It’s the first Monday Night Raw without Braun Strowman in what feels like forever. People will be telling their children about Strowman’s initial monstrous reign over Raw without picking up one title. He was set to challenge for one against The Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar but an elbow injury took him out for up to half a year. Of course, WWE said six months when initial reports said four to eight weeks. So who knows at this point?
We know Raw is going to feature a Jeff Hardy vs Sheamus encounter as well as an IC Title match with Ambrose vs Miz. But who know what else they’ll have in store for the WWE Universe. After all, they’ve got some rebuilding to do in regards to the story line.
Someone has to be able to step up as the #1 contender. It’s between Seth Rollins and Finn Balor apparently. Since Samoa Joe seems to be standing in Rollins’ way, it’s probably a safe bet Finn will be trying to get that Universal Title back sooner than later.
BOOM went the pyro and there was a lot of it. New Jersey was pumped and Raw was kicking off with a bang as always.
Insert Kurt Angle’s music here…”you suck!”…. “you suck!… “you suck!” He hears “you suck” but he knows they mean “we love you.”
Angle addresses Roman and Braun’s incident last week in London. He said Roman “settled the score” and the crowd booed. Kurt Angle leveled with the crowd and addressed Strowman’s surgery and recovery time.
Then he wondered who would face Lesnar for the Universal Tile. He said he had given it a lot of thought and it needs to be earned not given. Then he said they’ll have a fatal five-way match at Extreme Rules featuring Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, or Roman Reigns. Finn got the biggest pop and Roman obviously got the most boos. Reigns was the only one out of the five that got booed
Then Roman Reigns came out to a sea of “I hate you and I mean it” boos.
Roman looked upset and he had a very sour expression on his chiseled face. He took a moment to talk and when he started to talk to boos rose up. He said they didn’t need a fatal five-way match because he’s the #1 contender. He said it is his yard because he beat Taker at Mania and “put Strowman in that ambulance.” He said he’s the only one who can beat Brock for the Universal Championship.
Insert Finn Balor here. The crowd loved him.
Finn told him he’s telling him exactly what he told Rollins two weeks ago. He was the first Universal Champion and he never lost his title. So, if Roman wants a piece of the beast, then the line starts behind him. The crowd was fully behind Balor, that’s for sure.
Roman said Finn’s got the heart but not the killer instinct to beat Brock Lesnar. Finn said Roman should know what he’s capable of because on his first night on Raw he beat him.
Then Samoa Joe came out to play talky talk.
Joe said it’s not about big hearts, anybody’s yard or club. He said it’s about actions and results. Samoa said action is he hits the Coquina Clutch on Rollins and his body goes limp. Action: He enters the fatal five-way, results: he wins. Action: he goes on to face Brock Lesnar… *Wyatt screen*
Suddenly Wyatt was in the ring. Who knows how long he was under there. Bray cuts a great promo about everyone putting on brave faces but he can feel them trembling. Love everything that man says. He said they will cover, fall, and run.
Seth Rollins came out to show off how many microphones WWE has once again. He said Extreme Rules is a few weeks away. And New Jersey didn’t show up for talking, they showed up for a fight. Then he called out Joe and the two met on the entrance ramp. Roman went after Bray on the outside after a skirmish sent him out of the ring. Seth got the upper hand on Joe, but he turned around to get mowed over by Bray. Roman Superman punched Bray and The Eater Of Worlds rolled outside to mix it up with Seth.
Then Finn jumped on everyone outside and climbed to the top and tried to hit a Coup De Gras on Roman. Reigns moved, but Finn hit him with a Slingblade to avoid a Superman punch. Roman powered out of the ring, and Finn jumped on Roman and Seth. They caught him brilliantly. The segment ended with them playing Finn’s music leaving him alone in the ring looking for more.
Roman, Seth, and Finn were backstage arguing. Kurt Angle said people let their aggressions out in the ring. He booked Seth vs Wyatt for the first time ever. Then he said Finn and Roman will both have matches tonight against each other.
Jeff Hardy vs Sheamus
The Hardy Boyz music makes me happy. It also makes me nostalgic. Who doesn’t love a throwback that’s still able to go just as hard as they used to? Cesaro and Sheamus came out to pretty good heat, even though everyone is happy to see them because they’re just awesome at this point.
Sheamus is very still, almost too still. He busted Jeff Hardy’s tooth out of his head and some say he’s responsible for ending Daniel Bryan’s career with that last concussion (even though he’s never taken credit for that). So this match is an opportunity for payback for Jeff losing a tooth at Payback.
Jeff took it to Sheamus early on and pounded some fists and hit some kicks in the corner. He ducked a Brogue Kick and sent Sheamus to the outside. Jeff jumped on Sheamus, but The Celtic Warrior caught him and tossed him against the barricade.
Sheamus ended up grounding Jeff and kept him there with a headlock. Jeff soon fought out of it and bounced off the ropes to hit Sheamus with something but Sheamus scooped him around and hit a slam.
Jeff kicked, but his leg was caught. Then he hit a classic Hardy double foot kick deal. He his the inverted atomic drop on Sheamus and got a two-count. Jeff looked hurt, but he’s facing Sheamus so it was to be expected. Sheamus reversed out of a Twist Of Fate and hit a Brogue Kick for another two-count.
Jeff threw Sheamus in the turnbuckle but ate some boots when he went running to splash him. Sheamus climbed to the top rope and jumped to nail Jeff, but he turned it into a Twist Of Fate/Stunner (modified Twist Of Fate) on Sheamus for a two-count.
Cesaro jumped on the apron, but Matt knocked him off. Jeff almost got thrown into Matt, but Sheamus kicked him off with a Brogue Kick… well, two Brogue Kicks because the first one didn’t land.
Sheamus turned around to get a Twist Of Fate from Jeff Hardy, then Hardy climbed on the top rope, hit the Swanton, and got the win.
Sasha Banks vs Alicia Fox
Apparently, this match was thanks to Noam Dar who was standing at ringside. I thought Alicia Foooox and Noam Dar were through. But who can keep up with those crazy 205 Live kids?
Fox kicked Sasha’s head off with a big boot for a two-count. Then she started doing her own kind of flirting with Dar as she held Sasha in a headlock. Then a northern lights suplex for a two count.
She kept Sasha in a headlock for a bit and when the two got on their feet, Sasha took control. She hit a few dropkicks and went for a double knee in the corner. Foxy turned it around on Banks and got a two count. Foxy was looking very strong in this one almost like they’re finally trying to do something with her.
Sasha tried to hit a Banks Statement, but Foxy wouldn’t drop to her back. The announcers put over Foxy’s upper body strength and she sent Banks to the outside. Fox went out to retrieve Sasha and threw her in the ring. Alicia hit a scissors kick on Banks and then Foxy beat Sasha Banks clean in the middle of the ring, 1-2-3.
Noam Dar and Alicia Fox celebrated the moment in the ring while the rest of us went, “really?!”
Dean Ambrose vs The Miz (Intercontinental Title Match)
The Miz and Maryse are out and they mean business. It’s all posing and seriousness for the A-List It Couple. Then Dean Ambrose came out and I could smell the whiskey from my living room. Speaking of that, Ambrose’s new shirt kind of looks like a bourbon label, that’s neat.
Miz ducked into the corner to avoid Dean’s ambush to start the match like a true cowardly heel. They bounced off the ropes and Ambrose hit a clothesline. Miz went for a Skull Crushing Finale, but Dean reversed out of it.
Miz tried to take Ambrose down but ended up eating a swinging neck breaker. Ambrose climbed to the top rope and The Miz rolled out of the ring like the heel he is. After all, we all know how much Miz loves catching people. He doesn’t because it hurts.
Miz hit Dean with some clotheslines in the corner and jumped off the top rope to deliver a double axhandle on The Lunatic Fringe. Miz strapped a headlock on Dean and then wrapped his legs around Dean’s waist. Dean smashed him in a corner to break the hold, but Miz turned it back around for a two-count.
Maryse looked confident on the outside as Miz started to deliver some Daniel Bryan kicks to Dean. Every stiff kick landed except for the last one, Dean ducked and he rolled Miz up for a two count. The two found a bit until Dean lowered the top rope and Miz went spilling outside. Dean hit a suicide dive on Miz and it landed perfectly.
Ambrose threw Miz in the ring and kept up the offense. Dean delivered a few clotheslines and a running bulldog. Then he rolled Miz up for another two-count.
Dean placed Miz on the top and went up for a superplex but Miz wouldn’t let him pull it off. He fought out of it with some headbutts and went jumping for Dean but Ambrose got him in a Dirty Deeds, it was revered into almost a Skull Crushing Finale, and then a roll up from Dean for a two-count.
Dean hit Miz with a top rope elbow and got another two count. Then he tried to get a Dirty Deeds on Miz, but Miz almost got him with a figure four. Dean reversed out of it, but Miz ended up hitting a Skull Crushing Finale for a two count as the crowd went crazy.
“This is awesome” chants started to ring out as Miz went for another finisher, Dean reversed and rolled him up, kick out, then Dean hit Miz outside. Dean climbed to the top rope to jump on Miz, but he stood behind Maryse. Dean said screw it and jumped on Miz anyway and Maryse wisely leaped out of the situation. She looked concerned as Dean threw her husband back in the ring.
Maryse distracted the ref and Miz went for a low blow, but Ambrose caught his arm as it rocketed up in-between his legs. Then Dean took Miz to D— Kick City just to show him who’s boss. The ref saw that low blow and he rang the bell. Miz won, but Dean retained. Looks like these two are going to have a match at Extreme Rules.
Finn was interviewed about his fatal five-way match and Finn said it’s not about the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog. We’ve never heard that one before. Then Finn said it may be Roman’s yard, but it’s his Universe. That’s a much better line!
Alexa Bliss Promo Time
Alexa Bliss hit the entrance and looked like she couldn’t be bothered with the New Jersey crowd. She was immediately turned off, she’s such a great heel. It’s weird she worried so much when they made the switch in NXT.
Bliss talked some trash about New Jersey, it was all very entertaining, mean, adorable, and loathsome at the same time. She called Newark New Jersey the “sweat gland of America.” She called them the poster children of failure but said they’re experiencing the opposite of failure tonight when they got to see her. She called herself a goddess again and said winning comes easily to her. The crowd started doing the “what” chant and she said, “if you’re failures say what” and they said “what”… that’s such a nice move.
She said she would have won Miss USA if she would have entered and then said, “Miss USA, you’re welcome”… must be something else there.
Then Bayley came out to much fanfare and wacky waving arm flailing inflatable tubemen surrounding her.
Bayley said she’s giving mad props to Bliss even though she doesn’t agree with the goddess title she’s given herself. Bayley then said the only title she cares about is the Raw Women’s Title. Bayley said she’s invoking her rematch clause for the Raw Women’s Championship at Extreme Rules.
Bliss said Bayley doesn’t know what extreme means unless you’re talking about hopscotch or pogo sticks. She said Bayley will never get extreme but that’s okay because Bayley is a good girl. She said Bayley and her huggers had her moment but that’s over.
Bliss said Bayley should be a good little girl and sit at the kiddie table where she belongs and leave the championships to the adults. Then Bayley went after Bliss. Bliss knocked her out and then went for a kendo stick under the ring. This didn’t look good at all.
Alexa Bliss blistered Bayley with the kendo stick across the shoulders. It looked like she might have hit her in the back of the head a little. The crowd was chanting “one more time” and “ECW” the same time. That was awesome, Bayley took a mean shot with that kendo stick.
Kurt Angle sounded like he was on the phone with Sami Zayn about how he was doing a great job at something. Then he turned around and Miz was there complaining about how the match ended. He called Ambrose a menace and said he abuses the rules. Kurt booked Dean vs Miz for the IC Title at Extreme Rules in a match where the titles will change hands on a DQ or count out.
Kurt pissed off Maryse and she started spouting off in French at Angle. The Olympic Hero started coming back with some awful French, then The Drifter walked in strumming on his guitar. The It Couple just left and Kurt looked at Elias Samson and said “can I help you?”
The Drifter didn’t say anything, he just kept strumming and walked off the set. The crowd popped for him pretty good too. Looks like WWE might be sticking with the Drifter gimmick.
Neville and TJP vs Jack Gallagher and Austin Aries
Is it just me or does it seem like they only have four cruiserweights actually on Raw? I’m not complaining too much because they’re all awesome competitors, but there are so many more cruiserweights. Sometimes I wonder why they’re even on Raw anymore. It would certainly be easier on the ring crew so they won’t have to change the ropes and mat.
TJP took some abuse and Gallagher and Aries tried to hit him with a double team, but Neville pulled him outside. Austin Aries didn’t let that stop him though because he jumped over the top rope and landed on both of them.
The heels soon took control over Aries with some heelish actions like tossing Austin off the top rope. Neville got the tag and started taking the hurt to Austin Aries. “You sold out” chants started up directed at Neville. That’s different for him.
The match kept up as the crowd started to boo them. TJP locked on a headlock and kept Austin Aries on the mat. “CM Punk” chants started to ring out in the crowd.
Austin Aries soon got the upper hand and made the tag to Jack Gallagher. Gentleman Jack came in the match to almost no pop and started cleaning up. He hit TJP with a slam and got a two-count.
The crowd sounded restless and ready for this match to be over already. Gallagher did his headstand in the corner bit and kicked TJP. Neville ran into the ring and A Double cut him off. TJP hit Aries in the knee, and Gallagher took out TJP. Then Aries hit Neville with a dive to the outside.
Gallagher hit a headbutt as it sounded like the crowd started chanting “Derek Jeter?” TJP hit a Detonation Kick thanks to a distraction from Neville and the heels won. The crowd didn’t sound like they cared much.
Bayley was backstage getting iced down after that brutal kendo stick shot. Kurt Angle walked up and said “those kendo shots are no joke”, then he booked a straight up wrestling match at Extreme Rules. He seemed to want to take it easy on Bayley… looks like someone’s playing favorites.
The Hugger Of Huggers said she’s ready to get extreme. Then Kurt said they’re going to give Alexa a taste of her own medicine and booked a kendo stick on a pole match. Well, it’s better than Judy Bagwell on a pole.
The Golden Truth was in another locker room and R-Truth said he let them down last week. Goldust said just because Truth failed last week it’s no big deal. He said Truth has been there for Goldy enough. Then Goldust said, “get it up”… R-Truth’s smile that is.
They hugged it out and hyped themselves up for their match tonight against The Club. It might be the beginning of the end for those two.
Finn Balor vs Roman Reigns
Finn Balor came out in all of his Fonzy Finn glory. Everyone did the arms up deal during his entrance. That is such a cool deal they’ve inserted into his gimmick.
For some reason, they showed another promo for what happened last week on Raw. They were hyping the Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman feud. Roman smashed Strowman with a chair, yada yada… it’s practically the same promo they played at the beginning of the show, if not the exact same one. Did someone accidentally hit the wrong button in the truck when they were coming back from commercial break and Vince was like “f— it! Let it play! God, Roman is such a babyface, right?!”
Now that we’ve been reminded who Roman Reigns is and why people are booing him let’s carry on with this match, shall we?
Roman Reigns came out and everybody booed. That’s the biggest surprise of the night. When Roman squared up against Finn people were anxious to boo him and cheer Balor.
They felt each other out and locked up. Roman pushed Balor against the turnbuckle and asserted his dominance. In reality, they were probably calling the match.
Reigns tossed Finn around the ring and Balor didn’t look impressed after each bump. Finn blocked a punch and took some shots to Reigns. Roman tossed Finn across the ring again and kicked him down in the corner.
The ref backed off Reigns and Finn got to his feet. Roman brought him to the other turnbuckle and smashed his head off of it. Then he tossed Finn against the ropes, but Balor blocked it and came back to fight him off. Reigns ended up hitting a Samoan Drop, but both were still hurt so no pin was made.
They were still keeping medical tape all over Reigns’ shoulder to sell his injuries from Payback. Those injuries were the only ways Braun Strowman’s impact was really felt that night, sadly. Finn tried to mount some offense, but Roman hit him off.
Then Roman went for a spear in the corner, but Balor jumped to the side and Roman speared a ring post instead. Balor hit him with a kick from the apron and a Coup De Gras to his back and Roman went crashing to the ground outside. The crowd exploded in a cheer. Michael Cole was really hyping Roman like he was still supposed to be putting him over and Booker T was right along with him.
Let’s go Roman, let’s go! *clap* *clap* *clap*
Roman took a kick to the head from the apron and went crashing to the floor. Finn ran around right into Roman’s arms and he drove Balor’s spine into the post.
Reigns rolled inside to stop the ref’s count and returned to Finn and drove him into the barricade. Roman placed Finn on the apron and backed up. He took a long time and ran to hit a drive by on Finn and the power was so much it drove Balor into the ring post. They returned to the ring for a two count.
Roman started talking smack and pushed Finn into the corner. Clotheslines reigned down on Finn from Reigns.
Roman hit Finn with a spinning powerbomb for a two-count. Both of these guys looked spent. Corey Graves hyped Balor’s busted ribs and Roman’s nagging Strowman injuries.
Roman cocked his fist and went for a Superman punch, but Balor kicked him out of midair. They traded some shots and Reigns went for a powerbomb. Finn reversed out of that and hit him with a double chest stomp on The Big Dog.
Finn hit a Slingblade and backed himself into the corner. He prepared himself for his dropkick when Roman hit him with a Superman Punch for a two count. Roman got to his feet first and yelled at the ceiling the way he does, he went into Finn for a spear, but Finn met him with a knee, then he hit him with that awesome dropkick to the corner.
Balor took some time climbing the rope to hit the Coup De Grace, and it turned he took too much time. Roman flipped him to the mat and hit a spear. 1-2-3 and Roman beat Finn clean to get that win back from Finn’s debut on Raw before Summerslam.
The crowd went mild even though they did cut to some kids in the crowd who enjoyed the ending.
The lights went out and it’s In Your House: Beware Of Dog all over again. The power’s out! Oh, it’s a Bray Wyatt Segment. Bray cut a promo on the big screen about how it’s his world and he’ll take the spear of destiny from fate and deliver it into the heart of the beast. It was amazing. He wanted to be the Universal Champion too. I wonder if Bray Wyatt has ever snuck down the ramp to hide under the ring while one of his own promos played on the screen.
Seth Rollins went on about Bray Wyatt and said with everything he’s been through Bray’s not going to be the guy standing in front of him. He said his action speak for him and he doesn’t have to tell people “I’m here.”
Golden Truth vs The Club (In Theory)
They let The Golden Truth do their whole intro and promo in the ring which was odd. But it soon made sense because right in the middle of Newark New Jersey yelling “what’s up?” GOLDUST ATTACKED R-TRUTH FROM BEHIND!
Goldy beat R-Truth down in the corner as the crowd broke out in a “thank you Goldust” chant. Goldust hit him a few more times for good measure and tossed R-Truth over the rope. Then he stalked R-Truth to the outside and tossed him against a barrier. Goldust beat Truth down a few more times and threw him back in the ring.
Then Goldust kept delivering fists to his head followed by a kick. He grabbed a microphone and said, “that’s what’s up.” He beat him all around the ring with just fists and some kicks. No power moves at all, just a good old fashioned beat down followed by a neat one-liner.
New Jersey Loves Enzo And Big Cass
Enzo and Big Cass are SUPER OVER in New Jersey! It was a sick pop. It sounded like everyone in the arena yelled every word they spoke in their little intro. They hit all the cues perfectly. This was their crowd from the get go.
Enzo said he’s the Michael Jordan of jargon and he was grown right in this state they call The Garden. “Garden grown and born to work a microphone.” But just as he was calling himself a Certified G, Titus O’Neil came down with Apollo Crews following behind him looking very confused by the Enzo Inspired promo was trying to pull off.
The crowd broke out in huge “a–hole chants” and Titus offered his services to Enzo and Cass. They said they didn’t need him and they were doing just fine.
Titus was talking up Apollo facing Enzo and Cass said Titus is facing him. So we’re getting Titus vs Big Cass. Titus said he was in his suit and he couldn’t wrestle. Big Cass said this match is happening and when he’s done with him he’s not going to like the way he looks, he guaranteed it. Then he did the SAWFT deal.
The bell rang and Titus took it to Big Cass. Titus eventually ended up taking off his belt and was going to use it on Cass. The ref stopped him from using the belt and Enzo jumped on the apron. Titus turned around just in time to get a big boot from Cass. 1-2-3 and Big Cass won.
Enzo stayed in the ring to take a selfie and Apollo kicked him in the back of the head. He rolled out of the ring and Cass pulled him to saftey.
Big Cass and Enzo walked back up the ramp as Enzo kept talking trash while Apollo Crews’ music played. This is WWE after all, nobody can go over in their hometown.
TJP and Neville were backstage and TJP said he’s proven to Neville that he should get a title shot now that they beat Gallagher and Aries in that match nobody cared about earlier in the night. Neville said they’ll settle it on 205 Live tomorrow night. Hey, that show’s still on! You should watch it, those guys are trying very hard out there to half of the people who watched SmackDown Live.
Bray Wyatt vs Seth Rollins
Good lord Bray Wyatt’s entrance is incredible. Those fireflies are so cool. Yay for flashlights on cell phones! Yay for lanterns! Yay for dreadlocks! Bray Wyatt is just the best.
Seth Rollins got a pretty good reaction too. Rollins’ metal intro and flashy lights really woke anyone up who was lulled by Wyatt’s entrance. Their entrances are very different and crazy different in mood. You really notice it when you hear and see one after the other.
They started off strong and rallied for top position. Bray went for a cross body but Seth ducked and Bray went flying out of the ring. Seth hit him with a cross body to the outside and continued to take the fight to Bray. He drove Wyatt into the barricade and Wyatt look dazed.
Seth climbed up the barricade but jumped right into a waiting Wyatt’s arms. Bray slammed Rollins into the barricade and turned the tables right around for himself.
Seth Rollins hit Bray with a sidekick but Bray would later take control and back him into a corner. He placed Seth on the top turnbuckle and started punching Seth. The punches were returned and Bray hooked a superplex. Bray landed the powerful superplex on Seth Rollins and got a two-count.
Bray mounted Seth’s back and locked in a submission hold. Rollins fought out of it the best he could, but Bray tried to pull off one of his signature moves. Seth blocked it. Seth sent Bray to the outside. Bray ran back in after punching Seth. Bray charged in the corner and Seth kicked him. Rollins hit a Blockbuster on Bray Wyatt.
They took up the whole screen to plug the fatal five-way for some reason. That was really annoying in the middle of this really good match.
Seth sent Bray into the second turnbuckle and sent him outside. Seth hit him with a dropkick to the outside on Bray and followed it with a suicide dive. He rolled Bray in the ring and hit him with a springboard clothesline to Bray for a two-count.
Rollins tried to suplex Bray, but he wouldn’t budge. Suddenly Bray had Rollins in the Sister Abagail, but Seth reversed out of it. They traded some reversals until Bray clotheslined Seth Rollins and nearly caved his chest in.
Seth started hitting Bray with some strikes and went to the rope, he bounced back right into a unagi suplex from Wyatt for a two-count. Seth hit Bray with a Falcon Arrow. They fought around the ring for a bit and the action was taken to the outside. Seth hit Bray with another dive.
Suddenly Samoa Joe appeared out of nowhere and ambushed Seth Rollins. Joe destroyed Seth and the match was announced in favor of Seth. Bray Wyatt appeared in the corner as he tends to do. He walked up to Samoa Joe and joined in on the beat down to Rollins.
The two looked like best friends until Bray snatched Samoa Joe and hit a quick Sister Abagail. He then turned his focus to Seth Rollins. The Eater Of Worlds scooped up a limp Rollins and nailed him with a Sister Abagail.
“Follow the buzzards!” Bray Wyatt yelled after he dropped to his knees. Raw concluded with the camera on his smiling twisted face while he laughed manically.