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KELLER’S WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW REPORT
JULY 31, 2017
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Booker T
-A video recap aired of last week’s scuffle with Brock Lesnar, Samoa Joe, Roman Reigns, and Braun Strowman.
-The Raw opening aired.
-Cole introduced the show and immediately hyped the Triple Threat main event between Joe, Reigns, and Braun.
-Kurt Angle walked out to an affectionate “You suck!” chant to the beat of his music. They went to the announcers on camera briefly; Graves talked about this being Angle’s hometown and he’s got to be feeling great. Angle welcomed fans to Monday Night Raw. He said he hasn’t been in Pittsburgh since becoming G.M. and he has a big show planned. He announced Big Show vs. Big Cass, plus Miz TV will feature Jason Jordan. He also hyped the announced Triple Threat main event. He called it “pay-per-view worthy.” He said it’s the 21st anniversary of his winning an Olympic Gold Medal with a “broken frickin’ neck.” He began to leave the ring to his music when suddenly Brock Lesnar’s music played.
Lesnar and Paul Heyman walked out. Cole exclaimed that they weren’t expecting this. Heyman leaned in to Angle and said, “I know what you’re doing. I figured out the scam. I understand the strategy. I see the angle that you’re playing here. You want to, you need to, you have to take the Universal Title off of Brock Lesnar. Why else would you put my client in a Fatal Four-way at Summerslam?” He called it the most stacked heavyweight contenders division in WWE history. He talked up each of the three challengers. He accused Angle of hoping Samoa Joe is the next champion. He called Joe “that Samoan disgrace.”
(Keller’s Analysis: This is interesting. Given Heyman’s tone, and that Angle is a babyface, Heyman saying Angle wants Joe to be champion positions Joe as a babyface here and Lesnar as a heel.)
Heyman said Angle is answering to a demanding Chairman who has told him to protect Raw at all costs, and that includes getting the Universal Title off of Lesnar. Heyman said all three contenders are going to gang up on Lesnar so he cannot survive, then fight amongst themselves to determine who the new champion is. Heyman said Lesnar doesn’t even need to be pinned or submitted to lose the title. Heyman suggested they rename the event, “Summerslam 2017: Brock Lesnar Loses the Universal Title.” Heyman said Angle has been told to make Lesnar pay the ultimate price, so he said if Lesnar loses the Universal Championship at Summerslam, he leaves WWE. “And I’m leaving with him,” he said. Heyman said his client won’t lose his title at Summerslam, though. He said Brock will be announced as “still the champion” at the end of the event.
-The announcers reacted as Heyman and Lesnar marched to the back.
(Keller’s Analysis: Another big paycheck for Brock for walking to the ring, standing in the ring, and walking to the back. Heyman put a lot out there. He essentially made the Summerslam main event a match where Brock “leaves town” if he loses. Of course, if he loses, he’ll be back, but it might be a while.)
-A Smackdown commercial advertised A.J. Styles vs. Kevin Owens in a U.S. Title rematch. [c]
(1) MATT & JEFF HARDY vs. KARL ANDERSON & LUKE GALLOWS
The Revival joined the announcers on commentary. A clip aired of last week’s happenings with the Hardys running out and interfering in the Revival vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows match. Cole said on Twitter that Matt called Revival “obsolete mules.” Scott Dawson asked what that even means. Graves said he reported Matt to Twitter for a “terms of service violation.” A couple minutes in, the heels regrouped at ringside as the Hardys played to the fans inside the ring. [c]
Anderson & Gallows took over during the commercial. The Hardys came back. Matt hit a Side Effect at 8:00. Booker said regarding Anderson & Gallows, “These guys have the will, but do they have the determination?” Will and determination are the same thing. Matt signaled for the Twist of Fate, but Gallows kicked him from behind. He tagged in and the heel duo set up the Magic Killer. Jeff broke it up. Gallows came back with a big boot to Matt, though. Matt came back with a Twist of Fate. Jeff then landed the Swanton Bomb for the win. Dawson said they’d never hit that move on them.
WINNER: Hardys in 9:00.
-As the Hardys celebrated on the stage, the Revival stood up and told them to keep moving along. The Hardys gave them a look. Revival went after them. Anderson and Gallows joins in. It was a three-way brawl with no one taking sides. The Hardys knocked Anderson and Gallows off the stage. The Hardys gave Dawson two Twists of Fate on the stage. Jeff flew onto Dash and Anderson on the floor.
-Renee Young interviewed Dean Ambrose backstage. They replayed what happened last week with Dean and Seth Rollins against Miz & The Miztourage. Renee asked Dean if he’s getting back together with Seth. Dean said they were a machine, but as far as getting back together, he wasn’t sure. Seth walked in and said he agrees that they worked together like a machine. Dean said he still doesn’t trust him. He said he had eyes in the back of his head the whole time last week. He said even if a small part of him wants to trust him, he was burned by him once and he won’t let it happen again. Seth soaked it up and seemed to understand he might deserve the skepticism.
(Keller’s Analysis: They’re doing a good job here having Dean present the skepticism some fans might even feel about fully embracing Seth. I’m still torn on whether I trust Seth’s character entirely. It’s like Jon Jones saying he’s a new man. Sure, he sounds sincere, but he’s played that con before so how can you ever know for sure except for a longer track record of proving it?)
-An NXT commercial aired hyping Aleister Black this week on NXT TV.
(Keller’s Analysis: Interesting they just featured him as an individual and not hyping a specific match.) [c]
-Backstage the camera showed Seth walking in a hallway. He bumped into Sheamus and Cesaro. Cesaro said they cannot relate to what happened with him and Dean because they had the opposite experience. Sheamus said at first they couldn’t stand each other, but now they’re best of friends and the most dominant tag team in WWE. He said Dean was Seth’s last chance at success, but now he’s all alone. Sheamus said he couldn’t even be on an episode of Ride Along, “that’s how isolated you are.” Cesaro said maybe they could use their championship cloud to get him his own show on WWE Network, perhaps called “Ride Alone.” Seth chuckled and said if they came to pick a fight, then let’s fight. He said Cesaro is Sheamus’s “Swiss sweetheart.” Seth asked which of them wants to fight him. Sheamus said he’ll step up. He said he’s in a hole and he should stop digging. Cole said he hopes Angle makes that match tonight.
(2) RICH SWANN & CEDRIC ALEXANDER & AKIRA TOZAWA (w/Titus O’Neal) vs. ARIYA DAIVARI & TONY NESE & TJP
Cole plugged that Daivari vs. Tozawa on 205 Live tomorrow night will determine who faces Neville for the Cruiserweight Title at Summerslam. Tozawa wore a “Titus Worldwide” t-shirt. When Tozawa clutched his shoulder after some offense by Daivari, Titus told Tozawa to give up. Tozawa said he was okay and could keep fighting. They cut to a break. [c]
Tozawa hot-tagged in Swann to little pop. As he rallied against TJP, he also took a shot at Nese. Nese ran in and broke up a pin by Swann, who was making an absolutely ridiculous face as the ref began to count the pin. Does he watch himself back on video ever? Cedric attacked Nese with a flying forearm. Swan and Cedric landed flip dives onto two heels on the floor. Tozawa then dove through the ropes and hit Daivari. He clutched his shoulder afterward. TJP and Swann battled in the ring. Swann landed a nice spin hook kick, then blind-tagged in Tozawa, who landed a top rope senton splash on TJP for the win. Cole called it a gusty effort by Tozawa.
WINNERS: Tozawa & Swann & Cedric in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The Tozawa-Titus dynamic is not flattering to Tozawa. He looks small and seems like a child telling his father he can fight for himself. It doesn’t really conjure up any emotion that seems to serve him or the division. Cedric is the standout star of the six in that ring as he exudes a cool alpha persona that the division badly needs.) [c]
-Miz TV: Miz and Maryse walked out. Miz said, “I can’t tell you how much I hate this city, but the show must go on.” He welcomed fans to Miz TV. He said Miz TV is about what’s buzz worthy, and the biggest buzz right now is about how Angle has an “illegitimate son,” Jason Jordan.
(Keller’s Analysis: The use of the term “illegitimate” to describe a person born out of wedlock seems like it should have been left behind in 1970s.)
Jordan came out to almost no reaction. Jordan sat next to Miz and Maryse. Miz asked how he’s felt the past couple weeks. Jordan said it’s been emotional. Miz interrupted immediately and Jordan looked jarred. Miz asked what it means that some fans are booing him. Jordan said fans are going to do whatever they want, and that’s cool, but he’s the expert on booing. Miz said when it comes to Raw, he is an expect. Miz said some people are wondering why he’s getting so many opportunities so quickly, but he is not one of them. Miz said the similarities to his father are uncanny. He offered to guide his career. He said it’s an opportunity of a lifetime to join the Miztourage. Jordan smiled and said, “Thanks, but I’m good.” Miz said he’s main evented WrestleMania and he knows the locker room is full of vultures who will try to undermine his success. “You need my help,” he said. Jordan said it’s a tempting offer, but he’s going to pass.
(Keller’s Analysis: Jordan really, really needed to make it clear whether he thought the offer was genuinely tempting or if he was being sarcastic. His acting here really came up short, and his inflection seemed unintentionally bland and ambiguous. He’s just not as good in this role so far as I would have hoped. He has to improve quickly.)
Miz said it’s pretty clear he doesn’t need the help of the Intercontinental Champion when his dad is the G.M. Jordan interrupted and said he wasn’t handed anything. He told Angle he didn’t want any preferential treatment. Miz made fun of Jordan’s nasally voice. He told him not to be naive. “This place will chew you up and spit you out,” Miz said. Jordan said maybe it will, but he’d rather be chewed up and spit out than have any success due to being associated with someone like Miz. Miz said his father was a washed up old jock who got a job out of pity and has been making one bad decision after another. He said Angle threw away the best years of his life and left behind shattered dreams and broken promises. He said it’s no wonder he’s from Pittsburgh. He said Angle and Pittsburg are similar – “sad, broken down, and pining for glory days that are never, never coming back.”
Jordan stood up and told Miz that he can say what he wants about him, but if he says one more word about “Kurt,” he’ll make him regret it. He called him “Kurt” instead of “my dad,” which is maybe noteworthy. Miz took a swing at Jordan, but Jordan ducked and then suplexed Miz into a charging Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. Booker said Jordan “passed the test.”
(Keller’s Analysis: That was not a strong performance from Jordan. Miz carried the segment. Jordan’s got to project that voice better. That’s something that he can be easily trained to do. Even Miz made fun of how it sounds like he’s talking with his nose plugged. He almost sounded authoritative when he stood and defended Kurt. I think Jordan will be a better heel than a babyface, if they end up going that direction with him. There just wasn’t a lot of that intangible “presence” on display there. In fact, if this was a dress rehearsal off-camera, I could have seen this being bad enough for Vince to just switch the angle to Chad Gable being Angle’s son instead. Maybe they can get Heyman to work with Jordan to get something more out of him.)
-A vignette aired narrated by Roman Reigns vowing to walk out of Summerslam as the Universal Champion.
-They showed Seth heading down the hallway for his match with Sheamus.
-A commercial aired for John Cena vs. Shinsuke Nakamura as a “first time ever dream match.” [c]
(3) SHEMAUS (w/Cesaro) vs. SETH ROLLINS
Seth came out wearing his new “Burn it Down” t-shirt and a new voiceover has been added to his entrance theme yelling “Burn it down!” Booker said Sheamus and Cesaro can trust each other and are brothers to the bone. He said he used to say that about Seth and Dean.
(Keller’s Analysis: So, if he was sure Dean & Seth could trust each other at one point and were “brothers to the bone,” but now the trust is broken, by definition he shouldn’t be trusting Sheamus & Cesaro can’t end up feuding again, either, right?)
Cesaro distracted Seth just long enough for Sheamus to recover and catch Seth forearm. He then threw him into the ringside barricade. They cut to a break. [c]
Back live, Seth fought out of an attempted White Noise off the top rope by Sheamus. Cole said it was all Sheamus during the break. Sheamus landed a rolling senton for a two count. Seth dropped off the ring apron and snapped Sheamus’s neck over the top rope. Sheamus came back with an Irish Curse seconds later for a two count. Seth dropped Sheamus face-first into the middle turnbuckle a minute later. Seth chopped away at Sheamus, but ate a fist when he charged off the ropes. Seth hit Sheamus with a quick enzuigiri to send him to the floor. Seth then got in his obligatory mid-match “suicide dive” through the ropes. He landed a top rope flying clothesline and then a sling blade. He played to the crowd to very little reaction. Seth leaped off the top rope, but redirected himself to sear when he stood on the ring apron. Sheamus kicked Seth and setup White Noise, but Seth rolled through and scored a leverage three count.
WINNER: Seth in 8:00.
-Cesaro and Sheamus attacked Seth afterward. The fans chanted “We Want Ambrose!” Dean eventually did run out. He was overwhelmed by the two heels, though. Cesaro pulled Ambrose’s t-shirt over his head, then gave him a Neutralizer. As Sheamus and Cesaro celebrated, Dean egged them on to bring on more. They did. Cesaro yanked off Dean’s shirt and choked him with it. Cesaro then gave Dean a running boot. Cole said Ambrose and Seth showed much more guts than brains.
-A video feature aired narrated by Samoa Joe talking about his title opportunity at Summerslam. He said Braun stuck his nose in his business, so he’ll make him pay. He said he’s not scared of anyone – not of Braun, not of Roman, and certainly not Brock Lesnar. He said he’ll make history at Summerslam. “Someone’s going to sleep,” he concluded.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like that they produced short vignettes for each of the wrestlers in the advertised main event.)
-Graves plugged that Bray Wyatt would be out next.
-They went to the announcers on the stage. Cole threw to a video feature Justin “J.J.” Jones, Special Olympian. They talked to his mom, his dad, and his swimming coach. Dana Warrior interviewed him. He said he has a heart of gold and does nice, kind things. They showed J.J. in the crowd. He looked so excited to be there. Cole said he loves to spread the love by shaking people’s hands; he calls it “shake and spread.” Booker called him a real champion. [c]
-Bray Wyatt walked out to his music. He entered the ring and said there is no escape – not for you, not for your children, and certainly not for Finn Balor. He said no mere man can escape the darkness. He said people try to hide behind their sins and be something they cannot be. “You cannot hide from me because I see you,” he said. “Because I am Bray Wyatt and I am everywhere.” He said he is right there when the honest man tries to justify stealing and he is right there hiding in the shadows when they all want to stand with pride as part of the Balor Club. “It’s as if your blind delusions have led you to believe you can just vicariously live through Finn Balor. You have been infected with the sickness of hope that makes you think that one day your life can be special.” He said he sees Balor for what he truly is, a putrid shell of a man that never was. He said he turned Balor into a mangled heap of broken promises last week. He asked fans how it felt to watch that. He said some Bray Wyatt knocks you down, you ain’t getting up. He said there is no return and no escape. He tended his arms and posed. Suddenly a pulsing sound played and red lights flashed. Then Balor suddenly appeared in the ring with his arms extended and his back to Bray. Bray laughed and asked if he thinks he’s cool. He said he likes this. When he grabbed Balor’s shoulder, Balor landed a Pelé kick. He went after Bray at ringside, dropkicking him over the ringside barrier. Balor then posed in the ring for the hard camera as his music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: Balor should talk sometimes, but not most of the time. His strength is his body language and overall presence. He gives off a strong aura that not everyone has. He got to do that here, playing some mind games with Bray, who is usually the one playing the mind games. This was a good segment. The Bray promo, as usual, felt a little wordy and a bit too abstract, but this was better than average for him overall.)
-A vignette aired narrated by Braun Strowman who said these days most so-called men like to communicate by phone or with a sit down discussion, but not him. He likes to solve things by breaking things. “I do what I want how I want to who I want.” He said he wants to hurt Reigns again. He said tonight he’ll reduce Roman and Joe to “whimpering piles of bruised flesh and broken bones because I want Brock Lesnar all to myself at Summerslam.” He said he isn’t just the monster among men, he’s the champion among men.
-The announcers said the match is up next. [c]
(4) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. SAMOA JOE vs. ROMAN REIGNS
Strowman took it to Reign sand Joe at the start. He kicked Joe tot eh floor, then threw Reigns to the floor. He yelled and puffed his chest out. They cut to an early break. Graves said it doesn’t look like Roman’s yard now. [c]
Back live, Cole said it’s no countout, no disqualification. Strowman had his boot shoved in Joe’s throat. He charged at Reigns, but Reigns moved. Joe charged and kicked Strowman. Reigns hit Strowman with a flying clothesline. Joe and Reigns threw Strowman to the floor, then turned to each other. Reigns clotheslined Joe twice, but Joe caught his third attempt and turned it into an armbar. Cole noted that Heyman said if Lesnar doesn’t leave Summerslam as champ, he leaves WWE. Strowman yanked Joe to the floor by his left leg and rammed his head into the ring apron, then his body into the barricade. Reigns gave Strowman an uppercut. They brawled into the crowd area. Joe recovered and put Strowman in a sleeper, then gave Reigns a kick to the side of his head. Joe threw Reigns into the ring. Reigns fought back with a series of – you guessed it – clotheslines. He then took Joe down with a running boot and looked to the crowd. He was pelted with boos as Cole said Reigns was “oozing confidence.” Booker said his walk says “this is my yard.” Joe rolled to the floor to regroup as Reigns signaled for the Superman Punch. Reigns gave him a Superman Punch at ringside, leaping off the stairs to deliver it.
Cole recapped and set the stage for people tuning in. Reigns charged at Strowman, but took a boot to the chest. Strowman rammed Reigns into the ringpost back-first, then clotheslined Joe. He threw Reigns into the ringside steps. Joe caught Strowman with a kick and a senton splash at ringside, then a senton on Reigns inside the ring for a two count. Reigns kicked out. When Reigns tried for a Samoan drop, Joe applied the Coquina Clutch. Strowman charged at both of them and knocked Reigns out of the ring. Strowman gave Joe a running powerslam, but Reigns interrupting the count. Graves called it “literally an earth-shaking powerslam.” The obligatory “This is awesome!” chant kicked in. Strowman rammed Reigns into the corner turnbuckle nearly a dozen times. Cole said there is nothing pretty about Braun, but it’s effective. Strowman eyed the ringside steps and then picked them up. Reigns knocked them out of his hands with a Superman punch, then knocked Strowman out of the ring with them. Reigns yelled, the crowd booed. Reigns hit a spear on Joe for the three count. Cole said Reigns is rolling to Summerslam. Cole said if he hits that move at Summerslam, he’ll be Universal Champion. Graves said he can hit anyone with that move and become champion, not necessarily Lesnar.
WINNER: Reigns in 14:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: This pretty much assures Joe is winning at Summerslam, if WWE’s booking pattern over the years is any indication. Good match that lived up to its billing.)
-They shifted to plugging Big Cass vs. Big Show. They played clips of Cass beating Enzo last week.
-Backstage Enzo approached Show doing pushups backstage. He apologized for getting him mixed up with Cass. He said he didn’t have to bail him out, but he did and it means the most “from one real one to another.” He said appreciates it. Show said he appreciates Enzo always keeps it real. Show said Big Cass is seven foot tall, but he needs a lesson in respect “and I can teach that,” he said. [c]
-Elias Samson sat mid-ring with a spotlight on him. He said he grew up in Pittsburgh. He named some landmarks, and said what stands out the most to him about Pittsburgh are the people, who inspired him to write this song. “Pittsburgh, it’s the city of bridges, but it’s really the city of pits. This place has no hope, not when it’s team the Pirates. Man, I’m back in Pittsburgh, what a terrible choice. The people here are truly garbage, but at least you can hear my voice. Oh Pittsburgh, what have I done to you? This place gets worse every single time, and I swear it’s true.” He was interrupted by Kalisto’s song.
(5) KALISTO vs. ELIAS SAMSON
They cut to an early break. [c]
Elias was on offense after the break. He finished Kalisto with his Drift Away neckbreaker. They seem to have dropped his last name this week.
WINNER: Elias in 8:00.
-Charlie Caruso interviewed Alexa Bliss. Bliss said last week she couldn’t say this, but she is very excited to face Bayley since she already beat her for the title in her hometown at Payback. She said she also doesn’t want to face Sasha again. She said she never thought Sasha would lose to Bayley. “How embarrassing,” she snickered. “I guess greatness took the night off.” She said she hopes she can keep herself together in her promotional tour half way across the country. She said if Sasha was a great friend, she’d be around to protect Bayley from Nia Jax later. She said it’ll be a massacre. [c]
-They recapped the Dean/Seth-Cesaro/Sheamus angle earlier.
-Backstage Seth thanked Dean for coming out to help him. Dean said he didn’t do it to help him. Seth asked why he came out. Dean said it’s because he’s Mr. Architect. He said he made him look like the bad guy if he didn’t come out to help. He said next time he’s in trouble, he won’t be there to help him. Dean said he doesn’t believe Seth would have done the same thing for him.
(6) BAYLEY vs. NIA JAX
Bayley ducked Jax early, but Jax headbutted her. Bayley fought back with forearms. Jax countered by lifting Bayley, but Bayley went for a sleeper. Jax flipped Bayley to the mat and then tossed her hard to the floor. [c]
Jax dominated after the break for a few minutes. The announcers wondered if the referee should step in. Bayley showed signs of lift, despite selling a right shoulder injury. Booker said, “You can’t teach heart.” Bayley gave Jax a running knee to send her to the floor. She kept clutching her shoulder. I was waiting for Titus to run out and toss in the white towel. Bayley leaped off the ring apron and took Jax down. Bliss tried to attack Bayley, but Bayley caught her coming. Jax then threw Bayley into the ringside barricade. When she charged, Bayley moved and Jax ran into the steps. Bayley rolled into the ring and the ref counted Jax out.
WINNER: Bayley via countout.
(Keller’s Analysis: This “protected” Bayley from losing outright, but still framed her as an underdog against Bliss at Summerslam.)
-Renee interviewed Big Cass backstage. Cass wondered how Enzo and Show are going to teach him respect. He said his grandmother always taught him you’ll be judged on the company you keep, so he is judging Show for hanging out with that miscreant Enzo. [c]
-The announcers recapped the Miz TV segment earlier.
-Enzo came out and said Big Cass has done some terrible things. He said he isn’t an angel. “I have done some dirty, dastardly, disgusting, despicable things,” he said. “But in all of my life, I have never, not one time in my entire life, eaten the brown part of a bruised banana.” He said he’d eat the brown part of a bruised banana before he’d stop keeping it real. He said he doesn’t change when the going gets tough. He said Cass is a fraud. He introduced The Big Show.
(Keller’s Analysis: I got the sense fans sighed when they saw Enzo, wondering what he could possibly have to say this week that wouldn’t be redundant. He’s talked at length a lot recently, and hasn’t backed up his words with any kind of victory – moral or otherwise – against Cass. Unless there’s some big twist coming up with his character in this Cass storyline, it’s time for him to go away for a while.)
(7) THE BIG SHOW (w/Enzo) vs. BIG CASS
Show tossed Cass over the top rope early in the match. Cole talked up how Show is in the best shape of his career and even has abs. Cass snapped Show’s neck over the top rope. Show came back with a bodyslam and an elbowdrop. Graves wondered if Cass was ready for this match. Show suplexed Cass, then signaled for a chokeslam. Cass kicked to escape, then speared Show’s leg. Cass worked over Show’s leg for a couple minutes. Show caught Cass flying off the top rope with a chop to the chest. Then he hit two clotheslines and a corner splash. Cass, though, caught Show coming off the ropes with a big boot. Show went down. Enzo then jumped Cass from behind, so the ref DQ’d Show. Cass gave Enzo a big boot to KO him. Show and Enzo were both down and out.
WINNER: Show via DQ.
-Cass trash-talked Enzo. Show got up and gave Cass a KO punch that looked awkward. Cass went down. Show’s music played as the show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: This was okay to end the show with. I mean, obviously it wasn’t the most anticipated match of the night, but this is Vince McMahon’s way of telling the fanbase that they should perceive Cass as a main event act, not a mid-card act. I think Enzo was hurt by not having the discipline to let Big Show vs. Big Cass play out. His interference cost the fans the chance to see Cass and Show fight to a finish.)