Monday Night Raw
Date: April 29, 2019
Location: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky
Commentators: Michael Cole, Renee Young, Corey Graves
It’s a homecoming show for me as Rupp Arena hasn’t hosted a Raw since 2010, which was the first Raw there since 2000. Since I live ten minutes from the arena, it was rather nice to not have such a long drive home. Now the problem with that is it was a long show, but that’s Raw for you. Let’s get to it.
As you can tell, I was in the arena for the show, sitting in the upper deck opposite the hard camera. The crowd was the biggest I’ve seen for a Raw in Rupp perhaps ever, which says a lot as Rupp is one of the biggest arenas in the country. The upper deck wasn’t even entirely tarped off, which I never remember seeing.
Cole welcomes us to Rupp Arena from the University of Kentucky. It’s not on the campus, nor is it owned by the University but that hasn’t stopped WWE from saying the same wrong line over and over for years.
Here’s Alexa Bliss to announce the men’s Money in the Bank participants. After explaining the concept for the uninitiated, here are the participants: Braun Strowman, Ricochet (Kentucky boy), Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin (Bliss: “He is the former acting General Manager of Monday Night Raw. Former Golden Gloves….you know I’m not going to list the rest of his accolades. It’s Baron Corbin.”).
Baron wastes no time in insulting the fans by promising to become a two time contract winner. Ricochet: “Or is that two time loser?” The insults abound, with McIntyre accusing Corbin of choking last week against AJ Styles as well. Corbin says it was because he didn’t have the chance to adequately rest between matches but McIntyre doesn’t want to hear it. He also doesn’t want to hear from Ricochet, who isn’t grown up enough for this.
McIntyre promises to drop Corbin and Ricochet where they stand but Strowman tells all of them to shut up. None of them can stop him, so let’s do the preview match right now. By preview, he means a match that has nothing to do with climbing a ladder, which is all Money in the Bank is about.
Baron Corbin/Drew McIntyre vs. Braun Strowman/Ricochet
Strowman still isn’t playing and blocks an early chokebreaker attempt. A clothesline puts Corbin on the floor for the middle rope moonsault from Ricochet as the fans give Ricochet quite the welcome home. Back in and Ricochet swings at McIntyre but a crossbody is countered into a suplex which is escaped as well, only to have McIntyre chop him down.
That’s enough for the villains to take over on Ricochet as we’re told about Bliss announcing the women’s participants later. Now that Graves is very happy, Corbin chokes away on the rope. The chinlock goes on because Corbin knows one style match and that includes a chinlock. Ricochet fights up for a clothesline and nipup into the dropkick but Corbin drops him again as we take a break.
Back with Ricochet still in trouble off a huge backdrop from McIntyre during the break. They head outside with Strowman chasing Corbin but running into the Claymore, with McIntyre seeming to bang himself up on the landing. Drew is fine enough to hit a heck of a clothesline on Ricochet and crank on the arm back inside. It’s back to Corbin, who gets kicked in the face and dropkicked for a bonus, allowing the hot tag to Strowman.
House is cleaned in a hurry but McIntyre avoids a charge to send Strowman shoulder first into the post (the ring shook). The Claymore is loaded up on Ricochet but Corbin tags himself in. That earns him a right hand from McIntyre, sending Corbin into Strowman’s powerslam. The shooting star press gives Ricochet the pin at 14:05.
Rating: C-. This was every Money in the Bank build match that you could have, with the faces and heels teaming together despite having no intentions to do so in the actual ladder match. Corbin and McIntyre already getting in a fight isn’t surprising, but Corbin holding up the briefcase again is looking more and more likely by the week.
Here are the Usos, who sing their own theme music in one of the best jobs of hyping up a crowd in a hurry.
Usos vs. Anderson and Gallows
During their entrances, Anderson and Gallows promise to lock the Usos up in their own penitentiary because they’re bullet proof. Jimmy runs Anderson over to start and a shot to the face gets two. It’s off to Jey, who slides over to taunt Gallows and then gets in a running elbow for two more.
Gallows comes in and gets knocked outside but is fine enough to block a suicide dive. Back in and Jimmy gets sent neck first into the middle rope for some quality writhing in pain. The beatdown is on and we take a break. Back with Anderson grabbing the chinlock and getting two off an elbow to the face. A belly to back suplex gives Gallows two but Jimmy uppercuts his way out of trouble.
The hot tag brings in Jey for a superkick and a Samoan drop, followed by the running Umaga attack in the corner. Jey misses a charge into the corner though and walks into the always good looking Anderson spinebuster for two. The Magic Killer is broken up and it’s double superkicks into the Superfly Splash to finish Gallows at 11:19.
Rating: C. I’ve been a big Usos fan for a long time so it’s cool to see them back on track over on the new show, but my goodness I could go for more from Anderson and Gallows. They’re good, they’re entertaining and they can work, yet they’re lucky to get a ten minute match once every few months. Would a few weeks long program be too much to ask?
Post match the Usos say put the kids to bed and cover grandma’s eyes, because we’ve got something special. We see a clip of Jey near the showers, where he films Dash Wilder shaving Scott Dawson’s back, which the fans don’t know how to accept. Back in the arena, the Revival comes out and say that since Dawson is a real man with big muscles, he needed some help. The Revival says there’s nothing wrong with that and they’ll come for the Usos after their match tonight. That’s cool with the Usos, who promise penitentiary time.
I was there the night the Revival debuted on the main roster and now I’m here when they’re in a feud over shaving back hair. That’s what tag team wrestling is to WWE these days: Hawkins and Ryder holding the titles, the War Raiders having three names in three weeks, and the Revival dealing with personal grooming. And you wonder why this division is considered death.
We look at Rey Mysterio losing to Samoa Joe in a minute at Wrestlemania. Their rematch is tonight. It’s non-title, so get Rey’s victory music ready now.
Here’s Miz for MizTV. Miz hypes up the crowd, saying he thought we had some Wildcats in here. He’s glad to be back on Raw with new challenges and new guests, starting with one tonight: Bobby Lashley. Miz starts his intro but Lashley cuts him off in the third person. We move on to Lashley’s untapped potential, with Lashley not wanting to hear about it because he’s a two time Intercontinental Champion since returning a year ago. But what has Miz done? Miz: “Bobby Lashley wants to go stat for stat with me?”
Miz says the old Miz would list off his accomplishments (which he does) but cuts himself off because we could be here for a long time. The fans seem to like that so Miz calls himself an overachiever. Miz: “Have you seen my wife?” Lashley brings up Shane McMahon attacking Miz’s father and the fight is on. Miz fights back and throws Lashley plus the chairs out of the ring. I think you know what’s next.
The Miz vs. Bobby Lashley
Joined in progress with Lashley hitting the delayed vertical suplex but Miz is right back with the kicks in the corner. Some running dropkicks connect as the referee gets the blood gloves. Cue Shane McMahon for a distraction but Miz clotheslines Lashley to the floor. A dropkick through the ropes drops Lashley and Miz stares Shane down. Shane charges the ring as Miz rolls Lashley up for two, followed by the short DDT for the same. The YES Kicks connect but Shane puts up a picture of Miz’s dad. That’s enough of a distraction for Lashley to hit the spear for the pin at 2:53.
Post match the double beatdown is on and Shane chokes Miz out as he looks at the picture of his father. Shane reiterates that he is the best in the world. This coming Thursday, it will be six months of this story. Six months of Miz vs. Shane McMahon. That’s all they can come up with for what is going to be over half a year over Shane winning a tournament in Saudi Arabia and then Miz’s horrible father. They deserve the backlash they get for this nonsense.
Post break, let’s take another look at what we just saw.
Viking Raiders vs. Lucha House Party
The House Party jumps them before the bell and it’s a springboard missile dropkick to rock Ivar. He’s fine enough to cartwheel away from a handspring elbow and it’s off to Erik as the Raiders take over. Erik drives Ivar into the corner to crush Metalik, setting up the Viking Experience for the pin on Kalisto at 1:54.
Post match Lince Dorado tries to avenge his buddies but gets caught in the German suplex/springboard clothesline combination.
Video on the IIconics.
Here’s Alexa Bliss to introduce the women’s Money in the Bank participants. First up is Natalya, who is proud to finally have a chance to be Raw Women’s Champion. Next up is Dana Brooke, who is tired of Natalya being handed everything. They get catty with each other until Alexa shuts them down. Naomi is third (giving us a FEEL THE BLISS graphic as the two graphics are up at once. That means another speech from Naomi about getting a chance but Bliss cuts them off again, saying they’re worse than the men earlier.
Bliss talks about the fourth woman getting the chance but no one can stop talking long enough for her to be given an opportunity. And it’s Bliss herself rounding out the field. Naomi wants to fight Bliss, who says she would, but she doesn’t want to. Bliss doesn’t even have the right shoes! Naomi: “I can beat you with my shoes on or off.” After the worst smack talking ever, Bliss agrees to the match.
It’s time for Firefly Fun House. Bray Wyatt is painting, because he loves to express himself and when you express yourself, no one can hurt you. Rambling Rabbit, a rabbit puppet that looks like he’s been beaten half to death, pops up and asks to see the picture. It’s of the Wyatt Compound burning, which doesn’t sit well with Rambling. Abby the Witch pops up (Bray: “YEOWWY WOWWY!”) and scared Rabbit off before saying Bray didn’t learn his lesson last time.
Bray assures her that is all in the past and that he’s sorry for what he did. The kids forgive him for what he did, which is enough for Abby, as long as Bray keeps it quiet while she sleeps. Bray calls her a sociopath and here’s Rabbit to ask if that’s the Word of the Day. Why yes it is, and Bray spells it for us, though he doesn’t define it. That’s all the time we have for today but remember: he’ll light the way and all you have to do is let him in. Just like last week this is really creepy, but I’m not sure how it’s going to work in the arena.
Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss
Joined in progress again with Bliss having to tie her shoes, allowing Naomi to kick her in the leg and hit a bulldog onto the middle buckle. The standing Stinkface (erg) sets up a splits splash for two on Bliss. Back up and Bliss takes her into the corner for some stomping and it’s off to a chinlock. Naomi fights up again and hits her dancing kicks but Bliss drops her again.
Hang on though as she needs to tie her shoes (it feels like a cartoon villain). Naomi’s small package gets two so Bliss slaps on another chinlock to slow things down. The shoes flare up again so Naomi goes after Bliss, who loses both shoes in the process. Bliss sends her into the corner and yells about the shoes, only to walk into the Rear View. The split legged moonsault finishes Bliss at 6:01.
Rating: D. The shoes thing got a bit annoying but the bigger problem was how they couldn’t do much of anything out there because they kept getting in the way. Bliss being back in the ring is a good thing though as she’s certainly an upgrade over some of the women’s division. With so many moving over to Smackdown, she’s certainly one of the better choices on Raw.
Rey Mysterio wants to do better against Samoa Joe tonight to prove himself to his son Dominic.
Here’s Becky Lynch for a chat with Charly Caruso. After soaking in the BECKY TWO BELTS chants, Becky says that’s why she would do this. She had a hard journey to get here and that means she can either talk or fight. Becky only knows how to fight so of course that’s what she’s going to do. Never tell her the odds, because people told her she would never main event Wrestlemania, until she did. Then people said no one could beat Ronda Rousey, until Becky did it.
Her whole career has been a long shot but nothing has been an accident. You can talk about odds all you want, but she got where she is today by beating everyone. Charlotte has the pedigree but Becky has her numbers. As for Lacey Evans, she has a great right hand but it’s a mistake to punch someone who likes it.
We see a clip of Evans knocking Becky out last week so Becky wants to fight right now. Cue Evans, who says it’s just like a man to want what he wants when he wants it. Lacey is tired of these manners so the fight is on. Referees can’t break it up and agents can’t either as the fight is getting intense in a hurry. After several moments it’s finally broken up after a heck of a brawl in a very good segment.
Video on Make A Wish Day. Nothing wrong with that.
Revival vs. Curt Hawkins/Zack Ryder
Non-title. Hawkins takes Dash down to start as the announcers are already talking about the back shaving stuff from earlier. Dawson gets in a cheap shot from the apron to put Ryder in trouble and it’s time for some hard elbow drops. The SHAVE YOUR BACK chants get on Dawson’s nerves so he grabs a front facelock. Dawson even mocks the fans with his own SHAVE YOUR BACK chant before kicking Ryder in the stomach. Ryder is fine enough to reverse Wilder’s suplex into a neckbreaker but Dawson is right there to knock Hawkins off the apron. That means a collision with Ryder though and a crucifix pins Dawson at 4:17.
Rating: D. So it was a squash until a fluke win for the champs, who were barely mentioned as the entire thing was about the Revival vs. the Usos. If WWE wants to go with that as the top feud on the show, that’s fine. Just get the titles onto one of them instead of having the champions look like the fourth most important team (at best) on the show.
Miz’s response to Shane: a challenge for a cage match at Money in the Bank. So once Miz wins there, where do they go for the tiebreaker?
Here’s Sami Zayn for a chat. Last week he talked about being on vacation and not being happy now that he’s back here. The other great thing about his time away was allowing himself to get back to things that interest him, such as history and psychology. That made him think about a concept called psychological entitlement, which is very appropriate for WWE fans.
For years, these people have been fed the lie that the customer is always right. Sami won’t even get into the economic and social reasons why that has been pounded into their heads because no one here will get it. The point is that everyone feels they are right and they should get everything they want. If they don’t get it, they’ll throw a fit right then and there. Last week at the airport at 4am, a father told his five year old to sign an action figure. Sami said no, but it didn’t make him feel good. He was already bothered by the fact that the kid had been taught that he got what he wanted.
After seventeen years and five star classics, Sami thought he had done enough already. That is the new dynamic: he’ll do what he wants and the fans will gladly take it. Recently people have been telling him to quit WWE if he hates it so much. That’s not going to happen, because nothing sounds more enjoyable than taking the fans in the palm of his hands. From now on, Sami is taking the power back.
Shane accepts Miz’s challenge.
Samoa Joe vs. Rey Mysterio
Non-title. Before the match, Joe says he embarrassed Rey at Wrestlemania. If Rey was any kind of a father, he would have gotten his son a mask to hide his shame. Tonight, Rey is paying for costing Joe his title shot last week. Joe goes right at him to start and knocks Rey to the floor. The suicide elbow launches too early as Rey slides back in and hits the seated senton off the apron.
Rey’s sliding splash hits knees though and we take a break. Back with Joe grabbing a neck crank as we hear about Rey’s loss at Wrestlemania. Just have him pin Joe already because they’re making it as obvious as anything else. Rey fights up and hits the tornado DDT, followed by a 619 to the ribs. The regular 619 is blocked and Joe hits the release Rock Bottom out of the corner. Joe picks him back up but gets pulled into a rollup for the pin at 7:18. Joe didn’t even try to move during the pin and it looked horrible.
Rating: D+. What we got was good but the ending looked terrible and the Curse of the US Title continues to be a very real threat. I’m sure we’ll get a rubber match at Money in the Bank, because Joe choking him out in a minute on the biggest show of the year was just a starting point. Just let Joe (or whoever else gets saddled with the title) win something already, because this is nonsense.
Post match Dominic comes out to put Rey on his shoulders in a scene you don’t get very often.
It’s time for the contract signing between AJ Styles and Seth Rollins. Michael Cole starts the questioning by asking what a win would mean to AJ. That’s an easy one because the win is the reason AJ came here. He spent two years on Smackdown and he’s very grateful, but now it’s time to come where the really crazy fans are.
AJ has heard about Seth for two years and knows he’s a good guy, but AJ wants the Universal Title. When you want something bad enough, you’ll do some unexpected things to get it. The fans aren’t sure what to make of that so AJ goes back to the compliments by saying Seth is a winner and a champion. But how many times has it been said that Seth will be the new AJ? Not very many that I can think of, but AJ thinks it makes sense because Seth is stronger, faster and younger. Fans: “SHAVE YOUR BACK!”
The reality though is Seth will never be the next AJ Styles. Seth didn’t want to be though, because he would rather be the first Seth Freaking Rollins. The compliments are appreciated but things are different on Raw. That’s Michael Cole instead of Tom Phillips and the ropes are red. If AJ wants to take the title, he needs to be better than phenomenal.
AJ asks about Seth’s health after being a workhorse for all those months. Fans: “BURN IT DOWN!” AJ knows they’ll burn it down and then he’ll build it back up. Seth doesn’t know how much trouble he’s in because the Shield isn’t around to help him anymore. Yeah he went through a lot at Wrestlemania, but Seth doesn’t have much left.
AJ is ready to go now though and at Money in the Bank, he’s biting like a pit bull and not letting go until he’s Universal Champion. Styles signs and Seth starts talking about their differences. It’s true that AJ likes to build things up but Seth likes to burn things down. There is one thing that separates them though: Seth beat Brock Lesnar. That seems to get to AJ as Seth signs.
AJ picks up the title and slowly hands it over so Seth can hold it up. Fans: “SHAVE HIS BACK!” AJ jumps him instead and the fight is on with Seth kicking him out to the floor. There’s the suicide dive and Seth poses again, but it’s a shot to the head into the Phenomenal Forearm through the table to end the show.
This took some time to get going because they don’t have any reason to hate each other, but some of those lines from Seth ran deep. AJ seems to be playing heel here, and while that might not go full blast or last permanently, it’s an interesting way to go here. It’s also something AJ knows how to do, so we should be in for some quality stuff if that’s where they’re going.
Overall Rating: D. This was a rough one and it didn’t get much better watching it back. The wrestling ranged from annoying to bad and some of the stories feel like they’re trying to be way too jokey instead of serious with some not so funny acts. Couple that with a bunch of “I’M GOING TO WIN AND CASH IN THE BRIEFCASE BECAUSE IT’S MY TIME!” promos and this was a hard watch. It did have some good parts (contract signing, Becky vs. Lacey, Sami’s promo and the Viking Raiders) but the bad is far stronger here and given the direction of some stories, that’s going to be the case for a long time.
Ricochet/Braun Strowman b. Baron Corbin/Drew McIntyre – Shooting star press to Corbin
Usos b. Anderson and Gallows – Superfly Splash to Gallows
Bobby Lashley b. The Miz – Spear
Viking Raiders b. Lucha House Party – Viking Experience to Kalisto
Naomi b. Alexa Bliss – Split legged moonsault
Zack Ryder/Curt Hawkins b. Revival – Crucifix to Dawson
Rey Mysterio b. Samoa Joe – Rollup
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