By Jason Powell
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Grand Rapids, Michigan at Van Andel Arena
[Q1] Raw opened with video package that focussed on the five-way match with Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns at Extreme Rules with the winner earning a title shot against Brock Lesnar… The broadcast team was Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T. The ring announcer was JoJo…
Bray Wyatt made his entrance while the broadcast team hyped the Extreme Rules main event and recapped Joe interfering in the Wyatt vs. Rollins match last week, and Wyatt performing Sister Abigail on both men after the match.
“Stand up,” Wyatt said several times to start his promo. He told the fans to stand up and rejoice in him as their one true savior. “The Beast cometh,” he said. “The Beast is all around us, man. The Beast, he lives in each and every one of you.” Wyatt said he will rip open the chest of The Beast and feed on his black heart. Wyatt said The Beast will die a most magnificent death at his hands.
Wyatt said four men sill suffer at Extreme Rules, while he begins his brilliant crusade to slay the best once and for all. “I alone can protect you,” Wyatt said. He mocked the idea of fans thinking Seth Rollins can protect them. Wyatt said he sacrificed Rollins and Joe. Wyatt said there are no friends in his world, only followers. Wyatt said to ask Finn Balor. Fans cheered. Wyatt said the fans try to live vicariously through Balor, “but even the Demon himself will see the truth” which is that only he can slay The Beast.
Wyatt said there is a fifth. Fans booed and then booed louder when Wyatt mentioned Roman Reigns by name. He asked what one silly yard means to a man who owns the world. Wyatt said this is his world. Roman’s entrance music interrupted Wyatt, and he walked to the ring, still with his shoulder wrapped.
Reigns said that if Wyatt is going to run his mouth in his yard, he should do it to his face. Wyatt laughed maniacally and said, “It’s good to see you too, old friend.” Wyatt said he is the only one who can beat Lesnar. Reigns said it’s not going to happen because he will be the one who wins the five-way and beats Lesnar. Reigns said he wasn’t worried about Extreme Rules, he was concerned with getting Wyatt’s “ass out of my yard.”
Raw general manager Kurt Angle made his entrance and played to the fans on the stage. Angle said the five-way may be the most important match of the new era. Angle said he wants to know who will carry the momentum going into Extreme Rules. Angle booked Reigns vs. Wyatt for “right now.” Angle called for a referee… [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped Jinder Mahal’s championship celebration…
Powell’s POV: Wyatt came off a bit like King Ezekiel on The Walking Dead. It wasn’t a lousy promo, and The Beast talk is somewhat effective in hyping Lesnar’s return, but there was a campiness to all of his talk about slaying the beast. On the plus side, I like that they hyped the five-way right out of the gate and they are doing a good job of making it feel like a big main event.
[Q2] 1. Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt. Cole said this was a renewal of a great rivalry and recalled Wyatt preventing Reigns from winning Money in the Bank and then the two of them feuding to a Hell in a Cell match. Both men were down nearly four minutes into the match when Samoa Joe’s entrance theme played and he headed to the ring. Joe looked at both men and jawed at Wyatt, who sat in the corner.
Reigns got to his feet and Joe put him in the Coquina Clutch. Reigns broke it by backing Joe into the corner. Wyatt attacked Reigns, only to have Joe put him in the Coquina Clutch. Seth Rollins ran out and ended up clearing Joe from the ring with a dropkick. Wyatt charged at Rollins only to take a Superman Punch from Reigns. Reigns and Rollins looked at one another while the heels were at ringside…
Roman Reigns beat Bray Wyatt by DQ in 4:40.
Cole hyped Finn Balor vs. Karl Anderson. He noted their relationship goes back years, but said it would now be adversarial. Graves hyped Matt Hardy vs. Sheamus with the winner determining the stipulation for the Hardys vs. Sheamus and Cesaro match at Extreme Rules… [C]
Powell’s POV: I assume the opening match is setting up a tag team match for later in the show since they kept the match so brief. One positive about Wyatt right now is that his character is more straight forward and seems to have abandoned the hocus pocus silliness we saw throughout his feud with Randy Orton.
Backstage, Reigns told Rollins that he didn’t need his help. Rollins said he was there for Joe, not to help Reigns. Angle showed up and booked them against Joe and Wyatt in the main event. Both men nodded in agreement.
After Reigns and Rollins walked off, “The Drifter” Elias Samson strolled into the picture strumming his guitar. Angle said Samson has been trying to get his attention for a long time. He booked Samson in his first Raw match against Dean Ambrose. Samson went back to playing the guitar…
[Q3] 2. Akira Tozawa vs. Ariya Daivari. Brian Kendrick was shown watching the match on a backstage monitor while Cole hyped Tozawa vs. Kendrick in a street fight for 205 Live. Cole asked if Kendrick was looking for pointers. Kendrick said he’s the teacher and Tozawa is the student.
Daivari turned Tozawa inside out with a clothesline during the opening minute. Graves asked if Kendrick was impressed with Tozawa. Kendrick said the only thing Tozawa does better than him are his stupid chants. Tozawa put Daivari down and performed a top rope senton for the win. Kendrick said he was impressed, but not as impressed as everyone will be when he destroys Tozawa in their street fight…
Akira Tozawa defeated Ariya Daivari in 2:05.
Graves hyped Ambrose vs. Samson for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Tozawa got major air on the senton finisher, which looked great live and even cooler on the replay. I’m anxious to see how Samson does with a fresh start on the main roster. His NXT run was disappointing, but hopefully they’ve tweaked things a bit. I like that he’s been playing the guitar backstage and I’m hopeful that he won’t be singing in the ring even if it is easy heat. There’s something dark and brooding about him in these backstage segments that may disappear if he starts singing again.
Backstage, Charly Caruso asked Sasha Banks how she was approaching her rubber match with Alicia Fox. She said it was like a get out of jail free card and was happy to be finished with the crazy bat and her boyfriend. Fox and Noam Dar showed up. Dar said he had another name for The Boss, but when Sasha pushed for it, he said he wouldn’t tell her…
JoJo introduced Samson, who sat on a stool in the ring and played his guitar and sang about how fans could say goodbye to the Lunatic on his last night. Ambrose’s music interrupted him and he made his entrance…
3. Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose vs. Elias Samson in a non-title match. The Miz and Maryse sat in on commentary. Samson had Ambrose down with his head under the ropes. Samson performed a running knee to the head of Ambrose and then smiled heading into a break. [C]
[Q4] Ambrose battle back after the break. Ambrose went up top for his elbow and leapt into a great knee to the face from Samson. Elias covered Ambrose, who countered into a pin of his own for a two count. Ambrose performed the Lunatic Lariat. The Miz ran to the ring while both men were down. Miz struck Samson while Graves put it over as a brilliant move in that it resulted in Ambrose being disqualified. Ambrose chased Miz around the ring and then back inside it. Samson performed a neckbreaker on Ambrose. Miz applauded Samson from the stage…
Elias Samson defeated Dean Ambrose by DQ in 9:50.
Cole hyped the Ambrose vs. Miz match and the stipulation that Ambrose will lose the title if he is disqualified… Graves hyped Balor vs. Anderson for after the break… Backstage, a referee led Big Cass to a Enzo Amore, who was laid out on the ground. Cass asked what happened and told the ref to go get help… [C]
Powell’s POV: The knee to the face of the leaping Ambrose looked terrific, but it was wiped out immediately when Ambrose just came right back with a counter pin and his lariat. Overall, though, a solid debut for Samson. The singing gimmick doesn’t do anything for me, but there’s no denying it gets heat. However, it remains to be seen whether it’s good heat or the go away heat that he received at times during his NXT run.
Backstage, EMTs were tending to Amore while Cass and Angle stood by. Enzo didn’t remember who attacked him. Angle told him they would get to the bottom of it, then Enzo was helped out of the picture by the EMTs. Cass said Angle better hope that he finds out who did it before he does…
Powell’s POV: Someone doing God’s work? Er, are they setting up the return of The Revival? Dash Wilder has been sidelined for five weeks. He was expected to miss eight weeks, but they could still do an angle leading to the return of Wilder and tag partner Scott Dawson.
Finn Balor made his entrance for the match against Karl Anderson. Balor started to deliver an in-ring promo.
[Q5] Paul Heyman interrupted Balor. Heyman said that if Wyatt won the five-way at Extreme Rules, Brock Lesnar would paint Wyatt as a victim. Heyman brought up Rollins and said Lesnar would make him a “freakin’ victim.” Heyman said Samoa Joe is a hired mercenary and a badass, but he’s a victim against Lesnar.
Heyman mentioned “the one that laid the Dead Man down.” Heyman said Reigns is the odds on favorite. Heyman climbed onto the ring apron after saying Reigns would be Lesnar’s victim. Heyman asked Balor if he could enter the ring. “Please,” Balor replied. Heyman said Balor is nobody’s victim. Heyman said Balor is not an underdog either. “They may not see you coming, but I see you coming,” Heyman said.
Heyman said he believes Balor is the most talented in-ring performer today. Heyman ran through Lesnar’s accomplishments and said Balor doesn’t see all that, but rather he believes Lesnar is the same as the other competitors at Extreme Rules – Balor’s victim. Heyman said that’s why he came to the ring to look him in the eye and tell him that he looks forward and is most intrigued by the possibility of Lesnar vs. Balor for the Universal Championship.
Heyman wished Balor luck on behalf of himself and Lesnar, then offered a handshake. Balor accepted and then said he was happy that Heyman was there, but he wishes Lesnar was there. “Surprise, surprise,” Balor said. Balor told Heyman to tell Lesnar that he will win the five-way match and go on to face him for the championship that he never lost. “And you tell him that I said that Finn Balor will beat Brock Lesnar,” he said. Heyman sold it with a look of slight concern. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows made their entrance… [C]
Powell’s POV: Heyman convinced me that we will be seeing Lesnar vs. Balor at the Great Balls of Fore pay-per-view. Of course, it’s Heyman, so he could probably convince me next week that Joe or Wyatt or Rollins would win the five-way if he took a similar approach with them. However, Balor makes a lot of sense as the replacement challenger for Braun Strowman, and he’s the type of guy who could gain something in defeat with a strong outing against Lesnar.
4. Finn Balor vs. Karl Anderson (w/Luke Gallows). Anderson received a good amount of offense early.
[Q6] Balor performed a flip dive onto Anderson and Gallows. Back inside the ring, Balor caught Anderson with the sling blade clothesline and then hit the Coup de Grace for the win…
Finn Balor beat Karl Anderson in roughly 7:00.
Cole hyped Reigns and Rollins vs. Wyatt and Joe, and Graves hyped Matt Hardy vs. Sheamus for later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: The match was a little longer and more competitive than I expected coming off the big buildup from Heyman, but obvious the right guy went over in the end.
5. Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox (w/Noam Dar). Sasha received a televised entrance, while Fox and Dar were already in the ring. Dar mocked Sasha from ringside, allowing Fox to deliver a big boot to the head. In the end, Sasha performed her double knee press as Fox was draped over the ropes and then covered her for the win. Afterward, Dar entered the ring and jawed at Sasha, who slapped him. Fox attacked Sasha from behind and put her down with a scissors kick…
Sasha Banks pinned Alicia Fox in 2:10.
Backstage, Kalisto told Apollo Crews that he’s letting Titus O’Neil fight his battles. Kalisto asked if he attacked Enzo Amore. Crews said Kalisto has known him a long time and he knows him better than that.
[Q7] Crews said Titus offered him something he can’t refuse and is known worldwide. Crews said it’s all about connections and he’s keeping his options open. Titus showed up and assumed that Kalisto wanted to be the first international member of the Titus Brand. Kalisto said he had no interest. Titus said he messed up and now Crews was going to teach him a lesson in the ring…
Cole hyped an Alexa Bliss promo for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: The Banks vs. Fox feud continues thanks to the post match attack. Meanwhile, Crews is apparently buying into whatever the Titus Brand is, which makes him the only one.
The broadcast team sat at their desk and recapped Goldust turning on R-Truth last week. Goldust was featured in a throwback style Shattered Dreams Productions video.He sat in a director’s chair and said the brightest lights may fade, but gold is the purest of them all. He said it never weathers or rusts, and has infinite light, whereas R-Truth’s light is flickering and he’s waiting for another chance to shine on his silver screen. Goldust was handed a script. He threw it down, saying he doesn’t need it because it’s his picture and he’s back in the director’s chair. Goldust said he controls how and when his next film will end. “The golden age is back,” he said…
Backstage, Caruso said it was a side of Goldust that viewers have not seen in a long time. She introduced Alexa Bliss and had her watch footage of her attack on Bayley with a kendo stick last week. Still shots aired of Bayley’s back following the kendo stick shot. Bliss said she doesn’t feel bad for Bayley and the sound of bamboo striking Bayley’s flesh makes her salivate. She said Bayley’s body would be tattooed in welts. Bliss said Bayley is plotting her revenge, but it won’t happen because she’s not capable of getting extreme. Bliss said she would do to Mickie James later in the show what she will do to Bayley at Extreme rules by turning her dreams into nightmares…
Powell’s POV: A forgettable promo by Bliss’s standards. That said, even a forgettable Bliss promo is still entertaining in the moment.
The broadcast team set up a video package of the Braun Strowman injury angle involving Roman Reigns. Cole noted that Strowman underwent surgery two weeks ago and could be out up to six months. Graves hyped the main event… [C]
[Q8] 6. Apollo Crews (w/Titus O’Neil) vs. Kalisto. Graves said the Titus Brand is all about money. He said he’s the most sought after public speaker amongst college campuses and corporations nationwide. Late in the match, Titus barked orders at Crews, who stopped to listen. Kalisto caught Crews with Salida Del Sol and pinned him clean. Afterward, Titus jawed at Crews, who bickered back…
Kalisto pinned Apollo Crews in 2:40.
Cole hyped Matt Hardy vs. Sheamus… [C]
7. Matt Hardy (w/Jeff Hardy) vs. Shemaus (w/Cesaro) for the right to pick the stipulation for the Raw Tag Title match at Extreme Rules. Matt caught Sheamus with a clothesline.
[Q9] Matt went for a Twist of Fate, but Sheamus fled to ringside. Matt followed, but Sheamus came back and went on the offensive. A “Brother Nero” chant broke out briefly. Sheamus got a two count off a clothesline from the ropes. Matt bounced back and slammed the head of Sheamus into the turnbuckle, which was followed by Delete chants. Sheamus performed a rolling senton for a two count. [C]
Matt performed a Side Effect for a two count. Matt went for his finsiher, but Sheamus avoided it. Sheamus caught Matt with a knee to the head and covered him, but Matt grabbed the bottom rope. Sheamus set up for his finisher, but Matt ducked it and rolled to ringside. Jeff took out Cesaro with a dive as he tried to interfere. Matt hit the Twist of Fate off the distraction and scored the pin…
Matt Hardy pinned Sheamus in 12:10 to earn the right to choose the stipulation for the Raw Tag Title match at Extreme Rules.
After the match, Caruso came out and asked what their stipulation is for Extreme Rules. Matt let out a “yesss,” and then said they would lock them up and tear them down in a cage match. Sheamus and Cesaro sold it as if they were unhappy…
The broadcast team recapped the opening match that set up the tag team main event. Graves questioned whether either team could get along…
[Q10] [C] 8. Austin Aries vs. Tony Nese. Neville was out with Nese and watched the match on a chair at ringside. They recapped the beatdown that Aries took from Neville and TJP on 205 Live. Nese targeted the injured left knee of Aries. At 4:00, Aries applied a guillotine. Nese tried to power out, but Aries held on and rolled into the Last Chancery for the win. After the match, Neville slammed Nese’s head into the match and then applied the Rings of Saturn while Aries mockingly clapped for him from the stage…
Austin Aries defeated Tony Nese via submission in 4:30.
Powell’s POV: Aries and Neville are having a submission match at Extreme Rules, so the submission finish was logical and I assume we’ll see more involving Aries and Neville between now and then.
Alexa Bliss was shown walking backstage while Graves hyped her match for after the break… [C]
[Q11] 9. Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James in a non-title match. Bliss performed a DDT for the clean win. After the match, Bliss grabbed a kendo stick from underneath the ring and struck James with it. Bayley ran out and tripped Bliss, who dropped the stick. Bliss fled the ring without being struck…
Alexa Bliss pinned Mickie James in 3:00 in a non-title match.
Powell’s POV: James continues to be wasted. Such a disappointing return from a creative standpoint. The post match angle was effective in terms of playing into the stipulation of the pay-per-view. By the way, this is another match heavy show. We’ve barely heard from any wrestlers over the last hour.
Graves hyped Tozawa vs. Kendrick in a street fight for 205 Live… Bray Wyatt made his entrance for the main event. Footage aired of Wyatt performing his finisher on Samoa Joe last week. Seth Rollins’ entrance started, but then they shifted to Samoa Joe’s entrance instead and he made his entrance. Joe entered the ring and shot a look at Wyatt, who smiled.
[Q12] Rollins made his entrance, and then Reigns was out last…
10. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe and Bray Wyatt. Reigns and Rollins weren’t on the same page about which one of them would start the match, but Rollins ended up getting the nod. Rollins cleared both heels from the ring and then turned and mugged for Reigns. Rollins went to ringside and went after both heels while Reigns just remained on the apron. Rollins set up for a springboard move. He leapt over Joe’s attempt to trip him up, but then Wyatt knocked him off the apron. [C]
Reigns got the better of Wyatt and struck his pose in the corner. He froze when Wyatt did the crab walk pose (even though he’s seen it hundreds of times before). Angle was shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Joe was isolated by the heels.
[Overrun] Reigns ran Joe into the post at ringside. Wyatt tried to bring Reigns back inside the ring only to be clotheslined via the top rope. Reigns made a hot tag to Rollins, who worked over Joe with a Blockbuster and then performed a dive onto Wyatt at ringside. Rollins performed the sling blade clothesline on Joe. Rollins tossed Joe to ringside and then performed a suicide dive onto both heels.
Rollins went to the ropes. Wyatt tripped him up from the floor. Joe and Wyatt set up for a double team move from the ropes, but Rollins fought them both off and then performed a cross body block onto Joe and Wyatt. Reigns returned just in time to prevent Wyatt from hitting Sister Abigail. Reigns set up for a Superman Punch, but Joe avoided it and Reigns struck Rollins accidentally. Seth wasn’t happy and asked Reigns what his problem was. Wyatt pulled Reigns to ringside. Joe put Rollins in the Coquina Clutch and the ref called for the bell once Rollins was out…
Samoa Joe and Bray Wyatt defeated Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in 15:00.
After the match, Angle was shown watching backstage. Finn Balor approached Angle and said it was a helluva main event, but he didn’t want to be left out of the fun. Balor wanted to face one of the men in the ring. Angle booked Finn “Baylor” vs. Samoa Joe vs. Bray Wyatt in a Triple Threat. Angle also booked Reigns vs. Rollins for next week. “Damn, I’m a great GM,” Angle said. “Oh, it’s true, it’s damn true.” Cole closed out the show with a quick plug for Extreme Rules…
Powell’s POV: A solid television main event with a pleasing outcome in that the heels needed the win more than the babyfaces. It was also nice to see them advertise a double main event for the Memorial Day edition of Raw. Overall, though, the show was flat. It was a wrestling heavy show with minimal storyline progression in most cases. On the plus side, the hype for the Extreme Rules event was consistent and especially strong for the main event. I will have more to say about the show in audio later tonight. If you missed it earlier today, check out the Prowrestling.net Live show hosted by me and Will Pruett at PWAudio.net.