Posted March 7th, 2017 by Bill Apter

The landscape Raw has changed. A new top champ was crowned at Fastlane. This definitely will adjust a few things at the upcoming Wrestlemania.

Before getting started, I want to say good-bye to one of my non-wrestlilng heroes. Robert Osborne. The original host on TCM passed away on Monday. Mr. Osborne became a key player in my recovery from open heart surgery, back in 2001. He was always there to teach me fun facts about classic films. Sadly, I never got to meet him and thank him for helping me through the darkest days of my life. I’ll do it now and hope he sees this from “the other side”. God Bless and Rest in Peace.

Welcome to Chi-Town, home of the Road Warriors and C.M. Punk (and the fans will surely let us know…over and over…that they want him back).

We started with highlights from Fastlane. The Universal title match lasted…ONLY 20 seconds. Kevin Owens was trying to play mind games with Goldberg but Chris Jericho’s arrivaal threw him off his game. Spear! Jackhammer! New Champ! Seriously, it was THAT quick.

Chris Jericho came out to a monster pop from the Chicago crowd. Jericho sauntered out to the ring. Jericho is back to wearing a wild and glittery jacket. If it only lit up…

Chris did a modified Foley Pop and then talked about how he was “Born” in Chi-Town. It would also be the home of his resurrection. Chris bragged about screwing over Kevin Owens, last night. Chris knew KO had this coming, due to his attack at the Festival of Friendship (3 weeks ago). Chris needed to know why KO ripped out his heart and betrayed their friendship. Jericho asked Owens to come join him in the ring. Pregnant Pause…

Kevin finally walked from the back. The fire in his eyes was 1000 times brighter than the lights that bathed him on the stage. Kevin didn’t want to give any answers. Chris shrieked at Kevin to answer him. Chris demanded to know why. Kevin did answer, saying Chris was NEVER his best friend…so he didn’t stab his best friend in the back. Kevin said Sami Zayn WAS his best friend and he stabbed him in the back. Jericho, according to Owens, was a tool that Kevin used to keep his strap safe. Kevin felt Chris was gullible enough to play his part in Kevin’s grand scheme. When Chris accepted the match for Kevin against Goldberg, Owens knew he had to cut Chris loose. Kevin said he would have destroyed Goldberg, if not for Jericho. He did give Chris credit for out-smarting him. Owens said he could have crippled Jericho but he let him walk away for his (Jericho’s) family. Chris said trusting Kevin was on him. Jericho knew that he would have done the same thing, a decade ago. Chris knew he now had 1000s of friends. Introducing: The Friends of Jericho, Maaaan. Chris said the screw over at Fastlane was only the first turn on the crazy road that leads them both to Wrestlemania!

Kevin figured most people just wanted him to get revenge. In fact, Owens wants Jericho’s United States title. Owens ordered Jericho to put the US strap on the line at Mania. Chris was cool with that. Owens started to leave but Jericho wanted to fight…tonight! Kevin agreed to the fight. Hockey Fight and suddenly Samoa Joe rushed in to attack Jericho. That brought out Sami Zayn. Jericho wore out Joe and Kevin with a steel chair. Joe and Owens bailed out as Raw headed to break.

Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn


Hockey Fight. Jericho and Samoa Joe will fight, later on. Sami flipped Kevin over and mounted the ropes. Full Mount Punches to the former U-Champ. Kevin pitched Sami out of the ring. Clothesline by Sami, on the floor. Sami threw Kevin into the barricade and then back into the ring.

Cannonball! Kevin wanted the Pop Up Powerbomb but Sami converted it into a Dropkick. Kevin bailed out. Sami flew over the ref with a Flip Dive. Awesome. Sami is so darn under-used by the WWE.

Pop Up Powerbomb, out of nowhere, by Owens. Kevin couldn’t follow up. Kevin punched away on his former best buddy. Flip Leg Drop to Sami’s neck. Pump Handle Neckbreaker by Kevin. Pup Up Powerbomb.

Your Winner: Kevin Owens
Raw Rating: 2.75 out of a possible 5

Neville vs Rich Swann
Cruiserweight Title Match


Before the match, they ran the video of Austin Aries. I so want to see “A Double” back in the ring. He is beyond amazing. He truly is one of the best in the business.

Lilian Garcia did the introdutions. Why isn’t SHE in the Hall of Fame? Just saying.

The ref asked for the handshake. The predicted “C.M. Punk” chant got going. Flying Clotheslines and a Dropkick sent Neville to the floor. Neville was sent into the barricade but came back to throw Swann into the ring apron. Break time.

Neville was in control as Raw returned. The ref checked if Swann could continue. The fans chanted for Austin Aries to get in the ring. He acknowledged them from the announce desk. Rich dropped Neville on the top rope and the champ fell to the floor. Swann went up top and waited. Swann Dive to the floor (Swanton with a Half Flip). Rich put Neville back in the ring. Knee Strike by Neville. Tilt-a-Whirl Head Scissors by Swann into a Michinoku Driver. 1-2-Kick Out. Swann headed up the ropes, again. Neville caught him and punched away. Superplex! Swann was stunned but still managed to roll out of the ring to avoid being pinned.

Neville talked trash and then threw Swann into the barricade. Tis match went to yet another commercial break. So cool that these guys are getting plenty of time in the spotlight.

Rich was down but not quite out. The two traded punches and kicks. Rich flipped out of a German and then hit one of his own. Superkick by Swann to pull a deuce. Rich went up the ropes and jumped off. Swann Song Kick. He missed the Phoenix Splash. Neville applied his version of the Rings of Saturn to force a submission.

Your Winner (By Submission): Neville
Raw Ranking: 4.0

Austin Aries interviewed Neville. A Double asked Neville how it felt to be on top of the mountain. Neville was silent for a long time. The chants for Aries didn’t set well with the Cruiserweight Champ. Neville stated that he did what he said he was going to do. “Look at me now!” He crowed about laying waste to all the pretenders to his throne. Aries questioned Neville’s claim that there was no one at his level. The chants for Aries rose, again. Aries played it up, big time. I smell a Wrestlemania Kick Off Show match. Neville couldn’t believe that Aries would think he was at Neville’s level. Neville told Aries to go back to the announce desk, where he belonged. Neville told Aries that this is HIS ring, not Aries’. Neville threatened to break Aries’ orbital rim, once more Neville asked Aries what he planned to do about it. Austin only wanted to do his job. Aries had only one more question…well, not so much a question but a statement. AustinAries DECKED the champ!

Enzo and Cass talked backstage. They ran in Sheamus and Cesaro. They argued over the tag belts.

Goldberg came out for the Hour Turner moment. The fans actually booed Goldberg as he held the red belt aloft. Goldberg said he was humbled by this belt. Goldberg honestly never thought this could happen. The call for C.M. Punk rose, once more.

Out came Paul Heyman. He did his typical schtick. Paul wanted to come down to the ring but he wanted Goldberg’s permission. He brought out Brock Lesnar. Brock bounced and then walked down to the ring. They circled the ring like sharks smelling blood in the water. Brock stepped in and got nose to nose with the new champ. Paul introduced Brock to Goldberg. Paul felt Brock will be the NEXT Universal champion. Paul had spoilers for Goldberg….New Champion. Lesnar hit an F5!

Roman Reigns wants more of Braun Strowman.

The tag belts will be on the line, right after these words from their sponsors.John Cena will host the Kids’ Choice Awards, this Saturday.

Enzo Amore and Big Cass. vs Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Raw Tag Team Championship Match


Enzo did his intro but was upset that they couldn’t call themselves “Realest Tag Team Champs in the Room”. After their rant, the reigning chmps came out to the ring.

Raw looked at how the Good Brothers retained against Enzo and Cass at Fastlane.

Enzo rocked Luke with Dropkicks. Cass tagged in and pounded away on Luke. Gallows came back with wild punches and tagged in Karl. Cass turned the tables and bashed and battered Machine Gun. Kitchen Sink by Cass sent Karl to the floor. Tag to Enzo. The tag champs backed off to avoid a flying Enzo.

Sheamus and Cesaro strolled down to the ring as Raw went to break.

Karl clubbed Enzo’s neck and back. Karl dropped Enzo but only got a two count. Sheamus and Cesaro were still at ringside. Karl punched away and tagged in Luke. Luke stared over at the former champs at ringside. Scoop Up but Enzo converted it into a DDT. Tags on both sides. Cass just ran over Karl and hit a Fallaway Slam and Stinger Splash. He repeated it and went for the Empire Elbow! 1-2-Broken Up by Luke. Enzo hit a Suicide Dive on Karl and ran into Cesaro. Cesaro rushed the ring and blasted Karl.

Your Winners (By Disqualification): Gallows and Anderson
Raw Ranking: 2.5

Cesaro and Sheamus brutalized both teams. Brogue Kick to Enzo! I want aTriple Threat for the tag belts at Mania!

It was time to announce the newest member of the Hall of Fame. “RAVISHING” RICK RUDE! It’s about darn time. He was one of the top talents of all time. He was one of the few people to ever be on Raw and Nitro…on the SAME night. He was a pat of the Heenan Family and D-X. He worked AWA, WWE, WCW, Mid-South, ECW, World Class and so many other great teritories, in his day. Sadly, we lost him, far too young. Congrats, Rick. Wish you were here to enjoy what you so deserve.

The teams were having a screaming match, backstage. Mick Foley set up Enzo and Big Cass vs Sheamus and Cesaro for next week. The winners get Gallows and Anderson, at Mania. Stephanie came in and ordered Mick to come to her office, NOW!

Akira Tozawa vs Ariya Daivari


Austin Aries was not at the announce desk, after his run-in with Neville, earlier on.

Handshake before the match. Daivari got the early advantage with wild shots. Trapped Arm Clothesline gave Daivari a two. Jumping Knee Drop by Daivari led to the Rear Chin Lock, modified.

Akira came back and the two traded Knife Edge Chops. Akira screamed and hit a series of high impact shots. 2 count. Akira screamed and bounced. Suicide Dive Headbutt by Akira. He pitched Daivari back in the ring. Daivari blasted Akira. Snap German Suplex!

Your Winner: Akira Tozawa
Raw Ranking: 2.75

Akira got on the microphone and called out Brian Kendrick. He wanted to fight Brian. Kendrick strolled out to face his nemesis. Brian couldn’t believe that Akira still wanted to battle. Brian would have an answer on 205 Live but he warned Akira to be careful what he (Akira) asked for.

New Day came out to party with the Chicago Crowd. I still wish they were in the title match picture, not just the Hosts of Wrestlemania. The guys brought out the New Day Ice Cream Cart! They rode the cart around the ring. Takes me back to the days of running shotgun with my dear Aunt Wanda on the Sno-Cone Truck. Smile.

Xavier Woods introduced their brand new “Baby Girl”. It even has a bell. They call it the Pop Cycle and it represents the Ice Cream Dreams of the WWE Universe. Big E talked about their being able to host a myriad of events, including the Boot up the Butts of the Shining Stars.

Epico and Prino vs Kofi Kinston and Big E


The Shining Stars hit a few quick moves. Big E and Kofi nailed the Midnight Star to quickly end this one

Your Winners: New Day
Raw Ranking: 1.0

Trish Stratus and Lita were honored as part of National Women’s Month. Both of them blazed the path for hundreds of women that followed them.

Mick Foley was in the ring for the next segment. He introduced Bayley. Corey Graves grumbled about the ending of the match, at Fastlane. Sasha Banks got involved. Sasha got all up in Charlotte Flair’s business. That led to the Bayley to Belly.

Mick congratulated Bayley on her win. Bayley didn’t feel she could truly call herself the champion. She wasn’t happy that Sasha got in the mix. Bayley needed to move forward to Wrestlemania but this really bothered her. She talked about how her year started and ended with Wrestlemania. She remembered how she felt, last year, watching her friends compete. Bayley didn’t think this felt right. Mick comforted Bayley with the confirmation that she would be going to Wrestlemania. Mick wanted to know who she would be fighting.

Sasha Banks came out before Bayley could answer. Sasha put her name in the hat. Sasha flashed back to a few talks that they have had about fighting at the Big One. The fans liked the idea. Foley Pop as he asked for a vote from the fans.

Charlotte would not be denied. She and Dana Brooke strolled out to object to Sasha’s desire to go after the title. Charlotte said this was Sasha’s plan, all along. Sasha could never face Charlotte so Sasha used Bayley to get the title shot she wanted. Charlotte claimed to be a victim. She seriously whined about her Streak being taken away. Mick said Charlotte lost her rematch.

Suddenly, Stephanie McMahon joined this little party. Stephanie made it clear that SHE is the boss. “C.M. Punk” (Again?). She faced it and called Punk a “Loser”. Stephanie said Sasha was so manipulative. Stephanie knew Charlotte deserved the match at Mania. Foley countered her and tried to discuss why Sasha was worthy. Mick said The Boss would not be left out. Mick set up Charlotte vs Sasha, next week, in a Number One Contenderd Match. Stephanie ramped up the idea by setting Bayley vs Sasha…now! If Ssha wins, Banks will be in a Triple Threat Match…at Wrestlemania!

Bayley vs Sasha Banks


Again, if Sasha wins, she will be placed in the Raw Women’s title matc at Wrestlemania.

Charlotte watched this match from the announce booth. They tie up and jockeyed for position. Sasha and Bayley kept switching the advantage. Wrist Lock by Sasha but Bayley took Sasha down. Go Behind by Banks. Banks yanked on Bayley’s arm. Bayley flipped Sasha over. Two count.

Go Behind byBayley. Shoulder Tackle by Bayley. Bayley blocked and reversed a Hip Toss. Charlotte whined about Sasha’s interference at Fastlane.

Side Headlock by Bayley. Hip Toss by Sasha and Arm Drag sent Bayley to the corner. Sasha went for the waist but Bayley reversed it. Second Rope Arm Drag by Bayley. 1 count, only Trip by Sasha and School Girl. Sasha popped Bayley, big time. Rope Walk Arm Drag by Banks. Head Scissors by Sasha. The two ended up on the floor.

Back in the ring, Sasha caught Bayley with a hard Clothesline. Break time.

Bayley broke free and tied to roll up Sasha. The two traded advantages. Modified La Magistral Cradle gave the champ a two. Sasha did her own Cradle for a two. Head Scissors but Bayley reversed out. Bayley used the ropes to break a Backslide. Banks blocked the Bayley to Belly. Wild Forearms by Sasha. German Suplex by Bayley. Charlotte left the announce desk. Dana was with her. Double Knees by Sasha. Sunset Flip but Sasha rolled through. Double Stomp by Sasha. Bayley tried for a Float Over but Sasha slammed Bayley’s face into the corner. Bayley avoided Sasha’s Double Knees thing. Bayley then missed the Crossbody. Bayley got to the ropes to avoid the BankStatement. Back Stabber into the Bank Statement. Bayley crawled over towards the ropes. The hold wasn’t totally locked in. Sasha kicked Charlotte off the apron and reapplied the BankStatement! Tap Out!

Your Winner (by Submission): Sasha Banks

Raw Ranking: 3.0

Charlotte attacked both women, after the match. She brandished the Women’s title belt as if she had just won it.

The announcers discussed Braun vs Roman from Fastlane. It was a brutal battle that Roman won. Braun wants another shot at Roman.

Roman Reigns was interviewed, backstage. Roman said he was on his way to the ring to confront Braun Strowman. Roman promised to be in the middle of the rign at the end of the night.

We went to a video package about Seth Rollins and his road to recovery. Samoa Joe injured Seth, some time back. Seth has promised that he WILL be at Wrestlemania. At first, Seth thought he wouldn’t be able to show up for the show. However, the prodding of Triple H ticked him off enough for Seth to promise that he would be there to battle Triple H. HHH warned Seth that an appearance at Wrestlemania would be the final thing that Seth does in a WWE ring. Seth countered that he would be there and make it the last thing HHH ever does in a WWE ring. Seth didn’t care if he was 100% or not, he was coming to Mania. Raw showed some of his therapy work out sessions. I remember recovery from my own ACL tear, years ago. The rehab is brutal, to say the least. Seth is totally dedicated to his goal of coming back.

Michael Cole then chatted with Triple H, via video feed. HHH hoped Seth listened to the doctors and passed on Mania. HHH felt Seth was being stupid for ignoring the doctors’ warnings. HHH said Seth was living a lie by thinking he was “The Man”. HHH was called that by others, while Seth called himself by the nickname. HHH figgured Seth was living a dream but he was about to face a Nightmare. HHH promised to end Seth if he showed up at Mania. The announcers didn’t think that Seth would back down.

Samoa Joe vs Chris Jericho
Non-Title Match


Before the match, we saw the weird Emma/Emmalina thing.Emma is now like the Terminatress thing.

The two circled each other and Joe blasted away with hard jabs. Back Elbow and Knife Edge Chops by Jericho. Corner Attack Enziguri by Joe. Joe stomped at the US champ. Boot Wash by Joe.

Chris punched away and kicked the chest. Jericho jumped the ropes and flew off the top with a Crossbody. 2 count. Backsplash Senton by Joe for a two. Joe locked in the Fujiwara Arm Bar. Joe went for a Rings of Saturn but Chris rolled backwards. Joe countered teh Walls of Jericho. Step Up Enziguri by Jericho. Dropkick sent Joe out to the floor. Springboard Dropkick by Chris but Joe didn’t fall. Baseball Slide but Joe cinched in the Kokina Clutch. The ref started the count. Joe slid back in the ring and won by Count Out.

Your Winner (By Count Out): Samoa Joe
Raw Ranking: 2.5

Joe threw Jericho back in the ring but fell to a Code Breaker. Joe went out to the floor as a herd of refs rushed down to the ring to stop this fight.

Braun Strowman strolled through the back. He wanted Roman Reigns and would get him…next!

Braun Strowman made his way down to the ring. Braun appeared to be in a seriously foul mood. Braun screamed that Roman only got lucky, last night. Braun needed Roman to come to the ring for a fight, not a wrestling match. Braun knew Chicago didn’t like Roman and neither did he.

Roman’s music hit but then it stopped and we got the arrival of THE UNDERTAKER! Sweet! I thought he was going to fight John Cena at Mania. Maybe not. Braun looked nervous as The Deadman showed up. Braun actully backed up a step or two. Taker stared at Braun as the crowd broke into a “Holy S**T” chant that was NOT edited out. Braun left the ring without saying anything. Oh, crap. Could this mean?

Remember, Roman Reigns eliminated Taker at Royal Rumble and insulted him as he did so.

Roman’s music hit again and Reigns emerged from the back. Roman strolled down to the ring to face Taker. The looked at each other with venom oozing. Roman told Taker that Braun wanted him not Taker. Roman said it was his yard NOW. Oh, damn! Taker looked icily at the young buck and then glanced up at the Wrestlemania sign. Chokeslam to Roman! Then Taker left the ring as Roman tried to figure out what just happened to him! The Original Big Dog just spayed the Puppy!

Category: Wrestling.

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