KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MAY 1, 2017
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Booker T, Corey Graves
-The Raw opening aired.
-Michael Cole introduced the show and talked about Payback being in the rear view mirror.
-Alexa Bliss came out to celebrate her Raw Women’s Title victory, with the rest of the Raw Women’s Division in the ring. The announcers commented on freeze-frames of the title change. Alexa stood mid-ring and was all smiles. She said, “The Queen is dead.” She said for the first time in Monday Night Raw history, she can say, “Long live Alexa Bliss, the one and only goddess of WWE.” She said she is the first woman to hold both the Raw and Smackdown versions of the Women’s Championships. She said the referee just handed her the title like she was just another champion. She said she is deserving of a coronation.
She addressed Mickie James first. She said she watched her since she was a little kid and she’s great “and that’s why I brought you back.” She said her contemporaries Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young are in a better place, she is still here inspiring her. Mickie asked if she thought of all of that herself.
She walked up to Sasha and said she is fantastic. She said she heard her last night when she said she didn’t know who she was. She said if she forgets her name, she can call her “Raw Women’s Champion” or if that slips her mind, “the one who pinned you to get where I’m at.”
Nia Jax walked up behind Bliss and got in her space. Alexa turned around and said, “We’re good. You’re great. Naturally talented, naturally gifted. No wonder all of these other women are jealous of you.” She said she looks forward to tag teaming with her later.
She stood on a platform mid-ring and said it feels great to stand there. She then realized she forgot Bayley. “If it weren’t for you, this wouldn’t be possible at all.” A loud “Bayley” chant broke out. She said if it weren’t for her, who else would she have defeated? She told Bayley her whole family looked so sad, including her nephews who were crying after she lost. She said on the bright side, they’ll have a real role model to look up to now. Bayley literally knocked Bliss of her pedestal and a brawl broke out with everyone. They cut to a break quickly.
(Keller’s Analysis: Tremendous segment. Bliss is fantastic right now. Just the right delivery, body language, and overall sass and attitude.) [c]
(1) ALICIA FOX & NIA JAX & EMMA & ALEXA BLISS vs. SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY & MICKIE JAMES & DANA BROOKE
Cole said an impromptu eight-woman tag match was arranged during the break. He said it had to be an emotional 24 hours for Bayley. In the ring, Jax took exception to Bliss bossing her around. A few minutes in, Sasha got knocked to ringside. The heels approached her. The rest of the babyfaces cut them off. [c]
Back from the break, 22 minutes into the show, Fox had Banks in a chinlock. They showed that during the break, Jax did some damage to Banks. In the end, Bliss ranked Bayley’s eyes and gave her a DDT for the win.
WINNERS: Team Bliss in 14:00.
-They went to the announcers at the desk. Cole shifted to talking about the Braun Strowman vs. “The Big Dog” Roman Reigns, stressing about the brutality of it all. They showed a clip of what happened after the PPV went off the air on “Raw Talk” with the ambulance brawl with those two. He said they’ll have an update on the medical conditions of both Reigns and Strowman. Graves wondered what would be next for Seth Rollins.
-Enzo Amore & Big Cass were shown backstage. Cole said Luke Gallows seeks revenge against Enzo later. [c]
-Enzo and Cass did their mic work on their way to the ring. Enzo said they’re a little tired tonight because their real life is better than their dreams. He said they chose not to sleep because they were busy giving Anderson & Gallows the beating of their lifetime in real life. He said he’s “100 like a high fever” that tonight will be no different. He said he’ll beat “Big Gall” one-on-one in Sacramento (cheap pop). As Cass began to talk, Anderson and Gallows attacked them from behind.
(2) ENZO AMORE (w/Big Cass) vs. LUKE GALLOWS (w/Karl Anderson)
Gallows got in the majority of the offense. Cole said the problem for Enzo is he has no one to tag and that Cass can only play cheerleader at ringside. Enzo came back with a bulldog off the second rope. Both were slow to get up. Gallows threw some punches when they stood, then dropkicked Gallows on his legs. Gallows went down again. He gave him a running kick to the chin. Enzo had a cut above his right eyebrow, but it wasn’t bleeding too much. Enzo played to the crowd, but that gave Gallows time to recover and make a move at Enzo. Enzo small packaged him for a near fall. When Enzo climbed to the top rope, Anderson distracted him briefly. Gallows then caught him on the top rope and slammed him to the mat out of a fireman’s carry.
WINNER: Gallows in 6:00.
-Backstage, T.J. Perkins approached Neville. He asked him what happened at Payback, because he claimed Austin Aries “wasn’t at the Neville Level.” TJP said people are saying he was about to tapout so he resorted to hitting the referee and escaping with is title. Neville said he doesn’t let anyone slander the king like that. He said what happened at Payback was unintentional, and it was the unprofessionalism of a referee being out of position that prevented him from ending Aries once and for all. Neville said Aries is “our problem.” TJP asked, “Our problem?” TJP asked how he can get what he deserves when Aries continued to claim number one contender ship. Neville said he can help him, but he has to start pulling his own weight, beginning with his match later against Aries. “I suggest you make the most of this opportunity.”
-Graves said Seth Rollins was up next. [c]
-A screen graphic said Payback was the most socially active show on all of TV last night. They listed other random networks they beat.
-Seth Rollins walked to the ring. He said for the first time in a long time, other than getting his butt kicked a little by Samoa Joe last night, he’s feeling really good. He said the fans have been through it with him the last six months, like a roller coaster. He said that’s life, and they’ve been through it all together. He said there are moments you feel so low you want to give up and crawl into a hole and shut off the world, but you can’t do that. “You have to stand up, keep fighting, struggle, embrace the sucky part of life just as much as the good stuff,” he said. “And that’s exactly what I’ve done. You’ve got to look in the mirror and you have to figure out who you are and what you want to be, and if those things don’t line up, you’ve got to do something about it.” He said he did that and he’s still Seth Freakin’ Rollins. He said last night he got some payback against Joe. He said now there is only one thing left for him to do. He said he wants The Beast. He looked at the cheering crowd who broke into a “Yes!” chant. “I want Brock Lesnar, I want the Universal Championship. I’ve been to Suplex City and I’m not afraid to go back.”
He was suddenly interrupted by Finn Balor. Balor walked onto the stage and told Seth they’ve been on the same page recently. He said Seth is the one-legged man who won at WrestleMania. He said he, Balor, is the one-armed man who became the very first Universal Champion. He entered the ring and asked Seth if he remembers that. Balor said, “You remember when my arm was hanging off my body and I still beat you,” he said. He said he never actually lost that title, so – no offense – but in terms of facing Lesnar, “The line starts here.”
Out came Dean Ambrose to his music next. He was his Intercontinental Title belt with him. He said they sound like a couple of chickens. He said he knows a bit about Lesnar. He said Lesnar fights when he wants, “which, let’s face it, ain’t that often.” He said Monday Night Raw should be about fighting champions, and he’ll fight anybody, anywhere. He said he’s has fights by accident. He said if they want to talk about titles, they should focus on the IC Title because it’s the no. 1 title on Raw.
Miz then interrupted. He and Maryse walked out.
Miz told everyone to hold up. He said Seth and Finn haven’t earned anything, and Dean is an embarrassment as champion. He said if anyone deserves the title, it’s him. He said he, Miz, is the one who made it relevant. He said people lined up to fight him. He said he made the IC Title mean something. Balor said he’s also the latest member of the Finn Balor Just Kicked My Ass Club. Miz congratulated him for cheapshotting him. He calling him a coward. Miz said as champion, he defended the title every night, whereas Dean wasn’t important enough to defend it at Backlash. Miz made fun of Seth’s limp. Seth said he can beat him with one leg. They all told Miz to shut up.
Dean said he can fix this. He said he’ll face anybody, anytime for the IC Title, and also everyone likes to see Miz get beat up. He asked the fans if they want to see Balor vs. Miz. Cheers. Or Seth vs. Miz. Cheers. Dean pulled out his phone and called Kurt Angle. He said Mick Foley gave him his number and asked if that was okay. Dean said he had an idea for him. Seth wanted to know what he had to say. Dean said Kurt wasn’t happy he had his number. He said Angle made a match for tonight – Miz vs. Balor vs. Seth in a Triple Threat match to find the no. 1 contender for his IC Title. Graves said he loves it. “How often can you say it was a good decision made by Dean Ambrose?” Cole said it was actually Angle who made the decision. Booker said he gave Dean the phone number for Angle. (Dean already said Foley gave him the number.)
(Keller’s Analysis: Good segment. That was an improvement on the mic for Seth. He seemed more authentic and natural in what he said and how he said it. Balor continues to surpass expectations, I think. Dean was entertaining. Miz carried himself like a veteran star. My question, though, is how can Dean brag about being a fighting champion, but then book the other three to wrestle each other and not offer to defend the title in a Fatal Four-way instead? Made him look kind of bad.)
-They went to the announcers on the stage who commented on highlights from Payback’s main event between Strowman and Reigns. [c]
(3) TONY NESE & BRIAN KENDRICK & NOAM DAR vs. JACK GALLAGHER & AKIRA TOZAWA & RICH SWANN
Nese dominated early against Tozawa. Tozawa hot-tagged Swann, and then Nese quickly tagged Dar. Seconds later, Gallagher sent Dar to ringside. Tozawa kicked an interfering Kendrick to the floor. Nese charged at them, but got backdropped over the top onto his partners. [c]
They showed that during the break, Dar swept Tozawa who took a face-first bump. Kendrick beat up Tozawa live. Eventually Gallagher tagged in. Tozawa broke up a Captain’s Hook by Kendrick on Gallagher. Swann and Tozawa dove through the ropes onto Nese and Dar at ringside. Gallagher then gave Kendrick a running dropkick in the corner for the win. Cole said sometimes he’s jealous that Graves gets to call all that action every Tuesday night on 205 Live.
WINNERS: Gallagher & Swann & Tozawa in 11:00.
-They went to the announcers who commented on the Hardys vs. Sheamus & Cesaro match at Payback. They showed in slo-mo that Sheamus kicked the tooth out of Hardy’s mouth. They showed footage backstage of the doctor checking on Hardy who, indeed, was missing the tooth to the right of his front teeth. Yikes.
-They showed Sheamus & Cesaro walking backstage. Cole said they’d hear from them next. [c]
-Sheamus and Cesaro walked to the ring, both in kilts. Sheamus said he appreciated their reception, being sarcastic because they didn’t get one. Sheamus said it feels so good to be set free because for a few months he had been living in a fog of delusion. He said never really liked any of them in the crowd. He said they’ve always treated him like a red-headed stepchild. He said Cesaro genuinely believed that with the support of the fans, they could be successful. He said at WrestleMania, that was supposed to be when they took the championships back, but at the last moment the Hardys were added to their match and they stole their moment. He asked if they want to know what happens. The crowd chanted “Delete!” Cesaro said the fans felt a rush of nostalgia and they loved it, just as they do every time a shiny new trinket shows up. He said fans would rather live in the past or look to the future instead of appreciating what stands in front of them right then. He said that’s what happened at WrestleMania. He said that feel good moment didn’t last long. He said the Hardys are a novelty act that doesn’t belong in the ring with them. “That’s the tooth of it,” said Sheamus. He chuckled and apologized and said, “Sorry Jeff, that’s the truth of it.” He said they won’t be left behind. He said WWE belongs to them. He said they are going to win back the Raw Tag Team Championships. “We don’t just set the bar, we are the bar,” they said in unison. Cole said he’s confused because they’re not the champions. He said if the Hardys are the champs, they set the bar.
The Hardys stepped onto the stage. Matt said they’re both hurting from last night’s post-match ambush. He said they owe them a response. He said their response is… “Delete” chants broke out… Matt and Jeff did the delete arm gesture, then charged to the ring. Sheamus and Cesaro bailed out, then retreated. Booker said, “Pick your poison. That’s all it is. Pick your poison.” I don’t think Booker knows what that cliché means, as it just didn’t apply here.
(Keller’s Analysis: I liked the Sheamus & Cesaro heel promo. They did a good job explaining their rationale without coming across as sympathetic or likable.)
-Charly Caruso interviewed Miz and Maryse backstage. She asked what Miz’s strategy is given that he has little history with his opponents. Miz said Seth cost Balor eight months of his career and he had to relinquish his Universal Championship because of him. He said preparation for him is the same whether he’s acting on the “Marine 5: Battleground” set or fighting for the no. 1 contendership for the IC Title match. Miz looked away as he spoke and when he turned back, there was Ambrose in Caruso’s place. He said he had a follow-up question. He asked if his hair jell gets in his eyes when he wrestles and if he has to wear a head band or powder. Miz looked disgusted and walked away with Maryse. Ambrose said, “This is Mean Dean Ambrose signing off. Gene and Bobby, back to you at ringside.”
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s the first time in decades, I think, that someone verbally threw back to the announcers at ringside after an interview segment. So nostalgic. Wish they always did it instead of the camera hovering on them as they gazed off into space and contemplated what they just heard. Dean replacing Caruso was funny and played well.) [c]
-They showed Apollo Crews telling Heath Slater that he can’t believe he has seven kids. Rhino laughingly said that’s seven he knows of. In walked Titus O’Neal. Crews said Heath was just giving him some fatherhood advice. Titus told him to come to him for advice, not the enemy. “That’s what I’m here for,” Titus said. Graves said: “Why would you go to Heath Slater for parenting advice? His kids belong on leashes.”
(4) APOLLO CREWS (w/Titus O’Neal) vs. HEATH SLATER (w/Rhino)
Booker said Crews has a lot of talent but is missing a certain something. Cole wondered if Titus can provide that. Cole said Crews has “all the tools.” Cole said to Booker: “You work with a lot of youngsters who want to become sports entertainers.” Boy is that one of the most obnoxiously phrased questions I’ve ever heard. He asked what he sees when he watches Crews and what advice he’d give him. Booker said Crews needs opportunity. Slater arm dragged Crews and over-celebrated. Crews countered with an arm drag of his own, but Slater side-stepped a corner splash. Crews hit Slater with a clothesline a minute later. He went for an enzuigiri, but Slater ducked, although the spacing was bad and he didn’t have to really duck. Crews eventually connected and hit his sitout powerbomb for the win. Cole said Crews might be starting to believe after a couple of wins under his belt with the Titus Brand. Rhino photobombed their post-match selfie.
WINNER: Crews in 4:00.
-Cole said they’d have the aftermath of the Braun-Reigns battle next. [c]
-A commercial said on 205 Live it’ll be Lince Dorado vs. TJP, Mustafa Ali vs. Drew Gulak, and Rich Swann vs. Noam Dar.
-They went to the announcers who talked about how valiantly Reigns battled against Strowman with so many injuries.
-Kurt Angle walked to the ring. He said Reigns reinjured his ribs and suffered more internal injuries. He said Strowman tore his rotator cuff. He said they’re not done with each other, but it’s his job to look out for them, the fans, and WWE. He was interrupted by Bray Wyatt’s music. Cole: “This is quite the surprise.” Fireflies filled the stands.
Cole began talking about the House of Horrors match. He said Bray dropped a refrigerator on Orton and thought he’d win by forfeiture, but Orton showed up out of nowhere and as he was approaching victory, Jinder Mahal attacked him, helping Bray “pick up the win.” Cole said Booker has been around “since the Thesz era” and asked if he’s ever seen anything like the House of Horrors. Booker didn’t answer the question, but instead generically talked about Bray controlling crowds and having a scary presence.
Bray entered the ring and told Angle they haven’t been properly introduced. He said his name is Bray Wyatt. He offered a handshake. Angle shook his hand, but seemed leery. Bray said he understands his apprehension, but he means him no harm. “I’m not here for destruction; not yet,” he said. He said he comes to Angle as a savior. He said last night he closed the chapter of Randy Orton, “who will forever be trapped in my House of Horrors as he burns for his sins.” Laughter. He said with those ashes, he will begin to write something brand new for Monday Night Raw. He said he is reborn, rising from the hell of his own creation like an angel with burnt wings. He said he hears all their cries for salvation and he knows what ails each of them and he can fix them. He said it is poisoning them but he holds the cure in his mind, his voice, his soul, and his hands. “You need me, Mr. Angle,” he said. He asked if he will allow him to do his work. He asked if he’ll walk by his side or stand in his way. Angle replied: “I don’t know what you have planned, but remember this: This is my show.” Bray laughed maniacally. “This may be your show, but I need you to understand – this is my world.” The lights flashed and they cut to an abrupt commercial.
(Keller’s Analysis: I liked that, for the most part. I’m intrigued. Angle was hilariously spooked throughout that, but then stood up to him in the end. I like the idea of Bray trying to get more control of Raw and Angle fighting against it with his G.M. powers. It was a good “reset” for Bray on a new brand with new territory to conquer.)
-Ambrose walked up to Seth in the locker room and tapped him on the shoulder. He asked him about the Mets. Seth asked what this is all about. Dean said it’s an interview show. Seth said no interview was scheduled. Dean said: “There are cameras here. It’d be kind of weird if there were cameras in the locker room if we didn’t have an interview.” Dean said he’s thinking he’s going to get his own show on WWE Network. He said “Today” or “Daily Show” perhaps. Dean switched topics and asked Seth if he thinks he has what it takes to take the IC Title back from him. Seth said Dean should know what Seth is capable of when he has his eyes on a title. Seth said he knows how far Dean will go to keep that title. He said if he wins tonight, Dean will be looking forward to bouncing him around the ring. Seth said he has learned some new tricks, so maybe Dean will be surprised. Dean said he was surprised once, it can’t happen again. “Back to you, Gorilla,” he said. Graves said, “Thanks Sean Mooney.”
(5) AUSTIN ARIES vs. T.J. PERKINS
Cole said he got a kick out of Neville blaming the ref for being out of position. Booker said when you’re champion all you’re thinking about is walking out as champion. Again, non-responsive. Nothing Booker says seems to actually response directly to whatever Cole asks him. It’s just something slightly related to some of the words Cole said, regardless of the order and context of the words. It’s so strange. They cut to a break a few minutes in with the ref checking on Aries’ knee. [c]
Cole said TJP has gotten more aggressive since his change in attitude. Graves said TJP has always had confidence, but now he’s more aggressive. Booker said he needed the attitude adjustment “to get back to that point.” Huh? He said he’s not a fan of the Rick Swanns of the world just smiling all the time. Cole laughed said, “You actually said you liked him earlier.” Graves noted that he forgot his name. Maybe Booker likes Rich Swann but dislikes a guy named Rick Swann, but there’s nobody who smiles more than Rich, so I suppose that blows that theory. Late in the match, Aries countered a discus five-arm into a Last Chancery for a tapout win.
WINNER: Aries in 12:00.
-After the match, TJP attacked Aries’ leg. Booker said Neville told TJP to “solve the problem, not win the match.” Graves said that was a good point. Yes, Booker finally made a good point.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match, although WWE still isn’t presenting them as stars fans should care about. It will become less of a struggle over time if they keep being an integral part of Raw and they have good matches and good promos, but the quicker way to get there is framing them as true superstars in the mean time.)
-Dean caught up with Balor backstage and asked if he’s nervous because this is the biggest match he’s had since his return. Balor: “I eat nerves and I produce results. I’m going to win this match and the Intercontinental Title will be coming to Balor Club.” Dean handed him a donut and said, “For the love of God, eat a carb. It’s not right.” Balor took a bite. I bet he went off camera and spit it out. The Drifter strummed his way into the screen. Dean asked if he knows any Pearl Jam as he chomped on the donut. “I like him,” Dean said. [c]
-Goldust & R-Truth pitched Angle with “The Golden Quest.” R-Truth endorsed it, and said it translates to challenging the Hardys for the tag titles. Angle said he can’t sanction it because their win-loss record isn’t good enough. Goldust said he gets that a lot of people don’t think they’re a legit contender. Goldust said they’ve known each other for 20 years “at least.” He said Angle has inspired them and lit a fire under them, and they can be great again if they’re just given a chance. “I need this,” Goldust said, sending like Dustin. Truth said, “We need this.” Angle took a deep breath and said next week they’ve have a tag team turmoil match and the winner will become the no. 1 contender for the tag team titles. Goldust and Truth were happy. Goldust said they’d make him proud.
(Keller’s Analysis: Tremendous! They actually brought up a won-loss record when called for.)
-The announcers congratulated Chris Jericho for winning the U.S. Title, but he now goes to Smackdown Live. They threw to a going away party for Jericho, hosted by Angle. It was available on WWE’s Facebook pace. Jericho said the only bad thing is he has to leave Angle and go to Smackdown Live because they’ve had a good rivalry over the years. Angle said it’s sad to see him go, but as a fan he thanked him for making Raw “nothing short of spectacular.” He said Jericho might be as good as he’s ever been.
-Balor made his ring entrance first. [c]
-The Miz and Maryse made their ring entrance. Seth came out third. The bell rang 43 minutes into the third hour. Miz offered handshakes to Balor and Seth. They just stared him down. Miz begged them to give him a chance. He then tried to take a cheap shot at Balor. Balor blocked it and threw him out of the ring. Seth schoolboy Balor for a sneaky two count. Balor knocked Miz off the ring apron, then Seth kicked him as he tried to get in again. It got a bit comical. Balor and Seth went at it with some nice exchanges. Cole said Balor “is so much fun to watch.” Miz yanked Balor off the edge of the ring apron and Balor hit his face on the ring on the way down. Miz tried to get back in, but again Seth kicked him down. Seth then did a running approach for a dive, but Miz put Maryse in front of him. When Balor moved toward them, Balor caught Miz after all with a dive. Balor and Seth threw him into the ring. Seth threw Balor to ringside, though, and then tried to finish Miz. Balor entered and broke it up. He ate a Miz boot, Seth gave Miz a backbreaker. Seth went for a top rope move, but Miz shoved him to the ground. They cut to a break. [c]
Late in the match, after tons of action that the crowd was increasingly into, Samoa Joe gave Seth a chokeslam at ringside. Back in the ring, Balor rallied against Miz. As Balor was about to leap off the top rope, the light went out. “Where is he?” exclaimed Cole. The lights came on. Bray knocked Balor off the top rope. He gave Balor a nasty looking Sister Abigail. The lights went out again and then Bray was gone. Miz crawled over and covered Balor for the win.
WINNER: Miz in 22:00 to become no. 1 contender for the IC Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Tremendous match and great finishing sequence to set up and escalate three feuds.)