Monday Night RAW 7/9/18

Over the weekend Daniel Cormier defeated Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 to become the second ever double champion in company history. Cormier knocked out Miocic in the first round to upset the heavyweight champion. Cormier, who now holds the Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight titles, cut a WWE style promo after the match. He named his desired next opponent as WWE Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar. Lesnar, who had moved up to the front row before the fight started, entered the cage and shoved Cormier. The two exchanged words and Lesnar has re-entered the USADA drug testing pool since. He must complete the program with no failed tests until January 8 to be able to compete again. For more on the UFC 226 event, you can use this link.

Lesnar’s appearance at the event isn’t surprising, but it is a tad disrespectful to WWE fans. He rarely defends his title throughout the year, so you can imagine the Universe’s displeasure with their longest reigning champion. That being said, Lesnar’s name getting attention doesn’t hurt the WWE by any means so Vince shouldn’t have a problem with it. Ronda Rousey went into the UFC Hall of Fame this weekend as well, meaning the two most talked about names in MMA were actually WWE stars. RAW numbers could have capitalized on this publicity, but neither fighters were advertised for the show. Here’s what happened this week on RAW and what it means for Extreme Rules on Sunday.

Lashley Dares Reigns

Roman Reigns is met by Bobby Lashley backstage to start the show. Lashley dares Reigns to call him out so he can fight rather than talk. The camera is so close to the talent you can see Lashley’s veins popping out of his chest as Reigns refuses to back down.

Reigns makes his way to the ring as the usual mixture of cheers and boos shower him. The Big Dog chooses not to address the Lesnar situation and demands “Bob” come down and face him. Kurt Angle comes out followed by Baron Corbin and demands they wait until Sunday to settle this. Naturally, the two men ignore the General Manager’s request and they require the entire locker room to separate them. Lesnar and Lashley are often compared, but this angle is almost an exact duplication of the Reigns-Lesnar build to WrestleMania earlier this year.

The high spot of the opening segment came when Reigns dove over the top rope to take out Lashley and the entire locker room holding him back. The spot got some cheers but, as time has proven, Reigns will get booed whenever his music hits.

Backstage, Alexa Bliss and Mickie James are assessing the chaos going on by the ring. They surmise that the devastation present won’t be half the devastation they deliver to Nia Jax and Natalya in the next segment.

Nia Jax and Natalya vs. Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss and Mickie James

Natalya is a veteran and a masterful technical wrestler. She’s expected to put on quality performances, yet her work in this match came to me as a surprise. Perhaps using Jax so heavily in the top tier women’s segments is making the fans accustomed to below average wrestling? Regardless, the inevitable Natalya turn on Ronda Rousey should provide the best wrestling women’s wrestling match on RAW this year.

Bliss and Jax stay away from each other to build the storyline tension up. Jax receives a massive pop as she gets the hot tag against James. The pin comes quickly, but after the match, Bliss attacks with a kendo stick. Bliss and Jax will be in an extreme rules match this Sunday, so that should be a strategy Jax plans to beat.

Nia Jax and Natalya def. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James via pinfall

Owens Has A Doctor’s Note

Kurt Angle is in his office when Kevin Owens enters in sweats and with his luggage. He explains that he’s the bigger man because he showed up tonight despite being trapped in a port-a-potty and knocked over by Braun Strowman last week. He provides a doctor’s note that says he isn’t medically cleared for action and plants himself in Angle’s office, where it’s safe, for the evening.

No-Way Jose vs. Mojo Rawley

After weeks of humiliating Jose and his conga line, Mojo Rawley finally accepts a rematch. He dominates the match and leaves Jose looking weaker than ever. If nothing else, this booking is a statement that not every NXT call-up is going to get a massive push or even a minimal push.

Mojo Rawley def. No-Way Jose

Therapy Takes More Than A Week

Bayley and Sasha Banks are on the couch again talking about their dissolved friendship. Dr. Shelby isn’t present, so it’s likely that was a one-week special cameo. Bayley expresses her tiredness of Banks taking every chance imaginable to stab her in the back. Banks is only slightly rolling her eyes as once again we find ourselves in the middle of a slow build.

Burning it Down is Burning Away the Soul

Jinder Mahal stops Seth Rollins as he’s walking by and offers some advice. According to Mahal, Rollins’ “burn it down” mantra is harmful to the soul and he suggests meditation as an alternative. Mahal and Sunil Singh begin meditating as Rollins slips away to avoid embarrassment for the lot of them.

Rollins greets the Boston crowd by thanking them for the many nicknames he’s been given in this city, but the only one that matters is “former IC Champion.” As he goes over the upcoming match, he reveals his concern over Drew McIntyre being in Dolph Ziggler’s corner. McIntyre and Ziggler interrupt him and run Rollins down verbally in a quality promo. Rollins quips back that McIntyre is nothing but second fiddle to his partner. He goes on to imply that McIntyre is subservient to Ziggler because of a romantic past in Scotland with sheep. McIntyre is so outraged with Rollins for suggesting he performs acts of bestiality that he challenges Rollins to a match later in the evening.

Bray Wyatt Returns to RAW

Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel come out to the ring dressed as Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy. They cut a promo inside the ring mocking their opponents just as they have done over the past few weeks. Dallas impersonation of his real-life brother is spot on and adds a layer of comedy not often found in the WWE. Wyatt and Hardy appear on the jumbotron and announce that “[they’re] here.” Wyatt was involved in a car accident last week due to inattentiveness while driving on his part, so it comes as a relief that he’s back on television.

Dallas and Hardy being their singles match as the Revival watch from backstage. Wyatt is ringside, likely meaning they’re giving him time to rest before the title match on Sunday. Dallas looks like a jobber for most of the bout, but when Wyatt attacks Axel, he rolls up Hardy for the win. The tag champs lay out the B-Team after the match, but once again Axel and Dallas are victorious. Their winning streak should come to an end this Sunday in swift fashion, so Wyatt doesn’t have to take too many bumps.

Bo Dallas def. Matt Hardy via pinfall

Bobby Lashley Interview

Renee Young is catching up with Bobby Lashley after his intense altercation with Roman Reigns. Lashley comes off as somewhat of a heel, but these days it’s hard to assign any one role to a character when working with Reigns. His remarks sound like they’re criticizing Reigns, but that’s what gets over nowadays. He finishes his promo with a “believe that” (Reigns’ signature catchphrase), so at the very least he’s antagonistic. This match won’t likely be the big main event they’re hyping it up to be, but nonetheless look for it to close the show come Sunday.

Ember Moon vs. Liv Morgan Rematch

The Riott Squad lost their leader to injury and Tyler Breeze lost his partner, Fandango, in the same way. When Breeze offers Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan fashion advice they retort that they prefer to riot. I know WWE aims to use the personnel available, but the segment seemed pointless in relevancy to the Moon-Morgan story.

Last week’s meeting between these two was very one-sided in favor of Morgan. Moon won, but that fact leads us to a credible rematch, unlike the Jose-Rawley program. This time around, Morgan uses a multitude of resting holds which is a sure sign of a worker who isn’t sure what to do next. Moon is a great worker, so I’m not sure why she didn’t carry the match more. Logan tries to interfere, but Moon catches her and punches her off the apron. The problem, however, is that Logan sold the punch the wrong way. While it’s not the worst mistake in the world, it does play a part in what made this match less than captivating. Moon wins after reversing a roll-up by Morgan.

Ember Moon def. Liv Morgan via pinfall

Finn Balor and Bobby Roode v. Baron Corbin and Elias

Before Finn Balor can answer Renee Young’s question regarding Baron Corbin’s actions, Bobby Roode joins his tag partner and predicts a victorious and glorious evening. Balor answers the original question by saying that Corbin’s size isn’t indicative of his talents and that him thinking he’s the brains of the operation is laughable.

Owens is still in Angle’s office and he’s spraying air freshener before Ziggler and McIntyre enter the room. Angle admits that he wants to add the stipulation that if McIntyre loses against Rollins tonight, he will be banned from ringside Sunday. Owens jumps in with Ziggler claiming Angle’s rules are arbitrary and unfair. McIntyre quiets the room and accepts the stipulation with confidence.

Elias and Corbin give their rendition of the “Itsy Bitsy Balor” before the match starts and for someone who enjoys good singing, it’s just the worst kind of musical segment.

Roode, Corbin, and Elias take turns allowing the match to drag. It’s only when Balor tags in does the match contain substance. Balor goes for a suicide dive or tope on Elias, but Corbin grabs his leg before takeoff. This allows Balor to lose the momentum and build a hot tag for Roode. Once back in, Roode fires up but it seems like there’s no reason the fans want to cheer him aside from being with Balor. The match is designed to build heat between Balor and Corbin, but that hardly was the outcome. Corbin hits Roode with an End of Days to finish things off after a hectic and full ring is cleared.

Baron Corbin and Elias def. Finn Balor and Bobby Roode via pinfall

Extreme Rules Match for Strowman Set

Braun Strowman storms into Kurt Angle’s office and Owens demands protection. Angle says he won’t have them face off tonight, but a steel cage match will take place at Extreme Rules, so KO can’t run away from Strowman any longer. Strowman smiles and accuses Owens of stinking with fear. He sprays him with air freshener for a cheap laugh.

Roman Reigns gets his chance to interview with Renee Young and makes it short and simple. Bobby Lashley is out of his depth and after Extreme Rules “he’ll be the guy, but somewhere else.”

Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre

If nothing else, Drew McIntyre is a considerably large man. His size alone makes it believable that someone as good as Rollins would struggle against him. For me, good matches make you stop and say “wow, I really couldn’t do that safely or dangerously” and this match provided plenty of those moments. Rollins is like a ring general out there with McIntyre’s strength at his disposal. Since McIntyre has rejoined the main roster, no match has gotten him over more than this one. Not once did the match drag between spots and the fear that Rollins could lose was always present.

Normally, I would expect the Lashley-Reigns angle to be in the main event spot because that’s what Vince likes. A Rollins and McIntyre match is the right call here and it could be a sign that the creative team recognizes that Rollins is the best talent on either brand right now.

Slowly but surely Rollins eats away at McIntyre’s stamina. The match ends in excitement as Rollins goes for a Frog Splash on McIntyre, but quickly realizes he must nail Ziggler with a curb stomp to stay in the match. Unfortunately, Rollins gets hit with a Claymore right as he turns around and McIntyre secures the victory. With this finish, McIntyre will be in Ziggler’s corner on Sunday. There are no guarantees, but likely Rollins will win, and he’s double-teamed Dean Ambrose could make his highly anticipated return.

Drew McIntyre def. Seth Rollins via pinfall

Wrap-Up

This week’s RAW was considerably better than last week’s train wreck, but it drew record lows; If the product was more consistent that likely wouldn’t be the case. We got some fun stipulations added to the Extreme Rules card and the Bayley-Banks angle is still moving along at a turtle’s pace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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David Rosenberg

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