Monday Night RAW Recap – March 13, 2017

The Good

The making of Seth Rollins:  Stephanie McMahon tells Mick near the beginning of the show that he needs to fire an “underperforming” wrestler by the end of the night.  Later, he places Jinder Mahal, who is apparently on the chopping block, in a match with Roman Reigns. Even after Jinder loses, Mick still doesn’t want to.  Steph says that if he doesn’t then she’ll make the decision for him, and she can guarantee he won’t like it.

At the end of the night, Stephanie meets Foley in the middle of the ring to find out who he’s going to fire.  He thanks her for his assignment because it took him all night to figure out the person: Stephanie McMahon.  Foley tells her that she’s “a bad person” who has been colluding with her husband the whole time while lying to Foley’s face.  This leads to HHH coming out and verbally degrading Foley in the ring for a good five minutes.  Hunter tells him to “tuck his tail” and “waddle” up the ramp or else they will make sure his son is fired and daughter never becomes a wrestler.  Foley acts like he is going to leave, and when he doesn’t HHH grabs his shoulder, and Foley, who has pulled Mr. Socko out from his pants, puts him in the Mandible Claw to the loudest pop of the night so far.  Stephanie low blows Mick, and chants of “Foley” fill the entire arena.

Rollins’s music hits to deafening pop. He comes out on a crutch to ringside.  He drops the crutch and slides into the ring, attacking Hunter.  He dropkicks Hunter out of the ring, and now the crowd is chanting “Rollins” just as loud as they were chanting “Foley” in a brilliant transfer of heat.  HHH ends up back in the ring with the crutch and takes out Rollins’s injured leg with it and puts him in a kneebar as referees try to pull him away.  The show ends with Rollins looking seriously injured and Hunter continuing the assault.  This was the best segment on the show and another strong build to this feud.

HBK gives advice to Roman Reigns: Roman had a match against Jinder Mahal.  The Undertaker’s gong went off during the match, which distracted Roman enough that Mahal was able to get in a lot of offensive and get a near two-count.  But “The Big Dog” came back and won with two Superman Punches.

Roman then called out The Undertaker to come to the ring.  Shawn Michaels’s music hits to a massive pop.  Roman says he didn’t call out HBK.  “I called out The Undertaker.”  Michaels tells Roman that he’s “distracted,” and if he continues to be distracted then The Undertaker will “eat [him] alive.” Roman says that won’t happen.  He says people ask him “what will it be like to be in the ring with The Undertaker.”  But he says maybe The Undertaker should wonder “what it will be like to be in the ring with me.”

Michaels says he’s on Roman’s side and he’s “The Big Dog and this is [his] yard.”  But Roman needs to acknowledge that Michaels is “Mr. Wrestle-freakin-Mania” (to which Roman nods), and he understands what it is like to have “that huge chip on his shoulder” and “the weight and pressure of the whole company” on his back.  He also knows “what it’s like to have everybody secretly…hoping that you’re gonna fail.”  Roman says nonchalantly that he “appreciates the advice, appreciates the help, but with all due respect, The Undertaker retired you.  And I’m the guy that’s gonna retire him.”  Roman leaves the ring to a disappointed Michaels.  Afterwards, Roman is blindsided ferociously by Braun Strowman, which proves that Michaels was right about being distracted.  (Chants of “Thank you, Strowman” followed.)  This feels like it could be the beginning of a heel turn that many have hoped for.  The Undertaker is the last place to do it.

Booking of Kevin Owens/Samoa Joe versus Chris Jericho/Sami Zayn:  Owens delivers a promo saying that he was never Jericho’s friend.  He ends with, “Who needs a best friend when you have a destroyer,” referring to Joe.  Owens and Jericho start the match, but Owens tags out just as they might lock up.  Joe and Zayn take up most of the match until the end when Jericho gets Owens in the Walls of Jericho to a pop.  It doesn’t last long until Joe interrupts, and they double team Jericho before a Pop-Up Powerbomb.  Jericho got a good pop. He’s the most over face on the roster right now.  This was well-booked.  It kept Owens and Jericho apart except that very end.  Hopefully, this is the last scheduled match that includes the two of them together.  It would be better if Owens ducks him, and they don’t touch again until ‘Mania.

Jericho reintroduces The List: Jericho is interviewed backstage by Mike Rome.  Jericho announces he is going to show the world “the real Kevin Owens” next week on a special edition of The Highlight Reel.  He then finally calls the announcer “Tom” after nearly of year of never calling Tom Phillips by his real name.  But Roman explains he’s Mike Roman, not Tom Phillips, which Jericho doesn’t believe.  Mike Roman makes The List for disagreeing with him.

The Bad

Paul Heyman promo with Brock Lesnar: This was one of those dozen times per year where Brock Lesnar is rolled out to stand in the ring like a slave while Paul Heyman cuts a promo.  The crowd was hot for the segment, but Heyman dropped the ball on this way.  The promo did not have the focus that they normally do.  It’s almost like the writers wrote it rather than Heyman.  The main point was that Heyman’s “theory,” after Brock’s F5 last week, was “Lesnar goes up, Goldberg goes down.”  At least Brock gets to make an early flight back to the farm tonight.

Nia Jax beats down Bayley: Earlier in the night, Nia told Stephanie she thought she deserved to be in the conversation for the women’s title match at Wrestlemania.  Stephanie gave her a match against Bayley to prove this.  Nia gets disqualified for pummeling Bayley against the ropes and not stopping, then continues her assault after the match is over.  This segment led nowhere, so it’ll be another week before she’s added to the women’s match.

The Embarrassing

Dana Brooke and Charlotte have a falling out:  Sasha Banks, with Bayley in her corner, had a “match” with Dana Brooke, with Charlotte in her corner.  Sasha took a couple blows then tried three different type of roll-ups before gaining the victory. She only botched one roll-up so that keeps her percentage of botches at an all-time low.  This match lasted less than two minutes.  Charlotte then verbally degraded Dana in the ring for losing before Dana forearmed her in the mouth.  Charlotte gets driven from the ring while a spunky Dana yells at her to “come on” inside the ring.  This was a pointless match and pointless segment. And it’s a segment that seems oddly familiar with Dana turning babyface on Charlotte.  Did this happen already like four months ago?  Either way, it’s completely in line with the recent diva-era booking that was maligned “here – INSERT LINK” last week.

The New Day shucks and jives another week which leads to a Big Show and Titus confrontation:  The New Day introduced their New Day Pops:  “A mouthful of magic.  I gotta have it.”  They interview The Big Show because he’s the star of the new The Jetsons/WWE crossover movie.  Yes, that’s a thing.  The Big Show is the Big Bad in an animated Jetsons movie.  Titus interrupts and wants to know why he isn’t in the movie because he loves The Jetsons.  This leads to an altercation that led to a match later where Show crushes Titus with three chokeslams en route to his big match in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal.  Hopefully, The New Day are getting singles titles after the embarrassment they are going through each week being clowns rather than professional wrestlers.

The Predictable

The Cruiserweight do cruiserweight things: The Brian Kendrick and Tony Nese beat Akira Tozawa and TJ Perkins in a decent match, mostly to further the Kendrick/Tozawa feud and hype a Fatal Five-Way match for 205 Live tomorrow night, featuring these four and Austin Aries, where the winner will face Neville at Wrestlemania. Later in the night, Aries beats Ariya Daivari to further promote the match.  The matches were standard for the cruiserweights when they are on RAW, but they did a good job of building tomorrow night’s main event which will certainly be worth watching.  This is certainly disappointing though after the cruiserweights were given more time to shine last week and delivered.   

Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows interrupt the #1 Contenders Match and cause a DQ: Before Sheamus and Cesaro wrestled Big Cass and Enzo to determine who will face Gallows and Anderson at Wrestlemania, Mick Foley made a point of telling the champs that “the winner of the match” will face them.  This telegraphed the ending, which found the champions interfering, which resulted in a DQ finish and no “winner.”  This leads to Foley ordering a triple threat match at ‘Mania for the tag belts.  No viewer could have seen any of this coming…

The Final Analysis:  This was painful to sit through outside the final twenty minutes with Steph/Hunter/Foley/Rollins and HBK surprise segment with Roman.  The night started off bad with a bland Heyman promo and had few bright spots.  WWE is giving away most of their good segments the night after PPVs and then simply giving variations of those segments for the next three weeks as they drag their feet towards the next PPV.  The pacing of the long-term storytelling is noticeably absent, outside the Rollins/HHH build, which is so odd when compared to Smackdown which is generally paced so well week-to-week.

Even more disturbing is that the best verbal segments on the show featured two retired superstars, HBK and Foley, one semi-retired superstar, HHH, and a 46-year-old, Jericho, all of them relics of the Attitude Era.  Besides Owens, they need to get their current superstars to a point where they can carry a segment and not have to rely on these old-timers.  There won’t always be a Mick Foley around to get a younger star heat.

 

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