8/20 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: The night after WWE SummerSlam, new champions Roman Reigns and Ronda Rousey, Triple H appearance, Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler

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

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on August 20, 2018 from Brooklyn, New York at Barclays Center

[Hour One] New WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns made his entrance and was greeted by massive boos (and a few squeals). Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Jonathan Coachman checked in on commentary. “Let these critics criticize,” Cole said. “The Big Dog is the WWE Universal Champion.” Reigns smiled as he soaked up the boos and a loud “you suck” chant.

“I’m a man of my word,” Reigns started. “I said I was gonna beat Brock Lesnar and I did.” Reigns recalled saying that he would defend the title once he won it and that’s what he intends to do tonight. He said he would normally take on all comers, but he said there’s a man who won the title in Brooklyn and never lost it. Reigns announced he would defend the title against Finn Balor.

Balor made his smiling, non-Demon entrance. “What’s up, Roman?” Balor asked with a smile. Balor said he accepted Roman’s challenge and would take back his title. Reigns offered him a handshake, then Balor shook his hand.

“Constable” Baron Corbin came out and said the match would not happen. Corbin said Balor would not be rewarded for the stunt he pulled the night before. He said Balor no-showed and he sent the Demon instead. Corbin claimed he never heard the bell rang and he would face Balor the man tonight. Reigns jawed at Corbin, who said Reigns only won because Brock Lesnar was more concerned with Braun Strowman.

General manager Kurt Angle made his entrance. Angle reminded Corbin that he makes the matches, not him. Angle asked the fans if they wanted to see Reigns vs. Balor. The fans cheered. “I thought so, that will be our main event tonight,” Angle said. Angle booked Corbin in an immediate match against “this guy.” Bobby Lashley made his entrance to a flat reaction from the otherwise red hot crowd… [C]

Powell’s POV: No one should be surprised that the fans booed the hell out of Reigns. WWE did a great job of manipulating the situation for one night during the SummerSlam main event, but it changes nothing long term. Meanwhile, that flat reaction to Lashley was telling. Raw needs strong heels and he’s more effective in that role than he is as a babyface.

Still shots aired from SummerSlam…

1. Bobby Lashley vs. Baron Corbin. Cole noted that there were 13,274 in attendance at Raw. Lashley jumped out to a quick start, but Corbin caught him with a clothesline at ringside heading into a commercial break. [C] Coachman noted that it would be interesting to see the condition of the wrestlers who worked SummerSlam matches the night before.

Corbin was on offensive control when a “boring” chant broke out. He showed frustration over not being able to put Lashley away. Lashley came back and hoisted Corbin onto his shoulders and then slammed him down and pinned him to win the match…

Bobby Lashley defeated Baron Corbin in 13:20.

Powell’s POV: The crowd warmed up to Lashley to some extent, but he’s just not a strong babyface.

Kurt Angle was shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. “What are you doing here?” Angle asked. Paul Heyman entered the room and informed him that Brock Lesnar would like to invoke his contractually obligated rematch. Heyman said no one was complaining about Reigns winning the title, but he wants his rematch. Heyman said Angle probably assumed Lesnar would be halfway down the road to UFC by now, but Lesnar goes where he wants to go. Heyman said Lesnar wants to know when he’d get his rematch.

Angle said he read the contract and it doesn’t say when Lesnar would get his rematch. Angle said he has a fighting champion, not one that never shows up. Angle said it would be a long, long, long, long time before Lesnar gets his rematch. Heyman said he agrees with Angle and it doesn’t have to happen soon. He suggested it take place at Hell in a Cell. Angle said it would be a cold day in hell. “As they say in Brooklyn, fuggetaboutit”…

Powell’s POV: When does Roman step up and say he’s a fighting champion?

The broadcast team hyped Reigns vs. Balor, Ronda Rousey’s first appearance as the Raw Women’s Champion, and Triple H appearing to discuss his final match with Undertaker at WWE Super Show-Down in October… [C]

A graphic touted SummerSlam’s social media activity…

Backstage, Corbin complained to Angle about being forced to face Lashley when he was prepared to face Balor. Angle said his job isn’t to give Corbin what he wants, it’s to do what’s best for the WWE Universe. Corbin said Stephanie McMahon was in the building and he was going to talk to her…

The broadcast team set up a video package on the Undertaker vs. Triple H match that will be held at the at WWE Super Show-Down stadium show… Graves announced that Hunter would appear live on Raw. Graves said it was breaking news (even though it had already been announced earlier today)…

Ring entrances for a women’s match took place. The broadcast team hyped Alexa Bliss vs. Trish Stratus for WWE Evolution…

Powell’s POV: I’m surprised there wasn’t a big angle to set up the Bliss vs. Stratus match for Evolution. Perhaps the match just speaks for itself, but it feels like the announcement of Stratus returning to the ring should have been delivered with more fanfare.

2. Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Ember Moon vs. “Riott Squad” Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan. The babyface trio had the heels down at ringside heading into a break less than two minutes into the match. [C] Late in the match, Logan took out Bayley with a clothesline on the floor. Banks dove onto Logan. Sasha went to the rope and Riott knocked her down and hit the Riott Kick for the win…

Riott Squad defeated Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Ember Moon in 10:15.

The broadcast team hyped Triple H for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: The finishing kick from Riott looked fantastic. I just wish it felt like this feud was going somewhere and served more of a purpose beyond just filling television time.

[Hour Two] Triple H made his entrance and spoke about the big WWE weekend. He said it makes him want to rip his suit off and be The Game again. He said that when Vince told him a couple weeks ago that he wrapped up the deal in Australia and they would like him to wrestle he said hell yeah. Hunter noted there will be 80,000 people in attendance.

Hunter said Vince informed him that they wanted him to face Undertaker. “And I said…hell no.” He spoke about the moment after his Hell in a Cell match with Undertaker. The photo of Undertaker, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels standing on the ramp together was shown on the big screen. The fans chanted HBK.

Hunter said the moment changed them. Shawn Michaels was gone. The Streak would be dead. Undertaker later put his hat and gloves in the ring and disappeared. Hunter said he took off his boots in favor of his suit and it was over. “All of it was over, the era had ended,” he said. Hunter said the sound, feeling, and goosebumps were all gone.

Hunter said at the risk of sounding like a bitter veteran, “our era was something special.” Hunter said he thought long and hard and eventually told Vince that he would take the match if Undertaker would put on the hats and gloves and be The Phenom one more time. “The sound will be back,” Hunter said. “The feeling will be back. The goosebumps will be back. Because the era is back. Melbourne, Australia, The Undertaker and The Game one last time”…

The broadcast team spoke briefly about Taker vs. Hunter and then shifted to a video package with still shots that recapped the SummerSlam main event… The broadcast team hyped the previously advertised segments… Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose made their entrances. Cole hyped Ambrose would be in action after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: A strong promo from Triple H. He told a good story even if it had some holes. Perhaps the thing working against them most is that this event feels similar to the Greatest Royal Rumble, and when all was said and done that show felt like much ado about nothing.

An ad for Smackdown aired that was a bit confusing. It was positioned as a special edition and it appears it will include Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton, and Bludgeon Brothers vs. New Day in a No DQ match for the Smackdown Tag Titles. The ad also hyped the followup to AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe, and Becky Lynch attacking Charlotte Flair…

3. Dean Ambrose (w/Seth Rollins) vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Drew McIntyre). Cole said nobody had a more grueling match at SummerSlam than Ziggler. Graves tried to argue by saying that Rollins was also in the match. Coach shut him down by saying Rollins wasn’t working the match. McIntyre grabbed the leg of Ambrose from the floor. Rollins got between them. Ambrose got back on the apron and was tagged with a dropkick by Ziggler. [C]

Ambrose performed a fallaway slam. Cole said it was as if Ambrose had a completely new repertoire. Ziggler sent Ambrose to ringside. Rollins stood between Ambrose and McIntyre and told Drew to mind his own business. McIntyre put his hands behind his back and dared Rollins, who punched him several times until Ziggler got involved. Ambrose and Ziggler returned to the ring. Rollins ran between them to perform a suicide dive on McIntyre, then Ambrose countered a Ziggler move attempt with Dirty Deeds and pinned him…

Backstage, Elias told a couple of production guys wearing his t-shirt that they are not special and their jobs are on the line. Elias took his guitar. Cole said Elias was looking to redeem himself after SummerSlam… [C]

Powell’s POV: I like the story that Coachman is trying to tell about certain wrestlers being worn down because of their SummerSlam matches. It’s sports-like and logical, and I wish WWE would incorporate that into their booking more often. Meanwhile, they are telling the story that it’s a new and improved Ambrose as far as his in-ring moveset is concerned. The most noticeable thing is that we’re not seeing the playful Ambrose that we got in the past, though we haven’t heard him deliver a promo yet.

Backstage, Braun Strowman told Finn Balor that he refuses to cash in from behind. He said that’s why he was telling him face to face good luck as he held up the Money in the Bank briefcase. Balor nodded as Strowman walked away…

Powell’s POV: If the Strowman character is such an honorable guy, he could simply announce when he’s cashing in advance rather than waiting for the whoever the champion is to finish wrestling a title match and then cashing in.

Elias said a doctor advised him that being around so many bad people is bad for his health, but Elias said he has to perform. Elias took jabs at the New York fans. He started to strum his guitar only to be interrupted. Curt Hawkins came out and said Elias was looking for a No. 1 hit, but he could be the one who loses to him. Hawkins said he’s feeling lucky and New York isn’t Eias’s town. Hawkins said they could end his 218 match losing streak.

Elias called Hawkins a loser. He said Hawkins was born a loser and will die a loser just like every single person in the crowd. He said the spotlight is reserved for stars and told him to get the hell out of Brooklyn. Hawkins teased leaving, then stop and asked if he was going to hide behind his shirt and guitar or fight him. Elias accepted…

4. Elias vs. Curt Hawkins. Graves pointed out that Hawkins is from Queens, not Brooklyn. Hawkins immediately rolled up Elias for a two count, then Elias came right back with a knee to the face. Hawkins came back and got another near fall. Elias caught him with another knee and performed Drift Away for the win…

Elias pinned Curt Hawkins in 1:35.

Powell’s POV: There were some small chants in support of Hawkins, but the live crowd wasn’t all that hot for this. I like the idea of turning Hawkins’ pursuit of the elusive win into a fun undercard bit with him as a babyface, but he disappears from Raw for long spurts at a time so the fans never really get a chance to embrace it.

Backstage, Dana Brooke was looking smitten with Apollo Crews when Titus O’Neil showed up and said he’d been looking all over for them. Titus asked what was going on. Crews struggled to come up with what they were talking about, so Brooke jumped in and said they were talking strategy. She said she found a weakness and the three of them began discussing it… The Authors of Pain made their entrance… [C]

5. “Authors of Pain” Akam and Rezar vs. Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews (w/Dana Brooke). The match was joined in progress. Late in the match, Rezar knocked Titus to ringside. Crews tried to roll up Rezar, who stuffed it and then threw him into the AOP corner. Akam tagged in and they hit the Last Chapter on Crews and got the win…

The broadcast team hyped Ronda Rousey’s championship presentation for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: It’s sad to hear how flat the crowd was during this match. I can’t blame them a bit. AOP is one of those “can’t miss” NXT acts that have been completely wasted on the main roster.

The Raw Women’s Championship was set up on a podium in the middle of the ring. The Raw female wrestlers were standing around the ring. Alexa Bliss had her arm in a sling to sell Rousey’s finisher. Stephanie McMahon made her entrance to a flat reaction. Riott Squad applauded her. Stephanie spoke of being proud of the women, the Evolution pay-per-view, and the title match that occurred at SummerSlam. Stephanie set up a video package that recapped Rousey’s win.

[Hour Three] Stephanie said Rousey became the first ever UFC and Raw Women’s Champion. Stephanie said she’s especially proud of Rousey because without her own vision and business prowess Rousey wouldn’t be in WWE. She said she shined up Rousey like a diamond and molded her in her likeness. Stephanie tried to introduce Rousey as “my protege.”

Rousey’s entrance them interrupted Stephanie and she made her entrance. There was a loud “Ronda Rousey” chant. Stephanie said that when she hears the fans chant for Rousey she hears, “Steph, Steph, Steph.” Rousey said it’s not about Stephanie, it’s about the women standing around the ring and in WWE. Rousey asked why the women were standing at ringside and if Stephanie was trying to put herself above them. Nice.

Rousey called for the women to “get up here.” The women climbed onto the apron. Rousey said it’s not about one champion, it’s about all of them and the women’s evolution. Rousey said Natalya is the cornerstone of the women’s division. Rousey said if it wasn’t for the Sasha Banks vs. Bayley NXT Takeover match in Brooklyn then the evolution may not have gotten off the ground.

“I am not Brock Lesnar,” Rousey said. She said she will be a fighting champion who competes every night and she can’t wait to get in the ring with every single one of the women on the apron. Stephanie said Rousey just wants to break people’s arms. Stephanie said she knows what that feels like and pointed to Bliss. Stephanie set up still shots of Rousey wrenching on Bliss’s arm. “That’s not wrestling, I don’t know what that is,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie told the women that Rousey wants to break their arms, take them all out, and then stand in the spotlight. Rousey said she wasn’t there to break their arms. “Only those who deserve it,” Rousey said. Rousey walked toward Stephanie, who backed up. Rousey took Stephanie down by the arm and applied an armbar. Rousey released her and Stephanie rolled to ringside while holding her arm. The Bella Twins handed Rousey the title belt and all the babyfaces celebrated with her while the heels tended to Stephanie on the floor…

The broadcast team recapped the Rousey segment and then set up footage from the opening segment. They also hyped Reigns vs. Balor… [C]

Powell’s POV: It felt a bit repetitive with Rousey taking out Stephanie again, but perhaps it serves a purpose. My hope remains that Stephanie introduces Rousey’s longtime friend and former NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler as her hired gun.

The broadcast team spoke more about the Rousey and McMahon angle…

The B-Team made their entrance. Bo Dallas said he and Curtis Axel had not won a single tag team match on Raw just a few short weeks ago, but one letter changed everything forever. Axel dedicated their singles matches to the fans. They said the B in B-Team stands for Brooklyn (even though their t-shirts said it stands for the best)…

6. Bo Dallas (w/Curtis Axel) vs. Scott Dawson (Dash Wilder). The fans did the wave. Dawson won with a nice DDT…

Scott Dawson beat Bo Dallas in 2:25.

Afterward, Axel challenged Dawson to a match. The broadcast team laughed due to the fact that it was already established that they were doing to have a match… [C]

Powell’s POV: The fans are getting restless and it’s hard to blame them. This hasn’t been one of those hot post SummerSlam shows with NXT call-ups and new direction angles.

7. Dash Wilder (w/Scott Dawson) vs. Curtis Axel (w/Bo Dallas). The wave continued and lost momentum. Axel performed a Natural Selection. Wilder avoided a move from the middle rope and then performed a move that drove Axel face first into the mat and pinned him…

Dash Wilder beat Curtis Axel.

After the match, Dallas took the mic and said The Revival may have beaten them in singles matches, but they are still the Raw Tag Champions…

Powell’s POV: Apparently, Charlotte Flair has the Midas touch with the Natural Selection. Sure, it looks like her opponent is being pushed into a gentle yoga stretch position, yet somehow it’s deadly when she does it. Sigh.

Roman Reigns was shown stretching backstage when Renee Young showed up to interview him. She brought up that Braun Strowman’s desire to cash in his Money in the Bank contract. Reigns said he didn’t spend years of his life or taking years off his life to sit back and hide in the locker room. Reigns said Balor deserves the opportunity, but he’s going to lose it and then it’s back to the end of the line. Reigns said Strowman didn’t take the title from him last night. He said it’s his yard and he will always be ready… Cole hyped Reigns vs. Balor as coming up next… [C]

Backstage, Stephanie was icing her arm while Baron Corbin and Alexa Bliss stood by along with a trainer. Corbin told the trainer to get out. Kurt Angle entered the room and asked if she was okay. Stephanie blamed him for letting Rousey attack her. Corbin said Raw is in chaos with Angle in charge. Stephanie said Corbin is right. She said she sees it all over his face, the pressure is wearing on him. Stephanie said Angle needs a vacation. Stephanie named Corbin the acting general manager of Raw while Angle is away temporarily…

Powell’s POV: It’s a groan inducing announcement, but could it play into something they have planned for the closing segment rather than setting up Corbin for future weeks? After all, they’ve established that Angle has the power to make matches. Well, that power just went to Corbin.

Ring entrances for the main event took place…

8. Roman Reigns vs. Finn Balor for the WWE Universal Championship. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Balor received a solid reaction, while Reigns was booed. Reigns caught Balor with a Superman Punch that knocked him down on the apron heading into a break roughly 90 seconds into the match. [C] Balor performed a big flip dive on Reigns. Balor tossed Reigns inside the ring and covered him for a two count heading into another break just before the ten-minute mark. [C]

Reigns performed a one-handed sit-out powerbomb for a two count. Reigns acted surprised that he didn’t get the pin. Reigns did the locked and loaded bit and ran into a boot from Balor, who picked up a two count moments later. Reigns avoided Balor’s finisher. Balor caught him with a sling blade clothesline. Balor set up for a running dropkick and ran into a Superman Punch that led to a Reigns near fall.

Reigns went to the corner and let out the war cry and then ran into a boot. Balor rolled him up for a two count. Reigns stood up and connected with a Superman Punch while the camera showed fans for reasons that only Kevin Dunn understands. Braun Strowman’s music played and he came out with the Money in the Bank briefcase. Balor caught Riegns with a sling blade and a running dropkick. Reigns avoided a Coup de Grace and then speared and pinned Balor…

Roman Reigns defeated Finn Balor in 19:45 to retain the WWE Universal Championship.

[Overrun] Strowman entered the ring and waited for Reigns to get to his feet and then kicked him. Strowman handed the briefcase to the referee. JoJo announced that Strowman was cashing in his MITB contract.

The Shield music played. Seth Rolilns and Dean Ambrose came out wearing their Shield gear and stood on opposite sides of the ring. The broadcast team clarified that the bell had not sounded to start the match. Reigns got to his feet and there was a holy shit chant from the crowd. Strowman charged at Reigns. Rolllins and Ambrose entered the ring and jumped Strowman.

The Shield trio hit a series of moves on Strowman and then Reigns dumped him to ringside. Ambrose cleared the table at ringside. Rollins and Ambrose put the boots to Strowman. The Shield members set up for a Triple Powerbomb, but Strowman fought them off. Reigns put him down with a spear and then the trio performed the Triple Powerbomb and left Strowman lying. The Shield music played.

“I’ve got goosebumps,” Cole said. Cole said The Shield thwarted Strowman’s plan to cash in. The Shield put their fists together while Cole giddily stated that The Shield is back and “the hounds are loose” to close the show…

Powell’s POV: A hot angle, but what does it mean? Cole and company could have framed the actions of Reigns, Rollins, and Ambrose as heelish. Instead, Cole spoke about having goosebumps and was downright giddy as they triple teamed Strowman. In other words, this wasn’t positioned as a heel turn, but rather something that is perfectly acceptable. It was definitely strange in that regard, but the live crowd loved it…whatever it was. Overall, this was a disappointing night after SummerSlam edition with no one coming up from NXT and a lot of filler between the bigger segments. Check below for the latest ProWrestling.net Live audio show hosted by Will Pruett and I earlier today.



Readers Comments (9)

  1. HHH still sucks beyond belief on the mic. He’s doing a really good job with NXT, but he’s got about 3 minutes on the mic before I change the channel and tonight was no different.

    • Amen, Dat Boy… I find Raw hard to watch… Smackdown matches are more compelling to me. That’s just how I see it.

    • As an Australian. I’m glad 3H took time out to promote his match at the MCG.

      If there is only 70,000 at the MCG for the show.. I will be annoyed, the stadium can hold 120.000 easy. depending on where they put the ring…

  2. I don’t know why but I really have my doubts that Brock will ever fight Cormier. That being said I don’t see him being in a WWE ring again for a while. Probably not until the Royal Rumble.

  3. Same old TIRED all the women are in it together promo. Can you make it feel any more artificial?

  4. So does this mean, just like that creative just screwed Strowman out of the money in the bank title shot? Was that a Triple heel turn? Wtf was that ending? This bs is why Raw sucks.

    • Braun still has the MITB contract the bell was never rang the Shield music hit b4. An yes I Agree it was a stupid ending! A MONSTER losing to Hounds.

    • Have some patience! Why does it have to all be now now now? Let the story develop! Perhaps you shouldn’t be watching Raw if you think that sucked? Go watch reruns of Glee.

  5. Seth can cash in on Roman, Dean can cash in on Seth, but they’ll be damned to let anybody else do the same.

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