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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
JULY 1, 2019
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
-They opened with a wide shot of the arena as Cole introduced the show. Then the announcers hyped Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch would speak about Extreme Rules title defense, The Viking Raiders vs. The New Day, and rumors of Undertaker shaking up Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre. They showed a graphic of Drew and Shane looking terrified. For some reason they cut backstage briefly to The Street Profits. That was weird, and it seemed like a mistake based on how quickly they cut away and the lack of acknowledgment of it. Cole said up first was Bobby Lashley vs. Braun Strowman, falls count anywhere.
(Keller’s Analysis: No hint of acknowledgment that Paul Heyman was hired as Executive Director of Raw. It’s strange WWE is promoting Heyman in that position everywhere else other than TV, but on TV he’s likely to remain the “advocate” for Brock Lesnar. The two roles happening simultaneously make zero sense.)
(1) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. BOBBY LASHLEY – Fall Count Anywhere
Strowman did an early somersault; Lashley did a leapfrog; Cole touted their athleticism for big men. Lashley speared Strowman, then chased after him at ringside, but Strowman shoulder checked him and then landed a senton or a near fall. Lashley then speared Strowman into the time keeper’s area where he scored a two count. They brawled into the crowd. Strowman got a 100 yard dash head start and charged at full speed into Lashley, then scored a two count. Cole referenced “fans,” for what it’s worth, rather than “WWE Universe.” Lashley suplexed Braun on the stage and scored a near fall a minute later. Braun tackled Lashley through the LED entrance wall. “Holy shit!” exclaimed Graves and he was not bleeped. All the lights on the entrance set went out and then sparks and pyro blasted. Fans chanted “Holy shit!” They cut to men spraying equipment and the wrestlers with fire extinguishers. Fans chanted, “This is awesome!” Lashley was patting his left shoulder as if that was injured. Braun wasn’t moving at all. They showed a backstage view from a wide side angle five referees and other workers along with Graves calling for EMTs and trying to assess the damage. They hung on the shot for an extended period of time, roughy three minutes, without commentary. They finally cut to a break. [c]
-Back from the break, they showed Lashley being lifted into an ambulance strapped to a gurney. Meanwhile, Strowman was still being tended to. Cole was in his soft-spoken concerned mode as he discussed the “serious” situation. They replayed the incident. Then they showed Strowman being stretchered with a neckbrace on and he still wasn’t moving. “Hopefully just precautionary measures,” said Cole. Graves said there were power lines and cords everywhere and you could smell stuff burning. He said it was chaos and he’s never seen anything like it, and he was concerned Braun and Bobby weren’t moving. Graves said specifically that Strowman’s legs weren’t moving at all. When the doors to that ambulance closed, fans applauded. They went back to another replay with a close-up of Lashley’s expression, and then they showed the ambulance with sirens blaring speeding away.
-Cole said WWE goes to great measures to protect the safety of wrestlers, but sometimes Superstars go beyond what they have the power to control in terms of safety. They replayed it again and Cole commented on it. They were 20 minutes into the show at this point.
(Keller’s Analysis: One of the things with angles like this is that is if you’re going to do it, go all out and get the most out of it. There was a TNA PPV over a decade ago where “Sinister Minister” Jim Mitchell set Abyss on fire and it wasn’t even mentioned on the next TV show. WWE is really making sure they treat this as a big deal and really underline the impact of what happened.)
-The Viking Raiders began their ring entrance. [c]
(2) THE NEW DAY (Big E & Xavier Woods) vs. THE VIKING RAIDERS
Graves said enough of the Wildcard Rule because he has to suffer through New Day on Smackdown every week. (It seems strange to have Heyman and Eric Bischoff in charge of Raw and Smackdown, respectively, but continuing to share wrestlers and announcers.) They replayed Samoa Joe attacking Kofi Kingston last week on Raw as New Day finished their ring entrance. Cole said many believe The Viking Raiders will be tag team champions multiple times over the years. After some early New Day offense, The Vikings dominated against Big E. Joe showed up and yanked Xavier off the ring and put him in a Coquina Clutch. Kofi made a fast save as the ref called for the bell.
WINNERS: New Day via DQ in 3:00.
-Joe and the Vikings stomped away at both Xavier and Kofi until Big E joined the fight. Referees separated them and they cut to a break. [c]
(3) THE VIKING RAIDERS & SAMOA JOE vs. THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Big E & Xavier Woods)
(Keller’s Analysis: These transitions from one match cut short to another match with added competitors is so phony and contrived when done more than once every few months, so obviously a forced construct to get a commercial break in without missing any in-ring action like they used to do all the time with mid-match cutaways.)
The New Day got in the early offense against the Vikings. With help from Joe, the Vikings took over and isolated Xavier. Graves said he’s heard rumors of ladders getting involved in the Samoa Joe vs. Kingston match. When Cole started talking about it, Graves said it’s just a rumor so stop with the speculation. Renee yelled at him for that. Joe took a cheap shot to Big E’s chest on the ring apron, knocking him to the floor. Joe then chopped Xavier hard in the chest. Xavier dropped hard. The Xavier beating continued. Kofi got a hot tag and rallied against the Vikings. He landed a Boom Drop on Erik. Big E entered and gave Erik an overhead suplex and then tossed Ivar to the floor after him. Xavier then dove through the ropes and wrecking ball kicked Erik. Ivar then launched himself through the ropes and tackled Xavier. Kofi hit Ivar with Trouble in Paradise, but Joe came up behind Kofi and applied the Coquina Clutch for the win.
WINNERS: Joe & Vikings in 7:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action start to finish. The right finish to create a sense of vulnerability in Kofi to the Coquina Clutch. Joe is the type of wrestler who seems to be in good hands with Paul Heyman.)
-The announcers hyped Becky & Seth later, plus Elias vs. Miz in a two-out-of-three-falls match. Then they replayed the wedding of Drake Maverick being interrupted by R-Truth taking the 24/7 Title from him in the aisle.
-Backstage Drake had his wife blindfolded with headphones to cut off all sound. Drake revealed he brought her to Raw. She wasn’t happy. They bumped into Dana Brooke who asked how the married life was. Drake said it was great, then assured his wife that this is just a stop on the way to their honeymoon. She said he’s obsessed with the 24/7 Title. She said it’s either her or the 24/7 Title. He said he chooses her and he won’t let anyone spoil what they have. They hugged. Then camera then showed R-Truth show up with the 24/7 Title. He told Drake, “Don’t mind me at all, dog.” He said he’s a sucker for romance.
-Cole said rumors were swirling that Undertaker might be at Raw. [c]
-A.J. Styles approached Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson who were chatting in the locker room and were being filmed for some reason. Styles said they were on fire last week, but still lost to the Viking Raiders. Gallows said they’re legit. A smiling Anderson said, “It’s not like you dominated your match last week, either.” Styles took it in stride and said it was his first match back and he didn’t want to re-injure himself. Anderson said Styles always tries his hardest, but Ricochet almost beat him. Gallows said he won in the end, but Anderson doesn’t think he can beat Ricochet for the U.S. Title. Anderson brought up his “hot Asian wife” and said he’d put her on the line if Styles won. Gallows said he hopes he is serious.
-Cesaro was in the ring waiting for his opponent No Way Jose. They showed Drake and his wife in the front row. The Conga Line danced around the ring. Among them was R-Truth. He stoped and taunted Drake, then danced with Drake’s wife. Truth laid on his back on the ringside barricade as if to offer Drake a chance to pin him, but Drake’s wife shot Drake a look. A parade of 24/7 Title contenders chased after Truth – Cedric Alexander, Titus O’Neal, Heath Slater, Robert Roode, EC3, and Mojo Rawley. Cesaro went after No Way Jose at ringside with a gut-wrench suplex and a Neutralizer. Cole said, “Obviously this match will never start.”
-Charly Caruso introduced The Street Profits. She said they’re the NXT Tag Team Champions making their Raw debut. Montez Ford began doing a Rock impression, but Angelo Dawkins shook his head no. They introduced themselves together with two thumbs up.
(Keller’s Analysis: Go watch a Public Enemy interview from the mid-1990s Paul Heyman-led ECW. This felt like that in terms of the dynamic and tone of the promo. Why are they there, though? Is there another Wildcard Rules that applies to NXT?)
-They showed Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre backstage heading to the entrance. [c]
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-They showed a postcard shot of Dallas. Then they replayed the big angle at the start of the show. Renee said they’re still at a local medical facility being evaluated and they’ll provide updates when they receive them. Graves stressed that Braun’s legs weren’t moving, so hopefully he’s okay.
-An unnamed blond woman (Sarah Schreiber) repeated what the announcers just said about providing updates as they come in; then she interviewed Miz. She asked if he’s 100 percent going into the match with Elias tonight. He said it’s not about being 100 percent, it’s about doing what he needs to do. Miz said Shane McMahon continues to suck the air out of the WWE Universe with a group of people protecting him. He said he heard rumors about Undertaker, too.
-Shane and Drew made their way to the ring. Shane insisted on the special ring introduction. He talked about gracing the fans with his presence. He said Roman Reigns must’ve been scared of them so he called upon Undertaker for help. Shane threw to a clip of their attack on Reigns last week. Shane said Reigns begged Undertaker to help him. “That wasn’t the case,” interjected Cole. Shane said he’s battled Taker before and he looks forward to doing it again. He said it’s true that Taker surprised them last Monday, but at Extreme Rules there will be no surprises. He said they’ll put Taker and Reigns in the ground. Drew said Taker is the biggest legend in WWE history, and he has struck fear into the heart of every man he has ever faced. He said he is no ordinary man, but rather a hybrid of every generation and he’s not afraid of the Undertaker. “To be perfectly honest, I don’t give a damn about the Undertaker,” he said. He said he heard a rumor, so he came dressed to fight. Fans chanted “Un-der-taker!” He called the Dead Man to the ring. He said they’re aren’t afraid and will exterminate him.
The lights flickered and then then there was some thunder and fog. Then the bell sounded the lights went completely out. Fans popped. Taker made his long ring entrance. Shane and Drew left the ring and backed away into the crowd. Graves said he thinks they’re setting him up. The music eventually stopped and fans cheered some more and then started to chant “Undertaker!” Taker said Reigns never asked him for his help. Shane reacted like it was a lie. Taker said, “That’s not who he is, but if you need answers to the why, let me explain to you who I am.” He said he is and has been the reaper of wayward souls for a long time. He said he was there to collect their souls. Taker said Shane had his respect for a little while. He said he lived to tell about facing him in a Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania. He said like most mortal men, he fell victim to his own greed and ego. He said he may be the best in this world, but where he’s sending him to, they’ll be nothing more than another couple of lost souls suffering the torment and torture of that acrid stench of death. He said that will be for all of eternity. “You two will never rest in peace,” he closed.
(Keller’s Analysis: It still feels a bit random that Taker is back suddenly in the midst of summer, but good references to his history with Shane. What was missing was any sense that Taker has given a second of though to McIntyre and how he feels about facing him. Overall, they made the most of the spectacle of Undertaker’s ring entrance and presence.)
-Cole said later Seth and Becky will speak later about whether their personal relationship will interfere with their professional one.
-Backstage Lacey Evans was applying lipstick in a mirror backstage when the camera panned over to Baron Corbin who looked at the camera and said the Extreme Rules format benefits them because they’re not afraid to cross lines. He asked Seth if Becky is worth the risk. Lacey said The Man is more than a persona at this point, it’s practically become a movement, bless her heart. She said she’s seen Seth’s wandering eyes, and he’ll be watching her closely when she beats Natalya tonight. “Then he’ll realize he should have never put his faith or trust in The Man,” she said.
-They went back to Undertaker walking up the ramp and his music playing. [c]
(4) NATALYA vs. LACEY EVANS (w/Baron Corbin)
Cole explained that if Lacey pins Becky at Extreme Rules, then Lacey and Corbin each win the respective titles that are on the line. They showed Becky and Seth watching the monitor backstage. Graves said he can guarantee that their personal relationship will affect their professional lives. Corbin distracted Natalya, but Natalya countered Lacey and scored a leverage two count. Corbin tripped Natalya as she ran the ropes. Fans booed. Lacey then clocked Natalya with The Woman’s Right for the win.
WINNER: Lacey in 3:00.
-They showed Ricochet, Heath Slater, and Zack Ryder chatting backstage. Caruso walked up and asked if she could have a word with Ricochet. She asked him about competing in the main event of Raw for the first time, but losing to Styles last week. He said facing Styles in the main event of Raw was one of the biggest moments of his career. He said if he has a chance to do it again, he could probably beat him. She asked if he made any mistakes. He was interrupted by Anderson and Gallows who said Styles could have beat him sooner, whenever he wanted. Ricochet said he disagrees, but he’s confident enough in his abilities that the next time, he’ll beat him. Gallows said he has to be put in his place. Ricochet said he’s not looking for trouble, but he’s happy to put his title up against them. Gallows said they don’t have trouble with him, but he might with somebody else. Graves wondered who they were referencing.
-They showed Miz backstage. [c]
-Backstage Anderson and Gallows walked up to Styles and said that Ricochet said the next time he faces him, he’ll beat him. Gallows said he said he could beat him in his sleep. Styles bought what they said without any skepticism. He said he’ll go have a talk with Ricochet. Gallows made fun of Styles for wanting to “talk” to Ricochet Anderson asked for all of his talk about them losing their edge, where is his. He said he should walk up to Ricochet and slap him. “Where is that A.J. Styles?” he asked. Styles walked up to Ricochet who was stretching in the back. Styles asked if he was running his mouth. “You think you can beat me so easily,” he said. “Is that what you think?” Ricochet said he didn’t say that. Styles said he’ll have his chance and he’ll beat him tonight. Ricochet said he doesn’t know why he’s so worked up, but he accepts. Styles slapped Ricochet, Ricochet slapped him back. Styles smiled and said, “This is gonna be good.”
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s good to see Styles playing off of Anderson and Gallows, and it’s good to hear from Anderson and Gallows again after being lost and off TV for so long. Yes, Styles looked a little gullible here, but Anderson and Gallows are good enough at making their points that Styles doesn’t seem like a fool for believing them.)
(5) MIZ vs. ELIAS
Miz interrupted Elias as he first began to play his guitar and then attacked before the bell. He delivered a Skull Crushing Finale for the very fast first fall victory.
FIRST FALL WINNER: Miz in ten seconds.
Elias ducked out at the start of the second fall, but Miz gave him a wrecking ball kick. Back in the ring Elias caught him with a knee. Miz took Elias down with a kick to the legs and went for a figure-four. Elias got an inside cradle for a two count. Elias then hit Drift Away for a thee count.
SECOND FALL WINNER: Elias in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Man, these unnaturally quick falls early in two-out-of-three-falls matches are obnoxious.) [c]
Miz eventually beat Elias clean with a figure-four.
THIRD FALL WINNER: Miz in 4:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: There are wrestlers who make each other look better because of contrasting styles. Then there are wrestlers who bring out the worst in each other. Miz and Elias bring out the worst in each other. Just clunky and lumbering.) [c]
-The announcers threw to a video package recapping Rollins vs. Corbin at Stomping Grounds.
-Caruso interviewed Becky and Seth backstage. Seth sent best wishes to Bobby and Braun. Caruso asked if their decision to put the belts on the line in a tag match was an impulsive decision. Seth denied being impulsive. Becky made fun of how Seth said that. “I wouldn’t advise you to lose my title,” she said. Seth said she better not lose her title for her. Becky said she sleeps with her title. Seth said she does, “and it’s beginning to become a bit of a problem.” Seth said maybe this was his plan all along. “If you’d just listen to me from time to time, maybe things would be…” Becky shot him a look and Seth said maybe he got lucky. Seth laughed and said he did. In walked Maria Kanellis. She said it’s kind of desperate hearing them talk about being the First Couple of WWE. Becky said they are. Maria said she pushed an eight pound baby out of her uterus. Seth winced. Maria said that deserves a title. In walked Mike Kanellis. Maria said the only reason Seth is Universal Champion is because her husband hasn’t had a chance at it yet. Maria suggested tonight they have a mixed tag match. “How about me and my bitch take on you and yours,” she said. Becky said, “You wanna fight, you want a little mixed tag action, we’ll slap the heads off you dogs right now.” Seth looked at Mike said, “Y’all done messed up.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Jury’s still out on whether the Seth-Becky dynamic will work for or against them, but one thing is clear – they are embracing it and really building their characters right now around the dynamic between them. It’s interesting to watch. Good to see Maria and Kanellis get back on TV.) [c]
-They replayed the big angle at the start of the show again. Cole said they’re hearing that Lashley is resting comfortably. Renee said she’s hearing Strowman might have suffered a ruptured spleen. Graves said they’d provide more updates on Raw or via social media and their website.
(6) SETH ROLLINS & BECKY LYNCH vs. MIKE & MARIA KANELLIS
Cole said they have a “unique” relationship and cited that Mike took Maria’s last name when they got married. Graves said, “Come on, Cole, you don’t have any kinks?” Cole ignored that. Renee said it’d be massive for Mike & Maria if they scored a win here. When Graves quoted Maria saying “bitch,” Renee said, “I hope you get fined for that.” Seth beat up Mike, then threw Mike to his corner to tag Maria. That meant Becky got to tag in, too. Maria got wide-eyed and dropped to ringside. Cole said she thinks she’s the first mother to compete in WWE. Maria grabbed a mic and told Mike that he said he could mop the floor with Seth, “but I should have known better because you can’t even mop the floor at home.” She said Mike disgusts her. Maria shouted to Becky, “I’m pregnant! Please.” Becky stopped. Fans chanted “Bullshit!” Mike got emotional on the ring apron at the news. Mike yelled, “How could you be pregnant?” She said, “How? I don’t know, because I don’t think you’re man enough to get me pregnant.” He looked emasculated. Becky then put Mike in a Disarm Her. Mike tapped out.
WINNERS: Seth & Becky in 4:00.
-As Becky and Seth left, Graves asked if she’s really pregnant. Renee said that’s not something you joke about. Maria then entered the ring and stood over Mike and said she can’t believe he’s the father of her children. She said she’s waited and waited for him to grow up and take some responsibility, but he’s just a disappointment. She said the only man here tonight was The Man, Becky. She said maybe the next time, she’ll ask Becky to impregnate him. She left Mike alone in the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s all so strange. Curious to see where it’s going.)
-Heyman walked in on Caruso introducing a segment. He said he’s the advocate for Brock Lesnar. He said it’s been a weird night for Seth and a bad night for Kofi, which means it might be the perfect night for his client to cash in the Money in the Bank Contract. He said maybe Brock is there tonight, but maybe not. In walked Street Profits. They surrounded Heyman and rubbed Heyman’s head and intimidated him a bit. Montez Ford invaded Heyman’s personal space. Heyman said he doesn’t have time for this. He left, saying he’s a busy man. They yelled for him to come back. They began their rendition of “Rock a Bye Baby.” They forgot the rest of the words, said they’ve overstayed their welcome, and left.
(Keller’s Analysis: Is anyone going to explain the storyline reason for the NXT Tag Champions being on Raw.)
-Cole plugged the Styles vs. Ricochet match with the U.S. Title on the line. They showed Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross backstage. Graves said “A Moment of Bliss” was up next.
-Cole hyped Roman Reigns talking about his diet in the latest GQ magazine.
-A Moment of Bliss with Alexa Bliss. Renee said she could have worn pants to host the show. She told Braun that he’s in her thoughts. (Liking the references by other wrestlers to the big angle earlier in the show.) Bliss introduced Nikki as her best friend. They replayed Nikki beating Bayley on Smackdown last week to earn Bliss a title match at Extreme Rules. Nikki was all smiles for having pleased her best friend, Alexa. Alexa thanked her. “What an achievement,” she said. Nikki said she wants Bliss and the entire WWE Universe to know it wouldn’t have been possible without her support and guidance. She said she was the first person to take her seriously and to welcome her with open arms when no one else has. She said for that she will always be grateful. Bliss got choked up. Bliss said this is all about giving credit to her because it’s her Moment of Bliss. Carmella interrupted. She asked Nikki why Bliss gets the title match. Carmella told Bliss she is playing Nikki and that’s not how friendship is supposed to work. Carmella asked Bliss what she’s giving Nikki in response to Nikki earning a title match for her. Bliss said Carmella is nothing but Truth’s sidekick. Carmella challenged her to a match.
(7) ALEXA BLISS (w/Nikki Cross) vs. CARMELLA
WINNER: Carmella with a roll-up in five seconds.
(Keller’s Analysis: If this was done to prove fast finishes aren’t just reserved for the first fall in best-of-three falls matches, point made. Not sure that did anything for Bliss heading into Extreme Rules, though.) [c]
(8) NIKKI CROSS (w/Alexa Bliss) vs. CARMELLA
Cole said the match was made official during the break. Bliss distracted Carmella early. Nikki yanked Carmella between the ring and the apron and bashed away at her. Nikki yelled to the crowd excitedly. Nikki gave Carmella a swinging neck breaker for the win. Cole said Nikki did what Bliss couldn’t. Bliss joined Nikki in celebrating afterward. Graves said Alexa is happy for Nikki and wants her to know what it’s like to feel like a mega-star.
WINNER: Nikki in 3:00.
-Cole hyped Ricochet vs. Styles next. [c]
-They showed Nikki excited talking with Bliss backstage. Bliss said she’s so happy for her. Schreiber asked Nikki how she’d feel if the WWE Universe wants her to face Bayley for the Smackdown Title at Extreme Rules instead of Alexa. Alexa threw her hand up and said, “No comment.” Then she whisked Nikki away.
-Backstage Drake assured his wife their honeymoon will go great. The parade of 24/7 contenders ran past Drake. Truth revealed he was hiding behind a corner. Drake told Truth he’s done with the 24/7 Title stuff and he just wants to go on his honeymoon. Truth told him to have a good time. Drake then hit Truth from behind with a suitcase and then pinned Truth to win the 24/7 Title. Drake’s wife showed up and he said they’re going to have their honeymoon 24/7 style now. He scurried out of the building as Truth woke up.
-They went to the announcers. Renee said she should be able to have his cake and eat it too. Graves threw to a recap of the Ricochet-Styles hype. Styles and Ricochet made their ring entrances. [c]
(9) RICOCHET vs. A.J. STYLES – U.S. Title match
Graves said Ricochet has to approach this match differently than last week. Ricochet dove onto Styles at ringside two minutes into the match. Styles came back with a Phenomenal Forearm seconds later for a three count, but Ricochet’s leg was under the bottom rope. Cole said Styles won the title. As they cut to a break, a second ref was chatting with the first ref.
(Keller’s Analysis: These contrivances to end matches before commercial breaks only to “reset and restart” them is worse than BIG WORDS ON SCREEN in selfie promos last year. My focus watching these matches is just waiting for the phony way they’re going to create an excuse to go to a commercial. It’s just awful.) [c]
The match was restarted with Anderson and Gallows at ringside. Cole said the referee recognized the error of his ways, so the match was restarted with Ricochet still champion. (Boy, does this ever set a precedent for every other referee error finish.) After a few minutes of back and forth action, Ricochet rolled up Styles for the win.
WINNER: Ricochet in about 6:00 of in-ring time to retain the U.S. Title.
-Styles congratulated Ricochet. Anderson and Gallows stood on the ring apron and said something about wanting to see the real A.J. Styles. Styles yelled at them to stay out of it, but then turned and hit Ricochet. He stomped away at Ricochet. Fans broke out into boos. Anderson and Gallows then gave Ricochet their Magic Killer finisher. Styles took another shot at Ricochet, then stood mid-ring with his old friends. He sat in the corner and asked Anderson and Gallows to lift Ricochet. He then gave Ricochet a Styles Clash off the top turnbuckle. Cole called it disgusting.
(Keller’s Analysis: Styles needs a reboot, and I like this. WWE was very shorthanded on the heel side in the top tier, so this adds some needed depth, too. Also, it makes Anderson and Gallows relevant again.)