By Steven Flora
As Extreme Rules came to end, there was a new No. 1 contender crowned for Brock Lesnar’s Universal title. On this edition of Monday Night Raw, we saw two new champions, a “Comeback Tour” and a destroyer on the hunt for gold.
Samoa Joe sends a powerful message to the Beast Incarnate
The big story coming out of Raw was the intense confrontation between Lesnar’s advocate, Paul Heyman, and the No. 1 contender to the Universal title, Samoa Joe. Having dispatched of four of the top competitors in WWE, Joe made it very clear he was not going to be intimidated by any man, much less a beast. Joe says he is incapable of fear but admits he envies Lesnar, because he wants everything Lesnar has; his special schedule, his ability to instil fear in other men, and he wants Paul Heyman as his advocate to negotiate his contracts and to run his errands. But more importantly he wants Lesnar’s Universal title and at Great Balls of Fire, he will take that title. Heyman then appears, and puts over Joe big time before wisely asking permission to enter the ring. Heyman says Joe may not fear Lesnar, but Lesnar does not fear Joe either. As Heyman retreats, Joe calmly whispers in his ear … ”something bad will happen to you” and BAM, Joe locks in the Coquina clutch and leaves Heyman lying in a heap, in the centre of the ring … AWESOME!
Side Note: Brilliant, simply brilliant. I knew Joe would be the logical choice to face Lesnar at GBOF but that promo was simply well written and even better executed. Joe now appears as a legitimate threat to Lesnar and seeing him lock in the Coquina clutch on Heyman; you cannot imagine how Lesnar will react to this when he appears on Raw next week. The confrontation is going to be something incredible.
Cass is attacked backstage/Angle confronts Graves/Angle’s job in Jeopardy?
This story carries on from last week and still leaves us wanting more. This storyline begins tonight with Enzo not being attacked for once, as he’s amped up for his tag match against Gallows and Anderson. Cass then reiterates how it’s not his fault (Snitsky reference there) and he sees Enzo as his little brother. Later on, we see Cass laid out on the floor unconscious, in what appears to be a similar attack that Enzo suffered for the past two weeks. Enzo appears minutes later looking worried and panicking, as he now has to find himself a new tag partner (it’s not anyone interesting trust me). During the third hour of Raw, Angle interrupts a live broadcast to show Graves something peculiar on his phone, the two exchange words before Angle heads to the back. Once again, Graves diverts the attention away from him and toward the action in the ring.
Side Note: This storyline is intriguing to say the least. WWE has a habit in the past of botching up great angles due to a variety of reasons, for example, the identity of the Anonymous Raw GM (I know you probably forgot the painful angle). However, this storyline seems to get more interesting week by week and looking around social media there seems to be so many theories running riot. Theories such as Cass faking the attack to cover his own back, to The Revival attacking both Enzo and Cass as they’ve been seen backstage. It’s left fans in a state of confusion. Nevertheless, that’s why this is so great, no one knows who’s done this and in an era where internet fans are spoiling angles, they are still left perplexed as to what’s even happening. I personally don’t know who’s behind this, but I hope for WWE’s sake, this pays off big time.
The Big Dog silences the patriarch of the Wyatt family
Roman Reigns def. Bray Wyatt
After 30 seconds, Reigns sends Bray to the floor and we take a commercial break. Post break, Bray has made a comeback and is beating Reigns down. Bray then grounds Reigns for a bit with the chinlock, but Reigns fires up with rights and hits a Samoan drop for 2. Bray then comes back, posting Reigns and sending him to the floor. The running senton follows, and we take another break. Post break, Reigns fires up and starts to mount a comeback and hits a big clothesline for 2. They battle up top, but Reigns slips out, hitting a sitout powerbomb for the near fall. Bray sidesteps a superman punch, but Reigns rebounds and hits the second one, scoring a near fall. Bray then bails before the spear can connect, Reigns hits the drive but Bray then drops him with a lariat. They both beat the count back in, Reigns counters sister Abigail into a roll up for 2. The superman punch and spear connect and Reigns picks up the win. Winner: Roman Reigns
Side Note: Surprisingly a great opener to Raw. I say surprisingly because we’ve seen this about 100 times now, but both superstars put on a great match that left fans giving a standing ovation at the end. Both went back and forth and showed why they deserved to be at the very top. Reigns winning did nothing for him as it doesn’t progress anything and he’s left without a storyline heading into next week’s Raw. Bray, on the other hand, has suffered so much recently that not even his promos can inspire me as they use to. The crowd respond to him the same as they did when he first debuted back in 2013, which may show the lack of progression he’s made. I do hope Bray can find his feet one day and reclaim the top prize in WWE not because of his amazing mic skills or solid ring work, more so because he’s a rare and special talent.
Joe comes out strong as he heads into Raw next week to face the beast
Samoa Joe def. Seth Rollins
Joe attacks at the bell with strikes, but Rollins fires up and hits a RANA. Joe tosses him to the floor, but Rollins is back in and runs into an elbow strike. Rollins tosses Joe to the floor, but Joe cuts of the suicide dive with a kick, and then beats down Rollins on the floor with kicks. Back in the ring and Joe continues his assault, beating down Rollins with strikes. Rollins hits a jawbreaker, but when he goes for a springboard, Joe trips him up and takes control as we go to break. Post break, Joe maintains control, working the heat and pummeling Rollins. Joe stays a step ahead, and hits the running boot and senton, covering for 2. Rollins again tries to fire up, but Joe hits the snap slam, covering for 2. Rollins hit the enziguri, and Joe rolls to the floor allowing Rollins to hit the suicide dive. Back in and Rollins hits sling blade and then another suicide dive. Back in and the blockbuster connects for Rollins, who hits a grazing suicide dive. The springboard clothesline connects back in the ring, with Rollins covering for 2. Rollins then hits the falcon arrow for 2. Rollins then gets a sunset flip and superkick. Rollins up top and Wyatt’s gimmick distracts Rollins, allowing Joe to lock in the clutch and the ref calls it.
Side Note: Solid match to end the show and a great way to make Joe look strong heading into next week. Both superstars put in a hell of a performance and even I had to applaud the effort both men gave at the end. Bray sticking his nose into this match could set up a potential feud between himself and Rollins, which sounds mildly interesting. Joe getting the win was important as it gives him momentum heading into his title match with Lesnar at “Great Balls of Fire” (say that 10 times without laughing).
Ambrose spoils The Miz’s IC Title Comeback Tour
Maryse welcomes us to the celebration; there’s a wacky dude in the ring wearing a bear suit holding a sign. Miz buries the crowd for their overuse of the “you deserve it” chant. But he admits he is the only one deserving of the IC title, and leads a toast to his IC title run. He praises Maryse for setting this all up, and Miz even loves the bear. However, Maryse says she didn’t set up the bear. Miz attacks the bear and hits the skull-crushing finale to lay out the bear, he then does the Scooby Doo unmaking, but it’s not Dean Ambrose. Miz tosses him to the floor. A giant human sized box was then delivered to Miz, so he grabs a chair and bats up the box and tackles it as Maryse begs him to stop because it was from her. Miz destroyed a beautiful grandfather clock, and Maryse is annoyed and leaves because Miz ruined her gift. Miz blames Ambrose for this, BUT AMBROSE WAS THE CAMERAMAN ALL ALONG, attacks Miz, and lays him out with dirty deeds. Ambrose then takes a bottle of champagne and chugs on the way out.
Side Note: I won’t lie, I’d hoped this feud would have ended after Extreme Rules. Having said that, this segment was entertaining, including Miz attacking Maryse’s gift. I don’t think Ambrose will have another run at the Intercontinental title as it was pretty boring in all honesty, which begs the question as to why Ambrose & The Miz is still a thing! I hope The Miz will retain in the rematch, whenever that is, and can move onto better things. As for Ambrose, it would be better if he wasn’t on TV for now as he needs a change of character or at least direction because he’s become either complacent or boring as of late.
Other notable moments
TJP took on Mustafa Ali in your typical (toilet break) Cruiserweight match. TJP hits the slingshot senton, covering for 2. He then works a chinlock, stopping the fun and making sure the crowd doesn’t get too excited. Ali fights back, hits a tornado DDT, heads up top but TJP clips out his knee, and hits the detonation kick for the win. Winner: TJP
The new Raw Tag Team champions Sheamus & Cesaro take on Heath Slater & Rhyno in a non-title match. Sheamus posts Slater right away, and takes control. Slater tried to fire up, but runs right into a back elbow strike. The champions work double teams, isolating Slater in their corner until Slater hits a jawbreaker and sends Cesaro to the floor. Rhyno and Cesaro brawl on the floor and Sheamus finishes Slater with the brogue kick. Winner: Sheamus & Cesaro (c)
Kalisto took on Titus O’Neil for reasons I cannot comprehend. Akira Tozawa, who O’Neil has been trying to recruit, was watching on backstage. O’Neil beat Kalisto last week by using the tights, and is trying to show Crews, who lost to O’Neil last night, how to win. O’Neil controls early, tossing Kalisto around, but Kalisto counters a cradle and pulls the rights to get the win and some revenge for last week. Winner: Kalisto
It was put up or shut up time for five feet of fury as Raw Women’s champion Alexa Bliss defended her title against the dangerous Nia Jax. Mickie James and Dana Brooke make their way out to ringside to watch the match. Bliss attempts to run and then slaps Jax, and looked completely terrified after doing so. Jax hits a corner splash, and then hits elbow drops, Jax in control as Bliss rolls to the floor. She crawls over to James and Brooke and then attacks them, leading to them fighting back and causing a DQ as she sneaks out with her title. Everyone brawls post match. Bliss escapes as Jax lays out Brooke & James. Winner: Alexa Bliss via DQ
Enzo managed to find a replacement for Cass, in the form of a seven-foot giant, the Big Show. Enzo had jokes, asking if Show was going to join 205 Live because he looks as if he is getting too thin. Enzo says he is 206 and is a certified heavyweight. Show then breaks into a comedy routine, saying they are like characters from Ice Age. Enzo gets beat down for about 30 seconds, gets the hot tag to Show and he runs wild. Chokeslam for Anderson, tag to Enzo and Show press slams Enzo onto Anderson for the win. Winner: Enzo Amore & Big Show
Overall Raw Rating: C+
Things to look forward to next week
What’s next for Goldust and R-Truth?
What’s next for Enzo & Cass?
How will Lesnar respond to Joe’s attack on Heyman?
What’s next for Bayley?
How will Nia Jax respond to Bliss’ tactics?