By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Detroit, Michigan at Joe Louis Arena
[Q1] The opening video kicked off the show… Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton were on commentary. Cole noted that the draft was one week away…
The ring was filled with a bunch of wrestlers for the battle royal. Apollo Crews made his entrance. The Miz stood on the broadcast table with Maryse standing on the floor on one side (and The Dre trophy on the other). Miz wished the wrestlers good luck and said it didn’t matter because he would beat the winner at Battleground…
1. Battle Royal to become No. 1 contender to the Intercontinental Championship. The wrestlers included Baron Corbin, The Dudleys, Alberto Del Rio, Goldust, R-Truth, The Usos, The Vaudevillains, Bo Dallas, Jack Swagger, Darren Young, Curtis Axel and The Ascension, Dolph Ziggler, and . Bob Backlund was at ringside for Young.
Aiden English was the first man eliminated. Konnor was bounced. D-Von got rid of Curtis Axel. Corbin eliminated R-Truth. Viktor was bounced by Corbin. One Uso attempted to eliminate the other. They had fun with it and then eliminated D-Von. [C]
Miz mentioned his tag team with John Morrison being split. Miz boasted that he went on to become champion, and Morrison no longer works for WWE. Corbin had a crazy high elimination of Swagger over the ring post in one of the corner. The match was down to Del Rio, Crews, Corbin, Young, Bubba Ray, and Ziggler. Young dumped Bubba. Ziggler knocked Del Rio to the floor, but Cole pointed out that ADR went through the middle rope.
[Q2] Corbin whipped Del Rio into the corner where Crews was waiting to eliminate ADR. Corbin stood on the apron, grabbed Ziggler by the head, and pulled him over. Crews charged at Corbin and they both tumbled to the floor. Young was the last man remaining in the ring, and he looked as surprised as anyone. Backlund entered the ring and celebrated with Young afterward…
Darren Young won a battle royal to become No. 1 contender to the Intercontinental Title.
Cole hyped that “The Boss is on his way.” Saxton hyped a special look at Brock Lesnar’s win over Mark Hunt. Cole hyped footage from over the weekend of New Day at the Wyatt Family compound… [C]
Powell’s POV: Young winning in a flukey manner didn’t do much for him. Corbin actually stood out more than anyone due to all of the eliminations. I thought they would have at least had Young eliminate someone at the end rather than being down on his knees and winning the match without doing anything at the end. The Wyatt compound clip immediately reminded me of The Final Deletion based on the lights, but we’ll see what they do. Am I the only one who thought Cole was hyping Sasha Banks for a moment when he mentioned The Boss? Was there really a brief Darren Young chant?
An ad aired for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, which premieres on WWE Network on Wednesday night…
Powell’s POV: Join Zack Zimmerman for live coverage right here on Wednesday night!
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon asked Shane McMahon why their father was coming to Raw. Shane said it could be the draft, Lesnar, the premiere of Mr. Robot, or to fire somebody. “That would be awesome,” Shane said. Huh? Stephanie said maybe he was there to give someone a promotion, and noted that she’s a glass is half full person.
Seth Rollins showed up and said maybe Vince is coming to talk to him. Seth called himself The Face of the Future and the future No. 1 draft pick. Rollins said he knows they don’t like when he talks about Roman Reigns being suspended, but he has footage they need to see tonight. Shane said he could show it on the Ambrose Asylum. Shane said Ambrose is a moron. Rollins pitched his own talkshow called The Rollins Report. Rollins said Reigns is disrespectful and doesn’t care what the WWE Universe thinks of him. Shane and Steph signed off on the idea…
Powell’s POV: Nice guy Shane likes seeing people fired?!? Shane and Stephanie don’t want Roman’s suspension mentioned, but they are cool with Seth burying him with video footage that they didn’t even ask to see first? Ugh.
The broadcast team narrated still shots of Brock Lesnar beating Mark Hunt at UFC 200. JBL praised him for having the perfect strategy for the fight. Saxton hyped Lesnar vs. Randy Orton for SummerSlam. They aired footage of Lesnar from the press conference saying he does what he wants to do, and his future is laid out with a match against Orton at SummerSlam…
Randy Orton will make his return appearance at Battleground as a guest on Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel…
Backstage, Zack Ryder challenged Rusev to a U.S. Title match. Sheamus attacked Ryder from behind and asked if Ryder wants a match. Sheamus slammed Ryder’s head down and left. Rusev and Lana stepped over the fallen Ryder without saying a word… [C]
Powell’s POV: Didn’t they advertise the Rusev vs. Ryder match for Raw? I’m so confused. Meanwhile, we can only wonder how differently WWE would have approached UFC 200 if Lesnar had lost his fight. Keep in mind that they never mentioned it on the air leading up to the fight.
[Q3] 2. Sheamus vs. Zack Ryder. Ryder attacked Sheamus to start the match and clotheslined him so they both fell to ringside. Sheamus regrouped and threw Ryder into the barricade. The fans chanted “you look stupid.” It distracted Sheamus enough that Ryder was able to kick him. Later, Sheamus tripped Ryder as he was going to the top rope and then gave him a Brogue Kick. Sheamus covered Ryder for the win…
Sheamus beat Zack Ryder in 2:15.
After the match, Rusev headed to the ring and Sheamus left. Rusev went after Ryder, who threw punches at him. Rusev suplexed Ryder and kicked him. Rusev locked him in the silly version of the Accolade while yelling, “I accept your challenge”…
Saxton hyped Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows… [C]
Powell’s POV: Because who wouldn’t be excited about watching a guy who was just destroyed by Sheamus get a U.S. Title shot?
3. The Lucha Dragons vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango. Before the match, footage aired of an angle between the teams that aired on the pre-show. Kalisto took a hot tag and went for a springboard off the second rope, but he crashed and burned. He recovered quickly and threw a cool kick at Breeze and then spiked his head into the canvas with a huracanrana.
[Q4] For some reason, Kalisto watched his partner dive onto Fandango, leaving himself vulnerable to be rolled up for a two count. Breeze ducked a Kalisto move in the corner, caught him with a kick, and rolled him up for the win. JBL said he hopes Breeze and Fandango get broken up in the draft because they’ve become a good team…
Tyler Breeze and Fandango beat The Lucha Dragons in 4:25.
Cole hyped the Rollins Report… [C]
Powell’s POV: Kalisto looked like a guy who has missed a few spots before. He got right back into the match and tried to make everyone forget it happened. Cole covered it the right way, which is simply to acknowledge it and say that it can happen when you work the style he does. I feel like we’re sitting through the WWE Superstars taping at this point in the show.
Cole hyped John Cena hosting The ESPY Awards. They didn’t mention the network, but they did list the time and encouraged viewers to tune in. JBL said it was an incredible honor and said, “Go get ’em, John”…
Seth Rollins headed to the ring for The Rollins Report. Rollins said Jon Stewart should stay retired, and boasted that he’s the hottest investigative reporter going. Rollins said the footage he would air would blow the minds of fans. Rollins had the video played and labeled it the Rollins Report.
Footage aired of Rollins asking questions followed by clips of Reigns responding to other questions from a past interview. Rollins asked if Reigns was embarrassed. Reigns said not at all, and spoke about how he wants to represent the company and his bloodline. Rollins asked if Reigns belongs in the Triple Threat. Reigns said no. Rollins asked how Roman feels about Reigns as champion. Reigns answered that he wants to puke. “Finally, something we can agree on,” Rollins said.
Back live, Rollins said Reigns needs to be removed from the Triple Threat match at Battleground. Dean Ambrose made his entrance. Ambrose said the video was good. He added that he’s happy that Rollins pulled the stick out of his butt and had some fun for once in his life. Rollins called Ambrose’s title reign a joke and labeled him a coward. Rollins said Ambrose can’t beat him in a singles match and recalled that Ambrose tried repeatedly to do so during Seth’s previous reign.
[Q5] Rollins said Ambrose is afraid and won’t give him the one-on-one rematch he deserves. Rollins said it’s fine. It will be all about what it’s always been about between him, Amborse, and Reigns – “Who is the best member of The Shield.” Rollins said he was better than Ambrose before and during The Shield, and he will be again at Battleground.
Ambrose said he is on top of the world as the top man in the industry. He said he proved long ago that he’s more than a joke. He questioned how many guys got suspended or went to another sport. “I’m the king of the company, it’s been that way for a long time, and now the whole world knows it,” Ambrose said. He asked Rollins if he was willing to go through everything he did to get the title, imagine how far he go to keep it.
Ambrose said it’s not a joke when he says that Rollins, Reigns, Vince McMahon, or God himself will have to pry the title from his cold, dead hands. He said that’s not happening at Battleground or ever. Ambrose said he would give Rollins a one-on-one match for the title anytime, any place. Rollins teased it, then did his “not tonight” bit and told Ambrose he would see him next week…
Cole said that sounds good to him for next week, but they would have to see what the powers that be have to say… Cole hyped the return of Vince McMahon and said he is on his way to Raw. Saxton hyped the tag match. They also hyped the Wyatt Compound footage… An NXT commercial hyped Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Finn Balor for Wednesday’s NXT… [C]
Powell’s POV: I can’t shake the “been there, done that” vibe when I see Ambrose and Rollins together with both men playing the same roles they did during their previous feud. I’m very surprised that WWE hasn’t taken the video package approach to promoting the battle of The Shield members since Reigns isn’t present.
Cole announced Ambrose vs. Rollins for the WWE Championship for Monday’s Raw…
Sami Zayn sat in on commentary for a Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro match. However, Owens didn’t come out when he was introduced. Backstage, Kevin Owens complained to referees that it was an unsafe work environment with Zayn at ringside. Stephanie showed up and told the referees to remove Zayn from ringside. Owens told her that he always knew she was the smart one in her family, then said he was going to the ring to do what he does best.
The referees ran out while Zayn said Shane gave him authorization to be at ringside. Zayn was escorted up the ramp. Owens’ music played as Zayn was being escorted up the ramp. They jawed at one another and traded punches before the referees pulled them apart. Owens went to the ring and questioned off-mic where Zayn was going…
[Q6] Backstage, Vince McMahon’s limo arrived and Renee Young was there to ask why he was there. Vince said he was there to smell Detroit’s fresh air. Vince said he was there to name the new COO of Smackdown Live. Vince then said they needed something bigger. He said he was going to name the new “commissioner of Smackdown Live.” Vince said no one was aware of his decision and he might even change his mind. He said everyone would find out when he marches everyone out to the ring later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: The Owens and Zayn angle was quick and effective. Meanwhile, they sure have put a lot of thought into what they want to call the authority figure on Smackdown.
4. Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro. The broadcast team spoke draft strategy. Cole questioned whether to make Cena the cornerstone of your draft while questioning how many great years he has left. Cole also pointed out that Cena has a lot of other commitments with movies and television shows. Owens forearmed Cesaro to the floor heading into the break. [C]
[Q7] Owens was on the offensive coming out of the break. Cesaro came back and threw uppercuts and got a two count. Owens went for his finisher, but Cesaro leapt over him and connected with a springboard spinning uppercut for two. At ringside, Cesaro put on JBL’s hat and then performed a running uppercut on the floor. Cesaro kept the hat on as he went for a cross body block. Owens slipped under Cesaro on the ropes and then crotched him. Owens performed a swinging neckbreaker and pinned him.
Kevin Owens beat Cesaro in 12:15.
After the match, Owens said there’s a lot of talk about who the best in the world is. He said he’s not talking about it, but he is the best. Zayn entered through the crowd and attacked Owens. Cesaro closed the segment by performing the swing on Owens…
Powell’s POV: The match finish was surprising. I was actually surprised to see a clean finish to that match, and it was just as surprising to see Owens win with that move rather than his Popup Powerbomb. Don’t get me wrong, I like the clean finish, as Cesaro won’t lose anything and Owens is the guy with the meaningful pay-per-view match.
The broadcast team recapped Enzo Amore and Big Cass coming to the aid of John Cena in his battle with The Club…
Backstage, Young interviewed AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows and brought up the tag match against Enzo and Cass. Styles mocked the idea that Cena cares about anyone other than John Cena. Styles noted that Cena is in Los Angeles at rehearsal for the ESPY Awards. Styles said they will take out Enzo and Cass, then he said they could go to LA and crash the ESPY Awards and “beat up John Cena” (all three said the “beat up” line in unison)… [C]
More hype for Cena at the ESPYs with a Cena tweet thanking the writers…
The Social Outcasts made their entrance and a pre-tape aired with the three of them talking about how Titus O’Neil lost on Father’s Day. They said it’s Blueberry Muffin Day, and a lot of bakers will be disappointed. Heath Slater laughed uproariously…
Powell’s POV: There’s a reason that Cena thanks the ESPY writers and now the Raw writers.
[Q8] 5. Titus O’Neil vs. Heath Slater (w/Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel). Titus dominated early. Slater hit a DDT off a distraction for two. Titus came back with his Clash of the Titus finisher for the win…
Titus O’Neil pinned Heath Slater in 3:05.
Powell’s POV: Titus just threw Slater around a lot as the broadcast team marveled at his “pure strength” repeatedly.
Backstage, Young interviewed Sasha Banks, who spoke about how she’s been focussed on shutting Dana Brooke’s mouth all weekend. She said she couldn’t enjoy her cousin Snoop Dogg on Family Feud. She said she doesn’t get mad, she gets real…
Another clip of the Wyatt Compound video aired. Cole said the footage would air after the break… [C] The Miz TV with Darren Young and Bob Backlund was advertised for Smackdown… A video package recapped the New Day and Wyatt segment from last week’s Raw…
Footage aired from the compound, er, open field. A woman wearing a sheep mask (Señorita Abigail?) distracted New Day. Lights went on. Headlines form a car turned on and then the car tried to run over New Day, who moved out of the way. Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, and Erick Rowan emerged from the car and fought the trio.
They cut to Xavier Woods hiding behind a tree. Bray Wyatt swung an axe at him that missed, then roughed him up and carried him away. Wyatt walked over with Woods on his shoulder and dropped him. Kingston struck the trio with an object, but he was outnumbered. They threw him in the back of a car. Wyatt broke the window with his axe.
Wyatt called for Woods to come out. The New Day trio regrouped and approached a kneeling Wyatt, who started laughing at them. They were surrounded by truck vehicle lights and then a bunch of lanterns held by people wearing sheep masks. “Follow the buzzards,” Wyatt said at the end…
Powell’s POV: JBL actually said he’d never seen anything like it. Apparently, he didn’t watch Impact last week. It was far from identical, but it was surely inspired by what Broken Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy have been doing. And even if Broken Matt was inspired by Lucha Underground, this still felt a little too similar to what some of us just saw on Impact. I am curious to know what people who didn’t see The Final Deletion angle thought. It didn’t leave me anxious to see what’s next for the feuding trios. I can see why kids would be more frightened by the Wyatt Family. That’s about the best thing I can say about it.
[Q9] The Club made their entrance. Enzo and Cass were out next. Cass said everyone is gunning for John Cena’s spot, including him and Enzo. Cass said that if they are going to take it, then they are going to earn it. They said The Club uses the numbers game. Cass said that after they go through Cena, it’s only a matter of time before they go after them. Cass said that instead of sitting back and waiting, they stepped up and joined the fight.
“Oh, real cute story,” Styles mocked. He reminded them that John Cena wasn’t at Raw and said it’s because Cena doesn’t care about them. Styles told them to turn and walk away. He said his boys will drop them where they stand if they enter the ring. Enzo said the only place they are walking is into the ring… [C]
6. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows (w/AJ Styles) vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass. A fan held up a “Resthold” sign as Anderson had Enzo in a headlock. Gallows made a blind tag and kicked Enzo before tossing him to ringside. Styles barked at Enzo heading into the break. [C]
[Q10] Enzo and Cass hit their finisher on Anderson. Cass tried to take out Styles with a big boot, but Styles pulled the top rope down, causing Cass to crash to the floor. Styles threw Cass over the barricade at ringside. The referee called for the bell and Cole said he had no choice but to throw the match out.
The Club circled around Enzo Amore. Styles flashed a great grin. John Cena’s music played and he headed to the ring for the save. Cass recovered and helped him. The babyface trio cleared The Club from the ring quickly. There was a loud “Cena” chant and then his music played…
Powell’s POV: Well done. WWE played it up all night like Cena might not be at the show. It started on the pre-show with Scott Stanford saying he was in Los Angeles for rehearsals and his status for Raw was unknown. They had the Club lay it on thick by saying Cena doesn’t care about his new partners. Still, Cena showing up felt like a nice surprise. My only complaint is that it felt like they cleared the ring too quickly and would have been able to rock the crowd had they isolated one of the Club members and worked him over with their big moves. Nevertheless, this was the highlight of the night thus far.
The broadcast team hyped Balor vs. Nakamura for NXT, and the Cruiserweight Classic premiere for Wednesday night… [C]
[Q11] 7. Sasha Banks vs. Dana Brooke (w/Charlotte). There was an audible Sasha chant after the opening bell. Brooke stalled early. Brooke caught her in the ropes and delivered a kick that knocked her off the apron and Sasha bumped face first on the apron on the way down. [C] An ad hyped Ambrose vs. Rollins for next week’s Raw.
There was a “let’s go Sasha” chant at 10:15. Dana told Sasha she was going to slam her into the turnbuckle, but Sasha reversed it. Dana caught Sasha on the ropes, but Sasha pushed her over and then performed a cross body block for two. Sasha showed frustration over not being able to put away Brooke. Sasha applied the Bank Statement. Brooke nearly reached the ropes, but Sasha pushed off with her foot and rolled her back into the hold and got the win. Charlotte gave a golf clap afterward…
Sasha Banks beat Dana Brooke in 11:55.
After the match, Charlotte mockingly congratulated Sasha. She said that because she won a match with her purple hair, she probably thinks she’s a contender. She said anyone can get lucky once. She said a guy in the crowd could buy a Powerball ticket and win. She said Sasha could face Brooke again on Smackdown and then maybe she’ll prove herself worthy of a title match…
[Q12] Vince McMahon was shown strutting through the backstage area while Saxton hyped that we would find out who the new commissioner of Smackdown Live is… [C]
Powell’s POV: I didn’t expect the match to go as long as it did or for Sasha to struggle to put Brooke away, but I guess it’s more understandable now that they set up a rematch. However, I don’t understand why Sasha just had to stand there while Charlotte spoke.
Cole hyped WWE Battleground with Ambrose vs. Reigns vs. Rollins for the WWE Title. He also hyped the Raw main event with Ambrose vs. Rollins for the same title..
Shane McMahon made his entrance, then Stephanie McMahon followed. Vince McMahon came out to his entrance music and a huge reaction. Vince strutted to the ring while Lilian Garcia introduced him and Shane and Steph applauded.
Vince said Stephanie and Shane “are doing a pretty fair job.” He said he never thought he’d say it. He said he’s personally a little disappointed and it’s as if neither one of them came from his loin. He questioned Stephanie being passive aggressive and getting along with her brother. Stephanie got pissed and asked the crowd if she’s sweet. They yelled “no” in response.
Vince said Shane shouldn’t even be there. He brought up the big leap at WrestleMania and the crowd roared. Vince asked where the hell that has been. Vince said he wants competition. The fans chanted Shane-O-Mac. “He didn’t do anything his dad wouldn’t have done,” Vince barked. Funny.
Vince said one of them needs to convince him that they should be Smackdown commissioner. He told Steph to convince him. Stephanie said they could take off the gloves. He said Shane said on the Mick Foley podcast that he left because he didn’t get patted on the back enough. She said Shane said he knows WWE better. She said that’s what he says publicly, so imagine what he says behind Vince’s back. Shane just nodded at her.
Vince said Stephanie made good points and told him to convince him. Shane was about to speak, but Steph interrupted and said they only chant for him because he kisses their butts. Shane said he returned five months ago in the same building in “Detroit Rock City.” Shane said he returned to an ovation that humbled him and rocked him to his core, and he will forever say thank you, Detroit.
[Overrun] As for Smackdown, he said people went bonkers because he represented change, and that’s what he would bring to Smackdown live. He said he would change how things are shot, the look, and feel of the show. He said he would break all of the glass ceilings “because they were choking the life out of the business.”
Shane said that Vince respects him deep down for being the only person on earth who shoots straight in a respectful way, yet without kissing his ass. Shane said that if Vince still has the grapefruits, then he should pick him. Shane polled the crowd and was cheered over his sister. Stephanie said it was like manipulating children.
Vince said he doesn’t care what the people think. He said one of them has to be named commissioner. Vince called for a drumroll. Vince looked at both of his children and then announced that the new commissioner of Smackdown Live is Shane McMahon.
Shane celebrated and the fans roared. Stephanie looked upset. Vince said he needed to curtail the celebration. He said he was relieving Shane of his duties on Raw. Vince made a big fuss over Stephanie being the commissioner of the flagship and touted the three-hour Raw. Stephanie celebrated.
Vince said he wasn’t finished. Vince said he wants them to compete. He said he wants them to compete for television ratings, social media metrics, live events attendance, and merchandise. He said one of them might inherit the keys to the kingdom. He said he wants them to compete so badly that they break the law as long as they don’t get caught.
Vince said they both need someone to run their day-to-day business, so they need to name general managers to run their respective shows next week on Raw. Vince said if they don’t, then he’ll name one for them. Vince said he always gets what he wants. “Let the games begin,” Vince concluded. Vince’s music played and he shook hands and left the ring.
Stephanie said she’s had to work twice as hard for half the recognition. She said Shane tried to make her feel like nothing. She said she’s going to make him wish he was never born a McMahon, then said she’ll make him never wish he was even born.
Shane said Stephanie is talking with venom and conviction. She said usually when Stephanie uses that type of venom, it’s because she’s hiding something. Shane said Stephanie is scared. He said she’s going to be looking up at him just like she always has. “Game on,” Shane said. Stephanie said there’s only one game in the business and she’s married to him. Stephanie slapped Shane.
Stephanie stood on the apron and dared Shane to fire back. He kissed her on the cheek. Stephanie left the ring and slipped on the bottom step, yet didn’t fall down. Shane acknowledged it. Stephanie blew her brother a kiss from the top of the stage. Shane thanked the crowd and said he wouldn’t even have a spot in the game if it wasn’t for them. Cole hyped that the commissioners will pick their general managers and said it could define their legacies forever…
Powell’s POV: More McMahon family drama. It’s the “fun” that just never ends. Could we get Hunter as the GM of Raw? Daniel Bryan as the GM of Smackdown? Honestly, I can’t say that I’m all that fired about about finding out. The McMahons drew ratings for a long time. The numbers have fallen significantly, yet they don’t seem to think that their stale family feud could possibly be the problem. Shane is popular and that will make Smackdown the favorite for some fans. Does that mean Raw is the heel for those fans because Stephanie is in charge? Perhaps Stephanie needs a babyface GM for that reason. Either way, does WWE really want fans to pick and choose between their two brands? I will have a lot more to say tonight in members’ audio.