WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 20
The March 20 episode of Raw turned the hype for WrestleMania up to 11 as the flagship show dedicated its time to building up the stories and rivalries that will be prominently featured come April 2.
Roman Reigns battled Braun Strowman in the main event, but it was interference from The Undertaker that left fans buzzing. Even more interesting was The Big Dog's response to The Phenom's interruption of the main event.
Triple H had words for Seth Rollins and issued him his one true opportunity to compete at WrestleMania, while Chris Jericho introduced the world to the "real" Kevin Owens during a special edition of The Highlight Reel.
Mick Foley learned his fate as Raw general manager, and Nia Jax had the opportunity to join Raw's Women's Championship match at WrestleMania.
How did each of those stories play out when Raw hit the USA Network airwaves?
Take a look for yourself.
Stephanie McMahon Interrupts Mick Foley
Raw general manager Mick Foley kicked off this week's show to a sizable ovation, a prepared statement in his hand.
Foley thanked his superiors, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, for the opportunity they have given him. Continuing to read the statement, he admitted that he put that opportunity in jeopardy the moment he stuffed Mr. Socko in Triple H's mouth.
To prevent any further issues, he decided to take a leave of absence from WWE.
The fans booed the decision harshly to the point that Foley tore up the cue cards he was reading from and tossed them aside. His pride would not allow him to stand there and demean himself.
This brought out McMahon, who proceeded to dress Foley down verbally before firing him on live television.
Sami Zayn hit the ring to defend Foley, telling his boss she should be ashamed of herself. McMahon warned him to do the smart thing and leave the ring. Zayn refused, opting to do the right thing instead.
For it, he got a match with Samoa Joe.
This was a mess of an opening segment.
Yes, Foley was finally fired as Raw general manager. That was a long time coming and effectively leaves The Authority in charge of Raw, causing some to wonder what the hell the difference is between now and 2014.
The Zayn involvement was interesting in that Foley always tried to drag more out of Zayn, pushing him to realize his full potential. Yet, that storyline never fully paid off. Zayn was "rewarded" with a couple of one-sided ass-kickings courtesy of Braun Strowman and his usual spot back on the midcard.
Why he would suddenly stand up for and support a guy who disrespected him in the manner he did just a few months back lacks storyline continuity.
Furthermore, why was Zayn given such a significant position on the show when he has no obvious path to WrestleMania in any high-profile spot to speak of?
It was a weird way to kick off the show, beyond Foley's firing, which has been on the agenda for weeks.
Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn have wrestled each other in singles and tag team bouts of late. Monday night, they mixed it up again as The Destroyer looked to punish The Underdog from the Underground for interrupting Stephanie McMahon at the top of the show.
He did just that.
Joe dominated the majority of the bout, wearing Zayn down throughout the match and into the commercial break.
Zayn mounted a late comeback and appeared to be en route to an upset when Joe countered Zayn's attempt at a Helluva Kick with a uranage suplex, then finished him off with the Muscle Buster.
Samoa Joe defeated Sami Zayn.
Zayn stands up valiantly in the face of corruption...and gets smacked down by The Destroyer.
It is one thing to portray Zayn as an underdog; it is another to book him like he is a loser. WWE Creative is straddling that line as we speak, and that is not a good thing for Zayn whatsoever. Instead of a guy who looks like he belongs battling the top competitors on Raw each week, he looks like a pathetic loser who has not figured out he does not fit in.
He deserves better than that.
Dana Brooke vs. Charlotte
Just one week after severing ties with Charlotte out of respect for herself, Dana Brooke looked to teach the former women's champion a lesson as they squared off one-on-one.
Brooke was energetic and fiery at the start, but late in the extended enhancement match, Charlotte mounted a comeback and scored the win off a big boot to the face.
Charlotte defeated Dana Brooke.
A week after a red-hot breakup that saw Brooke generate a sizable ovation from fans, she was unceremoniously jobbed out to make the centerpiece of the women's division look even more dominant.
What was the point?
Build Brooke up for one week just to knock her down the next.
No one benefited whatsoever in the booking of this segment, leaving the audience to wonder why it exists in the first place.
Chris Jericho Exposes the "Real" Kevin Owens
Chris Jericho hosted a special edition of The Highlight Reel Monday night, during which he introduced the world to the "real" Kevin Owens.
Displaying a photo from 2000 of a young Owens posing in a Y2J T-shirt, as if he was actually his idol, Jericho exclaimed, "He was markin' out, MAN!"
He also displayed a private message from Owens shortly after the former Ring of Honor mainstay had signed with WWE.
This infuriated Owens.
Samoa Joe made his way to the entrance ramp, providing a momentary distraction that allowed Owens to come from out of nowhere and leave Jericho lying courtesy of the Popup Powerbomb to close out the segment.
This did more to make the Jericho-Owens match at WrestleMania interesting and highly anticipated than anything else they accomplished to this point.
Jericho, the master manipulator, dipping into his bag of tricks to produce a humiliating photo of his rival was superb storytelling. Owens utilizing Joe's presence to his advantage was another nice maneuver that basically lets Jericho know that he will have to contend with both men come WrestleMania.
That Y2J was left lying is another indicator that fans may get their happy ending in this storyline depending on how next week's show pans out.
TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick
Brian Kendrick defeated TJ Perkins in just over one minute with Sliced Bread No. 2.
After the match, the former cruiserweight champion revealed that he had stolen Akira Tozawa's passport in an attempt to teach the Japanese star another life lesson.
Be careful what you leave lying on the ground.
Brian Kendrick defeated TJ Perkins.
The feud between Kendrick and Tozawa is not clicking, and the fact that it was given roughly five minutes of screen time on a three-hour show suggests management knows it.
The complete and utter disrespect shown to the match itself, cutting it short before it reached the two-minute mark, also speaks poorly of the relaunch of the cruiserweight division.
Maybe it is time WWE pulls the plug and lets the Superstars involved develop their own personalities rather than labeling them.
No Disqualification Match: Bayley vs. Nia Jax
Bayley may have put up a fight in Monday's No Disqualification match, but it was Nia Jax, sensing an opportunity to cash her ticket to WrestleMania, who proved insurmountable and pinned the women's champion clean.
The win secured Jax's spot in the Fatal 4-Way match for the Raw Women's Championship match.
Nia Jax defeated Bayley.
The match itself was surprisingly good. Bayley and Jax have wicked in-ring chemistry and always make for an entertaining bout.
The problem with the match is simple to diagnose: Sasha Banks has been involved in nearly every one of Bayley's matches of late and helped her win even in controversial fashion. Now, when the chance is here to do the same thing one more time and avoid having to face a third opponent at WrestleMania, she inexplicably sits in the locker room and watches as Jax picks up the big win.
It made no sense upon first viewing and is still largely illogical.
Triple H Addresses Seth Rollins
It is the fans' fault.
That is the explanation given by Triple H for Seth Rollins' many mishaps of late. He claimed that bad things began happening when Rollins "stopped listening to me and started listening to them." The "them" he spoke of? The WWE Universe.
The Game took credit for Rollins' success and vowed that he would not compete at Wrestlemania. He proceeded to produce tickets to the show for Rollins to use.
When Michael Cole asked if there was any way he would be able to wrestle, Triple H invited Rollins to Raw next week to sign a hold-harmless clause preventing a lawsuit when he obliterates The Architect at WrestleMania.
The legal nonsense may be a bit hokey, but this was a superb promo from Triple H.
When he wants to, he can deliver on the mic like few others, and this was another example of it. The way he continues to exude supreme confidence as he addresses Rollins sets him up for a major defeat when they meet in a match unsanctioned by WWE.
The signing on next week's show should make for extraordinary television.
Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
Earlier in the show, a vengeful Stephanie McMahon told Sheamus and Cesaro that if they want to go to WrestleMania and challenge for the tag team titles, they must beat Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in a 2-on-4 Handicap match.
It proved much easier than expected.
After Anderson and Gallows attacked their own partners, Amore and Cass answered.
They subdued Gallows, allowing Sheamus to blast Anderson with a Brogue Kick for the win.
Sheamus and Cesaro defeated Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Enzo Amore and Big Cass.
The misdeeds of the champions came back to haunt them, and now have the former Bullet Club members facing overwhelming odds come WrestleMania.
It is logical storytelling that gives fans a reason to invest in a tag team division that has been sloppily booked, to say the least.
Austin Aries vs. Tony Nese
Austin Aries geared up for his upcoming Cruiserweight Championship match against Neville at WrestleMania by facing Tony Nese in singles competition on Raw.
Aries fought back into the match late and scored the pinfall victory on Nese following a Discus Fivearm in what amounted to little more than an extended enhancement bout.
After the match, Neville appeared and claimed that Aries was in no way a threat to The King of the Cruiserweights.
Aries vowed to take the title at WrestleMania and end the facade Neville has been living in.
Austin Aries defeated Neville.
Aries probably should not have struggled as much as he did with Nese, but he picked up a strong win and delivered a fine promo after the match.
Neville continues to spout the same nonsense about being The King of the Cruiserweights but appears to have lost some of his edge in recent weeks. Here is hoping he finds it ahead of the April 2 broadcast.
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman looked to bring their differences to an end in Monday's main event.
Strowman dominated for the majority of the match, using his size and strength to keep Reigns grounded. When The Big Dog fought back into the match, he repeatedly found himself cut off by Strowman.
That is, until he was sent into the air and caught Strowman on his way down with a modified Superman Punch. From there, he set up for the Spear, only to have the gong sound and Undertaker appear.
Reigns and The Deadman had an intense staredown before Strowman tried to get involved and ate a chokeslam for his troubles.
Reigns blasted Undertaker with a Spear and made his way up the ramp. The Phenom sat up and motioned with a throat-slashing gesture to Reigns to close out the broadcast.
Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman fought to a no-contest.
Reigns finally got revenge for Undertaker's chokeslam a few weeks ago. Unfortunately for The Big Dog, it did not seem to faze The Deadman much. Will that cause Reigns' confidence to waver less than two weeks before WrestleMania?
It is a question that will most certainly be addressed on next week's broadcast.
A fine hook for the final Raw before The Showcase of the Immortals.