The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 05/15/23 Review

wwe raw ring battle royal

This week’s WWE Raw featured Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn facing The Judgment Day, a battle royal for a title shot and more.

I was on vacation earlier this week, so I didn’t see Raw when it aired live on Monday. I’m writing it later in the same week. It will be a shorter review compared to the usual 6,000 words I do every week. My apologies if you think this review is too short. Back to normal on Monday.

This is the Raw Deal for episode #1564 of Monday Night Raw. It’s taking place at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

The Raw commentary team was Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves.

Let’s Hear from Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

The WWE Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn did a promo about facing Roman Reigns & Solo Sikoa for the Tag Team Titles at Night of Champions. Zayn spoke about how Reigns is greedy while calling him a “psycho” and “manipulative” with Zayn saying they can’t have the Tag Team Titles.

The Judgment Day foursome of Damian Priest, Finn Balor, Dominik Mysterio & Smackdown Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley showed up, so Owens called them out for a fight. Sami: “Gentlemen…and Dom…the floor is all yours.” That was great. The Judgment Day made it clear that they want a title shot next and they run Raw. Dominik tried to speak, the fans booed so loudly and the brawl started. Zayn grabbed a chair, so J-Day retreated.

Analysis: It was fine to set up a tag team match for later in the show. Zayn had some good lines in his promo about Reigns-Sikoa and making fun of Dominik too.

Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance. The Nakamura entrance song is still very popular after all these years.


Shinsuke Nakamura vs. The Miz

The Miz was in control early on, Nakamura sent him out of the ring and hit a running knee to the chest. Miz came back with a neckbreaker across the middle rope and a boot to the face.


Nakamura was in control with kicks along with a running knee to the ribs while Miz was on the top rope. Miz came back with his DDT for the two count as usual for that move. Nakamura hit a spin kick for two of his own along with a sliding German Suplex. Miz came back with an eye poke (the referee wasn’t looking) and Skull Crushing Finale for two because Nakamura’s foot was on the bottom rope. Nakamura with an inside cradle for two and then Nakamura hit Kinshasa for the pinfall win after about nine minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura

Analysis: *** A pretty good match by two veterans. The Miz lost as usual. Nakamura has been building some momentum on Raw of late, so hopefully he gets a meaningful feud soon. I’m not sure if things will get better for The Miz because he’s mostly just there to put people over.

Chelsea Green & Sonya Deville complained to WWE Official Adam Pearce about how Liv Morgan was hurt for their Women’s Tag Team Title defense, but Raquel Rodriguez was there to challenge Green for a match. It’s on.

The Imperium trio of GUNTHER, Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci were shown walking backstage.


Seth Rollins Interview

Seth “Freakin” Rollins was featured in a sitdown interview with Corey Graves. It was taped last week because Rollins was filming a movie this week. Rollins talked about becoming the first NXT Champion in 2012 saying he could push the industry forward. They covered Seth Rollins’ impressive run in The Shield for about a year and a half. That led to Rollins turning on Roman Reigns & Jon Moxley in June 2014 with Seth saying if you want to reach ultimate success, you have to take risks. The interview continued later in the show.

Imperium’s GUNTHER, the Intercontinental Champion, walked to ringside with Giovanni Vinci & Ludwig Kaiser, who did a promo. Gunther spoke about how in a few moments, one man can earn a title shot by winning a battle royal.

They showed Ricochet and Bronson Reed enter for the battle royal after a break.


Battle Royal To Earn Intercontinental Title Match

The winner will get to face GUNTHER for the Intercontinental Title at Night of Champions.

Baron Corbin eliminated Tozawa right away and Dexter Lumis clotheslined Corbin out. Maximum Male Models dumped Lumis out right after that. Otis & Gable eliminated MMM from the match. After JD McDonagh dumped out Humberto Carrillo, Dolph Ziggler superkicked McDonagh out and Von Wagner eliminated Ziggler. McDonagh attacked Ziggler on the floor. That should set up a feud between them.


Viking Raiders dumped out Cedric Alexander, Xyon Quinn and Shelton Benjamin rather easily. Otis knocked Erik out, so Ivar eliminated Gable. Bronson Reed dumped out big guys Otis and Ivar in an impressive show of power. Mustafa Ali hit a neckbreaker on Gargano, but Gargano came back for a Spear. Ricochet hit an impressive Shooting Star Press, then there were slams going on, a Blockbuster from Crews and Elias hit a jumping knee. Crews hit a jumping kick to knock out Elias while Reed clotheslined Crews out. Reed slammed Gargano onto Ricochet. Riddle got some momentum going with a floating bro. Riddle dumped Riddick Moss over the top to the floor. Riddle did a headscissors sending Gargano over the top. Imperium attacked Riddle, so Reed knocked Riddle out.

It was Bronson Reed, Ricochet and Mustafa Ali as the final three. Ricochet dropkicked Reed into the ropes, Ali helped Ricochet and Reed held onto the ropes. Ricochet hit multiple kicks along with a dropkick on Reed. When Reed had Ricochet on his shoulders, Ali hit a missile dropkick on both guys to eliminate them. Mustafa Alin wins after 13 minutes.

Winner: Mustafa Ali

Analysis: *** It was an entertaining battle royal with Bronson Reed as the dominant big man in the match with Mustafa Ali finding a way to get the big elimination for the win. Good call having Ali win because he hasn’t been pushed that much of late, but winning a match like that is good for him at this point in his career.

Mustafa Ali celebrated the win with GUNTHER looking on from ringside.

Analysis: I’ll pick GUNTHER to win that match at Night of Champions, but I’m happy for Ali getting a title shot.

A video aired recapping the Brock Lesnar-Cody Rhodes story.

Becky Lynch was shown walking for a promo. Meanwhile, Paul Heyman was shown talking to The Judgment Day in the background.


Let’s Hear from Becky Lynch

Becky Lynch entered for a promo wearing a “Man of the Masses” shirt. Lynch said she asked for help from two legends in this business – Lita & Trish Stratus. Lynch spoke about how Lita was great, she came back and we won gold while Trish never skipped a bit when she came back. Lynch called Trish a “backstabbing egomaniac” that came back to help herself. Lynch said “thank you Trish” for giving Lynch a target among other things. Lynch said at one stage, Trish was number one, but Becky will be “it” and if you want it then you’ve got it. Lynch said she’ll show Trish how grateful she is when she kicks Trish’s head in at Night of Champions.

Analysis: Good promo from Lynch showing confidence as “The Man” that we know her as. Trish wasn’t on Raw due to the finale of Canada’s Got Talent on Tuesday and Trish was given the key to the city of Niagara Falls, ONT on Monday too. Anyway, the Night of Champions match should be intense and I feel like it’s just one of many matches between them.

Rhea Ripley, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, was interviewed by Cathy Kelley. Ripley spoke about Natalya, who interrupted the promo. Natalya praised Ripley for being dominant, but Ripley is not respecting the other women. Ripley said Natalya got in the ring with her to try to make people care about Natalya and said “you’re welcome.” Ripley said she’s going to end Natalya’s career if she tries to use Ripley again. Dominik showed up and Ripley left with him.

Analysis: Both women made good points. Natalya the babyface wants Ripley to be more respectful while Ripley doesn’t want Natalya to benefit from Ripley’s success.

Xavier Woods entered for singles action.


Mustafa Ali was shown celebrating his win while telling Alpha Academy that if you think more positively you can be a winner. Imperium was standing there with GUNTHER congratulating Ali for the win. GUNTHER congratulated Ali for earning the title match at Night of Champions. Ali said that GUNTHER has to go there and watch Ali take his title. Ali told him to be positive.

Dominik Mysterio did a pre-match promo with Rhea Ripley by his side. Woods mocked Dominik by wondering if he needs to ask “Mami” for permission to speak.

Xavier Woods vs. Dominik Mysterio (w/Rhea Ripley)

A rematch from one week earlier when Dominik beat Woods thanks to Ripley. Woods hit a dropkick to the back while Dominik was against the ropes. Woods hit a suplex leading to Dominik retreating to the floor to hide behind Ripley. Woods argued with Ripley leading to a break.


While Dominik did get some offense, Woods came back with a missile dropkick off the top. Woods hit the Honor Roll clothesline for two. Dominik hit a knee to the ribs followed by the rolling suplexes leading to boos. Dominik jumped off the top with a splash, Woods got the knees up and a two count. Ripley pulled Dominik out of the way of a move, but then Woods jumped onto Dominik. There was a dropkick from Dominik, a forearm from Ripley and Dominik used his legs to hook Xavier’s arms for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dominik Mysterio

Analysis: **3/4 It was mostly Woods on offense with Dominik stealing a win again. Lame finish because it only took two moves and a weak pin to beat Woods. I know it’s about wanting to build Dominik up, but I think the ending was poor.

A video aired about Raw newcomer JD McDonagh talking about how he’s all about pain and suffering.

As JD McDonagh left the arena, Cathy Kelley interviewed JD about his attack on Dolph Ziggler. JD said he made a statement by attacking Ziggler. As JD walked away, it was obvious that Finn Balor was watching JD from a distance.

Analysis: Finn Balor trained JD McDonagh to be a wrestler so it wouldn’t be shocking if JD joined the Judgment Day group some day. It has been rumored anyway.

Indus Sher was shown walking for tag team action.


Indus Sher (Veer & Sanga) (w/Jinder Mahal) vs. Drake Thompson & Lavar Barbie

Sanga hit a running boot to the head of poor Barbie. Drake tagged in, Sanga slammed and splashed him leading to a Veer tag. Veer hit a leaping elbow drop. Veer with a corner splash. Indus Sher did a sidewalk slam/leg drop combo for the pinfall win after two minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Indus Sher (Veer & Sanga)

Analysis: * Squash city to put over Indus Sher as a dominant tag team.

Jinder Mahal said that they run Raw and their future will be written in gold. Mahal said some stuff in Hindi too that I don’t understand.

Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens were confronted by the Imperium guys with GUNTHER saying he didn’t like the disrespect shown towards Kaiser & Vinci last week. Owens suggested they can fight all of them next week. Zayn said they’ll find a partner. Imperium agreed to it and left.

Cody Rhodes was shown exiting his bus for a promo up next. The really rich guys are on a bus. Good for them.


Let’s Hear from Cody Rhodes

The pop for the “WHOA-OH” part of the Kingdom song remains loud while Cody gets cheered a lot. Cody sucked up to the crowd saying this is the home of Starrcade for a cheap pop. Cody told a scorpion-frog story to relate it to his rivalry with Brock Lesnar. Cody said just like a scorpion, it is Brock Lesnar’s nature to hunt. Cody bragged about how Lesnar can see a black eye and a set of staples while Cody is the man that put them there. Cody said he beat the bully. Cody said he accepted Lesnar’s challenge for Night of Champions. Cody told us that Lesnar is better than 99.9% of the superstars in this ring, but at Backlash he was not better than Cody. As he continued, Cody spoke about who is the “big thing” on Monday Night Raw. Cody referenced Lesnar used to be called the “Next Big Thing” in WWE. Cody told Lesnar that he needs to step aside because he is not the big thing anymore and said “you are simply in my way.” The fans cheered while Graves said “wow” to end it.

Analysis: That was the best promo of the show this week. We like our babyfaces to show confidence and Cody does it all the time. I thought he made his points well while referencing Lesnar’s nickname from early in his career. I think Cody should beat Brock next week.

Zoey Stark was shown trying to talk to Nikki Cross, who didn’t reply and Candice LeRae walked up to Stark. They exchanged words leading to a match next week.

Raquel Rodriguez, who is one of the Women’s Tag Team Champions, entered for singles action.


Raquel Rodriguez vs. Chelsea Green (w/Sonya Deville)

Raquel dominated to start, Deville distracted and Green got some offense with a backstabber. Green hit a flatliner for just a one count. Green got a bit more offense until Raquel sent Green throat first into the top rope. Raquel hit three fallaway slams. Raquel hit a Texana Bomb for the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Raquel Rodriguez

Analysis: *1/2 A match with an obvious result as Raquel picked up the dominant win. Green got more offense than I expected. Raquel is always going to be booked strong.

Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler did a cheap attack on Raquel. Ronda and Shayna said they were tired of waiting. Ronda said they’ll keep attacking until they get their shot. Baszler hit a running knee on Raquel to end it.

Analysis: The team of Ronda & Shayna may be the champions already if Ronda was healthy from her arm injury. That title change may happen soon.


Imperium was shown backstage with GUNTHER shaking hands with Paul Heyman. Imperium left and Heyman was shown telling his phone to call Roman Reigns.

Seth Rollins Interview Part 2

Graves and Rollins continued their talk by running down all of Seth’s different gimmicks as well as his accomplishments. Rollins said we’re experiencing the most authentic version of himself. Rollins talked about how he’s not the one forcing the change because the WWE Universe is the catalyst for the change in him. Rollins said “we need a change again” in WWE. Rollins spoke about how people in WWE at the top don’t want to take risks and they are about themselves rather than pushing the industry forward. Rollins said they can do it the way it’s supposed to be done with the new World Heavyweight Title. Graves asked Rollins for his thoughts on Roman Reigns and we will see more of that next week.

Analysis: What Rollins said is true because the fans have been the driving force for this babyface run. Having a catchy song is a big reason why.

Next week on Raw:

* Brock Lesnar and Cody Rhodes under one roof.

* Becky Lynch-Trish Stratus contract signing.

* Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn & mystery partner vs. Imperium – GUNTHER, Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci.

The Judgment Day’s Finn Balor & Damian Priest entered for tag team action in the main event.


There was a video about Apollo Crews being on Raw.

Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. The Judgment Day – Damian Priest & Finn Balor

This was not for the WWE Tag Team Titles. Balor and Priest worked over Zayn a bit until Zayn came back with an elbow smash on Priest. Owens tagged in with an enziguri kick on Priest and Owens sent both opponents out of the ring. Balor called for Ripley/Dominik to come down to ringside. That led to a break.


Balor was in control of Zayn as the face in peril. After Zayn broke free, Owens unleashed on Priest with stomps, Priest left the ring and Owens hit a senton on the floor. Owens clotheslined Balor, Dominik and a superkick for Priest. KO hit a cannonball for two on Priest. After Dominik tripped Owens, the referee Chad Patton tossed Dominik & Ripley from ringside. Xavier Woods attacked Dominik with punches, so they went brawling to the back. Priest hit Owens with a clothesline as the “Wise Man” Paul Heyman showed up to watch the match.


It was KO’s turn as the face in peril as Priest unloaded with punches. Balor did a backbreaker leading to a Priest leg drop for a two count. Priest battled Owens on the turnbuckle, Owens elbowed Priest down and KO hit a Swanton Bomb off the top. Zayn got the hot tag against Balor with Zayn leaping over Balor leading to a Michinoku Driver for two. Balor hit a Slingblade neckbreaker, but Zayn came back with the Blue Thunder Bomb as usual for that move. Imperium arrived at ringside and Balor got a nearfall out of that distraction. Owens hit a Stunner on Priest so Balor threw Owens out of the ring. Zayn suplexed Balor into the turnbuckle. Zayn with a Helluva Kick on Balor, but no cover because Imperium was on the apron to distract. Owens punched them down. Owens got in Gunther’s face, so Priest grabbed KO and slammed him onto the ring apron. Zayn hit a somersault dive over the top onto Priest. Vinci and Kaiser distracted the referee, Gunther held Zayn’s leg and Balor hit a dropkick on Zayn into the turnbuckle. Balor went up top and hit Coup de Grace (double foot stomp) on Zayn for the pinfall win after 21 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Judgment Day – Damian Priest & Finn Balor

Analysis: ***1/4 When champions are in non-title matches they are always vulnerable to losing and that’s what we saw here. I liked the match, but the last few minutes had a lot of chaos so that hurt the quality of the match. Zayn & Owens are incapable of having bad matches and going this long is nice to see, but maybe it did drag on a bit too much. GUNTHER and Imperium costing Zayn/Owens the win plays into the fact that they have a match next week. It should lead to Balor & Priest getting a title shot in the future.

Post match, thy showed Owens/Zayn in the ring, Balor/Priest in the aisle, Heyman talking on his phone (to Roman Reigns) and Imperium at ringside. There was another shot of all the key guys involved here. That was the end of the show.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Mustafa Ali
  2. Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn and Damian Priest/Finn Balor
  3. Cody Rhodes


The Scoreboard

7.25 out of 10

Last week: 7.75

2023 Average: 7.19


Final Thoughts

I thought it was a pretty good Raw. I wrote way less than usual, but I feel like I covered it well. The main event tag team match was entertaining albeit with a lot of interference to protect Zayn/Owens as the champions. There were some solid matches on the show too.

In terms of promos, I thought Cody Rhodes did great by telling Brock Lesnar he’s not the “big thing” any more. Meanwhile, Becky Lynch was effective in delivering a message to Trish Stratus. I also enjoyed the Seth Rollins sitdown interviews (two segments) quite a bit because he made a lot of great points.

Mustafa Ali winning the battle royal for the IC Title match at Night of Champions was a nice surprise. While I don’t think he’s going to beat GUNTHER, I’m just glad that Ali is in a spot like that because he’s a talented guy.

The next WWE Premium Live Event is Night of Champions on Saturday, May 27th from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with this lineup so far:

* Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar

* Finals of the World Heavyweight Championship Tournament: Seth “Freakin” Rollins vs. AJ Styles

* Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships: Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns & Solo Sikoa

* Trish Stratus vs. Becky Lynch

* Intercontinental Championship: GUNTHER (c) vs. Mustafa Ali


Check out the WWE PPV Review archive right here. You can contact me using any of the methods below. Go Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Maple Leafs. Be safe and smart out there.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton


Twitter: @johnreport