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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MAY 2. 2022
GREENSBORO, N.C. AT THE COLISEUM
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-The WWE “Then, Now, Forever” jingle played.
-A recap aired from last Friday night’s Smackdown of the contract signing with RK-Bro and the Usos leading instead to a six-man tag match being set up for Backlash with Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns added to the match.
-They went live to the arena where Roman Reigns’s theme played. Reigns walked out with Paul Heyman and the Usos. Smith said the main event at Backlash just got more epic.
(Keller’s Analysis: The way WWE is making it seem like it’s objectively and obviously a bigger deal that it’s a six-man tag with nothing at stake instead of a match to unify the two tag team championships feels like gas lighting given the weeks of hyping up the historical significance of the tag titles being unified. Some might think it’s bigger this way, others for sure not, but a six-man tag is not just close to a bigger deal to everyone.)
Heyman told the fans they should stand on their feet because they get a chance to revel in the greatness of their Tribal Chief. Reigns nodded along before asking for the mic. Some fans began a “Roman!” chant. Graves said under his breath, “Mixed reaction here tonight.” Reigns asked North Carolina to acknowledge him. RK-Bro snuck in and gave the Usos surprise RKO’s. They surrounded Reigns. Drew McIntyre’s music played and he walked out with his sword in hand. Reigns’s eyes darted around nervously as McIntyre approached the ring. Drew stepped onto the ring apron and dropped his sword. Riddle and Orton left the ring. Saxton said they were letting Drew have Reigns all to himself.
Reigns had some words for Drew. Drew talked back. Reigns made a move, but Drew beat him to the punch. Reigns took over in the corner with strikes, but Drew powered Reigns into the corner and took control again. When the Usos re-entered the ring, Riddle and Orton ran back in. Referees and agents entered to break them up. They cut to a break mid-brawl. [c]
-The announcers commented on clips of what just happened. Then they went to the announcers on camera. Saxton said they still have another stop on Smackdown with those six. “If you thought this chaos was something, I don’t know what we’re going to see on Friday!” Saxton said.
(Keller’s Analysis: WWE’s got to be careful not making Raw seem like a place where Reigns does segments that are just a teaser for Smackdown.)
-The Street Profits were backstage. Ezekiel approached them and introduced himself. They said they knew who he was already. They gave him a red solo cup of a beverage. He took a sip and winced. He said he was good, though. Chad Gable, Otis, and Kevin Owens approached them. Gable was being judgmental of drinking on the job. Owens said it’s pathetic, just like Ezekiel’s lies. Gable asked Ezekiel if he thinks he’s smarter than him. He said you can beat a lie detector test, but only if you’re a conniving liar. Owens said Ezekiel will be exposed as Elias and a liar. The Profits said the three of them are going to beat the three of them later. Owens threw the drink in the face of Ezekiel, then left.
(1) KEVIN OWENS & OTIS & CHAD GABLE vs. EZEKIEL & THE STREET PROFITS (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford)
Owens’ music played. He came out with Gable and Otis. The Profits and Ezekiel came out next. Graves said the Profits have found an edge and aggression recently that they lacked in the past, so this could be the best version of them yet. Graves said the Profits recently realized “you can take part or you can take over.” Gable settled into an armbar on Ford. Smith said playing their music led to a distraction which led to their victory, “and that’s a new side of the Street Profits you have to watch out for.” The Profits double-teamed Otis and knocked him out of the ring. They cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
The heels were in control after the break. As KO rallied against Ford, he did a crotch chop toward Ford’s teammates in the corner. Owens landed a second rope moonsault onto Ford’s legs for a two count. When Ezekiel tagged in, he got the better of Owens, so Owens rolled to the floor. When Ezekiel reached out of the ring toward Owens. Gable grabbed him from behind. Ezekiel elbowed out of a suplex attempt. Gable distracted the ref as Owens tripped Ezekiel running the ropes. (Not sure where he planned to run, but anyway…) Gable then leaped at Ezekiel and cradled him for the three count. Owens didn’t look thrilled and returned to the back alone as Gable and Otis were celebrating.
WINNERS: Owens & Otis & Gable in 9:00
-Kevin Patrick and A.J. Styles were shown having a friendly conversation. [c]
-Patrick interviewed Styles backstage. He asked Styles about the special stip being added to his match against Damian Priest tonight. Styles said this is about Edge and his fragile ego. He said if he beats Priest tonight, Priest will be banned from ringside at Backlash so he can’t distract him like he did before. He said if he doesn’t beat Priest, it’ll be an uphill battle on Sunday night.
-They went to the announcers on camera who threw to a video recap of last week’s match with Sonya Deville challenging Bianca Belair for her title and abusing her power.
-Backstage Deville told Adam Pearce she did everything by the book, so what’s the controversy supposedly about. Pearce said upper management believes she abused her power and tried to use it to win, but it didn’t work. He said they want Sonya to wrestle, but without executive power. He said he put her in a six-woman tag match later. Sonya hesitated, then suggested it be a No Holds Barred match. Pearce said tonight she’s a competitor without any executive power at all. Sonya looked slightly pouty about how that went.
-Veer Mahan made his way to the ring and let out a big yell. He then patiently wanted in the ring during the commercial break. [c]
-Saxton interviewed Greensboro’s own Burt Hanson mid-ring. He asked why he would sign up to face Veer. Hanson said for all his life, he wanted to compete on Raw in his hometown of Greensboro. He said for years he worked down the street, dreaming of this moment. He said tonight he’s making it his dream come true. Saxton wished him luck.
(2) VEER MAHAN vs. BURT HANSON
Veer dominated from the start and finished Hanson with a lariat and his finishing Cervical Clutch.
WINNER: Veer in 1:00.
-Afterward, Veer kicked Hanson to the floor and then threw him back into the ring. He then applied his Cervical Clutch around the bottom rope.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like when the jobber gets some mic time and a backstory. It makes Veer beating him up, while feeling inevitable, resonate a little more.)
-The announcers commented over a replay of Priest and Edge beating up Styles backstage two weeks ago.
-Edge’s entrance theme played with his voiceover saying, “You think you know me? You never did.” Priest showed up on the stage first and he was joined by Edge. The ring announcer said Priest was “representing Judgment Day.” [c]
-As Edge and Priest stood in the ring, Smith said Styles and Edge will battle at Backlash on Sunday, and if Styles wins this match, Priest will be banned from ringside. Edge said, “We are Judgment Day.” He said he knows most fans can’t stand to look at themselves in the mirror and most of them don’t like him anymore and maybe even despise him. “And that’s because you despise yourself,” he said. “It’s a miracle everyone in Greensboro can put on their shoes and waddle to their proper seats.” He imitated a Greensboro accent. He said if they were successful enough to support a sports franchise, it’d be called the Greensboro Lemmings. He explained that a lemming is a rodent. He said the fans don’t have many teeth. He said Styles, by not backing of their match, is going to face pain and judgment at Backlash. He told fans to “bring it” when they started booing him.
Edge kept talking until Styles’s music played. Styles made his way to the ring for the match.
(3) A.J. STYLES vs. DAMIAN PRIEST (w/Edge)
Priest controlled for a minute. Styles knocked Priest to the floor, then landed a slingshot flying forearm. Graves wondered what it did to Styles’s injured shoulder. Priest caught a charging Styles and threw him shoulder-first into the ringpost. They cut to a break at 3:00. [c]
Styles made a comeback after the break and landed a near fall. Edge looked concerned at ringside. Priest took control again until Styles landed a Pelé kick. When Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm, Priest caught him mid-air with a South of Heaven for a near fall. Styles blocked Priest’s next move and rolled into position for a Calf Crusher. Edge stood on the ring apron, which distracted Styles. Styles lunged at him. Edge leaped to the floor. Styles avoided Priest and rolled him up for a quick win anyway.
WINNER: Styles in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I suppose WWE gets a little credit for having a babyface redeem himself a little for being so easily distracted by being resourceful enough to still pull out a victory.)
-Afterward, Edge entered the ring and attacked Styles. As Edge and Styles brought chairs into the ring, Finn Balor ran out to make the save. Styles then knocked Priest out of the ring. As Edge was fuming wide-eyed at ringside, Styles and Balor stood in the ring, eying each other. Styles offered a Too Sweet hand gesture. Balor joined in and they hugged.
-MVP and Omos were chatting backstage when Cedric Alexander approached MVP and talked about the good old days in Hurt Business. He blamed Bobby Lashley and Shelton Benjamin’s “selfish egos” for derailing them. MVP said he appreciates his desire to get back with him, but he has moved on. Cedric said Shelton Benjamin isn’t there this week, so he wants to show him his value. He said he wants to do it against Lashley. MVP said that got his attention. He told him to show him what he can do later. MVP said he’ll be watching. Omos then said, “Time for you to go.” Cedric left.
-Miz made his way to the ring.
-A commercial aired for NXT’s special episode on Tuesday night. [c]
-Miz TV: Miz invited Mustafa Ali to the ring. Miz danced to Ali’s music until it stopped as Ali was mid-way to the ring. Miz said, “A miscue on Miz TV? That never happens!” Ali’s mic wasn’t working. Miz feigned frustration with the technical issues. Miz kept talking rather than sharing his working mic. Miz asked if his act of desperation last week was because he’s never been a champion in WWE or because the WWE Universe forgot about him during his hiatus. Ali’s mic still wasn’t working. Miz told Ali, “Don’t go to Twitter and complain.” Ali yanked the mic from Miz. He said the only thing the WWE Universe wants to complain about is because Miz still works there. Ali said when Miz feels unheard, he goes to management backstage, whereas when he feels unheard, he goes to the WWE Universe “because, to me, they’re the only ones that matter.” An angry Miz said he’ll live to regret that. Theory then made his way onto the stage. He said he had something to say to both of them.
Miz said Theory is a man with manners and a microphone that works. Theory told Miz it wasn’t fair he had a match last week without time to warm up or prepare. He said he suggested to Mr. McMahon that Miz’s loss last week be permanently removed from the record books. Miz smiled and thanked him. He said it’s the least he could do since a schmuck like Ali was trying to make a name at his expense. He asked Ali what he’s done to deserve a U.S. Title match. Ali interrupted and said, “You two talk too much!” Ali said he wants to be U.S. Champion, but he doesn’t want an opportunity handed to him. Theory said that’s great because he’s already run it by McMahon that Ali can get a Championship Contender’s match tonight. Theory said as he sees it, it won’t go too well for him. He said the truth is, when it comes to him, he can’t beat him. He bragged about being the youngest WWE Champion in history “and I just don’t know if you can handle all that heat.” Ali said, “Believe me, if there’s anybody back there who can handle heat, it’s me.” (Ohh, Meta Moment Alert!) Theory said he can do this all day.
Theory said Ali’s match will be against him and the Miz in a handicapped match. He said the match starts right now. He laughed. Miz loved the plan.
(Keller’s Analysis: Ali is a really straight-forward likable babyface. It’s good to see him getting a chance to be himself without any pasted-on gimmick. Theory and Miz played their roles well here, too.) [c]
(4) MUSTAFA ALI vs. MIZ & THEORY – Handicapped match
The match was joined in progress with Miz and Theory in control. Ali ducked Theory at ringside, but when Ali re-entered the ring, Miz caught Ali with the Skull Crushing Finale for the win. Graves called the Miz-Theory relationship “symbiotic.” Theory took a selfie of him and Miz afterward on the stage as Miz’s music played.
WINNERS: Miz & Theory in 3:00.
-As Ali stood, Tommaso Ciampa charged at him from behind. The announcers wondered what that was about.
(Keller’s Analysis: I hope they do tell the story of why Ciampa is attacking Ali. The matches should be great.)
-They showed footage from earlier. Reggie told an upset Dana Brooke that he wanted to make it up to her. Dana said she didn’t want to go on a honeymoon with him after what he did. Dana then walked up to R-Truth and said he owes her an apology. Truth said it was a test to keep her alert. He said he was sorry, but admitted he wants his “baby” back because he feels empty inside. Tamina then said her waist is empty. She told Akira Tozawa he’s supposed to help her. Nikki A.S.H. jumped Dana from behind and pinned her, then ran away with the title. Dana told Reggie if he wants to save their marriage, he better get her a rematch tonight.
-Dana and Reggie made their entrance. [c]
(5) NIKKI A.S.H. vs. DANA BROOKE (w/Reggie) – 24/7 Title match
Graves said the best way to handle any marital issue is to buy something for them. He said it’ll be good for at least four-to-six weeks. Brooke beat Nikki with a flip neckbreaker for the clean win.
WINNER: Brooke in 1:00 to regain the 24/7 Title.
-Afterward, Tozawa tried to pin Dana. Truth interrupted and went for the cover. Tamina yanked him off. Brooke ran to the back, but Reggie rolled her up. Brooke kicked out and slapped him. She walked over to the announce desk and told Reggie, “I want a divorce!” She threw the mic at Reggie, who was kneeling. Graves said he hoped Reggie had a prenup. “Trade her in for a newer model,” Graves said. “It’ll be fine.”
-A clip aired of Becky Lynch’s promo last week including the return of Asuka.
-Patrick interviewed Lynch backstage about what happened last week. Lynch interrupted his recap. She said it took bravery for her to tell the world she hit rock bottom after losing her identity. She said this is her comeback story, not Asuka’s, and it begins with ending Asuka.
-Seth Rollins’s entrance took place. Saxton said it’s “Seth Rollins Appreciation Night” next. [c]
-The announcers recapped the angle earlier with McIntyre, RK-Bro, the Usos, and Reigns.
-Seth stood mid-ring as his music faded. Seth talked himself up and said it is Seth Rollins Appreciation Night.
Seth stood center-ring with a spotlight on him and the arena otherwise darkened. Fans sang his theme song. He soaked it up. He said they were giving him chills. “This feels good, doesn’t it?” he said. “Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins in the spotlight.” Fans began chanting “Cody! Cody!” That appeared to ruin Seth’s buzz. “Funny you should mention that jerk,” he said. He claimed Cody tried to steal his spotlight at WrestleMania. He said he will show at Backlash that you can’t steal his spotlight because he is the damn spotlight. He got angry and told fans to shut up. He said he is the standard-bearer in this industry, and it seems fans are forgetting it. A “We Want Cody!” chant rang out. Seth said they’ve forgotten how good he is, but he loves to remind them. He said he had his people put together a video package showing his rise to stardom. “Get ready to appreciate Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins!” he said. Instead, Cody’s entrance theme played. Seth yelled, “No!”
Cody stepped onto the stage, wearing a plaid blue suit. They found some fans who were into his song, but most of the crowd shots were fans watching but not really reacting much to his entrance. A “Cody!” chant started, though, as soon as his music stopped. Seth asked Cody why he’s sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. “If you’re not here to give me flowers, shut up please,” Seth said. Cody congratulated Seth. Seth looked on skeptically. Cody asked what it is all about. He said he seems to be unraveling at the seams. He said his loss to him at WrestleMania seems to be an albatross. Cody said Seth was wearing “a hideous Johnny Polo get-up.” Cody said his hypocrisy knows no bounds. He said he’s been a gentleman since his return no matter what Seth did, but he has a feeling he’s about to cross the line. He said Seth is a big star, but he’s also delusional. Seth took offense to that.
Seth asked if he’s really saying he’s the one in the ring who is delusional. “That’s rich!” he said. “That is rich coming from you, kid.” He said the late, great “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes wrestled hundreds if not thousands of times in that very arena. A “Dusty!” chant started. Seth said, “But just like you, he was an egomaniac who thought he was larger than life and thought he transcended the business. He said the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Seth said Dusty really wanted to be the WWE Champion, but he wasn’t good enough. He said as long as he’s in WWE, Cody isn’t good enough, either. Seth punched Cody. Cody made a comeback and pummeled Seth in the corner. He hit a springboard Cody Cutter. Seth rolled to the floor. Cody’s music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: A good segment at continuing the hype for their Backlash match, hitting the notes they should be hitting that are leading to this rematch. The reaction to Cody is still strange, because he’s not getting big pops audibly nor are fans visibly enthusiastic for him, yet there are these Cody chants. Are they piped in and then some fans join in? Or do fans like chanting for Cody, but they’re not really feeling enthusiasm for him otherwise?)
-Bobby Lashley made his ring entrance. [c]
(6) BOBBY LASHLEY vs. CEDRIC
Right after the bell rang, MVP and Omos interrupted from the stage. Cedric attacked a DISTRACTED Lashley from behind. MVP did live commentary. Lashley made a quick comeback. MVP said if he struggles to beat Cedric, what will he do when Omos gets his hands on him at Backlash. Cedric then made a comeback against a preoccupied Lashley. He stomped away at him against the ropes. MVP said Lashley is nothing without him. Cedric dove through the ropes and tried to spear Lashley, but Cedric came up short. Lashley beat him up at ringside and then finished him back in the ring with a spear and a Hurt Lock.
WINNER: Lashley via tapout in 2:00.
-They showed Liv Morgan backstage. [c]
-Footage aired of Gable Steveson, Titus O’Neal, Happy Corbin, and The Miz participating in NFL Draft announcements.
-A clip aired of Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan arguing and breaking up.
-Sarah Schreiber interviewed Liv backstage. Liv said she thought they were a great team, but Ripley thought she was a problem. She said she thinks Ripley is actually disappointed in herself, and she won’t take the blame or another beating from her.
-They went to the announcers at ringside who recapped the Edge and Priest angle with Styles and Balor earlier. They ran through the Backlash line-up.
-Lynch made her ring entrance. [c]
-The announcers commented on clips of what happened with the 24/7 Title situation earlier.
-Backstage, R-Truth told Reggie that he let the love of his life slip through his hands, too. He was referring to his 24/7 Title. Truth said marriages are hard and 90 percent of divorces end in separations. He asked Reggie if he had a prenup. Reggie didn’t even know what it was. Truth offered his services as a divorce attorney. His business card says: “If y’all can’t keep it together, the Truth will keep y’all apart.” Reggie said he didn’t know he was a squire. He said he’s certified in everything.
-Backstage, Nikki was sulking when Doudrop walked up to her and asked if she’s ready to take things more seriously. Nikki said, “Yes.” Doudrop put her hand on her shoulder and smiled.
(Keller’s Analysis: I hope this is leading to a major repackaging of Nikki.)
-They did the final five ring entrances for the six-woman tag team main event. [c]
(7) BECKY LYNCH & RHEA RIPLEY & SONYA DEVILLE vs. LIV MORGAN & ASUKA & BIANCA BELAIR
They took turns tagging in and out in the early minutes. Liv got in some sustained offense against Becky and scored a two count. When Ripley distracted Liv, Liv turned her back on Becky, giving Becky an opening to take over. Graves said emotions will be her downfall. Liv ducked Becky and dove onto Ripley at ringside. Then she stomped away at her. Becky slidekicked Liv, then threw her back into the ring and quickly landed a top rope legdrop for barely a two count. They cut to a break. [c]
Back live, Ripley was in control against Liv. Liv eventually hot-tagged in Belair just as Ripley also tagged back in. Asuka battled Sonya for a while after that. Asuka delivered a hip attack, sending Deville flying off the ring apron where Liv then kneed her in the jaw. Back in the ring, Liv scored a near fall, broken up by Becky. Asuka gave Becky a backfist. Belair gave Ripley a spinebuster. Deville threw Belair out of the ring. Liv rolled up Deville, but Deville countered. Deville then connected with a knee for a near fall. Deville covered Liv with her legs on the middle rope for extra leverage. The ref saw it. Belair knocked her legs off the rope. Sonya turned to yell at Belair. Morgan then caught her with Oblivion for the win.
WINNERS: Morgan & Asuka & Belair in 14:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action throughout with a unique mix of names in the Raw Women’s Division.)