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WWE RAW TV REPORT
MAY 8, 2023
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. AT VYSTAR VETERANS MEMORIAL ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON USA
Commentators: Kevin Patrick, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
-A video package previewed the beginning of the World Hvt. Title tournament including some background information touting the credentials of each wrestler in the two Triple Threat matches scheduled.
-Cody Rhodes made his ring entrance. Corey Graves and Kevin Patrick talked about Cody “surviving” against Brock Lesnar. They showed a clip of the finish, but made it black and white most of the time to dampen the effect of Lesnar’s heavy bleeding. The crowd chanted for Cody. He asked Jacksonville what they wanted to talk about. He said he appreciated the enthusiastic reception. “Many of you know, this was my home during the pandemic; we made many wonderful memories together,” he said. “I say we make some more wonderful memories tonight.”
He touted Backlash being the most watched Backlash of all time. He said he didn’t get to appreciate the beauty of Puerto Rico because he had the task of facing “the most decorated combat athlete of all-time, Brock Lesnar.” He said he discovered what Lesnar is made of “because it was all over my fist.” He said Lesnar took away his focus and clarity because it became a fight for survival. He said now that Lesnar is in the rear view mirror, he wants to focus on the World Hvt. Championship.
Cody left the ring and walked to ringside. He asked the production truck to show the tournament brackets on the big screen. He then walked over to the World Title belt on the entrance stage. He said he will fight tooth and nail until he is announced as the new champion. Fans chanted “You deserve it!” He closed: “Jacksonville, let the tournament begin.” Seth Rollins’ music then played and he danced out to the ring. Seth soaked up fans singing his song mid-ring with a spotlight on him.
(Keller’s Analysis: I was curious if Cody would acknowledge his time in Jacksonville during the pandemic. It’s cool that WWE lets him acknowledge his time in AEW in that way since inherent in it is admitting that some WWE fans also watched AEW, which is obvious but not something WWE necessarily has a history of embracing the idea of.) [c]
-Seth’s music continued to play after the break as the announcers narrated highlights of Seth’s match against Omos. Graves stressed it took three Stomps for Seth to “finally take down Omos.”
-A video package aired on Damian Priest vs. Bad Bunny. Patrick said the whole world was talking about that match.
-Cathy Kelley interviewed Priest. She asked about Bad Bunny. He said it took an entire island to take him down and he plans to take down his opponents tonight by himself. He said then they’ll see whether it’s Finn Balor or himself that brings the World Title back to The Judgment Day.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s fun seeing a wrestler like Priest suddenly being looked at through a new lens and carrying himself that way. He seemed to have momentum character-wise even before the stellar Bad Bunny match. He’s always carried himself like an alpha, but there’s something different and more believable lately with him. Framing his loss to Bad Bunny as something that took an entire island to accomplish is what you’d expect him to say. The spirit of what he’s saying isn’t without foundation, but of course his cohorts interfered first so he doesn’t have an actual credible excuse.)
(1) SETH ROLLINS vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. DAMIAN PRIEST – World Hvt. Title Tournament
Priest’s ring entrance took place. Graves said Priest has been on an upward trajectory lately. Nakamura then made his entrance. As soon as the ref called for the bell 23 minutes into the hour, Priest attacked Nakamura and then Seth. He went back to stomping away at Nakamura in the corner. Seth recovered and knocked Priest to the floor. Seth turned and eyed Nakamura. Nakamura stared back. Nakamura got in a flurry of offense before they cut to a break. [c]
Seth rallied after the break with dives on each side of the ring against Priest and Nakamura. He pounded the mat and played to the crowd. Priest then caught another Seth dive with a punch in mid-air. Nakamura then went on the attack against Priest. Priest eventually caught Seth flying off the top rope with a chokeslam for a two count. Everyone kicked one another and all three were down at 9:00. Graves noted that this is the first night the new Draft rosters are in effect. “The landscape has indeed changed,” he said. (Maybe address what happens if a Smackdown wrestler wins the new World Hvt. Title which was explicitly created to give Raw its own home base champion.)
Seth climbed to the top rope, but Priest knocked him off balance. Seth came back with a Stomp a minute later, but Nakamura broke up his cover. Seth yelled that he won’t let him take that away from him. They each yelled and then charged at each other. Nakamura got the better of Seth and landed an inverted exploder suplex. He charged at Priest, but Priest hit him with a lariat. He threw Seth out of the ring, then set up a South of Heaven. Nakamura countered into a kneebar mid-ring. Priest teased tapping. Seth leaped off the top rope and splashed Nakamura. He gave Nakamura a Pedigree and scored the three count.
As Seth celebrated, Patrick and Graves noted that he will face the winner of the other Triple Threat match later on Raw.
WINNER: Rollins in 13:00 to advance.
(Keller’s Analysis: No surprise Seth won this one. I wonder if Priest rather than Nakamura would have been booked to lose before Priest’s stellar performance at Backlash. Nakamura is fresh back from a hiatus, so they otherwise might have opted to spare him from taking the loss.)
-They went to Patrick and Graves who talked about Raw’s acquisitions. Patrick mentioned Drew McIntyre and Gunther in particular.
-Gionvani Vinci and Ludwig Kaiser were walking backstage warning everyone that Gunther arrives next week. They approached Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Sami said they were busy discussing something important, so they needed five minutes. Kaiser said they don’t deal with disrespect because they’re Imperium. Sami said they’ll still be Imperium in five minutes, so come back then. Owens said, “Very valid point.” Kaiser waved his finger in Sami’s face. Owens said it’s very difficult to concentrate. Kaiser said if they keep disrespecting them, they’re putting themselves and the tag team titles in danger. Sami said they dealt with the Usos for months, but they’ll deal with them tonight and get it over with.
-Chad Gable and Otis made their ring entrance. Otis was accompanied by Maxxinne Dupri. [c]
(2) MUSTAFA ALI vs. OTIS (w/Chad Gable, Maxxinne)
The bell rang 46 minutes into the hour. Otis fended off Ali’s initial offense and pressed him above his head. Maxxinne stood on the ring apron and gave Otis some advice. Gable also gave him some advice, wanting him to do the caterpillar. Ali avoided a charging Otis in the corner, then landed a 450 splash for the win. Graves said there appeared to be trouble between Gable and Maxxinne.
WINNER: Ali in 2:00.
-Miz cut a promo backstage. He said he is a history-maker and the only true work horse in the tournament. He said when he wins the tournament, everyone will put respect on his name because “I am the Miz and I am awesome!”
-Miz made his ring entrance. [c]
-A clip aired of Miz and Maryse at the Kentucky Derby. (Was the horse pictured with Miz and Maryse one of the horses fortunate enough to survive the weekend?)
(3) MIZ (w/Maryse) vs. FINN BALOR vs. CODY RHODES – World Hvt. Title Tournament match
Balor made his ring entrance. Finally, Cody made his second ring entrance of the hour. The bell rang 55 minutes into the hour. They all traded roll-up two counts and momentum changes in the opening minute. Cody dove through the ropes onto both Balor and Miz as they cut to an early break. [c]
Cody gave both Balor and Miz a Cody Cutter, then favored his shoulder. He set up a Crossroads on Balor, but Balor escaped. Cody hit a Disaster Kick on Balor for a near fall at 6:00. Cody clotheslined Miz over the top rope. Balor rolled up Cody for a two count. He landed a running dropkick and then climbed to the top rope. He leaped off with a stomp, but Cody moved. Miz hit Balor with a Skull Crushing Finale. Cody broke up Miz’s cover.
When Cody hit a Crossroads, Miz intervened. Cody gave him three Crossroads. When Cody made the cover, Brock Lesnar yanked Cody by his boot out of the ring. He gave Cody an F5 at ringside. Lesnar had a bunch of stitches on his forehead. Meanwhile, Balor leaped off the top rope with a Coup de Grace for the three count on Miz.
WINNER: Balor in 9:00.
-Lesnar gave Cody an F5 on the announce table. He then called for a mic. He stood over Cody and asked Cody, “So what do you want to talk about?” He grabbed the camera and said, “Look at this face!” He had a black eye in addition to the stitches. He grabbed Cody’s head and said, “I wanna talk about me. Me me me me!” He asked Cody if wants to take credit for his face. He yelled that he wants a fight. “You, me, Night of Champions, a fight,” he said. “Who is the coward now?” Lesnar left and Adam Pearce, Jason Jordan, Kenny Dykstra, and other officials ran over to check on Cody. Lesnar looked at the World Title belt on the stage and shook his head and laughed. [c]
-A replay aired of the Lesnar-Cody angle.
-Backstage, a trainer was checking on Cody. He asked Cody how his ribs were feeling.
-They went to Patrick and Graves standing over the crushed table as they reacted to the angle and also the developments in the tournament. They hyped Seth vs. Balor. Graves said it’s a rerun of the first-ever Universal Championship match.
(4) RHEA RIPLEY (w/Dominik Mysterio) vs. DANA BROOKE
Ripley and Dominik Mysterio made their ring entrance first. As Dana made her entrance while flexing her biceps, a soundbite aired with Dana saying she belongs in WWE and she welcomes the challenge to face the champion. She said tonight people will witness her untapped potential. Patrick asked what this match means to Brooke. Graves said, “A low IQ.” (What is that about?) Brooke attacked Ripley at the bell. Ripley caught Brooke leaping off the second rope at her at 1:00 and delivered a backbreaker. Ripley lifted Brooke and delivered her Rip Tide. Ripley then put Broke into a Prism Lock for the tapout win.
WINNER: Ripley in under 2:00.
-After the match, Ripley gave Brooke another Rip Ride and then re-applied the Prism Lock. Dominik cheered her on. Natalya’s music played and she marched to the ring. Ripley waved her to the ring. Patrick said Natalya is the gate keeper of the women’s locker room. Graves noted she took her time getting to the ring. Ripley dropped the hold and stared at Natalya center-ring. Dominik whispered something to her and then they left the ring.
-They went back to Patrick and Graves at ringside, still without a reconstructed table. They threw to a video package on the NXT wrestlers who were drafted including highlights and soundbites from each of them.
-Byron Saxton interviewed Zoey Stark backstage. He said she’s one of the most impressive competitors to come out of NXT in a while. He asked about added expectations. She said she is amazing and has complete confidence in her ability. She walked over to Nikki Cross who was hanging out. Stark said she’s going to succeed because of weirdos like her. She challenged Nikki to be her first opponent on Raw. Nikki mumbled that it sounded good to her and then stared off.
-Owens and Sami made their ring entrance. Graves said Owens and Sami know all about NXT. Patrick said he’s delighted Owens and Sami “are sticking around here on Monday Night Raw.” Graves said he wasn’t concerned that they were going back to NXT, but rather acknowledging they are both have a history in NXT. Patrick explained he meant he’s glad they were drafted to Raw, not Smackdown. Graves asked if Patrick could be drafted to Shotgun Saturday Night.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s okay for Graves to apologize when he jumps on someone for something he misinterpreted. But he gets points for the Shotgun Saturday Night reference.) [c]
(5) SAMI ZAYN & KEVIN OWENS vs. GIOVANI VINCI & LUDWIG KAISER
As Kaiser and Vinci made their entrance, a video package aired on sellouts in Europe last week including Seth being “serenaded for over 12 minutes” in one of the cities. The bell rang 32 minutes into the hour. Vinci and Kaiser took control early and they cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
Owens hot-tagged in after the break. He landed a Swanton Bomb for a near fall, broken up by Vinci. Vinci officially tagged in and went on the attack. Owens hit Kaiser a minute later with a clothesline. Both were down and slow to get up. Sami called for a tag. Vinci tagged in first and cut off Owens. Owens gave an interfering Kaiser a stunner. Vinci rolled up Owens for a two count. Owens fired back with a superkick. Sami tagged himself in and delivered a Helluva Kick for the win.
WINNERS: Owens & Zayn in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: There’s not a ton of depth in the tag division, so it seems a little strange to have a new team on Raw lose in their first match like that without much build. The action was good, as you’d expect with these four.)
-Chelsea Green and Sonya Deville approached a woman backstage and asked her to sign a petition to save the ocean. They hurried her before she read it. They then approached Xia Li. Green said it’s promoting “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Xia signed it. Next, they approached Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae, and Indi Hartwell. Green said the petition was to oppose injustices in the world. Deville said it’s a petition for a rematch for the tag titles after they were unjustly cheated out of the belts. Indi examined the petition. Green called her “Inga.” Indi corrected her. Dexter Lumis showed up and read it and gave a thumbs down gesture. Green said that was rude and told Dexter to smile. Sonya said they’d regret it. They left. Gargano said the whole family is back together. He said it’ll be great. LeRae said she didn’t think so and she said it didn’t appear Dexter did, either.
-Nikki Cross made her entrance. Patrick called her “a little bundle of chaos.” [c]
-Patrick congratulated Batista for his role in the no. 1 movie worldwide, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3.” He said Batista is a legend.
-A video package aired on the latest with The Bloodline with clips of what happened at Backlash.
(6) NIKKI CROSS vs. ZOEY STARK
Nikki attacked Stark at the bell. The ref pulled her out of the corner after she didn’t break. Stark then took over. Stark landed a slingshot flip senton, strutted, and hit a clothesline for a two count. She followed up with a chinlock. Nikki broke free and got in some offense. Nikki dropkicked Stark twice, but Stark superkicked Nikki and hit her Z-360 tilt-a-whirl gutbuster finisher for the win.
WINNER: Stark in 2:00.
-Saxton interviewed Ripley and Dominik backstage. He noted that Ripley has been on a roll lately. He asked if she’s feeling extra pressure as the no. 1 draft pick of Raw. She said she welcomes the expectations. She was interrupted by Akira Tozawa and Xavier Woods. Dominik yelled at them. Xavier said his outfit looks like it was from the lost and found. He told him to relax. Dominik said if thinks he’s a comedian, it won’t be so funny if he punches him in the face. Xavier asked if he wanted to fight tonight. Tozawa made a face and then left when Ripley shot him a look. Ripley stepped up and said Dom-Dom accepts. Xavier asked where Tozawa went.
(Keller’s Analysis: The only thing worse than Xavier’s scripted material these days is the smug self-satisfaction he has when delivering the lame lines. Tozawa’s facial expressions are too cartoonish for me, and I’m a fan of Danhaussen.)
-Trish Stratus handed out flyers backstage that said Becky Lynch had gone missing. [c]
-They showed media headlines and Tweets reacting to Backlash and, in particular, Bad Bunny.
-Trish Stratus made her ring entrance. Trish acted distressed and asked if anyone has seen Becky. He called Patrick “Buttercup” and told him not to worry because they’ll find Becky. She said she is missing, though. She said she’ll probably be found in a “dark, dark corner of Iowa crying with her dumb daughter.” She said she’s 2 and she doesn’t even know her colors, so she is dumb. She said she will be found and she will come back, but not on Raw “because this is my show, this is my spotlight, and nobody is going to steal my spotlight.”
Becky’s music then played and Trish acted nervous, but then she began to laugh. She told the fans they are dumb and gullible, just like when Becky thought she was her friend. She said Becky is never coming back. Trish said she and her daughter bought a doll and brought it home. Fans chanted “Becky! Becky!” Trish said she’s not there and said the fans are idiots. She said her daughter wanted to call her doll Becky Lynch. She asked her why. She said her daughter said because she’s pretty.
Becky’s music played again. Graves said it’s even funnier the second time. Trish said the joke is done and told production to stop. Becky then showed up behind her with a “Man of the Masses” t-shirt. She slapped Trish and gave her a Becksploder suplex. Trish retreated. Becky stood mid-ring as fans chanted her name. She said she’s ready to kick her ass. Her music played and she threw the mic down.
-Patrick and Graves commented on clips of Lesnar’s attack on Cody earlier.
-Backstage, Cody was icing his ribs alongside Pearce, Sami, Owens, and a doctor.
-Xavier Woods made his entrance. Patrick told Graves he should dance. Graves said he probably dances like Michael Cole. “I learned a lot about him on Saturday,” he cryptically said. [c]
(7) XAVIER WOODS vs. DOMINIK MYSTERIO (w/Rhea Ripley)
Dominik made his entrance with Ripley after the break. The bell rang 15 minutes into the hour. Xavier took Dominik down to the mat and applied a side headlock at the start. Dominik countered into a head scissors. Dominik backdropped a charging Xavier over the top rope onto the ringside steps. They cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
Back from the break, Dominik had Xavier grounded in a headlock. Xavier made a comeback. He landed a DDT for a near fall at 8:00. Dom fired back with a flying back elbow for a two count. Dominik gloated. Xavier made a comeback. Xavier leaped off the top rope with a flying elbow, but Ripley pulled him out of the path. Dominik then rolled up Xavier for the three count with a yank of tights. Dom celebrated by clapping and singing to the New Day chant rhythm, “Dom… Dom rocks!”
WINNER: Dominik in 10:00.
-They showed Seth backstage getting himself mentally ready for the main event.
-A Smackdown commercial said Roman Reigns returns to Smackdown for the first time since WrestleMania, plus Liv Morgan & Raquel Rodriguez defend against Dakota Kai & Bayley, and the World Title Tournament continues. [c]
-Jinder Mahal talked up his tag team heading to Raw. He said they have conquered continents and obliterated competition all over the world. He said they have waited patiently for their moment to strike from the shadows. He said they will emerge and shake the very foundation of Raw.
-Miz approached Nakamura backstage who was soaking up his loss. Miz said he told him last week they need to watch each other’s backs. He said he’s willing to forget the disrespect he showed him last week if he reconsiders. Nakamura said he’s right so next week they wrestle each other one-on-one. Miz looked confused. Nakamura said it’ll be awesome. Nakamura left. Miz said that’s exactly the opposite of what he said.
-Deville told Green they need a couple more signatures. They looked at Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez. Rodriguez said they just needed to ask for a rematch. Liv signed the petition. Deville and Green broke out into laughter. Green and Deville said they actually expect to be facing Damage CTRL next week, not them.
-They went to Patrick and Graves at ringside who talked again about what happened with Cody and Lesnar earlier.
-Kelley interviewed Cody backstage. She asked for his reaction to being out of the tournament for the World Title. He said he knows it’s her job to ask that question. He said, “Respectfully, the tournament was mine to win.” He said he’s not sure what to say. He paused and then said what he does know is that this is the second time that Lesnar has attacked him for no reason, and from behind. He said the only reason he can imagine is that Lesnar’s monopoly of the main event scene has been usurped by him. He said he’s become the man around there. He said if Lesnar wants to fight him, “against all my better judgment, let’s fight.” He accepted the challenge for Night of Champions.
-Finn Balor’s ring entrance took place. [c]
-Patrick hyped that Gunther will debut next week on Raw. Graves said Miz vs. Nakamura has been made official. Patrick hyped that Green & Deville will get a tag title shot next week against whomever the champions are by then.
(8) SETH ROLLINS vs. FINN BALOR – World Hvt. Title Tournament Semi-final
The fans sang Seth’s song as he made his entrance. The bell rang 45 minutes into the third hour. Balor gave Seth a running powerbomb into the ringside barricade at 2:00. They cut to an early break. [c]
Seth leaped off the top rope, but Balor countered into a small package for a near fall. Balor then applied a Fujiwara armbar. They battled back and forth. Balor was bleeding from his mouth. They sat up and smiled at each other. Balor said he could do this all day. Balor got the better of Seth and climbed to the top rope. Seth met him up there and delivered a superplex. Balor countered a Falcon Arrow and scored a two count. Both were down and slow to get up once again.
After more back and forth action, Seth had Balor down. The fans sang Seth’s song again as he moved in for a Stomp. Balor avoided it, but Seth went back at him and landed an inverted Stomp to Balor’s forehead. He hit another Stomp and scored the three count.
WINNER: Rollins in 14:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match, as you’d anticipate with these two. No surprise Seth is part of the World Title Final at Night of Champions.)