By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Baltimore, Maryland at Royal Farms Arena
[Q1] Raw opened with clips from Extreme Rules of Roman Reigns retaining the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and then being attacked by Seth Rollins… Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton were on commentary and Cole welcomed viewers to episode 1,200…
Seth Rollins made his entrance wearing a black suit. He walked out with his arms opened and played to the crowd a bit on the stage before heading to the ring. Rollins stood in the ring and soaked up the crowd cheers as his jacket soaked up the moisture from his wet hair. There was a loud “welcome back” chant and there were also some audible boos.
Rollins asked if the fans were going to let him talk or not. Rollins said he has been waiting 200 days to step inside his ring again. “In case you’ve been living under a rock, I’m back,” he said. Rollins said he has waited seven months to take back the title he never lost. He pointed to the screen to show a still shot of him performing the Pedigree on Reigns at Extreme Rules. There was an adult male “Thank you, Rollins,” chant.
Rollins asked if the fans missed him. There were cheers followed by “Yes!” chants. Rollins said that’s interesting, but it wasn’t always that way. He said that when he destroyed The Shield, the fans booed him every time he stepped foot in the ring. He said that when he won the title, the fans called him the weakest champion of all time. Rollins said the fans were begging for someone to beat him for the title “even though no one ever could.”
Rollins said the fans accused him of hiding behind The Authority and discredited every second of hard work that went into that title reign. Rollins said his knee buckled “under the weight of carrying the company on my back for so freaking long.” Rollins said he got so much fan mail that he didn’t know what to do with it. Rollins then said he didn’t open a single letter. He said he put them in a garbage can and then set it on fire.
“I don’t need any of you,” Rollins said. He said he didn’t need the fans to win the title and he doesn’t need them to win it back. Rollins said “there’s only room on the Rollins bandwagon for one dude and that’s me.” He said the fans weren’t there when he rehabbed twice a day to take back the title that he never lost. Rollins said it doesn’t matter if the fans cheer or boo him, he’s back for the title he never lost.
Roman Reigns’ entrance music played and he made his entrance to more boos than cheers. Rollins dropped the mic and remove his jacket. Reigns entered the ring and then Rollins walked out the other side. Rollins could be heard saying that they will do it on his time.
Shane McMahon’s music played and he danced onto the stage before joining Reigns in the ring. Shane motioned for Rollins to return to the ring. Shane climbed back onto the ring apron slowly and eventually entered the ring. The fans chanted “You’ve still got it” for some reason. Shane recalled Seth turning on The Shield and then cashing in his Money in the Bank contract at WrestleMania 31.
[Q2] Shane said Reigns vs. Rollins has WrestleMania main event written all over it. Shane said fans won’t wait that long. Shane booked Reigns vs. Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship as the Money in the Bank main event. Rollins was happy about it, and Reigns shook Shane’s hand…
The broadcast team hyped the Money in the Bank qualifiers…
Powell’s POV: A very good promo by Rollins, who played to the crowd before turning on them. The question remains whether WWE would have been better off giving the fans what they want by turning Reigns heel and reintroducing Rollins as a sympathetic returning babyface who never lost his title. I guess we’ll never know, but I certainly would have played it differently. That said, this will be a fun match and my guard is up for a cheap finish or even a Money in the Bank contract cash-in. I certainly can’t see them giving us a clean finish in the first match between the two since Rollins returned.
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Sheamus about facing Zayn. Sheamus mocked the new era and laughed at the idea of facing Zayn and “that stupid little hat on his head.” Zayn warned parents that what he intends to do to Zayn won’t be suitable for all ages…
1. Sheamus vs. Sami Zayn in a Money in the Bank match qualifier. At ringside, Sheamus whipped Zayn toward the barricade, but he performed a backflip on Sheamus. Zayn threw Sheamus back inside the ring, then ate a knee from Sheamus as he tried to follow. [C]
[Q3] At 9:20, Zayn tried to leap onto the top rope for a move, but Sheamus cut him off in a nice spot. Sheamus went for his finisher, but Zayn ducked it and knocked Sheamus to the floor. Zayn went for a suicide dive, but Sheamus punched him. Back inside the ring, Zayn caught Sheamus with the Helluva Kick and pinned him clean.
Cole laid it on thick about Sheamus winning Money in the Bank and cashing in successfully and this year he failed to even qualify. Sheamus showed frustration in the ring afterward…
Sami Zayn beat Sheamus in 10:00 to qualify for the Money in the Bank match.
Charlotte will announce the stage of the women’s championship later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: A nice back half of the match. Zayn certainly belongs in the MITB match, and I came away from the match feeling better about Sheamus despite the loss. The broadcast team laying it on thick about his fall from grace combined with the displeasure he was showing afterward could be a sign that they have something in mind for him. He’s lot a lot of matches lately and this is the first time they’ve made a big fuss over it or focussed on him afterward.
Backstage, Renee interviewed Apollo Crews about his match with Chris Jericho. She asked if he felt he had an advantage facing Jericho after the brutal match he had. Crews brought up the thumbtacks and conceded that Jericho would be feeling it. Suddenly, Sheamus attacked Crews and asked if he thinks he is better than him. Sheamus left Crews lying…
Powell’s POV: Good, I was hoping they would do something with these two after Sheamus eliminated Crews from the recent battle royal. It’s nice to see the Sheamus character has a purpose again.
New Day made their entrance and went to the ring where a birthday cake was set up. Xavier Woods noted that they were still champions coming out of Extreme Rules. Kofi Kingston said the cake wasn’t for them, it’s for Raw celebrating 1,200 episodes. Kingston said happy birthday to Raw.
Big E said a ring is never a safe place for a cake. Woods and Kingston handed the cake to Big E, who teased throwing it onto a young fan in the front row, then JBL (who acted like he might die if it touched him), and then Byron Saxton. The remaining Social Outcasts members Heath Slater, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel attacked Kingston and Woods from behind in the ring and took a victory lap heading into the break.
[Q4] [C] 2. Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods vs. Heath Slater, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel. The match was joined in progress coming out of the break. Kingston and E teamed up for their Big Ending combo move on Slater. Afterward, New Day ran Slater into the cake and then smeared his face with it…
New Day beat The Social Outcasts in roughly 1:30 of TV time.
Cole hyped Cesaro vs. Miz for after the break… [C] Cole hyped the Shane McMahon interview for WWE Network after Raw…
Powell’s POV: Lame segment, but the fans love New Day and cake destruction on pro wrestling shows. Stick around after Raw and I will provide a live recap of Mick Foley’s interview with Shane McMahon.
[Q5] 3. The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Cesaro in a Money in the Bank match qualifier. Miz cut a promo before the match about overcoming insurmountable odds at Extreme Rules. Cesaro interrupted Miz and Maryse before they could kiss. Cesaro got an early two count and was censored. Cesaro caught Miz with a springboard corkscrew uppercut heading into the break. [C]
Miz targeted Cesaro’s left shoulder. Cesaro came back and went for the Swing. He dropped Miz and sold the shoulder after a couple revolutions. Miz wrenched the shoulder of Cesaro on the top rope. Miz went up top and jumped into an uppercut. Cesaro performed the Neutralizer on Miz and pinned him…
Cesaro defeated The Miz in 11:15 to qualify for the Money in the Bank match.
The broadcast team recapped the opening segment and hyped the MITB main event…
Powell’s POV: A decent match, but the live crowd wasn’t very engaged. Miz’s pre-match mic work was nothing special and didn’t generate much heat. The broadcast team mentioned the fact that Cesaro beat the IC Champion as an afterthought to him qualifying for the MITB match.
[Q6] Backstage, Renee interviewed Rollins, who said it would be fitting for him to take back his title at MITB since that’s sort of his thing. Rollins approached Stephanie McMahon and tried to hug her, but she put her arms up. Stephanie said it’s good to see him, but things have changed, including their business relationship. Stephanie shook his hand and welcomed him back…
Chris Jericho made his entrance and hilariously had all sorts of bandages all over his back from the thumbtacks the night before. The broadcast team narrated still shots of the Asylum match, then hyped that Jericho would face Apollo Crews after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Stephanie is faking. Even if she’s not, I’m not the least bit compelled by her story these days. At least we’re seeing less of her and Shane. Meanwhile, the live crowd seems very flat. They were quiet during the Cesaro vs. Miz match, and now they were quiet for Jericho heading into the break.
4. Chris Jericho vs. Apollo Crews in a Money in the Bank match qualifier. The broadcast team recapped Crews being attacked by Sheamus earlier in the show. Jericho attacked Crews to start the match and called him a stupid idiot. Crews came back and got a two count, then Sheamus was shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. There were audible dueling chants for Crews and Jericho.
[Q7] At 5:45, Jericho put Crews in the Walls of Jericho. Crews reached the ropes to break the hold. At 6:50, Jericho went for a Lionsault as Crews kipped up into the move. Ouch. Jericho covered him for two. In the end, Jericho caught Crews with a Codebreaker and pinned him…
Chris Jericho beat Apollo Crews in 7:45 to qualify for the Money in the Bank match.
Powell’s POV: I’ not sure what they were going for with the Lionsault spot. Was Crews supposed to be up and out of the way in time to avoid the spot or were they just not on the same page? Anyway, I’m surprised they didn’t have Sheamus interfere to help Jericho win the match to give him more heat. Was this loss part of Apollo’s six-month plan?
Backstage, Young asked Shemaus for his reaction to the match. Sheamus laughed and walked off… [C] The latest Darren Young and Bob Backlund segment was replayed…
Backstage, JoJo interviewed Baron Corbin, who said he low-blowed Dolph Ziggler at the pay-per-view because he can. Ziggler showed up and asked Corbin about trying to beat him in a technical wrestling match. Corbin said he didn’t grow up watching WWE and dreaming to be the best wrestler, he grew up beating up punks like Ziggler. He said once he knocks out Ziggler, they can talk about his technical wrestling. Ziggler mentioned his MITB qualifying match. Ziggler said he’s going to so something that Corbin can never do – steal the show…
Powell’s POV: Corbin’s delivery was dreadful, and Ziggler’s show stealing line isn’t much better.
Big Cass made his entrance and then pointed to the back. Enzo Amore made his entrance. Once he entered the ring, he said he forgot to pay his electric bill. He said they cut his lights off. He noted that doctors diagnosed him with a concussion and said that if he had a dime for whenever he got knocked down and didn’t get back up he would have zero dimes. Enzo said the Dudleys have been out of line and said they are full of baloney.
[Q8] Big Cass closed it out, then the Dudleys made their entrance. Cole hyped Bubba Ray vs. Cass for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A disappointing return for Enzo (it could still get better after the break). The crowd was happy to see him, but it’s not the liveliest bunch. The bigger issue is that this was not Enzo’s best mic work. Still, it’s good to see him.
Seth Rollins will be on ESPNews on Tuesday night…
5. Big Cass (w/Enzo Amore) vs. Bubba Ray Dudley (w/D-Von Dudley). With Cass in charge, D-Von knocked down Enzo from behind, allowing Bubba to take control in the ring. Later, Cass caught Bubba on the top rope and slammed him. Cass followed up with a big boot and then performed the Empire Elbow for the win…
Big Cass beat Bubba Ray Dudley in 4:00.
Charlotte, Ric Flair, and Dana Brooke were shown walking together backstage… [C]
Powell’s POV: Raw started with so much potential, but it’s really dragging heading into the third hour.
[Q9] Charlotte, Ric Flair, and Dana Brooke headed to the ring. Flair and Brooke strutted together. In the ring, Flair spoke about how great Charlotte has been since she was a child. She used the description of “Uncle Arn” to describe Dana’s role. He praised Charlotte for pulling it out again at Extreme Rules.
Charlotte spoke about holidays and how she had to watch her father on television. The crowd gave her the What? treatment, and she fed into it and made it worse. Charlotte said she understands now that her father felt like what it was to be a man, and now she is the woman.
“That’s why I finally have the courage to say it to you, dad,” Charlotte said. “Get out of my ring.” Flair looked shocked. Charlotte said she figured Flair would look dumbfounded like he does. Charlotte said everyone from Flair’s generation is the same in that they never want to leave the spotlight. Charlotte said she was compassionate enough to let Flair walk in her spotlight.
Charlotte spoke about people labeling her Flair’s daughter, and said now it should be “that’s Charlotte’s dad.” She told Flair to go ahead and cry and asked if he needed a tissue. Charlotte said if Flair feels like she’s abandoning him, now he knows what she felt like for the last 30 years of her life.
Charlotte said Flair is immortal to the people, but he’s just dead to her. Flair tried to ask why, but Charlotte told him to get out of her ring. She told him he can watch her on TV just as she watched him the last 30 years. She told Flair not to make her embarrass him. Flair left the ring in tears, while Charlotte sang the goodbye song and the crowd booed… [C]
Powell’s POV: Charlotte started taking subtle jabs at her father last week. Now she’s completely turned on him just a week later. It feels rushed. I don’t think they got as much out of that as they could have if they had told a better story. For instance, it would have been nice if Flair had been made out to look somewhat sympathetic before she turned on him. He was content with his daughter winning in the dirtiest possible fashion all along, so it’s hard to feel pity for his character. WWE went for shock rather than good storytelling. All of that said, Charlotte did a nice job and I think she will be just fine without her famous father in her corner.
[Q10] The broadcast team acted somber as they spoke about Charlotte disowning her father. JBL called it “disgusting and pathetic”…
6. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler in a Money in the Bank ladder match qualifier. They took a break a few minutes in wither neither man gaining a strong advantage. [C] Ziggler caught Ambrose with a superkick.
[Q11] Ambrose no-sold it and hit his teetering clothesline out of the corner, causing Cole to ask how he did it. In the end, Ambrose won clean with Dirty Deeds. Ambrose joins Zayn, Cesaro, and Jericho as four of the seven men in the MITB match…
Dean Ambrose beat Dolph Ziggler in 12:10 to qualify for the Money in the Bank match.
Backstage, a somber Flair walked past Titus O’Neil and Zack Ryder, then Arn Anderson approached him and asked if he was okay. Anderson told him he was sorry and they shook hands. Flair kept walking until Renee asked if there was anything he wanted to say. Flair declined and walked out a door as the camera focussed on the printed sign that read “Exit”… [C]
Powell’s POV: The babyface vs. babyface match didn’t wake up the live crowd, but it had some decent moments. Ambrose entering the MITB match is intriguing given his history with the two main eventers at MITB.
The Shining Stars were featured in a pre-tape in which they invited fans to come to Puerto Rico…
AJ Styles made his entrance as the broadcast team recapped his loss to Roman Reigns. Styles spoke about how you don’t know how good someone is until you get in the ring with them. He said after working with Reigns for the last six weeks, he can say that he’s every bit as good as he says he is. There were some boos.
Styles stood his ground, though he did concede that Reigns is not phenomenal. Styles said he had Reigns beat in the middle of the ring and if it wasn’t for the Usos, Karl Anderson, and Doc Gallows he would be the new champion. Styles said he has an opportunity to beat Kevin Owens on his own to go on to MITB.
Anderson and Gallows made their entrance and they weren’t happy about what Styles said. Anderson said it sounded like Styles didn’t want them out there fighting by his side. Styles said that he said from the beginning that he wanted to do it on his own.
Styles said things have changed. Anderson said that’s true because if this was Japan, he would have bought them a round of drinks for having his back. Anderson said Styles changed. Gallows said that there are bar fights that Styles would not have walked out of if it wasn’t for them, and he may not have made it out of Extreme Rules if it wasn’t for them.
Styles said they didn’t need to break up their friendship. He said they could do their thing, and he could do his. “But for right now, we’re done,” Styles said. “I don’t care what they think,” Styles said of the fans. “Listen to me, but nothing and no one can separate us from behind brothers.” Styles held up the Too Sweet sign.
“How dare you talk to us like that can then stand here and try to call us brothers,” Gallows responded. Anderson said they are not brothers or friends anymore. Styles said they don’t need to be in his ring anymore, then added that for now it was his ring. Anderson and Gallows left the ring. Cole said Styles would go it alone against Owens in the qualifying match…
Powell’s POV: The night of bad mic work continues. Maybe I’m just used to Styles, but I actually felt he was more believable than Anderson and Gallows were with their brief responses. I was surprised to hear Styles say he doesn’t care what the fans thought at one point during the exchange given that he’s the babyface in all of this. The whole thing felt overly scripted and forced. Does the Japan talk even register with the average WWE fan? I don’t think it’s hard to follow, but I also wonder whether there’s a disconnect for casual viewers.
[Q12] [C] Cole hyped Cena’s return for next week and then hyped some sponsorship with a phone company… The Miz vs. Cesaro for the Intercontinental Title, and Rusev vs. Kalisto for the U.S. Championship were advertised for Smackdown…
7. AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens in a Money in the Bank qualifying match. Owens teased a suicide dive at one point, then rolled under the bottom rope and clotheslined Styles on the floor. Owens jawed at the broadcast team. Styles dove over the top rope and caught Owens with a forearm shot to the head. Styles ran Owens into the ring steps and then back inside the ring heading into the break. [C]
[Overrun] Owens powerbombed Styles onto the ring steps. Styles returned to the ring before the ref’s ten count. Styles set up for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Owens superkicked the top rope. Owens ended up hitting a Popup Powerbomb and pinning Styles clean…
Kevin Owens defeated AJ Styles in 16:40 to qualify for the Money in the Bank match.
A shot aired of Mick Foley and Shane McMahon sitting down at the interview set
Powell’s POV: JBL positioned this as a tough 24 hours for Styles. It was actually a tough night for WWE as they lost this Baltimore crowd at some point during the night and it made for a lousy atmosphere. I’m stunned that Owens got a huge Raw main event win, yet we never heard from him during the show. This should have been a better night for WWE. The MITB qualifiers gave a lot of the matches purpose, yet it just felt like a flat show that peaked in the opening segment. Join me for live coverage of the Shane McMahon interview via the story on the main page.