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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
AUGUST 15, 2022
WASHINGTON D.C. AT CAPITAL ONE CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
-After “Then, Now, Forever, Together,” the show-opening “Feels Like Greatness” aired followed by pyro blasting in the arena. The first wrestler shown is Brock Lesnar. Nowhere did Roman Reigns, the current holder of the Raw-based WWE Title (unified with the Smackdown-based Universal Title) was nowhere in the opening. Jimmy Smith introduced the show as a camera panned the crowd from a wide angle.
-As The Judgment Day made their ring entrance, they cut to a split-screen recap of what happened last week with Edge and the Mysterios, with a focus on the apparent beating Dominik took at the hands of The Judgment Day. Rhea Ripley stood between Damian Priest and Finn Balor and began talking. She said they run Raw and that’s been a harsh reality for the Mysterios. She said she proved to Dominik that “I really am his papi as I destroyed his soul.” Balor said everybody seems to love the Mysterios, but he doesn’t get it. He said the Mysterios would not be there this week because of what they did to them last week. Priest talked about facing Edge next week, but asked the audience if they want to see Edge “right now.” Fans cheered. He said it’s too bad because he’s not there tonight.
He said Edge will be wrestling his first match on Raw in Toronto in over a decade. He said he doesn’t sweat Edge. He said that’s where he puts the final nail in the coffin of his career. He vowed it’d be them one-on-one without Ripley or Balor. He said Toronto will no longer be known as Edge’s hometown, but rather it’ll be known as the place Priest sent him back into retirement. He said retirement won’t be filming TV shows or movies. Instead, it’ll be Beth wheeling him around and feeding him through a tube the rest of his life. Rey Mysterio then attacked Balor from behind, appearing out of nowhere. He cleared the ring of Balor, too. Ripley walked up to him and dared him to punch her. Balor entered with a chair, but Rey dropkicked the chair into him. He fended off Priest with the chair, too. Rey was eventually overwhelmed by the numbers. Fans chanted, “We Want Edge!” Balor delivered a Coup de Gras from the top rope onto a chair on Rey’s chest.
(Keller’s Analysis: The Judgment Day have a solid chemistry as a trio at this point. It’s nice to see Raw building up matches a week or two ahead of time, creating more anticipation and a solid backstory for featured matches on the shows. There was no indication that Dominik faked being beat up by Judgment Day, but nothing undercutting that theory, either. If the idea is they crushed his soul, maybe that will be the explanation for him ultimately betraying his father.) [c]
-A commercial aired for NXT Heatwave tomorrow night on USA.
-They went to Corey Graves, Jimmy Smith, and Byron Saxton at ringside who reflected on the opening segment. They pivoted to hyping A.J.Styles vs. Bobby Lashley for the U.S. Title later.
(1) ASUKA & ALEXA BLISS vs. NIKKI A.S.H. & DOUPDROP – Women’s Tag Team Tournament match – Round One
Asuka made her entrance followed by Bliss. Then Bianca Belair made her entrance, twirling her braid and skipping to the ring. Graves hyped a six-woman match booked for Clash at the Castle with those three against Bayley & Iyo Sky & Dakota Kai. The announcers talked about the brackets which appeared on the screen before the bell. A minute in, Bliss and Asuka cleared the ring of Nikki and Doudrop. They cut to an early break as they celebrated. [c]
A corner graphic hyped that Drew McIntyre would be live later. All four were down after Doudrop landed on Bliss after Bliss scored a near fall on Nikki which was broken up by Asuka. They showed Dana Brooke and Tamina watching backstage. Doudrop tagged in legally and went after Asuka. Asuka came back with a spinning backfist. She knocked Nikki off the ring apron with a hip attack. Doudrop hit Asuka with a Michinoku Driver for a near fall. Asuka avoided a corner splash by Doudrop and tagged in Bliss. Bliss landed a leaping DDT, then quickly tagged Asuka back in. Asuka applied a submission mid-ring. Doudrop tapped just after Bliss prevented Nikki’s save.
WINNERS: Bliss & Asuka in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: No surprise with those four that they’d put together and execute a good TV match.)
-They showed the graphic showing that Bliss & Asuka will face Sky & Kai in the semi-finals. As Belair joined the celebration in the aisle, Bayley & Co. approached them and they argued.
-Kevin Patrick interviewed Theory (no new name for him… yet?). He kissed his Money in the Bank briefcase. Patrick said it was a “less than successful attempt to cash in” at Summerslam. Theory said he’s still the MITB briefcase holder and still the youngest U.S. Champion ever and the youngest Mr. MITB ever and the hand-picked future of the business. He said he might have made a slight miscalculation, but he doesn’t make mistakes, and he’s now more dangerous. Dolph Ziggler walked in and said he’s watched Theory getting crushed out there. He said he earned his status which is why it mattered when he cashed in and won the World Title. Theory said he loves that for Ziggler, but he’s nothing but an over-the-hill no-title-havin’ has-been. He said when he successfully cashes in, he will keep winning, “and unlike I won’t screw up the rest of my career like you did.” Ziggler attacked Theory. They ran into the camera as they cut to a break. [c]
-Back from the break, they showed footage from during the break of Styles and Theory brawling with officials separating them.
-They went to the announcers on camera at ringside. Smith threw to a video package on the Lashley vs. Ciampa match last week.
(Keller’s Analysis: Smith seems a lot more comfortable and even more alpha as the lead announcer on Raw in recent weeks. Is it the facial hair or a vote of confidence from Paul Levesque?)
-Sarah Shcreiber (whose name was shown on the screen) interviewed Ciampa and Miz. Ciampa said he came to Raw to become a champion. He said they don’t hand out participation awards around there. He said next chance he gets, he’ll win a title. Miz complained that A.J. Styles was gifted this title match for interfering last week. Miz presented Ciampa with a necklace with a bedazzled frame around a photo of Miz comforting Ciampa in the ring. Ciampa smiled and said, “This is awesome.” Miz yelled, “No, we are awesome!”
(2) CIAMPA & MIZ vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER & MUSTAFA ALI
Ciampa came out first followed by Miz. Graves took digs at Byron Saxton for being into Pokemon cards. As Cedric and Ali made their entrance, they showed a promo from them walking backstage earlier. Ali vowed to show the world what they can do. Cedric said they’ll snatch opportunity. Graves said they may be bigger as a team than the sum of their parts. Ciampa locked on a side headlock. Cedric escaped and outmaneuvered Ciampa and hit a dropkick. He tagged in Ali who flipped onto Ciampa with a senton. Cedric did the same and scored a two count. Miz yanked on Cedric’s hair, which gave Ciampa a chance to try to take over. Cedric ducked, but when he went for a handspring, Ciampa dropkicked him in the head. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Ciampa was still in control of Cedric. Cedric made a comeback. Both Cedric and Ciampa tagged out. Ali rallied against Miz and scored an early two count. Cedric tagged back in and hit a Michinoku Driver for a near fall. Ciampa placed Miz’s leg over the bottom rope to stop the count. Ali dove at Ciampa and knocked him over the announce desk. Cedric went for a sunset flip, but Miz sat down on it. Ali shoved Miz giving Cedric a roll-up for a near fall. Graves commented that his phone was damaged and his monitor was out. Ali caught Miz with a superkick, but didn’t realize Ciampa blind-tagged in. Ciampa dropkicked Ali mid-450 splash. He then hit the Fairy Tail Ending for the win.
WINNERS: Ciampa & Miz in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good workrate in this one. This is good use of Ali & Cedric in that they’re given a chance to shine a bit against a more pushed team and make that team look really good in the process.)
-The announcers shifted to a recap of Kevin Owens attack on Ezekiel last week followed by Ezekiel being stretchered. Smith said it will take a long time for Ezekiel to recover. They went to “Ernie Jr.”, Ezekiel’s dad, who vowed that KO will get a piece of his mind. Ernie Jr. was actually Ezekiel made to look old. They showed the family visiting Ezekiel in the hospital including his mom and dad, Elias, and presumably Elroy!
-They showed Drew McIntyre walking backstage. [c]
-Drew McIntyre made his ring entrance without his sword. The announcers hyped Roman Reigns vs. Drew at Clash at the Castle.
Drew said it’s a shock to see him on Raw since he’s technically part of Smackdown. He said it’d be more shocking to see “the other guy” show up at all. He said he’d rectify that in three weeks at the Clash. He said he is going to drop Roman’s ass on his island and take the titles and then show up on Raw and Smackdown and the live events. He said that’s what the fans deserve and that’s what the title deserves. He said there are some reports going around that he is suffering from a bit of a back injury. He said it’s true, mostly because he’s been carrying the load of 20 men for three years in WWE inside and outside the ring. He said he does it with a smile on his face because this isn’t a job, it’s a dream. He said that’s why he’s there on his day off. He said he’s there scouting future challengers to his title after he beats Reigns. He brought up Ciampa as a possible future challenger. Then A.J. Styles, Seth Rollins, Karrion Kross. He was interrupted by Kevin Owens’ music. Smith said KO might be upset he didn’t mention his name.
KO walked out, mic in hand. Drew said he likes this one too. KO said it’s so convenient he said his name after he came out. He said there is one thing he’s never figured out about Drew. He said he always comes out and claims to be something he’s not and talks with “that big loud almost comical tough guy voice,” sometimes wearing a kilt and sometimes with a sword. He said if he thinks he’s been carrying anybody’s weight around there, he’s a big dumbass. KO said he has known who he is his entire career “and I’m as real as it gets in this business.”
He said the last few years, people like Drew might have forgotten what he’s about. He said the last few years he’s been having a good time at work, but then something dawned on him earlier in the day when he arrived at the arena. He said he realized this is the same area where at Battleground, he and Sami Zayn had the fight of their lives and left it all in the ring. He said they had a match people are still talking about six years later. He said that made him realize he misses that side of himself. He walked up the steps and said he’s feeling like the Prizefighter again. He said he hasn’t held a title in WWE for five years, “but enough is enough and it’s time for a change.” He said now he is coming after every champion. He said he doesn’t care if it’s Drew or Roman, whoever walks out of Cardiff as champion, he’s coming after the winner to win the Universal Title.
Drew said he let him say his piece. He said he listened to him make stuff up to get a cheap reaction. He said he knows exactly who he is. He said he was the Chosen One 15 years ago, then got fired and worked his ass off to get back to the company. He said he has worked his ass off every day since He said he’s a two-time champion and he’s beaten Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, and Randy Orton, and everyone who has gotten in his path. “Don’t you dare look me in the eye and pull that b.s. again.” KO smiled. Drew said it’s time for them to stop talking. “I don’t care if you’re a prize fighter, a sports entertainer, a superstar, we’re wrestlers in a wrestling ring, so let’s just frickin’ wrestle,” he said. KO said, “Let’s do it!” As they circled each other, they cut to a break. [c]
(3) DREW MCINTYRE vs. KEVIN OWENS
A few minutes in, KO blocked Drew’s suplex attempt on the ring apron and rammed him into the ringpost. KO then splashed Drew off the ring apron at ringside. They cut to a break a 4;00. [c]
More back and forth action after the break. At 14:00, they stood mid-ring and threw wild blows at each other. Drew avoided a Pop-up Powerbomb and landed a Future Shock DDT. Drew leaned in the corner and then set up a Claymore. The Usos showed up. One grabbed Drew’s leg and the ref called for the bell.
WINNER: McIntyre via DQ at 15:00.
-The Usos superkicked Drew and then Jey went for a top rope splash. Drew moved and then clotheslined Jimmy into the top rope but didn’t get him over. He then backdropped Jey onto Jimmy on the floor. Both of those spots looked rough for Jimmy. KO then caught Drew with a surprise stunner. When Drew stood, he fended off the waiting Usos with a Glasgow Kiss and a Claymore one after another. Owens looked at the Usos at ringside and said they should “tell the Tribal Chief he owes me one.”
(Keller’s Analysis: What a half hour of WWE televison. A great promo exchange from a fired up KO and Drew, really making a statement that it’s a new era for wrestlers like them. Then a banger of a match for 15 minutes. And finally Drew standing strong despite an attempt by the Usos to soften him up for Reigns. Drew came out of this 30 minutes a bigger star than he’s been since the ThunderDome era.)
-They aired clips of Seth giving Stomps to Riddle. They showed Riddle being mic’d up backstage. Seth’s music played and he made his entrance. [c]
-Seth stood mid-ring and said Riddle is getting mic’d up in his mom’s basement. He said when he retires, he can go back to middle school and maybe finish seventh grade or start a farm. “I hear that industry is very lucrative these days.” Riddle interrupted from the big screen. He said he does have a medical update about his condition. Seth told fans to be respectful and let Riddle be heard. Riddle said, “I’m medically cleared and next time I see you, it’s on!”
Seth asked if it’ll be like at MSG a few weeks ago or when he called him out at Summerslam. He said it seems whenever they’ve been in each other’s vicinity, he stomps his head into the mat. He said he’s always a step or more ahead of him. He said he would love nothing more than to stomp the last few brain cells out of his head. Riddle said he’s glad he feels that way. He stood and revealed that he’s actually in D.C. and is heading to the ring. The camera panned back from the backdrop that included a lava lamp and revealed he was backstage.
Riddle charged to the ring wearing his “4:20 Bro” t-shirt. He went after Seth at ringside and then in the ring with a barrage of roundkicks and then an overhead released suplex. Seth yanked Riddle off the ring apron. Seth threw Riddle over the announce desk. Seth tried to hit Riddle with another Stomp on the announce desk, but Riddle moved and shoved Seth down and then delivered a knee to his head. Seth tumbled into the crowd. Riddle chased Seth up the steps. Smith said he chased him “into the stands.” (It seems “WWE Universe” is a term that won’t be used obnoxiously often if at all anymore as a substitute for the crowd of fans in the stands.)
-A video aired hyping Styles vs. Lashley. Graves narrated the video that gave the main event a big fight feel.
(Keller’s Analysis: One of the best improvements Paul Levesque has initiated are these video packages hyping the TV main events. It not only reminds people of the backstory of the wrestlers in the match or title at stake, but also just makes the match feel like a big deal, not just a TV time-filler.)
-They showed Styles warming up backstage. Saxton said he’s excited to see this first-time-ever match-up. [c]
-Patrick caught up to Riddle backstage. Riddle cut off “KP” and said tonight was just a taste. He challenged him to a match at the Clash at the Castle.
(Keller’s Analysis: Riddle is still “a dude,” but he’s less cartoonish and more like an actual grown-up with fighting credentials and motivations.)
(4) VEER MAHAN vs. BREAUX KELLER
Keller ducked Veer’s charges at the start and bobbed around and then rolled to the floor. Veer chased him to ringside, but Keller rolled back into the ring. Then he gave Veer a dropkick when Veer re-entered the ring. Saxton said he’s impressed by Keller. Veer tossed Keller over the top rope to the floor, then choked him against the ringside table. Graves said he’s going to start renting the top of their desk like an Airbnb. Veer then finished him inside the ring with his Cervical Clutch for an instant tapout.
WINNER: Veer in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: After Veer was steered toward being less intense and even comedy relief, this got him back on the original track of a fierce monster heel.) [c]
-A collage of WWE’s top ten WWE Instagram Photos of the Week was shown.
-Schreiber interviewed Kai with Bayley and Sky backstage. She asked about Kai’s first singles match on Raw. Kai said “spoiler alert, I win.” Bayley translated Sky and said she vowed to win the tag titles. They walked over to Brooke, who was carrying her 24/7 Title belt over her shoulder. Brooke said if they’re trying to intimidate her, she’s not afraid. Kai said fear is a motivator, so maybe she should be scared. Brooke sneered at her.
(5) BOBBY LASHLEY vs. A.J. STYLES – U.S. Title match
Styles made his ring entrance. Graves said, “I am so ready for this!” As Lashley came out, Graves said the crowd respects both men and he expects a split crowd. He called them future Hall of Famers and underlined it’s the first-ever meeting between them. They did formal ring introductions. The bell rang two minutes into the hour. There was an early dueling chant from the fans. Styles leaped off the ring apron with a flying forearm a few minutes in. [c]
They battled at ringside after the break. Lashley tossed Styles into the ringside barricade. As Lashley dominated Styles in the ring, Miz and Ciampa walked to ringside. A “Tiny balls” chant rang out. Lashley knocked Styles hard to the floor. Smith said a countout at this point might be merciful. Ciampa stood on the ring apron and chatted with Lashley as Miz approached Styles on the other side of the ring. A hooded person leaped over the ringside barricade. Security tackled him. It was Dexter Lumis. Security dumped him back over the barricade as they cut to another break at 11:00. [c]
Lashley was still in control after the break. Graves called it a banger so far. They showed that during the break, the ref kicked Ciampa and Miz to the back. Styles blocked a spear attempt and knocked Lashley to the floor. Then he landed a sling-shot flying forearm. Both were slow to get up. Styles threw Lashley back into the ring. Lashley came back with a powerslam for a near fall a minute later. Styles came back with a Calf Crusher mid-ring. Lashley powered into a Hurt Lock while he was on his back. The ref began counting, so Lashley released. Nice sequence. A “This is awesome!” chant rang out. Lashley avoided a Phenomenal Forearm and landed a spear for the clean win. Smith said Lashley continues to “earn more and more respect from the WWE fans.” (Another case of “WWE Universe” not being said.)
WINNER: Lashley in 21:00 to retain the U.S. Title.
-They showed Theory warming up backstage. [c]
(6) DAKOTA KAI (w/Bayley, Iyo Sky) vs. DANA BROOKE
Brooke made her entrance first. Saxton noted the 24/7 Title is not on the line. When Smith said Brooke was wrestling for the veterans, Graves lost it and called out Smith, saying Kai has wrestled longer than Brooke has. He said Kai has paid her dues and traveled the globe. Graves said for Kai, Bayley, and Shirai, they’re fighting to rid WWE of Brooke. Bayley celebrated an early move by Kai against Brooke in the corner. Kai eventually finished Brooke with a running boot to the side of her face.
WINNER: Kai in 3:00.
-A brief video package hyped next week’s Edge vs. Priest main event.
-Graves hyped the Bliss & Asuka vs. Sky & Kai semi-final tournament match next week.
-Theory made his ring entrance. [c]
-A Smackdown commercial hyped Drew and Reigns in a “Face to Face” segment on Friday.
(7) THEORY vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER
Ziggler’s ring entrance aired after the break. A clip aired of Theory’s attempt to cash in his MITB briefcase at Summerslam. Theory went after Ziggler at the bell and mounted him. Saxton said Ziggler doesn’t think Theory has earned everything he’s gotten in WWE so far. Graves said Theory is just getting started. He said he’s on pace to become a great in short order. Theory threw Ziggler shoulder-first into the ringpost and then scored a two count. A fierce back and forth battle. Theory threw Ziggler hard into the ringpost shoulder-first. Ziggler sold it like he broke his collar bone. Theory stood over him and said he could do that all day. Ziggler made a comeback.
A minute later, with both men down and slow to get up, they cut to a shot from the upper deck of the impressive crowd in the arena. Ziggler stood and went for a superkick, but Theory blocked it. Ziggler caught a charging Theory with an elbow. Theory lifted Ziggler into an inverted body vice and spun him down into a sitout powerbomb for a near fall. Theory rolled to the ring apron and played to the crowd, then rolled into the ring at Ziggler. Ziggler turned it into a Fameasser for a near fall. Theory blocked a Zig Zag a minute later, then hit Ziggler with a hard lariat. Theory then signaled for his finisher. Ziggler elbowed out of his finisher and hit a Zig Zag for a near fall. Saxton said few have kicked out of that. Theory went for a pin with his feet on the middle rope, but the ref caught him. Graves blamed Saxton for yelling too loud on play-by-play about the feet on the ropes. Theory blocked Ziggler’s set up a Fameasser and hit his A-Town Down finisher for the clean win. Smith called it a battle for respect between them. Graves said the youth movement continues and called it a massive win over one of WWE’s most decorated Superstars. Theory took a selfie with Ziggler in the background.
WINNER: Theory in 16:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Make that three if not four really good matches on Raw. This is the type of performance that shows Theory is able to match his push with a strong match in the ring. These two looked like they were trying to prove something together.)