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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MAY 16. 2022
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-A three minute video package aired hyping the scheduled cage match between Bobby Lashley and Omos.
-They went to Jimmy Smith, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton standing at ringside in front of the cage. Smith touted the sellout crowd and said the energy in the building is being generated by anticipation for the cage match. They discussed it, and noted that Lashley wanted the match.
Graves shifted to hyping the Usos vs. RK-Bro match to unify the tag team titles on Smackdown on Friday. Saxton hyped that Riddle would face Jimmy Uso tonight. Smith said Cody Rhodes will speak in two hours. They showed a “Countdown to Cody” clock. Graves hyped a 6-Pack Challenge match with Sasha Banks, Naomi, Becky Lynch, Asuka, Nikki A.S.H., and Doudrop. Saxton said it will create some clarity in the Raw Title picture.
-As Omos and MVP walked out, a graphic on the screen billed Omos at 7-3 and 403 pounds and referred to him as “The Nigerian Giant.” Graves said he saw a glimpse of trepidation on Omos’s face. MVP talked mid-ring about Lashley and Omos. He said Omos is bigger, stronger, and meaner than Lashley could ever be. He said he is the future of WWE. He said he expects Lashley to put up one hell of a fight, but the outcome is a foregone conclusion. He said he expects Omos to brutalize Lashley more than he did at Backlash. He said the fans are “blessed and fortunate to be living in the era of the Nigerian Giant, Omos.”
Lashley’s ring entrance then took place. He walked out to cheers, but then Cedric Alexander attacked him in the aisle from behind. Omos joined in the beating at ringside. Referees and officials separated them. Saxton said they need to get them inside the cage “the way it was meant to be.” [c]
(1) OMOS (w/MVP) vs. BOBBY LASHLEY
Smith said order has been restored. The bell rang 15 minutes into the show. Lashley charged at Omos, but Omos bashed him with forearms and a running kick to the head. Graves said this is the most confidence Omos has shown in his young career. Saxton said he was sauntering around the ring with confidence. Omos knocked Lashley to the mat with a forearm to the chest. MVP jabbed Lashley in the face with his cane through the cage. The ref didn’t see it.
At 3:00 MVP was trash-talking Lashley and reached into the cage and slapped him. Lashley grabbed MVP’s arm and yanked him into the cage. Lashley then speared Omos mid-ring and scored a two count. Fans stood for the near fall. Lashley set up a Hurt Lock mid-ring, but Omos powered out. Lashley caught a charging Omos with a boot to the face. He then climbed the side of the cage, but Omos met him in the corner and tried to grab him. Lashley stomped away at him, then climbed the side of the cage. Cedric ran out and climbed the side of the cage. Graves called him a “pest.” Cedric ended up sitting on top of the cage, stomping on Lashley. Lashley threw Cedric off the top of the cage onto the mat. Lashley then dove at Omos, but Omos caught him and threw him off his shoulders into the side of the cage.
At 7:00 Omos palmed Lashley’s head. Lashley punched back. Omos caught a charging Lashley with a boot to the face. Omos then clawed Lashley’s face. MVP told Omos to finish him. Omos hoisted Lashley onto his shoulders and rammed him into the side of the cage. The side broke and Lashley landed on the side panel of the cage on the floor. He stepped onto the mat and therefore won. MVP threw a fit at ringside. The ref explained to Mike Rome. Rome said, “Despite the unique way this happened, both of Bobby Lashley’s feet hit the ground, therefore your winner, ‘The All Mighty’ Bobby Lashley.” Graves said it doesn’t matter how it happened, just that it happened.
WINNER: Lashley in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s interesting watching how WWE constructs Omos’s matches to play to his capabilities and work around his limitations. They did so here pretty well. The finish was visually cool, but of course is a form of a copout finish. The cage is supposed to keep wrestlers inside the cage so they can settle things once and for all. They weaseled out of that with this finish, but the finish does play into the idea that Omos is so powerful, not even a cage can withstand his power.)
-The announcers commented on last week’s Tommaso Ciampa tainted win over Mustafa Ali with Miz as special referee.
-Theory made his ring entrance. The announcers hyped Mustafa Ali vs. Austin. Smith said Ali is finally getting the match he wanted when he returned to Raw. [c]
-Ali’s ring entrance was in progress as they returned from the break. Before the bell, Theory dropped to ringside and said he can’t let the match take place without a referee he can trust. Miz’s music played. Graves said this match just became “must see.” Saxton said it just became a joke. (So wrestlers get to pick referees for their matches now? The announcers reacted like this is just a thing that can happen.) Miz asked Theory if he was ready. Theory said he’s not sure because it doesn’t feel right that Mustafa lost and “failed his way into a match with the champ.” He said the first lesson he ever learned from Mr. McMahon was to expect the unexpected. Theory said his opponent isn’t him, it’s Veer Mahan.
(2) MUSTAFA ALI vs. VEER MAHAN
Ali went after Veer at the bell with a flying dropkick. Veer came right back with a flying bodypress. Veer cut off an attempted comeback by Ali with a boot to the face. Theory cheered at ringside. Veer stomped Ali and then landed a leaping elbow to the chest. Ali fired back with two super kicks. Theory tripped Ali running the ropes. Miz didn’t react to the interference. Ali ducked a charging Veer and knocked him to the floor with a dropkick. He followed by setting up a running dive, but Miz stood in his path. Ali accused Miz of screwing with him. Miz insisted Ali respect him and he shoved Ali. Veer then surprised Ali with a clothesline followed by a Cervical Clutch. Ali tapped out.
WINNER: Veer in 4:00.
-Afterward, Theory took a selfie of himself with Veer in the background applying the Cervical Clutch again. He added Miz to a second selfie. Graves said he might make that his second wallpaper. Veer yanked the lid off the announce desk, but then Rey and Dominik Mysterio ran out to their music. Graves said the Mysterios were taken out weeks ago by Veer. They attacked Veer, including a Rey senton. Veer threw a fit.
-Becky Lynch ran up to Adam Pearce and said, “This can’t happen!” Smith said they’d hear from her next. [c]
-A video package aired on Bianca Belair vs. Asuka last week in a “Championship Contenders match,” ending when Becky Lynch attacked Belair and Asuka.
-Backstage, Becky told Pearce the match cannot happen. She said she just saw Sasha and Naomi take their bags and leave the building. She said she hasn’t had her rematch yet “after being the greatest Raw Women’s Champion who ever lived.” She said she should just be named the no. 1 contender and she can have the night off. Pearce said Becky will face Asuka one-on-one and whoever wins will face Belair for the title. “It’s official.”
-They went to the announcers who reacted to the odd change in circumstances. They offered no explanation, but instead just briefly reacted and pivoted to a video package from Smackdown on RK-Bro challenging the Usos to a tag team title unificaton match.
(Keller’s Analysis: So is WWE going to offer up any explanation for why Sasha and Naomi just left the building? Or why it wasn’t a Fatal Four-way match with Doudrop and Nikki A.S.H.? Everyone is left thinking they zoned out for a major development explaining what happened.)
-Riddle made his ring entrance. [c]
-A commercial aired for AAPI Amplified with Xia Li and Tamina speaking.
(3) RIDDLE vs. JIMMY USO
The announcers hyped Friday’s tag title unification match. Jey took a cheap shot from ringside to help Jimmy take control. The announcers debated whether Riddle made a mistake challenging Jimmy to this match. The Usos continued to double-team Riddle in various ways, eventually throwing him into the ringside steps. They cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
Back from the break, Jimmy was in control in the ring. Saxton said Riddle has had to contend with both Jimmy and Jey. Riddle landed a kick and kipped up. He landed an overhead suplex, but Jimmy lifted his knees on a leaping senton attempt.
A graphic hyped that in one hour, Cody would speak. Jimmy landed a pop-up Samoan drop for a two count. Both were down and slow to get up. Jimmy climbed to the top rope, but Riddle met him up there and set up a top rope RKO. Jimmy head-butted Riddle to the mat. Riddle lifted his knees when Jimmy splashed him. Riddle caught a charging Jimmy with an elbow, but then Jey knocked Riddle off the top rope. Jey tried to help add leverage to Jimmy’s subsequent pin attempt, but the ref caught him. The ref ejected Jey from ringside. Saxton celebrated that it will finally be a one-on-one match. Riddle cradled Jimmy instantly for a quick win.
WINNER: Riddle in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action, with the central dominant storyline being the Usos working together illegally throughout, but Riddle ultimately getting the win anyway.)
-The announcers commented on clips of The Judgment Day’s recent actions against Finn Balor and A.J. Styles.
-Backstage Kevin Patrick approached Liv Morgan. He asked her about being “brutally attacked” by Rhea Ripley. Morgan said she’s not going to get away with. “No matter what the odds are, I never give up the fight.” Humberto and Angel walked up to her and said they are gentleman who will always cheer a beautiful woman. They asked her to be on the Kiss Cam. She said no. Balor and Styles walked in and told them to go away. Styles said they’d see them later tonight. Styles and Balor suggested to Morgan that they join up and watch each other’s backs. Morgan said she’d think about it.
(Keller’s Analysis: Morgan acted like she was just asked out on a date. That was strange. That said, it’s logical for Morgan, Styles, and Balor to join forces.)
-The announcers hyped upcoming matches. [c]
-Edge, Damian Priest, and Rhea Ripley were backstage. Priest said everyone should rise and show respect to The Judgment Day. He said anyone who steps up to them will face nothing but punishment. Priest went into cartoon villain laughter. Ripley said they are done being everything the fans wanted them to be. She said there is nothing holding her back now. “Now it’s time for complete and utter eradication,” she said. Edge said they don’t take names and they don’t speak lies.
Edge said a few might be tired of pretending. He said he can see in their eyes that they are angry. He said given the state of the world, who can blame them. He told them to grab the bolt of electricity and join their movement. “Throw some meaning into your life, some excitement,” he said. He said the other option is to continue to live the purgatory of their existence. He said more will join them. He said his arms are wide open for anyone who will join them and take things to the next level “with my genius leading the way.”
Edge said the invite includes Styles. He said Styles tries to please everyone, and he used to also. He said the adulation of the fans, though, didn’t fulfill him. He said it left him with a body of broken bones and a career that was over before it should have been. He said they can put their past behind them. He told Styles being on top of the mountain is a beautiful place to be. He said his future can be by their side or lying at else their feet.
-Liv Morgan made her ring entrance. Balor’s music played and he joined her. Then Styles did the same.
-Graves said they found out Sasha and Naomi left the arena earlier. He said they are usually professionals, so there has got to be a reason. He said as a result, Becky will face Asuka one-on-one in their main event.
(Keller’s Analysis: Fightful is among sources reporting that Sasha and Naomi left the arena after Sasha butted heads with Vince McMahon over creative plans tonight. Given the circumstances, WWE had their hands tied in terms of coming up with a great B-plan, but the lack of explanation for why Doudrop and Nikki were left out is strange.) [c]
-The announcers hyped tickets going on sale on Friday for Clash at the Castle. The date was briefly shown in the lower left corner of the screen. Saxton said he is counting down the days and it will be electric.
(4) A.J. STYLES & FINN BALOR (w/Liv Morgan) vs. LOS LOTHARIOS (Humberto & Angel)
Humberto and Angel made their ring entrance. Graves said for once he’s only the third-most handsome man in the arena. Los Lotharios kissed a woman in the front row on the cheeks. She acted like she was about to faint. Smith plugged that the countdown clock to Cody was at 33 minutes. (This hyping Cody all the time like this makes him feel like a big star and is a way to measure his drawing power too, but it does risk a backlash because everything Cody does seems more grandiose than anyone else.) Styles and Balor clotheslined Angel out of the ring and then backdropped a charging Humberto to the floor. Then they slingshot themselves onto them on the floor with crossbody blocks. Styles was fired up as they cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Los Lotharios were in control. They showed during the break Angel hitting Styles from the side as he was setting up a Phenomenal Forearm on Humberto. Graves said “this much handsome in the ring in one match should be against the rules.” Styles hot-tagged Balor who took down both Angel and an interfering Humberto. Angel caught Balor with a knee lift a minute later. He went for a Wing Clipper, but Balor flipped out and landed a Sling Blade. Angel caught a charging Balor with a super kick, then tagged Humberto in. Balor caught a moonsaulting Humberto with raised boots.
Balor waited for Humberto stand, then hit him with a missile dropkick. Styles then hit Angel with a Phonomenal Forearm as Balor hit Humberto with a Coup de Grace for the win. Morgan joined Styles and Balor afterward.
WINNERS: Styles & Balor in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action. It seems it’s been a while since Los Lotharios were given that much credibility in a match. Morgan’s acting is just too over the top. The alliance is fine, but she needs to dial down the facial expressions and body language into something that doesn’t feel so patronizing. She comes across like she’s playing some character at a five year old girl’s birthday party.)
-Backstage Chad Gable and Otis approached Kevin Owens. He said they have the results of the DNA test of Ezekiel. Owens ripped open the envelope and read the results. Owens said the results were contaminated by what appeared to be BBQ sauce on the samples. Otis said Elias must have eaten pulled pork before sending in the results. Owens said he remembered seeing Otis eating BBQ ribs in catering. Gable said they can take another approach. KO yelled, “No more tests; they never work!” He told Gable that Elias is making him look like an idiot. Gable said he’ll expose Elias next week, but this week he’s going to beat the truth out of him. KO wore a “Sami Zayn Forever” t-shirt.
(Keller’s Analysis: I was so sure they’d solve the issue of Elias and Ezekiel with the DNA test this week! What a letdown.)
-They went to the announcers at ringside who threw to a video package on the developments with Sonya Deville losing her management job last week.
-Alexa Bliss made her ring entrance. She had the Lilly doll with her. [c]
(5) ALEXA BLISS vs. SONYA DEVILLE
Sonya’s entrance aired after the break. When Deville took control with a chinlock, Saxton said she is showing muscle memory when it comes to being a fierce competitor in the ring. Bliss broke free, but Deville connected with a running knee for a near fall. Deville tried to remove a turnbuckle cover. The ref stopped her. Deville landed a spine-buster, but the ref was re-tying the turnbuckle and didn’t immediately turn to count Deville’s pin. Deville was upset when Bliss kicked out. Bliss came back with a quick DDT for the win.
WINNER: Bliss in 4:00.
-Sonya chewed out the ref after the match. She slapped the ref. Saxton said she can’t get away with that. Smith said there have to be consequences for that.
-Smith threw to a video package on Seth Rollins last week.
-Cody Rhodes made his ring entrance. Graves said he has a great deal on his mind. [c]
-Cody’s music faded after the break. A “Cody” chant rang out. Cody said he has been told that Seth Rollins was not there. He said although he is surrounded by lovers in Virginia and millions watching at home, he at least hopes Seth is listening. He said he tried to move forward last week and extinguish this chapter in his career, but Seth poured gasoline on the flame. He said Cody said he’d never take away anything from him ever again. He asked what it is that he took away from Seth. “What did he lose? Two matches? A winning bonus? A momentary spotlight?” He said he didn’t dilute his legacy or cross a line. He said, if anything, the biggest threat to Seth isn’t him., but probably Seth himself. He said he’s trapped in a pandemonium purgatory of his own design and is dead set on pulling him in with him.
Cody said they want to take a memory lane stroll back to 2012. He said Seth arrived all Shielded up. “I was one of the bitter boys in the locker room,” he said. He said within a few years, Seth climbed the ladder and shattered the glass shield. He said he (Seth) won his way to the top. He said his (Cody’s) story is a little different. He said he didn’t win that much until recently. He said he lost and scratched and clawed and painted his face with a smile. “Dead inside, looking up at the lights most nights,” he said. “But the thing is, I endured. You learn so much from loss. You learn how to live, how to love, how to adapt, how to reinvent yourself.”
He said the no. 1 thing he learned is that he will never be the American Dream, so why not embrace the nightmare. Another “Cody” chant surfaced briefly. Cody said he lost his way to the top. “What this comes down to, truly, is Seth Rollins’ embarrassment over losing two matches outweighing his quest for vindication.” He said everyone in the arena knows what it’s like to get a second chance, and you don’t take it for granted. He said if Seth intends on denying him that second chance, he’ll have to kill him. “And I’m going to give you the chance,” he said. “I say we run it back and lock all that angst in here and leave it all on the mat.” He proposed a Hell in a Cell match.
Seth appeared on the big screen, cackling. He said Cody tried to steal his spotlight at WrestleMania, then he cheated to win at Backlash. He said then all it took was one stomp on a table for him to demand another go-round in a Cell. He said Cody must be “stupider than you look.” He said it’s the biggest mistake he’s made in his life because everyone who has stepped inside the Cell with him has been changed forever. He accepted the challenge and said he’ll exploit every one of his insecurities and expose him for the fraud that he is.
Cody interrupted Seth’s cackling to say there’s nothing left to say other than “I’ll see you in hell.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Some of Cody’s syntax was a bit off and clunky, and he always seems to be reaching to sound “really smart,” but overall it told the story contrasting his path and Seth’s in a way that logically led to the proposal of a third match in the Cell. Cody has to carry himself like a big star to be seen like a big star, and he pulls that off, and the balance is not taking it too far that fans turn against him for seeming to be full of himself. I think he pulled that off here.)
-Asuka cut a promo backstage acting like her usual self, gyrating and saying she’s ready. Graves said Sasha and Naomi “summarily and unprofessionally left the arena,” which led to this one-on-one match between Asuka and Becky.
-Gable and Otis made their ring entrance. [c]
(6) CHAD GABLE (w/Otis) vs. EZEKIEL
Owens joined the announcers at ringside on commentary. When Smith said Gable’s opponent is Ezekiel, Owens said he’s a liar and the paper he read his name off of his wrong. He called Mike Rome a liar, too. They put up a photo of Elias and Ezekiel together. Owens said it was doctored. Owens said he met Elias’s parents and they never said they had another son. Saxton told Owens to let it go. Owens said he couldn’t.
Owens gave Smith a hard time for saying Cody hadn’t competed in six years. He said that was ridiculous, and it’s a good thing Graves was there to set him straight. Owens said until recently, he was impressed with Gable’s intellect, but then the BBQ sauce incident happened. The action spilled to the floor where Ezekiel yanked Gable’s neck over the top rope. Otis knocked Ezekiel hard into the ring apron. They cut to a a break. [c]
Back from the break, Gable was in control in the ring. Owens complained about the graphic listing Gable’s opponent as Ezekiel. Ezekiel caught Gable with a knee to the forehead as Gable leaped off the top rope at him. That led to a two count. Owens said that was the same motion as Elias. Gable came back with a moonsault for a two count. Owens told Otis not to touch him because he’s sweaty, but said he was excited too. Ezekiel shook the top rope and charged at Gable with a big splash in the corner. Otis stepped onto the ring apron. Ezekiel kneed him. Gable cradled Ezekiel, but Ezekiel reversed it for the win.
WINNER: Ezekiel in 11:00.
-Backstage, Tamina was following R-Truth around as he was trying to find Tozawa to serve him divorce papers. Truth found him in a trash can. Tozawa yelled when he read the paper. Dana Brooke thanked Truth for serving Reggie with those papers too. Truth said starting and ending her marriage was his pleasure. Truth said he needs his 24/7 Championship back. Dana shoved him and ran away. “You pushed a preacher!” Truth yelled. Dana bumped into Carmella. Dana apologized. Carmella didn’t accept it. “You’re a sorry excuse of a competitor and a wife,” she said. Carmella said unlike her, her husband can’t get enough of her. She said she was relevant. Dana said the last time she was relevant was “when the chinless guy was here.” Truth entered the scene, so Dana left. Truth asked Carmella to help him get his baby back. She said when the time is right, but she wants Dana first.
-Rome introduced “mother, wife, daughter, United States Marine, and WWE Superstar, Lacey Evans.” Lacey marched out. She smiled and slapped hands and flexed. [c]
-Lacey’s music faded. She said she wanted to say she admires and respects the men and women of the armed forces and how they volunteer their time and life to protect the country. She asked everyone to “get off your butt and on your feet to give them a round of applause with me.” Fans stood and applauded. A “USA” chant rang out. She yelled, “Hell yeah!” She thanked fans for the warm welcome she got in her return to Raw. She asked where fellow military members are. She thanked them for everything they do for the country.
She said finding the courage to fight is hard and finding the courage to change your circumstances in life to be a success is also hard. She said tonight she will show her two beautiful baby girls they can do it and that they have what it takes inside to wake up, work, and win. She said she might not be better than the other Superstars in the locker room, but they damn sure are no better than her. She raised her arms.
(Keller’s Analysis: This is just kinda awkward.)
-They went to the announcers at ringside who recapped what happened earlier with Riddle and the Usos.
-They went backstage where Riddle talked about how tonight was the appetizer and nothing will stop him and Randy Orton from unifying the tag team titles on Friday’s Smackdown. “RKO 420 says we just smoked your ass,” he said.
-The Usos said Riddle got lucky, but he won’t be lucky on their turf on Friday.
-Bianca Belair made her ring entrance to sit ringside for the main event. [c]
-They showed photos of Bobby Lashley visiting some sailors on the USS IWO JIMA earlier in the day. Saxton said he was able to see his own cousin who is serving on the ship.
-A clip aired of the Omos vs. Lashley cage match finish. They said next week Lashley has a challenge for MVP and Omos on Raw.
(7) ASUKA vs. BECKY LYNCH – No. 1 contendership match
Asuka got in early offense. Graves talked about Becky handing over her Raw Title before taking a leave to give birth. Becky threw Asuka into the ringside barricade a minute in. They cut to an early break. [c]
They battled back and forth after the break, exchanging near falls. Asuka applied an armbar at 7:00. Becky rolled to the bottom rope to force a break. Becky snapped Asuka’s neck over the top rope seconds later, then walked over to get in Belair’s face and taunt her. Belair had words for her. Asuka hit Becky from behind. Becky threw Asuka into Belair, knocking her off her chair. Graves said Becky might have been trying to goad Belair into hitting her so she could win by DQ. As the ref yelled at Becky on the ring apron, Becky was going to hit Asuka with her umbrella, but instead Asuka sprayed mist in Becky’s face and then scored a three count. Saxton said Becky’s underhanded tactics blew up in her face.
WINNER: Asuka in 9:00 to earn a Raw Title match against Belair at Hell in a Cell.
(Keller’s Analysis: The match felt rushed. Asuka vs. Belair is a fresh match-up to put on the PLE.)