WWE storms into Cajun Country tonight as this week’s Raw comes to us from Lafayette, LA. Brock Lesnar can’t be too happy about Samoa Joe choking out his advocate, Paul Heyman, last Monday, and tonight he’s going to show how unhappy he is. Will Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar come to blows, and will Lesnar extract revenge for last Monday? Nia Jax laid waste to Mickie James and Dana Brooke last week after losing to Alexa Bliss by DQ. Will she continue to tear through them on her way to a shot at Bliss’ Raw Women’s Championship? Also, the Hardys are going to get their rematch tonight for the Raw Tag Team Championships – will Cesaro and Sheamus hold off their challenge?
Show Open, Live from the CajunDome in Lafayette, LA:
Then, now, forever…bitches. WWE intro rolls, then they recap the excellent angle between Samoa Joe and Paul Heyman from last Monday night. Probably one of my favorite angles/promos of the year so far….so well done. By the way, this is car show week for yours truly, so hopefully these guys give me something to talk about on a special Tuesday version of Around the Ring when I take the reigns from Drew Koscelek for this week. Don’t worry, he’ll be by on Thursday in my normal slot.
There’s no waiting, as here comes The Beast Incarnate. Brock Lesnar made his way to the ring with Paul Heyman in tow as Cole said the Beast is about to be unleashed. He recounted that Samoa Joe won the fatal five way to ensure he would collide with Brock at Great Balls of Fire in four weeks. Graves said that “big fight feel” gets tossed around a lot but it truly describes Joe vs. Lesnar.
Heyman introduced himself and said that it was Samoa Joe’s day of reckoning at the hands of Lesnar. Heyman recounted how he showed Joe respect, saying he asked permission to enter the ring. He compared Joe to a shark, saying he lured Heyman in and took him out.
He said that Lesnar and Heyman talked and if this were an old score to settle then he probably had it coming, but Joe instead kicked open the door to Lesnar’s domain. “Now, Brock Lesnar has a problem, and it’s going to be solved by the greatest problem solver in WWE History, Brock Lesnar.”
He called Joe the “worst case scenario” and put Joe’s ability over as the man who could go “man vs. beast,” but said it’s not the case. He talked about Samoan heritage in wrestling and said they’re all proud of each others’ accomplishments except for Joe. He called him a mutt and a dog and said his defining moment is locking Heyman in the Coquina Clutch. He credited Joe for the hold being everything Joe said it would be and described being locked in the hold.
Heyman said “oh my God, what if Joe gets the Coquina Clutch on Brock Lesnar.” Heyman said Joe would never get it on him because Joe wasn’t man enough. Joe had enough and headed out to the ring. Lesnar smirked, but Joe was all business. Lesnar motioned for Joe to get in the ring and Joe obliged. The two stood nose to nose.
The brawl is on. Joe threw punches, but Lesnar retaliated by working Joe to the corner. Kurt Angle ran out with security, trying to keep them apart, but the two fought through them and went back at it. Here came the locker room, with the two battling even more. Joe broke free and landed a kick that angered Lesnar and the fight continued outside. They finally got them separated, and Cole called it an awesome start as they restored order.
Cole moved on to hype the Raw Tag Team Championship main event, which will pit the Hardys vs. Sheamus and Cesaro in a two out of three falls match.
I liked this continuation. Joe said nothing but looked like a badass by taking the fight right to Lesnar. Heyman was on target as he most always is. I don’t think this is the end of the line between these two tonight. Less is more, so hopefully they don’t overdose on it. But none the less a strong start.
They recapped what we just saw out of Joe and Lesnar. “You think this was chaos, wait until four weeks from now in Dallas.” Booker said that this is the reason why he picked Joe to win. Graves put Joe over for removing the doubt around him.
Elias Samson showed up to sing us a song. He got some pretty hearty boos when he asked who wanted to walk with him. So, guessing no one. He said the fans inspired his song, and asked them to keep their applause to the end. Of course, the song trolled the fans. Dean Ambrose wasn’t inspired by the song, so he headed out to interrupt for the first match.
Match #1 – Dean Ambrose vs. Elias Samson;
Winner: Elias Samson
The Reax: They recapped Miz beating up a bear and a grandfather clock from last week, then getting jumped from behind by Ambrose. They said Ambrose needed to focus on Samson now. The two jockeyed in a corner early, then Ambrose got a hammerlock. Samson threw a couple of knees at the ropes, but Ambrose picked up the pace with a spinning elbow and a chop. Samson rolled out for a break.
I’m not sure why I got a glimpse of the NBA Finals, but they came back with a strong clothesline from Samson for two. Samson continued the assault in the corner. Said it before, I like Samson’s look and think he offers something to the card. The fans chanted that Samson sucked. Booker said if Samson can win it would put him in “the water cooler talk” as Samson worked a chinlock.
“You can’t wrestle” “You can’t sing” chants got going. Ambrose broke the chinlock with a belly to back suplex. The chop and strike exchange got going, with Ambrose taking over the offense. He hit a fisherman’s suplex for two. Ambrose threw a forearm in the corner and tried to follow with a bulldog but Samson threw him off and hit a boot. Ambrose sent Samson to ringside then followed with a big dive.
Ambrose fed Samson in then tried going top rope. Samson met him and they fought on the buckle, with Samson setting a superplex. Ambrose countered out and threw some headbutts, with Samson tumbling to the mat. Miz came out to get involved, which let Samson roll up Ambrose for two.
Ambrose threw a clothesline then rolled out to ringside to confront Miz. He chased him around the ring then grabbed him and threw him into the barrier. After some more banter between Ambrose and Miz, he dove back in to avoid the count-out. Samson hit him with double knees as he dove in then hit his swinging neckbreaker to win. Miz smirked from the stage as Graves put the win over.
They are obviously going to the rematch between Miz and Ambrose, so this made sense overall to have Miz still hanging around. But in my opinion, there’s just not much left between Miz and Ambrose to keep me super-excited about the program. Samson put in a good effort here.
Goldust promo time. It’s a Shattered Dreams Production. For an undercard program, they’re doing a decent job of producing something that feels like it has some meaning. “Ignorance can be beautiful, but just like beauty nothing lasts forever.” He said the Golden Age is back.
Miz walked backstage and Angle stopped him and ranted about what he just did. Miz said that his celebration was ruined last week. Miz made reference to the texts Angle was getting and said that Angle was too consumed with his personal issues to deal with Ambrose. Angle asked him what he knew, but Miz blew past it and demanded Ambrose be suspended or fired. Angle said he would do nothing, and told Miz to deal with Ambrose himself.
They ran a hype package for Cedric Alexander. That was pretty well done. Backstage, Noam Dar was Face-Timing with Alicia Fox when Cedric Alexander showed up. He said that he was done with Dar last week and done with his “ex-girlfriend” Fox. Dar revealed she was on the phone and she said that if Alexander had something to say, say it to her face. Alexander shook his head and said this ends tonight.
Match #2 – Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar;
Winner: Cedric Alexander
The Reax: Alexander worked the crowd up to get a reaction. Noam Dar came to the ring with Fox still on Face Time. Really? This is ridiculous. Talk about things that hold this division back. She wanted to see every step of the match. Jesus. Lumbar Check, and it’s over.
Yikes. This was terrible. No one really got anything out of this at all, unless Alexander moves on to something more meaningful.
They hyped the main event tag team championship match coming up later. Bray Wyatt was hyped to be coming up next.
They ran a hype video package for Roman Reigns. I’m sure that’s set to anger some fans who think we get too much Reigns as it is. “This is my yard now.” was a theme. They hype Reigns announcing his plan for SummerSlam next Monday.
Wyatt cut in, so it’s storytime. He said that humanity is collapsing under the weight of its sin. Wyatt claimed he is the only one that can save. “I’m here.” Out goes the lantern, and he made his entrance. Cole gave his usual “fireflies” line as Wyatt made his way to the ring.
In the ring, Wyatt continued his promo by saying those who deny him would be judged and those who sit in apathy would pay for their guilt. “Those who dare blaspheme my name will be punished – just like Seth Rollins.” He said Rollins has it all figured out and has all the answers. Looks like the next Wyatt feud is Seth Rollins. He said it only took one dose of his truth to shatter Seth Rollins’ glass house.
He said Rollins would be picking shards of glass from his soul for all eternity thanks to Wyatt’s judgement. I love Wyatt’s delivery, but my God if he could get a few meaningful wins he’d really be meaning something. He said if we took his name in vain, we’d fall. Rollins had heard about enough and made his way out. Wyatt stared at him.
Rollins said he needed to clarify something and said Wyatt cost him his match with Joe “because I called you a couple of names?” Rollins recounted calling him a false prophet and wannabe martyr and said it wasn’t blasphemy, it was the truth. He said Wyatt likes to hide in the shadows and strike from the dark.
Rollins said that since they’re spitting truth, that philosophy makes Wyatt a coward. He said since they were standing there in the open, he dared Wyatt to prove him wrong. Wyatt said Rollins was oozing arrogance all over the place and said Rollins sees the man in his reflection. Wyatt said all he sees is a man who is beneath him and said Rollins doesn’t want the fight. “My power is more than you can possibly fathom.”
Wyatt talked about Rollins slaying a king, then his cut-in hit and Wyatt disappeared. The cut-in played again, and Wyatt was on the Tron. Wyatt said Rollins might have found the will to slay a king but a god lives forever. Wyatt laughed. “So face your fear, man, and run.”
A well-executed segment, but Wyatt means so little in the grand picture. I love his delivery, and think he could be a meaningful character if I didn’t go into each feud thinking he was going to lose right out of the box. I see them putting Rollins over here in this one, just like they did with everyone else he has faced.
Charly talked to the Hardys about the two out of three falls match. Matt put Sheamus and Cesaro over as a physical team and said they don’t fear this daunting task. Jeff said they’ll climb over it then jump off of it. They said Sheamus and Cesaro might believe they are the bar, but tonight they’ll break the bar.
They hyped “free agent” John Cena returning to Smackdown on July 4. Makes you wonder if he might show up on Raw for a pop sometime.
Kalisto was in the ring for a match back live.
Match #3 – Kalisto vs. Apollo Crews (w/Titus O’Neil);
Winner: Apollo Crews
The Reax: Is this really going anywhere? Apollo and Titus invited Cole and Graves to a BBQ. Titus also made Akira Tozawa as a guest for this match. UGGHHHH! Tozawa can get over on his own. Early on, Kalisto went over Crews with a handstand but Crews cut him off then hit a snap suplex for a cover.
Titus yelled at Tozawa, who plugged his ears. In the ring, Kalisto hit an enzugiri then followed with a huracanrana and a short-rana for two. Fans rallied behind Kalisto, but Crews rolled him for two. Kalisto went for a springboard elbow but Crews caught him and hit his sit-out powerbomb for the win. Titus went and brought Tozawa in the ring, who looked bewildered as they celebrated and took a selfie together.
Crews vs. Kalisto is a good program without all of the other wrappings of the Titus Brand. I feel like Tozawa can get over on his own – as could Crews and Kalisto – if given a proper program and time to work the mic on their own. This Titus Brand thing doesn’t click with me.
Miz approached Heath Slater and Rhyno and said they were former Smackdown Tag Champs but Angle has wasted them. He said this was their chance to gain relevancy. Miz invited Slater to join his entourage, and Rhyno said he had a tag partner. Miz said that Slater could have what he wanted if he asked. Slater recalled wanting to be Intercontinental Champion and eyed the title. Miz told him to join him and he could get a title shot someday. Rhyno cut him off and said Slater had a tag partner, and told Miz to find a partner because they had a match later.
Alexa Bliss made her way to the ring as they recapped last week’s segment where Nia Jax took out Mickie James and Dana Brooke after they confronted Bliss.
Bliss talked about winning against Bayley then defending her title against Nia Jax. She said that she doesn’t have an obligation to defend this week. She mentioned the Women’s Smackdown Money in the Bank match briefly when Nia Jax’s music hit and she headed to the ring with a purpose.
“Forced? You told me I deserved that opportunity. You promised me.” Bliss backpedaled quickly and said she wanted them to have a classic match that people would be able to watch over again. “We didn’t get to have that moment because it was stolen – ruined by Mickie James and Dana Brooke.” Cue Mickie and Dana.
Mickie called her a dwarf and gave her credit for winning three titles but put herself over as a six-time champion. They recounted the backstage conversation from last week where Bliss said “they” have a Nia Jax problem. Bliss asked for everyone to calm down and the accusations were coming in fast. She insulted James and Brooke before Emma’s music hit.
Emma made her way to the ring, sunglasses and all. She told everyone that the spotlight could be put on her because she’s back. She told Bliss that she was there to take her place at the top of the division. Bliss said that everyone was trying to prove her point. Here comes Sasha Banks to a hot reaction.
Sasha said that being a champion means being ready to prove you’re the best week in and week out but Bliss just likes to run her mouth. Banks went right at Bliss and a brawl broke out between the six. They cut to a break. I smell a six-woman tag!
This dragged out a hair but it did definitely work toward setting the stage to determine a contender for Bliss, at least. Banks definitely was the fan favorite in this segment though as she had to interrupt chants to ask if she could address Bliss. She worked it in well to what she was saying, to her credit.
Match #4 – Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, and Emma vs. Sasha Banks, Dana Brooke and Mickie James;
Winner: Banks, Brooke, and James
The Reax: The match came back from break with the heels in control of Dana Brooke. Brooke cut off a charge with a big boot, but got momentarily cut off. Hot tag to Banks. Emma cut off the rally with an elbow then tried to tag to Bliss, but she left the ring. Sasha hit a guillotine clothesline but Nia cut the cover off.
Mickie took on Nia, hitting a superkick then avoiding a charge that sent Nia to the floor. Mickie followed up with a dive off of the ropes. In the ring, Emma tried a roll-up but Sasha rolled it over into the Bank Statement for the win. Sasha stared down Bliss from the ring.
The match served its purpose but it wasn’t the greatest thing ever. It looks like they’re going to Banks vs. Bliss at some point – maybe not right away though. They may have her go through Jax and Emma first. I like that they’re trying to use different players but ones like James and Brooke need heated up a bit more first before they feel like contenders.
They hyped Corey Graves sitting down with Bayley, next.
They hyped Smackdown’s Money in the Bank event on Sunday. Drew and I will preview that for you on Wednesday’s Ring Rap Audio so be sure to check in for that. They rolled into a hype package for Finn Balor.
Graves set up his pre-recorded interview with Bayley. Graves said he had doubts she could go to the extreme but she had assured everyone she could. She stammered about it momentarily and said she had never been in the situation before. She said she isn’t here to hurt people but instead to put smiles on people’s faces. He asked how that would benefit her in the ring. She admitted she wouldn’t win with hugs but she came to the company to be herself. She said she would be the best version of herself.
Graves asked what the future held for her. She said nothing has changed her goals or legacy and said she wants to be the best and recapture the Women’s Championship. She said she wanted to walk into Wrestlemania next year as the champion and wanted to instill in kids that they could accomplish their dreams. They hugged to end the segment.
I am fine if they push Bayley to the background for a bit and let her regroup. Creative did a ton of damage to her character but it’s not impossible to rebuild.
Match #5 – Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. The Miz (w/Maryse) and a Bear
Winner: Slater and Rhyno
The Reax: Slater and Rhyno made their way to the ring before they went to a break. Miz made his entrance and it’s clear he’s not getting any nookie from Maryse. A bear made his way to the ring. It’s Dean Ambrose, okay? The fans chanted for the bear. Slater rolled Miz up fast for an early pinfall attempt.
I guess the fans are entertained as they want the bear in the match. Miz offered a handshake but Slater refused. He went on some early offense, using an armdrag to take Miz down. They briefly double-teamed Miz before Rhyno took over the offense.
Rhyno hit a shoulder block in the corner then covered for two. Slater and Rhyno continued the offense until Miz cut Slater off momentarily. Miz got in some shots on Slater until the bear tagged himself in. It’s Dean Ambrose, OKAY?! The bear pawed at Slater, then used a bear hug. Rhyno cut him off.
Miz roughed the bear up at ringside then pulled the head off. It’s an independent talent. OK, I was wrong. Anyhow, back in the ring, Miz got the better of Slater. Ambrose had swiped places with the indie guy, and was “selling’ in the ring. Maryse tried to point out the bear, who hit Slater with Dirty Deeds. AMBROSE SIGHTING! Maryse started screaming and trying to alert Miz. Miz turned around, and Ambrose pulled the costume head off. He hit Miz with Dirty Deeds and put Slater over Miz for the win. After the match, Ambrose put the costume head on Miz and left.
The fans were into the idea that it was Ambrose. I saw it coming a mile away after what happened earlier, and again it’s fine in the context of building to a rematch between Ambrose and Miz. The match was what it was in terms of action and didn’t have anything meaningful going for it. I can imagine people have been tuning out of this show for the NBA Finals to this point.
They ran a hype package for the feud between the Hardys and Cesaro and Sheamus.
Match #6 – Neville vs. Rich Swann;
Winner: No Contest
The Reax: Neville’s the champ but got the jobber entrance. Swann got all of his though. Cole hyped that Smackdown’s show on Tuesday will be the last time that Smackdown will be in New Orleans before Wrestlemania next year. Neville roughed up Rich Swann while he was making his entrance and doing his dance. Neville locked in Rings of Saturn and that was that.
Neville got a mic and ran down names of men he has sent packing. “It feels good to be the king.” He asked how many more pretenders does he have to obliterate before he gets respect. He said he has heard what has been said about Akira Tozawa, and said it takes more than a tweet to be champion. Neville told Tozawa to tread carefully unless he wants to be forced to bend his knee and bow before the king of the cruiserweights.
Obviously an angle and not a match here. Looks like they’re going to Tozawa vs. Neville, and it could be a good feud. Leave Titus out of it, and it will work.
Charly talked to Sheamus and Cesaro about the title match. They said they read up on the Hardys by reading their book, and said they will inspire in their own way. They said they would inspire the Hardys to write a second book – Exist to Retire.
They hyped Enzo and Cass vs. Gallows and Anderson next.
Match #7 – Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass;
Winner: Gallows and Anderson
The Reax: Gallows and Anderson with the jobber entrance. They then recapped Show and Enzo last week defeating Gallows and Anderson in absence of Cass being beaten up. Enzo and Cass’s music hit, but they didn’t come out. Cass was laid out again backstage. We saw the Revival make their way through the back of the picture. Cass insisted he would tag with Enzo, but he staggered all over.
Gallows and Anderson in the ring made fun and asked if Cass tripped and fell and bumped his head. Anderson said all Cass had to do was say something if he didn’t want to fight them. “Too sweet me!” Enzo’s music hit a second time, and Enzo and Cass made their way to the ring. Cass shoved officials off. Graves said Cass was stupid for wanting this fight.
Cass held his own in the early fight, roughing Anderson up but selling after every move. He hit the Empire Elbow but stumbled to the wrong corner. He tagged to Enzo, who started to bring the fight to Anderson. He took Gallows out with a shot to the knees but Anderson clocked him with a big boot.
Cass continued to sell at ringside as Enzo sidestepped charges. Gallows hit him with a big boot and the Magic Killer put Enzo away. Cole hyped that Enzo and Cass had no chance after Cass got attacked backstage. They went for the Magic Killer again, but Big Show made his way to the ring.
Gallows and Anderson bailed as Show got to the ring. Show walked over to Enzo and helped him up. Cass got to the apron and stared at Show as he made his exit. Cass and Enzo talked in the ring about what just happened.
The sheer fact that the Revival was in the back of the shot of Cass backstage points to me that they’re going to Enzo and Cass vs. the Revival at some point in the future. Dawson (I believe) is still recovering from a broken jaw but should be back soon. This makes sense to set the program up. I still find myself wishing Gallows and Anderson were being handled better, but that’s a horse I’ve beaten into glue.
They hyped the main event, up next.
Another movie style promo, this time from R-Truth. He accused Goldust of stabbing him in the back and said he doesn’t forgive or forget – he gets even. “Goldust, you gonna get got.”
Backstage, Enzo thanked Show for saving him. Enzo brought up how Cass is a big guy and one blow took him down, so he had to ask. Show got a bit upset about the question, then laughed and said “it’s your partner, Cass…” He said there was one word to describe Cass and he spelled out SAWFT. Looks like we get a Big Show-Big Cass feud.
They recapped the opening segment between Joe and Lesnar, where they brawled hard. Mike Rome talked to Joe and asked if it changed his title match strategy. Joe said they’re playing into his strategy and it’s never been about the words – it has been all about the action. He recounted the prior week segment and said he sent the messenger back to his master with a message, then tonight he let Lesnar feel the man he is dealing with. Joe said in four weeks he will walk to the ring, put Lesnar in the Clutch, put him to sleep and become the champion.
Match #8 – Sheamus and Cesaro (c) vs. The Hardy Boys; Raw Tag Team Championship under 2-out of 3 Falls Rules
Winner: Sheamus and Cesaro retain the titles, third fall ends on a double count-out.
The Reax: The Hardys made their entrance before a commercial break. After the same Roman hype package from earlier, Cesaro and Sheamus got their entrance. Cole noted that this is the first time that the titles have been defended on Raw in this manner.
This is going to be a very quick two out of three falls match looking at the clock (10:54 PM). Sheamus went for a quick Brogue Kick but Matt ducked and hit a bulldog. Matt and Jeff teamed up for Poetry in Motion, then Matt hit a Side Effect for a near fall. Jeff looked for the Twist of Fate but Sheamus countered. Jeff tried to float over Sheamus but got kicked in the gut. Sheamus covered for a quick first fall. Back to a commercial break.
Sheamus and Cesaro up 1-0
Back live, Sheamus controlled Hardy as the fans chanted that Sheamus looked stupid. Sheamus covered for two as Matt rallied the fans. Sheamus continued to control Jeff and looked for the Cloverleaf. Jeff countered and kicked Sheamus away and he tumbled to ringside. Sheamus got back in and momentarily cut Jeff off from a tag but he hit a mule kick to get away and tag.
Matt went on offense, slamming Cesaro face first to the buckle. He looked for a bulldog off a charge but Cesaro countered. Matt came back with a tornado DDT for two. He hit Sheamus with a Side Effect on the apron then the Twist of Fate in the ring on Cesaro to tie things up.
Tied at 1-1
Matt quickly covered a second time for a near fall. He tried a Twist of Fate again, but Cesaro shoved him off. Matt went to the second rope but was met with an uppercut. Cesaro tagged to Sheamus, who kicked both Hardys. Sheamus hit a big knee to the face for a near fall. Cesaro teamed up for a move for another two count that Jeff broke up. Sheamus dumped Jeff hard to ringside.
Cesaro set for the Neutralizer, but Matt countered. Cesaro held on and locked n the Sharpshooter. Matt struggled to reach to the ropes and break it, but he did. Matt used an inside cradle for two. Big clothesline left both men selling. Tags to the men outside and Jeff went on a flurry with an atomic drop and a leg drop. Jeff hit a stunner for two that Cesaro broke up.
Matt and Cesaro fought outside while Sheamus draped Jeff over the ropes. Cesaro hit an uppercut which let Sheamus score a near fall. Jeff avoided a charge and Sheamus ate the post. Jeff hit the Swanton Bomb and scored a two count with Cesaro pulling Sheamus to ringside. Jeff hit Cesaro at ringside.
Matt and Cesaro fought outside, as did Sheamus and Jeff. The official is counting, and he reaches ten.
Third fall ends in a double count-out, match ends in a tie essentially
They don’t care, they’re still fighting. Jeff dove on Sheamus and Cesaro at ringside, then the Hardys returned to the ring. The Hardys played to the fans as Cesaro and Sheamus held up the titles, and that’s how the show ended.
The finish of the match let some fans down as you could hear booing and some people yelling “that was stupid” in mics close to the camera. But the action was good throughout and sets up the need for another match if they want to get some more out of this program, which I think there is something left there.
This was a show bookended by some really good segments, but bogged down quite a bit in the middle. It wasn’t that what was going on was awful, it just felt inconsequential. They have a month to the next pay per view, so it’s somewhat to be expected I suppose. I love what they’re doing with Brock and Joe and I think they have the means to keep that hot before they actually meet at the pay per view. As for the rest, I think we’ll just have to wait and see how they approach it, I suppose.
Drew Koscelek has your Smackdown and 205 Live coverage tomorrow night. Don’t forget, I’ll check in with Around the Ring tomorrow evening since this is a Thursday night car show week for me, and I’ll expand on my thoughts on Raw and other things in the news. Drew and I will preview Money in the Bank on Wednesday on Ring Rap Audio, as well as talk about your Favorite thing in Wrestling and more. See you then.
All this and more during our live reaction to WWE Raw, starting at 8PM EST right here on Ring-Rap.com.