6/12 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Brock Lesnar returns for revenge on Samoa Joe, Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy for the Raw Tag Titles, the build to WWE Great Balls of Fire

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Lafayette, Louisiana at Cajundome

[Q1] Raw opened with a recap of Samoa Joe’s promo and angle with Paul Heyman… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T were on commentary (with JoJo as the ring announcer)…

Brock Lesnar’s music played and he and Paul Heyman headed out. Lesnar had the WWE Universal Championship around his waist and smiled before doing his shuffle on the stage and then heading to the ring. Once in the ring, it was more shuffles and smiles from Lesnar. Heyman introduced himself and said he was there to unleash the beast. Heyman said it was Samoa Joe’s day of reckoning.

Heyman said he showed Joe the respect he felt he deserved last week. “Like a shark luring the chum into his domain, Samoa Joe lured me in and took me out,” Heyman said. Heyman said Joe put his hands on Brock’s guy in Brock’s name, and that means now Lesnar has a problem. Heyman said the problem would be solved by the greatest problem solver in the history of WWE.

Heyman told viewers to think about all of the Samoans who have been in WWE. He said they are all related and they are all proud of each other’s accomplishments. “Except for one, Samoa Joe, the one Samoan all the other Samoans want nothing to do with,” Heyman said. He called Joe a mutt and said his defining moment was putting the Coquina Clutch on him. Heyman said the hold was everything Joe told him it would be. Heyman said the first thing he thought was what would happen if Joe applied the hold on Lesnar. Brock laughed. Heyman said that “as a dog, as a mutt” Joe would never get the Coquina Clutch on Lesnar.

Samoa Joe’s music interrupted Heyman. Joe headed to the ring while Heyman retreated to ringside. Joe entered the ring and stood face to face with Lesnar. Lesnar smirked, and Joe gave him a headbutt. Lesnar shoved Joe into the corner. Security ran out. Both men disposed of security quickly. Kurt Angle was shown on the ramp calling for more help. Joe took Lesnar down briefly. They battled in the corner until a group of mid and undercard wrestlers ran out to separate them.

Joe broke free of the wrestlers and caught Lesnar with a kick. The wrestlers took Joe to ringside. Lesnar broke free and followed Joe to ringside and struck him once before he was pulled off again. Lesnar and Joe glared at one another with Brock at ringside and Joe being led up to the stage…

Cole shifted into hyping the Raw Tag Title match and said it would be a best of three falls match. He labeled it the main event. “What a start to Monday Night Raw,” Cole said heading into a break…

Powell’s POV: A good segment. Cole quickly transitioning away from it to deliver hype made it feel a little too business as usual. I get the need to hype something else before the NBA game starts, but they could have done that at the top of the show and created more of an out of control feel heading into the break. Hopefully they keep this brawl going throughout the course of the show rather than just making it a one segment and done night for Lesnar. I did enjoy that the headbutt was a fun callback to Joe’s feud with Kurt Angle in TNA, which started with Angle headbutting Joe.

[Q2] [C] Cole recapped the Lesnar and Joe angle…

Elias Samson sat in the ring on his stool with a guitar in hand and asked who wants to walk with him. Samson told fans his song was inspired by them. He asked them to keep their cellphones down until he’s finished. The song was about Louisiana being the laughing stock of the USA and how he couldn’t wait to get away. He also sang about Dean Ambrose and how he will fall again. Ambrose’s music interrupted Samson…

1. Dean Ambrose vs. Elias Samson. A recap aired of the Miz celebration from last week, which ended with Ambrose attacking Miz. They cut to break a few minutes into the match with Samson rolling to ringside to elude Ambrose. [C]

[Q3] Ambrose got a two count off a fisherman’s suplex. Samson came back with a boot to the face, but Ambrose sent him to ringside and performed a suicide dive moments later. They went to the ropes where Ambrose blocked a superplex attempt and headbutted him off the ropes. The Miz ran out and distracted Ambrose, who was rolled up for a two count. Ambrose came right back with his Lunatic Lariat.

Ambrose tossed Miz into the barricade and was then distracted by Maryse briefly. Ambrose scrambled to return to the ring to beat a ten count. Samson dropped his knees on Ambrose, then performed his swinging neckbreaker finisher for the win…

Elias Samson defeated Dean Ambrose in 11:55.

Graves hyped the tag title main event… [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin, Kevin Owens, and Dolph Ziggler in a six-man tag match, plus Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton going face to face on the Money in the Bank go-home show…

Powell’s POV: An okay match with Ambrose continuing to no-sell moments after he takes impactful offense from his opponents. You had to know Miz was getting involved the moment they dedicated the pre-match buildup to recapping his segment last week. I’d love to see WWE get back to Lesnar and Joe tonight because it’s already settled into being just another show.

A Goldust video aired. He quoted “The Godfather” about keeping friends close and enemies closer. He said R-Truth was jealous. He questioned whether he makes Truth feel uncomfortable. Goldust said nothing lasts forever unless you’re made of gold. He told Truth to buckle up because he hasn’t seen anything yet and the golden age is back…

Backstage, Angle chased down The Miz and Maryse. Angle was upset, saying he already had to put up with Joe and Lesnar, and now Miz got involved with Ambrose. Miz spoke about how beautiful the grandfather clock was that Ambrose caused him to destroy. He went for a kiss, but Maryse turned her head away.

Miz brought up Angle’s “personal problem” and told him to fire Ambrose. Angle wondered what Miz knew about his problem. Angle told Miz he would never speak to him that way again. Angle said he wasn’t going to do anything to Ambrose and told Miz to do something about it himself…

Powell’s POV: Didn’t Miz just do something about it? Are Miz and Maryse doing their own version of Melania Trump pulling her hand away from her husband’s attempt to hold her hand?

[Q4] Cole set up a video package on Cedric Alexander, labeling him one of 205 Live’s brightest young stars… Backstage, Noam Dar was face timing with Alicia Fox in his locker room. Alexander entered the room and told Dar that he’s done fighting him and finished with Fox. Alicia told Alexander to say anything he had to say to her face. She was wearing a neck brace and said Dar would kick his face in. Alexander said it would all end tonight… [C]

2. Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar. Dar walked out holding his phone and was still face timing with Fox, and her end of the conversation was shown on the big screen and could be heard by the live crowd. He told her he would call her back, but she wasn’t having it. He eventually set down the phone in the corner. The bell rang. Alexander hit the Lumbar Check and got the quick pin…

Cedric Alexander pinned Noam Dar in 0:07.

The broadcast team hyped the tag title match as the main event, and Bray Wyatt as coming up next… [C]

Powell’s POV: Fox was grating and obnoxious and not in a good heelish way but rather in a change the channel manner. Raw has zero momentum heading into the NBA game that starts just minutes from now.

A brief Roman Reigns video package aired…

Powell’s POV: Damn, it’s like they want viewers to watch the NBA game.

[Q5] Cole hyped that Roman Reigns would tell viewers what his plans are for SummerSlam next week on Raw…

Bray Wyatt was shown staring into the camera somewhere backstage. He spoke about the world ending and did the “I’m here” bit before making his entrance. Once in the ring, said those who deny him will be judged and those who sit in apathy will pay for their guilt. He spoke about Seth Rollins being punished and laughed at Rollins thinking he had it all figured out. Wyatt said that if you take his name in vain then you will fall.

Powell’s POV: Bray Dammit.

Seth Rollins made his entrance wearing black jeans. Rollins entered the ring and mocked the idea of Wyatt costing him match with Joe simply because he called him a few names. Rollins called Wyatt a coward and dared him to prove him wrong. Wyatt told Rollins that he doesn’t want this fight. “My power is more than you can possibly fathom.” The Wyatt video flashed. Wyatt disappeared from the ring, leaving Rollins. Wyatt appeared on the big screen and said that while Seth was able to slay a king, gods live forever…

Backstage, Charly Caruso interviewed Matt and Jeff Hardy about their best of three falls tag title match. Matt said they were in for a long night and they are the most physical team they’ve been in the ring with. Jeff said it only takes one fall to have your tooth kicked out of your mouth. Matt said they will reclaim the Raw Tag Titles…

A graphic touted that “free agent” John Cena will return to Smackdown on July 4…

Powell’s POV: As if the Bray and Rollins feud doesn’t feel flat enough, now Bray is talking about his powers again. Meanwhile, I assume that Cena is going to be bouncing between the two brands, though I suppose they could play up some mystery of which brand his character will sign with.

[Q6] 3. Kalisto vs. Apollo Crews (w/Titus O’Neil). Titus recruit Akira Tozawa was sitting in the crowd at ringside. Titus was talking to him during the opening minute, but Tozawa acted annoyed. Crews won with a sit-out powerbomb.

Apollo Crews defeated Kalisto in 2:15.

After the match, Titus picked up Tozawa and brought him over the barricade and into the ring. Titus took a selfie with a happy Crews and a seemingly bewildered Tozawa…

Backstage, The Miz invited Heath Slater to join his entourage. Rhyno, who was eating cheese and crackers, told Miz that Slater already had a partner. Miz said he wasn’t talking to Rhyno. Miz said he made Slater a star in The Marine 5. Miz told Slater all he had to do was ask if he wanted the job. Slater said that he wanted to be Intercontinental Champion when he was growing up. Miz told him that he would make sure he gets an IC Title shot “someday” if he joined him. Rhyno took offense again. Rhyno told Miz to find a partner because they would have a tag match…

Powell’s POV: The Titus Brand. Rhyno with his cheese and crackers. Raw’s undercard is filled with the company repeating one note jokes over and over. At least Rhyno caught on a little. The Titus Brand is eye rolling.

Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss came to the ring and complained that she was forced to have a title match with Nia Jax when she should have had a celebration last week. She said she had no obligations this week. She brought up the women’s Money in the Bank match. She was interrupted by Nia Jax, who took offense to Bliss saying she was forced into their match after she had promised her a title shot.

[Q7] Bliss said she was thrilled to have a title match with Jax. She said she wanted to have a classic match, but it was ruined by Mickie James and Dana Brooke. She said she wants them held accountable for their actions. James and Brooke came out. James called Bliss “a little dwarf” and said that she is a six-time women’s champion and therefore Bliss had a long way to go before she reached her territory.

James and Brooke entered the ring and tried to stir the pot by recalling Bliss telling them that “we have a Nia Jax problem.” Bliss called Brooke disgruntled, and said the spotlight is fading on James. She said they would do anything for attention.

Emma made her entrance and said the spotlight belongs on her because she is back. Emma said she is ready to take her rightful place at the top of the women’s division. Bliss laughed and told Jax that they were trying to take their spotlight. Sasha Banks made her entrance and told Bliss that being a champion means you are the best day in and day out. Banks said Bliss wants to run her mouth every week instead.

Sasha entered the ring and said she would show Bliss how a boss throws a party. Bliss took a cheap shot at Bliss. The women started fighting for no good reason heading into the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: I think the idea was that Jax was unaware of what Bliss was shown saying on last week’s show, which is always silly. This was probably a setup for a six-woman tag match, but I have no idea how they could choose teams given that everyone disliked Bliss.

4. Sasha Banks, Mickie James, and Dana Brooke vs. Alexa Bliss, Emma, and Nia Jax. The match was joined in progress. Cole said Angle booked the match during the break. Booker said he disagreed with Angle booking the match because it put Bliss in a bad spot because everyone wants a piece of her. James performed a Thesz Press off the top rope and onto Jax on the floor. In the ring, Banks applied the Bank Statement on Emma for the submission win. Bliss and Sasha had a long distance staredown after the match…

Sasha Banks, Mickie James, and Dana Brooke beat Alexa Bliss, Emma, and Nia Jax in 3:30 of television time.

Cole hyped Miz being forced to find a partner for the match with Rhyno and Slater, and Graves said they would take a look at Bayley’s “devastating loss” at Extreme Rules… [C] An ad aired for Bring It To The Table, which airs after Raw on WWE Network…

Powell’s POV: They appear to be moving away from Bliss vs. Jax and into Bliss vs. Banks. It’s just too bad that Emma tapped in her television return. She just can’t catch a break from creative, but this may have been more about wanting Banks to go over, yet not wanting her to tap out Bliss or Jax.

[Q8] The Raw broadcast team hyped the Money in the Bank event… A Finn Balor video package aired…

Footage aired from earlier in the day of Graves interviewing Bayley. He brought up her inability to get extreme in the Extreme Rules match. She said she was there to put smiles on faces, not bruises on their bodies. She said she was there to be 100 percent her. She said the person the fans see is her and she won’t change who she is. She said she will continue to be Bayley. Graves asked what the future holds. She said she was happy he asked because fans have been asking the same thing.

Bayley said she wrote down on her first day of training that she wants to be the best. She said that goals remains the same despite the loss and she wants to recapture the Raw Women’s Championship. She said she wants to talk into WrestleMania in New Orleans as champion to send the message to fans and little girls that dreams can come true. She asked Graves for a hug. He awkwardly accepted. “I need a cigarette,” Graves said…

Slater and Rhyno made their entrance for the tag match against Miz and a partner. The broadcast team questioned who would team with Miz… [C]

Powell’s POV: The Bayley interview didn’t really change anything or set the stage for a shift in character. It was basically her saying that she’s remaining true to herself. The hug part was awkward and it was hard not to relate to Graves as he cringed.

5. The Miz and a man in a bear suit vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno. Graves told bad bear jokes that would make Jerry Lawler blush. Miz wasn’t happy about the bear being in his corner. There was a chant for the bear from the live crowd. The bear made a blind tag. Cole said he was “bearly legal but legal.”

Slater tried to touch the bear’s head, but the bear punched him. “The bear is pawing Slater,” Cole said. The bear applied a bearhug. Yes, really. Rhyno broke it up. The bear tagged Miz, who then attacked the bear and ran him into the barricade. Miz unmasked the bear, who was not Dean Ambrose. Miz returned to the ring. A masked bear entered the ring. The bear gave Slater a kick and Dirty Deeds. Maryse tried to warn Miz. Ambrose unmasked. Miz turned and accidentally knocked his wife off the apron. She sold ass pain. Yes, really. Maryse headed up the ramp. Miz looked upset, then turned around and took Dirty Deeds from Ambrose, who put Slater on top of Miz for the win…

Heath Slater and Rhyno beat The Miz and a guy in a bear suit.

Powell’s POV: I’m sure Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn were having all sorts of fun with the bear jokes based on the cornball cracks from Cole and Graves. This may have been silly fun if the product was hot and the rest of the show was clicking, but that’s just not the case. By the way, imagine if LeBron James was a free agent again. Do you think the NBA would tease it in a graphic and have their broadcast team ignore it?

The broadcast team set up footage of Matt and Jeff Hardy returning at WrestleMania and winning the Raw Tag Titles and other moments from their feud with Sheamus and Cesaro…

[Q10] [C] Neville was in the ring for a non-title match. Rich Swann came out dancing. Cole said Neville’s next title defense will occur at the pay-per-view. Cole hyped New Orleans tickets for Tuesday’s Smackdown show. Neville attacked Swann from behind and roughed him up before the bell. Neville put Swann in the Rings of Saturn.

Neville called for a mic. “Austin Aries, TJP, and now Rich Swann,” Neville said. “Get out of my ring.” Neville pushed Swann out of the ring with his foot and said it felt good to the king. “Or does it?” he asked. Neville asked how many more pretenders he had to obliterate before getting the respect he deserves. Neville said he hears what is said about Tozawa, but it would take more than cheap tweets from Titus O’Neil. Neville told Tozawa to tread carefully or he would be forced to bend a knee and kneel before him…

Powell’s POV: I’m looking forward to a likely Neville vs. Tozawa match, but why in the world do they think this is the time to put Tozawa on camera with Titus O’Neil?

Backstage, Charly interviewed Sheamus and Cesaro, who spoke about knowing their opponents. Cesaro pulled out a Hardy Boyz book. Shemaus said it was an inspiration for thousands of fans who want to wear pantyhose on their hands. Funny. Sheamus said they would inspire them to write a sequel, then he and Cesaro proclaimed that they are the bar…

Graves hyped Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson for after the break… [C]

No televised entrance for Gallows and Anderson, as they were already in the ring. Cole narrated highlight footage of the Enzo and Cass drama. Big Cass was shown down backstage again. Enzo checked on him. Anderson and Gallows laughed upon watching the footage on the big screen and mocked Cass’s injury. Anderson said if Cass didn’t want to fight them he just needed to saying something. “You didn’t need to go an beat yourself up over it,” he said.

[Q11] Enzo and Cass’s music played. Enzo led the way while Cass shoved away officials with one hand while holding his head with the other…

6. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Cass started the match and went on the offensive while acting like he was having a hard time keeping his balance. Enzo checked in and worked over Gallows, but then turned into a big kick from Anderson. A short time later, the heels won with the Magic Killer on Enzo while Cass held his head at ringside…

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson beat Enzo Amore and Big Cass in 2:25.

Gallows and Anderson were about to work over Enzo afterward, but Big Show’s music played and he headed to the ring. Gallows and Anderson ran away. Show helped Enzo get to his feet. Cass recovered and glared at Show from the apron until Show left the ring. Enzo tried to explain what happened to Cass, who seemed upset…

Powell’s POV: Concussed Cass is better than full strength Enzo. The weekly injuries are getting repetitive, so hopefully they get to the reveal soon.

An R-Truth video aired. He quoted “Cool Hand Luke” and said there was nothing cool about what Goldust did. He said Goldust stabbed him in the bank. He said he doesn’t forgive or forget, he gets even. “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” Truth said…

Show was walking backstage when Enzo approached him and thanked him for saving him. Enzo said Cass is a big guy and yet one blow took him out two weeks in a row. Enzo said he needed to know for piece of mind (whether Show did it). Show said it was Cass who wanted to know. Show labeled Cass sawft…

The broadcast team recapped the opening segment with Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe…

Powell’s POV: I missed it earlier, but Dash Wilder was one of the wrestlers who pulled Joe and Lesnar apart.

Backstage, Mike Rome interviewed Samoa Joe, who said it’s about the actions not the words. Joe recalled what he did to Heyman last week, and then said Lesnar let everyone know that it’s his house when he opened the show. Joe said his response was to let Lesnar know and feel the man he will be going to battle with. Joe said he will lock Lesnar in his finisher, put him to sleep, and become the new Universal Champion…

[Q12] Matt and Jeff Hardy made their entrance for the main event. Graves said the best of three falls match was up next… [C] The Roman Reigns video package aired. Cole hyped the Reigns announcement regarding SummerSlam for next week’s Raw… Sheamus and Cesaro made their entrance…

7. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy in a best of three falls match for the Raw Tag Titles. The bell rang and Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick, but Matt ducked it. Jeff tagged in. Cesaro pulled Matt off the apron. Sheamus caught Jeff with a kick to the chest as he was pushing himself up on the top rope. Sheamus covered Jeff for the pin. Sheamus and Cesaro won the first fall at 1:07 to go up 1-0. [C]

[Overrun] Matt took a hot tag and worked over Cesaro by slamming his head repeatedly into each turnbuckle, which got a rise out of the crowd. A shot time later, Matt hit a Twist of Fate on Cesaro and pinned him at 8:55 to even things up 1-1.

Sheamus caught Matt with a boot to the head and a good knee to the head and then covered him for a nice near fall. Cesaro applied the Sharpshooter at 11:20, but Matt reached the ropes to break the hold. At 13:30, Jeff performed a Swanton on Sheamus and had him pinned, but Cesaro pulled Sheamus to ringside to break it up. The teams ended up brawling at ringside and the referee counted them both out to end the match. Afterward, Jeff dove onto both opponents and then the Hardys played to the crowd as the ref gave the title belts back to the champions…

Sheamus and Cesaro fought Matt and Jeff Hardy to a double count-out in the third fall of a best of three falls match in 14:40.

Powell’s POV: I’m not a fan of booking quick finishes in best of three falls matches as we saw here with the champions jumping out to the quick 1-0 lead, but the overall match was entertaining despite the count-out finish. The opening segment with Lesnar and Joe was fun while it lasted. Fans who watched the NBA Finals and the pre-show coverage didn’t miss much beyond the pull-apart. Well, unless you really enjoy watching guys wrestle in bear costumes. I will have more to say in my members’ exclusive audio review later tonight.


Readers Comments (2)

  1. Truly a “everyone will be watching the NBA anyway, let’s get the Brock-Joe segment out of the way before the game starts and then just phone in the rest of the show” kind of show.

    On Bayley: I think they’re accepting that the Bayley character just isn’t meant to be over among long time wrestling fans, among men 18+. They flirted with the idea of a harder-edged Bayley and the’ve decided, nope, they’re quite happy with a character who mostly appeals to young girls and sells merch by the ton. Not every character has to be a badass with shades of gray. I suspect that segment went over fine with the people it was meant to appeal to, that just isn’t you or me.

    That doesn’t mean Bayley out of the title scene forever, it means a long underdog fight to win “the right way” and build up perhaps to an eventual title win at Wrestlemania.

    They need to go somewhere with the Titus Brand stuff and they need to pull the trigger on the Enzo & Cass angle, definitely. I think the point of Tozawa with Titus was genuinely just an excuse to get his name and face on camera more so that he’s not “WHO?” when he gets into it with Neville.

    • Bayley was over with the NXT crowd, which is targeted towards the 18+ crowd much more than WWE, so that isn’t the problem.

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