Sasha Banks became a three-time world champion with a surprising victory over Charlotte, in her hometown of all places, live on #MondayNightRaw.
Banks pulled off the victory in a falls count anywhere match, forcing Charlotte to tap out to the Bank Statement -- applied through and over a guard rail outside the ring. It was an innovative and creative finish for a feud that has taken more twists and turns than The Big Show's career.
The title change in Charlotte, North Carolina, was the main event of a show that also featured #PaulHeyman sobbing over the #BrockLesnar loss at Survivor Series, Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens breaking up for the millionth time (queue #LadyGaga's "A Million Reasons), and the never-ending push of #RomanReigns (God Help Us All).
With the force of Seth Rollins' pedigree on Chris Jericho onto the roof of an expensive car and the style of Charlotte's moonsault from an announcer's table onto Sasha, let's dive into our weekly review of "The longest running episodic program in the history of television." Thank you, Michael Cole. That's your legacy.
Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte (Raw Women's Title)
We're gonna go in order of the segments this week, from best to worst.
Charlotte tapped out to Banks in this Raw main event, in one of the best women's matches these two have had. Charlotte is, by any standard, the best female worker in the WWE. She's a good wrestler, she's athletic and she has enormous charisma. Banks has all of that too, to some degree, and she's a worthy holder of the belt. The best spot in this match was Charlotte's kick to Banks' face on the apron. Wow. That looked stiff. Banks is the champion. But, like the Flair before her, Flairs don't go without championship belts for very long . . .
The Highlight Reel
Drink it up, maaaaaan! Chris Jericho is on fire. Right now, he's the funniest, best talker in the business. Jericho welcomed his "best friend" Kevin Owens onto the latest episode of The Highlight Reel. Thankfully, Owens came to the ring in his sloppy T-Shirt, not his three-piece corporate suit. Owens hammered Americans for binge eating on Thanksgiving and then trampling each other at the malls the following day for a sale to save "$60."
"That gives me a lot of hope for the future," Owens said. Owens called he and Jericho "a superior breed of humans" because they are Canadians. Careful now.
Roman Reigns came out to break up the love fest. Reigns annoyingly wears his U.S. title over his left shoulder, where all that is visible is the black strap. He can't get anything right.
Owens was trying to cut a promo on Reigns, when he flubbed his words, hilariously. Who knows what he was trying to say, but Jericho saved him: "You are so smart because English is your second language."
Reigns challenged Owens to a match and said that if he wins tonight, he gets a "title opportunity" down the road. Reigns said he wanted to talk to Fight Owens Fight, not Joke Owens Joke. Really? Look who's talking.
Jericho was about to put Reigns on the list: "You know what happens when you insult my best friend?" Jericho said. The crowd popped big. But, Owens stopped him and said that he was tired of Jericho trying to help him and that he doesn't need his help. Jericho left and we have a match for later in the show.
Paul Heyman Cries Over Brock Lesnar
Paul Heyman was his usual perfect self here. He acknowledged Lesnar's moment of weakness in the loss to Goldberg, but still made us scared of Lesnar's return. Lesnar called Goldberg a "relic" who had not wrestled in 12 years, and admitted that "we took him lightly." Heyman said he and Brock thought the match would be the easiest payday of his career. The reason for Lesnar's quick loss? Goldberg apparently cracked Lesnar's ribs with the first spear and "if you can't breathe, you can't fight."
Lesnar, however, now has something to prove. He will return at The Royal Rumble and there will be 28 losers and "one victim." Heyman killed it.
Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
Someday, millions of years from now, after civilization has long ceased to exist, a future form of life will study in detail three great mysteries of our era: Why did the U.S. have an electoral college in 2016, who really did build the great pyramids, and why, oh why, did Roman Reigns receive a main event push year after year after year, even though a majority of fans booed him like he were the devil walking into Sunday school?
Reigns did one cool move here: A dropkick on the apron to Owens on the outside. Owens also applied one of the longest headlocks you will ever see on live television -- at least three minutes. I thought I was watching Randy Orton wrestle on PPV. Owens flipped and flopped to carry Reigns through another match and Reigns won after a couple of Superman punches and a spear. Reigns gets "a title opportunity," at Roadblock: The End of the Line. Apparently Owens does need Jericho's help.
Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte (Take One)
So these two actually had a match earlier in the show that ended in a double count-out. Raw General Manager Mick Foley came out and restarted the match, for what reason who knows. Count-outs happen. You can't go changing the rules on us. Anyway, this gave Sasha another shot at the gold later in the show. Falls count anywhere. At least we got to see Charlotte work twice tonight.
Seth Rollins Beats Up Chris Jericho
Jericho was sulking after Owens said he didn't need him at ringside, so he grabbed all of his stuff and left the building. After bullying the driver of his limousine, demanding that he open his door for him, Seth Rollins appeared out of nowhere and proceeded to give him the worst back lot beating since Roddy Piper hammered Goldust in Hollywood. Rollins delivered a very awkward, painful-looking pedigree on Jericho on top of the roof of a car.
Grade: B- (Parking lot fights are always tough to pull off)
R-Truth vs. Braun Strowman
Squash match with Strowman winning quickly. The highlight of this match: It's actually a lowlight: Michael Cole actually called Strowman "The quickest big man I have ever seen."
Really? Quicker than The Undertaker? Brock Lesnar? Barry Windham? Hillbilly Jim? OK, maybe he's quicker than Hillbilly Jim. Anyway, Strowman is still being booked like a modern-day Goldberg, which is a good thing, as long as this doesn't end with him jobbing to Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania.
Sami Zayn Stands Up To Mick Foley
Zayn essentially said what all smart wrestling fans are thinking about Foley: "What happened to you?" Zayn attacked Strowman, looking for revenge after his loss last week, and Strowman put another beat down on him. Foley came out and told Zayn that he "can't win" vs. Strowman. Zayn not-so-gently reminded Foley that at one point in Foley's career he was told that he couldn't win either, but he proved everyone wrong.
Zayn said Foley was taking away his opportunities, the kind of opportunities that Foley had. The two argued, and Foley at one point spit something gross out of his mouth. Foley was a hardcore legend, but he doesn't work in this role. He doesn't belong in a suit and he doesn't belong as Stephanie McMahon's stooge. I don't know where this is headed, but Zayn is one of the best wrestlers in the world. He deserves better.
Cesaro & Sheamus Kick Butt At A Bar
Here's the deal: Sheamus hates Cesaro. Cesaro hates Sheamus. But together, they are a good tag team. They need each other. So, there they were, contemplating their strained relationship over beers at the bar, when a group of drunk thugs decided to make fun of the wrestlers. The two weren't having it. One of the idiots burped in Cesaro's face. Sheamus threw the first punch and then all hell broke loose. Pool sticks, beer bottles, and broken walls. Sheamus and Cesaro won the bar fight and enjoyed a beer. Cesaro, curiously, never took a drink.
Grade: C (Who's gonna start a fight with Sheamus and Cesaro at a bar?)
The New Day vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Same story, different week. The New Day is on a quest to break Demolition's record of longest-running tag team champions. They got the win here over Gallows and Anderson and Xavier Woods cheated, pulling Anderson's tights for the extra leverage for the win. The New Day is a tired act. Somebody needs to beat these guys and let's see all three make a singles run, then re-unite in 2018.
Enzo & Cass Promo
Enzo & Cass are the Abbott & Costello of the WWE. They made their usual entrance to a massive crowd pop and then Enzo insulted Rusev, whom he was about to wrestle after getting hammered a week ago. If you recall, Enzo got locked out of the locker room, and stood there naked for everyone to see. One of those people was Lana, Rusev's wife. Enzo called the day "the luckiest day of Lana's life."
Enzo is phenomenal on the microphone, but if he is not careful he will descend into a joke comedy character (Research Santino Marella). He made some joke about "stuffing Lana's Turkey," before getting destroyed again by Rusev, this time via a low blow. Rusev warned Enzo again to stop talking about his wife. This is leading to a Big Cass vs. Rusev feud, and the sooner the better. Enzo is great, but these sexist story lines don't do much for me.
Rich Swann vs. Noam Dar
As a big guy myself, maybe I am just biased; but these cruiserweights don't do anything for me. They are athletic and high-flying, but their matches feel like spot-fests. Swann looks like he is just performing stunts out there, and whether he actually lands with a kick or a punch seems irrelevant to him. Swann gets a title shot at the debut of #205Live on Tuesday night. After the match, he cut an awkward promo where he came across like he was auditioning to be the newest member of "The New Day." And I hate the purple ropes.
Tony Nese vs. Cedric Alexander
Another spot fest, but Nese, surprisingly got the win with the pump handle slam after his partner, Drew Gulak, distracted Alexander. Like Charlotte, Alexander lost in his hometown. Booooo. Another time-filler match. Maybe the cruiserweights do need James Ellsworth.