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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MAY 23. 2022
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-They opened with a video package on the Usos winning the Raw Tag Team Titles from Randy Orton & Riddle on Smackdown last Friday, followed by the post-match beatdown including Roman Reigns. They showed distraught and booing fans in the crowd.
-Jimmy Smith introduced the show as emanating from the Ford Center. (No mention of the city verbally or on the graphic, so Evansville, Indiana, consider yourself a below-par market WWE apparently is ashamed to be in. Try getting an NFL team and maybe WWE will acknowledge you. WWE come across as such snobs when they do this.) Smith and Corey Graves hyped Sami Zayn & The Usos vs. Riddle & Street Profits.
(Keller’s Analysis: Remember the brand split where wrestlers were exclusively on one show or another and Survivor Series was your only chance annually to see Raw wrestlers face Smackdown wrestlers?)
-Riddle made his ring entrance. A welled-up Riddle said he’s there with a heavy heart. He said Randy is his mentor, his dude, his bro. Fans began chanting “RK-Bro!” He said the last couple of years have been tough on Randy. He said even though they’ve been having the time of their lives, Randy’s been having a really hard time. He said his back has been giving him a hard time lately. He said Randy could barely walk last Friday. He said he knew Randy wouldn’t let him down because he knew how much the match meant to him and to the fans. Fans cheered. He said they lost. Fans booed. He said the Usos are one hell of a team. He said hats off to them. He said for them to win that way and have Roman, “that back-stabbing piece of trash,” interfere was wrong. He assured fans he will get vengeance on The Bloodline.
He said he knows Randy has done a lot for him, “more than he’s done for everybody else.” He said he loves him and he knows he’s watching from home. Fans chanted “Randy! Randy!” He said he’s not sure about the future of RK-Bro. He started an “R-K-Bro!” chant.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good Riddle promo. It felt consistent with his character, but showed less levity and goofiness and more emotional maturity. The idea of selling the that Orton was hurt going into the match and is more hurt after the post-match attack and might not be able to wrestle again or at least not soon makes his eventual return an even bigger deal. Riddle being welled up before the interview and being so uncharacteristically emotional makes it seem like Orton is legitimately in danger of needing to retire or take extended time off.) [c]
-Smith said an emotional Riddle said moments earlier he’s not sure about the future of RK-Bro and Orton’s ability to continue wrestling. Then the announcers shifted to a recap of the finish of the Bobby Lashley vs. Omos in a cage last week. They hyped the Lashley challenge later. They also plugged there’d be a special King’s Court with Veer Mahan. Smith said Lawler said try to dig deep into the mind of Mahan. Graves hyped that A.J. Styles & Liv Morgan will face Damian Priest & Rhea Ripley later.
-Smith said, “There’s a focus in Riddle’s eyes we don’t often see.” The Street Profits made their ring entrance. A brief Usos promo aired before their entrance. They were joined by an energized Sami Zayn on the stage. Riddle charged at the Usos and attacked them on the stage. The Profits weren’t far behind. Several referees ran out to try to restore order. They cut to another break as the brawl continued. [c]
(1) RIDDLE & THE STREET PROFITS vs. THE USOS & SAMI ZAYN
Smith said order was restored during the break. Sami opened against Angelo Dawkins. When Riddle tagged in, the Usos and Sami targeted his injured ribs for a while. Riddle eventually threw Jey into the corner and hit a barrage of kicks. Graves said he’s fighting on behalf of his opponent, Orton. He showed fire and then cradle suplexed Jey for a two count. He tagged in Montez Ford next. Jimmy pulled the top rope down as Ford ran the ropes, so Ford fell to the floor. The Usos threw him into the ringside steps and superkicked him. They stood proud as they cut to a break. [c]
Sami had Ford in a headlock after the break. Ford tried to reach for a tag, but Sami stopped him. Jey yanked Riddle by his foot to ringside and then dropped him ribs-first over the ringside barricade. Graves said Jey might have just finished what they started on Friday night. Smith applauded the heels for “great teamwork.” (Uh, they’re going for heel heat there against a beloved babyface, not praise for their ingenuity.) Ford eventually leaped and hot-tagged in Riddle who rallied against Jimmy Uso including a ripcord knee. He gave exploder suplexes to both Jimmy and Sami. Then he landed senton splashes to both. Dawkins entered and helped Riddle. Ford then landed a flip dive onto the Usos at ringside. Riddle then gave Sami a draping DDT. Sami struggled to break free from the grip the entire time, but Riddle held on and hit it. Riddle slapped the mat, but the Usos distracted him by standing on the ring apron. The Usos turned and walked up the ramp, leaving Sami behind. As Sami realized he was alone, Riddle caught him with an RKO. “Vengeance for Riddle!” exclaimed Smith.
WINNERS: Riddle & Profits in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Well executed tag match. A good use of the usual formula building sympathy on the babyfaces before a hot tag. The “distraction finish” wasn’t needed as the Usos could have just walked out without Riddle needing to stop what he was doing to go after them on the ring apron first, just because that finish is so overdone.)
-A video recap aired of the Lashley vs. Omos cage match.
-Lashley made his ring entrance. Smith said a win is a win, despite the “unpredictable nature” of the win last week. [c]
-Lashley stood mid-ring after the break. Byron Saxton said Lashley is scheduled to face Omos at Hell in a Cell a week from Sunday. Lashley said after the match last week, he knew they had unfinished business. He said he wasn’t surprised to hear they’d be fighting again at “Hell in the (sic) Cell.” (This promo is an example of why Lashley had MVP assigned to talk for him.) He said he wanted Omos and MVP to walk out to hear what his challenge is. Omos and MVP walked out. MVP said an equipment failure cost Omos the match and doesn’t really count. MVP said Lashley barely survived the last time they wrestled. Lashley told him “hush.” Lashley said he has Omos at HIAC, but tonight he and MVP have unfinished business. He said his challenge is that they wrestle again tonight, and the winner gets to pick the stipulation at HIAC. Lashley asked MVP if he’s scared. MVP said he isn’t scared because he made him. He said he wants to be responsible for his downfall, so he’ll win tonight and then pick a stipulation that will be his downfall. Lashley asked MVP when his last victory was. Lashley said he will tear his ass apart tonight and put his ass in the Hurt Lock. (I’m not sure how Lashley’s going to put MVP ass in the Hurt Lock. Stay tuned, everyone, but it sound awkward.) MVP and Omos walked to the ring. Lashley held his ground and his music played as the heel duo retreated.
-The announcers narrated a clip of Rhea Ripley beating Liv Morgan and then attacking her afterward as Edge and Damian Priest smiled.
-Edge, Priest, and Ripley made their entrance. Smith called them the embodiment of darkness. He said Priest and Ripley are willing to do anything in his service. Graves said the question is what is their end game. [c]
-The broadcast team announced another Crown Jewel will take place on Nov. 5 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
-They went to Smith, Graves, and Ripley at ringside who threw to a video on the Becky Lynch vs. Asuka match last week. (No acknowledgment of Sasha Banks or Naomi, by the way.)
-Dana Brooke approached Adam Pearce and said she wants a match against Carmella. Pearce said he’d take that under consideration. Becky Lynch barged past her. Dana said, “Excuse you!” Becky said, “Excuse you!” Becky said she’s got the mist in her hair and she can’t wash it out. She told Pearce to strike the match outcome from the books and then give her the title match at HIAC. Pearce said considering what happened, she gets a rematch against Asuka. He said if she wins, the match will become a triple threat with her added. Becky would have rather replaced Asuka, but then thought about it and seemed relatively okay with it.
-The Judgment Day (Edge, Priest, and Ripley) were standing mid-ring as their music faded. Priest insisted fans rise and show proper respect. Most fans didn’t. He talked about their mission statement last week. He said Edge has shown them the way and set them free. “If not, we’d be sheep like all of you,” he said. He said they are no longer Superstars waiting backstage to be told what to do. Edge said they are now sitting under his learning tree. He brought up Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky and said what if they offered such an olive branch. He said most fans are afraid of success. He said they go to work and accept making one-tenth of what their boss does because they’re content to eat Cheetos in their cubicle. He said that’s not them. He told everyone to accept the reality and wake up. When fans chanted “You suck,” Edge said they will see that when they look in the mirror.
Edge asked if the next member is going to be Tommaso Ciampa or Corey Graves or Alexa Bliss or Drew McIntyre or Liv Morgan or Finn Balor or A.J. Styles. He said Styles has to have realized that standing by their side is better than fighting against them. He said his kids can start calling him Uncle Edge. He said, “Choose wisely.” Morgan’s music played. She strutted out and slapped hands of fans. Styles made his entrance next. They made their way to the ring together.
-A commercial aired for Smackdown on Friday featuring New Day & a mystery partner vs. Sheamus & Ridge Holland & Butch. (They listed the city as Little Rock, Ark. Is someone going to be in trouble for putting that on the graphic or does WWE think Evansville is beneath Little Rock?) [c]
(2) A.J. STYLES & LIV MORGAN vs. RHEA RIPLEY & DAMIAN PRIEST (w/Edge)
Liv dove through the ropes onto Ripley at ringside. Styles hit Priest with a running knee from the ring apron. Liv and Styles high-fived as Priest and Ripley recovered at ringside. They cut to a break with Styles in control. [c]
Liv rallied against Ripley after the break and scored a two count. Edge put Ripley’s leg over the bottom rope. Styles ran over and attacked Edge. Priest then pulled Styles off of Edge. Styles and Priest fought into the ring and then tumbled over the top rope to the floor. Morgan charged at Ripley and went for a move, but Edge blocked it and Ripley then covered Morgan for the win. After the match, Judgment Day got the better of Styles and Morgan and stood over them.
WINNERS: Priest & Ripley in 12:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The Judgment Day promo felt needlessly long and even bordered on becoming boring. There were decent aspects to it, but that long list of potential additions felt more random than intriguing.)
-Kevin Patrick interviewed Miz backstage. Miz took digs at Cody, saying he doesn’t need more pyro than the Fourth of July. He said, unlike Cody, he doesn’t need a countdown clock because people will wait around to watch him however long it takes. He said after he takes Cody Rhodes down a peg or two, nobody will ignore him. He then told Patrick to go away.
-Jerry “The King” Lawler made his way to the ring. They showed some fans bowing at him. [c]
-King’s Court: Lawler welcomed fans to his segment. He said his special guest has left his opponents trembling in their boots at the mere mention of his name since his debut. He introduced Veer. After Veer entered the ring, Lawler told Veer people say he’s a man of few words, so prove them wrong. He asked him some questions and Veer just stared back at him without saying anything. Lawler asked why he has targeted the Mysterios. Veer just sneered at him. Lawler said maybe it’s because of some of the things Rey said about him. He said Rey said when Veer walks his dog, Veer is so hairy that people pet him. Dominik said he’s so hairy, Big Foot once took a picture of him. Veer grabbed the mic and finally spoke. “Listen Jerry, I’m not here to joke around,” he said. He said Rey is a legend, but he’s too worried about his little boy Dominik. He said that made him weak, so he took both of them out.
Veer asked Jerry if he smells fear. Lawler said it’s just his cheap cologne. When Veer made a move toward Lawler, the Mysterios music played. Veer turned toward them and met them at ringside. He got the better of both of them. He pressed Rey over his head and threw him into the ropes. He meant to throw Rey through the ropes, but it didn’t work out. Rey slidekicked Veer, but Veer shrugged it off. Dominik dropkicked Veer off the ring apron. Rey wrecking ball kicked him. Veer stood his ground on the ring apron. The Mysterios told him to enter the ring. Veer yelled gibberish at them and then pounded the ring apron and walked away. Graves said this isn’t over between them.
(Keller’s Analysis: Veer was fine here, but nothing more than that, and he needs to be more than just fine. It’s good to have him talk, I suppose. Not sure having him retreat when faced with the Mysterio’s indicates he’s on a trajectory to anything near main events, though. Lawler was Lawler here. The jokes are expected. He was smooth. He’s still one of the better overall performers in pro wrestling history between his stellar promos and his in-ring efficiency and psychology over the years against so many opponents.)
-Sarah Schreiber asked Alexa Bliss backstage what it’s like to be back on Raw. Bliss smiled and said she’s just trying to stay out of trouble. Bliss said Sonya Deville has had a rough couple of weeks. She said she lost and then got fined, so maybe she should look into therapy “because it does wonders.” She said she and Nikki A.S.H. used to be best friends, but then they parted ways. She said Nikki dresses like a super hero and she is best friends with a doll. She said it sounds weird when she says it out loud, but it really is great being back. Her music played and she headed to the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: Weird promo.) [c]
-As Nikki and Doudrop made their entrance, the announcers talked about Sasha Banks and Naomi relinquishing the tag team titles last week. Graves said “they disappointed the WWE Universe in the process.”
(3) NIKKI A.S.H. (w/Doudrop) vs. ALEXA BLISS
The announcers talked about how impressive Nikki was early. Graves said Bliss seemed to be in cruise control. Bliss came back a minute later with a Twisted Bliss to win. Saxton said even if Bliss was in cruise control, she stepped up when it mattered. Graves agreed.
WINNER: Bliss in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Not sure where they’re going with Bliss. I’m hoping they have something in mind to give people a reason to look at Nikki differently.)
-Patrick interviewed Seth Rollins backstage and asked why things have reached such a boiling point with Cody that it’s led to Cody challenging him to a match inside the Cell. Seth said they used to sing his song every night in every city and now all he hears is “Cody! Cody!” Some fans began a “Cody” chant, but it petered out quickly. He said it makes physically ill. He said there’s even a countdown clock for Cody. “Where does it stop!?” he yelled. He asked why he doesn’t have a countdown clock. He said there’s a clock in his head counting down second after second. He said after the clock strikes zero, what happens? He then cackled like a madman.
-Cody made his ring entrance all fired up. He slapped hands as he made his way to the ring. He handed a kid in the front row his “Nightmare” weight belt. Pyro blasted as he entered the ring and played to the cheering fans. [c]
-The announcers threw to a vignette on the return of Asuka.
-Schreiber interviewed Asuka backstage about facing Becky later on the show. She made fun of Becky being a big crybaby and mocked her.
(4) THE MIZ vs. CODY RHODES
Miz made his ring entrance. Saxton said Miz made it clear earlier the “Cody envy” he has because of all the attention Cody is going to get. Saxton said Miz has one of the biggest egos in the industry, so it’s quite a claim for Miz to make that Cody has a big ego. They mat wrestled early. Miz escaped a surfboard attempt and then went for a flying sunset flip off the second rope. He lost his grip, but Cody rolled through anyway. Graves said Miz is reaching deep into his arsenal and it’s causing him to seem unsteady and unsure of himself. He said maybe the aura of Cody is legitimate. Cody scored a near fall on Miz a minute later. Miz lifted and dropped a charging Cody crotch-first over the top rope. Miz kicked Cody hard to the floor. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Cody avoided a charging Miz in the corner. When Cody climbed to the top rope, Seth ran out and knocked him off balance. The ref called for the bell.
WINNER: Cody via DQ in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Clunky match, and mostly there to just allow Seth’s interference and the post-match angle.)
-Afterward, Seth and Miz double-teamed Cody. They whipped him knee-first into the ringside steps. Cody grabbed his knee and yelled, “Oh, my knee!” Seth yanked the weight belt away from the kid in the front row. “Really, Seth?” asked Saxton. Seth whipped Cody across his back with the belt. Cody fell to the mat as Seth walked to the back as boos rang out. Graves said Cody is dancing with the devil at HIAC. They showed Cody standing and limping over to the kid in the front row to give him back the weight belt. Fans cheered as Smith said, “That is class, ladies and gentleman.” Cody asked the ref for help to the back. [c]
(5) EZEKIEL vs. CHAD GABLE (w/Otis)
Kevin Owens was shown at ringside as the last seconds of Ezekiel’s ring entrance aired. KO yelled at ringside about Saxton spreading lies. Otis tripped Ezekiel running the ropes. Gable then attacked Ezekiel from behind and went after his leg. When Otis stood on the ring apron and yelled, the ref booted him from ringside. Otis and Gable threw a fit. KO snuck into the ring, but the ref caught him and booted him also. KO threw a fit as Graves said that was uncalled for. Ezekiel then rolled up Gable for the win.
WINNER: Ezekiel in 4:00.
-After the match, KO challenged Ezekiel to a match at HIAC. Ezekiel nodded yes.
-The announcers commented on a clip of Seth’s attack on Cody.
-Backstage, Patrick approached Cody and asked for an update on his health. Cody said his knee got a little dinged up, but he can put weight on it. He said he’s still breathing and that’s bad news for Seth. He said he is getting a second chance and he is uncrowned. He said Seth has potential to go 0-3 against him, and Seth knows that. He said if he wants to really finish the job, he’ll be at HIAC waiting for him.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good and basic promo. That’s all Cody has to do. He was fired up and believable with a sense of purpose.)
-Lashley’s ring entrance took pace. [c]
(6) BOBBY LASHLEY vs. MVP (w/Omos)
Smith said MVP knows Lashley well. MVP rolled to ringside at the start. Graves said he’s trying to get under Lashley’s skin because if Lashley has a weakness, it might be his temper. Lashley went after him. MVP rolled into the ring and pretended to hurt his knee. Omos clotheslined Lashley at ringside as the ref was checking on MVP. MVP “recovered” instantly and threw Lashley into the ring. MVP gave Lashley a running boot to the face, prompting Graves to cite Masa Chono. MVP yelled at Lashley, “I made you!” Lashley came back with a face plant. Lashley rammed MVP into the ringpost next. Lashley threw MVP into the ring, then battled Omos at ringside. The ref counted out Lashley as Lashley clotheslined Omos into the time keeper’s area.
WINNER: MVP via countout in 4:00.
-Afterward, Lashley avoided a swing by MVP and put him in a Hurt Lock. Lashley’s music played and he saluted the crowd. Graves wondered what sort of stipulation MVP will drum up. He assured everyone it’d be doozie.
-Smith said Lacey Evans returns to Raw next week.
(7) BECKY LYNCH vs. ASUKA – If Becky wins, she’s added to Women’s Title match at HIAC
Bianca Belair made her ring entrance and sat at ringside. Asuka then made her ring entrance. Finally, Becky made her entrance. They cut to an early break. [c]
Becky took over after the break and worked over Asuka at ringside. Becky landed a top rope legdrop for a near fall. They collided mid-ring and clotheslined each other. Asuka and Becky battled at ringside where Asuka got the better of her. Becky blocked an Asuka lock. Asuka kicked at Becky, but Becky ducked and Asuka kicked Belair in the head. Becky then entered the ring. Asuka beat the count at 9. Becky then rolled up Asuka for a quick three count.
WINNER: Becky in 12:00 to earn a spot in the Raw Title match at HIAC.