By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,526)
Live from Toronto, Ontario at Scotiabank Arena
Aired August 22, 2022 on USA Network
[Hour One] The Raw opening aired. Cameras cut backstage where Riddle and Seth Rollins were brawling in the Gorilla Position set area. The broadcast team of Jimmy Smith, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton checked in from ringside.
Rollins and Riddle brawled their way into the arena and into the first level off the main floor. They fought their way down the steps and back to the main floor where Adam Pearce, referees, and producers pulled them apart.
Riddle broke away and dove off the ringside barricade onto Rollins. They were pulled apart again. Riddle broke free and got some shots in on Rollins before they were pulled apart again…
The broadcast team hyped the previously advertised matches and then pyro shot off on the stage…
WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus made her entrance while ring announcer Mike Rome introduced her. Once in the ring, Trish told the crowd that it felt good to be there. “It feels so good to be home,” Stratus said. “And I’m not just talking about Toronto, I’m talking about in this ring.”
Stratus said it will never not feel like home between the ropes. A “one more match” chant broke out. Stratus responded by saying that she’s been dong a lot of thinking lately, but then she was interrupted by entrance music.
Bayley, Iyo Sky, and Dakota Kai made their entrance to Bayley’s theme heading into a commercial break… [C]
Powell’s POV: I like the way that we’ve seen Raw open with a couple of brawls since Paul Levesque took over. It’s not something they can do every week, but it does make viewers take notice earlier than easing into the standard show format. I also like the hook of Stratus being in the ring while three heels were coming out heading into the first break.
Bayley and her crew heeled on Stratus. Bayley said it’s their ring now and Stratus is in the past. Bayley asked Stratus who the hell she thinks she is.
Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair made her entrance and said Bayley isn’t even in the same stratosphere as Stratus. Belair said Bayley should thank Stratus because if it wasn’t for her, there would be no Bayley. Belair said Stratus is a trailblazer, a legend, and Toronto is her city.
Belair told Bayley to stop being so disrespectful. An “EST” chant broke out. Belair said she doesn’t need to defend Stratus because she can defend herself. Stratus removed her jacket and said that she could go to “was retired” if Bayley didn’t stop running her mouth. Bayley removed her own jacket and pointed out that Stratus and Belair were still outnumbered.
Alexa Bliss and Asuka made their entrance. Stratus referred to the duo as the future WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions and pointed out that they now had the numbers advantage. Bayley said Stratus is lucky she was feeling generous and would let things slide in her hometown. Stratus wished her team good luck in the tournament because they are going to need it…
Powell’s POV: A clumsy verbal exchange that even ended on a flat note. It wasn’t all her fault, but Bayley’s heel mic work has been a little underwhelming since her return. It’s been pretty basic in that she generates heat with her comments in the building, but there’s not much substance to it, and there wasn’t a strong explanation regarding the formation of her new faction.
1. Alexa Bliss and Asuka vs. Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai in a WWE Women’s Tag Team Title tournament semifinal match. A referee entered the ring and started the match. The babyface duo cleared the heel team from the ring during the opening minute. [C]
Dana Brooke and Tamina were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. The broadcast team said they would get another opportunity in Friday’s second-chance tournament match (replacing Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne due to Dolin’s injuries). The heel duo had Bliss down going into another break. [C]
Aliyah, Nikki ASH, and Doudrop were shown watching on another backstage monitor. Bliss performed a double DDT on both opponent and then tagged in Asuka, who put Kai in a submission hold. Sky raced back to the ring and broke up the hold.
Bliss went up top and was tagged by Asuka. Bliss went for Twisted Bliss, but Kai put her knee up. Asuka checked in and hit a series of strikes on Kay, who ducked one and then blasted Asuka with a forearm. Asuka avoided a big boot in the corner. Sky tagged in. Asuka put Kai in the Asuka Lock and she tapped out. Smith pointed out that it meant nothing because Sky had tagged in. Sky rolled Asuka into a pin for the three count…
Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai defeated Alexa Bliss and Asuka in roughly 18:30 to advance to the finals of the WWE Women’s Tag Team Title tournament.
Powell’s POV: A clever finish that let the heels go over clean while not making the babyface duo look bad. They were given more time than they really needed, but I get the idea of trying to have some longer matches to make the tournament feel important (and because Raw is a three-hour marathon).
Dolph Ziggler was interviewed by Kevin Patrick about facing Finn Balor later in the show. Balor and a smiling Rhea Ripley crashed the set, causing Patrick to leave. Balor said Ziggler couldn’t teach him anything. Ziggler said there was one thing and then dropped him with a punch. Ziggler’s music played. Ziggler asked Balor if he was going to stay down “like a little bitch” or come to the ring. Ziggler made his entrance… [C]
Powell’s POV: It was good to see Ziggler go to the ring with a little mojo after he dropped Balor, so I’ll be kinder than usual about his entrance theme tonight (but it still sucks).
A sponsored video package recapped the Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre face-to-face segment from Friday’s Smackdown… Finn Balor and Rhea Ripley made their entrance…
2. Finn Balor (w/Rhea Ripley) vs. Dolph Ziggler. A graphic listed an Alpha Academy open challenge for later in the show. A few minutes in, Balor whipped Ziggler aggressively into a corner of the ring. [C]
Smith touted that there were 16,638 fans in attendance as the match continued. Balor caught Ziggler going for a Fameasser and countered into a sit-out powerbomb for a two count. Ripley yelled at the referee about his count.
Balor set up for a running dropkick, but Ziggler beat him to the punch and then DDT’d him for a two count. Balor stuffed a superkick, but then Ziggler avoided 1916 and hit him with a Fameasser for a near fall. Balor came back and went for a Coup De Grace, but Ziggler avoided it and dropped him with a Zigzag for a good near fall.
[Hour Two] Ziggler dropped Balor with a headbutt, then walked to the ropes and stood and waited for Ripley, who hit him with a cheap shot. Balor hit 1916 and a Coup De Grace for the win…
Finn Balor beat Dolph Ziggler in 13:05.
Powell’s POV: A strong match until the bad finish. Ziggler acted like he was setting up for a superkick, but it was impossible not to see that he was watching and waiting for Ripley to punch him. The production team did their best to cover it by cutting right to the actual punch when they showed the replay.
Aliyah was being interviewed by Sarah Schreiber on the backstage ring set when Bayley, Sky, and Kai showed up. Bayley said Sky and Kai would win the tournament. Bayley asked where Aliyah’s partner Raquel Rodriguez was. Aliyah said it was none of her business. Bayley said it was stupid of Aliyah to show up on her show alone.
Trish Stratus showed up and asked Bayley when she would return to action. Aliyah challenged Bayley to face her in a match. Bayley accepted. As the heels walked away, Adam Pearce could be seen showing security members a photo with writing on it…
“Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis made their entrance for the open challenge while Smith hyped Survivor Series tickets going on sale on Friday for the November 26 event in Boston… [C]
Toronto imagery was shown while Smith touted that the building was sold out…
Gable said Alpha Academy has decided to accept new students. He said he was starting his search in Canada, but he regretted it because he could only find toothless, washed up former hockey players.
Gable mocked the Toronto fans by saying their hockey team lost to a team from Tampa Bay. “They don’t even have ice in Tampa Bay,” Gable said. A “Go Leafs Go” chant broke out. Gable continued to heel on the crowd by saying that their star player Auston Matthews is American and doesn’t even have the talent to wash Otis’s jockstrap. Gable called for the open challengers.
Kevin Owens’ entrance music played and he came out to a big babyface pop from the Canadian crowd…
3. Kevin Owens vs. Chad Gable (w/Otis). Owens was dominant early on. He set up for a cannonball, but Gable rolled to the floor. When Owens followed, Gable suplexed him on the floor. Owens came right back by tripping up Owens on the apron. Owens went for a piledriver, but Gable backdropped him onto the apron and the followed up with a German suplex. [C]
Owens performed a yushigoroshi and then followed up with a top rope frog splash for a near fall. Gable countered out of a Stunner attempt and put Owens down with a wcked German suplex into a bridge for a near fall. Gable went up top and executed a top rope headbutt for a near fall.
Gable sat Owens on the top rope. Owens headbutted Gable, who went right back up the rope. Owens performed a fisherman’s buster suplex from the ropes. Owens covered Gable for a near fall. Owens went for a Swanton, but Gable put his knees up. Gable ran up top and went for a moonsault that Owens avoided. Gable landed on his feet, but Owens superkicked him, then performed a Popup Powerbomb and scored the pin.
Kevin Owens beat Chad Gable in 11:10.
After the match, Otis hit Owens from behind and then put the boots to him. Otis went for a shoulder block in the corner that Owens avoided. Both men ended up at ringside. Owens turned his focus to Gable and set up for a powerbomb on the apron, but Otis clotheslined Owens to stop it. Otis rolled Owens inside the ring. Owens gave Otis a Stunner, then powerbombed Gable onto him…
Powell’s POV: A crowd pleaser and the best match of the night thus far. I actually think it would have packed more of a punch had the two previous matches not gone long. I know the wrestling, wrestling, and nothing but wrestling crowd will disagree, but the show could use a little more variety when it comes to the length of matches than we’ve had so far tonight.
Rhea Ripley stood backstage with Finn Balor and Damian Priest and claimed that Judgment Day runs Raw. Balor laughed about Ripley beating up Dominik Mysterio so many times. Balor said he had Rey Mysterio in his pocket. Priest said that only leaves Edge and then spoke about their match later in the show…
Aliyah made her entrance for her match with Bayley… [C]
The broadcast team addressed the Gigi Dolin injury, causing the second chance four-way tag match on Smackdown that will determine who faces Raquel Rodriguez and Aliyah in the semifinals on the same show… Bayley made her entrance without her sidekicks…
4. Bayley vs. Aliyah. The broadcast team touted that Aliyah was working in her hometown. A graphic listed Bobby Lashley and AJ Styles vs. The Miz and Ciampa for later in the show. Bayley survived an early flurry from Aliyah and then took offensive control.
Bayley eventually set up for a bulldog, but Aliyah tossed her to ringside. Aliyah set up for a move, but Bayley pulled her out of the ring only to have Aliyah bulldog her on the floor. Back in the ring, Aliyah put Bayley in a single leg crab, which Bayley broke by grabbing Aliyah’s hair. Bayley hit the Rose Plant moments later and got the pin.
Bayley defeated Aliyah in 6:45.
After the match, Aliyah looked like she was crying on the floor, and Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai came out and celebrated on the stage with Bayley…
Powell’s POV: The crowd was quiet and didn’t rally behind Aliyah despite her hometown status. On the bright side, it was good to see Bayley back in the ring following a long layoff following knee surgery.
Bobby Lashley and AJ Styles were shown walking together backstage. Their opponents Ciampa and The Miz made their entrances heading into a break… [C] Lashley and Styles made their entrances…
5. Bobby Lashley and AJ Styles vs. The Miz and Ciampa. Styles threw a great dropkick at Ciampa during the opening minute. Lashley tagged in and performed a vertical suplex on Ciampa. The Miz, who wore his “massive balls” t-shirt tagged in. Lashley ended up tossing Miz onto Ciampa at ringside. [C]
[Hour Three] Styles was isolated by the heels until he hit a now shirtless Miz with a Pele Kick. Lashley took a hot tag and worked over both opponents, including with a simultaneous Flatliner and DDT combo move. Lashley set up for a spear, but Ciampa rolled to the floor.
Lashley followed Ciampa and ended hoisting him up and running him into the ring post. Back in the ring, Lashley set up for a spear, but Miz pulled Ciampa back to ringside. Lashley followed and clotheslined Miz. When Lashley tried to return to the ring, Ciampa hit him with Willow’s Bell for a near fall.
Lashley avoided the Fairytale Ending and then speared Ciampa, but Miz broke up the pin. Styles took out Miz and hit him with a flying forearm on the floor. Suddenly, a hooded man reached over the barricade and tried to choke Styles. Security mobbed the man, who was not Dexter Lumis.
A security guard who wore a helmet and face shield showed up behind Miz. The security guard removed the helmet to reveal himself as Dexter Lumis, which got a pop. Lumis put Miz in a chokehold and pulled him over the barricade and then dragged him into the arena concourse. The bell rang to end the match.
The Miz and Ciampa fought AJ Styles and Bobby Lashley to a no-contest in roughly 13:30.
In the ring, Styles hit Ciampa with a Phenomenal Forearm, and then Lashley speared Ciampa. The broadcast team recapped the Lumis footage. Graves said he has shown up for a few weeks and doesn’t work for WWE…
Powell’s POV: Lumis attacked Miz, so I guess that means we will be getting the babyface version of Lumis on the main roster. While it’s possible he has a follower, my guess is the other guy who attacked Styles was just a swerve.
A video package spotlighted the Edge vs. Damian Priest match. Priest was shown warming up backstage… [C] The top ten WWE photos on Instagram were shown…
Johnny Gargano’s entrance theme played and he walked out in non-wrestling attire to a good crowd reaction and slapped hands with fans on his way to ringside. Gargano looked into the camera and said, “Thank you, guys, so much.”
Gargano entered the ring and he received a big reaction once his music stopped playing. A loud “Johnny Wrestling” chant broke out. “Well surprise, everybody,” Gargano said. He noted that it had been nine months since he’d been in a wrestling ring and joked about not being sure how to talk into the microphone.
Gargano said for those who don’t know him, he was kind of a big deal in NXT. He ran through his long list of title wins and noted that he won the NXT Tag Titles in the same venue.
Gargano said he wondered if he wanted to continue to wrestle. He spoke about playing with his six-month old. He dubbed him “Baby Wrestling” which drew some chants. Gargano said his son would appreciate that someday.
Gargano said he remembered having big dreams about becoming Intercontinental Champion, U.S. Champion, WWE Champion, and wrestling at WrestleMania. He said he had to teach his son that even the biggest dreams can come true.
Gargano recalled saying you will never fail if you bet on yourself. He said that’s what he’s doing now. “I stand here incredibly proud to say, Johnny Wrestling is back in WWE,” Gargano said. He said they were just getting started. He was interrupted by entrance music.
Theory made his entrance with his Money in the Bank briefcase in hand. Theory walked to ringside and asked if this was real right now. He asked if it had been nine months as he entered the ring. A “Who’s Your Daddy” chant broke out with some fans.
Theory said a lot has happened in nine months. Theory said he became the youngest U.S. Champion, competed at WrestleMania already, and is on his way to becoming the new Undisputed WWE Universal Champion via the Money in the Bank contract.
“It’s almost like all the things you’ve dreamed of, I’ve already done them,” Theory said. Theory told Gargano that he couldn’t have done any of this without him. The crowd gave Theory the “What?” chant. Theory said it’s like he’s the veteran and Gargano is his rookie. He said Gargano could carry his bags, then said not to worry about that because he could hand him the briefcase when he cashes in to become the new Undisputed WWE Universal Champion.
Theory called for their old high-five. Gargano teased doing it and then dropped Theory with a superkick instead…
Powell’s POV: Well, I guess Gargano Watch 2022 won’t continue tomorrow night despite AEW being in his hometown of Cleveland. A reader brought up Gargano and Theory feuding earlier today in my Q&A audio show for Dot Net Members. I said I wasn’t crazy about the idea of playing on the history between Gargano in Theory in NXT and I stand by that. I enjoyed The Way, but the NXT show was watched by less than a third of the Raw audience. That said, if they can move away from The Way history and create a main roster rivalry that everyone can follow even if they don’t know the history, then I think it should be a really good feud. Meanwhile, I guess the Gargano surprise combined with Edge vs. Damian Priest taking place in this hour means that WWE isn’t just punting on the third hour after all.
The broadcast team recapped the Riddle and Seth Rollins brawl from the beginning of the show…
Smith hyped Raw for next week in Pittsburgh. He announced Rollins and Riddle meeting face-to-face next week, and then Graves said the finals of the WWE Women’s Tag Team Title tournament would also be held on Raw. Saxton announced that Kurt Angle will appear in his hometown of Pittsburgh on next week’s Raw…
Damian Priest made his entrance for the main event at the bottom of the hour. Edge made his entrance wearing new white and red gear… [C]
5. Edge vs. Damian Priest. Edge’s wife Beth Phoenix was shown seated in the front row looking emotional. Edge sent Priest to ringside and gave him the up yours gesture. Saxton said the match would be shown with limited commercial interruptions.
Edge taunted Priest by trying to get him to chase him to ringside and then teasing that he was returning to the ring. Edge clotheslined Priest and then powerbombed him back first onto the edge of the timekeepers barricade heading into a picture-in-picture break. [C]
Priest took control during the break. When they came back from the break, Priest went for a senton from the top rope that Edge avoided. Edge caught Priest draped over the middle rope and then hit him with a neckbreaker before covering him for a two count.
Priest ended up at ringside. Edge went to the top rope and dove at Priest at ringside. Both men stayed down while a small “holy shit” chant broke out briefly (and they didn’t censor it like goofs unlike when fans chant that on NXT 2.0 lately). Priest recovered and picked up Edge in chokeslam position and threw him into the ropes while both men were on the floor.
Priest gave Edge a crucifix bomb through the broadcast table. Graves said it was the same way that Judgment Day betrayed Edge in the first place and he said this may have been for the last time. They cut to another PIP break. [C]
Late in the match, Edge set up for a Sharpshooter, but Priest kicked him off and Edge knocked referee Charles Robinson out of the ring. REF BUMP!!! Priest put Edge down and then went to ringside and brought back two chairs. Priest went for a Conchairto that Edge avoided.
Edge tripped up Priest, who fell onto the chair. Edge broke the bottom bar of the chair off and put it in Priest’s mouth while applying a Crossface. Edge released the hold and set up for a spear, but Priest hit him with the bar from the chair. Robinson returned to the ring and made a slow count, but Edge kicked out at the last moment.
Priest showed frustration over not getting the pin. Priest went for a Razor’s Edge, but Edge avoided it and hit a Canadian Destroyer. Edge speared and pinned Priest.
Edge defeated Damian Priest in 19:35.
After the match, Edge set up for a Conchairto, but Rhea Ripley entered the ring and hit him with a low blow from behind. Finn Balor showed up and performed a Coup De Grace on Edge. Priest went to pick up one of the chairs.
Beth Phoenix pulled the chair away from Balor and then entered the ring with it. Ripley wanted to go after Phoenix, but Balor and Priest held her back and got her to leave the ring. A graphic listed Bianca Belair, Kevin Owens, Dakota Kai, and Iyo Sky for Raw Talk. Phoenix stood over a kneeling Edge to close the show…
Powell’s POV: A strong main event with the live crowd being red hot for everything Edge did. Phoenix standing up for her man at the end was expected and yet still a cool development. I would love to see Phoenix face Ripley in a singles match if Phoenix is up for the challenge, but my guess is we get a mixed tag match, which should also be a lot of fun.
Overall, another good show. The first couple of hours went a little too in-ring heavy. That beats taking the opposite approach in my book, but I still think they can find a better balance. The third hour felt like a bit of a throwaway hour over the two previous weeks. The opposite was true this week with Johnny Gargano’s return and the Edge vs. Priest main event, and it was actually the best hour of the three. We’ll see if they are rewarded in the ratings tomorrow. I will have a lot more to say about Raw in my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).
They’ve managed to kill a red hot crowd in under 30 minutes with this awful, sloppy women’s tag match.
That was a really well done surprise. Johnny really can talk. Glad he is back
Gargano? Fucking hell, HHHRaw sucks donkey tits.
And yet you keep watching
For a second there I thought Beth was gonna turn on Edge but,Russo isn’t there sooo..
For a second there I thought Beth was gonna turn on Edge,but Russo isn’t there sooo..
Who was arguably the most popular WWE wrestler of the past 10 years?
Now I am not making a total 1:1 correlation but Johnny has a LOT of the same qualities the “Yes Movement” version of Bryan.
If handled correctly. This could be fun