Tonight, Raw rolls into the Toyota Center in Houston, TX on the heels of the latest red-brand pay per view, Great Balls of Fire. The big news of last night was how Roman Reigns responded to losing to Braun Strowman. After the ambulance match, Reigns beat down Strowman and shoved him inside the ambulance, only to wreck it into a trailer in the parking garage. Strowman staggered away, bloodied. But with Reigns’ loss and his actions, will he be given the chance to compete for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam as he wants to? Sasha Banks got heisted last night by Alexa Bliss, winning her match by count out which left Bliss holding the title. Will Banks take another shot at the Goddess? Also, Sheamus and Cesaro got the better of the Hardys in their Ironman Match last night. Who are their next challengers? The road to SummerSlam starts now.
Show Open, Live from Houston, TX at the Toyota Center;
Then, now, forever. I’m still tired from vacation. The show opened with a recap of the situation between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman and their match, which ended with Reigns slamming the ambulance into a waiting tractor trailer. Strowman staggered away begging to be left alone. We got the show opening video package, then Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T checked in for the call.
Big Cass was introduced to the ring, with his “seven feet tall and you can’t teach that” catchphrase. He got booed, for sure. Corey endorsed Cass and said Cass did what he said he would. I’m not a fan of Cass’ new entrance music – feels too generic rock or something. Time for a promo as he waited out boos.
“How you doin’?” He said he was doing spectacular after what he did to Enzo last night, saying he couldn’t have felt any better. He rolled still shots to refresh people’s memories, then rolled a video of Enzo being helped to the back by officials. Some weirdness is going on in my video feed with the show skipping and repeating. So bear with me. Fans chanted for Enzo.
Cass said that should serve notice to everyone from the bottom to the top of the totem pole, “that’s right, the very top of the pole.” He said that was for everyone who supported Enzo over him and said he didn’t want people to jump on the bandwagon now. He called himself the future of WWE and said to all the doubters out there “one day, I will be the Universal Champion.” He said when he wins it he will hold it high then shove it down each and every one of the fans’ throats.
Cass vowed to main event Wrestlemania and become a top star and said no one is bigger than him. He was interrupted by Big Show to rousing cheers. Show made his way to the ring as the commentary team recounted Show being implicated in attacking Enzo and Cass previously. The two big men stared at each other and the live crowd reacted to it.
Cass got up against Show and jawed, but Big Show butted him. The two scrummed around, with Show getting the better of him with knee shots in the corner. Booker called it a lesson in respect, and Cass escaped a WMD Punch attempt. Cass backed up the ramp and stared back at the ring. Cole said a collision was brewing between the two men.
Cass’ promo was okay. He needs to learn the art of intensity without yelling, as he got a bit too screechy and such at times. I think Big Show is a logical feud given the past interactions the men had, and Show is at a place now where he can serve like a gatekeeper to help cement Cass as a heel if he holds up his end of the bargain. It’s not something that jumps off the page at me as an amazing feud, but it’s possible that WWE can make something out of this to get Cass some traction.
Cole recapped the ambulance match again and promised an update on Strowman’s condition later on in the show. Also, they noted the battle between Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar and noted that Lesnar would be on the show. They hyped Finn Balor vs. Elias Samson.
Elias Samson was in the ring to sing us a song out of break. He had to repeat his introduction because the fans didn’t react initially. He asked who wanted to walk with Elias, but not many wanted to. He asked them to keep the phones down and hold their applause, then sang a song for Finn Balor. Finn’s entrance cut off the song.
Match #1 – Finn Balor vs. Elias Samson;
Winner: Finn Balor
The Reax: Big reaction for Balor, who Samson accused of upstaging him. Samson hit a slam initially but Balor came back with forearm shots to the back and a headlock. Samson tried a sunset flip but Finn rolled him through and hit a low drop kick. Samson tried a charge, but Balor avoided it and hit an enzugiri off the apron. He set for a top rope move but Samson rolled out for a breather going to break.
Samson took over during the break, so he was in control out of same. They showed him dropping a knee on Balor’s back during commercial while Samson held a full nelson hold in live action. Balor managed a roll-up on Samson for two but Samson continued to control the offense.
Balor started to rally with a drop kick and some chops in the corners. Balor hit Samson with a jumping kick then a kick through the ropes, but Samson countered his big apron kick by flipping him down on the apron. Samson started to work an armbar since Balor landed on his arm. Balor broke the hold in the ropes then tripped Samson down and hit a double stomp.
Samson continued the offense as Booker threw out the newest edition to Webster’s Dictionary – “contendership.” Graves told him that’s not a word. Balor broke an arm hold with an overhead kick then followed with the Slingblade. Shotgun dropkick sent Samson to the corner, then followed with the Coup de Grace to score the win.
A good opening match. Samson came off looking strong and his offense was logically worked on the bad shoulder of Balor throughout the match. I like Samson and think he has something to offer the roster in years to come.
The Hardy Boys came out to the stage as Balor was leaving. He greeted them then sent them to the ring. Cole noted the Ironman Match and said they would be competing next.
Back live, the Hardys had mics. Cole recapped the finish of the match. Jeff talked about the match and said they came up one second short. He said he knew what the teams were thinking in the back and said maybe they will fade away and classify themselves as obsolete. That drew delete chants. Matt said they’re not going anywhere and they’re nowhere near done. Gallows and Anderson made their way to the ring.
Gallows said they were the ones saying they were done. Anderson said their performance proved they aren’t the Hardy Boys of old, but they’re the old Hardy Boys. Gallows called them magic killers and said the ring belongs to them. Matt said they’re a bit sore, stitched up and broken. Matt challenged the two to a fight, and Gallows and Anderson made their way to the ring.
They keep teasing that “broken” gimmick and people are into it because they pop for it every time. An effective short promo to get to the match. I’m curious who they line up for Cesaro and Sheamus next.
Match #2 – The Hardy Boys vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson;
Winner: Gallows and Anderson
The Reax: Matt and Anderson worked early, with Jeff tagging in after a shoulder tackle. The two double teamed Anderson with a belly to back suplex then took out Gallows with Poetry in Motion. Gallows and Anderson sold at ringside as we went to commercial.
As seems to be the case in WWE booking, the heels were in control coming out of break. They controlled Jeff, hitting him with the Boot of Doom. Matt broke the cover. Jeff hit Anderson with a jawbreaker and tagged Matt in. He went off with headbutts and repeated face slams in the buckle. Anderson escaped the bulldog but Matt caught him with a Side Effect.
Late, Anderson threw Matt to the ropes and he held on. Gallows hit a kick to the back of Matt’s head while the official dealt with Anderson. That let the two hit Magic Killer for the win.
As Gallows and Anderson celebrated, The Revival made their entrance and headed to the ring. They roughed up the Hardys, hitting Matt with a knee to the head and Jeff with the Shatter Machine. They celebrated as the Hardys sold.
Looks like we’re heading to Revival vs. Hardys. I like it. This would be a great way to get the Revival re-established to fans, especially as heels because they seem to work better that way. Going against the fan favorite Hardys will definitely help that situation. Glad to see the Revival back for sure – a solid young team that has a lot to offer the roster. I hope they don’t fall to the same issues as American Alpha did on the other brand.
They hyped “The Mizzies,” an award-show segment, coming up next.
Back live, The Miz, Maryse, and The Miztourage were in the ring. It’s a Miz TV segment and he called it the “most important award show in show business,” the Mizzies. Complete with its own theme. Yay. Miz hated on the other award shows and said it was the only show to tell the real winners and losers from last night.
Best supporting actor came up first, and it went to Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel for their roles in the Miztourage. There were fans chanting “you deserve it” as Dallas thanked The Miz, saying without him none of this would be possible. Axel said he looks and feels like a million bucks and because of Miz he would make a million. Miz called them underutilized before but they’re now award winners.
Miz said behind every man is a sexy woman and gave Maryse her Mizzie. She faked tears and gave an acceptance speech. They loved on each other and kissed. Yay. Or something.
Miz handed out the final award, which was for greatest man in WWE. Of course he gave the award to himself. He called himself the greatest man in WWE. If Austin Aries would have stuck around, he might want to have a word with Miz. He talked about how he brought the IC title back to relevance and he has done that. Miz made fun of The Hardys, Akira Tozawa, and Seth Rollins for losing their matches last night despite what they said they would do.
He talked about the match with Ambrose and said he did what he said he would do and beat Ambrose. He gave Ambrose credit for giving him tough matches, but “if I beat Dean Ambrose and he’s the toughest man in WWE, what does that make me?”
Dean Ambrose made his way to the ring and went right at Miz. It was initially a three on one beatdown, but Seth Rollins ran out to help Ambrose. Miz ducked out, but Rollins and Ambrose took out the Miztourage.
Cole talked about how Rollins lost to Wyatt last night with a thumb to the eye. He moved on to note that we would get an update on Braun Strowman later, and would also hear from Brock Lesnar.
I think Ambrose and Miz are conjoined twins at this point. How many more matches can these two have? This all points back to the way people are positioned and how there feels like there’s no one up next for Miz, or for Ambrose. It’s not that it’s bad – it’s overused.
They showed Bayley and Sasha Banks walking backstage, and they will face Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax next.
Dean and Seth talked backstage. Ambrose asked “what was that?” and said he knew Rollins’ reputation. “I don’t trust you. There ain’t gonna be a Shield reunion.” Ambrose told Rollins to stay out of his business.
Bayley and Sasha Banks made their way to the ring for the next match. Cole recapped what Nia Jax did to Bayley to make the tag match a two-on-one handicap affair. Jax and Bliss then made their entrances, with Cole recapping Jax’s strong performance in the gauntlet match. They then recapped the match between Sasha and Alexa last night.
Match #3 – Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss;
Winner: Bayley and Sasha
The Reax: Alexa and Sasha started, but Bliss tagged out to Nia quickly. Sasha ran across and took out Alexa as Bayley and Jax fought. Bayley hit a low kick and took Nia down, but she rolled to ringside. The heels sold at ringside going to a break.
Surprise. The faces were in control coming out of break this time. Sasha got a two count on Bliss, then Bayley got one too. Nia tagged in, and Bayley worked low kicks to the leg. Bliss got involved as Bayley went top rope, so Bayley took her out with a punch. Jax took over the offense on Bayley as a result of the distraction.
Bayley fought her way out, but Jax pushed her to the friendly corner and Bliss tagged in. She kept the offense going with some slaps and got a two count. They referenced the elbow injury fake-out that Bliss pulled during the match last night. Jax took the offense back over again. The heels kept up the quick tags, keeping Bayley isolated.
Bliss jawed at Sasha, which let Jax take out Bayley. Bliss threw a punch at Banks then hit Bayley with Twisted Bliss. A bit of a contrived spot as Bayley laid there forever. Jax took out Sasha, then tried to splash her against the barrier. Banks moved out of the way. Bayley rolled Bliss up for the win. She and Banks backed up the ramp and taunted as Bliss and Jax stewed in the ring.
This was fine. It’s possible that they might go triple threat for the Raw Women’s Championship now with Bayley having a pinfall on Bliss, and Sasha having a legit beef for a rematch. Not sure how much of a fan of that I am off the cuff, but it could work. I was hoping Bayley would stay out of the title mix for quite a while and sort of regroup her character a bit.
They again hyped hearing an update on Braun Strowman later in the show.
Goldust gave us another movie promo. He said R-Truth was never made for the spotlight and despite Truth’s effort he didn’t ruin the debut. He said his movie was the smash hit of the summer. He told Truth to grab his popcorn and snuggle up to someone to enjoy The Shattered Truth Part 2. The Golden Age is back.
Cole hyped the Great Balls of Fire pay per view and various matches. Corey fed it to a recap of the ambulance match between Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns. By the way, a big thank you to Drew Koscelek for covering for me on a Raw branded show last night. I was late leaving the truck show I was at, and there was no way I would be home in time to cover the show. In exchange, you Smackdown fans will get my take on the Battleground pay per view in about 12 nights.
Booker said Reigns did what he said he would do and load Strowman into the ambulance and drive him to hell, and came *this* close. Cole said he was amazed that Strowman walked away from the incident. Cole said that Kurt Angle will update us on the condition of Strowman a bit later on.
R-Truth made his way to the ring, doing his rap. They recapped Truth jumping Goldust from behind last week. Goldust made his way to the ring, and Booker said he’s strange. Graves said he was enjoying this.
Match #4 – Goldust vs. R-Truth;
The Reax: Goldust got an early cheap shot in to take control, but Truth turned things around quickly. Truth got hung up on the ropes on a charge, so Goldust took advantage with shots to the back. He threw chops in the corner, and Truth fired back with strikes of his own. Goldust hit a knee drop for two. The crowd was fairly quiet for this in the early going.
Truth fired off some punches but took a spinebuster for two. Goldust landed mounted punches in the corner, but Truth picked him up for a powerbomb. Both men sold and fans started to make some noise. Truth continued to rally with offense, hitting a spinning elbow. Goldust avoided a scissor kick and chop blocked Truth’s leg.
Goldust focused on the leg, looking like he wanted a figure four. Truth kicked him off and hit a heel kick then followed with a scissor kick for a near fall. Truth tried a suplex but Goldust floated over and shoved Truth to the post. Goldust hit the Final Cut for the win.
A solid midcard match and a story that had something to it. I don’t see a reason for another match with Goldust getting the clean win, but one never knows.
Cole hyped that we would hear from Brock Lesnar next.
Kurt Angle’s music played and he made his way out to the ring. He addressed the pay per view and called it “hugely successful.” He said things got a little out of hand in the ambulance match. Braun refused medical treatment and it was unclear when he would return, but the show must go on. He introduced Brock Lesnar to the ring. Cole recounted Lesnar vs. Angle from Wrestlemania in Seattle, saying it was one of the best Mania matches in history.
Lesnar and Paul Heyman made their way to the ring as Cole recapped Joe attacking Lesnar from behind and putting him through a table with a uranage. He narrated various still shots of the match. Back live, Angle addressed Lesnar and said he gets better every year. He said he was wrong for thinking Joe would take him out and congratulated him on retaining the title.
Heyman gave introductions mockingly, then asked if Angle had anything else. Angle said he was wondering if Heyman and Lesnar would be interested in knowing his plans for defending the title at SummerSlam. Heyman mockingly asked if this was going to be a public Raw creative meeting and said that he and Lesnar don’t volunteer their services. They went to leave, but Roman Reigns came to the ring.
Angle told Heyman they weren’t done, and then turned to Roman and said he had a lot of nerve to come out after pulling what he pulled last night. Reigns was incredulous and noted that the three were a part of the Attitude Era. “You destroyed everything, you blew up everything. And I went too far?” Reigns told Angle. Angle said that was then and this is now.
Reigns said he did Angle a favor and handled Braun Strowman, when Angle couldn’t get the job done. He told Angle that he owed him one now, and wanted a shot at Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. Heyman started to speak but Lesnar yanked the mic away. “You gotta be kidding me,” Lesnar said. He asked Reigns what made him think he deserved a shot at the title. Lesnar told him that he didn’t deserve it and wasn’t getting a shot.
Samoa Joe entered the fray, and said he was going to drag everyone back to reality. Lesnar said the reality is he kicked Joe’s ass last night. Joe talked about the match last night and said that he wuold sooner or later put Lesnar to sleep. Joe said that Lesnar thought he won, but Lesnar escaped him. Heyman spoke up and said Reigns had Undertaker on his Samoan trophy shelf and Joe would never get another shot at the title.
Joe told Heyman that he has Lesnar’s number and he knows it. Joe and Lesnar jaw jack, then Reigns spoke up and said he didn’t have Lesnar’s number last night. Joe told Reigns he was mouthy for a guy who lost to Braun Strowman. Reigns said that he was here and Strowman wasn’t.
Angle intervenes, and books Joe vs. Reigns for next Monday with the winner getting Lesnar at SummerSlam. The two got face to face and Angle told them that if they came to blows he would call the match off. Angle told them to rest up and focus on SummerSlam. Lesnar looked on as the two stared each other down then left.
I was totally into this. It felt important, it was intense, and it felt real. Everyone handled themselves on the mic well – even Lesnar, who doesn’t speak much live with reason because he’s not a strong promo. I can’t help but feel that Strowman is out there somewhere in this plan, but as of tonight, I like the direction this is taking.
Backstage, Angle was looking at his phone when Corey approached him. “You got the same text, right?” Angle said the content of the text might destroy him and cause him to lose his family. He talked about having to go public with this next week, and Graves told him that he had all the confidence in the world that it would be just fine.
Match #5 – Akira Tozawa and Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar (w/Alicia Fox) and Neville;
Winner: Cedric Alexander and Akira Tozawa
The Reax: They hyped Alexander vs. Noam Dar in an I Quit match on 205 Live tomorrow night. They recapped Tozawa vs. Neville from the pre-show last night. Alexander hit a big elbow on Dar in the early going then kept up the offense.
Late in this one, Neville went up top with Cedric to set up a superplex. Alexander ended up crotching him, then hitting Noam with a dive at ringside. Tozawa had Neville in the same position he was in last night on the pre-show. Tozawa kicked the ropes, then hit Neville with his back senton off the top for the win.
I was having a little trouble with the laptop so my apologies for the thin coverage of this match. Overall a good affair between the cruiserweights. They used it as a means to hype the I Quit match on 205 Live and set up another match between Tozawa and Neville, so I think they accomplished what they wanted to. Drew Koscelek will have your coverage of that 205 Live match later this week.
They hyped Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt for next.
Cole hyped Toyota Center as the host of the Survivor Series then fed it to a recap of the earlier interaction between Miz, The Miztourage, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.
Charly interviewed Seth Rollins. She asked about the earlier situation and asked if he should have his focus on his match with Wyatt. Rollins said his eye felt like it was on fire, then reiterated that he went out there to shut up the Miz. He said he was going to go out and prove that Wyatt is another guy who can’t hang with Seth Rollins.
Wyatt cut-in. He said the highest parts of Rollins are a part of him, and that Rollins can’t turn back the clock. “How dare you take your eyes off me. How dare you defy me.” Wyatt said he is everywhere. He dared Rollins to show him his teeth and said he would not deny Wyatt again. “For your sins you will burn. Seth Rollins, I’m here…” Wyatt made his entrance. The show went back to break.
Before Rollins made his entrance, we got hype for Kurt Angle’s WWE:24 program on WWE Network after Raw, and the match between Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns with the winner getting Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. Rollins made his entrance.
Match #6 – Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt;
Winner: Bray Wyatt
The Reax: As Rollins made his entrance they talked about the match from last night. Booker said that Seth needed to protect himself. There’s something about that statement that bugs me – like it’s making Rollins look like a dopey face. That’s typical WWE booking, I guess. Rollins stopped an attempted cheap shot to the eye from Wyatt and threw strikes, then Wyatt returned the favor. Rollins hit a big superkick for two. Wyatt came back with his cross body block for two.
A few moments later, Rollins sent Wyatt to ringside after an attempt at Sister Abigail. Rollins hit a dive, then Wyatt tried to throw a punch but Rollins ducked it. Rollins started to focus his offense on the injured hand, ripping at it and slamming it on the steps outside. Rollins went top rope for a move but Wyatt caught him and hit a uranage going to commercial.
Back live, Wyatt was in control of the match, working a headlock. The fans rallied behind Rollins, who started throwing punches. He hit a drop kick after Wyatt threw him into the ropes. Wyatt threw Rollins hard to the corner and followed with a running splash for two. Rollins started throwing punches, but Wyatt hit a big DDT on Rollins for two. Wyatt went back to a chinlock.
Wyatt hoisted Rollins up to the buckle and threw a headbutt. Wyatt went up top and the two battled on the buckle. Rollins attacked the injured hand and Wyatt fell to the mat. The two threw kicks and strikes and both men sold on the mat. The fans rallied behind Rollins again.
Rollins got the better of a strike exchange, stomped on Wyatt’s hand, then hit a slingblade. Wyatt rolled to ringside, but ate a suicide dive. Rollins threw him in and hit a springboard clothesline for two. Both men sold the action but Rollins got to his feet first and hit a couple running forearms then a blockbuster for a near fall.
Rollins went top rope again but Wyatt crotched him. Rollins countered Wyatt’s move into a Falcon Arrow for a good near fall. Rollins set up something but Wyatt threw an elbow. Rollins rolled him up for two. Wyatt headbutted Rollins in the eye and hit Sister Abigail to get the win.
Wyatt knelt by Rollins and yelled “Follow!” but his cut-out hit and he was gone. Miz and the MizTourage came to ringside and surrounded the ring. The three jumped the ring to attack Rollins. Dean Ambrose ran to the ring with a chair and took out Dallas and Axel before wearing out Miz with chair shots to the back. Dallas and Axel pulled him from the ring and sold at ringside.
Backstage, Angle was on the phone with someone. “Why don’t you come here next week and we’ll do this together. Neither of us has anything to be ashamed of.” Angle said that “whatever happens, happens. I love you.” Angle was in deep thought as the show ended.
A win that Wyatt needed, honestly. A solid main event matchup though that the fans were into throughout. Wyatt needed traction and in a good match like this he got it. Booking with him though is so up and down, so I thoroughly expect him to lose that by next week.
Given what happened after the match, it appears that we’re done with Wyatt and Rollins, perhaps? Are we seeing Rollins and Ambrose pair up to deal with Miz and his guys? There’s roughly six weeks til SummerSlam, so I guess anything’s possible to kill some time before then.
I have to say that I will be shocked if the Angle thing is not something that brings Steph McMahon back to television. The two had an angle years ago, and it’s the only thing that makes sense in the picture of “career destroying” possibilities at this point. And given that Graves is a heel commentator, it’s not outside the realm of possibilities that we see a heel turn in power. And that’s enough to make me stop watching…lol. It’s just so played out. But we’ll see what next week brings.
I’d call this an average show. It’s the first night after a pay per view with a long way to go til SummerSlam, so WWE wasn’t going to throw it all out there right out of the gate. I do like the plans for next week and think they have some intrigue set up going forward. Rumors out there say that the company’s trying to make some big plans, so let’s see what they do.
Drew Koscelek will have Smackdown and 205 Live for you later this week. I will rejoin him on Wednesday for Ring Rap Audio where we’ll discuss Great Balls of Fire and more. He will also have Around the Ring tomorrow for you as well. See you on Wednesday.
All this and more as we bring you live reaction to tonight’s Monday Night Raw, starting at 8PM EST right here on Ring-Rap.com.