WWE Monday Night Raw on May 15, 2017
Watch: USA Network, Hulu, WWE Network on a one-month delay
Prudential Center – Newark, New Jersey
Raw is back in the states and live tonight after their London taping last week. Tonight, the main focus is Ambrose defending his Intercontinental Championship against The Miz. This will be Week 1 of our unfortunate Raw without Braun Strowman saga, as he just underwent surgery and may be out for months. We’re in a sad state of affairs, and I’m not sure anything will be able to fill the Braun-sized hole we’ve got in Raw, but we can only watch and see.
Kurt Angle opens Raw, talking about Braun’s injury and the future of the Universal Championship, announcing a fatal-5-way at Extreme Rules to determine Brock’s next challenger. It’ll be between Rollins, Joe, Balor, Bray and Reigns. Reigns comes out and claims himself as the #1 Contender because it’s his yard and he’s the only one that can beat Brock. Finn’s out next, saying he never lost the title and the line starts behind him. Joe comes out and says it’s not about either of them, it’s about action and results. Joe talks about his actions and results against Rollins and the future until Bray interrupts and appears in the ring. Bray talks about their false braveness, and how they would fall in the ring with The Beast. Rollins’ turn to come out and say some one-liners is next, but he wants a fight, and everyone gets in a brawl, with Finn Balor coming out on top over everyone. Decent build for what should be a real fun and chaotic match at ER.
Backstage Finn, Rollins and Reigns are arguing about the whole situation until a very flustered Kurt Angle appears and puts them all in matches. Rollins against Bray, and Finn and Reigns against each other.
Another good match in the Cesaro/Sheamus v. Hardyz saga. Sheamus nailing some brutal-looking moves including a knee that probably should have KO’d Jeff but, y’know, Jeff Hardy is impervious to most things that would otherwise destroy normal people. Some issues between Cesaro and Matt at ringside, leading to Sheamus getting distracted and Brogue Kicking Matt, Jeff sneaking up behind with a Twist of Fate and a Swanton Bomb to win the match. Jeff has been a really great addition to the current roster.
A quick rematch from last week that results in Alicia Fox hitting the Scissors Kick for the win. Alicia getting some time to showcase her talent was cool, but the win was a huge surprise given how absolutely quick and clean it was and with no fanfare or anything. Very weird, maybe a bit worrying in Sasha’s case.
A great championship match with believable near-falls and a very hot crowd behind it. Even Ambrose, who I’m typically not a fan of these days, put a whole lot into the match. His usual offense seemed amped up x2 tonight and it was refreshing. Miz was working to max capacity, it’s a bit of a broken record thing to say how good Miz is nowadays but he really has become a top wrestler in the company in such a sudden timespan. A fluid match with crazy sequences you’d usually see on house show matches, with Miz utilizing his usual cheap tactics, shielding himself with Maryse and getting Maryse to distract Ambrose. The finish was wacky, not wacky enough to subtract from the match as a whole, but just odd. Ambrose and the ref were distracted by Maryse and Miz tried to go for a low blow but Ambrose caught his arm and blatantly low-blowed him instead to cause the DQ and retain his title. I guess a way to extend the feud but just… weird in practice. The crowd ended up booing Ambrose at the end of it, but it didn’t seem like a turn or anything, just Ambrose being Ambrose. Strange finish to a great match.
Alexa Bliss is out to trash Newark and talks about her own success, saying everything she said she’d accomplish, she did. Bayley interrupts rather quick to cut a very, very awkward promo about wanting that title back, and she invokes her rematch at Extreme Rules. Alexa says Bayley isn’t extreme enough for a match at Extreme Rules, and tells her to sit at the kiddie table where she belongs. Bayley hears enough and attacks Alexa, but Alexa retaliates, and finds a kendo stick under the ring! Alexa brings the kendo stick hard across her back, sending Bayley out of the ring. Awesome stuff minus the promo from Bayley. She just never sounds sure of what she’s saying.
This match itself is a fine cruisers match, but the crowd and the reaction to it is a bit of a grim telling of how the cruiserweight division is going. Lots of chanting going on (for CM Punk no less) and a beach ball appeared, apparently. No eyes really focused on this match, and to be fair, it’s a tag match that’s been done before, but man this was a tough watch. TJP hit a Detonation Kick on Jack to win the match. The division desperately needs a shakeup, and with Cedric cleared to go, they really need to bring him back as a top dude to beat Neville.
A real fun match between these two, a straight up war. Balor targeting the banged up shoulder of Reigns throughout the match, and the two just having a hard-hitter match. Balor on his return has been much better than people would give him credit for, and Reigns working as a tweener like he has been is really good for his matches, where he can just be an asshole at times to add to a match. A lengthy one that resulted in Reigns nailing an outta nowhere spear on Balor for the win.
The Golden Truth make their entrance, doing their shtick until Goldust hits R-Truth with the mic out of nowhere and starts to beat the holy hell out of him, throwing him into the barricade and knocking him defenseless. Goldust grabs a mic and just says “that’s what’s up.” and that might be a runaway for Segment of the Year. I don’t even have words to describe it.
The build of ‘The Titus Brand’ in full effect as some banter ensues between Enzo/Cass and Titus/Apollo, leading to this.. quick match, which is over before Titus even got his suit off, Cass winning instantly. Enzo tries to take a picture of the KO’d Titus but Apollo drops him with a kick. Everyone is going bad tonight. Apollo has lost his smile.
Kinda have the same issues I did with last week’s Bray/Ambrose match with this one. Not a lot of substance here, not all that interesting. Bray seems to be the common offender, but I’m not too big a fan of current Rollins either. Nothing particularly bad, but you could tell it sucked some of the air out of an already tired crowd. Joe, expectedly, attacks Rollins during the match to cause the DQ. Bray teases an alliance with Joe but then drops him with a Sister Abigail, and delivers one to Seth as well to end Raw.
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW ON MAY 15, 2017
Strong Effort - 7/10
Tonight's show was overall quite good. A show that focused heavily on the build to Extreme Rules, and did so pretty well. The opening segment was a great way to finally establish what's happening with Brock and the Universal Championship, as well as all the matches that served the purpose of furtherly building already established feuds to come to a head at the PPV. For must-see stuff, Miz/Ambrose was the top highlight of the show, an absolute killer match between the two that should definitely be checked out, as well as Roman/Finn tearing it up. Seth/Bray wasn't too offensive but didn't do anything as the main event really. A spot that could have easily been given to Miz/Ambrose, especially considering it was a title match. In any case, good stuff considering the loss of Braun is a huge impact, a well-structured show regardless.