It’s go-home show week, and Raw rolls into Kansas City, MO and the Sprint Center Arena as Payback looms. Last week, Braun Strowman went on a rampage but as a result drew a challenge from an unlikely source. Kalisto took to social media and challenged the giant to a Dumpster Match, saying that monsters have weaknesses and he would expose Strowman’s. Knowing Roman Reigns awaits in six days, will Strowman lose focus and take a loss to Kalisto, or will Strowman dispose of the lucha challenger quickly. Will Reigns return to do battle with the giant? Alexa Bliss won the right to challenge Bayley at Payback for her Raw Women’s Championship. Will she try to get the edge on the champion this week, or will Bayley make a statement to her challenger? Things are heating up and getting personal between Seth Rollins and Samoa Joe after an exchange on last week’s show, with Joe noting that Triple H was indeed behind him attacking Rollins. All of this and more comes to a head as WWE gets ready for Payback on Sunday.
Show Open, Live from the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO;
They opened with a recap of Braun Strowman’s recent path of destruction, including his match with Big Show and the ring collapsing. The show open ran, then Cole, Graves, and Booker T checked in for the call. They hyped up the dumpster match between Kalisto and Strowman.
Chris Jericho came to the ring while the commentary team hyped up his match against Kevin Owens at Payback. Jericho was there to host the Highlight Reel. Jericho called this a monumental edition of the show because it will be the last edition of the show ever on Raw.
Jericho said he would defeat Owens to win the US Championship and move to Smackdown. Jericho said whether it’s Raw, Smackdown, or Southpaw Regional,. the fans have always supported him. Jericho said he was his own guest this week then mocked the idea of Owens calling himself the face of America. He said Owens has an ugly face and it should be the hemorrhoid of America.
The Miz and Maryse interrupted. Miz said Raw is no longer Jericho and hasn’t since they arrived. The fans chanted “you suck,” to which Miz said he couldn’t suck because he wasn’t from Kansas City.
Jericho told them they better watch (long pause) it. “That’s adorable,” Miz said. He said the Highlight Reel has been canceled and replaced by Miz TV, and told the little people to replace the set. The production crew obliged, and Jericho took a seat in one of the chairs. Miz started his introduction but Dean Ambrose’s music cut him off.
He came out with a mic and the Intercontinental Championship. He said Jericho was right and Miz is a stupid idiot. Miz said Jericho never said it, and Jericho said he was thinking it. Ambrose said he knew Jericho was thinking it. Ambrose told the production crew to remove the Miz TV set and replace it with the Ambrose Asylum set. There was a gift box on a stool.
Ambrose introduced his show and said he was rooting for Jericho even though it means he would go to Smackdown. Ambrose said they have a checkered past, but he believes in forgiveness. He ran through some of the things they did to each other. He presented Jericho a gift. “It didn’t go too well for me the last time someone gave me a gift,” Jericho said.
Ambrose opened the box and it was a jacket with Christmas lights. “Don’t put that in the washing machine, though,” Ambrose said. “There’s only one thing left for you to do, Chris…try it on, man.” Miz spoke up and called the jacket hideous. Jericho put it on.
Miz said he deserved a gift for saving everyone from the mediocrity of Ambrose and Jericho. Ambrose said he had a gift for Miz and planted him with Dirty Deeds. Jericho put Maryse on the list for marrying Miz.
Bill Says: A solid “B for execution” segment that accomplished absolutely nothing. They hit some funny moments, and everyone played to their characters decently, but it didn’t advance Jericho vs. Owens nor the possibility of Miz vs. Ambrose. I assume that we are getting that match as well on the Payback card, but it takes more than Ambrose hitting his finish to make me interested.
They showed the Hardys backstage, and Cole noted Matt would face Sheamus after the break.
Match #1 – Matt Hardy (w/Jeff Hardy) vs. Sheamus (w/Cesaro);
Winner: Matt Hardy
The Reax: The Hardys got their full entrance televised while Sheamus and Cesaro only a part. Graves noted that this was a must-win for Sheamus since Jeff beat Cesaro last week. Booker ignored the discussion and said that Matt had a stamina advantage. Matt hit the Side Effect on the apron going to a break.
Back live, there were some “delete” chants while Matt worked strikes, headbutts, and running Sheamus’ head into the buckle. Matt yelled in Broken style and held up his arms. Later, he did the “delete” gesture but Sheamus hit him with a knee that sent him to the floor. Sheamus jumped from the apron but ate a kick. Matt set up the Twist of Fate but got countered to a rolling senton.
Sheamus knocked Jeff down as he was checking on Matt. Jeff jawed at Sheamus, but Cesaro pulled him down. Matt hit a Twist of Fate to win. After, Cesaro and Jeff jawed at each other. Sheamus recovered and offered a handshake, then Cesaro did likewise with Jeff. The Hardys apprehensively took the offer.
This was a good match that moved away from the standard “split the singles match wins” formula. The handshake tension is good and I look forward to seeing how this plays out Sunday, but I was hoping we might get a little something more out of this. Matt teased more of the “broken” gimmick than we’ve seen since his return, so it does make me wonder if we’ll see a full on run of it.
Kurt Angle talked to someone on the phone about the dumpster match, and he said he would ask Kalisto one more time if he wanted to go through with this. The line got disconnected and when Angle turned he found that Miz had hung the phone up. Angle asked if he was out of his mind, and Miz said that waiting for two minutes was unacceptable.
Miz complained that Jericho and Ambrose ruined his show. Angle said he didn’t book the segment and told Miz to find a partner for a tag match later. Maryse jawed at Angle in French and Angle said “Oh yeah, well, right back at you!”
They ran an ad for Smackdown and hyped Shinsuke Nakamura, asking what message he had for the fans. They also hyped Naomi vs. Charlotte for the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Match #2 – Neville and TJ Perkins vs. Austin Aries and Jack Gallagher;
Winner: Aries and Gallagher
The Reax: The babyfaces got the early edge and cleared the heels to ringside. The heels focused on Gallagher, who hot-tagged to Aries. Aries took on both heels and got the better of them. In the finish, Aries hit the discus five-arm on Perkins and pinned him.
TJP took a scratch to the chest at one point in the match. Cole and Graves did a good job on commentary of telling the story that Aries is a typically over-confident worker, but was all business going to the title match at Payback.
Graves hyped the dumpster match.
We got the introductions for the dumpster match, with JoJo explaining that the only way to win is to put your opponent in the dumpster. Strowman came out first and opened the lids. No sign of Roman, yet. Strowman told the fans he considered them all to be trash and when he stuffed Kalisto in the dumpster it was like he was putting all of them in there with him – especially Roman Reigns.
They went backstage where Angle asked Kalisto if he wanted to go through with this. Kalisto said Strowman treated him like garbage, and he is a man, not garbage. Kalisto said if he doesn’t fight for his pride, then he doesn’t deserve to fight for anything.
Match #3 – Braun Strowman vs. Kalisto; Dumpster Match;
The Reax: Cole noted that this was the first dumpster match on Raw, and all others took place at either Wrestlemania or King of the Ring. Kalisto had an early “near dumpster” moment but Strowman powered out of it and went on to dominate the match. Strowman stood on the apron and tried to pick Kalisto up, but he kicked Strowman’s leg. Strowman landed in the dumpster on his feet and that meant Kalisto won.
Cole said that might be the worst thing to happen to Kalisto. Strowman returned to the ring and destroyed Kalisto, then threw him in the dumpster and pushed it up the ramp. On the stage, Finlay, Adam Pearce and Jamie Noble tried to stop him as did several referees. Strowman opened the lid and looked in at Kalisto, then strapped the lids shut. He went to leave, but then dumped the dumpster to the floor from the stage.
Strowman lost nothing here given how the finish was booked, but I’m not sure I get why they did it other than to give Strowman a reason to be pissed about something. The dumpster spot was a letdown from the recent carnage he has brought, in part because the stage drop isn’t nearly as far as it once was and the fall just didn’t come off all that impressively. Side note – Kalisto’s entrance has been seriously upgraded, in my opinion. Has a nice edge to it now.
The commentary team recapped the dumpster match and the post match angle. They showed Kalisto getting loaded on a stretcher and he had a cut on his elbow. They showed the crew and Angle wheeling him to the ambulance.
They aired a Roman Reigns package and focused on his win over Undertaker.
They ran a Bray Wyatt video. He talked about wounds festering and infecting the mind. He said the same pain waits for Randy Orton. He said he would be reborn via Orton’s pain and suffering.
Bill Says: I would like to see the commentary team emphasizing the approach of “you need to see this to know what it’s about” for the House of Horrors match by repeatedly asking what Wyatt has on his mind for this match. They really haven’t hyped it, they haven’t asked the question as to what the match is, or anything of that nature. Perhaps WWE is trying to keep expectations low because even they aren’t sure what this match will entail fully.
Match #4 – Dana Brooke vs. Alicia Fox;
Winner: Dana Brooke
The Reax: They noted the Emma and Dana story where Dana wanted to go it on her own. Emma walked to ringside as the match got started. Brooke hit a rough looking version of a fireman’s carry into a Michinoku Driver to score the win. Afterward, Emma got in the ring and hugged her. Brooke had no idea what to think of it.
No one cared about this, and it wasn’t very good unfortunately. The crowd had reacted positively to other things on the show so it wasn’t just a quiet crowd.
The commentary team hyped the pay per view and Graves pointed out that the House of Horrors match would start in the House and end in the ring.
Bill Says: Interesting. It appears the House of Horrors part will be pre-taped, and then go live in the ring. Hopefully we don’t get any silly slideshow stuff like we got at Wrestlemania.
Charly Caruso talked to Samoa Joe, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows about the six-man tag against Seth Rollins, Enzo Amore and Big Cass. Anderson said Joe taught them ways to torture “that walking, talking butt nugget Enzo Amore.” Joe said he would break Rollins for the crimes he committed against Triple H and Stephanie, if he even makes it to Payback. Joe said he shredded Rollins’ ligaments before when they were in the ring and tonight he might come for the rest.
We got ring entrances for the six man tag. Enzo and Cass did their gimmick when Gallows and Anderson attacked them after coming through the crowd. Rollins ran out for the save, then Joe ran out. Enzo was checked on by trainers going to a break. Angle came to the stage after commercial and said he had a new partner for Rollins and Cass, and it was Finn Balor. Graves called it a major upgrade and Cole gave a nod to how Balor knows some things about Anderson and Gallows. Graves said they weren’t in Japan any more. The heels attacked the babyface duo as they waited for Balor’s entrance.
Match #5 – Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, and Big Cass vs. Samoa Joe, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson;
Winner: Balor, Rollins and Cass
The Reax: Balor got an early tag and went to work on Gallows. Rollins and Cass cleared Gallows then Rollins called for Joe. Anderson attacked him from behind, but Rollins dumped him to ringside and followed with a dive. Rollins threw Anderson in and Joe took a shot at Rollins’ bad leg. Rollins kicked him away. Balor took out Joe with a running drop kick. Rollins teased the Pedigree but instead hit Anderson with a knee to the face to win. Joe was seething at ringside.
I guess Rollins is moving on to a knee to the face finish? Anyhow, the pre-match angle and the match itself was well done. A good use of Balor while they wait to move him on to Bray Wyatt (apparently) after he finishes with Orton on Sunday.
The Miz talked to Sheamus and Cesaro, and they smiled at him before they left. Miz looked upset while the commentary team said he needed to find a partner for the main event.
Alexa Bliss headed to the ring and the commentary team hyped her title match against Bayley. Bliss cut a promo about the wrestlers talk and say who they like, don’t like, who they want to fight, and eventually becoming champion. She said others talk about their childhood dream and how being in WWE is all sunshine and rainbows.
Bliss said she might vomit talking about that. The fans gave her the gift of the What? treatment, and she cut them off by saying that “if Alexa Bliss is the best, say what.” They said “what,” and she said “exactly.” She said she would beat Bayley on Sunday and become Raw Women’s Champion. That brought out Bayley.
Bayley said she knows Bliss is making fun of her and she’s always been the one to talk behind someone’s back rather than say it to their face. Bayley said she’s not talk and that she works her butt off every day to hold on to the title. Bayley said she would stop at nothing to walk out of her hometown with the championship.
Bliss got excited about the match being in Bayley’s hometown and assumed her dad would be at the show. She said it would be great to take the title from her in front of her father in her hometown. Bliss called her a daddy’s girl and a pathetic sheltered child. “Bayley, have you ever kissed a boy?” she asked, then told her to not answer because she assumes she knows the answer. Bliss said the Cinderella story ends Sunday.
Sasha Banks showed up, and Bliss said it was part 3,000 of the Sasha and Bayley side show. She asked if Sasha puts love letters in Bayley’s lunch. Sasha called Bliss a troll doll wannabe and said Bayley will show up Bliss and shut her up. Sasha said she would shut Bliss up on the spot. Bliss said she had an important match on Sunday, and she didn’t feel safe being in the ring with Sasha. Sasha punched her, and Cole said the two would square off next.
Match #6 – Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks;
Winner: Sasha Banks
The Reax: Bayley sat on commentary and said if Sasha wants a shot at the title she will have to earn it, and she will be happy to grant it. Bliss ended up taking the intentional count out rather than fighting. Bayley stopped her and tried to bring her back to the ring but Bliss escaped and headed backstage. Bayley turned to the ring, but Bliss attacked her from behind.
It was an “okay” setup for the title match on Sunday, but the bigger story is the continued grind to set up Sasha vs. Bayley. That turn is coming, it probably should have happened already, and they just need to make it happen. Sasha defending Bayley at every turn is getting tiresome at this point, even though it’s pointing to that moment.
Backstage, Ambrose told Jericho he needs to take him off The List. Jericho said no one gets taken off of it, and why should he because Ambrose destroyed his $15,000 light up jacket and still owes him the money. Jericho said he had to pull 69 thumbtacks out of his flesh after a match. Jericho said he liked the jacket Ambrose gave him and said “You just unmade the list.” Ambrose was happy and got excited about their tag match. Jericho looked at him like he was nuts and put him back on the list after he left the room.
Cole announced Gallows and Anderson vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass for the Kickoff Show at Payback, and also set Miz TV with Finn Balor for the Kickoff Show as well.
Bill Says: Don’t forget, I’ve got your live reax to Payback on Sunday starting at 7PM EST.
Charly Caruso hyped the release of Marine 5 and set up to interview Heath Slater and Curtis Axel, but The Miz and Maryse interrupted. He asked if either would be his tag partner. Slater said he had one, and Rhyno showed up eating crackers and cheese whiz. Miz told him he would never work this town again. “Kansas City?” Axel asked. Miz said Hollywood and called him a moron. Someone dropped a note to Miz, who smiled and showed it to Maryse. He said he had an awesome tag partner.
Curt Hawkins came to the ring and issued an open challenge, asking who had what it took to enter his star factory. Apollo Crews came out to answer.
Match #7 – Apollo Crews vs. Curt Hawkins;
Winner: Apollo Crews
The Reax: Crews hit an enzugiri then followed with a powerbomb to win. Titus O’Neil came out afterward and raised his arm. Crews was not happy to see Titus but Titus was thrilled to see him.
Nothing of worth to comment on here. Crews is going nowhere without promo time and a reason to care about his character, and I can’t give a damn about the Titus Brand.
Cole noted we’d get an update on Kalisto and a look at Strowman’s rivalry with Roman Reigns. Back from break, they narrated highlights of the dumpster match. Cole said that Kalisto had suffered hip and cervical (spinal) trauma.
Cole touched on an interview that Reigns gave WWE Network. He said he had never experienced the loss of someone as close as his brother, who passed last week. They emphasized that he will be at Payback on Sunday, and they set up a video package on the Reigns and Strowman feud.
Austin Aries pitched an idea to Kurt Angle for the 205 Live main event. Angle said he would take it under consideration, and Aries left. Angle spotted Miz and asked if he found a tag partner. Miz said his partner found him and he would feel sorry for Ambrose and Jericho. “The Drifter” Elias Samson strolled through. Angle assumed it was him, but Miz said he didn’t know him.
The commentary team hyped Jack Gallagher vs. Neville for the 205 Live main event on Tuesday. Don’t forget, Drew Koscelek will have your Smackdown and 205 Live coverage tomorrow night.
We got entrances for the main event. Ambrose came to the ring first, then Jericho in the jacket that Ambrose gifted him earlier. Miz and Maryse came to the ring, and Miz had the piece of paper he got backstage with him.
Miz said his partner had a flair for the dramatic, but he is a star and his opponents are in trouble. Miz introduced his partner, but nothing happened. He said the partner was late, so they needed to cancel the match. Miz and Maryse tried to leave, but Kurt Angle’s music stopped them. Angle came out to the stage and recalled telling Miz to find a partner. He said the match was still on.
Match #8 – The Miz (w/Maryse) and a partner who hasn’t made it yet vs. Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose;
Winner: Apparent No Contest
The Reax: This started as a handicap match. Jericho chopped Miz and Ambrose hit a bulldog. The faces teamed up to clothesline Miz out. Cole said he hoped his partner would show up at some point. The babyface duo kept working him over during the break, and Miz had a bruise on his thigh coming out. Booker said he wasn’t a Miz fan but felt the match was unfair. Cole said Miz talked his way into this.
Miz got some offense going on Ambrose, who tagged to Jericho. Miz sold for Jericho’s offense, including a Lionsault, but blocked a Codebreaker attempt. Jericho drop kicked Miz to the floor and he started to leave. Ambrose ran up and stopped him. Ambrose worked on Miz and cleared off the broadcast table. Ambrose set something up but the Wyatt sounder hit.
When the lights came up, Bray Wyatt was standing where Miz was. Miz got the better of Ambrose, and Wyatt hit Sister Abigail into the video wall. Jericho threw some strikes on Wyatt but Miz attacked him from behind. Wyatt and Miz brought Jericho to the ring, where Miz ate a Codebreaker. Wyatt hit Sister Abigail on Jericho. Wyatt stood over Jericho, and Miz put his arm on Wyatt and smiled. Wyatt turned and gave Miz Sister Abigail and knelt down and yelled “follow the buzzards” to end the show.
I have no issue with Wyatt being the mystery partner, but the execution of this was weird. The four men involved in this match are not advertised for a pay per view match, so why would they be in the final angle of a go-home show? You had two babyfaces working over a pest heel, which didn’t look good. That was at least saved by the live crowd looking at it from the perspective of the heel getting what he had coming.
I guess the worst part of this was that Wyatt, who is gearing up for a House of Horrors match at Payback against Randy Orton (not on the card tonight) and is the heel in his match, hit the pest heel Miz with a crowd pleasing Sister Abigail to close the show. Again, no issues with Wyatt being the mystery partner if that’s the best route available to take given talent at the show, but the booking was very odd.
A very pedestrian go-home show at best. I think the Payback card looks decent on paper, but this show didn’t do much in the big picture to get me excited for Sunday. Hopefully, Drew Koscelek and I WILL get you excited for Payback when we preview the card this week on Ring Rap Audio. Speaking of Drew, he’s got your Smackdown and 205 Live coverage tomorrow and I’m sure a few things to say on Around the Ring as well. I’ll be back for Ring Rap Audio on Wednesday as well as Ring of Honor coverage. See you then.