8/12 WWE in Augusta, Maine: Seth & Dean vs. Bo & Curtis, Balor & Hardys vs. Elias & Gallows & Anderson, Reigns vs. Braun, Cena vs. Rusev

Rusev (photo credit Wade Keller © PWTorch)


AUGUST 12, 2017

The Raw crew hopped on the interstate and made the 80 minute trek from Bangor to Augusta. Last year’s show in this venue drew a measly 1,700-1,800 with about a 4,800 cap. Tonight’s show was markedly different – an improvement both upon last year’s attendance, and a stark contrast compared to last night’s show in Bangor. The Augusta Civic Center opted to tarp off the “upper deck” of bleachers (in reality, the lower bowl simply extends higher on one side of the venue than the other, and about TEN rows of bleachers are up there. Aside from the far corners of the building, nearly every seat was full. I’d estimate about a 90 percent sellout with the chosen configuration.

The roster members were identical, save Rusev and one very important name: John Cena.

The crowd was engaged and lively from the start, and far louder than in Bangor the night prior.

(1) Finn Balor & The Hardy Boyz defeated Elias & Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson in 10:00. The Hardys and Finn entered first tonight, all to great reactions. Matt and Jeff picked up where they left off in Bangor, throwing out “DELETE!” hand gestures and telling Finn he was “WONDERFUL!” Elias sang his song from the entrance way tonight, and made sure to include how much he thought Augusta sucks. It generated plenty of heat. The match played out identically to their encounter in Bangor, with Matt and Jeff hitting a pair of Twist of Fates, followed by a Coup De Grace from Finn Balor on Karl Anderson for the win.

(2) Goldust defeated R-Truth in under 1:00. Truth came out first to a solid reaction. He did his usual song and dance before Goldust made his plodding approach. Truth attacked Goldust on the apron and the action spilled to the outside briefly, where Truth got the upper hand. Back in the ring, the referee called for the bell and shortly after, Goldust rolled up Truth and used the ropes for leverage to get the quick three count. Goldust immediately left ringside, and Truth chased him up the ramp and into the back. No post-match promo for R-Truth this evening.

The Big Cass backstage promo from Bangor aired. Cass said he’d take care of Enzo later on.

(3) Neville defeated Akira Tozawa to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Championship in 9:00. Once again, the crowd seemed familiar with Tozawa. Neville got a strong chorus of boos upon entering, but once the match got going, there were a handful of “Neville!” chants spread throughout. Solid action for the second night in a row. The major spots were identical (Tozawa being cut off, but then eventually hitting the suicide dive to appreciable cheer), but the transitions from spot to spot varied slightly. A nice series of chain grappling led to Neville getting the upper hand. He got Tozawa on the mat and locked in the Rings of Saturn for the quick tap out victory. Neville slung the Cruiserweight title over his shoulder, and slowly shuffled up the ramp with his head down, stopping briefly to shoot some fans a death stare.

4. Enzo Amore wrestled Big Cass to a No Contest in 1:00. Enzo entered to a strong pop; louder than Bangor, but still subdued compared to this building last year. He began with his usual schtick (the crowd played along happily) and transitioned into a promo about how many moose he saw on his drive from Bangor to Augusta. To his credit, he does a great job varying his material night to night and really connecting with the local audience. Cass interrupted his spelling of “Sawft” and walked to the ring slowly with his hand in the air. Enzo jumped him as soon as he got on the apron, but Cass quickly fought him off. Enzo climbed to the top rope, leaped toward Cass, and got laid out by a big boot delivered mid-air. Cass grabbed the mic, and, over a fallen Enzo, arrogantly said “And you can’t teach that” before leaving.

A brief backstage promo played with Rusev talking about beating John Cena later tonight.

(5) Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose defeated Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas in 10:00. Tonight, Seth came out to a great reaction and stood alone in the ring as the Miztourage entered. The two laughed at Seth, presuming he didn’t have a partner to face them. Seth shrugged them off and invited the challenge. At the last moment, Dean Ambrose’s music hit. Seth hopped out of the ring to greet him, and the two rushed under the bottom rope together and began brawling with Axel and Dallas. The match played out identically to the one the night prior, minus the comedy spots at the beginning (which were cut, presumably for time) and the finish. After Seth took a beating for several minutes, he made the hot tag to Dean, who cleaned house. Rollins returned to the ring briefly to dive through the ropes onto Axel. Meanwhile, Ambrose hit Dallas with the Dirty Deeds for the victory. Dean left the ringside area rather quickly, but Seth Rollins stuck around and slapped every hand extended to him. I can’t say enough about how well Rollins came off as a babyface both nights. He seems to have finally fully embraced the role, and he looks and acts the part.

(6) John Cena defeated Rusev in 8:00. Rusev entered first to a chorus of boos and “USA” chants. He scowled at fans at ringside and looked on in disgust as the familiar trumpets hit. Cena appear from the curtain to a tremendous pop – by far the largest of the night. He sold it as thought he was taken aback by it. Before the match, Rusev grabbed the mic and told the “stupid Americans” to “shut up”, eliciting an even louder “USA” chant. He then climbed the turnbuckle and raised his arms to a chorus of boos. Cena responded in kind by doing the same, sending the crowd into a frenzy They repeated this at each turnbuckle. As Cena came down from the fourth corner, Rusev blindsided him hard with a shoulder tackle. The referee asked Cena if he was okay, and John instructed him to ring the bell. A standard Cena/Rusev affair. Rusev dominated in the early going and Cena sold his shots well. Cena eventually rallied back with his spinout backdrop and the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He hoisted Rusev up for the AA, but Rusev slid down his back and bumped into the official, sending him to the outside. Cena tripped up Rusev and applied an STF. Rusev tapped after a few seconds, but there was no referee in sight. Cena returned to his feet to locate the referee. In the mean time, Rusev stood up and delivered a low blow to Cena. Rusev covered John as the referee returned to the ring for a very believable near fall. The crowd erupted when John kicked out. Moments later, Cena countered a shot from Rusev into the fireman carry position. He hit the AA and pinned Rusev for the win. Cena made a quick trip around the ring slapping hands and thanking fans before saluting us on his way out.

Mike Rome sent us to intermission.

(7) Sasha Banks & Mickie James & Dana Brooke defeated Alexa Bliss & Nia Jax & Emma in 13:00. Great reaction for Sasha, who headed to the ring first, adorned in her new Red Sox inspired “Bosstown” t-shirt. She was sporting longer hair braided into purple pigtails for the second night in a row. She, Mickie, and Dana had some fun imitating each other’s entrances (as well as Emma, Nia, and Alexa’s) before the match began. The match itself was a carbon copy of the night prior, except that Mickie James played the face-in-peril role instead of Dana. Nia worked her over for the meat of the match, with Alexa coming in for some great heel comedy spots (they repeated the kip up spot from the night before to another great reaction.) Bliss approached the babyface corner of the ring, just out of reach from Dana and Sasha and stuck her tongue out at them, much to the crowd’s chagrin. She also employed her kicking-and-screaming temper-tantrum at the referee more than once when something didn’t go her way. I’m continuously impressed by how effective she is as her character. The match broke down as Mickie, Alexa, Nia, and Dana all spilled to the outside, leaving Sasha and Emma alone in the ring. Sasha quickly rallied for her team and got the tap out victory over Emma with the Bank Statement. Post-match, Alexa stood on the steps at ringside, stomping angrily and yelling at Mike Rome to get her the title.

(8) Sheamus & Cesaro defeated Apollo Crews & Titus O’Neil in 7:00. Respectful applause for Crews and O’Neill, but little else. Like the night prior, the crowd seemed too disinterested in the pair to really care enough to boo Sheamus & Cesaro, who carry significantly more star power. The latter are certainly an impressive duo to see in person. The crowd mustered up a couple of weak “You Look Stupid” chants at Sheamus, but by and large, they sided with the champs. The match played out similarly to the night before, but Cesaro caught Crews with the guillotine from the outside (instead of Sheamus), and Sheamus connected with the Brogue Kick for the win.

(9) Roman Reigns defeated Braun Strowman by disqualification in 11:00. A mixed reaction for Braun, who posed one three sides of the ring before settling his eyes on the entrance way, awaiting his opponent. A huge eruption of boos for Roman Reigns, louder and with more conviction than the night before. Roman stood just outside the ring eyeing Braun cautiously, selling the challenge. The match itself was blow-for-blow identical to Bangor, including the finish. A few Roman Reigns chants broke out from pieces of the younger audience, but by and large, the crowd remained mostly in favor of Strowman. After about 10 minutes of back-and-forth brawling, Strowman kneeled prone against the propped up ring steps that had been discarded in the entranceway. Roman charged around the ring, looking for a Driveby, only to be hit with the steps, causing a disqualification. At that point, the crowd shifted and began booing Braun. Braun hit Roman with the steps one more time, threw him in the ring, and hit a strong looking Powerslam. He left the ring, only to turn around and return, fetching a table and propping it into the corner. Reigns fought off a Powerslam attempt, connected with a Superman Punch and finished the night off by spearing Braun through the table in the corner. Roman received respectful applause as he slapped hands and took selfies with a bunch of fans on his way out.

Biggest Pops:
1. John Cena
2. The Hardy Boyz
3. Seth Rollins
4. Finn Balor
5. Dean Ambrose

Most Heat:
1. Rusev
2. Roman Reigns
3. Braun Strowman (after getting disqualified)
4. Elias
5. Big Cass (after attacking Enzo)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Overall, a similar show to Bangor made stronger by a larger, more engaged crowd and a special appearance by John Cena. There’s absolutely no doubt, main event or not, that he was the star of this show and the reason a lot of people turned out. I was slightly surprised at how similarly nearly every bout played out, given the proximity to the previous town (I saw multiple other faces I recognized from the night before), but I can’t fault the crew for keeping things simple.

NOW CHECK OUT THIS RECENT REPORT: 8/11 WWE Raw in Bangor, Maine: Strowman vs. Reigns, Enzo vs. Cass, Goldust vs. Truth, Seth & Dean vs. Miztourage

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