SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MAY 4, 2020
TAPED IN ORLANDO, FLA. AT PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe
-A video package aired on the Drew McIntyre-Seth Rollins contract signing last week.
-The Raw opening theme aired.
-Philips introduced the show and hyped that Money in the Bank takes place live on WWE Network this Sunday. He said Murphy will try to take out the WWE Champion Drew tonight on Raw first in a match.
-VIP LOUNGE: MVP stood mid-ring as his music faded. He welcomed everyone back to the VIP Lounge. He said last week things went a little sideways in a special episode featuring the men’s competitors in the MITB match. He said they’ve moved on from the chaos in that segment that tore up his set. He said this week they return to style, sophistication, and class with the women’s Raw competitors in the MITB match. He threw to a clip of Shayna Baszler, Asuka, and Nia Jax brawling last Monday.
MVP then introduced Asuka. Saxton said she’d have to be ultra-creative to be successful this Sunday. Phillips explained the rules of the MITB match as Asuka made her high-energy entrance. Baszler then came out to her music. As Baszler came out, Samoa Joe said he can picture her tearing through the WWE Headquarters because she’s ruthless. Finally, Nia Jax came out. Baszler and Asuka sat on couches with a display of attitude as Jax made her way to the ring.
MVP said all three of them will be way out of their comfort zones on Sunday. He stressed it’s the “most unique” Money in the Bank match in WWE history. He asked if Jax has the skill set to make it from the ground floor to the roof to the top of the ladder. She asked MVP if he’s seen her dominate in recent weeks. She vowed to dominate and destroy her opponents this Sunday. MVP asked Asuka to respond. She did in a frenetic Japanese rant. She said something about it being “rude” and something about a “big booty.” MVP then asked Baszler about her skillset. Baszler was chill, flicking something off her pants leg. Baszler said something in Latin, then said she does her talking with her actions. She said that’s the difference between her and everyone else in the match. “Isn’t that right, Asuka?” she asked. Asuka went back to her ranting. Baszler and Asuka stood and stared at each other, then kicked over Jax from her chair. She tumbled backwards and didn’t get up. MVP stepped between them and laughed and said, “Let’s save it for the fight, ladies.”
(Keller’s Analysis: This felt paint by numbers and I wonder how many viewers remembered anything about it within two seconds of the segment ending. I just don’t sense they are presenting Baszler in a way where she seems particularly special at this point. Maybe what she does at the PPV will, but she’s seemed like “just another competitor” these last two weeks on Raw.)
-They went to the announcers on camera. They reacted briefly to the previous segment, then commented on the Apollo Crews situation. They showed a clip of Crews injuring his knee last week in his match with Andrade. Phillips hyped the Last Chance Gauntlet match. They showed Bobby Lashley doing push-ups on a chair near Lana. Phillips said they don’t know everyone in the match, but Lashley is starting things off next. [c]
-A commercial hyped that Becky Lynch would confront the winner of Money in the Bank next week. The narrator oddly added she will “leave her stunned and staggered.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Huh? How can that be promised when it hasn’t happened yet?)
(1a) BOBBY LASHLEY vs. TITUS O’NEAL – MITB Last Chance Gauntlet match
Phillips explained the format of the match. Lashley speared Shelton for a clean win quickly.
WINNER: Lashley in under 2:00.
(1b) BOBBY LASHLEY vs. AKIRA TOZAWA
Lashley speared Tozawa within seconds for another win. Phillips said
WINNER: Lashley in just a few seconds.
(1c) BOBBY LASHLEY vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN
Shelton went after Lashley with a top rope blockbuster right away, but Lashley fought back with kicks and elbows. Shelton came back and knocked Lashley hard off the ring apron and slammed his head into the ring apron. Lashley quickly rammed Shelton into the ringside barricade, then threw him back into the ring where he went for a spear. Shelton leapfrogged him. Lashley came back with a spear seconds later for the win.
WINNER: Lashley 2:00.
-Humberto made his entrance. [c]
(1d) BOBBY LASHLEY vs. HUMBERTO CARRILLO
Humberto avoided a charging Lashley and hit a flying dropkick off the top rope seconds later. He landed a standing shooting star press for a two count. He climbed back to the top rope, but Lashley got up and threw him off the top rope. Lashley then beat up Humbert oil the corner. Lashley ignored the ref’s five count and shoved the referee twice when the ref tried to pull him away from Humberto. The ref DQ’s Lashley. Lashley speared Carillo afterward anyway.
WINNER: Humberto via DQ in 3:00.
-Angel Garza and Zelina Vega made their ring entrances. [c]
(1e) HUMBERTO CARRILLO vs. ANGEL GARZA (w/Zelina Vega)
The announcers talked about this being a battle between cousins. When Garza had Humberto tied up on the mat, Joe said Humberto’s cousin was helping him in his new contortionist career. They cut backstage to Lana telling Lashley that if she were in his corner, she could have done something. Lashley said, “Not now” and waved her off and walked away. Phillips reiterated they don’t know how many competitors are going to be involved in this match. Phillips continued to drive home the phrase “the risk is worth the reward.” A banner on the screen noted that part one of the Undertaker documentary special on WWE Network premieres this Sunday after Money in the Bank. Garza dominated for several more minutes until Humberto countered Garza’s Wing Clipper into a sunset flip for the three count.
WINNER: Garza in 8:00.
-Theory made his entrance.
(1f) HUMBERTO CARRILLO vs. AUSTIN THEORY (w/Zelina Vega)
They stayed with the action on split-screen during the break. Theory took control early against the worn out Humberto. Phillips said Theory is the type of young Superstar you could imagine being champion some day, and winning MITB could be his path. Theory threw a punch at Humberto when he was flying off the middle rope at him, dropping him hard for a two count. Theory gave Humberto a top rope superplex, but Humberto surprised Theory with a sudden small package for a three count.
WINNER: Carrillo in 4:00.
-A.J. Styles’s music played. Phillips said, “A.J. Styles is back on Raw!” As he strutted to the ring, Phillips said this is the first time we’ve seen Styles since he was buried alive in the Bone Yard match at WrestleMania. [c]
-During the break a generic commercial aired for Raw which said it’s live Monday nights, and then they returned to the pre-taped episode airing tonight. A commercial also aired for Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville on Smackdown this Friday where they’ll settle things “once and for all.”
(1g) HUMBERTO CARRILLO vs. A.J. STYLES
After Styles largely dominated with some hope spots for Carrillo, Styles landed a gut buster and then caused Carrillo to tapout to the Calf Crusher.
WINNER: Styles in 8:00 to win the Gauntlet Match to qualify for the MITB match.
(Keller’s Analysis: Solid action throughout, with the early story with Lashley dominating and then Humberto surviving until a big name returned unannounced in Styles. With what they had to work with and the story they wanted to tell to built up MITB, this was executed well.)
-Styles music played after his win, but Styles went after Carrillo’s leg. He bashed his leg into the ringpost. Saxton said Styles is a changed man after that Bone Yard match at WrestleMania.
Styles took the mic and said he’s not a zombie and he’s not a ghost. He said there is no Undertaker there to try to steal his spotlight. “Not this time!” he said. He said he admits he got buried, but that doesn’t mean he lost anything. “So what?” he said. “There’s no rules in a Bone Yard match. No results at all. That was then, and this is now.” He said he has seized the opportunity and is now in the “most unique” MITB ladder match ever. He said it’s worth it and he’s going to do anything to get that MITB contract. He said if that means throwing a Rey Mysterio or Aleister Black off of the top of WWE headquarters, so be it. “They haven’t been through what I’ve been through; they haven’t seen what I’ve seen,” he said. He said he’ll rewrite the history books on the greatest moments in MITB history. He said he is winning the contract to guarantee him a shot at the WWE Championship. He said Mr. Money in the Bank can cash in and be Phenomenal.
(Keller’s Analysis: I think he meant to slip in the catch phrase “the risk is worth the reward,” but instead he just said, “It’s worth it” and then paused and caught his breath for a few seconds. I’m not sure saying it doesn’t matter he lost the Bone Yard match is a good way to establish that match outcomes matter in the future. I wish he would have conveyed that it was horrible and awful and it changed him and it took him weeks to even be able to function again after what he went through. The announcers paid some lip service to him being a changed man as a result of that match.)
-Phillips said once again “the risk is worth the reward.” The announcers shifted to hyping the Viking Raiders vs. The Street Profits in a n0n-title tag team match. They also hyped Drew vs. Murphy. They hyped an exclusive Seth Rollins interview next. [c]
-They showed exterior and interior pictures of the WWE Performance Center. Then began airing a top ten moments in Money in the Bank history, showing no. 10, 9, and 8.
-Seth made his ring entrance. Charly Caruso interviewed him mid-ring. They sat in chairs that were reasonably “socially distanced.” She asked about Murphy facing Drew later. Seth said whatever will be, will be. He said he has the utmost confidence in Murphy. Seth said Drew is a fighter and a warrior and an honorable man, but he’s not a leader. He said it is not his destiny to be the champion who takes them into the future. “It is mine,” he said. He said Drew will put up a hell of fight at MITB because the WWE Championship means so much to him, but he is willing to sacrifice himself to the greatest good that is his destiny. He said everyone thinks he’s trying to take something from Drew, but that’s not the case. He said Drew is not ready to deal with the pressure that comes with being champion. He said he isn’t taking anything away from him, but instead is trying to unburden him. “I am trying to save Drew McIntyre,” he said. “And that is the absolute truth.” He said his destiny will become his reality at Money in the Bank when he is announced as the new WWE Champion.
-Backstage MVP approached Shane Thorne and Brandon Vink. He said each of their full names, which was really strange sounding, when he said he was looking for them. He said great moments are born out of great opportunities. He said it’s a miracle that two of Australia’s finest have a big opportunity. Vink predicted victory. MVP rubbed his hands together as they walked away. [c]
-Caruso interviewed Murphy backstage. She asked why he’s been so loyal to Seth. Murphy said Seth took him under his wing when it benefited them both. “He needed me, and I needed him,” he said. He said he’s learned and developed since then so hopefully one day he is at the level of Seth, “or maybe one day I will be better.” He said he and Seth both know that day will come, but tonight comes first. He said Seth thinks he can beat Drew and he agrees, but tonight he knows he can beat Drew.
(2) RICOCHET & CEDRIC ALEXANDER vs. BRANDON VINK & SHANE THORNE
Vink and Thorn stood in the ring as the most generic entrance theme you can imagine faded. Ricochet and Cedric came out to Ricochet’s music. Saxton talked up Vink and Thorne associating with someone as established as MVP for guidance. Ricochet yanked Thorne off the top rope with a head scissors. Vink broke up a cover a minute later by Cedric. Thorn landed a cannonball on Cedric in the corner, but Ricochet gave him a superkick. Vink then caught an unsuspecting Ricochet with a clothesline for the win.
WINNER: Vink & Thorne in under 5:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not against pushing new acts, and Thorne and Vink appear to have some upside, but all four of these wrestlers have baggage in terms of how they’ve been booked on Raw in recent weeks or months, and it’s tough to get over when they’re battling each other, and the lesser known team beats another team that is trying to establish themselves – all without fans present to enforce the idea that they’re succeeding.)
-More Money in the Bank moments aired in their countdown of the ten biggest. This included Brock Lesnar dancing with the MITB briefcase held up like a boom box as Paul Heyman laughed. They went back t0 2006 with Shelton Behmain launching off a ladder onto a crowd at ringside. They also showed Bayley cashing in last year within hours of winning the MITB contract. [c]
-A video package aired on the Street Profits.
-The Profits made their high-energy ring entrance and danced in the ring. Joe wondered if the Profits can be consistent enough in their success to become one of the best of all time. They talked mid-ring about the Performance Center. Angelo Dawkins said this is where they met and became brothers. Montez Ford said since the Viking Raiders signed to WWE and came to the Performance Center, they’ve been chasing them. He said the chase ends tonight because they want the smoke. Saxton said he’s ready.
-The Viking Raiders made their ring entrance. [c]
-An NXT on USA commercial hyped the two major singles title matches scheduled for this Wednesday.
(3) THE STREET PROFITS vs. THE VIKING RAIDERS
The Raiders took control a minute in. Erik powerbombed Ford, then tagged in Ivar who landed a top rope frog splash for an early near fall. Dawkins eventually tagged in and rallied against the Raiders. The Profits beat up the Raiders at ringside and they cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Dawkins had Erik grounded in a chinlock mid-ring. Erik eventually tagged in Ivar who took over against Dawkins, then took down a interfering Ford. He let out a big yell and then crashed into Dawkins in the corner for a two count. Ford got a hot-tag a minute later and went to work against Ivar. Ivar staggered., but didn’t go down. He cartwheeled, but Ford landed a roundkick. Ivar dropped to one knee, then blocked a Ford suplex. Ford tagged in Dawkins. They both back suplexed Ivar for a two count. “What a match this has been tonight!” said Phillips. Ivar took Ford and Dawkins down with a flying back elbow. Dawkins interrupted the Viking Experience finisher. Ford gave Ivar a DDT. Then he landed a high frog splash. Dawkins made the cover, but Erik broke up the cover. Chaos broke out. The Raiders landed the Viking Experience on Dawkins seconds later for the win.
WINNER: Raiders in 16:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: If you are willing to set aside that WWE has challengers beat champions almost all the time in non-title matches as the shortcut to building them up as ready for a title shot, this was a good match and built up the Raiders. I do like that they’re embracing the NXT history between these two teams. The match itself was solid start to finish.)
-Caruso interviewed Drew backstage. She asked what he thinks of Murphy saying he knows he can beat Drew. He said he beat up too badly, apparently, if he really thinks that. He said Murphy is very talented, but if he’s willing to be sacrificed for his Messiah and his Messiah is willing to sacrifice his disciple, then who is he to deny everyone a good old fashioned slaughtering. [c]
-More MITB countdown moments aired. They showed Andrade giving Finn Balor a powerbomb off the top of a ladder onto another ladder bridged against the middle rope last year. They went back to 2006 of the cash-in by Edge against John Cena after his Elimination Chamber match. Then they went to 2007 where Jeff Hardy leaped off the top of a tall ladder and leaped onto Edge who was bridged on a ladder at ringside.
-Caruso interviewed The Viking Raiders who were celebrating their victory. She seemed very happy for them. Erik said it’s not success, it’s dominance they’ve been showing everyone. Ivar said they even like the Profits, but they are just the better team. Erik said the raid is on and tonight, just like every night, they extinguished the smoke.
-They went back to the announcers on camera. Joe said the Raiders came out to prove a point and tonight they did. Phillips threw to a clip of Styles winning earlier.
-A promo aired with Aleister Black who asked Styles to tell everyone what it was like to be buried live, being swallowed in darkness. He said now Styles is talking about throwing him off of a building on Sunday. He said it didn’t make Styles more humble, though. He said if Styles finds a way to throw him off the building, “pray that I don’t get back up because I will climb that ladder and I will take that Money in the Bank contract. And when that happens, you’ll wish you were buried deeper than just six feet.”
-Phillips said Charlotte would be out next. [c]
-Rey Mysterio talked to the camera about the MITB match. He said for the first time ever, the match won’t take place in the ring, but rather in WWE headquarters. He said they’ll fight from the ground floor to the roof to reach the briefcase. “Yeah, I said roof,” he said. “One bad decision, one wrong move, and that’s all I wrote. This is by far the riskiest match of my career.” He said the briefcase contains a contract for a championship match anytime, anyplace. He said since his career is nearer the end than the beginning, he’s not sure how many championship opportunities he has left. He said it’s risky, but the risk is worth the reward.
-Standing mid-ring, Charlotte said she’s been the hardest working woman in any industry since winning the NXT Title, working both Mondays and Wednesdays. She said she faces Io Shirai on Wednesday. She said Io said she is her dream opponent. She said she gets to make Io’s dreams come true when she has the privilege of bowing down to the Queen. Out came Liv Morgan to interrupted. Charlotte asked if she wants her attention and to take “the new Liv Morgan seriously.” Liv said not all of them are born with silver spoons shoved in their mouths. She said she didn’t have a dad walk her to the front of the line twice. She said sooner or later, she’ll be a champion. Charlotte said she was born with a silver spoon as the daughter of Ric Flair, and she is damn proud of it. She said she thought Liv was going to come out there and tell her she is her dream opponent like Io said. She said both of them will bow down to the Queen. Liv entered the ring and challenged Charlotte to a match so they can “see what happens.” Phillips asked if they’d see a match between them. [c]
-Phillips threw to a brief video segment on Jinder Mahal. It showed big moves from Jinder and him saying he will go down as the greatest of all time.
(4) CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. LIV MORGAN
Liv ducked a charging Charlotte a few minutes in then leaped off the second rope with a dropkick. As Morgan charged, Charlotte tossed her into the corner and then stomped on her as they cut to an early break. [c]
Phillips said Charlotte was destroying Liv. Liv made a comeback a minute later, but Charlotte cut it short and stayed in control. She stomped away at Liv aggressively some more. She landed a sitout powerbomb a minute later as a counter to a Liv head scissors attempt for a near fall. Saxton said Liv is showing a lot to the Queen and the WWE Universe. Liv yanked Charlotte off the top rope and drove her face into her knees for a two count. Liv charged, but Charlotte moved and then quickly applied the figure-four leglock. She bridged into the Figure-Eight for the tapout win.
WINNER: Charlotte in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Lasting that long and being that competitive against Charlotte, even if she took the majority of the beating, was a boost to Liv’s profile. The announcers really pushed the idea that Liv impressed them despite losing. The match was, again, solid. Charlotte is fighting more arrogantly and aggressively, really embracing being a heel and conveying that in her in-ring style.)
-Phillips threw to the no. 1 MITB moment in history. It was the 2015 WrestleMania cash-in. They blacked out the screen during the three count. They then showed Seth’s wide-eyed celebration. [c]
-A commercial for next week’s Raw advertised Edge vs. Randy Orton.
(Keller’s Analysis: They didn’t say it’d be a replay of their WrestleMania match. If it’s a rerun, as I assume, I’m curious how edited the match will be.)
-They plugged the MITB match at WWE’s corporate headquarters. They showed the interior of the headquarters including the lobby, the elevators, the stairs, the company gym, the cafeteria, the executive conference room, and finally the staircase to the roof.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was a cool quick tour of the headquarters. They’re doing a good job making it really clear what the setting is and how the match will work on Sunday after being somewhat ambiguous in the first week or so after the announcement.)
(5) DREW MCINTYRE vs. MURPHY
(Keller’s Analysis: I take back what I said earlier about Vink & Thorne’s entrance theme being the most generic you could imagine. Murphy’s entrance theme still tops that list.)
Murphy threw an early elbow to the head of Drew, and Drew brushed it off. He also absorbed a slap and then shoulder checked Murphy hard to the mat. Seth was shown watching from the entrance stage. Murphy retreated early toward Seth. Drew caught up to him and knocked him down, then drove him hard into the ringside barricade, then the ring apron, and then back to the ringside barricade before letting go. They showed Seth hanging his head on the stage. Drew looked up at Seth before throwing Murphy over the barricade. Drew told Seth to step up and be a leader. Drew pursued Murphy near the announce desk and chopped him. Murphy turned momentum by shoving Drew into the ringpost. Drew rolled into the ring. Murphy leaped off the top rope and gave him a meteora. Drew kicked out at one.
Seth continued to slowly walk toward the ring. Drew stood and began no-selling Murphy’s offense. Then he chopped Murphy down. Murphy threw some strikes, but Drew again no-sold them and headbutted Murphy. Drew told Murphy, “The leader is watching you, get to your feet, dammit!” Drew climbed to the top rope and landed a flying forearm to Murphy’s throat and chest. Drew kipped up and eyed Seth again. Drew then lifted Murphy onto his shoulders and climbed to the second rope. Murphy slipped free and went for a powerbomb. Drew held on at first. Murphy kicked Drew and then landed the powerbomb for a mere one count. Both men were slow to get up. They cut to a close-up of Seth. Murphy mocked Drew’s “3-2-1.” Drew instead caught Murphy with a Claymore for the sudden decisive win.
WINNER: McIntyre in 6:00.
-As Drew’s music played, Seth walked up the steps. Drew begged him to make his week and enter the ring and fight him right now. Seth paused, then retreated. Drew yelled, “What a shock.” Drew’s music played again as Seth shot him one final look before leaving the stage. Seconds later, Seth ran back out and surprise attacked Drew. Seth said this isn’t about Drew or him. He said it’s bigger than that. He looked at the WWE Title belt, then bent over and picked it up and studied it. He went for a Stomp, but Drew avoided it and then gave him a Glasgow Kiss headbutt. When he went for a Claymore, Seth rolled out of the ring. Drew’s music played as Phillips did a final pitch for their match this Sunday at MITB.