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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MAY 25, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT PERFORMANCE CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe
-A Memorial Day video aired.
-The announcers hyped the show including the Women’s Triple Threat with Charlotte, Nia Jax, and Natalya.
-Kevin Owens came out to the ring for The KO Show. Phillips said they are fortunate to have an audience of NXT trainees who have all been tested and are all practicing safe social distancing. KO acknowledged the wrestlers at ringside, saying many of them are the future of WWE, “especially the ones wearing Kevin Owens shirts.” They cheered. He said they’re all so lucky and in for a treat because he’ll be wrestling Angel Garza later. He first, though, introduced the Triple Threat match. He introduced his guest, Asuka, to talk about the match.
(Keller’s Analysis: Having an audience of wrestlers is a welcome change, and with them being tested and truly social spacing even better than AEW wrestlers typically do so far, this shouldn’t make too many people uncomfortable and definitely add to the atmosphere. They even put up plexiglass between the ring and ramp and the area where they were standing and cheering, definitely a step further than AEW. I wish Dexter Lumis was in the crowd looking creepy and staring off into space the whole show.)
Asuka came out excitedly chanting “Becky!” KO said she’s not just The Man now, she’s also The Mom. He congratulated her for becoming the Raw Women’s Champion. She replied in Japanese and then Owens said, “Absolutely.” Funny. KO then threw to a video clip of Kairi Sane and Asuka celebrating her title win, with Kairi playing the recorder, interrupted by Jax. Asuka replied in Japanese and KO continue to act like he understood her, nodding along to her sentiments. Charlotte’s music interrupted and she walked out.
Charlotte entered the ring and said she should have been the one handed the WWE Women’s Title. She reminded Asuka that she never defeated her, so she should “manage her expectations.” Natalya then came out next. Natalya apologized to KO and his entire KO Show crew for the temper tantrum she had. Natalya said she’s been so frustrated as of late. Charlotte laughed and said sucking up to KO isn’t going to help her win. KO said she wasn’t sucking up. Charlotte said she should have simply said Natalya is irrelevant. Nia Jax came out next to heckling and boos from the audience.
Jax said she’s going to be the next Raw Women’s Champion. KO said he can see where this is going, so he left the ring. She entered the ring and told Asuka that what she did to Kairi is just a fraction of what she’ll do to her at Backlash. KO sarcastically implored Asuka not to hit Nia in the face. As Nia nodded at KO, Asuka landed a spinning elbow at her head. “I think something was lost in translation” Joe said. All four fought, with Charlotte taking a cheap shot at Natalya. They fought at ringside. Asuka’s music played as Jax backed away up the ramp to the stage.
-Backstage, Kayla Braxton interviewed Apollo Crews about facing Andrade later. He said he is all smiles because later he’ll become the new U.S. Champion. The camera stayed on Kayla as she smiled and nodded.
-As Andrade came out, they showed the announcers (not socially spaced) sitting at ringside talking about the title match. [c]
(1) ANDRADE (w/Zelina Vega) vs. APOLLO CREWS – U.S. Title match
They showed Angel Garza watching on a monitor backstage. Crews scored an early two count after a delayed vertical suplex. Andrade caught Crews with a back elbow for a quick near fall. Zelina stood on the ring apron and distracted Crews. Andrade charged at Crews, but Crews ducked and then kicked Andrade, who knocked Vega off the ring apron. Andrade dropped down to check on her. They stayed with the action on split-screen during the break, which consisted of heel A.J. Styles smiling with a family about the high-quality family time and food they share at a fast food chain. [c]
Trainers and referees checked on Vega during most of the break. Back from the break, Andrade took over on Crews at ringside. Andrade knocked Crews backwards during a top rope battle, then double-stomped his chest as Crews was hanging backwards. They cut to Garza watching again. Braxton walked in and asked for his thoughts so far. He said watching this match is like making love to a beautiful woman. He talked about eye contact and then the passion of bodies crashing against each other, and the passion of conquering the other woman is wonderful, only to then do it all over again. The match continued on the monitor over his shoulder. Andrade scored another near fall, then kicked away at Crews’s left leg. Crews came back with a kick to the face, then a press-and-drop followed by a standing shooting star press for the three count.
WINNER: Crews to capture the U.S. Title in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Solid match. I’m curious to see if the push for Crews continues or if this was a “feel good” story where the title win payoff is basically the end of his story.)
-Charly Caruso asked Crews in a post-match mid-ring interview how it feels. Crews said people close to him told him he couldn’t do it, some even laughing in his face. He said after 11 years of sacrifice, hard work, and discipline, he can finally say he won his first title in WWE. He said he never gave up and never quit on himself, and now he can stand in the ring and say to the whole world that he is the new United States Champion. He said it feels so good to say. Backstage, Andrade was throwing equipment around in a fit of rage as Crews celebrated in the ring as his music played.
-Phillips plugged a golf battle between the Street Profits and Viking Raiders.
-They showed Seth Rollins staring at a Rey Mysterio mask backstage. Saxton wondered what he could possibly have to say to a man whose life he almost ruined.
-An NXT commercial advertised Kurt Angle as special referee for the Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher match. [c]
-Backstage Seth said he is better than he has ever been, thanks to one man – Rey Mysterio. Phillips narrated a clip from Raw two weeks ago including Seth shoving Rey’s eye into the edge of the ringside steps. Seth then said he was in a dark place after Money in the Bank, but Rey presented himself to him in a time of need. “He was chosen to be sacrificed and he fulfilled his duty to the greater good so valiantly,” he said. “I can’t imagine the pain that Rey went through.” He talked about his cornea pushing back into his head and blood vessels popping. He said it must’ve been tough for Dominic watching on TV at home, unable to do anything about it. Seth said if it turns out to be Rey’s final act as a WWE Superstar, it was a courageous one because it allowed them to move into the future.
In walked Austin Theory and Murphy. Seth said they understand what it is like to be underestimated and underappreciated. He said their ceilings are limitless. Murphy said he needed guidance, a mentor, and a leader, and that was the Monday Night Messiah. “For that Seth, thank you,” he said. Theory said when he came to Raw, he thought he had friends, but when they abandoned him, the Monday Night Messiah found him. “And for that Seth, I thank you,” he said. Seth said this is just the beginning of a wonderful night. Seth said later they get to show the greatness he helped bring to Raw when they make examples out of Humberto Carrillo and Aleister Black. Seth said they will show them what happens when you stand in the way of the Monday Night Messiah.
-Caruso interviewed Charlotte backstage. Caruso said if she wins tonight and then at Backlash, she’ll hold two women’s titles. She asked if she thought about what this means to her legacy. Charlotte she is the most consistent and prolific women’s champion in WWE history, and it doesn’t matter how many titles or how many wins. She said that’s just math. She said she raises the bar for every other woman in the division. Asuka danced into the picture and walked right in front of Charlotte and said, “Red is not your color.”
-The IIconics danced onto the stage. Phillips said that wasn’t planned and he wondered what they had in mind. [c]
-The IIconics stood in the ring as the IIconics theme song faded. Peyton Royce apologized for costing them an opportunity last week. Billie Kaye said she got so wrapped up emotionally in the moment, she slapped her, and she felt so bad. She said she doesn’t want anything to get between them and divide them. They talked about signing with WWE together and winning the tag team titles together at WrestleMania. They complained that they should still be tag team champions. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross walked out and said they’ve had every opportunity in the world and keep blowing it. When Nikki began to talk, Kaye told her she doesn’t get to talk, she instead needs to stand there and just look grateful. Nikki asked if she’s serious. Nikki said she has taken all of the steps to become champion with Alexa that Alexa also took. She said she came from Glasgow alone, whereas they had each other. She said she had to scratch and claw for everything she’s gotten. She said Lexi was there for her when people like them were making fun of her accent. She said her friendship with Lexi has resulted in them becoming champions. She said Lexi helps her focus. She said she likes to think she taught Lexi about friendship, and she can’t name anything more iconic than that. The IIconics attacked them. Peyton gave Nikki a spinning wheel kick. Then they double-attacked Bliss and double side-slammed Nikki. They picked up the tag team titles and held them up as their music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: The IIconics were plenty annoying. Nikki was believably irked by their disrespect. This was a good follow-up to further their feud.)
-Phillips plugged the MVP Lounge with Drew McIntyre. Then they went to MVP backstage who looked over at Lana. He asked if he could help her with something. She just stared at him and said, “We need to talk.” MVP said, “Oh, no, we don’t.” He walked away.
(Keller’s Analysis: I am curious where the Lana-Lashley-MVP situation goes.)
-A graphic acknowlegded the death of Shad Gaspard.
-MVP welcomed everyone to the MVP Lounge and welcomed the Performance Center trainees. He said the tab is on him. They smiled and applauded. Drew tossed around the MVP Lounge furniture. He wanted to know where “he” is. MVP asked who he meant. Drew mockingly said, “Who?” back at him. MVP said Bobby Lashley won’t sneak attack him with a submission. “We’re going to save that for Backlash,” he said. He told Drew to remember the last time he invited him to the Lounge when he offered his guidance to navigate the chaos and climb to the top of the WWE mountain. “I remember trying to be a friend to you and you hitting me with a Claymore kick to the face,” MVP said. Drew said he can just say Claymore because it’s obviously a kick.
MVP said he had two thoughts after getting kicked like that. One, Drew would be WWE Champion some day. Two, when Drew lost the title, he would personally play a role in that outcome. He said it took Lashley 13 years, and now he has a title shot because of him. Drew said it took him 19 years to get his WWE Title chance. He said he was in the main event of WrestleMania, and he beat Brock Lesnar in five minutes. He leaned into MVP and smiled as he said it. Drew said the last time he was in the VIP Lounge, he said things that applied to him and Lashley. MVP asked him to refresh his memory. Drew said he doesn’t need anyone thinking for him or talking for him or kissing his ass. Drew said the only way Lashley can take the title from him is prying them from his cold, dead hands. MVP said that could be arranged. Lashley then walked out to his music. Drew gave MVP a Claymore (that’s a kick). Lashley pulled MVP to safety at ringside. MVP collapsed. Drew yelled at Lashley to fight him as Lashley retreated up the stage.
-Caruso interviewed Natalya about her match later. Natalya got a call from T.J. her husband, and stepped away. She said she said she was sorry and it happens and there’s nothing more she can do. “T.J., I don’t need this right now, I have a match I have to focus on,” she said. Natalya walked back to Caruso and apologized. Caruso said they’re out of time now. Natalya hung her head.
-They showed the trainees cheering as KO walked out. Angel Garza ran out and clipped KO’d leg from behind. They cut to a sudden break. [c]
(2) ANGEL GARZA vs. KEVIN OWENS
Garza was taking it to KO aggressively after the break until KO caught him with a DDT. He followed up with a senton while limping on his damaged leg. He used the ropes to help himself stay upright. He charged at Garza for a cannonball, but his leg gave out. Garza superkicked KO in the head, then lifted him onto the top rope. KO elbowed Garza to the mat, then landed a top rope frog splash. Back on their feet, KO went for a Pop-up Powerbomb, but his leg gave out and then Garza landed his Wing Clipper signature finisher for the win. Saxton said there’ll be a big asterisk next to this one. Joe said it was nonsense.
WINNER: Garza in 4:00.
-After the match, as KO made it to his feet, Garza clipped his leg again from behind. The Performance Center trainees were shown heckling and reacting with outrage to Garza, including Eric Bugenhagen.
(Keller’s Analysis: The win was tainted with the pre-match attack, but it’s still a signature win for Garza. I hope it’s a sign of a push for Garza and not WWE cooling on KO for any reason, including the time he took off after WM. They don’t want to send that message in these times. KO didn’t come away from a big WrestleMania with any momentum. That all said, Garza is a fresh opponent and could really be elevated by this feud. KO and Vega going back and forth on the mic is also something to look forward to.) [c]
-A video package aired on the basketball and axe throwing skits between The Street Profits and The Viking Raiders.
-They went to the golf course where Montez Ford was singing and wearing obnoxious golf pants. They had a gold trainer instructing them to play fair and properly. Eric threw the golf club like a spear rather than swinging it. Ivar threw a tantrum when he kept swinging and missing. Ford’s shot bounced off a bunch of obstacles and rolled into the hole. They ended up hitting some other golfers with their ball. They got into the golf carts and tried to flee the scene, but the Raiders tires gave in. The golf guide kicked them out for being loud and destructive. Instead, the Raiders and Profits danced and then played mini golf together. The Raiders celebrated having a much higher score. Ford revealed they actually won because the low score in golf wins. They decided to keep playing. Ivar found a wallet, a red cup, and a turkey leg inside the hole. He then saw a live alligator on the course and was going to attack it. The Profits and Eric held him back.
-MVP and Lashley were walking backstage and ended up walking up to Lana. Lana said she can’t believe Drew kicked MVP. She presented him with a bag of ice. MVP said she thinks everything is a joke. MVP said that was a message meant for her husband. He said they need to send a message back to Drew right now. He handed her the bag of ice and walked away. Lashley eyed Lana and walked away. She shrieked and yelled in frustration.
-Seth told Theory and Murphy that tonight is a night for inspiration. [c]
(3) AUSTIN THEORY & MURPHY (w/Seth Rollins) vs. HUMBERTO CARRILLO & ALEISTER BLACK
After the heels bailed out early, Humberto leaped off the top rope and crossbody blocked both heels to the mat. Back in the ring, Black took it to Theory with a slam and a kick for a two count. He then tagged in Humberto, who leaped off the top rope with a knee to his extended arm. As chaos broke out a minute later, Theory mistakenly kicked Murphy. Black then swept Theory to the mat and hit both heels with a cabrada. Theory rolled up Black with a yank of tights for a two count. Black fired back immediately, then tagged in Humberto. Theory moved, but Humberto rolled through and knocked Murphy off the ring apron. Theory caught Humberto with his ATL finisher and got the win.
WINNERS: Theory & Murphy in 4:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That easily could have gone longer. Putting Black in matches like this defines him down a bit to part of a cluster of talented young wrestler, which isn’t awful, but it did seem like he was on a path to main events quicker than this appears to be taking him.)
-After the match, the heel duo attacked Black and threw him into the time keeper’s area. Seth instructed them to attack Humberto next. They threatened to do to his eye what they did to Rey’s. Seth warned Black to stay away as Black resurfaced with a chair in hand. “Put the chair down or he loses an eye,” he said. Black dropped the chair. Seth told Black to leave the ring. Seth told him not to make him sacrifice the two of them the way he was forced to sacrifice Mysterio. They dropped Humberto and left together, with Seth staring at Rey’s mask. Phillips called that one of the most chilling threats they’ve seen on Raw.
-They showed Edge sitting backstage. Phillips reiterated that many think his match against Orton will be the greatest match ever. [c]
-Edge, still sitting backstage, said Orton caught him flat-footed. “Congratulations, you laid the bate, I bit,” he said. “Now I find myself doubting my ability.” He said he wonders if he can still hang with him. He said he was retired for 3,212 days, and during that time, Orton wrestled in 1,126 matches. “I did the research,” Edge said. He said he’s looking at it and he realizes he has to prove himself to himself. He said strangely, he wants to thank Orton because he made him contemplate things he had buried deeply. He said when he got home, he watched the first installment of the Last Ride documentary series and he watched himself on there pontificating about when it’s time to hang up your boots. He said now here he is. He said if Randy wants to doubt his wrestling ability, he has hung hold for hold with Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Christian, William Regal, and every style he adapted. He said when it was his job, he pulled people up to his level and taught people to take things to the next level. He said he was a five-tool workhorse for WWE. He said everything he just said was in the past tense, and he truly doesn’t know if he can do any one of those things anymore. He said at Backlash, he is going to dig to the depths of his soul to try. “It’s all a man can do,” he said.
-Phillips said the anticipation couldn’t be any higher. He said it’s two weeks from Sunday on WWE Network. The graphic said in big font “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever.” Joe said it might be just that. Saxton said it’ll be the best effort of two of the best to every lace up boots.
-Asuka made her way to the announce table for the triple threat match. [c]
-The Street Profits and Viking Raiders were all chummy with each other over what happened on the golf course. The Profits asked them to pick the next challenge. Ivar wanted gator wrestling, but Angelo Dawkins said anything but gator wrestling. The Raiders picked bowling, then left. MVP walked up to the Profits and said they’re another example of extraordinary talent going down the drain because they’d rather clown around than act like champions. MVP said they don’t respect clowns. The Profits asked MVP how his face is. Dawkins said he should ice his face. MVP said the Claymore is extremely devastating, but he can handle it. He challenged the Profits to a tag match. “And if you’re up for it, bring that smoke,” he said.
(4) CHARLOTTE vs. NIA JAX vs. NATALYA – No. 1 contendership match for WWE Women’s Title
Asuka was at ringside with the announcers. Nia kept the nasty intense facial expression as she entered the ring. Charlotte knocked Natalya down with an elbow to the side of her head. Charlotte then battled Jax. Jax slammed Charlotte, then slammed Natalya on top of her. They showed Asuka reacting at ringside. Charlotte and Natalya whipped Jax into the corner; Jax went shoulder-first into the ringpost, then tumbled to the floor. Charlotte took Natalya down with a headlock. Natalya countered into a head scissors. Charlotte kipped out of it. Natalya went back to a headlock. Charlotte turned it into a head scissors. Natalya kipped up and posed like Charlotte. Nice sequence. Charlotte knocked Jax off the ring apron. Natalya hit Charlotte. Jax yanked Charlotte off the ring apron and clotheslined her at ringside. Jax went to the announce desk and cleared it. Charlotte threw Jax’s face into the table. Natalya slidekicked Jax, but Jax caught her feet and rammed her into the ring apron and yanked her by her head to the floor. Charlotte jabbed Jax with the hood of the announce desk. They battled on the ring apron with chops. Asuka cheered them on. Jax lifted Charlotte for a Samoan Drop. Natalya yanked Charlotte down. They lifted Jax off the ring apron and powerbombed her through the announce table. That looked unstable and quite the feat. Asuka gasped as they cut to a break. [c]
They replayed the powerbomb through the table after the break. Asuka threw Jax back into the ring. Saxton wondered why she did that. Jax looked no worse off after the powerbomb a few minutes earlier as she went on the attack against Natalya. Jax lifted Natalya and gave him a one-arm powerbomb to break an armbar. Charlotte kicked Jax and covered Natalya for a near fall. Charlotte landed a moonsault on Jax for a two count. Natalya leaped off the top rope onto Charlotte to break up her set-up for the figure-four. Natalya covered Charlotte to kick out. Jax clotheslined Natalya. Charlotte stood, but Jax clotheslined her. Jax shoved Natalya and Charlotte into the corner. She went for a double Samoan Drop, but she couldn’t lift them. Charlotte knocked Natalya out of the ring, then elbowed Jax. She kneed Jax’s leg, then set up the figure-four. Jax struggled to escape, but couldn’t break it. Charlotte applied the Figure-Eight, but Natalya broke it up. Natalya then put Charlotte in the Sharpshooter mid-ring. Charlotte tried to push off, but Natalya held her mid-ring. Jax broke it up and set up a Samoan Drop. Natalya slipped free. Jax knocked her down. Jax lifted Natalya, but Charlotte gave her a big boot. Natalya broke up the cover. Charlotte threw Natalya out of the ring. Charlotte went after Jax and set up a moonsault. Natalya slowed her. Jax got up and headbutted Charlotte several times and then set up a superplex. Natalya entered to powerbomb both of them off the top rope. They pulled it off. Natalya was the first to her feet and she scored a two count on Jax, then a two count on Charlotte.
Natalya went for a sharpshooter, but Charlotte rolled her up from behind, then applied a figure-four. Jax legdropped Charlotte to break that up. Jax gave Natalya a Samoan Drop for the win. They put a graphic on the screen that had Asuka vs. Jax and the words “Greatest Wrestling Match Ever: Backlash” next to it.
WINNER: Jax to advance to face Asuka at Backlash.
-Braxton asked Drew if he had heard the Street Profits will be facing Lashley & MVP later on the show. Drew said rather than leave, he was going to grab something he left in the locker room. He said he has a feeling he won’t find it until that match is over. Drew was wearing his new “Talk Less / Clay More” t-shirt. [c]
-They went to the announcers on camera without a desk. Phillips congratulated the Bellas for a phenomenal season of “Total Bellas.” They shifted to an update on the 24/7 Championship. They showed what happened at WrestleMania with Rob Gronkowski. Then R-Truth was shown saying it has come to his attention that Gronk, not Tom Brady, is the 24/7 Champion. He blamed him for beating Brady for it. He warned him he will travel anywhere to bring his baby back. He put on shoulder pads.
-They showed a promo from Rob Gronkowski with his 24/7 Title belt at a gym. He said he’s going to make sure he has all the intel he needs. He said 24/7 Gronk is the present and the future. He said growing up with four brothers has taught him to be prepared for a fight anytime. “I will see you coming because I got eyes on the back of my head.” He put sunglasses on backwards and pointed at them. So there, proof.
-They went back to the announcers at ringside who shifted to hyping the Street Profits vs. MVP & Lashley match.
-They showed MVP and Lashley chatting backstage. Braxton approached MVP and asked why he’d want to compete tonight after taking a Claymore. MVP pointed at Lashley and said, “That’s why.”
-Saxton said Ric Flair was joining them next. [c]
-Flair was shown talking about the Edge-Orton match. He said he has participated in more great wrestling matches than any man who has walked the aisle. He said WWE reached out to ask him about the outcome of Edge vs. Orton. He picked Orton, “my main man.”
-The announcers threw to a video package hyping the Undertaker-Shawn Michaels rivalry.
-Liv Morgan looked at the camera and said what might surprise people is that her stumbling block is her own sense of self worth, not thinking she ever felt good enough. She said she does remember being six years old and wondering what this big thing called life had in store for her. She said she didn’t know if she’d hit the sun or crash and burn. (I have news for her about what happens when she hits the son.) She said she might not know all the answers because life just keeps changing all the questions. She said what she does know is she is alive and she is going to fulfill what she has always been destined to be. She said she is living her best life.
-The Street Profits came out. Ford slapped hands with everyone through the plexiglass. An inset interview aired with the Street Profits. They said they can call them clowns, but they’re bringing the smoke as was asked. Saxton said this plan could backfire on MVP and Lashley. [c]
-The announcers hyped Black vs. Seth one-on-one next week. (That’s a good step up for Black.) Also, a Rey Mysterio “retirement ceremony.”
(5) THE STREET PROFITS vs. BOBBY LASHLEY & MVP
Lashley and MVP isolated Ford for a couple minutes at the start. Dawkins got the hot-tag. They double-dropkicked Lashley to the floor. Ford was suddenly 100 percent despite making a desperate tag seconds earlier. Ford avoided MVP’s attempt at a sweep at ringside, but Lashley then clotheslined him. Lashley lifted Ford and rammed him face-first into the ringpost. They cut to a break at 3:00. [c]
MVP had Ford grounded after the break. Ford eventually hot-tagged in Dawkins who went after MVP with a flurry. He hit a clunky slam and the splashed him in the corner. He followed up with a bulldog and played to the audience. Ford tackled Lashley at ringside, then collapsed again. Joe said he’s delirious. Ford then landed a frog splash on MVP. Lashley shoved Dawkins into the ringpost. Lashley entered the ring and put Ford away with a full nelson.
WINNERS: Lashley & Ford in 12:00.
-When Lashley didn’t let go of the full nelson, Drew’s music played and he charged out and attacked Lashley. Lashley fought back briefly, but the fresher Drew threw Lashley into the ring, mounted him, and punched away. The ref called for two of the trainees at ringside to run out and restore order. Drew gave them headbutts when they pulled him off of Lashley. Lashley speared Drew and then mounted him. The ref called for more help from trainees. Four of them pulled them apart, but Drew and Lashley broke free and fought again. Security ran out and the show ended with a pullapart brawl.