WWE Raw Live TV Review: Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens, Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Roode, Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax vs. Natalya, Tag Team Battle Royal for a future shot at the Raw Tag Titles

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

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on June 4, 2018 from Houston, Texas at Toyota Center

[Hour One] Raw opened with Elias sitting on his stool in the ring. He introduced himself and started to play the guitar. He said it’s no surprise that he’s the first face the fans saw because he is a valuable asset who will become even more valuable when he wins the Intercontinental Championship.

Elias sang a song as footage aired of him striking Rollins with a guitar shot and knocking him off the broadcast team’s table last week. He worked in an insult about Rollins falling down just like the Houston Rockets (NBA) do when the Golden State Warriors come to town.

Seth Rollins made his entrance. The broadcast team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and David Otunga checked in and noted that Rollins was suffering from neck and shoulder injuries from last week. Elias stood in the ring with his guitar and dared Rollins to enter the ring.

Rollins walked around the ring slowly and eventually grabbed a chair and then entered the ring. Elias and Rollins circled one another with their weapons and smashed them together. Elias dropped the guitar and Rollins backed him into a corner. Jinder Mahal and Sunil Singh showed up out of nowhere. Mahal attacked Rollins from behind. Roman Reigns made his entrance and cleared the heels from the ring with punches. Reigns helped Rollins to his feet.

Raw general manager Kurt Angle made his entrance and told Elias and Mahal that they weren’t going anywhere. He announced that they would have a tag team match “right here in Houston, Texas” and said it would begin now. They cut to a break… [C]

Powell’s POV: No complaints about an Elias opening. I get a big kick out of his act and watching him work the crowd. Angle may owe Mick Foley some royalties after delivering that “right here in (insert city name)” cheap pop hype.

Cole, Graves, and guest commentator David Otunga checked in from behind their desk. They welcomed Otunga back to the show and he said he was happy to be there…

Powell’s POV: Is this the first time that Otunga has called Raw since he was moved to the Monday night brand in the first Superstar Shakeup? He was off making a movie at the time and then they stuck with Booker T before replacing him with Jonathan Coachman, who is apparently off calling a golf event. I wonder if they have other plans for Booker tonight. I assume he’s there since the show is in his hometown.

1. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins vs. Elias and Jinder Mahal (w/Sunil Singh). Rollins sold early and made a hot tag to Reigns, which led to some cheers and boos around 5:30. A short time later, Reigns went after Mahal at ringside, but Singh pulled Mahal away, causing Reigns to walk into what looked like a weird double axe-handle and high knee from Elias heading into a break. [C]

Rollins took a hot tag around 13:55 and worked over both heels. Rollins performed a blockbuster on Elias and came up holding his neck to sell his injuries. Graves said he appeared to be a step slower. Reigns took out an interfering Mahal with a Superman Punch and then hit a Drive By kick on Elias.

Rollins set up for his finisher on Elias. Singh distracted him by jawing at him on the apron. Mahal ran Reigns into the steps and tossed him over the barricade and into the crowd. Meanwhile, Elias rolled up a distracted Rollins for a two count. Rollins came back with an enzuigiri on Elias and then performed a suicide dive on Mahal. Rollins came up selling his neck. Singh teased hitting Rollins with a chair, but Rollins ended up with it and chased him inside the ring where Elias performed a DDT onto the chair. Elias followed up with Drift Away on Rollins and pinned him…

Elias and Jinder Mahal defeated Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in 17:30.

Cole hyped Nia Jax vs. Natalya in a non-title match for later in the show, and Graves hyped Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Roode for later in the show, and Otunga hyped the tag team battle royal for later in the show… [C]

Powell’s POV: A nice opening match with a logical win for Elias heading into his title shot against Rollins at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Rollins was protected nicely via his storyline neck injury. Meanwhile, the team of Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler were shown in the tag team battle royal graphic are now my favorites to win. The Authors of Pain were not shown on the graphic.

Bruce Prichard was shown at ringside while the broadcast team plugged the “Something Else to Wrestle With” show for WWE Network…

Curt Hawkins stood in the ring and said he was sitting at 199 losses, but there would not be a 200th straight loss. He said everyone in the arena would get a free taco when he won. Hawkins interviewed his opponent James Hardy, who said he is from Houston. Hawkins said Hardy would be a part of history…

2. Curt Hawkins vs. James Hardy. There was a table with tacos at ringside. Hawkins turned Hardy inside out with a clothesline and then set up for a move in the corner. Baron Corbin’s entrance music played and he came out smiling. Corbin entered the ring and hit the End of Days finisher on Hardy for the disqualification.

James Hardy defeated Curt Hawkins by DQ in 1:45.

After the match, Hawkins went after Corbin at ringside. Corbin slammed the head of Hawkins into the taco table and then dumped the table and the tacos onto him…

A shot aired of Ronda Rousey coaching Natalya on her punching… [C]

Powell’s POV: This company could feed a small army with the amount of food they last week in the BBQ food fight, this week with the taco bar, and every week on Smackdown with New Day’s pancakes. Anyway, it will be interesting to see if they are serious about making the fans rally behind Hawkins getting that elusive win or if this angle will be quickly forgotten.

Backstage, Kurt Angle was texting when Corbin showed up. Angle asked him what that was all about. Corbin complained about his lack of opportunities and said he went directly to Stephanie McMahon. Corbin read a statement to Angle from Stephanie, who appointed Corbin as the new constable of Raw…

Powell’s POV: You know, because one brand needs three authority figures.

Ronda Rousey made her entrance and joined the broadcast team on commentary. Nia Jax made her entrance and smiled as she walked to the ring. Natalya made her entrance and also smiled…

3. Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax vs. Natalya. The women mercifully stopped smiling once the bell rang. Jax played battering ram by running into Natalya twice. Natalya rolled to ringside heading into a break. [C] Natalya ran the ropes late in the match and came up clutching her knee. Jax hit a Samoan drop and scored the clean pin…

Nia Jax pinned Natalya in a non-title match.

After the match, Natalya removed her boot to sell the knee injury. Jax stuck around as the referee checked on Natalya. Rousey entered the ring to check on Natalya. Jax repeatedly checked on Natalya and annoyed Rousey, who told her to let it go. The referee had Natalya roll to ringside. Rousey and the referee helped Natalya get up the ramp while Jax stood in the ring with her hands on her hips…

Powell’s POV: A weak match and it’s hard to know what they want viewers to think of Jax right now. She heeled on the live crowd last week and this week she was all smiles during her entrance and then showed concern over Natalya’s storyline injury. I assume she will do something heelish tonight to help make it clear. Either way, Rousey is hard to understand on commentary and I’m not sure why they think that’s a good spot for her.

[Hour Two] The broadcast team hyped Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens, and Bobby Lashley responding to Sami Zayn for later in the show…

Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Bobby Roode, who spoke about winning MITB and saying it will be glorious when he wins the title. He seemed to be the only person excited by that tired glorious line. He added that his goal is survive against Braun Strowman…

Strowman and Roode made their entrances heading into a break… [C]

4. Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Roode. Roode set up a ladder over the ring and barricade and then lured Strowman to ringside. Roode ran under the ladder and then taunted Strowman to do the same. Strowman smashed the ladder in his half with his hands. Roode begged off and Strowman tossed him into the barricade. Back in the ring, Strowman performed his running powerslam for the win…

Braun Strowman beat Bobby Roode in 4:45.

Powell’s POV: Roode has to go heel now, right? The thrill of the Glorious entrance and Glorious references seems to be over, and Roode even taunted Strowman in the dorkiest way possible. Roode wasn’t protected in any way with that finish and the broadcast team put over Strowman destroying the ladder more than they did his win over Roode.

Kevin Owens was shown watching Strowman on a backstage monitor when he was approached by Charly Caruso about his match with Finn Balor. Owens said he doesn’t care about anyone who stands between him and the MITB contract. He said the fans think Balor is cool and he questioned what too sweet even means. He asked if it was too sweet when he failed to beat Strowman last week. Owens said he will show that Balor is nothing more than a made up Irish myth… [C]

Backstage, Natalya told Rousey that she heard a pop. She used crutches to get back to her feet and had a bag of ice on her knee. Nia Jax showed up and apologized. Rousey took issue. Jax said Natalya is just as much her friend as she is Rousey’s. Natalya said she knee Jax didn’t try to hurt her. She said she needed a minute to herself. She left Jax and Rousey alone to look at one another awkwardly and then stare off into the distance even more awkwardly…

Raw Tag Champions Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt made their entrances while Cole spoke about Hardy’s children “King Maxwell” and “Wolfman Jack.” He also made reference to “Reba McIntyre” rather than Reby Hardy. Renee Young was waiting in the ring and asked them the tag team battle royal to determine their next challengers.

Wyatt said spoke about men lusting for power and said the winning team would be facing Woken Warriors, Fireflies, and gods. Hardy said they are magic and boasted that they are tag team champions. He said they are unstoppable and have woken the entire WWE Universe. Hardy asked Young if she considers herself woken. “Yeah, yep,” she stammered. Hardy said that is wonderful and encouraged a “standing woken O.” Hardy was about to call for Senor Benjamin to prepare the battlefield, but Wyatt cut him off and said the winners will be deleted…

The broadcast team hyped the Money in the Bank event and emphasized that the winners of the MITB ladder matches would earn the right to challenge the champion of their brand. They ran through some of the other matches… [C]

5. A Tag Team Battle Royal for a shot at the Raw Tag Titles. The teams were Drew McIntyre & Dolph Ziggler, The Revival, Breezango, The Ascension, Heath Slater & Rhyno, Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews, and Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas. The only teams that received televised entrances were O’Neil and Crews, Axel and Dallas, and McIntyre and Ziggler.

Cole explained that if one team member was eliminated then both members of the team were out. Ziggler was the first man eliminated at 2:20, which meant McIntyre was also eliminated. McIntyre snapped and started beating up other wrestlers. Ziggler joined him in the ring and helped out. They hit their combo finisher on Dallas and the referees ordered them to leave. [C]

Powell’s POV: Please tell me that Ziggler being eliminated first will end up leading to McIntyre ditching him and becoming a singles wrestler.

Titus and Crews were eliminated during the break when Titus was eliminated by The Revival. Fandango eliminated the Ascension. The Revival eliminated Breezango. Rhyno eliminated Dash Wilder to eliminate The Revival. The last two teams were B-Team and Slater and Rhyno. Slater picked up Dallas and accidentally swung his legs into Rhyno, which knocked him off the apron to give the B Team the win…

“The B-Team” Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas won a battle royal in 9:40 to earn a Raw Tag Title shot.

Graves hyped Lashley responding to Zayn for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: The B-Team feels fresher and more fun than Hardy and Wyatt do at this point. I’m happy for Axel and Dallas, but sadly Hardy and Wyatt felt like they were delivering a greatest hits style promo even though they’ve only been a team for a short length of time.

“Smiling” Bobby Lashley headed to the ring wearing a white sports jacket and shaking hands with fans at ringside. He greeted a baby but stopped short of kissing her. Lashley said Zayn has been talking a lot of smack about him. He said he does things the old fashioned way. Lashley invited Zayn to come out and say whatever he has to say to his face.

Zayn’s music played, but he didn’t make his entrance. Graves questioned if the vertigo threw off his sense of direction. Funny. Zayn showed up in the crowd with a mic. Zayn spoke about how Lashley loves to issue inspirational quotes on instagram, which he then read as they appeared on the big screen while acting like they were great.

Zayn said he logged into one of his burner Instagram accounts and sent Lashley a response while posing as a fan. He said Lashley sent a link to his own fan club. Zayn accused Lashley of running a cash grab and said he’s too smart to fall for his tricks.

[Hour Three] Lashley took offense. Zayn said everything about Lashley is one big lie. He asked if Lashley even has sisters. Zayn asked if Lashley was even in the army. Lashley went from smiling to ticked off and he showed us by making a mean face while removing his white jacket. A USA chant broke out. Lashley’s music played to end the segment…

Cole said Lashley did serve his country and now Zayn took it too far. He questioned why Zayn would do this when he knows he has to be in the ring with Lashley in two weeks. The broadcast team shifted the focus to recapping the opening tag match and hyped MITB…

Backstage, Caruso interviewed Mahal and Singh. Mahal said the winds are shifting and soon Roman Reigns will find that a storm is coming. Caruso threw it to Young, who interviewed Reigns, who said Jinder should check his resume. Reigns said they should actually check Mahal’s resume because he hasn’t done anything lately and he expects to be handed everything.

Mahal checked in and said Reigns would never say it to his face. Reigns told him to stay put and he would come shut his mouth for him. There were some cheers. Reigns went looking for Mahal and found him on the interview set. Mahal threw Singh at Reigns, who tossed him aside and then worked over Mahal with punches. Producer Adam Pearce and three referees quickly got between them…

Alexa Bliss made her entrance for a six-woman tag match… [C] Sasha Banks made her entrance followed by Ember Moon, and then the Riott Squad…

6. Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, and Ember Moon vs. “The Riott Squad” Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan. Bliss acted cocky when Moon tagged her in. Bliss acted like she suffered a hamstring injury and then headed up the ramp to abandon her teammates. [C]

Banks was isolated by the heels for a stretch. She hit a knee press off the ropes onto Morgan and Logan. She went to her corner, but Moon had been taken out by her opponents. Bayley ran out and took a tag from Banks, then hit the Bayley to Belly on Morgan and pinned her…

Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Ember Moon beat Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan in 11:15 (later changed to a DQ win for Riott Squad).

Graves rightfully threw a fit about how the heels lost. They cut away before there was any moment between Banks and Bayley. They went backstage to Constable Corbin telling Angle to let Bayley, Banks, and Moon know that their win doesn’t count. “Or do you want to go ask Stephanie?” Corbin asked. Angle ran off to follow the order…

Powell’s POV: So Corbin gets heat for making the right call? Anyway, I hope this somehow leads to the Angle character manning up and perhaps even a match with Corbin if Angle is up for it physically.

Backstage, Bayley, Banks, and Moon were celebrating their win. Banks complained about Bliss faking her injury. Moon pointed out that Bayley saved them. Banks thanked her for her having her back. Bayley said you’re welcome. Moon encouraged them to hug it out so they could celebrate. Angle showed up before they could hug and informed them that Riott Squad won the match by DQ. “Seriously?” Moon asked before rolling her eyes and walking off. Banks looked at Bayley, shook her head, and walked away. Bayley was left standing there alone…

Powell’s POV: John Cena used to laugh off world title losses 24 hours later. Moon and Banks are ticked because they lost a meaningless six-woman tag match they didn’t deserve to win. Strange.

Backstage, Corbin lectured the referee who let Bayley enter the match and told him the job isn’t for everybody…

Big Show stood on the stage with Team Texas from the Special Olympics and the president of the USA Games. Show said he’s proud to stand by their side and said we can all make a difference. Show asked the fans to rise up with him and show support for the Special Olympics 2018 USA Games “for the joy of sport and inclusion.”

Finn Balor likes inclusion, so he made his entrance next. Cole said Balor’s team represented the Special Olympics in the Mixed Match Challenge. Graves noted that Balor Club is for everybody. Balor did his entrance pose and the athletes did it along with him and a couple of them gave him the too sweet hand gesture. Balor headed to the ring for his match against Kevin Owens… [C]

Cole hyped Sasha Banks vs. Ember Moon vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Natalya in a four-way match. He noted that Bliss and Natalya were injured and therefore questionable for the match. Graves hyped Finn Balor vs. Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Roode vs. Kevin Owens in a four-way for Raw. Otunga hyped Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey meeting face to face next week… Owens made his entrance…

7. Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens. Owens sold at ringside heading into a break at 6:10. [C] Owens rolled to ringside to avoid Balor’s finisher. Balor did a flip dive onto Owens at ringside at 11:15.

[Overrun] Balor was hung upside down in the ropes when Owens put the boots to him. The referee called for the bell when Owens ignored his five count.

Finn Balor beat Kevin Owens by DQ in 18:45.

After the match, Owens attacked Balor and performed a frogsplash. Graves said desperate Owens is the most dangerous Owens. KO went to ringside and pulled out a ladder, which he set up inside the ring. Owens climbed to the top of the ladder and looked at the two MITB briefcases that were hanging there.

Owens teased jumping a couple of times before moving down a couple of rungs. Balor recovered and pulled Owens down from the ladder and laid him out. Balor teased low jumps and kept moving until he was near the top and then performed a Coup de Grace on Owens. Balor climbed the ladder again pulled one of the briefcases down while Cole questioned if this was a preview of what would happen in two weeks. Balor celebrated his win at the top of the ladder to close the show…

Powell’s POV: I thought we’d see Constable Corbin come out and overturn the referee’s DQ finish. I guess Owens suddenly has a fear of heights? I’ve reached the point of boredom with the random singles matches involving the MITB participants at least on the Raw side. Owens and Balor work well together, but the MITB preview formula is especially tired this year with so much time between pay-per-views. Overall, though, the show didn’t drag as much as it has most weeks since the Superstar Shakeup. It wasn’t a flawless show by any means, but at least it didn’t feel like a marathon for whatever reason. I will have more to say in my members’ exclusive audio review tonight and in my WWE Raw Hit List on Monday. Grade the show in our latest poll on the main page. Check out my interview with Tony Schiavone below.

Readers Comments (3)

  1. “Either way, Rousey is hard to understand on commentary and I’m not sure why they think that’s a good spot for her.”

    A good point… but needless to say she’s in a title match at money in the bank without ever being in a singles match, so go figure….

    If I was to book this match at money in the bank , alexa bliss would interfere costing Rousey the match( even though I’m a fan of clean finishes) rekindling the friendship between her and jax , in the process setting up future tag matches between them vs. Rousey and Natayla . Nothing against Rousey but if she was to win it sure would be a slight on the title and the womens division as a whole (IMO)

    I know they aren’t booking for me LOL…and Rousey will probably win……did I mention new japan BOSJ final was earlier(check out the review on the homepage and the show if you’re into better wrestling products):)

  2. what good is money in the bank when the champ is never around

  3. My favourite moment of the night was Renee Young joining in her own standing ovation!

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