By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,575)
Live from Houston, Texas at Toyota Center
Aired July 31, 2023 on USA Network
[Hour One] Raw opened with a memorial graphic for the late Adrian Street… Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves checked in on commentary and ran through previously advertised matches and segments…
Logan Paul made his entrance and was introduced by ring announcer Samantha Irvin. Paul was booed by the crowd. He said he had a thing about not liking to speak in front of braindead people. Paul said he was there to talk about Ricochet. Paul was booed and he paused for a “you suck” chant.
Paul said he was victimized and abused by Ricochet last week. He acted emotional about it. Paul said you could forget about a fight. He said that he would beat Ricochet in the most viral WWE match in history. Paul said there is nothing he wouldn’t do.
Ricochet’s entrance music interrupted Paul. Ricochet walked onto the stage and soaked up the crowd chanting his name. Ricochet said he was in Paul’s livestream last week and this week he’s in his head. Ricochet said Paul was trying to frame the story to make himself look like the good guy, but he’s not the good guy in this situation.
Ricochet said Paul could fool the people who follow him online, but he couldn’t feel the fans in Houston. Ricochet entered the ring and said that their match will be “box office” and “all-time.” Ricochet said he thinks Paul is a horrible human being, but he does respect him as an athlete and a showman.
Paul said he really appreciated that. He was interrupted by “you suck” chants. Paul said Ricochet was one of the greatest to do it until he showed up. Paul said their feud started when he made them go viral at the Royal Rumble. Footage of aired of their springboard collision from during the Royal Rumble match.
“I really got it, don’t I,” Paul said. He added that he and Ricochet would put on a hell of a match and asked for a fist bump, which Ricochet granted him. Ricochet was about to leave, but Paul stopped him and pointed out that Ricochet is engaged to ring announcer Samatha Irvin. Paul said he hoped there would be no hard feelings when Ricochet’s girl announces him as the winner.
Ricochet fought with Paul and used his quickness to get the better of him initially. Ricochet went for a move from the ropes, but Paul punched him in mid-air. Paul stood Ricochet and filmed him…
Powell’s POV: A quality go-home segment. Paul drew really good heat and did a nice job of feeding into it by acting like a D-bag. It’s taken some time for me to get invested in this match because Ricochet has been presented as a mid-card guy for so long, but I find myself looking forward to it now that we’ve reached the final push.
Footage aired of the Drew McIntyre beating Ludwig Kaiser last week and then putting Gunther through a table afterward.
Jackie Redmond interviewed the “Imperium” trio of Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser, and Giovanni Vinci in the backstage area. She asked if Gunther has any concerns heading into SummerSlam given how unstoppable McIntyre has looked since he returned.
Gunther scolded Kaiser, saying he could have stopped all of this last week. Gunther said not to even get him started with Vinci. Gunther said he was giving Kaiser a chance to redeem himself in a match against Matt Riddle later in the show. Gunther said he would end McIntyre once and for all at SummerSlam…
Matt Riddle made his entrance for his match against Kaiser heading into a commercial break… [C] The Imperium trio made their entrance coming out of the break. Gunther barked instructions to Kaiser at ringside…
1. Matt Riddle vs. Ludwig Kaiser (w/Gunther, Giovanni Vinci). Kaiser sent Riddle to ringside with a dropkick while Riddle was tied up in the ropes. Kaiser followed him to the floor and hit him with a European uppercut before tossing him back inside the ring. Gunther spoke to Kaiser before Kaiser returned to the ring.
Riddle used a head-scissors to send Kaiser back to the floor. Riddle threw a kick from the apron and then hit him with a Floating Bro. Gunther was barking at Kaiser heading into a break. [C] Kaiser performed a rolling senton and threw a kick at Riddle before covering him for a two count. Graves mocked Patrick for calling the senton a “Kaiser Roll.”
Riddle came back and knocked Vinci off the apron. Kaiser tried to take advantage of the distraction, but Riddle powerbombed him and threw a knee to his head before covering him for a good near fall. Moments later, Riddle blasted Kaiser with a knee to the head. Riddle went up top and rolled through a moonsault after Kaiser moved out of the way, Kaiser drilled Riddle with a kick. Gunther barked orders at Kaiser, who put Riddle down with a DDT and pinned him.
Ludwig Kaiser defeated Matt Riddle in 10:50.
After the match, Gunther entered the ring and offered a handshake to Kaiser, who proudly accepted it…
Separate shots aired of Alpha Academy and The Viking Raiders while the broadcast team hyped Maxxine Dupri vs. Valhalla for later in the show… Graves hyped Brock Lesnar and Cody Rhodes for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A strong match with a fairly surprising outcome. I’m all for Kaiser and Vinci being established as more than henchmen, so this was encouraging. On the flip side, Riddle continues to take high profile losses.
Logan Paul was shown strutting through the backstage area when Byron Saxton asked him about what happened with Ricochet. Paul said it was a preview of SummerSlam and once again promised it would be one of the most viral matches in WWE history. Paul said Ricochet looks like a full-grown fetus after what he did to him…
The broadcast team touted that Cody Rhodes joined TikTok… A video package recapped the Cody and Lesnar feud…
Powell’s POV: I like that they took the time to recap the feud, but it also reminded me that we’ve never been given a good explanation for Lesnar turning on Cody.
Patrick once again hyped Lesnar vs. Rhodes as “one of the main events of SummerSlam”… Alpha Academy made their entrance for Maxxine Dupri’s first singles match… [C] The Viking Raiders made their entrance…
2. Maxxine Dupri (w/Chad Gable, Otis) vs. Valhalla (w/Erik, Ivar). Valhalla charged Dupri and hit her with both knees to start the match. A short time later, Valhalla sent Durpi near the ropes and Dupri hit her head on the bottom rope. Valhalla applied a Cobra Clutch style hold. Dupri escaped and performed a couple of arm drags followed by a kick. Dupri executed a fisherman’s suplex.
Otis climbed onto the apron and tore his t-shirt off. Otis wiggled and then Maxxine started doing the same. Dupri performed a slow, lousy version of the Caterpillar. Durpri went up top and pointed to the sky, then hit a crossbody block. Erik climbed onto the apron and stuck his head between the ropes, which prevented the referee from making the count.
Gable dove onto the Viking Raiders at ringside. Valhalla used the distraction to take offensive control. Valhalla set up for a move from the ropes, but Dupri slipped under her and put her in electric chair position. Dupri fell backwards and slammed Valhalla to the mat before pinning her…
Maxxine Dupri defeated Valhalla in 3:30.
Powell’s POV: Well, that happened. This rivalry between all six of these wrestlers isn’t doing as much for me as it seems to be doing for the live crowds.
A video package recapped The Judgment Day’s segments from last week’s Raw… Judgment Day’s Rhea Ripley, Dominik Mysterio, Finn Balor, and Damian Priest started to make their entrance… [C]
[Hour Two] The broadcast team congratulated John Cena for having the No. 1 movie on Netflix…
Tommaso Ciampa approached Shinsuke Nakamura in his locker room and said he intended to fix their problem. Ciampa said he was ready to fight the entire world. He said he needed to pick up some momentum and then win the SummerSlam battle royal. Nakamura said he would see him in the ring and then he would be the one who wins the battle royal…
The Judgment Day stood in the ring. Ripley said Raw doesn’t start until they say it does. Ripley was cheered and spoke over some “Mami” chants while asking who would stop them. Priest said they took out Kevin Owens. He said they left Sami Zayn lying. Priest said Seth Rollins couldn’t do it after the beating they gave him. Priest mentioned Ripley taking out Liv Morgan and said no one could stop them.
Priest said that he and Dom would make sure Rollins and Zayn don’t leave the arena whole. Balor said Rollins acts insane. He said dancing like a clown and wearing strange clothes isn’t insanity. Balor said insanity is waking up every morning and seeing the scars and behind reminded of what Rollins took from him. Balor said he couldn’t erase the scars, but he could inflict scars.
Dom took his turn and was immediately booed loudly. A loud “you suck” chant broke out. Dom tried to speak again the boos grew. Ripley said Dom would bring pride to the Mysterio name. She said that anyone who tries to get in their way should take a page out of Raquel Rodriguez’s book by running and hiding.
Raquel Rodriguez made her entrance and walked intently to the ring. Rodriguez and Ripley traded shots in the middle of the ring. Rodriguez ended up clotheslining Ripley over the top rope to the floor. Rodriguez followed and ran her into the barricade, then hoisted her up and drove her back into the ring post. Rodriguez threw Ripley into another part of the barricade.
Dom distracted Rodriguez long enough for Ripley to chop block her. Rodriguez sold knee pain and then a group of producers and referees ran out. Ripley kicked the bad knee again…
Powell’s POV: This reminds me of the angle they did with Gunther and Matt Riddle heading into a recent Intercontinental Title match. Gunther was already the favorite when they opted to send Riddle into the match with an injury. The idea was to protect Riddle, but actually just made feel like he had no chance of winning.
A video package aired on Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler. Rousey said she became aware of Baszler when she saw her in Strikeforce, then said she knew that Baszler would be her first pick when they were on The Ultimate Fighter.
They cut to Baszler, who said Rousey was her coach and she didn’t hate on her like others did. Rousey recalled that they had a grappling session with a minute left when Baszler laughed and said Rousey had yet to armbar her while they were on Ultimate Fighter. Rousey said to ask Baszler how many times she armbared her in that minute.
They cut to Baszler, who spoke about how she was a sparring partner for Rousey. She said to ask Rousey how many times she was Baszler’s sparring partner. Baszler made a zero sign with her fingers. A “to be continued” graphic was shown…
Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance… [C]
The Alpha Academy trio was celebrating their win backstage. Gable and Otis spoke about being in the SummerSlam battle royal. Imperium showed up took issue with Dupri following Kaiser’s win. Durpri spoke about how Gable taught her everything she knows. Gunther mocked her and called Otis a freak. Kaiser said Gable wouldn’t last five minutes with Gunther, who said to put the clock on the wall. Gable said he was up for a five minute challenge and said they should both leave their crews in the back…
3. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tommaso Ciampa. Ciampa’s entrance was not televised. Bronson Reed was shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Ciampa had athletic tape on his ribs and sold pain when Nakamura kicked that area. Ciampa had Nakamura draped over the barricade and hit him with a knee heading into a break. [C]
Ciampa performed a draping DDT and got a near fall, then went back to selling his ribs for a moment. Nakamura rallied and draped Ciampa over the top turnbuckle and then delivered a knee to the ribs. Nakamura picked up a two count. Nakamura rolled Ciampa into a pin moments later and held his tights while getting the three count. Reed was shown smiling while watching backstage…
Shinsuke Nakamura beat Tommaso Ciampa in 8:55.
Powell’s POV: A decent match with a mildly surprising finish. Ciampa’s rib injury made him feel like the likely loser, but Nakamura holding the tights was unexpected.
Highlights aired of the Roman Reigns and Jey Uso segment from Friday’s Smackdown… The broadcast team hyped Lesnar and Rhodes from after the break… [C]
Rodriguez was on the trainer’s table when Adam Pearce entered the room. Pearce said he knew Rodriguez wanted a match with Ripley. He gave her his word she would get a match with Ripley once she was medically cleared…
Brock Lesnar made his entrance and smirked while the fans chanted “Cody.” Lesnar introduced himself and ran through his credentials. Lesnar said that if there’s one thing he knows about championships, this is fight week and the hype was over. The crowd gave him the “What” treatment and he paused so they could continue.
Lesnar said he would get paid to fight and kick ass against Cody Rhodes at SummerSlam. Lesnar said Cody gets paid to get his ass kicked by him. “So let’s cut the crap,” Lesnar said. “I’ve already been here way too long tonight.” Lesnar told Cody to come out and tell him otherwise.
Lesnar said Cody could come out and shake his hand and he would see him Saturday. He said that if Cody didn’t come out and shake his hand, he would still see him on Saturday. Lesnar said Cody had about five seconds before he leaves the town. Lesnar started counting down.
Cody Rhodes made his entrance and took a lap around the ring while he and Lesnar glared at one another. Cody entered the ring and approached Lesnar, who made quickly grabbed his hat and laughed at Cody.
Rhodes offered his hand. Lesnar shook it. Lesnar spoke to Cody, but the camera mic didn’t pick it up. Lesnar bumped Cody with his shoulder and exited the ring. Cody ran the ropes and then performed a suicide dive on Lesnar. Brock quickly came back and drove Cody’s spine into the ring post.
Lesnar took the top piece of the ring steps and battered Cody with it twice. Lesnar put his cowboy hat on while Cody held his left arm. Lesnar returned to ringside and hit Cody with the steps again. Lesnar walked to the stage and then walked back to ringside and threw a knee at Cody before rolling him inside the ring.
Lesnar hoisted up Cody and put him down with an F5. Lesnar picked up his hat and put it on, then picked up his vest and put it on before exiting the ring… [C]
Powell’s POV: This was perfect. Lesnar looks like a badass heading into the rubber match. There was no reason for Cody to get his revenge here. That’s what Saturday is for.
4. Intercontinental Champion Gunther vs. Chad Gable in a non-title five-minute challenge. Neither entrance was televised. There was a countdown clock on the screen. Gunther toyed with Gable early. Gable impressively bridged while Gunther was on top of him.
Gunther continued to dominate, but Gable kicked out of several pin attempts. Gable threw some shots at Gunther, who fired back with uppercuts. The crowd chanted for Gable, who went for a German suplex that Gunther blocked.
Gunther dropped Gable with a chop and then went for a powerbomb, but Gable slipped out of it. Gable applied the ankle lock. Gunther kicked his way free. Gunther chopped Gable and put him in a sleeper hold. Gable faded and then Gunther hit him a couple times and reapplied the hold. Gunther looked at the clock and then went for his powerbomb finisher, but Gable punched him and Gunther ended up tumbling over the top rope as the time expired.
Gunther took the mic and said the match wasn’t over. A production crew member at ringside spoke to Samantha Irvin, who then announced that the match would continue. Gable dropkicked Gunther heading into a break. [C]
[Hour Three] Graves said Gunther demanded that more time be placed on the clock and the match continued, therefore Gunther technically did not lose. Gable caught Gunther in a Fujiwara armbar. Gunther escaped and put Gable down with a German suplex for a two count.
Gunther went up top and was caught by Gable, who superplexed him. Gable threw some shots at Gunther and then ran into a big chop. Gable caught Gunther with a kick and then performed a deadlift German suplex into a bridge for a two count. Gable tried to roll up Gunther, who held onto the ropes. Gunther caught Gable with a kick and a lariat for a near fall.
Gable went for his rolling suplex, but Gunther blocked it. Gunther hit Gable with a few wicked chops and then powerbombed him and pinned him.
Intercontinental Champion Gunther defeated Chad Gable in 12:55 in a non-title match.
After the match, Gunther climbed onto the broadcast table and told the fans to get used to seeing him there celebrating his success. He said he would not lose the Intercontinental Championship on Saturday. He said the same fate awaited McIntyre that Gable just endured. Gunther said he would end McIntyre once and for all at SummerSlam…
Powell’s POV: It was great to finally see Gable featured as more than a comedy figure. I hope there’s more of this Gable to come, but I won’t be surprised if he goes right back to Alpha Academy silliness next week. The restart would have felt more logical had Gable only agreed to extend the match if Gunther agreed to put his title on the line. Gunther was going over anyway, so why not?
Seth Rollins was over the top backstage while Sami Zayn tried to get him to mellow out…
Becky Lynch made her entrance for a match… [C] Patrick announced that Roman Reigns will appear on ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday morning at 11:15 ET…
Cody Rhodes was interviewed by Byron Saxton on the backstage ring set. Rhodes held his left arm while Saxton asked if he would be able to compete at SummerSlam. Cody said Lesnar could break his arm again or break his jaw, but the aura of The Beast will be shattered on Saturday…
Becky Lynch stood in the ring with a microphone and said she’d said everything she needed to say and did everything she needed to do to get her rematch with Trish Stratus. Lynch said she couldn’t think of a better time than now. Lynch called out Stratus.
Trish Stratus walked out wearing her face shield and was accompanied by Zoey Stark. Stratus said Lynch doesn’t get to tell her when to fight. Stratus said she wouldn’t cheat Lynch out of her rematch. She said she’s not a cheater like the Astros. The fans booed. Stratus said it’s true and a fact (tell her when she’s telling lies, Houston).
Adam Pearce came out and said that Lynch beat Stark last week, so the match would happen. Pearce called for a referee and said Stratus vs. Lynch would happen now…
5. Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus (w/Zoey Stark). The bell rang and Lynch hit Stratus. Stark ran in and attacked Lynch for the DQ.
Becky Lynch defeated Trish Stratus by DQ in 0:04.
Lynch and Stratus fought afterward and took a tumble to the floor. Lynch slammed Trish’s head off the broadcast table and then fought off Stark. Lynch tossed Trish into the timekeepers area. Lynch set up for her finisher, but Stark grabbed her by the hair and pulled her back to ringside.
Lynch shoved Stark into the ring post. Trish hit Lynch with a chair. Trish held her bruised nose. Graves said he hoped it wasn’t broken again and called it a tragedy. Stratus and Stark headed to the back…
Powell’s POV: A four-second masterpiece? I assume this leads to a rematch with Stark banned from ringside or perhaps a tag team match.
Patrick hyped the Twisted Metal series for Peacock (no, he didn’t mention Samoa Joe’s involvement). A clip from the series was shown… [C] Patrick announced that Cody Rhodes will appear on Thursday morning’s Today Show on NBC at 9ET…
Backstage, Pearce told Stratus and Stark that what happened was totally unacceptable. Stratus said he didn’t give her time to prepare. Pearce announced that Stratus will face Lynch in two weeks on Raw in Winnipeg with Stark barred from ringside…
The second part of the Rousey and Baszler video package aired. Rousey said she thought she knew how Baszler thought, but she doesn’t know a damn thing and can’t say why she jumped her. They cut to Baszler, who talked about being Rousey’s sparring partner and getting beat up for no money.
Baszler said Rousey had a huge target on her back and she needed her because no one would step to her. Rousey got emotional. Photos were shown of Rousey and Baszler from over the years. Rousey spoke about a fable of a king who took care of a stable boy, who eventually felt entitled and killed the king.
Baszler said she’s given Rousey everything she could as a friend, yet Rousey never gave it back. Baszler said she’s tired of riding in the backseat. Baszler said it wouldn’t be a match, it would be a fight. Baszler said she will take Rousey’s reputation. She said Rousey has never been the baddest, it’s always been her.
Baszler got emotional while saying that the worst part of this is that she was the third person to hold Rousey’s baby. Baszler said she’s the godmother of Rousey’s child and she loves her, but she’ll never forgive what she’s going to do to her mother…
Graves announced that Rousey vs. Baszler will be fought under MMA Rules…
Powell’s POV: Good performances from Rousey and Baszler with each feeling they were disrespected by the other.
Sami Zayn made his entrance for the main event… [C] The broadcast team ran through the SummerSlam lineup. Apparently, there are four main events with the two men’s world championship matches, the WWE Women’s Championship, and Cody vs. Lesnar…
Seth Rollins made his entrance followed by the full Judgement Day crew. Rollins and Zayn ran to ringside and went right after Dom and Priest. Balor got involved by going after Zayn, but Rollins dove from the ring onto Balor and then chased him to the back. Rollins ran back to the ring and joined Zayn… [C]
6. Seth Rollins and Sami Zayn vs. Dominik Mysterio and Damian Priest (w/Rhea Ripley). The bell rang coming out of the break without Balor at ringside. Graves shouted out Dom for beating two challengers simultaneously at the NXT Great American Bash show. “It made everyone in cellblock six extremely proud,” Graves said. Awesome.
Rollins was isolated by the heel team until he caught Priest with a kick. Priest shot Rollins over the top rope onto the apron and grabbed him by the throat, but Rollins elbowed his way out of it. Priest distracted the referee while Balor returned and pulled Rollins off the apron and shoved him into the ring post. [C]
Zayn had an nice run of offense on Priest, which included a tornado DDT. Dom tagged in and set up for the 619, but Zayn popped up and turned him inside out with a clothesline. Both wrestlers tagged out. Rollins put Priest down with a slingblade clothesline.
Rollins hit three suicide dives on Priest, with the third sending Priest over the broadcast table. Rollins jawed at Balor, who flashed a mean face back. Rollins returned to the ring and dove from the ropes at Priest, who caught him by the throat.
Rollins fought free and put Priest in position for his finisher, but Dom interfered while Ripley distracted the referee. Zayn took out Dom. Ripley jawed at Dom. Balor hit Zayn with a shotgun dropkick. In the ring, Priest caught Rollins on the top rope and performed a Razor’s Edge.
Priest looked down at the Money in the Bank briefcase. Balor grabbed it and brought it the apron. Balor hesitated, then gave it to Priest and told him to cash it in. Priest brought it to the ref, then thought better of it once Rollins recovered. Rollins superkicked the briefcase at Priest’s face.
Rollins threw the briefcase at Dom’s face. Zayn knocked Balor off the apron with a Helluva Kick. Rollins performed the Stomp on Priest and then pinned him.
Seth Rollins and Sami Zayn beat Dominik Mysterio and Damian Priest in 12:25.
After the match, the babyface duo celebrated while Balor was shown seething on the floor. The broadcast team narrated highlights of the finish and played up the idea that Balor’s hesitation may have cost Priest the championship…
The Raw Talk graphic listed Shinsuke Nakamura, Imperium, and Maxxine Dupri…
Powell’s POV: Top notch action down the stretch. Balor hesitating is more than I expected from his character, who shot Priest a look from hell when he simply looked at the briefcase last week.
Overall, an effective go-home show with good hype and/or a good final push for the Raw matches on the SummerSlam card. I will be back shortly with my weekly same night audio review of Raw for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of Raw by grading the show below.