By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,538)
Live from Louisville, Kentucky at KFC Yum Center
Aired November 14, 2022 on USA Network
[Hour One] The Raw opening aired and then pyro shot off on the stage… The broadcast team was Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves with Mike Rome serving as the ring announcer…
U.S. Champion Seth Rollins made his entrance dressed in non-wrestling attire. The broadcast team set up a video package on last week’s U.S. Open Challenge, which resulted in Bobby Lashley destroying Rollins, followed by Austin Theory’s unsuccessful Money in the Bank contract cash-in.
Rollins said last week was crazy. He said he issued an open challenge and he has challengers coming out of the woodwork. When Rollins mentioned Theory trying to cash in, the crowd chanted “That was stupid.”
Rollins said he was sure Theory would be out later and the fans could tell him how stupid he is then. Rollins said the U.S. Title is now the top prize on Monday nights because he holds it. Rollins said they would add to his legacy as champion when he faces Finn Balor.
Bobby Lashley made his entrance. Lashley walked out with a mic and spoke as he walked to the ring. Lashley said he turned “little selfie boy into a punchline.” Lashley entered the ring and said the beating he gave Rollins last week will continue to happen until he gets the U.S. Title back.
Rollins referred to Lashley as “Big Bob” and said his temper has been getting the better of him. Rollins assumed it had something to do with Lashley losing to Brock Lesnar at WWE Crown Jewel.
Mustafa Ali made his entrance and a referee walked with him and tried to talk him down. Lashley asked Ali what he was doing. Lashley said the beating he gave Ali last week would pale in comparison to the next one. Lashley told him to leave before he hurts him.
Ali entered the ring and went after Lashley, who immediately cleared him from the ring. Lashley turned to address Rollins. Ali returned to the ring and hopped on Lashley’s back. Lashley flung Ali over the top rope to ringside. Lashley said Ali was starting to piss him off and encouraged him to “get in here and get some”… [C]
Powell’s POV: I like the way the company is spotlighting the U.S. Championship to make it seem like the most valuable championship on Raw. Of course, Roman Reigns is the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion and he should be defending against challengers from both brands and maybe he will, but it’s important that the secondary championship be featured prominently either way. Ali looked like a scrub, but we’ll see what they do with him in the match coming out of the break.
1. Bobby Lashley vs. Mustafa Ali. The bell rang and Ali charged across the ring and dropkicked Lashley. They went to ringside where Ali leapt from the barricade onto the back of Lashley, who then drove him into the ring post. Graves said Ali had the heart of a lion and the brain of a scarecrow.
Lashley tossed Ali over the broadcast table and he tumbled into the barricade. Patrick noted that Ali is scheduled to face Ricochet in a Smackdown World Cup match and wondered if the best move he could make would be to take the count-out loss. Ali returned to the ring at the referee’s nine count.
Lashley, who had a wound covered on his left bicep, slammed Ali to the mat with a spinebuster. Lashley followed up with another spinebuster. A “one more time” chant broke out. Ali stood up and motioned for Lashley, who charged at him in the corner. Ali jumped up when Lashley charged him, causing Lashley to crash into the corner. Ali performed a DDT. Lashley came right back with a spear. Lashley applied the Hurt Lock and got the win when Ali passed out…
Bobby Lashley defeated Mustafa Ali in 4:30.
Powell’s POV: If the idea is for Ali to win over fans by showing heart, it didn’t work with this live crowd. They booed when Seth Rollins mentioned Ali’s name earlier, and then there was an audible “one more time” chant in support of Lashley continuing to destroy him.
Cathy Kelley interviewed AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, and Mia Yim on the backstage interview set. Gallows took credit for Yim joining forces with them because he claimed to have a way with the women.
Styles challenged Finn Balor to face him in a singles match at Survivor Series to put an end to things. Anderson noted that Yim was having her return match. Yim said she had to go to the ring and then they could celebrate… [C]
The broadcast team thanked Black Sabbath for providing the theme for WWE Survivor Series WarGames. Graves said it’s from one of the greatest albums of all-time. “Oh yeah,” Patrick responded…
Powell’s POV: Kevin Patrick made it 37 years without discovering the greatest off Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” album?!?
2. Mia Yim vs. Tamina. Neither entrance was televised. Rhea Ripley and Dominik Mysterio watched the match from ringside. Damage CTRL were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Yim hit Eat Defeat (a/k/a Sole Food) and scored the pin.
Mia Yim defeated Tamina in 2:00.
After the match, Ripley teased entering the ring. Ripley dropped back to ringside and told Yim that she’s in her head…
Matt Riddle was interviewed by Kelley in the backstage area. Riddle said Elias was doing rock star things by booking their gigs. Riddle was playing his bongo drums. Chad Gable and Otis showed up. Gable gave Riddle the “shooosh” treatment and Riddle responded by hitting his bongo drums. A graphic listed their match for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: I enjoy Riddle. I enjoy Gable. The bad bongo bit combined with the bad shooosh bit made this a big turnoff. Both guys are very talented and I don’t know why they are still doing these gags that never seemed to get over with the live crowds nearly as much as their other material.
Backstage, Damage CTRL invited Mia Yim to join their WarGames team, but she wasn’t interested. They started to intimidate her when The OC showed up with beer, which caused Bayley, Iyo Sky, and Dakota Kai to leave…
3. Matt Riddle vs. Chad Gable (w/Otis). Both entrances were televised. Gable used a couple of early dragon screw leg whips. Riddle came back with a kick and then suplexed Gable. Riddle went for a senton, but Gable put his knees up. Gable ran into an elbow in the corner.
Riddle climbed up top. Otis knocked the ring steps apart and jawed at Riddle, allowing Gable to go up top behind Riddle and German suplex him. [C] Riddle dropped Gable with a ripcord knee strike. Riddle followed up with an exploder suplex and a Broton.
Riddle powerbombed Gable and then hit him with a knee strike to the face for a near fall. Gable slipped out of a Riddle move and put him in an ankle lock. Riddle rolled out of the hold and then caught Gable in a triangle submission hold. Gable powered up Riddle and slammed him down face first with a Tiger DDT for a near fall.
Gable went up top and landed on his feet when Riddle avoided his moonsault attempt. Riddle performed a Draping DDT on Gable and then played to the crowd before striking the Viper’s Pose. Otis climbed into the apron and was knocked off by Riddle, who followed up with a boot to the face.
Gable went for a rolling suplex, but Riddle landed on his feet. Gable caught Riddle in a backslide and used the ropes for leverage while Otis held his feet in place for the three count…
Chad Gable defeated Matt Riddle in 10:10.
Powell’s POV: A good television match. It’s nice to see Gable winning more lately, but I really hope they pull back on his mid-card Kurt Angle wannabe routine soon. I can’t help but wonder how over Gable if he were playing the never say die underdog character rather than Mustafa Ali.
Baron Corbin were shown playing poker in the locker room with another person while JBL sat at the table. Corbin won the hand. A servant showed up and offered JBL some Kentucky bourbon. JBL said he didn’t need anything from a bunch of banjo playing Kentucky hillbillies. They dismissed the poker player.
Akira Tozawa sat down at the table. JBL said they were busy and called Tozawa an idiot. “I play poker,” Tozawa said. JBL asked Tozawa if he’d ever played poker or knew the rules. Tozawa answered no to both questions. “Your money is good here,” JBL said…
The Miz made his entrance wearing a white sweater and slapped hands with fans as he made his way to the ring for a Miz TV segment… [C]
A subdued Miz stood in the ring and welcomed viewers to Miz TV. Miz said he was relinquishing his role as host to Byron Saxton and said he would be interviewed. Saxton asked Miz if he was sorry about the situation with Dexter Lumis.
Miz, who had a framed photo of his family at Christmas next to him, put on a pair of reading glasses to read a prepared statement. Miz got the crowd worked up by asking for silence. Miz said people haven’t been on his side despite his long reign in WWE and despite everything he’s accomplished. Miz claimed he had to put a stop to Lumis’s greediness.
[Hour Two] Saxton asked Miz why he told a different story to the private investigator. Miz said he was telling her what she wanted to hear so that she would buy his IP. Miz said Hollywood doesn’t want the truth. Miz said he’s a loving husband and a devoted father who has been depressed.
Johnny Gargano made his entrance with a mic in hand and pointed out that Miz wasn’t depressed, he was vacationing in Cabo. Gargano noted that Miz’s wife posted photos on Instagram. Miz said he was depressed in his hotel room.
Miz questioned why Gargano was involved in this. He accused Gargano of wanting everyone to chant Johnny Wrestling, which the crowd then chanted. Gargano said he loved the chant, but he labeled Miz a compulsive liar. Gargano pointed out Miz’s sweater and referred to him as Mr. Rogers.
Gargano said Mr. Rogers was a good guy. Miz got upset and said he’s a good guy. Miz said he was sorry several times and asked if they could just move on so that he could be the cornerstone of the company and a role model for his children. Gargano told Miz to pay Lumis what he owes him.
Gargano said he spoke with WWE officials, who thought the hidden camera footage was convincing. Gargano said it will all come to an end in two weeks when The Miz faces Dexter Lumis. Gargano said that if Lumis wins, Miz has to pay him everything he owes him and Lumis will get a WWE contract.
Miz told Gargano to tell Lumis that the match would be the biggest mistake of his life. Gargano told Miz to tell Lumis himself. The cameraman behind Miz removed his hat and a face covering and revealed himself to be Lumis. The Miz ran out of the ring. Lumis left the ring and slowly walked to the back while the broadcast team emphasized that Miz vs. Lumis will take place at Survivor Series…
Powell’s POV: The Miz was really fun in this segment. His sweater, his reading glasses, and the family Christmas photo were all a comedically pathetic attempts to win over the fans. If this segment is any indication, Miz has a very bright future in politics.
Footage aired from “earlier today” of Shelton Benjamin being interviewed by Cathy Kelley. Dominik Mysterio and Damian Priest interrupted. Dom said Benjamin has been a failure since his father and Eddie Guerrero were in their prime. Dom said that makes him way better than Benjamin. Priest said that if Benjamin has a problem with Dom, then Benjamin has a problem with him. Benjamin said he accepted “your challenge” and pointed at Dom…
Dominik Mysterio, Rhea Ripley, and Damian Priest made their entrance… An ad for Smackdown hyped the follow-up to The Bloodline’s issues with Drew McIntyre and The Brawling Brutes, and listed Mustafa Ali vs. Ricochet, and Sami Zayn vs. Butch in Smackdown World Cup matches… [C] Shelton Benjamin made his entrance…
4. Dominik Mysterio (w/Rhea Ripley, Damian Priest) vs. Shelton Benjamin. Dom set up for a 619, but Benjamin stood up and powerslammed him. Benjamin followed up with a knee in the corner and then performed an exploder suplex. Dom rolled to ringside.
Benjamin went to the floor and threw Dom back inside the ring and then jawed at Priest. Dom rolled up Benjamin for a two count. Benjamin stood up and put Dom in an ankle lock. Ripley distracted the referee while Priest pulled Dom to the ropes.
Benjamin stuck his head through the ropes and jawed at Priest. Dom took advantage of the distraction by running Benjamin’s head into the ring post. Dom DDT’d Benjamin and then performed a top rope frog splash for the win…
Dominik Mysterio defeated Shelton Benjamin in 5:00.
A dejected Austin Theory was shown standing on the backstage interview set… A WWE live events ad aired… [C]
Powell’s POV: Dom usually gets a ton of heat, but the crowd was pretty flat for this match. I like Benjamin in the no nonsense veteran babyface role, but a lot of damage has been done and he’ll need some wins to make fans take him seriously.
Austin Theory was interviewed on the backstage interview set by Cathy Kelley. Theory said no one understands the pressure he’s under. He said everyone thinks he’s made for this due to his looks, his athleticism, and the so-called opportunities he’s been handed.
Theory said no one knows the full story. He said people can’t relate to him and they want to see him fail. Theory said that’s not going to happen. Theory said everyone thinks he failed last week, but they’re wrong because he feels more alive than he ever has.
Theory said the Money in the Bank contract was an anchor. He said no one has been able to touch Roman Reigns for two years. He said that on the rare times Reigns looks vulnerable, The Bloodline is there. Theory said he opted to go after Seth Rollins, who was on his back at the time. Theory said Bobby Lashley pulled him out of the ring or he would be a two-time U.S. Champion.
Dolph Ziggler entered the picture and said, “Worst cash-in ever.” Ziggler said he tried to help Theory by showing him things that no one showed him. Ziggler said Theory’s ego was too big and he didn’t want to listen. Theory said he’s sick of people talking down to him. Theory said he’s not the future, he’s the now, and said he wants to show that to Ziggler in the ring…
Powell’s POV: There it is. This version of Theory is money. It’s a huge upgrade from the simpleton doofus role that he had been playing. Here’s hoping he ditched the selfie routine too.
A WarGames video package aired and listed the rules and the advertised participants in the women’s match… Damage CTRL and Nikki Cross made their entrance for Iyo Sky’s match against Dana Brooke… [C]
A graphic listed Montez Ford, Bobby Lashley, Ashante Adonis, and Lacey Evans as military veterans who served prior to working for WWE. The graphic also listed WWE Tribute to the Troops for December 17…
Dana Brooke made her entrance while a pre-taped promo aired. She complained about Nikki Cross throwing the WWE 24/7 Championship belt in the trash. She said she wouldn’t go down with a fight…
5. Iyo Sky (w/Bayley, Dakota Kai, Nikki Cross) vs. Dana Brooke. Graves said Brooke can’t just hang her hat on one championship in WWE. Brooke performed her usual handspring move, but Sky caught her and performed a German suplex. Sky followed up with a meteora in the corner and then hit a top rope moonsault for the win.
Iyo Sky defeated Dana Brooke in 3:15.
After the match, Mia Yim made her entrance and said she thought hard about their WarGames offer. Yim said they were right, WarGames is a match where everyone has to pick a side. Yim said she picked her side. Bianca Belair’s entrance music played and she, Asuka, and Alexa Bliss joined Yim on the stage…
Powell’s POV: The match was brief and the right person went over, but the crowd has faded and it’s tough to blame them with some of the matches they are getting.
Backstage, Akira Tozawa was dominating Corbin in poker. Corbin said he was all in. Tozawa won again. Corbin tried to claim he had three aces. JBL declared him the winner. Tozawa turned over Corbin’s cards to show that he was lying. Corbin said they weren’t done until he said they were done. Tozawa challenged Corbin to a match…
Austin Theory made his entrance for his match against Dolph Ziggler. The broadcast team pointed out that Theory didn’t have his cellphone with him… [C] Dolph Ziggler made his entrance to his usual shitty entrance theme…
6. Austin Theory vs. Dolph Ziggler. Some fans tried unsuccessfully to get a “that was stupid” chant going. Graves later said he heard the chant, but said most of the people in the building brought their dad and their uncle and only had to buy one ticket. A few minutes into the match, Theory aggressively ran Ziggler through the ropes and into the ring post. [C]
Theory performed a powerbomb for a near fall. Theory showed frustration and called for his finisher. Ziggler countered into a sleeper hold. Theory faded and got back to his feet and then escaped the hold. Ziggler caught Theory with a knee and a Fameasser for a good near fall.
[Hour Three] At the top of the hour, the broadcast team plugged the main event while a graphic listed Rollins vs. Balor for the U.S. Title as the main event. Theory ran Ziggler through the ropes and into the post again. Theory talked smack and then ran Ziggler across the ring and repeated the move.
Theory attempted the post spot again, but Ziggler reversed it. Ziggler hit the Zigzag and covered Theory for a close near fall. Ziggler showed frustration. A “this is awesome” chant broke out. Ziggler got to his feet and set up for a superkick, but Theory dropped him with a punch to the face.
Theory hit his A-Town Down finisher. Theory looked down at Ziggler and opted against covering him. Tehory hoisted up Ziggler and performed his finisher again. Theory mounted Ziggler and threw punches at him. The referee intervened.
Ziggler rolled to ringside and Theory followed. Theory ran Ziglger into the ring steps. Theory flipped the top half of the steps onto Ziggler. Theory slammed Ziggler’s face off the broadcast table several times until the referee called for the bell.
Austin Theory fought Dolph Ziggler to an apparent no-contest in 15:00.
After the match, Theory threw Ziggler into the timekeepers area. Theory threw a chair at Ziggler, then picked up an office chair and threw it at him. Theory threw punches at Ziggler and had to be pulled off by Adam Pearce and other producers…
Baron Corbin and JBL were shown walking backstage… [C]
Powell’s POV: Finally, someone how hates Ziggler’s shitty entrance theme as much as I do. Anyway, it’s great to see the Theory character become a man. This was a really good way for him to follow up his failed Money in the Bank cash-in attempt. I am looking forward to seeing what comes next for the Theory character.
Louisville imagery was shown… Backstage, Rhea Ripley approached Damage CTRL while Nikki Cross was doing weird things in the background. Ripley said they could stop looking. She said that if Mia Yim as on the other side, then she would be on their team. “Let’s go to war,” Ripley said…
7. Baron Corbin (w/JBL) vs. Akira Tozawa. Both entrances were televised. JBL remained in the corner and didn’t sit in on commentary. Tozawa hit a missile dropkick and got a one count. Tozawa followed up with a suicide dive.
Tozawa went for a second suicide dive, but Corbin stepped aside and shoved Tozawa into the barricade. Corbin worked over Tozawa at ringside and then tossed him back inside the ring. Tozawa rallied and caught Corbin with a shining wizard. Tozawa went up top and dove into him. Tozawa went up top again and this time Corbin caught him and hit End of Days for the win…
Baron Corbin beat Akira Tozawa in 3:35.
Powell’s POV: Well, at least JBL didn’t repeat himself on commentary this week. Otherwise, it was the same flat act for Corbin. It’s not working, but the company has yet to make any tweaks.
Highlights aired from Edge vs. Finn Balor in an I Quit match at Extreme Rules. Edge quit when Ripley teased giving Beth Phoenix with a Conchairto, and then Ripley performed the move anyway… [C]
Graves recapped footage of Austin Theory destroying Dolph Ziggler. Graves said Ziggler was receiving medical attention backstage, but the real story was that Theory is no longer the kid, he is a man and he is the now. Patrick spoke about Ripley joining the heel WarGames team…
Cathy Kelley interviewed Bianca Belair, Asuka, Alexa Bliss, and Mia Yim. Belair said Ripley is definitely a problem. She said if her team looked good with four members, wait until people see their fifth member. Kelley said one member from each team would compete in a match to determine who would have the numbers advantage.
After the women left the picture, Chad Gable and Otis showed up. Gable boasted that he beat Riddle just one week after Otis beat Elias. Seth Rollins entered the scene and hummed his song…
On the Gorilla Position set, Finn Balor was shown warming up for his match. Byron Saxton entered the picture and asked if he had any response to AJ Styles challenging him to a match at Survivor Series. Balor said of course he accepts. He asked if Styles knows who he is. He said Styles should ask Edge and Rey Mysterio and they would tell him. Balor turned his focus to the main event and said he would become the new U.S. Champion. Balor made his entrance… [C]
Patrick hyped tickets for Undertaker’s one-man show going on sale Tuesday for Royal Rumble weekend in San Antonio, Texas… AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor was officially added to the Survivor Series card…
Seth Rollins made his entrance. The crowd chanted along with his entrance theme…
8. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor for the U.S. Championship. Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Rollins performed an early dive onto Balor at ringside. [C] Balor controlled the bulk of the action coming out of the break with slow-paced offense that included an abdominal stretch.
Rollins escaped the hold and performed a hip-toss, then hit Balor with punches and chops. Rollins sent Balor to ringside and hit him with a suicide dive. Rollins rolled Balor back inside the ring and then hit him with a springboard flying knee. Rollins clotheslined Balor and covered him for a two count. Rollins played to the fairly quiet crowd, which then chanted his entrance theme.
Rollins set up for a Stomp, but Balor got back to his feet and put him down with a sling blade clothesline. Rollins came right back with a superkick. Rollins went for a top rope frog splash, but Balor put his knees up and then hooked Balor into a pin for a near fall. [C]
Balor dropkicked Rollins at ringside and then threw him back inside the ring. Balor went up top and went for a Coup de Grace, which Rolilns avoided. Balor then avoided a Stomp. Rollins went for a Pedigree and then countered into a sunset flip. Rollins followed up with a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall.
A short time later, Rollins superplexed Balor and went to follow up with another move, but Balor countered into 1916 for a near fall. Both men countered moves and then Rollins landed a falcon arrow for a near fall.
Dominik Mysterio, Damian Priest, and Rhea Ripley ran out. Balor took advantage of the distraction. Balor tackled Rollins and performed a standing double stomp. The OC and Mia Yim ran out and fought with the Judgment Day members at ringside.
Dom rolled inside the ring. Anderson followed and clotheslined him over the top rope. Balor returned the favor by sending Anderson to ringside. Priest sent Anderson crashing into the broadcast table.
In the ring, Balor dropkicked Rollins and went up top for his finisher, but Styles shoved him off the top rope while the referee was tied up with Dom. Styles and Gallows fought with Dom and Priest in the crowd. Meanwhile, Rollins put Balor away with his Stomp finisher.
Seth Rollins beat Finn Balor in 21:10 to retain the U.S. Championship.
After the match, Austin Theory attacked Rollins from behind. Theory hit his A-Town Down finisher. Rollins rolled to ringside. Theory followed and slammed Rollins’ head on the broadcast table and then ran him into the barricade.
Theory brought Rollins back inside the ring and hit his A-Town Down finisher again and received good heat from the crowd. Theory picked up the U.S. Championship belt and then hit Rollins with it. Theory stood over Rollins and held up the title belt to end the show (a graphic listed Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley, and The Miz for Raw Talk)…
Powell’s POV: A solid main event, yet not one that anyone will be talking about by the end of the week. This was Austin Theory’s bounce back night and they nailed it with his more serious persona.
Overall, a great night for Theory on a mostly flat edition of Raw. It wasn’t all bad, but there were too many glorified enhancement matches and the build to Survivor Series left a lot to be desired. While AJ Styles and Finn Balor may have a great match at the PLE, it’s a match that has been seen on Raw before and will be seen on Raw again. I will have more to say about this show in my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).