By Jason Powell
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Kansas City, Missouri at Sprint Center Arena
[Q1] Raw opened with footage of Braun Strowman’s recent path of destruction and his match with Big Show from last week… The Raw opening aired… The broadcast team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T checked in and hyped the dumpster match. JoJo was the ring announcer…
Chris Jericho made his entrance while the broadcast team hyped his WWE Payback match against Kevin Owens for the U.S. Championship. Jericho hosted a Highlight Reel segment in the ring. Jericho said it was a monumental edition of the show because it’s the last edition of the show ever on Raw.
Jericho explained that he will defeat Owens to win the U.S. Championship and then move to Smackdown Live. Jericho said whether it’s Raw, Smackdown, or Southpaw Regional Wrestling, the fans have always supported him. Jericho said he was his own guest this week. Jericho mocked the idea of Owens calling himself the Face of America. He said he has an ugly face and it should be the Hemorrhoid of America.
The Miz and Maryse interrupted Jericho and headed to the ring. Miz said Raw is no longer Jericho and it hasn’t been since they arrived. The fans chanted “you suck.” Miz said he couldn’t possibly suck because he’s not from Kansas City.
Jericho told them they better watch (long pause) it couple. “That’s adorable,” an unimpressed Miz replied. Miz said the Highlight Reel has been cancelled and will be replaced by Miz TV. Miz called for the “little people” to come out to replace the set. The production crew obliged. Jericho sat down in one of the director’s chairs. Miz started to introduce the show.
Dean Ambrose’s entrance interrupted The Miz. Ambrose came out with a mic in one hand and the Intercontinental Title in the other. Ambrose said Jericho was right, Miz is a stupid idiot. Miz pointed out that Jericho never said that. Jericho said he was thinking it. Ambrose said he knew Jericho was thinking it. Ambrose had the production crew remove the Miz TV set and replace it with the Ambrose Asylum set, which included a gift box on a stool.
[Q2] Ambrose introduced his show. He said he’d be rooting for Jericho even though it means he is going to Smackdown. Ambrose said they have a checkered past, but he believes in the power of forgiveness. Ambrose ran through some of the things they did to each other. Ambrose presented Jericho with a gift. “It didn’t go too well for me the last time someone gave me a gift,” Jericho said. Funny.
Ambrose opened the box and it contained a jacket with Christmas lights on it. “Don’t put that in the washing machine, though,” Ambrose said. “There’s only one thing left for you to do, Chris, try it on, man.” Miz protested and called the jacket hideous. Jericho put it on. Miz said he deserved a gift for saving everyone from the mediocrity of Ambrose and Jericho. Ambrose said he had a gift for him and then gave him Dirty Deeds. Jericho put Maryse on The List because she married Miz…
A shot aired of the Hardy Brothers walking backstage. Cole said Matt Hardy would face Sheamus after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A nearly 20-minute opening segment that had some genuinely funny moments and filled the time well, yet didn’t accomplish anything when it came to getting me more excited about Owens vs. Jericho at Payback. I assume we are also getting Ambrose vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship on Sunday, but it’s going to take more than the babyface getting the better of the heel on Raw again to get anyone excited by that match.
1. Matt Hardy (w/Jeff Hardy) vs. Sheamus (w/Cesaro). Sheamus and Cesaro received a partially televised entrance while the full Hardy Boyz entrance was shown. Graves suggested this was a must-win match for Sheamus because Jeff beat Cesaro last week. Cole asked Booker if he agreed. Booker essentially ignored the question and said something about Sheamus being younger, but Matt having the stamina advantage. Matt performed a Side Effect on the apron heading into the break.
[Q3] [C] There were some Delete chants as Matt worked over Sheamus with punches, headbutts, and by running his head into the turnbuckle. Matt let out a Broken-like yell while holding up his arms. Later, Matt made the Delete arm gesture, but Sheamus blasted him with a knee that knocked him to ringside. Sheamus went to the apron and leapt into a kick from Hardy. Matt set up for a Twist of Fate, but Sheamus countered into a rolling senton.
Sheamus knocked Jeff down as Jeff was checking on his brother. Jeff climbed onto the apron and jawed at Sheamus. cesaro pulled Jeff to the floor. Matt hit a Twist of Fate for the win. After the match, Cesaro jawed at Jeff and pointed at him. Sheamus recovered and tried to talk him down, then offered Matt a handshake. Cesaro joined with an offer for Jeff. The Hardys were apprehensive, but eventually shook hands. Cole pointed out that Sheamus had the cooler head for once…
Matt Hardy beat Sheamus in 10:00.
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match with a nice change from the usual formula of the tag wrestlers splitting singles wins. I continue to dig the handshake tension and I’m genuinely curious to see how this plays out on Sunday. We also saw more overt “Broken” mannerisms than we have since he returned. He was still true to the typical Hardy Boyz version of his persona at times, but the open plays for Delete and the big yell seemed stronger than usual.
Backstage, Kurt Angle was on the telephone talking about the dumpster match. Angle said he was going to talk to Kalisto one more time to make sure he wanted to go through with it. The line was disconnected. Angle turned and found that Miz had hung up the phone. Angle asked if he was out of his mind. Miz and Maryse said waiting outside his office for two minutes was unacceptable.
Miz complained about Jericho and Ambrose ruined his show. Angle said he didn’t book the segment. Angle told Miz to find a partner for a tag match against Jericho and Ambrose for later in the show. Maryse jawed at Angle in French. “Oh yeah, well, right back at you,” Angle said… [C] An ad for Smackdown Live hyped the show opening with Shinsuke Nakamura and questioned what message he will have for the WWE Universe. The ad also hyped Naomi vs. Charlotte for the Smackdown Women’s Championship…
[Q4] 2. Neville and TJ Perkins vs. Austin Aries and Jack Gallagher. The babyfaces worked over the heels to start (perhaps before the bell ever rang?) and cleared them to ringside. [C] The heels worked over Gallagher, who made a hot tag to Aries, who then got the better of both heels for a stretch. In the end, Gallagher hit the discus five-arm on Perkins and pinned him…
Austin Aries and Jack Gallagher beat Neville and TJ Perkins.
Graves hyped the dumpster match… [C]
Powell’s POV: TJP ended up being scratched on his chest at some point during the match and looked like an honorary member of The Wolves tag team. Cole and Graves did a good job of noting that Aries is typically overly confident, but he was all business heading into his title match at Payback.
[Q5] Ring introductions for the dumpster match took place. JoJo explained that the only way to win was to put your opponent inside the dumpster. Strowman was out first and opened the lids to the dumpster before entering the ring. Roman Reigns did not go all Oscar the Grouch on him. Strowman told the fans he considered them all to be nothing more than trash. He said when he stuffed Kalisto in the dumpster, it’s like he was putting them all in there with him, especially Reigns.
Backstage, Angle asked Kalisto if he was sure he wanted to go through with it. Kalisto said Strowman treated him like he was garbage. He said he’s a man, not garbage. Kalisto said if he doesn’t fight for his pride then he doesn’t deserve to fight for anything. Kalisto made his entrance…
3. Braun Strowman vs. Kalisto in a dumpster match. Cole hyped it was the first dumpster match ever on Raw, as the others were at WrestleMania and King of the Ring. Kalisto had a “near dumpster” moment on the apron, but Strowman powered out of it and went back to dominate the match. Later, Strowman stood on the apron and went to pick up Kalisto, who was on the ring, but Kalisto kicked his legs. Strowman landed on his feet inside the dumpster for the upset win for Kalisto.
Kalisto beat Braun Strowman in 5:10 in a dumpster match.
Cole said winning the match might be the worst that that ever happened to Kalisto. Strowman beat up Kalisto inside the ring and then at ringside before tossing him inside the dumpster and closing the lids. Strowman pulled the dumpster away from ringside and then pushed it up the ramp.
Once Strowman was on the stage, agents Finlay, Adam Pearce, and Jamie Noble came out and told him to stop. Several referees ran out as well. Strowman opened the lid and looked at Kalisto before strapping the top lids closed. Strowman teased leaving, then pushed the dumpster off the stage….
Powell’s POV: Meh. The fall from the stage isn’t nearly as steep as it once was and the dumpster landed on its side, so it didn’t look very impressive. Strowman didn’t really lose anything by losing given the way the finish was booked, but I’m also not sure what purpose it really served other than to give him a reason to be pissed. The actual dumpster spot was a big letdown compared to Strowman’s recent pre-taped carnage. On a positive note, Kalisto’s new entrance is a little edgier and better than the old happy go lucky, kiddie entrance.
[Q6] [C] The broadcast team narrated highlights from the dumpster match and post-match angle. Kalisto was loaded onto a stretcher while the agents watched. He had a minor scrape below his left elbow, which is more than Reigns suffered from the stretcher and ambulance spot… They showed the crew and Angle wheeling Kalisto through the backstage area and into the ambulance…
A Roman Reigns video package aired and focussed on his win over Undertaker… A Bray Wyatt video aired. He spoke about how some wounds fester and infect your mind. He said the same pain awaits Randy Orton in his House of Horrors. He said he will be reborn via Orton’s pain and suffering…
Powell’s POV: I can live with the gimmick for House of Horrors being that fans have to tune in to see just what the hell the match is all about. That said, the broadcast team should be emphasizing this approach by being the voice of the fans and asking repeatedly what a House of Horrors match is. The fact that the company hasn’t taken this approach combined with the minimal hype for the match leads me to believe that they WWE officials don’t have anything special in mind and don’t want to set expectations high.
4. Dana Brooke vs. Alicia Fox. The broadcast team spoke about the Emma and Brooke storyline with Brooke opting to fly solo. Emma walked out to ringside after the match had started.
[Q7] Brooke performed a tough version of a fireman’s carry into a Michinoku Driver and got the clean win. Afterward, Emma entered the ring and hugged Brooke, who didn’t know what to make of it…
Dana Brooke beat Alicia Fox in 1:25.
The broadcast team hyped the pay-per-view. Graves said the match will start in the House of Horrors and end up in the ring…
Powell’s POV: No one cared about the women’s match. The crowd has been solid so far, but the fans were very quiet. Meanwhile, I’m a little more encouraged by the House of Horrors portion of the match apparently being pre-taped before they go live to the ring. No slideshows, guys.
Backstage, Charley Caruso interviewed Samoa Joe, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows about their six-man tag match against Seth Rollins, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass. Anderson said Joe taught them ways to torture “that walking, talking, butt nugget Enzo Amore.” Joe said he will break Rollins for the crimes he committed against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, if he even makes it to Payback. Joe said he shredded one of Seth’s ligaments the last time they were in the ring, and tonight he may come for the rest… [C]
Ring entrances for the six-man tag match took place. Enzo and Cass were out first and did their schtick at ringside when they were attacked by Gallows and Anderson, who entered via the crowd. Rollins came out to help, and Joe came out as well. Enzo was down and being checked on by medical personnel at ringside heading into the break… [C]
Angle stood on the stage and said he had a new partner for Rollins and Cass. Finn Balor made his entrance. Graves said it was a major upgrade. Cole said Balor knows something about Anderson and Gallows. Graves said they were not in Japan anymore. The heels attacked the babyface duo in the ring as Balor was coming out…
[Q8] 5. Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, and Big Cass vs. Samoa Joe, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson. Balor took an early tag and worked over Gallows, thus killing the fantasy booking hopes of countless Bullet Club fans. Rollins and cass cleared Gallows from the ring. Rollins motioned for Joe to enter.
Anderson attacked Rollins from behind, but he quickly dumped Anderson to ringside and performed a suicide dive. Rollins threw Anderson back in the ring. Joe tried to hit the bad leg of Rollins, who kicked him away. Balor took out Joe with a running dropkick on the floor. Rollins teased a Pedigree, and instead pulled Anderson in for a knee to the face and pinned him. Joe was shown seething at ringside afterward…
Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, and Big Cass beat Samoa Joe, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson in 6:00.
Backstage, The Miz spoke with Sheamus and Cesaro, who smiled at him before walking off. The Miz looked upset as the broadcast team said he would need to continue his search for a tag partner… Alexa Bliss was shown walking backstage and the broadcast team said she was coming up next… [C]
Powell’s POV: I guess this means babyface Rollins is abandoning the Pedigree in favor of the knee to the face. John Cena must be thrilled that he is on the Smackdown brand. Cheap injury jokes aside, the match and the pre-match angle were well done. They made good use of Balor while they wait for Wyatt’s program with Orton to end.
Alexa Bliss made her entrance while the broadcast team hyped her title match against Bayley for Sunday. Bliss stood in the ring and delivered a promo about how the wrestlers talk and say who they like, who they don’t like, who they want to fight, and maybe someday becoming a champion. She said others come out and talk about their childhood dream and how being in WWE is all sunshine and rainbows.
[Q9] Bliss said she thought she was going to vomit while talking about that. The crowd gave her the What? treatment. She responded by telling them that “If Alexa Bliss is the best, say what.” When they did, she said exactly. She said she would beat Bayley and become the women’s champion.
Bayley made her entrance. She said she knows Bliss is making fun of her and she’s always been the type of person to talk behind someone’s back rather than say it to their face. Bayley said she’s not talk. She said she works her butt off every day to hold on to the championship. Bayley said she will stop at nothing to walk out of her hometown with the title.
Bliss got excited about the match being in Bayley’s hometown and assumed her dad would be there. She said it would be great to take the title from Bayley in her hometown and in front of her father. Bliss said Bayley is a daddy’s girl, and a pathetic, sheltered child. “Bayley, have you ever even kissed a boy?” Bliss asked. She told her not to answer because she assumes she knows the answer. Bliss said the Cinderella story ends on Sunday.
Sasha Banks made her entrance. Bliss said it was part 3,000 of the Sasha and Bayley sideshow. She asked if Sasha puts love letters inside when she packs Bayley’s lunch. Sasha called Bliss a troll doll wannabe. Sasha said Bayley will show up Bliss and shut her up. Sasha said she was going to shut up Bliss on the spot. Bliss said she has an important match on Sunday, and Sasha is too unhinged and she didn’t feel safe being in the same ring as her. Sasha punched her. Cole said their match was up next… [C]
6. Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks. Bayley sat in on commentary. Bayley said if Sasha wants an opportunity then she will have to earn it, and she will be happy to give it to her. Bliss ended up walking out and taking the intentional count-out. Afterward, Bayley stopped Bliss from going backstage and tried to bing her back to the ring. Bliss escaped and headed backstage. Bayley turned back toward the ring, only to have Bliss strike her from behind…
Sasha Banks beat Alexa Bliss via count-out in 2:35.
Powell’s POV: They can’t pull the trigger on Sasha turning on Bayley soon enough for me. Sasha coming out and defending Bayley at every turn is a turnoff, but it’s obviously building toward the split.
[Q10] Backstage, Ambrose told Jericho he needs him to take him off the list. Jericho said no one gets taken off the list. Jericho asked why he would when Ambrose owes him $15,000 for the jacket he destroyed. Jericho also said he had to pull 69 thumbtacks out of his flesh following one of their matches. Jericho liked the jacket that Ambrose gave him. “You just unmade the list,” Jericho announced. Ambrose was happy and got fired up about their tag match. Jericho looked at him like he was nuts, then put him back on the list after he left the room… [C]
Cole announced Anderson and Gallows vs. Enzo and Big Cass for the Payback Kickoff Show. He also announced Miz TV with Finn Balor for the Kickoff Show…
Backstage, Charly Caruso hyped the Marine 5 movie and was about to interview Heath Slater and Curtis Axel. The Miz and Maryse showed up and asked about the two of them being his tag partner. Slater said he had a partner. Rhyno showed up eating cheese whiz and crackers. Miz told him he would never work in this town again. “Kansas City?” Axel asked. Miz said Hollywood and called him a moron. Someone dropped off a note for Miz, who smiled and showed it to Maryse, adding that he has an awesome tag team partner…
Curt Hawkins stood in the ring and issued an open challenge, questioning who had what it took to enter his star factory. Apollo Crews made his entrance…
7. Apollo Crews vs. Curt Hawkins. Crews performed an enzuigiri and followed up with his powerbomb for the win. After the match, Titus O’Neil showed up and raised the arm of Crews, who didn’t look nearly as happy to see Titus as Titus did him…
Apollo Crews defeated Curt Hawkins in 2:10.
Powell’s POV: If Titus recruiting Crews to the Titus Brand is on Raw, what in the world is holding down the fort on WWE Main Event these days?
Cole hyped an update on the condition of Kalisto, and a look ahead at Strowman’s rivalry with Roman Reigns heading into Payback…
[Q11] [C] The broadcast team narrated highlights of the Strowman and Kalisto match. Cole said the update was that Kalisto had suffered hip and cervical trauma…
Cole spoke about an interview that Reigns gave to WWE Network with Roman saying he has never experienced a loss of someone as close as his brother, who died last week. They also emphasized that he will be back on Sunday… A video package on Reigns vs. Strowman aired…
Backstage, Austin Aries pitched an idea for 205 Live’s main event. Angle said he would take it under consideration. Aries left and then Angle spotted the Miz and asked if he found a tag partner. Miz said his partner found him and he would feel sorry for Ambrose and Jericho. “The Drifter” Elias Samson strolled through. Angle assumed he was the partner. Miz said he doesn’t even know him… [C]
[Q12] The broadcast team hyped Neville vs. Jack Gallagher as the main event for 205 Live on Tuesday… Ring entrances for the main event took place. Ambrose was out first. Jericho wore the Christmas light jacket that Ambrose made him. Miz and Mayrse were out next, and Miz carried the piece of paper with him to the ring.
Miz took the mic and said his tag partner had a flair for the dramatic, but he is a star and his opponents were in trouble. Miz introduced “my tag team partner.” Nothing happened. Miz said his partner was late, so they needed to cancel the match. Miz and Maryse started to leave, but Kurt Angle’s music stopped them in their tracks. Angle walked onto the stage to the obligatory “you suck” singalong. Angle recalled telling Miz to find a partner, and said the match was still on…
8. The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose. The match started as a handicap match. Jericho chopped Miz, who was still upset by Angle’s ruling. Ambrose bulldogged Miz. The babyfaces clotheslined him over the top rope. Cole said Miz clearly hoped his partner would show up at some point. [C]
Miz, who was worked over by the babyfaces coming out of the break, had a large bruise on the side of his left thigh.Booker said he wasn’t a fan of Miz, yet he didn’t think the two on one match was fair. Cole said Miz talked himself into this match.
[Overrun] Miz got in some offense on Ambrose, who tagged in Jericho. Miz sold for Jericho’s signature spots including a Lionsault, but he blocked a Codebreaker. Jericho dropkicked Miz to the floor. Miz started to head up the ramp, but Ambrose ran up and stopped him. Ambrose worked over Miz and cleared off the broadcast table while the broadcast team ran off. Ambrose set up for a move, but the Wyatt video flashed.
Bray Wyatt stood in place of Miz when the lights were turned on. Wyatt got the better of Ambrose and then performed Sister Abigail into the video wall. Jericho hit Wyatt a few times, but Miz attacked Jericho. Wyatt and Jericho brought Miz to the ring. Miz walked into a Codbreaker. Wyatt performed Sister Abigail on Jericho. Wyatt stood over Jericho. Miz smiled and put his arm on Wyatt, who gave him Sister Abigail and then knelt over him and said, “Follow the buzzards” to close the show…
Bray Wyatt and The Miz fought Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose to an apparent no-contest.
Powell’s POV: What a strange main event for a pay-per-view go-home show as not a single advertised pay-per-view match was featured amongst the four wrestlers involved. The babyface duo didn’t look great by working over a pest heel, but the live crowd seem to take it like the heel was getting what he had coming to him. The big bad of Payback is Wyatt heading into his House of Horrors match, yet he closed the show by delivering a crowd pleasing Sister Abigail on heel Miz. Overall, this show did not leave me more anxious for Payback than I was going in. I will have more to say in my member exclusive audio review later tonight, and my WWE Raw Hit List on Tuesday. Thanks for watching along with me.