We are 24 hours removed from WWE’s Great Balls of Fire PPV and…pretty much everything’s the same, depending on whether or not the writers are satisfied with what they’ve done and moved on to the next thing.
But probably not.
Let’s see what Monday holds…
We start with highlights from last night’s GBOF PPV where Roman Reigns ran right into the ambulance like Wile E. Coyote rocket skates into a painted tunnel on a canyon to his death before coming back to murder the Roadrunner who limps off like Frankenstein’s Monster, wishing to be left alone.
We are LIVE(!) from Houston, Texas for Monday Night RAW!
Big Cass comes to the ring who JoJo says is “7 Feet Tall and You Can’t Teach That” (trademark pending). Cass sucks up heat which, while loud, is not yet at Roman Reigns levels — but at least the crowd isn’t cheering. Cass asks, “How you doin’?” He says he’s great because what he did to Cass made him feel great. He asks for still shots from GBOF where he handed Enzo his ass. He says that Enzo is now in his shadow. But that’s not the best part. The best part is when WWE refs were helping Enzo backstage because he couldn’t even walk under his own power. Cas stands in the ring and stares up with no remorse. He says he’s now going to the “very top of the totem pole”. He shames fans for not supporting him when he was with Enzo and tells them to not even bother supporting him now. He says that, one day, he’ll be the WWE Universal Champion and when he does become the champ, he’ll shove it down all the doubters’ throats. He says that he’s going to go on to be the greatest in the WWE, appearing on posters, headlining WrestleMania, headlining The Tonight Show and being the top face of the company. He says that NOBODY is bigger than Cass and continues to rant about that until The Big Show shows up to remind us that he’s still with the company.
Cass stands his ground as show glares at him. Cass steps up and gets right in his face. Show headbutts him. Cass runs at him and drags him down to his feet. The two wrestle around until Show gets free and kicks at him in the corner. Show picks him up and goes for the Knockout Punch but Cass manages to squirm away. The two stare at one another.
A really good promo by Cass who isn’t known for his mic skills and a move that makes sense: every WWE “big man” sees a road to the top that goes through Big Show.
Your announcers are Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T and they discuss Strowman’s fate last night as well as Lesnar’s victory.
UP NEXT: Finn Balor vs. Elias Samson
We come back from break and JoJo introduces Elias Samson AND YOU CAN’T TEACH THA–. Nevermind. He strums his guitar and asks who wants to walk with Elias. Nobody really cares much. Elias tells fans to turn off their phones and hold their applause. They clap and turn on their phones. Elias sings about Finn Balor which basically brags about kicking Finn’s ass and interrupting his road to glory. Finn interrupts and walks down the aisle with Michael Cole remarking that he was “The first ever WWE Universal Champion”, reminding us once again that he wasn’t even near worthy enough to be in the B-show yesterday.
Elias Samson vs. Finn Balor
Samson lifts Falor up and body slams him all the way across the ring to start. Balor comes back with a headlock and won’t let go. Finally, he does and Balor drop kicks him in the face. Balor gets flung into the corner but counters with a quick Enzuguri. After a commercial break, Balor is in a Full Nelson by Samson but squirms out into a roll-up for two. Balor eblows Samson but Samson tosses him away into a corner, rushing him. Balor kicks him and hits punches and a running dropkick. Balor hits a Pele Kick on Balor in the corner and Samson falls out of the ring. Balor measures and tries for a kick but Samson catches the leg and twists it, sending Balor to the mat. Samson puts on an Armbar but Balor manages to get to the ropes to break it. Samson sets up another but Balor escapes and quickly stomps Samson in the chest to get away. Balor misses an elbow in the corner so Samson just punches and stomps Balor. Balor fights back. Samson quickly rolls him up and nearly gets a fall. Both men have a wristlock and exchange quick shots but Balor gets the upper hand with his Soccer Kick. Sling Blade and a dropkick by Balor and he goes for the Coup De Gras which he hits for the win at 10:06.
THOUGHTS: B+. Good, intense work by both men and a gritty, brawling wrestling style which converts nicely into grappling at the end.
Following the match, The Hardy Boyz walks out to greet Balor on the entrance ramp and congratulate him on tonight’s win. Their music hits and they’re up next.
Cole and company talk about their heartbreaking loss last night. Jeff and Matt get on the mics. Jeff says they were one second short in the Iron Man Match. He says everyone in the back probably thinks they’re “OBSOLETE”, which drives the crowd nuts. Matt says they’re here to make a proclamation: they’re not going anywhere. This brings out Gallow and Anderson who says that THEY are the only guys who said the Hardyz were done. They tell “the nerds” to get out of the ring and practice their magic elsewhere. Matt tells them that they’re not 100 percent — and they’re “BROKEN” (OMG WINK WINK GET IT???) and if they want to fight, they can get in the ring now. Gallows and Anderson oblige.
The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) vs. Gallows & Anderson
Matt starts with Anderson. Matt slaps at him and Jeff gets in the ring. The two hit a double side suplex, then a dropkick on Gallows. After break, Gallows has clotheslined Jeff to the mat. All this because Jeff got kicked in the face. Anderson and Gallows hit a double RKO outta somewhere but Matt saves the pin. Jeff his a jawbreaker and makes the hot tag to Matt who comes in punching. He rams Anderson’s head into the top buckle, the middle, then the lower. Clothesline and Side Effect but Gallows makes the save. Matt goes second rope and hits a quick elbow. Matt sets up the Twist of Fate but Anderson counters. Gallows kicks Matt in the back of the neck, Anderson hits the running knee and the Magic Killer ends it at 6:54.
THOUGHTS: C+. Not much here.They lost last night and they should have won tonight…right? Jeff failed to make the save…so we’re heading for “broken” territory, right?
Post-match, The Revival shows up and rushes to the ring to beat on the Hardyz further. They knee Matt in the face then put Jeff in the Shatter Machine. Which would mean they’re “shattered”…which is KINDA broken. Right? RIGHT???
UP NEXT: The Mizzies are on, starring The Miz, Maryse and The Miztourage.
Miz presents The Mizzies on MizTV. He says that this is the only award show with credibility since the Oscars snubbed The Marine 5. He names Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel both “Supporting Actors” for their role in the Miztourage. Dallas thanks Miz and thanks everyone else. The crowd, if I’m not mistaken, is seriously or sarcastically yelling “YOU DESERVE IT”. Miz goes to name “The Most Gorgeous, Sexy Lady in Wrestling” and takes FOREVER to name Maryse the winner. She begins to cry and thanks Miz. Miz goes for the final award: Greatest Man in WWE. Miz opens the envelope…and reads Dean Ambrose’s name — just kidding. Miz names himself the winner and goes on his “I’m the truth” rant. He says everyone talks a good game — except Seth Rollins and The Hardyz were all talk. They lost. He won. He says that Dean Ambrose may be the toughest man in WWE. If that’s so, and he beat Ambrose, what does that make the Miz.
Ambrose’s music hits and he rushes the ring, tackling Miz. What, you thought the feud was over? Anyhow, he gets triple-teamed until Seth Rollins shows up to help out. Rollins nearly takes Dallas’s head off with the award podium which looked legit painful. The two stand tall and invite Miz back in the ring.
TONIGHT: Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt. Hooray for giving up PPV matches for free the very next night!
ALSO: Braun Strowman hasn’t been seen since GBOF so Corey Graves says they’ll take a look at the footage to see what they can break down because Strowman is Bigfoot now.
ALSO ALSO: Lesnar/Joe from last night.
NEXT: Sasha and Bailey in action.
Ambrose meets Rollins in the backstage area. Ambrose asks why Rollins helped him out. Rollins says that Miz talked shit about him as well as Ambrose so he came out to help. Ambrose tells Seth to stay out of it and that there won’t be a “SHIELD reunion”. He walks away and Seth looks perplexed.
Sasha Banks & Bailey vs. Nia Jax & WWE RAW Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss
Bliss and Banks start. Bliss runs away after Graves gets done telling us what a great champ she is. She throws a weak-looking punch to Banks, then tags Jax. Banks tags Bailey and it’s a four-woman brawl. Banks slaps Jax. Bailey hits a nice top-rope Fame-Asser. After break, Banks chokes Bliss against the corner buckle. She hits a running knee and gets two. Tag to Bailey and a bulldog for two. Tag to Jax and Bailey just runs into her twice. Bailey dropkicks the knee and hits running elblows. Jax sends Bailey out of the ring. Bailey drops Jax’s head on the top rope. Bliss gets back on the apron but Bailey knocks her off somehow. The move looked botched. Jax takes over and splashes Bailey in the corner. Nia puts Bailey in the Cobra Clutch but Bailey breaks free. Jax tosses her into the corner and tags Bliss. Jax tosses Bliss at Bailey who just runs up and slaps Bailey in the face. She chokes Bailey on the bottom rope, then gets two. Jax is back in. Bailey punches at her but Jax headbutts her. Another Cobra Clutch. Bailey breaks free again the same way she did the first time. She runs at Banks to tag but Nia pushes her into the heel corner. Bliss distracts Banks which causes Banks to go apeshit at the referee. Jax beats up on Bailey. Bliss hits Twisted Bliss but Banks makes the save. Jax knocks her out of the ring. Back inside, Bailey rolls up Bliss for the win at 9:24.
THOUGHTS: D+. The match got better as it went along but there was little rhythm and what was there was sloppy. This is mainly due to the fact that Nia Jax has terrible in-ring skills and she was stiff as a board. She put Bailey in the Cobra Clutch twice here. It was virtually the same sequence back-to-back. I get WWE’s insistence on putting titles on people whose size outweighs their skills but this is getting ridiculous. The only good thing here was that Bailey got the credit for the pinfall — and even that’s darkly ironic since she and Banks were getting their heads knocked off the entire match and just won because WWE Creative wrote it, so shall it be done. Added to this, Bailey is so far gone as a legit competitor in the Women’s Division, so this really means zilch.
Another Goldust promo. Here, he quotes Reservoir Dogs (“Are you gonna bark all day, doggy, or are you gonna bite?”) and says that R-Truth has barked a lot. When they meet up again, the sequel will be a smash…even though the sequel doesn’t live up to the original.
Cole talks up the Great Balls of Fire PPV from last night and shows us clips from the Ambulance Match that we saw at the beginning of RAW.
When we come back…an update on Braun Strowman.
R-Truth raps. Goldust and his killer cameraman couldn’t get here faster.
R-Truth vs. Goldust
Cole proclaims that “Goldust has gone off the deep end”. Really? As opposed to the decades of Goldust where he was perfectly normal? The battle starts in the corner. Truth hits a Stinger Splash and follows up with punches. Dust punches Truth and taunts him so Truth punches him and puts him a corner. Dust gets the upper hand and then cuddles Truth against his body. Dust hits chops in the corner, then snapmares Truth and drops a fist in his face. Headlock by Goldust but Truth gets to his feet and flies at Goldust who hits a big Spinebuster for two. He puts Truth in the corner and punches at Truth’s head. Truth, however, counters with a big Jackknife Powerbomb using the corner as leverage. Crowd is absolute crickets but comes to life as Truth gets to his feet. Truth hits lariats and a Spinning Elbow, He misses the Scissor Kick and Dust clips Truth’s knee. Dust continues to work the knee and taunts him. Truth kicks Goldust out of the ring. Dust jumps back in and gets hit with a Heel Kick and a Scissor Kick for a close fall. The two grapple and Dust tosses Truth into the ringpost. He hits The Final Cut for the win at 5:40.
THOUGHTS: C+. Solid, no-bullshit match between two mid-card vets. It ultimately means nothing (the intensity and rage from Truth was lacking and Goldust seemed to be having more fun here) but I enjoyed this for what it was.
Kurt Angle comes out to the ring for a briefing on last night. He calls Great Balls of Fire awesome and says he can’t wait for next year’s event. He’s the only one, I think. Angle says that Braun refused medical treatment but the show must go on. Angle brings out Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. Kurt says he has memories of Lesnar beating him so many years ago. He probably took years off of Angle’s life. Angle congratulates Lesnar. The two shakes hands. Heyman asks if there’s anything else. Angle wants to know who should challenge Lesnar for the Universal Title at SummerSlam. Because that’s how it works here now. Heyman mocks him for this, calling it a “creative meeting”. Heyman says they should probably just leave him to his personal problems. They go to leave the ring.
Cue Roman “The Ripper” Reigns who has got to be wanted in 15 states for what he did last night. Heyman is incredulous. Angle says that they’re not done yet — but turns to Roman and goes full Lando Calrissian on him, saying he has a lot of guts to come out here after what he pulled. Roman says that he’s done nothing and that Angle has blown everything up. Roman says Angle should thank him because Roman’s the only person who can handle Strowman — especially since Angle’s never around to do so. Lesnar tries to get in Roman’s face but Angle separates them. Reigns wants his favor repaid. He wants Lesnar at SummerSlam. Heyman likes it. Lesnar doesn’t. Lesnar asks if Roman deserves a title shot. Lesnar says that this promo is as close as Reigns is gonna get to the title.
Cue Samoa Joe. Joe says everyone in the ring is living in fantasy land. He’s here to bring everyone into reality. Lesnar: “Reality is that I KICKED YOUR ASS LAST NIGHT.” Joe says Lesnar escaped. Lesnar says he did. Heyman interrupts and says Joe will never see another title match with Lesnar again. Lesnar gets right in Joe’s face. Angle steps between them. Joe tells Heyman to look him in the eye. He claims to have Lesnar’s number. Reigns: “You have his number? You really showed that last night.” Joe says Roman’s awfully mouthy for a guy who got his ass kicked by Strowman last night. Roman: “Look at me…then look at Strowman — IF YOU CAN FIND HIM.”
The two nearly come to blows but Angle breaks them up and tells both of them to quit fighting. He makes a match next week: Roman vs. Joe for the right to face Lesnar at SummerSlam. They continue to lunge at one another and Angle yells at both of them not to fight because he’ll cancel their match next week if they do. The two men don’t listen so Angle tells both of them that this is their shot at the title and their ticket to SummerSlam and asks them if it’s worth dumping their chance down the drain just so that they can fight tonight. The two men back off and the segment ends.
AMAZING promo work here by all parties involved. Every single wrestler here was on top of their game and their personal credit went up a thousand points. Lesnar was surprisingly great on the mic, showing off a rare human side of his character, upping the cockiness and both Joe and Reigns had the unenviable task of still being relevant after clean losses last night. The interaction between the latter two was great and the perspective laid down by both of them (Roman mocking Joe for his denial of the facts only for Joe to explain that Lesnar barely walked away from the fight; Joe coming back with the cold truth that he wasn’t the only guy who lost, pushing Roman to rhetorically ask Joe who walked away from the Ambulance Match) showed why each guy has a claim to Lesnar’s title. Incredible work here.
The announcers talk about what they just saw — and Corey walks away from the table, concerned, staring at his phone. When we come back from break, Angle is backstage, staring at his phone. Graves approaches him and Angle is distraught. He has no idea “how to deal with this” and says he “might have to go public.” Angle says all will be revealed next week but he’ll probably be saying “good-bye” at the same time. Graves is confident that “everything will be fine”.
Akira Tozawa (w/ Titus O’Neil) & Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar (w/ Alicia Fox) & WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville
Alexander and Dar start. Fox yells at Dar from the side of the ring. Titus yells. Everyone yells. Suddenly, we’re watching Total Divas. Dar gets hit in the face. He escapes from the ring and hugs Fox outside the ring. Alexander follows him but Dar gets back in the ring. Tag to Akira and it’s a nice trip-to-dropkick double team combo by Alexander and Akira. Akira stomps Dar in the corner. He twists Dar’s arm but Dar breaks it and tags in Neville. Akira immediately hits a Frankensteiner and Standing Senton. He rushes at Neville who hits a Drop Toehold, sending Akira into the middle buckle. After a long commercial break that sucks up half the match, Akira is locked in an armbar by Neville. Akira fights out. Akira runs and boots Dar, then takes out Neville. He makes a hot tag and in comes Cedric. Cedric flips around like he’s on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, then goes top rope. Both Dar and Neville end that noise real quick. Neville goes for a Superplex and both men fall off the top buckle. Cole says “this happened last night!” Cedric dives at Dar outside which Cole says is “ALSO like last night!” Akira knocks Neville down ALSO LIKE LAST NIGHT! Senton Bomb from Akira wins it at 9:33 which TOTALLY HAPPENED LAST NIGHT!!!
THOUGHTS: D+. Like a late-card match on Saturday Night’s Main Event, this is filler. Not bad but this was booked so Akira would get a little Hair of the Dog. Cole reminding us four fucking times that “all of this happened last night” doesn’t exactly make me excited.
We take a look back at tonight’s MizTV segment.
Rollins is backstage and says he didn’t go to the ring to save Ambrose. He went out to shut The Miz the hell up. He says that Bray is a fraud and a coward and that cheap shots to his eye don’t change anything.
So here’s Bray with a retort. Bray says that sin and regret are all that’s left of Rollins. He says that Rollins’ fate is his to toy with. He will not be forgiven for his sins. Also, he’s here.
Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins
This is a “very important battle”, according to Cole, despite the fact that there’s no real point to this feud and this is the second match between the two in two nights. Bray backs Seth into a corner, then lets go. Rollins comes back with punches in the opposite corner. Bray fights back with blows of his own — but runs into a Superkick of sorts for two. Bray gets back into the ring and manages to hit a nice dive at Rollins, Bray goes into Spider Mode even though Rollins can’t see Bray doing it, diminishing any impact it should have. Sister Abigail turns up nothing and the fight spills outside. Rollins goes after the “hand that did damage to his eye”, which is the most substance this feud has had thus far. More hand torture and the fight goes back outside again. Rollins works on the hand some more, slamming Bray’s hand into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Rollins goes for a Springboard move only for Bray to catch him and hit the Uranage, the move that finally has a name. Bray “rests to heal his hand” according to Cole as we go to commercial.
After the break, Rollins is in a chinlock and the crowd is doing The Wave. Then it’s a Sleeper by Bray that Rollins escapes from and hits a dropkick. Bray gets to his feet and he whips Rollins into the corner, splashing him for two. Cole notices that that Bray’s hand still isn’t fully usable, apparently unaware that human beings aren’t Wolverine. ANOTHER long Sleeper spot but Rollins gets to his feet. Bray headbutts him and Rollins gets to the corner buckle. Bray goes for the SHADES OF COWBOY BOB ORTONPLEX but Rollins fights out and starts hitting kicks back on the mat. Rollins and Bray get to their feet and Rollins beats Bray with punches and kicks, capped with a Sling Blade. Bray goes outside so that Rollins can hit the requisite Sucide Dive. Back in the ring, it’s a Springboard Flying Jalapeno and a two count by Rollins. Rollins hits a clotheslines in the corner and a Blockbuster. Two count. Rollins goes top rope but Bray leaps up and punches Rollins. Bray pulls him to the mat and Rollins counters with the Falcon Arrow for two. Bray goes for Sister Abigail again but Rollins counters it. Suddenly, Bray jabs Rollins in the eye and it’s Sister Abigail for the win at 16:57.
THOUGHTS: B-. The duel between the two guys here was far better than last night’s Great Balls of Fire. That’s because there was more focus and determination from both guys with regard to the scripted hatred. Was that so hard to do last night?
Post-match, Bray vanishes after his video cut…and Miz and his Miztourage are here to get at what’s left of Rollins. They jump him and get their licks in until Ambrose shows up with a chair to chase them off, getting a nice four or five heavy chair shots to The Miz which means the letter grade of this show is going up based on that alone.
Backstage, Angle talks to someone on the phone about what’s going down next week. He tells whomever he’s talking to to “be there” and “whatever happens, happens”.
OVERALL: B-. A decent follow-up show to Great Balls of Fire that kept the crap to an absolute minimum. The promos were long — but they were GREAT and paid off. Cass grew up tonight, the big guys all showed their mettle and The Miz segment ended with a satisfying beatdown and a familiar alliance. The promos, however, overshadowed the wrestling which was pretty good but not great. But when you’re building toward one of the Big Four, that matters little. This show was entertaining tonight.