5/15 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Roman Reigns vs. Finn Balor, Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship, Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt, Extreme Rules developments

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Newark, New Jersey at Prudential Center

[Q1] Raw opened with a recap of last week’s show that focussed on Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns… The Raw opening aired and then pyro shot off on the stage… The broadcast team was Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T. JoJo was the ring announcer. The broadcast team hyped the Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz match for the Intercontinental Championship…

Raw general manager Kurt Angle made his entrance. Angle thanked the fans for their reaction and welcomed them to Raw. Angle said Reigns settled the score with Strowman last week. There were some boos. Angle said Strowman suffered a shattered elbow and was flown from London back to the United States where he had surgery.

Angle said Strowman might be out of action for up to six months. Angle said Strowman had set his sights on the WWE Universal Championship. Angle asked who would challenge Brock Lesnar for the title. Angle said he’s given it thought and it has to be earned and not given. Angle announced that there will be an Extreme Rules Fatal Five-Way match at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view with the winner getting the title shot.

Angle introduced the five-way participants: Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, and Roman Reigns as the entrants. Graphics for each wrestler facing Lesnar were shown. Angle said it would be every man for himself, it would be historical, and it would be extreme. Angle’s music played and he started to leave the ring.

Powell’s POV: The five-way should be dramatic if the finish doesn’t get out ahead of time. This live crowd reacted most to the idea of Balor facing Lesnar, which seems like a likely direction if only because they want to save Reigns facing Lesnar for a major event, most likely WrestleMania.

Roman Reigns’ entrance music interrupted Angle and he head out to mostly boos. Reigns headed to the ring slowly. “Kurt, we don’t need a number one contender match because I’m the number one contender,” Reigns said. The crowd booed loudly. Roman added that he beat Undertaker, put Strowman on the shelf, and said he’s the only guy who can beat Lesnar for the Universal Championship.

Finn Balor made his entrance. Balor told Reigns that he was the first Universal Champion and he never lost his title. Balor said that if Reigns wants a piece of The Beast, the line starts behind him. Reigns said Balor has a lot of heart, but he doesn’t have the killer instinct to beat someone like Lesnar. Balor said Reigns should know what he’s capable of. Balor reminded Reigns that he beat him on his first night on Raw.

Samoa Joe made his entrance with a mic in hand and spoke as he walked to the ring. He said it wasn’t about heart, a yard, or anyone’s club. Joe said it’s about action and results. Joe said the action was putting Rollins in the Coquina Clutch and the result was Rollins going limp. Joe said the action is him getting in the five-way, and the result is him winning.

Bray Wyatt’s video flash interrupted Joe and he appeared in the ring. Wyatt said they all put on their brave faces, but he can feel them trembling. Wyatt said they will cower, fall, and run.

[Q2] Seth Rollins’ music interrupted Wyatt. Rollins said there’s a lot of time to talk between now and Extreme Rules, but New Jersey came to Raw for action. He said he came to fight Joe. Rollins and Joe met on tthe ramp and traded punches. Wyatt took down Balor and was pulled off by Reigns. Rollins wrenched Joe’s knee. Joe hobbled up the stage while Rollin stood tall. Wyatt cleared Joe from the ring. Reigns gave Wyatt a Superman Punch. Rollins and Wyatt traded punches. Balor performed a running dropkick on both men.

Balor entered the ring and after he and Reigns both avoided the other’s finisher, Balor caught Reigns with a sling blade clothesline. Balor performed a running dive onto Reigns and Rollins on the floor. Balor stood tall while the other wrestlers were down at ringside…

A shot aired of Matt and Jeff Hardy walking backstage. Cole said they found out they would defend the titles against Sheamus and Cesaro at Extreme Rules. Cole hyped Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good opening segment that showcased Balor in a major way. One can only assume that this will be a spotlight night for Balor given that he has a WWE 24 documentary airing on the network right after Raw. The brief brawl with Joe and Rollins was more effective than their 15-minute match was last week in terms of establishing the intensity of their feud. Reigns came off a little heelish, but I view it as WWE simply tweaking his character based on the circumstances. He may play it slightly more heelish when he’s out there with Balor, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a babyface if he’s out there with Wyatt or another heel in a future segment.

Backstage, Rollins, Balor, and Reigns were bickering about facing Lesnar when Angle showed up and said they could take out their aggressions in the ring. Angle booked Bray Wyatt “for the first time ever.” Angle booked Reigns against Balor for later in the show…

1. Jeff Hardy (w/Matt Hardy) vs. Sheamus (w/Cesaro). Footage aired of Sheamus kicking Jeff and knocking out his tooth in a past match. Jeff ducked an early Brogue Kick attempt. Sheamus came back at ringside by tossing Jeff into the barricade.

[Q3] [C] Sheamus threw a knee to the head of Jeff and covered him for a good two count. Sheamus leapt off the ropes and into a stunner, which Booker said was a modified Twist of Fate. In the end, Jeff performed a Twist of Fate and followed up with a Swanton Bomb for the win…

Jeff Hardy pinned Sheamus in 8:30.

Graves hyped the IC Title match for later in the show… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good television match and a really lively crowd. They gasped at the Sheamus knee to Jeff’s head and were hot for Jeff’s signature spots. There were also fans holding up “Delete Section” signs. There was an awkward spot as Sheamus tried to Brogue Kick Matt off the apron, but the kick came up short. Sheamus simply threw the kick again and knocked Matt into the arms of Cesaro and then they went to the finish. Can you blame Sheamus if he’s a little leery of laying in kicks right now given what happened to Jeff?

2. Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox (w/Noam Dar). Banks received a partially televised entrance while Fox was already waiting in the ring after the break. The broadcast team recapped last week’s finish with Fox’s shoulder up when the referee made the three count. Alicia threw a really nice kick to the head of Banks. also performed a Northern Lights suplex. Later, Fox held onto the ropes to avoid a Backstabber and dumped Banks to ringside. Back in the ring, Fox performed an awkward scissors kick to the back of Banks and pinned her clean…

Alicia Fox defeated Sasha Banks.

[Q4] The broadcast team hyped the previously announced matches. Split screen shots showed Dean Ambrose and The Miz, and Cole hyped that the IC Title match was coming up next… [C] An ad for Tuesday’s Smackdown hyped Jinder Mahal vs. AJ Styles “for the first time ever” and Randy Orton vs. Baron Corbin in a non-title match…

Powell’s POV: Well, that finish was unexpected. I guess they have to find something for Banks to do if she’s not going to be in the mix with Bayley, Alexa Bliss, and Nia Jax right now. Meanwhile, the advertised matches for Smackdown intrigue me. It’s a big night for Jinder in that he’s working with Styles and should also deliver a go-home promo for his Backlash main event.

3. Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz (w/Maryse) for the Intercontinental Championship. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Miz fled to ringside and spoke with Maryse heading into a break. [C] Miz was in offensive control coming out of the break and connected with a double ax handle off the ropes.

[Q5] Ambrose came back and performed a running bulldog and rolled up Miz for a two count. Miz leapt off the top into a boot. He avoided Dirty Deeds, but Ambrose rolled him up for another two count. Ambrose went up top and performed his flying elbow for another two count. Graves questioned what else Ambrose could throw at Miz.

Miz ducked Ambrose’s lariat and hit the Skull Crushing Finale for a good near fall. Miz avoided Dirty Deeds, but Ambrose clotheslined him to the floor. Ambrose went up top, but Miz pulled Maryse in front of him. Ambrose hesitated and eventually jumped anyway. Maryse ran away and Ambrose hit Miz. Back inside the ring, Miz went for a low blow off a Maryse distraction, but Ambrose blocked it. Ambrose kicked Miz below the belt for the DQ…

The Miz defeated Dean Ambrose by DQ in 12:00.

Powell’s POV: A good match that breathed some life into this repeat feud. I assume they will be going back to this at Extreme Rules and that’s why neither man is in the number one contenders match. That said, if they intend to turn Ambrose this year, they could always have him point back to the fact that he was left out of the match despite being the IC Champion.

Backstage, Charly Caruso interviewed a very smiley Balor and plugged his documentary and the network and the five-way. She asked if he’s ready to step into the big dog’s yard. He delivered the “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight” line. He said it might be Roman’s yard, but it’s his universe…

Cole hyped Rollins vs. Wyatt for after the break, and Graves hyped Reigns vs. Balor for later… [C] Footage aired of Alexa Bliss defeating Bayley to win the Raw Women’s Championship…

[Q6] Bliss stood in the ring and said Newark is the sweat gland of America. She called the fans the poster children of failure. She said they would experience the opposite by seeing her. She assumed they were wondering what it was like to be a winner. She said when you are smarter and more dominant than everyone else, winning becomes easy. The fans started a “What?” chant. She shut them down almost immediately, referred to herself as The Goddess, and said the new Miss USA should be thankful she didn’t enter the pageant.

Bayley made her entrance and hugged some kids before getting into the ring with Bliss. Bayley gave Bliss props for accomplishing what she said she would. Bayley said she was using her rematch clause at Extreme Rules. Bliss questioned if Bayley knows what extreme rules means. She said Bayley will never get extreme.

Bliss said Bayley should sit at the kid’s table and leave the championship to the adults. Bayley hit Bliss and dropkicked her. Bliss clotheslined her on the ropes. Bliss reached under the ring and pulled out a kendo stick. Bliss ended up hitting Bayley from behind with the kendo stick. Bayley sold it like she’d been shot. An ECW chant broke out…

Graves hyped Austin Aries and Jack Gallagher vs. Neville and TJP for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: The Bliss and Bayley segment was proof that one weapon’s shot can be more than enough if the recipient sells it well enough. Obviously, they are setting up some type of kendo stick match for Extreme Rules.

Backstage, Angle was on the phone with “Sami” and told him he was doing a great job. He emphasized that he would call Sami back. The Miz complained to Angle about Ambrose intentionally getting himself disqualified. Angle said he would get his rematch at Extreme Rules. Miz said that wasn’t good enough, he wants a match where the champion can lose his title if he’s disqualified. Angle granted him the match. Maryse yelled at Angle in French. “The Drifter” Elias Samson showed up strumming his guitar. Miz and Maryse walked away. Angle asked Samson if he could help him. Samson resumed playing the guitar…

Neville vs. Austin Aries for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship was announced for Extreme Rules…

[Q7] 4. Neville and TJP vs. Austin Aries and Jack Gallagher. Gallagher launched Aries into an early dive onto the heels at ringside. [C] The heel duo took control during the break and isolated Aries. The crowd was distracted by something within the crowd during the match and chanted CM Punk at one point.

Aries made the hot tag to Gallagher, who worked over TJP with a couple of nice slams. Later, Gallagher caught Neville with a couple of dropkicks. Aries leapt onto Neville at ringside. Gallaher avoided TJP’s finisher and caught him with a headbutt. Neville grabbed the leg of Gallagher to prevent him from going for his running dropkick. Aries took out Neville on the floor, but TJP hit the Detonation Kick on Gallagher and scored the pin…

Neville and TJP beat Austin Aries and Jack Gallagher in 9:00.

Powell’s POV: WWE has to realize just how damaging the set change for the cruiserweight matches has become. The purple ropes and other cosmetic changes just scream second rate due to the sad state of the division. It might be different if the division got off to a hot start on Raw and 205 Live, but the creative for the division has been lackluster and uninspired, so the just seeing the graphics and cosmetic changes brings the mood of the shown down for this viewer. It’s a shame because I like all four guys who were in this match, but I just didn’t care about the outcome and it seemed like many in the crowd shared my disinterest.

The broadcast team stood behind their desk and hyped the WWE UK Championship Special and Jim Ross calling the matches, NXT Takeover: Chicago, and WWE Backlash on Sunday for the WWE Network. Cole emphasized that new subscribers would get Extreme Rules as part of their free trial… Graves hyped Rollins vs. Wyatt, and Cole hyped Balor vs. Reigns as coming up next…

[Q8] [C] Backstage, Bayley was being treaded for a sore shoulder due to the kendo stick shot. Angle entered the room and told her that he was putting her in a straight up match rather than an extreme rules match. Bayley was upset because she wasn’t getting her shot at revenge. Bayley said she was ready to get extreme. Angle got excited and booked her in a kendo stick on a pole match…

In a locker room, R-Truth apologized to Goldust for costing them the match last week. Goldust said he’s fallen and Truth has picked him back up. Goldust said they could dig, claw, and crawl their way back to the top. Goldust fired him up before they headed out for a match…

Ring entrances for Balor vs. Reigns took place. Cole called it one of their “two huge main events tonight.” The broadcast team hyped his documentary. Graves said you’d hear from his best friends Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, and also Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens… [C]

Powell’s POV: How many fans who don’t follow New Japan Pro Wrestling are confused by the idea of babyface Balor being best friends with heels Anderson and Gallows?

A long Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman video package aired… Reigns made his entrance…

[Q9] 5. Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns. Roman still his shoulder wrapped and Graves noted that he’s still banged up. Cole and Booker spoke about how Reigns was taped up following his battles with Strowman. Graves said Balor needed to target the shoulder. Booker said he had to go 20, 30, or 40 minutes in order to have a chance.

The broadcast team started to sing the praises of Balor. Cole said Balor proved he could mix it up with brawlers and pointed to his feud with Samoa Joe in NXT. Reigns hit a Samoan drop and sold shoulder pain, which was acknowledged by the broadcast team. Balor came back, but Reigns no-sold a chop in the corner. Reigns charged at Balor, who moved, and Reigns went through the ropes and to the floor. Balor caught him with a running kick from the apron and then a double stomp on the floor. [C]

Balor remained in control coming out of the break, but Reigns caught him and drove him back first into the ring post. Reigns positioned Balor of the apron and then did a Drive By kick that drove his body into the post casing. Reigns jawed at Balor before working him over with clotheslines in the corner. Reigns performed a nice powerbomb for a two count.

Balor came back with a double stomp. Cole spoke about Reigns having sore ribs coming into the match. Balor charged at Reigns, who tagged him with a Superman Punch for a near fall. The broadcast team acted stunned. Cole said an argument could be made that Reigns would have won right there had he been 100 percent.

[Q10] Balor performed some of his signature spots and then went up top for his finisher, but Reigns cut him off. Reigns speared Balor and pinned him clean…

Roman Reigns pinned Finn Balor in 14:40.

Powell’s POV: The way the broadcast team built in every excuse in the book for Reigns to the point that I naturally assumed that Balor was going to win. And while I don’t mind being surprised rather than having a finish telegraphed, they went so far with the excuses for Reigns that the story told was that a wounded Reigns pinned a fully healthy Balor in a good match.

The broadcast team spoke about the match and Graves raved about the job Angle was going by booking these matches. They were interrupted when the arena went dark…

Bray Wyatt appeared on the big screen and said there’s an evil that surrounds Raw. He said some call it a man and some call it a conquerer. He said he sees it as it truly is – a beast. Wyatt said it’s Roman’s yard, but it’s his world. Wyatt said he will take the spear of destiny and drive it into the heart of the beast. He said you will all worship his name as he stands triumphant as the new Universal Champion. He said he was tasked with taking another soul on this show. He said Rollins is the King Slayer, but questioned whether he has enough to slay him. He asked if he will look evil in the eye and conquer it or if he will rely on is gutless instincts and run… [C] An NXT Takeover: Chicago ad aired…

Backstage, Caruso interviewed Seth Rollins about facing Wyatt in a singles match for the first time. Rollins said he heard Wyatt refer to him as gutless. Rollins said that after everything he’s been through including his knee injury, seeing Stephanie McMahon every week, and Samoa Joe, Wyatt won’t be the guy who stands in his way of the Universal Title. Rollins said his actions speak loud and clear…

Golden Truth made their entrance with the karaoke Goldust head bobbing over the lyrics to Truth’s song. Truth told the crowd to make some noise and asked what’s up. Goldust suddenly attacked Truth from behind. Amen! Goldust put the boots to a shocked Truth while a chant of “thank you, Goldust” could be heard. Goldust continued the attack inside and outside the ring. “That’s what’s up,” Goldust told Truth over the mic…

Graves hyped Rollins vs. Wyatt…

Powell’s POV: I have said for a long time that I would love to see the return of a darker and more serious Goldust for one more run. It’s a shame that WWE spent years doing so much comedy with him rather than make a real attempt to reposition him as a heel. Only time will tell whether this is anything more than an undercard program, but I’m happy to see Goldust do something other than comedy for a change.

[Q11] [C] A commercial aired for the WWE UK Championship Special… Cole set up an ad for a video game featuring the DC comic book characters…

Enzo Amore and Big Cass made their entrance. Graves said Enzo grew up in New Jersey and he was guaranteed that Enzo had a few outstanding warrants. Enzo acknowledged that it was a homecoming before he was interrupted by Titus O’Neil’s entrance theme. Titus led out an apprehensive Apollo Crews.

Titus did his own version of Enzo’s entrance routine and took some jabs at New Jersey for easy heat and some “asshole” (maybe Enzo?) chants in response. Cass informed Titus that Crews wasn’t facing Enzo as he thought. Rather, Titus would face Cass. Titus said he wasn’t going to wrestle anyone in his expensive suit and shoes. Cass told him he wouldn’t like the way he looks when the match ended…

6. Big Cass (w/Enzo Amore) vs. Titus O’Neil (w/Apollo Crews). Titus took off his belt and wanted to use it as a weapon. Enzo distracted Titus. Cass caught him with a big boot to the head and pinned him. After the match, Enzo picked up a phone and took a selfie. Screws performed a jumping kick to the head of Enzo…

Big Cass pinned Titus O’Neil in 1:10.

The broadcast team hyped the main event… [C]

Powell’s POV: The Titus spoof of Enzo’s entrance was good for a chuckle.

[Q12] Austin Aries vs. TJP was advertised for 205 Live (again)… Backstage, Neville told TJP that he did good. TJP was cocky and said he still hasn’t gotten what he’s looking for – a title shot. Neville said it’s just around the corner. Neville said they still have the Aries problem. Neville said “we will end it once and for all”…

Ring entrances for the main event took place starting with Wyatt. Cole thanked the UK fans “for an incredible tour of Europe.” Rollins made his entrance…

7. Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt. Wyatt caught Rollins with a headbutt to the chest. Wyatt came back with a snapmare and two kicks. Rollins took the fight to ringside and ran him into the barricade. Rollins performed a leap off the barricade, but Wyatt caught him with one arm and performed a uranage into the barricade heading into the break. [C] Wyatt performed a superplex.

[Overrun] Wyatt went for another uranage, but Wyatt avoided it and dumped Wyatt to ringside. Rollins ran the ropes for a suicide dive, but Wyatt punched him. Rollins came right back with a Blockbuster. A graphic aired while both men were down for the five-way match at Extreme Rules. Booker T picked Joe to win the match. Cole said all five men pose a problem for The Beast. Sure.

Rollins hit his suicide dive on Wyatt at 10:45. Rollins rolled Wyatt back inside the ring and then performed a springboard clothesline for a two count. Rollins avoided Sister Abigail and connected with a kick. Wyatt no-sold it and threw a clothesline at Rollins and then covered him for two. Wyatt performed a uranage for two.

Wyatt went for his finisher again, but Rollins rolled him for a two count and then caught him with a superkick. Rollins followed up with a falcon arrow for another two count. Rollins went up top and dove onto Wyatt on the floor a short time later. Samoa Joe ran out and attacked Rollins from behind for the DQ…

Seth Rollins beat Bray Wyatt by DQ in 14:00.

After the match, Joe and Wyatt looked at one another, then put the boots to Rollins. Wyatt turned on Joe by performing a crowd pleasing Sister Abigail and a smile. Cole said there are no alliances in a five-way. Wyatt followed up with a Sister Abigail on Rollins. Wyatt struck the crucifix pose and yelled “Follow the buzzards” to close the show…

Powell’s POV: It was nice that they actually had the ring announcer deliver the DQ finish announcement. How many times have we seen a match end like this with no official announcement? The crowd seemed focussed on the match, but they didn’t make much noise until Joe ran out. They also seemed to like Wyatt hitting his finisher on Joe. Overall, this was an improvement over last week’s lethargic show, but the three hour marathon feeling was there by the end of the night. I will have more to say about the show in my member exclusive audio review later tonight and in Tuesday’s WWE Raw Hit List. Thanks for watching along with me.

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5/15 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Roman Reigns vs. Finn Balor, Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship, Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt, Extreme Rules developments

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Newark, New Jersey at Prudential Center

[Q1] Raw opened with a recap of last week’s show that focussed on Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns… The Raw opening aired and then pyro shot off on the stage… The broadcast team was Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T. JoJo was the ring announcer. The broadcast team hyped the Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz match for the Intercontinental Championship…

Raw general manager Kurt Angle made his entrance. Angle thanked the fans for their reaction and welcomed them to Raw. Angle said Reigns settled the score with Strowman last week. There were some boos. Angle said Strowman suffered a shattered elbow and was flown from London back to the United States where he had surgery.

Angle said Strowman might be out of action for up to six months. Angle said Strowman had set his sights on the WWE Universal Championship. Angle asked who would challenge Brock Lesnar for the title. Angle said he’s given it thought and it has to be earned and not given. Angle announced that there will be an Extreme Rules Fatal Five-Way match at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view with the winner getting the title shot.

Angle introduced the five-way participants: Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, and Roman Reigns as the entrants. Graphics for each wrestler facing Lesnar were shown. Angle said it would be every man for himself, it would be historical, and it would be extreme. Angle’s music played and he started to leave the ring.

Powell’s POV: The five-way should be dramatic if the finish doesn’t get out ahead of time. This live crowd reacted most to the idea of Balor facing Lesnar, which seems like a likely direction if only because they want to save Reigns facing Lesnar for a major event, most likely WrestleMania.

Roman Reigns’ entrance music interrupted Angle and he head out to mostly boos. Reigns headed to the ring slowly. “Kurt, we don’t need a number one contender match because I’m the number one contender,” Reigns said. The crowd booed loudly. Roman added that he beat Undertaker, put Strowman on the shelf, and said he’s the only guy who can beat Lesnar for the Universal Championship.

Finn Balor made his entrance. Balor told Reigns that he was the first Universal Champion and he never lost his title. Balor said that if Reigns wants a piece of The Beast, the line starts behind him. Reigns said Balor has a lot of heart, but he doesn’t have the killer instinct to beat someone like Lesnar. Balor said Reigns should know what he’s capable of. Balor reminded Reigns that he beat him on his first night on Raw.

Samoa Joe made his entrance with a mic in hand and spoke as he walked to the ring. He said it wasn’t about heart, a yard, or anyone’s club. Joe said it’s about action and results. Joe said the action was putting Rollins in the Coquina Clutch and the result was Rollins going limp. Joe said the action is him getting in the five-way, and the result is him winning.

Bray Wyatt’s video flash interrupted Joe and he appeared in the ring. Wyatt said they all put on their brave faces, but he can feel them trembling. Wyatt said they will cower, fall, and run.

[Q2] Seth Rollins’ music interrupted Wyatt. Rollins said there’s a lot of time to talk between now and Extreme Rules, but New Jersey came to Raw for action. He said he came to fight Joe. Rollins and Joe met on tthe ramp and traded punches. Wyatt took down Balor and was pulled off by Reigns. Rollins wrenched Joe’s knee. Joe hobbled up the stage while Rollin stood tall. Wyatt cleared Joe from the ring. Reigns gave Wyatt a Superman Punch. Rollins and Wyatt traded punches. Balor performed a running dropkick on both men.

Balor entered the ring and after he and Reigns both avoided the other’s finisher, Balor caught Reigns with a sling blade clothesline. Balor performed a running dive onto Reigns and Rollins on the floor. Balor stood tall while the other wrestlers were down at ringside…

A shot aired of Matt and Jeff Hardy walking backstage. Cole said they found out they would defend the titles against Sheamus and Cesaro at Extreme Rules. Cole hyped Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good opening segment that showcased Balor in a major way. One can only assume that this will be a spotlight night for Balor given that he has a WWE 24 documentary airing on the network right after Raw. The brief brawl with Joe and Rollins was more effective than their 15-minute match was last week in terms of establishing the intensity of their feud. Reigns came off a little heelish, but I view it as WWE simply tweaking his character based on the circumstances. He may play it slightly more heelish when he’s out there with Balor, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a babyface if he’s out there with Wyatt or another heel in a future segment.

Backstage, Rollins, Balor, and Reigns were bickering about facing Lesnar when Angle showed up and said they could take out their aggressions in the ring. Angle booked Bray Wyatt “for the first time ever.” Angle booked Reigns against Balor for later in the show…

1. Jeff Hardy (w/Matt Hardy) vs. Sheamus (w/Cesaro). Footage aired of Sheamus kicking Jeff and knocking out his tooth in a past match. Jeff ducked an early Brogue Kick attempt. Sheamus came back at ringside by tossing Jeff into the barricade.

[Q3] [C] Sheamus threw a knee to the head of Jeff and covered him for a good two count. Sheamus leapt off the ropes and into a stunner, which Booker said was a modified Twist of Fate. In the end, Jeff performed a Twist of Fate and followed up with a Swanton Bomb for the win…

Jeff Hardy pinned Sheamus in 8:30.

Graves hyped the IC Title match for later in the show… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good television match and a really lively crowd. They gasped at the Sheamus knee to Jeff’s head and were hot for Jeff’s signature spots. There were also fans holding up “Delete Section” signs. There was an awkward spot as Sheamus tried to Brogue Kick Matt off the apron, but the kick came up short. Sheamus simply threw the kick again and knocked Matt into the arms of Cesaro and then they went to the finish. Can you blame Sheamus if he’s a little leery of laying in kicks right now given what happened to Jeff?

2. Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox (w/Noam Dar). Banks received a partially televised entrance while Fox was already waiting in the ring after the break. The broadcast team recapped last week’s finish with Fox’s shoulder up when the referee made the three count. Alicia threw a really nice kick to the head of Banks. also performed a Northern Lights suplex. Later, Fox held onto the ropes to avoid a Backstabber and dumped Banks to ringside. Back in the ring, Fox performed an awkward scissors kick to the back of Banks and pinned her clean…

Alicia Fox defeated Sasha Banks.

[Q4] The broadcast team hyped the previously announced matches. Split screen shots showed Dean Ambrose and The Miz, and Cole hyped that the IC Title match was coming up next… [C] An ad for Tuesday’s Smackdown hyped Jinder Mahal vs. AJ Styles “for the first time ever” and Randy Orton vs. Baron Corbin in a non-title match…

Powell’s POV: Well, that finish was unexpected. I guess they have to find something for Banks to do if she’s not going to be in the mix with Bayley, Alexa Bliss, and Nia Jax right now. Meanwhile, the advertised matches for Smackdown intrigue me. It’s a big night for Jinder in that he’s working with Styles and should also deliver a go-home promo for his Backlash main event.

3. Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz (w/Maryse) for the Intercontinental Championship. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Miz fled to ringside and spoke with Maryse heading into a break. [C] Miz was in offensive control coming out of the break and connected with a double ax handle off the ropes.

[Q5] Ambrose came back and performed a running bulldog and rolled up Miz for a two count. Miz leapt off the top into a boot. He avoided Dirty Deeds, but Ambrose rolled him up for another two count. Ambrose went up top and performed his flying elbow for another two count. Graves questioned what else Ambrose could throw at Miz.

Miz ducked Ambrose’s lariat and hit the Skull Crushing Finale for a good near fall. Miz avoided Dirty Deeds, but Ambrose clotheslined him to the floor. Ambrose went up top, but Miz pulled Maryse in front of him. Ambrose hesitated and eventually jumped anyway. Maryse ran away and Ambrose hit Miz. Back inside the ring, Miz went for a low blow off a Maryse distraction, but Ambrose blocked it. Ambrose kicked Miz below the belt for the DQ…

The Miz defeated Dean Ambrose by DQ in 12:00.

Powell’s POV: A good match that breathed some life into this repeat feud. I assume they will be going back to this at Extreme Rules and that’s why neither man is in the number one contenders match. That said, if they intend to turn Ambrose this year, they could always have him point back to the fact that he was left out of the match despite being the IC Champion.

Backstage, Charly Caruso interviewed a very smiley Balor and plugged his documentary and the network and the five-way. She asked if he’s ready to step into the big dog’s yard. He delivered the “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight” line. He said it might be Roman’s yard, but it’s his universe…

Cole hyped Rollins vs. Wyatt for after the break, and Graves hyped Reigns vs. Balor for later… [C] Footage aired of Alexa Bliss defeating Bayley to win the Raw Women’s Championship…

[Q6] Bliss stood in the ring and said Newark is the sweat gland of America. She called the fans the poster children of failure. She said they would experience the opposite by seeing her. She assumed they were wondering what it was like to be a winner. She said when you are smarter and more dominant than everyone else, winning becomes easy. The fans started a “What?” chant. She shut them down almost immediately, referred to herself as The Goddess, and said the new Miss USA should be thankful she didn’t enter the pageant.

Bayley made her entrance and hugged some kids before getting into the ring with Bliss. Bayley gave Bliss props for accomplishing what she said she would. Bayley said she was using her rematch clause at Extreme Rules. Bliss questioned if Bayley knows what extreme rules means. She said Bayley will never get extreme.

Bliss said Bayley should sit at the kid’s table and leave the championship to the adults. Bayley hit Bliss and dropkicked her. Bliss clotheslined her on the ropes. Bliss reached under the ring and pulled out a kendo stick. Bliss ended up hitting Bayley from behind with the kendo stick. Bayley sold it like she’d been shot. An ECW chant broke out…

Graves hyped Austin Aries and Jack Gallagher vs. Neville and TJP for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: The Bliss and Bayley segment was proof that one weapon’s shot can be more than enough if the recipient sells it well enough. Obviously, they are setting up some type of kendo stick match for Extreme Rules.

Backstage, Angle was on the phone with “Sami” and told him he was doing a great job. He emphasized that he would call Sami back. The Miz complained to Angle about Ambrose intentionally getting himself disqualified. Angle said he would get his rematch at Extreme Rules. Miz said that wasn’t good enough, he wants a match where the champion can lose his title if he’s disqualified. Angle granted him the match. Maryse yelled at Angle in French. “The Drifter” Elias Samson showed up strumming his guitar. Miz and Maryse walked away. Angle asked Samson if he could help him. Samson resumed playing the guitar…

Neville vs. Austin Aries for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship was announced for Extreme Rules…

[Q7] 4. Neville and TJP vs. Austin Aries and Jack Gallagher. Gallagher launched Aries into an early dive onto the heels at ringside. [C] The heel duo took control during the break and isolated Aries. The crowd was distracted by something within the crowd during the match and chanted CM Punk at one point.

Aries made the hot tag to Gallagher, who worked over TJP with a couple of nice slams. Later, Gallagher caught Neville with a couple of dropkicks. Aries leapt onto Neville at ringside. Gallaher avoided TJP’s finisher and caught him with a headbutt. Neville grabbed the leg of Gallagher to prevent him from going for his running dropkick. Aries took out Neville on the floor, but TJP hit the Detonation Kick on Gallagher and scored the pin…

Neville and TJP beat Austin Aries and Jack Gallagher in 9:00.

Powell’s POV: WWE has to realize just how damaging the set change for the cruiserweight matches has become. The purple ropes and other cosmetic changes just scream second rate due to the sad state of the division. It might be different if the division got off to a hot start on Raw and 205 Live, but the creative for the division has been lackluster and uninspired, so the just seeing the graphics and cosmetic changes brings the mood of the shown down for this viewer. It’s a shame because I like all four guys who were in this match, but I just didn’t care about the outcome and it seemed like many in the crowd shared my disinterest.

The broadcast team stood behind their desk and hyped the WWE UK Championship Special and Jim Ross calling the matches, NXT Takeover: Chicago, and WWE Backlash on Sunday for the WWE Network. Cole emphasized that new subscribers would get Extreme Rules as part of their free trial… Graves hyped Rollins vs. Wyatt, and Cole hyped Balor vs. Reigns as coming up next…

[Q8] [C] Backstage, Bayley was being treaded for a sore shoulder due to the kendo stick shot. Angle entered the room and told her that he was putting her in a straight up match rather than an extreme rules match. Bayley was upset because she wasn’t getting her shot at revenge. Bayley said she was ready to get extreme. Angle got excited and booked her in a kendo stick on a pole match…

In a locker room, R-Truth apologized to Goldust for costing them the match last week. Goldust said he’s fallen and Truth has picked him back up. Goldust said they could dig, claw, and crawl their way back to the top. Goldust fired him up before they headed out for a match…

Ring entrances for Balor vs. Reigns took place. Cole called it one of their “two huge main events tonight.” The broadcast team hyped his documentary. Graves said you’d hear from his best friends Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, and also Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens… [C]

Powell’s POV: How many fans who don’t follow New Japan Pro Wrestling are confused by the idea of babyface Balor being best friends with heels Anderson and Gallows?

A long Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman video package aired… Reigns made his entrance…

[Q9] 5. Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns. Roman still his shoulder wrapped and Graves noted that he’s still banged up. Cole and Booker spoke about how Reigns was taped up following his battles with Strowman. Graves said Balor needed to target the shoulder. Booker said he had to go 20, 30, or 40 minutes in order to have a chance.

The broadcast team started to sing the praises of Balor. Cole said Balor proved he could mix it up with brawlers and pointed to his feud with Samoa Joe in NXT. Reigns hit a Samoan drop and sold shoulder pain, which was acknowledged by the broadcast team. Balor came back, but Reigns no-sold a chop in the corner. Reigns charged at Balor, who moved, and Reigns went through the ropes and to the floor. Balor caught him with a running kick from the apron and then a double stomp on the floor. [C]

Balor remained in control coming out of the break, but Reigns caught him and drove him back first into the ring post. Reigns positioned Balor of the apron and then did a Drive By kick that drove his body into the post casing. Reigns jawed at Balor before working him over with clotheslines in the corner. Reigns performed a nice powerbomb for a two count.

Balor came back with a double stomp. Cole spoke about Reigns having sore ribs coming into the match. Balor charged at Reigns, who tagged him with a Superman Punch for a near fall. The broadcast team acted stunned. Cole said an argument could be made that Reigns would have won right there had he been 100 percent.

[Q10] Balor performed some of his signature spots and then went up top for his finisher, but Reigns cut him off. Reigns speared Balor and pinned him clean…

Roman Reigns pinned Finn Balor in 14:40.

Powell’s POV: The way the broadcast team built in every excuse in the book for Reigns to the point that I naturally assumed that Balor was going to win. And while I don’t mind being surprised rather than having a finish telegraphed, they went so far with the excuses for Reigns that the story told was that a wounded Reigns pinned a fully healthy Balor in a good match.

The broadcast team spoke about the match and Graves raved about the job Angle was going by booking these matches. They were interrupted when the arena went dark…

Bray Wyatt appeared on the big screen and said there’s an evil that surrounds Raw. He said some call it a man and some call it a conquerer. He said he sees it as it truly is – a beast. Wyatt said it’s Roman’s yard, but it’s his world. Wyatt said he will take the spear of destiny and drive it into the heart of the beast. He said you will all worship his name as he stands triumphant as the new Universal Champion. He said he was tasked with taking another soul on this show. He said Rollins is the King Slayer, but questioned whether he has enough to slay him. He asked if he will look evil in the eye and conquer it or if he will rely on is gutless instincts and run… [C] An NXT Takeover: Chicago ad aired…

Backstage, Caruso interviewed Seth Rollins about facing Wyatt in a singles match for the first time. Rollins said he heard Wyatt refer to him as gutless. Rollins said that after everything he’s been through including his knee injury, seeing Stephanie McMahon every week, and Samoa Joe, Wyatt won’t be the guy who stands in his way of the Universal Title. Rollins said his actions speak loud and clear…

Golden Truth made their entrance with the karaoke Goldust head bobbing over the lyrics to Truth’s song. Truth told the crowd to make some noise and asked what’s up. Goldust suddenly attacked Truth from behind. Amen! Goldust put the boots to a shocked Truth while a chant of “thank you, Goldust” could be heard. Goldust continued the attack inside and outside the ring. “That’s what’s up,” Goldust told Truth over the mic…

Graves hyped Rollins vs. Wyatt…

Powell’s POV: I have said for a long time that I would love to see the return of a darker and more serious Goldust for one more run. It’s a shame that WWE spent years doing so much comedy with him rather than make a real attempt to reposition him as a heel. Only time will tell whether this is anything more than an undercard program, but I’m happy to see Goldust do something other than comedy for a change.

[Q11] [C] A commercial aired for the WWE UK Championship Special… Cole set up an ad for a video game featuring the DC comic book characters…

Enzo Amore and Big Cass made their entrance. Graves said Enzo grew up in New Jersey and he was guaranteed that Enzo had a few outstanding warrants. Enzo acknowledged that it was a homecoming before he was interrupted by Titus O’Neil’s entrance theme. Titus led out an apprehensive Apollo Crews.

Titus did his own version of Enzo’s entrance routine and took some jabs at New Jersey for easy heat and some “asshole” (maybe Enzo?) chants in response. Cass informed Titus that Crews wasn’t facing Enzo as he thought. Rather, Titus would face Cass. Titus said he wasn’t going to wrestle anyone in his expensive suit and shoes. Cass told him he wouldn’t like the way he looks when the match ended…

6. Big Cass (w/Enzo Amore) vs. Titus O’Neil (w/Apollo Crews). Titus took off his belt and wanted to use it as a weapon. Enzo distracted Titus. Cass caught him with a big boot to the head and pinned him. After the match, Enzo picked up a phone and took a selfie. Screws performed a jumping kick to the head of Enzo…

Big Cass pinned Titus O’Neil in 1:10.

The broadcast team hyped the main event… [C]

Powell’s POV: The Titus spoof of Enzo’s entrance was good for a chuckle.

[Q12] Austin Aries vs. TJP was advertised for 205 Live (again)… Backstage, Neville told TJP that he did good. TJP was cocky and said he still hasn’t gotten what he’s looking for – a title shot. Neville said it’s just around the corner. Neville said they still have the Aries problem. Neville said “we will end it once and for all”…

Ring entrances for the main event took place starting with Wyatt. Cole thanked the UK fans “for an incredible tour of Europe.” Rollins made his entrance…

7. Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt. Wyatt caught Rollins with a headbutt to the chest. Wyatt came back with a snapmare and two kicks. Rollins took the fight to ringside and ran him into the barricade. Rollins performed a leap off the barricade, but Wyatt caught him with one arm and performed a uranage into the barricade heading into the break. [C] Wyatt performed a superplex.

[Overrun] Wyatt went for another uranage, but Wyatt avoided it and dumped Wyatt to ringside. Rollins ran the ropes for a suicide dive, but Wyatt punched him. Rollins came right back with a Blockbuster. A graphic aired while both men were down for the five-way match at Extreme Rules. Booker T picked Joe to win the match. Cole said all five men pose a problem for The Beast. Sure.

Rollins hit his suicide dive on Wyatt at 10:45. Rollins rolled Wyatt back inside the ring and then performed a springboard clothesline for a two count. Rollins avoided Sister Abigail and connected with a kick. Wyatt no-sold it and threw a clothesline at Rollins and then covered him for two. Wyatt performed a uranage for two.

Wyatt went for his finisher again, but Rollins rolled him for a two count and then caught him with a superkick. Rollins followed up with a falcon arrow for another two count. Rollins went up top and dove onto Wyatt on the floor a short time later. Samoa Joe ran out and attacked Rollins from behind for the DQ…

Seth Rollins beat Bray Wyatt by DQ in 14:00.

After the match, Joe and Wyatt looked at one another, then put the boots to Rollins. Wyatt turned on Joe by performing a crowd pleasing Sister Abigail and a smile. Cole said there are no alliances in a five-way. Wyatt followed up with a Sister Abigail on Rollins. Wyatt struck the crucifix pose and yelled “Follow the buzzards” to close the show…

Powell’s POV: It was nice that they actually had the ring announcer deliver the DQ finish announcement. How many times have we seen a match end like this with no official announcement? The crowd seemed focussed on the match, but they didn’t make much noise until Joe ran out. They also seemed to like Wyatt hitting his finisher on Joe. Overall, this was an improvement over last week’s lethargic show, but the three hour marathon feeling was there by the end of the night. I will have more to say about the show in my member exclusive audio review later tonight and in Tuesday’s WWE Raw Hit List. Thanks for watching along with me.

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