Hey everybody! It’s @TheMagnumDA with another Raw report for you. We are LIVE from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The City of Angels! The stars of TV and Hollywood! So on and so forth.
Roman Reigns is out for the opening promo! He says that at Great Balls of Fire, Braun Strowman will be thrown in the Ambulance, and sent straight to Hell on July 9th! While Reigns continues, an Ambulance pulls up beside the staging area! Reigns opens the door, assuming that Braun is behind the doors. Strowman comes around the corner and attacks Roman! Braun carries Reigns up to the stage, and then he THROWS ROMAN OFF THE STAGE INTO THE SIDE OF THE AMBULANCE. Braun stands tall two weeks before Great Balls of Fire on PPV, where they will face off in an Ambulance match.
Match #1 – The Hardy Boyz & Finn Balor vs. Sheamus, Cesaro, and Elias Samson
Matt and Sheamus lock up to start. Sheamus gets some knees and a headbutt. Matt kicks Sheamus away, as Matt tags in his brother Jeff to hit Poetry in Motion. This leads to a double suplex on Cesaro, followed by Finn clearing the ring of The Drifter as we go to break.
After the first break, we are joined by Josh Duhamel, star of the new Transformers movie. Josh is going to be working with Sheamus on the next WWE Studios film. Sheamus catches Balor with the “Ten Beats” on the apron. Cesaro tags in, attacks Balor, and then tags in Elias Samson. The Drifter continues to attack Balor, but Balor fights out against all three opponents in their corner. Sheamus gets a blind tag, and attacks Finn from behind. Balor gets a hot tag, and Jeff Hardy comes in! He hits two clotheslines and a dropkick to Sheamus below the belt. Sheamus misses the charge to the corner, but Cesaro pulls Sheamus out of the ring before the Swanton can be hit. Jeff flies outside to attack Cesaro! Back inside, The Drifter causes a distraction, allowing Sheamus to blast Jeff with a knee as we go to another break.
After the second break, Samson catches Jeff Hardy with one hell of a lariat. Samson tags in Sheamus, who catches Hardy with a sick backbreaker. Cesaro tags in, but Sheamus runs into the ring and drills Jeff in the process. Matt gets the hot tag and he’s a HOUSE OF FIYAH. Every turnbuckle is used as The Drifter is thrown from pillar to post. Hardy hits his combination of moves, but eventually he’s neutralized by his opponents. Cesaro goes up top as the White Noise in Stereo hits for one, two, NO! The fall was interrupted by Balor! Matt eventually fights away from Cesaro and Sheamus, and tags in Balor who is ANOTHER HOUSE OF FIYAH! Balor hits forearms and a running kick onto Samson from the apron! Flying dive by Balor! Back inside, Cesaro gets hit with the Sling Blade, followed by the dropkick in the corner. Both Hardys take out Cesaro and Sheamus outside, leaving Balor to hit the Coup De Grace onto Samson for the one, two, three! Excitement personified.
Winners: The Hardy Boyz and Finn Balor (***1/2)
GOLDUST is here in LA to premiere his new film, which is coming later tonight. Goldust quotes about 100 different films when he says, “It’s Showtime!” but for some reason, he picks Beetlejuice as the one he’s quoting from. I kinda like this turn of Goldust…he’s older and crazy. As long as he doesn’t go the zany route, people will take him seriously.
Match #2 – Goldust vs. R-Truth
This has been months in the making! Goldust is back to his 1996 garb, and apparently Goldust’s new gimmick is that he has his own personal Film Operator. This means, of course, that there’s a giant honking camera in the ring. As Truth comes into the ring, Goldust annihilates him as the cameraman shoots EVERYTHING. Booker calls this a “Masterpiece”, as Corey gushes that the finale is coming earlier than anticipated. Cole can’t believe what he is hearing from the commentary team, as he calls Goldust a “Sicko” for this kind of beatdown.
Winner: No Match
Backstage, Paul Heyman is with Charly Caruso. Samoa Joe comes up and threatens to put the clutch back on Paul. Instead, Joe informs him that Paul’s not worth another one. That will be saved for Brock Lesnar. Paul looks tramuatized here. I love it. We get a recap of last week’s Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax matchup, which led to a brawl featuring all the women on Raw. This includes the bouncy, bubbly Bayley, of course. They announce a Gauntlet Match between all the women on Raw.
We are then treated to MizTV, who introduces the Ball family! LaVar acts like a total idiot, and then he starts cutting a promo introducing his son Lonzo! To those who don’t follow, Lonzo Ball is the Los Angeles Lakers’ #1 pick from this year’s NBA Draft (#2 overall). The crowd reaction is tepid, though they warm up to Lonzo because he’s a Laker. Miz believes that the Ball family is here to announce a partnership with MizTV and the Big Baller Brand. Instead, LaVar buries Miz. Incredibly, Miz stands his ground and walks right into the fire. This is actually really impressive, considering that LaVar is probably more crazy and unpredictable than about 99% of the roster. I mean, seriously. This guy is f*cking crazy. I kinda want him on Raw every week. Dean comes out and tells the crowd that he’s the one who’s partnering with the Big Baller Brand. By this point, the angle fell WAY off the tracks. Wow. Another trainwreck.
Match #3 – Dean Ambrose, Rhyno, and Heath Slater vs. The Miz, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas
Ambrose tackles Dallas and throws him into opposite corners. Dallas rakes the eyes and tags in Miz. Miz immediately runs out and tags in Axel. Ambrose takes advantage and tags in Slater, who wrenches Axel’s arm. Rhyno tags in, and they double-team Axel. Rhyno continues to work on the armbar. Axel carries Rhyno to the opposite corner, and all three men beat down Rhyno in the corner. Miz tags in and nails Rhyno with some chops. Rhyno fights back and hits Miz with some punches and chops. Miz whips Rhyno HARD into the corner, and proceeds to stomp him down. Dallas tags back in and continues to stomp Rhyno. Axel gets the tag in, and Axel continues to stomp. That was like 29 stomps in a row. Rhyno gets thrown in the corner, and Axel catches a boot in the corner, followed by a huge clothesline by Rhyno. Dean gets a hot tag with NO reaction. Wow. He hits a series of lariats on Axel, followed by a Bulldog/Clothesline combo on Dallas and Axel. Miz gets kicked, as Dean attempts Dirty Deeds! Miz gets pulled outside by his teammates as we go to a break…? This thing is actually going to continue?
After the break, Axel gets a nearfall on Slater. Dallas tags in and they hit a double team move. Miz then picks the bones, hitting his trademark corner clothesline. He continues to beat Slater down, taunting Daniel Bryan in the process with his signature kicks. Let it go, dude. Slater counters with a Flapjack slam, but misses the hot tag because Dallas tags in and drops him. Slater gets draped over the bottom rope with Bo’s knee over him. Axel tags in and hits the perfect front snapmare. Slater fights up and hits a neckbreaker on Axel. Miz tags in and tries to attack Dean and Rhyno, but Slater catches him with a kick. Rhyno tags in and he’s a HARDCORE HOUSE OF FIYAH! Gores in the corner, followed by a huge spinebuster for two! Dean and Miz fight outside the ring, as Axel smacks Rhyno in the face with something (looked illegal), allowing Bo Dallas to catch Rhyno in a quick one! One, two, three!
Winners: The Miz, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas (**)
A recap of the Enzo & Cass saga is played, featuring Kurt Angle and the Son of Elvira as Super Sleuths. This is all happening because Big Cass is about to become a big star. Vince loves the guy. After this, Enzo comes out for a promo. He calls out Big Cass, and Cass obliges. The heat for Big Cass is tremendous. Enzo says, “I know you hear that. I know it hurts you.” Enzo admits that he bites off more than he can chew, but he could always count on his brother Cass. Enzo refuses to let this bond break, saying that they are family. Cass takes the mic and says that Enzo never knows when to shut up. Cass then says he is sorry and asks for forgiveness, sticking his hand out. Enzo shakes hands with him, and the crowd celebrates. As they go up the rampway, Cass raises Enzo’s arm once more…only to sucker him in one last time with a huge lariat. Cass then puts Enzo in the Gorilla Press, throwing him down the stage!
Match #4 – Seth Rollins vs. Curt Hawkins
Hawkins with some rights to the gut of Rollins, as he takes an early advantage. Hawkins hits a suplex slam for two, and then Hawkins throws Seth into the corner turnbuckle. Hawkins catches Rollins with a suplex on Rollins, followed by a vice grip that Seth fights out of. Hawkins gets thrown outside, as Rollins hits the Suicide Dive. Back inside, Sling Blade by Rollins! This is followed by a Blockbuster from the middle rope! Superkick by Rollins is turned into a rollup, but then Rollins hits a superkick, followed by a HUGE knee to the face for the one, two, three!
Winner: Seth Rollins (*1/2)
After the match, Bray Wyatt arrives on the Titantron. Wyatt says that Seth is the leader of a following that says, “Be Like No One”. Bray says that he will come to save Seth. On July 9th, they will meet at Great Balls of Fire. Wyatt warns him, “Give into your true self, or you will burn…”
The drawings for the Gauntlet Match continue, as Paul Heyman is in the ring. He calls Samoa Joe a Samoan Dumbass, and then introduces Brock Lesnar. During Lesnar’s intro, SAMOA JOE attacks him from behind and puts him in the Coquina Clutch! Lesnar is able to charge him HARD into the LED video board, but Joe holds on to a front face lock, transitioning into the Coquina Clutch! Lesnar’s face turns a shade of purple. Ironic, considering that he’s from Minnesota. Just as Lesnar’s about to go down, a few of the wrestlers pull Joe away from Brock. Brock is down as Joe continues to bark at him!
Match #5 – WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville vs. Lince Dorado
Akira is ringside for this match. Neville kicks Dorado right in the ribs, and then throws him in the corner. Neville sticks the knee right in Dorado’s face, and then throws him into the opposite corner. Neville throws Dorado into the opposite corner, sending him into each corner turnbuckle along the way. For a cruiserweight match, these guys are fighting like heavyweights. Neville with a headlock into a drop-step, sending Dorado to the mat. Lince fights up, and chops Neville to the chest. Neville chops back, but Dorado hits a sweet dropkick that sends Neville outside! Dropkick to Neville outside by Dorado, followed by a splash in the ring for two! Spinning back kick by Neville, followed by the running Mafia Kick. Rings of Saturn by Neville, and Dorado taps immediately!
Winner: Neville (*)
Charly is backstage with Paul Heyman. Paul gives an enraged, psychotic promo, saying that he can’t stand a coward like Samoa Joe but he loves the box office involved with this. This guy’s crazy. It’s great. I wouldn’t be surprised if Paul turns on Brock at some point this summer.
Afterwards, Alexa has a sentimental moment with Nia Jax, saying that they’ve both been judged by others in the past. She thinks they have common ground. This is infuraiating to Jax, who says she is ready to take the title from Alexa Bliss.
Match #6 – Gauntlet Match for the #1 Contender’s Spot – WWE Women’s Championship
Bayley vs. Nia Jax – Bayley stomps on Jax’s foot, and tries to hit some running forearms on Jax. Nia eventually picks her up and drops Bayley facefirst into the corner turnbuckle. Nia charges at Bayley in the corner, and then DRILLS her with a thunderous thigh to the face. Bayley gets choked in the corner, and then blasted with headbutts by Nia Jax. Jax misses a charge in the corner, and Bayley hits Jax with a series of running knees from the apron. Bayley hits an elbow from the top, and Jax goes down! One, two, NO! Bayley continues to attack Jax while she’s down, kicking the hamstrings. Jax uses sheer power and drives Bayley back into the corner. Bayley tries to climb up top, but Jax brings her back down. Jax SPLATTERS Bayley with a Samoan Drop for the one, two, three!
Winner – Nia Jax (**)
Nia Jax vs. Mickie James – Joined in progress with a Bearhug by Nia Jax. Mickie fights out and tries a roll-up. Nia pulls her up by the hair and hits another Bearhug. Mickie fights out again, but misses a slide. Mickie continues to fight, hitting some forearms and kicks on Nia Jax. Mickie hits the Bombs Away, bringing Jax off her feet! One, two, NO! Mickie Kick hits! Mickie tries the DDT, but Nia throws her off and then MOWS her down with a shoulder tackle. One, two, three!
Winner – Nia Jax (*)
Nia Jax vs. Dana Brooke – Dana does a cartwheel on her way to the ring, like a true dumbass. Dana charges at Jax, but she gets thrown in the corner. Jax misses the charge, but another pathetic cartwheel attempt by Dana gets BLASTED by a splash from Jax. Legdrop ends the misery.
Winner – Nia Jax (1/4*)
Nia Jax vs. Emma – Emma pulls Nia’s hair and drapes her neck over the apron! Dropkick by Emma for two! Emma climbs to the top, but she gets caught. Jax turns this into another Samoan Drop for the finish. What a run Nia Jax is having!
Winner – Nia Jax (1/4*)
Final Encounter – Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks
Sasha runs in with forearms, but Nia pushes her away. Sasha hits the jawbreaker, and Nia is PISSED. She misses a charge and flies outside, where Banks tries to hit a suicide dive. Sasha’s caught by Nia Jax! Jax tries another Samoan Drop outside the ring, but Sasha throws her into the corner post as we go to break! After the break, Sasha fights out of a chinlock, but Jax throws her outside the ring. Sasha barely gets back in the ring, but she’s able to get out of the corner and land a few double knees on Jax. Jax catches her, but Sasha fights out and charges off the ropes at Nia. Jax stands firm and just DROPS Sasha Banks. Jax throws Banks outside, and Sasha lands incredibly awkwardly on her ankle before landing.
Back in the ring, Jax clubs Banks to the ground and then kicks her around the ring. Nia with a HUGE bodyslam to Sasha, followed by an elbow for two. Nia throws Sasha out of the ring again with authority! Sasha climbs up the apron and catches Nia off-guard, but then she tries another shoulder charge and Jax just drops her again! Banks gets choked on the ropes, and Jax tries another nearfall. Nia is just PLANTING Sasha with some severe headbutts to Sasha’s cranium. Massive legdrop onto Sasha’s injured ankle! Nia, refusing to cover Sasha, simply kicks her outside the ring as the ref counts on. Sasha gets back in, but walks right into another Bearhug by Nia Jax.
Somehow, Sasha puts Jax into a front face lock, but Nia simply turns this into a standing suplex to counter. Nia Jax tries another suplex, but Sasha tries a rollup counter. Jax tries a legdrop but misses this time! Sasha lands a running knee right into Jax’s face! Sasha pulls herself up and tries a version of the Bank Statement on Jax! Jax turns this into ANOTHER Samoan Drop, but this one hits! Banks fights up and kicks Jax twice in the head. Nia’s PISSED! She ragdolls Sasha Banks. Somehow, Sasha turns this into another variation of the Steiner Recliner and wrenches back! Nia fights and fights her off, but eventually she’s trapped! Nia taps!! What a fantastic final encounter.
Winner: Sasha Banks (***1/2)
After the match, Raw GM Kurt Angle comes out to raise Sasha’s hand in victory. Alexa Bliss interrupts the proceedings, but Sasha dropkicks her to the mat! Banks takes the title and kicks Alexa out of the ring! Sasha Banks celebrates as we go to credits!
Final Thoughts: I felt like WWE accomplished everything they wanted to do tonight, but the show just felt “bleh” to me. I felt like Sasha was already established as the #1 Contender, and nothing new was established in the major angles. Joe got the best of Lesnar again, Cass got the best of Enzo again, and Braun got the best of Roman again. Rinse and repeat. That said, I was really impressed with Nia Jax tonight. What a hell of a run she had. I think she’s going to be champ very soon. Not sure about you, but I’m looking forward to Great Balls of Fire! Two weeks away!