KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
JULY 23, 2018
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Jonathan Coachman
Tonight after WWE Raw, join me live with guest cohost Zack Heydorn (his Raw report is available HERE) to break down the show with live callers, mailbag, and a live on-site correspondent from Buffalo.
-They opened with a shot of the stage filled with the “entire locker room” of talent for what Cole described as “an” historic announcement. Vince McMahon was already standing in the ring. He got an ovation. He welcomed everyone to Raw. He also called it “an” historic announcement. He introduced Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. They walked through the gathering of wrestlers. Stephanie shook Kurt Angle’s hand and Triple H smiled and greeted him. Stephanie entered the ring and said it’s a rare opportunity to make history like they are about to tonight “and create moments and memories that some of us will remember for the rest of our lives.” Triple H said he’d like to acknowledge the WWE Superstars, not just from Raw standing on the stage, but also Smackdown, 205 Live, NXT, and NXT UK. He said every single Superstar in history who has stepped into the ring “with a desire to entertain the world” (or, you know, try to win matches) is part of this. He said nights like this happen because of them. “Your dedication, passion, sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears make it all possible.” He said they don’t do it alone, it’s a giant team. He talked about “the bond that is created when you put the ultimate trust in someone else’s hands.” He said he’s never seen a stronger bond than today with this group. They went to a shot of the wrestlers on the stage. Almost everyone clapped except Roman Reigns in the camera view. Triple H asked the women to step forward on the stage.
They looked around at each other excitedly. He revealed that the men who stand behind them truly support them. He said the fans show them support every single night. Nikki Cross was delightfully crazy in her responses to what Triple H was saying. He listed all of the hard work and big steps the women have taken in recent years. “We have stood in awe of each of you,” he said. “Some of us with a tear in our eye as you have stolen the show again and again.” Triple H’s voice cracked. Fans applauded. He said they are so proud of them. Stephanie’s voice cracked as she said these moments happen because the fans deem it important. She said it happens because they deem it important as part of what they love. She said they demanded more opportunities for the women, and they started the #GiveDivasAChance hashtag that opened doors for women that some had only dreamed of. “Because of you, 30 seconds matches became main events, and because of you, Divas became the Superstars they were born to be,” she said. She said they can provide the platform that shows women can do and be anything they want to be. She said they have another first-ever announcement to make. She said on Oct. 28, over 50 women – then, now, and forever – will participate in an event called Evolution, which is the first-ever all-women’s pay-per-view. The women were all smiles and applauded and hugged each other.
(Keller’s Analysis: I think this is a good move. I think there will be WWE Network subscription growth because of this. Whether it’s 5,000 or 50,000, I have no idea. This segment, though, went over eight minutes, which was really pushing it. I get wanting to make a big deal out of a positive decision for the women in WWE that many fans will rightfully be excited about. It got a little sappy, though, and began to cross over into Triple H, Steph, and Vince putting themselves over. When you consider what the actual impetus was for #GiveDivasAChance, it’s a little rich of Stephanie and a bit difficult to fully embrace Stephanie being the main spokesperson here. Ultimately the teaser all day of a big announcement probably helped build the initial viewership of Raw, and the lengthy and memorable announcement frames it as a bigger deal than if it was announced in a less bombastic way, so ultimately in a pragmatic sense it worked just fine. I wonder how many wrestlers on the stage were thinking it’d be better if WWE followed up all that praise for the talent with an announcement of employee status, medical insurance, and pension for all wrestlers like the announcers, writers, producers, and office staff get. Or perhaps a profit sharing plan of some sort so they can all take part in rolling around in all the cash WWE is getting from the next TV deals with NBCUniversal and Fox.)
-They went to the announcers on the stage. Cole said the event will take place on a Sunday night in Uniondale, N.Y. at Nassau Coliseum with all singles women’s titles on the line along with the finals of the Mae Young Tournament. Cole then hyped the WWE Raw Tag Team Title rematch was up next.
-A brief vignette aired with Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt saying “Cincinnati!” and blowing out the lantern. [c]
-Backstage B-Team prepped for their match. Curtis Axel told Bo Dallas how excited he was for the all-women’s PPV. He then told Bo they had to stay focused. Bo said the run they’ve been on the last few weeks has been a dream. He said they couldn’t even win a match ten weeks ago. Curtis said they were pretty rotten, but there is no one he’d rather be a team with other than Bo. Curtis said, “B stands for Brothers.” Bo said, “A brother I never had. Let’s go out there and show them that B stands for Best.” They almost forgot their tag title belts. They grabbed ’em and shouting B-Team.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m continuing to enjoy most everything about B-Team’s run. They’re endearing and adorable, and fortunately good enough in the ring as workers to justify this underdog push.)
-They went to the ring where Elias sat mid-ring. Before he could play and sing, Matt & Bray’s entrance interrupted. An outraged Cole talked about how Elias’s new album dropped and it was already ranking on the iTunes charts. Coach said his word of the night is “historic.” Cole talked more about the all-women PPV event this October.
(1) THE B-TEAM (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) vs. BRAY WYATT & MATT HARDY – WWE Raw Tag Team Title match
Graves said Matt & Bray were disappointed in their performance against B-Team last time, so they immediately invoked their rematch clause. Cole asked if B-Team could stay on this amazing roll. Coach said B-Team have really taken off with fan support. Graves said that also applies to Hardy & Wyatt. Bray took Bo down hard early. Hey, brothers fight. Bray went into an early crab walk as Matt led the crowd in “Delete!” chants. B-Team bailed out to ringside to regroup. [c]
Back live, Curtis had Bray on the mat. They cut to The Revival backstage watching on a monitor scouting the match. Hardy gave Curtis a Side Effect for a two count, which Cole called as if it could be the end with a dramatic flare. He tried to get a Twist of Fate chant going, which didn’t work. But the “Delete” chant did start. he then delivered a Twist of Fate for a believable near fall, broken up by Bo. Bray went after Bo, but Bo threw Bray onto Matt which led to Curtis leveraging Matt’s shoulders down for a three count. “I don’t know if Curtis Axel even knows what just happened!” said Graves. Coach said that was a mix of skill and luck. Cole said he’d lean toward luck.
WINNERS: B-Team in 8:00.
-After the match Matt and Bray applauded B-Team for the win. They smiled, but then Matt attacked Bo and then Bray gave Sister Abigail to Curtis.
(Keller’s Analysis: So under traditional pro wrestling booking, that would mean Matt and Bray are now heels. In WWE these days, you never know. That move wasn’t condemned at all by the announcers. Cole just said Matt & Bray were upset. Coach said, “Lesson learned.” So if it’s a heel turn, the announcers did a terrible job framing it that way.)
-Cole plugged Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre. Coach plugged Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley in the main event for the Summerslam title match against Brock Lesnar. [c]
-They replayed Matt & Bray attacking B-Team. (Again, no judgment by the announcers. Just a matter-of-fact recap.)
-They showed O.A.R. in the front row, doing work for Connor’s Cure.
-Backstage Balor asked Chad Gable what he’s doing at Raw. Gable said he’s always ready and willing. Balor cut him off and asked if he heard about Stephanie’s news. Gable asked if he’s heard they’re bringing back any past Superstars. People began to walk by with Balor’s suitcase and ring gear. One of them said he’s been given strict orders to move his locker room. Balor asked by whom. He said Constable Corbin. The guy showed Balor to a kids playhouse. Corbin walked in and chuckled at his little gag. Corbin said after his big win at Extreme Rules, Balor is too big of a star to not have his own locker room, so this was appropriate for someone of his stature. Corbin said he’s a great Constable. He said he’s always wanted his own Finn’s Funhouse. Corbin was mad about Balor not selling it. Corbin told Balor to enjoy himself later against McIntyre. Balor sold it like he didn’t know and didn’t like it even though it had already been announced.
-Back to the announcers, they commented on what happened between Bayley and Sasha Banks last week at the end of their match. Then they showed a clip of Sasha saying she loves Bayley and always has, then storming off.
-Bayley and Sasha were all smiles backstage after watching that replay on the monitor. Charly Caruso asked them if they are ready to put their differences in the past and work as a team. Bayley said it’s obvious they have differences, but they now realize that it’s their differences that make them strong. Sasha said they are very different people, but two people with the same dream. She tearfully said that their dreams got bigger after Stephanie’s big announcement. Bayley said it was great last week to hear what her best friend thinks of her. Sasha said she’s sure Bayley feels the same way.
(Keller’s Analysis: Nobody stays this happen for long in pro wrestling.) [c]
-WWE Fact: WWE has more Facebook followers than the NBA, Jay-Z, Nike, ESPN, Kim Kardashian, and the NFL.
(2) SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY vs. SAMANTHA SIMON & KAREN LUNDY
Cole talked about Sasha and Bayley finally landing on the same page despite their differences. Graves said they’re just pretending to like each other to get people to stop talking about them. Cole said that might have been true a few weeks ago, but now they’ve realized how much they need each other. Graves said his brother forgot his birthday once and he hasn’t talked to him in 11 years. (A Bobby Heenan type of comment.) Sasha got a tapout win with the Bank Statement. Afterward, Bayley and Sasha raised each other’s arms. Sasha asked for and received a warm hug. They smiled and acted like two reunited friends who hadn’t seen each other in 20 years.
WINNER: Sasha & Bayley in under 90 seconds.
-They went back to the announcers who talked about Braun Strowman throwing Kevin Owens off the top of the ladder at Extreme Rules. Coach plugged that Strowman would be out next. [c]
-They showed Hulk Hogan slamming Andre the Giant as the clip associated with a sponsorship of the next Mission Impossible movie, the idea being Hogan’s mission was impossible.
-Elias sat on the stage to give it another try. He was interrupted by Strowman’s ring entrance. Cole said Elias’s album is already no. 16 on the iTunes chart. Strowman walked out with the Money in the Bank briefcase in hand. Graves said he appears to be in a good mood. He said it seems as if the WWE Universe is talking about two things tonight. He said “firstly” it’s about Stephanie’s announcement about the all-women’s PPV in October. He said he is happy for the women, especially his mixed match tag partner Alexa Bliss. He told some fans to calm down and seemed to break character briefly as he went into his normal voice. He said “secondly” the other issue people are talking about is Lashley vs. Reigns with big Summerslam stakes. He said the way he sees it, it doesn’t matter if it’s Lashley, Reigns, or Brock Lesnar because sooner or later, a monster is going to come calling because he has the MITB briefcase. He asked fans how he’ll look as the new Universal Champion. Cheers. He roared and threw his arms up. Suddenly Kevin Owens’ music played.
Owens came out and asked how Strowman can come out and act like nothing happened and move on to talking about the Universal Championship. Owens yelled “No. No. No! No!” He said when he tried to befriend him, that was out of the kindness of his heart and also because his ten year old son thought it’d be a good idea. He said his son dreamed of taking Nicolas’s place as tag champions with Braun.
Owens said Braun crushed his son’s dream. He said his son and now his little girl are scared just seeing him go down the staircase at home, looking at the pain on his face with every step he takes. He said he has a family to take care of and he tried to take away his ability to do that. He said now he’s going to take everything away from him. Braun yelled, “Why don’t you haul your ass down here and try!” Owens said he’d like that, but he won their cage match at Extreme Rules, so he has nothing left to prove. He said Braun has to prove his problems have only just begun.
Corbin walked out onto the stage. He said Stephanie has empowered him to personally handle this situation. He said what he did at Extreme Rules was technically legal in the confines of a cage match, “but morally reprehensible.” He said he has done everything in his power to help Superstars grow. “I tried to help Finn Balor grow, but we know he can only grow so much,” he chuckled. He tried to share a laugh with Owens, who no-sold it. Corbin turned back to the ring and said he has someone in mind who can help Braun control his temper. Out came Jinder Mahal. Graves said Mahal can teach Braun the principles of yoga and meditation. Cole wondered if Braun would have an open mind about this.
Jinder entered the ring and told Braun to find his nirvana and calm down because too many people have been hurt. He said he has been appointed to help him in his journey to find inner-peace. He tried to get him to chant something. Braun said it’s not working, and he appreciates what he’s trying to do because he knows he has a temper. He asked Sunil Singh to come over and promised not to bite. He asked them to close their eyes and breath deep. He asked the fans to do it, too. Braun joined in and took a deep breath with his arms extended. “Get these hands!” he said. Singh’s eyes bulged out as Braun repeated his mantra over and over. Fans joined in. He then kicked Jinder and then threw Singh into Jinder. Graves said it was uncalled for. Then he gave Singh a running powerlsam.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure why Braun is the babyface here, as was the case with how he treated Owens. This is where the announcers could help by pointing out how Jinder “has it coming” and expressing the idea that Jinder is insincere and even a hypocrite. Instead, he’s presented as someone with a good faith message of peace and serenity. Owens was really good in this segment, I don’t want to get him in trouble or anything, but I love that he didn’t sell even a tiny bit Corbin’s joke about Balor’s size.)
-Cole threw to a video recap of Stephanie’s announcement earlier. They showed Tweets from women wrestlers reacting including Charlotte. Graves plugged that Mickie James vs. Natalya was up next. [c]
-They aired a recap of the Alexa Bliss-Ronda Rousey angle last week and hyped their title match at Summerslam.
(3) MICKIE JAMES (w/Alexa Bliss) vs. NATALYA
Cole noted that Bliss called Rousey “a rookie” and told her to “take your best shot” on social media. Graves said Rousey technically is a rookie. With Natalya on a roll, Mickie kicked Natalya into the ropes and she tumbled awkwardly through the middle and lower rope and it looked like it could go wrong. Graves gasped. Natalya recovered and took out Bliss at ringside with a discus clothesline. When Natalya re-entered the ring, Mickie kicked her in the jaw and scored the pin.
WINNER: Mickie James in 4:00.
-WWE talked about their involvement at the ESPY’s. Cole said Roman Reigns accepted The Sports Humanitarian Leadership Award on behalf of WWE in an event that will air on ESPN tomorrow night.
-Caruso interviewed Reigns backstage about facing Lashley later. Boos when Reigns showed up on screen. She said the only time he’s wrestled Lashley, he lost, so what’s going to be different tonight. Reigns said tonight will be different because tonight will be his first win against Lashley. He said he is a workhorse and the most decorated Superstar of this generation. He said tonight the headlines will say Reigns beats Lashley and he’ll go on to Summerslam. “People can boo, they can hate, they talk about ‘Roman is being crammed down our throats.’ It’s simple. Learn to like it or close your mouth.” He said he’s going to win the Universal Title and whoop Brock Lesnar’s ass.
(Keller’s Analysis: The disconnect here is that Reigns is entering into evidence that he deserves his push because he has won so many titles and works so hard. While it’s true he works hard, he doesn’t work harder than dozens of other colleagues, yet he acts as if he’s special in that regard compared to the wrestlers so many adult male fans wish WWE spent their energy pushing as hard as Reigns in recent years. Plus, while Reigns enters into evidence all the titles he’s won, that’s among the top reasons adult male fans largely dislike him – because of all those title wins he was granted by Vince McMahon. It’s noteworthy he told people to either cheer him or shut their mouths, though. That’s pretty harsh. He basically told fans they’re not allowed to boo him anymore even if they don’t like him, and he has equated disagreeing with his push as “hate” which is ridiculous.)
-Elias sat on the stage ready to perform when the Authors of Pain interrupted. (It sure seems like the person in charge of starting ring entrance music isn’t a fan of Elias.) [c]
-Authors of Pain said they want a new challenge, anyone but Titus O’Neal and Apollo Crews. Titus, Apollo, and Dana Brooke came out. Titus said they’re powerful, but also young. He said he can teach them a lot. AOP asked what he can teach them, how to fall down. Titus said everyone falls down, but he got back up. Crews said ever since he linked up with Titus, he learned why he was named Father of the Year. He said he showed him what it means to be an asset to their community. He said they need to show him respect. He said Titus has been around a long time and seen a lot of so-called talent come and go, and he’s still around, so that means something. Crews said if AOP had half the class Titus does, they’d be champions and championship quality people as well. Akam said what Titus can do for them is walk away and retire. Titus said sometimes in life, in order to teach people a very valuable lesson, you have to – at which point he and Apollo attacked them and cleared the ring of them. Cole applauded Titus & Crews for standing up for themselves. AOP yelled at them from ringside. Graves said they’d rue the day they did this to AOP.
-In the parking garage, Angle said at first he was worried when he heard Stephanie was going to be at Raw, but after hearing her announcement, he’s really proud. He said nothing would make him more proud than to be the Raw general manager. He stumbled over his words, which made no sense, and then in walked Owens and Corbin. Stephanie asked Owens if he’s okay. Owens said life has been hard since Braun had this vendetta against him. He said Angle has allowed it to happen. Corbin agreed it was Angle’s fault. Owens said it was wrong and dangerous what Braun did to him at Extreme Rules. He said he wants a chance to take everything away from Braun. Angle asked if he wants to face Braun again. Owens said yes, but only if when he wins, he gets the MITB contract. He said it doesn’t matter how he loses – by DQ, countout, pinfall, submission – he gets the MITB contract. Angle called it absurd. Steph said she liked it and she granted Owens the match. Owens hugged Corbin. Steph then coughed and indicated Angle should open her limo door for her. Owens wished her a safe trip as she left BEFORE THE MAIN EVENT. What kind of leader does that, given what’s at stake in the main event?
(Keller’s Analysis: Man, Angle was at his most subservient there. He’s been emasculated many times, but that was right up there. The MITB twist does potentially take Braun out of the awkward position of being a babyface who cashes in when the champion is down and takes advantage of those circumstances, which doesn’t feel particularly honorable. That said, it adds the potential scenario of Owens being Universal Champion by the end of the night at Summerslam.)
-The announcers hyped the main event and then they showed a tweet from Ronda Rousey about the women’s PPV. [c]
(4) MOJO RAWLEY vs. TYLER BREEZE
Cole said Breeze requested his match. Cole interviewed Roode in an inset interview as Mojo kindly grounded Breeze in a cobra clutch. Roode said Mojo has a problem with him, but he’s comfortable in his own skin. He said Mojo can hide behind his keyboard all he wants. Then he stopped talking abruptly and just stared at the camera awkwardly in what seemed like mid-thought. (That was a very poorly scripted promo from Roode or else terribly executed with an inflection that didn’t match the words at all.) Breeze rallied after the Roode interview ended, but Mojo quickly took over again and gave Breeze his Alabama Slam finisher for the win.
WINNER: Mojo in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Mojo continues to carry himself well as a heel. That Roode promo was brutal, though.)
-A selfie style promo aired with Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, minus the selfie aspect, but they introduced it with the big colorful graphic of their names on the screen. They talked about Seth Rollins and Balor. Drew said he is going to take advantage of another opportunity to wipe “that ridiculous smile” off Balor’s face permanently. [c]
-Elias strummed an out-of-tune guitar mid-ring. He said he was sick and tired of being interrupted. He was then interrupted by Balor’s entrance.
(5) DREW MCINTYRE vs. FINN BALOR
Graves gave Coach a hard time for saying “that man right there” when both Drew and Ziggler were on the screen. “You used a lot of pronouns, I’m not exactly sure who you were referring to,” he said. (Vince McMahon hates pronouns being used by announcers on TV.) Coach said to just use common sense. Drew got in early offense, but then Balor made a comeback and landed a flip dive onto Drew at ringside. [c]
Drew was back in control after the break until he caught a charging Drew with some boots and then a flying clothesline. Drew staggered, but didn’t go down at first. Balor then gave Drew a spinning DDT for a near fall. The crowd popped when Balor set up the Coup de Grace, but Drew moved. Balor hit a sling blade and a dropkick, then climbed to the top rope again. Ziggler shoved him off balance. The ref DQ’d Drew.
WINNER: Balor via DQ in 8:00.
-Afterward, Ziggler and Drew double-teamed Balor. Seth ran out for the save, which popped the crowd. The heels bailed out and retreated. Cole talked about mutual respect between Balor and Seth. Angle walked out and told Drew and Ziggler that they aren’t going anywhere. He restarted the match as a tag team match.
(6) DREW MCINTYRE & DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. FINN BALOR & SETH ROLLINS
When Coach said he never thought he’d see Seth and Finn on the same side, Graves said, “Have you not watched Raw recently?” Coach tried to recover and said, “Not against these two!” A two-on-two brawl broke out. Seth and Balor cleared the ring of the heels. Ziggler and Drew regrouped at ringside. Finally Ziggler faced off with Seth. Seth got in a flurry of offense and they cut to an early break. [c]
Drew dropped Balor throat-first over the security barrier at ringside. Coach said Drew sees everyone as a speed bump on his way to where he wants to go. Cole said he wants to one day become champion. Ziggler tagged in, and Balor quickly took control. Ziggler showed some light on a right punch; Balor countered with a Pelé kick. Seth finally got the hot tag. He sent both heels to the floor and then dove onto both of them. He pounded his chest and the fans cheered. He threw Ziggler into the ringside barrier. Back in the ring he clotheslined Drew and then played to the crowd. He hit a blockbuster for a near fall that crowd counted along with. After all four entered and battled, Drew caught Seth with a flapjack for a two count. They set up Seth for a double-team move with Seth on Drew’s shoulders and then Ziggler on the top rope. Seth fought out of it and knocked Ziggler crotch-first over the top turnbuckle. He sent Drew out of the ring with a head scissors and then gave Ziggler a Stomp for the win. The announcers praised the match quality and thanked Angle for making it happen.
WINNERS: Seth & Balor in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good energy and non-stop action that the crowd was into start to finish.)
-Caruso interviewed Bobby Lashley backstage. She said the spotlight is now on Reigns vs. Lashley, and he has to beat Reigns a second time tonight to get what he wants at Summerslam. He said this is why he came back to WWE. He said when the lights are brightest is when he does his best. He said Reigns had two chances against Brock and he failed, and he will again tonight. He said Lesnar will be on Raw next week and he’s going to get in his face. He said there’s no sleep until Brooklyn.
-The annoucners threw a recap again of the women’s PPV announcement.
-Ember Moon made her ring entrance. [c]
(7) EMBER MOON vs. LIV MORGAN
Sarah Logan was banned from ringside. A pre-taped interview aired with Moon. Moon won with her finisher. Graves said he’s glad he didn’t have time to call his bookie because he was wrong about how this would go.
WINNER: Moon in 3:00.
-Mike Rome interviewed Seth, who said he is happy because Kurt Angle has given him a rematch against Dolph Ziggler at Summerslam with the IC Title on the line. [c]
-A preview aired of the “Total Bellas” finale.
-They went to the announcers. Coach said it’s his favorite show. Cole said the show has set records all season long with big ratings. He said Nikki & Brie Bella will be on “The Tonight Show” this Wednesday night on NBC. They threw to a video package on Reigns-Lashley. Cole said it’s personal, about massive egos, and who is the biggest dog in the yard.
-Elias sat on the stage and tried again. This time, Angle came out. As fans chanted “You suck!” even though the music had stopped, Angle said he didn’t come out to interrupt him, but rather to tell him the floor is his and he can do his song. He said the fans want to hear a song from his debut album. Elias said no matter what people say about Angle, he’s alright after all. He said everyone should buy two copies of his album – one for who they are now and one for the person they become after. He gave a shout-out to O.A.R. He said they have looked up to him for a long time, and he apologized for not returning their phone calls. He said he’s the biggest music act on the planet and he’s been busy. He said O.A.R. knows what everyone else knows – WWE stands for “Walk With Elias.” The crowd participated loudly. He said the time has come. He began to sing and play. After about 30 seconds he said he wasn’t feeling the vibe because Cincinnati makes him nauseous. He said he’s not a vain man, but this has to be the grossest collection of humans he’s ever seen.
-Out came Lashley for his match. Cole said Elias’s album is no. 4 on the soundtracks chart in iTunes. [c]
-The announcers said Ronda Rousey is back from her suspension next week. Also, Seth faces Drew. And finally, Lesnar returns next week to address whom he will face at Summerslam.
(8) BOBBY LASHLEY vs. ROMAN REIGNS – Winner Faces Lesnar at Summerslam
Coach said tonight is the biggest night of Lashley’s career in ten years. Cole said maybe the biggest of his entire career. Reigns made his ring entrance next. They locked up mid-ring. Coach said he’s sure Paul Heyman is watching and taking notes for Lesnar. They engaged in a test of strength. A dueling chant broke out at the start with “Let’s Go Roman / Roman sucks.” Reigns knocked Lashley out of the ring a minute in. He rolled out after him and had a few words with fans in the front row. Back in the ring, Lashley knocked Reigns out of the ring with a clothesline. Reigns went for a Drive-by, but Lashley caught him and overhead suplexed him onto the ringside mat. [c]
Back live, Lashley hit a spinebsuter and scored two near falls in a row. A minute later Lashley charged and drove his shoulder into Reigns. He set up his suplex, but Reigns countered with a Samoan Drop set-up. Lashley grabbed the top rope. Reigns dropped Lashley over the top rope onto the apron. He charged at Lashley, but from the apron Lashley clotheslined Reigns and knocked him down. Coach said this is the best he’s seen Lashley perform. Reigns took over with a kick to the head. Lashley applied a full nelson which the announcers sold as a submission when Lashley applies it. Lashley applied another submission on the mat. They battled each other with several momentum changes. When Lashley charged for a spear, Reigns leaped up and kneed him and scored a near fall. They were slow to get up. Reigns popped up and hit Lashley with a Superman Punch for a believable near fall. Reigns stood and played to a largely unreceptive crowd. Lashley rolled out of the ring to recover.
Reigns dropped to ringside and stalked Lashley, who was slowly trying to stand. He surprised Lashley with a running Superman Punch attempt, but Lashley caught him. Reigns elbowed out of Lashley’s grip. Lashey threw Reigns into the ring through the bottom and middle rope. Reigns landed hard on the side of his head awkwardly, torquing his neck. Reigns sold it like he was stunned. Lashley then speared Reigns for a believable near fall. The crowd was ready to explode for the third hand slap. Lashley set up a spear, but Reigns intercepted him with a Superman Punch. He played to the crowd and then let out his roar. Lashley kicked Reigns, but Reigns came right back with a sudden spear for the three count.
Lashley offered a handshake afterward and Reigns accepted it after a brief pause.
WINNER: Reigns in 17:00 to earn the shot against Lesnar at Summerslam.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match. Once again, a lot of fans were eager for an alternate finish, though.)
Tonight after WWE Raw, join me live with guest cohost Zack Heydorn (his Raw report is available HERE) to break down the show with live callers, mailbag, and a live on-site correspondent from Buffalo.
CHECK OUT OUR ALTERNATIVE REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN HERE.