By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Columbus, Ohio at Nationwide Arena
[Q1] Footage aired from earlier in the day of the wrestlers were enjoying a backstage BBQ while R-Truth and Goldust performed on a small stage. They were interrupted by The Vaudevillains, who said that was no way to celebrate American’s 240th birthday. Aiden English started to sing, but someone threw food at him.
The Miz and Maryse stood up. Miz said he wouldn’t let another holiday be ruined by a food fight. He worked in a plug for Smackdown Live. Someone squirted chocolate sauce at him. The food fight started. Kevin Owens hid under a table.
Kane and Big Show grabbed each other by the throat. Heath Slater threw food at Show, so Kane and Show chokeslammed him through a table. Everyone laughed and left the room. Owens climbed out from under the table and said this would never happen on Canada Day. Someone behind the camera threw food at him. Owens threw a fit, sampled the food, and went back to throwing a fit…
Powell’s POV: In the interest of full disclosure, I am drinking throughout the show because this is a holiday edition of Raw. I hope you understand after watching the opening segment. Disapprove? Drinking during holiday shows are my right as an American or something.
The opening montage aired… Pyro shot off on the stage. Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton checked in on commentary. A male ring announcer (probably Greg Hamilton) introduced Lilian Garcia, who performed the national anthem…
Powell’s POV: See the great Jim Jeffries’ latest Netflix special about how Americans get aroused at the “free” part of “land of the free.”
Ring introductions for the U.S. Championship match took place… [C]
[Q2] 1. Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Titus O’Neil for the U.S. Championship. Titus came out in Uncle Sam garb, which made him look like Apollo Creed on his death march.
Powell’s POV: Do I have to issue a spoiler alert for a movie that was released in 1985? Fine, spoiler alert: “I don’t wanna ruin the surprise, but Sly wince this one again.”
At 5:15, Rusev applied the Accolade (the real one, not that stupid leaning one). Titus hung in there for a bit and some fans chanted USA, but Titus eventually gave up. Rusev locked it in a bit longer afterward. Afterward, Rusev took the house mic and told fans to go ahead and celebrate “with your hamburgers and little weenies.” Rusev wished America a happy birthday and threw the mic down…
Rusev defeated Titus O’Neil to retain the U.S. Title in 5:40.
Cole hyped Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz, and a John Cena promo, and the big 16-man elimination tag. It will be Big Show, Kane, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, Zack Ryder, and The Dudley Boyz vs. Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Sheamus, Sami Zayn, Alberto Del Rio, and The Lucha Dragons… [C]
Powell’s POV: I’m officially rooting for Team World just as I rooted for Rusev. Americans are out celebrating the holiday, so foreigners are the only ones reading tonight. Wait, what do you mean Americans can read this in the morning?
Cole noted that the Bella Twins are on the cover of Latina magazine..
The Social Outcasts entered to “Yankee Doodle” and were dressed as some guys who won a war 240 years ago or something. Shit, they are going to talk too. Wait, nope, Bo Dallas was cut off Enzo Amore and Big Cass. Fortunately, Enzo spoke. He ran through a list of presidents (Bob Backlund would give him an autograph) and said they would all be insulted if they saw the Outcasts. Cass said he had a Paul Revere thing planned, but he wasn’t going to try to top that. He did the SAWFT routine…
[Q3] 2. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel (w/Heath Slater). Yes, Dallas and Axel did actually wrestle in their dead guys who won a war over 240 years ago outfits. Enzo and Cass won with their rocket launcher finisher…
Enzo Amore and Big Cass beat Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel in 2:05.
JBL hyped Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler for later in the show… Charlotte and Dana Brooke were shown walking backstage. Dana shouldered into a guy and kept smile and walking… [C]
Powell’s POV: My girlfriend just handed me a smoothie in hopes of sobering me up. Something about professionalism. Bah! I intend to spike it with Jagermeister the moment she leaves the room. I don’t know how it will taste, but I know holiday editions of Raw require “special” smoothies. Wait, you say I’m making this review all about me? Consider it patriotism since I can’t think of anything more American than that.
Charlotte and Dana Brooke stood in the ring for a promo segment. Charlotte said jealousy is the strongest human emotion. She said everyone around her has always been jealous. She said she becomes the very best at what she does and the proof is around her waist. Charlotte said no one is more jealous than Sasha Banks. Charlotte mocked the fans who chant for Sasha. She said chants don’t pay the bills. Charlotte said Sasha is all hype.
Sasha Banks made her entrance with a mic in hand and said Charlotte might be champ, but she will never be her. Sasha said Charlotte has accomplished nearly everything this year, but she has never beaten her. Sasha said the title would have been hers had it not been for her father. Sasha said she will dominate Charlotte in a one-on-one match.
Charlotte fired back, the Sasha responded by defining what makes her The Boss rather than Charlotte. Dana took a swing that Sasha ducked. Charlotte swung and missed as well. However, Charlotte caught Sasha with a boot to the face. Charlotte said her reign has just begun. Sasha took Charlotte down and applied the Bank Statement. Dana pulled Charlotte to ringside…
[Q4] A shot aired of Dean Ambrose walking backstage… [C]
Powell’s POV: Leave it to WWE to finally give Sasha a chance to to speak on a holiday edition. A solid segment that left me looking forward to seeing their singles match.
A “Believe” commercial focussed on a bunch of part-timers and a couple of retired buys and told fans to “Believe Live” for Smackdown…
3. WWE Champion Dean Ambrose vs. Intercontinental Champion The Miz (w/Maryse) in a non-title match. Before the match, Miz dedicated the match to his wife. Ambrose’s entrance interrupted their kiss. Ambrose’s entrance interrupted their kiss. Miz dumped Ambrose into the timekeeper’s area and then kissed Maryse heading into the break. [C]
Miz applied the Figure Four at 6:00. Ric Flair taught him that move. No one taught Ambrose how to roll it over, because he just reached the ropes to break it instead.
[Q5] Cole siad Miz was going “toe-to-toe with the WWE Champion Dean Ambrose.” Second later, Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on Miz and pinned him…
Dean Ambrose pinned The Miz in 9:50.
After the match, Seth Rollins music played and he headed out as Ambrose was exiting the ring. Rollins simply walked past Ambrose, who appeared to slap him on the ass. Rollins entered the ring and then Ambrose turned and looked at him from the stage. Ambrose headed back and entered the ring, then walked past Rollins and sat in on commentary while Cole hyped Rollins vs. Ziggler… [C]
Powell’s POV: I go back and forth on Miz competitive matches. There are times when I’m all for making him more credible, and then there are times like this where it feels like it brings his opponent down a notch by struggling to defeat him. The post match was wacky Ambrose, which works for some and is despised by others.
Ambrose was actually on commentary with the Spanish broadcast team, but they had the feed. JBL said he was before the break, but it seemed like he was joking. Dolph Ziggler made his entrance. Cole hyped that Brock Lesnar’s opponent for SummerSlam would be announced on Smackdown…
Powell’s POV: Hey, that guy who returned to UFC still works for WWE? In all seriousness, it surprised me that WWE didn’t capitalize on the mainstream buzz that Lesnar received for returning to UFC, and I really do wonder if there were fans out there who assumed he had left WWE again.
4. Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler. Ambrose joined Cole and company as the match got started. Rollins caught Ziggler with a kick heading into the break.
[Q6] [C] Ambrose said Ziggler can beat anyone on any given night (which is the same thing they used to say about jobbers). Ziggler turned up for the band. Rollins knew it was coming (because he can hear) and blocked the move, then caught him with a kick to the gut and another superkick to a kneeling Ziggler just moments later.
Ziggler connected with a superkick and got a two count. It was the first near fall for Ziggler that some fans in the live crowd seemed to buy into. Rollins avoided a Zigzag and hit the Pedigree for the win…
Seth Rollins beat Dolph Ziggler in 11:05.
After the match, Rollins stood on the Spanish broadcast team’s table near Ambrose and boasted about his win. Rollins said he worked harder than any of the fans can imagine and he won’t have Roman Reigns tarnish his legacy. Rollins said Reigns should be taken out of the Triple Threat. There were some cheers.
Ambrose laughed as Rollins continued his rant. Rollins said the worst thing about Reigns is that he claims to be a role model. Rollins said the fans are just like he is in that they cheat, lie, and cut corners to get to the promised land.
Ambrose climbed onto a broadcast table. Rollins jawed at him about taking back his title at Battleground. Ambrose told him he could have it now, then threw the title at Rollins and attacked him when he tried to catch it. Ambrose performed his finisher on one of the broadcast tables, then held up his title belt…
Powell’s POV: The live crowd enjoyed Ambrose getting the better of Rollins even if the overall segment didn’t do anything in terms of leaving me more excited about the Battleground main event. Meanwhile, I want to care about Rollins vs. Ziggler, but Dolph has been so low on the totem pole for so long that it feels like just another win for Rollins.
Cole recapped The Club attacking John Cena. Cole was about to hype a Cena segment when a Wyatt video interrupted him. The Wyatts were in a shed. Bray Wyatt spoke about the power of positivity and said they come from a world where pain is a positive. Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman chimed in. Wyatt said this was an invitation for New Day to join them. He said the power of positivity is a myth and a fairytale….
Powell’s POV: It’s been a long time since WWE took the Wyatt Family outside the arena. I wish they had set this tone for some of their past feuds. They must be excited about whatever they have plans for the Wyatts and New Day.
[Q7] [C] A Baron Corbin video package aired… JBL was raving about Corbin and was about to say he’s a future world champion, but hew as interrupted by “excuse me.”
Vickie Guerrero walked onto the stage and addressed the crowd behind the Smackdown podium that was set up next to the Raw podium on the stage. Vickie said Smackdown Live needs an empowered woman like her. She submitted her name for the position of COO of Smackdown. She encouraged fans to start a hashtag. Security ran out. She slapped one of the two men, who ended up dragging her off the stage. JBL stood up and said, “Excuse me, Vickie Guerrero!” while motioning toward her…
Backstage, Big Show addressed his teammates by saying they are not friends, but the founding fathers didn’t always get along either. He spoke about how they unite against a common enemy. Everyone other than Kane and The Dudley Boyz had red, white, and blue gear. Show said they would do what Americans do best – fight, win, and defend the legacy that started 240 years ago that can be summed up with the letters USA. The team chanted USA…
Powell’s POV: WWE’s Team USA may prove the reality television guy right. If I lived in Mexico, I’d want to build a wall between me and the United States at this point.
Cole hyped the WWE Cruiserweight Classic as starting Wednesday night on WWE Network. He hyped the involvement of Daniel Bryan as a color commentator…
Backstage, Vickie was being dragged away by security and pleaded with Dolph Ziggler to help her. Dolph claimed he had never seen Vickie before…
[Q8] 5. Goldust and R-Truth vs. The Vaudevillains. Tyler Breeze and Fandango were at ringside. Truth sang the new lyrics, which appeared on the screen as he sang. Footage was shown of the food fight. Jericho found a bandaid in his food. I missed it the first time. It clearly changes everything. Truth and Goldust hit a double team move for the win…
Goldust and R-Truth beat The Vaudevillains in 1:25.
Cole hyped John Cena addressing The Club after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Shouldn’t Mr. USA John Cena be on the American team?
The latest Darren Young and Bob Backlund segment aired. Backlund gave Young his crossface chicken wing as a finisher…
John Cena made his entrance. Even a guy wearing a CM Punk t-shirt cheered for him. Cena asked the fans if they are disappointed or were they ready to have some fun. Cena spoke about how AJ Styles failed to stand on his own two feet and instead leaned on the shoulders of The Club.
Cena said he always knew that if you fought one member, you’d fight the entire Club. Cena pointed out how they showed up during his match against Seth Rollins last week. Cena said he’s tired looking over his shoulder. He delivered the “come get some” line.
[Q9] AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson walked onto the stage. Styles said Cena is whining and crying about a personal setback. Styles said returning to Tokyo last week was supposed to be their homecoming, but Cena’s face was all over the posters. Styles said that Cena found out quickly that The Club runs Tokyo.
Styles said they will run WWE soon, but that can’t happen until they get rid of him. Styles said Cena can’t get over the fact that he beat him at Money in the Bank. Styles said he had Anderson and Gallows with because Cena could pull out the shovel and try to bury him. What?!?
Styles said they found out last week that no WWE superstars are coming out to help Cena. He said it’s because Cena has put himself on an island that no one can relate to. Styles said the WWE superstars relate to The Club. Styles said they were the only ones with big enough balls to beat up Cena. “Every week you come here, we’re going to beat you up,” Styles said. Come on, what’s more fun than beating up John Cena week after week after week…”
Anderson and Gallows said they will beat up Styles for Labor Day and Hollywood. Anderson said he’s going to wrap some presents for his kids with his hot Asian wife and then beat up John Cena for Christmas. They decided to beat up Cena for Independence Day.
The Club headed to the ring while Cena stood his ground and the broadcast team spoke about how he doesn’t have a chance. Styles, Anderson, and Gallows outnumbered Cena and put the boots to him. Enzo Amore and Big Cass made their entrance and ran out to help Cena. The babyfaces cleared The Club from the ring…
Saxton hyped Becky Lynch vs. Summer Rae… [C]
Powell’s POV: I speculated last week that Enzo and Cass could be Cena’s partners if they end up going with a six-man tag match at Battleground. It makes sense in that it puts the duo in a high profile match, and both they and Cena can benefit from working together. The only real risk is that Enzo and Cass lose cool points with some fans by teaming with Cena, but Enzo is legit cool and there doesn’t seem to be as much anti Cena sentiment from fans these days.
[Q10] The Shining Stars stood in front of a fireworks backdrop and professed their usual love for Puerto Rico, only this time they were waving mini American flags…
Ring entrances for the women’s match took place. The broadcast team announced Natalya vs. Becky Lynch for Battleground…
5. Becky Lynch vs. Summer Rae. Natalya was shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Summer looked like she was going for a suplex, but she ended up dropping Lynch on her head instead. She covered her for two. Lynch fired up shortly thereafter and hit an exploder suplex out of the corner for two. Lynch applied the Disarmer for the submission win…
Becky Lynch beat Summer Rae in 2:55.
Powell’s POV: It only took me two hours and 15 minutes to realize the ropes are red, white, and blue.
Backstage, Chris Jericho spoke to his team of dirty foreigners, er, the Multinational Alliance. Alberto Del Rio asked who made Jericho captain. The wrestlers bickered. Sheamus spoke up and then Kevin Owens did the same. Owens said he doesn’t care who is from where or who dislikes who, he is ready to beat the hell out of some stupid idiot American because of what happened in the food fight. Jericho said they better watch it. Sami Zayn asked what it is. Jericho stressed it. Once the four babyfaces were left, Cesaro said they could do it for what America is all about, diversity…
Powell’s POV: Win, dirty foreigners, win!
Enzo and Big Cass took part in a sponsored commercial. Enzo had a “How You Doin’?” lunchbox…
Powell’s POV: Teaming with John Cena and endorsing a fast food restaurant in the same show? Okay, WWE is pushing it.
New Day headed to the ring. The Wyatt Family are back on ESPNews on Tuesday. Kofi Kingston and Big E were their usual selves, but Xavier Woods stood in the middle and didn’t say anything. The Wyatt video flashed. The group appeared on the screen. Wyatt spoke about good vs. evil, darkness vs. light, and positivity vs. fear.
[Q11] Wyatt invited them to come to his world and seek the truth like men. “Are you men or are you cowards?” Wyatt asked. He questioned how far they were willing to go to fight for what they believe in.
Back in the ring, Kingston accepted the invitation to visit the Wyatts compound. E and Kingston said they would paint it with positivity. Woods stopped them and said he loves them both like family, but he doesn’t understand how they could accept. He said he doesn’t know how Wyatt knows but he knows. He said everything up until now has been fun and games, but if they don’t see the threat that Wyatt is to them then he doesn’t think New Day will be able to survive. Woods dropped the mic and left the ring…
Cole hyped the 16-man elimination match…
Powell’s POV: The live crowd was very quiet until Woods dropped the mic. I don’t know if New Day will click as more than mid-card comedy, but I like that they are trying to find out by having them do more than comedy.
Cole hyped Lesnar’s opponent for SummerSlam being announced on Smackdown… Saxton announced Cena, Enzo, and Cass vs. The Club for Battleground… Ring entrances for the Team USA vs. Multinational Alliance match took place. The national anthems played for the respective countries of the dirty foreign wrestlers, then the American team all entered together like the New England Patriots prior to their first Super Bowl win…
6. Big Show, Apollo Crews, Zack Ryder, Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, and Kane vs. Cesaro, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Sami Zayn, Sin Cara, and Kalisto in an elimination tag match. The Dudleys hit 3D on Sin Cara to eliminate him. Sheamus caught Bubba with a Brogue Kick, then Kalisto hit a springboard splash on Bubba and eliminated him heading into the break.
[Q12] [C] No one was eliminated during the break, but Cesaro put D-Von in the Sharpshooter to eliminate him moments after they came back from the break. Cesaro and Swagger did a “We The People” bit before going at it. Jericho eliminated Swagger with a Codebreaker at 7:45.
Powell’s POV: Has any wrestler let America down more times than Jack Swagger?
The broadcast team worked in some Kevin Durant jabs. Kane caught two opponents by the throat, then all the wrestlers entered the ring and fought. The Americans had mostly cleared the ring heading into the break. [C]
Henry caught Kalisto and put him away after the World’s Strongest Slam. Owens caught Henry with a Popup Powerbomb to eliminate him. Best moment in the match thus far. Owens barked at Zayn to do his part by reaching to tag him, then ran opponent Ryder into Zayn to knock him off the apron.
Zayn recovered and fought Owens and threw him to ringside, then set up for a suicide dive. Kane clotheslined Zayn. Owens recovered and struck Zayn with a chair. For some reason, Owens was disqualified for hitting his own teammate with the chair. Kane got the chair and hit Owens, which led to Kane being eliminated for hitting a man who was already eliminated.
Kane chokeslammed Zayn. Crews performed a standing moonsault on Zayn and pinned him. Sheamus caught Crews with a Brogue Kick and pinned him. The American team was down to Big Show and Zack Ryder, while the dirty foreigners had Jericho, Del Rio, Sheamus, and Cesaro.
Jericho roughed up Ryder and then sang a line from the Canadian national anthem. Charles Robinson did not pull out a puck and drop it on the mat, but he should have. Cesaro ended up turning on his teammates and struck them with a series of forearms. Ryder rolled up Cesaro and pinned him, which might be the worst strategy ever considering how effective he was at working over his own teammates.
Show ended up eliminating Jericho, then chokeslammed Del Rio and pinned him. The match came down to Show and Ryder for the Americans and Sheamus was the lone member of his team. Sheamus avoided a chokeslam and then kicked Show’s knee out from under him. Show tagged in Ryder, who ended up being slammed by Sheamus for two.
Show caught Sheamus by the throat in the corner, then shoved him into a Rough Ryder. Ryder covered Sheamus and pinned him. Afterward, Show and Ryder celebrated together and a giant American flag dropped from above. Fireworks shot off to close the show…
Big Show, Apollo Crews, Zack Ryder, Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, and Kane beat Cesaro, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Chris Jericho, Sin Cara, and Kalisto in an elimination tag match in 22:15.
Powell’s POV: America, f— yeah! Or something. Sure, I could complain about Owens being disqualified for hitting his won teammate with a chair or Kane for hitting Owens with one after he’d been eliminated, but what’s the point? I just want to know what the flag would have looked like if the dirty foreigners had won the match instead. Anyway, holiday editions of Raw are campy and this show was no exception. I’ll have more to say about Raw in my All Access audio review on Tuesday.
The Best of The Boom features Eric Bischoff joining Jason Powell in this March 20, 2019 discussion on whether there are similarities between Verne Gagne's booking during the AWA's dying days and Vince McMahon's WWE booking today, AEW, a Turner network shakeup, and more...