By Jake Barnett
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Phoenix, Arizona at Talking Stick Resort Arena
[Q1] A Cab was shown arriving to the arena earlier in the day, with Dean Ambrose tipping his cabbie and nearly forgetting his WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the back seat. He then strolled into the arena with the Championship over his shoulder, and the show cut to the typical Raw introductory package.
In the arena, Michael Cole welcomed everyone to Phoenix and mentioned that there was a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Dean Ambrose’s music then hit and he headed towards the ring after a brief pit stop to salute the crowd on top of the ramp. There are Raw and Smackdown lecterns positioned on the stage echoing past editions of the WWE Draft, but no one mentioned them. Still photos were shown of Ambrose winning the Money in the Bank Briefcase, as well as photos of the main event and subsequent cash in of the briefcase by Dean Ambrose.
The crowd chanted “you deserve it” at Ambrose as he soaked it in. He acknowledged the crowd before saying that last night was a long one in Las Vegas. He mentioned the Cleveland Cavs briefly and how he almost getting bitten by a dog, but then moved onto winning the Money in the Bank Briefcase, and cashing it in on Seth Rollins. He said the lesson learned last night was that what goes around comes around, and the second was that hard work pays off. Busting your ass and keeping your nose to the grindstone pays off, and when it does it pays off big.
Ambrose said that Rollins called himself the man, and Reigns called himself the guy, so he must be the dude. Ambrose then moved on to say that all the struggle and hard times were worth it, because now that he was standing in the middle of the ring with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship there wouldn’t be no hard times anymore. As Ambrose celebrated, Roman Reigns music hit to interrupt and he headed to the ring to a muted reaction.
Reigns was expressionless as he grabbed a microphone. A faint but audible “Roman Sucks” chant could be heard. Reigns got booed as he said that last night wasn’t his night, because it was Ambrose’s night and he was happy for him. He told the crowd that he didn’t care what they thought, because Dean was his boy and he was proud of him. He then asked Ambrose how it felt to cash in on Seth, and Dean fired back that he would have cashed in on him too.
[Q2] Reigns told his naysayers in the crowd to take a sip of their beer and shut up. He then said he has a rematch coming, and he wasn’t going anywhere for it but to him. Rollins then burst through the curtain and said that he achieved his dream last night be beating Reigns, and that Reigns had to go to the back of the line. Rollins said he never lost the championship, and that Ambrose had stolen it from him, so he wanted the next title shot. Reigns wanted to fight, and Rollins said there was nothing left to settle because he beat him last night and he was better than him.
Shane McMahon made an appearance at this point and pandered to the crowd by mentioning Phoenix. He then congratulated Dean Ambrose for his Money in the Bank winner and cashing it in successfully. He then addressed Rollins and Reigns and said that a simple match between the two of them would solve this problem. Rollins said they had a match last night, and demanded he discuss it with Stephanie. Shane pretended to consult Stephanie, said she wasn’t in the building, and made the match for later in the show, citing the draft as the reason for not wasting any time.
The announce crew plugged the draft for July 19th, and the AJ Styles appearance on the Stone Cold Podcast later tonight. Check back here for Jason Powell’s live coverage of that event on the WWE Network. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens were shown backstage, and they will go one on one next…[c]
My Take: This went pretty much how I expected it to go, given the careful way they went about the finish of last night’s show. If Ambrose cashes in on Reigns, there would be no way that both men would be due a rematch, and so it had to go down the way it did. I’m hoping we see further advancement of the Reigns character tonight, as he confronted his critics in the audience directly in the opening promo, which is something he hadn’t done recently.
Sami Zayn made his ring entrance, followed by Kevin Owens. Cole then acknowledged the spanish announce crew, which was in the building tonight. Owens sold his leg heavily as he walked to the ring.
1. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens: Owens quickly bailed to the outside after an irish whip. Zayn followed and hit a clothesline out on the floor and rolled him back in. Owens rolled back out the other side, but Zayn followed again and hit a moonsault off the barricade. Owens tried to leave through the crowd, but Zayn have chase and tossed him back into the ringside area. Owens caught Zayn jumping at him, and rammed him into the barricade and then threw him into the post. He then tossed Sami in the ring for a cover and got a two count. He then taunted the crowd…[c]
[Q7] Owens applied a chinlock as footage was shown from the break where Owens dominated Zayn with power offense. Zayn fired back up with a clothesline that sent Owens out to the floor, and followed up with a tope con hilo that the crowd woke up for. Zayn tried to climb up top, but Owens met him there and told him that he hated him. Sami fought him off and leap frogged him, only to turn around into a superkick. Owens covered and got a near fall.
Owens picked up Zayn in position for a package piledriver, but Zayn fought out and hit what looked like a backdrop driver. Zayn hit hit for another superkick and went for another pop up powerbomb, but Zayn reversed into a rollup and got the surprise win.
Sami Zayn defeated Kevin Owens
After the match, Owens assaulted Zayn on the ramp as he celebrated, and it degraded into a brawl that needed to be pulled apart by referees. The announce team then plugged the match between Reigns and Rollins for the number one contendership in the main event…[c]
My Take: That was an enjoyable match, especially considering the abuse both men took just the night before in the ladder match. They did more than I expected, and managed to put their feud back on the front burner in the process. I can’t wait for them to get to a point where they can get 20-25 minutes on a network special, because they have impressed even in the shorter matches they have had thus far.
Backstage, the brawl continued between Owens and Zayn until trainers and refs had to break them up again. WWE plugged the draft again, and then Big Johnny Laurinitis made his entrance wearing a red suit, blue tie and white shoes. He told the crowd to look him up on the WWE Network, and the draft very briefly before being interrupted by Shane McMahon. He asked Johnny what he was doing, and Johnny replied that he was making his pitch to run Smackdown following the brand extension.
[Q4] Shane apologized to the crowd and said he would be the one to run Smackdown, because he represents the new era, the fans, and change. Enzo and Cass made their entrance and Shane pretended to be bros with them. They did their promo shtick. Enzo said that just a second ago he heard Johnny Laryngitis spew pure manure into the microphone. He then said if he had a dime for every time Johnny Laryngitis opened his mouth and something relevant came out, he’d have zero dimes. Cass said Big Johnny may have been a Dynamic Dude back in the day, but in the new era he was SAWFT. They will face the Vaudevillians next…[c]
My Take: Big Johnny got a laugh out of me for looking ridiculous, but I get the distinct impression that neither Shane nor Stephanie will run Smackdown. I could be wrong, but for the new GM to really represent the new era, it would have be someone who wasn’t a part of the attitude era. I hope they pick someone surprising and younger.
2. Enzo & Cass vs. The Vaudevillians: English and Enzo started the match, with Enzo taking some abuse early. Gotch and English made some quick tags and hit double team olde tyme punches and generally cut off the ring. Enzo avoided a charging Gotch and send English off the apron to the floor, and then made a tag to Cass. He entered and cleaned up, hitting a bit boot to Gotch that sent him to the floor, and an Empire Elbow to English. Enzo tagged back in and hit the “Bada Boom Shaka Laka” Rocket Launcher for the win.
Enzo & Cass defeated the Vaudevillains
AJ Styles was shown backstage, and would address the WWE Universe next…[c]
My Take: The tag match was over before it had a chance to get good. I don’t have anything negative to say about it, but there isn’t much good to be said either. I’m looking forward to hearing which direction they go with AJ Styles.
Kevin Love was shown celebrating the Cavs NBA Championship wearing a Stone Cold Steve Austin Shirt and pouring beer on himself. AJ Styles made his ring entrance, and the Stone Cold Podcast was plugged for later tonight. Still photos were shown of AJ Styles’ controversial victory at Money in the Bank.
[Q5] AJ told the crowd that they sounded pretty happy, as an “AJ Styles” chant broke out. He said he wished he could say that he’s happy, because he had envisioned the match the way he wanted it to happen in his head for years. He went on to say that his dream match with John Cena was tainted by two men who were supposed to be more than brothers to him. He said out loud that “AJ Styles beat John Cena” to a big reaction, but he said it didn’t go down the way it should have. Styles said that if The Club is to continue, he needs them to come down and give him a public apology right now.
Eventually, they made their way down to the ring. AJ told them that he didn’t need their help, and that they had given John Cena an excuse. Anderson said they were trying to help, but AJ said he had signed on the dotted line and dragged his name through the mud. AJ then asked them both to look him into the eyes to apologize. They were clearly treating this whole thing as a joke. Both Gallows and Anderson gave tongue in cheek apologies to Styles, and then AJ said they had one more apology to make to John Cena. Styles asked Cena to come out, and he obliged.
Cena stayed on the ramp and said he doesn’t need an apology. Cena said they had a contract and he broke it. Gallows said that AJ had no idea they were going to come out, and then apologized to Cena. Anderson said AJ had signed a contract, but they didn’t, and they took advantage of it, so he was sorry. Cena saw through it, of course, and said AJ is using his club as an excuse because he’s not a good as he says he is.
AJ said that Cena was using the two of them as an excuse because he’s not a good as he says he is. Cena then chimed in and said that he respects winning, but second to that he respects a man who sticks to his word. He then said sometimes all you have are your balls and your word, and last night AJ proved he didn’t have either one of them. AJ said last night Gallows and Anderson did Cena a favor by giving him an excuse. He said Cena can face any member of The Club that he wants….Cena interrupted and said he wanted Styles right now.
AJ said he didn’t let him finish, it’s any member except him. Gallows and Anderson got involved, and AJ had already beaten him anyways. Cena said it didn’t matter which one he faced, because it was always going to be one on three whenever they realized that he would knock any one of their teeth down their throat in a fair fight. Styles said he was dead wrong, and that Karl Anderson would knock his teeth down his throat and prove he wasn’t as good as he thought he was. AJ then plugged his appearance on the Stone Cold Podcast on the WWE Network after Raw…[c]
My Take: A long promo segment that just cemented that WWE has a limited imagination when it comes to heels. Styles is now embracing the role of a chicken shit against hero John Cena, which might work if it was original, but WWE is retreading a lot of well worn ground sending Cena into a numbers disadvantage after a weak heel. I’ll withhold final judgement until we see more of it, but that segment didn’t go how I would have preferred it to go.
[Q6] 3. John Cena vs. Karl Anderson: Cena destroyed Anderson in the early going, with Anderson looking barely capable of defending himself. Cena hit a prototype suplex and a You Can’t See Me, followed by an Attitude Adjustment. When Cena went for the cover, Gallows and Anderson gave Cena a beating and caused a DQ.
John Cena defeated Karl Anderson via DQ
After the match, Gallows and Anderson hit a Magic Killer, followed by a Styles Clash from AJ. The announce team then recapped the major events from Money in the Bank with some still photos. These were repeats from results and photos shown earlier in the show. A video was then shown of the highlights from the opening segment with the main event between Reigns and Rollins being booked for later tonight.
Backstage, Seth Rollins was interviewed by Jojo. She asked him about his match later tonight. Rollins said he wanted to talk about last night first, and he said that last night proved that he was the best and that Roman Reigns never deserved it. He then said that Dean Ambrose was a snake and a thief when he snuck up from behind him and stole his championship. Rollins said later tonight he would prove he was better than Roman Reigns and earn another chance to take back what’s his…[c]
My Take: The Anderson match was essentially a squash that setup the run in after the match. Anderson didn’t provide any resistance whatsoever. The Club needs a spark because there are too many cool kids in WWE, and they don’t have the advantage of western wrestling tropes being novel like they once did in Japan. I liked the Seth Rollins promo. He came across like a guy who has real motivation, and seemed to lean somewhat babyface at times. I see changes coming from a character standpoint for all three former members of The Shield.
[Q7] Becky Lynch was interviewed backstage by Renee Young, and was asked about Natalya. She said she’s done making excuses for people. She said if she’s the last person in the division with an ounce of integrity or sportsmanship, then she’s better off than the rest of them. She said he’s taking the knife out of her back, and no more second chances or apologies. At that point, Natalya burst in from out of frame and knocked down Becky. She then tossed Becky into a nearby equipment crate and said from now on she’s taking care of herself for the first time in years. In the arena, Baron Corbin made his entrance. Zack Ryder was already in the ring.
4. Baron Corbin vs. Zack Ryder: Ealry on, Corbin faked an eye injury to get ref separation, and then sucker punched Ryder. He then hit choked Ryder on the second rope, and measured a forearm to the jaw. Ryder fired back with some forearms of his own and setup for the Broski boot, but Corbin rolled outside. Ryder kicked him through the bottom rope, and then hit a dropkick from the apron out to the floor. Ryder then followed up with a top rope elbow into the ring, and got a near fall. Corbin fired back with lariat and a big right hand. He then hit End of Days and pinned him for the victory.
Baron Corbin defeated Zack Ryder
Footage was shown of WWE signing an agreement with PPTV in China for their streaming PPV agreement, followed by the signing of Bin Wang to a WWE Contract…[c]
My Take: I swear Corbin and Ryder had pretty much the exact same match on Smackdown either this past Thursday or the previous one. Seriously, though, Cena speaking Mandarin was impressive and WWE making inroads into China will be big business for the company if they catch on.
[Q8] A video package aired for Bray Wyatt, that seemed to be a cut of various Wyatt video packages from days gone by with a creepy voiceover. Footage was shown last week of Paige getting a non-title win over Charlotte last week on Raw. Paige was interviewed backstage by Renee Young, and was asked why she thinks she’s had so much success lately against Charlotte. Renee kept looking behind Paige while she tried to talk, and eventually the camera panned to Dana Brooke and Charlotte chuckling in the background with Charlotte looking at her phone.
Paige walked up and told Charlotte that the championship would look lovely around her waist. Charlotte said last week was a fluke and Dana’s fault, and that after tonight she would sink back down to the bottom of the division like the titanic. Paige replied and reminded Charlotte that the ring is her house, and after she wins tonight Charlotte’s world would start falling apart…[c]
My Take: The Wyatt package didn’t say when they would be back, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they showed up in the main event, sad as that sounds. The Women’s promo was more of the things people have complaining about in the division for years, with the heel champion playing the mean girl role and the babyface blowing them off. Except now they have more talented wrestlers, which is nice I guess.
Paige made her ring entrance, followed by Charlotte with Dana Brooke.
5. Charlotte vs. Paige for the WWE Women’s Championship: Charlotte attempted a roll up straight away and got a near fall. Paige hit a shoulder block and exclaimed that it was her house, and the crowd fired up. She hit rapid fire knees in the corner that looked terrible even at a favorable camera angle. The action spilled outside as Dana Brooke got involved, and Charlotte leveled Paige at ringside. Dana and Charlotte posed and taunted a downed Paige…[c]
[Q9] Charlotte was in control as the show returned, but it didn’t last. Paige hit several kicks and covered for a near fall. She then followed up with a fallaway slam and shouted to fire up the crowd. Paige then placed Charlotte on the top turnbuckle for a superplex, but Charlotte reversed and dropped Paige face first. Charlotte followed up with a very well executed Moonsault for a near fall. They both traded crucifix pins for two counts, followed by Paige rolling up Charlotte for a near fall.
Paige fired back with a kick and then looked to have the match won with Rampaige, but Dana Brooke interfered and managed to screw things up in the process. She was supposed to place Charlotte’s foot on the ropes but ended holding her foot under the rope for the ref to see. She then gets thrown out, and during the distraction Charlotte hit natural selection and got the win to retain her championship.
Charlotte defeated Paige
After the match, Sasha Banks made her return and blasted Dana Brooke as she ran towards her. She then hit Charlotte with a backstabber, and held up the Women’s Championship. Dana hit her from behind, but Paige assisted her in clearing the heels from the ring. Sasha and Paige stood tall to end the segment.
Backstage, Roman Reigns was asked about his match later with Rollins, and said that he was focused on THE Guy that beats Seth Rollins. He then stared on intensely. The Wyatt Family then cut in, and said we’re here…[c]
My Take: The women’s match was a good up until Dana botched the finish. I can’t imagine that’s how they imagined it going, anyways. The Sasha return makes sense given they need another opponent for Charlotte while Becky and Natalya have moved on to their own thing. Becky and Sasha should be an excellent feud if they get around to it on the main roster. They would get a very interesting split reaction.
The Wyatt Family made their entrance to a strong ovation and the fireflies. Bray Wyatt led Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman to the ring. Once the music stopped playing, there was a loud “welcome back” chant. “Did y’all miss me?” Wyatt asked. He said they have been locked away and punished, but they never forgot what they stand for. Wyatt said the family is as strong as they have ever been.
New Day interrupted Wyatt’s promo. They said Bray takes too long and he needs to cut it. New Day took a knee on the stage. They said Erick Rowan has “a big ol’ booty.” Kofi Kingston said they bring the power of positivity and that’s how they have remained tag champions. The crowd had to fill in the line because Xavier Woods was staring blankly at the ring. Kofi nudged Woods out of his trance and then he said the line and went right back to it. Wyatt said New Day’s future is “New Day falls.” Strowman clapped his hands. The Wyatt video flashed to end the segment…
Powell’s POV: TAG! I’m taking over for Jake Barnett for the last hour of Raw. I was recording the Jim Ross “Ross Report” podcast earlier this evening for the show that drops on Tuesday night, but I was able to catch up on Raw by speeding through the commercial breaks. A big thanks to Jake for filling in. As for the segment, Bray was over huge. New Day interrupting was odd because they are all about comedy and I’m not sure how that will mix with the family, but I did get a kick out of Strowman wearing the black sheep mask and clapping momentarily. I must admit that I hoped Wyatt would come back for a big singles push rather than get in the crowded tag title mix. By the way, Woods didn’t miss his cue, he was playing up that he was in a trance, so we’ll see where that goes.
[Q10] [C] The latest Darren Young and Bob Backlund segment aired. Backlund told Young not to take advice, then explained that he gives orders and made him start working out…
Lana introduced Rusev. The broadcast team hyped that Rusev and Lana will be on the ESPNews segment on Tuesday night. Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Titus O’Neil, who was upset about Rusev disrespecting him and his children at MITB. “Don’t you ever disrespect me or my family,” O’Neil yelled. In the ring, Rusev barked that he doesn’t care about O’Neil’s family. Titus made his entrance for the non-title match…
They ended up fighting in the ring and then quickly went to ringside. Cole emphasized that this wasn’t a match, it was a fight. Rusev ran Titus into the ring post, then Titus shoved Rusev into the barricade a couple times. Titus barked at Rusev about disrespecting him and his family. Titus clotheslined Rusev over the barricade. Rusev opted to walk out…
Cole hyped Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins for the main event and reminded viewers that the winner will challenge Dean Ambrose at Battleground… An NXT commercial aired and focussed on Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura… [C]
Powell’s POV: Titus showed good fire. I didn’t really care to see more of this feud coming out of the pay-per-view, but they breathed some life into it during this segment.
[Q11] An ad hyped the WWE Draft and Smackdown moving to Tuesdays on July 19. JBL said he hopes that Byron Saxton will be drafted by Waffle House. Cole explained that there are podiums for Raw and Smackdown on the stage. He said that’s where the respective general managers will make their draft picks…
The Miz and Maryse checked in with a Facebook video recorded on the set of the latest Marine movie. An assistant tried to give Miz food, but Miz threw a fit because it wasn’t quail. Maryse fired the man and the crew was shown sitting quietly. Miz barked at them to go back to work…
Shane McMahon entered a room where Chris Jericho was waiting. Jericho said Shane has had it out for him for 16 years. He said he deserves to be No. 1 contender to Dean Ambrose. Shane pointed out some of Jericho’s recent losses. Jericho said Shane is allowing a barbarian to be his champion, then complained about the thumbtacks. Jericho called Shane a stupid idiot. Shane said that if he calls him an idiot again, those tacks will seem like a walk in the park. Jericho said he prays that the show he gets drafted to is the one that Shane is not in charge of. Shane once again claimed that he would be running both shows…
Dean Ambrose made his entrance while Cole clarified that Ambrose earned the championship despite what Jericho said about Shane letting him be champion. Cole announced that Ambrose would be seated next to JBL and would be on commentary for the main event… [C]
The broadcast team hyped that Seth Rollins would be in action on Smackdown… Ambrose was on commentary. Rollins made his entrance and blared at Ambrose before entering the ring. Reigns made his entrance…
[Q12] 6. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins to become No. 1 contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Ambrose said you don’t get a WWE Championship win and then go sit in a mansion somewhere unlike LeBron James. Ambrose was asked when he knew he was cashing in. Ambrose said he told everyone he was going to do it beforehand so he doesn’t know why everyone is so surprised.
Reigns and Rollins fought to ringside. Reigns slammed the head of Rollins off the Spanish broadcast table. Reigns took the top off the table, but then they returned to the ring. Ambrose said he doesn’t care whether Reigns or Rollins wins and said he would face them both. Ambrose stood up as he watched the match and said he was getting pumped to face one of his “former brothers” and they were going to try to take the title he worked two years to earn. At 5:30, Reigns caught Rollins with a boot to the face at ringside heading into the break. [C]
Rollins and Reigns traded punches in mid-ring with the fans cheering after each Rollins punch and booing when Reigns would throw one. Reigns powerbombed Rollins for a good near fall. A short time later, Rollins performed a springboard move off the middle rope into a Superman Punch for another two count.
Reigns went to the corner and charged for a spear. Rollins caught Reigns a kick. Reigns quickly tossed Rollins over the top rope. Rollins hung on and caught Reigns a high knee and a kick for a two count. At 14:45, Reigns performed a Drive By Kick. Reigns placed Rollins on the Spanish broadcast table and went for a powerbomb, but Rollins slipped underneath him and then clipped his knee. Rollins caught Reigns with an enzuigiri.
Rollins returned to the ring at nine. Reigns pulled him to the floor without returning to the ring. Cole said the ref’s count restarted because Rollins broke it (which doesn’t make much sense). Moments later, both men ended up being counted out.
Roman Reigns fought Seth Rollins to a double count-out in 16:35.
[Overrun] Shane McMahon came out and said that’s not how things would end. He said they need a number one contender at Battleground. Ambrose stood in the ring and told Shane he would fight both men on the same night. Shane said he could fight them on the same night at the same time, then announced Ambrose vs. Reigns vs. Rollins in a Triple Threat as the WWE Battleground main event.
After Shane headed backstage, Ambrose held up his title belt in front of Reigns. He walked away. Reigns spun Ambrose around, but Ambrose dropped him with Dirty Deeds. Rollins sat in the opposite corner as Ambrose left the ring. Rollins stood up and went after Reigns, but Ambrose returned and gave him Dirty Deeds while JBL said WWE has a champion who is unstable. Cole hyped the Stone Cold Podcast with AJ Styles…
Powell’s POV: The lack of a finish in the main event was disappointing on this night, yet it was washed away by the announcement of the big Shield Triple Threat match at Battleground. I will have more to say about the show in members’ exclusive audio and in the WWE Raw Hit List. Join me on the main page for live coverage of the Stone Cold Podcast with AJ Styles.
The Best of The Boom features Tony Schiavone joining Jason Powell in this May 30, 2018 discussion in which he looks back on when he went to Ric Flair's house for his first pro wrestling assignment, his year with WWE, his one appearance for TNA Impact Wrestling, and more...