June 26, 2017
From the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T
Roman Reigns heads out to the ring to kick off the show. We are shown clips of Braun Strowman returning last week and beating on Reigns then challenging him to an Ambulance Match at the Great Balls of Fire PPV. A “We Want Strowman” chant can be heard then Reigns says he will tell it like it is and that we might like where he is going. He talks about Samoa Joe finally putting him in the Coquina Clutch where he put him to sleep. Then, he Strowman came out like a coward and attacked him when he was down. Reigns accepts Strowman’s challenge and promises to lock Strowman into the ambulance and drive him “straight to hell” because “this is his yard” then we hear sirens as an ambulance is backing up into the arena. Reigns heads out to the ambulance and stares at the doors. He looks inside then opens it up as its empty. However, Strowman ambushes Reigns from behind then tosses him from the floor halfway up the stage. He heads up where Reigns fights back but Strowman blocks a Superman Punch and launches Reigns into the ambulance. Strowman then tosses Reigns inside and shuts the doors as the fans mostly cheer. The ambulance drives off now as Strowman poses on stage.
The segment was short compared to most opening segments on RAW but it was effective. Strowman tossing Reigns into the ambulance looked awesome. This is a match to look forward to at Great Balls of Fire.
Also, Finn Balor & The Hardy Boyz vs. Elias Samson & Cesaro & Sheamus will happen after the break. And Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe will be here tonight as well.
Elias Samson is in the ring with his guitar, flanked by Cesaro & Sheamus. The spotlight is on as Samson tells us that for tonight he formed a trio to give us the song we deserve. However, the Hardy Boyz come out to interrupt.
Elias Samson & Cesaro & Sheamus vs. The Hardy Boyz & Finn Balor
Lots of “delete” chants for Matt, who starts off with Sheamus. Matt gets the best of him then the Hardy Boyz & Balor clear the ring before heading to commercial. The show returns with Jeff trapped in the wrong corner as Josh Duhamel from “Transformers” is a guest on commentary as he puts over the show and how he met Vince McMahon. Duhamel also announces WWE Studios Film “Buddy Games” that stars Nick Swardson and will also include Sheamus, who is now beating on Balor. Samson lands some shots but Balor fights back until Sheamus attacks from behind. Sheamus works a backbreaker submission as Duhamel now talks about his USA Network as Balor escapes and makes the tag. Jeff runs wild but Cesaro pulls his partner out to safety so Jeff decides to fly out and hit Cesaro. Jeff gets his leg held by Samson on the apron and that allows Sheamus to hit a bicycle knee smash for a two count as we head to another commercial. The action returns as the heels are cutting off the ring with Jeff in trouble. Sheamus gets two with the Irish Curse then Jeff finally fights back to hit a jawbreaker as both men are down. Both men tag out as Matt runs wild on Samson. Sheamus breaks up a pin after a Side Effect then tags in as the champs hit Matt with a double-team move but Balor makes the save. Cesaro walks into a jawbreaker then Balor tags and runs wild. He takes out the tag champs with a tope con hilo then back inside sets up Cesaro for the Coup de Grace, after waiting for the Hardy Boyz to take out Samson & Sheamus on the outside, then hits that for the win (17:27) **1/2.
Thoughts: It picked up towards the end but this was a pedestrian match. The parts of the match that focused on Duhamel’s commentary was wrestled like the guys all knew the attention of the commentary was elsewhere. On commentary they mentioned that the Hardy Boyz wanted a title rematch so expect that to happen at the PPV. Also expect Balor vs. Samson at the PPV too.
We get a promo from Goldust. He quotes something from the film “Beetlejuice” then talks about how he brings his “A” game and shines like gold when the cameras are on as tonight, he will put the finishing touches on his masterpiece. This is to hype his match tonight against R-Truth.
Next, we are supposed to get Goldust vs. R-Truth. However, Goldust attacks R-Truth by using his own personal cameraman, decked out in a gold robe, as a shield. He beats on Truth and orders the cameraman to get close up shots then is finally stopped by the ref as the match does not take place. They have now added a cameraman to the Goldust gimmick as this segment seems designed to build to another match that can also take place at Great Balls of Fire.
Charly Caruso is backstage with Paul Heyman. She asks him about social media being on fire in anticipation of his client, Brock Lesnar, being here tonight. Heyman says Lesnar will call out Samoa Joe, who comes up from behind and puts his arms around Heyman’s neck. Joe tells him he’s not here to harm him as he just wants Lesnar.
We are shown the brawl from last week’s show with all of the women as it leads to tonight’s Gauntlet Match to determine the new #1 contender to the RAW Women’s Title.
Backstage, Kurt is twirling the numbers to determine the order for the Gauntlet match. Bayley picks her number and seems pleased with the result. Throughout the show they showed the women picking their numbers.
Miz TV with guests the Ball Family. Maryse accompanies Miz to the ring but does turn her face to avoid a kiss from him as she is still not happy. The ring is set up with a pair of mannequins that feature Big Baller Brand t-shirts. He talks up the newest Los Angeles Laker Lonzo Ball’s father LaVar and younger son LaMelo. LaVar then does some wacky run down the ramp then ends up introducing his son LaVar. This crowd does not seem all that thrilled to be honest. Miz then tries to talk up Lonzo and talks about a partnership but LaVar cuts him off and says Miz is “too low” for the Big Baller Brand right now. LaVar tries to diss Miz using some awful insults then takes off his shirt and does some wacky posing and runs around as Dean Ambrose interrupts, wearing a BBB t-shirt. We then head to commercial. The segment actually got cut early due to LaMelo yelling “beat that N*gga ass.”
If you see this being shown on ESPN as a sign of success for the WWE, then in your eyes its a success. People will want to see LaVar, a polarizing figure, make an ass out of himself. And he certainly did that here. It will likely get a lot of page views. However, in terms of an actual wrestling segment, it was embarrassing. The segment itself was poor and the insults written for LaVar were terrible (like Miz standing for “Millions of Zippers” when referencing his jacket). It made the WWE come off as a lame product. Plus, it had to be cut off due to profanity. And poor Lonzo. He was in the building the team he drafted for plays in and the fans in attendance barely reacted to the guy.
The Miz w/ Maryse & Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas vs. Dean Ambrose & Rhyno & Heath Slater
Ambrose beats on Dallas to start. Rhyno & Slater now work over Axel but Rhyno gets backed into the wrong corner then Miz tags in and hammers away. Rhyno fights back and chops Miz in the corner but Miz reverses an Irish whip and sends Rhyno into the corner. The heels cut off the ring until Rhyno is able to fight back then tag out. Ambrose runs wild then Rhyno & Slater join him as they clear the ring before heading to break. We return as Axel has Slater in an armbar. Miz tags in and hits the “Yes Kicks” that Graves tells us is now called the “It Kicks.” Slater fights back but Dallas cuts off a tag attempt and is back in trouble. Slater catches Miz with a leg lariat then tags out as Rhyno now runs wild on Dallas. He get a nearfall with a spinebuster after Miz makes the save then the match breaks down with Axel nailing Rhyno from the apron then Dallas rolls Rhyno up for the win (12:21) **1/4.
Thoughts: It was all-action for the most part, even if it was nothing special, and giving Axel & Dallas the win makes sense as they are in new roles and need some credibility. I expect the two against Rhyno & Slater soon, possibly at the Great Balls of Fire kickoff show.
We are now shown older clips of Enzo Amore & Big Cass talking about their friendship. However, we get clips from last week where Cass revealed that he had been the one laying out Enzo backstage and laid into him for being dead weight and a loudmouth that writes checks his ass can’t cash before laying him out.
Enzo is shown walking alone backstage just before the break.
Back from break, Enzo Amore heads out to the ring. He goes through his routine then tells us that he’s not doing too well right now. Enzo said he tried to reach out to Cass all week long and even reached out to his mother but wants to talk it out man-to-man and will stay here all night if that is what it takes. Cass then comes out, wearing just a generic sleeveless shirt. Enzo asks him if he hears the boos and knows it hurts him, just like he was hurt last week. Enzo then tells Cass he said a lot of things last week but most of them were right. He talks about how they were family then talks about seeing passion in Cass then points out how they are family and how they have to work things out in order to become Tag Team Champions. Cass then speaks and tells Enzo he never learns to shut up but after last week he has never been so ashamed. Cass talks about Enzo being annoying and running his mouth but that’s who he is and they will never change each other. Cass says they are brothers and wants to say he is sorry for everything he did and asks Enzo to accept. The crowd chants for Enzo to say no as Cass extends his hand and the two twalk it out some more then finally shake and hug. Cass then tells us anyone who thought they would throwaway their friendship for this ordeal is S-A-W-F-T. The two celebrate and pose on the ramp where Cass clotheslines Enzo then mocks the crowd. Cass mocks Enzo then raises his arm before pressing him over his head and tossing him down the ramp.
I liked this segment. I cannot say that the swerve at the end was really that unpredictable but Enzo came off quite likable in his promo and Cass showed some strong heel mannerisms at the end. If they have Enzo act less obnoxious and Cass continue to act like a jerk then this feud can really become something I think. Both guys did a fine job tonight.
Back from break, Cass tells Graves he should snap his neck then says whatever dirt he has on Kurt Angle must be good because he’s not allowed to be touched before ordering Graves to stay out of his business. They still seem to be playing up the storyline with some sort of incriminating evidence against Angle.
Curt Hawkins vs. Seth Rollins
Hawkins clotheslines Rollins to start then hammers away. He hits a pair of suplexes that get nearfalls before applying a chinlock. Hawkins tries to trip up Rollins from the outside but gets kicked off o the apron. Rollins flies out with a tope then rolls Hawkins inside and runs wild until he puts Hawkins away with a ripcord knee strike (2:59) *. After the match, Bray Wyatt is on the screen. He laughs then talks about saving Rollins, who he thinks needs to be cleansed by a god. Wyatt then challenges Rollins for a match at Great Balls of Fire.
Thoughts: The match was fine for what it was. However, the promo from Wyatt did nothing for me as his feud with Rollins just does not seem to be getting over with anyone. The Wyatt character needs an overhaul or to go away for a while. Anyway, he challenged Rollins for the PPV and that match seems to be happening.
Heyman is backstage and smiles as Brock Lesnar steps out of a limo.
Back from break, Paul Heyman is in the ring to introduce Brock Lesnar. But first, he tells us that Samoa Joe does not fear Lesnar. Heyman also accuses Joe of cheap-shotting Lesnar and the fact Joe does not fear his client makes him a “Samoan Dumbass.” Lesnar comes out but Joe attacks him from behind on the ramp. After a struggle he puts Lesnar in the Coquina Clutch but Lesnar is able to ram Joe into the screen. They go into the screen again but Joe locks it back on and brings Lesnar to the ground as Lesnar’s face is bright red. The Revival and Karl Anderson come out and pull Joe off as they bring him backstage. This was one hell of a segment and a sample of what to expect at the PPV. They’ve done a great job at building up Joe to this level as the hype for this match has been delivering.
We return from commercial to see a replay of Joe attacking Lesnar.
Lince Dorado vs. Neville
Akira Tozawa is a ringside wearing a suit while in Titus O’Neill’s VIP section. Neville roughs up Dorado to start then taunts Tozawa. He stays in control while mocking everyone and works a side headlock on the mat. Dorado fights back and sends Neville out on the apron with a dropkick then flies out with a tope con hilo through the middle rope. Back inside, Dorado gets two with a crossbody but Neville grabs the mask for leverage then kicks Dorado in the face before the Rings of Saturn get the win (3:00) *. After the match, Neville lays the belt on the mat and dares Tozawa to come in so he does but Titus interrupts. Titus says he finalized a match for Great Balls of Fire between the two then calls Tozawa the newest member of “Titus Worldwide.”
Thoughts: Not much of a match but the big news is that Tozawa vs. Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship will take place at the PPV, with Tozawa as part of the newly named “Titus Worldwide.”
Replay of Strowman attacking Reigns from earlier tonight.
Charly wants Heyman’s reaction over what happened to his client. He says this proves what he says about Joe being the black sheep of the Samoan Family due to the fact he refuses to fight people face-to-face and despite it being a violent fight, Lesnar will become victorious.
Nia Jax walks into Alexa Bliss backstage. Bliss tells Jax they are both alike because judge them based on how they look. She then wishes her luck but Jax tells her she does not need it and will she her and the RAW Women’s Championship at Great Balls of Fire. Alexa is a good, manipulative heel but its clear that Jax is not falling for her crap as these two might be going the “Frenemies” route.
RAW Women’s Championship #1 Contender Gauntlet Match
Bayley vs. Nia Jax
Nia talks trash then shoves Bayley a few times but Bayley fights back. Nia picks up Bayley and drops her on the turnbuckle then hammers away. Bayley finally fights back and hits a running knee strike from the apron and heads up top then drops an elbow for a nearfall. Bayley targets the legs but Nia pushes her into the turnbuckle then puts her away with a Samoan Drop.
Nia Jax vs. Mickie James
This started before the break. Nia beats on Mickie in the corner then puts her in a bearhug. Mickie breaks free and hits a dropkick. She heads up top for a Thesz Press as that gets two and hits a spin kick but Nia blocks a tornado DDT then runs her over for the pin.
Nia Jax vs. Dana Brooke
Dana gets tossed in the corner then rolls away from Nia but is hit in midair then put away with a leg drop.
Nia Jax vs. Emma
Nia drags Emma on to the apron by her hair but Emma fights back. Emma dropkicks Nia then heads up top but Nia catches a crossbody then hits a Samoan Drop for the win.
Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks
Sasha tries to use her speed but is caught on a dive outside. However, she escapes and runs Nia into the post then hits a Meteora before the break. We return with Nia working a chinlock in the ring. Sasha gets tossed outside then returns and fights back. Nia flattens Sasha with a clothesline for a two count then tosses her outside and yells at the ref to count her out. Sasha beats the count and tries to fight back but gets knocked down. Nia hits a scoop slam then drops an elbow for a two count. Sasha is tossed outside once again and re-enters for some more punishment. Nia grows more frustrated as Sasha keeps kicking out. Nia puts on a bearhug then turns that into a deadlift suplex but Sasha is still able to kick out. Sasha blocks a suplex then floats over. Sasha rolls away from an elbow smash then hits a Shining Wizard as both women are down. Sasha tries for the Banks Statement but Nia tosses her aside. Nia then catches Sasha with a Samoan Drop then yells at her to stay down as she grabs her hair before trying another Samoan Drop but Sasha tries for a Banks Statement then brings Nia down and she eventually taps out as Sasha gets the win (28:19) **1/4. After the match, Kurt Angle comes out to congratulate Sasha. Alexa now heads out and taunts Sasha with her belt but gets kicked as Sasha holds up the belt and uses it to taunt the champ.
Thoughts: Ultimately, this match was just too long. I also though they could have given Bayley more time as they had over twenty-eight minutes and they continue to make her look ineffective on TV to the point her character is in danger of never recovering. The crowd barely reacts to her and this is just over four months after they went crazy for her winning the Women’s Title. Nia showed more here than in any other match on the main roster but this got repetitive towards the end with her keep trying to win by countout. Sasha got the win and she is the most over babyface women on the roster and it was pretty obvious by watching on TV over the past few weeks that it was the direction they were going with.
Final Thoughts: Overall, it was a decent show. The build for the top two matches at Great Balls of Fire has been pretty great and the Enzo/Cass segment was fantastic. They also set up for other possible matches at the PPV too. The in-ring action was not too good though and some of this dragged but overall a solid effort.