By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Memphis, Tennessee at FedEx Forum
[Q1] A recap video opened the show… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on commentary…
Roman Reigns made his entrance and received more boos than cheers. “I’ve been waiting a whole week…” Reigns said before he was interrupted. Stephanie McMahon made her entrance and said she and Mick Foley have been talking all week about how to handle his situation.
Foley’s entrance music interrupted Stephanie, and Foley joined them both in the ring. Stephanie encouraged the Foley chants. Foley said he had control last week while Stephanie was away and he let it get away from him. Foley announced Seth Rollins vs. Rusev.
Reigns asked what that does for him. Reigns said Triple H screwed him over a few weeks ago, and then Rusev did it last week. He said he wouldn’t see the coward Triple H again. Foley announced Rusev vs. Reigns for the U.S. Championship at Clash of Champions.
Foley said Stephanie has been on the up and up. He said it personally offends him when WWE Superstars are not taking him at his word and are going behind his back to make their own matches. Foley said Reigns vs. Kevin Owens was a thing of beauty. Foley questioned how the WWE Universe can boo Reigns. Fans booed. “And they find a way,” Foley said.
Foley said they are all family and are in a fight for survival against Smackdown Live. Foley said that if things don’t go right, Stephanie will land on her feet because she’s a McMahon. Conversely, Foley said he would be out of a job. Foley said it’s time for him to start making things right.
Foley booked Reigns in a rematch against Kevin Owens for Raw. Stephanie didn’t look pleased. Owens made his entrance wearing a black suit and shaking his head no. Owens asked if Foley was joking and working on material for his next standup special. Owens said he beat Reigns twice last week and should be preparing to defend his title against Rollins on Sunday.
“I am in the main event of Clash of Champions, not you, buddy,” Owens boasted to Reigns. Stephanie said Owens will face Reigns, but it won’t be for the WWE Universal Championship. Foley said it will take place inside a steel cage in the main event.
Seth Rollins made his entrance and stopped to raise his arms while standing next to Owens. Rollins headed to the ring where only Reigns was standing. After they traded a look, Reigns exited the ring as Rollins entered it. Rollins played to the crowd. Cole hyped Rollins vs. Rusev for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Will they ever let Reigns sink or swim on the mic? I was totally behind protecting him at one time, but it’s reached the point of absurdity. This week it was Stephanie McMahon interrupting him before he could even finish his sentence. He’s not nearly as bad on the mic as their actions would suggest, and the only way he’s going to improve is by getting a chance to talk. Overall, though, the opening segment set the stage for the rest of the show, which is wise given that the opening segment airs before the football game begins.
[Q2] Backstage, Stephanie vented to Foley about booking Owens in a cage match just six days before the first Raw exclusive pay-per-view. Rusev and Lana showed up. Rusev was upset about Reigns getting another title shot and making him face Rollins “on my wife’s special night.” Rusev pointed out that her movie comes out tomorrow, and she held up the DVD. Rusev said Foley is jealous of his family because his own family is miserable, pathetic, and they all hate each other. Foley said Rusev could say whatever he wants about his family, but it doesn’t change the matches he’s booked for. After Rusev stormed off, Foley took a call from Chris Jericho…
Powell’s POV: I like that Stephanie is upset by Foley forcing Owens to work and was the one who said his match with Reigns would be a non-title match. It could mean that she’s aligned with her husband and Owens or it could mean that she’s simply upset because Foley is booking their champion in a tough match before the pay-per-view. They covered that nicely. Meanwhile, shouldn’t Foley say that you can say what you want about him, but leave his family out of it?
1. Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Seth Rollins in a non-title match. Rusev ran Rollins’ back into the post at 1:30. Rusev continued to get the better of Rollins. He caught Rollins going to the ropes and threw him off with one hand heading into the break. [C] Rusev was still in control coming out of the break. Rollins made his comeback and caught Rusev with a kick and then suplexed him.
[Q3] Rusev came back with a kick and got a two count. Rollins came back and Rusev rolled or ringside to avoid a move off the ropes, so Rollins hit him with a suicide dive. Rollins followed up with another suicide dive moments later. They fought at ringside and were both counted out.
Rusev fought Seth Rollins to a double count-out in 11:50.
After the match, Rusev took Rollins to the stage near the broadcast table and set up for a powerbomb, but Rollins avoided it and knocked Rusev off the stage. Rollins climbed onto the broadcast table and then performed a cross body block onto Rusev on the arena floor. Rollins went back to the stage and his music played to end the segment…
Powell’s POV: The finish disappointed the live crowd, but it was logical to avoid having either man lose heading into the pay-per-view. I still feel like Rollins needs to deliver a strong promo to completely connect with the audience as a babyface. Meanwhile, it was a nice run for the LED ring posts. WWE is back to their usual ring posts. I could take them or leave them. I wouldn’t mind seeing them used on pay-per-view events to give those shows a bigger feel.
Backstage, Charlotte pointed out that there was a double pin in the No. 1 contenders match last week. Charlotte said there is not a number one contender. Brooke suggested that Foley cancel their scheduled tag match and have Sasha and Bayley face one another to determine which one of them will challenge Charlotte on Sunday. Foley booked Charlotte vs. Banks vs. Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship at Clash of Champions. Foley thanked Dana and left, then Charlotte shoved Brooke to the ground…
Powell’s POV: Technically, wouldn’t Brooke be the number one contender since both of her Triple Threat opponents were pinned last week?
A shot aired of the steel cage hanging above the ring as Cole hyped the Raw main event. The broadcast team set up a video package that spotlighted cruiserweights Cedric Alexander and Brian Kendrick. A graphic touted the arrival of the division for later in the show…
Backstage, Chris Jericho told Kevin Owens that Mick Foley never liked him, and now he’s trying to take it out on him by taking it out on Owens. Jericho said Foley is abusing his power. Jericho said he was going to make a list of everything Foley has done wrong as general manager and then show it to him…
2. Braun Strowman vs. Sin Cara. Stromwan’s entrance was televised, but Sin Cara’s was not. Sin Cara performed a suicide dive that didn’t knock over Strowman. Sin Cara ran back to the ring and went for a springboard move, but Strowman caught him and performed a powerslam for the win…
Braun Strowman beat Sin Cara in 1:50.
[Q4] Backstage, Bayley told Sasha Banks that she couldn’t be more excited about being in the ring with her again. Bayley said it’s like old times. Sasha wasn’t as happy and said it’s a new era, and claimed she beat Bayley, who said she beat Sasha. Bayley said one of them would become new champion. They agreed to show them how it’s done when they team up after the break… [C]
3. Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte and Dana Brooke. Bayley will be on ESPN on Wednesday night for the segment with Jonathan Coachman. She handed out merch she was wearing to kids at ringside, and the inflatable tube men were back. Sasha had tape around her abdomen and back. Charlotte made Brooke start the match, but checked in to work over Bayley. Brooke stood on the bottom rope. Bayley ran Charlotte into Brooke. [C]
[Q5] Late in the match, Bayley set up for her finisher on Charlotte, but Brooke grabbed Bayley’s legs. Sasha roughed up Brooke on the floor, but Charlotte caught Bayley with a boot to the face and then pinned her…
Charlotte and Dana Brooke beat Bayley and Sasha Banks in 11:10.
The broadcast team hyped the cage match main event… Backstage, Seth Rollins smiled and then entered Stephanie McMahon’s office… [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose, and The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Title…
Powell’s POV: As regular readers know, I am all for Bayley losing some matches early in her main roster run to maintain her underdog vibe. However, I’m not sure what purpose this loss served in terms of promoting the Triple Threat.
Members of the Memphis Grizzles were shown at ringside…
Stephanie McMahon entered her office, which looks a lot like an interview set, and found Rollins. Stephanie wanted to put their issues behind them. Rollins said he just wanted to know why. Stephanie said Owens may be right given that Rollins has losing key matches, and maybe her husband was tired of Rollins ruining his reputation.
Rollins said that Hunter and Stephanie may figure out that they put their money on the wrong horse and come crawling back to him. Rollins said maybe not in that he will be their worst nightmare. He said he knows every move they make before they make it, and he’ll be their worst nightmare.
Stephanie told Rollins not to threaten her. Stephanie said Owens is the right person to be champion, to lead Raw, and to replace Rollins as the man. Rollins told her she is wrong. Rollins said Stephanie was a shrewd business woman, but she’s been cracking since Shane showed up. Rollins walked away while Stephanie sneered at him…
Powell’s POV: It was alarming when Rollins made it seem like he was hoping that Steph and Hunter would see the light, but I like that he followed up by talking about how he could be their worst nightmare. I was just as worried when it seemed like Steph was going to dress him down. Fortunately, Rollins got the last word and walked away. Does this mean Hunter is interfering in the pay-per-view main event?
[Q6] 4. Bo Dallas vs. Gary Graham. Cole cracked that longhaired Graham looked like one of Michael Hayes’s relatives. Bo rhymed again and said only he can Bolieve in Bo. Dallas aggressively attacked Graham. Graves said Dallas undergone a psychological metamorphosis. The fans chanted “Let’s Go Jobber.” Bo hit his finisher for the win…
Bo Dallas beat Gary Graham in 1:20.
Cole hyped the Cesaro vs. Sheamus match for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Bo continues to work aggressively and carry himself in a less cheesy manner, but it’s all ruined by the campaign sign that he continues to carry.
Cole hyped the Conor’s Cure fundraiser… A Cruiserweight Division video aired. Cole said viewers will only see the cruiserweights on Raw…
5. Cesaro vs. Sheamus in the sixth match of the Best of Seven series. Sheamus led the series 3-2 going into this match. Footage aired of Sheamus being interviewed earlier in the day stating that Cesaro always loses the big match. They cut to break early in the match. [C]
Sheamus performed a White Noise on the ring apron, which Cole put over big due to Cesaro’s back injury. Sheamus covered Cesaro for two. Cesaro ducked a Brogue Kick and rolled up Sheamus for two. Sheamus came back with an Irish Curse, then performed a Celtic Cross into a backbreaker, but still got only a two count. Sheamus tried to pin Cesaro with his feet on the ropes just as Cesaro did last week, but the referee caught him. A short time later, Cesaro hit the Neutralizer for the win…
Cesaro defeated Sheamus in 9:40 to tie the best of seven series at 3-3.
Powell’s POV: A good match with Sheamus getting some good near falls that probably would have played better in a typical match rather than in an obvious scenario that would result in Cesaro winning to tie up the series.
Backstage, Foley spoke on the phone and said the final match of the best of seven should take place at Clash of Champions. Foley hung up the phone to deal with Chris Jericho, who said Jericho never liked him. Foley said he hasn’t liked him in a long time, but he did recommend him to Paul Heyman. Jericho said he was making “The List of Jericho.” Foley said he couldn’t hear Jericho because he’s missing an ear, then called him a stupid idiot.
Jericho said he had some serious grievances. Number five was Foley’s terrible fashion sense. Foley laughed and said it would mean more if it wasn’t coming from a shirtless man who wears scarves. Jericho said it’s trendy in Luxembourg. Foley said that may be so, but Jericho looks ridiculous in Memphis. After Foley left, Jericho said he would tell the world what is on The List of Jericho… [C]
Powell’s POV: Of course, Jericho knows a thing or two about lists. In addition to being a regular on VH1 countdown shows at one time, there’s also this gem.
[Q8] Jericho stood in the ring with a clipboard and complained about Foley’s performance as general manager. Jericho’s first complaint was that Foley has tried to drive a wedge between him and Owens. He recalled Foley’s terrible fashion sense. Jericho pointed at a fan and asked what he said. Jericho said the fan just made the list. He threatened to put all the fans on the list. Jericho said Foley developed an affection for “that human happy go lucky leper” Sami Zayn.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass interrupted Jericho’s list. Enzo did his usual mic work and the crowd was hot. Once in the ring, Enzo said his GPS had an issue to address. He said Jericho isn’t friends with Owens because a real friend would never let his friend go to the ring dressed like Jericho.
Cass read through a list of famous best friends that included Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson. Jericho said half the people he mentioned don’t even exist, then called the Kutcher and Masterson reference dated.
The Shining Stars came out and said everyone seemed stressed, then tried to sell them timeshares in Puerto Rico. New Day quickly interrupted the Shining Stars. Jericho questioned why they were out there. Big E said it’s because they have nothing better to do. Xavier Woods promoted his youtube channel and iPhone contest. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson made their entrance and recalled beating New Day last week.
Jericho headed to ringside and said his list was about Foley, but now all of the stupid idiots in the ring were on it. Sami Zayn came out and attacked Jericho. Zayn ran Jericho into the barricade, then rolled him inside the ring. All of the wrestlers in feuds began trading punches… [C]
Powell’s POV: Is it time for a time killing ten-man tag?
6. Sami Zayn, Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Big E, and Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods) vs. Chris Jericho, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Primo, and Epico. Cole said the match was made during the break.
[Q9] Kofi was isolated by the heels. The live crowd popped big when Big Cass took the hot tag. Cass had Primo pinned, but Epico broke it up. After a series of rapid fire spots that resulted in wrestlers ending up at ringside, Zayn and Jericho fought with Zayn getting the better of Jericho. Zayn went for the Helluva Kick, but Jericho moved, causing Zayn to hit Primo instead. Enzo and Cass performed their finisher on Primo for the win…
Sami Zayn, Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Big E, and Kofi Kingston beat Chris Jericho, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Primo, and Epico in 5:40.
Powell’s POV: The live crowd was hot once Cass took the tag. The match was brief and didn’t even come close to overstaying its welcome despite my concern that this was just a time filler.
The broadcast team stood next to their table and set up a video package that recapped the opening segment while a fan near them held up a “Ross King Loyal Subject” sign. They also set up another cruiserweight division video. This one focussed on Gran Metalik and Rich Swann. Cole said the cruiserweights arrive exclusive on Raw after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: We’ve already seen Braun Strowman, so fingers crossed that we don’t hear Big Show’s entrance theme during the cruiserweight segment.
The broadcast team set up a Hispanic Heritage month video. Cole noted they had a Cesar Chavez video earlier (oops, missed it), and then setup an Eddie Guerrero video…
Mick Foley stood in the ring and butchered the “size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog” line. Foley corrected himself and then spoke about the cruiserweight division, mentioning that TJ Perkins because the new cruiserweight champion.
[Q10] Foley froze briefly as he tried to describe the type of action that the division will provide. Foley said they had 32 wrestlers in the tournament, and they brought four to Raw. Foley pulled out notes (thank goodness) to introduce the wrestlers.
Rich Swann made his entrance. Cole said Swann is inspirational. He said he lost both of his parents while young, got into a lot of trouble, and sports entertainment was his salvation. Graves said Swann isn’t just one of the most entertaining sports entertainers he knows, he’s one of the most entertaining human beings.
Foley introduced Gran Metalik as the runner up of the tournament and the crown jewel of lucha. Cole said Metalik debuted in CMLL at age 17. A pre-tape with Metalik speaking in Spanish aired.
Foley introduced Cedric Alexander next. Cole said Alexander lost 22 pounds to make the 205 pound weight limit for the tourney. Cole spoke about how Alexander took a tournament favorite to the limit. Alexander said the fans helped get him on Raw and their voices were not wasted.
Foley welcomed back Brian Kendrick, who received a nice ovation, which was the best of the bunch. Kendrick stated in a pre-tape that it was July 30, 2009 when he was wished the best in his future endeavors. He said they thought he was through and so did he.
Foley booked the four men in a four-way match to determine who would challenge TJ Perkins at Clash of Champions… [C]
Powell’s POV: It’s odd that we’re getting a number one contenders match before seeing the actual champion live on Raw. For what it’s worth, TJ Perkins did appear on the pre-show, so he is in the building. The live crowd was not very enthusiastic. I’m not sure if that’s a sign they weren’t watching the Cruiserweight Classic or if it’s because it’s the third hour of the marathon show. Either way, I believe the cruiserweights can win over the fans if they are given a real opportunity. Meanwhile, a rare rough segment for Foley on the mic.
7. Brian Kendrick vs. Cedric Alexander vs. Gran Metalik vs. Rich Swann in a four-way to determine the No. 1 contender to the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. A purple Raw Cruiserweight graphic appeared on the big screen throughout the match. The fans reacted to a good exchange with kicks, a big punch, and a chop with Alexander and Swann. Alexander performed a nice head scissors takedown. Metalik returned to the ring to square off with Alexander, who then performed a great dive over the top rope onto Kendrick.
[Q11] Metalik followed up with a one legged springboard off the middle rope and onto the other three wrestlers on the floor. A “this is awesome” chant followed. Metalik set up for a springbboard move, but Kendrick cut him. Swann kept Kendrick at ringside, but Kendrick whipped him into the barricade and then into the ring steps. Cole said Kendrick has always had a mean streak. [C]
Swann performed a nice double underhook powerbomb into a pin, but Alexander performed a double stomp to break it up. Alexander springbaorded into the ropes and then caught Swann with a great kick for a two count.
Kendrick went for Sliced Bread, but Metalik was there to catch him before he could hit the move. Kendrick turned it into a DDT and got a two count on Metalik. Swann blasted Alexander with a kick to the head. Swann performed a standing 450. Alexander performed the Lumbar Check on Metalik, but Kendrick quickly applied Captain Hook on Alexander and got the submission win…
Brian Kendrick beat Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander, and Gran Metalik in 15:00 to earn a WWE Cruiserweight Championship match.
The broadcast team acted giddy about being able to see the cruiserweights on Raw every week. Cole transitioned into recapping Nia Jax destroying Alicia Fox last week… The cage music played as the cage lowered around the ring for the main event…
Powell’s POV: The live crowd reacted to big spots and there were some fans chanting “this is awesome” for the cruiserweights, but they had no reason to cheer for anyone in particular. This was a well executed spot fest. I look forward to WWE establishing the individual characters, babyfaces and heels, and then seeing how the fans react to the great action.
[Q12] [C] Footage aired of Stephanie McMahon, Sasha Banks, and New Day at St. Jude’s Pediatric Hospital in Memphis earlier in the day…
Roman Reigns made his entrance and received more boos than cheers again. Kevin Owens was out next…
Powell’s POV: LED ring post lovers, Dot Net reader Tyler England chimed in to speculate that WWE isn’t using the new ring posts due to the cage. Seems like a strong possibility given the way the cage wraps around the posts.
8. WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns in a non-title cage match. Reigns got out to the quick start and continued to receive some boos. Owens came back by running Reigns into the cage and then superkicking him for a two count. [C] Reigns and Owens fought on the ropes against the cage coming out of the break. Owens gouged the eyes of Reigns and then tried to escape.
[Overrun] Reigns recovered and crotched Owens on the top rope. Reigns hit three running clotheslines that drove Owens into the cage. Reigns set up in the corner for a move, but Owens tried to escape the age. Reigns stopped him and performed a Samoan drop.
Late in the match, the wrestlers stood on the ropes and fought against the cage again. Owens barked that it’s his show and he’s the guy before slamming the head of Reigns into the cage. Reigns performed a Superman Punch off the top rope to the back of Owens’ head. Owens crawled toward the door. Reigns climbed over the cage. Reigns won the race by falling to the floor first.
Roman Reigns defeated Kevin Owens in a non-title cage match in 14:35.
After the match, Rusev attacked Reigns at ringside. They traded punches. Reigns got the better of it and put the boots to Rusev. Owens kicked the cage door into the face of Reigns. Rusev rolled Reigns inside the cage. Rusev grabbed the chain and lock from the floor and used it to close the cage door.
Owens and Rusev worked over Reigns. Rusev applied the Accolade. Owens jawed at Reigns. Seth Rollins’s music played and he ran out and climbed the cage. Owens went up to meet him, but Rollins fought him off. Rusev went up to fight him, but Rollins fought him off. Rollins stood on top of the cage and performed a cross body block onto the heels to close the show…
Powell’s POV: That should have felt like a hotter finish, but the live crowd seemed drained. Three hours is a very long time. It’s not helping that we’ve had back to back main events with Reigns and Owens that didn’t have high stakes. They work well together, but I don’t think many people really cared if Reigns earned a spot in the pay-per-view main event last week, and I’m not even sure what the point of the cage was this week. This should have worked better than it did and I don’t know if it’s the crowd being drained or a case of Rollins and Reigns not being as over as they should be.
Overall, this show really failed to sell me on the Owens vs. Rollins match for Sunday, and they’ve never had me all the excited about Rusev vs. Reigns. In fact, Raw left me more intrigued by the next interaction between Rollins and Reigns than the actual pay-per-view matches. I will have more to say about the show in tonight’s members’ exclusive audio review.