SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
JULY 30, 2018
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Jonathan Coachman
Tonight after WWE Raw, join me live with guest cohost Cameron Hawkins to break down the show with live callers, mailbag, and a live on-site correspondent from Miami.
-They opened with a double “In Memory of” for both Nikolai Volkoff and Brian Christopher.
-They opened with a video package on Roman Reigns beating Bobby Lashley to earn the WWE Universal Title match against Brock Lesnar at Summerslam.
-They showed Lesnar and Paul Heyman backstage as Cole introduced the show.
-Reigns made his ring entrance. The director found some clapping kids and one clapping adult male. Then it shifted to a pink sign saying “I’m Only Happy When it Reigns.” Graves said Reigns has become obsessed with Lesnar. Fans chanted “You suck!” He said Miami fans are so loud, so he has to give them “a special shout-0ut.” He then talked about having respect for “Bob.” (If he respected him, he’d call him by the name he goes by.) “And that’s a lot more than I can say about Brock Lesnar, because I have zero respect for that fool.” He said he never shows up and has no time to come to work, but oddly he has plenty of time to show up to UFC and plenty of time to walk up to the Octagon and get up in [Daniel] Cormier’s face and run his mouth.” He guaranteed Miami that Brock won’t get in his face in his yard and run his mouth.
Heyman then introduced himself. He said his client has authorized him to offer Reigns profound congratulations for his win over Lashley last week. He said from his perspective he is doing the same thing over and over and over and over again and expecting a different result. He said that’s why he should be in a padded cell rather than a title match at Summerslam because he can go “on and on and on and on and on and on” about spearing Lesnar through the cage and is the uncrowned champion, but this isn’t a prediction, it’s a spoiler: “At Summerslam, Brock Lesnar is going to put down the Big Dog and go on to UFC and become a two sport champion.” (More boos than cheers.) Reigns said, “Just shut up, Paul.” (More cheers than boos.)
Reigns said they don’t care about what he says. He asked him to bring Lesnar out. Heyman said his client is in the arena and he’s in his luxurious locker room and “he’ll come out here when he feels like it.” (Boos.) He added, “I’m not done yet. And only if he feels like coming out.” Reigns wanted to know if Lesnar will actually show up at Summerslam. He said if he shows up, he’ll send him back to UFC “as Roman Reigns’s bitch.” Heyman shook his head and walked off.
-They showed Seth Rollins sitting backstage. Cole plugged Seth vs. Drew McIntyre later.
-They showed Ronda Rousey backstage chatting with Natalya. Graves said Rousey would be in Natalya’s corner against Alicia Fox later, with Alexa Bliss in Fox’s corner.
-Finn Balor made his ring entrance. [c]
-Backstage Lesnar was reading “The Backwoodsman.” Hilarious. Heyman walked in and asked if he heard what Reigns just said. Lesnar slammed his magazine down. “I don’t watch the show, Paul,” he said. “Why would I watch the show.” Heyman nervously brought up a video of what Reigns said on his phone. Reigns threw the phone against the wall. Then Lesnar sat down and read the magazine.
(1) FINN BALOR vs. “CONSTABLE” BARON CORBIN
After some back and forth action including at ringside, Corbin knocked Balor off the ring apron to the floor and they cut to an early break. [c]
Corbin dominated for several minutes and they cut to another break. [c]
Balor made a brief comeback, but Corbin took over again. Eventually Balor hit Corbin a running dropkick at ringside, then another dropkick in the ring. He leaped off the top rope with the double-stomp, but Corbin moved and hit a Deep Six for the three count. They showed fans reacting with dismay to the finish.
WINNER: Corbin in 20:00.
-Corbin was leaving as his music played, but then turned and attacked Balor who was still selling the Deep Six. He knocked him hard into the ringside barricade and punched him in the face a few times.
(Keller’s Analysis: This was the type of beating that suggests Demon Balor might show up at Summerslam. It was a big statement win for Corbin, but it solidifies that Balor is in the role of the popular undersized babyface who’s seen as good enough to lose to give others a boost and still remain popular.)
-Backstage Heyman was asking a worker to find him some replacement phone. He said even a Blackberry would be fine. Kurt Angle walked up and said Lesnar is under contractual obligation to appear in front of the live audience. Heyman said he fulfilled his obligation when he entered the arena. He told Angle if he wants more from his client, go to his locker room and tell him. Heyman said this isn’t his problem. Angle told Heyman that if Lesnar doesn’t end up in the ring tonight, Heyman’s contract is terminated. Heyman sneered and said, “Really?” Then he got nervous and walked away.
-A graphic showed Stephanie on the right side of the screen and a bunch of women wrestlers on the other side of the screen. [c]
-WWE touted their YouTube views.
-A video package aired on last week’s big moment for Stephanie McMahon and women everywhere. Then they showed media headlines, wrestler Tweets, and clips of women wrestlers tearing up and gushing over the announcement. Bayley said they never imagined this is possible and she can’t wait for Oct. 28.
-Alicia Fox was warming up backstage. Bliss said Mickie James was injured this week so she needs Fox to take her place. She said Rousey is going to be in Nattie’s corner, but she’ll take care of Rousey so Fox can focus on Nattie. She complimented Fox as a trailblazer of the division. She said this is her chance to make more history tonight. Fox acted strange and meowed and freaked out Natalya a little. Cole said, “Alicia is different.”
-Rousey and Natalya made their ring entrance. Rousey got a big response. [c]
(2) ALICIA FOX (w/Alexa Bliss) vs. NATALYA (w/Ronda Rousey)
Fox was in control most of the early minutes. Natalya came back and hit a clothesline for a two count. Bliss took a cheap shot at Natalya with a punch to the chin. Fox then delivered a running boot and scored the three count.
WINNER: Fox in 5:00.
-Afterward, Rousey chased down Bliss and gave her a judo throw and went for an armbar, but Fox kicked Rousey. Rousey then lifted Fox and threw her hard to the mat. Rousey then chased down Bliss at ringside. Fox hit Rousey from behind and threw her into the ringside barricade. She looked at Bliss, then threw Rousey hard into the barricade again. Fox and Bliss then backed up the ramp. Fox blew the fans kisses. Coach said so far the MVP of Raw is Alicia Fox. (You see, Coach worked at ESPN.)
-Backstage they showed Heyman trying to talk with Lesnar, who again was absorbed in his Backwoodsman magazine and couldn’t have seemed less interested. Heyman tried to talk Lesnar into appearing in the ring because it’d help market Summerslam on WWE Network and help his value and help him sell more t-shirts. “I’m telling you, Miami is going to give the conquering hero the welcome that only he deserves.” Lesnar sighed and told Heyman, “You have no idea how under my skin you are getting right now. I don’t give a crap about the WWE Universe right now. I’d much rather be at home on my couch at my house. Why don’t you go do something like get me a steak – medium well, baked potato, steamed broccoli. Beat it.” Heyman left.
-The announcers were on camera discussing what just happened. Coach said they’re not used to seeing Lesnar act that way toward Heyman, because Heyman is his guy. Cole said Heyman has to talk Lesnar into going to the ring or else his contract would be terminated. The announcers then hyped upcoming matches including Braun Strowman vs. Jinder Mahal. Elias strummed his guitar. Cole said he was next.
-A Smackdown commercial aired hyping more with Samoa Joe and A.J. Styles. [c]
-Rousey and Natalya were fuming to Angle about Alexa. Rousey said she wanted a fight next week on Raw. Angle said he understands, and he made it official that Rousey will go one-on-one against Fox in her first-ever match on Raw. Fans booed, wanting to see it tonight.
-The announcers reacted to news of Rousey wrestling next week on Raw.
-Elias sat mid-ring and played his guitar. Elias said his music is changing lives. He talked about musicians he beat out in sales last week including Panic At The Disco, Post Malone, and Taylor Swift. He said it’s because WWE stands for “Walk With Elias.” The crowd yelled it on cue. He laughed at them. They cheered themselves. A graphic hyped a “Walk With Elias” documentary after Raw tonight. He said Miami fans worship garbage musicians like Pitbull and mocked them for being obsessed with The Rock. He blamed Bobby Lashley for throwing him off his game. Lashley came out. Elias asked him what he is doing out there. Lashley said he’s a big fan, and since he heard his name, he wanted a front row seat to his performance. Elias said he doesn’t just want to walk with Elias, but he wants to sing with Elias. Lashley said he fights, he doesn’t sing. Fans asked if they want to see Lashley sing with him. Some cheers. Then a “Yes!” chant. Elias said he’d keep it slow and simple so Lashley could keep up. Elias played and sang “Rockin’ Robin.” Fans began to clap along. Lashley sang with him, and it wasn’t good at all. He didn’t know the lyrics and was off beat and out of tune. Elias was offended and attacked Lashley from behind. Lashley fought back and gave him a belly-to-belly toss. Elias rolled to the floor, selling his back.
-Backstage Kevin Owens approached Corbin. He congratulated him for wiping the smile off of Balor’s face. He gave him a bottle of water and a towel. He told Corbin that his son has switched from Braun to Corbin being his favorite wrestler. Corbin said he is there to inspire people. Owens said if Lesnar goes to the ring tonight, Braun could cash in the MITB contract even before he has a chance to win it at Summerslam. He asked Corbin what he can do about it. Corbin said he’d see what he could do, but he didn’t seem interested in doing anything. He said the contract belongs to Braun until Summerslam. Owens was frustrated.
-They replayed the Jinder-Braun angle last week. [c]
(3) BRAUN STROWMAN (w/Sunil Singh) vs. JINDER MAHAL
Braun arrived first to chants of “Get these hands!” Cole talked about Braun’s MITB briefcase. Graves talked about Mahal and Singh wanting to spread a sense of inner peace to other wrestlers. Owens came out and grabbed Strowman’s MITB briefcase. He was trying to sneak away with it, but Braun punched Mahal and then leaped to ringside to block Owens from leaving. Owens tried to run. He tossed Singh the briefcase and then ran to the back. Strowman knocked Singh down, grabbed the briefcase, and ran after Owens. The ref counted Braun out. Cole said if Braun gets counted out at Summerslam, Owens will get the MITB briefcase.
WINNER: Mahal via countout in 1:30.
(Keller’s Analysis: Sneaky way to show what’s at stake at Summerslam and how quickly the MITB briefcase could go to Owens.)
-Backstage Angle watched on a monitor. In walked Corbin. He said Stephanie McMahon wanted to talk to him. Angle said he knows she wants the main event at Summerslam to be protected and he knows there’s another way. He listened to her and thanked her and told her to enjoy the rest of the show. The announcers wondered what was up.
-Coach hyped Drew vs. Seth and Sasha & Bayley vs. The Riott Squad. [c]
-Backstage Mojo Rawley told Zack Ryder, Heath Slater, Mike Kanellis, Rhyno, and The Ascension that he’s calling everyone out because he is for real. He said he is for real and people who doubt him learn lessons including Tyler Breeze and No Way Jose. Bobby Roode walked up and mock-clapped for his speech. He asked if he has a problem with him. Mojo said if he does, what would he do about it. “Are you going to catch phrase me into submission?” he said. He smiled at his own joke when Roode tackled him. Producer Adam Pearce and some referees pulled them apart.
(4) APOLLO CREWS (w/Titus O’Neal, Dana Brooke) vs. AKAM (w/Rezar)
Apollo scored a two count after an enzuigiri and a standing moonsault a minute into the match. He avoided Akam charging him in the corner and then rolled him up for a surprise leverage pin.
WINNER: Crews in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I suppose if you want Titus & Crews to have any cred at all when feuding with Authors of Pain, a quick “upset” with like this in a singles match is a paint-by-numbers way to try to do that.)
-They showed Drew doing arm curls with a fitness band as Ziggler cheered him on. [c]
(4) SETH ROLLINS vs. DREW MCINTYRE (w/Dolph Ziggler)
Seth made his full ring entrance after the break. Ziggler came out to his music wearing his Intercontinental Title. Then Drew came out. Early in the match Drew caught Seth diving at him through the ropes. He then turned and gave him a modified spinebuster into the barricade. Then he catapulted Seth throat-first into the steel beam under the ring. [c]
Back live Seth dove onto Drew at ringside and then hit a second one seconds later. Drew went down. Back in the ring Seth stomped the mat to set up a move, but Drew caught him with a spinebuster for a near fall. Drew ducked an enzuigiri and then went for a powerbomb, but Seth flipped out of it and then landed a superkick. Seth hit a second superkick when Drew called for him to “bring it on.” Seth then climbed to the top rope. Drew knocked him off balance and chopped him. Drew then gave Seth a White Noise off the top rope for a near fall. Drew then flapjacked Drew over, but Seth turned in into a victory roll off of Drew’s shoulders for a near fall. When he quickly followed up with a Stomp, Ziggler attacked him.
WINNER: Rollins via DQ in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action start to finish.)
-Seth tried to fend off a fresh Ziggler afterward. Seth then dove through the ropes onto Ziggler at ringside. Drew looked on from the ring as Seth was announced as the winner.
-The announcers threw to a video package on the Reigns and Lesnar/Heyman segments earlier.
-Backstage Reigns had on earbuds and was looking at a tablet. Angle walked in and asked if he is aware of what’s going on with Lesnar. Angle said Stephanie asked him to remove Reigns from the building. He said if he doesn’t leave, he’ll lose his championship opportunity. Reigns said he knows the pressure Angle is feeling, but he has been in his shoes. “You’re a dog, you’re an Olympic champion,” he said. “You’re not a yes-man.” Corbin called for officers to take Reigns out by force. They were not an intimidating bunch. Angle asked Corbin if this was necessary. Angle looked away, realizing he was cowering to Stephanie. Reigns gave Corbin a backfist to the face before leaving on his own. The officers escorted him to the exit.
(Keller’s Analysis: WWE’s goal here is to tell the story that Lesnar is afraid of Reigns but won’t admit it, and now Stephanie forces Angle to force Reigns out of the arena so that Stephanie can get her segment with Lesnar in the ring. If Reigns were actually popular, this could work really well.) [c]
-Charlie Caruso stood mid-ring and introduced Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel. She asked them what the secret is to their success. Bo said the B in B-Team stands for Dream. He said they have to pinch themselves every morning to realize this is actually real. Bo thanked their “B-Teammates” for their overwhelming support. Charlie said there is one team that isn’t excited about their title reign – Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt. Axel said last week was weird because they applauded them, then attacked them. “What’s with these guys?” Bo said they’re sore losers. Axel said they can beat any team. Out came Matt and Bray. Matt said their success is a “cosmic anomaly.” Bray said they are the nightmare answer to their dream. Matt said they shall haunt them until they are finally deleted. He led the crowd in “Delete” chants. Then the Revival came out.
Scott Dawson said this isn’t happening. He said he doesn’t even understand what Matt and Bray just said. He asked how those delusional buffoons got to the top of the tag team division. Dash Wilder said they beat Reigns & Lashley. Dawson told Bray & Matt to step aside so two top guys can handle business and get the job done. Bo said, “Okay, okay, okay, okay, we would be more than happy to step aside.” Bray shoved Bo into Dawson. A brawl broke out between Revival and Hardy & Wyatt, as Bo and Axel ducked out to ringside. [c]
(5) DASH & DAWSON vs. BRAY WYATT & MATT HARDY
Bo and Curtis joined the commentators. Graves asked if Miz kept in touch. Bo said Miz is very busy, but they’re sure that Miz is proud of them. Fans chanted “C.M. Punk” and “Rusev Day.” Bray set up Dash for a Sister Abigail, but Dash yanked on Bray’s hair and tagged in Dawson. They gave Bray their Shatter Machine finisher for the win.
WINNERS: Dash & Dawson in 6:00.
-Renee Young interviewed Seth. As he talked about stopping at nothing to take back his IC Title, Drew and Dolph attacked him, then fled.
-Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan made their entrance. [c]
-As Bayley and Sasha Banks made their ring entrance, they cut to the announcers who hyped the Summerslam line-up taking shape.
(6) SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY vs. RIOTT SQUAD (Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan)
Bayley and Sasha took turns on the heels. Sasha hit Logan with running knees on the ring apron. They cut to an early break. [c]
After the break, Morgan had Sasha in a headlock. The announcers talked about the Evolution event on Oct. 28. Graves gave Coach a hard time for saying “the entire Long Island” at one point. Bayley tagged in and took over with a tackle and some punches. Bayley and Sasha worked together to hit their respective finishers on Morgan leading to the pin. Coach said he needs to see them work well together for an extended period of time.
WINNERS: Sasha & Bayley in 5:00.
-Heyman pleaded with Lesnar to come to the ring so in a half hour they can be at a steak restaurant. Heyman asked what else could go wrong now that Reigns is out of the arena. Lesnar asked Heyman if they got paid. Heyman said yes and admitted to Lesnar that they technically fulfilled their obligations by going to the arena. Heyman said he is grateful Lesnar has hired him, but he has a contract with WWE that allows him to have a contract with Lesnar, and if Lesnar doesn’t go to the ring, Angle will fire him. “Go out to the ring if for no other reason than you are my friend,” he said. Lesnar stood up and Heyman smiled in relief. Lesnar then grabbed Heyman by his lapels and said, “Let’s get something straight. We are are not friends. You work for me, I don’t work for you.” Heyman clenched his eyes shut. Lesnar asked how long he has been leeching off of him. Lesnar told Heyman to march his ass to the ring and do his job.
(Keller’s Analysis: Hmmm. That was intense. Is Heyman going to resent this and cost Lesnar the match at Summerslam?) [c]
-The announcers hyped the announced matches for Raw next week: Roode vs. Rawley and Rousey vs. Fox.
-Angle and Corbin walked out. He told Heyman to bring Lesnar out or else this is his last night on Raw. Heyman walked out, sounding deflated. He said, with zero enthusiasm, that he is the advocate for the reigning, defending, undisputed Universal Champion. He entered the ring and said Lesnar is not coming to the ring. Angle said a real champion shows up. Heyman looked at him as if to say he gets it. Angle said he does things for the WWE Universe and charities. He said Lesnar is the worst Universal Champion of all time. Heyman said, “Damn right he is. I tried to rehabilitate him. I tried to mold him from UFC fighter to WWE entertainer, but he doesn’t respect anybody. He barely tolerates me.” He told Angle he tried to model Lesnar in Angle’s image, then he buttered up Angle with compliments. Angle shook his head as if he wasn’t buying it.
Heyman told Angle if he has issues with anyone, it should be with Lesnar. “How about you’re full of crap?” Angle replied. Heyman yelled that he tried, but Lesnar doesn’t care and he doesn’t respect Angle. Heyman said he respects Angle and he’d like to have a better working relationship with him. Angle said, “Your contract is now terminated.” Heyman hugged Angle’s leg. Coach said, “That’s embarrassing.”
Out came Lesnar. Heyman smiled. He stood and adjusted his tie and acted like he was saved. His confidence was restored. Lesnar walked to the ring with the belt over his shoulder. He circled the ring and stared a hole in Angle. He finally entered the ring and gave Heyman the Universal Title belt to hold. Lesnar asked Angle if he has a problem with him. He then gave Angle an F5. He looked over at Corbin, who stepped between the ropes and hopped to the floor as Lesnar stared him down. Lesnar then turned back to Heyman, who was laughing with self-satisfaction. Lesnar smiled as Heyman put his hand on Lesnar’s shoulder. Then he put his hand over Heyman’s face. Heyman said, “You’re hurting me.” He shoved him down and Heyman said he couldn’t breath. Lesnar let go. Fans chanted “We Want Roman!” Lesnar stood up and looked around, then picked up his belt and his music played.