By Jason Powell
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Anaheim, California at Honda Center
[Q1] Raw opened with a shot of the live crowd. An anonymous ring announcer (Mike Rome) encouraged fans to stand for a moment of silence for the anniversary of 9/11. A graphic with words that closed “freedom is not free” appeared on the big screen and on television. The live crowd chanted USA briefly… The Raw opening aired…
The broadcast team was Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T checked in on commentary and hyped that Brock Lesnar would appear. They also hyped John Cena vs. Braun Strowman for later in the show…
Powell’s POV: The building looks packed. Don’t these people know the Vikings are playing? Kidding. Dot Net staffer Will Pruett is at Raw and you can follow his tweets tonight at Twitter.com/wilpruett. I will not be on Twitter, email, etc. tonight as I am in lockdown mode because I plan to watch the football games after Raw. So if you reach out tonight, I won’t see it until very late or first thing in the morning.
1. Roman Reigns vs. Jason Jordan. Reigns was booed during his entrance, while Jordan received a flat reaction. Graves called Jordan’s match with John Cena a moral victory for Jordan. John Cena was shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Reigns was cocky and mocked Jordan after an early lockup. Reigns caught Jordan with an uppercut to the face to take offensive control. Jordan came back with a belly to bell suplex. Jordan applied a crossface. Reigns scooted to the ropes for the break, then rolled to the floor heading into a commercial break. [C]
[Q2] Reigns had regained offensive control coming out of the break. Cole told viewers it had been a hell of a match. Cena was shown watching the match again. Cole questioned whether it’s Cena’s WWE or Roman’s WWE. At 9:05, Reigns performed a Samoan drop for a two count. At 10:15, Jordan performed a nice overhead suplex out of the corner. Both men stayed down briefly. Jordan caught Reigns with a clothesline and covered him for two.
Jordan pulled the straps down at 13:10 and then performed back to back Northern Lights Suplexes for a near fall. “Put the rocket on this kid,” Booker said. Graves questioned whether Reigns was nearly pinned or conserving energy. Jordan applied the crossface again, but Reigns reached the ropes to break it.
At 14:50, Reigns came back with a Drive By. Back inside the ring, Reigns caught Jordan with a Superman Punch and then followed up with a spear for the win…
Roman Reigns pinned Jason Jordan in 15:15.
Backstage, Charly Caruso asked John Cena if he had anything to say about the match. Cena said he did, but he would say it to Reigns. “Cena is on his way out there to confront Reigns live!” Cole exclaimed heading into a break… [C]
Powell’s POV: There was extra intensity with the broadcast team’s call of the match. Is that because of who was wrestling or because they have strong competition on Monday nights for the next four months? Whatever the cause, I really liked it and I hope they keep it up. The match was entertaining and I like the story they are telling with Jordan. Now if only he could connect with the fans on the mic. The match was very entertaining despite the fact that the outcome felt obvious. I assume this will be part of Cena’s promo, but it only took Cena 11:40 to beat Jordan last week, which led to Reigns mocking Cena for taking “20 minutes” to beat Jordan.
Reigns leaned against the ropes in one corner of the ring coming out of the commercial break. Cena made his entrance. He held up a “Never Give Up” towel and said it was going up for auction. There was a woman (or possibly Will Pruett) screaming loudly as Cena was on the stage.
[Q3] Cena grabbed a mic at ringside and then entered the ring. Cena told Reigns that he was holding a microphone, not a nightstick for Roman’s tactical pants. Cena recalled Roman mocking him for taking so long to beat “a rookie” Jordan last week. Cena told Reigns to keep it simple and mentioned Roman saying “it’s my yard.” Roman said he was busy having a great match. He said he’s had more great matches than Cena has had in his entire career.
Cena said he usually has to come out and lace up, but all he has to do is let Roman talk. Cena said Roman has skill and ability that anyone would dream of having, but he has his head shoved so far up his ass that he is like a one man human centipede. Cena said Reigns actually thinks he’s responsible for everything because no one has cut him down to size. “That’s why I’m here, Roman,” Cena said.
Cena recalled Reigns claiming that he could spin anything. Cena said he challenges himself to try anything. Cena told Reigns that he think he made it and once you feel that way it is the beginning of the end. Cena got in Roman’s face and told him he would learn what real failure is all about. Cena said he gives Roman chance after chance and he fails and fails. Cena said “the guy” steps up, stays sharp, and does his homework. Cena said if Reigns is really the guy, he will dust himself off and show himself at No Mercy. “Looking at you now, you ain’t got it in you and No Mercy’s gonna be a cakewalk.
Reigns told Cena to bring his “bitch ass back here” as he was about to leave. Reigns said he’s been selling tickets, which Cena hasn’t done in years. Reigns said ticket sales are great and it bothers Cena that WWE doesn’t need him. “And the fact is that you need WWE because you can’t break into Hollywood, y’all.” Roman said that if Cena needs help he knows a guy.
Cena said sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Cena told Reigns to consider him like a drug test. “You ain’t getting past me,” Cena said before dropping the mic. Reigns smirked as Cena left the ring…
Cole hyped Cena vs. Strowman for later in the show, and Graves hyped an appearance by Lesnar and Paul Heyman. A shot aired of Sasha Banks walking backstage. Cole said she would be in action after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Yep, they went there with the drug test. I know the idea is to make this seem as personal as possible, but that one did surprise me. I like that Cena included some praise for Roman’s ability while tearing into him. Cena shines with these insult promos, whereas Roman’s comebacks were decent at best.
A Connor’s Cure ad aired and Cole noted that WWE wrestlers were wearing the limited edition t-shirt throughout the month…
2. Sasha Banks vs. Emma. Sasha wore the charity t-shirt. Emma did not receive a televised entrance. Alexa Bliss sat in on commentary and spoke about the four-way title match at No Mercy. Emma knocked Sasha down with a nice looking clothesline.
[Q4] Nia Jax’s music played and she walked out in regular clothing. Jax looked at the ring, then turned toward Bliss and approached her heading into a break. [C] Coming out of the break, Jax was seated next to Bliss at the broadcast table. Bliss complained about the four-way, saying she thought she would defend against Sasha in a singles match.
Emma performed a hip-toss into the corner, which led to Sasha being tied in a tree of woe briefly. Emma followed up with her running splash in the corner and covered Banks for two. Sasha came right back with the Bank Statement and got the submission win…
Sasha Banks defeated Emma in 7:15.
Cole set up a video package that recapped the Braun Strowman vs. Big Show cage match from last week… Graves noted that Big Show suffered an injury at the hands of Strowman and questioned whether Cena would do the same. Cole hyped Lesnar and Heyman for after the break… [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped the three previously advertised title match for Smackdown and the return of Vince McMahon…
Powell’s POV: A decent segment in terms of spotlighting the four women in the match. Emma is going in as the perceived underdog by the fans and giving her a win here wasn’t going to change that. Furthermore, Banks has had some high profile losses lately, so she needed a win. Meanwhile, Big Show is scheduled for hip surgery later this month. Check our story on the main page for more details.
Brock Lesnar and birthday boy Paul Heyman made their entrance.
[Q5] Heyman delivered his usual introduction and then said his job was to sell fans on something that has already been sold. Heyman hyped the No Mercy main event and referred to Braun Strowman as the most worthy challenger. Heyman said his understanding is that the odds are against Lesnar for the first time since he faced Undertaker at WrestleMania. He recapped what Strowman did to Lesnar at SummerSlam and on the Raw that followed.
Heyman said Strowman is bigger and stronger than Lesnar, but he questioned whether he was bad enough to rip the title away from him. Heyman said it reminds him of Lesnar in 2002. Heyman brought up Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Rob Van Dam, and Undertaker. Heyman questioned whether Strowman would “monster handle” Cena later in the show. He questioned if Strowman was ready to cross over from sports entertainment to Suplex City.
Heyman said that they used to ask Lesnar before he got into the “Brocktagon” whether he was ready. Heyman asked Lesnar, who said he was. Heyman raised the same question of Strowman, who then made his entrance. Strowman charged Lesnar, who stepped aside of him and went for a German suplex, but Strowman stuffed it.
Lesnar avoided Strowman’s powerslam attempt and then performed a German suplex on Strowman, who popped right back to his feet. Lesnar looked stunned. Strowman chokeslammed him and then power slammed him. Strowman picked up the WWE Universal Championship belt and placed his foot over Lesnar. Strowman dropped to one knee, put the belt on Lesnar, and then tapped it three times…
Cole hyped Cena vs. Strowman for later in the show. Graves hyped Miz TV with Enzo Amore as his guest by saying that Enzo doesn’t have to pay the paparazzi to follow him around for once. Cole said Bray Wyatt would be in action after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: I really enjoy the way they’ve had Strowman dominate Lesnar rather than going with the 50/50 approach to the build. It’s compelling enough that Lesnar is facing a fellow super heavyweight who is getting a monster push, but the fact that Lesnar has sold for Strowman more than anyone during a build makes this special and sells the notion that he’s a vulnerable champion for perhaps the first time in his career.
The broadcast team spoke about the natural disasters with the wildfires our west and the hurricanes in the south. Cole said that WWE wishes to offer thoughts and prayers to everyone affected. Cole asked Booker how his native Houston is holding up. Booker said they were hit hard, but he talked about how everyone has come together. He thanked WWE and the fans for their support. He said it will be a long time before everyone is back on their feet. They encouraged support via the Red Cross for donations…
[Q6] Goldust made his entrance for a match against Bray Wyatt, who appeared on the big screen. Wyatt said he’s been watching Goldust for a long time and he used to think he was different, but he’s a man so ridden with scars of his own fears and insecurity that he’s afraid to show his face. Wyatt called him a mortal man…
3. Bray Wyatt vs. Goldust. The first minute of the match was back and forth with Goldust performing a summersault off the apron onto Wyatt on the floor. Wyatt attacked Goldust as he was getting back in the ring. Wyatt knocked him down with a running cross body block and then hit Sister Abigail for the win…
Bray Wyatt pinned Goldust.
After the match, Wyatt wiped the face paint off Goldust while fans booed. “Just like Finn Balor, he’s just a man,” Wyatt yelled. Finn Balor ran out and Wyatt left the ring and they had a long distance staredown as Wyatt backed up the ramp…
Powell’s POV: I guess this means the mini push for Goldust is over since he was just defeated by fellow heel Wyatt. Whatever happened to Goldust scouting or whatever he said he was doing at SummerSlam?
Backstage, Caruso interviewed Sheamus and Cesaro and asked whether their issues with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson are a distraction heading into their title match with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Sheamus said Gallows and Anderson are more of a threat than Ambrose and Rollins. They said they will leave Ambrose and Rollins battered, bruised, and gasping for air at No Mercy. Cesaro said history has shown their opponents are selfish and self serving. They tried to get The Bar name over with a catchphrase at the end… [C]
[Q7] Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson made their entrance for the tag match. Sheamus and Cesaro started to come out, but they were attacked by Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, who were going to sit in on commentary for the scheduled match. Gallows and Anderson helped take out the Raw Tag Champs, then they ended up trading punches with Sheamus and Cesaro. A group of agents and referees separated the teams…
Cole hyped the Cena vs. Strowman match, and Graves hyped Miz TV with Enzo Amore… [C]
Powell’s POV: That’s one way to avoid having back to back heel vs. heel matches. Are they going to add Anderson and Gallows to the tag title match at the pay-per-view?
The broadcast team recapped the tag team brawl… Backstage, Ambrose and Rollins told Kurt Angle that they wanted to face both teams on Raw. Angle said he couldn’t put his tag champs in that situation. He told them he would book them in an eight-man tag match if they could find two partners…
Cole questioned how Kurt Angle got the deal done. Graves said he doesn’t know, but the only place you can see “this superstar is right here” on Raw. An Asuka video aired and concluded with “Asuka Coming Soon”…
Backstage, Alexa Bliss vented to Nia Jax about Asuka showing up and stealing their thunder. She said it should be the Alexa and Nia show and they should be having a singles match. Bliss said Angle doesn’t appreciate that they are best friends. Jax said they are not best friends. Bliss said she doesn’t handle her emotions well and then apologized. She asked if they could go back to being friends. Jax said maybe, then said Bliss may not want that after she finds out what she did. Jax announced that Angle booked Bliss vs. Jax in a singles match for next week…
Elias was shown walking backstage. Cole got excited and said Elias would debut a new song after the break… [C]
[Q8] Elias sat on his stool in the ring and did his usual routine. He said walking with him could be the best decision you ever make. He told the fans he wrote his song for all of them. Elias sang a song about Anaheim and how the best thing to do there is pack your bags and leave. He said their only claim to is the Mighty Ducks, and it’s clear to him that Anaheim sucks. Elias was interrupted by Kalisto’s entrance music…
4. Elias vs. Kalisto. Cole noted that Kalisto was wearing a mask for the Connor’s Cure charity and it would be available for auction along with Cena’s towel for early. Graves said Elias is a tough competitor, but he doesn’t like his vocals. Kalisto got off to a fast start, but Elias wrenched his arm on the ring apron. Back inside the ring, Elias ripped off his own concert t-shirt and worked him over.
Elias worked over Kalisto’s left shoulder. Cole hyped the Cena vs. Strowman match as coming up next. Kalisto had a brief comeback and got a two count off a tornado DDT. Kalisto ripped off his own t-shirt, but then ate a powerbomb. Elias hit him with Drift Away for the win…
Elias defeated Kalisto in 4:25.
The broadcast team hyped Cena vs. Strowman for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: No wonder Elias is a drifter. The guy hates every town in America. I know it’s a good cause, but I’m genuinely curious to know how much someone would pay for a mask won by Kalisto when he lost to Elias.
John Cena made his entrance. He had a towel and he placed it on the broadcast table. Cole noted that it’s the towel being auctioned off for Connor’s Cure. Braun Strowman made his entrance.
[Q9] Cena played to the crowd and then looked at the entrance with a serious face. Cena ripped off his shirt and yelled, “Come on.” Strowman made his entrance and Cena stopped in his tracks and looked serious again…
5. John Cena vs. Braun Strowman. The broadcast team hyped Lesnar vs. Strowman. Graves said it was like WrestleMania comes early. Cena went to lock up, but Strowman shoved him to ringside. There were dueling chants of “Let’s Go Cena” and “Cena Sucks.” Strowman put Cena down with a clothesline. Roman Reigns was shown watching the match on a backstage monitor and he smirked when Strowman performed a running clothesline in the corner.
Cena caught Strowman with a dropkick. Strowman stayed on his feet and then threw a dropkick of his own that knocked Cena down. Strowman followed up by charging Cena in the corner. Cena tried to pull himself up Strowman, who grabbed his hand and threw him back to the mat. “This is your hero,” Strowman yelled at the fans, who didn’t play along.
Cena threw three punches and set up for his finisher, but Strowman didn’t go up and he put Cena back down by clubbing his back. Cena showed signs of life, but Strowman caught him with a fallaway slam. “Strowman is dominating,” Cole said. “There’s no other way to say it.” [C]
Cena came back briefly, but collapsed under the weight of Strowman when he went for an Attitude Adjustment. Strowman covered him for a two count. Cena avoided a charging Strowman and then performed a side suplex. Cena motioned for the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Strowman stood up and performed a spinebuster for a two count. Cena avoided a charging Strowman again and this time hit the AA, but Strowman rolled to ringside. The dueling chants fired up again.
Strowman struck Cena with a piece of the ring steps when he followed him to ringside. Strowman slid a piece inside the ring. Cole noted that normal rules were in play, but Strowman didn’t seem to care. Strowman tossed Cena back inside the ring. Strowman scooped up Cena and powerslammed him onto the ring steps for the DQ. “John Cena is broken,” Graves said. Strowman stood on the ring steps that were set up inside the ring.
John Cena defeated Braun Strowman by DQ in 13:10.
[Q10] Backstage, Caruso asked Strowman for his reaction. Reigns, who had been smiling and shaking his had, said the monster didn’t show any mercy and neither will he…
Powell’s POV: A fun match that the crowd seemed to take a while to warm up to. The fans were clearly into the match, but they did the pro and con chants for Cena. They were standing on the floor as the match went on, but it just didn’t come across like a big match atmosphere on television. It will be interesting to see if Will Pruett feels otherwise when we chat tomorrow since he has the in-person perspective. The DQ finish was fine since Strowman dominated the match and nothing was done to tarnish his badass image.
Backstage, Ambrose and Rollins asked a couple of young looking crew members if they’ve ever been in a tag team match. They moved on to Jamie Noble and Dean Malenko but determined they weren’t dressed to wrestle. They found Matt and Jeff Hardy. Matt was in Broken mode before he was asked if they are doing anything tonight…
The Miz, Maryse, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel came to the ring for the Miz TV segment. Miz said he and Maryse had an announcement that would change WWE forever. Miz said they’d been thinking long and hard about how to announce it, and they decided to do it on WWE television where they met in front of all the fans.
“We’re having a baby,” Maryse announced. There were some cheers and “Yes” chants. They looked at one another and Miz pledged that he will be there for their child from day one unlike Kurt Angle. Miz said he prepared a speech. “Fatherhood is a privilege that belongs to great men…” Enzo Amore’s music interrupted him. Graves flipped about Enzo interrupting the “beautiful moment.”
Enzo delivered his usual entrance schtick as he walked to the ring. Enzo said he wanted to celebrate with Miz and Maryse. Miz said Enzo doesn’t think. He said Enzo and Cass were the next big thing. “Look at you now,” Miz said. He said Enzo doesn’t know when to shut his mouth and he doesn’t listen to anyone, and that’s why he’s kicked off WWE tour busses and out of the WWE locker room.
Miz said Enzo didn’t choose to go to the cruiserweight division. Miz said Enzo had nowhere else to go because people can’t stand him. “And that’s coming from me,” Miz said. Miz added that Enzo should have been asking for his help, not interrupting the most cherished moment of his life.
Miz said he sees so much potential in Enzo. He said Enzo falls on his face when he goes to the top rope. He said he no longer has a seven foot meal ticket. Miz said Enzo is nothing more than a conman with a couple of catchphrases.
[Q11] Enzo said he would get real. He said he and Miz had nothing in common. He accused Miz of copying Chris Jericho and Ric Flair. Enzo said he is original, while Miz is a carbon copy of other people. Enzo said Miz is a paper champion and he would have no problem coming back on Raw and beating him.
Miz said that if Enzo was championship material then his best friend would not have abandoned him. Enzo said he may not have a lot of friends, but he had all he needed to fight Miz on the spot. Miz said he had no idea of what he was getting into. Miz said he was dedicating his victory to his unborn child. Enzo said he’d apologize to the child when it’s born, but Daniel Bryan was right in saying Miz is sawft. Cole said he hoped Kurt Angle would make the match… [C]
Powell’s POV: The worked shoot comments make their way down from Reigns and Cena to Miz and Enzo. I hope this isn’t a trend because these things work so much better in small doses. By the way, is Enzo filling the quota for having cruiserweights on Raw? We haven’t had the usual match between cruiserweights yet and we’re late enough in the show that it seems unlikely to happen.
6. Intercontinental Champion The Miz (w/Maryse, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel) vs. Enzo Amore in a non-title match. Enzo told Miz that his wrestling is straight to DVD. Miz got the better of Enzo and asked how he’s doing over the mic before slamming his head into the apron. Miz rolled him back inside the ring.
Miz went up top with the mic in hand and started to talk, but Enzo crotched him on the top rope. Enzo said he’s not surprised that Miz was stealing his catchphrase, then said the question the baby would ask is who’s your daddy. Miz flipped while the crowd roared. Dallas and Axel got involved for the DQ. The fans chanted “Who’s Your Daddy” before Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale. Miz had Maryse join him in the ring and then mouthed the words, “I’m the daddy”…
Enzo Amore beat The Miz by DQ in 3:00.
The broadcast team hyped the eight-man tag match for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Well, that was one of the oddest segments of 2017. A baby announcement, an odd worked shoot promo exchange, a match with back and forth mic work, and Enzo questioning whether Miz is actually the father of the child he just announced he and Maryse will be having. Bizarre.
[Q12] Cole hyped Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss for next week’s Raw… Graves hyped TJP vs. Rich Swann for 205 Live, which will air after the live finale of the Mae Young Classic…
A shot aired of Enzo stumbling backstage to sell the beating he took. Neville showed up and laughed at him before walking away… The heels were in the ring for the eight-man tag match. The broadcast team recapped the earlier angle that led to the match being set up…
7. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Matt Hardy, and Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus, Cesaro, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson. The heel foursome did not receive televised entrances, but the babyfaces did. Graves said he’s worried about Matt, who had been “absolutely delirious tonight.” The teams fought briefly before the bell. The referee separated them and then started the match. Matt cleared Sheamus and Cesaro to ringside, then tagged in Jeff, who dove on them heading into a break. [C]
Gallows caught a distracted Ambrose with a boot to the face that sent him to the floor. Gallows rolled him back inside the ring and caught him with another kick before covering him for a two count. The heels isolated Ambrose.
[Overrun] Things got a little slippy when Cesaro went top for a double team move. He regained his balance and performed the move on Ambrose. However, Matt tripped when he tried to run in to break up the pin. The referee had to stop his count while Graves covered by saying the ref saw Matt out of the corner of his eye.
Ambrose connected with the Lunatic Lariat on Gallows. However, his partners were all selling at ringside so he couldn’t make the tag. By the time Rollins was there, Cesaro cut off Ambrose, who eventually fought him off and tagged in Rollins. Seth had a run of offense on Anderson and Gallows, but Gallows broke up his pin attempt. Jeff hit a Twist of Fate on Gallows, then Matt followed up with the same move on Gallows.
Sheamus and Cesaro were at ringside and the four babyfaces tried to invite them to return, but they stayed on the floor. Rollins hit Anderson with a high knee. Ambrose performed Dirty Deeds on Anderson. Rollins pinned Anderson to win the match while Sheamus and Cesaro watched from the ramp…
Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Matt Hardy, and Jeff Hardy defeated Sheamus, Cesaro, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson in 13:30.
Powell’s POV: The match was sloppy at that one point, but the live crowd wasn’t too harsh when Matt tripped. In fact, they seemed to enjoy the match. Overall, WWE delivered a good show and didn’t just roll over for the Monday Night Football doubleheader. I’ll never understand why they didn’t advertise the John Cena vs. Braun Strowman match a week out unless the answer is simply that they didn’t have the show mapped out in time last week, which is still insane. That said, they delivered quality hype for Lesnar vs. Strowman, and to a lesser extent Cena vs. Reigns for No Mercy. I will have more to say about Raw in a members’ exclusive audio review on Tuesday and in the WWE Raw Hit List on Tuesday. Thanks for watching along with me (or for checking for updates while you watched football). Stop back on Tuesday night for live coverage of WWE Smackdown and the Mae Young Classic finals.