By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from St. Louis, Missouri at Scottrade Center
[Q1] Raw opened with a video package on the pay-per-view that included a narrator along with audio from the broadcast… The opening video played and then pyro shot off on the stage… The broadcast team of Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton checked in. Cole hyped that it’s a new era…
Stephanie McMahon’s music played and she headed to the ring carrying a gift bag. She tried to welcome viewers to Raw, but Shane McMahon’s music interrupted them. JBL said Shane was already upstaging his sister.
Stephanie said one thing she learned during Shane’s seven years away was being a good business partner. She gave him the gift bag to show that she was embracing their partnership. It was the photo of young Shane with his father in a new frame. Shane said he was so touched that he wanted to hear Stephanie’s ideas for the show. Steph polled the crowd on whose idea they wanted to hear. Shane was about to give his ideas when Kevin Owens’ music interrupted them.
“This is lovely,” Owens said of Stephanie and Shane together in the middle of the ring on Raw. “You guys are getting along and everything, this is so touching.” Owens said he had a great idea for them. Owens pitched getting a rematch for the Intercontinental Title. He said now that he decimated Sami Zayn, he wants his rematch tonight. Owens said that after seeing how Shane ran Raw the last few weeks, he has no hopes that she will do the right thing. Owens pandered to Steph and said he is owed his rematch per his contract. Stephanie and Shane said it was a valid point.
Cesaro made his entrance. He said he had The Miz tapping out at Payback, “but the WWE’s resident whiner and complainer stuck his nose where it doesn’t belong.” Owens agreed and said Sami had no business being out there. Funny. Shane said they handle their business in the ring. Shane booked Owens in a match against Cesaro to determine who gets the title shot. Owens yelled off mic that he’s owed a rematch. Cesaro ripped his suit off like a bad male stripper as Cole said the match was coming up next…
Powell’s POV: Owens was the bright spot of an otherwise mediocre opening segment. He was also wronged from a storyline standpoint in that they acknowledge he still has a rematch coming per his contract, yet now he has to face Cesaro in order to get the rematch. It doesn’t make much sense. I still suspect they are going with a four-way with Zayn added to the mix at Extreme Rules.
[Q2] [C] A sponsored replay recapped the IC Title match from Payback… The Miz and Maryse joined the broadcast team for the next match…
1. Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro for an Intercontinental Title shot. Cesaro jumped out to a fast start with running uppercuts.
Miz spoke about how Cesaro’s taped shoulder. He said he believes it’s a sign that Cesaro came back prematurely. Owens took offensive control only to lose it when he yelled at Cole.
Cesaro caught Owens on the ropes and dropkicked him and then performed a gut wrench suplex from the ropes. Cesaro sold his injured shoulder and Owens regained control and performed a “bullfrog splash” (as Cole called it) on Cesaro heading into a break. [C] Owens performed a cannonball on Cesaro and got a two count.
[Q3] Cesaro took the fight to ringside. Owens picked up the IC Title belt to use as a weapon, but Miz stopped him. Cesaro capitalized on the distraction and ended up giving both men European uppercuts. Cesaro set up for the Swing on Owens, but Miz ran in and attacked him to end the match.
Cesaro fought Kevin Owens to a no-contest in 11:30.
After the match, Owens barked at Miz afterward and they shoved one another, then Cesaro recovered and hit them both. The heels teamed up on Cesaro. Sami Zayn ran out and fought the heels, and performed an exploder suplex on Miz, then followed up with a Helluva Kick on Owens. Maryse pulled Miz to ringside. Sami picked up the IC Title and the crowd cheered…
Powell’s POV: The four-way will be a lot of fun. Miz and Maryse are a good act and hopefully Miz will ultimately gain some in-ring credibility in the eyes of the fans by working with these guys. I’m not sure how they get Zayn into the match given that he lost to Owens clean, but I’m not sure logic is really in play given that they acknowledged that Owens deserved a rematch and then never gave him one.
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon asked Dean Ambrose what he was looking at. Ambrose said he’s not buying her act and that deep down she’s still the same old Stephanie. She offered to be his guest on the Ambrose Asylum and said he could ask anything she wants. Ambrose agreed… [C]
Backstage, R-Truth tried to teach Tyler Breeze how to rap. Goldust showed up and Truth asked if he was jealous and trying to cause problems. Goldust said he has his partner, and Fandango walked into the picture…
Backstage, AJ Styles told Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows that he doesn’t know what he’d be doing without them. They told him he was phenomenal in his match against Roman Reigns. Styles told them to tone it down because he was beat. They said he hung with Reigns and he was “this close” to beating him. They assured Styles that there’s no way Reigns leaves Extreme Rules as champion.
“Is that so,” Reigns asked. Styles stood in front of Gallows and Anderson. Reigns said that after Payback, he has a lot of respect for Styles. However, he said he doesn’t have any respect for Anderson and Gallows. Reigns asked if the three of them can beat “the three of us.” The Usos walked into the picture. Styles said he’s going to beat Reigns and take his title on his own at Extreme Rules, and said they would give him a taste of what to expect on Raw. Styles accepted the challenge…
Goldust made his entrance along with Fandango. Cole said Goldust vs. Breeze was up next…
Powell’s POV: The six-man tag match should be a lot of fun, but they really should have announced that with more fanfare. I’d even argue that it should have been announced a week out. Meanwhile, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before we get Goldust and R-Truth feuding with Fandango and Breeze despite their current alliances.
[Q4] [C] 2. Tyler Breeze (w/R-Truth) vs. Goldust (w/Fandango). Breeze put on a skullcap before the match, but Goldust knocked it off and asked Truth why he didn’t get one. Truth sat on the apron and used his selfie branch while Goldust asked Truth to look at him instead. Fandango danced. Goldust watched as Truth tried to show him his dance instead. Breeze rolled up Goldust and pinned him…
Tyler Breeze pinned Goldust in 1:45.
New Day were shown backstage and the broadcast team said they would be out to address the tag tournament following a break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Is this silliness going to end with Goldust and Truth engaging in an act that can only be shown on WWE Network’s VOD section?
New Day made their entrance. They didn’t seem to be as over in St. Louis as they are in other cities. They set up a recap of Enzo Amore being injured at the pay-per-view in the finals of their tag tournament. Big E said they have a treat that will put a smile on the face of the fans and all their woes.
[Q5] After a Beyonce joke by Xavier Woods, they pointed to the screen where a shot of Enzo Amore wearing his hospital gown outside the hospital was shown. The crowd chanted “How You Doin'” and then New Day announced that he’s okay “or at least he will be soon.” Woods said that when Enzo is ready to return, they will be there waiting. Woods said the show must go on. They did their WWE Tag Team Champions dance.
The Vaudevillains made their entrance. Aiden English said that what happened to Enzo was tragic, but a real man would have gotten up. They entered the ring and he said they are the No. 1 contenders (he sang the WWE World Tag Team Championship part). Simon Gotch said they made Enzo “the realest guy in the emergency room.” Gotch followed up by saying, “Pardon me, Enzo, wherever you are, but how are you doing?”
The Dudley Boyz made their entrance and it didn’t seem like the crowd know how to respond. Bubba asked “what you two carnies are talking about.” Bubba said they didn’t beat anyone, the referee stopped the match. He said they just stood there and twirled their matches like the Monopoly man. Bubba said they need to restart the tournament. D-Von claimed they deserve the tag title shot.
Enzo and Big Cass’s music played. Big Cass walked out and told “Simon and Garfunkel” that they better “call Mrs. Robinson and tell her you’re gonna be late for dinner.” Cass said Enzo is his family, and they messed with him, and now he’s going to finish what they started. Cass mocked Bubba’s ancient stuttering and said they already took them out of the tournament. Cass entered the ring and a brawl broke out. They cut to break… [C]
Powell’s POV: That’s an odd time for a commercial break. New Day wasn’t very over, the Vaudevillains were less over, and the fans didn’t seem to know how to react to the Dudleys. Meanwhile, the crowd was excited when Enzo and Cass’s music played, but they seemed a bit flat once they realized Enzo wasn’t coming out. Still, I like that Cass came out looking for revenge. There’s a way to turn the negative of Enzo’s concussion into a positive. He showed good fire while talking about Enzo being family. He lost me a bit with the stuttering, but he looks like a stand up guy otherwise.
3. New Day and Big Cass vs. The Dudleys and The Vaudevillains. The match was joined in progress and Cole said the match was announced exclusively on the company Facebook page, so they’re continuing their recent push of that outlet. Gotch ended up trapped in the babyface corner. They worked him over and then Woods played the trombone.
[Q6] The heels came back and isolated Woods. He tagged in Kingston, who had an offensive run on D-Von. Kofi was distracted by English, allowing D-Von to throw Kingston to ringside. English ran Kingston into the post heading into the break. [C] The heels continued to work over Kingston coming out of the break. Eventually, Kingston dropkicked English and Gotch simultaneously and then tagged in Cass.
Cass took shots at all four heels and performed a fallaway slam on English. Cass followed up with a splash, a big boot, and the Empire Elbow, but Bubba broke up his pin attempt. Gotch took a big boot from Cass that knocked him off the apron, then Big E suplexed him on the floor. Later, the Dudleys were setting up for 3D on Cass, but Kingston took out Bubba. Cass hit East River Crossing for the win…
New Day and Big Cass beat The Dudleys and The Vaudevillains in 15:00.
Cole hyped that there would be a battle royal to determine the number one contender for the U.S. Title. Saxton hyped the Ambrose Asylum with Stephanie…
Powell’s POV: A rough match. Gotch was off and he looked rattled and apprehensive. It’s interesting that they didn’t just insert the Vaudevillains into the title match. They didn’t actually lose the match for their team though. I felt the match was a bit flawed in the way it was laid out. The crowd cheered for Cass when he tagged in. He threw a couple of slow punches at Gotch and not much else before tagging out again even though the announcers were talking about how much he wanted revenge. It would have been wise to keep him out the match until late to build that anticipation for him getting his hands on the Vaudevillains.
[Q7] [C] The broadcast team narrated highlights of main event. They replayed a portion of the setup for the six-man tag match, then Cole said Shane and Stephanie made the match official. They shifted focus to narrating still shots of the women’s title match. Cole said it was the Montreal Screwjob all over again. Cole said referee Charles Robinson is a longtime friend of the Flair family. They aired footage from WCW Nitro of Robinson doing his Flair impersonation gimmick…
Powell’s POV: Shouldn’t Stephanie and certainly Shane be upset by the actions of Charles Robinson?
Becky Lynch made her entrance. Cole said she would be facing Emma and spoke about how they came up through the ranks together… [C] Cole hyped John Cena’s return to Raw for Memorial Day (May 30)… Emma made her entrance to no response…
4. Becky Lynch vs. Emma. Emma slapped Lynch early. There was a simple and cool spot with Emma pulling Lynch off the second rope.
[Q8] Emma caught Lynch with a nice kick to the face. Lynch came back with a Disarmer attempt, but Emma blocked it and shoved her into the corner and then performed the Emma Sandwich in the corner. Lynch showed good fire making her comeback and performed a suplex that led to a two count. She went for her finisher again, but Emma rolled under the bottom rope. The referee held off Lynch, allowing Emma to gouge it and then hit her finisher for the win… [C]
Emma beat Becky Lynch in 5:45.
Powell’s POV: Cole was good about pointing out that the eye poke was to Emma’s bad eye. I liked the match even though the crowd sat on their hands. It’s hard to blame them since they haven’t done anything to establish Emma’s personality, and they didn’t do anything to keep Lynch’s momentum going. It was a testament to Lynch that they came to life for her fiery comeback. This could be a nice feud if they get some storyline support.
The latest Primo and Epico aired. They like the food in Puerto Rico. Once it was over, JBL asked, “Isn’t Puerto Rico bankrupt?”…
Dean Ambrose made his entrance for the talkshow segment and introduced his plant as Mitch. Ambrose introduced Stephanie McMahon, who complimented Ambrose’s set. Dean expressed skepticism about “nice Stephanie” and said she must be a “boiling pot of woman rage” and said she must be ready to explode. Steph said Ambrose is paranoid and claimed she is happy.
Ambrose had a photo of Reigns spearing her at WrestleMania on the big screen and asked for her comments. Steph said she got a little overzealous and Roman taught her “a very valuable lesson.” Ambrose brought up how everyone loves Shane. The crowd chanted “Shane O Mac” in response. Ambrose said that may have bothered her, but then in a week’s time he was running Raw better than The Authority did.
Steph said that regardless of the fact that Shane abandoned the WWE Universe for seven years, their reaction to him shows the loyalty of the fans. She questioned where WWE would be without it. Ambrose spoke about all her sacrifices and how it must drive her nuts that Vince is having her share control with Shane.
[Q9] Stephanie looked irked, yet she kept her composure as she reasoned that sometimes things need to change. She said she learned that lesson from her father and now she’s going to apply it to Ambrose. She said he’s been doing the Asylum for a few weeks and now she is going to cancel it. Stephanie asked if that’s a lesson that hurts. Stephanie told him to clean his stuff up “and get to stepping.”
Ambrose said hosting a show is tough, so she could keep the stuff. Ambrose grabbed Mitch and started to leave. Stephanie announced the return of The Highlight Reel. Chris Jericho made his entrance and JBL gushed about how it was like Johnny Carson or Jon Stewart returning.
Ambrose and Jericho exchanged words at ringside. Jericho shoved Ambrose and then they traded punches. Ambrose whipped him into the barricade. Ambrose got the better of it at ringside by knocking him down with a clothesline, then he threw him inside the ring and went for his finisher, but Jericho dodged it and hit the Codebreaker.
Jericho threw Ambrose’s sign down and then eyed up Mitch (the plant). There was a light “no” chant as Jericho picked up the plant and then slammed it into the head of Ambrose… [C]
Powell’s POV: So Stephanie already reveals that she is the same old B character, and Mitch already bites the dust. Holy rushed booking. I’m not surprised to see Jericho tonight, I just assumed his tweet would be used as a swerve. They even mentioned it on the Raw Pre-Show. I guess he was bored this morning.
5. Battle Royal for to become No. 1 contender to the U.S. Championship. A bunch of wrestlers were in the ring. The wrestlers who received televised entrances were Titus O’Neil, Sheamus, and Baron Corbin. Even the typically strong Eden Stiles sounds uninspired at this point in the dull show. Kalisto sat in on commentary.
[Q10] Viktor of The Ascension was eliminated in seconds. Damien Sandow was out next. Apollo Crews eliminated Stardust. Darren Young was tossed out. Sheamus eliminated Crews with a big boot. Ziggler dropkicked Corbin to eliminate him. Corbin pulled him out under the bottom rope and beat him up at ringside. Dolph was rolled back inside the ring by Corbin and then eliminated by Rusev. [C]
Curtis Axel was eliminated by Del Rio. Bo Dallas was bounced by Sin Cara. The final five were Sheamus, Rusev, Del Rio, Zack Ryder, and Sin Cara. Del Rio eliminated Sin Cara. The former League of Nations members put the boots to Ryder, which led to some boos.
Rusev and Del Rio tried to throw Ryder over, but he skinned the cat. Sheamus tied to eliminate Del Rio, who held on. Ryder returned and hit the Rough Ryder on Del Rio, but Rusev put him down again. Rusev dodged a Brogue Kick and caught Sheamus with a superkick. Moments later, Del Rio eliminated Sheamus. Rusev caught Del Rio with a kick. Moments later, Del Rio was eliminated by Ryder.
The match came down to Rusev and Ryder and the crowd rallied behind Ryder. Rusev cut off a series of punches by Ryder, who came back with a missile dropkick from the second rope. Ryder performed the Broski Boot in the corner, but Rusev basically no sold it and eliminated him moments later. Lana came out afterward and was hugged by Rusev…
Rusev won a battle royal in 13:00 to become No. 1 contender to the U.S. Title.
Byron said Charlotte will address the finish of her Payback match after the break. Cole set up a trailer for the new Captain America movie…
Powell’s POV: Does this mean Rusev gets to beat Kalisto in non-title match and then lose to him on the Kickoff Show? Here’s hoping this is all about getting Rusev on track. Kalisto came off so nice and respectful on commentary that he seems downright boring. Does he say anything that doesn’t feel cliche? Meanwhile, “Captain America: Civil War” looks phenomenal!
[Q11] [C] The broadcast team hyped the return of The Highlight Reel with Jericho interviewing Sami Zayn for Smackdown…
Charlotte and Ric Flair made their entrance as the broadcast team recapped the finish at Payback. Charlotte had her father give everyone a woooo. Charlotte said Natalya and Bret Hart pushed her to the limit, yet she once again retained the championship.
Charlotte said she was surprised when she checked her Twitter feed to find that people were accusing her and Flair of conspiring to win the match. Flair said Natalya quit just like all the Harts do. Charlotte said only one man could clear up all confusion. Charlotte introduced referee Charles Robinson, who came to the ring wearing his ref gear. There was a “cheater” chant. “Excuse me, the queen is talking,” Charlotte said.
Charlotte asked Robinson if Natalya submitted. Robinson said she didn’t tap, but she did verbally submit. Flair said she was begging. Charlotte brought up Robinson’s respect for her father and whether it played a part. “Yes,” Robinson said. “I mean, no, no, no, absolutely not.” Charlotte questioned whether the referee’s decision is final. “Yes, it is,” he replied. They dismissed Robinson.
Natalya made her entrance and grabbed the mic from Charlotte. Natalya said it’s not about Robinson or Charlotte, it’s about Flair. Natalya said Flair paid a referee to screw her out of winning the women’s championship. Natalya said that with all the flashy talk and garbage that comes out of his mouth, everyone knows the truth. She said when it comes to the Harts and Flairs, the Harts are the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.
Charlotte tried to attack Natalya, who blocked it and quickly dumped her to ringside. Flair took off his jacket and his watch and ring, then turned and ate a slap from Natalya, who put him in the Sharpshooter. Charlotte pulled her father to ringside. Natalya put on Flair’s watch and ring as Charlotte and Natalya were walking away…
Cole hyped the six-man tag main event…
Powell’s POV: So neither Steph nor Shane seem to mind that a referee was on the take. Anyway, Charlotte was good on the mic, Robinson was a bit cartoonish, and Natalya was better than usual. The live crowd was into this. Meanwhile, I’m stunned by how poorly they’ve hyped the main event. It’s a big deal to some fans to see Styles, Anderson, and Gallows team up, and WWE should be working hard to make sure it feel like a big deal to the rest of the fans.
[Q12] [C] The broadcast team repeated their speech from Payback about Camp WWE being available on VOD, parental control, and how all other programming is PG for the entire family…
Backstage, Stephanie told Charlotte she needs to prove once and for all that the Figure 8 is way better than the Sharpshooter. She booked them in a submission match for Extreme Rules. Charlotte and Flair were pleased. Steph said she and Flair go way back, so she knows he will understand that she’s banning him from ringside. Steph said some people are saying that Flair is just becoming a distraction. Charlotte and Flair were not happy about that development. Steph asked for a woo. “No, not a good time?” she said…
AJ Styles, Doc Gallows, and Karl Anderson made their entrance to AJ’s theme song. Cole announced that Styles will be the guest on ESPNews with Jonathan Coachman on Tuesday. Roman Reigns and The Usos entered to Roman’s music and a lot of boos.
6. Roman Reigns, Jimmy Uso, and Jey Uso vs. AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson. JBL said it was “The Family vs. The Club.” Gallows has long pants rather than the awkward shorts he wore last week. Reigns caught him with an early Samoan drop, because why wouldn’t he continue to get the better of the big man? Sigh.
Jey Uso checked in and he ended up leaping off the second rope and into a big boot from Gallows, who then threw him to the floor. The teams were jawing at ringside heading into the break. [C]
[Overrun] Jey eventually tagged in Reigns, who got the better of Styles and knocked Gallows off the apron. Styles came back with a kick. Reigns tagged in Jimmy, who performed a cross body block on Styles for two. A short time later, Anderson and Gallows hit their finisher on Reigns at ringside. In the ring, Styles performed his Phenomenal Forearm on one of the Usos for the win…
AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson defeated Roman Reigns, Jimmy Uso, and Jey Uso.
After the match, Gallows rolled Anderson back inside the ring. Anderson brought a chair in. Gallows picked up Reigns and held him. Styles asked what they were doing. Anderson told Styles to hit Reigns with the chair. Anderson and Gallows held Reigns. Styles held the chair up and then dropped it. Some fans booed.
The Usos returned to the ring and one of them hit Styles from behind with the chair. The Usos cleared Anderson and Gallows from the ring. Styles got the chair and struck both Usos with it. Reigns saw this as he recovered and then hit Styles with the Superman Punch to more boos. Reigns sent Styles to ringside and ran him into the barricade.
Reigns took the broadcast table apart. “You don’t mess with Roman Reigns’s family,” JBL said. Roman let out his war cry, then powerbombed Styles through the table. Reigns said something to Styles off-mic as Cole spoke about how the champion sent a message.
Powell’s POV: And the message the champion sent was that there’s no need to see the rematch. Okay, so those of us who saw the match last night know how good it was, but those who don’t know that Reigns beat Styles last night and then manhandled him after this match. I was actually hoping they would have Styles get a win over Reigns in this match even if it wasn’t clean.
This was a mess of a show. This wasn’t the same tight and well paced show we saw heading into Payback. This was all over the place with a lot of bad segments that made for a really long night. I will have more to say about Raw in my member exclusive audio review later tonight, and in Tuesday’s WWE Raw Hit List.