Monday Night Raw – July 23, 2018

Monday Night Raw
Date: July 23, 2018
Location: US Bank Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Jonathan Coachman

It’s a big night around here and you know that because the official preview for the show is a big picture of Stephanie McMahon. She has some kind of a major announcement tonight and since she’s Stephanie, that’s put above the #1 contenders match and tonight’s title match. That’s the level of priorities around here so let’s get to it.

The roster (including Nikki Cross) is on the stage and Vince McMahon is in the ring to introduce HHH and Stephanie McMahon for the big announcement. HHH thanks all of the wrestlers across all brands, including NXT. There has never been a stronger bond than the one we have right now and that includes the women’s division.

HHH asks them to come forward so the women’s division (including the Smackdown women’s division) steps to the front. HHH talks about everything the women have done in recent years, including all those main events. Stephanie recaps the Give Divas A Chance and announces the first ever all women’s pay per view, called Evolution.

Cole gives us some more details: the Raw, Smackdown and NXT Women’s Titles will be defended, plus the finals of the Mae Young Classic will take place and the event is October 28 in the Nassau Coliseum.

It’s a cool announcement, but this is WWE’s version of history. Yeah it sucked when WWE was giving the women thirty second matches, but who ok’d those matches? That would be the people in the ring making the big announcement and treating it like the most amazing thing in the world. Throw in there being no real reason for Stephanie to be in there other than she was suddenly part of the whole thing and this wasn’t quite as perfect as WWE would like you to believe it is. Oh and can we get a Sara Amato shout out? I’m certain she’s earned one.

The B Team is thrilled with everything they’ve done in the last few weeks and wouldn’t want this to be with anyone else. They’re ready to defend their titles….which they forget in the locker room.

Elias is in the ring for his song but gets cut off by the first match.

Tag Team Titles: Matt Hardy/Bray Wyatt vs. B Team

The B Team is defending. Bray and Dallas start things off for the family reunion and Wyatt runs him over with little effort. The champs throw Wyatt down but he spiders up to send them outside. Back from a break with Bray fighting out of a chinlock as the Revival watches on. Again. Do something with that already. The hard clothesline sets up the hot tag to Hardy for some clotheslines of his own. The Side Effect gets two and the Twist of Fate gets the same with Axel making the save. Dallas shoves Wyatt into Matt, knocking him into a crucifix to give Axel the retaining pin at 8:17. Axel is rather confused.

Rating: D+. I’m hoping this ends the feud as there’s nothing left for them to do outside of an Ultimate Deletion, which isn’t out of the question for Summerslam. Assuming the B Team retains there though, can we move the Usos to Raw already? They’re stuck doing nothing most of the time and the idea of the Usos vs. Revival sounds great.

Post match Matt says that was wonderful and then beats the B Team down with Wyatt joining in. So yes, it is continuing.

Finn Balor and Chad Gable are in the back, casually talking about Evolution when a production worker comes up, carrying Balor’s gear. Apparently it’s being put in a new dressing room. That would be a doll house, as ordered by Baron Corbin. Baron pops up to make a bunch of jokes about Balor being short. IT’S STILL NOT FREAKING FUNNY!

We recap the Bayley and Sasha Banks story from last week.

Bayley and Sasha say they’re ready to be on the same team (write your own jokes) and they’re very excited about the pay per view. Bayley was glad to hear what Sasha said last week and that’s about it. I’m going to assume more is coming from this later.

There will be legends and past superstars on Evolution. Makes sense given the name, but I’m not sure how necessary they are. There could be some very interesting dream matches in there though.

Sasha Banks/Bayley vs. Samantha Simon/Karen Lundy

Banks knees Simon in the corner to start and cranks on the arm before Bayley comes in for a toss into the corner. A kick to the face sets up the Bank Statement to make Lundy tap at 1:22.

Post match Sasha hugs Bayley…and that’s it.

Here’s Elias again but this time it’s Braun Strowman interrupting. After congratulating the women on getting her own pay per view, it’s time to talk about Bobby Lashley vs. Roman Reigns in the #1 contendership match later tonight. It doesn’t matter who wins because he’ll be cashing in soon. Cue Kevin Owens to talk about Strowman ruining his kids’ dreams because Strowman has shown that Owens is breakable. Now it’s time for Owens to take everything away from him so Strowman says come try it.

This brings out Baron Corbin to say Stephanie has empowered him to handle this. Strowman needs help controlling his temper so here’s Jinder Mahal. We get some breathing exercises but Strowman says this isn’t working. He has Sunil Singh hold up a microphone because it’s time for Strowman’s breathing exercise. Everyone needs to close their eyes and chant with him: GET THESE HANDS! The beatdown doesn’t take long.

We recap the opening announcement.

A bunch of women have tweeted about Evolution.

We look back at Ronda Rousey coming back last week to attack Mickie James and Alexa Bliss. This earned her a Women’s Title match at Summerslam.

Mickie James vs. Natalya

Natalya elbows her down to start but Alexa Bliss offers a distraction so Mickie can take over. A front facelock and chinlock keep Natalya down but she fights up with an electric chair. Another Bliss distraction draws Natalya to the floor though and Mickie hits a superkick for the pin at 3:46.

Rating: D. That front facelock didn’t do them many favors and the match was really just there for the sake of talking about the women’s pay per view a little more. I know it won’t be hyped up this hard for the next three months but they’re already doing that WWE thing where they mention it so much that you start to get a little sick of it early on. At least the match was short though.

Video on WWE winning the Sports Humanitarian Award.

Reigns is going to win tonight and doesn’t care if he’s crammed down our throats because nothing is changing. He’s taking Lesnar’s title at Summerslam.

Elias tries again but this time it’s the Authors of Pain interrupting. They want competition other than Titus Worldwide. Cue Titus Worldwide to say the Authors have a lot to learn about WWE. Rezar: “To do what? How to trip and fall all over ourselves?” Apollo talks about how great Titus has been to him and wants the Authors to show Titus some respect. If they had Titus’ qualities, they would be champions as well as championship quality people. Akam thinks Titus should retire so the fight is on and the Authors are cleared out.

Angle and Stephanie talk about the pay per view some more when Corbin and Owens come in. Stephanie is proud of Owens and asks how he’s doing. Owens is ok and says he wants to face Strowman for the briefcase at Summerslam. Angle says no but Stephanie makes the match. I’m all for the idea of the briefcase being defended.

Tyler Breeze vs. Mojo Rawley

Mojo wastes no time in running Breeze over as we go to an inset interview with Bobby Roode. He’s not happy with what Mojo has said on social media and wants Rawley to stop hiding behind a keyboard. Breeze’s comeback gets him driven into the corner and the sitout Alabama Slam gives Rawley the pin at 2:18.

Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre say their plan is clearly working because Ziggler is Intercontinental Champion and McIntyre doesn’t lose. Tonight he’ll take out Finn Balor.

Elias. Balor this time.

Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre

Balor slugs away at the much bigger McIntyre and a dropkick puts him on the floor. The big flip dive puts McIntyre down again and we take a break. Back with Drew putting on an armbar with a chinlock. Balor fights up and scores with a DDT but it’s too early for the Coup de Grace. Instead he DDTs McIntyre down, drawing in Ziggler for the DQ at 7:11.

Rating: D+. Did we really need the break in there? Anyway this was just a way to set up the tag match next, which gets rather annoying when they’ve been hyping up this match all night long. I could go for Balor being moved into something like this as at least it’s not just a bunch of short jokes.

The beatdown is on until Seth Rollins makes the save. Angle comes out and the tag match is on.

Finn Balor/Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre/Dolph Ziggler

The good guys clean house and we take an early break. Back with Ziggler still in trouble until a dropkick is enough to bring in McIntyre. It’s Balor’s turn to take a beating with Drew slowly pounding him down without much effort. A missed charge allows the hot tag to Rollins though and the pace picks right back up.

The Blockbuster gets two on McIntyre Balor hits the Sling Blade on Ziggler and McIntyre’s reverse Alabama Slam is good for the same on Balor. Rollins grabs a hurricanrana on McIntyre to send him outside, leaving Ziggler all alone. That means the Stomp for the pin, because this feud is continuing by way of the champ getting pinned at 12:05.

Rating: C+. Not that was better, with some great last second saves. This sets up Rollins vs. Ziggler again, likely at Summerslam, which only has so much interest from me. I’m hoping it’s not in a ladder match but rather a way to let Rollins showcase everything he can do. If we’re stuck with Reigns in the main event scene, this is as things are going to be for Rollins.

Lashley promises to win tonight because Reigns will fail again.

Opening sequence recap.

Liv Morgan vs. Ember Moon

Morgan gets aggressive to start, including kneeing Moon down as the announcers talk about the women’s roster. Moon fights up with a jawbreaker and kicks away, including all of the screaming. A faceplant stuns Morgan again and the Eclipse is good for the pin at 3:48.

Rating: D. Moon keeps winning these matches but are they ever actually going anywhere? I know Rousey is getting the Summerslam title match and that makes sense, but beating the same women over and over again isn’t going to do her much good. At least the Eclipse hasn’t lost its effectiveness.

Rollins gets the Intercontinental Title shot against Ziggler at Summerslam.

Elias tries it one more time but here’s Angle…to say he wants to hear a song. That’s cool with Elias, who thinks we should all go out and buy two copies of the album.  But nah, no song for a town like Cincinnati.

Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley

The winner gets Lesnar for the title at Summerslam. Reigns starts fast with the clothesline for an early two and they fight to the floor. The apron dropkick is countered into an overhead belly to belly suplex to put Reigns down and send us to a break. Back with Lashley nailing a spinebuster and grabbing a surfboard.

Reigns gets up and it’s a double clothesline for the double knockdown. They slug it out with Reigns getting the better of it and lifting Lashley to the apron, only to charge into a hard clothesline. Back in and Lashley counters the Superman Punch into a full nelson, followed by a headlock on the mat. Reigns fights up again and sends him shoulder first into the corner, meaning we get the multiple clotheslines.

Lashley is right back with a spinebuster but the spear is countered with….I’m not sure as it looked like it was supposed to be a leap frog but Reigns kneed/thighed him in the face instead. The Superman Punch gets two and Lashley rolls outside for a breather. Reigns slowly follows but can’t get the belly to belly. Instead Lashley throws him back inside for the spear and a rather near fall in a call back to Extreme Rules. Another Superman Punch rocks Lashley and the spear sends Reigns to Summerslam at 18:04.

Rating: B. I mean, is it really even surprising at this point? They’ve gone around the horn so far now that Reigns winning so often has gone from surprising to not surprising to surprising again and now back to not surprising. Who cares if this match makes Reigns 1-1 vs. Lashley? It gives Reigns another chance to fight Lesnar in the most non-epic epic feud that they’ve ever put together.

Lashley and Reigns shake hands and Lashley can barely stand in the aisle. A lot of posing ends the show.

Overall Rating: C. You can tell WWE is paying attention again as we have the bosses back with an announcement that is talked about more than the main event of Wrestlemania despite the show being more than three months away. Also, there has to be some kind of irony in the pay per view being called Evolution and the main event of tonight’s show giving us more of the same exact same match that fans have been sick of seeing for months now. It was a pretty entertaining show if you can get by all the Stephanie/Evolution talk, but now it’s on to Summerslam and Lesnar vs. Reigns. You know, because of course it is.


B Team b. Matt Hardy/Bray Wyatt – Crucifix to Hardy

Sasha Banks/Bayley b. Samantha Simon/Karen Lundy – Bank Statement to Lundy

Mickie James b. Natalya – Superkick

Mojo Rawley b. Tyler Breeze – Sitout Alabama Slam

Finn Balor b. Drew McIntyre via DQ when Dolph Ziggler interfered

Finn Balor/Seth Rollins b. Drew McIntyre/Dolph Ziggler – Stomp to Ziggler

Ember Moon b. Liv Morgan – Eclipse

Roman Reigns b. Bobby Lashley – Spear

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