Raw comes back to the United States tonight as WWE makes a stop in Newark, NJ at the Prudential Center. The Miz was supposed to get his shot at Dean Ambrose at Extreme Rules to try and become a seven-time Intercontinental Champion, but that shot comes tonight. Will Miz find his way back to the championship? Samoa Joe made a statement to Seth Rollins that things are “over when he says it’s over.” What does the Destroyer have in mind for Seth on this show? Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax have seemingly become friends. Will the Raw Women’s Champion have that continued insurance policy as she continues her reign as the “Goddess of WWE” or will Jax eventually get championship envy? Will Cesaro and Sheamus make their intentions known as to when they plan to challenge the Hardys for their Raw tag team championship? Extreme Rules is just about three weeks out, will the challenge come for that event?
Show Open, Live from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ;
They opened by recapping last week’s angle in London where Strowman said he wasn’t finished with Reigns as long as he was still walking. They focused on the attack by Reigns on Strowman’s bad arm. The intro rolled, pyro shot off, then Cole, Graves, and Booker T checked in for the call on this show.
Cole and Graves hyped the Intercontinental Championship match, then Kurt Angle made his way to the ring – “you suck” chants included. Kurt wears a goofy smile when they do it – he’s clearly happy to hear that again. He welcomed fans to the show and immediately talked about the “ongoing problem” between Reigns and Strowman. Angle said Strowman suffered a shattered elbow and had surgery, which puts him on the shelf for up to six months.
Angle said Strowman had his sights on Brock and the Universal Championship and asked who would challenge Lesnar with Strowman out. He said the title shot would have to be earned, and not given. He booked an Extreme Rules Fatal Five Way. The winner gets the right to face Lesnar. Interesting concept. Angle introduced the possible competitors – Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Bray Wyatt, or Roman Reigns. Of course the idea of Reigns got booed – I mean, why give away the possible Wrestlemania 34 main event?
Angle hyped that it’s every man for himself, and it will be extreme. It’s true, it’s damn true. Well received, short and sweet promo by Angle to set what is presumably the main event at Extreme Rules up. Roman Reigns made his entrance, and he’s not taped up but he’s holding his arm a bit weirdly. There’s a sign in the crowd that said “Roman Reigns is not the chosen one.” Of course not, that’s Drew Galloway in a previous incarnation.
Reigns said the match wasn’t needed, because he’s the number one contender. He said it’s his yard and he reminded Angle of beating Taker and putting Strowman in an ambulance. He said he’s the only one who can beat Lesnar. The boos are strong here, but they turned to cheers when Finn Balor appeared.
Balor said he would tell Roman what he told Seth Rollins – he was the first Universal Champion and he never lost it. “If you want a piece of the beast, the line starts behind me.” I’m all about seeing that clash of styles. I mean, Lesnar probably wins, but still. Reigns told Balor he lacked the killer instinct to beat Lesnar. Balor said Roman should know what he’s capable of and reminded Reigns that the first time he was on Raw, he beat Reigns.
Cue the Destroyer – Samoa Joe made his way to the conversation. Joe said it was simple and it was about actions and results. “Action, I lock in the Coqunia Clutch, Result, Seth Rollins is unconscious on the ground and his body goes limp.” He said he would win the Fatal Five Way and go on to face Lesnar. Wyatt’s sounder cut him off.
Wyatt said the beast approaches and they all have brave faces on, but he can feel them trembling. He said the others would cower, fall, and run. Wyatt went to continue but Seth Rollins cut him off to join the conversation. “Gentlemen, Gentlemen, Gentlemen…Extreme Rules is a few weeks away.” He said the fans didn’t come to see them talk, they came for fighting. Fight they do, with Joe and Rollins going at it at ringside. Rollins dropped Joe’s leg across the ropes and Joe hobbled away.
Rollins and Wyatt went at it, with Reigns taking out Balor momentarily. In the end, Balor hit a slingblade on Reigns, then hit a big dive on Rollins and Reigns at ringside. Wyatt, Reigns, and Rollins were left laying, Joe hobbled away, and Balor stood tall.
Overall a good segment that established the tension between the five players involved and played off existing stories between them a little bit. They have to do something with Strowman out, and this is about as good of a choice as anything to set up a contender. I can’t see whoever comes out of this match beating Lesnar for some reason, since the plan is Reigns vs. Lesnar for the title at Wrestlemania – but, a part timer can’t tuck the title away and run for a year either.
They hyped Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus coming up next, and noted that Cesaro and Sheamus would be taking on The Hardys at Extreme Rules.
After a break, Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Finn Balor bickered backstage. Angle showed up and said they settle issues in the ring, not backstage. He booked Rollins vs. Samoa Joe and Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns for later on. Those should be good matches – though I’d have preferred going with Balor vs. Rollins and Joe vs. Reigns maybe just to keep Seth and Joe apart a bit.
Match #1 – Jeff Hardy (w/Matt Hardy) vs. Sheamus (w/Cesaro);
Winner: Jeff Hardy
The Reax: Cole fed in a not about a post from WWE Facebook where the Hardys found out about the match with Cesaro and Sheamus. Sheamus and Cesaro made their entrance for the match. They reminded us that Sheamus kicked out one of Jeff’s teeth at Payback – never has a tooth gotten more attention. They also recapped the turn of Cesaro and Sheamus. Booker said you can’t respect nostalgia, and sometimes you gotta go out and take it.
Hardy went right at Sheamus at the bell. Sheamus teased an early Brogue Kick that missed and Jeff rolled him for a quick one count. Sheamus ran Jeff to the barrier going to a break. Sheamus controlled the action during the break and got a two coming back live. Cole noted that the two teams would be facing off in three weeks for the tag titles.
Jeff fired back with a kick, some strikes and his leg drop to the gut. He called for the Twist of Fate, but Sheamus countered out and came back with a big high running knee for a near fall. Crowd rallied behind Jeff but Sheamus kept up the pressure. Sheamus came off the ropes and in an awkward move Jeff hit him with what looked like a stunner. Odd move, but Jeff got a near fall.
Matt and Cesaro momentarily stuck their noses in the match, but in the end Jeff hit the Twist of Fate in the distractions and followed with a Swanton Bomb to get the win. Cole said if Jeff can hit that in three weeks, the Hardys would retain. The Hardys celebrated. Graves hyped the Intercontinental Championship match yet to come tonight.
A decent match with a couple clunky spots along the way. There is no stipulation on the tag match at this time, so you have to wonder if sometime along the way in these next couple weeks if WWE will make one. History tells me that they might try to go to a TLC match or something, but, we’ll see where they go.
Sasha Banks was mid-entrance when we came back live. They recapped the (sloppy) match and finish of the Banks vs. Alicia Fox match in London last week and said Noam Dar went to Angle to get this match set up.
Match #2 – Alicia Fox (w/Noam Dar) vs. Sasha Banks;
Winner: Alicia Fox.
The Reax: Dar was at ringside and the commentary team discussed the situation between Fox, Dar, and Rich Swann. Fox took control with a big kick then hit a nice Northern Lights suplex. Booker said he wasn’t sure if Sasha was still the Boss. Um, Booker, she hasn’t been since she turned face, really. But I digress. Fox continued to control the offense, but Banks started a rally.
Sasha hit double knees in the corner but Fox cut off her next move. Fox used a sunset flip for two, then held on to the ropes as Banks tried for the Backstabber. Sasha went to ringside and hit hard. Fox hit a scissor kick and scored the win. Dar hoisted her up on his shoulders to celebrate afterward.
Graves called it “what a battle” but this wasn’t fantastic. Better than last week, I suppose. It’s his job to sell it, but it wasn’t as good as what the two are capable of. Banks is definitely not a priority at the moment.
The commentary team hyped the matches between the five-way opponents then hyped Miz vs. Ambrose for the IC title, next. Out of commercial they showed a commercial for Backlash – the Smackdown brand PPV. Drew’s got you covered on that this coming Sunday, starting at 8PM EST. And, there’s an NXT: Takeover event on Saturday from Chicago, so we’ll have you covered on that too.
The Miz made his way to the ring with Maryse for the Intercontinental Championship match, trying to do his best “ripper” jacket look like Undertaker. At least that’s what it made me think of. Cole recounted the title’s history, then Ambrose came to the ring for the match. JoJo handled the introductions.
Match #3 – Dean Ambrose (c) vs. The Miz (w/Maryse); WWE Intercontinental Championship;
Winner: The Miz by DQ, Dean Ambrose retains
The Reax: Ambrose got a good reaction from the live crowd. I am kind of rooting for Ambrose here because it should pull the two men apart for good. Not that it’s a bad feud, it’s just too exposed. Ambrose got the early control with some strikes, but Miz came back quickly and teased his finish early then rolled him into a two count. Very split crowd got vocal for both men. Ambrose went to the top rope but Miz rolled out and regrouped going to a break.
Back from the break Miz got a two after a corner clothesline. They showed us how Miz threw Ambrose into the steps to take control. Miz continued to control Ambrose with a headlock, but he broke it by dropping Miz to the corner. Miz hit a neckbreaker for two. Miz unleashed the Daniel Bryan kicks on a kneeling Ambrose, but Ambrose rolled him up on the big finale. Ambrose teased Dirty Deeds but Miz blocked it.
Miz ended up at ringside and Ambrose followed with a big dive to the outside. Ambrose kept up the pressure with a running bulldog into a crucifix pin for a good near fall. Ambrose set up a superplex that Miz fought out of. Miz jumped off the ropes into a kick, and Ambrose tried Dirty Deeds. Miz countered to a Skull Crushing Finale set up but Ambrose dropped down and rolled him up for two. Good sequence.
Later, Ambrose set for a powerbomb but Miz dumped him and looked for a Figure Four. Ambrose shoved him off and took a kick, but Ambrose tried for the Wacky Line. Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale for a good near fall. This drew a “this is awesome” chant. Even if the feud has too many miles on it, the match is very good.
A bit later, Maryse got in between the two as Ambrose set for a dive. Ambrose didn’t care and hit his flying elbow anyhow. Back inside, Maryse got involved and distracted the official and Miz tried for a low blow. Ambrose caught him though, and stood Miz up and kicked him low anyhow. The official threw the match out, and Miz rolled to ringside to sell.
Graves called it a “strong style inside thigh grab.” Sure, Corey. Anyhow, the match was very good up until the finish. I found myself hoping that they’d have a definitive clean finish here in order to move these guys on to something new. So, we’ll get some sort of a rematch I’m sure since this finish was what it was.
Charly interviewed Finn Balor and put over the WWE:24 special and his participation in the Fatal Five Way match at Extreme Rules. She asked if he was ready to step into the Big Dog’s yard. He said it’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. He said there’s a lot of fight “in here” (pointing at his chest).
Alexa Bliss made her entrance going into a break. Out of break, they fed it to what they called the “hair raising moment” sponsored by Just for Men Beard and Hair coloring. Neither woman has a beard. Anyhow, it was a recap of Alexa beating Bayley in her hometown, and we cut back to Bliss for a promo.
“So this is Newark, NJ.” She started with some catchphrases that “weren’t it” then called it the “sweatgland of America.” She said they were only booing because it was true then called them the poster children of failure. I have been in Newark, so, I can sort of vouch for this – sorry. She said they got to be winners tonight because they got to see Alexa.
She said when you’re smarter and more dominant than everyone else, you are a winner. She shut down the “What” chants and said “if you’re a loser say what.” She recounted her accomplishments and said she would have won Miss USA last night if she had entered that as well. After the bragging, Bayley cut her off. She hugged and slapped hands with some kids making her way to the ring to the disdain of Bliss.
“Alexa, we get it, everything you said you would accomplish on Raw, you did.” Bayley said the only title she’s concerned with is the title around her waist. Bayley said she was invoking her rematch clause for Extreme Rules. Bliss said that Bayley didn’t understand the concept of Extreme Rules and that Bayley would never get Extreme. She said Bayley had her moment and it’s over. “So Bayley, why don’t you sit at the kiddie table where you belong and leave the championships to the adults.”
Bayley had enough and attacked. Bliss fought back and took a shot to Bayley’s throat. She went outside and dragged a kendo stick out from under the ring. Bliss hit her with it then mocked from the ring as Bayley sold. They recapped the moment.
It was weird hearing some fans chanting things like “one more time” and stuff. It wasn’t wide spread, it seemed to be in pockets near the mics which made it seem louder than it really was. I think that’s a real testament to how Bayley has been booked and how the Raw creative team has taken the wind out of her sails. Bliss delivered fine promo work here and it will be interesting to see how they build this rematch.
Out of break, Kurt Angle was on the phone when Miz and Maryse interrupted. Miz ranted about the finish to the title match, so Angle books a rematch at Extreme Rules but Miz wanted it in a way that the title will change hands on a DQ. Angle tells him to watch his tone but the match is on. Maryse rants in French, then Elias Samson wanders by to play guitar. Miz and Maryse leave. Angle asks if he can help him but Samson plays a note and leaves.
(Thank you to WrestlingInc.com for helping me in filling in the gap.)
The cruiserweights are up next, and Neville and TJP came to the ring first. As the faces made their entrance Cole hyped the Backlash pay per view event.
Match #4 – Neville and TJP vs Jack Gallagher and Austin Aries;
Winner: Neville and TJP
The Reax: All four of these guys have issues. Aries will be taking on Neville one more time at Extreme Rules. Aries sold his knee injury by being all taped up. Aries got the better of TJP early, then tagged to Gallagher. Neville pulled him out, so Gallagher helped Aries hit a big dive over the ropes on both opponents.
During the break, Neville dumped Aries off the ropes for the heels to get control. Neville tagged in to work a damaged Aries. Aries fell to ringside where TJP threw shots while the referee was distracted. The heels continued to control Aries while the commentary team bickered about Neville and TJP’s dynamic. The crowd was chanting something unintelligible, or CM Punk, whichever is first.
Aries started to fight back and tagged to Gallagher. He hit a throw on TJP and hit a slam for a two count. Gallagher took a couple shoulder blocks but countered a corner charge with a headstand into a kick. Neville and Aries battled outside. Late in the match, Gallagher hit a big headbutt and set for a move, but Neville grabbed his leg. Fans chanted for Derek Jeter. Aries took him out at ringside, but TJP hit a forearm to the back of the head and a Detonation Kick to win.
A solid match, but the fans weren’t all that interested. They were chanting for CM Punk, Derek Jeter, and other things while the guys worked hard in the ring. They did a good job of focusing the story around the injury to Aries and saying how that would affect his championship match at Extreme Rules. The lack of interest comes right from how WWE has been handling these guys. Generally, it has been fine, but it would help to have some promo time and such with the players involved.
The commentary team hyped WWE Network and various upcoming events. The WWE:24 special with Finn Balor, the UK Championship special, NXT: Takeover Chicago, and Backlash are all coming up. Speaking of next, Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns is next.
Kurt Angle talked to Bayley backstage and said that kendo sticks are no joke. He told her that he knows she has the biggest heart on the roster and wants to fight fair, so she will get her rematch as a straight wrestling match. Bayley objected, saying that Bliss made fun of her and her family and called her a child, then hit her with a kendo stick, and she wasn’t getting a chance to inflict pain. She said she was ready to get extreme, so Angle made the match a “kendo stick on a pole” match. Vince Russo lives on!
Golden Truth talked backstage about losing in the Tag Team Turmoil match last week. They noted they would have a chance to prove themselves by going against Gallows and Anderson later tonight.
Finn Balor made his entrance, and the commentary team hyped him up. They said he would have a chance to show he belonged in the yard held so dear by the Big Dog, Roman Reigns. They went to break. Back from break, they did an extensive recap of the Strowman/Roman interaction over the past couple weeks, then Roman Reigns made his way to the ring to a series of boos. They hyped the Fatal Five Way match at Extreme Rules.
Match #5 – Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns;
Winner: Roman Reigns
The Reax: For this match, Reigns was bandaged up. Booker said Balor would have to take this to 40 minutes if he wanted a chance. Balor elbowed out of a go-behind then tossed Balor across the ring early on. Balor threw strikes in return until Reigns turned him around and threw some shoulder blocks. Reigns tossed him across the ring again and stomped on him. Graves said Reigns is the only one who could hang with Lesnar due to physicality alone. Booker said Finn is quick and special.
Reigns hit a Samoan drop and the commentary team said it may have affected Roman more than Balor due to the shoulder injury. Balor fought out of a suplex over the ropes with some strikes and an enzugiri. Balor threw a chop but Reigns came back with a punch of his own. Reigns charged but Balor escaped, sending Reigns hard to the post. Balor got in some offense going to a break.
Back live, Balor tossed Reigns to ringside, then kicked him off the apron. They recapped the crash into the post by Reigns before the break. Reigns caught Balor out of mid air and ran him into the post. Reigns broke the count then threw Balor into the barrier at ringside. He followed with a Drive-By that sent Balor into the post. Near fall.
Reigns jawed then hit his clothesline spot in the corner. Balor ducked a kick but took a spinning powerbomb for two. Both men sold. Reigns called for the Superman Punch but Balor cut him off with a kick to the ribs. He followed with some kicks and strikes. Reigns tried to load a powerbomb but Balor countered out and hit a double stomp then a slingblade.
Balor set up a move but ate a Superman Punch for a good near fall. Reigns called for the spear but Balor got a knee up to stop it then hit a second slingblade. Balor went top rope, looking for the Coup de Grace, but Reigns cut him off by hitting the ropes. Reigns hit a spear for the win. Both men sold the match, and the commentary team talked about the great matches that Angle booked on this show as well as the five way.
A solid match between the two men that showed Balor was up to the task of facing Reigns, who they’re really trying to push hard as THE top guy in the company right now. I really don’t want to see Reigns/Lesnar this quick, so I think there’s plenty of time to get to a different finish for the fatal five way and send someone else on to face Lesnar.
The arena went dark and a light came up on Wyatt. He said an evil surrounds Raw. He said it might be Angle’s show and Roman’s yard, but it’s Wyatt’s world. He said he would take the spear and go face the beast (Brock Lesnar). He said everyone would worship him as he becomes Universal Champion. He addressed Rollins, calling him the King Slayer and the Architect, but asked if he had what it takes to face evil or would he submit to his gutless instinct and run.
Charly interviewed Seth Rollins, who said Wyatt called him gutless. He talked about dealing with Samoa Joe, Steph McMahon, and his knee injury and said he doesn’t think Wyatt poses a problem. He said he doesn’t have to announce that he’s in a building, and if anyone will slay the Beast it will be the man who slayed the king.
There was supposed to be a tag match next. Truth and Goldust made their entrance, but this didn’t end well for Truth. Goldust attacked Truth and roughed him up and threw him over the ropes. The beating continued at ringside then back into the ring. There were some “thank you Goldust” chants. “That’s what’s up,” Goldust said, then he posed.
Back after the break we got a video game ad for Injustice 2.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass made their entrance to a big reaction since they’re locals. They did their entrance routine to a positive reaction from the crowd. He didn’t get to finish his initial part of his routine because Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews came out. Titus mocked Enzo’s gimmick by saying he won celebrity dad of the year, and you can’t teach that. Crews wasn’t impressed by the routine, while Titus continued to mock Enzo’s routine.
Cass said that Enzo isn’t facing Crews, but Titus is facing Cass. Crews could be heard off mic saying “I tried to tell you…”. Titus said he wasn’t wrestling in a $3,100 suit, but Cass said the match was going to happen and he wasn’t going to like how he looked.
Match #6 – Big Cass (w/Enzo Amore) vs. Titus O’Neil (w/Apollo Crews);
Winner: Big Cass
The Reax: Titus got the early advantage and took his belt off to whip Cass. Enzo yelled at Titus and he turned to address Enzo, but turned into a big boot from Cass. That was it. Enzo took a selfie but ended up also taking an enzugiri from Crews. This was a simple filler segment to get to the main event, nothing more or less. I know I didn’t care much about it. The crowd was hot for the hometown guys though.
They hyped the main event between Rollins and Wyatt for next.
They hyped the WWE:24 special with Finn Balor after Raw, and 205 Live with TJP facing Austin Aries.
Backstage, Neville and TJP talked about the match earlier. Neville said he’s doing well, and TJP said that when he wins they win, and it’s a walking festival. He said he still hasn’t gotten what he wants though. Neville said his opportunity is around the corner but they still have an Austin Aries problem. He said Aries’ knee is hanging on by a thread, and tomorrow on 205 Live they will end it once and for all.
Match #7 – Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins;
Winner: Seth Rollins by DQ
The Reax: Wyatt tossed Rollins down after an early lock-up. Rollins came back with a snapmare and a kick to the back, then kept up the pressure with strikes. Rollins ducked a Wyatt cross body block then dove on Wyatt outside. The two fought outside, with Rollins trying to springboard onto Wyatt. Wyatt caught him out of air and hit a uranage into the barrier before the break.
Out of break, Rollins was on the top rope and he took a shot from Wyatt. Wyatt took him down hard and got a two then perched him up on the ropes again. The two fought on the ropes, then Wyatt hit a superplex for two. Wyatt controlled Rollins with a chinlock. Wyatt set for a uranage but Rollins slipped out then threw Wyatt to the apron. He tried for a follow-up dive but Wyatt threw a punch to cut that off. Moments later, Rollins hit a blockbuster.
Rollins started to fire up, hitting a slingblade then dumping Wyatt face first to the buckle. He sent Wyatt to the floor then followed with a kick through the ropes then a suicide dive. Rollins hit a clothesline off the ropes for two. The two men stuffed suplex attempts, then Wyatt tried for Sister Abigail. Rollins countered out with an enzugiri. Moments later, Wyatt hit a big clothesline for two. The crowd is kind of quiet for this.
Rollins hit rapid slaps then charged but Wyatt hit a uranage for two. Wyatt set for Sister Abigail again but Rollins slipped out for a roll-up for two. Rollins scored a two count of his own then went top rope. Wyatt rolled out, then Rollins turned course and dove on Wyatt.
Samoa Joe showed up and went right at Rollins, causing the disqualification. Joe roughed up Rollins in the ring and yelled “it’s over when I say it’s over.” Wyatt joined him in the ring and they stared at each other, then both attacked Rollins. Wyatt backed him off and they smiled at each other, but Joe went to attack Rollins again. Wyatt caught him and hit Sister Abigail on Joe then on Rollins. Wyatt posed on his knees between the two as the show ended, yelling “Follow the Buzzards.”
I don’t know if it was crowd burnout or just disinterest, but they were really quiet during the match. They hyped it as the first time the two had ever faced off throughout the show, so it makes me wonder if it was the former. The match was fine for what it was, and I really didn’t have a problem with the ending in that it sold the “every man for himself” part with Wyatt hitting both Joe and Rollins with his finish. It also continued the bad blood between Joe and Rollins which felt logical too.
All in all, not a terrible show but not a hot show. They still have a couple weeks until Extreme Rules, and they’re starting to set up the card. I think Bliss vs. Bayley will be a good match, as will the Hardys vs. Cesaro and Sheamus. I’d like to get past Miz vs. Ambrose since that feud is really on its last leg, and I think they can do that at the pay per view. They booked an interesting five-way match that has me wondering who will go on to face Lesnar, but it’s not heated up yet. They’ll have to work hard over the next two weeks and get the matches heated up some more and get my interest level up.
Drew Koscelek will be by tomorrow with Around the Ring as well as Smackdown and 205 Live coverage. I’ll be back later this week for Ring Rap Audio among other things pro wrestling. See you then.