6/19 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Roman Reigns opens the show with a SummerSlam announcement, the build to WWE Great Balls of Fire continues

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Evansville, Indiana at Ford Center

[Q1] Roman Reigns made his entrance while Michael Cole described the boos as a “thunderous reaction.” The broadcast team of Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T checked in from their usual spot (JoJo was the ring announcer). Once in the ring, Reigns stood and took in the boos.

“Some of y’all may not like this, some of y’all may love this,” Reigns said. “But when it comes down to it, I cannot be beaten one on one. It’s the truth.” He said to ask Bray Wyatt, Finn Balor, “my little brother” Seth Rollins, and Braun Strowman. Reigns boasted that he put Strowman out of commission. He also said he main evented his third WrestleMania in a row and that’s where he retired Undertaker. The fans chanted “Undertaker.”

“I respect him and he respects me because I beat him,” Reigns said of Taker. Reigns said he doesn’t care if it’s Lesnar “or if it’s that guy they call Joe, at SummerSlam I’m the number contender for the Universal Championship.” Reigns asked the fans if they wanted to know why. “Because this is my yard and I make the rules around here.”

Samoa Joe’s entrance theme interrupted Reigns. Joe headed to the ring. Joe said he couldn’t help but notice that Reigns seems to have forgotten his name. Joe said he was offended initially, but then he realized that Reigns had to make a case for his announcement. He said Reigns listed guys he’s beaten, but his name wasn’t on the list because Reigns has never beaten him. Joe said he’s the number one contender and the next Universal Champion.

Reigns said he never thought he would agree with Paul Heyman, but what he said was true. “You’ll never be Samoa Joe to me, you’ll always be just Joe.” Joe headbutted Reigns, which knocked him to ringside. Joe followed and worked over Reigns at ringside and ran him into the barricade twice. Joe rolled Reigns back inside the ring and went for the Coquina Clutch, but Reigns blocked it and then tagged Joe with a Superman Punch. Joe rolled to ringside and sold jaw pain…

A shot aired of Matt and Jeff Hardy walking backstage. Cole said they would have to go through Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson… [C] A commercial for Smackdown focussed on the women’s Money in the Bank finish and how the returning Daniel Bryan will address it…

Powell’s POV: I assume Twitter is blazing with jokes about the Just Joe character right about now. A good segment. I’m not crazy about seeing Joe sell for anyone heading into a match with Brock Lesnar, but the night is young and he may get the last laugh. Reigns proclaiming himself the number one contender for SummerSlam is interesting. If it sticks and he faces Brock Lesnar, it would seem to signify a change in the heavily rumored WrestleMania plans (unless they go back to the match again). Of course, there’s also a chance that Braun Strowman will return and somehow take the number one contender status from Reigns.

Graves announced that Kurt Angle had booked Reigns vs. Joe for later in the show…

[Q2] 1. Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Sheamus and Cesaro were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. The Hardys dominated early, but Anderson caught Jeff on the ropes and tripped him up heading into a break. [C] The heels isolated Jeff, who eventually made the hot tag. Anderson and Gallows got a good near fall on Matt, who came back with a Twist of Fate and then Jeff hit the Swanton Bomb for the win…

Matt and Jeff Hardy beat Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in 10:35.

Cole hyped Reigns vs. Joe for later in the show… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good tag match. This would have been a dream tag match not all that long ago. It continues to be a shame that WWE hasn’t done more with Anderson and Gallows. Fortunately, they are getting it right with the Hardys despite not having access to the Broken Universe…yet. By the way, Braun Strowman interfered in the Reigns vs. Joe match on the February 6 edition of Raw. Will history repeat itself?

[Q3] The latest Goldust “Shattered Dream Productions” video aired. He quoted “Sunset Boulevard” to start, then spoke about Hollywood and the side of it where dreams are shattered like broken glass. He said he has been there, but he pieced himself back quite nicely. He said he will be flying into the City of Angels on wings made of gold. Goldust invited R-Truth to the debut of his latest picture “The Shattered Truth” for next week…

Elias Samson played his guitar while sitting on a stool in the ring. He did his usual routine and then spoke about his father giving him a guitar when he was 15 and telling him he could go wherever he wants. He said his father didn’t envision him rolling into the godforsaken town of Evansville. Samson asked the fans to keep their cellphones down and to hold their applause until he finished. Samson started to strum his guitar, then said he needed to tune it. He asked the fans for complete silence and said he could sit there all night.

Finn Balor’s entrance music interrupted Samson. After performing his full entrance, Balor entered the ring and went face to face with Samson, who backed out of the ring. Cole said Balor would be in action after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: This was a nice break from Samson’s heel song about the host city of the week. The tuning bit was entertaining and the fans responded accordingly.

[Q4] 2. Finn Balor vs. Bo Dallas. Dallas has grown a beard, ditched the campaign sign, and wears a black singlet with black gloves. Dallas jumped Balor before the bell and worked him over. The referee pulled them off and eventually started the match. Dallas went right back to working over Balor. Finn came back and performed the Coup De Grace for the win…

Finn Balor beat Bo Dallas in 3:30.

The broadcast team recapped the match. Graves started listening to his headset closely, then stood up and excused himself. Cole and Booker spoke about the WWE 2K18 video game and set up the trailer, which featured a masked Seth Rollins destroying a bunch of vintage WWE items, then unmasking and smiling. Cole and Booker noted that Rollins is the cover star for the video game. They also hyped that he would be appearing after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Dallas looks better and worked an aggressive style. He was actually one of the wrestlers who helped pull Joe and Brock Lesnar apart last week. I always felt like they could have done more with the NXT persona that Bo brought to the main roster, and things just seemed to spiral downward when they didn’t deliver creatively. There’s no telling what they have in mind, but Bo’s darker look and more aggressive ring work could make him a good fit with his brother Bray Wyatt. Meanwhile, collectors must weep openly when they watch the video game trailer.

Cole and Booker spoke about the finish to the women’s Money in the Bank match. Booker said the match has no rules and Carmella came away with the briefcase, so she should keep it. Cole said many fans believe Daniel Bryan should take the contract away from her. Cole hyped Smackdown Live for Tuesday…

Backstage, Kurt Angle was on the phone telling someone that MITB was crazy and very controversial. Corey Graves entered the picture and said he knows Kurt didn’t have a good Father’s Day because he received the same text he did. Graves was about to give Angle advice when Enzo Amore and Big Cass showed up. Angle asked Enzo why he sent “a tweet like that to Conor McGregor.” Enzo said he’s stepped over bigger guys than Conor.

Cass turned the focus to how they have been attacked several times. Cass said he thought it may have been Enzo when he found the chain, but now he knows for a fact that Big Show has been attacking them. Angle said they don’t even know if the same person has been attacking them. Angle promised they would find out who was attacking them by the end of the night. Graves said Angle had a lot of work ahead of him and he needed to figure it out…

Powell’s POV: If they really intend to pay this off tonight, then they would have been wise to announce that prior to the show.

[Q5] Seth Rollins made his entrance. Once in the ring, he spoke about being the WWE 2K18 cover athlete. He spoke about growing up playing games and how guys like Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, and Shawn Michaels were the coolest because they were on the cover. Rollins said he’s honored, but it almost didn’t happen.

Rollins said he couldn’t look in the mirror despite the success he had. Rollins said the crowd gave him a second chance and that allowed him to give himself a second chance. Rollins said the 2K18 cover isn’t just his cover, “this is our cover.” Rollins said the tagline is “Be like no one.” He said we’ve all made mistakes in our life, but it doesn’t have to define who we are today, tomorrow, or in the future. Rollins was about to make a promise.

Bray Wyatt interrupted Rollins on the video screen. Wyatt said Rollins was contradicting himself again. He said Rollins talks about how he’s grown as an individual, yet all he can talk about are his material possessions. He said Rollins said he’s his own man, yet he shills the corporate banner. Wyatt said he feels the struggle within Seth’s soul. He said Rollins is confirming to what the people want him to be. “You can wear the clothes of a good, honest man, but you and I both know deep down that you are not that man,” Wyatt said.

Rollins said he’s not that man, he’s the man. Rollins said he’s been around the most egotistical men in the business, but Wyatt is taking it to a new level. Rollins spoke about facing an alleged god. Rollins said the truth about gods are that they only exist in our minds. Rollins said that Wyatt may be a god in his mind, yet he’s a coward in Seth’s mind. Wyatt recalled warning Rollins about taking his name in vain. Wyatt said it was time to make a sacrifice. “I’m here,” Wyatt said before blowing out the lantern.

Wyatt made his entrance. When he blew out the lantern at ringside, Rollins leapt off the top rope and onto him on the floor. Rollins headed up the ramp and left Wyatt lying at ringside…

Cole hyped Angle cracking the case of who has been attacking Enzo and Cass, and Reigns vs. Joe for the main event… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good verbal exchange. I continue to like the way Rollins speaks directly to the fans. I wouldn’t want to see every babyface take this approach, but it stands out because he’s the only guy doing it on Raw. Meanwhile, Wyatt wasn’t just spouting lines. In this case, he was really good in playing off of things that Rollins said and while talking specifically about him. I couldn’t have been more apathetic about this feud last week, but they definitely changed that with this exchange.

[Q6] Backstage, Charly Caruso interviewed Finn Balor and asked him what’s next. Balor spoke about looking forward and only seeing the Universal Championship and doing everything in his power to win it back. Caruso asked him about the Raw main event. Elias Samson attacked Balor from behind. “Don’t you ever upstage me again,” Samson told Balor…

3. Akira Tozawa vs. TJP. Just as the match was about to begin, Titus O’Neil came out with a mic in hand and said they couldn’t have a match “of this magnitude” without the proper hype. Titus entered the ring and said the match was presented by 205 Live in conjunction with the Titus Brand. Titus delivered ring introductions and built up Tozawa as the future cruiserweight champion.

Graves said Tozawa was gaining popularity by the week and he could be the next big thing with the Titus Brand onboard. A couple minutes into the match, Neville made his entrance. Neville took a mic from the broadcast team and said he wasn’t there to talk to them, he was there to get eyes on Tozawa. [C]

[Q7] Tozawa performed a suicide dive at 9:15. Back inside the ring, TJP begged off, then pulled Tozawa into the corner. TJP performed a gutbuster for a two count. Tozawa came back with a kick and a suplex, then followed up with a senton bomb for the win.

Akira Tozawa defeated TJP in 10:30.

Titus entered the ring and raised Tozawa’s hand afterward. Titus took the mic and told fans to give it up for Tozawa. Titus said the Titus Brand has an even bigger night still to come as he and Apollo Crews will face the tag team champions. Titus said Tozawa was close to singing with the brand and then he would win the cruiserweight championship and the money would start rolling in. Neville interrupted and referred to Titus as a peasant. Neville told Tozawa to be careful or he would not get an opportunity to bend the knee, he would be annihilated. Titus called him a scared little boy. Titus said he would be annihilated by the “powa of Tozawa”…

Cole hyped the Reigns vs. Joe main event. A shot aired of Angle backstage with The Revival while Graves said Angle would have answers by the end of the night… [C]

Powell’s POV: So are Titus and the Titus Brand babyfaces?

R-Truth quoted Batman from 1989 and accepted Goldust’s invitation for next week. He said Goldust would get got…

Backstage, Curtis Axel told a dejected Bo Dallas that he believed in him. The Miz entered the room and said he was sorry to interrupt the pity party. Miz said they had no one to blame but themselves. Miz said they were action stars in The Marine 5. Axel told him to be careful about what he said next. Miz asked him “or what.” Miz proposed that they join his entourage and he would make them stars their families would be proud of…

Caruso asked Samoa Joe how he was preparing for Reigns. Joe said the question is how is Reigns preparing for him. Joe set up highlights from his Raw debut match and his win over Reigns (they left out the interference by Strowman). Joe said Reigns needs to reassess his goals and realize who he is dealing with. Joe said he would lock up Lesnar in his finisher at Great Balls of Fire, and on Raw he would teach Reigns his name and make him put respect on it when he says it…

Reigns made his entrance for the match with Joe…

[Q8] [C] Joe made his entrance…

4. Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns. Joe pie-faced Reigns at 1:30. Reigns responded with a punch and then knocked Joe down with a shoulder tackle. Later, Reigns avoided the Coquina Clutch and headed to ringside. A short time later, Reigns performed a Samoan drop. Reigns set up for a Drive By, but Joe avoided it. Joe picked up Reigns and drove him into the ring post. Joe performed a running senton on Reigns heading into the break. [C] Reigns fired up at 11:00 and ended up getting a two count off a kick

[Q9] Reigns put Joe down with a clothesline and soaked up a mild mixed reaction before doing the locked and loaded bit. Joe got up and ducked out of the ring to avoid what Cole said was going to be a Superman Punch. Reigns followed Joe to ringside and performed a Drive By kick. Back in the ring, Joe caught Reigns going for a Superman Punch and ended up performing a senton for a two count.

Reigns connected with a Superman Punch for a near fall. Graves said Joe kicking out removes any doubt about whether he’s a worthy top contender. Joe came back by kicking Reigns as he went for a spear, then performed a uranage for a near fall of his own at 14:45. Joe applied the Coquina Clutch, but Reigns backed him into a corner, pushed him off the ropes, and speared him. Reigns covered Joe, who put his foot on the bottom rope.

Reigns set up for a spear when he noticed the sound of an ambulance from the big screen. The ambulance backed into the backstage portion of the arena. Braun Strowman emerged from the ambulance, let out a war cry, and then started walking in the backstage area. Joe applied the Coquina Clutch and got the win…

Samoa Joe defeated Roman Reigns in 18:05.

Powell’s POV: Man, Evansville is a tough crowd tonight. These guys worked a really nice match and while there were pockets of fans who seemed into it, there were a lot of fans who just seemed to sit on their hands for a good portion of the match. This was not a big fight atmosphere despite the wrestlers doing their part, especially during the second half of the match. I’m cool with Joe winning by distraction after having such a competitive match with Reigns. Yes, Roman was on the verge of hitting a big move, but we’d already seen Joe kick out of some of his big moves and avoid others, so it come off like a foregone conclusion that Reigns was going to win had it not been for Strowman.

After Joe left the ring, Reigns remained lying on the mat. Strowman’s entrance music played and he headed to the ring. Strowman looked down at Reigns. Strowman had a mic in hand and said that Reigns seemed to have forgotten “I”m not finished with you.” Strowman picked up Reigns and slammed him face first into the mat. A “one more time” chant broke out. Strowman looked down at Reigns and said that if Roman thinks he’s man enough, he’ll see him at Great Balls of Fire in an Ambulance Match. Cole quickly explained that there are no rules and you simply beat up your opponent to the point that you can put him in an ambulance, which then drives away…

The broadcast team hyped Miz TV with Maryse as his guest for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: We’re finally getting the Reigns vs. Strowman ambulance match. Strowman’s return was solid, but I was actually hoping for more carnage and less talk. Great Balls of Fire has a really nice 1-2 punch with Lesnar vs. Joe, and now Reigns vs. Strowman in the ambulance match. It will be interesting to see if they announce that the winner of the ambulance match gets the SummerSlam title shot.

[Q10] The Miz headed to the ring for the Miz TV segment. Footage aired of Maryse getting upset over Miz accidentally destroying the grandfather clock that she bought him. Miz stood in the ring with a giant gift box and two men in bear costumes, who held sign that read “I’m Sorry” and “Please Forgive Me.” Miz introduced Maryse, who came out to her own entrance theme.

Miz told Maryse he loved her. He leaned in for a kiss, but she turned away. Miz said he deserved it. He admitted he was wrong and was sorry he ruined that grandfather clock. He apologized for knocking her off the ring apron last week. Miz said sorry isn’t good enough, so he got her the gift. He said he checked it out himself and everything was okay.

Maryse opened the box, which contained a grandfather clock. He claimed he used glue, tape, polish, and Youtube videos to repair the clock. He said it was perfect just like her and just like them together. Maryse was about to accept Miz’s apology with a kiss when Dean Ambrose’s entrance music played. Once Ambrose arrived in the ring, Miz pulled Maryse in front of him, causing her to spill champagne on herself. Miz apologized, but she was still pissed.

Miz charged at Ambrose, who moved, causing Miz to knock the grandfather clock over. Maryse slapped Miz and left the ring while Miz apologized. Ambrose clotheslined Miz to ringside. The bears attacked Ambrose and put the boots to him. The bears unmasked and revealed themselves as Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. Miz gave Ambrose the Skull Crushing Finale…

Kurt Angle was shown talking to Big Show, who was getting upset. Graves said Angle would have answers regarding who attacked Enzo and Cass later in the show…

Powell’s POV: The good news is that creative found something for Dallas and Axel and WWE is doing wonders for the grand father clock industry. The bad news is that the Miz and Ambrose feud will never end.

[Q11] [C] The broadcast team hyped Raw in Los Angeles for next week with the latest appearance by Brock Lesnar…

5. Raw Tag Champions Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews in a non-title match. No televised entrance for the Titus Brand, and only a partial entrance for the tag champs. The Hardys were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. In the end, Cesaro hit Crews from the floor while the ref was distracted, then Sheamus and Cesaro performed a double team move for the win…

Sheamus and Cesaro defeated Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews in a non-title match in 4:15.

Graves hyped Angle cracking the case. Cole hyped Lesnar vs. Joe for Great Balls of Fire. “We set the stage” coming up after the break… [C] The broadcast team set up a Lesnar vs. Joe video package. The opening of the video focussed on Joe dominating opponents and talking about how he doesn’t fear Lesnar. The next part focussed on Lesnar.

[Q12] They went to footage of Joe putting out Heyman with the Coquina Clutch while Joe was featured in the sit-down setting talking about slowly but surely taking away the confidence of Lesnar. Brock was shown mocking the idea of being afraid of Joe because he put his hands on Heyman. Joe said he knows what Lesnar is capable of, and what he is willing to do to take the title from Lesnar… Cole hyped Joe and Lesnar both being in Los Angeles for Raw next week…

Powell’s POV: A nice piece of production that gave the Lesnar vs. Joe match the UFC style treatment.

Ring entrances for a Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax match took place. Cole hyped Table For 3 with Maryse, Kelly Kelly, and Eve Torres on the network after Raw. Just as the match was about to start, Alexa Bliss made her entrance. Cole said she would be joining them on commentary…

6. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax. The match was joined in progress. Sasha performed a double knee press on Jax. Emma approached Bliss on commentary about walking out on her when they were teammates last week. Bliss shoved her and then ran to the ring. Jax caught Bliss and held her for Emma, who tried to kick her. Bliss moved and Jax was kicked by Emma, which led to the DQ…

Nia Jax defeated Sasha Banks by DQ in less than a minute of TV time.

After the match, Bliss took down Sasha and then traded a look with Emma. They both put the boots to Sasha. Dana Brooke and Mickie James ran out for the save. Jax took shots at Brooke and James, then slammed Sasha, who then avoided a legdrop.

Bayley’s music played and she ran to the ringand worked over the heels. Jax slammed Bayley into the corner. James and Brooke tried to help, but Jax shoved them aside. Bayley went after Jax. Brooke and James performed a double dropkick on Jax to clear her from the ring while Cole hyped Angle revealing who attacked Enzo and Cass for after the break… [C]

[Overrun] The broadcast team once again spoke about the women’s MITB match finish. Booker once again stated that there were no rules and Carmella was the winner. Graves said he had a point. Cole repeated his earlier lines about the fan response…

Raw general manager Kurt Angle headed to the ring. He said he would not let Raw devolve and risk injury or anything else that would be detrimental to “the entertainers, the wrestlers.” Angle called out Big Cass and Enzo Amore. Enzo did his entrance routine. Once in the ring, Cass said that when they find out who attacked them, they would find them. He did the sawft routine.

Angle said he spoke with suspects all night long. Angle called out The Revival and then Big Show. Angle recalled Cass saying he was took out with a powerful shot to the back of the head so he had to ask. Show said he would come at Cass straight in the face and punch him in the mouth. Show took offense to Angle questioning him after everything they’d been through. Show said maybe he didn’t need to be on Angle’s show anymore.

Cass took that to mean that Show was guilty. Angle wanted to question the Revival, though. Scott Dawson say they were innocent this time. Angle said that after talking with referees and others, he felt that they had solid alibis.

Graves stood up on the broadcast table and said that Cass said something that wasn’t true when he claimed he had a baseball sized lump on the back of his head. Graves said he spoke with the trainers who said they never treated him. Cass said it was actually the EMTS. Graves pointed out that Cass also competed last week despite not being cleared. Graves said he had security camera footage.

Graves narrated footage of Cass backstage last week. Cass set up the scene by lying various objects on the ground. Graves said maybe it was a pre-match ritual, but it seemed odd to him. The footage showed Cass kick a crate and then lay down and hold his head. Graves questioned whether Cass also attacked Enzo.

Cass said you’re damn right he did it. He vented about having to listen to Enzo every hour of every day. He mocked the idea of him calling out Conor McGregor. Cass said he felt bad for Enzo because no one backstage liked him. Cass said he put up with his crap for years every single day. Cass said he finally snapped. Cass said it felt damn good when he attacked Enzo from behind. Cass said he wanted to see Enzo suffer for all the crap he endured in NXT and on Raw.

Cass said that when things got a little hot and fingers pointed in his direction, he cooled them down because he wanted to see just how smart Enzo was or if he’s just as dumb as he looks. Cass said Enzo is even dumber. “You are nothing more than dead weight that’s holding me back from reaching my potential in WWE,” Cass said. He told Enzo that he’s the reason that he’s never been a champion in WWE. Cass said he’s the star, the future, and where the money is. Cass said Enzo’s mouth writes checks that his ass can’t cash. Cass said he’s always been behind Enzo, but not for long. “Because me and you, we are through,” Cass said before blasting Enzo with a boot to the head. Angle stood over Enzo, and Cass left the ring and slammed down his sawft t-shirt…

Powell’s POV: Such an odd storyline. I’m not sure why they felt the need to position Graves as the detective, but whatever. Cass showed solid fire in his explanation promo. Enzo looked sympathetic. The sad thing is that Enzo would probably be a really good heel mouthpiece for Cass, but now it looks like he will be flying solo. Overall, this was a marathon show and not just because of the longer than usual overrun. I will have more to say about in my audio review for members, and in Tuesday’s WWE Raw Hit List.



Jason Powell and Jake Barnett co-host the Dot Net Weekly and Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast combo show and discuss Raw Underground and other WWE concepts, The Rock's group buying the XFL, the Marty Jannetty story, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV, and more...


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