WWE Raw 04/17/17 is the first Raw after the “Superstar Shake-Up”. We don’t know much ahead of tonight’s show beyond Braun Strowman is “opening the show” and Dash Wilder apparently shoot broke his jaw working one of his final NXT dates over the weekend. The “Top Guys” get to be the latest NXT Superstars to have a diminished impact on the main roster due to an immediate injury upon arriving. It seems crazy that WWE allows their Revivals, their Finn Balors, their Shinsuke Nakamuras, their Asukas, etc. to waste so much time on that brand after their larger story arc has run its course. Anyway, let’s get to the recap.
WWE Raw 04/17/17 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. Cold open on a dramatic video package showing last week’s “Braun flipped an ambulance with Roman inside” segment. No Raw credits, no pyro, and we open on the crowd. Cole welcomes us and we’re live from Ohio State University (in unnamed town).
Braun’s music hits and he’s out. Booker T is filling in for Otunga on commentary “for the next few weeks” and Graves joins Cole as usual. Braun cuts a promo saying he’s proud to say that he broke Roman Reigns in half (massive cheers). Braun’s proud to say that Roman left in an ambulance (more cheers). Braun’s proud to say that Roman has a separated shoulder and cracked ribs (even more cheers). And Braun is proud to announce that Roman won’t be here tonight (massive cheers and a “Yes!” chant). Braun is proud to show that he’s the “monster among men” and that causes Kurt Angle’s music to hit.
Kurt hits the ring and says he thinks that Braun has done enough damage when he “flipped a freakin’ ambulance with Roman inside”. Braun coldly says that there is more of that to come. Kurt’s response is to book Reigns vs. Strowman at Payback. Braun wants to know “about tonight”, Kurt says that Braun should be suspended so he should otherwise consider tonight a “night off”. Braun mentions that Foley tried these same tactics and it didn’t work then and won’t work now. Braun wants more competition “or else”. Kurt wants to know “or else what?” and Braun stares at him a bit before leaving. Watch out Raw undercard!
Later tonight? We’re getting a Fatal Four Way between Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, and Nia Jax to determine the number one contender to Bayley’s title.
Also later tonight? MizTV with special guest, Dean Ambrose.
Up next? Jericho takes on Samoa Joe.
Meanwhile, Seth Rollins heads out to join commentary as we go to break.
Back from break, we learn that Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe was booked for Payback earlier today. Joe enters and has a brief stare down with Rollins as he passes the commentary area. We’re then shown footage of KO’s beat down on Jericho, which Joe helped with, to give this match any sort of reason to be happening. Jericho (w/ light up vest) enters last. We’re reminded that the winner of the United States title match at Payback joins the SmackDown roster. So, does that mean if Jericho wins that match Owens stays on SmackDown or is he “shook” back to Raw without the belt? So many questions.
Match #1: Samoa Joe vs. Chris Jericho
Not too shabby. Jericho can pull a decent match out of just about anyone – so putting him with Joe works out well. Jericho uses his typical tactics of using the Lionsault to set up the Walls of Jericho. Y2J manages to lock the Walls on, but Joe powers out. Joe eventually locks a standing version of the Coquina Clutch onto Jericho. Chris is able to briefly push off the corner and fall back onto Joe for a two count. But, Joe converts that into a fully locked on Coquina Clutch. Jericho is forced to tap. But, unlike most Coquina victims, Jericho does not foam at the mouth.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – With Jericho likely going on Summer vacation soon, it’s a wise move to use him to help get Joe over as a monster heel.
Post-match, Joe gets on the mic and calls out Rollins. Joe references the sound of Seth’s ligaments and joints popping on the night Joe debuted. Joe says what he did to Seth that night was only business. However, what Seth did to Triple H and Stephanie will not stand as far as Joe is concerned. So, the beating he’ll dish out at Payback will be personal.
Seth responds by climbing on the announce table and agrees Payback will be personal – because Joe nearly cost Seth his career. As far as Seth is concerned “Payback is a bitch”.
Meanwhile, Gallows & Anderson are backstage… walking. They pass by Elias Samson just hanging out playing his guitar. Meanwhile, the Golden Truth are backstage… also… walkin-BRAAAAAAUUUUUUN. Everyone backstage flees while Strowman puts Goldust through a chain link fence and slams Truth into a road case. Adam Pearce, Fit Finlay, and Jamie Noble attempt to restore order.
Back from break, Braun is in the locker room looking pensive. Referee John Cone enters and reminds Braun that Kurt Angle told Braun he has the night off. Braun tells Cone he’ll leave when he wants to. Cone vacates the locker room and Braun sits back down and looks angry.
Meanwhile, Anderson and Gallows are in the ring. The announcers have already mentioned that Dash Wilder is out, which takes the Revival off TV for some time. So, when Anderson and Gallows essentially issue an open challenge after the Golden Truth are unable to compete – you want it to be DIY’s music, right? Nah, Enzo and Cass. But lest I forget that Anderson made a United Airlines joke and Gallows said “nerds”, so it’s not a total loss.
Enzo and Cass are out. Introductions, unteachables, sawft, yawn.
Match #2: Enzo & Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Meh. About the only thing compelling here is the bizarre finish that involves Anderson dropping Enzo “knees first” into the turnbuckle pads. Considering the rumor that Vince McMahon enjoys watching Enzo get beat up in new and inventive ways, perhaps that was just a play by these guys to pop the boss? Otherwise, standard schtick here. Enzo goes in peril, hot tag to Cass, and then set up for the Rocket Launcher finish. That is always 50/50 and either they hit for the win, or Enzo misses and they take a horrible loss. This time it is the latter. If they don’t use that terrible “finisher conversion into victory” percentage as the main reason Cass eventually bails on Enzo it’ll be a big missed opportunity.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – Not very entertaining. But, with the tag title match already set for Payback and Revival gone, I’m not sure what else these guys can all do right now.
Next, we see a brief hype vignette for Mickie James ahead of the Fatal Four Way match (later tonight!).
Up next? Miz TV.
Back from break, a Nia Jax hype vignette airs.
Next, Miz and Maryse are out for Miz TV. Miz is decked out in his Ron Burgundy suit this week! Miz attempts to introduce Ambrose before he’s cut off by Dean’s music. Ambrose hits the ring and after a brief “truce” request since they’re both from Ohio and tonight’s show is in Ohio, Dean makes fun of Miz’s suit and shoes. Miz fires back saying that he’s a WWE Superstar so he looks the part and talks the part because he IS the part. He calls Dean a disgrace because he looks like a “wrassler” and is just missing a fanny pack and “Zubaz” (subtle zing at Mojo Rawley there!). Miz says that Dean is talented but he’s also lazy and complacent. Dean fires back that it doesn’t matter how he looks but it’s what is inside him that counts. Dean references beating Miz for the IC title and that causes Maryse to fire back that Dean is a “dirty, little street rat”. Maryse cuts a promo on Dean that ends with her calling him a “boy”. Dean hands her his mic and starts emptying his pockets into a chair for the inevitable attack on Miz. Meanwhile, Miz starts cutting a promo putting himself over. Eventually, Dean tosses his jacket to Maryse and jumps Miz. Maryse tosses a mic at Dean’s back, which allows Miz to almost hit a Skull Crushing Finale. Dean counters the SCF into a near Dirty Deeds and we get the classic “both guys tease their finisher” spot. Miz and Maryse bail and Dean throws a director’s chair down the aisle at them.
I want to be excited for this because Miz is awesome, but I’m getting pretty tired of him feuding with Ambrose since we saw this already on SmackDown. If the ultimate goal is to get the IC Title back on Miz, however, I’ll allow it.
Meanwhile, Braun is welcoming Kalisto to Raw by dragging him around by his leg like a fresh kill. Braun claims he’s “leaving” but he’s “taking him (Kalisto) with”. Braun happens upon a dumpster and says that “Roman is garbage. Now you’re garbage too.” and dumps Kalisto into the bin. Big Show appears and shoulder checks Braun into a metal door. Show tells Braun to pick on someone his own size and leaves.
Back from break, we see Big Show stepping up to Braun and learn that Show vs. Strow is now our main event.
Heel T.J. Perkins (w/ babyface entrance) is out next. Jack Gallagher is out next. Before the match can start, a “special appearance” by Neville is announced and he’s out. Having none of this, Aries (w/ banana) is out next to make an even “specialer appearance”. Aries grabs a folding chair, sits right next to Neville, and starts eating a banana. Oh yeah, there is a match that needs to happen that will be the “4 minute version” of the main event to last week’s 205 Live. Yay.
Match #3: T.J. Perkins vs. Jack Gallagher
So, the majority of this match consists of worrying about whether or not someone will slip on Aries’ banana peel at ringside. And my estimation that this is the “Cliffs Notes” (look it up) version of the 205 Live main event is not far off. We hit all of the typical Gallagher and T.J. spots but have the difference here of Neville vs. Aries spilling into the ring side area towards the end of the match. Perkins charges up his heel meter, kicks the rope so it hits Gallagher in the face, and then uses that to convert into a Detonation Kick for the win.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Not terrible, but their 205 Live match was significantly better.
Next, we see a brief Alexa Bliss vignette heading closer towards the Fatal Four Way match.
Later tonight? Jeff Hardy vs. Cesaro.
Back from break, Akira Tozawa is hanging out with Apollo Crews backstage. Titus O’Neil appears and attempts to convince Crews to join the Titus Brand. He even postulates ways they could sell Crews to the audience. It’s like the Titus O’Neil character just put more effort into creating a character for Crews on live TV than anyone in creative has done behind the scenes – ever.
Meanwhile, Mike Rome is backstage with the Hardys. Matt is subdued but drops a few “broken” Easter eggs. The Hardys are happy to be here is the big takeaway. Sheasaro enter and officially welcome the Hardys back. Sheamus mentions watching them at WrestleMania 17 and says they innovated the TLC match concept. Cesaro says that facing Jeff tonight will be a dream match. Sheamus adds that without the aid of ladders, it’ll be an honor to take the titles from them at Payback. Matt says that ladders are “wonderful” but they won’t need them to retain at Payback. Cesaro apologizes for Sheamus and says he wants to keep things respectful between the two teams. The crowd chants “delete” at the end of this interview segment.
Next, we see a brief Sasha Banks vignette ahead of her entrance – as the Fatal Four Way is next!
Back from break, Alexa enters next. She’s followed by Mickie James and Nia Jax. The match is in Alexa’s hometown – can she beat the jinx?
Match #4: Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James vs. Nia Jax (Fatal Four Way to Determine the Number One Contender to the Raw Women’s Championship)
Well, Alexa can thank Naomi for breaking the “hometown” jinx as Alexa pulls out the (cheap) win here. The match is incredibly solid and as expected is focused around Nia Jax being an unstoppable beast. The well-executed finish involves Nia getting Sasha up on her shoulders, using Sasha’s body to clear James off the apron, and finishes with a Samoan Drop. However, before Nia can pin Sasha, Alexa comes flying in with a dropkick and pins the fallen Banks.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – I honestly thought they were going with Nia here, so it was nice to see something surprising happen. Alexa is an interesting choice to go up against Bayley, even though the real money appears to be in Banks feuding with both Bliss and Bayley down the road.
Meanwhile, Charly Caruso is backstage with Big Show, who vows to bring it to Braun later tonight.
Back from break, Curt Hawkins is in the ring. He cuts a promo saying that last week Big Show stepped into the ring with Hawkins and tonight Show is in the main event. So, who is going to step up and get elevated by Hawkins tonight? Finn Balor’s music hits. I guess that concussion from Mahal wasn’t so bad after all.
Match #5: Finn Balor vs. Curt Hawkins
Absolute squash. Balor goes over with the Coup De Grace.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – Unless this was literally some sort of stress test for Balor’s ability to work a match, this was a complete waste of time. That said, I hope Balor IS in the main event next week and “squash Hawkins, go to the main event” becomes a thing.
Up next? Bray Wyatt’s “Sermon to the Snake”. The last time Bray did something like this, his house was burned down by Orton.
Meanwhile, Dule Hill is in the building as he’s starring in some WWE produced film. This sends us to break – I honestly don’t remember “hey, random celeb is in the crowd” ever sending us to break before.
Back from break, Mike Rome is with Jericho. Chris puts over Samoa Joe and says he’s been sidetracked worrying about his match with Owens at Payback. Jericho says that America deserves a better “face” than Owens’ face (it’s an ugly face) and he’ll become the “Face of America” when he defeats KO at Payback. Of course this turns into the “Face of Jericho – Frame it in Maaaaan”. Jericho says it doesn’t matter what show he’s on (he even mentions, Velocity, Heat, and Nitro!) because the “Friends of Jericho” are always with him. We get a bit where Jericho thinks that Mike is Tom Phillips, they argue, and Jericho is about to put “Mike Tom” on the List – when Elias Samson drifts through the shot. Mike Rome is now off the hook tonight and Jericho puts Elias Samson on the List of Jericho.
Meanwhile, the Wyatt stinger hits. Bray cuts his standard promo on Orton, but it’s intercut with disturbing images of skeletons, torture devices, and dead bodies. Yeah, this is actually a relatively edgy video for TV-PG. It’s not a bad promo by any stretch, but why exactly am I to believe that this time Bray’s dark side will allow him to prevail?
Up next? Jeff Hardy vs. Cesaro.
Back from break, Alicia Fox is showing Dana Brooke footage of her getting blasted with powder on 205 Live. Emma enters and attempts to turn Fox against Dana by alleging that Dana secretly found Fox getting powdered to be hilarious. Dana denies it, but Fox plays up the “crazy”, and says she doesn’t want to be friends with Dana any longer. Dana is upset and Emma says that if Dana wants to stand on her own two feet, it’s time to see how good her balance is.
Next, the Hardys are out. Sheasaro enter next.
Match #6: Jeff Hardy (w/ Matt Hardy) vs. Cesaro (w/ Sheamus)
About as good as you’d expect it to be. Since the Hardys and Sheasaro both have face alignments, Matt and Sheamus are only there to provide verbal support. I mean, Matt even tells “Brother Nero” to c’mon at one point and actually calls him “Brother Nero”. On WWE TV. That is hopefully a sign of things to come. Anyway, these guys have what is probably my favorite match on this show. It’s uppercut city from Cesaro and Jeff plays the perfect tackling dummy. Hardy surprisingly goes over after eventually hitting a Twist of Fate on Cesaro. Jeff puts him away with a Swanton Bomb and gets the win.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Great match and one of those ones you thought you’d never get to see on WWE TV with the Hardys so entrenched in TNA.
Post-match, handshakes all around and Cesaro and Jeff even hug. Awww!
Next, we see all of the “Braun Strowman throws a tantrum” stuff from earlier in the show.
Meanwhile, Mike Rome is outside the trainer’s room in an attempt to give us an update on Braun’s victims tonight. Instead, Slater and Rhyno appear. Rhyno has apparently upgraded to “Ritz” brand crackers as he has the “cheese n’ crackers” snack gimmick again. Before anything can really happen, Braun storms through on his way to the ring. Meanwhile, Show is in another part of the arena and he’s… walking!
Back from break, we learn that T.J. Perkins takes on Aries on 205 Live tomorrow. Don’t even get me started on the bizarre Six Pack Challenge booked for tomorrow’s SmackDown. That’s a rant for Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Braun is out. Show is out next. Main event. Let’s do this.
Match #7: Braun Strowman vs. The Big Show
If the old ring posts and no apron LEDs weren’t enough of a clue, they do the “OMG THE RING EXPLODED” spot to end the match. However, prior to that, Show and Strowman have another solid, dare I say, athletic match for two men of their size. The crowd is just as into it tonight as they were the last time Show and Strowman faced off. This time around, neither guy can put the other way. Eventually Strowman hits a superplex on Show, which collapses the ring, and sends referee John Cone flying (he takes a rough back bump from the look on the replay too). The match ends when the ring breaks and refs and officials flood the ring to check on everyone.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – I love the canon consistency that if you’re a big dude and you superplex the Big Show, the ring explodes. It happened when Lesnar did it and it happened tonight. Braun continues to be on a tear and it’s going to be a damn shame if he doesn’t go over Roman at Payback.
Post-match, Show remains down, but Braun actually gets up and leaves to the back under his own power. We go off the air on Show out on the ground while officials tend to him. Hope you didn’t want a post-Raw dark match tonight Ohio State University!