KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
FEBRUARY 12, 2018
SAN JOSE, CALIF.
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Jonathan Coachman
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-Cole welcomed viewers to Raw as the camera panned the crowd. Then John Cena made his ring entrance in bright lime green. He said hello to Coach as he headed to the ring. They went to the announcers on camera briefly as they talked about how Cena was stinging from what happened at the end of Raw last week. Cole said Cena was pulverized with a “ring-shattering powerslam,” only to have Elias steal the victory. Cole said “on paper, at least,” Elias is now the favorite since he’ll be the last entrant. Graves said he’ll have to deal with Braun Strowman’s wrath.
Back to the ring, Cena’s music kept playing and he kept playing to the crowd. He excitedly talked about the Road to WrestleMania. He pointed at the sign. He said the fans in the arena and at home know it, but so do WWE Superstars. He said WrestleMania can make a new star and “bring a legend back from the dead.” (Undertaker reference?) He said he has to win at the EC because, if he doesn’t, he’s not sure he has a road to WrestleMania.
(Keller’s Analysis: I get trying to raise the stakes for the next match he’s in, but that’s just silly. If he said he’s not sure he has a road to a match worthy of his stature, I suppose he could pass that off without an eye roll, but the idea that he won’t get a match at WrestleMania unless he wins the EC seems just dishonest. I suppose if his target is pre-adolescent kids wearing his gear who don’t get the system, fine. But there’s another 98 percent of the audience just shaking their head at the preposterousness of that statement.)
He said he has to win the most unwinable match and then face the most unbeatable champion. He said those who aren’t on his side think that sounds impossible. He said those on his side know he thrives on coming out on top of seemingly impossible challenges. He emphatically closed by saying he will win the EC and will go on to make history against Brock Lesnar in the main event of WrestleMania.
(Keller’s Analysis: Wait, the Royal Rumble winner gets to main event WrestleMania, right? That’s what we were told over and over in January.)
Out came Miz with the Miztourage. Miz entered the ring and told Cena that he has spent too much time in Hollywood and can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Miz said he will win the EC and then beat Lesnar. Cena said there are some fans who actually like him, but there’s a guy in a Braves jersey laughing at that comment. Cena said if Miz wrestles Lesnar, it’ll likely be his last match. Miz said he’s a better match-up against Lesnar because he wouldn’t play into Lesnar’s hands like Cena did. “I cross lines that you won’t cross,” he told Cena. He held up his IC Title and said that’s why he beat Roman Reigns.
Cena said he still has to win the EC, and he sounds rather confident. Miz said he is. He said he beat Cena at WrestleMania once. Cena said Miz isn’t afraid to run his mouth and on occasion he finds a weasely way to back it up. Cena challenged Miz to a match tonight in “Miz Country.” He said the loser of the match enters the EC first. The fans chanted “Yes!” Miz said the person entering first has the worst chance to win, so why would he accept that. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel then attacked Cena. Miz then leaned over and answered his own question, saying he will accept the challenge because he’s smarter than Cena. Miz called for a referee. Instead, Kurt Angle’s music played.
Angle walked onto the stage and said this isn’t the way they’re going to start Raw. The crowd sang “You suck!” as Angle talked. He said he likes the suggested stip and the match is on. A referee ran out. Angle then banned Bo and Curtis from ringside.
(Keller’s Analysis: Wouldn’t it make more sense for Angle to delay the match until later to foil Miz’s strategy?)
1 – THE MIZ vs. JOHN CENA
Miz went for the cover right away. Cena kicked out. Miz threw a fit and claimed he scored a three count. He mounted and punched Cena over and over. They cut to an early break. [c]
Back from the break, Miz was in control. Miz ran into Cena and knocked him off the ring apron. Cena flailed his arms out in an exaggerated cartoonish fashion as he flew to ringside. Miz threw Cena back into the ring and scored a two count. The announcers talked about the history between Cena and Miz at WrestleMania and also people overcoming bad odds in the EC. Coach said Cena gets better the longer matches last, and the EC is a long match, so that plays in his favor. Coach said being in the main event of WrestleMania is like making it to the Super Bowl or World Series; when it happens, you think it’ll happen every year. Cole said Cena’s been there 13 straight years and he doesn’t want it to end. Miz applied a sleeper and drove Cena down to his knees. Graves said you have a mathematical disadvantage entering first and it’s next to impossible considering the competition. They cut to another break. [c]
Cena rallied right after the break, but Miz countered an AA into a figure-four. Cena escaped and applied his own sleeper. Miz escaped and climbed to the top rope. Cena rolled through on his dive and held on and flung Miz onto his shoulders for an AA, but Miz slipped free and hit a DDT and scored a two count. Cena hit an AA out of nowhere for a surprise near fall. When Cena climbed to the top rope, Miz knocked him off balance. Miz quickly applied another figure-four. Miz made it to the bottom rope to force a break. Miz then hit a Skull Crushing Finale for a near fall. They cut to fans reacting with amazement. Both were slow to get up.
Miz climbed to the top rope and tried to give Cena his SCF from there, but Cena blocked it and stood with Miz on his shoulders and hit the AA for the three count.
WINNER: Cena in 19:00 so Miz must enter the EC first.
-Immediately after the match Cena went to a fan at ringside who was in a wheelchair and gave him his arm bands. They showed Miz being helped up the ramp by a referee. He collapsed as the ring announcer, Jo Jo, said he’ll now be the first to enter the EC match.
-The announcers hyped the key matches scheduled including Sasha vs. Bayley and the Four-Way Second Chance match for an EC slot.
-A soundbite aired with Matt Hardy. He said he has three vessels standing in his way. He called Bray Wyatt “vile.” He said their second chances are already over. He said he will achieve victory and turn the Elimination Chamber into the Deletion Chamber. “Delete! Delete!” he yelled. Fans were shown in the crowd joining in. [c]
-A backstage promo aired with Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows who stood in front of a “Nerd-o-Meter” and some of their words were flashed on the screen including “NERDS!”
(Keller’s Analysis: Oh goodie, they brought their graphics toy to Smackdown. It works better with them than just about anyone since they’re act is kind of intentionally corny, for better or for worse.)
-As Anderson & Gallows walked to the ring, The Revival attacked them from behind, then entered the ring. Graves said they were embarrassed last week when they lost. Anderson and Gallows ran into the ring, so the Revival bailed out, but they smiled like they pushed the buttons they intended to push.
(2) KARL ANDERSON & LUKE GALLOWS vs. THE REVIVAL (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson)
Anderson and Gallows aggressively went after Dash and Dawson to start the match. Eventually Dawson clipped Gallows in the knee they attacked before the match at ringside. They cut to a break. [c]
Coach talked about the tag team IQ of The Revival. Gallows eventually hot-tagged in Anderson. Dash also tagged in, but tripped as ran into the ring. Anderson got the better of him. Anderson gave Dash a high-knee in the corner and then a leaping neckbreaker. Gallows yanked Dawson to the floor, but Dawson threw Gallows into the ringside steps. Dash rolled up a distracted Anderson for a two count. Anderson came back with a spinebuster for a near fall. After some confusion in the ring with a Revival tag, Revival then hit the Shatter Machine on Anderson for the win.
WINNERS: The Revival in 8:00.
-They went to the announcers at ringside. They threw to Jason Jordan telling Seth Rollins last week that he was too hurt to wrestle, but Roman Reigns stepped up and they faced Sheamus & Cesaro. Cole said Jordan would later find out he was suffering from a “very serious neck injury.” They showed Angle walking backstage. Graves said he has major news up next regarding Jordan. [c]
-Angle stood in the ring as his music faded. He said he came to the ring with mixed emotions. He said in two weeks at EC, Ronda Rousey will be signing her Monday Night Raw contract. (That tepid crowd reaction, mostly boos, should make WWE nervous.) He also said he and his son, Jordan, went to a medical facility and had his neck evaluated. He said Jordan had surgery the next day and he will be out of action past WrestleMania. Some fans cheered and some even started a “Yes!” chant. He said he can’t come out calm, cool, and collected anymore. He said he wants to speak as a father. He said if any of those fans take joy in Jordan being injured, they should be ashamed of themselves. He said Jordan might not be their favorite WWE Superstar, “but he is a human being and he is my son, and all I want you to do is wish him to get better, that’s all.” He said it would be very respectful if they did that. He was interrupted by Seth Rollins.
(Keller’s Analysis: Angle put himself out there by telling fans they should be ashamed to cheering Jordan’s injury, but it fits the storyline of the fans thinking they can see through Jordan whereas Angle has a blindspot when it comes to him.)
Seth talked about missing WrestleMania after tearing up his knee. He said WrestleMania Moments aren’t guaranteed. He said he doesn’t have any guarantees this year. He said he doesn’t have a match. Angle said maybe he was wrong about saying last week’s match was his last tag team title opportunity. He suggested he find another partner. “How about that?” he asked. Seth said, with all due respect, thanks but no thanks.
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Seth said when Angle became G.M. of Raw, he told him he wanted him to be a big piece of Monday Night Raw. He said he doesn’t want to be a part of Raw. Oooh’s from the crowd. Seth said he wants to *be* Monday Night Raw, not just a piece of it. “I want to turn this place back into Monday Night Rollins!” he yelled. “I want to be The Man one more time.” He said he wants Brock Lesnar and the Universal Championship and he wants it at WrestleMania. He said the only way he can do that is win the EC. Angle said he loves his enthusiasm, but he can’t cancel tonight’s Fatal Four-way match and give him an opportunity. Seth said he wants to earn his opportunity. He suggested that the second-chance Fatal Four-way match become a Fatal Five-way. Fans chanted “Yes!” Angle said, “That wouldn’t be fair to the other four wrestlers, the other four Superstars.”
Seth said he puts his body on the line for Raw and for him every week. He said it sucks for Jordan that he misses out on his WrestleMania moment, but that doesn’t mean he has to miss out on his. Angle said in all honesty, it’s not up to him, it’s up to the fans. He asked if they want him to give Seth the opportunity. Big cheers. Angle listened and gave Seth the slot. Cole called it a bombshell.
(Keller’s Analysis: This is WWE trying to give Seth something to do since the planned storyline for him with Jordan has been delayed, at the very least If I’m Seth’s next partner or opponent, I’m nervous, as people just get hurt when they’re associated with him on air all too often.)
-Bray appeared on the big screen and reacted to Seth joining the match. He said he doesn’t deserve it any more than Apollo Crews or Finn Balor or Matt Hardy. He said they’re all just lost fish in the sea. He said he will feast on their remains and win the EC for the second match in a row and then slay the Beast. “I will once again have the whole world in my hands!” he said. Then he laughed.
(Keller’s Analysis: Even if discerning fans know Bray has close to zero chance to win the EC and face Lesnar, it’s good that participants are being given a chance to make their best case like this.)
-Sasha Banks made her ring entrance. Graves said Sasha can prove she’s better than Bayley in her hometown next. [c]
-They showed some off the social media exchanges between Bayley and Sasha last week.
(3) BAYLEY vs. SASHA BANKS
Coach said his nine year old daughter asked why they’re fighting, and Coach said it’s because sometimes friendship isn’t as big as going to WrestleMania. Bayley rolled up Sasha in the opening seconds for a one count. Coach said there’s a very thin line between success and failure and Sasha has been towing that line in recent weeks. Sasha tossed Bayley out of the ring, then arrogantly held the ropes open for her. Bayley said no, so Sasha backed off. When Bayley tried to enter, Sasha knocked her off the ring apron. Then she jumped to the floor and threw her into the ring. Cole touted the rivalry between Sasha and Bayley in recent years. Coach said: “Corey, you should know above anybody if it’s said on Twitter or a podcast or a radio show, it’s true.” Sasha went after Bayley’s shoulder. They cut to a break. [c]
Bayley took control, but when she want for a flying elbow off the top rope, Sasha moved. Sasha then put Bayley in the Bank Statement. Bayley crawled over toward the bottom rope. Sasha pushed off with her foot. Coach said she can’t do that. The ref forced a break. Bayley then sent Sasha face-first into the corner turnbuckle. Sasha blocked a Bayley move off the ropes and shoved her. Bayley leaped right back at Sasha and hit the Bayley-to-Belly for the win.
Cole said he cannot emphasize enough how big that win was for Bayley. Graves said you need all the momentum you can get when entering the Chamber match. Coach said she might have hurt her injured right shoulder in the process. The announcers were playing up Bayley’s bad shoulder as a story right now. Bayley favored her right arm after the match.
WINNER: Bayley in 12:00.
-Afterward Bayley approached Sasha, who was dejected. Nia Jax ran in and attacked them both. She gave Bayley a Samoan Drop. Then Sasha got one.
-Charlie Caruso interviewed Jax on the stage and asked her why she was interjecting herself in a situation that has nothing to do with her. Nia said this has everything to do with her because those two took Asuka to the limit the last two weeks and she just destroyed them in two seconds. She said she is the only one who can end Asuka’s streak.
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s how people talk. No cutesy lines by the writers. Nia spoke like an athlete in a straight-forward way and, as a result, she was more believable. It was one of her better promos yet.)
-They went to the announcers who hyped WWE Network’s 30 day free trial.
-Backstage Roman Reigns approached Seth. Boos when Reigns appeared on screen. Roman talked to Seth about getting a second chance tonight. Reigns said if Seth makes it to the EC, he’ll eliminate him just like he did at the Rumble. Ohhhs from the crowd. Seth said it doesn’t have to be like that. In walked Cesaro & Sheamus. They told Seth not to be worried about the EC match because with his track record lately it’ll be another failed opportunity. Cesaro wondered if Dean Ambrose and Jason Jordan were in physical therapy together bonding over what a lousy partner Seth is. As Cesaro laughed, Reigns leaned in and asked what happened to his mouth. “Oh yeah, you ran into The Shield.” Sheamus and Cesaro backed away. Seth yelled, “Nice skirt!” [c]
-They announcers reacted to Jax’s comments before the break. They put big flashy graphics of key words Jax was saying here on the replay. It took away from the interview.
-They threw to a video package on Asuka’s history in NXT. It said she arrived on Oct. 7, 2015, and 860 days later, she has 240 straight wins and zero losses against 34 different opponents across 4 continents in 11 countries, 8 of whom were former champions whom she forced into submission. She held the NXT Title for 523 days, which is the 7th longest reign of all time and the longest of the modern era. They compared her to The Rock, Randy Orton, Ric Flair, and Roman Reigns for being a sole survivor at the Survivor Series and a Royal Rumble winner. She went through 29 women, 15 of whom were former women’s champions, to win the Rumble. A bunch of superlatives were said by the narrator and shown on the screen. “The numbers speak for themselves,” she concluded.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was a really creative, effective, novel way to present Asuka as a big star. I love the stats presented in a fashion similar to the by-the-numbers Royal Rumble video they’ve aired in recent years.)
-Renee Young interviewed Titus O’Neal, Apollo Crews, and Dana Brooke backstage. Titus took the mic and asked Renee to take a Titus Worldwide vacation. She happily left. Titus asked Crews if he’s there to be deleted. Crews said he’s there to make history. He asked Crews if he’s scared of the Eater of Worlds. Crews said he’s extinguished his fire. Dana said, “Crews Can’t Lose!” Titus got really, really excited and said that should be a t-shirt for babies, kids, men, ladies. Crews said he loves the way they think, so he’ll take one small step for Crews and one giant leap for Titus Worldwide. They sang “Crews can’t lose!” together.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was endearing. Maybe a bit obnoxious, but mostly endearing. If they’re going to have Titus Worldwide around as an act, they might as well play it up as a marketing enterprise in search of the next big thing.)
-Backstage Mickie James asked Alexa Bliss why she ran down and acted as her savior last week against Absolution and why are they teaming up tonight. Bliss said she asked Angle for the match because she’s tired of the newbies thinking they are running Raw now, but mostly she wanted to clear the air between them. Bliss said a couple months ago she said some things she regrets. Mickie reminded her what those insults were making fun of her age. Bliss looked ashamed and said she said those things because she’s jealous. “You’re a six-time champion and you look amazing,” she said. She said she can’t believe how she can balance both being a mother and a WWE Superstar. Mickie asked what she wants. Bliss was a little upset and said, “Wow. That was me apologizing. I was the one who brought you back to WWE. But that’s fine.” She said if Absolution works together win the EC, they’re all screwed. She said if they win the Women’s Title, they’ll play keep-away with the title and just defend against each other. Mickie said it was sweet of her to come to her defense last week, so she’ll team with her this week, but she’s coming after her title. She said she can play nice all she wants, but she is buttering the wrong biscuit.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was good. Well-acted, believably worded, and authentic sounding overall.)
(4) MANDY ROSE & SONYA DEVILLE (w/Paige) vs. MICKIE JAMES & ALEXA BLISS
The announcers talked about which wrestlers in this match have had WrestleMania Moments and which wrestlers hadn’t, and how that motivated each of them. A few minutes in, Mickie gave Mandy a neckbreaker. Both were slow to get up. When Mickie reached toward Bliss for a tag, Deville ran over and yanked Bliss off the ring apron. Mandy then gave her Bed of Roses faceplant for the win. After the match, the two heels attacked Mickie. Bliss made the save.
WINNERS: Absolution in 4:00.
-Cole hyped that Elias would be coming out to debut a new song, the Elimination Chamber Blues. [c]
-A commercial for Smackdown hyped Dolph Ziggler’s return.
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-Elias sat mid ring and played guitar for a half minute. He was satisfied with himself afterward. He asked them if they want to Walk with Elias. He told San Jose their response was pathetic. He said the best thing about the city is it’s an hour away from a real city like San Francisco. “Oh, who am I kidding? Every city in California is a toxic dump.” He said he beat John Cena and Braun Strowman at the same time in the same match, which makes him the odds-on favorite to win the Chamber, and then he’ll go on to WrestleMania. He said WWE stands for “Walk With Elias.” The crowd said it loudly. He asked again. They said it louder. He said he likes the sound of that. He asked fans to hold their applause and shut their mouths as he debuts his new song.
“Six men enter, but really only one wins.” He stopped because the crowd was too loud. He said he won’t sing if they’re going to be that way. Cheers. He said his vocal cords are warmed up and he’s sounding really good, so he’s going to sing anyway. “Six men enter, but only one really leaves. It ain’t going to be the Big Dog because nobody believes. As for The Miz, he should stick to Miz TV. Remember those songs I wrote Miz, those weren’t for you, those were for Maryse. I smashed John Cena with a guitar, the only thing John can’t see is that the future is right here. Then we’ve got Braun Strowman, I’m going to douse your dreams in gasoline and watch them go up in flames.” The ring announcer then introduced Braun. Fans cheered. Elias looked worried.
Braun sat on the stage with a mic in front of him. He picked up a double bass cello. He played it like a guitar and broke it. “Elias thinks he’s going to win, but we all know that ain’t true. You look at me, boy, when you’re singing because I’m not finished with you. You may know it, you may not realize, but when this song’s over, you’re gonna get these hands.” He said he broke the strings and can’t pay this thing anymore, so there’s only one thing left he can do with it. He carried it like a nap sack toward the ring. Elias got up and held his guitar defensively. Braun entered the ring, but Elias attacked him instantly. He grabbed his guitar and swung, but Braun caught him by the throat and slapped him down hard. He lifted Elias and gave him a running powerslam. As Elias crawled up the ramp, Braun smashed a bass cello over his back. Cole freaked out.
(Kellers Analysis: Who had “bass cello” as what Braun would be smashing this week? If so, you win the pot. I’m curious if this promo is WWE deciding that as a babyface, his personality will benefit if it’s more expansive than grunts and cage man speak. Does it undercut his mystique or give WWE more to work with?)
-Selfie Video Time: Finn Balor said: “Matt Hardy wants to delete me, Bray Wyatt wants to eat me, Apollo Crews wants to prove that Crews Can’t Lose, and Seth Rollins wants to be The Man.” He said he doesn’t care what any of them want, he just wants to make the most of his second chance and win the Chamber match. He said then he’ll be one step closer to getting what he wants and never lost – the Universal Championship.
(5) SHEAMUS (w/Cesaro) vs. ROMAN REIGNS
Cole said when Sheamus’s career is over, he’ll be looked back on as one of the most underrated Superstars. He talked about his accomplishments. Reigns clotheslines Sheamus to the floor. A minute later he clotheslined Sheamus over the top rope again. Graves struggled to say “WWE.” Coach asked if he was wearing a mouthpiece. Graves laughed and said he just couldn’t speak. Reigns grew impatient, then threw Sheamus into the barricade at ringside. When Reigns looked at Cesaro, Cesaro backed off. Sheamus then surprised Reigns with a rolling senton. [c]
Sheamus had Reigns in a keylock mid-ring. The crowd chanted “Rusev Day!” Sheamus yelled, “Respect the hawk!” to try to get fans back into this match. Sheamus transitioned to a Boston crab. Reigns eventually shifted himself free. Reigns gave Sheamus a Samoan Drop and scored a two count. When Reigns went for a Superman Punch, Sheamus countered with a White Noise for a two count. Reigns countered a Brogue Kick with a Superman Punch for a near fall. Reigns let out a yell and charged, but ate a knee to the skull. Reigns caught a charging Sheamus and gave him a sitout powerbomb for a near fall. Graves said he thought Sheamus was attempting a huracanrana or something unusual for him. A “Let’s Go Roman”! chant started with the usual demo. Reigns looked toward the fans. Cesaro stood on the ring apron. Sheamus rolled up a distracted Reigns for a near fall. Sheamus then hit a high knee and scored another near fall. Sheamus yelled “No!” Cole wondered what Sheamus had to do to win. Coach said he thought four or five times this was over.
At ringside, Reigns backdropped a charging Cesaro. He then gave him a Superman Punch. Sheamus went after Reigns at ringside. Reigns reverse-whipped Sheamus into the ringpost. When he went for the Drive-By, Sheamus clotheslined him. When Sheamus leaped off the top rope, Reigns speared Sheamus out of mid-air for the win. That looked a little awkward. Graves said Reigns might have KO’d himself delivering the blow. Reigns shook out his right shoulder a bit afterward.
WINNER: Reigns in 14:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match.)
-Cole threw to a video package on Ivory being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. It acknowledged her background in GLOW. It highlighted her intensity and moxy. Molly Holly was shown saying that Ivory “did the prudish character better than anybody on the planet.” Xavier complimented her as being perfect for that role. The narrator said her top rivalry might have been against Chyna.
-Cole called her a trailblazer. He said ESPN-W broke the story. [c]
-They hyped Ronda Rousey signing her contract at Elimination Chamber.
-Ring entrance took place for Bray, Hardy, Crews, Seth, and Balor. [c]
(6) FINN BALOR vs. SETH ROLLINS vs. MATT HARDY vs. APOLLO CREWS vs. BRAY WYATT
They joined the match in progress with everyone battling on the ring apron or ringside. Crews kipped up and yelled after a move against Seth. Balor kicked him off the ring apron seconds later. When everyone set up a big move in the corner off the top rope, Bray broke it up. They cut to a break. [c]
Hardy rallied after the break and got the crowd going. He hit a Side Effect on Bray and then yelled “Delete!” The crowd joined in. He set up a Twist of Fate, but Seth broke it up.
Seth rallied next with a series of moves including dives through the ropes onto several wrestlers. He gave Crews a Falcon Arrow for a near fall. Bray took Seth down with a clothesline. Seth did a flip bump. Bray scored a two count. Both were slow to get up. Balor returned to the ring and went after Wyatt. He set up his double stomp off the top rope, but Seth met him up there and set up a superplex. Balor tried to block it. Seth shifted to a Phoenix Splash attempt, but Bray moved and set up a Sister Abigail. Hardy intervened with a Twist of Fate on Bray for a two count, broke up with a Coup de Grace on Hardy. Seth then delivered a curb stomp onto Balor. Crews broke up Seth’s subsequent cover. Seth and Crews were the first up and Crews got a couple near falls on Seth. He climbed to the top rope. Coach said Crews has to learn how to win at this big-time level. Hardy interrupted Crews’s momentum. He set up a Side Effect off the ropes from the ring apron side. Bray yanked Hardy down and gave him Sister Abigail on the floor. Bray entered the ring and went after Crews. Balor and Seth gave a double powerbomb to Bray and Crews. They both pinned Bray. The announcers wondered who won. Graves said they both won. The ref was trying to figure things out as the show went off the air.
WINNERS: Seth and Balor in 17:00.
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