later in the evening.
Thanks to her previous pinfall over Charlotte Flair, Bayley has secured herself a match for the Raw Women’s Title on next week’s Raw. But that’s next week. This week, The Huggable One had to contend with Nia Jax, who had no patience for Bayley’s underdog fighting spirit and dismantled the beloved Superstar accordingly, pausing only to mock Bayley’s arm-waving celebration. Even when Bayley seemed to find daylight by slamming Jax headfirst into the ring post, Charlotte herself sprinted to the ring to stop the ref’s count, distracting Bayley and giving Jax some extra time to recover and hit the Samoan Drop for the win. So yeah, Bayley’s got a title match next week. The only question is whether there’s enough left of her to mount a challenge.
If not for Roman Reigns Spearing Braun Strowman into oblivion last week, The Monster Among Men may well be WWE Universal Champion. So the mountainous Superstar was a little less than satisfied with Mick Foley’s peace offering of four — count ’em, four — ham-and-eggers who The Gift of Destruction easily dispatched before seeking out Foley to demand some true competition. This time, The Hardcore Legend acquiesced, and offered Strowman a match that seemed to be far more his speed: against Reigns at WWE Fastlane.
If you missed Akira Tozawa’s debut on 205 Live last week, go on WWE Network and check it out. It’s awesome. And instructive, because the Japanese suplex master more or less replicated his whip-fast overture on this week’s Raw in a bout against Drew Gulak, who certainly gave Tozawa a tougher fight than the world-traveled Cruiserweight was expecting. But proving his nickname of “The Stamina Monster” was more than just a catchy alias, Tozawa seemed to grow stronger as the bout went on and he finally felled Gulak with a Shining Wizard and his signature Snap German Suplex. The respect for Tozawa’s display didn’t stop with the WWE Universe, however, as he was offered a post-match handshake by The Brian Kendrick.
First thing’s first: Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania? Goldberg accepts. But more pressingly, Kevin Owens is next. Moments after Chris Jericho floated the idea of himself vs. Owens at WrestleMania, Goldberg interrupted to address The Beast’s challenge from last week and, with his eyes still on one more title run, to dare Owens to defend the crimson championship against him at WWE Fastlane. In an odd reversal of fortune from a few weeks ago, it was Jericho who accepted on Owens’ behalf in a fit of rage after Goldberg stole Jericho’s glory and put himself on The List of Jericho. The irony of course is that, with that acceptance, Owens just made Goldberg’s list.
Good thing Cesaro & Sheamus are friends with the best hugger on the roster, because they devastatingly missed out on the Raw Tag Team Championship and it’s all thanks to … Enzo Amore & Big Cass? With The Realest Guys in the Room scouting the bout at ringside and designs on challenging the winners, reigning champions Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson had an extra out if things got too hairy. The Suntan Biker Man did indeed, exercising that nuclear option after a red-hot Cesaro sent him tumbling outside the ring. Gallows booted a seated Enzo in the face and Big Cass replied with a boot of his own to Gallows’ dome, stopping the match and potentially knocking the champion out. But at least Gallows will still have a title when he wakes up. And that, friends, is too sweet.
Kofi Kingston’s New England Patriots may have defeated Xavier Woods’ beloved Atlanta Falcons last night, but The New Day’s teamwork was as solid as ever in a superb bowling-over of The Shining Stars on Raw. Moments after conducting some impromptu market research by asking the WWE Universe if they want New Day ice cream bars, Big E & Woods hit the ring to put Primo & Epico on ice. The Shining Stars, sensing that a win over New Day would put them in the hunt for a Tag Title opportunity, attacked ya boys with impunity by isolating Woods, but once E tagged in the complexion of the match changed almost instantly, and Epico suffered the Midnight Hour in short order. Now, who wants ice cream?
Chris Jericho may have inadvertently put Kevin Owens’ WWE Universal Title reign in danger by accepting a match with Goldberg, but Owens’ dedication to his own best friend’s title remains as strong as ever. Less than an hour after a testy backstage confrontation over the Goldberg situation, Jeri-KO showed their unity and strength during Jericho’s title defense against Sami Zayn, who earned the right to challenge based off his defeated of Jericho on last week’s Raw.
Zayn’s never-say-die attitude carried him to the cusp of victory, despite Owens’ lingering presence at ringside. The Prizefighter only made his presence known at the exact moment of truth, superkicking Zayn right after he escaped the Walls of Jericho and just as the ref’s back was turned (Jericho was celebrating as though he had won). The maneuver left Sami loopy and Jericho pounced quickly, executing the Codebreaker to retain his title. Next up? The "Festival of Friendship." Prepare accordingly.
Austin Aries may have scored a major journalistic coup by interviewing Neville about 205 Live’s impending Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match to decide his No. 1 contender at WWE Fastlane. But The King of the Cruiserweights’ actions spoke louder than his words in the match that saw him share the ring with all five of his would-be challengers. Neville was so disgusted by teaming with Noam Dar and Tony Nese (whom Aries clowned on commentary again, natch) in an impromptu Six-Man Tag Team Match that The King of the Cruiserweights left his allies when Dar stole a tag seemingly meant for him.
As they couldn’t well sub in Alicia Fooooooooox, losing the reigning champion of the division didn’t just leave Dar and Nese severely undermanned. It opened the door for the opposing team of the other Fatal 5-Way competitors, Jack Gallagher, Cedric Alexander and TJ Perkins, to seal the deal via a Lumbar Check from Alexander to Dar.
First night on Raw. First time in the ring with Roman Reigns. First victory for Samoa Joe. (And first time a distraction helped him, but we’ll get to that.) Raw’s resident destroyer didn’t change up his winning strategy before mixing it up with The Big Dog, cheap-shotting Reigns before the bell to put him in a hole from which the former WWE Champion struggled to escape the entire match. Reigns, to his credit, slowly chipped away at The Samoan Submission Specialist enough to hit a Samoan Drop and set up for the Spear … and that’s when Braun Strowman came calling.
The Monster Among Men got the attention of his Fastlane opponent good, and it took two Superman Punches from Reigns to turn Strowman away. Joe captalized with an enziguiri to the back of the head and a uranage to seal the match, after which Strowman picked the bones, decimating Reigns with the steel steps and executing the Running Powerslam through the barricade. So Samoa Joe stands tall and Braun Strowman dishes out unmitigated punishment upon Roman Reigns. Those are two firsts, too, but they certainly won’t be the last.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Nia Jax defeated Bayley (10:00)
- Braun Strowman defeated CC Bonan, Dusty Wallace, James Stock & Rob Kelly (3:00)
- Akira Tozawa defeated Drew Gulak (3:00)
- Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (c) defeated Sheamus & Cesaro by DQ to retain the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship (11:00)
- The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) (w/ Kofi Kingston) defeated The Shining Stars (Primo & Epico) (5:00)
- Chris Jericho (c) (w/ Kevin Owens) defeated Sami Zayn to retain the WWE United States Championship (10:00)
- T.J. Perkins, Jack Gallagher & Cedric Alexander defeated Tony Nese, Noam Dar & Neville (6:00)
- Samoa Joe defeated Roman Reigns (10:00)
Other on-screen talent