8/1 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Brock Lesnar returns, second week of the new era, SummerSlam build continues

newrawlogo1By Jason Powell

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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Atlanta, Georgia at Philips Arena

[Q1] Raw opened with a video that recapped last week’s episode… The new Raw opening video aired… Pyro shot off on the stage and then Michael Cole introduced the show. He was joined on commentary by Corey Graves and Byron Saxton…

New WWE Women’s Champion Sasha Banks made her entrance to a good reaction. Once Sasha was in the ring, the fans chanted “you deserve it.” Sasha thanked the fans. She said it’s about time Raw popped off with a statement and held up her title. She said everyone went home from Brooklyn talking about Bayley and The Boss because they stole the show. She said this year won’t be any different when she defends the title against Charlotte at SummerSlam.

Powell’s POV: She should hope it’s different given that she lost the match and the NXT Women’s Title to Bayley in Brooklyn last year.

Charlotte made her entrance. The fans chanted “you tapped out” at Charlotte, who claimed there was a fly. Sasha mocked her for looking different without the title and because she made her tap out last week. Charlotte told Sasha to get over herself. She said she doesn’t need Dana Brooke or even her father to beat Sasha. Charlotte said Ric Flair is “off vacationing somewhere in a resting home.” She said she will beat Sasha at SummerSlam “all by myself.”

Charlotte said she was the best for over 300 days. She said Sasha capitalized on one mistake. She said it’s one thing to take home the prom king, but it’s another thing to get him to put a ring on your finger. “You’re just a one night stand,” Charlotte said. Sasha responded by saying that as the daughter of Ric Flair, Charlotte probably wouldn’t even be standing there.

“Quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet…” could be heard. Chris Jericho walked out repeating the word as he headed to the ring. Once in the ring, he barked at Sasha to be quiet. Jericho called her an ungrateful, disrespectful, little punk. Jericho called Charlotte royalty and said she has outdone everything that her father accomplished. “Who has Ric Flair ever beat, right?” Jericho asked. He added that Charlotte is going to beat Sasha at SummerSlam.

Jericho asked what makes Sasha the boss. He asked if she is his boss. He said she’s the boss of purple haired, teenybopper, stupid idiot fans. Jericho said he doesn’t know whether Sasha is a distant relative of Snoop Dogg or Puff Daddy. He said she’s not a boss, she’s a brat.

Enzo Amore made his entrance to a strong reaction. Once in the ring, he asked the fans “how you doin'” and then asked Sasha the same question while kissing her hand.

[Q2] Enzo said he usually comes out with Big Cass, but three is a crowd and he likes to do business by himself sometimes. Enzo and Sasha went back and forth with “How you doin” lines. Charlotte told Sasha to go for it, saying there’s only one word to describe Enzo’s love life. Enzo called Charlotte and Jericho a couple of haters. He said listening to Jericho speak is like passing a kidney stone. Jericho called him a hip-hop hobbit, then did the “You better watch it” routine with Enzo. Jericho said he doesn’t care how anyone is doing. In fact, he said he hopes they are doing terrible.

Mick Foley’s music interrupted Jericho’s rant. The fans chanted Foley. Mick stood on the stage and said he does care how they are doing. He said he may not be The Boss, but he is Jericho’s boss. Foley worked in a plug for his WWE Network show and said it debuts after SummmerSlam. Foley said he can’t wait to see Sasha and Charlotte in the ring again, so he booked Enzo and Sasha vs. Charlotte and Jericho for an immediate match… [C]

Powell’s POV: A very long talking segment to open the show. This might sound like the pre new era Raw, but this was actually longer and yet it felt a lot fresher because of the players involved. The babyfaces are over enough that they easily could have used this match as a hook for later in the show. I am curious to see if there’s more to come involving Jericho and Enzo or if this is basically a one-off for the tag match.

Cole hyped Brock Lesnar’s first appearance since WrestleMania for later in the show… The broadcast team stood from their new spot and were joined by Kevin Owens, who put a tie on over his t-shirt…

1. Sasha Banks and Enzo Amore vs. Charlotte and Chris Jericho. The men started the match with Jericho getting the early advantage and heeling it up only to take a dropkick from Enzo. Jericho quickly tagged out while hiding his face at Charlotte’s side, and she had a fun surprised facial reaction before she checked in. A short time later, Enzo and Sasha performed simultaneous dives onto the heels at ringside. [C]

[Q3] Enzo leapt off the second rope and Jericho threw a dropkick at him on the way down. Jericho held his knee and Cole said it looked like it buckled. Jericho crawled to his corner and made the tag to bring the women into the match. Sasha got the better of Charlotte, but Dana Brooke distracted her. Jericho returned to the ring and took a slap from Sasha, but Charlotte used that distraction to hit the Natural Selection and then got the win.

Charlotte and Chris Jericho defeated Sasha Banks and Enzo Amore in 10:40.

After the match, Jericho hit the Codebreaker on Enzo and then taunted him. Big Cass came out. Owens said that’s the dangerous one and Jericho should probably get out of the ring. Jericho fled and was tended to by Charlotte and Brooke on the ramp. Funny…

Cole hyped an exclusive interview with Finn Balor for later in the show… [C]

Powell’s POV: The match had good energy to it and Owens is the best color commentator that WWE has even though he’s a full-time wrestler. The guy is a riot on commentary. I also like that they involved the men in the women’s angle. A lot of mixed tag matches make me roll my eyes, but this really worked. The men’s involvement in the top women’s program erased the invisible line between the men’s and women’s division that seemed to exist, and made the women’s title feud feel even bigger. Charlotte getting the win was the right call in that it plays into her accusation of Sasha’s win being a fluke, and also shows that Sasha is at risk because of the numbers advantage that the challenger has due to the presence of Brooke in her corner.

Footage aired of the Bella Twins appearing at the Teen Choice Awards. The duo won the best female athlete award…

Powell’s POV: I fear for our future.

Byron Saxton made his entrance while Byron Saxton interviewed the jobber of the week. Evan Anderhold (spelling?) said he took the match because he gets $1,000 and if he wins he gets $5,000. Saxton told him he thinks he would have had better luck winning the Powerball jackpot…

2. Braun Strowman vs. Evan Anderhold. Strowman destroyed Anderhold and finished him off with a face first chokeslam…

Braun Strowman defeated Evan Anderhold.

Powell’s POV: Anderhold is bette known as Corey Hollis on the independent scene. He didn’t have the same charm as James Ellsworth, but it’s good that they don’t have every enhancement wrestler steal the spotlight the way Ellsworth did just by being Ellsworth.

[Q4] Backstage, Stephanie McMahon spoke with Mick Foley and they were cheerful. Stephanie said at this rate Shane McMahon’s run as GM will be a distant memory somewhere on WWE Network in a collection feature. Mark Henry entered the room. Stephanie said he was the ambassador of the Summer Olympics. Henry said he was excited to go to the Olympics and he’s excited about the new era. He said he’s made some room in the Hall of Pain.

Stephanie said they brought Henry back to serve in a mentor role. Foley said the younger wrestlers look up to him. Henry cut her off and said he’s the strongest man who ever lived, a former champion, and a two-timer in the Olympics. Henry said he has a lot left in him and all he needs is one more run. Foley said Henry will represent WWE at the Olympics, but he could go for his own gold tonight in a match against Rusev. Henry got pumped up about bringing the belt back to America, and the crowd reacted favorably…

R-Truth and Goldust were playing Pokemon Go backstage. Goldust told him they had to go to the ring. Truth assumed that’s how he would collect prizes for his game… [C]

3. Goldust and R-Truth vs. The Shining Stars. Truth stood on the apron and played the game while Goldust worked the match. Goldust went for the tag, but Truth was still playing the game. R-Truth dropped his phone and went to ringside to retrieve it while one of the Stars rolled up Goldust for the win…

The Shining Stars beat Goldust and R-Truth in 2:05.

Cole hyped Finn Balor for after the break… [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped the debut of American Alpha, and AJ Styles with a message for John Cena…

Powell’s POV: The crowd got a kick out of the backstage humor, but they didn’t seem to care about Goldust being pinned or Truth playing the game in the ring.

The broadcast team hyped Brock Lesnar’s appearance for later in the show…

Cole stood in the ring and introduced Finn Balor as the man whom many say had the greatest debut in the history of Raw.

[Q5] Balor made his entrance and headed to the ring. Cole said it’s been a wild couple of weeks. Balor said he knew when he heard his name called in the draft that he had to come to Raw and make an impact. Balor’s interview was interrupted by the entrance music of Seth Rollins, who came out to a a favorable reaction. Graves said winning a Home Run Derby doesn’t make you Babe Ruth. He said Rollins is the man who has carried WWE on his back.

Rollins said Balor is a former NXT Champion. He added that Balor wasn’t the first NXT Champion because he was. Rollins said Balor was the fifth overall pick in the draft, then added that he was the first overall pick. Rollins pointed out that Balor pinned Roman Reigns, but he also pinned him on his first night back from knee surgery. Rollins said he’s done everything Balor has done only he did it first. He compared himself to Bill Murray and Balor to Melissa McCarthy in the Ghostbusters movies.

Balor said he is going to beat Rollins to become the first WWE Universal Champion. Rollins said he referred to Balor as Melissa McCarthy, but he didn’t know he as a comedian. He said the odds of Balor beating him are the same as the Braves winning the World Series. This led to the Braves chant and the chop. Rollins told them their team sucks and they need to face it, which stopped the chop.

Rollins credited Balor with being a great NXT Champion. Rollins said he’s the man in WWE. Balor said everywhere he’s been there’s always someone who claimed to be the man and he always takes their spot. Rollins said Balor doesn’t know who he’s messing with. Rollins told Balor to check out his video on the network or to watch his match with Sami Zayn later on Raw. Balor said the big difference between them is that he earned his title shot, whereas Rollins has his shot handed to him.

Rollins said he’s never had anything handed to him. He said the only that will be handed to him is the Universal Title when he beats him and shows him who the man really is. Balor said the only thing Rollins will have handed to him at SummerSlam is his ass. The fans chanted Yes. Rollins acted like he was going to leave, but he took a cheap shot that Balor blocked. Balor punched Rollins, who escaped to ringside…

Saxton hyped New Day vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson for later with a member of New Day banned from ringside, and Graves hyped Rusev vs. Mark Henry for the U.S. Title as coming up after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good segment that should have been advertised for Raw. The first Balor and Rollins confrontation is a bigger selling point than a Michael Cole interview with Balor. Finn isn’t on his way to winning any best promo awards, but he was good in the back and forth exchange. Balor was confident without being cocky. He seems to thrive when he’s asked to sell a big match in a believable manner and that’s exactly what his role was here.

The broadcast team recapped the previous segment and hyped Rollins vs. Zayn for later in the show…

[Q6] Lana stood in the ring and introduced Rusev as a true American hero and now her husband. She said he’s the only man who can ever have her. After the ring entrances, JoJo delivered the in-ring introductions for the title match. Rusev interrupted her and demanded to be introduced first. She complied. Henry played to the crowd and got a strong reaction…

4. Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Mark Henry for the U.S. Championship. Henry performed a couple of early body slams and a headbutt and then Rusev took a powder. Henry was in control of the offense heading into the break. [C]

Rusev went for the Accolade, but Henry powered out before he could apply the hold. Rusev caught Henry with a kick to the back of the neck. Rusev kicked Henry and then applied the Accolade. Henry tapped…

Rusev defeated Mark Henry in 6:40 to retain the U.S. Championship.

Powell’s POV: The broadcast team did a nice job of making that match feel important. They didn’t dick around with small talk nor did they attempt to humor one another, they just called the match straight and did a good job of conveying how meaningful a win would be to the patriotic Henry.

After the match, Rusev spoke about Henry being a former Olympian. Rusev claimed that the Americans win because the Olympics are rigged against Russia and Bulgaria. He said no Americans deserve gold in Rio. Roman Reigns made his entrance wearing a red and black vest (ugh) and headed to the ring for a staredown with Rusev. Rusev started to leave, but Reigns blocked his path twice. Rusev teased leaving from the side behind him, but then he took a cheap shot at Reigns. Rusev went for a running move, but Reigns caught him with a clothesline. Reigns set up for his Superman Punch. Rusev avoided it by ducking out to ringside. Reigns followed Rusev and caught him with the punch on the floor…

Powell’s POV: Roman Reigns is a hero to the U.S. Olympic team members. Well, at least the female team members. Reigns vs. Rusev should mean more. Rusev was damaged badly. Things have been better for him lately, but it still feels like it’s too soon to go back to this in that it could be a money match down the road.

[Q7] The broadcast team stood and spoke and then set up a Nia Jax video package. Cole hyped “Nia Jax destroys Raw tonight”… [C]

5. Darren Young (w/Bob Backlund) vs. Titus O’Neil. Titus didn’t get a televised entrance, but they did show him asking Young on the pre-show when he was ever great to begin with. After back and forth action, Titus rolled up Young and held the tights while pinning him…

Titus O’Neil pinned Darren Young in 3:50.

Powell’s POV: I was disappointed by the presentation of this match. They could have done a little something to build up the match throughout the show given their history together. Titus winning with a handful of tights is a surprise.

Backstage, Sheamus complained about Henry getting a title shot when he’s a former champion. Cesaro showed up and bickered with Sheamus about being deserving. Stephanie called Cesaro on saying he wanted to be drafted to Smackdown Live. Foley said Cesaro’s stock dropped because of a medical report that listed his shoulder as a big question mark and said Shane McMahon had access to the same report. Foley booked them in a match against one another and said the winner would get a future championship match. Cesaro and Sheamus jawed at one another briefly…

A shot aired of Nia Jax walking backstage while Saxton hyped her match for after the break…

[Q8] [C] A video aired with footage from the WWE Cruiserweight Classic with a graphic that hyped the division coming to Raw. They’re still not listing when it will happen…

Backstage, Bob Backlund blew a gasket on Titus, who told him calm down “or I’ll knock your old ass out.” Young showed up and knocked Titus down with a shot from behind and told him not to put his hands on Backlund…

Powell’s POV: I thought Titus was the heel until Young hit Titus from behind and was pulled away by Backlund. I have no clue.

6. Nia Jax vs. Ariel Monroe. Cole told viewers not to be fooled by the beauty of Nia the plus-sized model. The broadcast team noted that Monroe was rolling her eyes at Jax and questioned whether she was in denial. Jax destroyed Monroe with a power slam and then stood on her with one foot for the win…

Nia Jax defeated Ariel Monroe in 1:10.

Byron entered the ring and spoke about Nia making a statement and then questioned how it feels. Nia asked how it feels, then took another shot at Monroe. “Why don’t you ask her how it feels?” she responded…

Powell’s POV: Another good showcase win for Nia Jax. The squash wins for Nia and Rusev have been effective thus far.

Backstage, creepy Tom Phillips interviewed Sami Zayn and pointed out that Seth Rollins said he is using Zayn to prove a point. Zayn praised Rollins before saying his big weakness is his mouth. Zayn said he had the match of his life at Battleground and he did what he said he was going to do by closing a chapter of his life. Zayn said he has something to prove tonight too…

Backstage, New Day were shown eating BootyO’s and drawing fruit from a bag. Xavier Woods drew the banana, so it looks like he’s the odd man out of the match even though they are in his home state… [C]

All three members of New Day made their entrance for the tag match as footage aired of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson sparing the world from watching more of Sonny Boy.

[Q9] Kofi Kingston called Anderson and Gallows cowards, and said one member of New Day will be banned from ringside as a result of Anderson and Gallows complaining. Woods said he picked the odd piece of fruit and lost. E and Kingston held out their oranges and Woods started to lower the banana before they decided it was too much. Some of the crowd was very into this. Woods said he can’t perform in front of his hometown crowd, but he gets to hang out backstage and enjoy is BootyO’s. They emphasized that it’s a real cereal. “We need the money, go buy it,” one of them said.

7. Kofi Kingston and Big E vs. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in a non-title match. Woods headed backstage before the bell. Anderson and Gallows did a too sweet hand thing, only to have Big E roll up Anderson and pin him. After the match, Anderson and Gallows attacked the two New Day members. Woods ran out to help, but he was quickly taken out. Anderson and Gallows performed the “boot of doom” on Big E twice. Woods pulled Anderson to ringside, but Gallows grabbed him by the hair. Woods screamed and then Anderson took him out with a kick. They pulled E groin first into the post from the floor…

Kofi Kingston and Big E beat Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in 1:25 in a non-title match.

Powell’s POV: I guess the Magic Killer name is no more. Let me guess? It’s the killer part in corporate WWE? Anyway, it’s hard to take Anderson and Gallows seriously when they lost in the manner they did. The post match beatdown was nice, but they really looked like schmucks with that finish, especially when they got the stipulation they wanted.

The broadcast team recapped the New Day beatdown and said they hope to have a medical update on Big E by the end of the night, but they would have one on the website if they don’t get one…

Powell’s POV: I want the WWE doctor to explain that Big E’s thick thighs saved him from shattering his testicles.

[Q10] 8. Sheamus vs. Cesaro. Cole said Sheamus told him he hasn’t been able to get back on track as a singles wrestler since the League of Nations broke up. Cesaro and Sheamus traded uppercuts. Cesaro was getting the better of that until Sheamus kicked him. “Are you not entertained?” Sheamus asked. The slug fest continued at ringside and then Sheamus slammed Cesaro onto the edge of the apron. Back in the ring, Sheamus performed a shoulder block off the second rope and got a two count. In the end, Cesaro performed a Neutralizer and got the clean pin…

Cesaro beat Sheamus in 6:00.

Cole hyped Lesnar’s appearance… [C]

Powell’s POV: The broadcast team played it up as either man could have won the match. It was a hard hitting match between a couple of characters who just haven’t been clicking. Cesaro has upside. As someone who really enjoyed Sheamus in the past, I’m not even sure what they can do with him right now. It’s sad to see how lousy booking has damaged him to the point that a title reign wasn’t enough to breathe new life into his character.

After the break, Sheamus and Cesaro were behind held apart by security on the stage. In the ring, Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal stood together. Slater yelled to let them fight. Slater introduced Jinder as one of his best friends. Mick Foley came out and said this was a surprise since neither one of them were on the Raw roster. Foley called for a battle of the bands with the two of them battling against one another in a match. Foley said the Raw roster was stacked, but he had one position open and the winner of the match would get a contract to join Raw…

9. Jinder Mahal vs. Heath Slater. As Slater was talking, Jinder motioned for the referee and then blasted Slater with a kick and pinned him…

Jinder Mahal pinned Heath Slater in 0:14.

Powell’s POV: I’m happy they carried over Slater’s free agent gimmick to Raw and didn’t just keep it on Smackdown. I’d really like to see him get a little something more out of this than being the usual loser. He plays the part well, but I feel like he’s capable of being a fun babyface underdog.

The broadcast team recapped the opening match…

[Q11] Backstage, Phillips asked Chris Jericho if he’s worried he is a marked man after taking out Enzo Amore. Jericho ranted about how he’s not a marked man, he doesn’t look like Bon Jovi, and his scarf costs $750. Jericho said Enzo has someone to watch his back, and he has someone to watch his back. Phillips asked him who will watch his back. Jericho did the bit where he started making up a bunch of names “Jim…Jimmy…Jimmy Marvin…” Kevin Owens showed up and said it’s not a real person, but that’s okay because he has his back. Jericho called Phillips “Tim” and then called him a stupid idiot when he corrected him…

Graves confirmed that Phillips is a stupid idiot and then hyped Rollins vs. Zayn…

Powell’s POV: So it looks like Enzo and Big Cass vs. Jericho and Owens. That’s a fun SummerSlam mid-card tag match.

10. Seth Rollins vs. Sami Zayn. Rollins dominated early and roughed up Zayn on the floor. Zayn started to come back, but Rollins caught him on the ropes, crotched him, and pushed him to ringside. [C]

[Q12] Rollins performed a bucklebomb and was going for a followup superkick, but Zayn got up and clotheslined him instead. Zayn performed a blue thunder bomb for a two count that the live crowd got up for. Later, Zayn went for a Helluva Kick that Rollins avoided. Rollins hit the Pedigree for the win…

Seth Rollins beat Sami Zayn in 11:45.

Powell’s POV: A good match. I just wish the circumstances were different in that I just didn’t buy into Zayn winning given the match that Rollins is in at SummerSlam.

Paul Heyman was shown exiting Brock Lesnar’s locker room. He laughed and said, “I’ll see you out there.” Cole said Lesnar was up next… [C]

Saxton hyped Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs on Raw in Anaheim next week…

JoJo introduced Paul Heyman, who stood in the ring and introduced himself. He said that for the past three hours, the fans have been sitting on the edge of their seats waiting and salivating for the moment that the single biggest box office attraction in combat sports history makes his way to the ring for the WWE Universe to worship. Heyman introduced Brock Lesnar as the beast of the Broctagon, the ruler and conquerer of WWE, and the Viper Slayer. Lesnar made his entrance and received a favorable yet subdued reaction. A “Suplex City” chant broke out and Lesnar smirked. Heyman hyped that on August 21 at SummerSlam, his client will…entertain you.

[Overrun] Heyman asked if he just said Lesnar will entertain you. “Yes, because Brock Lesnar’s form of entertainment is not the same style of entertainment they like to market and sell and promote here in WWE,” Heyman said. Heyman added that Lesnar’s form of entertainment is politically incorrect. He said he know he’s not supposed to use that word, but he’s standing next to Lesnar, so he can say anything he wants to say.

Heyman said Lesnar doesn’t need to step up to the new era, the new era needs to step up to him. He said Lesnar isn’t there to court favor with Mick Foley or Stephanie McMahon. Heyman mentioned Orton, who received some soft cheers and boos. Heyman said Lesnar has heard of Orton, a third generation superstar and a 12-time champion. Heyman mentioned the RKO. “They say Randy Orton is one RKO away from victory at any moment,” he said. Heyman said they say Orton is an RKO away from shocking the world just as Lesnar shocked the world by ending Undertaker’s streak. Heyman told some fans who were booing to get over it already.

Heyman brought up Randy Orton’s theme song. He asked how many of those voices tell him that Lesnar is going to beat his ass at SummerSlam and drag him down to Suplex City. Heyman said that if the voices are not telling him that, then those voices are full of…mularkey. Heyman said he was using the word the vice president used because he wants to keep his job for at least one week.

Heyman continued to boast about Lesnar being dominant over Lesnar. He said the only chance that Orton has is the RKO, but he’s not going to hit it at SummerSlam. “You’re not man enough to hit an RKO on Brock Lesnar.” Suddenly, Orton hit the ring and put Lesnar down with an RKO. Several referees ran out and then Orton fled through the crowd.

Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley walked onto the stage with security. Orton exited through the crowd (in the old Shield entrance spot) and then stopped and looked down at Lesnar, who was back on his feet. Orton struck his pose and smiled. Lesnar looked up at Orton. Cole questioned whether Orton fired the first shot or signed his death warrant…

Powell’s POV: Well, it didn’t take long for the rules of the brand split to be broken. However, I don’t have a problem with it because it was portrayed as Orton going into business for himself, not as a move authorized by WWE management. The move could also help Smackdown in that they can at least tease the possibility of Lesnar crossing the brand split line to seek revenge. It was good to hear Heyman delivering mic work on Raw again. It’s just too bad the crowd seemed drained by this point in the three-hour marathon. I can’t help wonder if putting Lesnar’s first appearance on last was by design if there was any concern that fans might not be receptive due to the USADA testing violations.

Overall, there was no way that Raw could be as hot as last week’s show was. You had to know that going in. It definitely felt like a marathon show, but there were some strong moments along the way with a strong opening segment, some good in-ring action, and a strong finish. The broadcast team is much more effective and I don’t miss JBL even a little bit on Monday nights. I will have more to say in Dot Net Members’ audio later tonight. Thanks for watching along with me.


The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Colt Cabana on his role in ROH, the state of the independent wrestling scene, the future of his podcast, the ROH Global Wars tour, the new ROH television format, Starrcast III, and much more...


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