By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,518)
Live from Laredo, Texas at Sames Auto Arena
Aired June 27, 2022 on USA Network
[Hour One] Footage aired from earlier in the day of John Cena arriving backstage and being applauded by a number of wrestlers, referees, broadcast team members, and other crew members. Babyfaces and heels applauded him, aside from Becky Lynch, who sat on a production crate and looked down. Michael Hayes wore a yellow pimp suit with a black hat, as only PS Hayes can…
The broadcast team was Jimmy Smith, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton… A group of wrestlers were in the ring for a Last Chance Money in the Bank battle royal qualifier. Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Riddle received televised entrances…
1. The Last Chance Money in the Bank Battle Royal qualifier. The entrants included Mustafa Ali, Shanky, R-Truth, Shelton Benjamin, Doph Ziggler, Jinder Mahal, Akira Tozawa, Reggie, Ciampa, The Miz, Ricochet, AJ Styles, T-Bar, Veer Mahaan, and the previously mentioned Mysterios, Nakamura, and Riddle. Tozawa was the first man eliminated, and Benjamin was a close second.
Mahaan was eliminated by Rey and Ali. Truth was eliminated by Mahal and Shanky. Mahal turned on Shanky by eliminating him. Styles eliminated Mahal. T-Bar pressed Reggie over his head and tossed him onto Mahal and Shanky on the floor to eliminate him heading into a break. [C]
Footage aired of Ciampa eliminating Ali during the break. Styles eliminated Ciampa. Miz avoided a 619 and then DDT’d Rey, but he failed to eliminate him. Dom tried to clothesline Ziggler over the top and ended up tumbling over and eliminating himself. Ziggler and Miz eliminated Rey and then bumped fists. Miz tossed Riddle over the top rope, but he skinned the cat.
T-Bar tossed Ricochet off the apron, but Ricochet landed on one of the ladders that were set up at ringside and got back onto the apron. Ricochet performed a head-scissors move that sent T-Bar off the apron to eliminate him from the match. [C]
The remaining entrants were Riddle, Miz, Nakamura, Styles, Ricochet, and Ziggler. Miz leapt from the ropes and sold a knee injury when he landed. Miz rolled to ringside and was treated by trainers. Nakamura eliminated Ziggler, then Riddle eliminated Nakamura. Ricochet was eliminated.
The final two (along with Miz at ringside) were Riddle and Styles. As Styles set up for a Phenomenal Forearm, Miz pulled him off the apron to eliminate him. Miz returned to the ring and the broadcast team said there was nothing wrong with his knee.
Miz tried and failed to eliminate Riddle, who then put him down with a Draping DDT. Miz stuffed an RKO attempt and then hit the Skull Crushing Finale. Miz charged at Riddle, who used his legs to pull Miz onto the apron with him. Riddle dropped Miz with an RKO on the apron, and then Miz fell to the floor to give Riddle the win.
Riddle won a 20-man battle royal in 19:25 to qualify for the Money in the Bank ladder match.
Powell’s POV: I saw Riddle winning a last chance qualifier coming a mile away. I’m surprised that so many people seemed to forget that WWE loves these second chance qualifiers and didn’t think Riddle was going to be in the MITB ladder match, especially after it was announced that he could only challenge Roman Reigns again if he wins the MITB match. The Miz injury bit was a new twist on him or another heel hiding out at ringside until the end of the match.
The broadcast team spoke about the updated MITB entrants list. Smith said that Kevin Owens match against Ezekiel/Elias/Elrod had to be rescheduled, but he didn’t offer any explanation. Graves announced an elimination match with Becky Lynch vs. Doudrop vs. Nikki ASH vs. Shayna Baszler vs. Zia Li vs. Tamina in an elimination match as another Last Chance qualifier. Bobby Lashley vs. Alpha Academy with Theory as special enforcer was also announced for later in the show…
“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins spoke backstage about John Cena appearing on the show. Cena joined them. Dawkins said they qualified for the match by winning via count-out. Cena gave them a pep talk while talking about the various titles they’ve held. Ford pointed at the “Never Give Up” slogan on Cena’s t-shirt. The Profits got fired up. They still want the smoke…
The Usos made their entrance for Jey’s match against Montez Ford… [C]
Shawn Michaels, Big Show (Paul Wight), Booker T, Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson), Trish Stratus, and Triple H all delivered brief testimonials about John Cena. Most of the participants sent their videos from home…
Powell’s POV: It’s nice to see AEW allowed Wight and Bryan Danielson to submit videos regarding Cena. Is the ice slowly cracking between the two companies?
Riddle was interviewed by Kevin Patrick. Riddle was fired up about about qualifying for the MITB match and said, “The Bro’s going to Vegas”… The Street Profits made their entrance…
2. Montez Ford (w/Angelo Dawkins) vs. Jey Uso (w/Jimmy Uso). Smith acknowledged that the teams were 1-1 against one another in singles competition heading into their tag title match at MITB. Ford sent Jey to ringside. Jey stuffed a kick from the apron and ended up running Ford into the barricade. [C]
Jey popped up Ford and performed a neckbreaker on the way down for a near fall. Graves asked viewers to imagine what would happen when these teams meet on Saturday “for the only championships that matter.” Ford came back with a Blockbuster for a close near fall of his own. A short time later, Ford hit a top rope frog splash and scored the pin…
Montez Ford defeated Jey Uso in 9:50.
Powell’s POV: A good match that put the Profits up 2-1 in the series of singles matches between the two tag teams. I wonder if they will leave it as is or if we’ll get Dawkins vs. Jimmy on Smackdown.
Rey and Dom were shown walking backstage when they were approached by Finn Balor and Damian Priest. Balor said Rey’s twenty-year anniversary is coming up soon too. He said Rey is loved and respected by everyone in the business, then questioned why he can’t teach Dom. Priest said Judgment Day wants to take over the whole place. He said their door is open. Priest spoke directly to Dom about how the door is especially open to people who have leaders that lead them down the wrong path. Rey got upset and called for a tag match next week in San Diego…
Smith hyped a John Cena career retrospective for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: That was an interesting development with Priest and Balor appearing to court Dom in front of his own father. It will be interesting to see if they actually pull the trigger by having Dom turn on his father in their hometown of San Diego next week.
A series of John Cena still shots were shown from various points of his career… The Cena career retrospective video aired.
[Hour Two] The video focused on Cena’s in-ring career, his work with Make-A-Wish, appearances at the Tribute to the Troops events, and his crossover into Hollywood…
Powell’s POV: The usual exceptional work by WWE’s production team.
Kevin Patrick stood in the ring and introduced The Miz as his guest for an interview. Unfortunately, Marjo’s daughter did not accompany her husband. Patrick pointed to the big screen where Instagram shots of Logan Paul working out for his WWE return were shown. Miz claimed he set up the workout and added that he and Paul would team up again at SummerSlam.
Patrick asked Miz about his relationship with Logan Paul, then had footage air from WrestleMania of Miz hitting his finisher on Paul. Miz said he’s the biggest full-time wrestler in WWE. He said he will be on the Today show on Friday, and has The Marjo Show airing after Raw.
Miz claimed he told Paul after WrestleMania that the Skull Crushing Finale he gave him was a teaching lesson. Miz said that he and Paul will become tag team champions someday. Patrick asked if Paul would have been disappointed by Miz’s outcome in the battle royal earlier.
Miz said the disappointment is AJ Styles, who is own a downward spiral. Patrick brought up Styles taking shots at Miz’s tiny balls. Miz cut him off and said he has massive, gigantic, girthy, stupendous, and huge balls, but he was cut off by the entrance music of AJ Styles, who came out and dropped him with a punch…
An ad for Smackdown hyped the men’s and women’s MITB ladder match participants appearing on Friday’s show… [C] The broadcast team hyped Undertaker’s one-man show for Nashville during SummerSlam weekend…
3. AJ Styles vs. The Miz. The broadcast team said the match was made official by Adam Pearce during the break. A few minutes into the match, Miz avoided Styles going for a moonsault off the apron. Miz ran Styles into the barricade. [C]
Late in the match, Styles set up for a Styles Clash, but Miz avoided it. Styles hit a ushigoroshi for a two count. Styles hit Miz with a punch from the apron and then went for his finisher, but Miz dodged it. Miz caught Styles in the ropes and put him down with a Codebreaker for a near fall.
Miz caught Styles with a running boot and got a two count. Miz called for his finisher, but Styles rolled him into a pin for a two count. Miz kicked Styles, who responded with a Pele Kick. Styles performed a brainbuster and then set up for his finisher, but Miz rolled out of the ring and headed to the stage while the referee counted him out…
AJ Styles beat The Miz via count-out in roughly 12:30.
Powell’s POV: Meh. That was a long time to go for a throwaway count-out finish. Plus, I’m old enough to remember when the babyfaces stopped the referee from counting out heels who tried to run away, so it always makes me roll my eyes when the babyfaces just stand there and let it to happen.
Ezekiel introduced himself to John Cena in the backstage area. Cena acted confused and then said it was great to meet him. Ezekiel said Elias was with their younger brother Elrod. Cena’s advice for Ezekiel was to never forget who he is. Ezekiel left the room.
Theory approached Cena from behind and assumed that Cena knew who he was. Theory cut off Cena and told him that he’s so out of touch that he didn’t know some of the lingo he was using. Theory said he’s the youngest U.S. Champion in history and said Cena hadn’t won a title yet when he was his age. Theory mocked Cena’s jorts. Theory tried to take a selfie, but Cena walked away…
Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair made her entrance for a face to face segment with Carmella… [C]
Kurt Angle, Randy Orton, JBL, Chris Jericho, Stephanie McMahon, and Steve Austin all delivered testimonials regarding John Cena…
Powell’s POV: Holy shit, someone let Riddle know that Randy is just chilling at home in his backyard! Anyway, I’m not crying foul, but Jericho’s message appeared to be cut short. I wonder what else he had to say about Cena aside from calling him one of his all-time favorite opponents. To follow up on what I wrote earlier, I’m actually not surprised that AEW let their talent take part in the Cena tribute, but I am surprised that WWE requested it. Good for both companies.
Kevin Patrick spoke with Belair about Carmella. She said she wished Carmella was out there so she could say what she had to say to her face. Belair took issue with Carmella taking a cheap shot at her. She said nobody respects Carmella and it’s not because she’s not good, it’s because she doesn’t respect herself. Belair said Carmella has the potential to be great, but she’s so focused and insecure about her looks. Belair said that if Carmella thinks she has what it takes to beat her, they don’t need to wait until Las Vegas.
Carmella made her entrance and spoke about having beauty and brains as she walked to the ring. She said the fans don’t accept her because of how she looks. She said she won’t apologize for that. Carmella entered the ring and ran through her resume. She said that if she’s not given the respect she deserves, she’ll take it along with the Raw Women’s Championship on Saturday. Carmella said she’s money and dropped the mic. Carmella tried to take a cheap shot at Belair, who stuffed it…
Powell’s POV: I’m surprised they didn’t attempt to put some heat on Carmella rather than having heavy favorite Belair block he cheap shot attempt.
Sarah Schreiber interviewed Alexa Bliss and Liv Morgan. Bliss spoke about winning MITB and getting Lilly a matching briefcase. Morgan said she and Bliss are not friends because friends lift each other up, whereas she plans to knock Bliss off the ladder and take the contract that could change her career. She said that she learned from John Cena and her time is now. Morgan said she won’t just win MITB, she’ll beat Bliss tonight. Bliss booped her with Lilly, and then Morgan booped Lilly’s nose. Morgan made her entrance…
Powell’s POV: All that booping. Kris Statlander is somewhere screaming gimmick infringement.
4. Alexa Bliss vs. Liv Morgan. Bliss’s entrance was televised. Asuka sat in on commentary for the match. After some back and forth action, Bliss set up for a DDT, but Morgan rolled her into a pin and got the three count. No one acted more surprised than Asuka…
Liv Morgan beat Alexa Bliss in 3:20.
Powell’s POV: The broadcast team spent more time asking Asuka about the MITB entrants than discussing the match. They did frame this as an upset, but it’s hard to feel good for the Morgan character when she comes off so self satisfied.
A video aired on Cena’s record setting work with Make-A-Wish…
Mr. McMahon made his entrance. He entered the ring and grabbed a mic as they cut to break… [C] The wrestlers stood on the two sides of the ramp. McMahon said it was his privilege to introduce John Cena, who walked through the two rows of wrestlers. He held up a “Never Give Up” towel and said it was time to go to work. Cena entered the ring and McMahon was no longer there.
Powell’s POV: I just assume that Vince did two backflips while leaving the ring this week after nearly falling last week. By the way, I missed his near fall last week. Sorry about that.
[Hour Three] John Cena stood in the ring and received a monster ovation. He said it was his WWE birthday. He said he could feel the energy and hear the noise. Cena said he couldn’t think of a better place to have his birthday. Cena pointed out a “Twenty years of jorts” sign and said no one is perfect. He pointed out another sign and said it claimed he was out of touch 14 years longer than the sign holder had been alive.
Cena said he likes to look ahead, but this is very different. He said it’s not about what he’s done. Rather, it has everything to do with the fans. Cena said the anniversary is important to him because it means the fans have allowed him to do this for two decades. Cena said it has never been lost on him that when he stands in the ring it’s because the fans allow it.
Cena said the fans have created an environment that allows him to be his true self. He said the fans have been brave enough to tell him when he sucks and to be kind enough to tell him when he does not. Cena said he’s always wanted to say thank you and he’s just been waiting for the right moment. He said this feels like that right moment. A “thank you, Cena” chant broke out.
Cena recalled saying that WWE has prepared him for anything. He said it’s not just his movies or shows, it’s that the fans have made him a better human being. Cena said he’s a better professional, a better husband, and a better person because of the fans. He said spending moments with the families over the years have taught him empathy, caring, kindness, and the fans have taught him humility.
Cena said it’s about people coming together. He said it’s been 20 years and he’s 45 years old. He said he only said that because he doesn’t know when fans will see him in the ring again. He said he’s not saying the fans won’t see it, but he doesn’t know when that will be. He said everything he does is all about “we.”
Cena said the fans made him who he is today. He said if the fans see something that’s good, say something. If they see something that sucks, say something. He said it’s never been about him, it’s always been about us. Cena fired up the Laredo crowd and told them to show the world what they are made of.
Cena said that was the sound of us. He said we never give up, we’re just getting started. Cena closed by saying if you want some, come get some. Cena went to ringside and bumped fists with some of the younger fans. He tossed out a bunch of his wristbands, his hat, and his t-shirt. Cena stopped by the entrance, looked into the camera, and said thank you before playing to the crowd again…
The broadcast team hyped two previously advertised matches… [C]
Powell’s POV: Peacemaker would have hated that super nice guy shit! The crowd loved Cena and Cena loved them back on his anniversary. I kept waiting for Theory to show up for some type of angle. I guess the night is young, but it was a nice moment even if that was the end of Cena tonight.
4. Bobby Lashley vs. “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis in a handicap match with Theory as “special guest enforcer.” All of the entrances were televised. Smith said Mr. McMahon was no longer there, but he wondered if Theory called in some favors to make this match. Otis splashed Lashley at ringside early in the match. [C]
Lashley set up for a superplex on Gable, but Otis slipped under him and powerbombed him. Gable followed up with a moonsault and then Otis covered Lashley for a two count. Later, Lashley put Otis in Electric Chair position and dropped him backwards. Gable leapt at Lashley from the top rope, but Lashley caught him and put him in the Hurt Lock for the win.
Bobby Lashley beat “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis in a handicap match in 8:15.
Theory attacked Lashley after the match. Gable and Otis held Lashley while Theory tried to take a selfie. Lashley kicked Theory, then took out Otis and Gable. Lashley set up to spear Theory, who fled the ring…
The broadcast team recapped Cody Rhodes working through a torn pectoral tendon and beating Seth Rollins in a Hell in a Cell match while still shots from the match were shown. Highlights aired from the next night on Raw when Rollins attacked Rhodes…
Smith hyped an exclusive interview with Cody Rhodes for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: There were some Cena chants when the heels outnumbered Lashley after the handicap match. The Rhodes footage made me think of the countdown clock that WWE used for him and then others. I’m surprised they didn’t break it out tonight for John Cena.
The broadcast team set up the Cody Rhodes interview from a sports rehabilitation center facility. He said rehab is rehab, and there are highs and lows. He said it pales in comparison to where he was three weeks ago. He spoke about the momentum he had and said he wanted to take it into Money in the Bank.
Rhodes said the doctors are telling him it will take nine months due to the sledgehammer shot that Rollins hit him with and he said he’s trying to respect that. He spoke about the entrants in the men’s MITB ladder match, including Rollins. Rhodes said it would be something if Rollins cashed in the contract again. Rhodes said he’s not rooting for anybody, but if Rollins wins, he thinks he would be the first to congratulate him. Rhodes got up and asked if they would excuse him…
Powell’s POV: Rhodes looked a hell of a lot better than the last time we saw him. He wore a tank top and had a bandage sticking out the side, but the discoloration is completely gone.
John Cena was speaking with a production crew member when Seth Rollins showed up and asked if he remembered the time he broke his face into a million tiny pieces. Cena nodded. Rollins laughed and said it was great to see Cena and he looks great.
Rollins said Cena is the best. He said they’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the years. he said they have a lot in common in that they are both international megastars, fashion icons, and MITB contract winners. Rollins said Cena crashed and burned when he tried to cash in, whereas he had the best cash-in of all-time.
Omos and MVP showed up. Omos glared at Rollins while MVP spoke about it being a foregone conclusion that Omos would win. Rollins laughed and looked at Cena, who looked awestruck by Omos. Cena told Rollins good luck and walked away…
The broadcast team ran through the MITB lineup. Becky Lynch made her entrance for the main event… [C] Smith officially announced Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio vs. Finn Balor and Damian Priest for next week’s Raw…
5. Becky Lynch vs. Xia Li vs. Doudrop vs. Nikki ASH vs. Tamina vs. Shayna Baszler in a six-way elimination match for a spot in the Money in the Bank ladder match. Lynch had the only televised entrances. The other entrants ganged up and her to start and sent her to ringside. Lynch returned and put Li away with a Manhandle Slam.
Xia Li was eliminated by Becky Lynch in 2:40.
Lynch eventually caught ASH in the Disarmer and made her tap out heading into a break. [C]
Nikki ASH was eliminated by Becky Lynch in 4:35.
There was a tower of doom spot with Tamina on the top and Doudrop on the bottom. Doudrop splashed Baszler and pinned her.
Shayna Baszler was eliminated by Doudrop in 11:00.
Tamina went for a top rope splash that Lynch avoided. Doudrop slammed Lynch on the floor and then performed a senton. Doudrop returned to the ring and hit a second rope elbow on Tamina before pinning her.
Tamina was eliminated by Doudrop in 12:25.
The match came down to Lynch and Doudrop. Lynch avoided a second rope splash. Lynch followed up with a Manhandle Slam from the middle rope and scored the pin.
Becky Lynch defeated Doudrop to win an elimination match in 13:20 to qualify for the Money in the Bank ladder match.
Lynch celebrated her win while the broadcast team showed the updated women’s MITB ladder match graphic to close the show…
Powell’s POV: A totally predicable pair of last chance qualifiers. The end result makes the MITB ladder matches stronger, but even if you were someone who wasn’t thinking about the last chance option, you had to know who was going to win those matches once they were announced. I really hope WWE will ditch the last chance qualifiers next year and let viewers know that in advance so that their qualifying matches have a sense of finality.
Overall, the John Cena anniversary carried the show and they delivered good hype for the MITB event on Saturday. I will have more to say in my weekly audio review of Raw for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of the show by grading it below.