Monday Night Raw
Date: June 11, 2018
Location: Verizon Arena, Little Rock, Arkansas
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Jonathan Coachman
It’s the final Raw before Money in the Bank and that means…well nothing more than a pair of four way matches between the four Raw qualifiers for the ladder matches. I’m sure the winner will get to climb to a lower briefcase or something, because that’s the only kind of advantage you can get in a ladder match. Let’s get to it.
We open with all eight Money in the Bank participants in the ring on ladders (with Braun Strowman WAY in the air). Cue Kurt Angle to explain the Money in the Bank concept but here’s a now bald Baron Corbin to interrupt. He threatens Angle with Stephanie McMahon and the eight participants start to bicker over who is going to win.
Natalya insists that she’s healthy to go and Owens goes on a rant about how unfair it is for Strowman to be so tall. Roode: “Owens, do you want the briefcase lowered to your height?” Owens: “That sounds like a great idea!” Strowman cuts them off and says he’s going to win. Bliss screeches a lot and the women start saying their Mixed Match Challenge partners are going to win. Strowman says someone is going to get these hands on Sunday. This was a big waste of time, but so is most everything else they do around Money in the Bank time.
Alexa Bliss vs. Natalya vs. Ember Moon vs. Sasha Banks
Bliss makes another entrance for whatever reason. Moon throws Bliss down with a fall away slam and Bliss backs into Banks. With Bliss sent into the barricade, Moon dropkicks Natalya down but gets rolled up by Banks for two. We get the Natalya vs. Banks showdown but Natalya’s knee is still banged up. Natalya gets taken down again and it’s Moon taking her place, only to be kicked away.
Sasha flips onto Natalya but Moon hits a SCARY suicide dive to drive Banks into the barricade. Bliss steals the near fall and we take a break. Back with Bliss clearing the ring and working on Natalya’s knee until Banks comes back in for some clotheslines. Moon is back in for some knees to the face but Bliss gives her a Code Red for two. The Meteora gives Banks the same and we go split screen for a Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax video. This show really is everything I can’t stand about modern WWE wrapped together.
Back to full screen with Twisted Bliss hitting knees as we take a break. We come back with Natalya breaking up the Bank Statement on Bliss but hurting her knee in the process. She’s fine enough to put Banks in the Sharpshooter until Moon makes the save with a superkick. The Eclipse drops Natalya but Bliss makes another save. Banks comes in and gets knocked out again, leaving Natalya to make Bliss tap to the Sharpshooter at 20:39.
Rating: C+. The match was the same batch of diving saves and near falls that they all are, which means it was at least entertaining. What it wasn’t though was meaningful in any way as this has nothing to do with giving you an advantage in a ladder match. Then again, that’s never stopped WWE before because they came up with this blueprint years ago and haven’t changed it a bit since.
We run down the pay per view card.
Owens comes in to see Balor and brings some olives (Owens: “I didn’t have an olive branch.”). He wants an alliance on Sunday because someone like Strowman could hold the title forever. Maybe the two of them and Bobby Roode could take out Strowman tonight so he doesn’t even make the ladder match. Owens: “Enjoy the olives.”
Breezango vs. Dolph Ziggler/Drew McIntyre
Ziggler jumps Breeze, who has a beard for some reason, as Cole tries to say that he thinks Ziggler and McIntyre can be former Tag Team Champions. McIntyre comes in for a hard shot to the face but an enziguri gets Breeze out of trouble. The hot tag brings in Fandango, who gets dropped in short order. McIntyre powerbombs Breeze onto Fandango and brings Ziggler back in for the superkick. The Zig Zag/Claymore combination ends Fandango at 3:17.
Rating: D+. Just a squash win for Ziggler and McIntyre, even if Ziggler still doesn’t need to be there. I’m hoping this team is split up before too long as every day that McIntyre isn’t pushed as a single star is a waste of time. He’s a top level star in the making and he’s stuck with Ziggler, who hasn’t been able to make anything stick for years.
Post match McIntyre says this is the proof of how great they are. This isn’t just hype so every team in the bank can know what’s coming. They’re here to make the tag team division right, and they’ll do that by winning the titles.
Roman Reigns says Jinder Mahal has earned this whipping by being stupid. Tonight it’s time to deliver a receipt. It’s almost eerie that he’s a little more tolerable with Mahal just because he’s not chasing the title again.
Jinder Mahal vs. Roman Reigns
Before the match, Mahal talks about wanting to see Reigns laying on the mat this Sunday with Mahal’s hand raised in victory. Reigns comes out but hang on because Mahal has Singh get in the ring too. See, Mahal challenged Reigns to a match, but he never said it would be with him, so it’s Singh instead. I had that written down before Mahal even came to the ring because it would be the most annoying, cliched thing they could do.
Roman Reigns vs. Sunil Singh
Superman Punch and spear in 1:11.
Post match Mahal gives Reigns the Khallas.
B Team vs. Rhyno/Heath Slater
Axel and Slater start with Bo dropping some knees for an early two. That means we’re already in the chinlock until Slater fights up in short order. Rhyno gets knocked off the apron and a belly to back suplex/neckbreaker combination is good for the pin on Slater at 1:42.
Post match Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy appear on screen to say they’re here. By that they mean on the stage where they know the B Team is scared. Matt threatens to eat them.
Here’s Elias for the song. This is the last performance before he wins the Intercontinental Title so he needs to be able to concentrate. The song mocks Seth’s nicknames and his training (“Seth Freaking Rollins. Am I supposed to think that’s cool? And I get it, you do CrossFit, so I definitely know that you are a tool.”), going on longer than any other song he’s ever done. Elias even has a special guitar, painted up like the Intercontinental Title. It was given to him by John Mayer and next week it’s going to look great with his new title.
Cue Rollins to chase him off and yells about everything Elias has done in recent weeks. Rollins thinks Elias is cool with the spotlight and the guitars….as he looks at the custom guitar. He teases breaking it but instead says this seems like the perfect time for a charity auction. Elias offers to bid on it so Rollins puts the guitar on the mat and gives it the Stomp. Coach: “That was from one of the greatest hip hop artists of our generation!” Corey calls him out for stupidity so Coach says that John Mayer and Jay-Z (I guess he thinks Jay-Z plays guitar) are the same thing.
Owens tries to get Roode on his side tonight too.
The Riott Squad makes a big mess in the back on their way to the ring.
Ruby Riott vs. Bayley
Ruby punches her into the corner to start but Bayley gets all fired up. That means a takedown and some right hands of her own, followed by the middle rope elbow to the back. Riott heads outside so Bayley follows her and tries a baseball slide underneath the bottom rope…which she leaves short for a terrible looking miscalculation. Instead she suplexes Riott on the floor and we take a break.
Back with Bayley being sent face first into the middle buckle and Riott grabbing an armbar. Thirty seconds after a full break, we go to a split screen for another MITB ad. Bayley fights up with a whip into the corner but a running knee bangs up her bad shoulder. The top rope elbow missing makes things even worse and Ruby rolls her up for two. Back up and the Squad offers a distraction, allowing Riott to send Bayley shoulder first into the post. The Riott Kick is good for the pin at 11:28.
Rating: D+. That missed slide in the corner was a big problem, along with how there wasn’t much of a reason to have these women fight. This one was more about filling in time on a show where they don’t have much else to do. It’s sad to see how far Bayley has fallen in about a year, but never let it be said that WWE can’t turn someone with potential into one of their standard performers.
Post match Ruby draws an R on Bayley’s stomach with a marker.
Natalya tells Ronda Rousey to look out for Nia Jax tonight.
Here’s Coach to moderate a face to face showdown between Rousey and Jax (the second time since the match was announced). Nia says they’re both elite athletes and she’s purposely pushed Rousey’s buttons over the last few weeks. Rousey has a lot of great things about her but she’s still very new in WWE. Her success came from outside of WWE and there are some different rules around here. Nia lists off some things in MMA that you can’t do around here and promises a demonstration on Sunday. Rousey says she improvises and on Sunday she’ll improvise Nia’s arm off.
Nia points out that Rousey’s one match was against a businesswoman who competes part time (and HHH, who Stephanie has apparently absorbed) and it’s clear that Nia isn’t ready. That’s too much for Rousey, who lists off all the times where she’s been told she wasn’t ready and all the times she’s proven them wrong. Rousey: “I am Ronda Rousey and I was born ready.”
Nia stands up and has her punch blocked but a headbutt puts Rousey down. Rousey pulls her down for the armbar attempt and eventually makes her tap…for a bell? Anyway, good of them to confirm that Rousey can put the armbar on Jax after we saw her put it on the bigger and stronger HHH.
Curt Hawkins vs. No Way Jose
Hawkins is now at 200 losses in a row…and he’s not here. The referee starts the count but Hawkins is in the conga line and grabs a rollup for two. The pop up right hand gives Jose the pin at 47 seconds.
Roode and Balor aren’t sure who to trust in the four way.
Video on a Special Olympian who does powerlifting. Nothing wrong with that.
Back from a break and we’ve got an obstacle course, which Sami Zayn has set up to prove that Bobby Lashley used to be in the army. Simply put, if Lashley can complete the course faster than Sami, he’ll prove himself. Sami goes over the entire course and has heard that Green Berets can do this in about two minutes. He did it in a minute and a half earlier today, with a bad hand and no warmup.
Lashley comes out and promises to win because we’re actually doing this. Renee Young flips a coin and Lashley gets to go first. Lashley finishes with ease in 42 seconds, even though the clock keeps going. Of course Sami jumps him from behind and hits a Helluva Kick as soon as Lashley gets down. I can’t begin to fathom how the meeting went when this was set up.
The trio keeps planning when Strowman comes in and tells them to team up on him.
Finn Balor vs. Bobby Roode vs. Kevin Owens vs. Braun Strowman
Strowman clears the ring to start and we take an early break. Back with Strowman getting triple teamed and Owens asking who the monster is now. Strowman fights them off again as the announcers make their picks for Sunday. For some reason Owens tries a cheap shot on Strowman and then bails to the floor, which has gone so well for him with Strowman for months now. Strowman shrugs off Balor and Roode so he can chase Owens to the back. The chase doesn’t last long as Strowman throws him back through the entrance and it’s monster time.
Balor joins them on stage and gets sent into the set, leaving Strowman to load up the announcers’ table. Roode is back up with a ladder and some shots to the ribs have Strowman in trouble. They put Strowman on the table and Owens climbs a table for a big frog splash. Back from another break with Owens and Strowman down, leaving us with the not very thrilling Roode vs. Balor match.
Both guys go down so let’s hit that split screen Rousey vs. Jax ad. Balor kicks him out to the floor before hitting the Sling Blade back inside. Owens is back in to break up the Coup de Grace but Balor knocks him off the top. The required Tower of Doom puts everyone down and Strowman is on his feet. Roode and Balor get knocked down so Strowman catches Owens going into the crowd.
Back at ringside, the injured Strowman runs them all over but Balor manages to get some boots up in the corner. A top rope double stomp to back staggers Strowman again so he shoulders Balor down to get a breather. Roode and Owens get back together on Strowman until Owens rolls him Roode up for two. Balor hits the Sling Blade on Strowman and there’s the shotgun dropkick. There’s the Coup de Grace with Roode making the save because this just can’t end.
Roode hits the Glorious DDT on Strowman but Owens makes the save. Another frog splash gets two on Strowman so let’s bring in a ladder. Well if Owens could do this before, why did he wait so long? Strowman absorbs two shots to the ribs and chokeslams Owens (Owens: “I’M SORRY!”). The powerslam onto the ladder ends Owens at 25:57.
Rating: C-. The Balor vs. Roode part really hurt this but the bigger problem is the booking of Strowman. Looking at what happened to him in this match, why in the world would I believe that anyone can beat him in a singles match? Brock beat him clean but unless Lesnar returns from his spring and summer vacation early, there’s nothing for Strowman to do and with no one who could beat him (save for Roman of course), we’re stuck sitting around waiting on something for Strowman to find something to do or for him to cool off. What a great way to use a guy who only gets over like this every few years at best.
Overall Rating: D. This felt like a sandwich with the ladder matches as the bread and whatever else they could find filling out the middle. It’s not a bad show but it’s really, really boring as it was as much talk about Money in the Bank as I can handle. That’s how you’re supposed to do a go home show but it doesn’t have the same effect when they’ve been doing the same thing for five weeks now. This show is dying for something fresh but odds are we’re just stuck waiting around until the build to Summerslam at this point. At least Sunday can get us on to something different and I’ll take what I can get right now.
Natalya b. Alexa Bliss, Ember Moon and Sasha Banks – Sharpshooter to Bliss
Dolph Ziggler/Drew McIntyre b. Breezango – Zig Zag/Claymore combination to Fandango
B Team b. Heath Slater/Rhyno – Belly to back suplex/neckbreaker to Slater
Ruby Riott b. Bayley – Riott Kick
No Way Jose b. Curt Hawkins – Pop up right hand
Braun Strowman b. Finn Balor, Kevin Owens and Bobby Roode – Powerslam onto a ladder to Owens
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