Welcome to the Raw Report! @TheMagnumDA with you for another installment. Before I get started, I want to send thoughts and prayers to our UK fans in light of another senseless terrorist incident in the UK. To those UK fans and their families, I am sure that pro wrestling is the furthest thing from your mind right now. I just want to send you (and those close to you) positive thoughts and love from America in light of this cowardly attack. Stay strong during these trying times.
It’s going to be hard to transition into Raw, but we’ll do our best. Before that, let’s talk about last night’s EXTREME RULES PPV on the WWE Network. The PPV itself was a solid B, in terms of athleticism and performance. Everyone seemed keyed up and ready to rock in front of a fun Baltimore crowd. However, in terms of booking, I think this show gets an F for a letter grade. Now, you may think that my grading scale is a little EXTREME (see what I did there? :)) but take a moment and think about these finishes:
Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz would have been a fine opener, but the booking of the match killed it. Having the ref play a clueless tattletale (while Dean pleads with him NOT to be DQ’ed) was a joke. This gave Miz the proper distraction to finish Ambrose with the Skull Crushing Finale. So what was the point of that entire build, if you’re going to have Miz win clean? Obviously, they did it to make Dean look dumb. No other justification.
Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley played promo videos that CLEARLY stated, “The first person to get to the Kendo Stick can legally use it.” Fast forward to the match…and BOTH women are using the Kendo Stick! I don’t have a beef with both women using the weapon. That’s perfectly fine. But WHY did you even include that in the video package?! If you’re going to go against your own rules, then don’t even bring them up in the first place.
The Hardy Boyz vs. Cesaro and Sheamus was another example of a good match that was ruined by booking that even confused the announcers! First of all, they removed the pin/submission aspect of the match. This means that both men had to climb out of the cage to win. Apparently, somewhere along the way, Booker T. became certain that the only way that both tag partners could win the match is by leaving the cage at the exact same time. He was SO convinced that he wouldn’t get off the topic, which muddled the commentary, confused the fans, and brought down the quality of the match. Plus, wasn’t Jeff the first one out of the ring? Technically, the Hardys should have won. But whatever.
The one that finally set me over the edge was Neville vs. Austin Aries for the Cruiserweight Championship. This was a Submission Match for the title. To my knowledge, all “I Quit” or “Submission” matches are ‘No Disqualification’, by their very nature. SO WHY DID AUSTIN ARIES RELEASE HIS SUBMISSION?! If Aries was trying to avoid another DQ finish (like at Payback when Neville grabbed the ref) then he’s a damn fool because it’s a Submission Match and there is NO DQ in these types of matches. If there are now DQ’s in a Submission Match, then someone in WWE is going to have to send me a memo because I was not aware (and neither were the fans).
Anyways, on with tonight’s show. We start tonight with BRAY WYATT, who promises to cast judgment on his opponents from last night. Quit being so vindictive, and fight for your #1 Contender’s Spot like a man. This includes Roman Reigns, who makes his way down ringside. The crowd has their dueling chant, while Roman once again proclaims this to be his yard. Bray laughs. Glad Roman is seen as such a threat.
Match #1 – Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns
Bray tries to hit Sister Abigail early, but he’s knocked outside. After the break, Bray is beating Roman down. He tries a nearfall, but it only gets two. Chinlock by Wyatt on Reigns. We get our first “Great Balls of Fire” reference tonight. Yes, I will be counting. Roman fights up, but gets beat down. Reigns tries a Samoan Drop, but Wyatt counters with a DDT for two. Another chinlock by Wyatt. Reigns pulls both of Wyatt’s arms away, but he gets kicked in the corner. Reigns picks up Wyatt from the top and lays him out with a YUGE Samoan Drop. Series of clotheslines by Roman gets the crowd fired up. Well, the ones cheering for him anyway. Wyatt counters and throws Reigns into the corner post. While they’re outside the ring, Bray hits the running Senton Bomb as we go to ANOTHER break.
After the second break, Roman fights out of another chinlock, sending Bray outside the ring. Back inside, Roman drills Wyatt with some kicks and a lariat. Wyatt receives the clotheslines in the corner, but he catches Roman with a boot. Roman hits a boot of his own for the one, two, no! Roman went for the Superman Punch, but Wyatt throws him off with the deadly and paralyzing SPIDER POSE! Roman goes for the punch anyways, and Bray catches him with a Uranage for the one, two, no! They climb to the corner and trade blows, but Roman takes Bray out from under to hit a variation of The Last Ride for the two! Reigns locks in the Superman Punch, but it’s missed! Roman hits it after the second attempt! ONE, TWO, NO! Reigns goes for the Spear, but Wyatt crawls out of the ring. Reigns is waiting to hit the Drive-By on Wyatt! This only phases Bray, as he returns with a MASSIVE lariat on Reigns. Roman returns to the ring at the count of nine, thanks to an incredibly generous ref. Sister Abigail is reversed into the Superman Punch and the Spear! ONE, TWO, THREE! Fine match, but we’ve seen it before many times.
Winner: Roman Reigns (**1/2)
Charly is backstage with Enzo & Cass. Enzo hits on Charly while Cass plays the straight man. You can already tell that Cass is going to be the guilty party: Not only did he blow off Enzo’s promo, but he walked away before it was over. Keep an eye on this.
We then get a recap of Alexa Bliss’ victory over Bayley from last night. I can’t believe they only gave their PPV match five minutes. I thought the match sucked, but the direction is correct: Alexa needs to stay strong. Bayley, meanwhile, needs to take a back seat. She also needs to quit being such a damn geek. I mean, good GOD. This character is already dead in the water, and I don’t know if she can be salvaged. It’s a good thing Bayley’s staying home tonight…she might want to stay there.
Alexa talks to Kurt Angle, and wants to propose “Alexa Bliss: This is MY life!” Angle tells her no, and that last week’s segment was one of the worst segments ever. THANK YOU KURT! THANK YOU KURT! Instead, Angle proposes Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax for the championship tonight! Wow, we’re going there already. Awesome. Crowd popped huge for this.
THE DRIFTER Elias Samson is with us. These songs are getting so bad that I’m convinced it’s done on purpose. He’s immediately interrupted by Dean Ambrose, who attacks Samson before the bell. Dean throws him outside and through the barricade! Cole and Booker trade off bad jokes about striking a bad note, while Dean calls out Miz.
Miz shows up on the Titantron and tells him that there will be no rematch, and that tonight we will have a Kickoff Celebration to his IC Title reign. Samson re-enters the ring and lays out Ambrose. Oh, good…so Samson isn’t an afterthought. Also, I guess we have no match. I’m sincerely impressed…they only got through one match in the first hour of the program! Dean goes to plead his case with Kurt, and Kurt kicks him out of the building. I apologize, Bayley. Dean Ambrose is officially turning into a bigger geek. First, this guy whines to the ref to reconsider the DQ last night, and now this.
SAMOA JOE, the #1 Contender to the WWE Universal Championship, is with us. Joe wants everything that Brock Lesnar has, including his schedule, his manager, and his championship. I’m surprised he didn’t say Sable. Joe promises that at “Great Balls of Fire” (#3!), he will take everything from Brock Lesnar. This brings out Paul Heyman! He patronizes Joe, and says that Brock Lesnar doesn’t fear him, either. Paul considers Joe to be the worst-case scenario, because Joe will be his most ruthless opponent. The kind of opponent that will take a piece of Lesnar along the way.
Then, in one of the most memorable moments on Raw this year, Joe very slowly explains (off mic) to Paul Heyman what he’s about to do to him. Joe wants Heyman to describe what he is about to feel…to Brock Lesnar, because this is all for him. Then he chokes Paul completely unconscious. What a psychotic, beautiful, and well-told promo. Hell, I can’t believe it. I’m already sold on GREAT BALLS OF FIRE on the first night of its build. For those counting, they’ve said it five times so far. Only one “I’MMA TELLYA” from Booker T.
Samoa Joe goes face-to-face with KURT ANGLE! Wow! Brings me back to their TNA days. Joe asks Angle, “Ask yourself this question: Are you in my way right now?” Before Kurt can answer, Seth Rollins steps in and says that he wants to get in Samoa Joe’s way. Angle immediately books it.
Match #2 – WWE Tag Team Champions Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Heath Slayer & Rhyno
Wow, second match of the night! At the 80 minute mark. Sheamus immediately throws Slater shoulder-first into the post, and hits a lariat for two. Rhyno tries to get the crowd going as Slater fights up. Sheamus immediately elbows him down and tags in Cesaro, who hits an axe handle off the middle rope. Slater hits a jawbreaker on Cesaro and a Spinning Heel Kick on Sheamus. Cesaro pulls Rhyno off the apron, preventing the hot tag! BROGUE KICK by Sheamus! ONE, TWO, THREE!
Winner: Sheamus & Cesaro (*)
After the match, Sheamus and Cesaro cut a geeky promo on the Hardy Boyz. I really don’t have much to say about it, except Cesaro blew a chance to call himself the TWO TIME, TWO TIME tag team champion. Meanwhile, TJP is stirring it up with Neville, asking for his well-deserved title shot. Methinks Neville is going to obstruct.
Match #3 – TJP vs. Mustafa Ali
They lock up and TJP takes advantage with European uppercuts in the corner. Ali flips out of the corner and hits a moonsault for two. Ali gets TJ in the armbar, but TJ grabs the hair and sends him in the ropes. TJ pulls the hair AGAIN from the apron and hits a diving Senton back into the ring for two. TJ snapmares Ali and sticks his foot on Mustafa’s face. TJ gets Ali in the chinlock, and grabs the hair A THIRD TIME. DQ him, ref! Ali leaps out of the corner and catches a DDT for two! TJ kicks Ali out of the corner and DRILLS him with the Detonation Kick for the ONE, TWO, THREE. DAMN. That was quick.
Winner: TJP (*)
After the match, Neville makes his entrance. He tells TJP that Kurt Angle said no. TJ says they should go see Angle together. Neville, incensed, DESTROYS TJ and throws him through the video screen! Neville then informs TJ that he will get his shot tomorrow night on the show I brought to Wrestling-Online, 205 Live! Hey, who says I can’t put myself over?
Goldust cuts another promo on R-Truth, quoting “Gone With The Wind”. This promo felt about as long as the movie. Afterwards, Alexa tries to gain some allies backstage before her match with Nia Jax. Little Miss Bliss gets turned down flat, and then she is told that the women of Raw will be ringside for this match.
Mike tries to corner Angle about Corey and the screenshot, but Angle slips out the back door saying that it’s a private matter. As Angle slithers out, Mr. Dean Ambrose slithers back in. Fans loved it.
Match #4 – Kalisto vs. Titus O’Neil
Titus corners Kalisto in the corner and pounds him. Titus almost has a bodyslam countered, but he pulls through and slams him HARD. Kalisto gets a brief flurry, but Titus takes control. Kalisto gets one last roll-up attempt, but Titus simply falls on him and grabs the tights AGAIN! However, Titus pulls back so hard that he rolls Kalisto on top! Kalisto, remembering last week, grabs the tights as a receipt for the ONE, TWO, THREE!
Winner: Kalisto (*)
Backstage, BIG CASS is found laid out! Enzo and the refs find him and bring him back. Come on, Vince. You need some extra security backstage, brother. Quit settling with referees, Fit Finlay and Dean Malenko!
Maryse introduces her husband, and the new Intercontinental Champion, The Miz! Wow! What a celebration! There’s bubbly! Miz has his name spelled out in balloons! There’s even a bear mascot standing in the ring with “CONGRATULATIONS” on a sign! Oddly, this bear is 6’2″ tall and quite lean. Hmm. These fans must be completely ecstatic that they spend all their money to see a Raw with six matches. “YOU DESERVE IT” chant! Miz buries the chant, but then says that they’re right…he does deserve it! Miz calls this the first night of the “Comeback Tour”! He says that it starts with winning the IC title last night. Miz asks to raise a glass, with a toast! Miz compliments the decor, including the dancing bear! Maryse informs Miz that she wasn’t aware of the bear. Miz DROPS the bear with a Skull Crushing Finale. Miz, of course, thinks this is Dean. Oh shit. It’s just a kid. Miz still throws him out of the ring.
After this, a big gift box appears! Miz tackles it and destroys it! OH NO! This actually WAS a gift from Maryse! “A Grandfather Clock…timeless, just like you, Mike.” Aw..Mrs. Mizanin needs a hug. Miz starts channeling Ric Flair and Jack Nicholson with his crazy, rambling response as Maryse storms away. Just as Miz is about to walk out of the ring, the cameraman inside the ring starts to slowly undo his gear…and THIS is Ambrose. Miz gets dropped with Dirty Deeds! Okay, that was PLATINUM compared to last week’s horror show. What a FANTASTIC segment. It’s just too bad that we’ve seen this match a thousand times.
Match #5 – Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Enzo & ???
Enzo reveals his replacement to be…THE BIG SHOW! Nice. Big Show is given the mic to spit it. They goof around, as Enzo comes off as a total geek. Enzo is immediately dropped by Gallows, and Anderson is tagged in. Anderson hits some forearms in the corner, but misses a kick. Big Show makes the hot tag and lays out Gallows and Anderson. They both get thrown in the corner, and Show hits a big splash. Shoulder tackle to Anderson, followed by the CHOKESLAM! Enzo is tagged in for the BIG SPLASH out of Show’s press! ONE, TWO, THREE!
Winners: Enzo & Big Show (*)
R-Truth retorts Goldust and tells him that he’s gonna get got. Alexa Bliss is interviewed backstage by Mike. She says that the women of Raw have no pride, or they’re jealous. One or the other. Probably both. Either way, judgment day is here for her.
Match #6 – WWE Women’s Championship Match – Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax
I feel like this needs to be a WrestleMania blowoff, in the same vein of “Chyna vs. Ivory”. But alas…here it comes, in the death segment of Raw. Mickie and Dana Brooke immediately come down to ringside. Nia grabs Alexa by the hair, but then Alexa slaps the PISS out of her. Nia responds with two ragdoll tosses and a splash in the corner. Nia misses a splash, and Alexa tries a sleeperhold. Nia throws her over the shoulder, and drops two elbows. Alexa’s hurting. Bliss kicks Jax in the face, but Jax completely runs her over with a standing Vader splash. Alexa rolls outside and instigates trouble with the girls outside. Alexa gets slapped for the DQ! Cheap. Afterwards, Nia destroys Mickie and Dana as Alexa looks on.
Winner by DQ: Nia Jax (*)
Paul Heyman is backstage when “BROCK” calls. There can be only one Brock, I suppose. Next week, Paul wants to see THE BEAST UNLEASHED.
Main Event – Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe
Joe throws his towel right in Seth’s face and pulls him in the corner, pounding him. He takes him to the opposite corner and pounds some more. Seth fights out of the corner, and after a counter, he chops Joe. Joe headbutts Rollins and then dumps him out of the ring. Rollins runs back in, but Joe charges after him with a forearm. Rollins throws him out of the ring, but his Suicide Dive is met with a FIERCE kick by Joe. Rollins gets thrown into the corner barricade, and then dropped on his sternum. Back inside, Joe gets some right hands and Rollins crumbles to the mat. Joe continues with chops in the corner, followed by more jabs and knees in the opposite corner. Rollins fights back with fists and a jawbreaker. Rollins tries to springboard, but Joe grabs the ropes. Joe splashes Rollins in the corner as we go to break.
After the break, Joe stands over Rollins after a mean front suplex for two. Joe misses a charge in the corner, but Rollins gets his leg pulled out from the second rope. Samoa Joe hits an atomic drop/boot/senton combo for two. Joe puts Rollins in an armbar, grinding his forearm on Seth’s face. Rollins fights back with fists to the face, and catches Joe with a kick. Joe catches a quick Powerslam for one, two, no! Joe with chops in the corner to Rollins, but Seth recovers with forearms and an enziguiri! Joe rolls outside, but Seth is ready for the Suicide Dive! Back inside, Sling Blade by Rollins, followed by a second Dive to Joe on the outside! Back in again, Blockbuster by Rollins, followed by a THIRD dive! Top rope clothesline to Joe for the one, two, no! They trade sleeperhold attempts, but Rollins musters up the strength to hit Joe with the Falcon Arrow! ONE, TWO, NO! Rollins tries another rollup for two, followed by the side kick! LIGHTS GO OUT! When they come back on, Rollins looks everywhere for Wyatt but he cannot be found. AN ILLUSION! Anyways, Joe is waiting for Rollins and conveniently locks in the Coquina Clutch! The ref calls it!
Winner: Samoa Joe (***)
Final Thoughts: There weren’t that many matches on the show, and most of them couldn’t break one star. That’s not good at all. That said, some of the angles were an improvement from last week’s debacle. That’s it for this week’s Raw report! Thanks for joining, we’ll see you next week when BROCK LESNAR appears to confront Samoa Joe! CAN’T WAIT. @TheMagnumDA