Monday Night Raw
Date: July 30, 2018
Location: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Jonathan Coachman
You can tell it’s a big night around here as Brock Lesnar is actually gracing us with his presence for the first time in three months. Now a lot of people would find that to be a really bad idea but it’s been the case for a long time in WWE. Just to make it work even better, he’ll be confronting Roman Reigns. Let’s get to it.
In memory of Nikolai Volkoff and Brian Christopher.
We open with a recap of Reigns beating Bobby Lashley last week to become #1 contender.
Lesnar is here. The fact that that is newsworthy tells you a lot about WWE today.
Here’s Reigns in the arena to a mixed reaction. He thanks the fans in Miami for always having a special energy that you don’t get everywhere else. Reigns thanks Lashley for last week because that was a heck of a fight and he respects Lashley for it. He doesn’t respect Lesnar though because Lesnar doesn’t have time to show up here like he does in the UFC. Lesnar is coming to Summerslam and Reigns is going to hit him in the mouth.
This brings out Paul Heyman, to talk about the definition of insanity being trying the same thing over and over again and expecting the same result. If that’s true, Reigns should be in a padded room somewhere. This week’s spoiler: Heyman is going to put Reigns down and then become a two sport champion.
Reigns: “Just shut up Paul.” He wants Lesnar out here right now but Heyman says Lesnar will be out here if and when he feels like it. Lesnar will be at Summerslam but Reigns cuts him off, saying if Lesnar shows up he’ll be sent back to the UFC as Reigns’ b****. Cole says the show is in three weeks, annoying me as usual. It’s twenty days, not three weeks.
Brock is in the back reading Backwoodsman Magazine when Heyman comes in. He doesn’t watch the show so he didn’t hear what Reigns said. Heyman recorded Reigns’ statements but Lesnar throws the phone against the wall and continues reading. I hope Heyman bills him for that.
Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin
Yes this is still going. Corbin powers him into the corner to start and shoulders Balor down as it’s one sided to start. A middle rope dropkick gets Balor out of trouble as we’re firmly in power vs. speed here. Corbin clotheslines the heck out of him though and we take a break. Back with Corbin grabbing a chinlock and shaking the heck out of Balor.
That’s broken up but Corbin does his slide underneath the ropes for the clothesline back inside. The slow beating continues (makes sense as Corbin doesn’t see Balor as a threat) and it’s off to a chinlock. One heck of a right hand drops Balor again and a weak CORBIN SUCKS chant starts up. Balor sweeps the leg and hits a double stomp, followed by an enziguri to put Corbin on the floor. The big flip dive drops him again and we take a second break.
Back again with Balor holding a chinlock, just in case you didn’t get the point the first time. The chokeslam is countered into a rollup and the Sling Blade rocks Corbin. Balor’s shotgun dropkick gets caught in a chokebreaker and Corbin hammers away, showing his first anger and aggression over eighteen minutes in. A very spinny Deep Six gets two and Balor rolls to the floor where he hits the shotgun dropkick against the ropes. Back in and the Coup de Grace misses, setting up the End of Days to give Corbin the pin at 20:14(!).
Rating: C-. This match was a great example of a lot of the problems in WWE. This was a rematch from Extreme Rules where Corbin got overconfident and lost. Therefore, Corbin, whose entire issue in this feud has been that he doesn’t think anything of Balor, should have been taking this more seriously and being extra aggressive. That happened for about thirty seconds of the match with Corbin acting like everything was normal. They acted as if the Extreme Rules match, as in the PAY PER VIEW match (which went 8:20, or less than half the length of this), didn’t change anything. If it doesn’t matter, why should I watch?
Kurt Angle yells at Heyman about Lesnar not appearing in front of the live crowd. If Angle wants to fix things, he can go do it himself. That’s not cool with Angle, who threatens to fire Heyman if Lesnar doesn’t go to the ring at some point.
Long video on the Evolution announcement last week. My goodness please don’t let them do this for three months.
Alexa Bliss comes up to Alicia Fox in the back and wants her to take tonight’s match against Natalya seriously. Ronda Rousey’s suspension is done and she’s going to be in Natalya’s corner tonight. Fox needs to worry about Natalya and Natalya alone but Fox has this. Tonight, she’s going to make Natalya’s cat say meow.
Alicia Fox vs. Natalya
Bliss and Rousey are the seconds. Natalya goes aggressive to start and tries an early Sharpshooter but Fox gets to the floor and pulls Natalya into the ring skirt. After beating the heck out of a tied up Natalya, Fox grabs the chinlock inside. That goes as long as you might expect but an abdominal stretch lasts a lot longer. Fox even one ups it by jumping up and wrapping her legs around Natalya’s waist (that’s a new one). The bridging northern lights suplex gets two and Fox goes after Rousey, allowing Bliss to get in a cheap shot. Fox’s running big boot is good for the pin at 5:05.
Rating: D+. There’s something likable about Fox and it’s good to have her back. If nothing else another person on the roster lets you keep some matches fresh instead of burning through the same ones over and over again. The match was more storyline than wrestling but Fox looked better than she did in most of her pre-injury matches.
Post match Rousey goes after Fox and hits the spinning Samoan drop. The numbers get the better of her for a bit but the villains get chased off.
Heyman is trying to get Lesnar (now reading American Frontiersman) to go to the arena but the offer of a hero’s welcome doesn’t do much for Brock. Lesnar says Heyman is getting under his skin so go get him a steak (medium well), baked potato and steamed broccoli. Make that medium rare and you have a heck of a meal.
Rousey is furious and wants a match before Summerslam or she’ll get suspended again. Angle gives her Fox next week.
Here’s Elias for a song. After a little guitar, Elias puts over his album and says he could have gone even higher on the charts but he was interrupted by Bobby Lashley. The fans start to cheer but Elias doesn’t want to hear from people who worship musicians like Pitbull and actors like the Rock. That brings on a ROCKY chant and Elias isn’t happy.
Elias has a song about how much he can’t stand the Rock but here’s Lashley to interrupt. That’s fine with Elias, because Lashley must want to sing with him. Elias starts playing Rockin’ Robin and Lashley joins in. Shockingly enough he can’t sing and Elias beats him down. A belly to belly sends Elias flying in short order.
Kevin Owens approves of what Corbin did and says Corbin is his son’s new favorite wrestler. Owens is concerned about the Lesnar situation because Brock is insulting Stephanie McMahon’s authority. If Brock goes out there, Strowman could cash in the briefcase before Owens has a chance to win it in the match Stephanie made. Corbin says that’s not his problem and Braun can cash in anytime.
We look back at Braun Strowman destroying Jinder Mahal last week.
Braun Strowman vs. Jinder Mahal
Jinder’s shanti is cut off by a GET THESE HANDS chant and a shove into the corner. Cue Kevin Owens to grab the briefcase and the chase is on with Strowman getting the case back and chasing Owens up the ramp for the countout at 1:36.
Strowman comes back and chases Mahal off.
Corbin brings Angle the phone so he can talk to Stephanie. She has an idea, even though Angle thinks the fans will be disappointed. Stephanie doesn’t care because we need to protect the main event of Summerslam.
A bunch of midcarders are in the locker room when Mojo Rawley comes in. He calls all of them out for not believing in his, just like everyone else he’s run down. Bobby Roode comes in with a slow clap so Mojo asks if he’s about to be catchphrased into submission. The fight is on with agents and referees coming in to break it up while the wrestlers want more brawling.
Apollo Crews vs. Akam
Before the match, the Authors promise to destroy everyone. Akam powers him down and puts n a very early cobra clutch. Crews fight up with a series of kicks to the head and the standing moonsault for two. The toss powerbomb doesn’t work but Akam misses a charge into the corner and gets rolled up for the pin at 2:57.
Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre
Dolph Ziggler is in Drew’s corner. The announcers are pushing the nickname Scottish Terminator for McIntyre. An early suplex muscles Rollins up and McIntyre sends him outside. A catapult sends Rollins throat first into the metal ring structure and we take a break. Back with Rollins hitting back to back to back suicide dives to send McIntyre into the barricade. I know McIntyre is called the Terminator but Rollins seems to have a throat of steel.
McIntyre is fine enough to get two off a spinebuster but a powerbomb is countered into a hurricanrana. Rollins superkicks him and McIntyre wants another, so Seth grants the request. It’s not enough to keep McIntyre down for the frog splash and super White Noise gives McIntyre two. If you’re going to use a move like that, it should be a pin. Rollins gets out of the Alabama Slam and hits the Stomp, drawing in Ziggler for the DQ at 9:22.
Rating: B-. Well they got the ending right, and that’s what matters here. McIntyre is getting better and better and the fact that they’re protecting him means a lot. As usual though, these matches just make you wonder why it’s not McIntyre as champion with Ziggler as his lackey. That being said, the throat into the steel and the super White Noise should have been much bigger deals than they were, but here they’re just spots in a ten minute match on Raw.
We recap Brock won’t come out and play.
Angle comes in to tell Reigns that since Lesnar will be in the arena tonight, Reigns needs to leave the building on Stephanie’s orders. Reigns asks when this is going to end because Angle isn’t a yes man. Corbin brings in security to escort Reigns from the building so Reigns pops him in the jaw.
Here’s the B Team for a chat. Charly Caruso asks about their change over the summer and the success it has brought them. Dallas: “Well Charles, the B in B Team stands for dream!” They’ve gotten the support from the B Teamers (dang it I like that) but the Deleters of Worlds don’t think much of them.
Here they are behind the champs with Matt Hardy saying this success is a cosmic anomaly. Bray talks about how dreams are fleeting but nightmares are real. They will never stop haunting the B Team but here’s the Revival to interrupt. Dawson says they’re the top of the division and a brawl breaks out with the Revival being cleared out in short order.
Matt Hardy/Bray Wyatt vs. Revival
Joined in progress with the B Team on commentary and Bray doing the spider walk to Wilder. Matt comes in and gets pulled into a Boston crab with Dawson dropping a bunch of legs. The champs talk about not sleeping since winning the titles, what the B stands for, and not being scared of the Revival. Revival takes turns on the commentary as Dallas expresses his disdain for fists and flips.
A Side Effect gets Matt out of trouble and it’s off to Bray vs. Wilder again. Bray’s body block takes him down and we get what sounds like a CM PUNK chant. Dawson dropkicks Bray and everything breaks down with Matt and Dawson fighting to the floor. Now it’s a RUSEV DAY chant as Wilder slips out of Sister Abigail. The Shatter Machine ends Bray at 5:54.
Rating: D+. It’s great to see the Revival win, even though I fully expect it to be a triple threat at Summerslam because we just had to have the rematch last week with Matt and Bray losing again. The thing is we’ve established that winning and losing mean nothing around here so it’s not that big of a shock.
Rollins talks about tired of getting jumped 2-1 when he’s jumped 2-1.
Riott Squad vs. Bayley/Sasha Banks
Sasha and Bayley now have matching jackets and want to be called the Boss and Hug Connection. No. Logan starts with an armbar on Bayley, who easily spins her down for a break. Banks comes in for the running Meteora and we hit the armbar. The announcers manage to stop talking about Reigns and Lesnar to talk about Evolution as Bayley hits a running knee in the corner.
Banks adds a Meteora on the apron and we take a break. Back with Banks in a chinlock until Morgan comes in for a chinlock of her own. What a versatile team. Banks gets up and throws her down for the hot tag to Bayley. A running knee to Morgan’s head has her in trouble and there’s the running elbow in the corner. Bayley hurricanranas Morgan down for a top rope Meteora (third of the match) from Banks. Bayley comes in off a blind tag and a Backstabber into the Bayley to Belly finishes Morgan at 8:48.
Rating: C-. I’m sick of Meteoras and I’m not sure what they’re doing with this Bayley/Banks story. It seems that they’re already dropping the Banks loves Bayley thing, or at least they’re not mentioning it at the moment. In a way that’s a relief but in another way it’s annoying because that was actually interesting after months of the same “they’re friends/they hate each other” stuff. I hope we get somewhere by Summerslam, because as much as I like both of them, I don’t know how much longer I can take this story running on a treadmill.
Heyman begs Lesnar to go out there so they can go be at a private steakhouse in 25 minutes. Lesnar’s pay has been confirmed so he doesn’t seem interested. Heyman finally explains the situation and asks him to do it as a friend. Lesnar grabs him by the jacket and says they’re not friends but just business associates. Therefore, Heyman needs to go out there and do his job.
Here are Angle and Corbin to address Heyman and Lesnar. Heyman does come out with no energy, knowing what’s about to happen. The fans greet him with the Goodbye Song and Heyman says Lesnar isn’t coming out here tonight. That sends Angle over the edge into a rant about what a champion does, like doing charity work, reaching out to the community, and DEFENDING THE TITLE. Angle: “BROCK LESNAR MUST BE THE WORST UNIVERSAL CHAMPION OF ALL TIME!” Fans: “YES!!!”
Heyman actually agrees and says he tried to rehabilitate Lesnar because he’s one of the few people Lesnar tolerates. Kurt doesn’t buy it but Heyman says take this out on Lesnar because Brock doesn’t respect anyone. However, Heyman thinks the world of Angle and would like to have a better working relationship with him. Angle fires him anyway, sending Heyman diving to Angle’s leg.
Cue Lesnar to give Heyman the greatest relief of his life. Lesnar finally gets in and hands the belt to Heyman before grabbing a mic. That’s rarely a good idea. He asks if Angle and Corbin have a problem with him….and there’s an F5 to Angle before a word is said. Corbin immediately leaves and Heyman slaps Brock on the back. Brock grabs him by the face and makes Heyman look at Angle. The fans want Strowman (or maybe Roman) but get Brock leaving to end the show. So yeah, that’s it and no, this isn’t going to get the result that the company wants, especially in New York.
Overall Rating: D+. They tried, but this didn’t get where it needed to go. The Lesnar story dominated the night and really, it might have been better if he just didn’t show up until Summerslam. I understand the idea of Lesnar hating the fans and the company but that’s not exactly fresh information. Lesnar’s character hasn’t been the problem. As usual the problem is Reigns, and tonight didn’t do anything to make me want to see him conquer Lesnar. Until that changes, Summerslam is another version of what hasn’t worked before.
Other than that, Evolution continues to loom over the women’s division, Ziggler continues to make you wonder why he’s in the spot he’s occupying, Strowman continues to have nothing to do because we’re waiting on Roman and Money in the Bank has to exists and Balor loses to Corbin because….well you have to validate Corbin’s role somehow. It just seems like everything is on Reigns vs. Lesnar, which didn’t work the first time and isn’t likely to work here. With that dominating the show, there’s not much the rest of the people involved can do, especially when the stories aren’t great in the first place.
Baron Corbin b. Finn Balor – End of Days
Alicia Fox b. Natalya – Big boot
Jinder Mahal b. Braun Strowman via countout
Apollo Crews b. Akam – Rollup
Seth Rollins b. Drew McIntyre via DQ when Dolph Ziggler interfered
Revival b. Matt Hardy/Bray Wyatt – Shatter Machine to Wyatt
Bayley/Sasha Banks b. Riott Squad – Bayley to Belly to Morgan
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