6/6 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson vs. New Day, MITB build continues

Logo_Raw_dnBy Jason Powell

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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma at Chesapeake Energy Center

[Q1] Raw opened with Dean Ambrose making his entrance while Chris Jericho, Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose, and Alberto Del Rio were already in the ring standing on ladders. Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton checked in on commentary. Ambrose climbed onto his own ladder in the ring while Lilian Garcia introduced the six Money in the Bank participants.

Owens barked at Lilian that they didn’t need any introduction because they are famous. Jericho said he’s the most famous of all. Owens said they will all be in the background when he wins the MITB contract. Owens said he will get the briefcase, cash in the contract, and become the new champion. Owens said he will take on all comers, then added, “None of you guys, of course.” He mentioned names from the past and said he will beat them all.

Zayn spoke about the differences between him and Owens, then Ambrose said he would fight anything, even a polar bear. He said Jericho looks like even more of a dork while standing on a ladder. Del Rio told Zayn that’s he is just a paperboy compared to him.

Jericho boasted about creating the MITB match. Cesaro questioned why if Jericho claims to be such an expert, then why hasn’t he won a match. Jericho claimed he won one. Zayn pushed for details. Jericho said the first one, then he said the sixth one, and then was comically vague about where the win occurred. Jericho gave the fans the gift of Jericho pose while four of the other men climbed down. Ambrose climbed over to Jericho and took a shot at him.

Teddy Long made his entrance and did his dance on the stage. The fans chanted his name. Long said he got the word that Smackdown is going live on Tuesdays, so he is back to take control. Jericho called him a bag of bones and a stupid idiot. Jericho said Long doesn’t work in WWE. Long said “not yet” and then said he would take all four men and make a bunch of matches involving them including a six-an iron challenge match and said there must be a winner.

Stephanie McMahon walked onto the stage to save Teddy. She told him that what he said didn’t make any sense. Teddy called her “baby girl.” Stephanie said she is not his baby girl. Long told Stephanie that he wants to run Smackdown now that it’s going live. Stephanie said she had great respect for his tenure, but they haven’t made any decisions about who will run Smackdown.

Teddy asked for Shane McMahon to come out. Stephanie said Shane was on vacation this week. Stephanie told him to get to steppin’. Teddy started to dance. Stephanie said not to hit his music. Stephanie booked the MITB participants in the following matches: Zayn vs. Del Rio, Ambrose vs. Owens, and Cesaro vs. Jericho. She said Cesaro Jericho would start immediately, then mocked Stephanie’s “hollar” routine, had his music play, and danced on the stage to it. Cole hyped Jericho vs. Cesaro for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: There was an ad for the NXT Takeover: The End Special that aired during the first commercial break. Dot Net staffer Zack Zimmerman will be attending the show in person, and I’ll have live coverage on Wednesday night. The opening segment was more cutesy comedy than anything. It didn’t leave me anxious to see the MITB match or the singles matches even if it did provide a unique opening image. I am surprised they didn’t open Raw with a Muhammad Ali tribute as they did the pre-show. My guess is we get a lengthy video at some point during Raw.

[Q2] 1. Chris Jericho vs. Cesaro. They fought to ringside where Cesaro ran Jericho into the barricade and then caught him with a running uppercut. Back inside the ring, caught Cesaro coming off the top rope with a dropkick and got a two count going into the break. [C]

Jericho caught Cesaro with a Codebreaker off a springboard uppercut attempt. Cesaro rolled out of the ring as the broadcast team spoke about how he was lucky his momentum took him to ringside. Jericho brought him back inside the ring and covered him for two.

Cesaro came back by superplexing Jericho from the ring apron and got a two count of his own. Cesaro powered out of the Walls of Jericho attempt and then countered into a Swing that went roughly 14 revolutions. Cesaro applied the Sharpshooter for the win…

Cesaro defeated Chris Jericho in 12:00.

Powell’s POV: An entertaining match with Cesaro getting a nice boost by beating Jericho via submission in the opening match on Raw. It was nice to see a serious match after that tongue in cheek opening segment.

[Q3] Cole hyped Money in the Bank by saying it was shaping up to be the best MITB event ever. He narrated footage of The Club attacking John Cena last week. Cole hyped Cena vs. AJ Style by saying many consider it to be a “another WrestleMania dream match.” Saxton hyped New Day vs. The Club in a six-man tag, and JBL hyped a video package on the shared history of Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins… [C]

A brief video package on Muhammad Ali featured Twitter posts from Steve Austin, Triple H, Bret Hart, and Shane McMahon. The hosts spoke briefly about Ali at ringside. Cole spoke about Ali being in big fights and then said you get a big fight feel when you think about Reigns vs. Rollins…

The Rollins and Reigns video package aired. Rollins spoke about The Shield forming, then how he wanted to become the greatest of all-time, now one of the best. Footage aired of Rollins striking Reigns with a chair to break up the faction, then of him with Triple H and Stephanie. Rollins said he doesn’t dislike Reigns, he just happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Footage aired of Rollins winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. They cut to Rollins suffering the knee injury and then Rollins spoke about how he “landed wrong” and everything he worked and dreamed of was taken away from him. Rollins said he didn’t want to part ways with the championship and it was taken away from him.

The surgeon was shown discussing the injury, and of Rollins immediately following surgery. He was shown watching WrestleMania 32 in the press box and seeing Reigns win the title. Seth said Roman is just a placeholder who will have to settle for being second best. Footage also aired of Rollins attacking Reigns at Extreme Rules. Rollins said he’s been waiting for two years to prove that he is better than Reigns. He said that’s exactly what he will do at MITB…

Powell’s POV: You basically got the condensed version of the great one-hour WWE 24 documentary on Seth Rollins. Again, why is this guy a heel? Anyway, I continue to believe that we’re going to see a screwy finish that leads to Reigns and Rollins both being champions, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Dean Ambrose wins Money in the Bank.

Lana stood in the ring and asked fans to stand with their hands on their hearts for the great American hero Rusev, who then made his entrance.

[Q4] Cole hyped Rusev vs. Jack Swagger for after the break while JBL reminded viewers that they were in Swagger’s home state… [C]

2. U.S. Champion Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Jack Swagger in a non-title match. Titus O’Neil sat in on commentary. There was a wicked double clothesline spot at ringside late in the match that got a big rise out of the broadcast team. A short time later, Rusev shoved Swagger into Titus, then returned to the ring for the count-out win. After the match, Titus and Swagger teamed up on Rusev, who fled the ring…

Rusev beat Jack Swagger by count-out in 3:35.

Cole hyped Cena vs. Styles for MITB, then said Cena would appear after the break… [C] John Cena made his entrance and then footage aired of The Club attacking Cena last week.

[Q5] Cena said there was anticipation and energy when he and Styles stood in the ring together. He said it’s a moment that happens once in a generation. He said there’s usually a rowdy Raw crowd chanting “Let’s Go Cena” and “Cena Sucks.” He said half the fans have his back, half don’t want him back. Cena said they had an entire arena chanting either “Let’s Go Cena” or “AJ Styles” for a full two minutes. The crowd played along.

Cena said he’s only had a moment like that with The Rock. He said Styles and Rock had very different career paths, but he had similar energy with both of them. He said fans were left wondering “what if?” for 15 years, but now he has another question. “Why the hell did you take the easy way out?” Cena invited Styles to come out and explain himself.

Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson entered to AJ’s entrance them. The trio stood on the stage while the fans chanted for Cena or Styles. Cena said Styles didn’t need to involve his “little junkies from the Bullet Club.” Styles said he did it because he had a plan, which was to punch Cena in the face.

Styles said Styles is great on morning shows, late night shows, and movies “not necessarily the ones you star in, but your cameos are very entertaining.” Styles said Cena insults him every time he gets in the ring. Styles said it burns Cena that even on his best day, “You can’t beat me.” Styles said his kids ask why he hasn’t faced Cena. Styles said he tells them it’s because Cena doesn’t want to face him because he knows he would run circles around him.

Cena told Styles that his jokes are as outdated as his jorts. Cena said Styles finally entered WWE in the Royal Rumble and did nothing. He said Styles had two title shots and failed. He said Styles started second guessing himself and became desperate. Cena said Styles couldn’t get past Reigns, and now he’s picking a fight with him. “You do not know who you are dealing with,” Cena said.

Styles said desperation is for someone who can’t go anywhere else. He said he is welcomed back everywhere with open arms because he would sell out stadiums in a second. “That’s what I do when I step in the ring,” Styles said. AJ said he is dangerous because he has nothing to lose.

Cena asked why it’s not Cena vs. Styles, it’s Cena vs. The Club. Styles said everyone knows what when you wrestle Cena and lose, it’s time to get out the shovel because guys like Cena burry guys like him. Styles said Anderson and Gallows are his insurance policy and they will make sure his head stays above ground. “John, you have no idea who you are dealing with,” Styles said before dropping the mic.

Styles, Anderson, and Gallows headed to the ring and entered from three different sides as Cena stood his ground. New Day ran out and joined Cena in the ring, causing The Club to head back to ringside and eventually back up the ramp. Cena and New Day stood in the ring as Cena’s music played, and Cole hyped The Club vs. New Day for later in the show…

Powell’s POV: Cena’s comments about Styles failing in the Rumble and losing both matches struck me as being too strong. Styles fans are excited by this match. They need to sell the Cena fans on this being something special. I don’t think pointing out that Styles has failed in his three biggest WWE matches is going to make those fans see Styles as a threat to Cena, especially when he wasn’t scripted to deliver any type of comeback regarding his losses. It should be about Cena vs. Styles, but this type of creative is making it about Cena vs. The Club because the numbers advantage is going to be the only way the average Cena fan thinks he might lose to Styles.

[Q6] Footage aired of Enzo Amore suffering a concussion in a previous match against The Vaudevillains. Enzo and Cass made their entrance, and The Vaudevillains were already in the ring. Enzo delivered some Ali lines within his pre-match mic work…

3. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. The Vaudevillains. Enzo sold briefly for the heels before making a tag to Cass, who worked them over with his usual power moves. Later, English whipped Enzo through the ropes while barking at him about the same thing happening again. Cass got pissed and worked over English with punches and kicks until the referee disqualified him. After the match, Simon Gotch went after Cass, who gave him a big boot…

The Vaudevillains beat Enzo Amore and Big Cass by DQ in 2:20.

Backstage, Tom Phillips interviewed Sami Zayn about his match against Alberto Del Rio and asked if he considers himself the underdog. Zayn said he has to because Del Rio has already done what he is aspiring to do. Zayn said he knows he can beat ADR, who then entered the room. ADR said becoming champion is for men like him, not for people like Zayn…

Powell’s POV: Cass is like a one-man Road Warriors. He destroyed the Dudleys while Enzo was out, and now he’s destroyed the Vaudevillains while Enzo sold head injury. Meanwhile, I didn’t care for Zayn’s reaction to Del Rio’s promo. He played it like Del Rio didn’t get to him, but I think it would have been more effective if Zayn had showed that Del Rio had struck a nerve and he was even more fired up heading into the match.

[Q7] [C] Another batch of Ali tribute Tweets were shown…

Backstage, Stephanie McMahon was on her phone when Teddy Long danced into the picture. Teddy said if he was running Smackdown, he would book New Day vs. Anderson and Gallows vs. Enzo and Cass vs. The Vaudevillains in a four-way for the tag titles. Stephanie asked how he got past security. He pulled out a dollar bill and delivered a holla rhyme before she dismissed him. Stephanie picked up the phone and booked the four-way tag match for MITB. She told the person that she’s proud of herself for coming up with the match…

4. Alberto Del Rio vs. Sami Zayn. Del Rio got the televised entrance while Zayn was already in the ring. They went to ringside where Zayn performed a moonsault that Del Rio seemed to duck away from. Even Cole labeled it a glancing blow as ADR sold at ringside heading into the break. [C]

Del Rio caught Zayn with the Backstabber for a two count. Zayn went for his finisher and had to hold off as Del Rio was late putting his feet up to kick him. Zayn was tied up in the tree of woe. Del Rio went to the ropes and went for his finisher, but Zayn sat up and pulled Del Rio down to the mat. Del Rio recovered and slammed Zayn’s head onto the top of the ring post in a unique spot. With Zayn still in the tree of woe, Del Rio performed the double foot stomp and scored the pin…

Alberto Del Rio beat Sami Zayn in 8:55.

Powell’s POV: Let the complaints about Zayn losing the match begin. I don’t have a problem with it for the usual reason. He’s an underdog. Build up to him beating Del Rio and it will actually mean something.

[Q8] Backstage, Ambrose and Owens crossed paths. Owens told Ambrose that he’s concerned for him and not just because he’s going to try to dismember him with a ladder, but because he’s been even more off the deep end than usual. Ambrose asked if he was off when he beat him for the IC Title or when he sent him crashing through a table at the Royal Rumble. Owens told Ambrose he needs help. Ambrose said Owens is the one who needs help…

Cole hyped that Roman Reigns would tell his side of the story regarding his feud with Rollins… [C] The broadcast team set up the Reigns side of the Rollins vs. Reigns video package…

Reigns called the Shield debut “awesome.” He said he was known as the muscle and the powerhouse. He said Rollins loved being dubbed the architect and thinks he’s the smartest guy around. Reigns said he felt completely betrayed when Rollins turned on him and Ambrose.

Reigns said being in the WrestleMania 31 main event was a rollercoaster. He said it pushed him further than anything he’s experienced in his life. He spoke about Rollins cashing in his MITB contract. He said sometimes anger is the best motivator a man can have.

Footage aired of Reigns beating Triple H to win the title at WrestleMania 32. He said he won the match fair and square and defended it. Clips of Rollins attacking him at Extreme Rules aired. Reigns said that whenever Rollins has left him laying it’s because he attacked him from behind. Reigns said Rollins is afraid of him, but he won’t feel fulfilled until he beats him. Reigns said the big fight feel is in the air. He said he expects a better Rollins and he will beat a better Rollins. He said that after MITB there will only be “the guy”…

Dean Ambrose made his entrance while a graphic hyped him as the guest on ESPNews on Tuesday… [C]

Powell’s POV: I like how they are leaving out Roman’s lousy first two title runs. They were both mistakes and I think this omission proves they realize it. I’m not going to question why Reigns isn’t the heel after watching that video. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe he should be, but he’s always been good in the sit-down setting and this was no exception.

5. Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens. They fought to ringside quickly. Owens threw Ambrose over the broadcast table. Owens took a headset and started to talk, but Ambrose dove onto him and then took the match back inside the ring.

[Q9] At 4:00, Ambrose caught Owens on the ropes and superplexed him. Owens came back with an overhead release suplex. Ambrose fired right back with a clothesline. Ambrose went up top, but Owens knocked him down and followed up with a cannonball for a two count.

Ambrose went for a suicide dive, but Owens caught him at ringside and rammed him into the edge of the ring and then performed a splash from the apron. Back inside the ring, Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds out of nowhere for the win.

Dean Ambrose beat Kevin Owens in 6:35.

After the match, Ambrose set up a ladder in mid-ring and climbed up touched the MITB briefcase when Owens recovered and pushed the ladder and Ambrose over. Owens stepped onto one of the rungs, stopped, and pointed at the briefcase and yelled that it is his…

Saxton hyped Charlotte and Dana Brooke for after the break…

Powell’s POV: A strange post match moment that made Ambrose look like a schmuck while giving Owens his heat back. I thought someone might run out and push over the ladder and reveal himself as the seventh man in the MITB match. The graphic on the MITB website continues to show a seventh spot, but there’s no discussion of it on Raw.

The latest Bob Backlund and Darren Young video aired…

[Q10] Charlotte and Dana Brooke headed to the ring with a promo. Cole said the WWE Universe is still reeling over what Charlotte did to Ric Flair. Footage aired of the angle. Dana introduced Charlotte, who apologized to her father, then said everything she said needed to be said. She said she’s sorry she didn’t explain herself better.

“When I said you were dead to me, I meant it professionally,” she said. “I still want to celebrate Christmas with you. I still want to work out with you. I still want to be your best friend… But as the WWE Women’s Champion, I don’t want to share my spotlight and I can be champion without Ric Flair, but I can’t be daddy’s little girl without daddy.”

Natalya and Becky Lynch made their entrance and mocked Charlotte’s sincerity. Charlotte said she’s surprised WWE hasn’t approached Natalya about her own reality show with her crazy uncle and father. Natalya said her family isn’t perfect, but the way Charlotte treated her father was disgusting.

Lynch told Charlotte that if she had any sense, she would know that Dana is going to stick a knife in her back. Charlotte said Dana is her protege because she has so much to share. Natalya told Dana she doesn’t want to see her hurt by a master manipulator and said she has options.

Dana looked like she was thinking about what Natalya and Lynch were saying and teased leaving the ring before striking Natalya from behind. Lynch tripped over Natalya while going for Dana. Brooke performed the Samoan Driver on Lynch while Charlotte put Natalya in a submission hold.. The heels stood tall to end the segment…

The broadcast team ran through some of the NXT Takeover: The End lineup and hyped Wednesday’s show, then hyped the Raw six-man tag… [C]

Powell’s POV: Wow, that was a lifeless segment. The crowd was more into giving Charlotte the “what?” treatment than anything. How many live crowds hear Bret Hart’s music and get disappointed when Natalya comes out?

The Shining Stars still like Puerto Rico…

Tyler Breeze and Fandango made their entrance. JBL asked if Breeze really shaved the back of Fandango. “We don’t know because we’re actually going to take you back,” Cole said. Saxton referred to JBL as Nostradamus. The footage of Breeze shaving Fandango earlier in the day was shown…

[Q11] 6. Tyler Breeze (w/Fandango) vs. R-Truth (w/Goldust). Goldust and Fandango fought at ringside and rolled into the ring, which ended the match. Teddy Long walked out and booked the teams in a tag match. Security came out and walked Long backstage as he snuck in a hashtag plug…

Tyler Breeze fought R-Truth to an apparent no-contest in 1:00.

Teddy was being escorted through the backstage area when Stephanie approached him and said he could stay for her own amusement. She said they weren’t going to have some old fool running Smackdown. She said her father wants someone who will bring in the new era and it won’t be Shane, it will be her. Stephanie then told Long to get the hell out of her building once and for all…

Cole hyped a tribute to Ali for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: I guess this means Stephanie’s nice girl act has come to an anticlimactic end. Maybe they realized that no one was buying into it. Everything with Long has been flat since his initial entrance. The crowd didn’t even react to his tag team gag.

Additional Ali tribute tweets were shown. The broadcast team spoke at ringside. JBL said Ali’s win over George Foreman in Zaire was the greatest combat sports win ever. Cole set up a video package that focussed on Ali’s history with WWE. The live crowd clapped. Some fans stood, other fans are heartless pieces of monkey shit, er, remained seated…

Cole hyped the return of the Ambrose Asylum with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins as special guests… AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson made their entrances for the main event…

[Q12] [C] Becky Lynch vs. Dana Brooke, and Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho were announced for WWE Smackdown… New Day made their entrance and delivered a promo from ringside before the match. The teams brawled before the bell. Gallows laid out Kingston with a punch on the floor. Woods dove onto Gallows. Anderson blasted Woods with a kick, then Styles put him down with a Styles Clash on the floor heading into the break. [C]

7. AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson vs. Kofi Kingston and Big E. Kingston and E returned to the ring as Cole explained that Woods was backstage after taking the Styles Clash. New Day actually showed intensity rather than comedy timing.

[Overrun] Late in the match, Kingston hit the SOS on Styles. Big E performed a belly-to-belly suplex on Anderson, but was taken out by a big boot from Galloway. Kingston caught Gallows with Trouble in Paradise. Styles performed the Phenomenal Forearm on Kingston and pinned him.

AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson beat New Day in 5:20.

After the match, Cena ran out to help the New Day members. Styles blindsided Cena and threw punches at him. Styles asked if Cena had enough and then put the boots to him. Kingston kicked Styles, who rolled to ringside. Big E hit the Big Ending on Anderson, then Cena performed the Attitude Adjustment on Gallows. Cena, Kingston, and E celebrated while The Club licked their wounds at ringside to close the show…

Powell’s POV: A solid final segment with The Club looking ruthless by taking out Woods and then winning the handicap match. Cena making the save afterward rather than coming out to replace Woods is actually pretty comical if you think about it. You had to know Cena was going to get a moment to shine after being laid out in his return segment. The important thing is that The Club also looked good for the most part and Styles wasn’t laid out by Cena.

Overall, this was a flat show that did very little to raise my level of anticipation for Money in the Bank. I liked the Reigns and Rollins video packages and I wish WWE would do more storytelling in that manner. That’s the one match they actually left me more excited about this week and neither guy actually appeared live on the show. I will have more to say tonight in members’ audio, and on Tuesday in the WWE Raw Hit List.

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