The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 05/08/23 Review
This week’s WWE Raw featured two triple threat matches leading to a singles main event match in a tournament for the new World Heavyweight Title.
I thought WWE Backlash this past Saturday was a great show that exceeded expectations. The Puerto Rico crowd was amazing. The new Raw & Smackdown rosters take effect with this week’s episode of Raw, so we’ll see some new faces on the show along with those that have been on Raw regularly in the past.
The next WWE Premium Live Event for the main roster is Night of Champions from Saudi Arabia on Saturday, May 27th.
PLEASE NOTE: As of this Saturday, May 13th, I’m going to be on vacation for the next seven days. That means that next week starting with the May 15th Raw through that week, I’m not going to have reviews of the shows I typically write about. When that vacation ends, I’m probably going to do some sort of condensed reviews of the shows I missed. It’s my first full week off since July 2022, so I look forward to disconnecting from social media and not writing for nearly all that week. As for TJRWrestling.net, our team of great writers led by my good friend Lyle will keep on producing content because that’s what we do. I’m so proud of our team. All this means is that my reviews won’t be coming next week, so don’t freak out. I’m fine. I am just taking a week off.
This is the Raw Deal for episode #1563 of Monday Night Raw. It’s taking place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
A video package aired about the World Heavyweight Title tournament that begins on this show.
Let’s Hear from Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes made his entrance for a promo. The new Raw ring announcer is Samantha Irvin, who was on Smackdown. She has switched with Mike Rome. Both of them do a good job, but I think Irvin is tremendous. Cody got a big reaction as usual with replays airing of Cody beating Brock at Backlash. They showed the replays in black and white due to Brock bleeding a lot.
Cody: “So Jacksonville, Duval, what do you guys want to talk about?” Cody appreciated that reception while adding that this was his home during the pandemic and they made a lot of wonderful memories together in reference to his AEW run. Cody said let’s make another memory tonight. Cody mentioned the biggest, most watched Backlash of all-time with all the pomp and circumstance. Cody said that he had the daunting task of competing against “The Beast” Brock Lesnar. Cody said that he found out Brock can be defeated because he beat Brock Lesnar. Cody said what’s next for him is sitting right there – the World Heavyweight Championship.
Cody called for the tournament bracket to be shown featuring the 12 men involved. Cody said there are multiple World Champions and he said he’ll fight until he’s the winner and new World Heavyweight Champion. Cody was standing by the World Heavyweight Title by the entrance as the fans chanted “you deserve it” to Cody. Cody ended his promo: “Jacksonville, let the tournament begin.”
Analysis: I liked Cody’s promo. There’s a lot of confidence there since he beat Brock Lesnar at Backlash, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the storyline is done. Jacksonville showed Cody a lot of love because AEW ran a lot of shows there in the pandemic era so they saw him a lot and appreciated how hard he worked to keep things going. From a current WWE standpoint, it’s great to see how popular Cody is and it is not slowing down at all.
Seth “Freakin” Rollins made his entrance for his match. Rollins had a staredown with Cody, then he made his way down to the ring for his match. It’s Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves on Raw commentary as usual. Rollins got into the ring. The new thing with Rollins is he goes into the ring to pose, the spotlight is on him, the music stops and the fans keep singing the song. The action begins after a break.
Analysis: A nice tease of a Seth-Cody future match there since they had a big feud in 2022. I think we’ll have to keep waiting on that rematch.
There were images of Seth Rollins beating Omos at Backlash.
A video package aired about the terrific San Juan Street Fight at Backlash between Bad Bunny and Damian Priest. Bunny won in impressive fashion in a match with a bunch of cameos from The Judgment Day, the LWO, Carlito and Savio Vega. It was such a fun match.
Damian Priest was interviewed by Cathy Kelley in the backstage area. Priest said Bad Bunny did his thing, but the name that will forever is Damian Priest because it took an entire island to take him down. Priest said he’ll put down Nakamura and Rollins. Priest said it will be him or Finn Balor to see who brings the World Title home to The Judgment Day. Damian Priest made his entrance alone while selling the left knee injury.
Shinsuke Nakamura was up next after spending several years on Smackdown. Nakamura is a Raw guy now, so it’s a fresh start for him.
World Heavyweight Title Tournament: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Damian Priest vs. Seth “Freakin” Rollins
There are no disqualifications and no countouts in WWE triple threat matches. Priest attacked first by knocking both guys down, but then Nakamura kicked Priest in the legs and Rollins hit a knee to Priest’s back to knock Priest out of the ring. Nakamura with a kick to the back, then a sliding kick and the German Suplex while Rollins was on the ropes. Nakamura avoided a charging Priest, Shin hit a knee to the ribs and a jumping knee drop to the back of the head while Priest was on the apron. They went to break.
Rollins was in control with a kick on Priest, then Seth sent Nakamura into the turnbuckle and Rollins jumped off the top with a cross body block. Rollins hit a suicide dive on Priest, then a suicide dive on Nakamura on the other side and Priest was back up with a forearm. Priest hit a running back elbow on Rollins in the corner. Nakamura avoided a charging Priest, then a knee to the ribs and Nakamura hit a knee strike to Priest off the middle rope for two. Rollins back in with a rollup on Nakamura for two, then Priest sent Rollins to the apron and Priest decked Nakamura with a forearm. Priest caught Rollins and hit an elevated flatliner for two. Priest punched Nakamura, then Priest and Nakamura each kicked eachother. Rollins knocked Priest down with a kick, but Nakamura came back with a spinning kick to knock Rollins down. All three guys were down selling. They were back up, Nakamura kicked Priest in the knee and Rollins hit a superkick to knock Priest out of the ring. Rollins hit a discus lariat on Nakamura. Rollins went up top, Priest knocked him down and Priest was selling the left leg injury as Rollins hit The Stomp on Priest for two because Nakamura broke up the pin. Nakamura told Priest: “Come on!” Rollins and Nakamura exchanged forearms, Rollins with a forearm to the jaw and Nakamura avoided a move leading to a forearm to the back. Nakamura hit an inverted Exploder Suplex on Rollins. Priest was back in to knock Nakamura down and sent Rollins out of the ring. Nakamura applied a knee bar submission on Priest. Rollins jumped off the top with a Frog Splash on Nakamura. Priest rolled out of the ring selling the knee. Rollins hit a Pedigree on Nakamura for the pinfall win after 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Seth “Freakin” Rollins
Analysis: ***1/2 A great match with the right guy getting the win. I loved the spot with Rollins hitting a Frog Splash while Nakamura had Corbin in the knee bar because when we saw the replay, Rollins twisted his body in the air to hit the move. That was very impressive. Rollins usually uses The Stomp to win matches, but The Pedigree is certainly fine as a secondary finisher since Rollins used it in the past as well. Priest did a nice job of selling the left knee injury throughout the match. I expected Rollins to win, so I’m certainly fine with that result.
The win means that Seth Rollins will wrestle in the semifinals later in the show.
The Imperium duo of Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci were shown walking around saying that Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER is coming back next week. They walked up to WWE Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn to remind the champions that they are on Raw. Zayn asked them to leave because Sami/KO were having an important conversation. Kaiser reminded them about GUNTHER coming back next week. Vinci said they are putting those Tag Team Titles in danger. Anyway, some more words were exchanged leading to Zayn saying they’ll have a tag team match later.
Analysis: That’s a fresh matchup for later. Two really good teams too.
Alpha Academy entered with Maxxine Dupri joining Otis.
Otis (w/Chad Gable & Maxxine Dupri) vs. Mustafa Ali
Ali hit a running dropkick. Otis ran over Ali with a running clothesline. Ali went for a charging attack, but Otis hit another clothesline. Otis hit a corner splash against the turnbuckle. Gable and Dupri were each telling Otis what to do, so Otis wasn’t sure what to do. Otis charged, Ali moved and Otis hit the ring post. Ali went up top and hit a 450 Splash off the top for the pinfall win after two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Mustafa Ali
Analysis: * A short match leading to a rare Ali win due to Otis being unsure about who to listen to. That 450 Splash off the top always looks impressive. They said Ali is a free agent that can be on Raw or Smackdown for now, so I don’t know if he’ll get a storyline or just randomly on different shows.
The Miz was shown backstage doing a promo into a camera. The Miz bragged about his accomplishments, he called himself a workhorse and you will put respect on his name because he’s The Miz and he’s…awesome. His music played right on cue as The Miz made his entrance.
They showed The Miz and Maryse at the Kentucky Derby this past Saturday.
Finn Balor’s entrance was shown. It was only the end of his entrance. Cody Rhodes got his full entrance for the second time in this hour. The WHOA-OH pop remains loud. They moved the World Heavyweight Title from the entrance area.
World Heavyweight Title Tournament: Finn Balor vs. The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes
Cody got a rollup on Miz for a two count followed by a dropkick. Balor with a clothesline on Cody. Miz went after Cody, but Cody hit a legsweep. Cody suplexed Balor onto Miz and Cody covered Miz for two. Cody hit a suicide dive onto both guys. That led to a break.
Cody was still in control with a missile dropkick off the top that knocked down Balor and Miz at the same time. Cody with a running punch on Miz, then a powerslam on Balor and Cody hit a powerslam on Miz too. Cody hit a springboard double Cody Cutter on both cuts that happened to be standing beside eachother. That was done well. Balor tried a move, Cody with a kick and Cody hit a springboard Disaster Kick for two. The World Heavyweight Tile was shown by the entrance area again. Balor went for a double foot stomp, Cody moved and Miz hit DDTs on both opponents for a two on Cody. Miz tried a SCF, Cody got out of it, Balor with Slingblade on Miz, Cody clotheslined Miz out and Balor hit a reverse DDT with elbow on Cody. Balor with a dropkick on Cody into the turnbuckle. Miz back in, he sent Balor into Cody, who bumped to the floor and Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale on Balor for two because Cody broke it up. Balor got an inside cradle on Cody for two. Cody hit Cross Rhodes on Balor, Miz tossed Cody out, but Cody was back in. Cody hit Miz with Cross Rhodes three times in a row. Cody tried a cover, but there was Brock Lesnar! As Cody covered Miz, Lesnar pulled Cody out of the ring and hit Cody with an F5 on the floor. Lesnar had stitches on his forehead and a black eye. Balor jumped off the top with Coup de Grace double foot stomp on Miz for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Finn Balor
Analysis: *** Most of the match was dominated by Cody as he hit big moves on both guys and nearly had the match won, but then Lesnar attacked. When this was announced as a triple threat it was obvious this was coming because you could have Cody lose the match without being pinned and there’s no DQ in a triple threat. Makes sense. Balor won because The Miz rarely wins, so that’s a result that I don’t mind at all.
IT'S BROCK LESNAR!!!#WWERawpic.twitter.com/g3co6NRZrA
— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
The win by Balor means he faces Seth Rollins in the Finals of the World Heavyweight Title tournament later on Raw.
Brock Lesnar picked up Cody and gave him an F5 onto the commentary table.
Lesnar had the microphone asking Cody what does he want to talk about? The microphone may not have been working properly. Lesnar told us to look at his face. Lesnar said he wants to talk about himself. Lesnar shouted “ME, ME, ME” repeatedly. Lesnar said that Cody lucked into the victory on Saturday night. Lesnar shouted that he wants to talk about a fight. Lesnar told Cody he wanted a fight at Night of Champions. Lesnar: “Who is the coward now?” The fans were booing. Lesnar threw the microphone onto Cody, who was down by the table. Officials checked on Cody while Lesnar left and stared at the World Title while laughing at it because he knows he cost Cody the win. They went to break with Cody down by the table.
Analysis: Good job by Lesnar looking like a mean guy with the scarred up face. Lesnar mentioning the “coward” phrase is because Cody called Lesnar that before Backlash, so it made sense for Lesnar to say it back to Cody.
A recap was shown of Lesnar’s attack on Rhodes.
Cody Rhodes was shown struggling to walk backstage as a guy from the WWE Medical team helping him to get checked out.
Later on Raw, it’s Seth “Freakin” Rollins facing Finn Balor in the World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Semifinals. That was the match that crowned the inaugural Universal Champion seven years ago, so now we see it in the semifinals.
Rhea Ripley entered as the Smackdown Women’s Champion with Dominik Mysterio joining her. They recapped Ripley beating Zelina Vega at Backlash. Dana Broke entered as the challenger. She rarely gets Raw matches, so let’s see what she can do. Ripley did a pre-tape promo saying she belongs here.
Rhea Ripley (w/Dominik Mysterio) vs. Dana Brooke
Brooke hit a dropkick. Ripley came back with a headbutt along with punches. Brooke with a strike to the knee, then a jawbreaker and Brooke hit a bulldog. Brooke jumped off the middle rope, Ripley caught her and hit a backbreaker. Ripley hit Riptide. Ripley applied the Prism Lock submission and Brooke tapped out. It went about three minutes.
Winner by submission: Rhea Ripley
Analysis: *1/4 A decisive win for Ripley. I guess they will have her keep the Smackdown Women’s Title while on Raw. People hated the title swap in the past, so she’s keeping it for now.
After the match, Ripley picked up Brooke and hit Riptide on Brooke. Ripley applied the Prism Lock submission on Brooke again. Natalya’s music hit and she walked out to ringside with a serious look on her face. Natalya got into the ring with Ripley, they had a staredown and Ripley left with Dominik while Natalya kept staring at Ripley.
Analysis: That’s a fresh matchup for Ripley with Natalya moving back to Raw. Natalya looked very serious there, so you know it’s going to be a physical match when they do this matchup. While I don’t think Natalya will beat Ripley for the title, it should be a good match.
A video aired about NXT superstars drafted to Raw: Indi Hartwell, Katana Chance & Kayden Carter, JD McDonagh, Indus Sher – Jinder Mahal, Veer & Sanga, Zoey Stark and Apollo Crews.
Zoey Stark was interviewed by Byron Saxton with Stark saying she was amazing at what she does and has confidence in her abilities. Nikki Cross was standing by nearby, so Stark wondered what Nikki was doing. Stark challenged Cross to a match and Cross agreed to it while making crazy faces. That match is later.
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn entered as the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions with the fans cheering loudly for them. Their match is next.
Imperium’s Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci entered for tag team action. They showed some videos of last week’s Raw European Tour.
Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens vs. Imperium – Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci
Zayn with an armdrag on Kaiser, Vinci made a blind tag and hit Zayn in the back with a forearm. Vinci with an uppercut, Zayn jumped over Vinci and Zayn sent Vinci into the turnbuckle. Zayn went to the middle turnbuckle, Kaiser shoved Zayn off the turnbuckle (the referee missed that) and Vinci hit a clothesline. Kaiser & Vinci were in control as they each hit dropkicks on Zayn, who was on the apron. That led to a break.
Kaiser was in control of Zayn, who sent Kaiser out of the ring and then Zayn kicked Vinci out of the ring. Owens tagged in with stomps on Kaiser followed by a back body drop. Owens with an atomic drop and clothesline. Owens with a punch on Vinci an Owens did a cradle suplex onto the knee. Owens jumped off the top with a Swanton Bomb for two. Vinci tagged in for a high/low trip on Owens leading to Vinci getting a two count. Kaiser with a corner attack on Owens and a jumping kick, but Owens hit a clothesline. Vinci tagged in, knocked Zayn off the apron and Owens hit a back body drop on Vinci. Owens hit a Stunner on Kaiser and Vinci rolled up Owens for two. Owens with a superkick on Vinci, Zayn tagged in and Vinci sent Owens to the apron while Zayn hit a Helluva Kick on Vinci for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens
Analysis: ***1/4 It was pretty good with a finish that I liked because Zayn got the tag, Vinci had to dump Owens out of the ring and that allowed Zayn to hit the Helluva Kick on Vinci to get the win. Kaiser & Vinci always have good matches while the champions obviously do that as well. I guess WWE is going to keep both sets of titles on Zayn/Owens, but if they did title defenses for one set of titles instead of both them that would be cool with me.
They showed Sonya Deville & Chelsea Green getting people to sign a petition including Xia Li, who was hanging out backstage. Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell were there. Chelsea explained they wanted signatures for injustices in the world. Dexter Lumis did a thumbs down. Deville and Green left. Gargano mentioned their family (The Way) was back together. They talked as the camera cut away.
Analysis: I’m fine with The Way reuniting on Raw. They had an entertaining run in NXT in the past. Sonya & Chelsea are okay together as two heels that complain about everything.
Nikki Cross entered for singles action.
This Friday on Smackdown: Roman Reigns is back, Liv Morgan & Raquel Rodriguez defend the Women’s Tag Team Titles against Bayley & Dakota Kai, plus six men in the World Title tournament.
There was a congratulations graphic for Batista for being part of Guardians of the Galaxy 3, which is the number one movie around the world. I have not seen it yet. Maybe next week or the week after.
A video aired about The Bloodline beating Zayn, Owens & Riddle was shown. Jey Uso and brother Solo Sikoa nearly came to blows, but they still found a way to win.
Zoey Stark vs. Nikki Cross
Stark with a slap to start the match. Cross sent Stark to the apron followed by Stark sending Cross into the turnbuckle. Stark hit a springboard senton. Stark with a clothesline for two. Cross with a jawbreaker, then Starks avoided a corner attack and Cross hit forearms. Cross hit a dropkick to the knee along with a regular dropkick. Cross with a corner splash, then she wanted a move off the ropes, but Stark avoided it. Stark with a superkick and the Z360 knee to the face for the pinfall win after three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Zoey Stark
Analysis: *1/2 It’s a win for Zoey Stark in her Raw debut. The crowd was dead for the match, but that’s what happens when you put Stark against Cross, who is rarely on TV. It may take a while for Stark to get reactions. Stark is a very good in-ring performer, but character-wise she is pretty basic.
Rhea Ripley and Dominik Mysterio were interviewed by Byron Saxton. Ripley said she didn’t feel the pressure and Xavier Woods arrived with Akira Tozawa. Dominik and Woods exchanged words, Woods asked if Dominik wanted a match tonight and Ripley intimidated Tozawa to leave. Ripley accepted the match for Dominik.
Trish Stratus was shown backstage with “Missing” posters with Becky Lynch’s face on them. Trish was wearing a “Missing” Becky shirt too. Trish is up next.
They spoke about the success of Backlash with Bad Bunny having an incredible performance. It was the highest-grossing and most viewed Backlash in history.
Let’s Hear From Trish Stratus
Trish Stratus made her entrance wearing that “Missing” Becky Lynch shirt and some tight jeans. A replay was shown of Trish Stratus turning heel on Lynch nearly one month ago.
Stratus told Kevin that they will find Becky Lynch, who is also from Ireland like Kevin. Stratus asked Corey to tweet about Becky gone missing and when she is found then you guys can say “thank you Trish.” Stratus said we’ll find Lynch in Iowa with her dumb daughter and Trish mocked the kid for being two years old and not even knowing colors yet. Trish said this is Raw, it’s her show, her spotlight and nobody is going to steal her spotlight. Trish said she didn’t care if you are Becky Lynch because nobody is going to steal her spotlight. They played Becky’s theme song, but she wasn’t there and Stratus laughed about it. Stratus laughed about how you thought it was really Lynch. Stratus said Lynch is never coming back.
Stratus told a story about how her daughter wanted a beautiful doll and they bought it and brought it home. Stratus said her daughter wanted to call a doll “Becky Lynch.” Stratus asked why would you want to call the doll that and here is Becky Lynch in the ring from behind Trish.
Lynch punched Trish in the jaw a few times followed by a Bexploder suplex. Stratus left the ring quickly and up the aisle. Lynch said if you want her then she is right here. Lynch said, “The Man has come around to kick your ass.” Lynch’s music played to end it.
Analysis: Welcome back to Becky Lynch, who is back after being off for the last month. I thought Trish’s promo was solid, but it was better a few weeks ago when she did her explanation of her turn. I also liked how Lynch punched Trish in the jaw as soon as she got out there because the fans wanted Trish to shut up, so Becky did it for her. It feels like we’ll get a few matches out of this Trish-Becky rivalry.
BECKY IS BACK!#WWERawpic.twitter.com/pKJ0s5o1Of
— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
There was another recap of Brock Lesnar giving Cody Rhodes an F5 through the commentary table.
Cody Rhodes was in the trainer’s room with Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, WWE Official Adam Pearce and a trainer checking on him. Cody had ice on his ribs. They cut away from it.
Xavier Woods entered for singles action.
Dominik Mysterio (w/Rhea Ripley) vs. Xavier Woods
Dominik with a kick to the gut followed by a head slam into the mat. Woods came back with a dropkick. Dominik hit a dropkick to the back sending Woods into the ropes, but Woods managed to send Dominik into the ropes. Woods with a double stomp to the back. Woods jumped off the top with a cross body block on Dominik. Woods charged, Dominik sent him over the top and Woods went smashing into the steel steps. Woods was down on the floor leading to a break.
Dominik hit the Three Amigos suplexes for a two count followed by a chinlock. Woods came back with punches along with a running forearm. Woods with an elbow smash, corner clothesline and an Honor Roll clothesline. Woods spiked Dominik with a jumping DDT for two. Woods with a rising elbow, but Dominik came back with a running uppercut. Good move there. Woods tripped up Dominik on the apron. Dominik was upside down on the ropes so Woods hit him with a missile dropkick to the back. Woods walked the top rope leading to an elbow drop attempt, but Dominik was able to avoid it thanks to Ripley pulling Dom out of the way. Dominik covered Woods and held onto the tights for the pinfall win after nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Dominik Mysterio
Analysis: **3/4 A crafty heel win for Dominik with Ripley helping him avoid Xavier’s big move and then Dominik grabbed the tights during his winning pinfall. That’s how heels should be booked sometimes.
Finn Balor was shown getting ready. Seth Rollins was also shown getting ready. That match is next.
They showed Indus Sher (Veer & Sanga) with Jinder Mahal, who warned us that they will strike.
The Miz was shown talking to Shinsuke Nakamura about how they could have worked together and they would still be in the tournament. Nakamura told Miz that next week should have a match against eachother. Miz was frustrated about it.
Sonya Deville & Chelsea Green were shown backstage looking for more signatures. They found Raquel Rodriguez & Liv Morgan with their Women’s Tag Team Titles. Liv and Raquel said all you had to do was ask for a title match. Sonya & Chelsea said they planned on Damage CTRL beating the champions and then Sonya & Chelsea would beat Damage CTRL for the titles. Sonya & Chelsea left while Raquel & Liv were smiling about it.
There was a replay of Brock Lesnar attacking Cody Rhodes earlier in the show.
Cody Rhodes was interviewed by Cathy Kelley, who was asked about how he feels about not being in the World Heavyweight Title tournament due to Lesnar. Cody was frustrated while saying he felt it was his tournament to win. Cody said this is the second time Lesnar has attacked him for no reason. Cody believes that it is because Lesnar can’t handle that Cody has a grip on the main event scene. Cody mentioned beating Lesnar at Backlash. Cody said let’s fight at Night of Champions, he accepts.
Analysis: A babyface like Cody should accept. That’s the noble thing to do. That Rhodes-Lesnar match will be something with a stipulation I assume, so we’ll find out more in the weeks ahead.
Finn Balor made his entrance for the main event.
Next week on Raw:
* Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER is here. He’s back from his wedding and honeymoon. They didn’t say that, but I am saying that.
* The Miz faces Shinsuke Nakamura.
* Chelsea Green & Sonya Deville get to challenge Raquel Rodriguez & Liv Morgan for the Women’s Tag Team Titles, but Raquel & Liv defend against Bayley & Kai on Smackdown first.
Seth “Freakin” Rollins made his entrance to a big ovation as usual. The fans were singing the song again.
World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Semifinals: Seth “Freakin” Rollins vs. Finn Balor
Balor was in control with a dropkick and a clothesline over the top to the floor. Balor left the ring, so Rollins dropped him with a Slingblade on the floor. Balor came back to work over Rollins with kicks to the chest. Balor gave Rollins a Powerbomb into the barricade. That’s what Seth did to Finn in their 2016 SummerSlam match where Balor tore his shoulder and needed surgery. The key thing in 2016 was Balor landed with his arm on the top part of the barricade. When Finn did this move to Rollins, it was with all of Seth’s back hitting the barricade low instead of high, so it was a safe landing for Rollins. Balor asked him how he liked it and the referee checked on Rollins to put it over as a big move. They went to break.
Rollins was punching and chopping Balor followed by two clotheslines. Rollins hit a discus clothesline while Rollins was selling the left arm injury. Rollins with a corner splash followed by a backbreaker. Rollins went up top, he jumped off with a Frog Splash, but Balor countered it into a pin attempt. Balor with an armbar on the left arm for about a minute until he let go. Balor with a Slingblade neckbreaker, Balor charged and Rollins hit a superkick. Rollins kicked Balor out of the ring. They were battling on the floor with Rollins sending Balor’s head into the apron multiple times. Rollins with a rolling elbow, Balor with a chop, enziguri kick by Rollins and Balor with a Pele Kick. Both guys were down selling. Balor was bleeding from the mouth saying “I can do this all day.” Balor rolled up Rollins leading to a double foot stomp to the ribs. Balor went up top, but Rollins popped up and hit a superplex, but Balor countered a move by hitting a lifting reverse suplex for two. The fans were chanting “this is awesome” but it was not a lot of them. Balor dropkicked Balor to the back of the neck followed by a shotgun dropkick into the turnbuckle. Balor went up top, he jumped off with the double foot stomp, but Rollins avoided it and Rollins hit a one-armed Pedigree because he was selling the left arm injury. Rollins wanted The Stomp, Balor got out of it, but Rollins hit a reverse Stomp on the front of Balor’s head. Rollins hit The Stomp again for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Seth Rollins
Analysis: ***3/4 They did a great job of having a competitive match with Rollins selling the left arm injury for most of it. That added to the drama throughout the match. This was not a great crowd because they should have been more into this, but they were pretty quiet and barely chanting anything during the match even though the guys were busting their asses to have a great match. Balor put up a good fight, he hit all of his signature moves and nearly hit the Coup de Grace but Rollins was able to avoid it. Rollins hitting that first Stomp in the reverse style was pretty cool. That led to the regular version of The Stomp for the win.
The win by Seth Rollins means he is in the World Heavyweight Championship Finals against whoever represents Smackdown. That match is at Night of Champions on May 27th.
Who will @WWERollins face at #WWENOC in the World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals? pic.twitter.com/Z3iGJY9hnf
— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
Analysis: I think Seth should win against whoever it is from Smackdown. All six guys are great choices for the finals and as opponents for Roman Reigns too. I’m going with AJ Styles to face Rollins at Night of Champions and Bobby Lashley will get to challenge Roman Reign there too.
Seth Rollins stared at the new World Heavyweight Title. That was the end of the show.
Three Stars of the Show
- Seth Rollins
- Finn Balor
- Cody Rhodes
7.75 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
2023 Average: 7.18
It felt like a great Raw this week carried by the three World Title Tournament matches. Seth Rollins got the win in the first triple threat and it was well booked. Cody Rhodes had the other one won, but Brock Lesnar showed up to stop that from happening, so Finn Balor got the win. I really enjoyed the Rollins-Balor match won by Seth. I know Seth making the Finals of the World Title tournament, but I certainly don’t mind it. I think Seth should be the champion.
I thought a lot of the “new” people on Raw whether they came from Smackdown or NXT were used pretty well. The Jacksonville crowd was a major downgrade from Puerto Rico at Backlash. I thought the crowd sucked for the Rollins-Balor main event even though it was a great match, but they were just sitting there and lacking energy. The crowd was better earlier in the show at least. They did care about Becky Lynch coming back to beat up Trish Stratus. That was booked well. Lots of The Judgment Day on the show with five matches between the four group members.
Regarding Lesnar’s attack on Rhodes, I thought it was done well. I think a reason why WWE booked triple threat tournament matches is so that Lesnar could interfere against Cody (no DQ in a triple threat) without having Cody eat a pin. That way it keeps Cody strong. Anyway, Lesnar looked angry with the cut on his head and the black eye, so when he ranted about Cody calling him a coward, you could feel it a bit more than a usual promo. We’ll get the Cody-Lesnar at Night of Champions on May 27th, which hopefully is another Cody win.
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Thanks for reading.