On the night after Extreme Rules, WWE rolls into Wilkes-Barre, PA for Raw. We now know that Samoa Joe is the man who will go on to face Brock Lesnar at the Great Balls of Fire pay per view in five weeks’ time. The Destroyer said it after the show – he wants Lesnar. Will the Beast show up to see what his contender is all about? Will Paul Heyman show up to address Joe? And what of the contenders who didn’t make it – Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, and Roman Reigns. Where do they go from here? Who is next for Alexa Bliss, who easily dispatched the challenge of Bayley in a kendo stick match? Will Nia Jax ask for her turn?
Show Open, Live from the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre, PA;
Then, now, forever. They opened with a recap of the Fatal Five Way match in photos, focusing on some of the big moments of the match and the finish with Samoa Joe finishing off Finn Balor by submission. After the Raw intro, Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T checked in for the call as pyro shot off. Fun fact – I was involved in the construction of the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
They talked about Samoa Joe being the new #1 Contender, then Wyatt’s entrance cut in and he made his way to the ring. He’s going to fight Roman Reigns to open the show. Cole talked about the frog splash that Rollins threw on Wyatt in the match. Graves called this a chance for the four men who lost to get their momentum back tonight.
Wyatt waited out cheers (?!) then said last night was the beginning of the end. He said he had a chance to slay the beast and save the fans from damnation but instead of being armed with his sword they stuck it in his heart. “But I am still here and I am still alive, and I am still every bit of the god I have always been.” He said that he’s here tonight to cast judgement on the guilty – Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns are all guilty. Reigns got a healthy round of boos, of course.
“Roman Reigns is guilty.” Wyatt said he made a vow that one by one they must all be punished, starting with Reigns right now tonight. Reigns didn’t let him finish before making his entrance to more healthy boos. PA’s making me proud tonight. Cole of course calls it “a reaction” because we know that’s what Vince cares about. The commentary team put over that both men couldn’t be at 100 percent after the battle last night.
Wyatt still had the mic and laughed into it. “Right on cue.” Wyatt waited out chants, but Reigns ripped the mic from him. The chants unified into “Let’s go Roman” and “Roman Sucks.” He said it’s why he’s the guy and he asked Wyatt if he knew what happened if he ran his mouth in Roman’s yard. Reigns threw a right hand and Wyatt sold outside the ring.
Match #1 – Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt;
Winner: Roman Reigns
The Reax: Wyatt charged and went for Sister Abigail right away, but Roman escaped and hit a Superman punch right out of the box before they went to a break. Back from break, Wyatt got a two count. They showed Wyatt hitting his crash block during the break, then talked about Samoa Joe winning and facing Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire. Still a dumb pay per view name.
Reigns fought out of a headlock then tried to load Wyatt for a Samoan Drop. No luck, but Wyatt hit a DDT instead for two. Back to the headlock. Crowd seemed into this early matchup. Reigns fought out again, but Wyatt cut off his corner clothesline spot. Wyatt went up on the buckle, but Reigns loaded him and hit a Samoan Drop for two.
Reigns hit clotheslines, then tried for a charge in the corner but Wyatt booted him in the shoulder then ran him to the post. Reigns fell to the floor, where Wyatt hit him with a running senton. Ouch. Raw is commercials, because we just went to another one.
Wyatt controlled the action out of the break with another headlock. Is he Randy Orton? Wyatt threw Reigns into the ropes but Reigns held on, threw a right hand, then pitched Wyatt to ringside. Wyatt came back in and was met with some kicks and a big clothesline. Reigns followed with his corner clothesline spot. Reigns landed a big boot for two.
After some selling, Reigns got to his feet to boos then called for the Superman punch. Wyatt did his crabwalk, so Reigns paused momentarily before trying the Punch. Wyatt caught him with a uranage for two. Good near fall there. Crowd was pretty hot as Wyatt splashed Reigns then perched him on the buckle.
The two fought on the buckle, with Reigns hitting a series of headbutts before landing a sit-out powerbomb for two. Reigns set up again for the Punch, but Wyatt side stepped it. Reigns came back with the shot off of Wyatt charging at him for a good near fall.
Strong mixed reactions as Reigns called for the spear. Wyatt bailed to ringside, but Reigns met him there with the Drive By. The two men collided hard at ringside with a big clothesline. They sold as the official started the count. Reigns just beat it.
Wyatt teased Sister Abigail, but Reigns escaped and rolled him up. Wyatt kicked out, but Reigns hit the Superman Punch then a spear to put Wyatt away. The commentary team recapped highlights after saying that Reigns would be “moving on.” The commentary team hyped that we would hear from Samoa Joe later.
A solid opening matchup between two men who went through a war last night. Much credit to them for working a strong match after that battle. The crowd was hot and into this throughout, and clearly split hard for and against Reigns. If the show stays at this pace, it should be a good night. But I’m not counting on it. It would be nice, though, if they clarified what these men would get the chance for as a result of winning the individual matches.
They noted they would be recapping Alexa Bliss’ squashing of Bayley from last night. That should take about three minutes at most, right?
Enzo and Cass joined Charly for an interview. She asked Enzo about the anonymous attackers that have been jumping him and what that might do to his mindset going into a match with Gallows and Anderson. Enzo said some stuff that didn’t make sense. Cass said that people insinuating he is the guy attacking Enzo infuriates him. He said he would watch Enzo’s back at all times including in their match. Enzo made googly eyes at Charly before running after Cass.
Cass is too damn strong on the “I’m watching” to NOT be the guy who is attacking.
They recapped the Bliss squash of Bayley in a segment that I think took longer than the match itself. They showed Bayley’s injuries and said she is at home recuperating.
Alexa Bliss approached Kurt Angle as he was reading texts. She was insulted that Angle didn’t congratulate her, then said she was done with Bayley and wanted to move on. She pitched a segment called “Alexa Bliss – this is MY life” but Kurt shot it down and said the “this is your life” segment last week was the worst on Raw ever. Oh it’s true, it’s damn true. Angle reminded her she said she was ready to move on and promised Nia Jax a title shot, so he would face Jax for the title later. Bliss wasn’t happy, but it’s happening.
Elias Samson asked who wants to walk with Elias. No one wants to. He said he saw a leaf fall and it inspired a song so he sang a song for us again. Dean Ambrose cut the song off, and that didn’t make him happy. Ambrose wanted to say something but he opened a can of whoop-ass on Samson.
Ambrose got back in the ring and said he was there for one reason – he wanted The Miz and a rematch for the Intercontinental Championship “right here and right now.” Miz appeared on the screen and said there wouldn’t be a match because he was going to start his Intercontinental Championship comeback tour. Samson jumped Ambrose from behind and took him out with a swinging neckbreaker. “That’s what happens Dean, that’s what happens when you hit me with a mic!”
I’m hoping that Ambrose moves away from Miz to feud with Samson. That way, Miz can go do something else instead of feud with Ambrose.
They hyped Samoa Joe appearing next to talk about being the new #1 Contender to Brock Lesnar’s Universal Championship.
Ambrose made his way through the backstage area when he found Kurt. He asked where the Miz’s locker room was so he could go get his title match. Angle told him he would get a rematch but not tonight and that Miz’s people set this celebration up. He said he didn’t want to deal with Maryse, so he suggested Dean take the night off and cool off. Ambrose again insinuated he would go to Miz’s locker room, but Angle told him to take the night off. Ambrose left.
Not the last time we see Ambrose tonight.
Samoa Joe made his way to the ring as the commentary team recapped the five way match through still shots. They hyped Lesnar vs. Joe for “Great Balls of Fire.” Somewhat mixed reaction for Joe, with some positive chants and some boos.
He said he’s going to make it simple. “What stands here in front of you is a man who does not fear Brock Lesnar.” He said he hated to admit it because he is far too envious of Lesnar, saying he wants everything Lesnar has and wants to take it from him. Joe said he wanted Lesnar’s schedule where he can come in and beat people down when he chooses. “I want Paul Heyman. I want him to be my advocate, negotiate my contracts, and run my errands.”
Joe said that most importantly and more than anything else he wanted the Universal Championship. He said that live on pay per view Joe would be the one staring at Lesnar, walking him down, and taking the title. Cue Paul Heyman to cheers.
Heyman introduced himself as the advocate for the “reigning, defending, undisputed, Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar.” The fans played along. Heyman addressed Joe as the contender “and rightfully so.” He talked about Joe earning the shot at Extreme Rules. He put Joe over as the man who left wreckage behind everywhere he has been in his career.
Heyman entered the ring and said he understands Joe doesn’t fear Lesnar, but Lesnar doesn’t fear Joe either. Heyman said he thinks Joe likes it that Lesnar isn’t afraid. He said he worries for a living and gets concerned at Lesnar’s various opponents. “Every time I worry, Lesnar assuages my concerns.” He said it doesn’t matter who they are or any of their qualities, but Lesnar assuages his concerns.
Heyman recounted wanting to see Lesnar vs. Balor, calling it a great story to tell. “But you, Samoa Joe, you are the worst case scenario. Because you don’t give a damn, you want to take this fight to Brock Lesnar, you want to go to war with Brock Lesnar.” Heyman said even if Lesnar can assuage his concerns, Lesnar won’t leave the same way he entered, because Joe will take a piece of Lesnar with him. He said it’s his job to make sure that Lesnar is Joe’s worst case scenario at the pay per view. “Samoa Joe, if you want Brock Lesnar, you’ve got Brock Lesnar.”
Joe confronted Heyman off mic. He told Heyman that he was disappointed that Lesnar wasn’t present. He explained in detail of putting Heyman in the Coquina Clutch and told him to take it back to Lesnar as a message. Joe locked him in the Clutch and held it until officials broke it. The fans chanted “We want Brock,” and Joe got a mic and said “and so do I” before leaving.
That was a pretty strong segment. One minor nitpick would be that Joe’s lines to Heyman off mic should have been on the mic so that the live crowd could have heard what we heard on TV (I suspect they didn’t get to hear that). But that was good initial sell for the match and it made me look forward to what will happen the rest of the way.
They recapped the close of the segment we just saw. Graves asked how the Beast would react to this. Kurt Angle confronted Joe backstage and asked what he was doing. Joe said he would take out anyone in his way to Lesnar and asked Angle if he was in his way. Seth Rollins stepped in and said he was. Rollins recounted Joe trying to end his career earlier this year. He said Joe beat Finn Balor, but he’s Seth Freaking Rollins. He challenged Joe, and Angle made the match official. “Mistakes we make, Seth…mistakes we make,” Joe said as he backed away.
Sheamus and Cesaro made their entrance for a match, and the commentary team recapped the tag team championship inside the cage from the pay per view. They’ve got Slater and Rhyno.
Match #2 – Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno;
Winner: Sheamus and Cesaro
The Reax: Sheamus went right at Slater, throwing him into the ring post. Slater threw some strikes but Sheamus took him back down. Cesaro tagged in and hit a double axe off the ropes. Slater went for a tag, but Cesaro pulled Rhyno off the apron. Cesaro and Rhyno brawled outside, and Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick on Slater to win.
Sheamus said that’s how an intelligent team wins, and it’s why they beat the Hardys last night. He asked the fans who are happy the Hardys returned. Cesaro said the Hardys are not happy they returned. Sheamus said that the Hardys are licking their wounds and waiting for rematch. They put themselves over as the two time champions and said they don’t set the bar, they are the bar.
Fine for what it was, which really was to get to a promo from the new champs. And was this really just the second match of the show? You can tell they’re resetting to new feuds. With this show’s structure tonight, they could easily shut it down at 10PM though as the resets haven’t been terrible.
Backstage, TJP came across Neville. He congratulated him on the win, but said it’s time for them to talk about their deal. Neville told him to have patient, but TJP said he held up his end of the bargain and helped solve the Aries problem. He told Neville it’s time he held up his end. Neville told TJP he is a man of his word. He told TJP if he took care of business against Mustafa Ali, he would talk to Angle.
I can easily see them stretching this story out and making TJP grow continually frustrated by Neville ducking him by putting other competitors in his way.
Match #3 – TJP vs. Mustafa Ali;
The Reax: No televised entrance for Ali, and TJP’s entrance was joined in progress. TJP started off fast on Ali with strikes. Ali floated over a charge then hit TJP with a springboard cross body. Ali held on to the ropes when whipped in. The two battled at the ropes, exchanging strikes. Perkins hit a slingshot senton for two. Perkins slowed Ali down with a headlock.
TJP loaded the Detonation Kick but Ali slipped out and came back with a springboard DDT. He had Perkins set up for his inverted 450 but TJP kicked the ropes. TJP loaded the Detonation Kick and hit it for the win.
Neville made his way out with a mic in hand. He said he didn’t know how to break it to him, and said he talked to Angle. He said that he had unfortunate news. TJP cut him off and demanded to go to talk to Angle, but Neville jumped him and beat him down. Neville said Perkins has his shot tomorrow on 205 Live.
The match was good, but the fans didn’t care. Again, it’s about the lack of built characters. They’re paying off the TJP/Neville angle pretty fast it would seem, but then again there are a lot of booking possibilities they could run with on 205 Live tomorrow night. Drew Koscelek has your coverage.
We got a Goldust promo package, promising the Golden age is back again.
Backstage, Dana Brooke, Sasha Banks, and Mickie James talked. Alexa Bliss showed up and the other three weren’t interested in talking so they went to leave. She said she knew they didn’t like her but she wanted to talk. Mickie and Dana stuck around. She asked about Nia cutting line and asked how they felt about that. She proposed that they work together on the Nia Jax problem. Dana said they didn’t have a problem, but Alexa did. Mickie said they would watch her deal with the problem on her own from ringside.
The commentary team talked about the match later, but Kurt Angle interrupted and discussed text messages with Corey Graves again. Kalisto made his way to the ring for the next match. They recapped Kalisto beating Apollo Crews on the pre-show at last night’s event.
Backstage, Kurt was looking at his phone again and Mike Rome asked what the conversation was about. Kurt called it a private matter and left. Ambrose snuck in the open door and looked around.
Match #4 – Kalisto vs. Titus O’Neil (w/Apollo Crews);
The Reax: Cole said he’s lit but Titus is krunk. Keep your day job, Cole. NXT Takeover Brooklyn:III happens on SummerSlam Weekend. Tickets on sale Friday. Titus had the early control of the match, then talked to Crews. Kalisto hit a move for a one count. They showed Akira Tozawa watching backstage and said that Titus offered him to be a part of the Titus Brand. Titus snatched Kalisto out of air, but he slipped thru. Titus sat down into the pin, but Kalisto rolled him over and pinned Titus with the tights.
They played it as “turnaround is fair play” for the finish. It’s a weak story, but it gives us some exposure to Kalisto. Still not building anyone up all that much though.
They went backstage to show Miz and Maryse walking out for their celebration segment. They came across Cass who was taken out by someone. An official ran in and yelled for help, and Enzo showed up to check on him. Cass produced a chain when Enzo asked who did it.
Odd camera work showed The Revival in the background of the shot when Ambrose re-entered the building. That is my bet as to the story they’re building.
Enzo talked to Cass and said that just because there was a chain there, he was not the one who jumped Cass. Enzo was worried about the match coming up and the official told him he would have to find another partner.
Maryse stood in the ring and introduced the Miz to the ring for the celebration. They recapped the match between Ambrose and Miz with still shots. Miz waited out a “you deserve it” chant and said that the chant would mean more if the fans didn’t chant it for every championship change.
He said that he disposed of Ambrose and said he would restore the championship to heights it once soared to. Miz got a glass and proposed a toast to himself and to his wife. “May we never know a time when I am not the Intercontinental Champion.”
Miz said Maryse outdid herself with the dancing bear. She said she didn’t get the bear, and Miz didn’t get it either. Miz roughed the bear up and discovered it was a local jobber. He threw him out of the ring. Miz attacked a present that was brought to ringside, and Miz said anything could be inside. He attacked the package and Maryse screamed at him to stop. It was a grandfather clock. She got mad and left.
Miz got upset and blamed Ambrose for this. He demanded Ambrose show himself, but it turned out that Ambrose was the cameraman in the ring. Ambrose kicked him and hit Dirty Deeds. Miz rolled to ringside and Ambrose grabbed his champagne and left.
Fine enough to get to a rematch, which is logical, and fans bought in to this one. As long as they build the rematch appropriately I’ll be fine with it.
They hyped Rollins vs. Joe then focused on Enzo Amore needing a partner for a match against Gallows and Anderson next.
Match #5 – Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Enzo Amore and Big Show;
Winner: Enzo and Big Show
The Reax: Gallows and Anderson with the jobber entrance off air. Enzo came out and did his entrance gimmick with the Cass half omitted. Fans were into it and chanted “how you doin'” for him. He said he’s a G, but he’s 4G and he’s well connected. He called in a favor and he’s seven feet tall. You can’t teach that. It’s the Big Show.
Enzo handed Show a mic and said he’s looking a little thin. Show looks legit annoyed with Enzo as he said he only cuts carbs with a pizza wheel. Enzo thanked Show for helping him out. Show did Cass’ part of the gimmick.
Gallows and Anderson went at Enzo right from the start. He avoided a big boot and tagged to Show. Show went on offense, splashing both men in the corner then shoulder tackling down Gallows. He chokeslammed Anderson then threw Enzo onto Anderson for the win.
This was what it was. Fans were into seeing Big Show, and he showed some character by interacting with Enzo’s normal gimmick.
They hyped Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax for next. They aired a Superstar profile of Alexa Bliss.
Enzo and Show talked about the match and came across Cass. Cass accused Show of attacking them from behind and the two exchanged some tense words for a moment. Enzo played peacemaker and said they should go to the casino. Show told them to go enjoy it and watched them leave.
We got an R-Truth vignette in style of the earlier Goldust package. He told Goldust he is gonna get got.
Mike Rome talked to Alexa Bliss about her match against Nia Jax and asked if she regretted making that statement. She said she’s stuck on a brand where the other stars are stuck on themselves or don’t care. She left. Nia Jax made her entrance, then it was Raw is Commercials again as we went back to break.
Match #6 – Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax; Raw Women’s Championship;
Winner: Alexa Bliss by DQ, she retains the title.
The Reax: Bliss came to the ring after the break, not looking happy about the situation. Bliss tried to beg off early as Mickie James and Dana Brooke made their way down to the ring to watch. Bliss tried to beg off again but slapped Jax after she grabbed her hair. Jax tossed her across the ring then splashed her in an opposite corner. Alexa sidestepped a charge and tried to lock in a sleeper, but Jax slung her off and hit a couple elbow drops.
Bliss hit a boot on a charge but got slammed down by a block. Bliss rolled to the floor to get away but crawled right into Brooke and James. Bliss tried to fight them, so the match ended in a DQ. Bliss threw a drop kick then ran away. Jax took out James and Brooke after the match.
As expected, something was up with James and Brooke, and we saw it play out. I couldn’t see them giving away a legitimate title match on the show. It looks like they’re working toward Jax vs. Bliss in a real match, but she’ll end up dealing with Mickie and Dana along the way. The women’s division feels like it’s in a weird place ever since they moved Charlotte over to Smackdown.
A trainer tended to Heyman when the phone rang. Heyman was talking to Lesnar by the way it played out. Heyman said it was time for Lesnar to show up on Raw next week, and it was time to unleash the beast. They hyped Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins as the main event, next.
They hyped 205 Live and TJP vs. Neville as well as Lesnar appearing on Raw next week in Louisiana.
Match #7 – Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins;
Winner: Samoa Joe
The Reax: They recapped the earlier Heyman/Joe segment as Joe made his entrance. Joe smiled at his handiwork while he waited for Rollins to enter. Rollins got a nice reaction when his music hit. As Rollins made his way to the ring they recapped how this match got set up. Joe just smirked at Rollins’ taunts.
Joe went right at Rollins, tossing his towel then throwing strikes. Rollins fired back out of the mount and threw punches but Joe cut him off. Rollins countered a powerbomb with a huracanrana, but Joe cut the offense off with more strikes. Joe threw Rollins to ringside, but Rollins jumped right back in. Joe cut him off with a big crashing block.
Rollins threw Joe to ringside and tried to dive, but Joe cut him off with a kick. He threw Rollins into the barrier as the commentary team talked about what Joe said on Raw Talk last night about Lesnar could train any way he liked but has never faced anyone like Joe. Joe kept up the striking offense on Rollins back inside the ring.
Rollins fired back with strikes of his own, then set up a springboard move but Joe tripped the ropes to cut Rollins off. He hit a kick in the corner going into a break. Joe continued to control the offense out of the break. During the break, Joe cut off a slingblade attempt with an overhead release suplex.
Joe tripped Rollins off the ropes and covered for two. Rollins fought his way out of a neck vise but took an atomic drop, then a boot and a running back senton for two. Joe went to work on the arm, but Rollins got to his feet and threw some punches to break away. Rollins hit a kick then took a powerslam for two.
Joe threw chops in the corner as we cross 11PM EST. Joe caught Rollins’ leg but Rollins threw forearm shots then an enzugiri. Joe rolled to ringside, but Rollins met him there with a dive. Rollins ducked under a clothesline then hit a slingblade. Joe rolled to ringside and was met with a dive.
Back in the ring Rollins hit a blockbuster and Joe rolled back to ringside where he was met with yet another dive. Rollins hit a springboard clothesline back in the ring for two. Both men sold. Joe tried to lock in the Clutch but Rollins slipped around and hit a Falcon Arrow for a near fall.
Joe picked Rollins up but he slipped over and rolled Joe for two. Rollins went top rope and set for something but Wyatt’s sounder cut in. No Wyatt though. Joe locked in the Clutch, and Rollins went to dream street. Joe won. Cole noted Rollins’ comments about Wyatt being a false prophet and martyr and wondered if that’s why Wyatt’s sounder hit.
They hyped Lesnar appearing on Raw next week as Joe admired his defeat of Rollins to end the show.
A good main event to close the show. Rollins and Joe have some nice chemistry together and put on some good matches. It’s clear now that they’re moving to Rollins vs. Wyatt and obviously Joe vs. Lesnar, so I look for those programs to take full direction next week, especially with Lesnar returning to the show (if only for a week).
I thought the Joe vs. Lesnar program got a strong kick start with that segment with him and Heyman. His intensity has been good since he came up to the main roster – he’s not the same Joe from TNA. He is the Destroyer and so far, he’s being handled as such. I’m excited about the Lesnar/Joe pairing and think they can come up with something good if given the creative chance.
The rest of the show, well, it was reset night. It looks like there is some sense of direction for a few things, but nothing is clear yet. We’ll get at least one more match out of Miz and Ambrose and The Hardys and Sheamus and Cesaro. Bliss looks destined to face Jax. God only knows where some of the other things are going.
Drew Koscelek has your Smackdown and 205 Live coverage tomorrow. I’ll be back with Drew on Wednesday to recap the weekend and talk all other things in wrestling on Ring Rap Audio. Be sure to hit us up with your Favorite thing in Wrestling with the #FTIW hashtag on Twitter @RingRap. See you then.