Hello, it’s @TheMagnumDA with another installment of the Raw Report! We are less than 3 weeks away from Great Balls of Fire on PPV and the WWE Network, where Brock Lesnar will defend the WWE Universal Championship against Samoa Joe. A couple of thoughts on last night’s Money in the Bank PPV, if I may.
• As a fan, ask yourself this: What was there to celebrate last night? A New Day count-out victory? A tease for a Cash-In? A brief cameo by Shinsuke Nakamura? To be fair, the Smackdown roster worked hard and there were some great individual performances last night, but the booking decisions sucked the life out of the show. I understand that you can’t have all the good guys win, but you certainly shouldn’t have a PPV where they almost all lose! Look at this show…outside of Naomi and the Fashion Police, not one hero was truly victorious. The New Day won their title match by a cheap count-out, so they don’t win the belts. Meanwhile, Baron Corbin and Carmella are your MITB briefcase winners, and Jinder Mahal is still the WWE Champion after Randy Orton came up short in his hometown. Come on, Vince. Give these fans something to look forward to. If anything, have John Cena come back on THIS show instead of the July 4th Smackdown.
• My point to all of this: Go back and watch Money in the Bank 2011. Even though that show is all about CM Punk, look at the fans’ reaction when Daniel Bryan finally broke through as a main eventer. They were elated! The fans in St. Louis were clamoring to cheer for a new hero, and Vince gave them nothing. If Orton’s not going over, then one of the two MITB winners should have been someone the fans could cheer for.
Couple of other quick rants:
• To the new backstage interviewer, Dasha Fuente: Learn the product. Your interview with Lana last night was hideous. Makes me furious that WWE would rather hire a pretty face than someone who actually knows their shows well enough to understand what’s going on. For the record, Dasha…Champions aren’t “…heavily, heavily ranked #1”, their contenders are. Also, don’t interrupt the talent. Good Lord.
• Why was Lana booked as a rookie (and not a credible threat) to Naomi? I mean, Lana ended up taking 75% of the offense last night! WWE had a dynamic in mind by surprising fans with a strong Lana performance, but the opposite effect took course: Naomi looked weak, barely getting by a woman who had never wrestled before in a Singles match. That’s why nobody reacted to this match until the “Cash-In” tease took place. Speaking of which…
• They freaking booked a man to retrieve the Women’s MITB Briefcase. Come on, dude. I knew Ellsworth was going to get involved, but you don’t “create confusion” with this match…you piss people off with it. Now we’ll forever remember that the first lady to win MITB sat on her duff while doing it. Great job.
• Going back to my point about the Nakamura cameo…imagine being a die-hard Nakamura fan that paid $500 for a ringside seat. You know Nakamura is in the MITB match, but he only shows up for the last few minutes of the match. What a f*cking letdown, right? Is Shinsuke injured? Are they already giving up on him? I enjoyed the AJ tease, but where is all of this going?
Anyways, on with the show! We are LIVE from Evansville, Indiana.
We start the program with Roman Reigns, who comes out for his SummerSlam announcement. Our ringside cameraman was obviously not ready for the producer’s cue. That was funny. Roman says that he cannot be beaten one-on-one, and he runs down the list of men he has defeated. He says he wants the Universal Champion at SummerSlam, whether it’s Brock Lesnar or “…that guy named Joe.” Oof. Talk about a Samoan swat. Joe comes out and says that he couldn’t help but notice Roman’s disrespectful slight. Joe reminds Roman that he is the true #1 Contender, and that Roman has never defeated him. Roman says, “To me, you’ll always be…just Joe.” Samoa Joe loses it, headbutting Roman hard enough that he flies outside the ring! Joe destroys Roman outside the ring, and throws him back in to set up for the Coquina Clutch. Reigns fights out, and drills Joe with the Superman Punch! They will square off later tonight on Raw.
Match #1 – The Hardy Boyz vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Karl gets a headlock on Matt, but Matt counters with an armbar and tags in Jeff. Axehandle from the ropes, followed by an armbar and a shoulder charge by Jeff. Matt goes back in, and the brothers hit a team suplex on Anderson for two. Anderson gets a blind charge and a tag to Gallows. Jeff tags in after Matt gets to the corner, and they hit a Poetry in Motion for two. Funny moment, as Cesaro and Sheamus are shown in their locker room. Cesaro is holding a drink in his hand. Cole puts them over as “The Bar”, prompting Booker to say, “It looks like the bar is open!” Cole stammers over himself and corrects Booker, calling it “Gatorade”. I love Booker. He’s so old school. Plus he makes Michael squirm. Anyways, Gallows throws Jeff in the corner and tags in Anderson. European uppercuts and fists by Anderson as the “Hardy!” chants break out. Anderson throws Jeff in his team’s corner, but Jeff fights out. He climbs up, and Karl throws Jeff out from under his legs, crotching him on the top rope as we go to break.
During the commercial, an ad comes up saying that TLC 2017 will take place a few miles from my place! Right here in Minneapolis at the Target Center! Tickets on sale this Friday at 10 AM.
After the break, Anderson tags in and drops a few knees onto a prone Jeff Hardy. Anderson tries another cover, but Jeff fights out at two. The fans get behind the Hardys as Jeff tries to make his way towards the tag. Anderson misses a charge in the corner, and a dropkick reversal allows Jeff to get close enough to tag in his brother. That’s interrupted by Anderson! Gallows tags in and Jeff fights off both men! Jeff hits both men with a top rope dropkick and THE BROKEN ONE IS IN! Matt’s a house of FIYAH! Forearms in the corner, followed by Anderson going facefirst into every turnbuckle. Matt tries the bulldog, but it’s reversed by Anderson. Matt comes back with a kick, followed by a Side Effect! Gallows comes in to interfere, and Anderson rolls up Matt! One, two, NO! They fight in the corner and Gallows grabs Matt’s boot. Anderson interferes, setting up the Boot of Doom! One, two, NO! Matt falls back into the corner, with Jeff making a blind tag! Matt hits the Twist of Fate, and then Jeff hits the Swanton Bomb! One, two, three! Fine opener.
Winners: The Hardy Boyz (**)
Goldust with another promo from his Director’s Chair. He says he’s ready for his close-up. The pieces that were once broken are now put back together. Goldust says that next week, he’ll present “The Shattered Truth.” He wants R-Truth to see it first-hand. The Golden Age is back. This is ironic considering that Dustin Rhodes will probably be wrestling well into his golden years.
Elias Samson is out for a song. He goes for the cheap heat by burying Evansville. He starts going full Tenacious D on this crowd, demanding everyone be quiet while his guitar is tuned. I can’t wait until a string snaps live on TV. What a sight that will be. Anyways, Finn Balor shows up to end the misery. Samson walks out without protest, sowing the seeds for a meeting down the road, I’m sure. Poor Finn. He deserves better.
Match #2 – Finn Balor vs. Bo Dallas
Dallas attacks Balor and lays him out before he can take off his jacket. Oh! I know this match formula. They tried this with Jinder Mahal before he became WWE Champion. I guess that means…oh no. I’m not even going to THINK about Bo Dallas as WWE Champion. Anyways, back to reality. Dallas, looking like the main villain in The Revenant, drapes Balor over the bottom rope and drops a knee down on the throat. Dallas takes Balor outside and throws him in the corner. Dallas follows with a running knee into the face of Balor! Back inside, Dallas gets a two count. Balor quickly fights out and hits a weak kick in the corner, followed by an overhead kick. Balor catches his wind back, and drills Dallas with a combination, followed by some serious stomps to Bo’s chest. Dallas is nailed with the wicked kick from the apron, and then he is thrown into the barricade! Back inside, Balor hits the Sling Blade and the dropkick in the corner. Balor climbs up and hits the COUP DE GRACE! One, two, three! While I don’t think Bo Dallas will be WWE Champion anytime soon, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a push.
Winner: Finn Balor (**)
The announcers lose Corey once again during the broadcast, so Cole and Booker advertise WWE 2K18, which comes out in October. The theme is “BE LIKE NO ONE” and the cover art features Seth Rollins. Ironic, considering the number of wrestlers who use the Sling Blade, the Uranage Slam, the Suicide Dive, and the Overhead Kick as Signature Moves. Just saying.
Raw GM Kurt Angle is backstage with Corey Graves, who looks more like the Son of Elvira every day. Enzo and Cass interrupt their conversation. In a suspicious move, Cass informs Angle about last week, and Colin’s 100% sure that the Big Show is the one behind all the backstage attacks. Angle promises to find out by the end of the night.
Seth Rollins comes out to promote the new WWE video game, and says that he’s proud to be on the cover of WWE 2K18. He says this is for the fans, and they cheer him on! Bray Wyatt interrupts and warns Rollins that he is conforming to the life that he despises. Rollins says that Wyatt is a God, but only in his own mind. Deep down, Seth feels that Bray is nothing more than a coward. Bray warns Rollins that it’s time to make a sacrifice. Bray arrives to the ring! As Wyatt makes it to ringside, Rollins flies off the top rope and nails Wyatt with a top rope splash! That was a very simple, but effective segment. This makes me want to see their match at Great Balls of Fire.
The announcers recap Raw as Corey Graves returns to his position. Booker and Cole stare Corey down, expecting Corey to comment. Instead, Corey kisses Kurt Angle’s ass. What is going ON here? After this, Charly is backstage with Balor. Balor talks about getting back on track to win the Universal Championship, when suddenly THE DRIFTER attacks! Balor is laid out, as Samson tells him, “Don’t EVER upstage me again.” Well, there’s your next dance partner, Finn. Good luck with that.
Match #3 – Akira Tozawa vs. TJP
Great moment to start, as Titus O’Neil comes in to give Akira the Titus™ Ring Announcement. TJP gets total shade, as Tozawa is praised as “the next Cruiserweight Champion.” Uh oh. That’s going to piss off Neville, I’m afraid. Akira gets a lockup into a headlock, which is reversed by TJP. TJP dances out of a sweet counter sequence, which leads to a rollup by Tozawa for two. Deep armdrag by Akira is reversed into a headscissors by TJP. They fight up and TJP takes Akira to the corner. Perkins lands a fist in the corner, but a whip is reversed by Tozawa into a headscissors. TJP rolls to the apron, and catches Akira with some forearms. Akira reverses an attack from the top rope into a kick in the face! One, two, no! Neville has arrived on commentary! He is here “to see the next Cruiserweight Champion, Akira Tozawa!” Told you he’d be mad.
After the break, TJP stomps on Akira’s wrist as Neville looks on. TJ hits the senton from the apron for two. Titus cheers Tozawa on, and Akira fights out of the necklock. Tozawa tries to build momentum, but Perkins hits the reverse springboard onto Tozawa for two. TJ puts him back in the chinlock, and Tozawa fights out again. Tozawa hits a SICK punt kick, followed by a suicide dive after TJ rolls outside. Back in the ring, Akira does his “HA!” taunt, rallying the fans. TJ hits a modified gutbuster for two! Akira with a gutwrench suplex, and an AWESOME floating Swanton Bomb for the one, two, three!
Winner: Akira Tozawa (**1/2)
Afterwards, Neville gets on the announcer’s table and calls Titus a “peasant.” I laughed at that. Titus says that Neville is not a proud King…rather, a scared little boy. Titus then presents the POWAH OF TOZAWA! HA! Hey, it’s catchy. Akira will probably be the guy that finally dethrones Neville’s long run. We get an R-Truth video response to Goldust, saying he’ll be there next week in LA. After this, Miz invites Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas to join his entourage. Finally, Charly is with Samoa Joe, who says that he will teach Roman Reigns to put respect on his name. I guess respect is now a condiment! Joe makes it sounds like you put it on a name like you’d put Cheeze Whiz on a cracker. Whoops. Sorry to steal your gimmick, Rhyno.
Match #4 – Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe
They lock up and it’s a stalemate to start. They lock up again and Roman gets a headlock on Joe. Joe shoulder tackles Roman, but it’s another stalemate. A THIRD stalemate after another shoulder tackle by Joe. Joe piefaces Roman, and Roman returns with some fists. Joe volleys with some forearms and knees, but Reigns hits a hard shoulder tackle. Joe rolls outside and composes himself. He returns in the ring and they almost get a knucklelock going, until Joe hits some snap jabs that send Roman into the corner. They trade forearms, and a whip is reversed into an overhead kick by Joe. Samoa Joe tries the Clutch, but Roman rolls outside and takes a count for himself. Roman charges back in and they start brawling in the ring! Joe takes advantage and tells Reigns to put some respect on his name as he stomps and headbutts Reigns to the ground. Roman finally gets up and nails Joe with a Samoan Drop. Reigns goes for the Drive-By, but Joe rolls to the other side. Joe PLANTS Reigns into the corner post, and then hits a sick running senton as we go to break.
After the break, Joe hits a snapmare, a chop, a kick, and an elbow for two! Great combo. Joe continues to kick Reigns into the dirt, and then PUMMELS him with fists. Reigns fights out of a chinlock, but Joe returns with a headbutt. Reigns moves away from another senton attempt, as Cole says it’s time for Reigns to “rally”. Damn, now we’re getting pacing cues? Joe gets tossed in the corner, as Roman hits him with a clothesline! The Superman Punch misses, but Roman still nails him with a clothesline for a two! Clotheslines in the corner by Reigns into Joe’s chest! Reigns with a jumping Warrior clothesline, but Joe retreats out of the ring. Roman runs into the ring and hits the Drive-By! Reigns misses another attempt to finish Joe, but this time Joe counters with an inverted atomic drop, a boot in the mouth, and a senton for two! A great counter sequence follows, and Reigns FINALLY hits the Superman Punch! One, two, NO! Wow. Joe recovers and hits a Uranage Slam on Roman for the one, two, NO! Joe tries to get the Coquina Clutch on Reigns, but Roman fights out and counters into the SPEAR! One, two, NO! Joe’s foot is on the rope! Joe crawls outside to gain his composure, but he almost gets counted out!
Reigns looks to finish off Joe, but an Ambulance backs up on the Titantron! Out of the Ambulance, IT’S BRAUN STROWMAN! That is seriously the biggest pop I’ve heard on Raw all year. HOLY SHIT. Meanwhile, back in the ring, JOE LOCKS IN THE CLUTCH! The Big Dog goes to sleep!!
Winner: Samoa Joe (***3/4)
Braun Strowman charges into the ring after Reigns! He climbs in the ring with a microphone. Strowman slams Roman to the mat and says, “I’M NOT FINISHED WITH YOU!” That’s going to be the eternal battle cry for this feud. The fans absolutely love this guy, as they chant “One more time!” Okay, maybe they don’t love him, but they love when he destroys Reigns. Strowman challenges Reigns to an Ambulance Match at Great Balls of Fire! Oh, no…please don’t tell me an Ambulance is going to explode on this show. That WOULD be Great Balls of Fire.
The WWE Intercontinental Champion, The Miz, is here for MizTV featuring…his own wife Maryse! He admits that she deserves an apology, and gives her a grand entrance. Oh no. There are TWO bears in the ring this time, with signs that say “I’m Sorry” and “Please Forgive Me”. Miz gives Maryse champagne and then he goes for a kiss, but she totally denies him. He pours his heart out, and asks her to open a gift that is placed in the middle of the ring. He shows her that he put together the Grandfather Clock that was destroyed two weeks ago. Miz says some very touching things about his wife, and just as they’re about to kiss and make up…Dean Ambrose’s music hits! Ambrose simply lunges at Miz, and Miz puts Maryse in the way one time too many. While this trick has worked before, it doesn’t work when she is holding a drink. The champagne lands right in her face! In reality, if that got in her eyes, she’s going to feel the burn. She is FURIOUS and walks away, as Miz pleads his case. Dean tries to hit the Dirty Deeds on Miz once more, but the bears attack Ambrose! It’s Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel in the costumes! They are now part of The Miz’s entourage…but what about Maryse?
Match #5 – WWE Tag Team Champions Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews
Crews and Cesaro lock up, and Cesaro hits an early shoulder tackle. Crews returns with a big time drop kick. Cesaro hits a European Uppercut and tags in Sheamus. Sheamus hits the rolling senton for two on Crews. Sheamus blasts Apollo with forearms to the chest, followed by a wristlock. Cesaro tags and continues the beatdown on Crews. Booker says that the champs are on “Crews Control”. Okay, I’ll give him that one. Apollo fights out of a sleeperhold, but not before Sheamus trades tags with Cesaro. Apollo catches the Enziguiri and makes a not-so-hot tag to Titus. Wow. Literally no reaction. Poor guy. Titus gets some offense, followed by a tag to Apollo as they hit the powerslam/moonsault combo for two on Sheamus! Cesaro with a cheap shot on Crews, leading to the White Noise in Stereo! One, two, three!
Winners: Sheamus & Cesaro (*)
Promo for Samoa Joe vs. Brock Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire. Can’t wait.
Match #6 – Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
Alexa Bliss is on commentary. Match is joined in progress, where Jax has Banks down in the corner. Banks kicks her way out of said corner, and climbs up to hit the double knees on Jax! Meanwhile, back at the announcer’s table, Emma chases Bliss into the ring. When they get inside, Nia Jax is accidentally nailed by Emma for the DQ!
Winner by DQ: Nia Jax (1/2*)
After this, Emma and Alexa turn their attack on Sasha Banks! Mickie James and Dana Brooke come down and even the odds. Nia Jax takes over and destroys her opponents from last week. Finally, Bayley returns! She gets a warm reception and HOLY SCHMOLY Bayley left her training bra back in California. Looks like somebody is trying to get a breast of fresh air tonight! I mean…hrm. Excuse me. Sorry about that. But wow, my goodness, Miss Martinez. She wipes out the competition to the delight of the crowd. Bayley stands tall in the ring as the fans cheer her on.
Main Event Angle: The Raw GM and the Son of Elvira Crack the Case of Enzo and Cass!
This is a main event angle ANYWHERE in the country, folks. WWE GM Kurt Angle comes back out to discuss the recent turn of events involving Enzo and Cass backstage. I was CONVINCED they were going to have another incident where someone got laid out behind the curtain. But…sure enough, Enzo and Cass make their entrance and enter the ring. Little did we know that this would be the last time they’d cut the tandem SAWFT promo.
Angle then brings out The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson), who were originally suspected weeks ago due to their inconspicuous cameos on Raw. Finally, Angle brings out the Big Show. Show cuts a promo defending himself, and then he suddenly quits Raw after expressing his disappointment for Angle’s accusation. Uh oh. If Big Show moves to Smackdown, he’s going to get a push. Please don’t give me Mahal vs. Big Show at Summerslam. After Show’s exit, Angle surprisingly absolves The Revival as well, as their alibi held up! Finally, Corey shares the secret that’s been on the minds of many for months…by revealing last week’s footage of Cass staging his own beatdown to throw Enzo off the scent. I guess Corey knew about the original beatdown, too. It also explains why Graves pressed Cass at the beginning of this whole storyline.
Watching Cass stage everything is pretty twisted, but it’s nothing compared to what follows. Cass cuts a promo that is pure vitriol, driving Enzo to tears. Cass tells Enzo that he was a complete embarrassment, and that he only teamed up with Enzo because he felt sorry for him. This sad tale ends with Cass saying, “We are TRU”, which is New York for “through.” Cass then lands a MASSIVE boot to Enzo’s temple, knocking him out immediately. The show ends with Angle looking after Enzo, as Cass walks up the rampway.
Final Thoughts: This was a much-improved version of Raw, in many ways. I thought it was considerably better than last week. I saw some real effort here, even if there were only six matches. Most of the silliness made sense, plus a few guys were elevated. There was also a great promo video for Lesnar/Joe, and we had the returns of Braun Strowman and Bayley. Of course, this was all capped off by the betrayal of Enzo by Colin Cassidy, followed by the dissolution of Cass and Enzo. I think this “Great Balls of Fire” show has a chance to be very entertaining, no matter how old the song is or how silly the title sounds.