By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. WWE usually puts on a good show for the LA fans which should give the company an extra boost heading into the July PPV That Shall Remain Nameless Unless Absolutely Necessary in a couple of weeks.
Also, Brock Lesnar AND LaVar Ball are under the same roof. With two of the biggest personalities on planet Earth within close proximity of each other, expect ample amounts of mayhem to ensue. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.
· Roman Reigns agreed to face Braun Strowman in an Ambulance Match at the July PPV That Shall Remain Nameless Unless Absolutely Necessary. Reigns vowed to win the match and drive Strowman straight to hell as an ambulance rolled into the arena.
· Reigns decided to investigate the situation by creeping towards the vehicle. He opened the doors, but no one was there. Moments later, Strowman ambushed Reigns from behind and rammed his head against the railing as the fans cheered him on.
· Strowman tossed Reigns on the stage to do more damage, but Reigns countered with a right hand. Reigns was about to nail Strowman with a Superman Punch, but Strowman caught Reigns and tossed him against the side of the ambulance in a great spot.
· Strowman threw Reigns in the back of the ambulance as the opening segment came to an end with Strowman doing his signature roar and pose on the stage while Reigns was driven out of the arena.
· This was a hot way to start the show. Strowman destroying Reigns has become appointment television over the past few months. Each attack is violent, yet beautiful at the same time. Considering how quickly Stroman put Reigns in the ambulance, let’s hope their actual match has a bit more drama and intrigue leading up to the finish.
· The Hardy Boyz and Finn Bálor defeated Sheamus, Cesaro, and Elias Samson when Bálor pinned Cesaro with the Coup De Grace in a very good six-man tag team match. The heels dominated the action early on, but Bálor provided the offensive flurry down the stretch as he nailed Samson with a kick to the face before laying out Cesaro and Sheamus with a flip dive on the outside.
· He tossed Cesaro back in the ring and hit him with the Slingblade/Running Dropkick combo as Matt laid out Sheamus with a Twist of Fate on the floor. Jeff took out Samson which gave Bálor enough time to set up his finisher.
· All in all, this was a fun match that had great crowd heat throughout. Josh Duhamel did a decent job putting over the action in the ring while shilling his television/film projects at the same time. That’s what I call a multitasker.
· Goldust vs. R-Truth never got underway as Goldust attacked Truth before the match started. The Golden One had his personal cameraman film the beat down which will be screened at a later day. I think it’s safe to assume that Goldust and Truth will have their day in the limelight at the July PPV That Shall Remain Nameless Unless Absolutely Necessary in a couple of weeks.
· LaVar Ball showed up and showed out on Miz TV. It’s hard to describe what happened, but I will try my best.
· Miz gave LaVar props for correctly predicting that his son Lonzo would be drafted to the Los Angeles Lakers. Miz wanted to join the Big Baller Brand, but LaVar shot him down because Miz wasn’t on his level.
· Miz asked LaVar and Lonzo how many championships they’ve won. They threw out some numbers while Miz wondered if UCLA won the NCAA Championship this year which drew some audible oohs and ahs.
· LaVar and Miz traded insults which culminated with LaVar taking off his shirt and challenging the A-Lister to a fight.
· Before things got even crazier, Dean Ambrose appeared on the stage wearing a Big Baller Brand shirt and challenged Miz to a tag team match as the segment came to a close.
· This will go down as the batshit craziest edition of Miz TV in history. LaVar Ball was a hot ass mess, but that’s how the founder of the Big Baller Brand rolls. It’s safe to say that his appearance on Raw will be the talk of the sports world come tomorrow morning. If WWE is looking for their next heel manager, Ball is their guy. No megaphone or big ass cell phone required.
· The Miz, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas defeated Heath Slater, Rhyno, and Dean Ambrose when Bo Dallas pinned Rhyno with a roll-up thanks to a cheap shot from Axel. The match was fine, but it never got past a certain level. Seeing another multi-man match screams repetitive booking in the worst possible way. No shade, just facts.
· Big Cass hates Enzo Amore so much that he still uses his theme music.
· Just went it appeared that Enzo and Big Cass’ friendship was on the mend, Big Cass clotheslined their brotherhood to the point of no return. Cass flung Enzo down the ramp as the crowd showered him with boos.
· Enzo cut an impassioned promo, but it wasn’t the epic performance I was expecting from him on the mic. Big Cass said a lot with his eyes which was a great way to sell the intent of Enzo’s promo. Cass’ apology seemed genuine, but it was too saccharine to believe at face value. Therefore, the bait and switch worked which gives Cass more ammunition to work with as a heel. Here’s hoping Enzo cuts the promo of his life on next week’s show because his friendship with Cass is deader than dead.
· Seth Rollins defeated Curt Hawkins with a knee to the face in a match that lacked crowd heat until Rollins took over down the stretch.
· After the match was over, Bray Wyatt appeared on the Titantron and told Rollins to embrace his true nature at the Fire of Great Balls PPV or he will burn. The threat was nice, but their feud lacks bite because Wyatt vowed to punish the four men that cost him a chance at the Universal Championship at Extreme Rules only for Roman Reigns to beat him clean in the ring. Wyatt’s proclamations of doom and gloom are falling on deaf ears at this point. It’s sad but true.
· Paul Heyman called Samoa Joe a Samoan Dumbass for not fearing Brock Lesnar. Joe proved that he was no such thing when he attacked Lesnar from behind during The Beast’s signature entrance.
· The Samoan Badass put Lesnar in the Coquina Clutch only for Lesnar to break the hold by pushing Joe into the LED Board. Joe locked in the submission hold again only for Lesnar to power out. Joe tried one more time to put The Beast to sleep and it appeared that he was about to do so when The Revival and WWE officials broke things up. Joe headed backstage while Lesnar tried to catch his breath as the segment came to end.
· Samoa Joe continues to look strong heading into his Universal Championship match against Brock Lesnar at the Great Fire of Balls PPV in a couple of weeks. Lesnar looks vulnerable heading into his first title defense which might cause Paul Heyman to re-think his strategy when it comes to playing mind games with Joe. The final hard sell for their title bout should be a good one come next week.
· Neville defeated Lince Dorado when he made Dorado tap out to the Rings of Saturn in a decent match. It was pretty one-sided outside of Dorado having a few hope spots to keep things somewhat competitive.
· Only Paul Heyman can pull off saying “Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire” while keeping his integrity intact. Heyman cut a great backstage promo about how Brock Lesnar was in for a fight at the Great Balls of Fire PPV because Samoa Joe was going to put him through the ringer. However, Lesnar would eventually take Joe on a trip to Suplex City before laying him out with an F5 for the win. The outcome is almost a foregone conclusion, but the match being a smash mouth masterpiece is a nice consolation prize.
· Sasha Banks defeated Nia Jax when she made Jax tap out to The Bank Statement in a good main event match.
· Jax had her best showing since debuting on the main roster last year when she almost ran the table during the gauntlet match to determine the number one contender for the Raw Women’s Championship.
· Jax defeated Bayley, Mickie James, Dana Brooke, and Emma in dominating fashion. The fans actually cheered her because she was putting on a clinic as she defeated her opponents with ease. If she’s booked this strongly on a consistent basis, WWE might have a new star on their hands. Jax is still green in the ring, but her power can be finessed to cover up her shortcomings between the ropes.
· Banks vs. Jax was slow in spots, but both ladies worked hard and got the crowd involved towards the end.
· Banks finding multiple ways to lock in her submission hold speaks to her ability to adapt on a whim while Jax tried to finish the match by hitting the Samoan Drop only for Banks to roll towards the ring apron to avoid getting pinned.
· The finish was great as Jax tried her best not to pass out to The Bank Statement only to tap out in the end.
· Kurt Angle came out to congratulate Banks until Alexa Bliss made her way to the ring. Bliss got in her face, but Banks laid her out with a dropkick before grabbing the title and holding it high in the air as Raw went off the air with The Boss standing tall.
· Sasha Banks is back in the championship fold as she will face Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Title at the July PPV That Shall Remain Nameless Unless Absolutely Necessary in two weeks. This is a fresh matchup that should have good heat if both ladies of given enough time to shine. In any event, this was a nice way to cap off the show with the women’s division spotlighted in a positive way for the first time since WrestleMania season.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw was decent at best. The show started off hot with Braun Strowman attacking Roman Reigns for the nth time while the six-man tag team match featuring The Hardy Boyz and Finn Bálor vs. Sheamus, Cesaro, and Elias Samson popped the crowd something fierce.
· The show briefly fell off the rails when LaVar Ball appeared on Miz TV, but the third hour recovered nicely with Samoa Joe choking out Brock Lesnar and the women’s gauntlet match ending the broadcast on a high note.
· Raw is slowly getting back on track which is good to see because it has been a struggle to watch over the past couple of months. The Fire of Great Balls PPV is shaping up to be a good one, but the booking is key. As I mentioned last week, WWE is 0-4 when it comes to producing solid brand exclusive PPVs since WrestleMania. The company has a great chance of righting the ship two weeks from Sunday by delivering a stellar show sans the cheesy name. The go-home show should push things over the top if everything is executed properly. Let’s hope the creative team can get the job done. Fingers crossed!
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!