By Jason Powell
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Brooklyn, New York at Barclays Center
[Q1] Ring announcer JoJo introduced WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. The broadcast team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T narrated highlights of the four-way main event at SummerSlam. The fans chanted “Suplex City” as Lesnar and Heyman stood in the ring. Heyman introduced himself and said it was not a rerun, they were live. He said he had the honor and privilege of announcing Lesnar was still the champion.
Heyman said there was a vast conspiracy against Lesnar and it unfolded at SummerSlam. He called it a felonious assault that took Lesnar out of the equation that led to him being “carted off the battlefield” for the first time in his life. Heyman boasted that Lensar denied medical attention and returned to the ring where champions are designed to be won or lost. Heyman said Lesnar returned to conquer or be conquered.
Heyman boasted that Lesnar pinned Roman Reigns. The fans cheered while Lesnar smiled. Heyman said if there’s conquering to be done, there’s no one in WWE or UFC history who does it like Lesnar. Brock, who had a couple scratches under his left eye, held up his title belt.
Braun Strowman made his entrance while Cole spoke about how impressive it was to see him manhandle Lesnar. A loud “Strowman” chant broke out while Strowman and Lesnar went face to face. Lesnar jawed at Strowman, who grabbed him by the throat and tried to chokeslam him. Lesnar avoided it and ran the ropes, but Strowman caught him with a boot.
Strowman followed up with a powerslam. Once Lesnar got up, Strowman performed another powerslam. Strowman picked up the WWE Universal Championship and played to the crowd before jawing at Heyman, who was at ringside. Strowman dropped the belt and headed up the ramp while Lesnar sold in the ring. Lesnar recovered enough to look up at Strowman, who jawed at him from the stage before heading backstage…
Graves hyped Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass in a Brooklyn street fight for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: As much as I feel Lesnar vs. Strowman should be saved for the big show, a good case can be made for striking while the iron is hot with Strowman, which they are expected to do by going with the singles match at No Mercy. It will be interesting to see if they have something better in mind for WrestleMania or if they still intend to go with Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns. In case you missed it, there’s news on the main page about NXT Women’s Champion Asuka suffering a broken collarbone along with the Main Event taping spoilers.
[Q2] Still shots aired from SummerSlam and comically opened with a shot of the fans waiting to get inside the venue… The broadcast team recapped the opening segment. Cole said Strowman made it clear that he dominates Lesnar. Cole noted that Strowman put Lesnar through two broadcast tables and put another one on top of him. Cole said Strowman delivered the message that he wants the championship and he’s coming for it…
1. Big Cass vs. Enzo Amore in a Brooklyn street fight. Still shots aired from SummerSlam of Enzo lubing up and escaping the shark cage before Cass beat Big Show. Enzo received a big pop and delivered his pre-match mic work. Enzo said Cass is a New Yorker who went to private school and NYU. Enzo said Cass’s book smarts are not his street smarts. Enzo brought up playing basketball with Cass in New York 15 years ago and said it would end in the same place it begins. Cass went backstage and brought out a shopping cart full of weapons.
Cass left the ring and approached Enzo, who started throwing weapons at him. Cass got to Enzo and the bell rang. Cass ran the shopping cart into Enzo on the ramp and threw him into the barricade. Inside the ring, Enzo grabbed a chair, but Cass put him down with a big boot heading into a break. [C]
[Q3] Enzo pulled down the top rope when Cass went for a running big boot. Cass tumbled to ringside. Enzo went for the chair, but Cass returned and stomped his hand. Cass set up for his Empire Elbow, but he fell over and clutched his knee before rolling to ringside. A trainer checked on Cass, who cussed and was censored. JoJo announced that Cass was unable to continue and therefore Enzo was the winner…
Enzo Amore beat Big Cass in a street fight in 8:45.
Powell’s POV: I’m not sure what to make of the Cass injury. He landed a bit awkwardly, but it may have simply been an easy way to extend the feud by giving Enzo a fluky win.
Backstage, Emma was on her phone while Dana Brooke stood by. Emma vented that she was tired of hearing about Sasha Banks and claimed it should have been her match. She boasted about what she was going to do to Nia Jax when they wrestled later in the show. Jax showed up and listened as Emma badmouthed her. Emma noticed her and asked how long she’d been there. Nia said the trend on Twitter would be give Emma CPR. Cole said the match was coming up next… [C] An ad for Smackdown focussed on Shane McMahon, Kevin Owens, and AJ Styles…
2. Nia Jax vs. Emma. Emma went right after Jax with punches and a kick before Jax knocked her over and dropped elbows on her. Jax dominated the remainder of the match and won with a Samoan drop…
Nia Jax defeated Emma in 1:05.
A shot aired of Elias walking backstage with a guitar. Cole acted over the top in excitement about hearing a new song while Graves grumbled…
[Q4] [C] Elias sat in the ring and did his usual introduction. He took a jab at Brooklyn and how fans who lived there are ashamed to do so. He said his song was about R-Truth. Elias recited some lyrics from Truth’s entrance routine and then said he was just kidding and it was time for some real music. He started to play but was interrupted by Truth’s entrance…
3. Elias vs. R-Truth. Cole noted that it was the second week a row that Truth interrupted an Elias song. Elias caught Truth with a punch to the back and then hit his Drift Away finisher…
Elias beat R-Truth in 1:30.
Powell’s POV: Cole didn’t mention the Samson last name this week, so it appears the return of the full name was only in Cole’s world last week. As for the match, it was a quick and easy way to give Elias another momentum building win.
The broadcast team spoke at their desk about SummerSlam. Cole noted that they have three new champions on the Raw side and ran through the title changes and noted that the new champions would appear on Raw. Graves hyped Kurt Angle’s “huge superstar surprise” and said it was coming up next… [C]
More SummerSlam still shots were shown…
Kurt Angle made his entrance and led the “you suck” chants. Angle said he promised the fans a surprise. “For the first time in over a year on Monday Night Raw, please join me in welcoming John Cena,” Angle said. Cena made his entrance and got the “John Cena sucks’ singalong. Cena shook hands with Angle and then ran to the ring.
[Q5] Cena noted that the fans were all over the place. “We’re you not expecting me?” Cena asked. There were dueling “Let’s Go Cena” and “Cena sucks” chants. “Why am I here?” Cena asked. He said he saw Angle at SummerSlam and Angle asked if he would like to come to Raw. There were boos. Cena asked if the fans were booing Raw. “I like Monday Night Raw,” he said.
Cena said he immediately accepted Angle’s invitation, not because Smackdown is bad, but because he waited a long time and wanted to meet face to face with a certain WWE wrestler. Cena looked at the ramp. Roman Reigns made his entrance to boos. Cole said the two most polarizing figures were in the same ring on Raw.
“Wait a second, this is Mr. Roman Reigns,” Cena said. “You are exactly who I was looking for.” Reigns said the only time Cena ever looks for him is when he runs his mouth on Twitter. “Now that you’re in my yard, the question is are you going to run your mouth to my face?” Reigns asked. A loud Undertaker chant broke out. Cena said it seems like the Raw audience can hold a bit of a grudge sometime.
Cena said the problem is that he didn’t come to Raw to talk. Cena dropped his mic. Reigns did the same. Cena removed his shirt. The Miz’s music played. The Miz, Maryse, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel headed to the ring. Miz said this is what a sold out Barclays looks like. He mispronounced the name and Cena called him on it. Miz asked how many moments Cena and Reigns get. Some fans applauded, and Miz thanked them.
Miz said you are told in life that if you work hard then your moment will come. Miz said he is sick of waiting for his moment while Cena and Reigns get them week after week after week. A Yes! chant broke out. Miz said he was going to take his moment and ruins theirs. Miz said Angle seems to think Raw needs the addition of Cena while the Intercontinental Champion rode the pine at SummerSlam.
Miz asked if Raw needs Cena. It seemed like a mixed response. Miz said it was 18,000 people chanting no. Cena said he was a man of the people and he’d show himself out. Miz stopped him and said he wasn’t done talking to him. Miz pointed to the smirk on Cena’s face. Miz said this is his show. Miz turned to the crowd and said they don’t know whether to cheer or boo Cena or Reigns (there were loud boos for Reigns). Miz asked if he thinks it affects Cena or Reigns. “No, it affects the only champion in this ring,” Miz said.
Miz said Cena’s shirt reads respect. Miz said he’s earned it for 12 years and questioned where his moment is. Cena played to the crowd as a “you deserve it” chant started. Cena said they could give Miz his moment. Cena proposed Miz and one of his lackeys face him and Reigns in the main event. The fans booed Reigns again. “That’s a moment,” Cena said. Miz said it’s not a moment for him, it’s a moment for Cena. Miz said he was in a suit and was not ready to fight.
[Q6] Samoa Joe’s entrance music played and he headed to the ring while fans chanted his name. Miz and company cleared out to ringside. Joe said if anyone was going to team with Miz, it was not going to be Axel or Dallas, it was going to be him. Joe said he’s sick and tired of Reigns telling everyone that it’s his yard. Joe said he owned Reigns one-on-one.
Joe turned his attention to Cena. “As for you, John Cena…” Joe sucker punched Cena. The Miz and his crew went after Reigns while Joe worked over Cena. Joe went up for the Attitude Adjustment and slipped off before locking Cena in the Coquina Clutch. Reigns hit Joe with a Superman Punch. Cena and Reigns had a staredown while the crowd chanted “You both suck” loudly…
The broadcast team hyped new champions Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Sasha Banks appearing during the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: Cena was put in a tough spot in that this was framed as a surprise return, yet Cena was advertised for the show. Granted, there were some fans who cheered when he came out, but I’m sure plenty of fans were hoping for someone else in addition to Cena. Hopefully WWE has another surprise in mind. The Miz was the most over guy in the ring because of the way he was taking jabs at Cena and Reigns. It was an entertaining segment, but I must say that I thought the buzz for the tease of Cena vs. Reigns would have been bigger than it was in this building.
The broadcast team hyped Cena and Reigns vs. Miz and Joe for later…
4. Gran Metalik, Mustafa Ali, Cedric Alexander, and Rich Swann vs. Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari, Noam Dar, and Tony Nese. There were no televised entrances. Nese was getting the better of Swann going into the break. [C]
[Q7] The fans started the wave during the match. In the end, Alexander hit the Lumbar Check on Nese and pinned him…
Gran Metalik, Mustafa Ali, Cedric Alexander, and Rich Swann beat Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari, Noam Dar, and Tony Nese in 7:25.
Powell’s POV: There was a beachball moment during the commercial break. Dot Net Member Don Murphy is at the show and noted that security finally managed to take it and there was a “you suck” chant directed at security. The fans calmed down by the end of the match and there were a lot of fans counting along with the three count. Some of the high spots from babyfaces seemed to draw the fans into the match.
Backstage, Charly Caruso interviewed WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville, who boasted about getting his title back. Titus O’Neil and Akira Tozawa showed up. Titus said there would be a rematch between Neville and Tozawa on 205 Live… The broadcast team hyped previously mentioned Raw segments… [C]
More SummerSlam still shots were shown… Angle was on his phone backstage when Jason Jordan entered the room. They hugged. Jordan said he didn’t want special treatment, but he wanted a match. Angle said he already had his match with Miz. Jordan said he wanted to face Finn Balor. Angle asked if he thought he was ready for that type of competition, then gave him the match…
New Raw tag champions Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins made their entrance. Rollins said it felt good to be standing side by side with Ambrose while holding up the tag title belts. Ambrose said he didn’t think it would happen, but he felt good and slept with the belt under his pillow. They said they knew Sheamus and Cesaro would be looking for their rematch and they take on all comers anytime.
[Q8] Matt and Jeff Hardy made their entrance. Jeff said they were there to congratulate them. Matt issued the match challenge. Rollins asked if they were serious, adding that they grew up idolizing the Hardys. Matt said they have revolutionized the tag team division and they want to revolutionize it in Brooklyn. “Let’s do the damn thang,” Rollins said. A referee came out and they cut to commercial… [C]
5. Raw Tag Champions Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy in a non-title match. Sheamus and Cesaro were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. They cut to another break just a few minutes into the match. [C] Jeff performed Poetry in Motion over the top rope and onto both opponents.
[Q9] Rollins moved Ambrose out of the way of Jeff’s Whisper in the Wind attempt. Ambrose and Rollins performed a sling blade version of the Hart Attack clothesline. Ambrose covered Matt, but Jeff broke it up with a kick. The fans chanted “this is awesome.” The tag champs performed simultaneous suicide dives. Matt hit a Side Effect on Ambrose and got a two count.
At 15:30, Ambrose knocked Matt of the ropes. Matt tagged Jeff and hit a Twist of Fate. Jeff performed a Swanton, but Ambrose put his knees up. Rollins hit a high knee on Jeff and then Ambrose performed Dirty Deeds. Rollins covered Jeff and pinned him…
Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins beat Matt and Jeff Hardy in 16:45.
Powell’s POV: It’s odd to hear how much attention WWE brings to the Hardys wrestling for 25 years. It makes them feel older than they are. After all, Jeff is still in his thirties, at least for another week or so. Rollins mentioning that they grew up idolizing the Hardys almost sounded condescending at first even though that wasn’t the intention. The point is that the Hardys are still very relevant and the company would be wise to position them as such rather than making them seem like old men. All of that said, the match was entertaining and the crowd was into it despite not choosing sides.
Cole recapped footage from the opening segment with Lesnar and Strowman. Cole said Angle had “once again made our dreams come true.” Cole officially announced Lesnar vs. Strowman for the No Mercy pay-per-view…
A shot aired of Samoa Joe sitting backstage. Miz and his cronies were standing next to Joe. Miz said he always knew there was something special about Joe. He assumed that Joe stepped up and wanted to be in Miztourage. Miz said Joe has Roman’s number, while he has Cena’s number. Joe stood up and told Miz to shut up. Joe said Dallas and Axel would remain a constant presence outside. Joe said Miz would do his annoying unorthodox thing in the ring. Miz said they were cool… [C]
[Q10] New Raw Women’s Champion Sasha Banks was introduced. She made her entrance while the broadcast team discussed her win at SummerSlam. Sasha noted that she may be from Boston, but she left her heart in Brooklyn over the last three years. She ran through her big match history in Brooklyn. She also sent well wishes to Ric Flair, which won over the crowd for a second. Sasha said she wants to defend the title the right way.. She said she doesn’t need to have Nia Jax watching her back.
Alexa Bliss made her entrance and spoke from the stage. Bliss mocked Sasha for saying she will defend the title. She said Sasha has not successfully defended the title. She said Sasha is a four-time champion who loses the title whenever she defends it. Sasha said that Bliss either runs away or taps out when they wrestle.
Sasha invited Bliss to use her rematch clause. Bliss said that’s a thought and maybe she should, “but I’m gonna go with no.” Bliss said none of the Brooklyn fanboys deserved to see her championship celebration. Bliss said next week is a different story and she wants her rematch and then Banks will be known as the legit loser…
The broadcast team hyped the tag team main event. Jason Jordan made his entrance for his match with Finn Balor… [C]
Powell’s POV: Well, they tried to have Boston native Sasha win over the crowd to the point that she delivered the get well wishes to Flair. I was surprised that Bliss didn’t get a bigger reaction when she came out, but I loved the way she heeled on the fans by depriving them of the match that will take place next week instead.
More SummerSlam still shots aired, then Finn Balor made his entrance… Cole noted that it was episode number 1,265 of Raw…
[Q11] 6. Finn Balor vs. Jason Jordan. Balor connected with an early dropkick. Graves said they know each other more than people might realize due to the WWE Performance Center. Balor set up for a kick on the apron, but Jordan rolled back inside the ring. [C]
The crowd came to life. Yes, the beachball returned. The fans cheered and then booed and then chanted something about the beachball. In the end, Finn Balor performed the Coup De Grace and scored the clean pin. Booker and Graves praised the performance of Jordan despite losing the match…
Finn Balor beat Jason Jordan in 11:40.
The broadcast team hyped the tag team main event as coming up after the break. They also hyped the “Birth of the Dragon” movie and set up a trailer for the film… [C]
Powell’s POV: Don Murphy noted that there were actually multiple beachballs in play during the match. The fans also chanted “We Want Gable” and for AJ Styles during the mid-match commercial break. The fans missed a solid match, but it’s hard to blame them for not getting up for another babyface vs. babyface encounter with zero storyline build aside from the creatively flat Jordan wanting to test himself.
[Q12] Cole hyped Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship for next week’s Raw… Graves hyped Neville vs. Akira Tozawa for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship for 205 Live. Cole said Graves is so lucky that he gets to call the cruiserweight championship match. Graves suggested he hang out and call it with him. Cole didn’t respond…
Ring entrances for the main event took place. Graves noted that it was his first chance to call a Cena match. Cole mocked him by saying it’s all about Graves. Yes, Roman was booed again… [C]
7. John Cena and Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe and The Miz (w/Maryse, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel). The match appeared to be joined in progress. The beachballs returned as the fans were cheering and booing based on nothing that happened inside the ring. Cena stopoped and watched the beachball antics, and the camera even cut to one. Security ended up with the beachball and the fans booed. Cena acted upset about security getting the ball while Joe applauded.
The crowd did the wave. Cole said the fans were having fun and it’s all part of a great week with four nights straight at Brooklyn. Cena played to the wave and motioned for it, but Miz kicked him and then DDT’d him for a two count. The fans were still watching anything but the ring.
[Overrun] The heels isolated Reigns. Miz performed his Daniel Bryan kicks. Reigns ducked the last one, rolled him up, and then picked him up and slammed him at 8:05. Cena checked in and Joe put him in the Coquina Clutch. Reigns ran in to break it up with a Superman Punch, but accidentally hit Cena instead. Reigns and Joe ended up at ringside. Miz set up for his finisher on Cena, who countered into the AA for the win…
John Cena and Roman Reigns beat Samoa Joe and The Miz in 13:00.
Cena held his jaw afterward. They went to highlights. Reigns and Cena were talking. Cole said Reigns told Cena “my bad” while they were showing highlights. They kept talking to one another and then Reigns left to close the show…
Powell’s POV: The fans were the story of the match. And while I’m not advocating beachball silliness, I will say that I understood it more during this show than I did when they broke one out during the entertaining Raw Tag Title match at SummerSlam. Fair or unfair, this crowd had their hopes up for NXT call-ups, Undertaker, and a big return based on Angle’s tease. Instead, they got the previously advertised John Cena, which would have been cool on its own, but I can’t blame the fans a bit for feeling letdown by the Angle hype payoff when they already knew Cena would be there.
Fans have high expectations for the night after WrestleMania and SummerSlam. This show did not live up to those expectations and the fans entertained themselves. It’s easy to blame the fact that this is the third consecutive night in the same venue, but I don’t think there would have been as many issues if WWE had filled the time better than they did. I will have a lot more to say in my member exclusive audio review tonight and in my WWE Raw Hit List tomorrow. Thanks for watching along with me. Stop back on Tuesday for Jake Barnett’s live review of Smackdown.
The Best of The Boom features Eric Bischoff joining Jason Powell in this March 20, 2019 discussion on whether there are similarities between Verne Gagne's booking during the AWA's dying days and Vince McMahon's WWE booking today, AEW, a Turner network shakeup, and more...