By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,577)
Live from Winnipeg, Manitoba at Canada Life Centre
Aired August 14, 2023 on USA Network
[Hour One] Michael Cole welcomed viewers to the show and was joined on commentary by Wade Barrett. They hyped Cody Rhodes vs. Finn Balor, Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus with Zoey Stark barred from ringside, and Cole’s interview with Shinsuke Nakamura…
“Judgment Day” members Rhea Ripley, Dominik Mysterio, and Damian Priest were introduced by ring announcer Samantha Irvin. Cole noted that Finn Balor was conspicuous by his absence, though he also noted that Balor would have a match later in the night.
Once in the ring, Ripley welcomed viewers to Raw. Ripley said things haven’t been going their way. Priest said Balor should have walked out of SummerSlam as the champion. Priest added that they should have won their match last week.
Priest said they will dictate what happens as long as he holds the Money in the Bank contract. Priest added that Balor would dominate Cody. Priest said Balor should be saying that himself, but he wasn’t there. Priest told viewers not to get it twisted and said they weren’t breaking up, but he stated again that Balor should be there. “We’re here, where’s Finn Balor?” Priest asked.
JD McDonagh made his entrance with a mic in hand. Priest told McDonagh to be very careful with what he was about to say. Priest put over Judgment Day and asked if he could enter the ring. Once he did, he said he had a message from Balor, who told them to worry about the real targets Cody Rhodes and Sami Zayn.
Ripley said they don’t take orders from anyone, especially people who are not part of Judgment Day. Dom tired to speak and was booed, then said they had things locked down. The boos drowned out Dom as he continued to talk. Dom said he just found out that Canada is part of North America, meaning he’s the champion “of this dump.” McDonagh said he meant no disrespect and was just delivering a message. Ripley told McDonagh to tell Balor that they need to talk.
Sami Zayn made his entrance and went right after McDonagh while the broadcast team recalled that McDonagh took out Zayn last week. Zayn got the better of McDonagh, then climbed onto the ring apron. Zayn dropped down and grabbed McDonagh, who pulled Zayn’s injured elbow into the ring post. McDonagh ran Zayn into the post again and Zayn was down selling his wrapped elbow heading into a break… [C]
Powell’s POV: I didn’t expect to see Zayn taking part in anything physical after seeing that huge knot on his elbow last week. The story involving Balor and the rest of Judgment Day while McDonagh stirs the pot is intriguing.
1. Sami Zayn vs. JD McDonagh. Cole said the match was made official by Adam Pearce during the break. Cole said Zayn’s elbow injury was traumatic bursitis. McDonagh targeted the injured elbow. Barrett played up McDonagh’s NXT gimmick while talking about he knows how to ruthlessly target an injured body part. Zayn’s wrap was off when McDonagh stood on the broadcast table and dropped a knee on the injured elbow. [C]
McDonagh performed a standing Spanish Fly for a two count, then applied a crossface. Zayn rolled over on McDonagh to get to the ropes. Zayn came back with an exploder suplex.
Finn Balor walked out dressed in non-wrestling attire. Zayn called for Balor to bring it. Balor ran toward the ring and then stopped. McDonagh rolled up Zayn for a two count. McDonagh headbutted Zayn. McDonagh went up top and went for a moonsault, but Zayn put his boots up. Balor climbed onto the apron, but Zayn knocked him back to ringside. Zayn hit the Helluva Kick and then pinned McDonagh…
Sami Zayn defeated JD McDonagh in 11:45.
Powell’s POV: A nice opening match. I’m a bit surprised to see Zayn go over if only because he had outs with his injury and Balor showing up, but it’s not anything that McDonagh can’t come back from.
Chelsea Green was shown holding both WWE Women’s Tag Team Title belts. Pearce said Sonya Deville suffered a torn ACL. He was about to strip Green, but she stopped him and threatened to call his manager and then human resources. Pearce asked what she expected him to do in this situation. Green said she would hold auditions for her next tag team partner.
Kayden Carter and Katana Chance entered the room. They started to speak about how they would be ready to challenge Green and her new partner, but Piper Niven burst into the picture with a boot to the head of Chance. Niven told Green that she’s her new partner. Green indicated that Niven would need her name and number, but Niven took one of the title belts and firmly declared herself as Green’s new partner…
Powell’s POV: It’s not the first time that a company has allowed someone to fill a vacant tag title slot in a situation like this. In past years, I would have preferred that a tournament determine the new champions, but I’ve seen more than enough of pro wrestling tournaments lately, so I’m not going to complain. That said, here’s wishing Green and Niven the best of health as they move forward with those cured title belts.
“Imperium” Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser, and Giovanni Vinci made their entrance. A video package aired on the trio… [C]
Byron Saxton interviewed Cody Rhodes in the backstage area. Cody spoke about how he admires Balor for being a leader in Ireland and Japan. Rhodes said Balor isn’t the only leader in Judgment Day. Cody said he hasn’t wrestled in Winnipeg in years and would be ready for Balor and the entire Judgment Day faction…
Gunther stood on top of the broadcast table while Kaiser and Vinci stood on the floor. The broadcast team recapped Chad Gable winning a four-way last week to earn an Intercontinental Title shot. Gunther said that he understands why Winnipeg is called the armpit of Canada.
Gunther turned his focus to Gable and said he was really impressed with his victory last week. He said Gable is a former Olympian and might be the best athlete the company has to offer. Gunther said it was ridiculous to think that Gable could defeat him.
Gable interrupted with a loud “shoooosh” and walked onto the stage with Otis and Maxxine Dupri. Gable recalled lasting five minutes with Gunther and said that now Gunther is on the clock because he’s just weeks away from becoming the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion.
Gable said the only thing that stands in his way is a guy who has been working for this opportunity for ten years. Gable called for Vinci to get in the ring and learn a few lessons. Kaiser and Gunther entered the ring. Kaiser said Vinci would embarrass Gable, just as he embarrassed Gable’s “freak friend” Otis last week.
Kaiser said Durpri will eventually understand that she should surround herself with European elegance. Kaiser called Alpha Academy a sinking ship. He said he was reaching out his hand to her and she could either let him save her or have a 360-pound anchor drag her down. Durpi slapped Kaiser across the face. Gable did his “thank you” bit… [C]
Powell’s POV: I’m really happy to see Gable get an Intercontinental Title shot, but it really needed to coincide with him becoming a more serious character if the creative forces are serious about doing more with him. Because nothing has changed, I suspect this will be a brief singles run and then Gable will be right back to being part of the mid-card comedy act.
2. Chad Gable (w/Otis, Maxxine Dupri) vs. Giovanni Vinci (w/Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser). After some back and forth action, Gable performed his Chaos Theory suplex into a bridge and got the clean pin.
Chad Gable defeated Giovanni Vinci in 5:05.
After the match, Gunther stood on the broadcast table and challenged Otis to a match on the spot… [C]
Powell’s POV: The live crowd was really quiet during the match. They popped for Gable winning, but they were nearly silent during the bulk of the match.
3. Intercontinental Champion Gunther (w/Ludwig Kaiser, Giovanni Vinci) vs. Otis (w/Chad Gable, Maxxine Dupri) in a non-title match. Otis shoved Gunther out of the corner. Gunther responded with a chop. Otis rolled under a clothesline attempt and then ate a big boot.
[Hour Two] Otis performed a fallaway slam. Otis set up for the Caterpillar, but Gunther cut him off. Gunther booted Otis and then powerbombed him before pinning him clean…
Intercontinental Champion Gunther defeated Otis in a non-title match in 5:10.
After the match, Gable entered the ring and ducked a clothesline from Gunther. Gable put Gunther down with a German suplex. Gunther exited the ring and then barked at Kaiser and Vinci…
Powell’s POV: The crowd was a little livelier for this match, but it’s still been a tough crowd.
Backstage, Damian Priest barked at Finn Balor about not showing up for their segment and then getting popped in the eye for JD McDonagh. Balor said Priest needed to relax. Rhea Ripely cut in and said they are the most dominant faction and yet nobody fears them due to the way they were acting.
McDonagh showed up. Priest told him that they were handling Judgment Day business. Balor stepped in and ended up telling McDonagh that he would talk to him later. Balor spoke about how they had an opportunity to show the world how strong they are. Balor said Rhodes wouldn’t know what hit him. The other Judgment Day members got fired up about being united in going after Cody…
The broadcast team hyped Cody vs. Balor as the main event, and Cole touted Smackdown highlights for after the break… [C] Winnipeg imagery was shown… The Smackdown recap video focused on the latest Bloodline related drama…
Footage aired from earlier in the day of Matt Riddle asking Drew McIntyre to team with him and accept the open challenge of the Viking Raiders. McIntyre said that if Riddle didn’t find a partner, he would consider it. Riddle dropped the “so you’re saying there’s a chance” line from Dumb & Dumber… Matt Riddle made his entrance…
An Indi Hartwell video package aired. She said she’s done with doubt. She said she came from Melbourne, Australia and worked her way for this moment… Cole hyped Ripley vs. Hartwell for later in the show…
Cole plugged WrestleMania tickets going on sale on Friday… The Viking Raiders made their entrance. The match was about to begin when McIntyre’s entrance music played and he came out carrying his stupid giant sword…
4. Drew McIntyre and Matt Riddle vs. “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar (w/Valhalla). Riddle was isolated by the heel duo to start the match. He fought out of their corner and suplexed Erik, then ran over and threw a knee at Ivar. Riddle went to the apron and was pulled to the floor by Erik. Ivar performed his split-legged splash on Riddle. [C]
Riddle continued to take a beating coming out of the break. He eventually made the hot tag to McIntyre, who dominated both opponents. McIntyre counted down for his finisher, but he was distracted by Ivar on the apron and was cut off by Erik. Later, Riddle performed a Floating Bro on Ivar, and then McIntyre put down Erik with a Claymore Kick and pinned him…
Drew McIntyre and Matt Riddle defeated “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar in 9:30.
Powell’s POV: I can’t be the only person who was hoping that McIntyre was going to leave the doofus Riddle character hanging. On the bright side, the crowd woke up for this match.
The broadcast team narrated footage of Raquel Rodriguez being told she wasn’t medically cleared last week, only to have a pull-apart brawl with Rhea Ripley…
Indi Hartwell was warming up in her dressing room while Candice LeRae stood by. Rodriguez entered the room and said they still haven’t cleared her. She told Hartwell that this was her night…
Rhea Ripley and Dominik Mysterio made their entrance… [C]
Backstage, Riddle spoke to McIntyre about becoming WWE Tag Team Champions. The “New Day” duo of Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods showed up with chairs. Riddle wished Kingston a happy birthday. Kingston said it takes more than winning one match to be ready to become tag team champions. Kingston challenged McIntyre and Riddle to face them to find out which team would make a run at the tag titles. Riddle accepted the match on behalf of the “Glasgow Bros”…
Indi Hartwell made her entrance with Candice LeRae to a flat reaction…
5. Women’s World Champion Rhea Ripley (w/Dominik Mysterio) vs. Indi Hartwell (w/Candice LeRae) in a non-title match. Ripley went right at Hartwell when the bell rang to start the match. Hartwell avoided a charging Ripley, who went through the ropes and slammed her shoulder into the ring post casing. Hartwell performed a spinebuster for a two count.
Ripley rolled to the floor. Hartwell followed and hoisted up Ripley, who slipped away and shoved Hartwell into the ring post. Ripley eventually tossed Hartwell back inside the ring and then ran over and knocked LeRae down. Ripley returned to the ring and was caught in an inside cradle for a two count. Ripley hit her Riptide finisher and got the three count…
Women’s World Champion Rhea Ripley defeated Indi Hartwell in 3:05 in a non-title match.
After the match, LeRae went after Ripley. Hartwell got involved briefly and LeRae was able to perform a senton on the back of Ripley…
Powell’s POV: A dominant win for Ripley, just as it should have been. They set up LeRae as the next sacrificial lamb.
Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance dressed in a black after his attack on Seth Rollins was replayed. Cole said he would ask Nakamura why he attacked Rollins after the break… [C]
Balor and Priest were shown bumping fists backstage while Barrett hyped the main event…
Cole stood in the ring with Nakamura and introduced him. Cole said Nakamura has known Rollins for his entire career and they’ve had a tremendous respect for one another. Cole asked Nakamura why he attacked Rollins. Nakamura spoke in Japanese for a bit, then simply said, “I want the world title.”
Cole asked if Nakamura needed to kick Rollins in the head. Nakamura spoke in Japanese again. Nakamura then stated in English that he will win the world title. Nakamura was interrupted.
World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins made his entrance dressed in all white. Rollins told Cole he did a great job and said he would take it from here. Rollins played to the crowd and welcomed them to Monday Night Rollins. The crowd finally woke up enough to chant Rollins’ entrance theme briefly.
Rollins credited Nakamura for playing it to perfection last week. “You set me up and you knocked me out,” Rollins said. He questioned whether it’s really about the World Heavyweight Championship while adding that he’s not hard to find and is a fighting champion.
Rollins said all Nakamura had to do was ask if he wanted a shot at his title. Rollins said he didn’t ask, so now everyone is wondering why he did what he did. Rollins said he’s less concerned with why Nakamura kicked him in the face and more concerned with how he can get even.
Rollins said he had a surprise for Nakamura. “You win,” Rollins said. He added that the best way to get what he wants is to give Nakamura what he wants. Rollins said challenge accepted. He said they would meet for the World Heavyweight Championship.
[Hour Three] Rollins told Nakamura to name the time and place and said he would be there to kick his ass. Rollins told Nakamura to grow a set, shake his hand, and leave the ring so that the fans could sing his song. Nakamura shook Rollins’ hand and smiled. Nakamura pulled Rollins in and said something to him that rattled Rollins. Nakamura teased leaving and then blasted Rollins with a Kinshasa…
Powell’s POV: Did Nakamura inform Rollins that CM Punk wants him to leave the building?
Byron Saxton interviewed The Miz after highlights aired of Miz’s confrontation with LA Knight. Miz said he verbally tore down Knight and proved he’s better than him on the mic and in the ring. Saxton said Miz shook Knight’s hand, which Miz denied.
Miz asked Saxton if he thought Knight was somebody after he beat Top Dolla. Saxton said yeah. Miz got upset and said he would beat someone bigger, faster, stronger, and more dominant than anyone Knight has faced in his entire career. Miz said he might show up on Smackdown and he might not…
Trish Stratus made her entrance wearing her face shield… [C] Winnipeg Jets images were shown… Becky Lynch made her entrance…
6. Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus. Zoey Stark was barred from ringside. Both wrestlers traded punches to start the match. Lynch caught Stratus with a kick that sent her face shield flying, but she quickly put it back on. A short time later, Stratus ran Lynch into the ring steps and then tossed her back in the ring.
Stratus removed her face shield and said, “Oh, perfect.” Stratus tried to hit Lynch with the face shield, but Lynch blocked it and the referee took it away. Stratus got the better of Lynch and then stood on the middle rope and bowed to the crowd. [C]
Lynch stuffed a tornado DDT attempt and then put Stratus on the top turnbuckle and superplexed her. Lynch covered Stratus for a near fall. Stratus fled the ring and tried to escape over the barricade, but Lynch stopped her. Stratus dumped Lynch over the barricade and followed her. The wrestlers fought until the referee counted them out.
Becky Lynch fought Trish Stratus to a double count-out in 11:30.
The brawl continued afterward and they fought their way up the stairs into a concourse area. The cameras and three referees followed them. Lynch ran Stratus into a wall and then into the side of a merch table. Stratus started tossing t-shirts at Lynch.
Lynch fought back and set up for a move on the merch table, but a person wearing a hood pulled her down and then revealed herself to be Zoey Stark. Shocker!!! Stratus put Lynch down with a Chick Kick and then exited the area with Stark…
Powell’s POV: Why did Stark conceal her identity after the match was over and when they were nowhere near ringside? Anyway, I like that they went right at one another with punches rather than just locking up like it was a normal match. It was a decent brawl with a finish that drags this feud out even longer. Have we reached the point where Lita returns to help Lynch?
Cody Rhodes shown backstage while the broadcast team hyped the main event as coming up next… [C]
Backstage, Gunther told Giovanni Vinci that he has been a disappointment since he came to Raw. Gunther said Ludwig Kaiser was more focussed on a girl than on doing his job. Kaiser said he was absolutely right. Gunther said he would talk to Adam Pearce and added that if Chad Gable wants his title, he’ll have to take it off him next week…
Adam Pearce caught up with Stratus and Stark. He implied that Stark was at ringside despite the match stipulation. He also booked Stratus in a cage match against Lynch, which upset Stratus…
Cody Rhodes made his entrance for the main event. Cole said the main event was coming up next (again)… [C] The broadcast team officially announced Gunther vs. Chad Gable for the Intercontinental Title, and Drew McIntyre and Matt Riddle vs. “New Day” Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods for next week’s Raw… Finn Balor made his entrance…
7. Cody Rhodes vs. Finn Balor. Balor started the match without anyone in his corner. Balor performed a basement dropkick and followed up with another low dropkick for a near fall a short time later. A “let’s go Cody” chant broke out as Balor remained in offensive control. Cody battled back and let out a wooo while setting up for a figure four, but Balor kicked him to ringside.
Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley ran out. Cody caught Dom with a kick and then set up to suplex him, but Balor caught Cody with a baseball slide kick and posed with Dom and Rhea heading into a break. [C] Cody caught Balor with a Disaster Kick and got a two count.
Damian Priest walked out carrying his Money in the Bank briefcase. Cody set up for his finisher, but Balor countered out of it. Cody caught Balor with a kick from his back, but Balor came right back with a sling blade clothesline. Cody regained control and set up for a Disaster Kick that Balor avoided before picking up another near fall
Balor hit Cody with a shotgun dropkick and the went for the Coup De Grace, but Cody avoided it. Balor caught Cody in an inside cradle for a two count. Cody hit Balor with the Cody Cutter. Balor rolled out of the ring to avoid being pinned. Cody ran the ropes for a suicide dive, but Priest grabbed his foot. Balor returned and charged Cody, who sidestepped him.
Cody hit Balor and Priest with a suicide dive and then threw Balor back inside the ring. Cody went up top. Ripley distracted the referee while Dom crotched Cody on the top turnbuckle. Balor joined Cody on the ropes and superplexed him and got a two count. Barrett pointed out that Cody had a rough landing.
Dom slid a chair to Balor, but the referee stepped on it. The ref tried to clear it from the ring, but Ripley stood in his way. Balor motioned for Priest, who slid the briefcase between the legs of Balor. Cody ended up with the briefcase and hit Balor with the briefcase and then used it to knock Priest off the apron. Cody ditched the briefcase and then hit CrossRhodes on Balor and pinned him.
Cody Rhodes defeated Finn Balor in 14:25.
Afterward, Dom attacked Cody and then Priest joined in on the beatdown. Sami Zayn’s entrance music played and he ran out with a chair and hit a charging Priest with it. Zayn entered the ring and worked over Balor and Priest with the chair. Priest returned to the ring and Zayn got the better of him.
JD McDonagh appeared in the ring and took out Zayn with a forearm to the back of the head. Priest looked at McDonagh, who shrugged his shoulders. Balor looked at Priest and then motioned to McDonagh, and then McDonagh stood and watched while Balor and Priest put the boots to Zayn.
Cody returned, but he was outnumbered. Priest put Cody down with a South of Heaven. Balor followed up with a Coup De Grace. The heels took Zayn to ringside and continued to work him over. Balor and Priest cleared the broadcast table. Balor handed Zayn to Priest, who executed a Razor’s Edge that drove Zayn through the table.
Balor returned to the ring and hit his finisher on Cody, then sat on him and flexed. Priest and Balor hugged, and then the Judgment Day members posed and celebrated while McDonagh watched from ringside. A graphic listed Shinsuke Nakamura, Alpha Academy, and Shayna Baszler for Raw Talk to close the show…
Powell’s POV: A good main event followed by a strong beatdown angle. Judgment Day needed that bounce back moment and I really liked the way they had McDonagh save Priest, yet it didn’t lead to McDonagh even celebrating with the heel faction afterward. They left his future with the faction open.
Overall, the first two hours played to a rough crowd that woke up for the third hour (Molson is a powerful drug!). I will be back soon with my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of Raw by grading it below.
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