7/23 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Bobby Lashley vs. Roman Reigns to determine Brock Lesnar’s challenger for the WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam, Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H’s big announcement, The B-Team vs. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt for the Raw Tag Titles

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

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on July 23, 2018 from Cincinnati, Ohio at U.S. Bank Arena

[Hour One] Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Jonathan Coachman were on commentary… The show opened with the wrestlers on the stage and Vince McMahon in the ring. Vince welcomed viewers to Raw. He introduced Triple H and Stephanie McMahon to make the “historic announcement.” Nikki Cross was among the wrestlers on the stage.

Triple H said he wanted to start by acknowledging the superstars not just on the stage but from all the brands both past and present. He said their dedication, blood, sweat, and tears make it all possible. “But you don’t do it alone,” Hunter said. He added that there is an entire team. He also spoke about the bond between wrestlers and how it’s never been stronger than with the talent today.

Triple H asked the women to step forward. He told the women that he wants them to know how much the men now standing behind them support them. Hunter said they already know how much the fans support them. Hunter got emotional as he spoke about how some of them have had a tear in their eye as they’ve watched them steal the show again and again. “I just want you to know that we are so proud of you,” Hunter said.

Stephanie said moments like this happen because “all of you” deem it important. Stephanie said the fans demanded more opportunities for the women in WWE. She recalled the “Give Divas a Chance” hashtag and how it trended for three days. Stephanie said 30-second matches became main events. “Because of all of you Divas became the Superstars they were born to be,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie announced the Evolution pay-per-view on October 28 that will feature over 50 women past and present. The women clapped and hugged on the stage. Vince, Triple H, and Stephanie applauded the women from the ring…

Michael Cole noted that the event will be held on Long Island, New York at Nassau Coliseum and would feature Raw, Smackdown, and NXT Women’s Championship matches. He added that the finals of the Mae Young Classic would also be held on the show…

The broadcast team hyped Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley for a shot at the WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam, and said the Raw Tag Title match as coming up after the break… Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt were shown backstage. Wyatt blew out the lantern and they cut to break… [C]

Powell’s POV: That’s the biggest public thank you we’ve ever heard the McMahon family give talent that I can recall. Let’s hope that thanks carries over to better pay and even fewer dates now that the company signed their massive television deals. Putting that aside, they did a very good job with the announcement in terms of making it feel special and historic. It was a very nice touch to have Vince McMahon take part even if they had Hunter and Stephanie do the bulk of the talking.

Backstage, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas spoke about the women’s pay-per-view. Axel daydreamed about the women he wants to see on the show, then said they need to stay focussed. Dallas said they’ve always been a team. He started to say something about if he’s ever let Axel down, but Axel interrupted him and said the B in B-Team stands for brothers. Dallas said it was the brother he never had and then they hugged. They were about to leave when they slowly backed into the camera shot to grab the title belts they’d nearly forgotten…

JoJo introduced Elias, who strummed his guitar on the stage. He was quickly interrupted by the entrance music of Matt Hardy and then Bray Wyatt.The B-Team were out next…

1. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas vs. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt for the Raw Tag Titles. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. They cut to a break early in the match. [C] Late in the match, hardy hit a Twist of Fate on Axel. Wyatt charged at Dallas, who moved. Wyatt hit the corner, then Dallas shoved him into Hardy, which pushed Hardy into a pin by Axel…

Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas defeated Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt to retain the Raw Tag Titles in 8:25.

After the match, Axel and Dallas remained in the ring and looked apprehensive of how Hardy and Wyatt would react. Hardy and Wyatt applauded them again, but then hit their finishers on the Raw Tag Champions…

The broadcast team hyped Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre, and the Reigns vs. Lashley match

Powell’s POV: Another flukey win for Axel and Dallas along with the ongoing confusion of which team the company wants fans to cheer for. I guess they are letting the fans choose in this case since neither team is really being framed as true heels.

The band OAR was shown in the crowd while Cole plugged a promotional tie-in with them and the Connor’s Cure charity…

Finn Balor and Chad Gable were shown talking backstage. They quickly shifted to talking about the Evolution show. A man walked by with Balor’s gear and then he stopped a second man who had his leather jacket. The man explained that he’d been given strict orders from Baron Corbin to move him to a new locker room. The man walked Balor over to a kid’s playhouse with a teddybear on top.

Corbin showed up and laughed at his handiwork. He said Balor was too big of a superstar to not have his own locker room after his win at Extreme Rules. He said it was perfect for someone of Balor’s stature. Balor said he’s always wanted his very own funhouse. Corbin got hot and told him to get ready for his match against Drew McIntyre…

Powell’s POV: It’s funny because Balor is small compared to Corbin. OK, not really, but that won’t stop them from continuing the story that started with Daniel Bryan and Big Cass and was transferred over to these two.

The broadcast team recapped Sasha Banks telling Bayley that she loves her last week. The duo were shown watching the replay on a backstage monitor. They both smiled. Charly Caruso showed up and asked if they are ready to show everyone that they can overcome their differences and work together as a team. Bayley said they had a long talk and they realize that their differences make their friendship so strong. Sasha said they are different people with the same dream and they are ready to be on the same page. Banks said she knows that Bayley feels the same way. Bayley said they should go take over the world…

A graphic boasted that WWE has more Facebook followers than the NBA, Jay-Z, Nike, ESPN, Kim Kardashian, and the NFL…

Powell’s POV: For what it’s worth, I’m a huge NFL fan and I can’t think of any reason why I would follow the NFL on Facebook.

2. Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Samantha Simon and Karen Lundy. The enhancement duo did not received televised entrances. Banks won the match with the Bank Statement. Afterward, Banks and Bayley smiled and then hugged one another. Cole said it was a very heartwarming situation…

Sasha Banks and Bayley beat Samantha Simon and Karen Lundy in 1:20.

The broadcast team hyped Braun Strowman for after the break… A Smackdown ad hyped Carmella vs. Becky Lynch, and Paige revealing the challenger for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam… [C]

Powell’s POV: All of that nonsense just to have them smile and hug a lot? Please tell me there’s a big Banks heel turn coming.

A sponsored ad featured Hulk Hogan beating Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III…

Elias was set to play his guitar in the ring when he was interrupted by Braun Strowman’s music. Elias split as Strowman headed to the ring. Strowman congratulated the women, especially his Mixed Match Challenge tag partner Alexa Bliss.

Strowman said the other big story of the night was the commotion between Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley. Strowman said it doesn’t matter who is champion, sooner or later a monster will come calling because he has the Money in the Bank contract.

Kevin Owens made his entrance and walked slowly and had his left arm wrapped to sell the big bump off the top of the cage. Owens took offense to Strowman thinking he could just talk about the WWE Universal Championship after doing what he did to him.

[Hour Two] Owens said one of the reasons he tried to befriend Strowman was because his own son thought he could replace Nicholas as Strowman’s tag partner. He said now his children are scared because they see the pain on his face with every step he takes. Owens said he has a family to feed and Strowman tried to take that away from him. Owens said he will take away everything from Strowman, who then encouraged him to come to the ring to try. Owens warned Strowman that his problems have just begun.

Baron Corbin walked onto the stage with a smile on his face. Strowman said Stephanie McMahon empowered him to come out and handle the situation. He said that while Strowman throwing Owens off the cage was legal within the confines of the match it was morally reprehensible. Corbin worked in another short joke about Balor, then said he found someone who will help Strowman control his temper.

Jinder Mahal and Sunil Singh made their entrance and joined Strowman in the ring. Mahal said he was there to help Strowman on his journey to find inner peace. The fans gave Mahal the What? treatment. Mahal did his breathing exercises and encouraged Strowman to join him. Strowman said it wasn’t working.

Strowman said he knows he has a temper and called over Singh to hold the microphone. He asked for everyone to close their eyes, breath deep, and repeat his words: “Get these hands.” Strowman kicked Mahal and then tossed Singh into Mahal. Strowman picked up Singh and powerslammed him…

The broadcast team recapped the opening segment and the announcement of the WWE Evolution pay-per-view. Cole said the event has taken social media by storm and ran through a list of current female wrestlers and the Bella Twins discussing it on Twitter. Graves hyped Natalya vs. Mickie James for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Owens was very good in this segment. He’s a gifted talker and someday his family man reputation will help him click as a high end babyface. For now, I wonder if the idea was to foreshadow Owens doing something to prevent Strowman from cashing in his Money in the Bank contract successfully.

3. Natalya vs. Mickie James (w/Alexa Bliss). Bliss pulled Natalya to the floor while James had the referee tied up. Natalya hit Bliss with a discus clothesline. When Natalya returned to the ring, James caught her with a kick to the head and pinned her…

Mickie James pinned Natalya in 3:45.

A video package aired on WWE’s charity work being showcased and Roman Reigns accepting an award from ESPN on behalf of the company…

Backstage, Caruso interviewed Roman Reigns, who was booed by the vast majority of the fans. Caruso pointed out that Lashley beat Reigns at Extreme Rules, then questioned what makes tonight different. Reigns said it’s already different and tonight will be the first night he beats Lashley. He said he wouldn’t make excuses, but if you go to his resume then you’ll see that he’s a workhorse and the most decorated superstar of his generation…

Graves hyped Reigns vs. Lashley for later, and Coachman hyped Balor vs. McIntyre…

JoJo introduced Elias again as the graphic for his debut album appeared on the screen. He hyped the album briefly and was then interrupted by the Authors of Pain entrance theme. Cole said the duo would be in action after the break… [C] There’s now a Burger King commercial with Shinsuke Nakamura, Charlotte Flair, and Ron Simmons with the disturbing King character. Damn!…

The Authors of Pain stood in the ring. Akam said they wouldn’t wait forever. “Give us someone, anyone,” he said, Rezar said anyone other than Titus Worldwide. Titus O’Neil, Apollo Crews, and Dana Brooke made their entrance anyway. Titus, who was wearing a suit, admitted they are legit, but he said they are also among the youngest on the roster and have a lot to learn.

“What could you learn us?” Rezar asked. Titus said he was just trying to help. Rezar asked if he was going to help them trip and fall over themselves. Titus said everyone falls down and he got back up after the Greatest Royal Rumble. Crews said he learned quickly why Titus was the father of the year. He said Titus helped him and they need to show him some respect. Akam said maybe Titus could walk away and retire for them. Titus teased saying more and then started a fight with the duo. Titus and Crews cleared AOP from the ring…

Powell’s POV: For the love of God, pick up the phone and call Paul Ellering.

In the parking area, Angle told Stephanie he was worried when he heard she was coming to Raw. Angle said nothing would make him more proud than to be the Raw general manager right now. Huh? Corbin showed up with Owens. Stephanie asked Owens if he’s okay. Owens said he’s not well. He said the doctors and physical therapists have been great, but life has been hard with Strowman on a vendetta. Owens informed them that he wants to face Strowman at SummerSlam and if he wins then he gets the Money in the Bank contract. He noted that it wouldn’t matter if Strowman lost by count-out or DQ. Angle wasn’t a fan of it. Stephanie was. She congratulated Owens on his match and shook his hand. Angle held the limo door open for Stephanie…

The broadcast team hyped the main event and a tweet from Ronda Rousey about the Evolution pay-per-view… [C]

Powell’s POV: So shouldn’t Strowman just cash in his MITB contract next week when Lesnar shows up? Didn’t he tell us that he was going to do it whenever he saw Lesnar? If nothing else, at least his character is being forced into the match rather than being a dope and agreeing to put his contract on the line.

4. Mojo Rawley vs. Tyler Breeze. Cole said Breeze, who didn’t get a televised entrance, requested the match with Rawley. Bobby Roode was interviewed from backstage during the match about something Rawley wrote online. Breeze got a near fall, but Rawley performed a sit-out Alabama Slam for the win…

Mojo Rawley beat Tyler Breeze in 2:15.

A Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre pre-taped promo aired. Ziggler boasted about being the resident iron man and beating Seth Rollins. McIntyre said he would wipe the stupid smile off the face of Finn Balor permanently…

Powell’s POV: Drew McIntyre will become my favorite wrestler ever if he makes good on that threat. I dig Finn Balor, but nonstop smiling Finn Balor vomit inducing.

Graves hyped Mustafa Ali vs. TJP vs. Drew Gulak vs. Hideo Itami in a four-way for 205 Live…

JoJo introduced Elias again. He was pissed about being interrupted and said this was his night. Finn Balor’s entrance theme interrupted him and he made his entrance. Balor turned and exchanged words or at least looks with Elias, who was seated on the stage. Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler made their entrance…

5. Drew McIntyre (w/Dolph Ziggler) vs. Finn Balor. Cole pointed out that the right shoulder of Balor was heavily bruised. Balor connected with a nice dropkick that sent McIntyre to the floor. Balor followed up with a flip dive heading into a break. [C]

[Hour Three] Balor performed a sling blade and a dropkick and went up top. Ziggler reached up and crotched Balor for the DQ.

Finn Balor beat Drew McIntyre by DQ in 7:10.

After the match, Ziggler put the boots to Balor until Seth Rollins ran out for the save. Rollins tossed McIntyre over the top rope and then worked over Ziggler with punches. Ziggler ended up fleeing to ringside. Kurt Ange came out and played the role of Teddy Long while announcing the tag team match…

6. Seth Rollins and Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler. Angle ordered the referee to ring the bell immediately. Rollins and Balor dominated the early offense heading into a break. [C] McIntyre worked over Balor and dropped him throat first on the ringside barricade. In the end, Rollins stomped Ziggler and pinned him.

Seth Rollins and Finn Balor defeated Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler.

Powell’s POV: Finn is still smiling, but this was a fun tag match that woek up the live crowd. It’s logical to have the Intercontinental Champion lose to keep him looking vulnerable to Rollins while also protecting McIntyre.

Backstage, Caruso interviewed Bobby Lashley, who got some boos or groans. Lashley said he came back for big matches like the one with Reigns. He said he’s at his best when the lights are bright. Lashley said Reigns failed in his matches with Lesnar and he would fail again tonight. Lashley said he would get in Lesnar’s face and let him know that he’s the man he has to fight at SummerSlam. “I hope Brock is rested up because there’s no sleep till Brooklyn,” Lashley closed…

Clavin’s POV: It’s a little known fact that Bobby Lashley was an original Beastie Boy.

They replayed footage from the opening segment again. The broadcast team spoke more about the social media posts from current stars and Beth Phoenix. Cole noted that Phoenix, Lita, and Trish Stratus will be a part of the event…

Ember Moon made her entrance for a match… [C]

7. Ember Moon vs. Liv Morgan. A pre-taped Moon promo aired. Cole said Morgan was the reason Sarah Logan was able to give Moon her first loss last week. He also said Logan was barred from ringside. Morgan went for a late superplex, but Moon fought her off and knocked her to the mat. Moon hit the Eclipse for the clean win…

Ember Moon beat Liv Morgan in 3:30.

Mike Rome interviewed Seth Rollins. Rome noted that Rollins had been meeting with Angle and seemed happy based on his smile. Rollins revealed that he will challenge Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam…

The broadcast team set up a clip from the latest Mission Impossible movie… [C] After a Total Bellas preview aired, Coachman said it’s his favorite show and he wants everyone to be able to move on. Cole hyped Nikki and Brie appearing on The Tonight Show on Wednesday. Cole set up a video package on Reigns vs. Lashley…

Cole started to talk after the video, but JoJo introduced Elias, who started to play on the stage. Kurt Angle’s music interrupted him. Angle came out and said Elias has been interrupted all night long. Angle said the floor belonged to Elias because the people want to hear a song from his debut album. Elias said Angle is okay in his book despite what everyone says about him. Elias pointed out OAR in the front row and said they wanted to be on the album, but he’s too busy for them. He played a bit and then heeled on the the live crowd. He was eventually interrupted by Lashley’s entrance… [C]

Powell’s POV: Well, they got the Elias album graphic on the show countless times tonight. I just wonder how many fans think it’s a spoof. If you’re one of them, yes, the guy actually has an EP available today. By the way, check the main page for WWE’s press release on the Evolution pay-per-view as well as the Impact Wrestling TV taping spoilers from tonight in Toronto.

Cole hyped the return of Ronda Rousey, and Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin, Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre, and the return of Brock Lesnar for next week’s Raw in Miami… Reigns made his entrance to way more boos than cheers this week…

8. Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley for a WWE Universal Championship match at SummerSlam. Lashley performed a belly to belly suplex at ringside heading into an early break. [C]

[Overrun] Reigns and Lashley traded punches in mid-ring and then knocked each other down with simultaneous clotheslines. They got up and threw more punches. Lashley took offensive control with a clothesline and a belly to belly suplex. Reigns hoisted up Lashley on his shoulders, but Lashley reached the ropes. Reigns dumped him onto the apron. Reigns hit him with an uppercut and then ran the ropes only to have Lashley clothesline him from the apron.

Reigns avoided a charging Lashley and sent him through the ropes to ringside. Lashley returned to the apron and Reigns dropped a leg on him and ended up getting a two count. Reigns went to the corner and went or a Superman Punch, but Lashley caught him in a full nelson. Cole said it’s a submission hold if applied properly. Reigns backed Lashley into the corner and threw elbows to break the hold.

Lashley took Reigns down and applied a modified triangle. Reigns rolled him into a pin to break the hold. Lashley charged Reigns, who moved, causing Lashley to crash in the corner. Reigns hit Lashley with several clotheslines in the corner. Lashley came back and got a good near fall. Lashley waited for Reigns to get to his feet and then charged for a spear, but Reigns leapt in the air and hit Lashley with his knee to the head.

Reigns looked to the crowd and received more boos than cheers. Reigns hit Lashley with a Superman Punch for a two count. Reigns acted shocked that Lashley kicked out. Reigns looked to the crowd and was booed again while some fans cheered. Lashley rolled to ringside. Coachman questioned if it was strategy or if Lashley didn’t know where he was. Graves defended Lashley. Reigns went to ringside and ended up punching Lashley. Reigns charged at Lashley, who tossed him through the ropes (Reigns hit part of the ropes) and then speared him for a good near fall.

Lashley barked at the referee and then played to the crowd by shaking the ropes. Lashley set up for another spear, but Reigns hit him with a Superman Punch. The boos started up again. Reigns went for a spear, but Lashley kicked him. Reigns bounced off the ropes, speared, and pinned Lashley…

Roman Reigns beat Bobby Lashley in 18:00.

After the match, Reigns nodded at Lashley, who stood up and offered Reigns his hand. Reigns accepted and they shook hands. Reigns celebrated his win as Lashley left the ring and showed frustration at ringside over his loss. Cole hyped Lesnar and Reigns both appearing on Raw next week in Miami…

Powell’s POV: Yep, another Lesnar vs. Reigns match. I’m sure the Brooklyn crowd will love both men (sarcasm). This was a good television main event once they got to the closing minutes with the good near falls. I love the way Lashley sold the loss by acting devastated while heading to the back. It made the match and the WWE Universal Championship seem more important because his character acted like this loss was so disappointing to him.

Overall, Raw was newsworthy for both the Evolution announcement and several SummerSlam developments and yet it still felt like a marathon show. And not just because the show ran a little longer than usual. It’s worth noting that this would have been an ideal return location for a babyface Dean Ambrose in his hometown, but it didn’t happen. The original estimate was September, but we’re used to trimming a little time off of those initial WWE estimates. I will have more to say about the show in my members’ exclusive audio review later tonight. You are encouraged to grade this edition of Raw in our latest poll on the main page.

Check out my interview with WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett below on the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell.



Readers Comments (8)

  1. I want to sit and enjoy Raw but WWE insists on being lazy putting shows together

  2. Is Nikki Cross getting called up? She was on stage with all the other women superstars.

    • Not sure but she was wrestling on house shows over the weekend. And Smackdown needs a couple more main event quality women wrestlers.

  3. Ugh. The “Shenom” nickname they’re trying to get to stick on Ember Moon is so terrible. I can just hear Michael Cole screaming, “Here comes the Shenom!” the way he does, “It’s Boss Time!”

    Go Liv Morgan!

  4. Lesnar vs Reigns! Lesnar vs Reigns! Lesnar vs Reigns! Lesnar vs Reigns! Lesnar vs Reigns! Lesnar vs Reigns!

  5. so is Ember Moon supposed to be a werewolf or something??

  6. Kevin Owens is fantastic.

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