WWE Raw Live TV Review: Roman Reigns addresses the controversy over the finish to his cage match with Brock Lesnar, the final Raw push for WWE Backlash

By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on April 30, 2018 from Montreal, Quebec at Bell Centre

[Hour One] Raw opened with footage from the Greatest Royal Rumble event… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Jonathan Coachman were on commentary…

Roman Reigns’ music played and he came out to overwhelming boos. Cole said Reigns must be bitter about the finish to his match with Brock Lesnar in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The broadcast team checked in and recapped the finish of the match. They played up the Reigns should have been named the winner because his feet his the ground first even though Lesnar’s back hit the ground first. Graves noted that Kurt Angle announced that the referee’s decision still stands.

Powell’s POV: My guess is they didn’t smarten up the broadcast team when it came to the finish. I watched the end of the match back and initially they acted a little confused and Graves was making a case for Lesnar’s back landing being similar to a knee equalling two feet being in bounds when a wide receiver makes a catch in the NFL. Cole eventually raised the two feet issue, but it wasn’t portrayed as being super controversial until this afternoon.

Reigns said he wouldn’t make excuses because he didn’t need to. He said fans saw the footage and heard from the referee (via the WWE website) and thus the fans were looking at the real Universal Champion. A loud “Roman sucks” chant broke out. Reigns said he’s not the Universal Champion yet. He said people doubted him and lost faith in him, but he kept his word and beat Lesnar. He said he would tell Lesnar that to his face, but he wasn’t there so he was turning his attention to someone else.

Samoa Joe appeared on the big screen and interrupted Reigns. Joe said he told Reigns he would lose to Lesnar and he did. Joe said he would put Roman’s spiraling downward career to sleep at Backlash. There was a pause after Joe spoke and then Jinder Mahal’s entrance music played and he headed to the ring with Sunil Singh. Mahal said he hates when people make excuses for their shortcomings. Mahal said Reigns lost to Lesnar and he will lose to Joe on Sunday, but tonight he would lose to him. Mahal said Joe was right in that Roman’s career is in the tubes. He said he will flourish on Raw and raise the WWE Universal Championship.

Sami Zayn’s music hit and he came out to a huge pop while Cole spoke about how Zayn grew up 15 minutes away. Zayn played into the cheers by immediately noting that he was in Montreal. He spoke a line in French. Zayn said he wasn’t able to go to the Greatest Royal Rumble because he caught a case of vertigo because he was injured at the hands of Bobby Lashley. He said he felt a lot better and he would be the one to face Reigns.

Kevin Owens’ music played and he received a huge pop too while Cole said he grew up 30 minutes from Montreal. Owens spoke in French and the crowd roared. He told Zayn that he knew he could beat Reigns, but he thinks the fans want to see Reigns vs. Owens. The fans chanted “oui” and Owens told Reigns, “That means yes, they like that idea.” Owens suggested they have a popularity contest. The fans popped for Reigns vs. Zayn. They booed Reigns vs. Mahal. They popped again for Reigns vs. Owens.

Owens claimed victory and then walked into a punch from Reigns. The four heels quickly pounced on Reigns and put the boots to him. Bobby Lashley’s music played and he ran out for the save and was booed. The heels outnumbered Lashley. Braun Strowman’s music played and he came out to cheers and helped Reigns and Lashley clear the ring, then pressed Singh over his head and threw him onto Owens, Zayn, and Mahal…

Graves hyped Natalya (w/Ronda Rousey) vs. Mickie James (w/Alexa Bliss) for later in the show. Cole said Elias would be in concert after the break and would face Bobby Roode in a rematch from last week… [C]

Powell’s POV: A really fun opening segment with the live crowd popping huge for Owens and Zayn. I wonder if WWE officials thought Mahal would be cheered too because he’s legitimately from Canada as well. Either way, it’s Canada vs. USA in the obvious six-man tag match once it’s announced. It’s very telling that the “Bizarro World” crowd has no problem cheering Strowman yet booed the hell out of Reigns and Lashley.

As expected, the Reigns, Lashley, and Strowman vs. Owens, Zayn, and Mahal match was announced for later in the show…

Elias sat on his stool in the ring and played the guitar. There were loud cheers for Elias as he boasted about his greatness and boasted about eliminating big names in the Greatest Royal Rumble match. Elias played a song about Bobby Roode until he was interrupted by his entrance music… [C]

1. Bobby Roode vs. Elias. The match was joined in progress. Cole said it was a rematch from last week when Elias stole a win from Roode. A split screen ad for Backlash aired while Elias had Roode in a chinlock of doom. Elias got a two count heading into a full break. [C]

Late in the match, Roode was on the apron when Elias ran him throat first into the turnbuckle cable. The referee checked on Roode on the floor. Roode told him he couldn’t breathe and then multiple officials and trainers tended to Roode. Elias took the mic and proclaimed himself the winner. Elias walked past Roode and smirked before heading up the ramp. They showed a few replays. The last one shows that Roode’s chest and shoulder hit the cable…

Elias fought Bobby Roode to an apparent no-contest.

A graphic listed the six-man tag match for later in the show… [C]

Powell’s POV: They had a lot of time to pick the right replays to show and for some ridiculous reason they closed with the one that showed up close that Roode’s throat never came close to hitting the cable. Unreal. Anyway, I told you last week not to read too much into Roode losing one match to Elias because Roode winning a rematch was always a possibility. That wasn’t the result here, but it’s obvious that last week’s match result was not a burial of Roode and that these two are in the midst of a feud. I still find it odd that they continued to make it seem like Elias stole a win last week when he didn’t actually cheat.

Footage aired of Roode being helped to the back during the break…

2. The Authors of Pain vs. Jean-Paul and Francois. Before the match, Charly Caruso interviewed the enhancement wrestlers who spoke about being proud Canadians. They also spoke in French and got some cheers before making their entrance. The AOP hit the Super Collider and followed up with the Last Chapter for the win…

The Authors of Pain defeated Jean-Paul and Francois in 1:05.

AOP delivered a promo after the match and spoke about the Book of Pain and how there’s a chapter for every team on Raw. They closed by saying “Center of destruction” simultaneously… An ad for Smackdown noted that Shinsuke Nakamura is demanding an apology from AJ Styles… [C]

Powell’s POV: I guess the idea of identifying the enhancement guys as locals was to put some heat on AOP. The locals got some cheers, but the AOP didn’t really get much in the way of heat for destroying them. The post match promo felt pretty amateurish both in terms of what was written and how it was delivered.

Cole spoke about the media attention that the Greatest Royal Rumble received. He said reporters called it “dazzling, spectacular, and legendary.” He also noted that Seth Rollins said it was an event that he’d be telling his kids about…

Powell’s POV: Funny, I must have missed those glowing reviews, just as WWE must have miraculously missed the criticisms of both the event and the politics involved.

[Hour Two] Seth Rollins made his entrance and the broadcast team recapped his win in the four-way ladder match at the Greatest Royal Rumble match. Rollins played to the crowd and they loudly sang the “Ole” song for him. He thanked them in French.

Rollins said he had a long trip back from Saudi Arabia and he got to think about what type of champion he wants to be. Rollins said he doesn’t want to be a champion like Brock Lesnar. He noted that love Reigns or hate him, he deserves to be the champion. He said he wants to be a fighting champion.

Finn Balor made his entrance and his attire was back to being inclusive now that they’re not in Saudi Arabia. Balor said he had a lot of time on the flight back to review how close he came to winning the title. He congratulated Rollins for beating him, then noted that they are 2-2 in singles matches against one another.

Rollins noted that he’s facing The Miz at Backlash, but he noted that he is a fighting champion. Rollins asked the fans if they wanted to see the match tonight. The fans cheered and Rollins said the match is one. Balor and Rollins shook hands.

The Miz’s music played. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas walked out wearing suits. Axel said they shouldn’t be worried about what the fans want, they should worry about themselves. Dallas said they should worry about each other. Dallas said they should have had a group conversation rather than approach them separately. The two heels showed off corny t-shirts with all four of their faces on them.

Dallas said they could be the Four Horsemen of WWE. Rollins and Balor went to the ropes and spoke, then Rollins said it was a hard no. The fans chanted “losers” at the heels, who teased leaving, only to turn and try to attack the babyfaces. Rollins and Balor quickly cleared them from the ring, but then Balor hit Rollins with a move from behind and was booed…

They aired footage of Titus O’Neil’s trip at the Greatest Royal Rumble and said he would address it later in the show. They also hyped Sasha Banks vs. Ruby Riott for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: The crowd was excited when Miz’s music hit, but not so much when Axel and Dallas walked out instead. I like the post match cheap shot by Balor as it adds some tension going into his latest match with Rollins. The live crowd is off the charts hot tonight. The great thing about the Montreal crowd so far is that they are extremely vocal without trying to make themselves the stars of the show.

The Riott Squad made their entrance. They cut backstage where Caruso asked Sasha Banks if she’s worked things out with Bayley so that she could be in her corner. Banks said Bayley hasn’t responded to her and is apparently okay with Riott Squad trying to take over. Banks said she’s not okay with that. Banks made her entrance…

3. Sasha Banks vs. Ruby Riott (w/Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan). Graves took issue with Banks blaming Bayley for the state of their relationship. Bayley was shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Banks was in offensive control heading into a break at 4:45.

Riott performed a big senton that drew gasps from the live crowd and got a two count. Banks came back with a Backstabber and applied the Bank Statement. Logan distracted the referee while Morgan broke up the hold. Banks took out Morgan with a double knee press. Banks went to the ropes and had to kick Logan away. Riott cut off Banks on the ropes and hit her with a Riott Kick and then pinned her…

Ruby Riott defeated Sasha Banks in 12:30.

The broadcast team hyped Titus O’Neil appearing after the break as highlights aired of his big fall…

The latest Alexa Bliss mock PSA aired. She told a story about Nia Jax asking Disney employees if she was tall enough to go on the rides at the theme park. She also claimed Jax had a server give her a kids’ menu at lunch and then laughed at her. “Nia turned the happiest place on earth into the saddest place ever,” Bliss said while acting like she was getting choked up. Bliss said she will win back the Raw Women’s Championship at Backlash because she won’t let the bully win… [C]

Powell’s POV: An entertaining match between Banks and Riott. So this is all leading to the moment with Banks and Bayley reunite to fight off the heel trio? I suppose they could surprise us with a swerve at that point, but I think they actually want the fans to be clamoring to see two characters who were scripted to act like petulant children get back on the same page.

Graves hyped the Rollins vs. Balor match as the Raw main event…

Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Titus O’Neil, who was cheered by the crowd. Young had him watch the footage of his big fall on a backstage monitor and it was replayed three times while the broadcast team laughed about it. Young said Titus broke the internet.

Titus said he loves it when a plan comes together. He started saying it was planned, but they he admitted he just fell. He said not many people get an opportunity to fall flat on their face in front of the entire world. He said Jennifer Lawrence did it at the Oscars a few years ago, but that’s not important. Baron Corbin entered the picture and told Young he didn’t know why she was wasting her time with O’Neil…

Powell’s POV: The Jennifer Lawrence line about her falling at the Oscars sounded so forced and felt so pointless. I assume we’re getting Titus vs. Corbin either tonight or on Sunday.

The broadcast team noted that Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt won the vacant Raw Tag Titles at the Greatest Royal Rumble, then a Hardy and Wyatt pre-taped promo aired. Hardy said he and Wyatt forever transcended time and space. He said they were there at the beginning as footage of their images being spliced into famous historical moments was shown. The light changed from white to dark and Wyatt entered the picture and handed Hardy his title belt. Wyatt dubbed them the Deleters of Worlds…

The broadcast team recapped Ronda Rousey coming out to check on the injured Natalya last week and then roughing up Mickie James. They showed an Instagram post from Rousey, who thanked Natalya for helping her while she was in her secret training prior to the Royal Rumble. The broadcast team hyped the previously announced matches and said the six-man tag match was up next… [C]

Ring entrances for the six-man tag match too place. Singh introduced Mahal while selling his neck and shoulder from being roughed up earlier in the show. Owens and Zayn entered to Zayn’s music and were cheered again. Strowman didn’t get the big reaction the second time out, and it was flat for Lashley. The fans booed loudly when Reigns made his second entrance of the night…

4. Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Jinder Mahal (w/Sunil Singh) vs. Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley, and Roman Reigns. Braun’s Greatest Royal Rumble trophy was at ringside. The fans were red hot again for Zayn and Owens, who were roughed up by Reigns heading into a break. [C]

[Hour Three] An split-screen ad aired for AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura at Backlash while Owens had Lashley in a chinlock of doom. The fans continued to boo whenever Reigns was on the offensive and there was a pop when Owens DDT’d him for a two count going into a break. [C]

Graves hilariously claimed that the Canadian Prime Minister was waiting to greet Owens and Zayn with open arms. “He was not!” Cole barked back before he went back to chuckling over Graves’s followup line about having big hair. At 19:10, Strowman took a hot tag from Reigns, who hit Mahal in the ring, then ran to ringside and performed shoulder blocks on Owens and Zayn. He returned to the ring and hit Mahal again, then went back to ringside and worked over Owens and Zayn again.

Strowman returned to the ring and charged Mahal in the corner. Mahal moved and Strowman crashed into the corner. Zayn charged Strowman, but Lashley was there to suplex him. Mahal caught Lashley with a kick and then tagged in Owens. Reigns speared Mahal. Owens superkicked Reigns and Strowman. Owens charged at Strowman, who caught him by the throat and powerslammed him…

Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley, and Roman Reigns defeated Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Jinder Mahal in 20:50.

Coachman hyped the IC Title main event. Graves hyped Baron Corbin vs. No Way Jose for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: A really fun match with some good work for the wrestlers and with a good, hot crowd. I would have had the heels go over in cheap fashion or at least had Mahal be the one to take the pin for his team. Put those smiles on faces, WWE. Meanwhile, the WWE ads for the “Something Else to Wrestle” show on WWE Network continue to focus entirely on Bruce Prichard. It’s odd that Conrad Thompson is never shown or mentioned in the ads. I hope they’re not delusional enough to think that the show would have the same appeal if they were to replace him with one of their own talking heads.

A video package focussed on the Greatest Royal Rumble event. They made sure to show a lot of smiling female fans. Cole said he was speaking for everyone in WWE when he said they were proud to be a part of that event…

Powell’s POV: Was Cole also speaking on behalf of the women who were not allowed to work the show and Sami “Vertigo” Zayn?

Baron Corbin made his entrance and complained about buffoons like Titus O’Neil and No Way Jose “with his stupid conga line.” He said he was putting an end to the nonsense. No Way Jose made his entrance with his stupid conga line…

Powell’s POV: Are we sure Corbin isn’t a babyface?

5. No Way Jose (w/Reject Rosebuds) vs. Baron Corbin. Highlights aired of Corbin attacking Jose prior to their scheduled match last week. Corbin had the advantage 90 seconds into the match when Titus O’Neil’s entrance music played. Titus Worldwide made their entrance, which distracted Corbin. Titus teased running to the ring, but Apollo Crews and Dana Brooke stopped him and wiped down the entrance ramp before he jumped over it. Titus tripped on the apron. Corbin applauded only to be rolled up and pinned by Jose…

No Way Jose beat Baron Corbin in 2:40.

A John Cena ad for Make A Wish aired. Cole thanked those who took part in World Wish Day… Graves hyped the women’s match for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Jose is talented and has a fun personality. We may never know that because it’s all about the conga line and WWE’s wacky idea of fun. At least Coach said he thinks Titus intentionally fell this time. In other words, it was an intentional distraction and thus we shouldn’t have to watch them fail to recreate the magic of his unintentional fall at the Greatest Royal Rumble every week going forward.

6. Natalya (w/Ronda Rousey) vs. Mickie James (w/Alexa Bliss). Natalya and Rousey came out to Natalya’s theme to a strong reaction and they hugged at ringside. Cole said Eve Torres put Rousey and Natalya together initially and they formed a friendship. A “Ronda Rousey” chant broke out as the match started.

Bliss stood on the apron and distracted Natalya, who walked into a kick to the knee from James. Rousey chased Bliss around the ring. Meanwhile, Natalya scored a rollup victory over James and went back to selling her knee injury…

Natalya defeated Mickie James in 3:05.

After the match, Nia Jax made his entrance as Bliss was standing on the stage. Bliss ran down the ramp and made her exit through the crowd. Jax entered the ring and sized up Rousey, then raised the arms of Rousey and Natalya as they both smiled…

The broadcast team hyped WWE Backlash and the usual free month for new network subscribers. They added Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to the lineup… Graves hyped the main event as coming up next… [C]

Powell’s POV: Man, it feels too soon for Backlash following the Greatest Royal Rumble on Friday. I’m even more thrown off by the decision to put the babyface trio over in the six-man tag match earlier and to have Owens lose clean when they’re coming right back with the tag match on Sunday. Strange.

A Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler selfie promo aired. McIntyre said when he talks it’s real unlike others. He said that when other wrestlers are coasting and are just happy to be there, he and Ziggler are positive they deserve to be there. Ziggler said if he were someone else he’d be really afraid right now. He suggested they should contemplate other options such as running off to Smackdown while they still can…

Ring entrances for the main event took place…

7. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor for the Intercontinental Championship. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Cole pointed out the cut right eye that Balor was sporting from the ladder match. Rollins tossed Balor to the floor and then dove onto him heading into a break roughly a minute into the match. [C]

[Overrun] Rollins performed a Blockbuster and followed up with a springboard clothesline. Rollins looked to the crowd and was cheered. Rollins followed up with a suicide dive. He went for another, but Balor caught him with a kick to the head at 7:35. Balor followed up with a DDT for a near fall at 8:10.

Balor chopped Rollins a couple times and then jawed at him. Rollins came back with a sling blade and a high knee for a two count. Rollins tuned up the band and delivered a superkick to the gut. Balor came right back with a punch. Balor caught Rollins with a double stomp to the gut at 10:55.

Rollins caught Balor on the ropes at 11:30 and set up for a superplex. Balor fought him off, but Rollins ran right back up the ropes and performed a superplex. Balor got up and hit the falcon arrow for a good near fall. Rollins and Balor traded forearms shots. They traded kicks.

Balor clotheslined Rollins to ringside and then performed a flip dive at 13:50. Balor rolled Rollins back inside and performed a running dropkick. Balor went up top for his finisher, but Rollins avoided it and kicked him in the gut. Balor avoided the Stomp twice and got two counts off of rollups. Rollins caught Balor with a superkick. Rollins eventually got to his feet and connected with the Stomp for the win…

Seth Rollins defeated Finn Balor in 15:25 to retain the Intercontinental Championship.

Powell’s POV: Another strong match between Rollins and Balor. My guard was up for a cheap finish involving Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel getting involved, so the clean finish was a nice surprise. These two work very well together and I hope they really turn them loose at some point on pay-per-view, not that I’m complaining about their Raw matches. Overall, Raw was a fun show thanks to a big assist from the live crowd. They didn’t do much to sell me on WWE Backlash so hopefully Smackdown will do a better job with that tomorrow night. I’ll be by later this evening with my audio review for Dot Net Members. Thanks for watching along with me.



Readers Comments (19)

  1. Just get it over with and give us a 3MB reunion on RAW. You know you all want it!

  2. If they want Lashley to be received as a babyface, why put him in that spot? Even though it was a babyface move to save Roman, there’s zero chance he’s getting cheered there.

  3. Most people had positive opinions of GRR, it’s only a small minority of losers who had a problem with it. Same with the so called controversy about it, it was only a small vocal minority. I noticed none of those people complained about stuff like Disney airing Black Panther there. How can you claim to be upset at WWE doing an event there but have no problem with Disney airing Black Panther?

    • The funny thing is that I’ve never said definitively whether I think they should or should not have run there. I’ve taken some fair jabs, but I laugh at how even that is enough to bring out the loyal defenders who just assume WWE is being attacked.

    • One more thing. Why do all of the defenses for running in Saudi Arabia seem to be elementary school style “but (fill in the blank) did it too”?

      • Saudi Arabia isn’t going to westernize by having the West isolate them. Getting indignant over WWE going there seems counter-productive to what you seem to want.

        • So do you think WWE went there to be goodwill ambassadors or because they were paid millions and millions of dollars? I don’t know which camp you fall into, so this isn’t directed at you personally. I would honestly feel better if the defender fans just came out and said they don’t care and just want to be entertained. I find that to be less offensive than regurgitating the WWE spin when this show was all about the money.

  4. Conrad Thompson doesn’t put asses in seats. People will watch the show because of Bruce, not Conrad. I remember when Ric Flair had his podcasts, Conrad was ok but not great. It’s like Bruce is the quarterback and Conrad the center, the center is important too but nobody is watching the team because of him. Or if you were advertising Howard Stern’s show, you wouldn’t expect to see Robin Quivers mentioned in the advertising.

    • Take Conrad away and I’m not listening to that show. I’ll bet a lot of people out there would agree and that’s not a shot against Bruce. It’s a team effort. Conrad may not have the name value of Prichard to the masses, but he’s excellent at what he does and I’d be promoting him too if it were my call.

      • By TJs own words it’s obvious he isn’t a listener. Bruce would be the first to admit it’s as much or more Conrad’s show. And the VAST majority would of listeners would agree. I have never missed a STW or WHW podcast, I just listened to week one of 83 weeks, and I’d stop immediately if not for Conrad.

  5. Yeah I agree with Jason on Conrad. Not sure I would listen myself if it was only Bruce.

  6. I just hope WWE doesn’t put any restrictions on their podcast topic conversations in the future.

  7. I’m at the stage now where I pity Roman Reigns. Ownership, creative and the broadcast teams have painted him as such a douchebag. Week after week, he has to go out there and recite lines that make it seem as if he’s speaking to a loyal group of supporters that share his frustration.

    I’m glad he gets paid well, because odds are the abuse will continue for the rest of his career. Some wrestlers people just hate.

  8. First of all, the main event between Rollins and Balor was very very good.

    I despise how whenever a crowd Boos Reigns WWE will tell us it’s not a “typical” crowd.

    I hope Titus falling has a short shelf life.

    When will this Sasha/Bailey nonsense end?

    I loved the broken Universe in TNA. But WWE has really dropped the ball on this. Even Michael Cole rolls his eyes as if to indicate to the fans that they shouldn’t care either. I was really hoping it would work but it’s become a caricature of itself.

    It looks like they might be setting up Seth Rollins to be the one to take down Lesnar but I’m still holding out hope that that spot will be reserved for a returning reinvigorated Dean Ambrose.

    • Oh boy, don’t hold your breath for Lesnar putting Ambrose over!

    • Man, that’d be awesome if Ambrose came back and took down Lesnar. I’m a huge fan of Dean. The last time they faced off at WM32, Lesnar showed how lazy and self-centered he can be though, because he didn’t seem to want to do anything for Dean.

      I personally will be ecstatic to see Lesnar go back to UFC, and disappear from the WWE. And I hope he gets a beatdown in his first fight.

      I think Rollins would be a solid choice to beat Lesnar though. Maybe that could finally be the catalyst for a needed Reigns turn, too. The list of “not your typical crowd”, as the WWE keeps saying, is starting to look like the back of a band tour t-shirt with all these cities. Lol. Give it up, Vince.

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