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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
AUGUST 14, 2017
BOSTON, MASS. AT TD GARDEN
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Be sure to check out the latest episode of the “Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast” at PodcastOne featuring my in-depth preview of Summerslam with former WWE Creative Team member Kevin Eck, plus some fascinating insight into past Summerslam events he was part of planning, including matches that never took place and why. DIRECT LINK or SUBSCRIBE IN ITUNES.
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Announcers: Michael Cole, Booker T, Corey Graves
-They opened with a five minute video package on the Seth Rollins-Dean Ambrose saga.
-Dean came out to his music live and said, “Cut the music!” He said people are wondering what the hell is going on with him and Seth, and he is wondering too. He said only Seth can answer that question. Out came Seth to his full entrance. (They got along well this weekend: 8/12 WWE in Augusta, Maine.)
Dean said he’s sick and tired of Seth’s games, so what’s the deal. Seth said one week Dean saves him, the next week he disappears. The crowd pelted Seth with some boos. Seth said Dean says he only teamed with him because Kurt Angle made him do it, yet he keeps showing up. Seth said Dean claims he can’t trust him, but he can look into his eyes and know he’s lying. More boos. He said the truth is he knows Dean cares. He said if they teamed up again, they could “run this place.” Cheers. He said if he can let bygones be bygones, he’s done playing games. “Yes!” chants. Dean looked around and smiled.
“You have got to be kidding me!” Dean said. Boos. He said Seth made him look like a fool. He said Seth spit in his eye. He said he thought maybe he had a concussion or something. Seth yelled that the truth is he can’t even trust himself sometimes. Seth said maybe this will never work. “Maybe you operate one way, I operate another way. Maybe it just doesn’t work. Maybe it was a stupid idea,” Seth said. Boos. Dean paced behind him. “But maybe it wasn’t,” Seth added. He said maybe their differences are why they work so well together.
Dean extended his fist again. The crowd cheered. Seth stared at it and took a deep breath. Long pause. Seth looked at his fist. More cheers. He dropped it again and walked away. Dean shoved him. Seth shoved back. Dean tackled Seth. Punches and rolling around the mat. Cole said it almost felt like this had to happen. Dean yelled at Seth, “What’s your problem?” Seth jumped Dean from behind and the fight was back on. They tumbled to the floor. Booker said sometimes you have to let it all out. Graves said sometimes you can’t live in the past.
Cesaro and Sheamus ran out and attacked Seth and Dean. Booker blandly called it “an opportunity.” They threw Seth into the ring and stomped away at him. A “You look stupid!” chant rang out. Is that better than “Dumpster Fire”? Dean recovered and charged in for the save. He went after Sheamus and Cesaro. The heel duo double-teamed Dean. Eventually Dean and Seth fought back. They clotheslined Sheamus over the top rope, then did the same to Cesaro on the other side of the ring. They celebrated separately at first. Then Dean looked at Seth and tried one more time. He extended his fist. He pulled back and Seth extended his fist. Then they both extended it at once and the crowd erupted in cheers. Dean’s music played. Cole said, “It’s been four long years. Have they finally let bygones be bygones.” Graves said Sheamus and Cesaro aren’t about to forget what just went down.
(Keller’s Analysis: After a week of wondering whether WWE pushed it when the crowd reacted like they did to Seth not reciprocating Dean’s peace offering last week, things worked out well this week. They got around to uniting them, but built to it really well so that when they finally did connect, the crowd erupted.) [c]
(1) NIA JAX vs. SASHA BANKS
Jax came out first. Sasha’s hometown crowd gave her a nice greeting. Alexa Bliss came out before the bell, too, wearing her WWE Raw Women’s Title belt. Booker said Sasha put herself back in this position for a title shot by “winning by any means necessary.” There’s a lesson for the kids. When Bliss sat on a raised lifeguard chair at ringside, Graves compared it to Cersei sitting on an iron throne. Jax mocked Banks with some gestures, delivered a few elbows to the face, no-sold them, and then collided with Banks to drop her hard and fast. The crowd booed. They cut to a very early break. [c]
Back live, they showed Bliss sitting on her throne. Banks teased a comeback, but Bliss reverse whipped her hard onto the apron, then head-butted her to the floor. Jax swung Banks by her legs hard 180 degrees into the ringside barrier. That looked fierce. Jax scored a near fall in the ring seconds later. Then came a bearhug. Then a double chicken wing. Sasha rolled through for a two count. The crowd was into the action. Booker said Sasha will have to be innovative to pull off a victory. Sasha applied a camel clutch of sorts on Jax’s back while Jax was standing. Jax turned it into a Samoan drop for a near fall. Bliss put her leg under the bottom rope to stop the count. Jax delivered another Samoan Drop. Graves said that’s it because you don’t survive two. Sasha rolled to the floor to avoid the cover. The crowd cheered. Sasha avoided an elbow drop a minute later. They cut to another break. [c]
Jax set up a superplex after the break. Sasha elbowed herself free and then went for a sunset flip. Jax held on. Jax kicked her leg out from under her. Jax dropped down, and Sasha dropped both knees on her for a near fall. Nice sequence. Bliss was shown watching from her perch in the background. Sasha charged at Jax in the corner and kneed her eight times in a row; Jax kicked her when she charged. Both were slow to get up. Jax yelled, “It’s over.” When she leaned down to grab Sasha, Sasha put on the Bank Statement mid-ring. Jax crawled over and reached toward the bottom rope. Sasha blocked her arm with her leg. Jax stood and lifted Sasha. Sasha spun around and drove Jax into the mat with a DDT, then applied the Bank Statement again. Jax tapped out.
WINNER: Banks at 14:50 to earn a Raw Women’s Title match at Summerslam.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match. A lot was lost in the 15 minutes for two commercials, but what aired was really strong. It told a good story and they executed the near falls and reveals well. Plus Sasha’s offense looked credible despite the size difference.)
-Backstage Kurt Angle said Summerslam is going to be tremendous. He turned to talk to Matt & Jeff Hardy. He told them that because of Scott Dawson’s injury, they can’t get their hands on The Revival at Summerslam. Matt said that was an unfortunate twist of fate because it would have been “delightful” (going into Broken Matt mode) to face them at Summerslam. In walked Miz. Angle asked what he wants. Miz asked what he’d do to make up for unleashing Brock Lesnar on them last week. The Hardys laughed. Miz said it wasn’t funny. Angle said Curtis Axel will face Jason Jordan tonight. Angle said Miz should take up his problem with Brock. Miz and his cohorts fake laughed and then he got serious and said they’re not going to take it anymore. Miz said he’s replacing Axel against his son. Angle said Jason will love that. A ref walked in and told Angle that they have a problem with Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt. Angle ran off with the ref. Miz angrily said, “I was talking!”
-A commercial aired for the “Mae Young Classic,” which premiers Aug. 28 on WWE Network. [c]
-They returned live to a pull-apart brawl with Balor and Bray. Angle stepped between them and said Summerslam is coming early because they’re going to have their match tonight.
-Elias sat on a stool in the ring and strummed his guitar and asked who wants to walk with Elias. Boos. He said Fenway Park is a dump. He sang: “The people are here are disgusting.” Huge boos. “The clam chowder is much worse. I can’t wait to leave this city because this place is wicked cursed.” R-Truth interrupted. He sang and danced his way to the ring. Elias attacked him as he entered the ring while he was still singing. Graves said he was never more excited to hear Truth rap. Elias took him down with his finisher. Then he pulled out his guitar and his music began playing for some reason. He posed with the guitar rather than use it as a weapon and he left the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: Elias is carrying himself like a star. There’s no reason to cheer him, which is a great trait for a heel. But you do want to watch him.)
-The announcers plugged the segment with all Fatal Four-way competitors in the ring later. Cole plugged that Enzo would be locked inside the shark cage on Sunday. They showed the cage being lowered. [c]
-Big Cass came out. They showed clips of Big Show giving his KO punch to Cass at ringside last week, including some slo-mo replays that looked stiff. Cole plugged Cass vs. Show at Summerslam with Enzo in the cage suspended above the ring.
As Cass began to talk, the crowd booed. He stopped and then tried again. More boos. It was the day after Raw for Roman Reigns all over again. A “You suck” chant rang out. He kept saying, “This Sunday at Summerslam…” and would get shot down by boos. It happened eight times. He then said, “I’ll stay here all night.” He said it’ll be Big Show vs. Big Cass in the Big Apple. He said he’ll talk over them and he doesn’t care. He said when he talks, it matters; when the fans talk, it does not. He said Enzo is a nobody without someone standing behind him and somebody to go to bat for him backstage when he pisses somebody off, “which is seemingly every single day.” He wondered if Big Show likes Enzo. He said Show needs his little jester to dance for him and tell funny jokes and hit you with those clever lines that you never understand but you cheer and laugh anyway because Enzo’s “the funny guy.” He said Show needs Enzo because there’s a new seven-footer on the block and his name is Big Cass.
He said Big Show knows he cannot win with Enzo, which is why Enzo will be locked in the shark cage. He said Enzo will be suspended high above the ring and he can run his mouth all he wants, but he can’t get involved. He’ll just get a bird’s eye view as he dismantles Big Show. He said he is the best big man in the game today and he’ll prove it at Summerslam. Enzo’s music interrupted.
Enzo did his catch phrases. The crowd chanted “How you doin'” and Cass rolled his eyes. He mocked Cass getting interrupted and then asked if Cass is okay. Enzo said he is rambling like a man who has been knocked down two weeks in a row because he did get knocked down two weeks in a row. Cass said he’s always the funny guy. Cass told him to say something if he has something to say. Enzo asked if he’s still seeing stars after the KO punch. Enzo said he’s look at him and he is a star. He said he would add a star to the equation. Out came Big Show.
Cass hid behind the shark cage in the ring. Cass knocked Enzo, who was acting obnoxious, off the ring apron. Show grabbed Cass’s throat. Karl Anderson ran out and clipped Show’s knee from behind. Luke Gallows joined in and went after Show. Show fended them all off. He choked Anderson. Cass gave Show a big boot. A three-on-one attack broke out. Graves asked if it was worth being Enzo’s friend to endure this. Booker said he’d answer it: No. They tied a strap to Show’s wrist. Enzo tried to help, but Cass gave him a big boot to knock him to the floor. Then they slammed the cage door on Show’s KO punch fist. Then they stomped away at him, including his wrist and hand. Cole wondered what this means to the match between Cass and Show on Sunday. Show clutched his hand in pain as Cass walked away with his arm raised.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was, easily, Cass’s best performance in WWE to date. He had a swagger and confidence while still coming across as a heel you wanted to see lose. The angle was well-done, taking away the weapon of the babyface headed into the PPV on Sunday, a weapon that seemed to be a big advantage for him against Cass last week.)
-The announcers plugged Balor vs. Bray for the first time ever and another matched scheduled for Summerslam was coming early – Neville will defend his Crusierweight Title against Tozawa next. [c]
(2) NEVILLE vs. AKIRA TOZAWA (w/Titus O’Neal) – Cruiserweight Title match
Cole said it seems Neville isn’t taking Tozawa seriously, but he said it could be mind-games. Tozawa got in early offense and Neville rolled to the floor. They cut to an early break at 2:00. [c]
At 8:00 Tozawa rallied and climbed to the top rope. Neville met him up there and stood on the top rope and superplexed Tozawa off the top. Big impact for both men on landing. Tozawa fought back with elbows. Neville countered with a spinning side kick. Tozawa countered with a head scissors and tornado enzuigiri. Tozawa climbed to the top rope yet again. Neville stood, but Tozawa leaped over him. Neville hid behind the ref, then went after Tozawa’s arm and applied the Rings of Saturn. Tozawa rolled up Neville for a two count. Tozawa got fired up, but Neville used a drop toe hold to send Tozawa into the middle turnbuckle. He went for a Red Arrow, but Neville moved and so Neville crashed. Booker T said you don’t see that every day. Tozawa then got wide-eyed and climbed to the top rope rope. Titus cheered him on as he landed a senton bomb for the three count. Titus put Tozawa on his shoulder. Cole said Tozawa has shocked the world.
WINNER: Tozawa in 11:00 to capture the Cruiserweight Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. I’m half expecting WWE to announce tomorrow that Neville has been suspended for some reason. Otherwise, they did this to add a little oomph to the match at Summerslam by having the previously dominant champion fuming mad to take back his belt.)
-On camera, Cole plugged the 30 day free trial for WWE Network. Graves plugged the NXT Takeover special on Saturday night. He said he, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens, Sasha Banks, and others from NXT’s past will be there for “a homecoming of sorts.” Booker said Summerslam will be the biggest party of the summer. Cole touted “four hours of action.” He ran down top matches. [c]
-They showed the exterior of TD Garden.
-A trainer told Big Show that his hand appears to be broken, but they won’t know for sure until the X-rays come back. Big Show told the trainer not to touch him and just leave him alone. Enzo walked up to Show and told Show to forget about Summerslam. Show stood and said he has fought bigger and been hurt worse, so there is no way he’s missing Summerslam.
-They went to the announcers on camera. Cole asked Booker if it’s wise for Show to wrestle at Summerslam. Booker said he won’t miss Summerslam, it’s that easy. Cole plugged Bliss vs. Banks, and showed a clip of Banks’s win earlier.
-Backstage Emma told Mickie James it should be her at Summerslam getting a title shot and she started a hash-tag on Twitter to complain about being wronged. She talked and talked and talked and eventually Mickie said, “You like to rewrite your own history, don’t you?” Mickie said last week Emma didn’t get screwed over, she tapped out. Mickie said every women in WWE was part of the Women’s Revolution. She suggested Emma put her phone down and stop whining and get in the ring with her tonight.
-Bray’s ring entrance began. [c]
-Finn Balor’s ring entrance then aired.
(3) FINN BALOR vs. BRAY WYATT
Cole said he likes that Bray has turned the tables and played some mind games with Bray in recent weeks. Booker said Bray has more tricks and it’s always the unknown with Bray, so Balor has to deal with that. With eight minutes left in the second hour, the bell rang and the two wrestlers charged at each other. Balor landed some knees and chops early. Bray fired back with a kick. Balor kicked Bray in the head and then springboarded, but Bray punched him out of mid-air. Bray went after Balor, but eventually Balor sent Bray to ringside and slidekicked him into the barricade. Bray gave him a running kick from the ring apron. Bray was down, wide-eyed and stunned, and they cut to a break. [c]
Back live, Bray had Balor in a chinlock. They showed a clip of Bray’s comeback during the break. Bray clotheslined Balor to cut off his attempt at a comeback. He scored a soft two count. Bray settled into a chinlock again. Balor landed a Pelé kick. When Balor celebrated a bit, Booker said, “You cannot admire your work with a guy like Bray Wyatt.” Balor ate a Bray boot, but fired right back with a roundhouse kick for a two count. Bray collided with Balor mid-air mid-ring and scored a two count at 9:00. Balor landed a sling blade, but when he went for a running dropkick, Bray swatted him aside. Bray landed a senton for a two count.
Bray got up and bent over backwards in the corner. Then he set up Sister Abigail. Balor countered and landed a quick double stomp. Bray bailed out to ringside. Balor charged at him at ringside with a running dropkick. Balor threw Bray into the ring, then climbed to the top rope. Bray knocked him off balance and then hit Sister Abigail mid-ring for the three count.
WINNER: Bray Wyatt in 11:00.
-Afterward, Bray stood over Balor. Balor showed signs of life. Bray gave him another Sister Abigail. The lights went out. When they came back on, Balor was leaning in the corner KO’d. Bray stood in the middle of the ring with a bucket. He poured red slime all over Balor, who freaked out as it covered his body. He rolled around in the ring, spreading the paint everywhere. Someone would pay big money to frame and hang that canvas in their mansion.
(Keller’s Analysis: Try to explain that one, huh? I half expect Balor to be suspended for something tomorrow. Strange to hype this as a first-time ever match and go just 11 minutes with a clean finish after a competitive match. The post-match angle suggests that Balor will come out at Summerslam for a rematch as The Demon version of himself.) [c]
-They replayed the paint angle with Balor and Bray. Cole said that they have come to learn it was an “acidic liquid.” They said it was humiliating. Graves said it was more symbolic than anything else, sending Balor a message. Cole said he never thought he’d see something like this on Raw.
(Keller’s Analysis: They’re again overselling this a bit.)
(4) MICKIE JAMES vs. EMMA
Booker said Emma put in a great showing last week. This brought the crowd down a bit, which was fine. Mickie did her kip up and played to the crowd to almost no response, which is kind of sad to see. Emma knocked Mickie off the top rope. Emma threw Mickie back into the ring and scored a soft two count. Emma applied a full nelson. Emma methodically dominated. After Cole said Mickie and Booker are both six-time champs, Graves said he was about to say Emma reminds him of a young Booker T. Emma stopped a Mickie comeback and scored another two count. Mickie slipped out of Emma’s bodyslam and landed her spin kick for the three count. Cole seemed surprised.
WINNER: Mickie in 3:00. [c]
-Charlie Caruso interviewed Balor backstage as he walked out of Kurt Angle’s office still covered in red. She asked what Balor’s meeting with Angle was about. Balor said he got his rematch with Bray at Smmerslam. He said Bray has his demons, but this Sunday he’ll find out that he has demons, too. Cheers. Graves asked if that means what he thinks it means.
(5) THE MIZ (w/Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Maryse) vs. JASON JORDAN
The announcers agreed this was Jordan’s biggest singles match. Cole said Jordan can stand on his own two feet, and he’s not getting opportunities because of Angle. Cole noted that Jordan earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and minored in chemistry, social science, and medicine. Miz elbowed Jordan when the Miztourage distracted him. Jordan landed a high dropkick. Miz bailed out to regroup. Booker said, “You don’t need to have a degree to be great fighter.” Cole said he’s saying Jordan is well-rounded as an individual and he’s not there because of Angle, but because of his resume. Jordan showed fire and charged hard with a shoulder driver into Miz. Axel and Bo jumped him for an early DQ. Cole called it a damn shame. Booker said, “This isn’t just a shame, it’s a lesson for this kid.” The Hardys then ran out to even the odds. They cleared the ring of Bo and Axel, then delivered a Poetry in Motion to Miz. Jordan then suplexed Miz, who rolled to the floor.
WINNER: Jordan via DQ at 1:30.
(Keller’s Analysis: They didn’t leave Jordan out there long enough to lose the crowd.) [c]
(6) MIZ & BO DALLAS & CURTIS AXEL (w/Maryse) vs. MATT & JEFF HARDY & JASON JORDAN
Graves said Angle has delivered Christmas early with this week’s Raw matches. Cole said the Hardys feel they’ve been awakened. Graves said the word they keep using is “awoken” which isn’t necessarily in the English lexicon. He said the Hardys want the world to know they are responsible for the Revival being out of action. They cut to a break. [c]
Matt worked over Axel after the break. Axel took over after a distraction and then tagged in Miz. Miz rallied and played to the crowd, receiving boos. They isolated Matt in the corner. Bo tagged in. Eventually Matt hot-tagged in Jeff. Jeff went to work on Bo and scored a two count. Bo escaped a Twist of Fate. Jeff knocked Miz and Axel off the ring apron, then landed Whisper in the Wind for a two count. He went for another top rope move, but Miz interfered. Bo then gave him a swinging neckbreaker off the top rope. Jordan broke up the pin. Chaos broke out with everyone. Jordan suplexed Miz into Axel. Jeff rolled up Bo, but Bo rolled through. Jeff then hit the Twist of Fate. Axel broke up the pin. More chaos. Matt gave Bo the Twist of Fate. Then Jeff hit the Swanton for the win.
WINNERS: Hardys & Jordan in 15:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action that filled the time almost like an old school long house show match. Jordan felt largely in the background for much of the match, though, which might not be ideal. But just putting Jordan with a popular tag team act is good at this stage of whatever ever they’re doing with Jordan and however they want the fans to receive him.)
-Cole made a big deal out of breaking news that “The Demon” Finn Balor would get a rematch against Bray at Summerslam. Graves really sold it. [c]
-They plugged that on 205 Live tomorrow night, Tozawa’s championship celebration would take place. Graves said Neville has invoke his championship rematch for Summerslam.
-Angle stood mid-ring. The ring was surrounded by security. Cole said he has taken every precaution possible to preserve his main event on Sunday at Summerslam. He called it a “face to face to face to face” situation. He introduced Brock Lesnar first. He came out with Paul Heyman. Heyman introduced himself and Lesnar. He said Angle has conspired to arrange a “face to face to face to champion’s face confrontation.” He said it’s basically a prison fight. He listed the other three. Reigns got an outburst of boos. Heyman said Angle can add 10,000 more security members, but all hell is going to break lose. They showed Angle sitting at ringside reacting.
Heyman called it a vast conspiracy. He said his father taught him that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean the whole world isn’t against you. Heyman said when the unbeatable champion Lesnar steps into the ring against three top contenders that assures you a new champion. He said when these three top contenders get Lesnar out of the equation, it guarantees you a new champion because at that moment anybody can eek a victory over somebody, anybody, and escape like a thief in the night with the Universal Championship. “I’m a fan, and as a fan, that concept, Mr. Angle, sucks.” They cut to Angle’s reaction shot.
He said Joe wants to steal the title and crawl back to his tribe and offer the championship as a demonstration of his warrior spirit. He said Braun is a monster among men, and in the horror film that will be Summerslam, “beast slays monster.” Heyman said, “And then there’s Roman Reigns.” Boos! He said he’s the man who retired Undertaker. He said as long as Lesnar is the Universal Championship, “your yard is in Brock Lesnar’s house and rent is due Sunday at Summerslam.”
He said he never makes predictions and he only delivers spoilers. He said one of two things happens. One, the conspiracy against his client is successful and he and Lesnar leave WWE. He said if that happens, you might as well “lock this beast up in a cage – hint hint.” He said scenario number two is Lesnar beats one of the three foes and proves to the entire world – that for 15 years of him flapping his gums is all he’s done is undersell the greatness of this once-ever athlete that stands before you tonight. He said that is his case to subscribe to WWE Network and watch Summerslam this Sunday. “For I am your humble advocate, Paul Heyman, and this is your reigning, defending, undisputed Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar.”
Samoa Joe then came out. The crowd chanted “Joe! Joe! Joe!” to the beat of his music. Joe entered the ring and locked eyes with Lesnar. Lesnar smiled. Joe sneered. Heyman held up the Universal Title belt from the ring apron. Joe said he doesn’t fear Lesnar. He said he will alleviate his advocate’s fears. He said at Summerslam when he comes for the championship, he’s coming to rip it from his hands after he puts him to sleep in the ring. Strowman then promptly walked out. Cole said he’s getting goose bumps thinking about this match on Sunday. Graves said this has the makings of something unforgettable. Strowman said, “In case you didn’t know, I’m always the last man standing.” He said to ask Karen Jarrett. I mean Roman Reigns. Joe interrupted and asked if he’s calling himself the last man standing. Joe said as he remembers it, Reigns was stomping him out around the building until he arrived. He told him he’s no Last Man Standing, he’s merely the man who stood up while he put Roman Reigns down. Reigns’s music interrupted a staredown. Boos!
Reigns immediately speared Joe. He yelled. Braun went up to Reigns and powerslammed him. Lesnar stood back and watched from the corner. Braun then dramatically turned his head to see Lesnar. Fans began cheering in anticipation. Security charged into the ring to keep them apart. Boos. Lesnar pushed through, but he was pushed back again. Braun broke free and just got in Lesnar’s reach. Security pushed him back again. Lesnar began knocking security guys out of his way one at a time. Braun did the same. Angle called for more reinforcements. Lesnar and Braun stared each other down. The locker room cleared and they pulled the two men apart again. “This is big box office, this is big money on Sunday at Summerslam,” said Graves. Lesnar broke free and dove at Strowman. They were separated again by the other wrestlers. Strowman broke free. Cole wondered how you’ll contain them Sunday. “You don’t!” he said as the show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: Well played final segment. Really strong.)