By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. After weeks of mysterious texts and phone calls, Kurt Angle vowed to reveal his dirty little secret to the world. Did Angle’s bombshell announcement change the course of WWE history or was it a letdown instead? 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.
· Dean Ambrose kicked off Raw by calling out The Miz and his Miztourage to finish what they started last week. Seth Rollins made his way to the ring and suggested that Ambrose come up with another game plan. Ambrose blew him off which eventually turned into an impromptu group therapy session where Rollins apologized for breaking up The Shield for the first time since turning babyface last year.
· Rollins wanted to team up with Ambrose to take on Miz and his Miztourage, but the Lunatic Fringe rebuffed his former brother at every turn.
· Rollins was willing to take a chair shot to the back as a form of penance. Ambrose was tempted, but he threw the chair down as the fans cheered about a possible Shield reunion.
· Miz ruined the moment as he made his way to the ring and mocked both men for putting on a compelling performance that was worthy of a Hollywood remake. Miz and his crew grabbed steel chairs and ambushed Ambrose and Rollins. Both men took the fight to the heels, but the numbers game caught up to them.
· Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel double teamed Rollins while Miz slammed Ambrose into the steel steps at ringside.
· Miz got in the ring and laid Rollins out with the Skull Crushing Finale onto a steel chair.
· Noticing that Ambrose was stirring on the floor, Miz hit him in the back with a steel chair for good measure as the opening segment came to an end.
· This was a good way to start the show. Ambrose and Rollins were compelling on the mic as Rollins showed remorse towards his former brother for the first time in three years. The fans were hot for the segment which speaks well for a temporary Shield reunion. Rollins and Ambrose facing the Miz and his Miztourage is not the sexiest matchup in the world, but it should be entertaining nonetheless. The fact that Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel are front and center in a major feud is pretty damn remarkable considering where they were a month ago. It’s a Christmas miracle in July!
· Bayley defeated Alexa Bliss with the Bayley-to-Belly thanks to an assist from Sasha Banks. The match was fine, but the finish pushed things over the top when Banks attacked Nia Jax at ringside. She drop kicked Jax against the ring apron as Bayley picked up another win over the Raw Women’s Champion. Based on the Hugger Extraordinaire recent winning streak, it appears she’s back in title contention. Good for her!
· Jack Gallagher and Mustafa Ali defeated The Brian Kendrick and Drew Gulak when Ali pinned Kendrick with the Inverted 450 Splash in a decent match. The in-ring action was okay, but the crowd was bored throughout.
· Enzo Amore set a trap for Big Cass when he brought out The Big Show for backup. Big Show had the upper hand for a while, but Big Cass kicked his ass fair and square. Enzo tried to make the save, but Cass booted him in the face before leaving the ring. Big Show got back on his feet and seethed in the ring as the segment came to an end.
· Enzo’s promo was fine, but it went a bit too long for my taste. He’s a great talker, but some self-editing will do him a world of good when it comes to getting his point across in a short amount of time. At least he squeezed in a Big Comfy Couch reference. That’s always a win in my book.
· After Big Show dominated Big Cass last week, Cass returned the favor. His check didn’t bounce this week which adds fuel to their presumed match at SummerSlam next month.
· Kurt Angle booked Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins vs. The Miz and his Miztourage in a 2-on-3 handicap match that will take place on next week’s show.
· Elias Samson vs. Finn Bálor ended via Disqualification when Samson smashed his guitar over Bálor’s head. It was a sick spot that actually added a bit of gravitas to the situation. Before the DQ, Samson and Bálor had a solid match which saw Samson on offense for the most part. Bálor had a burst of offensive flurry, but he was stopped dead in his tracks when The Drifter channeled his inner Jeff Jarrett. Despite Bálor scoring the win over Samson last week, their mini-feud is far from over.
· As Bálor was making his way up the ramp, Bray Wyatt appeared on the big screen and delivered an ominous message to The Demon King. Wyatt wanted to feast on Bálor’s soul while inflicting unbearable pain and agony at the same time. This feud was on hold due to Braun Strowman’s elbow injury, but it appears that both men are on a collision course towards SummerSlam next month.
· Most importantly, Bálor gets to bust out his body paint for the first time since returning from injury which will ironically take place at the same PPV and venue from last year. Here’s hoping that he has a happier ending this year.
· Kurt Angle’s matchmaking skills were on full display once again as he booked Bayley vs. Sasha Banks for next week with the winner going on to face Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Title at SummerSlam.
· Ariya Daivari defeated Akira Tozawa via referee stoppage after Titus O’Neil asked the ref to stop the match due to Tozawa’s shoulder injury. The match was fine, but the crowd was dead for the most part. Sound familiar? Read my recap of Ali and Gallagher vs. Kendrick and Gulak.
· Despite the lack of crowd heat, the match did a nice job establishing tension between Tozawa and O’Neil as their business relationship has hit a snag.
· Kurt Angle’s dirty little secret turned out to be that he fathered a son while he was in college. Angle didn’t know about it until recently, but he wanted to introduce his long-lost prodigy to the world. And with that, Jason Jordan made his debut on Raw while dressing like his newfound dad at the same time. They shared an emotional embrace in the ring as the fans cheered them on.
· On the shock and awe scale, I’ll give Angle’s announcement a six. Jason Jordan being sent to Raw puts an unceremonious end to American Alpha which sucks, but here’s hoping Jordan thrives as a singles star. His relationship with Angle will be interesting to watch as well. Will he get a case of the bitters over his dad not being there for him when he was little? We shall see.
· The Revival defeated The Hardy Boyz when Scott Dawson pinned Jeff Hardy with a roll-up thanks to a yank of the pants. This was a tale of two matches. The first half saw the Hardys dominate the action, but Dash and Dawson gained the upper hand after the commercial break as they isolated Matt from Jeff.
· Matt eventually made the hot tag as the action picked up down the stretch. Jeff was about to hit Dawson with a Swanton Bomb for the win, but Wilder knocked him off the top rope which set up the finish.
· There is a bit of controversy when it comes to Jeff’s shoulder coming up before the three-count, but I’m sure newfound father of six Kurt Angle will remedy the situation. Hiccup aside, this was easily the match on the show thus far.
· Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe ended without a decisive winner because Braun Strowman came out and kicked their asses in epic fashion.
· Before Strowman wrecked shop, Reigns and Joe had a very good match that had the Nashville crowd on their feet. It was a grimy match that featured hard-hitting action throughout. The counters were on point as both men tried to one up each other move for move.
· Reigns had the match in hand when Strowman came out. The Badass Samoans held their own for a while, but Strowman was too much for them. He laid out Reigns with a Spine Buster before dropping Joe with a Powerslam. Reigns suffered the same fate as security tried to break things up. Strowman hit his finisher a second time before heading backstage. Raw went off the air with Reigns and Joe laid out in the ring while the camera cut backstage to Kurt Angle and Jason Jordan preparing for their joint interview on the WWE Network.
· Strowman crashing the party was expected which should lead to a Fatal Four Way match at SummerSlam featuring Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe, and Braun Strowman for the Universal Championship. However, the rumor mill is still running rampant that Reigns vs. Lesnar for the Universal Title is the end game. Will Kurt Angle book Reigns, Joe, and Strowman in a Triple Threat Match in order to stretch out the inevitable? We shall find out soon enough.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was middling at best. Kurt Angle’s announcement was underwhelming, but he bolstered the third hour with good in-ring action which staved off the 10:00 P.M. Lull Period of Death.
· The rest of the show was fine, but it wasn’t must-see TV for the most part. Fortunately, the final hour salvaged things which is usually not the case most weeks. At least WWE loaded up next week’s show which should give fans a reason to tune in.
· Finn Bálor vs. Elias Samson in a No Disqualification Match, Bayley vs. Sasha Banks in a number one contender’s match for the Raw Women’s Championship, and Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz and his Miztourage in a 2-on-3 Handicap Match should improve the in-ring aspect of the show.
· WWE planning out shows a week in advance is very refreshing to see. Can they maintain this trend heading into the fall season? Time will tell, but at least there is some forethought when it comes to the company getting their proverbial ducks in a row. Let’s hope they can keep it up as SummerSlam draws near. 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!