By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,573)
Live from Atlanta, Georgia at State Farm Arena
Aired July 17, 2023 on USA Network
[Hour One] The broadcast team of Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves welcomed viewers to the show and ran through the list of previously advertised matches…
Cody Rhodes made his entrance. “The American Nightmare is home,” Graves said before ring announcer Samantha Irvin introduced Rhodes. A loud “Cody” chant broke out once he was in the ring and his music stopped. Cody looked emotional as he looked around the building. A “welcome home” chant broke out.
“So, Atlanta, my home, what do you guys want to talk about?” Rhodes started. Cody said they didn’t really need to talk because there was a large shadow looming over the arena in the form of Brock Lesnar. Cody said Lesnar should come to the ring and accept his challenge for SummerSlam, then called him out.
Lesnar’s entrance music did not play. The fans booed. The broadcast team noted that Lesnar was scheduled to appear. “Really?” Cody asked. He added that Lesnar is scheduled to appear and assumed that he was going to be fashionably late. Cody said that if Lesnar showed up at nine, he’d be in the ring waiting for him. Cody said the same was true if Lesnar showed up at ten or at the very end of the show.
Cody pointed out his mother, who was sitting in the front row and praised her. Cody went back to talking about his relationship with Lesnar. He said the two only two words he can think of are “hard times.” Cody said it won’t be hard times for him when Lesnar shows up in his home state, it will be hard time for Lesnar. Cody told the fans he loved them and told them to enjoy Raw. Cody went to ringside where he hugged his family members.
Brock Lesnar’s entrance theme played. Cody went to the entrance aisle and said, “Come on.” Lesnar’s music stopped playing. The fans booed. Cody walked toward the stage and then turned and waved. Lesnar’s music played again. Cody went to the stage and then walked into the back.
A chair flew into the stage area. Lesnar and Cody emerged from backstage and Lesnar was already taking it to Cody. Lesnar dominated Cody and brought him to ringside and gave him an F5 before putting him in a Kimura lock in front of his family members. Lesnar threw Cody back inside the ring and reapplied the hold while the broadcast team feared that he would break Cody’s arm again.
“Challenge accepted,” Lesnar said to Cody without a mic in hand. “I’ll see you at SummerSlam, bitch.” Lesnar left the ring and smirked as he looked at Cody’s family before the show cut to commercial break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A strong angle with Cody getting to speak to his hometown fans before Lesnar got massive heat for attacking him in front of friends and family. It was simple and highly effective.
The broadcast team recapped the opening angle. New footage aired from during the break of Lesnar slamming a chair over Cody’s back before heading backstage… Entrances for the opening match took place…
1. Intercontinental Champion Gunther vs. Matt Riddle in a non-title match. Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci were banned from ringside. They were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Gunther and Riddle ended up at ringside. Riddle ran and jumped off the ring steps into a chop. Gunther slammed him at ringside heading into a break. [C]
Riddle took control and performed an exploder suplex. Gunther fought back with a wicked chop. Riddle fired back with a kick. Gunther chopped him again. Riddle threw a series of kicks. Gunther suplexed Riddle and then put him down with a clothesline that led to a near fall.
Riddle caught Gunther with a pair of ripcord knee strikes and then hit him with a running knee to the back of the head and covered him for a two count. Riddle went to the ropes and went for the Floating Bro, but Gunther put his knees up. Gunther dropkicked Riddle and then powerbombed him before pinning him.
Intercontinental Champion Gunther defeated Matt Riddle in 8:15 in a non-title match.
Afterward, Gunther climbed onto the broadcast table with a microphone in his hand. Gunther told the fans they could boo him all they want, but it’s the greatest night of their sad lives because they got to see the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all-time.
“Matt Riddle, it’s done,” Gunther said. Gunther said he’s building a legacy. He said Drew McIntyre could ride on his coattails, but he’ll fall victim to the Ring General just like everyone else…
Powell’s POV: Good, physical action from bell to bell. I’m anxious to see Gunther vs. McIntyre, which will presumably take place at SummerSlam.
Jackie Redmond interviewed WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez on the backstage interview set. They spoke about their tag team title match with Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green. Morgan said they wouldn’t back down from anyone.
Rhea Ripley interrupted and told Redmond to leave. Ripley glared at Rodriguez, who said, “Not even you.” Morgan started to speak until Ripley headbutted her. Ripley and Rodriguez fought. Several referees and producers tried to pull them apart. Ripley kicked the left knee of Rodriguez, who stayed down and sold the knee while Morgan asked if she was okay…
“The Judgment Day” Rhea Ripley, Dominik Mysterio, Finn Balor, and Damian Priest started to make their entrance… [C]
Powell’s POV: Ripley kicking the knee of Rodriguez didn’t look all that damaging because Rodriguez had her foot off the ground at the time. That said, the injury angle makes the tag title match more interesting, as they could be giving the champions an out for losing. Plus, I’m all for moving the titles to Deville and Green, especially if Rodriguez is going to be challenging Ripley for the Women’s World Championship at SummerSlam.
Patrick plugged priority passes for WrestleMania 40 in Philadelphia… The Viking Raiders and Valhalla were shown looking weird backstage…
Ripley stood in the ring with Dom, Balor, and Priest and asked if fans really thought they were going to break up. Ripley labeled herself the most dominant woman in the industry and said she’s unbeatable as the champion. Ripley also spoke about how Dom will become the NXT North American Champion on Tuesday’s NXT television show.
Dom tried to speak and was booed. He said he would beat Wes Lee. Priest said all the boos won’t change the fact that Dom will become NXT North American Champion. Priest said the boos don’t change the fact that he’s “guaranteed to be world champion.” Priest noted that Balor gets the first crack at Seth Rollins.
“I love you, bro,” Balor told Priest. Balor said that he’d be listening to whatever Rollins had to say later. Balor said their issue won’t end until he is named the new World Heavyweight Champion. Dom tried to speak again and was booed loudly.
Sami Zayn’s entrance music played and then he walked out with Kevin Owens. Zayn said he feels like he has a good relationship with the fans and knows what they like and dislike. Zayn asked the fans if they paid to listen to Dom talk. The fans booed. Zayn asked if they paid to see somebody shut Dom’s mouth. The fans cheered. Zayn said the fans are in luck, then said that he and Owens are actually in luck because they face Dom and Priest later.
Priest said Judgment Day has been focussing on individual championships. Priest pointed out to Dom that he saw championship belts on Owens and Zayn. Priest said that if Owens and Zayn are so confident, then they should put their titles on the line tonight.
Zayn said he thought he should let Owens handle it because he seemed agitated after listening to Judgment Day talk for five minutes. Owens yelled that he didn’t care if the titles were on the line, as long as he got to get his hands on Dom and Priest. Graves said KO’s temper may have just cost him and Zayn the tag titles…
Powell’s POV: While making this a tag team title match definitely makes the tag team match more interesting, I really wish WWE creative would put the work in and start building up tag team challengers for Owens and Zayn. And, no, that doesn’t mean I want them to hold a tag team gauntlet match or come up with some other lazy way to determine No. 1 contenders.
Graves hyped Becky Lynch appearing on Miz TV later in the show…
Backstage, a trainer checked on Rodriguez’s knee and said she was cleared, but he would feel better if they got some scans. Rodriguez protested. Adam Pearce said he would allow the match to happen if Rodriguez was game… [C]
Atlanta sports imagery was shown… Alpha Academy was shown firing up backstage while the broadcast team hyped their upcoming match… Entrances for the women’s tag title match took place… [C]
[Hour Two] Patrick welcomed viewers back and said there were 13,500 fans in attendance for the sold out show…
2. Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez vs. Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles. The challengers doubled up on Morgan until she tagged out a minute into the match. Rodriguez sold her bad knee and performed Snake Eyes and a fallaway slam on Deville. Rodriguez booted Green off the apron and then charged Deville, who moved, causing Rodriguez to crash in the corner.
Deville put Rodriguez’s bad leg in a half crab. Morgan, who had been down at ringside, returned and broke up the submission hold. Both women tagged out. Morgan worked over Green and hit her with a step-up knee in the corner followed by a Codebreaker and a rough looking Oblivion. Morgan had Green beat, but Deville ran in and broke up the pin.
Deville pulled Rodriguez off the apron and then chop blocked her on the floor. Deville hit Morgan with a punch from the floor and then Green performed the Unprettier on Morgan for a good near fall. Deville tagged in and went for a running knee, but Morgan avoided and then rolled her up for a two count. Green hit another Unprettier on Morgan. Deville blasted Morgan with a running knee and pinned her.
Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green defeated Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez in 5:10 to win the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles.
Pyro shot off while the new champions held their belts in the entrance aisle…
Powell’s POV: I enjoy the Deville and Green pairing, so I’m happy to see them win the tag titles. I hope this leads to more videos with Green in Karen mode. Deville was all over the place and came off like the MVP of the match. It feels a little odd that Rodriguez was injured and yet it was Morgan who took the pin, but it’s logical in that Rodriguez is being protected for a match with Ripley.
The broadcast team recapped Lesnar attacking Cody during the opening segment. They officially announced Lesnar vs. Rhodes for SummerSlam… Seth Rollins was shown having a microphone attacked to whatever the hell he was wearing as he sat on an interview set with Byron Saxton. Patrick hyped a look back at Jey Uso on Smackdown… [C]
Backstage, Saxton interviewed Deville and Green and said they basically had a two-on-one advantage. Deville said it was a fake injury. Green interrupted and started thanking all of the people who believed in her, including her fans, family, and her cat. Deville cut her off and said everyone better respect them. Green tried to say more, but Deville led her away…
The Smackdown recap video focused on Jey Uso’s angle with Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa… Graves touted that Roman Reigns and Jey Uso will both appear and Smackdown and noted that it will air on FS1 this week…
Saxton’s sit-down interview with Seth Rollins aired. Rollins said he had big plans for defending his title at SummerSlam. Rollins said there’s a very short list of possible challengers and said that Finn Balor has earned a spot. He also said Damian Priest, Drew McIntyre, and Gunther had as well.
Finn Balor walked onto the set and excused Saxton. Balor sat down in Saxton’s set and looked at Rollins while telling him that he wants his rematch. Balor said he doesn’t care how many challengers there are, the line starts with him. Balor told Rollins to talk to Adam Pearce and make the match.
Rollins said he understood where Balor was coming from, but he has to stop living in the past. Balor said he’s not living in the past, he’s living in chaos. Balor said he’s going to do to Rollins what Rollins did to him. Balor said he’s going to hurt Rollins, laugh in his face, and alter his career forever.
“I’m going to say this once, the World Heavyweight Championship is about more than your personal vendetta,” Rollins said. “It’s bigger than you. Hell, it’s bigger than me. And if yur just want to settle a score, we don’t need a match for that. We can do that right here, right now.”
Rollins told Balor to take his shot or get out of his face. Balor said cool and then stood up and walked away. Rollins apologized to the crew and asked if they were done. Rollins removed his mic and was then attacked by Balor, who asked how it felt and then told him to make the match…
Powell’s POV: It was nice to hear Rollins abandon his usual over the top persona and talk in a plain voice. Don’t get me wrong, the character is really over, but he’s always in that over the top mode, so it was an attention grabber when he abandoned it for this exchange.
Viking weapons and the longboat were shown in and around the ring. The Alpha Academy trio made their entrance. Chad Gable and Otis posed on top of the longboat while Maxxine Dupri posed in front of it… [C]
Titus O’Neil joined the broadcast team. The Viking Raiders made their entrance. Valhalla brought Dupri’s varsity jacket with her. Titus started talking about all the viking gods that Valhalla worships and said he only has one in Jesus Christ (there’s a name you don’t hear on Raw every week).
The Viking Raiders climbed onto the longboat. Otis launched Gable onto them and he didn’t make much contact. Dupri dropkicked Valhalla and somehow may have made even less contact…
3. “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar (w/Valhalla) vs. “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis (w/Maxxine Dupri) in a Viking Rules match. There were viking flags in each corner, shields on the apron, and additional weapons at ringside. Gable did a “Get the tables” call. Titus acknowledged the Dudley Boyz. A short time later, Ivar went for a springboard move on Gable, but Otis stepped in and caught Ivar before slamming him to the mat. [C]
Ivar performed a moonsault onto Otis. Gable followed up with a moonsault on Ivar. Gable also performed a German suplex on Ivar and bridged into a pin, but Erik broke it up. Later, Gable hit Erik with a top rope headbutt and had the pin, but Valhalla broke it up. Dupri cleared Valhalla from the ring.
Gable picked up the varsity jacket and put it on Dupri, who did his thank you bit. Valhalla returned and speared Dupri through a table that was leaning in a corner of the ring. Otis looked pissed when he returned to the ring and he roughed up Erik and Ivar. Otis went to the ropes. Valhalla hit him with a weapon. Erik and Ivar followed up with Ragnarok and and then both men piled on top of Otis and got the pin…
“The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar defeated “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis in a Viking Rules match.
Powell’s POV: It wasn’t pretty, but the live crowd loved this match. They were especially hot for Gable and Otis performing power moves on Ivar. I’m happy the Viking Raiders at least got to win their own match. I believe they are now 2-0 in Viking Rules matches with a previous win over New Day.
Footage aired of Bronson Reed helping The Miz beat Tommaso Ciampa last week. Patrick hyped Reed vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for later in the show… Shayna Baszler made her entrance… [C]
Nikki Cross ran to the ring coming out of the break…
4. Shayna Baszler vs. Nikki Cross. Cross went right after Baszler, who quickly locked her in the Kirifuda Clutch and got the submission win.
Shayna Baszler defeated Nikki Cross in 0:22.
“And the crowd goes mild,” Ronda Rousey could be heard saying over the house mic. Rousey stood in the press box and got Baszler’s attention. Rousey took issue with Baszler stating that she waltzed in the backdoor to WWE.
Rousey asked Baszler to tell her what was easier – the front door of going through the indies to developmental where the greatest minds in the industry cultivate your talent so that you’re ready for the big stage or the backdoor by winning an Olympic medal in judo and an earth shattering career in MMA and then being thrown into the ring with no experience.
Rousey said she wasn’t given her opportunity, she took it. She said it took her a fraction of the time in WWE just like in MMA that Baszler invested. Rousey said she’s the greatest combat athlete of all-time, whereas Baszler is just a knockoff version of her.
Baszler said it’s easy for Rousey to talk from all the way up there. Baszler said that when it comes to what they do in WWE, she’s “a better Ronda Rousey than you.” Baszler told Rousey to bring her “heavy ass” to the ring and settle things on the spot. The fans cheered. “Uh, yeah no,” Rousey said before taking a seat. “Unless you want to make me.”
Baszler left the ring and ran up the steps. Rousey said she would help Baszler just as she had throughout her career by getting her booked on SummerSlam. “You, me, I’ll see you in Motor City, bitch,” Rousey said before dropping the mic and leaving the press box. Baszler remained in the crowd and was cheered…
Powell’s POV: So I guess it’s official that Baszler is the babyface of this feud. Well, unless they flip it again next week.
Ricochet was interviewed by Redmond on the backstage interview set after highlights of his angle with Logan Paul were shown. Ricochet said Paul doesn’t get it. Ricochet said Paul thinks he’s a joke because he lives in his own social media world where everyone is a joke compared to him. Ricochet said the fans were in the arena for WWE, and in this world Paul is the joke. Ricochet challenged Paul to meet him on Raw in Tampa next week and vowed to hurt his ego…
Becky Lynch was shown walking backstage… [C]
[Hour Three] Patrick and Graves hyped Smackdown for FS1…
The Miz stood in the ring and hosted the Miz TV segment. He boasted that he beat Tommaso Ciampa last week and declared himself a winner. Miz introduced Becky Lynch as his guest. Miz asked Lynch if she’s lost a step. Lynch threw the interview set chairs out of the ring.
Lynch backed Miz between the ropes and said she lost her friends and maybe even her mind, but she hasn’t lost a step. She said she knew she wasn’t the only guest and told Miz to bring out Trish Stratus and Zoey Stark before he loses his small testicles.
Miz introduced Stratus and Stark. Trish wore her face mask again. Lynch demanded her rematch with Stratus. Trish said Lynch was acting like a bratty toddler. Stratus and Stark entered the ring. Trish asked why Lynch is so obsessed with her. Trish said she won’t give Lynch her rematch because she already fought her and one. Stark pointed out that she beat Lynch too.
Stratus said they are done with Lynch and are moving on. Stratus teased leaving and then stopped and said this seems like a great place for Lynch to say “Thank you, Trish.” Lynch called Trish a self-centered psychopath. Lynch said she let Trish in and she attacked her when she was at her weakest because she couldn’t handle her at her strongest.
Lynch said she’s spent more time in the company and accomplished more than Trish. Lynch told Trish to give her the rematch. Trish said she would fight Lynch under a few conditions. Trish said Lynch had to go through Stark first. “Done,” Lynch said. Trish mocked her for thinking she could beat the fastest rising star in WWE.
Trish said that when Stark wins, Lynch has to get on her knees and thank her. Lynch agreed. Finally, Trish said that she needed Lynch to tattoo “Thank You, Trish” across her chest. “Done,” Lynch said before dropping the mic. The heels attacked Lynch, who ended up fighting them off. Lynch removed Trish’s face shield. Trish begged off. Lynch punched Stratus, then turned around and punched Stark. Lynch put the face shield on an headbutted Stark…
Powell’s POV: It didn’t seem clear from the verbal exchange, but I think the idea is that Lynch has to get the tattoo if she loses to Stark and/or Trish, not just to get the match with Trish. I hope it’s tied to the Stark match because otherwise it will make the outcome of Lynch vs. Stratus even more predictable than it already feels.
Graves narrated highlights of the Cody and Lesnar angle, then hyped their match for SummerSlam. Patrick hyped the tag team title match for later in the show…
Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance for his match against Bronson Reed… [C] Patrick hyped Survivor Series and Smackdown combo tickets going on sale on Friday… Atlanta imagery was shown… Bronson Reed made his entrance…
5. Bronson Reed vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura had Reed draped over the apron and tried to drop a knee on him, but Reed moved. Reed followed up by hitting Nakamura with a shoulder block off the apron. [C]
Reed missed a corner splash and was caught with a kick. Nakamura performed a dragon screw leg whip. Nakamura followed up with a kick and covered Reed for a two count. Reed came back with a Death Valley Driver for a near fall.
Reed went up top for his finisher, but Nakamura cut him off with a kick. Nakamura delivered a knee lift and a flying knee from the ropes. Nakamura set up for his finisher, but Reed hit him with a crossbody block. Tommaso Ciampa entered the ring and attacked Reed for the disqualification.
Bronson Reed beat Shinsuke Nakamura by DQ in 7:30.
After the match, Nakamura was upset with Ciampa, who was apologetic and said “my bad.” Nakamura dropped Ciampa with a kick and then left the ring…
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were shown talking backstage… [C]
Powell’s POV: Reed, Nakamura, and Ricochet seemed to be headed toward a Triple Threat match that never happened. I wonder if something changed and they’ve inserted Ciampa into the mix to replace Ricochet.
Backstage, Saxton asked Nakamura about what happened in his match with Reed. Nakamura said he’s tired of everyone getting in his business. Saxton asked him about what went down with Ciampa. Nakamura stood up and barked the same line over again…
The broadcast team listed the following for next week’s Raw in Tampa: Becky Lynch vs. Zoey Stark (if Lynch wins, she gets a rematch with Trish Stratus), Drew McIntyre and Gunther meet face-to-face, and Logan Paul responds to Ricochet’s challenge…
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn made their entrance. The full Judgment Day crew’s entrance followed. Meanwhile, Graves announced Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor for the World Heavyweight Championship for SummerSlam… [C]
Samantha Irvin delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Suddenly, Seth Rollins appeared in the ring and hit Balor with a suicide dive. Rollins roughed up Balor and chased him to the back…
6. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. Damian Priest and Dominik Mysterio (w/Rhea Ripley) for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles. The bell rang to start the match right after Rollins and Balor were in the back. Owens dominated Dom and performed a senton. Owens stood up and taunted Priest. Owens went to the middle rope and dropped an elbow on Dom and then covered him for a quick one count.
Zayn tagged in and set up for a suplex, but Dom pushed him into the corner where Priest tagged himself in. Priest dropped Zayn with an uppercut. Dom tagged in and Zayn gave him a back body drop. Dom ducked to ringside. Zayn followed and slammed Dom’s head on the broadcast table twice before tossing him back inside the ring.
Ripley distracted Zayn, who was dropkicked under the bottom rope by Dom. Priest tagged in and then dropped to the floor and chokeslammed Dom on the apron. [C] Zayn was isolated coming out of the break. Zayn escaped Priest and tagged in Owens, who had an offensive flurry on both opponents.
Owens dropped to ringside and clotheslined Dom and then Priest, then performed a senton on Priest. Owens went to the apron and frog splashed Dom on the floor. Back in the ring, Priest stuffed a Stunner attempt, but Owens sent him crashing into the corner. Owens followed wiht a cannonball in the corner.
Owens went for a Swanton, but Priest put his knees up. Dom tagged in and frog splashed Owens from the top rope and had the pin, but Zayn broke it up. Owens and Dom ended up alone in the ring. Owens put Dom down with a popup powerbomb, but Priest broke up the pin attempt that followed. A “this is awesome” chant broke out.
Zayn and Priest tagged in. Zayn executed a tornado DDT for a near fall. Ripley was shown looking concerned while seated on the apron. Zayn went to the apron and then Ripley dropped to the floor. Zayn looked at her and then went up top and was cut off by Priest. The crowd sang “Ole” in support of Zayn, who took a huracanrana from the top rope by Priest and was covered for a near fall.
Dom made a blind tag and hit Zayn from behind. Dom went for another move, but Zayn sent him to ringside. Owens took out Priest with a cannonball from the apron and then Zayn performed a flip dive on Dom. Zayn threw Dom back inside the ring. Ripley ran Owens into the ring steps. Priest clotheslined Zayn over the top rope, which led to a Dom near fall.
Ripley climbed onto the apron and barked at the referee. Liv Morgan ran out and attacked Ripley. Liv ended up clotheslining Ripley and they both tumbled into the timekeepers area. In the ring, a distraught Dom was given an exploder suplex by Zayn, who set up for his finisher. Priest cut Zayn off, but Owens dropped Priest with a Stunner. Zayn hit the Helluva Kick on Dom and then got the 1-2-3…
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn defeated Damian Priest and Dominik Mysterio in 15:30 to retain for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles.
The champions celebrated their win while a graphic listed Becky Lynch, Tommaso Ciampa, and Alpha Academy for Raw Talk…
Powell’s POV: That beat the hell out of last week’s sloppy main event. I didn’t see any reason for a title change, but the wrestlers created some suspenseful near falls that had the hot live crowd invested. This closed the show on a high note. I assume Morgan attacking Ripley means she will end up being fed to Ripley next week to put heat on Ripley heading into her likely SummerSlam title defense against Rodriguez.
Overall, this was a strong show without any filler matches or segments. They have a lot of matches to announce before SummerSlam, which should make the next couple of weeks of television feel newsworthy. I will have more to say about this episode in my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know how you felt about Raw by grading it below.