By Josh Coulson
Since last week’s RAW the wrestling world has been awash with one thing, Seth Rollins’ injury. This Monday promised not only the chance for WWE to address that issue, but also the opportunity to take the appropriate swerves now that The Architect is on the shelf. How long will he be out for? What’s next for Samoa Joe? Plus who will be facing who at the RAW only pay per view in four weeks, WWE Fastlane?
Last week on RAW the final thing we saw before the show went off the air was the shocking debut of Samoa Joe. The two-time NXT champion beating down and subsequently injuring Seth Rollin. Well this week Joe returned for the opening of RAW to be officially signed to the roster. While Stephanie McMahon clearly believes the red brand have made a fantastic coup, Mick Foley was quite open in admitting he did not agree with the way in which Joe was introduced to RAW. Well after Joe explained to Foley exactly why he shouldn’t have a problem with his explosive entrance into the big time, Roman Reigns came to the ring to ‘welcome’ his newest colleague. The Big Dog didn’t take too kindly to Joe’s comments about running through the roster and after some heated words were exchanged the RAW GM booked Joe’s debut match. A one-on-one with Reigns for later that night.
Thanks to yet another pinfall over the RAW women’s champion last week, Bayley will get another shot at Charlotte Flair’s title next week. Before that however, she would have to get past Nia Jax this past Monday. The former NXT women’s champion actually looked to be gaining some momentum on Nia after withstanding an early barrage. Something women’s champ Flair must have also noticed as she made her way to the ring to distract her challenger for next week. Charlotte did just enough to swing the match back in Jax’s favour and a huge Samoan drop earned Nia the win.
As Braun Strowman made his way to the ring I had a feeling that we had stepped back in time. Why? Because Strowman’s opponents were a gaggle of local talents, four of them altogether. A hark back to Braun’s time dismantling no names on a weekly basis. Not only that but after dispatching of his opponents The Monster Among Men made his way to the back to demand competition from Mick Foley. Foley obliged, making a match between Braun and Roman Reigns at Fast Lane.
It feels like the debut of Akira Tozawa has been promised for as long as the makeover of Emma to Emmalina (next week, finally!). Okay, maybe it hasn’t been that long. Last week Tozawa made his explosive debut on 205 Live and this week was the turn of RAW. His opponent Drew Gulak put up more of a fight than I was expecting. Eventually though Tozawa put Gulak away and mid celebration was interrupted by Brian Kendrick, but not for a beat down. Just for a handshake.
It was refreshing not to have Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho open RAW with the same old same old this week. It did come later in the show though. I had heard rumours for the past seven days that KO would have to defend his Universal title against Goldberg at WWE Fastlane. So imagine my relief when Y2J began to book the best friends in a Wrestlemania blockbuster against one another. Short lived relief. The icon Goldberg himself decided that was the moment he’d be making his advertised RAW appearance. Bill quickly addressed his now official Wrestlemania opponent Brock Lesnar before swiftly moving on to KO and the fact he had a severe lack of opponent at Fastlane. Jericho came to the defence of his best friend but Owens now may wish he hadn’t. The United States champ got a little riled up and accepted Goldberg’s challenge on behalf of KO. If Goldberg isn’t coming out of Fastlane as Universal champion I would be very surprised.
Next up Sheamus and Cesaro got their chance to win back their tag team titles from Gallows and Anderson. A glimpse into where one or both of these teams will be going next also with Enzo and Cass sitting ringside and declaring their interest in the gold. In an unexpected turn of events it was the team at ringside that effectively cost Shesaro the chance to win their belts back. While Gallows was on the back foot he decided to put the boots to Enzo. Big Cass understandably replied with a boot of his own and the match was thrown out via disqualification.
Even more tag team action followed immediately after in the form of New Day vs The Shining Stars. Much like Tozawa against Gulak this match was a lot more competitive than expected. Primo and Epico put up quite a fight against the former two time tag champs. Woods and Big E did of course battle back to pick up the win, and be sure to keep an eye out for some New Day ice cream bars in the near future.
Chris Jericho vs Sami Zayn for a second consecutive week? Yes please! After Zayn defeated Y2J last week the underdog earned himself a shot at the 61 Minute Man’s United States championship. Although the champ and his BFF Kevin Owens hadn’t been on the same page since Jericho accepted Goldberg’s challenge on KO’s behalf earlier that night, they were very much back to being buddy-buddy by the time this match came around. In fact with Zayn hung up between the ropes and the ref distracted Owens delivered a super kick to his former arch rival. Sami then stumbled into a code breaker and a successful defence for Jericho. Will he be able to return the favour at Fastlane though?
Rich Swann is out injured, so cruiserweight champion Neville needs a new challenger. Turns out there are five viable candidates, all of which will compete to be the number one contender to Neville’s crown on 205 Live this week. The five men in question? TJ Perkins, Jack Gallagher, Noam Dar, Tony Nese and Cedric Alexander. Well all five men made their way to the ring one by one to interrupt the champ being interviewed by Austin Aries and of course once the ring was full, chaos ensued. Cooler heads did prevail and the six men in the ring were split into teams for a CW tag match. Surprising to none, Neville does not work well with others. The champ left his partners to fend for themselves and ultimately cost them the match as Perkins, Gallagher and Alexander capitalised on the numbers game.
As announced at the beginning of the night, RAW’s main event was somewhat of a blockbuster. Samoa Joe vs Roman Reigns. Well turns out Joe could not wait to get his hands on The Big Dog. Triple H’s new right hand man jumped Roman before the match had even begun and put Reigns at an immediate disadvantage. Ever the battler Roman Reigns did of course not shy away despite the pre match attack. Once the match was well underway the attack before the bell actually became a distant memory. In fact after connecting with a superman punch it looked like Reigns may have well been about to topple Joe on his very first night on the job. No such luck. The roar of Braun Strowman from the titantron echoed around the arena and once again The Man Mountain made his way to the ring to ruin Roman’s night, and that he did. After distracting Reigns long enough for Joe to pick up the win Strowman took the wheel. The former strongman’s attack culminated in a power slam through the barricade. Reigns vs Strowman at Fastlane is official and judging by the last two weeks, it’s going to be pretty destructive.