By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on August 13, 2018 from Greensboro, North Carolina at the Greensboro Coliseum
[Hour One] Raw opened with Ronda Rousey making her entrance and being introduced by ring announcer JoJo. Michael Cole and Corey Graves were shown standing behind their desk. Cole noted that Jonathan Coachman was on assignment, then Cole introduced Renee Young as Coachman’s replacement for the evening and she stepped into the picture.
Rousey started by addressing the death of Natalya’s father Jim Neidhart. She said any loss is heartbreaking. She said fathers are pillars of strength in a hostile world. She said that when they are ripped away we have to realize that our father have raised us to be pillars of strength after they are gone. “Stay strong, Natalya Neihart,” Rousey said “We all love you.”
Rousey said Natalya was the first person to welcome her in the door and she would be the first person to defend her in her actions. She said Alexa Bliss cheated Natalya repeatedly. Rousey said she will defeat her on Sunday and become the new Raw Women’s Champion. She introduced Ember Moon as Bliss’s opponent.
Powell’s POV: There was no graphic for Jim Neidhart at the top of the show, but Rousey’s words were much better than a graphic in my book. That said, her words focussed heavily on Natalya and I hope the company runs a video package on Neidhart at some point. Either way, Rousey did a great job in a tough situation.
Alexa Bliss and Alicia Fox came out. Fox had her arm wrapped to sell her loss to Rousey last week. Bliss cut a promo from the stage and reiterated her take that Rousey is an overrated rookie. She said she is tired of hearing about Rousey and seeing that dumb look on her face. Bliss mocked Rousey’s scowl by making a face of her own.
Bliss said she spoke with Constable Baron Corbin, who suggested she hire her own security. Four security guards walked onto the stage. Bliss said they are highly trained and warned Rousey not to try anything. The four security guards headed to ringside and entered the ring where they stood between the pairs of women. Bliss ran over and shoved Moon into the corner with a cheap shot.
Rousey tried to go after Bliss, but the four security guards stood in the way. One of the men put his hand on Rousey’s shoulder and she took him down. Rousey kicked a second guard, and took down the third guard. The fourth guard flashed a look of terror and fled the ring. Bliss pumped up Fox, who took a couple of punches from Rousey while Bliss fled to ringside… [C]
Powell’s POV: The angle portion of this was very good too. The fans were entirely behind Rousey and popped big when she worked over the security guards. Creatively, they are doing a good job of making fans want to see Rousey get her hands on Bliss at SummerSlam. Obviously it’s secondary given the circumstances, but I can’t help but wonder if the death of Jim Neidhart will change any creative plans. In other words, if they were going to have Natalya turn on Rousey on Sunday, I can’t imagine they would go through with it now.
1. Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss (w/Alicia Fox) vs. Ember Moon (w/Ronda Rousey). The match was joined in progress. Moon connected with an enzuigiri and Bliss rolled to ringside heading into a break. [C]
Roughly ten minutes into the match, Fox stood on the apron following a near fall for Moon. Rousey pulled Fox down. Bliss went to ringside and tossed Rousey into the barricade. Back in the ring, Moon hit her Eclipse finisher on Bliss and had the pin, but Fox ran in and shoved the legs of Moon for the DQ.
Ember Moon defeated Alexa Bliss in a non-title match in 11:00.
After the match, Rousey ran in and performed multiple arm-drags on Fox. Bliss and Fox ended up at ringside, where Bliss showed fear of Rousey while clutching her title belt…
The broadcast team hyped the Raw Tag Title match and the contract signing for the Intercontinental Championship match at SummerSlam…
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match and really good final hype for Bliss vs. Rousey at SummerSlam. Unfortunately, Fox breaking up the pin looked pretty weak. She just short of shoved the legs of Moon, who barely moved. In fact, Bliss may have actually kicked out of the Eclipse because Fox’s shove was so weak. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this and it was nice to see Moon shine against the Raw Women’s Champion even if the focus is on Rousey right now.
An ad for Smackdown spotlighted Jeff Hardy’s return, AJ Styles and Samoa Joe, and noted that Carmella, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch will all be in the same ring for a segment…
The Raw broadcast team spoke about the announcement of Smackdown 1000 taking place on October 16. Graves and Cole ran through some of the stars of Smackdown. They shifted the focus to a video package that recapped the Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman drama from Lesnar’s last appearance on the show.
Young set up the extended footage of her interview with Heyman from last week. They aired the end of the interview, including the part that wasn’t shown on Raw last week with Heyman saying, “Roman Reigns doesn’t stand a chance…unless” and then walking off. The broadcast team pondered what Heyman meant briefly. Cole hyped Roman Reigns sharing his thoughts on the most important match of his career…
Powell’s POV: It’s strange that WWE didn’t air the full interview last week on Raw. Were they looking for the extra attention on social media that the bonus footage generated?
Backstage, Kurt Angle told Baron Corbin that he didn’t appreciate him going over his head to Stephanie McMahon. Corbin said he doesn’t need Angle’s permission and instead just needs to go to the ring. Corbin stormed off. Dolph Ziggler showed up with his Hunter Hearst Helmsley look and brought Drew McIntyre with him. They wondered where Seth Rollins was. Angle said Rollins had PR work in China, but he would appear on Raw tonight…
Baron Corbin made his entrance while Graves said he and Finn Balor would be in separate singles matches during Raw… [C]
2. Baron Corbin vs. Tyler Breeze. Corbin dominated the majority of the match and won clean with End of Days.
Baron Corbin beat Tyler Breeze in 4:15.
After the match, Mahal introduced Jinder Mahal as Finn Balor’s opponent. Mahal made his entrance with Sunil Singh. Corbin said he wasn’t finished. He introduced Kevin Owens as another opponent for Balor. Cole said the handicap match was coming up after the break… [C]
Finn Balor made his entrance. Corbin introduced Balor as the little engine that can’t. Graves asked Young if she and Balor wear the same size leather jacket. She told him to move on and hit the bricks. Angle made his entrance and said Stephanie McMahon may have approved the match, but he makes the matches and has the power to add to it. Angle introduced Braun Strowman as Balor’s partner…
3. Braun Strowman and Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens and Jinder Mahal (w/Sunil Singh). The crowd chanted “get these hands” once Strowman made it to the ring.
[Hour Two] Young said she likes Jinder’s new approach and pushed a Monday meditation app. Owens entered the crowd to allude Strowman at one point, then he returned to his corner once Strowman went back to working over Mahal.
Strowman tagged Balor into the match around 5:20. Strowman scooped up Balor, who acted surprised before Balor slammed him onto Mahal. Owens tripped a running Balor from the floor. Strowman went after Owens. Balor performed a flip dive onto both heels heading into another break. [C]
The match continued after the break and they went to a split screen shot while airing an ad for NXT Takeover, which included hype for the Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano match for the NXT Championship (Aleister Black is out of the previously announced Triple Threat due to injury).
Late in the match, Strowman punched Owens off the apron. He went to ringside and picked up Singh and ran him into Owens on the floor. Strowman went back to the ring and performed a powerslam on Mahal for the win a short time later…
Braun Strowman and Finn Balor beat Kevin Owens and Jinder Mahal in 13:40.
After the match, Strowman chased Owens to the back. Corbin entered the ring from behind and put Balor down with End of Days. Corbin looked down at Balor and jawed at him, then looked to the crowd and clapped before leaving the ring…
Powell’s POV: Was that attack enough of a final push to justify bringing out The Demon persona on Sunday? WWE has advertised The Demon appearing in the past. If they don’t announce it tonight, it would be fun if The Demon showed up on Sunday as a surprise.
Backstage, Angle left Stephanie a voicemail and asked her to please call him back. Ziggler and McIntyre showed up wondering if Rollins had arrived yet. McIntyre noted that if Rollins didn’t show up and sign the contract then the match wouldn’t be official. Angle said Rollins would be there. Ziggler asked to look at the contract to see what fell through the cracks due to Kurt’s incompetence…
Bobby Lashley was shown warming up backstage. Graves said Lashley would appear after the break… [C]
A sponsored ad featured Seth Rollins talking about how he made it his way in WWE…
Powell’s POV: Rollins is a better sandwich shop spokesman than creepy ass Jared Fogle.
JoJo introduced Ricky Roberts, a man who stood in the ring dressed in country western attire with a guitar in hand. He said Elias was his favorite performer. Elias introduced himself and walked onto the stage with a guitar of his own. Elias pimped a new wristband and his concert on Saturday in NYC.
Elias insulted the locals before Bobby Lashley interrupted him by making his entrance for a match against Roberts. Lashley told Roberts to find a new schtick because they already had a no-talent guitar player. Roberts smashed his guitar over the back of Lashley, who no sold it. Lashley performed a spinebuster on Roberts…
Powell’s POV: Ricky Roberts was played by talented independent wrestler John Skyler. He’ll be hearing about those chaps he wore for years to come.
Backstage, Bo Dallas was fretting over his and Curtis Axel’s odds of keeping the tag titles in a Triple Threat. Axel said math didn’t get us where they are today, teamwork did. Axel said it’s been the best run of their loves and they should go out and run for their lives…
Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt made their entrance. Cole set up a trailer of the movie Mile 22 that includes Ronda Rousey. Mark Wahlberg delivered a commentary on why WWE fans would enjoy it. Most importantly, seven star Lauren Cohan is in the film… [C]
4. “The B-Team” Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas vs. “The Revival” Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder vs. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt in a Triple Threat for the Raw Tag Titles. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Wilder got a two count on Hardy heading into a break at 3:30. [C] Hardy suplexed Dawson onto the other four wrestlers at ringside. AT 10:20, The Revival hit Shatter Machine on Wyatt. Axel threw Dawson to ringside and stole the pin on Wyatt…
The B-Team beat The Revival and Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt in 10:30 to retain the Raw Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: All six guys worked hard. Barring a late change, this was essentially their SummerSlam match and they worked like it. The B-Team entrance theme is going to be a hit with a lot of the fans. They already had people chanting it along with them before this match.
Roman Reigns was shown walking backstage. He was greeted with a mixed reaction from the live crowd. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas entered the picture and were celebrating their win in an over the top manner. Reigns rolled his eyes after they had started to take the party elsewhere… [C]
Ziggler and McIntyre approached Angle backstage. Ziggler complained about a clause that said Rollins could have someone in his corner at SummerSlam. Angle said he could remove it if Ziggler was okay with not having McIntyre in his corner. Ziggler declined…
Powell’s POV: Holy foreshadowing, Batman!
Roman Reigns made his entrance and it seemed to be roughly 60/40 in favor of the boo birds.
[Hour Three] “Leave this place better than I found it,” Reigns said twice to start his promo. He said he tells himself that every single day in his position. Reigns said he will never be able to accomplish that goal with Brock Lesnar in WWE, so that means it’s time for him to go. Reigns said he’s sick of Lesnar and it all ends at SummerSlam. Reigns said he’d send Lesnar so far back to UFC that he would find his head stuck inside of Dana White’s ass.
Paul Heyman interrupted. Heyman was upbeat and said not to steal a line from anyone on Smackdown, but “it’s a new day, yes, it is.” He said if he was going to steal a line from anyone on Smackdown it would be the Usos because they are the future of the tag division. Reigns invited Heyman inside the ring after stating that he made himself cry on cue last week.
Heyman said Reigns could make history on the spot and didn’t have to wait until Sunday. Heyman recalled his “unless” line that ended his exchange with Renee Young. Heyman said it was time to drop the other shoe. Heyman said that unless is Heyman telling him all of Lesnar’s dirty big secrets.
Heyman said Reigns thinks he can beat Lesnar, but he could guarantee a win on Sunday. Heyman offered Reigns a handshake. Reigns said he knows all of it and doesn’t need Heyman’s inside information. Reigns said he beat Lesnar in Saudi Arabia and he couldn’t have made it out of the cage if he didn’t spear him through it. Reigns said it would have ended a lot sooner if it wasn’t for Heyman.
“Guilty as charged,” Heyman said. He noted that he’s a visionary and showed Reigns would it would be like to introduce himself as Roman’s advocate next week. Heyman once again stuck his hand out. Reigns told Heyman that he was groomed for this from a very young age. He said his father told him to avoid people who are drowning because they are very dangerous. Reigns said Heyman is drowning and wished him good luck in his future endeavors.
Heyman said he is drowning with the knowledge he soaked up when he was 16 to 18 years old when he was riding with Afa and Roman’s father Sika. Heyman spoke in Samoan while recalling what Sika told him. Reigns looked surprised. “Because he taught it to me!” Heyman shouted at Reigns off-mic. Heyman gave Reigns an agreement in principal to look over and told him to look it over and give him his answer at SummerSlam.
Reigns looked at the sheet of paper. Suddenly, Heyman pulled out a can of something and sprayed it in the eyes of Reigns. Brock Lesnar made his entrance with a big smile on his face while Reigns acted blinded. Lensar entered the ring and threw several knees to the ribs of Reigns. Lesnar choked out Reigns.
Lesnar stood up and smirked. “What a set up,” Graves said. The broadcast team assumed that Heyman planned all of it and everything between him and Lesnar was a ruse. Lesnar and Heyman headed up the ramp. Lesnar looked back at the ring and decided to go back. Lesnar performed an F5 on Reigns. Graves said Lesnar’s actions were unbecoming of a champion… [C]
Powell’s POV: One handshake away from the company’s biggest miscasting mistake being corrected. So close yet so far. It’s interesting that WWE opted to avoid advertising Lesnar. In fact, they didn’t even have him listed on their own live events page or on the Greensboro Coliseum website. He was advertised in Greensboro television ads, but that’s it. I guess they felt the surprise was more important than advertising him with the hope of drawing more viewers.
5. The Authors of Pain and Mojo Rawley vs. Bobby Roode, Titus O’Neil, and Apollo Crews (w/Dana Brooke). The broadcast team was talking about Heyman’s swerve when the match started out of nowhere (no televised entrances). They quickly cut to a split screen ad for SummerSlam while the match was shown on the smaller screen. In the end, Roode performed a Glorious DDT on Rawley and pinned him…
Bobby Roode, Titus O’Neil, and Apollo Crews beat The Authors of Pain and Mojo Rawley in 2:45.
Young hyped the IC Title contract signing for later in the show…
Powell’s POV: I think Renee is keeping something from us. Anyway, I hope they have something in mind for Roode beating Rawley clean in back to back weeks. Rawley had a little momentum before those losses that’s been quickly erased.
A shot aired of EMTs tending to Roman Reigns backstage… A graphic acknowledged the death of Jim Neidhart. Cole said they would celebrate the life of The Anvil after the break… [C] A sponsored ad spotlighted Triple H…
A video package aired on Jim Neidhart. The live crowd responded with a respectful standing ovation… The broadcast team spoke about Neidhart and offered their condolences to Natalya and the rest of the family. Cole asked who would ever forget the Hart Foundation vs. Demolition in 1990. He shifted from that into pimping SummerSlam…
Graves announced The B-Team vs. The Revival for the Raw Tag Titles for the SummerSlam Kickoff Show. The WWE Cruiserweight Championship match will also air on the Kickoff Show, as will the mixed tag match with Rusev and Lana vs. Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega. After running through the lineup, the broadcast team recapped the opening segment with Rousey, Bliss, etc.
Sasha Banks and Bayley made their entrance for a Banks singles match. Cole said she would face Ruby Riott after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: The Neidhart video was a nice touch. I’m pleasantly surprised to see the Raw Tag Title match added to the lineup on Sunday.
6. Sasha Banks (w/Bayley) vs. Ruby Riott (w/Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan). A Riott Squad pre-tape aired. Ruby said it’s easy to get along when things are good, but let’s see what happens now that she’s back to cause a riot. Banks got her hand caught in the hole of the ring steps and Riott kicked the steps. Riott threw her back inside the ring and got a two count. [C]
Riott continued to target the injured hand of Banks coming out of the break. Banks fired back with slaps with her good hand. Banks performed a suicide dive to take out Logan. Morgan pulled Banks off the apron a moment later. Bayley took care of Morgan with a clothesline. Riott caught Banks with a kick to the hand as she was coming through the ropes and then rolled her up and pinned her…
Ruby Riott pinned Sasha Banks in 8:55.
Powell’s POV: The parity booking feud continues without any sense of direction.
Still shots aired of Rollins on his PR trip to China…
Angle and Corbin stood backstage. A production staffer informed them that there was no sign of Rollins yet. Corbin scolded Angle by saying one of the biggest SummerSlam matches might not happen because Angle waited until the last minute… [C]
Powell’s POV: They do contract signings for big pay-per-view matches on plenty of go-home shows. I’ve jokingly asked what would happen if one of the participants declined to sign, but it’s silly for them to make it seem like the match would be off if Rollins didn’t sign the contract. Do they expect viewers to believe that the company is only open for business during the work week on Monday nights during Raw? Heck, even if that were the case, why couldn’t they just sign the contract on Sunday before SummerSlam?
Kurt Angle stood in the ring for the contract signing. He addressed Lesnar’s attack on Reigns. He said he would not suspend Lesnar and he hopes that Reigns wins so he can bring the title back to Raw every week where it belongs. He said Lesnar is the worst champion of all time.
Dolph Ziggler’s hideous entrance theme interrupted Angle. Ziggler and Drew McIntyre came out and tried to get Angle to call off the contract signing since Seth Rollins was not present. McIntyre said Angle would prop up Reigns on Sunday even if he’s half blind just to protect Angle’s job.
Angle introduced Seth Rollins, but no entrance music played. Angle introduced Rollins again. Still no music. Ziggler said Rollins realized he can’t beat him and McIntyre so he quit. McIntyre said they actually respect Rollins. McIntyre cut a promo on the wrestlers who don’t realize that you have to work even harder when they make it to Raw. He said Rollins gives his all every night.
Ziggler said Rollins made a classic mistake by pushing himself too hard for the fans. Ziggler said he did the same thing in the past. Ziggler said the fans used to love when he stole the show. He said it’s all meaningless because the second the fans feel slighted or they feel disappointment they all turn their backs. Ziggler referred to McIntyre as a psychopath and said he pushes him to outdo himself every single night for the betterment of the company and the entire world. Ziggler called for Angle to give him the contract to make it a Rollins forfeit.
Rollins’ entrance music hit after Ziggler signed his name on the contract. Rollins said he was dealing with travel issues, but they weren’t exactly his travel issues. He brought up the clause in the contract that allows him to have someone in his corner at SummerSlam. Rollins said it was put there for a reason. He said he was tired of them having a two-on-one advantage. Rollins said that since Ziggler would have the Scottish Psychopath in his corner, he should have a lunatic in his.
Dean Ambrose made his entrance sporting short hair and looking more defined in the upper body. Rollins and Ambrose headed to the ring. Ambrose cleared Ziggler from the ring. Rollins superkicked McIntyre, then Ambrose dropped him with a DDT. Rollins signed the contract. Rollins and Ambrose played to the crowd and then did the Shield fist bump to close the show…
Powell’s POV: The crowd was hot for the return of Ambrose even if they did seem a bit thrown off by his new look at first. You could see it coming a mile away, but that’s okay and they may have kept a good portion of their first and second hour viewers by making it so obvious. I just wish they didn’t take the “turn your brain off” approach to the storyline that led to his return. By the way, here’s hoping that new look is followed by a heel turn since they won’t give in on Roman.
Clearly, the most important thing about the show is that no bears attacked the broadcast table despite the fact that a female was on commentary. Renee Young did a good job. I’m not the best when it comes to catching everything the broadcast team members talk about, but nothing negative jumped out and I wouldn’t complain if she replaced the guy who is ruining my Madden experience on a weekly basis. I will have a lot more to say in my members’ exclusive audio review later tonight and in my WWE Raw Hit List on Monday.
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The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Mike McMahon of PWTorch.com discussing his background and podcast work, plus a long chat regarding Impact Wrestling coming out of Slammiversary, including a breakdown of the notable additions to the roster, and more...