By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Cincinnati, Ohio at U.S. Bank Arena
[Q1] Michael Cole welcomed viewers to Raw. He was joined on commentary by Corey Graves and Byron Saxton… Roman Reigns made his entrance to more boos than cheers. JoJo went into introductions for the U.S. Title match with Rusev in the ring and Lana at ringside. The broadcast team narrated still shots of Reigns beating Rusev at Clash of Champions…
1. Roman Reigns vs. Rusev for the U.S. Championship. Rusev had the early advantage. Reigns came back with ten clotheslines. Rusev came back with a fallaway slam heading into the break. [C] Rusev caught Reigns with a nice dropkick coming out the break.
[Q2] Reigns fired back with more clotheslines. Reigns went for a Superman Punch, but Rusev caught him and both men tumbled to ringside. They took another commercial break. [C] They battled on the ropes and Reigns knocked Rusev down with headbutts, then threw yet another clothesline coming off the second rope.
At 20:40, Rusev caught Reigns with a spin kick and got a two count. Rusev showed frustration after not getting the pin. Rusev went to the top rope and was knocked off with a punch that caused him to tumble to the floor. Reigns caught him with a kick and rolled him back inside the ring. Rusev caught Reigns with kick and covered Reigns for another two count.
Rusev caught Reigns with yet another kick and it resulted in yet another two count. Reigns came back and went to the corner. Lana stood on the apron and distracted him, but Reigns still spotted Rusev coming and got the better of him. Reigns caught Rusev with a Drive By kick at ringside. Reigns slammed the head of Rusev onto the ring steps and punched him over the barricade. Reigns followed and they brawled into the crowd where the referee counted out both men.
Roman Reigns fought Rusev to a double count-out in 25:35.
[Q3] After the match, they fought their way back to ringside. Reigns leapt off the ring steps only to have Rusev jab a chair into his but. Rusev slammed the chair over Reigns, then rolled him back inside the ring. Rusev slammed the chair on the canvas a few times and then charged Reigns, who speared him. Reigns looked down at Rusev and smirked. Reigns picked up the chair, set it up, and then sat down on it before raising the U.S. Title belt. Once Rusev started to recover, Reigns slammed the chair over his back…
The broadcast team stood behind their desk and pimped the new WWE video game, which led to the new commercial airing… The broadcast team hyped the tag title match for later in the show… Mick Foley was shown walking backstage, and Saxton stated that Foley would be coming out to address the Cesaro vs. Sheamus finish at Clash of Champions…
Powell’s POV: I love that Raw opened with a match rather than a long talking segment for a change, but having these two go 25 minutes and ending the match in a double count-out was a head scratcher. I assume the finish is an indication that they intend to keep this going through Hell in a Cell. It is one of the only Raw feuds that feels heated enough and has gone on long enough to justify the HIAC. If that’s the plan, then I’m still not sure why they didn’t save the title change for HIAC. By the way, if you took a shot every time Reigns used a clothesline or Rusev threw a kick, then you’re reading this in the afterlife because you’d be dead from alcohol poisoning.
Mick Foley stood in the ring while the broadcast team spoke over still shots of the Cesaro vs. Sheamus match from Clash of Champions. Foley said the seventh match of the best of seven series ended due to medical stoppage, causing the series to end in a draw, which Foley said was thought to be a “mathematical impossibility”.
Foley introduced Sheamus and Cesaro. Sheamus was upset because the series was supposed to result in a championship opportunity. Foley said that’s why he was there, but Sheamus spoke over him. Sheamus quoted Foley as saying the man who was more physically dominant would get the championship opportunity, and he deserved it based on that.
[Q4] Cesaro, who now has tape on his neck, shoulder, back, and all the way down his left arm, said he was ready to continue. Foley said both men proved that they could be physically dominant and they brought out the best in each other. Foley said he can’t say one man won or lost. Foley said he was going to give both men a title opportunity.
Foley said Cesaro and Sheamus would team together for a tag title shot. Neither man was happy. Foley said they don’t have to like it, but it’s his decision. He said they would be facing the winners of the following match. New Day made their entrance for their match against Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. Ring entrances for the tag title match took place… [C]
Powell’s POV: My bold prediction appears to be coming true in that Cesaro appears to slowly becoming a mummy. Oh, and the scenario with Foley booking them in a tag title match also played out. You know, because Foley’s character couldn’t just book an immediate rematch to break the tie. I like the idea of Cesaro and Sheamus as a tag team. The Raw tag division lacks depth, and it’s pretty obvious that creative has no plans for either man as a singles wrestler.
2. Kofi Kingston and Big E (w/Xavier Woods) vs. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows for the WWE Tag Team Championship. The match was joined in progress. New Day had the early advantage, but Gallows chokeslammed Kingston and got a two count going into the break.
Powell’s POV: That sound you are hearing if you’re in the United States is probably the clicking of every remote control in your neighborhood turning on the circus, er, presidential debate.
[Q5] Big E speared Anderson off the ring apron and lived to talk about it. Gallows ran Kingston into the ring steps. Kingston was a bloody mess from apparently hitting the steps wrong. New Day hit their finisher on Anderson, but Gallows broke up the pin. Anderson and Gallows hit the Magic Killer on E, but Kingston broke up the pin. A short time later, a bloody Kingston hit Trouble in Paradise on Anderson and pinned him…
New Day defeated Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in 11:00 to retain the Raw Tag Team Championship.
Powell’s POV: I’m not sure how Kingston hit the steps wrong, but he had a gash above his left eye. Woods cleaned him up with a towel afterward, and a trainer checked on him afterward. This may have been the blowoff to the feud now that Cesaro and Sheamus are next in line. It’s a shame that Anderson and Gallows were portrayed as bad comedians until the last couple of weeks of the feud.
The broadcast team narrated highlights of the Clash of Champions main event, then showed footage of Stephanie leaving the building with Triple H. You know, because it’s shocking that a husband and wife would kiss and leave a building together. Saxton asked if he’s the only who felt it was fishy. Graves defended it as a husband picking up his wife…
Footage aired of Seth Rollins taking a gutbuster off the ropes from Owens and suffering a rib injury. Cole said Rollins has a rib injury and is not medically cleared to compete on Raw…
The broadcast team hyped Kevin Owens appearing on The Highlight Reel… [C]
Powell’s POV: The Rollins injury doesn’t seem all that severe given how they addressed it quickly and moved on. In fact, it left me wondering if the line about him not being medically cleared means he’ll be making an unadvertised appearance.
A Did You Know graphic boasted that WWE has more Instagram followers than several major league sports and the Olympics…
Backstage, Cesaro and Sheamus were still unhappy about being forced to team together. Foley yelled at them about how impressed he, Arn Anderson, and Michael Hayes were. Foley said he can’t give them a rematch because he risks losing them to injury. Foley praised them as two of the toughest stars he’s seen. He said that if he puts them together, then they could change the face of tag team wrestling. He asked them to give it a try to see if the magic is there. On commentary, Cole said Foley knows something about oddball tag teams and cited the Rock-n-Sock Connection…
3. Bayley vs. Anna Fields. Fields did not get a televised entrance. She attacked Bayley to start the match. Bayley came back with the Bayley to Belly…
Bayley defeated Anna Fields in 2:10.
After the match, Tom Phillips interviewed Bayley in the ring and said Charlotte and Sasha proved they are the best women in the industry, but it won’t be the last time they see her. She said she feels she and the fans are on a journey together and she won’t stop until she hugs the WWE Women’s Championship…
Backstage, Mick Foley told Stephanie McMahon that he believed in her. He brought up the way Steph brought out a referee just in time for Kevin Owens to beat Seth Rollins. Foley also pointed out Triple H asking her how it went when he picked her up, and Stephanie saying great. Stephanie defended herself. Stephanie lashed out at Foley and said it was his job to protect the integrity of the main event. Stephanie said Foley let his ego get in the way.
Stephanie asked him what he has to say for himself. Neutered Mick said he was out of line. Stephanie threatened to make him an ambassador and then continued to scold him. Stephanie also said it’s Foley’s job to protect Rollins when he goes after Owens and Jericho. She told him to be a businessman and never to forget who he works for…
Cole hyped Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann vs. Lince Dorado and Drew Gulak for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: It took longer than expected, but Stephanie’s emasculation of Foley is complete. The only thing missing was the big slap. Meanwhile, Bayley is apparently taking a step back and is now on the Braun Strowman and Nia Jax path to success.
[Q7] 4. Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann vs. Lince Dorado and Drew Gulak. A pre-taped promo with Alexander and Swann aired. Swann said they are going to party all night long, then assured everyone that they were not underestimating their opponents. Brief video packages aired on Gulak and Dorado.
Swann and Dorado went for early huracanranas on one another, but they both had cool counters to avoid the move. Cole noted that Cesaro was one of Dorado’s trainers. Droado performed a moonsault onto his opponents and partner heading into the break. [C] In the end, Swann caught Gulak with a kick and then rolled into a bridge pin…
Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann beat Lince Dorado and Drew Gulak in 8:10.
Cole hyped that TJ Perkins will appear on Raw, and Graves hyped the Highlight Reel segment. Backstage, Sheamus cut in front of Cesaro to walk in front of him backstage. Saxton said viewers would find out if they can coexist as a tag team after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: The cruiserweight tag match was a spot fest with fans essentially being encouraged to cheer the moves rather than one team or the other. The usual good action, but I hope this becomes more character driven with babyfaces and heels as it moves forward.
[Q8] 5. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Nick Cutler and Willie Williams. Cole said he hopes Nick is better than Jay Cutler. Ouch. Sheamus didn’t take Cesaro’s tag, so Cesaro waited until he was distracted and then tagged his back. Cesaro also reached in later and tagged himself back into the match. Late in the match, Sheamus hit Brogue Kicks on both opponents, then Cesaro covered Cutler and pinned him…
Sheamus and Cesaro beat Nick Cutler and Willis Williams in 3:35.
Powell’s POV: Pretty basic reluctant tag partner moments, but the live crowd seemed entertained by it.
A TJ Perkins video package aired. He spoke about how he was blessed at a young age to do great things, and he also lost it all following that path. He said he doesn’t feel like his generation has anyone they can connect with, and now that he’s arrived he wants to inspire others…
Backstage, Phillips interviewed TJ Perkins and asked him about his Raw debut. Perkins said it’s a dream he’s had since 1998. He said there were times when he didn’t think he would make it. He said as much as he’s dreamt about the moment, “I never thought I would see that.” Brian Kendrick was on the set. He said the title was resurrected for him and Perkins owes him. He told Perkins to soak up every drop of the spotlight because the next time they meet in the ring is when Perkins wakes up from the dream…
Powell’s POV: A good segment with Kendrick standing out as a very good, charismatic heel.
Charlotte and Dana Brooke were shown walking backstage. Cole said Charlotte would celebrate her win at Clash of Champions after the break… [C]
[Q9] Charlotte and Dana Brooke made their entrance while Cole pointed out that Charlotte is now 12-0 in title defenses on pay-per-view. Charlotte said the difference between her, Bayley, and Sasha is that she doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk.
Charlotte said the fans have heard it all before. She said month after month, the fans think that another challenger is going to be the one to defeat her. She said she disappoints the fans every time. She said she’s not the lovable Bayley or the internet darling Sasha, but she is the face of the division. The internet darling made her entrance.
Sasha Banks said Sunday may have been Charlotte’s night, but the women’s title is still hers. Sasha said Charlotte pinned Bayley at The Clash. She said she was still owed a singles rematch and she wanted it on the spot. Charlotte called the cheering fans peasants and demanded their silence. Charlotte said she will give Sasha and the people what they want by giving her a title match.
Charlotte then added “next week” and was booed. Charlotte said if she didn’t give Sasha the match, then she’d just cry to Foley until she got her way. Charlotte said that as much as she’s broken and beaten Sasha, she keeps getting up. Sasha said she will take back the title. Sasha slapped Charlotte, then performed the Backstabber on Brooke and rolled her over into the Bank Statement. Charlotte broke it up, but Sasha cleared both women to ringside…
Graves hyped the Highlight Reel with Kevin Owens for later in the show. A shot aired of Seth Rollins backstage. Cole recalled Stephanie telling Foley that he would show up even though he’s not medically cleared… [C]
Powell’s POV: Charlotte was very good and continues to shine as a heel personality. I like that they are advertising the match a week out. Perhaps they should have done this in the first hour before the debate started.
Backstage, Rollins told Foley that nothing would stop him from getting his revenge on Owens. Foley said he’s been where Rollins is, but he’s not medically cleared. Rollins also brought up Stephanie and Hunter appearing together. Foley tried to respond, but Rollins told him that he sees his lips moving and hears Stephanie’s words coming out of his mouth…
[Q10] 6. WWE Cruiserweight Champion TJ Perkins vs. Tony Nese in a non-title match. Cole announced Perkins vs. Kendrick for the title for next week’s Raw in Los Angeles, which Graves reminded viewers is the hometown of Perkins. A Nese video aired. The wrestlers were instructed by the referee to shake hands and they both obliged. Perkins performed a great dive over the top onto Perkins on the floor, then rolled him back inside the ring and got a two count. [C]
Adult male fans humored themselves with various chants including one for CM Punk and another for Randy Savage. Perkins performed a nice double chickenwing into a gutbuster for a two count. Perkins went up top, but Nese slapped him. In the end, Perkins won using the kneebar…
TJ Perkins defeated Tony Nese in a non-title match in 9:05.
Powell’s POV: It’s a shame that the vocal fans didn’t give the match more of a chance because it was entertaining. It was another case of the fans reacting to the athletic spots because they haven’t been given much else to latch onto. Hopefully that will change soon. Either way, I am looking forward to the Perkins vs. Kendrick rematch for next week.
A Hispanic Heritage month video aired and spotlighted Pedro Morales… The broadcast team hyped the Highlight Reel… [C]
[Q11] Saxton hyped the women’s title match for next week…
Footage aired of Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson mocking Chris Jericho for thinking he and Kevin Owens are friends. They noted that Raw is in Los Angeles next week, and they will see him there…
Jericho stood in the ring and took issue with Kutcher and Masterson claiming to be better friends than he and Owens. Jericho had a clipboard with him that read, “The List of Jericho.” He said he would put them on the list and they would not like it. Jericho said Rollins is not on the list because he’s hurt again.
Jericho introduced Owens, who made his entrance while Cole hyped Owens as appearing on ESPNews on Wednesday. Owens hugged Jericho once he arrived in the ring. Owens admired the Jerii-Tron, and Jericho said it cost about $6,500 about five years ago.
Jericho said Owens epitomizes what a champion should be. Owens said he normally would wear a suit, but not for Cincinnati, which spawned Dean Ambrose. Jericho said Ambrose still owes him $17,000. Owens said he proved that he should have been the No. 1 draft pick, he belongs in the main event, and he is the man.
Owens said the injury that Rollins suffered was karma. Owens pointed out that Rollins injured John Cena, Sting, and Finn Balor. Owens said Rollins may have been the most dangerous man in WWE, and now Owens took him out, which makes him the most dangerous man in WWE.
Seth Rollins made his entrance. Finlay and security ran out and blocked his path. Owens told security to take him to the back where he belongs. Owens told him to show the doctor’s note that said he can’t wrestle because Owens broke him in half. Rollins was eventually escorted to the back. Jericho mocked the fans.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass made their entrance and did their usual schtick from the ramp. Jericho responded to their usual question by saying, “We’re doing just fine.” He said everything was good until they interrupted them. Jericho added them to his list. Owens corrected Jericho on his spelling. Cass asked if Jericho if he’s Santa Claus. Jericho said maybe he is and he’ll sit on Cass’s lap.
[Q12] “What did you just say,” Cass asked. Jericho responded by saying he didn’t say anything. Cass called him on saying that he was going to sit on his lap. Jericho claimed he said he was going to punch Cass in the face. Funny. Owens said it doesn’t matter what Jericho said and threatened to punch him in the mouth. Jericho said they both would, but they don’t have a match. Cass said Foley just told them they do have a match… [C]
Powell’s POV: A fun segment with Jericho comedy that got several laughs from the crowd. The fans were into Enzo and Cass, and Owens was strong on the mic before the comedy started.
A Total Bellas commercial aired, then the broadcast team hyped the two title matches for next week…
7. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass. The heels worked over Cass, then Owens ran him into the ring post heading into the break. [C] An ad listed Kutcher and Masterson as guest stars for next week’s show. Owens got the better of Enzo. Owens, who was wearing a shirt, pants, and shoes, mocked Enzo’s reverse strut/walk on the ring apron.
[Overrun] Enzo blocked Jericho’s superplex attempt, but he ended up leaping into a dropkick by Jericho. Late in the match, Cass caught Jericho with a big boot and they both tumbled to the floor. Enzo caught Owens with a DDT. Owens came back with a clothesline and then powerbombed Enzo before pinning him clean…
Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho beat Enzo Amore and Big Cass in 16:30.
Powell’s POV: It’s good to see the champion get a clean pin. I feel bad for the live crowd, though, as they had to sit through a three-hour marathon that felt longer than usual with WWE phoning in the last hour of the show (at least). If nothing else, they provided some hope that they are fired up about next week’s show in Los Angeles with the two title matches advertised. It will be interesting to see if that’s when we finally see Triple H on Raw again. I will have more to say in my member exclusive audio review later tonight. Thanks for watching along with me.