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Eight days removed from WrestleMania, Shane McMahon is back in control of Raw from Los Angeles. Plus, build-up to Roman Reigns vs. A.J. Styles for the WWE Title, and more (ahem, Dr. Phil).
WWE Raw TV Report
April 11, 2016 – Episode #1,194
Live in Los Angeles, Calif.
Report by James Caldwell (@JCTorch), PWTorch assistant editor
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- Latest WM32 fall-out
- Shane McMahon running Raw
- Women’s Title match: Charlotte vs. Natalya
- Roman Reigns vs. A.J. Styles build-up
- Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn feud heating up
- Announcers: Michael Cole, JBL, Byron Saxton
Raw opened with “In Memory” of Blackjack Mulligan on the screen.
Live inside Staples Center, Michael Cole quietly introduced Monday Night Raw. Shane McMahon’s music then played to bring out Shane dressed in a vest, dress shirt, jeans, and white tennies. Cole said that Shane is in charge tonight because of “overwhelming social media demand.” He said Shane ran Raw temporarily last week, but he was placed in-charge again tonight.
Before Shane spoke from the ring, WWE cut to the announcers for a different camera angle that felt fresh, not the blah straight-on shot.
In the ring, Shane said his dad let him run Raw last week for his own personal amusement, and now he’s back this week. Shane said he’s here really because of the fans’s support.
Shane listed tonight’s card: Charlotte vs. Natalya for the Women’s Title and a Tag Tournament starting tonight to determine the next #1 contender’s to New Day.
Shane then mentioned A.J. Styles to a big reaction and WWE World Hvt. champion Roman Reigns to loud boos with the females shrieking. He said Sami Zayn was left out of the #1 contender mix last week because of Kevin Owens. He said Zayn gets a match against A.J. Styles tonight. And, if Zayn wins, then he’s added to Styles vs. Reigns to make a triple threat match at Payback in three weeks.
Suddenly, Kevin Owens’s music played. Owens said this should be Shane’s last night running Raw and he might have a few screws loose putting Zayn in the title mix. He said he has been screwed over so much, and he’s tired of it. Shane noted he’s the one who screwed over Zayn and then lost the #1 contender match last week. Just like he lost at WrestleMania.
Owens cut him off – he said he did not lose anything at KOMania because he was robbed by Sami Zayn. And, he didn’t get pinned in the #1 contender match last week. You know what else isn’t fair? He hasn’t received his IC Title re-match. In fact, he’s in the ring, he’s ready to fight, and he demands his re-match tonight. Shane said that’s not how things are run tonight, and this might be his last night, but Owens can earn his IC Title shot by defeating one guy tonight. “No, I don’t!” Owens said.
Shane said this guy has been here since 2:30 running up and down the hallway. He’s ready to fight, Owens is ready, and this man is … the Swiss Superman Cesaro. Owens flipped out and argued with Shane, then Cesaro’s music played. Cesaro walked out on-stage with a James Bond spotlight and thanked Shane for the spot. Cesaro did the full routine removing his gear displaying a new Cesaro Section t-shirt. Lots of energy and passion from Cesaro, who climbed into the ring ready to fight Owens as Raw cut to break.
SEGMENT NEWS: A.J. Styles vs. Sami Zayn with Zayn having a chance to be in the WWE Title match at Payback, Tag Title tournament tonight, Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro with Owens having to earn an IC Title re-match.
[Commercial Break at 8:10]
1 — KEVIN OWENS vs. CESARO — Owens gets IC Title re-match if Owens wins
As soon as the bell sounded, Owens ducked under the ropes trying to avoid Cesaro. Cole strangely said Owens was not prepared to fight, much less against Cesaro. Owens just said in the opening segment that he wanted to fight right now. He didn’t know who his opponent was going to be, but he was ready to fight. Robotic Cole gave way to JBL yelling about Shane being drunk with power tonight.
Meanwhile, WWE cut backstage to L.A. residents The Miz and Maryse watching this match intently … from some sort of lava lounge waiting room positioned backstage. Back in the ring, Owens worked a headlock and shouted that he’s the “Master of the Headlock,” calling back to D-Bryan’s famous never-ending headlock on Cesaro at a PWG show several years ago. Cesaro came back with his own headlock as the announcers discussed Shane being like a substitute teacher who needs to go home after tonight.
Back to Cesaro putting Owens in the Uppercut Train for a nearfall. Cesaro thought about the Cesaro Swing, but Owens avoided, then swept Cesaro shoulder-first into the turnbuckle, trying to target Cesaro’s previously injured shoulder. Heading to break, Cole posed the question of who will be the #1 contender to the IC Title, implying Cesaro also had a shot at the title if he wins.
[Commercial Break at 8:21]
Back from break, Cesaro was in control after delivering a second-rope gutwrench suplex. Cesaro and Owens then traded blows until Cesaro put Owens in position for the Swing. Owens kicked free, so Cesaro kicked him in the gut for a two count. Cesaro tried to follow with a cross-body splash, but Owens rolled through into a crossface (called by Cole), targeting the injured shoulder. Owens placed Cesaro right in the middle of the ring, putting Cesaro in trouble. Cesaro then rolled Owens onto his shoulders for a two count. Cesaro followed with a one-arm Sharpshooter trying to use his one good arm, but Owens scrambled to the bottom rope.
WWE then cut backstage for a look at Miz and Maryse. And they were nowhere to be found. Oops, they were sitting down on the couch now. The camera tried to find them, then cut back to the ring. Owens nailed a big top-rope splash on Cesaro, but only got a two count. Owens wanted the pop-up powerbomb, but Cesaro jumped over Owens into a springboard European Uppercut.
Cesaro got The Look in his eyes, then dropped Owens and tried the Big Swing, but could only get a few revolutions before releasing the hold because of his shoudler. Owens then chucked Cesaro into the ropes for the pop-up, but Cesaro turned it into a huracanrana at the very last second. Cesaro then scooped up Owens for The Neutralizer for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Cesaro at 14:48. Once they changed it to Cesaro having a title shot if he won, it made it clear that he was winning. Miz vs. Owens heel-heel doesn’t make sense, so Miz-Cesaro for the IC Title and making Owens even more incensed from losing is a nice combo. Overall, a nice call-back to their PWG careers with a very good TV singles match.(***)
[Q3] Announcers: Cole and Co. – back to their generic on-camera presentation – fed to a video package on the Women’s Title being re-introduced last week, specifically on Raw. After everyone walked out of the ring, Natalya was left standing to challenge Charlotte for a title shot.
Backstage: Charlotte complained to Ric Flair about being disrespected around here. Charlotte told daddy that she should be on WWE Network’s “Legends with JBL” already. Flair removed his sunglasses and she is totally right and Natalya definitely does not deserve a title shot tonight.
Suddenly, Dr. Phil walked in. Dr. Phil meet Flair, Ric. We have a lot to go over. Dr. Phil focused on Charlotte being corrupted her dad. What are you standing on? My feet. Then use them to stand on your two feet and not depend on this corrupting father. Charlotte took exception and told him she’ll chop him back to Texas. Dr. Phil ignored her threat and told Charlotte to ditch her dad and be her own person. Flair wanted to fight Dr. Phil, who whooed like a clucking chicken in Flair’s face. Flair stomped off, upset over Dr. Phil’s accusations. The anti-celebrity fans cheered in the background after Dr. Phil owned that segment breaking down the booking in storyline context.
Backstage: Speaking of an incensed Kevin Owens, he yelled in Shane McMahon’s face that he’s tired of getting screwed around here. He told Shane that whatever happens to Sami Zayn tonight is on Shane’s gray head. Shane said he’s not letting Owens do that, so he’s gone from tonight’s show. Shane told Owens to get dressed and be ready to get escorted out of the building.
[Commercial Break at 8:36]
In-arena: Back from break, New Day’s music played to bring out the WWE tag champions. Big E., Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods emerged wearing the L.A. Clippers’s off-colors. Time for a walk-and-talk promo to the ring. Xavier said the tag division, like a game of NBA Jam, is on fire. Kofi Kingston wanted to know who – who – who – who – who deserves the title shot? Big E. said they shall see in due time.
Big E. said they are prepared to say good-bye to March Sadness and busted brackets and say hello to the Tag Team Tournament, baby. Sponsored by the delicious, boo-tricious, Booty-O’s. A graphic flashed on the screen with the eight-team bracket.
- The Usos vs. Social Outcasts
- Golden Truth (anti-climatic pay-off to whether they’re a tag team) vs. The Vaudevillians
- Enzo & Big Cass vs. The Ascension
- Lucha Dragons vs. Dudleys
Now in the ring, Big E. posed the question of whether anyone can dethrone New Day. Nooooooo. But, the illustrious tag tournament begins … right now. Xavier worked the trombone, then Lucha Dragons were introduced as the first team. U.S. champion Kalisto and Sin Cara posed in the ring before Raw cut to break.
[Q4] [Commercial Break at 8:44]
2 — LUCHA DRAGONS (U.S. champion KALISTO & SIN CARA) vs. THE DUDLEYS (BUBBA RAY & DEVON DUDLEY) — Opening Round WWE Tag Title tournament #1 contender tournament match
The match returned from break with the match in progress. A masked man was down on the floor. Apparently Kalisto was selling some sort of injury. The doctor checked on Kalisto as the Dudleys yelled at him from the ring. Sin Cara returned to the ring to take a beating from the Dudleys as they cut back to Kalisto selling a collarbone injury.
Sin Cara came back on Devon with a springboard elbow before smacking Bubba Ray off the ring apron. Splash for a two count. Bubba blind-tagged into the match and wanted to take the 3D, but Sin Cara blew the spot. So, Devon shot Sin Cara off the ropes a second time to take the 3D. Bubba pinned Sin Cara for the win.
Post-match, Bubba immediately bounced out of the ring to stand over Kalisto, who continued to clutch his shoulder indicating an injury. Bubba got himself over as a bully, then hopped back into the ring to stand with Devon.
WINNERS: Dudleys at 3:09 – Dudleys advance to face Ascension vs. Big Cass & Enzo winners.
Speaking of which, Enzo Amore’s music played to bring out Enzo & Big Cass to address the Dudleys. Lots of energy from Enzo running back and forth on the stage as Big Cass stood tall on the stage. From the stage, Enzo introduced himself with his trademark rap. WWE cut to fans in the crowd chanting along. Back in the ring, Bubba told them and the fans to shut their mouths. Bubba told the “two young punks” to recognize who we are. “We’re The Dudley Boys!” Bubba said. Bubba said they paved the way for guys like them. Devon told them they are not the best tag team in this business and the only reason why they exist is because of them.
Enzo replied from the stage that the only reason why he exists is because his mom and dad got it on. How you doin’? The crowd chanted it, then Big Cass told the Dudleys that if they paved the way, then they need to step aside because they’re like jackhammers coming through the pavement making holes. Big Cass told them to go back to work because there’s only one way to describe them. S-A-W-F-T, Sawft! As Enzo’s music played, Bubba indicated to Devon that that’s two times they’ve disrespected them. Enzo & Big Cass aren’t in action next, though.
Up Next: Roman Reigns. Can he maintain the hot start to tonight’s show?
[Commercial Break at 8:55]
Tonight: Raw is at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Backstage: Kevin Owens was shown dressed in street clothes being walked down the hallway by security. Owens took exception to one of the guards getting too close.
Roman Reigns Promo
One minute before the top of the hour, Roman Reigns’s music played to bring out the WWE World Hvt. champion to loud boos. Reigns posed with the title belt on the stage. JBL described Reigns as a “certifiable b.a., but a lot of people don’t like him.” Reigns walked to the ring taking in the crowd reaction before WWE cut to still-shots of Reigns vs. Triple H (with Stephanie McMahon) at WrestleMania eight days ago.
[Q5 — second hour] In the ring, Reigns waited out loud boos with a smirk on his face. Reigns shouted out to L.A., which drew loud boos for a cheap pop attempt. Reigns said it’s all good because he’s not a good guy, not a bad guy, but The Guy. The pro-Reigns fans cheered, while the vocal males continued to boo the line.
Reigns said he faces A.J. Styles at Payback, and possibly Sami Zayn. He said both guys have won titles all over the world, but none of them have won The Title. Reigns said he’s not going anywhere and plans to be champ for a very long time.
Suddenly, the League of Nations’s music interrupted to bring out an act even less likable than Reigns. Sheamus spoke from the stage that Reigns should be nervous about them because last week they eliminated the weakest link in the group, King Barrett. Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, and Rusev fired themselves up. Rusev then spoke. Rusev said Reigns thinks he’s The Guy, but he is The Man. Rusev said he is bigger, stronger, and better-looking than him. So, he should be The Face of WWE. Reigns just laughed from the ring.
Reigns said Rusev just proved he’s the “ass” of WWE. Reigns was amused by his one-liner, then Alberto spoke from the stage that he would have won the #1 contender match last week if given the shot. Reigns told all three of them to come down to the ring and get all of their asses whooped. The trio stormed the ring and the fight was on.
Suddenly, the Wyatt Family theme played, continuing last week’s deal of The Wyatts fighting The League for some reason. The Wyatts drove The League out of the ring, leaving Reigns alone in the ring trying to figure out what was going on. Reigns backed away from Bray, Erick Rowan, and Braun Strowman not sure what to make of them. Reigns then slowly walked out of his corner to approach Bray.
But, Shane McMahon interrupted. Shane said he never thought he would see Bray and Reigns fighting side-by-side, but he digs it. Shane said he’s going to be selfish tonight and book some more of that. So, tonight, two members of The League are going to face the tag team of Reigns & Bray Wyatt in tonight’s main event. Shane’s music played as Reigns continued to sell concern over Bray’s motives.
[ Reax: So random. Somewhat intriguing, but still too many moving parts after WrestleMania that need to be sorted out to really sink your teeth into what’s going on to be taken on a ride to find out what this is about. ]
Still to come: A.J. Styles vs. Sami Zayn.
Up Next: Charlotte vs. Natalya for the Women’s Title.
This Wednesday: Shinsuke Nakamura makes his NXT debut. Full video package on the King of Strong Style heading to break.
[Commercial Break at 9:08]
Puerto Rico Tourism: The Colons (not yet identified by name) want you to smell the flowers.
Back in the arena, Dr. Phil was introduced with his own theme music. Dr. Phil walked down to the ring as Lilian Garcia introduced him as the host of Raw. WWE identified his theme music as from Hundred Handed, the musical guest whose son is in the band.
Natalya was introduced to the ring for the Women’s Title match. Charlotte was out next sporting Ric Flair’s robe from WrestleMania. Meanwhile, down at ringside, Byron Saxton asked Dr. Phil why he’s out here. The doctor said he wants to see if Charlotte took his advice to do things on her own and not depend on Ric for help. In the ring, Lilian handled formal ring introductions before the bell sounded.
3 — Women’s champion CHARLOTTE (w/Ric Flair) vs. NATALYA — WWE Women’s Title match
As the bell sounded, Cole recapped an eventful week for the Women’s division with the introduction of a new Women’s Title and, oh by the way, Brie Bella having her last match at WrestleMania. Charlotte and Natalya took their time circling the ring before locking up, indicating this was going to be a long-form title match. Natalya eventually cleared Charlotte from the ring and stood tall to applause.
Charlotte sold embarrassment on the outside, then tried to attack Nattie back in the ring, but Nattie saw it coming and dropkicked her out of the ring. Charlotte tried to collect herself as Flair told her to calm down. She then returned to the ring and took control of Nattie heading to break.
[Commercial Break at 9:19]
Back from break, Charlotte repeatedly pounded Natalya’s face into the mat with a submission. She then applied the Figure-Eight and Sharpshooter consecutively, but Natalya still held on. More punishment, but Charlotte couldn’t finish her. She eventually looked over to Ric with concern. He gave her the thumbs up, giving her confidence. But, she missed a top-rope moonsault. Natalya immediately followed with the Sharpshooter. Charlotte was in trouble, so Flair pulled the ref out of the ring as Charlotte tapped out. The ref yelled at Flair, then called for the bell, ruling a DQ.
Natalya’s music played, but Lilian announced Natalya as the winner … by DQ. Therefore, Charlotte was still champion. Charlotte took her title belt and tried to proudly display it, but Natalya wanted to fight her, so Charlotte got the heck out of the ring.
Down at ringside, Byron talked to Dr. Phil. He said he was very disappointed to see Charlotte depend on the dirty tactics tonight. He wishes Charlotte would turn into a champion who girls watching at home can be proud of. Dr. Phil added that WWE is on the right track giving the women’s division a platform to cement their place in sports.
WINNER: Natalya via DQ at 10:56; Charlotte retained the Women’s Title. Well, Dr. Phil was not the individual to finally neutralize Flair. Who will it be? Perhaps it’s super low expectations for celebrity involvement, but Dr. Phil was actually very good and refreshing in his role tonight. He sounded like he knows the product and confidently jumped into his role without it feeling like a forced fit.
Backstage: Renee Young brought in Sami Zayn to talk about his #1 contender shot tonight. With Kevin Owens escorted out of the building, Zayn confidently talked about his journey to this spot. He said two things have gotten him to this spot – heart and soul. Am I ready? Yeah, I’m ready. Zayn said he didn’t come this far to lose.
A.J. Styles walked into the shot. Styles said he agrees with everything Zayn just said. He said both of them are finally here in WWE. But … he’s the only #1 contender. Styles said he plans on keeping it that way. Styles walked off as the crowd did “Ole!” chants in the background.
[Q7] Back in the arena, the Usos were introduced on-stage for the next tag tournament contender match. Raw is moving at a brisk, fast pace tonight bouncing from one item to the next, but not feeling rushed.
[Commercial Break at 9:32]
4 — THE USOS (JIMMY & JEY USO) vs. SOCIAL OUTCASTS (CURTIS AXEL & HEATH SLATER w/Bo Dallas and Adam Rose) — Opening Round WWE Tag Title tournament #1 contender tournament match
The “comedown match” started with Slater and Axel controlling the match. Meanwhile, JBL shouted out to Lakers star Kobe Bryant about to wrap his NBA career here at the Staples Center this week. JBL accidentally said “wrestling” and corrected himself to “fighting” as the Outcasts continued to dominate Jey Uso. Suddenly, the Bo Train started at ringside to wake up the crowd in the comedown match. Jimmy took exception, then fought back against the Bo Train by taking a tag from Jey. The Outcasts had no idea what was going on, then Jimmy rolled up Axel for the win.
WINNERS: Usos at 4:16 – advance to face Golden Truth-Vaudevillians winners.
After the match, Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows suddenly stormed the ring in street clothes to a loud reaction. They went after the Usos, then hit the Magic Killer as the announcers talked them up as major international stars. Karl & Doc left the ring and attacked the other Uso, blasting him into the ring steps. Suddenly, refs stormed the ringside area and held them off. “Bullet Club” chants from the crowd. Anderson told the refs to relax as they slowly backed away from ringside and hopped back over the guardrail. The fans cheered their presence as Raw cut to break.
[ Reax: Big debut for the former New Japan stars. It had to be in L.A. for Anderson, who became a big name in SoCal. Tonight is like a PWG/NWA Hollywood reunion on WWE television. ]
Still to come: Reigns & Bray Wyatt vs. Sheamus & Alberto Del Rio from The League.
[Commercial Break at 9:43]
[Q8] Moments Ago: Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows (identified as Luke Gallows) showed up, beat up The Usos, and made their name. Cole said they are one of the most-decorated tag teams in New Japan history.
SportsCenter plug: The Miz and Maryse on ESPNews tomorrow night. Cole flashed back to the top of the show when Cesaro beat Kevin Owens to get an IC Title shot.
Miz’s Room: The Miz had cucumbers on his eyes (it really works) and Maryse yelled at a stagehand for producing the wrong kind of M&M’s in his bowl. Maryse said this is the Intercontinental champion. And, this water is domestic. They only drink imported water. The stagehand left, then the train kept going with Jo-Jo walking in for an interview. Maryse tried to run her off as another groupie chasing her husband. Miz slowly got up from his cucumber nap to run down Ryder for riding the Long Island train while he drives a nice car. As for Cesaro, you’re looking at his kryptonite. Maryse told him to Take 2 and 3 to be more dramatic.
Suddenly, James Bond Cesaro was in the room to keep the train going. Cesaro said this miz-take just means he’s a few weeks away from losing the IC Title to him. Cesaro told him to watch out, then put his James Bond glasses back on. Miz angrily tried to take a sip of water, but Maryse yelled at him no, no, no, it’s domestic. Miz spit it out, then leaned over at a tabletop selling anger.
In-ring: A.J. Styles’s music played to bring out Styles for the top-of-the-hour match. Styles posed in the ring as Cole hyped the Styles-Zayn match up next.
[Commercial Break at 9:53]
Back from break, A.J. Styles bounced around the ring ready to have his first main roster WWE match inside Staples Center. Sami Zayn was then introduced to a big reaction. Two guys having a moment after wrestling so many independent shows in SoCal.
5 — A.J. STYLES vs. SAMI ZAYN — If Zayn wins, he’s added to WWE Title match at Payback
Clean start with respect shown between the two babyfaces. Naturally, JBL said he can’t stand this match. They came to a stalemate, then Zayn tried a quick pin for a two count.
[Q9 — third hour] The pace quickened with Zayn taking control of the match with an armdrag into an armbar. Styles fought back, driving Zayn to the corner. Styles sold a bit of an edge against likable underdog Zayn. Styles then bodyslammed Zayn as JBL talked about these two having a chance to prove whether they belong here.
Clean break in the corner, then Zayn suddenly showed an edge delivering a hard knife-edge chop to the chest. Styles slowly walked out of the corner to approach Zayn for a snug collar-and-elbow tie-up. And, Styles suddenly nailed a dropkick right in the face. Styles followed with a snap suplex in the middle of the ring.
Styles slowed the pace with a submission putting a knee in Zayn’s back trying to wear him down. Zayn came back to his feet with strikes, but ran into a back-elbow smash. Zayn fell to the floor, So Styles went for a plancha, but Zayn moved. Styles landed on his feet, so he kneed Zayn right in the face. Styles tossed a loopy Zayn back into the ring for a close two count.
Styles tried to follow with a big attack off the ropes, but Zayn ran away from Styles and dumped him over the top rope to the floor. Zayn got That Look and ran the ropes before flying over the top rope with a big flip dive, finishing with a lariat to Styles. Zayn stood tall on the floor heading to break.
[Commercial Break at 10:05]
Back from break, Styles had control of the match back in the ring. Styles worked a chinlock, which Zayn fought out of. Styles cut him off with a quick clothesline, then big forearm. Big corner splash into a pumphandle gutbuster for a two count. Styles followed with a fireman’s carry neck-buster, dropping Zayn across his knee.
Styles wanted the Clash at 12:00, but Zayn blocked. Styles tried again, but Zayn landed on his feet and quickly rolled Styles to the mat for a close nearfall. Zayn then ran Styles up the ropes into a Tornado DDT for another close count. Zayn tried to follow, but Styles suddenly nailed him with the Pele Kick. Both men sold on the mat.
Styles rolled to the ring apron looking for his forearm smash, but Zayn had it scouted and avoided. Blue Thunder Bomb in the middle of the ring. But, Styles kicked out just before three. Just, just before three. Super-close. The crowd buzzed after the sequence. Zayn lost focus after getting within a split-second of a title shot, then Styles rolled him into the Calf-crusher. Zayn fought the hold, then managed to crawl to the bottom rope for a break.
Reset at 16:00 with both men selling the effects of the match. Styles then climbed to the top turnbuckle looking for the big finish, but Zayn forearmed him in the face. Zayn wanted a top-rope move, but Styles countered, only to have Zayn land on his feet in a sick show of athletic ability. Zayn immediately kicked Styles in the face, sending him to the corner. Zayn wanted the Helluva Kick, but Styles blocked and went right to a springboard Phenomenal Forearm. Styles covered Zayn for the pin and the win.
Post-match, Styles collected himself as the victor, ready for Roman Reigns at Payback. Meanwhile, Zayn leaned against the ring on the floor selling disbelief over how close he was to winning.
WINNER: Styles at 16:45; Payback is Reigns-Styles. What a match. The finishing sequence was terrific getting over both Styles as a new Alpha Male on the roster and Zayn as the ultimate underdog with sick athleticism and strong wrestling ability. Good way to get Styles ready to face Reigns for fans who aren’t familiar with Styles. (***1/2)
Backstage: Chris Jericho was shown walking down the hallway. Jericho, not dressed to wrestle, was set to host the Highlight Reel.
[Q10] [Commercial Break at 10:16]
Tonight: Raw is in Los Angeles with Shane McMahon running the show.
Ringside: Seth Green was shown at ringside to promote “Camp WWE” on WWE Network.
Moments Ago: A.J. Styles beat Sami Zayn after Zayn came within a split-second of beating Styles after the Blue Thunder Bomb.
Backstage: A.J. Styles and Sami Zayn talked about their match. Styles tried to give Zayn a pep-talk about getting another title shot down the road. Shane McMahon walked in and excitedly talked them up after their great match. “That was awesome!” he said. “That’s what this business is all about.” Styles extended his hand and Zayn reluctantly shook his hand. Planting seeds for a heel turn if Zayn decides he can’t win at this level being a nice-guy, underdog?
Fireworks shot off to bring out Chris Jericho for a talking segment with a “special guest.” He told the crowd to shut up, then said he has the biggest star in WWE history here tonight. The crowd sold reluctance to buy in, seeing where this was going. Jericho said his guest is a multiple-time World champion, WrestleMania main-eventer, and future WWE Hall of Famer. “My guest is me,” he said.
Jericho said you are about to learn more about him than you ever wanted to know. Jericho interviewed himself about owing all of his success to himself. He said his name is synonymous with excellence because he is the best in the world at what he does. Jericho said he came out here tonight to give everyone a chance to bask in the glory of the greatest of all-time.
“Tonight, I give to you the gift of Jericho. Drink it in,” he said. Jericho extended his arms and closed his eyes to absorb the sound of people cheering in his head. Jericho talked himself up as the only man to beat Steve Austin and The Rock on the same night to win the Undisputed Title. He then talked himself up beating A.J. Styles, the current #1 contender, at WrestleMania.
Jericho said no one on this roster can touch him right now. Jericho 1.0 told Jericho 2.0 that you’re right. Suddenly, Dean Ambrose’s music interrupted to follow up on Smackdown events. Dean brought a potted plant with him to enhance the Highlight Reel set. Jericho sold anger over this interruption. Dean pulled out a gardening utensil to prune Jericho’s plotted plant, then looked at the Jeritron monitor.
Dean said this is his show now. Dean asked Jericho if he didn’t get the memo. Dean pulled up a wadded-up piece of paper from Shane McMahon. It was a California speeding ticket. Oops, been a long night. Dean pulled out the other piece of paper and Jericho read that the Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho has been canceled. It will be replaced by the Ambrose Asylum hosted by Dean Ambrose. Dean adjusted a tie and stood in front of a WWE fan sign reading “Ambrose Asylum” pasted over the Jeritron.
Dean dramatically introduced his show and introduced his first guest, Chris Jericho. Boos. Dean told the crowd not to boo his guest, okay. Dean asked Jericho what’s up with that scarf, dude? Jericho quietly said this scarf cost $750 to laughs. Secondly, still in a low tone, Dean is trying to interrupt him after he interrupted his victory celebration on Smackdown. Jericho said he does not play by the rules since he reached legendary status in WWE and can do whatever he wants.
[Q11] Jericho told Dean that if he were smart, he would keep his nose clean, or he will bury him. Jericho told Dean to look at him when he’s talking to him, boy. Jericho told Dean to take himself out of his ring right now. Dean mulled the threat, then asked if he’s really not going to tell them about the scarf. Jericho slapped the mic away from Dean, who answered with Dirty Deeds in the middle of the ring. Dean’s music played and he thanked the audience for their attendance. Dean stood next to his fan sign and posed before leaving the ring as Jericho sold in the background.
Up Next: Apollo Crews in action. That confirms the First Round tag tournament contender matches will not be completed tonight.
[Commercial Break at 10:32]
Smackdown plug: On cue, WWE announced Golden Truth vs. Vaudevillains and Enzo & Big Cass vs. The Ascension tournament matches this Thursday.
Locker Room: R-Truth was listening to some music. Goldust barged in upset with Truth getting them an “audition” as a tag team. He said they are not a tag team. Goldust demanded to know whose bright idea this was. The camera pulled back to reveal Dr. Phil. He approached them to try to solve their relationship issues, but decided he had nothing and waved them off to some laughs.
In-ring: Apollo Crews was introduced for the pre-main event squash match. Adam Rose was already in the ring.
6 — APOLLO CREWS vs. ADAM ROSE (w/Bo Dallas)
Heath Slater and Curtis Axel were not ringside after losing in the tag contender tournament. Bo tried to fire up Adam Rose, who finally got some offense on Crews. Rose settled things down with a reverse chinlock, then dropkicked Crews for a two count.
Crews fought back with an impressive vertical suplex. Then, right hand blows. Leaping elbow smash. Crews scared Dallas off the ring apron, then hit an enzuigiri. Crews followed with his delayed sit-out powerbomb for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Crews at 3:30. Tough spot engaging the crowd in the third hour comedown match. Crews is starting slow and his ceiling is very high, so there’s nothing to worry about right now.
Up Next: Reigns & Wyatt vs. Sheamus & Del Rio.
[Commercial Break at 10:43] […Q12]
[Q12…] Vignette: The Colons continue to promote tourism in Puerto Rico. Back to the announcers, who sold not knowing how to react. JBL flashed a big smile that he loves it as an island boy himself.
Video Package: Cole fed to a video feature on Baron Corbin, selling him as a dark soul focused on destruction. The video flashed forward to last Monday’s Raw when he planted Dolph Ziggler in the floor.
Suddenly, the Wyatt theme played. Bray Wyatt spoke from a dark room that he is destined to dance with Roman Reigns until the end of time. He said he despises everything Reigns stands for, but they have a holy bond that cannot be broken. Bray snickered as he told Reigns he can trust him. “Los Angeles,” Bray said, “I’m here.”
The City of Angels lit up with cell phone lights inside Staples Center as Bray made his way down to ringside through the darkness. Bray tapped the ring and posed in the darkness as Raw cut to break.
[Commercial Break at 10:52]
Back from break, Bray Wyatt was sitting down in the corner resting and just being alone with his thoughts in the darkness. Roman Reigns’s music then played to bring out Bray’s unlikely tag partner. Bray stood up and paced the ring as JBL wondered what Shane McMahon has in mind booking this match when The Wyatts and The League presumably want to destroy Reigns. JBL cynically said Shane must want to destroy Reigns. Saxton disagreed. Reigns uneasily approached Wyatt as JBL noted Wyatt tried to destroy Reigns last year. Not discussed thus far is why The Wyatts have an issue with The League, who were introduced next. No sign of Bray’s henchmen.
[Q13 — over-run]
7 — WWE World Hvt. champion ROMAN REIGNS & BRAY WYATT vs. LEAGUE OF NATIONS (ALBERTO DEL RIO & SHEAMUS w/Rusev) — Tag Team Main Event
As soon as the bell sounded, Bray told Reigns to exit the ring so he can start. Reigns laughed at him. Bray then held open the ropes and Reigns reluctantly just slid to the ring apron. So, it was Bray against Sheamus to start. Bray freaked out Sheamus with his crab pose. He then drove Sheamus to their corner and Reigns blind-tagged into the match.
The crowd booed as Reigns entered the ring and worked with Bray to double-team Sheamus. Reigns lit up Sheamus with repeated clotheslines, then Bray tagged himself back into the match. Reigns took exception. Sheamus fought back, but walked right into a lariat from Bray.
Sheamus fought back with a knee to Bray’s gut to tag in Del Rio. Double foot stomp to Bray’s chest for a two count. Del Rio then blasted Reigns off the ring apron to cheers. Meanwhile, Bray fought back against Del Rio, who responded with a kick to the gut. Ten punches in the corner to the tune of “Si!” then Sheamus tagged back in.
Sheamus tagged in and Bray smashed him out of the ring to the floor. Reigns wanted a tag from Bray, and he obliged. Reigns charged the ring to boos and ran over Sheamus with clotheslines. Flying clothesline to Sheamus. Reigns then ran into a big boot to the face, but answered with a knock down. Reigns cocked his fist to boos and called for the Superman Punch, but Sheamus rolled out of the ring.
Reigns tried to fight The League on the floor, but he got posted in the face. Rusev talked trash to Reigns, then Sheamus posted Reigns again. Back in the ring, a winded Sheamus lightly tossed Reigns out of the ring. Sheamus, looking extremely blown up, wanted his ten forearms to the chest, but Reigns blocked after a few. But, Del Rio kicked Reigns in the gut, so Sheamus finished off Reigns with ten forearms.
Tag to Del Rio. Step-up enziguiri knocked down Reigns, but it was not enough for a three count. Del Rio then hung Reigns in the corner and wanted his two-foot double stomp, but Reigns pulled Del Rio to the mat with a bodyslam. Sheamus cut off a tag to Wyatt, though. Bray tried to taunt Sheamus, but Sheamus landed a high knee to Reigns. Except, Reigns intercepted Sheamus with a Samoan Drop.
Both men sold on the mat and tags were contemplated. Reigns went to tag Bray, Bray teased bailing from the ring apron, but he decided to tag in for Reigns. Bray cleaned house in a babyface role, then did his upside-down pose before grabbing Del Rio for Sister Abigail, but Del Rio blocked. Back-elbow smash from Bray. Sheamus broke up a pin, though.
Chaos in the ring. Reigns clotheslined Sheamus to the floor, then went for a flying punch on the floor, but Sheamus blocked and chucked Reigns into the ring steps. On the other side of the ring, Rusev smashed Bray from outside the ring. Del Rio nailed the Backstabber, but Wyatt kicked out jsut before three.
Suddenly, Bray’s theme interrupted. Braun Strowman and Erick Rowan were ringside to attack Rusev and eliminate him from the situation. Del Rio angrily chucked the ring steps toward them, then ran back into the ring. But, Bray caught him with Sister Abigail. Bray covered Del Rio and Reigns simultaneously speared Sheamus.
Post-match, Reigns and Wyatt sold uneasiness working together to win. Braun and Rowan then entered the ring to stand next to Bray, who approached Reigns for a face-to-face stare down. Raw closed 11 minutes past the top of the hour with a visual of Reigns-Wyatt.
WINNER: Reigns & Wyatt at 11:07. So strange. It was a bizarre situation with The League heel one moment, face the next moment, Reigns booed throughout, Bray in a sympathetic face role for one of the few times in his WWE career, the heel henchmen showing up to neutralize an interfering heel, and oh yeah, Reigns is facing A.J. Styles for the WWE Title in a few weeks. Are they setting up Reigns reluctantly getting help from Bray and Co. to retain the title against Styles at Payback, leading to Bray challenging Reigns for the WWE Title after Payback? Nothing else makes sense at this stage of a seemingly random storyline shift.
OVERALL: One of the best Raws of the year in terms of in-ring, pacing, the show moving at a brisk pace, not losing the audience mid-way through, and the lack of a black cloud heel authority figure(s) hovering over the show after castrating the face roster. Shane is refreshing in the authority role, despite the ridiculous set-up for why he’s running Raw after losing to Undertaker at WM32. Setting that aside, Raw has a much better feel to it right now and they have some good things to build on during the post-Mania lull period. They just have to clean up whatever the Wyatt-Reigns-League situation is about.
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Here is another possibility: what if they are setting up a heel turn for Reigns by having him join the Wyatt Family? Here’s my scenario:
Reigns keeps getting boos. Now he can talk all day about it not affecting him, but at some point, it breaks him. But who’s there to provide direction and not judgment? Why, Bray Wyatt.