7/3 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe, final hype for WWE Great Balls of Fire

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Phoenix, Arizona at Talking Stick Resort Arena

[Q1] Raw opened with a recap of the Big Cass and Enzo Amore drama from over the last two weeks… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T were on commentary, and JoJo was the ring announcer…

Enzo Amore made his entrance while Cole hyped Enzo vs. Big Cass for Sunday’s Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view. Enzo wore a loud shirt, ripped jeans, and had an American flag bandana on his head. Once in the ring, Enzo stopped to soak up the crowd’s Enzo cheers.

Enzo mentioned all of the negative things that happened to him over the last year and said it all happened “while you had my back.” Enzo said Big Cass had his back for five years and he watched, because he was looking right past him. Enzo said he has a silver tongue and a heart of gold. He said he runs his mouth every week and gets up after taking beating after beating.

Enzo said Cass never had his back. “So what’s the worst thing that you or Conor McGregor could do to me for that matter?” he asked. Enzo said he can say with sincerity that he is one of the toughest guys to step through the ropes in a long, long time. Enzo said confidence is something you can’t teach and he is confident in his ability and in who he is. Enzo said he’s grateful for every kid who wears a Certified G shirt or dances like him. He said it puts food on his table, and that’s why he gets back up whenever he gets knocked down. He said he believes in himself and it’s something you just can’t teach.

Enzo said his mouth has never dug a hole so deep that he can’t climb out of it. He said he knows who he is and where he is going. He said he’s going straight to the top. He said he has climbed out of holes way taller than seven feet. “Cass, you are nothing more than a seven foot catchphrase that I wrote,” Amore said. Enzo told Cass not to be surprised when his next merchandise check reads “zero dimes” unless he starts wearing a shirt that reads Cass Hole.

Enzo dropped the mic and his music played. He picked up the mic again and said he wasn’t finished. He said he and Cass were brothers. He said that part of him has died, but the big boot that touched his head was like CPR. He brought up Tupac and said it was “all eyes on me” and also showed off that ink on his stomach read “New Life”..

Cass was shown watching the promo on a backstage monitor. Charly Caruso approached him and asked him for comment. Cass said he’s never heard anyone talk for so long without saying anything. Cass said Enzo won’t be walking the walk on Sunday because he won’t be walking at all. Cass said he is the star and where the money is. Suddenly, Enzo jumped Cass from behind and threw punches at him. Referees and producer Adam Pearce jumped in between them…

The broadcast team spoke about Enzo and Cass. Booker and Graves both spoke about how they expect Cass to win…

[Q2] Sasha Banks and Bayley made their entrance for a tag match. Cole said they would face “The Goddess” in tag action… [C]

Powell’s POV: A fresh opening with Enzo bouncing all over the place in a manner that felt more real than overly polished. The brief backstage brawl made Enzo looks scrappy and showed that he has moved from hurt to angry heading into the match on Sunday.

1. Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax. Sasha dropkicked Jax to the floor, but Jax didn’t leave her feet. Jax climbed onto the apron near Bayley, who tried to go around the ring apron to the other side, but Jax shoved her off the apron and into the barricade. Jax delivered a running knee to Bayley heading into a break. [C]

Cole noted that it was essentially a handicap match due to what happened to Bayley before the break. Bayley was not in Sasha’s corner and had apparently been taken backstage. They eventually showed footage of Bayley being helped backstage and Cole said she was in the trainer’s area.

[Q3] Late in the match, Banks kicked Jax off the apron. Sasha followed up by applying the Bank Statement on Bliss, who tapped out…

Sasha Banks and Bayley defeated Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax in 10:10.

Backstage, Kurt Angle was on the phone telling someone he wasn’t sure what to do. Braun Strowman entered the room and Angle ended the call. Strowman didn’t think Reigns was going to be able to compete at the pay-per-view, but Angle said he would. Strowman said he felt his body go limp, and Reigns wasn’t at Raw and would not be there on Sunday. Strowman said he wanted competition. Angle assured Strowman that Reigns would be there and said a lot of guys were already booked, but he added that no one wanted to face Strowman this close to the pay-per-view. Strowman said he was going to the ring in search of competition before the end of the night…

Cole hyped that Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe “will join us later for an exclusive interview.” Cole said they would look at the heated rivalry up next on Raw… [C] The Smackdown ad hyped “Free Agent” John Cena returning on Tuesday…

Powell’s POV: A nice showcase for Sasha in that they are trying to make it seem like she is dominant over Bliss heading into their title match. They may have also set up a match between Jax and Bayley for Sunday via Bayley’s injury angle. By the way, Lesnar is advertised locally in Phoenix, but there’s no indication that he will appear live on the television show thus far, though I could be misreading Cole’s hype for their interview with he and Joe.

A video package on the Lesnar vs. Joe match aired… Cole followed the video by saying both men would appear live on Raw… [C]

Powell’s POV: There it is, Lesnar will appear after all. A well done video package for a match that they have done a very good job of selling. I’m sold even before whatever the go-home show hype turns out to be.

[Q4] 2. Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar (w/Alicia Fox). Before the match, footage was shown of Dar costing Alexander a match on 205 Live last week. Alexander took the mic and admitted to being embarrassed over proclaiming their issue dead. He told Dar to come out and said he was going to send him backstage with a neck brace that matches Fox’s. Fox came out wearing a neck brace. She got in Alexander’s face and prevented him from going after Dar at ringside early on. Alexander blew off Fox’s distractions and won with the Lumbar Check…

Cedric Alexander beat Noam Dar in 2:05.

The broadcast team played up the media attention that the Ball Family garnered last week. Cole hyped Miz TV with The Miz addressing last week’s controversy…

Powell’s POV: As much as Dar vs. Alexander has overstayed its welcome, I have no faith in whoever is handling 205 Live creative to come up with anything better for them once they finally pull the plug. Meanwhile, WWE ignored the n-bombs that they youngest son dropped last week. My guess is that won’t be the controversy that Miz addresses after the break.

The Miz, Maryse, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas stood in the ring for the Miz TV segment. Miz said he overexposed the Ball family for being overexposed, overhyped, and soon to be forgotten. Miz said Lonzo Ball will be the biggest bust in NBA Draft history. Fans cheered. Miz said he will let down more fans than Steve Nash ever did. The Arizona fans booed the reference to the longtime Phoenix Suns player.

[Q5] Miz spoke about Dean Ambrose representing the Big Baller Brand. He said the only thing Ambrose represents is wasted potential. Miz said everyone saw the promise in Ambrose. Miz said Ambrose was going to be the next Roddy Piper. Miz said we got wacky Ambrose, who would rather tell a joke than the real truth, which is that he can’t handle success.

The Miz said Ambrose caved under pressure whenever he was the top dog. Miz said he flourishes in the same pressure. The fans started booing something off camera. Miz said Ambrose will end up being the biggest joke of them all.

Ambrose walked onto the stage with a mic in hand. Ambrose said he thought we might not see another Miz TV again following that train wreck last week. Ambrose said everything Miz said about him is true. Ambrose said that since Miz knows him so well, he should also know that he won’t let two bodyguards stand in his way from whopping his ass. He also said he wanted his Intercontinental Title rematch.

Heath Slater and Rhyno came out as Ambrose was walking toward the ring. Slater said he was the last person to beat Miz and he’s never even had a shot at the Intercontinental Title or any other title and he’s been there for eight years. Slater said he earned the title for his kids.

Ambrose told Slater to wait his turn in line. Miz said Ambrose would get his rematch when he said he would get it. He mocked Slater’s West Virginia heritage. Miz tried to skip out by saying he had a Fourth of July party to attend at midnight.

Kurt Angle made his entrance and said he decides when and where Miz competes. Miz told him to go talk with Corey Graves about his personal problem and stay out of his business. Angle told him to watch his mouth. “Or what?” Miz asked. He boasted that he’s the big ratings draw.

Miz said he would do Angle a favor by defending his title at the Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view and all Angle had to say was whether he would face Slater or Ambrose. Angle booked Miz in an immediate IC Title match against Slater, and said Ambrose would get his title shot at the pay-per-view…

Powell’s POV: Another strong promo from Miz on Ambrose. The first one felt like something that office critics might say, whereas this one felt like it played on online criticism (including some from yours truly) of Ambrose being too cutesy at times.

3. The Miz (w/Maryse, Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas) vs. Heath Slater (w/Rhyno) for the Intercontinental Championship. Miz worked the match in his dress clothes. Ambrose sat in on commentary.

[Q6] Slater had a flurry of offense that led to a two count and then Miz hid behind his encourage heading into a break. [C] Miz split his white dress pants at some point. It was referred to as a wardrobe malfunction, though nothing inappropriate was exposed. Miz rebounded with DDT.

Slater came back with a couple of good near falls. Axel hit Rhyno from behind at ringside. Slater became distracted by what was happening on the floor, and Miz hit his finisher for the win. Afterward, the heels worked over Slater. Ambrose ran in for the save, but Axel and Dallas cut him off and set him up for a Skull Crushing Finale. Miz and Maryse kissed afterward…

The Miz pinned Heath Slater in 13:45 to retain the Intercontinental Championship.

[Q7] Cole hyped Lesnar and Joe sitting down for an exclusive interview later in the show. Cole narrated highlights from last week of Braun Strowman attacking Roman Reigns and tossing him into the side of the ambulance. Cole also hyped the premiere of Goldust’s “The Shattered Truth” for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Axel and Dallas add another layer to Miz’s in-ring act, but it remains to be seen whether there’s any chemistry between the three of them. Meanwhile, they continue to be vague about what Lesnar and Joe are doing. If this sit-down interview is happening in the ring then they should say so. If not, then they are wise to be vague, as a pre-taped segment can be good, but viewers are more likely to stick around if they are appearing in front of the live crowd.

Backstage, Titus O’Neil told Apollo Crews that Strowman is looking for competition. He said he would go out there himself, but he thought this was the perfect opportunity for Crews. Apollo said he just had a daughter and asked if Titus saw what Strowman had been doing to people. Titus said no one knew who Kalisto was until Strowman threw him in the trash. Titus pumped up Crews by telling him to imagine his daughter asking him what it was like to beat Strowman. Crews was sold. They chanted “Crews can’t lose” repeatedly…

Goldust sat in a director’s chair in the middle of the ring. “Let the game begin,” Goldust said before noting that it was from the movie Saw. Goldust welcomed viewers to his latest masterpiece “The Shattered Truth.” Goldust thanked the little people (fans) and said R-Truth is the person he must thank the most. Goldust said that without him being so naive and without his jealously and selfishness, none of it would be possible. Goldust started to get the What? treatment. He told the fans to shut their mouths. He said he made Truth a star.

The “film” showed footage of Goldust attacking R-Truth last week. Once it was over, R-Truth was standing behind Goldust eating popcorn. Truth attacked Goldust and ran him through the ropes and into the post. Goldust backed up the ramp and then Truth’s music played…

Backstage, Angle was checking out his phone when Sheamus and Cesaro entered the room. He proposed a 30-minute Iron Man match as the stipulation for their tag title match against the Hardys at the pay-per-view. Sheamus and Cesaro were up for it. Cesaro asked for competition on Raw. Angle mentioned Strowman. Cesaro said he wanted Finn Balor. Angle got a phone call, and told Sheamus and Cesaro to be careful what they wish for…

A shot aired of Seth Rollins walking backstage. Graves said Rollins would be in action after the break… [C]

[Q8] 4. Seth Rollins vs. Curt Hawkins. Before the match, Hawkins said the people of Los Angeles didn’t believe in him. He said it hurt his feelings. Hawkins said he wanted to see if the dummies in Phoenix could get it right. He polled the crowd on whether he would lose. The fans cheered. Rollins took the mic and asked the fans who thinks Hawkins should shut up. They cheered. Rollins agreed and hit Hawkins. The ref let Hawkins regroup and then called for the bell. Rollins ducked a punch and then hit his big knee finisher for the win…

Seth Rollins pinned Curt Hawkins in 0:09.

After the match, Rollins took the mic and recalled Bray Wyatt saying he’s everywhere. Rollins said Wyatt is nowhere to be found when he wants to fight. Rollins said he embraces his sins because they made him the man he is today. Rollins said there will be a cleansing at the pay-per-view, but it will be of Wyatt’s mystique when he proves Rollins is not a god. Rollins said the only question will be if Wyatt is a man or a coward. Rollins dropped the mic and left…

A split screen shot aired of Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar as Cole hyped their interview for after the break…

Powell’s POV: I hope the Rollins promo wasn’t the final hype for his match with Wyatt because it was pretty flat.

Cole could be heard over the house mic as he introduced Samoa Joe, then Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman who were backstage. Joe interrupted Cole and said no one came to hear him ask questions. Joe said he had questions for Lesnar and his advocate. Joe started to ask Heyman how it felt when he choked him out. Lesnar said Joe is fighting him, not Heyman.

Lesnar said he’s the champ and Joe is not. He said he would walk into the ring as the champ and walk out as champ. “You get nothing,” Lesnar said. Joe yelled out how Lesnar has done nothing. Joe yelled about doing it for real and asked why they were messing around. Joe assumed they had Lesnar far away in the building.

Lesnar said he understands Joe is trying to get under his skin. He said he did the same thing when he beat The Rock, John Cena, and Triple H. Joe said he’s been choking out the best for 20 years. He mentioned Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins. Lesnar and Heyman were laughing, and Lesnar was rolling his eyes. Joe asked why they aren’t doing it face to face.

[Q9] Joe removed his mic and left the interview set. Heyman said he thought Joe was coming for him. “Come find me, Joe,” Lesnar said. Producer Adam Pearce and Jamie Noble tried to stop him. Angle and a slew of security guards blocked his path. Joe found the room that Lesnar and Heyman were in and tried to enter the room, but security stopped him. Lesnar remained calm and said, “Come on, Joe,” while security pulled Joe away. Joe yelled that he would put Lesnar down…

An ad aired for John Cena returning on Tuesday’s Smackdown… Entrances for Neville vs. Mustafa Ali took place… [C]

Powell’s POV: Calm Joe is better than angry Joe in most promo situations, but I actually liked the dynamic here with Joe angry and anxious to get his hands on Lesnar, while the champion played it calm and cool. Lesnar came off so confident that you have to assume that Joe is going to knock the smile off his face at some point on Sunday. That doesn’t mean I believe Joe is going to win the match, but I suspect this is going to be more than just Lesnar taking Joe to Suplex City.

5. WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville vs. Mustafa Ali in a non-title match. Cole spoke about Akira Tozawa challenging Neville at the pay-per-view, and Tozawa being part of the Titus Worldwide nonsense. Ali caught Neville with a great tornado DDT for a really good near fall. Ali went up top, but Neville shoved him off the top rope and into the barricade at ringside. Graves called Neville “the personification of malice.” Nice. Neville dominated the next couple of minutes. Ali had a brief comeback, but Neville put him down with a clothesline and then applied Rings of Saturn for the win…

Neville beat Mustafa Ali in 6:20.

[Q10] Graves questioned whether Apollo Crews or someone else would be brave enough to challenge Braun Strowman… A shot aired of Bray Wyatt standing in the desert, and a graphic hyped that he was up next… [C]

Powell’s POV: A nice match. It’s too bad that Ali is used for non-title losses rather than as a true contender to Neville because they work really well together.

Bray Wyatt’s delivered a promo in the desert and spoke about when people began worshiping the sun. He said the sun was a merciless, sadistic idol and that’s when he decided to take control to give mankind the gift of independence. He said the world is not made up of black and white. He said no one should have to bow down to the light. He spoke of being the chaos that fuels the fire. He said the fire has burned since he came to Raw less than 100 days ago. He said best friends have become sworn enemies. Brotherhoods have cracked drier than the barren wasteland he was in. He said the beast has been reduced to a mere mortal gasping for air. Why? Because he made it that way and he’s Bray Wyatt. “And I am everywhere,” he said. Wyatt called out and asked if Rollins could hear him. He said Rollins will look into the eyes of a god. He said Rollins won’t go blind. He said Rollins will see for the first time and he will burn…

Powell’s POV: This would have been a cool introductory vignette, but it was not an effective final promo heading into his match with Rollins. Most of the promo had so little to do with Rollins that it felt like Wyatt could have replaced Seth’s name and inserted the name of another opponent.

Backstage, Caruso asked Bliss if what happened in her match was foreshadowing what might happen in her match with Sasha Banks. Bliss said she gave Banks a false sense of security. Caruso said she doesn’t think anyone believes she really let Banks win. Bliss said no one cares what she thinks and that’s why Caruso holds a mic and she holds the Raw Women’s Championship…

Finn Balor made his entrance for his match against Cesaro… [C] Cesaro and Sheamus made their entrance…

6. Finn Balor vs. Cesaro (w/Sheamus). Matt and Jeff Hardy sat in on commentary. Cole congratulated Matt on the birth of his new child. The Hardys discussed the iron match. Cesaro had Balor down at ringside heading into a break. [C] Late in the match, Balor performed a sling blade and had Cesaro down. Balor pointed at Cesaro and waited for him to get up. Elias Samson came out and strummed his guitar. Cesaro threw Balor into the air and connected with an uppercut.

[Q12] Sheamus distracted the referee while Samson tripped Balor. The Hardys went to ringside and fought Samson and Sheamus. Balor sent Cesaro to ringside and then performed a big flip dive. Cesaro caught Jeff with an uppercut a short time later, but Balor came right back with a running dropkick on Cesaro. Balor rolled Cesaro back inside the ring and performed his Coup de Grace finisher for the win…

Finn Balor defeated Cesaro in 15:00.

The broadcast team hyped the Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view, and noted that WWE Battleground would be included in any free 30-day trials… Braun Strowman was shown walking backstage while the broadcast team questioned if anyone would answer his call for competition… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good segment that continued the tag title feud as well as the Balor and Samson feud.

An ambulance backed into the arena and parked near the stage. Braun Strowman made his entrance and spoke about how he enjoys few things in life more than hurting Roman Reigns. Strowman said he’s too stubborn to stay down so he gets to keep knocking him down. Strowman said he nearly put Reigns through the ambulance last week and he still thinks he can step to him. Strowman said that if Angle is right and Reigns shows up at Great Balls of Fire, he’s going to leave the same way he did last week – in the back of the ambulance.

Strowman said that Reigns wasn’t there, but he still wanted competition. Strowman called for Angle to send out whoever he found to face him. Titus O’Neil came out and said that Strowman is a big man with a big plan, but he said everyone starts off with a plan until they get punched in the mouth. Titus said he normally wouldn’t mind slapping the taste out of his mouth, but this would be a special occasion. Titus introduced Apollo Crews, and they headed to the ring together.

[Overrun] 7. Braun Strowman vs. Apollo Crews (w/Titus O’Neil). Booker slipped up and called Crews by the name of Apollo Creed, but he quickly corrected himself while chuckling. Strowman dominated the match and eventually kicked Crews to ringside by Titus, who barked orders at Crews. Apollo got up all fired up and slapped Strowman and clotheslined him with the top rope. Strowman went for a chokeslam, but Crews caught him with four running kicks. He went for a standing moonsault, but Strowman kicked him in mid-air, which looked great. Strowman could have pinned Crews, but he picked him up a couple of times. Booker called for Titus to do something. Strowman performed a powerslam and covered Crews for the win…

Braun Strowman pinned Apollo Crews in 4:35.

After the match, Strowman was about to slam Crews again, but Titus climbed onto the apron. Strowman dropped Crews and glared at Titus, who entered the ring and jawed at Strowman. Braun said something in return. Titus threw punches, but Strowman knocked him down with a clothesline. Strowman powerslammed Titus. Strowman went back to working over Crews and dragged him from ringside to the ambulance and tossed him in the back. Strowman slapped the back of the ambulance, but it didn’t leave. He did it again. The siren sounded this time, but the ambulance didn’t leave. He slapped it a third time and the ambulance siren turned off.

Strowman looked inside the driver’s door and Roman Reigns emerged from the driver’s seat with a punch. Reigns landed some punches, but Strowman came back and tossed Reigns onto the stage. Strowman went to the stage and ate a punch from Reigns. Strowman fought back, but Reigns ran him into the video screen. Reigns speared Strowman off the stage and onto a table that was set up with boxes on it. Angle and several referees came out and checked on both men while the broadcast team narrated highlights of the spear.

Strowman got back to his feet and leaned on the ambulance while Reigns knelt on the stage. Cole questioned how Reigns could come back against Strowman at Great Balls of Fire to close the show…

Powell’s POV: A nice rebound moment for Reigns without making Strowman look too vulnerable. This wasn’t a hot show, yet it was a solid go-home edition. In fact, the Raw creative team reversed the recent trend of delivering subpar build to their top pay-per-view matches this month, as they did a really nice job of building up Lesnar vs. Joe, Reigns vs. Strowman, and Enzo and Cass. I will be back with an All Access Audio review late tonight. Join me for live coverage of Smackdown tomorrow night and for Great Balls of Fire on Sunday. Thanks for watching along with me and have a great Independence Day holiday tomorrow.


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