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WWE RAW TV REPORT
MAY 15, 2023
GREENSBORO, N.C. AT THE GREENSBORO COLISEUM
AIRED LIVE ON USA
Commentators: Kevin Patrick, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
-After “Then, Now, Together, Forever,” Kevin Patrick introduced the show as the camera showed a wide angle of the crowd.
-Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn made their way to the ring. Corey Graves noted that at Night of Champions in 12 days, Sami & KO will defend against Roman Reigns & Solo Sikoa. A video package aired recapping that development from Smackdown last Friday. Back in the ring, Sami said he’s excited because they found out on Friday that they’ll be defending the Undisputed Tag Team Titles against Reigns & Solo. Boos rang out. He said on paper, that’s about as big of a threat to their titles as there is, but he said they don’t see it as a threat. “We see it as a gift,” he said. He said it’s a chance at revenge at Reigns that they thought they’d never get.
He said both he and KO should have defeated Reigns for the Undisputed Title, but he has cheated his way through an entire title reign and has gone unchecked for far too long, so they’ll check him. He said Reigns has gone unchecked for so long, he doesn’t know when to stop. He said they thought the only chance they’d get at revenge was watching the Bloodline crumble from afar, but now that’s happening all by himself. He said Reigns is pushing too far and too hard. He said it’s not enough to be champion for 1,000 days and now he wants the tag titles too. “Roman, you psycho, you manipulator!” he said. “You want these championships? You can’t have them!”
Out walked all four members of The Judgment Day. Owens asked them to cut the music. He said he’s so sick of talking about The Bloodline. He said if they want to fight, they can fight. Fans cheered. Sami told KO it might be his fault because he started at a 10. He said they don’t know why they’re out there, so he asked KO to hear them out. Priest said he’d actually love to fight. Finn Balor entered the ring and said they actually are there to talk. He said they wanted to wish them the best of luck in their match against Solo & Roman. He said he’s confused because last week they said they were done with The Bloodline, but now they’re back where they started. Priest said, “Yeah, about to get beat up by Roman.” Balor said if they happen to retain their titles, there will be a long line of Superstars waiting for them. “And the line starts here,” he said.
Rhea Ripley said The Judgment Day runs Raw. Sami said those are all fantastic points. Fans chanted “Mommy!” Sami said he’d love to hear what Dom has to say about it. Boos rang out. Sami said he knows the fans love when he talks. Dominik Mysterio tried to talk, but boos were so loud he kept stopping. KO said he can’t hear Dom, so he’d like to just punch him in the face. When KO moved toward Dom, Ripley stepped between them. Priest then bashed Sami with a forearm. The Judgment Day stomped away at Owens in the corner. Sami cleared the ring with a chair.
(Keller’s Analysis: Effective segment at getting Sami’s reaction to the Smackdown development regarding their tag titles, but also set up Judgment Day vs. Sami & KO for tonight. The crowd heat for Dom continues to be great.)
-They went to Patrick and Graves at ringside who plugged Cody Rhodes appearing later, plus Gunther’s Raw debut. Also, a battle royal to determine Gunther’s next challenger. (Is Tony Khan guest booking Raw tonight?) He also said they’d take a deeper look at the Seth Rollins vs. A.J. Styles match at Night of Champions for the new World Hvt. Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: I hope they address what happens if Styles wins. Does he get moved to Raw and is there compensation for Smackdown if that happens?)
-Shinsuke Nakamura made his ring entrance. [c]
-A video package aired on the Seth-Styles match scheduled for Night of Champions with soundbites from Styles, Seth, and Triple H.
(Keller’s Analysis: The video package was generic. I’m curious if Reigns’s match goes on last or if they put the World Title final on last. It’s a bad start for the new World Title if it doesn’t main event the event that determines the first title holder.)
-Patrick said they had breaking news as Sami & KO vs. Balor & Priest would take place later.
(1) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. THE MIZ
The bell rang 19 minutes into the hour. Fans chanted ‘Tiny balls!” Miz offered a handshake. Nakamura kicked his hand away and made a gesture related to the fan chant. He kneed Miz in the ribs and kicked him in the corner. Miz raked at Nakamura’s face and took control. Graves talked about Nakamura being back after time away recharging and he said he appears to be in better condition and rejuvenated, ready to “take his game to the top of the mountain.” Miz snapped Nakamura over the middle rope as he leaped off the ring apron. As he went on the attack at ringside, they cut to an early break. [c]
After some back and forth action, Miz DDT’d Nakamura and scored a two count. Nakamura avoided a Miz charge into the corner. He signaled for a Kinshasa kick, but Miz rolled to the edge of the ring and pulled on the ring apron. The ref tended to the apron, so Miz poked Nakamura in the eyes. He then hit a Skull Crushing Finale, but Nakamura draped his leg over the bottom rope. Miz was frustrated. Nakamura surprised Miz with a small package. He followed with a sudden Kinshasa for the win.
WINNER: Nakamura in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: There wasn’t a lot to this. It was basic and fine. I’m good with Nakamura getting a decisive win despite Miz cheating a couple times.)
-They went to Graves and Patrick at ringside who threw to a sponsored video package on the Women’s Tag Team Titles situation.
-Backstage, Sonya Deville & Chelsea Green were yelling at exec Adam Pearce as Raquel Rodriguez stood by. Pearce said they can’t get a tag title match as scheduled tonight because Liv Morgan was injured last week and not medically cleared to compete. Deville said in a situation like this, a fair member of management would strip Rodriguez & Morgan of the titles. Rodriguez said she’d be happy to defend Liv’s honor with a match against Green tonight. Pearce liked it. Green paused, agreed, and then told Rodriguez she’d regret it. Rodriguez said, “Fine, Karen. We’ll see you out there.”
-They showed Gunther, Giovani Vinci, and Ludwig Kaiser walking backstage. [c]
-They went to Patrick and Graves who spoke about the World Hvt. Title final at Night of Champions. Graves threw to a sitdown interview with Rollins.
-A vintage clip aired of Seth Rollins back at the start of his NXT days declaring himself WWE’s next breakout star. Then they showed current footage of fans singing his song. Graves said many consider him “a generation-defining Superstar.” Seth was wearing distinct clothes for the interview. Clips aired of Seth back in 2012 in NXT, including Dusty Rhodes and Triple H raising his arm after a win. Seth said he pushed the industry forward and paved the way. Graves asked Seth about arriving on Raw and Smackdown shortly thereafter as a member of The Shield. (They didn’t edit out Dean Ambrose, but there were a few frames of just Seth and Reigns that felt intentional to at least not feature Ambrose more than Reigns and Seth.) Seth said he gets asked more than anything else about why he turned on The Shield. Seth said if you want to reach ultimate success, you have to take chances. “If I hadn’t put the chair to Roman’s back, what would the future have looked like?” Graves asked why the time is right for a new World Title and why is Seth the right person. That was used as a teaser for the next segment in the interview later.
(Keller’s Analysis: The sitdown interview format tends to align with big matches so it boosts the signal to the audience this is a significant championship. That said, there wasn’t much of substance here, but there’s more to come.)
-Gunther made his ring entrance with the rest of Imperium. Gunther stood on the announce desk at ringside as Kaiser introduced him to the Raw audience. He handed the mic to Gunther. “Perhaps an introduction is due,” he said. He said he dominated Smackdown for almost a year as the longest-reigning Intercontinental Champion of the modern era. Scattered applause. He said he will continue his mission on Raw. He said no man on Raw has yet been identified to be his next challenger nor has anyone earned his respect. He said that could change with the battle royal next.
-Ricochet made his ring entrance as Patrick and Graves hyped the battle royal. [c]
(2) BATTLE ROYAL FOR AN INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH
After the break, the ring was largely full. Apollo Crews’s ring entrance aired as Graves noted that he is back after a stint in NXT. He said Crews “reestablished himself and reconnected with what brought him to the dance to begin with.” Matt Riddle made his entrance next. Patrick said he’s been in “flyin’ form as of late.” Riddle taunted Imperium at ringside. Graves said it was bold, but not smart of him. The bell rang to start the match 52 minutes into the hour.
Baron Corbin eliminated Akira Tozawa. As Corbin gloated, Dexter Lumis eliminated him. Mace and Mansour then dumped Dexter over the top rope. Chad Gable and Otis them tossed out Mace and Mansour over the top rope. Mansour’s feet never hit the ground and Mace held him up, but when Lumis stared at Mace dropped Mansour. They both retreated to the back. J.D. McDonagh then eliminated Humberto Carrillo with a headbutt while they battled on the ring apron. Dolph Ziggler then eliminated McDonagh. Von Wagner then eliminated Ziggler at 2:00. McDonagh then attacked Ziggler at ringside, ramming him into the ringside steps. Graves called him “The Irish Ace” several times. They cut to a break as referees pulled him away. [c]
The Viking Raiders eliminated Xyon Quinn. They eliminated Shelton Benjamin next. Then they turned and faced Gable & Otis. Gable tried to back suplex Erik off the ring apron, but Erik held on and fought back. Valhalla laughed in Gable’s face. Otis then eliminated Erik. Ivar knocked Gable off the ring apron. Otis and Ivar battled. Bronson Reed tossed both of them over the top rope.
The rest of the wrestlers attacked Bronson. Johnny Gargano and Mustafa Ali battled each other. Gargano speared Ali, but Ricochet gave him a Shooting Star Press. Riddick Moss attacked Ricochet. Bronson slammed Moss. Crews gave Bronson a modified blockbuster. Elias went after Crews, but Crews tossed him over the top rope. Bronson then clotheslined Crews over the top rope. Bronson fended off Ali, Gargano, and Ricochet. Riddle then hit Bronson with a barrage of strikes and a Floating Bro. He played to the hard cam. Moss checked Riddle hard, but when he charged again, Riddle backdropped him over the top rope.
Gargano went after Riddle, but Riddle head scissored him over the top rope. Imperium stared down at Gargano at ringside. Vinci and Kaiser went after Riddle on the ring apron. Two referees scolded him. Bronson knocked Riddle off the ring apron. Ricochet gave Bronson a high knee and a dropkick. Ali joined Ricochet in dumping Bronson over the top rope, but Bronson landed on the ring apron. Ricochet springboard dropkicked Bronson, but Bronson didn’t drop. Bronson lifted Ricochet onto his shoulders on the ring apron. Ali dropkicked them both off the ring apron and won. As Ali celebrated and pyro blasted, Graves said he’s scratched and clawed to get an opportunity to make his mark, but he should be careful what he wishes for.
WINNER: Mustafa Ali in 13:00 to earn an Intercontinental Title match.
(Keller’s Analysis: Solid battle royal that was well planned and well executed. I didn’t see Ali getting the win, as I was thinking Riddle, Ricochet, or Crews, with an outside shot to one of the NXT call-ups. For a first match with Gunther on Raw, though, Ali will help assure it’s a heck of a match if they give it time, and he’s a good starter challenger for Gunther as he works his way up the roster to face Ricochet and Riddle level wrestlers later. Does this mean Ali is back to being a babyface?)
-Graves and Patrick threw to a video package on Cody Rhodes-Brock Lesnar.
-They showed Becky Lynch walking backstage with a serious expression. [c]
-Lynch made her ring entrance. A clip aired of Lynch returning last week and attacking Trish Stratus. Back live in the ring, a “Becky!” chant broke out. She said part of being The Man is to admit when you’ve been going through some stuff. She said they all have their struggles behind closed doors – small, medium, and big. “We put on the face we need to put on so we can do what we need to do to become the people we need to be,” she said. “And sometimes when it becomes to overwhelming and we feel we can’t do it on our own anymore, we have to ask for help.” She said she asked for help from two legends, Lita and Trish Stratus. She said Lita was great and they won gold together. She said Trish came back and she hadn’t skipped a beat. She said she was so clouded in her judgment that she couldn’t see what a snake in the grass she was. She said Trish came back to help herself, like the backstabbing egomaniac that she is. (Not much crowd response at all to that line that seemed to be designed to get a pop.)
She said she wanted to say thanks to Trish because when she hit her in the back, she turned a light on that had been off for many months. She said when Trish called her daughter stupid, she reminded her that the only thing that matters is standing up for the people who matter. She said she gave all the badness in her a head a face and a target. She said Trish was once no. 1 in the business and she wants it again. She said she will be it, regardless of holding a title, and if Trish wants to try to be it again, she’s got it. She said she’ll kick her head in at Night of Champions. She threw the mic down and raised her arm as her music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: Becky’s good. She can lock eyes with that hard cam and just grab your attention.)
-Cathy Kelley interviewed Rhea Ripley backstage about Natalya. Ripley said Natalya has had an impressive career, but she needs to stay in her lane now. Natalya walked in and said this isn’t about lanes. She said Ripley is the most dominant woman to ever hold that title and she deserves respect, something she hasn’t been affording her opponents recently. Ripley told Natalya not to act like she ran to the ring last week to help Dana Brooke. She said Natalya went after her because she can make her relevant again. She said if she interrupts her again, though, she won’t help boost her career, she’ll end it. Dom walked in and told Ripley they should go. They held hands and walked off together.
-Xavier Woods made his entrance to the New Day theme. [c]
-Backstage, Ali approached Gable and Otis. He said he used to be a loser like them, but then he started thinking more positively and now he’s a winner. He strutted away and the camera followed him until he turned and ran into Imperium. Gunther said he’s going to lose and get the beating that goes along with it. He told Ali he feels bad that Gunther has to go all the way to Night of Champions and back only to lose the IC Title to him. He told him to stay positive.
(Keller’s Analysis: So that answers whether Ali was dropping his heel persona. So are fans being steered toward cheering Gunther?)
(3) DOMINIK MYSTERIO (w/Rhea Ripley) vs. XAVIER WOODS
Dominik and Ripley walked out. Fans booed loudly as Dominik addressed Xavier on his way to the ring. Xavier said he doesn’t have anyone to watch his back right now, but he’s a grown man who can stand on his own two feet and fight his own battles. He asked if he has to ask Mommy for permission to speak. Fans chanted “Mommy! Mommy!” Dom finished walking to the ring. The bell rang 29 minutes into the hour.
Two minutes in, after some back and forth action, Dominik retreated behind Ripley at ringside. Ripley and Xavier exchanged words as they cut to a break. [c]
Dom was in control after the break. Fans were chanting “You suck! You suck!” Xavier rallied and scored a two count after a leaping clothesline. Dom threw Xavier to the floor. Ripley approached him. Dom then delivered Three Amigos back in the ring. Dom leaped off the top rope, but Xavier raised his knees. Xavier landed a gut-buster next for a two count. Graves said Dom is a survivor, and compared him to a cockroach and Twinkies. Patrick got a kick out of that. Graves asked if they have Twinkies in Ireland. Patrick said he didn’t think so. Xavier went for a top rope move, but Ripley pulled Dom to ringside. Xavier leaped onto him instead. Dominik slidekicked a distracted Xavier at ringside. Ripley laughed and then forearmed him and threw him back into the ring. Dominik rolled up Xavier and leveraged his shoulders down for a three count. Graves said Dom critics can hop online and complain, but Dom is “living the dream.”
WINNER: Dominik in 11:00.
-A vignette aired on J.D. McDonagh. He said he bought for a long time that if you do the right thing and work hard and treat others with respect, you’ll get your turn. He said the years ticked on and he saw guys unfit to lace his boots getting opportunities ahead of him, so he realized he was performing for an audience of fools. “And now what you’re left with is this,” he said. “I am the cause of force, pain, and suffering. I am the disruptor. I dig the graves. The Irish Ace is here to stay.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Good intense delivery. It’d have had more credibility if they didn’t show McDonagh losing in the battle royal earlier.)
-Kelley approached McDonagh backstage as he was leaving. She asked why he targeted Ziggler. He said he came to Raw to make a statement, and Ziggler has “done it all.” He listed titles he’s won. He said he’ll show everyone why you should never bet against an ace. Balor wandered into the picture at the end on a platform above them in the parking garage.
-They showed Veer, Sanga, and Jinder Mahal backsage. [c]
(4) INDUS SHER (w/Jinder Mahal) vs. LAVAR BARBIE & DRAKE THOMPSON
Indus Sher made their entrance after the break. Graves said they’re there to turn the tag division on its head. Graves took digs at Thompson, saying he was voted toughest guy on his swim team. Total squash. Jinder had a few words afterward.
WINNERS: Indus Sher in under 2:00.
-They went to Graves and Patrick at ringside. Jinder went over to them and said they run the show and they are the future.
-Backstage, Sami and Owens were chatting. Imperium approached them. Owens asked, “What?” Gunther said they disrespected his men last week. Owens said they’ll fight them next week. Sami said they’ll find a partner. Gunther smiled and agreed to it.
-Cody Rhodes stepped off a bus in the parking lot. [c]
-Cody made his ring entrance, slapping hands and smiling. Graves and Patrick talked about his feud with Lesnar. Patrick said Cody doesn’t run from a challenge, but rather he embraces it.
Cody soaked up cheers after his music stopped. He paused, then smiled and asked, “So, Greensboro, North Carolina, what do you want to talk about?” He said he knows that arena. “This is the fabled, very first home of Starrcade,” he said. He said Lesnar has elected not to be there, though. Fans booed. Cody told the story about the scorpion and the frog.
He asked Lesnar if he sees himself as the hunter. “Let me ask you something. How’s your face?” Fans ohhhed. He said when Lesnar looks in the mirror, he sees an alpha male, but he should also see a black eye and staples. He said when he looks in the mirror, he sees the man who put them there and busted Lesnar’s face and maybe broke his spirit. He said he gladly accepts Lesnar’s challenge at Night of Champions.
He said he’s not going to go out of bounds on Lesnar because there’s been a lot of chatter about his ego and flexing his influence and having a lack of dates. He said Lesnar is better than 99.9 percent of wrestlers, but at Backlash, Lesnar was not better than him. He said Lesnar called it a cheap win. “A wrestling counter to a wrestling move in a wrestling ring,” he said. “How cheap that is?” He said even if he beat him 20 seconds, he still would have hunted him because this isn’t about a championship, but rather who is the big thing on Monday Night Raw. Fans chanted, “Cody! Cody!”
He said they always called Lesnar “the next big thing.” He said they were right, but eventually they just say “next.” He said he has conquered WWE, but they are at the point where he needs him to take his busted face and step aside because he’s not the big thing anymore, but rather he is simply in his way.
(Keller’s Analysis: Great closing line. Cody’s promos are so much more disciplined and focused now, and he’s getting better over time. He comes across so straight-laced in an old school way for a pro wrestling babyface and it’s working. He’s unflinching and determined, but also acting with integrity and calling out those who aren’t or who have egos he wants to chop down.)
-Backstage, Zoey Stark said she knew she was going to win last week. The camera panned over and Nikki Cross was there. Stark called her a freak. Candice LeRae ran in and told her not to talk about Nikki Cross that way. Stark called her family weirdos. LeRae said they can settle this in the ring. “Perfect, see you next week,” Stark said.
-Rodriguez made her way to the ring. [c]
(5) RAQUEL RODRIGUEZ vs. CHELSEA GREEN (w/Sonya Deville)
A minute in, Rodriguez gave Green a snake eyes, but Green made a comeback and landed a dropkick for a two count. Rodriguez dropped Green over the top rope and then hit Green with three straight clotheslines. Green punched Rodriguez, which Graves said made Jake Paul blush. Rodriguez brushed it off and fallaway slammed Green. Green followed with a swinging elbow out of the corner followed by the Tahana Bomb.
WINNER: Rodriguez in 4:00.
-As they showed Rodriguez celebrating on the stage, Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler attacked her. Rousey laughed and then yanked Rodriguez by her hair. She said she will defend her tag title against them with or without Liv Morgan. She held onto her hair, and then held her arm for Baszler to kick it. Patrick called it “a vicious, unforgiving statement.” [c]
-They showed Imperium standing backstage and shaking hands with someone off camera. Then the camera panned over and it was Paul Heyman with a “visitor” sticker on his phone. He told his phone to call Roman Reigns. He had a sinister smile.
-The next part of Graves’s sitdown interview aired with Seth. Graves asked why this iteration is the best version of Seth. Seth said as the visionary, his hands are off the wheel. He said that’s the fun part because they’re having this crazy synergistic experience with the WWE Universe. He said this is the most authentic version of himself. Graves asked, “Why now?” Seth said maybe it’s the equity or time or hard work. He said there is some organic relationship and for the first time in his career, he’s not the one forcing the change, but the WWE Universe is the catalyst for the change in him. Graves asked about why this is the right time for a new World Title. Seth said he doesn’t feel that anybody at the top wants to take any risks with the title they are holding. He said they’re more about protecting themselves than pushing the industry forward. He said he will defend the World Title the way it’s supposed to be done. Graves then asked specifically about Reigns. They stopped on that teaser.
-Patrick said he didn’t want to wait until next week to hear the next segment.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s actually cool to hear Seth say this version of him is a result of an organic reaction the fans have had to him. There’s certainly something to that. A catchy entrance theme didn’t hurt. At least they are giving the World Title some framework to differentiate it from Reigns, at least in the view of the most likely inaugural winner.)
-Graves and Patrick hyped next week’s Raw. They said Cody and Brock will both be on Raw “under the same roof.” They also announced a Lynch-Stratus contract signing next week, plus Sami & Owens & a mystery partner against Imperium.
-The Judgment Day began their ring entrance. [c]
-A vignette aired on Apollo Crews with soundbites along with footage of him running the streets. He said people keep asking him if he’s grateful to be back and getting a second chance at an opportunity of a lifetime. He said he didn’t have anything handed to him, though. He said he is a former U.S. Champion and IC Champion. He said he demands respect on his name. He said he earned his way back and he did so being a man his kids can be proud of. He said he refuses to be reduced by what happens to him. He closed with: “This is my time.” They showed him running on top of a parking ramp with a high drone shot as he raised his arms.
(6) SAMI ZAYN & KEVIN OWENS vs. THE JUDGMENT DAY (Finn Balor & Damien Priest w/Rhea Ripley, Dominik Mysterio)
Graves talked about Sami’s continued focus on The Bloodline. The bell rang 37 minutes into the hour. Sami and Balor faced off to start the match. At 2:00, Owens ducked a charging Priest and then a charging Balor. Both regrouped at ringside as they cut to a break. [c]
Balor was beating on Sami in the corner after the break. Sami fought back and hot-tagged in Owens just as Balor tagged in Priest. Owens went on a flurry of offense. When Priest dropped to the floor, Owens clotheslined him and landed a senton. He fended off Balor and Dominik, then landed a cannonball in the corner on Priest for a near fall. Dom tripped Owens running the ropes. Priest attacked him from behind. The ref booted Dom and Ripley from ringside. Balor threw a fit as Ripley and Dom complained about their perceived injustice. Owens superkicked a charging Priest. Xavier jumped Dominik on the stage and chased him away. Heyman walked out, talking on his phone. Graves wondered why. [c]
Graves and Patrick talked about Heyman’s presence at Raw including interacting with Imperium and now seemingly Judgment Day. Sami eventually got a hot-tag and went after Balor as Heyman continued to observe from the entrance area. Sami landed a Michinoku Driver. They showed Heyman wincing. Sami landed a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall.
Imperium made their way at ringside. Sami turned toward them. Balor rolled up Sami from behind. Owens and Priest got into a fight in the ring. Owens gave Priest a stunner. Sami gave Balor an exploder suplex into the corner. He followed with a running Helluva Kick. Kaiser and Vinci jumped onto the ring apron. Owens knocked them to the floor and then shoved Gunther. Priest slammed Owens on the edge of the ring. Sami landed a running flip onto Priest at ringside. Sami set up a Helluva Kick, but Vinci and Kaiser distracted the ref as Gunther grabbed his leg. Balor kicked Sami in the corner and then landed the Coup de Grace for the win. They cut to a smiling Heyman who appeared to be passing the good news to Reigns via his phone.
WINNERS: Balor & Priest in 21:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match with a lot of moving parts, but they fit into the Bloodline vs. Sami & KO situation well.)