By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Last night’s Great Balls of Fire PPV exceeded expectations and ended the streak of poorly booked brand exclusive shows. The record stands at 1-4, but a win is a win in my book.
The biggest headline coming out of the PPV was Roman Reigns committing attempted murder when he rammed an ambulance into the back of a tractor trailer while Braun Strowman went along for the ride. Based on recent history, Reigns won’t serve any prison time which continues the great tradition of crime without punishment in WWE.
Elsewhere, Brock Lesnar barely beat Samoa Joe to retain the Universal Championship. Joe was in control for the most part, but the F5 did him in. With Reigns vowing to face the Universal Champion at SummerSlam, did the company make things official? 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.
· Big Cass kicked off Raw and trolled the fans by asking them “How You Doin?” Cass took pleasure in beating up Enzo Amore and put the locker room on notice that he was gunning for the Universal Championship. He didn’t want the crowd jumping on the bandwagon once he became the top guy in WWE. Cass vowed to main event WrestleMania, be a guest on the Tonight Show, and represent the company to the fullest. Nobody could touch him because he was 7 ft. tall and you can’t teach that.
· Big Show came out to confront Cass which resulted in a brief skirmish. Cass avoided disaster and headed up the ramp as the opening segment came to an end with Big Show standing tall in the ring.
· This was a fine way to start the show. Big Cass did a solid job on the mic, but he’s not someone who is going to set the world on fire with his promos. Also, there were a few technical glitches that clearly showed that the seven-second delay was alive and well which threw things off from a production standpoint. Quibbles aside, Cass showed passion and generated heat by trashing his former best friend.
· It appears that Big Show will be feuding with Cass as we head into the SummerSlam PPV next month. It makes sense storyline-wise because Cass tried to pin the backstage attacks on Big Show to cover his ass. Will this simmering issue translate into a good match at the second biggest show of the year? We shall see.
· Finn Bálor defeated Elias Samson with the Coup De Grace in a solid match. It appeared that Bálor was going to cruise his way to victory, but momentum swung in Samson’s favor when he blocked Bálor’s running knee on the ring apron. The Drifter slammed him shoulder-first against the ring canvas which gave him the perfect fresh target. Samson had a couple of near falls, but Balor clawed his way back into the match and hit the Overhead Kick/Slingblade/Running Dropkick/Coup De Grace Quadruple Play for the win.
· This mini-feud was cute while it lasted, but Bálor winning straight up was the way to go. At least Michael Cole put over Samson by saying he has a bright future in WWE despite eating the loss. Optics are everything when it comes to serving multiple masters at once.
· In what has to be considered a minor miracle based on recent booking, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows defeated The Hardy Boyz when Gallows pinned Matt Hardy with The Magic Killer in a decent match. The bad night for The Hardyz continued when The Revival came out and did further damage when Dash Wilder nailed Matt with a Flying Knee from the top rope while he and Scott Dawson hit Jeff with the Shatter Machine to send a message that they’re back and ready to kick some ass in the tag team division.
· The Hardy Boyz suffered their first one fall loss on Raw since returning to WWE a few months ago. Plus, Matt and Jeff threw in some references from the Broken Universe which could lead to the return of Brother Nero and Broken Matt Hardy if their legal issues with Anthem have been resolved. Therefore, their losing streak makes sense if the brothers are about to devolve into madness.
· The Miz held the first-ever Mizzies Awards and gave trophies to Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Maryse, and himself for being great. Miz cut a good promo about how he was the only one to guarantee victory after Seth Rollins and The Hardy Boyz failed to hold up their end of the bargain at GBOF. He praised Dean Ambrose for being his toughest competitor but claimed that he was the new tough guy in WWE. Dean Ambrose came out and attacked Miz, but he got tripled team by Miz and his Miztourage.
· Seth Rollins ran out to make the save as the segment came to an end.
· The Mizzies was cute, but a waste of time. On an even sadder note, the never ending Ambrose-Miz saga is not over yet. I like both men, but it’s time to Old Yeller this feud.
· Sasha Banks and Bayley defeated Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss when Bayley pinned Bliss with a rollup in a basic match. The crowd was dead for the most part, but Bayley got a measure of redemption by picking up the win for her team.
· Goldust defeated R-Truth with the Curtain Call in a decent match. The action was fine, but the crowd was absolutely dead. This doesn’t speak well for this feud having legs beyond this match.
· After a sleepy second hour, shit got real in a hurry when Kurt Angle tried to control the egos of Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, and Samoa Joe. Angle congratulated Lesnar on his win and wanted to pitch some match ideas for SummerSlam. Paul Heyman scoffed at the notion and told Angle to give them a call when he’s made his decision.
· Roman Reigns came out and tried to explain why he was justified in damn near killing Braun Strowman last night at Great Balls of Fire. Reigns chalked it up to borrowing inspiration from the Attitude Era, but Angle said things have changed since then. Reigns gave zero fucks and told Angle that he owed him for taking care of Strowman while Lesnar wasn’t around to do it himself. Therefore, the Big Dog felt he deserved a shot at the Universal Title.
· Lesnar told Reigns he didn’t deserve shit which drew oohs and ahs from the crowd. Samoa Joe joined the Mean Guys party and told Lesnar that he got lucky last night and vowed to put him to sleep sooner rather than later. Lesnar blew off Joe’s comments by telling him he kicked his ass last night. Reigns threw in his two cents and all hell was about to break loose until Angle announced that Reigns and Joe will face off next week with the winner going on to fight Lesnar for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam. Joe and Reigns kept things civil as Angle warned both men that he would cancel the match if they got physical with each other. Joe headed up the ramp to keep the peace as the segment came to an end.
· This was by far the hottest thing on the show thus. Joe vs. Reigns III should be very good with the outside of chance of Strowman getting revenge on his longtime adversary if WWE chooses to go in that direction once again.
· Kurt Angle’s dirty little secret will be revealed next week. Let’s hope it’s juicy and salacious because Corey Graves channeling his inner Olivia Pope is starting to wear thin.
· Akira Tozawa and Cedric Alexander defeated Noam Dar and Neville when Tozawa pinned Neville with a Senton Bomb from the top rope. It was a solid match that had decent crowd heat for a change. Tozawa paid Neville back by letting him hang out to dry on the ring ropes before hitting his finisher for the win. If I am not mistaken, I believe this is the first time Neville has been beaten on television since becoming Cruiserweight Champion.
· If my calculations are correct, the announcers didn’t make a big deal about it which is a shame because Neville has been the champ for almost seven months. By failing to drive that point home, this is the height of ineptitude and complete obliviousness on WWE's part.
· Bray Wyatt defeated Seth Rollins with Sister Abigail in a good main event match. The action was a bit slow at first as the fans started doing The Wave which usually spells the kiss of death for a match. Fortunately, Wyatt and Rollins got the fans emotionally invested down the stretch which saved things from falling off a cliff.
· Rollins made a great babyface comeback, but his eye injury gave him trouble down as it was closed shut when he tried to nail Wyatt with his jumping knee finisher.
· Wyatt head butted Rollins’ eye and nailed him with Sister Abigail for the win. Wyatt disappeared while Rollins was left alone in the ring.
· Looking for their pound of flesh, The Miz and his Miztourage came out and triple teamed Rollins until Dean Ambrose made the save. Ambrose hit Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel with a pair of chair shots before wailing on Miz’s back before his henchmen pulled him to safety. Ambrose stood tall in the ring as Raw went off the air. Or so we thought.
· The camera cut backstage to Kurt Angle talking on the phone with someone. Angle tried to reassure the mystery caller that everything will be alright after they come clean next week. He told him or her that he loved them as Raw went off the air.
· Based on the conversation, it sounds as if Angle is having an affair which makes no sense because his family life is about to be highlighted on WWE 24. This might be a red herring to throw fans off from the big surprise, but I am looking forward to the big reveal nonetheless. Let’s hope it lives up to the hype because the creative team has put a lot of time and effort into this storyline over the past couple of months.
· As for Ambrose coming to Rollins’ aid, it appears that a makeshift Shield Reunion is on the horizon. Anything to shake up the Ambrose-Miz feud is a blessing in disguise at this point.
· Meanwhile, Bray Wyatt’s words wrote a check his ass could cash for a change. Wyatt is 2-0 against Rollins and it appears that he’s moving on to his next conquest. We shall see if he keeps the momentum heading towards SummerSlam next month.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was middling at best. Great Balls of Fire generated good buzz, but WWE didn’t capitalize on it from an execution standpoint.
· The in-ring action was so-so and the fans were lukewarm throughout the show with a few exceptions. The Home Run Derby was taking place at the same time which has historically hurt the company from a ratings standpoint. However, I expected more oomph coming off a PPV that didn’t suck for a change.
· At least WWE hyped next week’s show featuring Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe to determine the number one contender for Brock Lesnar’s Universal Championship along with the reveal of Kurt Angle’s dirty little secret. It should be a hot show in Nashville if everything goes according to plan. 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!