By Jason Powell
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Memphis, Tennessee at the FedEx Forum
[Q1] Raw opened with The Miz, Maryse, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel in the ring. Michael Cole and Corey Graves checked in on commentary from their usual spot and noted that Booker T was not present because of the storms in Houston. Jerry Lawler filled in for Booker and said he wished it was under better circumstances. Cole said they would show fans how they could help with the recovery effort later in the show. They also hyped Brock Lesnar appearing, the Raw Women’s Championship match, and the contract signing for Roman Reigns vs. John Cena for later in the show.
The Miz said, “Respect” and was then interrupted by Kurt Angle’s entrance music. Angle was about to tell Miz who his challenger would be, but Miz cut him off and provided the definition for respect. Angle announced that Miz would defend the Intercontinental Title next week against the winner of a battle royal that would kick off the show. A clean-shaven Big Show made his entrance for the battle royal. The Hardys were out next. Finn Balor made his entrance. Cole said the 15-man battle royal was coming up after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: The three entrances were smart in that they showed viewers that it would be more than an undercard battle royal by going with some star power. Is this a way for them to set up Jason Jordan getting another title shot by earning it or are they moving in a different direction?
1. Battle Royal for an Intercontinental Title shot next week. The entrants were Big Show, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Finn Balor, Jason Jordan, Kalisto, R-Truth, Goldust, Apollo Crews, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Curt Hawkins, Bo Dallas, Elias, and Curtis Axel. A portion of Jordan’s entrance was televised. Miz and Maryse watched from ringside. Hawkins let out a “wooo” when the bell rang and was immediately eliminated. The wrestlers turned their attention to Show, who was able to fight them off. Gallows and Anderson tried to eliminate Show. Balor walked over and helped them do it. Cole acknowledged the history between the trio as they all looked at one another.
[Q2] Truth was eliminated by Axel and Dallas. Heel Goldust saved Balor by pulling Elias off him at one point. Goldust posed and was dumped by Anderson. Gallows caught Goldust with a kick that eliminated him at 6:15. [C] Matt Hardy eliminated Gallows by pulling down the top rope. Matt brought Anderson onto the apron with him where they traded punches. Matt ran Anderson into the post and he tumbled to the floor. Gallows pulled Matt Hardy out to eliminate him.
Miz saved Dallas from being eliminated by punching Balor and Jeff Hardy. Graves said everything Miz did was perfectly legal. Balor went on an offensive run and then squared off with Jeff Hardy, who worked him over with a series of moves, but Balor blocked the Twist of Fate and put him down with a sling blade clothesline. Balor followed up with a running dropkick in the corner. Bray Wyatt’s video flashed and he was in the ring and tossed Balor over the top rope. Graves said it was perfectly legal, and Cole said there are no disqualifications in a battle royal. Wyatt disappeared again. Jordan performed suplexes, including a tough one on Jeff, who was tough to get up. Jordan performed a springboard move and nearly landed on Hardy. Jordan eliminated Axel, Dallas, and Elias, but Hardy quickly eliminated Jordan to win the match…
Jeff Hardy won a battle royal in 16:00 to earn an Intercontinental Title shot next week.
Powell’s POV: This was fun for a battle royal and they managed to kill a lot of television time in a compelling manner with the setup, the entrances, and the actual match. I could do without the “no disqualifications in a battle royal” eliminations, but the Wyatt elimination of Balor is telling in that we know their feud isn’t over. Jeff going over was a surprise and it will be interesting to see if they intend to do more with him as a singles wrestler or if whatever happens next week will somehow lead him back to teaming with Matt Hardy. Heck, I guess we can’t completely rule out Jeff and a Broken or Woken version of Matt feuding just as they did in TNA when the Broken Universe was launched.
[Q3] The broadcast team recapped the battle royal finish and then set up a video package that recapped last week’s Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman angle… The broadcast team hyped Lesnar for later in the show, and said Enzo Amore would have his first cruiserweight match after the break… [C]
Backstage, Charly Caruso interviewed Alexa Bliss, who once again mocked Sasha Banks for never having a successful defense of the Raw Women’s Championship. Bliss said history will repeat itself and she will expose Banks as a legit loser. Bliss said there is anticipation in the air and the fans are ready to worship The Goddess again…
Enzo Amore made his entrance and did some pre-match schtick. He said Big Cass got what he deserved for picking on him. Enzo ended up introducing Noam Dar as his first opponent. Dar walked onto the stage. Enzo called him one guy with two last names and then did the sawft bit… [C]
Powell’s POV: Enzo got some boos when he said he could do two things at once and mentioned watching Floyd Mayweather knocking out Conor McGregor while also making money. Were they McGregor fans or people who lost money on the fight?
[Q4] 2. Enzo Amore vs. Noam Dar. Cole hyped 205 Live and Enzo’s involvement. He once again called it the most exciting hour on television. Puh-lease. Neville was shown watching the match backstage. In the end, Enzo hit Gail Kim’s Eat Defeat finisher and scored the pin…
Enzo Amore pinned Noam Dar in 3:00.
Backstage, Caruso asked Neville for his reaction to Enzo. Neville said if Enzo is supposed to be competition for him then he will be champion forever… The broadcast team hyped Brock Lesnar for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Enzo’s finisher looked bad with his foot sliding away from Dar’s face before it was supposed to make impact. It will be very interesting to see if Enzo can give a boost to the cruiserweight division or if he will end up being being dragged down by the uninspired booking like everyone else.
A graphic boasted that WWE has more social media followers than the major sports leagues…
WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman made their entrance while the broadcast team hyped his match against Braun Strowman for No Mercy. The fans chanted “Suplex City” once they were in the ring. Heyman introduced himself and Lesnar. Heyman said they were not there to sing the blues in Memphis despite what happened last week. Heyman said they were there to sing the praises of Strowman instead.
Heyman said Strowman is the most worthy contender for the Universal Championship in all of WWE. Heyman recalled Strowman power slamming Lesnar through two tables at SummerSlam. Heyman recalled Graves saying Strowman “monster-handling” Lesnar. There were some boos. Heyman said he didn’t know why the fans were booking. He called it historic.
[Q5] Heyman told the kids at home who question whether monsters are real that he doesn’t believe in monsters, but he believes that Strowman is one. Heyman had footage play on the big screen of the Strowman and Lesnar angle from last week. Heyman took issue with Strowman raising the belt and said you should only do so if you’re monster enough to take it from Lesnar.
Heyman asked if Strowman thought Lesnar was going to duck him and that’s why he attacked him last week. Heyman said Lesnar ducks no man. “Brock Lesnar wants you,” Heyman said regarding Strowman. Lesnar took the mic and said, “What he’s trying to say is Suplex City, bitch.” Lesnar and Heyman left the ring…
The broadcast team hyped the Raw Women’s Championship match, and a contract signing between Roman Reigns and John Cena for No Mercy… Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins made their entrance for a Rollins singles match against Cesaro for after the break… [C] An ad for Smackdown recapped last week’s television show…
Powell’s POV: An effective segment with Heyman building up Strowman and putting over what he did to Lesnar rather than downplaying it. However, the decision to move right on and hype other segments and then have an an entrance made it feel more routine than it should have. I understand why they would want to cram in more hype right after Lesnar and provide a hook, but the Lesnar vs. Strowman match is the closest thing they have to a super fight and they need to make it the priority and make it feel feel larger than life.
An ad hyped Total Bellas returning a week from Wednesday night… The broadcast team set up a video that recapped last week’s Cena and Reigns angle. Yes, poor Rollins and Ambrose had to continue twiddling their thumbs i the ring while this played out.
[Q6] Sheamus and Cesaro finally made their entrance. The broadcast team welcomed viewers who were watching in Africa on Super Sport…
Powell’s POV: Yes, Rollins and Ambrose actually had to stand in the ring through a commercial break and a long video package that had nothing to do with him.
3. Seth Rollins (w/Dean Ambrose) vs. Cesaro (w/Sheamus). Cesaro performed a backbreaker heading into a break. [C] Rollins rolled through a top rope cross body block for a two count. Later, Rollins hit a Buckle Bomb and then had to leap over Sheamus attempting to interfere. Ambrose took out Sheamus, but Cesaro caught a distracted Rollins with an uppercut and pinned him…
Cesaro pinned Seth Rollins in 10:20.
After the match, Sheamus took the mic and said that he would face Ambrose next…
4. Dean Ambrose (w/Seth Rollins) vs. Sheamus (w/Cesaro). The referee called for the bell. Graves said the timekeeper obviously received permission from Kurt Angle to go ahead with the match. Ambrose clotheslined Sheamus to ringside and then followed him to the floor where they fought going into the break. [C]
[Q7] Ambrose sold for a long stretch. He eventually hit the Lunatic Lariat. Rollins prevented Cesaro from getting involved. Rollins rolled onto the apron. Cesaro tried to follow, but the referee spotted Cesaro and kept him at ringside. Sheamus set up for an Irish Curse, but Rollins performed a springboard move to break it up. Rollins performed a suicide dive on Cesaro and then Ambrose performed Dirty Deeds on Sheamus and pinned him…
Dean Ambrose beat Sheamus in 10:45.
Powell’s POV: The ol’ tag team wrestlers split singles matches. It eats a lot of television time and the idea is that the teams seem equal. However, we saw it used with Sheamus, Cesaro, Matt Hardy, and Jeff Hardy too recently for this to not feel a little formulaic.
Backstage, Emma was checking out her phone and said she was going to tweet “we want Emma” and told Mickie James that it would trend. James said Emma was destroyed by Nia Jax. Emma took credit for starting the women’s revolution and brought up a “thank Emma for the revolution” hashtag. James took the phone from her and said she would tweet any hashtag she wanted if Emma beat her, but Emma can never take credit for the revolution if she loses…
A hurricane PSA aired with Roman Reigns, Alexa Bliss, Seth Rollins, Alicia Fox, Titus O’Neil, and John Cena encouraging fans to donate to the relief effort…
[Q8] [C] A burger shack sponsored Kurt Angle highlight package aired…
5. Emma vs. Mickie James. Emma had new entrance music. Mickie yelled “come on” to the lethargic crowd and got a little reaction before they went back to sitting on their hands. Mickie went for a rollup, but Emma sat down on her and got the pin. After the match, Emma took the mic and boasted that she started the women’s revolution over and over again…
Emma pinned Mickie James in 1:40.
The broadcast team hyped the John Cena and Roman Reigns contract signing for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A feud over hashtags? Anyway, Emma should have Mickie tweet #EmmasNewMusicSucks.
Kurt Angle stood in the ring with the contract signing table and introduced John Cena. The broadcast team spoke about how Cena vs. Reigns is WrestleMania worthy. Cena took the mic and said the same thing. Cena said he came to Raw to be in the ring with the man who says he runs the yard. Cena said that Reigns has been “the blue chip prospect who has been protected against anyone and everyone who steps foot in his path.” The crowd reacted with silence. Cena said he’s the one man you get no protection from. He said he wants to fight Reigns because he knows Reigns doesn’t want to fight him. Cena signed the contract.
Roman Reigns made his entrance. Once Reigns made it to the apron, Cena spun the contract around and placed the pen next to it. Reigns entered the ring and looked at the contract.
[Q9] Reigns looked at Cena and then picked up the microphone. “Let me get this right,” Reigns said before he was booed. Reigns questioned Cena claiming he was afraid to fight him. Reigns told Cena that he’s not as big of a deal as he thinks he is. The fans reacted to that line. Reigns said he retired Undertaker at WrestleMania. He said maybe it’s not that he doesn’t want to fight Cena, it’s that he doesn’t need it.
Cena said everyone backstage knows that Reigns is the big dog, while everyone out there (fans) are still trying to figure it out. Cena said he’s a polarizing figure and people want him to change the content of his character. “Maybe a little heel turn,” Cena siad. There were some cheers. Cena said it’s different with Reigns. He said the fans go back and forth with him, whereas when they see Reigns they see a cheap ass, corporately created John Cena bootleg. A loud “Yes!” chant broke out.
Cena said Reigns isn’t the guy, he’s just a guy. Cena said Reigns is desperately trying to fill shoes that he never will. Cena said he’s not Undertaker. “I’m not a battered veteran at the end of his career with a bad hip,” he said. Cena said he is the fastest, strongest, and hungriest he has ever been in his life. Cena said Reigns won’t sign the contract because he knows his Roman Empire (disappears).
“He did it again,” Reigns said. “He can take anything and spit it, that’s what he does.” Reigns said it blows his mind that Cena runs his mouth about fans booing him because they want him to be a bad guy. Reigns said Cena is booed because he sucks. Cena said the fans say that about Angle too, but that’s okay because he won a gold medal.
Reigns lost his place after saying “second of all.” Cena told him he would wait for him to find it. “It’s called a promo, kid, and if you want to be the big dog then you’re going to have to learn how to do it,” Cena said. Reigns said the fans see through Cena because he’s a phony yes man and a fake bitch. Reigns said Cena is a part-timing fake ass bitch (censored). Reigns said he busts his ass all week while Cena hangs out on the Today Show and then hops on his bus and maybe comes to a WWE show if they pay him enough.
Reigns accused Cena of burying as much young talent as he can. Reigns said he’s the one guy in WWE that Cena can’t see. Reigns asked Cena why he would want to lesson himself to be the next John Cena when he can be the one and only Roman Reigns. Cena asked Reigns if he was finished. Cena said Reigns is a fool.
Cena congratulated Reigns on cutting his first half decent promo in five years, but added that he’s going to cut him down to size. Cena said everyone thinks he has a magical gold shovel to burry people, but the fans hold the key. Cena said he’s been hearing this for ten years and he’s been called worse by a lot tougher. Cena said he hasn’t main evented WrestleMania in five years and he was in the opening match at SummerSlam. Cena said he was honored to earn the U.S. Title at this stage of his career to use it as a beacon of opportunity to introduce new stars such as Kevin Owens and A.J. Styles.
“You took the U.S. Title as a demotion,” Cena said. “And you stand there and blame me. Fine, I blame you. I’m still here because you can’t do your job.” Cena said that the rule in the yard is step up or step aside. Cena said a few have stepped up, but no one has kept up. He said he finally heard about Reigns being that guy, but now he looks and listens to him and Reigns should be ashamed that he’s a part-timer because he does it better part-time than Reigns could ever do it full-time.” Cena dropped the mic.
Cena told Reigns to sign the contract. Reigns picked up the pen and signed the contract. Cena said he would see him at No Mercy. Reigns tossed the table aside. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson interrupted and spoke about their egos and said they were not good brothers. Gallows and Anderson said they were headed to the ring to beat up a couple of nerds. Angle booked them in a tag match… [C]
Powell’s POV: A strong segment that grabs the attention of viewers. Cena has praised Reigns in interviews in the past and spoke about how their personas are similar, so it’s not that I’m buying this as a shoot exchange by any means. After all, Reigns struggled to remember his next line at one point. Nevertheless, this is the type of promo that will get people buzzing. It’s not something I want to see every week and there was plenty to pick apart and I will have plenty more to say in audio, but the bottom line is that it made for compelling television and generated some buzz for their match.
6. John Cena and Roman Reigns vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. The match was joined in progress. Jerry Lawler said he’s been to a lot of Raws and Smackdowns and he’s never heard a promo, as Cena called it, like he did between Cena and Reigns. Roman hit both opponents with Superman Punches. Cena entered the ring and hoisted up Gallows and then glared at Reigns, who speared Anderson and pinned him. Graves accused Cena of trying to steal Roman’s thunder…
John Cena and Roman Reigns beat Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.
Elias strummed his guitar backstage. Cole said Elias would debut a new song after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: I like the accusation of Cena attempting to steal the thunder of Reigns more than a role reversal of last week with Cena accidentally punching Reigns, which is what I expected to see happen.
Elias sat on a stool in the ring and wore shades. He took them off before asking who wants to walk with Elias. He said the battle royal didn’t go the way he planned and he has no one to blame but the fans. He said Dusty Rhodes called him the Elvis of WWE.
[Q11] Elias played a version of “Hound Dog” with anti-Memphis lyrics until he was interrupted by Jerry Lawler from the stage. Lawler said Elias’s voice isn’t so bad, but he has trouble relating to his audience. Lawler said Memphis doesn’t appreciate those lyrics. He said he knew someone who might be able to help him. Lawler introduced someone the fans would know from Southpaw Regional Wrestling.
Lawler introduced Pelvis Wesley. Heath Slater came out dressed in his Elvis attire and danced his way into the ring and behind Elias, who danced with him briefly and then kicked him in the gut. Elias worked over Slater with kicks and then performed his Drift Away finisher…
The broadcast team hyped the Raw Women’s Championship match… [C]
Powell’s POV: If the goal was to make some viewers cheer for Elias then mission accomplished. I get a kick out of Southpaw, but I don’t need to see it float over to the actual television shows.
The broadcast team recapped the battle royal and hyped The Miz vs. Jeff Hardy for the Intercontinental Championship for Raw in Omaha next week… Backstage, Renee Young tried to interview The Miz about facing Jeff Hardy, but he gave her the silent treatment…
Charly Caruso interviewed Sasha Banks backstage. She said her failure to successfully defend the title ends tonight. She said this isn’t Game of Thrones (no kidding), it’s Monday Night Raw… Bliss made her entrance…
[Q12] [C] Sheamus and Cesaro were featured in a burger shack commercial… The hurricane relief spot aired again GHCF.org/hurricane-relief is the website where you can help the cause…
Graves hyped Enzo Amore, Gran Metalik, and Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar, Drew Gulak, and Tony Nese in a six-man tag match for 205 Live… Banks made her entrance…
7. Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship. Ring announcer JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Banks dumped Bliss to ringside heading into a break nearly three minutes into the match. [C] Bliss worked over the shoulder and ribs of Banks, who sold both as she made a brief comeback before crashing and burning in the corner. Bliss went up top, but Banks avoided her cross body block attempt and rolled her up for a two count.
[Overrun] Bliss threw a punch at Banks. It looked good live. They replayed it. Lawler said it looked like more of an elbow than a punch. At 13:00, Bliss performed a superplex. However, Banks applied the Bank Statement. Bliss reached the ropes to break it. Bliss performed a DDT and pinned Banks to win the match…
Alexa Bliss defeated Sasha Banks in 14:00 to win the Raw Women’s Championship.
After the match, Nia Jax walked to ringside and applauded Bliss. Jax entered the ring and raised the arm of Bliss, then splashed Banks in the corner. Bliss celebrated on the second rope. Jax put Bliss on her shoulders, then dropped her Electric Chair style. Jax picked up the title belt and held it up while a lot of fans cheered. Jax placed the title on Bliss and left the ring as her entrance music played…
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match with another oddly short Banks title reign. I’m not sure if there’s more to the story in this case or if they think there’s some odd interest in Banks winning the big one, yet failing to follow it up with title defenses. This show had its moments, most notably the John Cena and Roman Reigns segment that has fans buzzing on social media. I will have more to say in my WWE Raw audio review either later tonight or tomorrow. I’m recording the Ross Report podcast moments from now, so look for it on Tuesday night at PodcastOne.com.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Jim Ross on his role in AEW, Tony Khan as a leader, whether Ross knew Shawn Spears was going to hit Cody with a chair shot to the head, working with Excalibur and Alex Marvez, his new book and speaking engagement deal, and much more... Search "Pro Wrestling Boom" in Apple Podcasts or any podcast app to subscribe.