KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MAY 28, 2018
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Jonathan Coachman, Corey Graves
NOTE: Also check out Zack Heydorn’s coverage of Raw with his alternative report here: HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 5/28: Alt Perspective coverage of the live show including Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal for the IC title, women’s last chance gauntlet match, and more
-A touching video aired on Memorial Day and what it means and the sacrifices made and the families still mourning.
-Cole introduced the show as Braun Strowman made his ring entrance. Coach hyped Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal for the IC Title and a Last Chance Gauntlet Match with seven women fighting for the last MITB ladder match slot. Cole said Daniel Bryan will face Samoa Joe tomorrow night to determine the final MITB ladder match slot for the men.
Strowman stood mid-ring and looked at the two briefcases hanging above the ring. Fans chanted “Get These Hands!” Strowman wore a t-shirt with those words on it. He said he is motivated to win the MITB because it gives him an opportunity to win the Universal Title in any arena in any city in the world at any time. He said he’ll be known not just as Mr. Money in the Bank, but also Mr. Monster in the Bank. He asked who is going to stop him. He listed everyone else in the match and said none of them will defeat him. He said Brock Lesnar is going to “get these hands!” Suddenly Finn Balor’s music played.
Balor walked onto the stage. He told Braun that he’s getting ahead of himself. He said he was the first Universal Champion and it eats away at him that he never regained it. He said he’s going to climb one of those ladders and take back what is his. He entered the ring and walked up to Braun. He said last week they went one-on-one and he gave him everything he has, but at Money in the Bank, there will be six others in the ring and it’ll be every man for himself. Braun said, “You put up a really good fight for a little guy.” Fans laughed. Balor smiled and laughed, then slapped Braun. Braun picked up Balor and threw him across the ring. He tumbled to the floor. Kurt Angle’s music played.
Angle said he saw intensity out there, “one of my favorite I’s.” He said last week’s match was incredible between Braun and Balor, so he asked the crowd if they’d like to see it “right now.” Cheers. Angle called for a referee. The match was on. Coach said his “Word of the Hour” is “statement.” He said Angle made a big statement, and Balor did too with his slap. Graves said it was the dumbest decision of Balor’s career.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good opening segment. Crowd was into it. I like Balor referencing his Universal Title history. Braun is really in a groove with his character.) [c]
(1) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. FINN BALOR
Kevin Owens was on commentary. They showed Bobby Roode watching backstage. Owens said that’s the safest place for him because he doesn’t want to be near him and ladders. Owens bragged up how he qualified, noting he put on a five-star performance against Seth Rollins, whom he said cheated to beat him, and then he made things right when he qualified by beating Elias and Bobby Lashley. Cole said Stephanie McMahon gave him a second chance after he called her and called in a favor. Owens asked Cole if he has friends because friends call each other and help each other our. Owens said he is walking out with the MITB contract this year and taking his Universal Title back. He said he’s a prize fighter and he’s been without a price for far too long. When Cole’s voice cracked, Owens asked if he’s hit puberty yet. Braun tossed Balor around the ring for several minutes with his power. Graves said Balor won’t be 100 percent at MITB after facing Braun two weeks in a row. Owens asked if they’re wearing Braun t-shirts. Coach said Braun will have to speed up the pace of his game at MITB. Braun gave Balor a nasty thrust kick to the torso that sent Balor down hard. Owens got on the house mic and started antagonistically cheerleading Braun. He said he can do better. They cut to a break. [c]
Braun checked Balor into the air and over the barricade into the crowd. Cool spot. Braun then retrieved Balor and carried him over the barricade and back to ringside. Balor slipped free and shoved Strowman into the ringpost. Owens said that’s a smart move, “something I would do.” Balor punched away at Braun and dropkicked him over the top rope to the floor. He dropkicked him through the ropes. Owens antagonistically encouraged Balor, saying Braun embarrassed him last week, so he needs to stay on him and show how extraordinary he is. Balor stopped to listen, but paid a price since Braun grabbed him by his throat. Balor up-kicked him and then flip-dove onto Braun at ringside. Owens said he inspires and brings out the best in people. Balor landed a sling blade on Braun and eventually climbed to the top rope and double-stomped Braun across his back. He then landed the Coup de Grace. He went for a second one, but Owens knocked him off the top rope. The ref called for the bell as Cole said, “What the hell is doing?” Coach said they might have been on the verge of a huge upset, but they’ll never know.
WINNER: Balor via DQ in 16:00 when Owens interfered.
-After the match, the crowd booed as Owens jammed a ladder into Balor’s abdomen. He slid the ladder into the ring and went after Braun, but Braun grabbed it and shoved Owens down with it. Then he threw the ladder at Owens on the ramp. Owens fled like prey running a powerful predator in the wild. Braun’s music played as the announcers hyped the MITB match. Cole said Braun showed why he calls himself Monster in the Bank.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really well executed match. Everyone played their role well and played to their strengths so the match was believable and helped both wrestlers. Owens was tremendous on commentary, one of his better performances in any context in WWE in a while.)
-The announcers commented on clips of the Jinder Mahal-Seth Rollins angles. [c]
-Backstage Owens tried to get keys his car, but the valet needed to see his ticket. Owens freaked out and told him he just needs the keys. Angle told Owens he’s not going anywhere. He said he has a match tonight because Roode didn’t appreciate what he had to say about him earlier. He told him to go get dressed. Owens returned to the arena and let out a “gawww!” in frustration.
-A selfie promo aired with Sasha Banks who said the way she sees it, the MITB briefcase has her name written all over it. She said she doesn’t need luck because she’s The Boss.
(Keller’s Analysis: The wording and delivery were all very practiced sounding and the selfie style recording of it was just awkward and distracting.)
-Elias sat mid-ring and called for silence. He told the “Southern fans” they’d need to really concentrate to keep up with him. He asked for the lights to be lowered so he didn’t see more of the disgusting audience. He threatened that without complete silence, he’d leave. The fans cheered and they cut to a break. [c]
-Elias remained in the ring and still tried to get the crowd to be quiet. Fans yelled “Leave! Leave! Leave!” Seth Rollins’s music interrupted. Cole said Seth is Raw’s “hottest Superstar.” Graves agreed. Cole wished him a happy birthday. Seth entered the ring and Elias stared at him. Fans yelled “Leave! Leave! Leave!” again. Elias left as Seth prepared for Jinder Mahal’s ring entrance.
(Keller’s Analysis: Elias took out the “Walk With Elias” audience chant-along, and was nastier and less tongue-in-cheek than usual, seemingly shifting his character to a definitive heel instead of a “fun act.”)
(2) SETH ROLLINS vs. JINDER MAHAL (w/Sunil Singh) – Intercontinental Title match
Sunil introduced Jinder, who came out to boos. Jinder dominated early and they took an early break with Seth writhing in pain at ringside. [c]
Seth eventually made a comeback, but a Sunil distraction gave Jinder time to recover. The ref left the ring and booted Sunil to the back. Jinder then jabbed Seth in the gut with a chair and rolled up Seth. The ref returned and counted to two for a believable near fall. Fans chanted “Let’s Go Rollins!” Seth countered Jinder with a back elbow and step-up enzuigiri. Singh returned to ringside. Seth yanked him into the ring and fended him off and gave him a buckle bomb into Mahal. Singh fell to the floor and Jinder and Seth were both down in the ring. Seth grabbed a chair at ringside and bashed Jinder with it. The ref immediately called for a DQ. Cole said, “You can’t blame Seth Rollins for that.” Graves said he doesn’t agree with Seth’s decision and he thinks he’s trying to save his IC Title. Cole said Seth just had enough. Coach said if not for Singh, it appeared Jinder had the match won. Graves said they’ll never know.
WINNER: Jinder via DQ in 12:00 so Seth retained the IC Title.
-Seth bashed Singh with a chair and then chased off Jinder. As Seth stood on the announce table to celebrate, Elias came up behind him and shattered a guitar across his back. Seth tumbled to the floor below in a big bump. [c]
-After a replay, they showed Seth being stretchered. Seth asked for the medics to just give him a minute. He sat up and said, “Just give me a minute.” He writhed in pain and stood with help from producers Jamie Noble and Adam Pearce. He walked out under his own power.
(Keller’s Analysis: Jinder is doing better on Raw than Smackdown, and quality of opposition and just a fresh situation, plus not being over-pushed as World Champion out of nowhere all helps.)
-As Nia Jax walked out for her match, Ronda Rousey interrupted, smiling and waving to the fans as her music played. Coach said Jax doesn’t seem pleased she didn’t get her full entrance. Graves called them “mind games.” Rousey sat at the announce desk. Jax said she’s glad she walked out to witness this exhibition because she’s going to show Rousey what she’s going to do to her at MITB. She asked Michelle Webb, her scheduled opponent, to put an armbar on her. Jax lifted Webb and smiled and then fiercely powerbombed her to escape. Coach told Rousey she’s never been in the ring with someone Jax’s size. Rousey shrugged and said it doesn’t bother her because she’s capable of anything. Jax said she’s not done with Webb yet. Jax gave Webb a Samoan Drop next. Jax said she could easily get a 1-2-3, but she’s not done yet. She delivered a running legdrop. Rousey smiled and seemed unimpressed. Jax said Webb isn’t getting up, even with a count of ten, twenty, or forty. She asked Rousey if she’s ever faced something like that in UFC. Jax told Rousey her leg can literally crush a woman’s chest. Next Jax gave Webb a rolling senton. Rousey kept watching without a flinch.
Jax said Webb needs help, so she invited Rousey to come to the ring. Rousey said, “She can’t be serious.” Jax told the ref to back away so she could help Webb. Rousey took off the headset. “Give the people what they want, Ronda,” Jax said. Ronda walked to the ring. Coach said he’s never seen Jax so confident. When fans chanted Ronda’s name, Jax told them to shut up because she knows her name. Rousey circled Jax. “Oh, this is the intimidating look I’ve heard so much about,” Jax said. “Oh, this is good.” She approached Rousey and said she’s not so intimidated. She said she finds it humorous and laughed in Rousey’s face. “You’re cute!” she said. She dropped the mic and left the ring. Rousey looked a little taken aback. Jax smiled and returned to the back.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was really good. That was Jax’s best, most confident performance on the mic. Rousey was also at her best, striking just the right body language and facial expressions. This segment made the match feel like a bigger deal, and elevated Jax to looking like she belonged in the ring with Rousey. With Jax showing a little sass, it gave her an edge she needs to seem like she’s more than a stepping stone.)
-Dana Brooke said Sasha isn’t kidding when she said you need luck to win a Gauntlet Match. She pointed at the white board and pointed at math equations. She said she’s the person to figure out all of the variables to know what’s needed.
-Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt made their ring entrance. Coach said they seem to be ending up on the same page, which is disturbing. Cole said they’re already tag champs, so they’re on the same page, and they are the strongest tag team he’s seen. Cole said Matt has some sort of weird spell cast on Bray. Coach said he thinks he’s watching “Stranger Things.” Cole said they’re watching Monday Night Raw. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Vince McMahon was irritated by Coach saying this team reminded him of a show he’s probably never heard of, prompting Cole to say what he said.) Graves quoted the show and Coach didn’t respond. Graves explained it was a line from the show. Coach laughed and said he didn’t say he’s ever actually watched the show. [c]
(3) MATT HARDY & BRAY WYATT vs. THE ASCENSION
Ascension got in early offense against Matt until he hot-tagged Bray. Bray and Hardy finished Viktor with the Kiss of Deletion.
WINNERS: Hardy & Wyatt in 5:00.
-Backstage they showed Angle watching the match. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel laughed at it and said their celebration was “amateur hour.” Curtis said they want a Raw Tag Team Title match. He said they’re undefeated and want Matt & Bray. Angle said defeating the same tag team two weeks in a row doesn’t qualify them for a title shot. He asked what the other teams will think if he lets them leapfrog over them. Bo said what Angle’s saying is he needs the blessing of the other teams. Angle said that’s not it at all. Bo asked Curtis if he’s thinking what’s thinking. Curtis nodded and smiled, but then admitted he tuned Bo out because “Angle boned us from a tag team title match.” Bo said they need to give the other teams an invitation to their Memorial Day Tag Team BBQ. Curtis was all over it. Angle said, “I’m not saying that at all.”
(Keller’s Analysis: I continue to get a kick out of B-Team. Curtis and Bo have a fun chemistry. Angle, in general and specifically here, is coming across more sure-footed than he has since his return to WWE. Being the one outsmarting others instead of being a dope helps in that regard. He played the straight-man here really well, realizing what would make the segment work is being chill and letting Bo & Curtis do their thing.)
-A selfie promo aired with the Riott Squad talking about the MITB qualifier gauntlet match. Ruby said one way or another, the final MITB slot belongs to the Riott Squad.
(4) BOBBY ROODE vs. KEVIN OWENS
Roode made his ring entrance first. Cole again promoted the Bryan-Joe match on Smackdown tomorrow night. Then Owens walked out, but he looked spooked that Braun could be right behind him. The announcers talked about the men’s MITB ladder match. Owens landed a cannonball against Roode at ringside about three minutes in and they cut to a break. [c]
Owens knocked Roode off the top rope as Cole reset the show saying Raw is live, so either the NBA or NHL game likely went to a break as it had the vibe of the Monday Night War when Nitro would go to a break and the Raw announcers knew it and reset the show (or vice-versa). Owens had enough when Roode rallied, but as he walked up the ramp, Owens figured that Braun was back there, so he stopped. Roode caught up with him and threw him into the ring. Owens surprised Roode with a kick and scored a near fall in the ring. Both were slow to get up. A minute later Owens went for his Pop-Up Powerbomb, but Roode countered and went for a sunset flip, but Owens sat down on it and scored the three count.
WINNER: Owens in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good clean win for Owens, especially if they’re building to an Owens vs. Braun feud. Roode showed more energy here than usual en route to the pinfall loss.)
-As Owens celebrated, Braun walked out to his music. Owens ran away, but Braun caught up to him, with help from Roode blocking his path. Braun then gave Owens a running powerslam as Roode cheered him on. Roode drew so much attention to himself, you knew something was up. Braun gave Owens another powerslam and Roode continued to cheer. Braun turned and grabbed Roode by his throat and then powerslammed him. Cole said at MITB, it will be every man for himself. Cole: “How can you bet against Strowman? You can’t!”
-Graves plugged that Sami Zayn would be issuing a formal apology to Bobby Lashley next. [c]
POST-SHOW: After WWE Raw ends, call us live on the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Post-show to talk about it with host Wade Keller and this week’s cohost Cameron Hawkins from the PWTorch East Coast Cast and the PWTorch VIP Podcast “You, Me, and Wrestling.” The caller number is: (347) 215-8558.
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-Sami came out to his music. Cole said there was nothing funny about what he did last week. Graves said he thought it was funny. Coach said he thinks everyone knows what Sami was trying to do, but it didn’t come across the way he wanted, so he’s interested in hearing what he has to say. Sami said he wanted to get serious because last week didn’t go as he hoped. He said, in retrospect, he went too far and WWE management has been very gracious in giving him a chance to issue a formal public apology. He read a statement which said some found his segment last week to be insensitive, inappropriate, and in poor taste. He said some called it “brutal and cringe-worthy.” He said one young fan said he was embarrassed to be a fan of Sami. He said he was bombarded with text messages and emails. He said he was DM’d by a 30 year old man from Syracuse who was evicted by his parents said he should be ashamed of himself.
He said last week he did something he promised he’d never do – “I lied to you.” He said those were not Lashley’s real sisters. “In fact, they were men,” he said. He admitted he hired them to have a little fun at Lashley’s expense and his goal was to entertain, but not provoke. He apologized to Lashley’s family, WWE management, and the fans. There were some “what” chants along the way, but they dissipated.
After saying he was sorry, he changed his tone and said, breaking from his notes, that everything he said last week was true. He said like all good art, what he said about Lashley was rooted in reality. He said he didn’t expect fans to get it. He said history will look back at last week’s interview segment very favorably. He said there is no doubt in his mind that he is doing the right thing. He said he is trying to speak the truth and he’s exposing Lashley for being a liar, “yet I’m the one who is catching flack.” He said the fans should feel sorry for him. He said they should all be apologizing to him because he deserves better. He said he should be in the MITB ladder match or facing Seth for the IC Title instead of standing in front of this repulsive crowd in Richmond, Va. issuing an apology. Out came Lashley in street clothes. He played to the crowd, which didn’t really respond. Graves said Sami was put through mental anguish this past week.
Lashley said today is a special day for families like his. He said to anyone who has served in the military or has family who has, “I salute you and I thank you.” The fans cheered. Cole said Lashley served as did members of his family. Lashley turned to Sami and said his sisters thought he was kind of entertaining even though he never contacted them. He said all of that stuff gets old really fast, and he can see that they have an issue. He said maybe they should settle it like men in the ring. He offered him a match at MITB. He extended his hand. Sami leaned on the top rope and didn’t accept at first. Lashley told him to do the right thing and back up the trash talk. Sami had some words off mic and then agreed. He said at MITB he’ll Helluva kick that smile right off his face. Lashley squeezed his hand and didn’t release. Sami tried to pull his hand free, then cried out in pain and dropped to the mat. Lashley said he has an apology of his own. He said he’s sorry for everything he’ll do to him at MITB. Then he let go as Lashley’s music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: Lashley was good here. Actually, so was Sami. Both hit the right tone. This helped clean up the mess from last week. Lashley brushing it off rather than being upset by it a week later made him seem like a grown-up who saw someone acting like a child last week, unworthy of anything other than calculated revenge in a match at MITB.)
-A selfie soundbite aired with Mickie James saying she has her eye on the prize. She said it’ll take more than friends, luck, and guts. She said she’s no six-time women’s champion by accident. She said she knows how to seize an opportunity.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was the best of the scripted selfie-promos tonight.)
-Drew McIntyre made his ring entrance with Dolph Ziggler. [c]
-A montage aired of WWE wrestlers visiting injured troops including John Cena, Trish Stratus, Randy Orton, Titus O’Neal, Chris Jericho, Baron Corbin, Roman Reigns, and New Day.
-A commercial aired hyping 205 Live with a little backstory for the Cedric Alexander vs. Buddy Murphy match for the Cruiserweight Title tomorrow night.
(5) DREW MCINTYRE (w/Dolph Ziggler) vs. CHAD GABLE
Coach said his one word for this hour is “capture.” Cole hyped that they’d be in Houston for Raw next week. Drew dominated early with methodical moves including hard chops and some trash-talking and then a slap in the corner. Gable fought back in the corner, but the ref scolded him for pursuing Drew in the corner against the ropes. That gave Drew a chance to give him a boot and then dominate some more. Graves said he’s not sure if there’s anyone in the back Drew can’t physically dominate. Coach said he loves when an athlete recognizes his weaknesses, leaves and fixes them, and comes back better than ever. Graves said Drew isn’t just better, he might be better than anyone else on the roster. Coach said one step at a time. Drew lifted Gable onto his shoulders and climbed the ropes. Gable shoved him off and landed a moonsault for a near fall. Drew threw Gable out of the ring. When Drew went after him, Gable fought back, but eventually Drew caught him and threw him into the ringpost. Ziggler celebrated with Drew at ringside. Back in the ring, Drew then hit the Claymore Kick for the win.
WINNER: McIntyre in 4:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good strong win for Drew, and while Gable is capable of being more than this, he’s really good in this role making wrestlers on the rise look like a million bucks.) [c]
-They announced Lashley vs. Sami was official for MITB now.
-B-Team BBQ: The Ascension, Breezango, Heath Slater & Rhyno, and The Revival showed up for the B-Team BBQ. Bo and Curtis talked about the food they brought – baked beans, bratwurst, baloney sandwiches, and bo-dogs. He told them to “dig in and have some.” Rhyno grabbed the whole tray of baloney sandwiches. Bo and Curtis then said they wanted everyone’s approval that they’d be next in line for the Raw Tag Team Titles. Titus caught on what this was all about, calling it a “bootleg basement barbecue.” Titus was upset there were no ribs or macaroni & cheese. He said none of the food was even seasoned. He said they don’t get to cut in line. Slater said this is a feast; he said in West Virginia it’d be Thanksgiving. The announcers laughed and snortled so viewers knew this was hilarious. When the wrestlers were unappreciative, they tried to take their food back. Titus dumped the baked beans on Bo. Fandango put the B0-tatoe salad over Curtis’s head. A full on food fight broke out. Bo and Curtis slammed Rhyno through a table of food in the ring to end the segment. Coach said this BBQ didn’t accomplish what they wanted, though, since they didn’t convince anyone to let them leapfrog them to a tag title shot. Cole called it one of the saddest things he’s ever seen. [c]
-Bayley came out first. She talked about each of her opponents, responding to their promos. She focused on Sasha at the end and said the name written on the contract reads Bayley, not Sasha Banks.
(6) GAUNTLET MATCH FOR FINAL WOMEN’S MITB SLOT
Bayley pinned Liv Morgan just seconds after Liv entered the ring with a Bayley-t0-Belly. Sarah Logan came out next. They showed Ember Moon watching in the back. Bayley also pinned Logan a minute later. Logan and Morgan double-teamed Bayley. Then Ruby came out with Bayley in trouble in the ring. They cut to a break. [c]
They showed Alexa Bliss watching in the back. Riott eventually finished Bayley with her Riott Kick. Dana Brooke came out next. Riott won with a Riott Kick after a couple minutes. Then out came Mickie James. They cut to another break during Mickie vs. Riott. [c]
Riott eventually countered a DDT attempt by Mickie with a schoolgirl and a yank of the tights to win. Out came Banks.
They showed Natalya watching backstage. Sasha landed a powerbomb for a near fall and then applied the Bank Statement, but Morgan and Logan interfered. Riott then schoolgirled Banks and yanked on her tights, but Sasha powered out and applied the Bank Statement for the tapout win.
WINNER: Banks in 20:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Not sure if anyone was still watching with the NBA and NHL competition at the time of this main event. Curious to see ratings.)