Mick Foley is fired/Sami Zayn to the rescue: Mick Foley starts the show and reads an official apology off index cards, leading to what sounds like a resignation. Eventually, he throws the cards away and says HHH gave them to him before he came out to address the crowd. He starts to talk about how unethical Stephanie and Hunter are when his mic starts cutting out. Stephanie’s music hits, and she comes out to berate Foley for never being able to do anything right including his resignation. She then says that she has two words for Mick: “You’re fired!”
Foley leaves the ring which triggers Sami Zayn’s music. Zayn comes out and stands up for Mick Foley, telling Stephanie that she has no integrity. She tells him that he doesn’t even deserve to talk to her and that he should go back to the locker room and think about how he’s going to make this up to her. Mick tries to convince him to leave, but he refuses. At that point, Samoa Joe comes out to stop him for Stephanie, and a match is made on the spot. The match was good, similar to their Fastlane match with Sami getting a little more offense and selling a little harder. It looked like Sami had the advantage and went for the Helluva Kick but Joe countered with an uranage and put him in the Coquina Clutch where Sami tapped finally. This did a good job of showing Sami getting closer to a win but still falling short.
After the commercial break, Foley is talking to worn out Sami backstage. Foley tells him that he appreciated what he did even if it was stupid. Sami tells him, “They say you should never meet your heroes,” but he’s glad he did and shakes Foley’s hand. Foley is also greeted and thanked by Sheamus and Cesaro then by Bayley before he leaves. While this was a proper send off as Foley goes to have hip surgery, it certainly makes one wonder about his reign as GM. These are his accomplishments: Sami, Cesaro, and Sheamus who are all stuck in some midcard purgatory and Bayley who has been destroyed as a character by cheating to win. Sigh. HHH is the final person to greet Foley, sarcastically telling him to “have a nice day.”
Jericho exposes “the real Kevin Owens” on The Highlight Reel: This was the most over segment of the night. At 46, Chris Jericho is undoubtedly the top babyface on the roster. He says that he’s going to show the “real” KO tonight and shows a picture on the Titantron of a 16-year-old Kevin Owens in his bedroom wearing a Y2J shirt and doing the Jericho pose from his Attitude Era days. “He’s marking out, man,” Jericho exclaims. He says that Owens was never his friend because being a friend implies they were equals. Jericho wasn’t his friend, he was Owens’s hero. He then goes into a fiery part of the promo where he talks about how KO will be nervous and scared, just like his 16-year-old self, when “Break the Walls Down” hits at ‘Mania and Jericho comes to the ring. He ends his promo by preparing to put Owens on The List, but Joe comes out on the ramp and then Owens attacks Jericho from behind. Owens then gave him a Pop-Up Powerbomb, ripped up The List of Jericho, ate one of the pages, and spit it on Jericho’s prone body. Then he did the Jericho pose, the same one he did as a 16-year-old in the picture and laughed before walking away. Owens drew real heel heat here, which is a credit to how popular Jericho is right now. This is the best face promo in months on this show and worth checking out the highlights.
The New Day promote Wrestlemania: The segment starts with Xavier standing between Big E and Kofi Kingston who are each giving him suspicious sideways glances. “Anything you want to tell us,” Big E asks. Xavier looks slightly guilty and then says, “Wrestlemania!” The trio then gives impersonations of the all stars in the big matches and generally hypes the excitement of the show. This was short and effective both as a promotional tool, especially since there were no mentions of ice cream, and in dealing with the fallout from the sex tape leaks this past weekend. They acknowledged it in a slightly comedic way and moved on, which is exactly what they should do. Of course, it is stupid to keep those types of personal videos in a cloud in this day and age, but what consenting adults do in their private time should not affect their employment or the product unless it interferes with their job performance. This isn’t Jeff Hardy being high in the ring and risking another star’s health. Everyone can make their judgments, but WWE handled this in the right way. The only minor criticism would be the wisdom of having Xavier end the segment leaning against the unicorn horn, a phallic symbol, on the ice cream truck and raising his eyebrows…
Austin Aries/Neville build: Austin Aries and Tony Nese actually got some good screen time and had a good match. This was helped by being in a smarky city like Brooklyn who gave them the credit they deserved. Neville came out after Austin won and said that Aries wasn’t on his level. Aries responds saying that he’s going to show Neville that not only is he at his level but he’s beyond his level. This was a good classic build to their match. It was traditional wrestling without the sports entertainment frills of passports and umbrellas and big dogs in yards.
Cruiserweights’ lack of time: Brian Kendrick beat TJ Perkins in just under two minutes with the Sliced Bread #2. Kendrick then proceeded to teach Akira Tozawa another lesson by saying he “found” his passport in the locker room on the floor. One can only wonder what this will lead to, maybe a passport-on-a-pole match. Isn’t this exactly what JBL was complaining about on Bring It to the Table the other week, that the cruiserweights need to be more about competition than Gentleman’s Duels and crazy girlfriends? Now there’s whatever this angle is.
Stephanie McMahon’s “punishments” of Foley supporters: First, Stephanie approached Bayley backstage asking if she wanted “a hug.” Bayley tells her no because she used to look up to Stephanie as a little girl as a strong role model, but now she doesn’t think she’s a good person because she “uses her power to hurt people.” Stephanie says that she thinks Bayley isn’t “strong” herself and she’ll have to prove it night after night starting with tonight where she’ll face Nia Jaz in a no-DQ match. If Bayley loses, then Nia will be added to the Wrestlemania title match (so that’s how they’ll get there).
The match consisted of Nia Jax beating the hell of Bayley who would get in a little offense then get the hell beat out of her again. Finally, Nia wins with a Samoan Drop, so she’ll be in the Wrestlemania match. This is two matches with all the female competitors from both brands in them. The revolution lives on apparently. Ironically, they showed their Women’s Month segment about Mae Young right after this match.
Stephanie also approaches Cesaro and Sheamus backstage. She tells them they’ll have to prove themselves tonight by taking on the teams of Gallows and Anderson and Enzo and Big Cass. If Cesaro and Sheamus lose, then will no longer be apart of the tag team title match at Wrestlemania. The match lasts about two minutes as Gallows and Anderson attacked their tag partners before the match started, which allowed Sheamus and Cesaro to capitalize. Sheamus hits a Brogue Kick on Anderson for the pin. This was the most obvious outcome. Again, nothing changed since last week except this filled ten minutes of air throughout the night.
All of this is exactly what fans don’t want. Stephanie isn’t getting heel heat most of the time; she’s getting go-away heat. They don’t want a return of The Authority or heel bosses, but heaven forbid a McMahon not be featured on RAW anymore.
The Treading of Water & The Meaningless
Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman rematch: Roman and Braun have a rematch from Fastlane. The match isn’t half the time they had at the PPV and it made the match suffer for it. Roman was getting ready to beat Braun again, but luckily the gong sounds, and The Undertaker is standing in his way. He and Roman stare at each other across the ring. Braun goes to attack ‘Taker, but he turns and chokeslams Braun out of the ring, looking as if he hurt his arm in the process. The Undertaker turns around into a Roman Spear. Roman leaves the ring to boos, but as he’s walking up the ramp, The Undertaker sits up, which makes Roman look confused…or worried. It’s hard to tell with his facial expressions. This segment was the same Undertaker match build that was used for Lesnar and Shane and everyone for years. And ‘Taker is looking…old. This might be is Wrestlemania, and it perhaps should be his last.
Seth Rollins injury update and an unsanctioned match at WM: The doctor working with Seth Rollins says that he will probably not be available for the Wrestlemania. He can’t imagine a doctor that will clear him. But then he says that if Rollins does make it to Wrestlemania, then he’s worried they’ll see him the next day again the rehab center. This sounds contradictory and makes little sense.
HHH comes out for an in-ring interview with Michael Cole later in the show. He cuts an effective promo about how the fans ruined Seth Rollins. He started to get weak as soon as he listened to them. He makes a comparison to Mick Foley and how many times the fans ruined his life because Foley wanted the cheers. He challenges Seth Rollins to an unsanctioned match at Wrestlemania and invites him to come sign the paperwork next week. Hunter’s mic work has been great for the past month, but even that didn’t save this from just being filler. Nothing new occurred except that we have this idea of an unsanctioned match.
Charlotte takes on Dana Brooke: Charlotte beat Dana Brooke in an unexciting match that didn’t do anything for Dana Brooke and wasted Charlotte’s talents two weeks before ‘Mania. This was the definition of filler. No rationale, no positives, no heat.
The Final Analysis
This week’s RAW was better than most. The segments given the most screen time were at least the more enjoyable of the week. Getting through the filler, whether inoffensive or offensive, was less burdensome this week. The Jericho promo and Foley’s exits were the best segments of the week while Stephanie’s machinations, now and forever, will always be the worst.