WWE heads to Phoenix, AZ and Talking Stick Resort Arena for the last show before Great Balls of Fire this Sunday in Dallas. Last week, Samoa Joe caught Brock Lesnar in his Coquina Clutch hold and got him down to the stage floor. Tonight, the two are slated to give a live interview. Will Joe try one more time to send a message to the champion? Will Lesnar rebound and get the better of Joe? Also, Roman Reigns got roughed up hard last week by Braun Strowman and sent packing in an ambulance. Will Reigns get revenge?
Show Open, Live from Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, AZ;
Then, Now, Forever. I’m running on 2 hours’ sleep. I have a truck show on Friday thru Sunday. This may get very punchy. Anyhow, the show opened up with a recap of the situation between Enzo Amore and Big Cass from the past couple weeks.
In the arena, Enzo made his way to the ring. Cole told us that he will be facing Big Cass on Sunday at Great Balls of Fire. Enzo did his gimmick as he made his way to the ring. Some boos among the “how you doin'” chants. Enzo recounted the events of the past year. He said all of the things that happened did while “you had my back.”
He said that Cass was looking past him and didn’t have his back. He said that his mind and mouth were about to go platinum. He said that despite the beatings he kept getting back up. He asked Cass what he would do that would be worse than what has been done. “Knock me out cold on pay per view? It’s been done.”
Enzo said he knows who he is and doesn’t have to be someone else, and he’s a certified G. He called himself a one of one and he said he’s grateful. He called himself Smack Talker Skywalker and said he would push his own father down a wishing well and wish him well before he joined the dark side. He talked about being grateful for kids wearing his merch.
He said he is proof that his mouth hasn’t dug him a hole so deep he can’t get out. He said he knows who he is and where he’s going. “I have climbed out of holes way taller than seven feet.” He called Cass a seven foot catchphrase that he wrote. He recounted Cass saying that Enzo wrote checks his ass can’t cash and said that there’s no one in WWE that goes harder bouncing a check than him.
He recounted Cass saying that he is where the money is, and told him to not be surprised when the next quarterly check says “zero dimes.” He told him that would be the case unless he changed it to “CassHole.” Enzo’s music played but he asked for the mic again. He closed with a passionate line about being an army of one and it being all eyes on him.
Charly asked for Cass’ reaction backstage. Cass said he had never heard someone talk so long with saying nothing. He said Enzo won’t be walking after Sunday. Cass said he is the star and where the money is. “If he thinks he can sit there and run his mouth about everything…” Enzo jumped Cass from behind and they brawled until officials broke them up.
A good segment to get some hype on their match that was just recently set up and was announced. I think Enzo went on a bit too long in the ring and could have trimmed a bit down and still been as effective. Enzo jumping Cass backstage sealed it in terms of him being passionate and wanting to take the fight to Cass.
We got brief words from the commentary team, with both Booker and Corey thinking Enzo has no chance. Sasha Banks and Bayley made their entrances for the opening match. I swear I will throw up the next time Cole says “boss time.”
Match #1 – Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax;
Winner: Sasha Banks and Bayley
The Reax: As Jax and Bliss made their way out the commentary team hyped the Banks vs. Bliss match for Sunday. Jax and Bayley started off the match, with Jax dominating the early offense. Bayley threw some kicks that stunned Jax, then tagged to Banks. They hit a double drop kick, then Banks kicked her to ringside. Jax attacked Bayley, shoving her off the apron then throwing her to the barrier going into a break.
Cole said the match devolved into a 2-on-1 handicap match after what happened to Bayley. Alexa controlled Sasha but she fought back to get a two count. Bliss threw her to her corner but Sasha delivered a forearm then kicks to Bliss. She missed double knees in the corner so Bliss tagged out to Jax. Jax hit a backbreaker for two.
The heels continued to control the offense. Graves said that Jax has to be riding momentum from last week’s match even though she came up short. Jax locked in a bear hug. Sasha got a shot in but Jax threw her to the corner. Bliss continued the offense. Bliss yelled at her that it was her division and tripped Sasha down.
Sasha started to fight back, hitting a neckbreaker. She kicked Jax off the apron at the knees then locked Bliss in the Bank Statement to get the victory.
A decent match that gave Banks the better of Bliss going to Sunday. If this holds true, there won’t be a title change on Sunday. They keep putting Jax over for her performance last week and rightfully so as it was strong. You have to wonder if they play in the tenuous friendship of Bliss and Jax into this match at all – or if they focus on Bliss and Banks alone.
Kurt Angle was on the phone backstage when Braun Strowman appeared to ask what he would do when Reigns can’t compete on Sunday. Kurt said Reigns will be there, but Strowman insisted he won’t be there Sunday. Strowman insisted he wanted competition. Angle said the show was booked and didn’t figure anyone wanted to face him prior to the pay per view. Strowman leaned in and said that Angle was a smart man and he would figure it out.
Looks like we’ll get some sort of Reigns appearance yet tonight. Can’t see them going to the last show going into a pay per view without them crossing paths. Will be interesting to see what, if anything, Angle comes up with to keep Strowman sort-of occupied.
Cole hyped Samoa Joe getting Lesnar in the Clutch last week and their live interview for later. He promised a look at their feud, next. Back live, the commentary team was standing and talking about Joe vs. Lesnar. Cole fed it into a video package.
I love these sit down video packages and I believe WWE could do a lot more with them in well-placed and timed positions to really hype big matches and big feuds, no matter what division it would be.
Time for the Cruiserweights. Cedric Alexander made his way to the ring. Please, tell me he’s facing someone other than Noam Dar. They recapped his match with Ariaya Daivari, but Noam Dar assaulted him. Dar said he the chapter is over, and “Yo Alicia, we did it!”
Cedric cut a promo, saying he felt like a broken record because he thought this situation was over. Please, no. He promised to send Dar back to Alicia with a neck brace. Nooo…It’s going to be Noam Dar he faces.
Match #2 – Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar (w/Alicia Fox);
Winner: Cedric Alexander
The Reax: This is such a waste of Alexander’s ability. Alexander got the early best part of the offense, with Dar falling to ringside. Alexander went out and Fox got between him and Dar. Dar ran to the ring and Alexander got in. He tried to hit a head scissor but Dar caught him and kicked him to take over the offense.
Late in this one, Fox got on the apron and taunted. Dar tried to roll Alexander up, but Alexander turned it into the Lumbar Check and scored the win. Fox ranted as Alexander left the ring.
Jesus, get these guys apart. It’s a storyline, but it’s got no traction for anyone. And Alexander’s the kind of guy you could possibly heat up for a championship match with Neville. The match was fine for what it was.
The commentary team talked about LaVar Ball and his sons being on Miz TV, and Corey said that he made Ball relevant last week. Miz TV is next to discuss last week’s controversy.
Back live, it is that Miz TV segment. The four were making their entrance and Miz welcomed us to the show. He called it must-see and said he brought ratings with his interview with the Ball family. He called them over-exposed, over-hyped, and Lonzo Ball will be the biggest bust in history.
He claimed he knew talent and said that’s why he picked Axel and Dallas for the Miz-tourage. He continued to insult LaVar Ball, calling him a loser and raving lunatic. He turned to Ambrose, calling him wasted potential. He recalled Ambrose first coming in to WWE and said everyone saw the promise, calling him the next Rowdy Roddy Piper and break-out star of the Shield. “Boy were we wrong.”
He talked about Wacky Dean Ambrose and said he can’t handle success. He said every time Ambrose was a main eventer he caved under the pressure. He said it was the same pressure that Miz revels in and that making the IC title relevant will always be his job. Miz’s attention turned to the fans to his left (hard cam left) then said the fans could laugh at Dean’s jokes but the biggest joke of them all will be Ambrose.
Ambrose made his way to the stage. He said that after last week’s trainwreck he thought we might never see another Miz TV. He said everything Miz said is true and has him all figured out. Ambrose said since Miz has him figured out, he might just come down to the ring and face him and his goon squad. He said since he’s good at telling jokes, he might just demand his rematch for the IC title right now.
Slater and Rhyno entered, and Slater talked about how he was the last guy to beat Miz. He talked about talking to his kids and saying that “daddy got this” but in actuality he doesn’t. He said he deserves this shot and has earned it. Ambrose told him he has a valid point but he needed to step to the back of the line. Miz said neither man would get a shot and he has a Fourth of July party to attend in Hollywood.
Kurt Angle interrupted and told Miz he doesn’t get the chance to call his shot. Miz told him to discuss his personal issues with Corey. Angle told him to watch his mouth. Miz told Angle he’s the rating spike and asked Angle what he would do about it. Angle first said Miz would face both men and the crowd popped. Angle told him he would defend his title against Ambrose on Sunday, but he would face Slater for the title right now. Miz got worked up and Slater showed excitement for the match.
Miz TV is what it is. I’m never really excited by talk show segments for fear they go on too long and generally devolve like the Ball thing did last week. That said, in this case they got to a title match on Sunday with it, as well as a title match for tonight’s broadcast. It was effective from that perspective.
Match #3 – The Miz (c, w/Maryse, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel) vs. Heath Slater (w/Rhyno), WWE Intercontinetal Championship Match;
Winner: The Miz to retain the Intercontinental Championship
The Reax: Miz fought in street clothes. I guess things are better with Miz and Maryse since they kissed. Ambrose sat on the commentary for this one. Cole asked who Ambrose would rather face and Ambrose said it’s hard not to root for Slater in this situation. Slater got an early roll-up, then the two worked some chain wrestling. Slater got another two.
Miz started to take over as the commentary team interviewed Ambrose. Slater hit a hip toss and covered. Ambrose said he lives up to his own expectations and didn’t care what others thought. Slater got two off of a back slide then got a cradle for two. Miz air-mailed a chop then Slater came back with chops in the corners. Brutal slaps…ouch. Slater threw Miz’s shirt to ringside, then hit an atomic drop for two. Miz slid to ringside to regroup going to commercial.
Miz took over the offense during the break. Miz split his pants, so that’s embarrassing. Miz and Slater exchanged strikes, then Miz hit a short DDT for two. Good near fall. Miz slingshot Slater to the bottom rope then threw him to the Miz-Tourage. Rhyno went over to keep them at bay. Miz drove Slater to the barrier then threw him in the ring.
Miz hit a kick for a two count. Miz got easy heat for calling for the “Yes” kicks and hitting them. The wind-up came up empty though and Slater hit a face-first slam. Slater started to fire up with strikes and a running knee. Slater jumped over a Miz charge and got a victory roll for two. Slater escaped a Miz move and hit a neckbreaker for two. Good near fall.
Miz hit his running clothesline in the corner then he went top rope. Slater caught him and threw a running powerslam off the top rope. Great spot. Axel got involved, and Rhyno pulled him off the apron. Rhyno charged Dallas, but he moved and Rhyno pulled up short of Maryse. Slater was distracted, so Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale to score the win.
After, the three started roughing up Slater, so Ambrose ran down for the save. He went at Miz and nearly hit Dirty Deeds, but Miz escaped. Axel and Dallas hit him from behind and hit a double-team neckbreaker before Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale. They stood over Ambrose and celebrated.
A solid match for Slater. I would like to see more out of him as well. He’s one of many on the roster who could be better utilized to fill slots to keep guys apart and produce meaningful matches and even short term feuds. WWE has this bad habit of putting the same guys in a feud together time and time again, and by the time the pay per view happens we’ve seen the match so much we’re sick of it. Slater put in work tonight, and he showed he could be a good fill-in.
They hyped the interview later between Joe and Lesnar, then recapped the battle between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman from last week. Cole noted the rules of an ambulance match. They hyped Strowman “roaring” then hyped Goldust’s “shattered truth” for next.
Backstage, Titus O’Neil talked to Apollo Crews. He noted Strowman is looking for competition and said it seemed like the perfect opportunity for Crews. Crews said he just had a daughter and asked if O’Neil had seen what Strowman has been doing. O’Neil said he’s been making stars and played in that Crews’ daughter would be asking what it was like to beat the monster. Crews agreed to the match and the two chanted about how “Crews Can’t Lose.” Good luck with that.
Goldust was in the ring on a director’s chair. “Let the game begin.” He welcomed fans to the premiere of his greatest masterpiece – The Shattered Truth. He thanked people for making the film possible, but he had to thank R-Truth the most. “Without him being so naive, without his selfishness, none of this would be possible.” He said he would make Truth a star, and the only thing brighter than a star is gold. “And that, is the shattered truth.” He called for a film to play. It was a recap of what happened between them last week.
Back live, Truth was standing behind Goldust, eating popcorn. Truth ambushed him from behind and roughed him up all over the ring. Goldust retreated.
For what this has been, it’s been a mildly interesting midcard feud.
Angle checked his texts, then welcomed Sheamus and Cesaro. He said he had a stipulation for them for Sunday, saying they’re equally matched teams. He booked a 30-minute iron man match for Sunday, and Sheamus said that was a smart decision. He said the Hardys were built for a sprint, but they’re iron men. Cesaro wanted competition and Angle offered him Strowman but Cesaro said he wanted Finn Balor. Angle conceded and gave him Balor, then told them to be careful of what they wished for.
Seth Rollins was walking backstage, and he’s up next. Rollins made his entrance after the break.
Match #4 – Seth Rollins vs. Curt Hawkins
Winner: Seth Rollins
The Reax: They hyped Rollins vs. Wyatt for the pay per view as Rollins made his entrance. Hawkins cut a promo saying that he should be facing Strowman “and giving him a run for his money I might add.” He said Los Angeles got it wrong and asked who thought he would lose. Rollins stole the mic and asked who thought Hawkins should shut the hell up. Big cheer. Rollins threw a punch and Hawkins sold. Rollins put him away in seconds with his running knee shot.
That was an angle to get to a promo. Rollins said Wyatt said he was everywhere but every time Rollins is looking for a fight he’s nowhere to be found. He said that since Wyatt is in a dark corner somewhere watching he would spin truth. He said that he and the fans didn’t need to be saved by anyone, and called his sins and scars the things that have made him the man he is today. He said Wyatt needed to worry about his wrath, and said there would be a cleansing of his mystique on Sunday when he proves Wyatt is not a god.
He said after the pay per view, there will only be one question – “are you a man, or are you a coward?” Rollins dropped the mic and exited. They showed a split screen shot of Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar getting set for a live interview, and that’s next.
The Rollins promo was fine – short and to the point. The match was really just about getting to Rollins cutting the promo, so there wasn’t much to think of there.
Cole conducted the split-screen interview. Joe muttered he wanted to get this over with. Joe cut Cole’s first question off and said no one wanted to hear his questions. Joe said that ever since he won this spot there have been questions. He started addressing Heyman but Lesnar cut him off and said it’s between the two of them. Joe talked about getting to Lesnar and locking both him and Heyman in the Clutch. Lesnar laughed it off and called him a coward.
Joe continued to press, talking about getting the better of Lesnar last week. Lesnar told Joe that he used to do the same thing and talked about beating The Rock, Triple H, and John Cena. Joe said he has been choking guys out for twenty years. Joe eventually ripped the mic off and went looking for Lesnar, who laughed it off. Joe found him, but agents and security kept him from Lesnar.
The only thing I didn’t care for here was Lesnar being a bit dismissive of Joe’s challenge. I would liked to have seen him be a bit more serious – there’s a way to be intense but call out the challenger’s need to jump from behind. That said, I don’t think it hurt the build to the match and I think it’s smart to keep the two physically apart tonight. Let that anticipation build to where it really matters on the pay per view. A good segment overall.
Neville and Mustafa Ali made their entrances for the next match. Cole hyped Neville’s match against Akira Tozawa on Sunday at the pay per view.
Match #5 – Neville vs. Mustafa Ali
The Reax: Ali got the early edge with some chain wrestling. He hit a drop kick and followed with a head scissor. He came off with a springboard cross body for two. Cole sold it like Ali got it. After a boot, Ali set for a top rope move but Neville cut him off. Neville joined him on the ropes and set for a big move but Ali landed on his feet. Ali came back with a spike DDT on Neville for another good near fall.
Ali went top rope again but Neville shoved him off the ropes and into the barrier. Neville was grabbing at his neck. I know how he feels, my neck hurts too. Neville went to ringside and threw Ali in then roughed him up in the corner with stomps. The referee checked on Ali as Neville played to the crowd. Neville continued to stomp away, then threw Ali to the ropes and sent him skyward to land face first.
Ali fired off a forearm shiver then teased going for a move through the ropes, but Neville met him with a clothesline that turned him inside out. Neville locked in the Rings of Saturn for the win, and held it until the official broke it. Cole called it a message to Akira Tozawa. Cole hyped the title match and said it would take place during the pre-show.
A good match that spotlighted the vicious side of Neville going into his title defense. Ali got some offense in, but this was all about positioning Neville strongly for Sunday. I have mixed feelings about Tozawa being the guy to beat Neville. After a lot of thought, I’m not sure that he’s as positioned as he could be to knock off Neville. The cruiserweight division right now feels like “contender of the month” and they need to fix that.
Wyatt cut-in. Bray walked in the desert, and they just showed a “next” bottom graphic and cut back out. Back to Wyatt in the desert after the break, he cut a promo talking about man worshiping the sun. He said he decided to give man the gift of independence and no one should have to bow down to the light when chaos can brighten the darkest shadows.
He said that since he came to Raw the fire has burned. Friends have become enemies and brotherhoods have become dry. Even the Beast became a mortal gasping for breath. He said he made it that way. “I am Bray Wyatt, and I am everywhere. Can you hear me Seth?” He called himself that which can’t be touched but felt by all. He told Seth that he will look into the eyes of a God on Sunday but won’t go blind. Wyatt said he would see, and it would burn.
Charly asked Alexa Bliss if Sasha winning earlier would foreshadow what would happen on Sunday. Bliss said she let Sasha win and called it strategy, saying winning requires intelligence. Charly said no one believes that Bliss let Sasha win, and Bliss got indignant and said “that’s why you’re holding a microphone and I’m holding the Raw Women’s Championship – and I will be after Sunday.”
Finn Balor made his entrance for the next match. That took us to another commercial break.
Match #6 – Finn Balor vs. Cesaro (w/Sheamus);
Winner: Finn Balor
The Reax: Cesaro made his way out after the break, accompanied by Sheamus. Cole hyped the ironman match between Cesaro and Sheamus against the Hardys. Since Sheamus was at ringside, that brought out the Hardys to “delete” chants. The Hardys sat in on commentary.
Balor locked in an early side headlock, then Cesaro fed him to the ropes but Balor hit a low kick. Cesaro caught Balor in mid air and hit a backbreaker out of it. Nice spot. Cesaro took over the match. Matt talked about having to be the best wrestling team for 30 minutes on Sunday. Cole noted that an iron man tag team match is very rare and asked how they would prepare. Matt reiterated being the best wrestling team on Sunday. In the ring, Balor came back with a drop kick on a seated Cesaro.
Balor kept up the offense with Irish whips followed by chops in the corner. Balor kept up the striking offense with some kicks and stomps. Sheamus got on the apron and distracted Balor long enough to let Cesaro throw Balor to the corner. Cesaro threw stomps and chops. Balor came back with chops of his own. Cesaro sent Balor to ringside.
Back from break, Cesaro hit a gutwrench for two. He controlled Balor with a hammerlock. Balor fired up with strikes then dodged a charge and set a springboard move. Cesaro caught him mid-air and hit a suplex. Impressive spot. Cesaro hit a flying uppercut for two. He set for the Neutralizer but Balor swept the legs and hit a jumping stomp.
Balor fired up with some shots and a drop kick. Cesaro rolled out for a break but Balor followed with a big kick at the apron. Matt called it delightful. Balor hit the Slingblade and called for the Shotgun Dropkick, but Elias Samson came out and struck a note. That let Cesaro hit an uppercut for two.
Cesaro got on the uppercut train, hitting a couple. Sheamus got on the apron, and Samson tripped Balor. The Hardys headed to the ring and took on Samson and Sheamus. Things broke down all sorts of crazy at this point. Matt hit Samson with the Twist of Fate, Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick on Matt, Jeff took Sheamus out, then Cesaro took Jeff out with an uppercut. Balor hit the shotgun drop kick against the barrier then fed Cesaro in for the Coup de Grace to finish him off.
A solid match that played into the feud between the Hardys and Sheamus and Cesaro as well as Samson and Finn. I don’t think Cesaro got hurt by the display that got put on here – the match was very good and the ending scrum fed in some hype for stuff on the card.
The commentary team hyped matches on the pay per view as well as WWE Network. Braun Strowman was walking toward the ring as they went to break.
Back live, an ambulance sounded and backed in. They recapped Reigns and Strowman brawling to open last week’s show, with Reigns getting shoved in an ambulance and hauled away. The commentary team sold it as “relatively easy” for Strowman to dispatch Reigns.
Strowman made his entrance, walking straight to the ambulance before heading to the ring. He asked for a mic and paced the ring. He said there are few things that he likes more in the world than hurting Roman Reigns. He likes hurting Reigns and called him too stubborn to stay down so he gets to keep knocking him down. He told Angle that if he is right and Roman actually shows up on Sunday he will leave in the ambulance again.
He said Reigns isn’t there tonight and he wants competition, and demanded the opponent be sent out to him. Cue Titus O’Neil’s music and he came to the stage. Titus called him a big man with a big plan, but everyone has a plan til they get punched in the mouth. Titus said tonight would be a special night and the man coming to the ring would be more competition than Strowman imagined. He hyped up Apollo Crews and introduced him to the ring.
Match #7 – Apollo Crews vs. Braun Strowman;
Winner: Braun Strowman
The Reax: Crews fired off quick strikes, using his speed. Strowman hit a big boot and yelled, throwing Crews to ringside. Crews rolled in and Strowman immediately locked on a nerve hold. Crews fired off a couple punches but Strowman clubbed him back down, then shoved him to ringside. Titus fired Crews up, and Crews draped him across the rope. Crews fired off a couple enzugiris then a low drop kick that sent Strowman to the mat. Crews set for his standing moonsault but Strowman kicked him across the ring.
Strowman hit a running powerslam but pulled Crews up at two. Rinse and repeat two more times, with Strowman pinning him the third time. After the bell, Strowman loaded up again, but Titus pulled Crews down. Titus confronted Strowman in the ring and threw hands, but took a big clothesline. Strowman hit him with a powerslam too.
Strowman took Crews and drove him over the railing. He took him back to the ambulance, throwing Crews in and sending it on its way. He slapped it and told it to leave but it didn’t. Guess who was driving? Roman Reigns.
Reigns threw punches, but Strowman started to get the better of him, throwing Reigns up on to the stage. Reigns started firing back, throwing Strowman into the LED boards. Reigns speared Strowman off the stage and into tables and such on the floor. Reigns struggled to his feet as agents came out to check on both men. They replayed the spot a couple times.
Strowman and Reigns were both on their feet by the time the replays ended. Cole sent the show home asking how Reigns could stop Strowman on Sunday.
The match was a means to get to the closing angle, so there really wasn’t much to say about that at all. Crews had some hope spots, but Strowman eventually put the power to it and won. The closing angle, while I felt we were going to see it at some point, got a reaction from the crowd and was well executed. It makes it look like both men are going to have to hit their best shots on Sunday rather than it simply being Strowman overpowering Reigns.
If the rumor going around is correct that they’re going to set Reigns and Lesnar up for SummerSlam, then you know Reigns will go over on Sunday to end this feud. They were talking about doing this match before but Strowman ended up getting elbow surgery, so one has to wonder if the end of this feud was going to happen sooner than now. They’ve worked well together overall and I think Reigns has helped make Strowman more of a meaningful character along the way.
Great Balls of Fire is Sunday, so you know what that means – it’s a prediction show this week for Ring Rap Audio. Drew and I will break down the card and all the matches and make our calls as to who will win and who will lose. Be sure to send us your Favorite things in Wrestling with the hash tag #FTIW so we can discuss those as well.
With tomorrow being the Independence Day Holiday here in the US, I am not 100% sure of what Drew’s plan is for covering Smackdown and 205Live. But be sure to keep an eye on the site for those shows, and he and I will get together on Wednesday to bring you Ring Rap Audio. I will be back on Sunday to cover Great Balls of Fire for you, hopefully live. I will be traveling, so the possibility exists that the show may start on a delay. Thanks for reading along tonight!