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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
JULY 18, 2022
TAMPA, FLA. AT AMALIE ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Kevin Patrick, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
-The “Then, Now, Forever, Together” brand stamp aired, which again lately includes Ric Flair “woo.”
-Titus O’Neil stood mid-ring and said when he came to WWE and became a tag champion and Warrior Award recipient, he felt he reached the pinnacle of his success, but then he became the WWE Global Ambassador. (I thought he was going to say becoming a world-famous timeless meme was bigger than past accolades.) He said everyone in WWE does what he can to put smiles on all their faces, inside and outside of the ring. He said they help the less fortunate and support servicemen all over the globe. A “USA” chant started. He said they also support causes that promote family, health, and community that bring people together to do good. He said that’s why they never talk about politics or religion or any other topic that’s divisive. (But they’ll take Saudi Arabian money and promote their monarchy that was given the “least free” rating possible in 2019 by the Freedom House and was ranked the fifth most authoritarian government out of 167 rated in its 2012 Democracy Index. On commentary during wrestling events, they’ll rave about how friendly and clean restaurants are while ignoring that Sonya Deville couldn’t be herself in that same restaurant. But keep talking, Titus…)
He said regardless of race, nationality, or economic status, this is a safe haven. “WWE wants to simply make sure we all have a good time,” he said. (Sometimes that includes a hush payment later on.) “So that’s exactly what we’re about to do here tonight!” He welcomed everyone to Raw.
(Keller’s Analysis: So what damning news story is about to get published about WWE this week? Or is that just to sooth nervous network executives and advertisers? Whatever the motivation, what an awkward “ask” for Titus to stand there and say all that.)
-They went to Jimmy Smith, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton at the announce desk. (It appears Smith is being allowed to grow his facial hair back. Who says Stephanie McMahon as CEO isn’t making a difference?) Smith threw to a video package on the Bianca Belair vs. Carmella match last week.
-Becky Lynch made her ring entrance. She talked about “The Little Engine that Could.” She said her journey has been similar. She said she’s no little blue choo-choo, but rather is the Beck Express, a steely ginger locomotive. She said when she becomes unhinged, she cannot be stopped. She said that’s why when Asuka tried to derail her, she didn’t become a “complain train,” but rather she rolled over her. She said she stops for no one, everyone stops for her. She said every train has stops, and she has stopped at Legendary Road, History-Maker Grove, and Breaking Barrier Bend. She invited everyone to get off at Appreciation Station when she regains her title. She said she has been just been informed by officials that the winner of the Belair vs. Carmella match will have to face her at Summerslam for the Raw Title.
Bianca Belair danced out and asked Becky if she knows that what she did last week was foul. She said she can’t even sit on the sidelines and let her be great, she had to interfere and cost her the match by countout. She said this isn’t the Becky Lynch WrestleMania Comeback story. Becky said, “Yes it is.” Belair said this is her comeback story from last year’s Summerslam. She said losing the title to her in 26 seconds was one of the lowest points of her career. She said a whole year later (well, almost 11 months) she is holding that belt again. She said her comeback story at Summerslam is to kick that little caboose right back to Ireland.
Carmella sauntered out and told Belair she is making a big mistake overlooking her. She said she’s a badass with a great ass. (TV PG, we hardly knew ye.) Carmella entered the ring and accused Belair of taking a shortcut last week because she knew she was out-matched last week. She told Belair that if she gets counted out again, she’ll be the Raw Champion at the end of the night. Belair interrupted and said, “Eh eh, girl.” She went into her EST boasting routine when Becky and Carmella attacked her. Belair tried to battle free, but Becky gave her a Manhandle Slam.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m sure there are some people who just love when Belair goes into her “EST” bit, but it just feels so braggadocios and robotic to just suddenly go into that routine standing mid-ring like that. I don’t think leaning on that is a good way for her to be reach her potential as a top tier babyface. Her natural charisma and personality is much more appealing than falling back on that routine every promo. Becky was great and Carmella was fine setting up the next match.) [c]
(1) BIANCA BELAIR vs. CARMELLA – Raw Title match
Becky joined in on commentary. The ref checked on Belair, who had trouble standing, and asked if she was ready for him to ring the bell. She pulled herself to her feet by the ropes and agreed to start the match. Becky said it’d be great to beat Belair even quicker this year. Becky stood at ringside and distracted Belair a minute in. Carmella rolled to ringside, but Belair went after her. She set up a KOD at ringside, but Carmella pulled herself into the ring and then yanked Belair into the ringpost. Becky said she doesn’t have much nice to say about Belair, but said she has “nice boots.” A graphic plugged Logan Paul on Miz TV. When Saxton brought it up, Graves ranted about not focusing on Carmella. Carmella threw Belair into the time keeper’s area and then returned to the ring, hoping she’d win the title by countout. Belair beat the count. Carmella tossed Belair to the floor. Becky and Graves counted together along with the ref. Belair rolled in at the count of eight. They cut to a break. [c]
Smith noted that the title can change hands on a countout. Belair rallied after the break. Carmella rolled up Belair and had her feet on the ropes for a near fall. Becky said she is a genius while Belair is the “dumb-est.” Belair delivered a sudden KOD on Carmella for the win. Becky threw off her headset.
WINNER: Belair in 11:00 to retain the Raw Title.
-As Belair celebrated in the ring, Becky climbed onto the ring apron with Belair’s belt in hand. She held it up and looked longingly at it. She then dropped it in front of Belair before leaving the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: The match was solid. Becky on commentary was entertaining.)
-They went to the announcers on commentary. Graves was upset over the outcome of the prior match. They shifted to commenting on the Angelo Dawkins vs. Jimmy Uso match on Smackdown after which Adam Pearce announced Jeff Jarrett would be the special guest referee at Summerslam.
-Megan Morant interviewed The Street Profits about Jarrett being the special referee. Dawkins was excited and went into the Double-J routine and said “Slapnuts.” Montez Ford they’ll be walking out of Cash-ville as the new Undisputed Tag Team Champions. As they were yelling they want the smoke, in walked MVP and Omos. MVP said they should be glad Omos wasn’t announced as the special referee. He reminded Dawkins what Omos did to him last week. Dawkins told MVP they’d face them in a match. MVP said he’s not prepared to wrestle, so instead he pitched a one-on-one match between Omos and Dawkins to Pearce “because you want the smoke!”
-Kevin Owens made his return. Graves said, “Finally, what Monday nights have been lacking – a little honesty!” [c]
-The KO Show: Owens introduced Riddle. Riddle came out on a scooter. He entered the ring and told Owens that he promised him a Mountain Dew Baha Blast. KO denied any knowledge of such a promise. KO said he hasn’t been around lately, and maybe Riddle didn’t notice because he’s in his own little world. He said he had to step away because he almost drove himself crazy trying to prove that Ezekiel and Elias are the same person. He said he went on a nature retreat to find some peace and clear his head. He said he noticed, when watching Raw while he was away, how cool and calm Riddle is. KO said he realized he needs to be more like Riddle. KO said he wishes Ezekiel and Elias and Elrod the best and he doesn’t care anymore. He said he actually doesn’t wish them well, but he’s moving on. He said Seth once pretended to be his best friend, but then he betrayed him while he was fighting his heart out for him. He said they share in common losing their best friend, because Riddle lost Randy Orton recently too.
KO said everybody needs some back-up, and he has realized the answer is right in front of him. Owens said RK-Bro was good, but Bro-KO could be great. Graves said he loves the sound of it. Riddle smiled and said, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.” He said KO is the biggest liar he knows. KO said he understands why he’d say that because of his past, but he has turned over a new leaf. He said no one can ever call him a liar again. He said Riddle trusted Orton, “the biggest snake in the history of WWE.” Riddle said he doesn’t like him talking about his best friend like that. He stood, said he is done talking, and dropped the mic. Seth’s “Burn it down!” sounded. Riddle turned. Seth didn’t come out. The music started again. Seth attacked Riddle from behind and gave him a Stomp. Graves said Rollins outsmarted Riddle again. Seth gave Riddle a running stomp. Seth extended his arms in celebration. Saxton asked if this will be the scene at Summerslam.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good to have KO back. Not sure it’s high-impact to have him return as a conduit for an angle for Seth and Riddle. Bro-KO does have a ring to it, though. Is that a one-off comment or portending something coming up around the bend?)
-A video package aired on the Finn Balor vs. Rey Mysterio match last week on Raw.
-Damian Priest and Balor made their ring entrance. [c]
-Kevin Patrick interviewed Seth backstage. He said Riddle’s stupidity is rapidly turning to arrogance. He said he thinks Orton really cared about him and he turned down KO’s offer to help him at Summerslam. He said Riddle must think he can really beat him, which makes him really stupid. Ezekiel walked up to Seth and shoved him and took him to task for stomping Riddle. Seth said he could stomp him and his brothers. Ezekiel told him not to talk about his family. Seth told him to stay out of his business. Ezekiel said his business is about to pick up. (He meant “Zeek up!”)
-Priest and Balor stood mid-ring. Priest asked fans to rise for a Prince and rise for a Punisher and rise for The Judgment Day. He said last week they chose not to injure Dominik Mysterio because they believe he will make the right choice and join them. He said they think he will make that correct choice tonight. “We know you’re just waiting to drop your father,” Priest said. Priest said Rey is trying to stifle his potential. He threw to a clip of “another veteran” stifling their potential, the footage of Priest, Balor, and Rhea Ripley turning on Edge. Balor said he can watch that video over and over again. The Mysterios’ music interrupted Balor. The Mysterios walked out next.
(Keller’s Analysis: Priest was going for something new there with his delivery, and he seemed self-conscious about it. His mannerisms and inflections feel rehearsed and unnatural still.) [c]
(2) REY MYSTERIO (w/Dominik Mysterio) vs. DAMIAN PRIEST (w/Finn Balor)
They joined the match in progress. Priest took control against Rey after Balor distracted Rey at ringside after Rey had launched himself over the top rope onto Priest at ringside. Priest grounded Rey. Graves asked what Rey has done for his son since his son arrived in WWE. He said at first it was a feel-good story, but since then what’s it done for him. Graves said Dominik might like the perception of freedom that Balor and Priest have since breaking free from Edge.
Rey took Priest down with a head scissors and then avoided a charging Priest, who crashed shoulder-first into the ringpost. Rey landed a top rope seated senton and a middle rope springboard bodypress for a two count. Rey hit a tornado DDT for a two count seconds later. When Rey set up a 619, Balor stood on the ring apron. Dominik yanked Balor down to the floor, but Balor threw Dominik hard into the ringside barricade. Rey dropkicked Balor, but Balor flew into Dominik. Rey set up Priest for a 619, but Priest stood and caught a charging Rey with a kick to the chin for a believable near fall. Rey set up another 619, and hit it this time. He climbed to the top rope and then went for a senton, but Priest caught him and delivered a released powerbomb for a near fall.
WINNER: Priest in about 6:00.
-After the match, Priest and Balor brought chairs into the ring. Priest put Rey’s head on the chair and then told Dominik he’s joining The Judgment Day tonight “or we take his head off.” Balor stomped on Rey’s chest twice. Dominik ran into the ring and told them to stop. “I’ll join, just stop,” he said. Balor pulled Dominik to his feet and Priest insisted he repeat himself. Dominik said he’ll join. Priest said, “Hey Dom, it doesn’t work that way.” Balor then bashed Dominik with a chair. He swung at Rey, but Rey popped up and rolled out of the ring. Graves said Priest and Balor didn’t believe Dominik when he said he was going to join and he was only saying that to protect his dad.
-They went to Smith, Saxton, and Graves at ringside, who threw to clips of the Seth-Riddle angle earlier followed by Ezeiel confronting him.
-Seth made his ring entrance as Saxton announced Seth vs. Ezekiel was next.
-A Smackdown commercial hyped that Brock Lesnar would return on Friday, plus Ronda Rousey would be there. [c]
-The mystery vignette aired with images of “You Can’t See Me” and RKO merchandise burning.
(3) SETH ROLLINS vs. EZEKIEL
A clip aired of Seth’s previous win over Ezekiel. Saxton talked about how close Ezekiel came to winning. Graves asked Saxton if he could name “who lost the big game last year” and then said no one can because it doesn’t matter. Ezekiel rallied, catching a Seth dive at ringside. Back in the ring, Seth knocked him off balance when he was on the top rope. As the ref checked on Ezekiel, they cut to a break. [c]
The pace picked up after the break and Ezekiel scored a near fall after a powerbomb into a stacked pin attempt. Both were slow to get up. Seth took Ezekiel down with a clothesline, then springboarded at him. Ezekiel hit him mid-air with a knee for a two count. Rollins superplexed Ezekiel and then went right into a Falcon Arrow for a near fall. Seth set up a Pedigree, but Ezekiel powered out and sat down on Seth’s shoulders for a two count. Seth fired right back with a forearm to the back of his head followed by a Stomp for the win.
WINNER: Seth in 12:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: What Kevin Owens should say is that it’s obvious Ezekiel and Elias are different people because Ezekiel is a much more exciting wrestler. It seems like Ezekiel’s matches, in part, are an effort to show he should be taken seriously as a wrestler now. The crowd isn’t rallying behind him, despite some hard efforts and solid outputs in the ring.)
-Backstage, the Usos chatted with MVP and Omos. The Usos said they are going to watch Omos beat Dawkins up close.
-The Usos made their ring entrance. [c]
-They showed postcard shots of Tampa, Fla.
-A clip aired of Priest beating Mysterio earlier. Smith then hyped Rey Mysterio’s 20th Anniversary Celebration live from Madison Square Garden. Graves said they have to sew Rey back together. Saxton got testy about Graves interrupting him.
-Priest and Balor spoke backstage. Balor said Dom “failed the test” this week. Priest said they knew what he was up to and saw right through him. He said Dom should have shown he was with them by cracking Rey’s skull with a chair. Priest said the Mysterios will fall and The Judgment Day will rise.
(Keller’s Analysis: Dominik is sooo going to crack his dad with a chair during his celebration at MSG next week.)
-Graves hyped Jarrett as special referee at Summerslam.
(4) OMOS (w/MVP) vs. ANGELO DAWKINS (w/Montez Ford)
The Usos were at ringside. They cut to the Street Profits getting hyped up backstage and yelling about wanting the smoke before turning to walk through the curtain and make their entrance. After Omos tossed Dawkins across the ring, Ford grabbed Omos’s boots. Dawkins went on the attack, but Omos brushed it off and checked him to the mat. Ford tried to throw off Omos by making loud strange noises at ringside. Dawkins avoided a running big boot by Omos, then punched him in the corner. He splashed him twice in the corner and then landed an enzuigiri. MVP tripped Dawkins running the ropes and the ref saw it and DQ’d Omos. MVP complained that he was just doing what Ford did earlier.
WINNER: Dawkins via DQ in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: You’ve gotta love when a match finish paints the heels as correct and the babyfaces as the instigators of cheating because they don’t believe they have a chance to win on an even playing field.)
-Pearce walked out and said he can see everybody is upset. He said he heard MVP say earlier that he’d love to team with Omos against the Profits. He said the tag match is official. As MVP protested, Graves called it unfair. [c]
(5) THE STREET PROFITS vs. OMOS & MVP
When Omos had Dawkins down, MVP tagged in. MVP was wearing a vest and tie and dress pants and shoes. Dawkins eventually made a comeback and tagged in Ford just as MVP also tagged in Omos. Ford leaped off the rope, but Omos caught him. Ford slipped free and threw a series at kicks that staggered Omos. When he flew at him, though, Omos swatted him out of the air and then landed a boot for a near fall, broken up by Dawkins. MVP entered the ring, but Dawkins threw him to the floor. MVP yanked Dawkins to the floor. Dawkins reversed MVP into the laps of the Usos. The Usos charged to the ring, and then the Profits double-teamed Omos with a stereo superkick. Ford then landed a top rope frog splash for a mere one count. Ford looked on in shock. He then slapped himself and climbed back to the top rope. Jey shoved Ford off the top rope. The ref called for the DQ. Boos rang out. Graves said they need Jeff Jarrett tonight. “We might need Jerry, find a Dundee, we might need half of Nashville to keep the order,” he said. Omos chokeslammed Dawkins and Ford at once as the Usos looked on. The Usos stood over the Profits while their music played.
WINNERS: The Profits in 5:00 via DQ.
(Keller’s Analysis: They continue to work really hard to make Omos look competent out there, and the Profits did their part. As much as WWE is giving a boost to the tag division lately in some ways, having them rag doll for Omos seems to offset a lot of that.)
-Schreiber was about to introduce a guest when Veer Mahaan walked up to her. While she held the mic and he stared down at her. He said, “Boo!” Then he laughed maniacally and walked away. Schreiber said, “Alrighty then.” She then pivoted to Miz, who said that was unexpected. He said he thinks Veer likes her. He said a great host never reveals surprises he has. He said he and Logan Paul will become tag team champions as long as Logan withdraws his challenge. Miz said if he doesn’t like being his partner, he will find out tonight exactly why being his opponent is worse.
-Theory made his entrance, Money in the Bank briefcase in hand. He took a selfie at ringside. [c]
-The announcers hyped the Bobby Lashley vs. Theory match at Summerslam.
-Theory stood mid-ring and said he has a few things to address. He said they’re on the cusp of the biggest Summerslam of all-time because he’s going take back the U.S. Championship and then cash in against whatever is left of either Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns. Theory threw to a clip of Raw last week with Brock Lesnar tossing Otis through the announce desk.
Theory said he always comes through in the clutch, which is why so many Superstars have a problem with him, such as Reigns, Lesnar, Madcap Moss, the Usos, Dolph Ziggler, and the “idiot fans.” He said they’re all jealous. He threw to the clip of Ziggler interfering last week. Theory said it’s pathetic, but said he doesn’t blame him because nobody is on his level. A.J. Styles’s entrance theme interrupted Theory. Graves said Theory was “dropping truth bombs left and right.”
Styles said Theory is making big promises, so he’s going to make a big promise of his own. He said if Theory wins the U.S. Title, cashes in the contract and wins, or does both, he’ll be the first in a long line of people who are going to take that from him. (His syntax was a little off there.) An “A.J. Styles” chant rang out. Styles said the locker room isn’t jealous of Theory, they just think he’s a big jackass. Theory said Styles is so easy to figure out, then got flustered over the “What?!” chants. He asked Styles what he was doing at his age. He asked how many years he had to hit barefoot hillbillies in run down barns in Georgia before becoming a WWE Superstar. Theory said he’s an overnight sensation and they should be calling him phenomenal. Styles interrupted and said there’s not enough time on Raw to explain why he doesn’t like him. He said he’s proud of his background and he is who he is because of his journey. Theory asked, “What is that? An old jealous grizzled veteran?” Styles said he’s the guy who’s going to knock some respect into him. He punched him and knocked him to the floor. Ziggler’s music then played and Ziggler walked out. Theory yelled, “What is this?!” [c]
-Another vignette aired with the mystery person writing “I am coming to…” in red paint.
(6) A.J. STYLES vs. THEORY
As Graves settled into a chinlock a couple minutes into the match, Graves said Theory gets results. Graves said Reigns and Lesnar will beat the hell out of each other and that means Theory is smart enough to pick his spot to capitalize. They showed Ziggler watching at ringside. Smith talked about Ziggler having the respect of the locker room. Ziggler stood and looked at Theory. Theory shoved him down. Styles kicked Theory out of the ring as soon as Theory re-entered. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Theory had Styles covered and scored a two count. They replayed that Theory knocked Styles off balance during a Phenomenal Forearm attempt. Theory slammed Styles on the announce desk right in front of Ziggler. Ziggler held his hands up as if indicating he wasn’t going to do anything, but when the ref looked at Styles in the ring, Ziggler superkicked Theory. The counted Theory out. Styles gave Theory a Styles Clash afterward. Ziggler nodded and smiled.
WINNER: Styles via countout in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I know WWE can “justify” the disqualification and countout finishes individually as their way of forwarding a storyline or protecting someone in the match from taking a loss that could define them down at a bad time, but collectively it’s really going to cause viewers to disengage from matches because too many are ending without an earned win.) [c]
-The announcers threw to a special video package on the Bianca Belair-Becky Lynch story.
-Alexa Bliss made her ring entrance.
-A video aired of Titus O’Neil doing a charity event in Tampa providing school supplies for kids.
(Keller’s Analysis: Philanthropy isn’t the future of marketing, it’s the now of marketing.) [c]
(7) DANA BROOKE & ALEXA BLISS & ASUKA vs. DOUDROP & NIKKI A.S.H & TAMINA
Nikki bashed away at Asuka at ringside with Asuka trapped behind the ring apron. When Tamina and Doudrop joined in, Brooke leaped off the top rope onto them. She then tried to lead the crowd in applauding. She turned and saw Reggie at ringside. “You ruin everything of mine!” she yelled. Akira Tozawa came out from under the ring and rolled up Brooke to win the 24/7 Title. Nikki then gave a neckbreaker to Tozawa to win the 24/7 Title. Bliss DDT’d Nikki to win the 24/7 Title. Doudrop then dove onto Bliss to win the 24/7 Title. Doudrop held up her newly won belt when Tamina superkicked her to win the belt. The ring announcer could barely keep up. Brooke rolled up Tamina to win it back. She ran to the back and was pursued by Tamina. Asuka then went back on the attack on Nikki with an Asuka lock for the tapout win. As Asuka danced, Bliss joined her and hugged her in celebration.
WINNER: Asuka & Bliss & Brooke in 3:00.
-They went backstage to the Mysterios. Dominik asked if Priest and Balor really believed he’d join them. He said they don’t know a thing about the Mysterios. Rey said they’re not the first ones to try to tear up their family and they will also fail. He said next week, he’s going to celebrate 20 years in WWE. He said they will show The Judgment Day what it means to be a Mysterio.
-Smith hyped Raw next week. Graves added that Reigns will appear on Raw next week at MSG.
-Miz made his entrance. They showed Miz at a celebrity all-star game being presented with the replica WWE belt after being named MVP. [c]
-Miz TV: Miz introduced the segment. He said he’s super excited about his guest after going back and forth for weeks, “doing what celebrities do, stirring up controversy, getting you all to talk.” He introduced Logan Paul. It sounded like mostly boos. Logan threw to a clip of Miz turning on Logan at WrestleMania earlier in the year. Miz said he wanted to explain himself. He said he was teaching him. Logan interrupted and said the only thing he taught him is that he had to sign a WWE contract so he could return and beat his ass one-on-one at Summerslam. Miz talked up his potential, but said he has to earn the right to face someone of his stature. “So your challenge is denied,” he said.
Logan asked if he really thinks he’s not tough enough and ready. He said he was told he couldn’t last eight rounds in the ring with Floyd Mayweather and he put him on the highlight reel. He said he worked his ass off out of respect for pro wrestling to prove critics wrong at WrestleMania. He called Miz an old man and said he’ll do it again at Summerslam against him. He said he’s going to host a talk show next week and prove he’s better. Miz said the answer is still no. Logan said he’s not surpirsed he keeps saying no to his Summerslam challenge because that is exactly what everybody would expect to hear from a man “with two blueberries in his pants.” He led the crowd in a chant of “Tiny Balls!” Miz threw a fit and showed off his t-shirt under his dress shirt declaring that he has giant balls. He then asked the fans if they really want to see the match. He then accepted. He took a swing at Logan, but Logan ducked and tackled Miz. He then clotheslined Miz over the top rope. The crowd didn’t pop. Ciampa attacked Logan from behind. Smith said Logan was unprepared for that. Miz re-entered the ring, but Logan kicked him and then elbowed out of Ciampa’s grip. Logan backed up the ramp and smiled.
Schreiber asked Miz about Logan hosting a talk show next week. Miz took the mic and said this is his house and no one comes there to WWE and embarrasses him. He said he is The Miz and he is awesome.
(Keller’s Analysis: Logan stumbled over some of his words and seemed a little off. Was it because fans were booing him or he’s just nervous in this environment? He came across as desperate and fans can sense that. Either way, WWE and Miz are doing all they can to get Logan over as a babyface. The crowd was willing to go along with the “Tiny Balls!” chant. Fans weren’t cheering for Miz, either, though even though the post-match speech by Miz could have easily been a babyface comeback to a heel bigshot celebrity overstepping in WWE.)