Welcome to the WWE Raw Deal review for this week. It’s a big anniversary edition of the Raw Deal this week because it has been 12 years since I started reviewing Raw on a weekly basis. Some of what I will share below is what I wrote on this anniversary period from the last two years. Sorry for writing so much in the intro, but I think once a year I’m allowed to ramble a bit.
It was twelve years ago this week when I decided to start writing weekly reviews of WWE Monday Night Raw for the May 25, 2009 episode of Raw, which I re-posted in 2019. It was a terrible show that I rated it 3 out of 10 (Festus was in action!), but it was memorable for Ken Kennedy getting fired after it was over and some bad content all night long. You may also remember the Lakers vs. Nuggets theme to the show and Vince McMahon getting really mad at Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke, who also owns my LA Rams in the NFL. Anyway, I haven’t given many shows a 3 out of 10 score, but years like 2009 and 2010 were pretty bad for Raw. I know things aren’t great right now either, but the matches are definitely better these days.
It’s been over 20 years since I started writing about wrestling on the internet. I was learning about pro wrestling while trying to figure out what I wanted to do in my life. Two university degrees, several jobs in different fields and over 20 years later, I’m still writing about wrestling although now I can say it’s a career. Life is weird like that. Throughout the 2000s I stopped and started a lot due to a busy life in my 20s. There were some years where I wrote way more while other years I barely did anything. I didn’t commit to a regular weekly review of WWE content until May 2009 with the Raw Deal, so that’s why I’ll always remember May 25 as the anniversary. By late 2009, I started a blog on WordPress, then I started working for a company that paid me and started thejohnreport.net. During this time I started writing as a freelance writer at numerous websites to help spread the word about TJRWrestling too. When that first site ended a few years later (and I lost everything on that site), I started tjrwrestling.com through other contacts I made. That went well for a few years, but then in early 2015, I was screwed over when the payments stopped and I lost about five years of content. Let’s just say my trust in people online is very low due to losing all of my content for about five years. Everything is saved on my laptop, but the majority of it is not online. Since February 2015, we have been at the permanent home of TJRWrestling.net with no plans to change any time soon. We’re doing well even after the pandemic for the last year. April 2021 was our busiest month ever for website traffic. Thank you two-night WrestleMania for the assist.
Thank you to you, the reader, for supporting me. You made the choice to click on my column or review the first time and you made the choice to come back. Whether it’s been 20+ years, 12 years, a few years, months or even a week, I truly appreciate your support. I try to have fun when I write about wrestling because if I was miserable then I would hate myself for doing it. We all want WWE (or any wrestling company) to have great shows and I think with AEW as well as NJPW, Impact Wrestling, ROH, MLW, NWA and so on, there are a lot of options for wrestling fans. I’ll always try to keep it positive. Will I be critical? Sure, because I care and WWE is like a favorite sports team that I want to see do well. I don’t want to bitch and moan, but if I have to, then it’s because I care. Pro wrestling has been there with me through the toughest moments of my life. When I can’t sleep, I write. When I feel sad, I write about things that will help put a smile on my face and usually that is pro wrestling. Writing has helped me get through difficult times because it’s a way to release what I’m feeling. It’s therapeutic, at least for me.
I’m not sure how many Raw Deal reviews I have written, but I’m proud that I am going strong twelve years into it. There are 52 weeks in a year and I only missed about three over four reviews in 12 years, so I’m likely past 600 Raw Deal reviews in that time. Plus, I have written a lot of wrestling content that is not called the Raw Deal, so it’s been a lot. Right now I have this crazy goal of wanting to review every WWE PPV ever and I think I can get that done before the end of the year or early next year. An average Raw Deal since 2012 runs about 7,000 words and it was about 5,000 words in the three years before that. That’s a lot of writing! I’ll give myself a Horowitz pat on the back for that.
To wrap it up, I just want you guys to know how grateful I am. We have seen consistent growth at tjrwrestling.net and I spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways to keep growing even more. I have a few goals I want to reach and we’re getting close to some of them. If you want to send along a comment, my Twitter is @johnreport and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org as another option. Now I’ll shut up and get to the show.
This is the Raw Deal for episode #1461 of Monday Night Raw. It’s taking place at the WWE ThunderDome at Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please visit TJRWrestling.net daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage, insightful columns from our team along with reviews about wrestling’s past (including my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order) and present. Let’s roll.
The show began with a shot of the ThunderDome with the announce team welcoming us to the show.
Let’s Hear from Bobby Lashley and MVP
Montel Vontavious Porter was in the ring to introduce us to the Chief Hurt Associate, his business associate, and the All Mighty WWE Champion Bobby Lashley. Just like last week, last week was joined by five lovely ladies while Lashley was in a suit. The commentary team was Adnan Virk, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton as usual. They showed a recap of last week when Lashley lost a non-title match to Kofi Kingston (who answered an open challenge) because of a cheap shot from Drew McIntyre. Lashley was furious about it.
MVP said it was an exciting night. MVP said that in July, WWE is leaving the Thunderdome, going back on the road where they belong and coming to an arena near you so you can see the WWE Champion up close and personal. MVP mentioned the dark cloud that hangs over them – that dark cloud is named Drew McIntyre.
Lashley said he beat Drew at WrestleMania, he beat Drew and Braun Strowman at WrestleMania Backlash, so if it was up to him then he doesn’t want to see Drew in the title picture. MVP said that they tried to move on. MVP said that Kofi Kingston thinks that just because he was a WWE Champion at one point, he thinks he can face Lashley, but once again Drew McIntyre had to show up again…and here comes Drew.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance in his wrestling gear. Drew said that everyone knew that he would walk out there. Drew said his business is getting back the WWE Championship. Drew said if it wasn’t for MVP, Drew would have won at WrestleMania and if it wasn’t for Braun, he would have won at Backlash. Drew got in the ring. Drew said maybe deep down Bobby knows that he doesn’t measure up to Drew and he doesn’t quite have the balls to face Drew, who asked the ladies if Bobby had the balls for it. Lashley thought it was desperate that Drew had to go to those measures to get a win over Bobby. Drew said he just hears excuses.
Kofi Kingston made his entrance with Xavier Woods by his side. Kofi reminded us that last week he beat the WWE Champion Bobby Lashley. That led to Bobby asking Kofi if he thanked Drew. Drew said “you’re welcome” to Kofi, who was in the ring. Kofi said he didn’t want Drew’s help. Kofi said he answered Lashley’s open challenge because he never got a WWE Championship rematch, so that’s why he came out there. Kofi said since Drew keeps getting rematches, so he should step aside because Kofi did something that Drew couldn’t do for months – he pinned Bobby Lashley. Drew argued with Kofi.
There was another interruption with WWE Official Adam Pearce, who announced Kofi vs. Drew with the winner of that match facing Bobby Lashley for the WWE Title at Hell in a Cell PPV (on June 20). MVP and Lashley liked that idea with MVP saying they’ll set up a VIP Lounge to watch it. Kofi and Drew had a chat about it.
Analysis: It was obvious that match was coming based on the promos of everybody involved. It’s what we’re used to seeing in opening segments. Kofi beating Lashley also could have led to Kofi earning a WWE Title shot directly, but I don’t mind doing Kofi vs. Drew since it’s a fresh matchup.
The announcers talked about WWE’s return on the road starting Friday, July 16 for Smackdown in Houston. Braun Strowman was shown doing a promo saying he can’t wait to compete on the road and anybody that gets in his way will get these hands.
Bobby Lashley, MVP and the ladies were on the couches in the MVP Lounge at the top of the ramp to watch the match.
Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods)
Drew used the power game early with a shoulder tackle. Kofi did a couple of leapfrogs to avoid Drew, who caught Kofi and slammed him down. Kofi with a Russian legsweep and then a splash off the ropes for two. Drew came back with two hard chops to knock Kofi down followed by a stomp on the hand. Drew set up for a powerbomb, but Kofi did a headscissors to send Drew out of the ring. Kofi jumped over the top onto Drew on the floor. Kofi went on Drew’s shoulders, Drew caught him and delivered a reverse Alabama Slam to send Kofi into the ring apron. Drew made some gestures towards Lashley as the show went to break.
Drew was in control with a suplex. McIntyre with an impressive belly to belly suplex across the ring and Drew kicked Kofi out of the ring. Drew with a press slam to send Kofi into the top of the barricade. Drew hit a delayed vertical suplex while pointing at Lashley on the stage and that got a two count. Kofi hit a springboard dropkick off the middle turnbuckle. Kofi with a dropkick, then he jumped for a move, but Drew was able to hit an impressive cradle into a snap suplex for two. Drew ran at Kofi, who delivered a double stomp to the chest for a two count. Kofi with boots to the face by the apron, then Kofi went to the turnbuckle, but Drew was there with punches. Kofi with headbutts to knock Drew down. Kofi with a cross body block, Drew rolled through and Drew hit an impressive Michinoku Driver for a two count. Drew went on the turnbuckle, pointed at Lashley and signaled for Bobby to come down to the ring. The show went to break there.
They were about 17 minutes into the match as Drew delivered a belly to back superplex off the middle rope. Lashley and MVP were seated at ringside to watch the match. Drew and Kofi exchanged punches, Kofi managed to get a pin attempt and Drew got a spinebuster for two. Drew hit a sitout Powerbomb for two. Kofi managed to use his speed to avoid a move from Drew and then Kofi sent Drew shoulder first into the ring post. Drew was selling a left arm injury. Kofi went up top and hit a Frog Splash on Drew’s back for a two count. Good nearfall there. Kofi sent a charging McIntyre over the top to the floor. Drew got in Lashley’s face at ringside, Kofi was up top and Kofi jumped off the top with a back-first dive onto McIntyre, who went crashing onto Lashley, who was seated at ringside. The wrestlers were back in the ring with Kofi hitting the SOS trip into a slam on McIntyre. Lashley and MVP went into the ring to attack both guys for the no contest finish after 21 minutes.
Match Result: No Contest
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a very good match with a lame finish. I get why they did that ending, but it sucks when you invest over 20 minutes into a match only to go with a DQ ending like that. If you’re going to end it like that, then I’m okay with a shorter match in that spot. Anyway, Drew looked impressive hitting power moves repeatedly for nearfalls. Kofi Kingston did a lot of cool moves and counters. Neither guy hit their finisher, but they built up the match well.
After the DQ, Xavier Woods went to save Kofi and it looked like MVP legit hurt his leg again, so he was limping around ringside. Kofi hit the Trouble in Paradise on Lashley and McIntyre hit the Claymore Kick on Lashley as well. Lashley and MVP left with MVP limping.
The announcers talked about it saying we didn’t know who is going to face Lashley for the WWE Title at Hell in a Cell, so there should be more on that later.
Analysis: It sets up some uncertainty in the WWE Title situation and they can address it later in the show.
Charlotte Flair was shown walking backstage with Rhea Ripley going up to her earlier today. Charlotte claimed that Rhea wants to be just like her. Charlotte told Rhea it will be her beautiful face inside the Hell in a Cell. Nikki Cross showed up to challenge Charlotte or Rhea to a match. Charlotte claimed that she would beat Nikki in two minutes. Rhea said that people don’t like Charlotte because she talks down to people, so Charlotte told Rhea to beat Nikki in under two minutes. That led to Rhea telling Nikki she accepts the challenge. Nikki was happy about it.
Analysis: Some of the dialogue sucks, but at least they are remembering to use Nikki Cross again.
Rhea Ripley, the Raw Women’s Champion, made her entrance.
There was an Eva Marie video about her “Eva-lution” coming soon. This video aired last week.
Rhea Ripley vs. Nikki Cross
This is officially a 2:00 “Beat the Clock Challenge” match. Virk noted this was Nikki’s first Raw match since after the Royal Rumble. I don’t know why they rarely use Cross. Ripley used her power early to shove Cross down a few times. Cross with a jawbreaker, then a cross body block and Ripley came back with a dropkick. Ripley beat on Cross against the turnbuckle with punches and kicks. The clock went to zero, so Cross survived the two minutes.
Winner by surviving two minutes: Nikki Cross
Analysis: 1/2* It was quick and not that interesting at all. I guess it’s a way to show that Ripley isn’t as good as she thinks because she failed to win the match in under two minutes.
Nikki Cross celebrated the win as if it was some amazing achievement.
Charlotte Flair made her entrance for another match with Asuka. Cross was celebrating her win while Charlotte was laughing about Ripley.
This week on Smackdown: The Usos vs. The Street Profits for the first time ever. That should be great. The video noted that it does not have the blessing of Roman Reigns, so they wonder if Jimmy and Jey Uso will be on the same page.
There was another video about WWE going live on the road. Damian Priest invited fans to come see him at WWE events.
There was a replay of the Drew/Kofi situation with Bobby Lashley.
Adam Pearce, the WWE Official, was backstage with Drew McIntyre and Kofi Kingston going into the room. Pearce said next week they can run it back. It will be Drew vs. Kofi on Raw again. The winner faces Lashley for the WWE Title at Hell in a Cell. Kofi and Drew exchanged words.
Analysis: Drew and Kofi had a really good match this week, so I don’t mind seeing it again. I would assume Drew wins that to set up Drew vs. Bobby in a Hell in a Cell match to end the feud.
Asuka made her entrance for yet another match against Charlotte Flair after Asuka beat her last week.
Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka
This is their third singles match on Raw since WrestleMania and they were also in the Raw Women’s Title Match at WrestleMania Backlash. I like both women, but this match is too repetitive. I missed a minute or so and saw Asuka hit a running hip attack. When Asuka went for a hip attack again, Charlotte did a chop block to the left knee. Charlotte pulled on the left leg of Asuka against the ropes. Charlotte applied a submission hold on the left leg of Asuka and Charlotte drove Asuka’s knee into the mat. Charlotte went for another submission, but Asuka was able to roll through and send Charlotte out of the ring. Asuka left the ring with Charlotte driving Asuka’s left leg into the middle step on the steel steps. That led to a break.
The match continued with Charlotte hitting a running dropkick on Asuka’s left leg against the ropes. Charlotte applied a Boston Crab submission with Asuka countering into a pin attempt for two. Charlotte drove her elbow into Asuka’s leg, but then Asuka went for an armbar, but Flair managed to get to the bottom rope. Asuka with a running hip attack, Charlotte caught her and Charlotte delivered a kneebreaker to continue working on Asuka’s left knee. Charlotte set up Asuka against the turnbuckle, Charlotte stomped on the left knee a bit and went up top. Charlotte with a moonsault off the top, Asuka moved and Asuka hit a German Suplex. Asuka hit a hip attack against the turnbuckle. Asuka with a back kick, a spinning back fist and another hip attack for two. Asuka was favoring her left leg. Charlotte with a choke against the top rope followed by Charlotte sending Asuka’s left leg into the ring post. Asuka sent Charlotte into the ring post and Asuka hit a sliding knee to the face. Asuka left the ring to go after Charlotte, who sent Asuka into the announce table.
They were 17 minutes into the match with Charlotte going for a big boot, Asuka caught the foot and hit a kneebreaker type move for two. Asuka was going for the Asuka Lock, but Charlotte drove her back into the turnbuckle. Charlotte sent Asuka out of the ring and both women were on the floor. Back in the ring, Asuka and Charlotte exchanged punches, Charlotte went for a boot, Asuka voided it and Charlotte hit an elbow to the face for two. Charlotte jumped on the left leg of Asuka, but Asuka came back with a rollup into a kick to the head. Charlotte hit a backbreaker off the ropes. Charlotte went for a moonsault, Asuka rolled away and Charlotte hit a standing moonsault for two. Charlotte was frustrating saying “I beat her.” Nope. Not yet. Asuka countered a Figure Eight submission, Asuka went for an Asuka Lock, but Charlotte flipped back and Charlotte pinned Asuka for the pinfall win after 21 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Charlotte Flair
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a typical great match between these two talented women, but it’s hard to get that excited about it even when the matches are entertaining. The reason for that is because Asuka won last week and Charlotte won this week, so why should we get invested in the matches? WWE needs to do a better job of booking less rematches, making wins/losses matter more and then we can care more about these matches. I liked the story of Asuka favoring her knee the whole match, but it didn’t lead to a Figure Four/Eight attempt, so some of it felt like they were just filling time. Anyway, Charlotte won clean here to follow the 50/50 booking that WWE loves while fans are frustrated.
They showed Bobby Lashley and MVP hanging out in the dressing room with the ladies. Some random guy in a headset walked in to tell Lashley that WWE Official Adam Pearce wanted to see him.
PLUG TIME: I posted two retro WWE PPV reviews over the last week. First up was WWE Judgment Day 2003 that was early in Brock Lesnar’s second run as WWE Champion. The main event saw Lesnar beat Big Show in a Stretcher Match that had a memorable finish. The best match was a ladder match with Eddie Guerrero/Tajiri beating Shelton Benjamin/Charlie Haas in a fun match for the Tag Team Titles. Meanwhile, the worst match was a stinker between Mr. America and Roddy Piper. It was awful, brother…I also reviewed WWE Over The Limit 2010 with John Cena beating Batista in an “I Quit” match in the main event that led to Batista leaving WWE for about four years. There was some bad luck on the show with Randy Orton suffering a shoulder injury, Ted Dibiase dealing with a concussion and two matches were stopped due to blood, which really pissed off the crowd and the wrestlers. I did enjoy Rey Mysterio’s match with CM Punk, but they also had better matches together. It was a disappointing PPV, though. I don’t think 2010 was a particularly strong year for WWE…As a bonus, I also posted an article I did in the past looking at the 10 Best WCW Storylines Ever right here…You can find a listing of all my WWE PPV reviews listed in order from when they took place right here on TJRWrestling. I think I’ll post one more May PPV review this week and then it’s time for some June shows. Thanks for reading.
Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke did a promo about doing shows in front of the WWE fans. They encouraged fans to come out to shows. Good job memorizing your lines, ladies.
Bobby Lashley and MVP showed up in the office of WWE Official Adam Pearce. There was an argument about Lashley and MVP getting involved in the Drew/Kofi match earlier in the night. It led to Pearce informing Bobby and MVP that if they interfere in the Drew McIntyre/Kofi Kingston match next week or even go to ringside then they would be suspended for 90 days. Bobby and MVP left.
Analysis: That tells the fans that there won’t be interference next week after this week’s match was tainted due to the interference.
There was a video package about the good times between Shelton Benjamin/Cedric Alexander and then their breakup was shown.
Shelton Benjamin made his entrance first. Cedric Alexander did a promo saying they had something as a team since they were the Raw Tag Team Champions and they were part of The Hurt Business. Alexander said that MVP took them to the top of the mountain, but then they got kicked out of The Hurt Business. Alexander said that’s because Benjamin is washed up. Alexander claimed he carried the team and said that they kicked Shelton out of The Hurt Business while Alexander was “collateral damage.” Alexander said he’s got years to make up for past mistakes. Alexander said he’s in his prime, then he wondered how many years Benjamin has left. Alexander told Benjamin he got a fluke win a few weeks ago. Alexander said that this week is different. Alexander said tonight’s match ends with his arm raised in victory while Benjamin will be gone for good. Graves said that Alexander has the “charisma of a cinderblock.” Ouch.
Analysis: Awkward promo. Too much yelling.
Shelton Benjamin vs. Cedric Alexander
The bell rang, so Alexander bailed to the floor and they went to commercial five seconds into the match.
Benjamin was aggressive with punches followed by a running shoulder tackle. Alexander ran right into a back elbow from Benjamin. Benjamin dumped Alexander out of the ring and Benjamin whipped Alexander into the barricade. Back in the ring, Alexander with a kick to the body, Benjamin blocked an attack off the ropes, but Alexander hit a kick to the head. Benjamin with a headbutt while Alexander was on the turnbuckle. Alexander came back with a hurricanrana off the top for a two count. Alexander grabbed a side headlock, then a jumping knee and a dropkick for two. Alexander applied a head/arm submission to ground Benjamin. Alexander with kicks, Benjamin got back up and hit a huge clothesline leading to a flip bump. Benjamin with a corner clothesline followed by a spinebuster. Alexander with a pin attempt, then Alexander caught a foot, but Benjamin spun around and hit a spin kick to the head. Benjamin with a German Suplex, then another German Suplex and Alexander hit back elbows to break free. Alexander with a thumb to the eye that the referee didn’t see and Alexander hit a Neuralizer kick on Benjamin for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Cedric Alexander
Analysis: ***1/4 It went 12 minutes, but it was really 9 minutes since there wasn’t any action before the break. Anyway, I liked the match with Benjamin using his power moves throughout the match, Alexander looked like there was no way was going to win and then Cedric did the thumb to the eye to set up for the finish. This means that Alexander gets the win back after Benjamin beat Alexander two weeks ago, so 50/50 booking strikes again.
A video package aired showing the issues between Randy Orton/Riddle and New Day over the past few weeks.
Riddle made his entrance for his match against Xavier Woods. When Riddle entered the ring, he kicked off the flip flops leading to the animated doves on the screen. That match is next.
There was another video about WWE going on tour again starting in July. John Morrison did a promo about WWE going on the road again.
Xavier Woods entered without Kofi Kingston by his side. This match was announced over the weekend. Virk said it felt odd since they are two of the most likable WWE superstars, which is true.
Riddle vs. Xavier Woods
They did some mat wrestling early on, Riddle went for a submission and Woods got his feet on the bottom rope. Riddle went for another submission with Woods getting to the rope again. Riddle hit two gutwrench suplexes in a row. Riddle charged, Woods moved and Woods hit a palm strike. Woods with a suplex off the ropes for two. Woods with a slingshot suplex, Riddle broke free and went for an armbar, but Woods fought out of it. They did a spot where Riddle was trying to get back up, then Woods held him in a suplex position and Woods hit a suplex. That was a cool spot. They exchanged punches, then a double clothesline and both guys were down. Riddle used his legs to send Woods over the top to the floor. Woods got a hold of Riddle on the apron and hit an Attitude Adjustment-like slam on the apron. That led to a break.
The match returned with Riddle going for a broton splash, but Woods got the knees up to block. Woods with a headscissors takedown, a back body drop and a missile dropkick off the middle rope for two. Riddle hit a knee. They fought over a Tombstone, Woods ended up driving Riddle back first into the turnbuckle and Woods hit a dropkick. Woods with a press slam into a double knee strike to the ribs for a two count. Good nearfall. Riddle hit a knee while Woods was on the apron. Riddle got a hold of Woods from the inside of the ropes and hit a German Suplex! Holy shit, that was great. Woods had a rough landing on his head although he had his hands down first. That got a two count. Riddle went for the Floating Bro off the top, Woods moved, Woods with a forearm and Woods hit a chop. Both guys were just standing there selling, then Riddle hit an RKO outta nowhere for the pinfall win after 13 minutes! Cool finish.
Winner by pinfall: Riddle
Analysis: **** This was awesome. I liked this match a lot. The finish was brilliant because Riddle didn’t know how to put away Woods, so he did Randy Orton’s finishing move. There were some big moments in the match like Riddle’s incredible German Suplex off the ropes into the ring with Woods landing on his head, but Woods was able to get his hands down to soften the landing a bit. Xavier Woods as a singles superstar in WWE is untapped potential. The dude is so talented in the ring and has the charisma, plus a connection to the audience. If you don’t watch Raw regularly, I recommend you check out this match because it was a lot of fun and a nice reminder of how good some of these wrestlers are when they get the chance to have a fresh match like this.
After the match, Riddle pointed to the camera and said: “That was for you, Randy.” There was no handshake post match, but they did stare at eachother as a sign of respect.
After Raw, Orton tweeted this as a funny reply.
— Randy Orton (@RandyOrton) May 25, 2021
AJ Styles and Omos were shown walking backstage for AJ’s match up next.
They announced that Rhea Ripley will defend the Raw Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair at Hell in a Cell on June 20.
Analysis: Asuka beat Charlotte last week, yet Charlotte winning this week earns the title shot? I guess so. You have to makes wins and losses matter more, WWE.
AJ Styles vs. Jaxson Ryker
Ryker was without Elias this week, or so we thought. I missed the first minute. Ryker went for a slingshot suplex, Styles managed to get out of that and sent Ryker out of the ring. Styles with a sliding dropkick. Styles sent Ryker back in the ring, Elias came out of nowhere and hit a knee to the face. Elias hid behind the barricade. The referee never saw it. Ryker hit a Boss Man Slam on Styles for the pinfall win after about two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Jaxson Ryker
Analysis: * A short match to give Ryker a cheap win thanks to Elias getting involved. Ryker beating Styles is clearly an upset type of result, but it was done in a cheap way to make one of the tag team champions get pinned in a match. It should lead to Styles/Omos vs. Elias/Ryker for the titles soon.
Post match, Omos went down to the ringside to go after Elias at ringside. Elias and Ryker ran up the ramp, Elias tumbled, so Omos shoved Elias into the LED boards on the stage. Omos checked on Styles in the ring.
Analysis: This feud has turned Styles and Omos into faces, which I didn’t expect, but that’s what happened.
A video aired showing how Humberto Carrillo hasn’t backed down against Sheamus.
Sheamus, the US Champion, entered for a match.
There was another plug for WWE going back on the road in July. Jeff Hardy did a promo saying we’re going to take things to the extreme.
Analysis: Why don’t they use Jeff Hardy more? I bet he’s one of the highest-paid guys on this show and creative has nothing for him. Weak.
Sheamus vs. Humberto Carrillo
This is not for the US title held by Sheamus. Sheamus worked over Carrillo with forearms to the back followed by a suplex into a slam. Carrillo ran off the ropes and then Sheamus hit a running back elbow with Sheamus telling Graves that was for him, fella. Carrillo came back with punches, forearms, chops and a kick to the chest. Carrillo with a dropkick to send Sheamus out of the ring. Carrillo hit a suicide dive into Sheamus into the announce table. That was great. Carrillo went up top with a back elbow to Sheamus for a two count. Carrillo with a kick, then Carrillo went for a pin attempt, but Sheamus sat on top and Sheamus grabbed the tights for the cheap win. The referee was on the other side, so he didn’t see the tights being pulled. It went three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sheamus
Analysis: *1/2 A cheap win for Sheamus, who found a way to retain the title thanks to pulling the tights. Carrillo’s offense looked good especially that suicide dive. Sheamus sells everything really well too. Based on the finish, the feud will likely continue to some degree.
Post match, Sheamus knocked down Carrillo with a forearm. Sheamus went for the Irish Cloverleaf Submission. Ricochet showed up to save Carrillo and he hit Sheamus. That led to Carrillo going up top and hitting a moonsault on Sheamus. Ricochet went up top and hit a 450 Splash on Sheamus, who bailed to the floor.
Analysis: Good way to get some payback on Sheamus for all of his attacks on both guys. Perhaps it will lead to a triple threat match for the US Title although I’m getting tired of triple threat matches in WWE.
They showed a replay from last week when Natalya & Tamina beat Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax on Raw after Alexa Bliss and Lilly the evil doll set off an explosion, which led to a bump from Reginald. That led to Natalya pinning Baszler after a Hart Attack clothesline. On Smackdown, Baszler beat Natalya in a six-woman tag team match and now there’s another title match.
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler were backstage with Reginald (Lilly the evil doll was in the background). Sarah Schreiber showed up for an interview. Baszler complained about Jax being distracted by Reginald. Jax said that Reginald dealt with the flames by his head and he’s having trouble seeing. Baszler wanted to get the titles back – just her and Jax. Reginald said he was trying to help. Baszler threatened to beat up Reginald if he got involved and Baszler left with Jax.
Natalya and Tamina made their entrance as the Women’s Tag Team Champions.
A video aired about Karrion Kross defending the NXT Championship against Finn Balor on NXT this Tuesday. That will be great. Read my NXT review on TJRWrestling on Wednesday morning.
A new video aired showing Eva Marie working out in a gym, running on a beach and she said some phrases about how discipline will overcome weakness. Eva wants to be an advocate for others, so she trains men and women all over the world to build better versions of themselves. “This is Eva-lution.” That’s coming soon.
Analysis: I liked Eva Marie as a heel in the past, but they might be positioning her as a babyface in this role. I don’t know if that’s the best idea.
Next week on Raw: Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston again. Whoever wins that match faces Bobby Lashley for the WWE Title at Hell in a Cell on June 20.
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler were in the ring. The wrestlers stood in the ring for the championship introductions from ring announcer Mike Rome.
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Natalya & Tamina vs. Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler
Natalya and Baszler did some mat wrestling for a bit with each woman going for pin attempts. Natalya applied a knee submission. Baszler went for a Sharpshooter-style move, but Natalya got out of it quickly. Baszler came back with an armbar pulling on the left arm. Jax was back in with a leg drop on the left arm of Natalya. Baszler tagged in and wanted to step on the left arm, but Reginald appeared at ringside and Natalya moved out of the way of the stomp. Natalya hit a German Suplex across the ring. That led to a break.
The match continued with Baszler applying an armbar with Natalya remaining in the ring as the babyface in peril. Natalya broke free with a body slam. Tamina got the hot tag against “cousin” Jax with Tamina hitting some punches and Tamina went for a sunset flip into a superkick. Tamina went up top, Jax stopped her with a punch and Jax avoided a kick. Jax with a sloppy pin attempt on Tamina for two. Baszler was back in with punches, Jax was back in and Jax hit a splash. Baszler in again with a running knee for a two count. Tamina fought out of the heel corner with punches followed by a powerslam on Baszler. Natalya tagged in against Baszler with a slingshot into a superkick by Tamina. Jax back in with a headbutt on Natalya. Tamina tackled Jax and they brawled on the floor. Jax gave Tamina a back body drop over the barricade near the screens. Natalya with a discus clothesline. Baszler got an inside cradle for two and Reginald was on the apron, so the referee couldn’t count to three when Baszler first had Natalya down. Baszler told Reginald to go to the back. When Reginald went up the ramp, there was a pyro explosion that caused Reginald to fall down on the ramp. Baszler was distracted by that, so Natalya did an inside cradle for the pinfall win after 12 minutes. At least it wasn’t a ROLLUP OF DEATH~!
Winners by pinfall: Natalya & Tamina
Analysis: **1/4 Another goofy finish to end this match just like last week. Hopefully it’s the end of the rivalry so that Natalya/Tamina can face other teams. The spot with Jax taking out Tamina made me think there might be a title change, but I’m glad Natalya/Tamina were able to retain instead.
After the match, Baszler checked on Reginald, who was selling it like he couldn’t see after what happened. Baszler yelled at Reginald that she is tired of him getting involved in her matches. Baszler said she’ll face Reginald next week and she’ll make Reginald wish he was in that explosion. Baszler left to end the show.
Analysis: I don’t really care about Baszler vs. Reginald in a match, but it does make sense since Baszler blames Reginald for losing matches in back to back weeks. No Alexa Bliss with the evil doll Lilly this week. I know Alexa posted on Instagram about how her pet pig was ill, but she said she was going to Raw. I guess plans changed or WWE felt like she didn’t need to be on the show. (Tuesday update: Bliss was there and this morning she posted on Instagram that her pig Larry Steve died.) The idea is that Alexa/Lilly caused the pyro to go off at the end of the match.
Three Stars of the Show
- Riddle/Xavier Woods
- Charlotte Flair/Asuka
- Drew McIntyre/Kofi Kingston
Three really good matches, so I’ll honor all six of them.
7 out of 10
Last week: 6.25
2021 Average: 5.89
This was a pretty good show because there was a heavy focus on in-ring action. It was a week of long matches with Drew McIntyre/Kofi Kingston getting over 20 minutes in the first hour and Charlotte Flair/Asuka getting over 20 minutes in the second hour. My favorite match on the show was between Riddle and Xavier Woods in the third hour. It was a fresh and exciting match with plenty of nearfalls leading into a cool finish with Riddle hitting an RKO to win. Raw needs fewer rematches and more fresh matches like that.
I think the booking remains an issue. For example, they had Asuka beat Charlotte Flair last week. This week, they do the rematch and Charlotte wins clean. Then they announce that it’s Charlotte challenging Rhea Ripley for the Raw Women’s Title at Hell in a Cell. Apparently the win last week meant nothing, but this week it meant something? It’s lazy booking. They need to get better at things like that.
To wrap this up, I just want to say thanks again for supporting me and the Raw Deal reviews for the past 12 years. It means a lot to me. At least we got some good matches to watch this week. That makes for a better viewer experience, that’s for sure! This was the first time I rated a Raw episode at 7 or higher since March 22. It’s been a while.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Hell in a Cell on Sunday, June 20. Here’s what we know so far.
Raw Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Drew McIntyre or Kofi Kingston
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Thanks for reading.