By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Last night at Extreme Rules, Samoa Joe outlasted four other men and earned the right to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at Great Balls of Fire next month. With the main event set in stone, how will the rest of the PPV card shake out over the next few weeks? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.
· Bray Wyatt kicked off Raw by saying that the beginning of the end is upon us. Wyatt was a mission to punish Finn Bálor, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns for costing him a chance at the Universal Championship. Therefore, his adversaries would be judged accordingly.
· Reigns made his way to the ring and removed Wyatt from his yard by punching him in the face. The referee told the timekeeper to ring the bell as the opening match officially got underway.
· Roman Reigns defeated Bray Wyatt with a Spear in a hard-hitting and competitive match. This was a gritty battle that went back and forth. The crowd was hot which helped push things over the top. Reigns was heavily booed despite the women and children willing him on.
· The match was sloppy at times due to both men not laying their stuff in all the way. The announcers explained that Wyatt and Reigns weren’t at 100% due to their grueling match at Extreme Rules last night, but the action was still a bit too clunky for my tastes. Minor criticism aside, the match clicked for the most part as there were several counters and near falls that had the crowd on the edge of the seat down the stretch.
· The finish came when Wyatt avoided the Superman Punch only for Reigns to catch him in transition which led to the finish.
· Reigns looked strong while Wyatt continues to look like a false prophet who talks a good game but can never back it up in the ring.
· Kurt Angle reminded Alexa Bliss that she promised Nia Jax a shot at the Raw Women’s Championship after she beat Bayley at Extreme Rules. Therefore, Bliss will defend her title against Jax later tonight.
· Dean Ambrose kicked Elias Samson’s ass and demanded an Intercontinental Championship rematch against The Miz. Miz appeared on the Titantron and denied Ambrose’s request because he had a prior engagement on the docket. The distraction allowed Samson to attack Ambrose before dropping him with a Swinging Neckbreaker.
· I thought Samson was about to get bitched out for the first time since his in-ring debut, but he stood tall once again. His run on the main roster has been successful thus far.
· Samoa Joe is not afraid of Brock Lesnar. In fact, he envied Lesnar and wanted to take everything away from him. That includes his cushy part-time schedule, Paul Heyman, and The Universal Championship.
· Heyman came out to congratulate Joe on his win and stated that Lesnar didn’t fear Joe either. Heyman talked about how he wanted Finn Bálor to face Lesnar for the Universal Title because the story of Bálor playing the role of Rocky Balboa was a license to print money from a storytelling standpoint.
· Joe facing his client is the worst case scenario because Joe doesn’t give a damn about anything but himself. Heyman considered Joe a true badass who shouldn’t be taken lightly. Normally, Lesnar would quell Heyman’s fears because he destroyed the likes of John Cena, The Rock, The Undertaker, and Goldberg with ease. Despite each man’s lofty resume, he knew his Beast would come out on top.
· Joe was a wild card because he would take away a piece of Lesnar’s mystic regardless of the outcome. With that in mind, Heyman vowed that Lesnar would become Joe’s worst-case scenario and wished him the best of luck at
Great Balls of Fire the July PPV That Shall Remain Nameless Unless Absolutely Necessary.
· Heyman was about to leave the ring when Joe pulled him aside and had a private conversation that the viewers at home could listen on. Joe politely told Heyman that he was going to choke him out. He wanted Heyman to tell Lesnar that the same thing was going to happen to him before putting him the Coquina Clutch.
· Joe put Heyman to sleep as WWE officials made their way to the ring to break things up. The fans chanted for Lesnar as Joe shouted something on the mic before leaving the ring.
· This was a great segment that made Joe look like an absolute badass. I loved the directorial touch of letting the viewers at home listen in on the conversation between Joe and Heyman while the live crowd wondered what was going on. It made the actual attack stand out even more.
· Lesnar is scheduled to appear on next week’s show and only can assume that he will be out for blood. The Joe-Lesnar confrontation should be quite the spectacle, to say the least.
· Sheamus and Cesaro defeated Heath Slater and Rhyno when Sheamus nailed Slater with the Brogue Kick for the quick and decisive win.
· TJP defeated Mustafa Ali with the Detonation Kick after he countered Ali’s Inverted 450 Splash by knocking him off the top rope. The match was nothing to write home about and the crowd was dead for the most part as well.
· After the match was over, Neville appeared on the main stage and was about to tell TJP that he wasn’t getting a shot at the Cruiserweight Championship. TJP cut him off mid-sentence and wanted to talk to Kurt Angle, but Neville attacked him from behind. He told TJP that he will get his title shot tomorrow night on 205 Live as the segment came to an end.
· It’s safe to assume that the TJP-Neville partnership has come to an abrupt and unsurprising end. Is TJP a babyface once again or is he stuck in limbo without a clear sense of direction? I am placing my bets on the latter.
· Alexa Bliss is trying to form her own Welcoming Committee a la SmackDown Live by recruiting Mickie James and Dana Brooke to do her dirty work. Let’s just say that her plan backfired big time.
· The Kurt Angle-Corey Graves mystery continues as they had another private conversation about…something.
· Kalisto defeated Titus O’Neil with a roll-up while grabbing the tights for extra leverage. The match was serviceable for the most part.
· While Miz and Maryse were walking backstage, the camera cut to Big Cass lying on the floor with a steel pipe on the top of his back. Enzo Amore came to his aid and asked Cass what happened. Cass handed him a chain as some sort of clue. It should be noted that The Revival was shown backstage moments before the attack. I guess Cass is cleared as a suspect unless he set the whole thing up.
· After the commercial break, Enzo told Cass that he recognized the chain because he saw it during the two previous attacks. He was about to say something else, but the referee told Enzo that he needed to find another tag team partner because Cass wasn’t medically cleared to compete. The plot thickens!
· The Miz just took out a dancing bear and grandfather clock due to his paranoia that Dean Ambrose was out to get him.
· The latter gift caused Maryse to run out on Miz because the grandfather clock was a keepsake from her.
· Miz blamed Ambrose for ruining his championship celebration and called him out. A mysterious cameraman was in the ring filming Miz’s meltdown, but it was really Ambrose in disguise. Miz watching the reveal on the Titantron was a nice touch as Ambrose nailed him with Dirty Deeds before sipping on some champagne as the segment came to an end.
· This was a cute way for Ambrose to get his revenge on Miz as their never ending feud continues. Yay! *Insert Sarcasm Here*
· Big Show no selling Enzo’s antics was great and a little frightening at the same time. Big Show eventually loosened up and channeled his inner Big Cass by cutting a promo with a fake Brooklyn accent.
· Big Show and Enzo Amore defeated Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows when Enzo pinned Anderson with a cross body thanks to an assist from Big Show. The match was fine while it lasted, but Gallows and Anderson being booked like two-bit chumps is hard to watch.
· Big Cass not-so-subtly accused Big Show of attacking him backstage which allowed him to conveniently tag with Enzo. Big Show denied the allegations and said that he would attack someone face-to-face instead of taking the coward’s way out. Cass’ defensiveness continues to be off-putting which keeps him atop of my suspect list.
· Alexa Bliss defeated Nia Jax via Disqualification when Bliss goaded Mickie James and Dana Brooke into a fight at ringside. Jax took her frustration out on Brooke and James and as she took James out with a running avalanche in the corner before dropping Brooke with a Samoan Drop. Bliss ran for the hills as the segment came to an end. The match was pretty nondescript prior to the DQ finish.
· Samoa Joe defeated Seth Rollins when he made Rollins pass out to the Coquina Clutch thanks to an assist from Bray Wyatt. Rollins was about to attempt a frog splash from the top rope when the lights went out in the arena. When the lights came back on, Wyatt was nowhere to be found, but the distraction allowed Joe to choke out Rollins for the win. Raw went off the air with Samoa Joe standing tall while the announcers hyped Brock Lesnar’s return on next week’s show.
· Joe vs. Rollins was solid, but it was pretty one-sided as Joe dominated the action for the most part. Rollins had a few hope spots here and there, but this was the Samoa Joe Show as he continues to gain momentum heading into his Universal Title match against Brock Lesnar at the July PPV that features Balls of Great Fire.
· It appears that Rollins is next name on Wyatt’s hit list, but I can’t muster much enthusiasm for the match because Wyatt is a proven liar. He vowed to destroy Roman Reigns earlier tonight and he failed. It’s hard to get excited about Wyatt vs. Rollins when fans haven’t been given a reason to believe that Wyatt can get the job when it counts most. We shall see how it plays out next week, but my excitement level is hovering around -10 at the moment.
· Overall, I thought this was a disappointing episode of Raw. Outside of the opening match featuring Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt and Samoa Joe choking out Paul Heyman, the rest of the show was pretty bland. The in-ring action was sub par which caused the crowd to mentally check out as the night went on.
· Finn Bálor and The Hardy Boyz were kept off the broadcast for no apparent reason while Bayley licked her wounds from home. Their absence bogged down an already dreary show.
· Normally, the Raw after a major PPV is supposed to generate excitement and buzz amongst the fan base. That was not the case tonight as the show was a chore to get through. Hopefully, Lesnar and Joe will liven things up next week because everything underneath them is a hot ass mess.
· The flagship show continues to slog through the proverbial mud. The red brand feels lifeless and directionless at the moment. Outside of the Takeover special in Chicago a few weeks ago, WWE is 0-3 when it comes to putting on decent to good brand exclusive PPVs. Here’s hoping the Jerry Lee Lewis Summer Spectacular reverses this troubling trend as SummerSlam looms on the horizon. 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!