By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,566)
Live from Albany, New York at MVP Arena
Aired May 29, 2023 on USA Network
[Hour One] Raw opened with a video package that recapped the Night of Champions event… The broadcast team was Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves…
Ring announcer Samantha Irvin stood in the ring and introduced new World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins, who made his entrance from the concourse in the middle of the venue. Once at ringside, Rollins ran around the ring and slapped hands with fans.
Once Rollins entered the ring, pyro shot off and confetti fell onto him as he held his arms open and the crowd chanted along with his entrance theme. Rollins welcomed fans to “Monday Night Rollins.” A “you deserve it” chant broke out.
Rollins said it’s been a long road to becoming World Heavyweight Champion. Rollins said it just feels right. He said he was focused on the future. “Finally, Monday Night Raw has a champion that wants to be here, a champion who is going to be here, and a champion who is ready for a fight,” Rollins said.
Rollins said he wants all the fights. He said it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you step to him the result will always be the same. Rollins said he’ll still be standing in the ring with the title around his waist while the world sings his song.
AJ Styles made his entrance dressed in street clothes. The broadcast team noted that Styles is from Smackdown and noted that Rollins beat him to win the championship. Styles entered the ring and went face to face with Rollins, who lowered his shades and looked at him.
Styles said he knows he is supposed to be on Smackdown because he was drafted there, but he couldn’t resist coming to Raw to say congratulations. Styles said he gave Rollins everything he had and he left it all in the ring. Styles said it was almost as if Rollins knew what he was going to do before he did it.
Styles said the fans chanted you deserve it to Rollins, but Styles said he didn’t think Rollins deserved anything. “You earned the right to be World Heavyweight Champion,” Styles said. The fans chanted the Rollins’ theme again. Rollins said he’s not too good at these things, but after the beating he agave him at Night of Champions, he earned “this.” Rollins offered Styles a handshake, which Styles accepted.
“Judgment Day” members Finn Balor, Damian Priest, Rhea Ripley, and Dominik Mysterio walked out. Balor said what he was seeing made him want to puke. Priest agreed and asked Ripley what they do. Ripley said Judgment Day runs Raw. The group entered the ring.
Priest said that after watching The Bloodline imploded on Saturday, Judgment Day now runs the entire WWE. Ripley said one of the Judgment Day members would take the title from Rollins. Ripley mentioned Dominik as a possibility. Rollins and Styles laughed. Dom pointed out that he beat Styles. A “you suck” chant broke out.
Balor said they wanted Rollins and Styles beat each other half to death on Saturday. Dom said they would finish the job tonight. Styles said that sounded like a challenge. Rollins said it did and they accept. Rollins said he and Styles would face any two members of Judgment Day during Raw…
Powell’s POV: And then Adam Pearce walked out and said this is ridiculous because the draft wasn’t even a month old and there’s no way that the company could allow a Smackdown wrestler to wrestle on Raw. Okay, that didn’t happen, but it should have.
The broadcast team hyped previously advertised matches and segments. They also announced Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Bronson Reed as a Money in the Bank qualifier. Ricochet made his entrance for the first MITB qualifier against The Miz heading into a commercial break… [C]
Adam Pearce was shown talking on the backstage to an unidentified person. He acknowledged that Rollins, Styles, and Judgment Day wanted the match despite it going against what they were trying to do with the brand split. Pearce put the person on hold and told Rollins and Styles that he was trying to get the match approved. Pearce spoke to the person on the phone and said he would indeed make the match official for later tonight…
Powell’s POV: That’s better. It still violates the rules they just put in place less than a month ago, but at least they made it seem like it wasn’t just something that will happen on a regular basis (even if history suggests that it eventually will be).
1. Ricochet vs. The Miz in a Money in the Bank qualifying match. The Miz’s entrance was not televised. Miz was in offensive control heading into an early break. [C] Miz caught Ricochet on the ropes and gave him a Codebreaker followed by a DDT for a near fall.
Miz set up for his Skull Crushing Finale, but Ricochet rolled him up for a two count. Miz reversed it and got a two count of his own. Ricochet blasted Miz with a kick and then put him down on the mat with a neckbreaker style move. Ricochet hit a Shooting Star Press and scored the pin…
Ricochet defeated The Miz in 8:50 to qualify for the men’s Money in the Bank match.
Powell’s POV: A good television match that played to a hot crowd. Ricochet’s acrobatic style makes him a good fit in MITB ladder matches.
The broadcast team recapped Trish Stratus beating Becky Lynch with help from Zoey Stark at Night of Champions… Trish Stratus made her entrance… [C]
Stratus wore her gear from NOC along with knee-high heeled boots. She pointed to the “Thank You Trish” on the back. She said when fans say those works they mean nothing to her. She said she told the fans she would beat Lynch and then did so. Trish said it’s what you do when you’re the greatest of all-time, when you’re number one, and when you’re It.
Trish said Lynch can crawl back in her dark hole and “go through her stuff.” She said it was time to give the real superstars a shot at the big time. Trish said she wanted to give the superstar who helped her at NOC and said she did so because she wanted to, not because Trish needed her to. Trish said this person reminds her of herself.
Zoey Stark was introduced by Trish. Stark came out wearing a “Thank You Trish” t-shirt under her multi-colored vest. Stark said she got into the the business to make a statement. She asked who better to learn from than The OG herself.
Stark said she could have taken the long, difficult road like Lynch did or she could be smart and be led by Stratus. Stark labeled Trish as humble, giving, and kind. “Now that I have the floor, I just want to say one thing,” Stark said. “Thank you, Trish.” Stark pointed out a big bruise that Trish had on the left side of her face. Trish said that if Lynch showed up, she’d have Stark show her what’s up.
Becky Lynch made her entrance dressed in her NOC gear and said she would ruin Stark’s life. Lynch said she was in her gear and so was Trish and then suggested they restart the match and finish it one-on-one. Stark headed to ringside and was quickly dropped by Lynch.
Lynch entered the ring and ducked a shot from Stratus before running the ropes and putting her down. Stark returned and helped Stratus double team Lynch. Stark gave Lynch her Z360 finisher. Stark picked up Lynch and held her while Stratus punched her with what appeared to be her Hall of Fame ring on her hand. Trish and Stark roughed up Lynch and then placed a “Thank You Trish” shirt on her while she was down in the corner…
“Indus Sher” Veer Mahaan and Sanga were shown walking backstage with Jinder Mahal behind them… [C]
Powell’s POV: I have no idea why both women wore their NOC gear two days later, but it was pretty obvious that they weren’t going to run the match back on the spot given the heels that Trish was wearing. That said, it was a good angle that put more heat on the heel duo. I really like the idea of pairing Stark with Trish. I just hope that it’s meant to elevate Stark and she won’t just slide back down the card once Stratus’s run concludes.
Mainstream media headlines regarding NOC were shown…
2. “Indus Sher” Veer Mahaan and Sanga (w/Jinder Mahal) vs. Javier Bernal and a partner. The Indus Sher entrance was televised while their opponents were inside the ring. Mahaan jumped the opponents as they were having a dispute over which one would start the match. The referee called for the bell once they were separated. Mahaan and Sanga hit their double team finisher on Bernal’s partner and scored the pin…
“Indus Sher” Veer Mahaan and Sanga defeated Javier Bernal and a partner in 1:15.
Powell’s POV: I don’t believe they ever mentioned his ring name, but I believe Bernal’s partner was developmental wrestler Kevin Ventura-Cortes. This was a total squash win for Indus Sher.
Patrick hyped a video package The Bloodline melting down at NOC. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were shown backstage. Patrick said they would appear after the break… An ad for Tuesday’s NXT TV show focused on the Jacy Jayne vs. Gigi Dolin weaponized steel cage match… [C]
[Hour Two] Highlights aired from NOC of the main event and Jimmy Uso superkicking Roman Reigns… Graves hyped the 1,000 day celebration of Reigns as champion…
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn made their entrance. Once in the ring, Zayn said they were feeling good. Zayn said they won at NOC and it was the worst night of Roman’s life. Zayn said Reigns got what he deserved.
Zayn said Reigns might be the greatest of all-time and hold the championship for another 1,000 days, but whenever he sees their faces, he’ll know in his heart that they won.
“Imperium” Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser, and Giovanni Vinci interrupted and walked onto the stage. Kaiser said Owens and Zayn had an impressive victory at NOC. He said it wasn’t as impressive as Gunther’s extending his record-setting Intercontinental Championship reign.
“Why are you here?” Owens asked. He got fired up about how they should wait until someone calls them out. The Imperium trio entered the ring while Zayn told Owens to turn it down a notch. Zayn said Owens was right, there’s an unwritten rule that Imperium broke by coming out even though their names were never mentioned.
Zayn said Imperium should be focused on their match against Alpha Academy. Zayn also recalled when he and Owens teamed with Matt Riddle and “embarrassed” Imperium. Kaiser said Riddle is an embarrassment, as are Owens and Zayn holding the tag team titles.
Owens said they always hear from “Slender Man” and sometimes “the one with the ears” talks, but “the bald one with the head over here” never talks. Owens indicated that he wanted to know what Vinci thought. Owens and Zayn led a “baldy” chant. Kaiser got upset and said no one disrespects Imperium.
Chad Gable let out a loud “shooosh” from the stage, where he stood with Otis and Maxxine Dupri. Gable said it was a new and improved Alpha Academy with Dupri, who was wearing a “shooosh” top. Owens got Gable to deliver his “thank you” line. Owens loved it and told Gable that he’s so welcome. Graves hyped Imperium vs. Alpha Academy for after the break… [C]
A Kayden Carter and Katana Chance vignette aired…
3. Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci vs. “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis (w/Maxxine Dupri). Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn sat in on commentary. Valhalla of The Viking Raiders showed up at ringside and stared at Dupri. Valhalla went after Durpri, who ducked her twice and then kicked her. Valhalla no-sold the kick and then chased Dupri to the back. Gable was isolated by the heel duo.
Otis eventually took a hot tag and roughed up both opponents. Otis power slammed Vinci and then splashed Kaiser in the corner. Otis tore his t-shirt off and then did the Caterpillar on Kaiser. Vinci broke up the pin and was quickly tossed over the top rope by Otis.
Gable tagged in. Otis ran the ropes for a double team move, but Vinci held the ropes open, causing Otis to tumble to the floor. Kaiser and Vinci double teamed Gable and hit him with an Imperial Bomb, which led to Vinci scoring the pin…
Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci defeated “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis in roughly 5:00.
After the match, the Imperium duo struck their pose. Owens said Vinci should wipe the sweat off his head because it was so shiny. Graves looked into the camera and played up being annoyed by the tag team champions…
Powell’s POV: Owens and Zayn were in total comedy mode while on commentary. It looks like they will be working with Kaiser and Vinci, while Alpha Academy will be working with the Viking Raiders.
Raquel Rodriguez and Shotzi were interviewed by Cathy Kelley in the backstage area. Before they could speak, Bayley and Iyo Sky showed up. Bayley mocked Rodriguez and Shotzi by saying they’re not even a real team. Bayley said that she and Sky would win the titles and dedicate their win to Dakota Kai.
Rodriguez pointed out that she and Shotzi beat Bayley and Sky on Smackdown. She also noted that Bayley was the only member of Damage CTRL who has yet to win a title since the faction was formed. Rodriguez said Bayley should look in the mirror when they lose…
Raquel Rodriguez and Shotzi made their entrances for the four-way match… [C]
A Candice LeRae vignette aired. She said she believes fairytales are real because she’s living one. Match highlights aired along with footage of LeRae and her husband Johnny Gargano with their son. LeRae said she’s proof that anything is possible when you believe…
Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green were in the ring. Bayley and Sky’s entrance was televised, as was the entrance of Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler…
4. Raquel Rodriguez and Shotzi vs. Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler vs. Bayley and Iyo Sky vs. Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green in a four-way for the vacant WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles. Two wrestlers were legal in the ring at one time. Shotzi performed a dive onto a group of wrestlers at ringside a couple minutes into the match. [C]
Rodriguez had a flurry of offense on multiple opponents and then tossed Baszler into her corner so that Rousey would tag in. Rousey made the tag and was knocked down with a big shoulder block. Rodriguez held up Rousey for her finisher, but Baszler broke it up. Rodriguez performed a Tejana Bomb on Baszler, but then Rousey put her in a submission hold.
Bayley leapt from the top rope and dropped an elbow on Rousey before she could fully apply the armbar. Green threw Rousey through the ropes and into the post. Deville booted Rousey’s head into the ring post. Green and Deville performed a sequences of moves on Rodriguez that concluded with a Deville knee to the head for a near fall.
Sky performed a meteora on Rodriguez and covered her. Shotzi ran in and broke it up. Shotzi performed a suicide dive on Bayley. Shotzi returned to her corner and took a tag from Rodriguez. Shotzi performed a clunky move on Sky and followed up with a suplex.
Sky battled back and went up top for her finisher, but Rousey tagged herself into the match. Sky pulled Rousey up top. Shotiz got under Sky and then they performed a tower of doom spot. Baszler returned and slowed Shotzi down as she was climbing up top. Shotzi fought off Baszler and then dove at Rousey, who caught her and put her in an ambar for the submission win…
Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler defeated Raquel Rodriguez & Shotzi, Bayley & Iyo Sky, and Chelsea Green & Sonya Deville in a four-way in 11:40 to win the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles.
Pyro shot off while Rousey and Baszler were celebrating their win…
Powell’s POV: Rousey and Baszler winning was the expected outcome. Here’s hoping they can breathe some life into the tag titles.
A video package recapped Seth Rollins beating AJ Styles to win the World Heavyweight Championship at NOC… Rollins and Styles were shown talking backstage. Graves wondered which two members of Judgment Day they would face…
Dolph Ziggler made his entrance to his sorry ass entrance theme for a match against JD McDonagh… [C] McDonagh’s entrance was television coming out of the break…
5. JD McDonagh vs. Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler went right after McDonagh once the bell rang. McDonagh dodged a leaping Ziggler in the corner, then snapped the top rope so that it struck Ziggler’s throat. McDonagh tossed Ziggler to the floor and followed. McDonagh tossed Ziggler over the broadcast table, then picked him up and ran him into the ring steps. McDonagh slammed Ziggler’s head against the steps while the referee counted both men out.
JD McDonagh fought Dolph Ziggler via double count-out in 1:00.
After the match, McDonagh placed Ziggler on top of the bottom piece of the steps and stomped the side of his head. McDonagh told Ziggler that he will remember his name…
Powell’s POV: Hopefully that last kick to the side of Ziggler’s head will jar his hearing so that he recognizes just how shitty his entrance music is. As much as I mock Ziggler’s entrance theme (because it’s terrible), McDonagh’s theme sounds like it was created and performed by a teenage garage band that is still searching for a lead singer. Hopefully it’s just a temporary theme because it’s about generic as it gets (though still better than Ziggler’s theme).
Cody Rhodes was shown walking backstage with his arm in a sling. Patrick set up a video package for their partner the National Medal of Honor Museum… [C] A video package recapped Brock Lesnar beating Cody Rhodes at NOC…
[Hour Three] Cody Rhodes made his entrance. Cody stood on the middle rope and looked to the crowd, which was pretty quiet. But they came to life once his music stopped playing and chanted his name. Cody started by asking what they wanted to talk about.
Cody mentioned losing to Lesnar due to ref stoppage. Cody said his contemporaries told him he was foolish for fighting Lesnar with one arm and for not tapping out. Cody said the pain was excruciating, but he didn’t tap out because that’s not the man he wants to be. He said he probably would have tapped out earlier in his career.
Cody recalled a “wildly popular superstar” who used to stand in the ring and say “never give up.” Cody said he had a question for Brock Lesnar. He said he had to look into the camera and ask the question because Lesnar wasn’t there and Cody assumed he was on his annual vacation.
Cody asked if Lesnar was satisfied with this now that they both have wins over one another. Cody issued an open challenge to Lesnar. Cody said he would post his schedule for the month online and hopes that Lesnar sees it. Cody said wherever he goes, he is ready to fight Lesnar.
Cody said he wanted to make it the last time that he rattles off Lesnar’s accomplishments and then ran through some of them. Cody said Lesnar is beast enough to break his arm, but not man enough to make him tap out. Cody said that if Lesnar doesn’t accept his challenge, then they can add that Lesnar is afraid of him to Lesnar’s list. Cody dropped the mic and played to the crowd…
Cathy Kelley stood on the backstage interview set and introduced Matt Riddle. She said that Riddle would have a chance to qualify for MITB in a couple of weeks. Riddle cut her off and spoke about the possibility of cashing in on Reigns or Rollins.
Gunther walked onto the set and congratulated Riddle on his upcoming opportunity. Gunther said he really wanted Riddle to win MITB and then cash in on him. Gunther said beating Riddle and humiliating him is fun for him. “All the best,” Gunther closed. Once Gunther walked away, Riddle let out a “hmmm”…
Powell’s POV: I wasn’t a fan of Theory cashing in MITB for a shot at a secondary championship last year and I wouldn’t be a fan of Riddle winning and then cashing in for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship.
Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance for his MITB qualifier… An ad aired for the MITB event that will be held on July 1 in London… [C] Patrick plugged Undertaker’s one-man shows in the UK… Highlights aired of Rousey and Baszler winning the tag team titles…
Kelley interviewed Rousey and Baszler backstage and asked how it felt to be champions again. Rousey said it’s her first time and the third for Baszler. Rousey said they are the baddest team on the planet. Rousey said they are demanding to be recognized as the best and said “these nuts prove it” while they held up the tag title belts…
Bronson Reed made his entrance. Actor Luis Da Silva Jr. from Fast X was shown in the crowd…
6. Bronson Reed vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a Money in the Bank qualifying match. Reed charged Nakamura to start the match. They went to ringside and Nakamura got back in the ring and did his “come on” bit. Reed put Nakamura down and then dropped an elbow on him before performing a steamroller.
Nakamura came back and went for his sliding German suplex, but Reed held onto the top rope to stop it. Reed went to the apron and had his legs swept out from under him. Nakamura dropped a knee on the back of Reed’s head. [C]
Reed put Nakamura down with a clothesline and covered him for a two count. Nakamura came back and performed the sliding German suplex. Nakamura went for his finisher, but Reed cut him off. Reed went up top for his finisher, but Nakamura caught him and got him back in the ring.
Nakamura leapt from the ropes and took a superkick from Reed. Nakamura avoided Reed’s Tsunami finisher. Nakamura hit a running knee to the back of Reed’s head and then blasted him with a Kinshasa. Reed rolled off the apron to the floor. Reed returned to the ring at the referee’s nine count. Nakamura immediately hit him with a second Kinshasa and pinned him…
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Bronson Reed in 8:45 to qualify for the Money in the Bank match.
Powell’s POV: The outcome surprised me. I really thought Reed would go over and play a base role in the MITB match. It’s nice to see Nakamura get a meaningful MITB qualifier win. I can’t say I’m crazy about it coming at the expense of Reed, but we’ll see where both men go from here.
Highlights aired of Rhea Ripley defeating Natalya to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship at NOC…
Byron Saxton approached the Judgment Day foursome in the backstage area and congratulated Ripley on her win over Natalya. Ripley boasted that she destroyed Natalya. Dominik Mysterio said maybe Natalya will think twice the next time she considers stepping up to Mami.
Ripley tried to dismiss Saxton, but he asked which two members of the faction would face Rollins and Styles in the main event. Balor started to say that if he told Saxton he would have to kill him, but Priest cut him off before he could say the last part and then told Saxton to go do something else… [C]
A Memorial Day video package aired. The crowd applauded and some chanted USA…
The broadcast team listed the following matches for next week’s Raw: Becky Lynch vs. Sonya Deville, and Natalya vs. Zoey Stark in Money in the Bank qualifiers…
AJ Styles and Seth Rollins made separate entrances for the main event. Graves said we’d find out which two members of Judgment Day they would face after the break… [C] More mainstream media headlines regarding NOC were displayed…
A portion of Judgment Day’s entrance was shown.
7. Seth Rollins and AJ Styles vs. Damian Priest and Finn Balor (w/Rhea Ripley, Dominik Mysterio). Dominik teased being in the match and starting it. Balor snuck in and blindsided Rollins and was then rewarded for it when the referee called for the bell to start the match.
Rollins ducked a double clothesline and slid under the ropes. He put his arm around Ripley, who was facing the other way mugging for the crowd. They both smiled and then she turned and noticed it was Rollins next to her. Ripley said he couldn’t touch her like that and told him to get back in the ring. Rollins apologized and returned to the ring. Funny.
Styles eventually tagged into the match. He set up for his finisher on Balor, but Dom grabbed his ankle. Styles dropped off the apron and grabbed Dom. Priest flew into the picture and shoved Styles so that he tumbled over the broadcast table. [C]
Ripley held Styles for Dom to punch at ringside, but Rollins stopped Dom. Rollins rolled Dom inside the ring and then taunted Ripley. The referee spotted Dom in the ring and then ejected him and Ripley from ringside.
Late in the match, Priest grabbed Rollins by the throat for his finisher, but Rollins flipped out of the chokeslam attempt and hit Priest with a forearm shot. Priest came right back with a clothesline for a near fall. A short time later, Rollins avoided Balor’s finisher and then superkicked him.
Styles checked in and performed a ushigoroshi on Priest. Styles went to the apron to go for his finisher and had to throw a knee at Balor. Rollins performed a suicide dive on Balor. Priest put Styles down with a Razor’s Edge and had the pin, but Rollins returned and hit the Stomp on Priest to break it up. Rollins went to his corner and waited until Styles tagged him in. Rollins performed another Stomp on Priest and pinned him.
Seth Rollins and AJ Styles defeated Damian Priest and Finn Balor in 13:15.
Rollins and Styles celebrated their win while the broadcast team recapped the closing highlights of the match. Rollins and Styles shook hands. Styles raised the arm of Styles, who then backed off and pointed at Rollins. A graphic listed Trish Stratus, Zoey Stark, Ricochet, Sonya Deville, and Chelsea Green for Raw Talk…
Powell’s POV: A good television main event with the expected outcome. There was little chance of Rollins taking the pin right after he won the championship, and I didn’t think they’d have the man he beat to win the title take a pin either. I actually wondered if they would have Rollins defend his newly won championship tonight just to further establish the idea that he’s a workhorse champion.
Overall, they filled the time well thanks in part to having some meaningful matches via the MITB qualifiers and the WWE Women’s Tag Team Title match. I will have more to say about the show in my weekly same night audio review of Raw for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).
Let me know what you thought of this week’s Raw by grading it below.