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It’s the last edition of Raw heading into Sunday’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view event. It’s called the go home show. It was the first Raw this year where WWE had to go head to head against the NFL’s Monday Night Football, which had two games last night including a win for my Rams in the second game. From September to December I watch the NFL game live and Raw on DVR, which is what I prefer because I like to fast forward through the commercials. My Smackdown review on Tuesdays on TJRWrestling will be live most weeks. Let’s see what they have in store for us this week.

Live from New Orleans, Louisiana, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1320 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top. Please check out even more of our great content over at TJRWrestling on Patreon now!

There was a shot of the live crowd in New Orleans and then we saw the new full time Raw announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Renee Young. They officially announced Young is replacing Jonathon Coachman on Monday with Cole noting it was history making since Young is the first woman to be a full time WWE commentator. Renee said that she’s honored and humbled to be there. She even wore red leather pants for Raw, so that’s a wise choice.

Analysis: I think it was the right call because Coach did a poor job in his return. He seemed lost a lot of the time and was better in his first run when he was more heelish. Renee did well when she filled in twice and WWE must have liked her enough that they felt like promoting her. Coach will only be used on PPV Kickoff shows as the host.

Let’s Hear from Strowman, McIntyre and Ziggler

The Raw Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre made their entrance to start Raw. They were joined by their buddy Braun Strowman. It should be noted that Strowman is no longer wearing the “Get These Hands” shirt. It’s back to a plain black tank top. They did not come alone, though. The other heels on the Raw roster made their way down to the ring because of last week’s attack on The Shield that included all of them. It is weird to see Kevin Owens helping out Strowman after they just had a feud, but that’s wrestling. People turn and it’s as if what happened in the past meant nothing.

Ziggler started off saying “we told you so” repeatedly. Ziggler said there’s only one way to describe what happened to The Shield last week. Strowman said they beat them down and feasted on their carcasses. McIntyre cued up the video package of their attack on The Shield last week.

After the video aired, Strowman said that Reigns is only Universal Champion because he’s a coward that can’t handle business on his own. Strowman said that Reigns has his Hounds of Justice and Strowman has his Dogs of War. Strowman said that The Shield’s strength in numbers fails to compare to Strowman’s pack. Ziggler said that everybody around this ring made a choice because they stood up to The Shield and their bullying. Ziggler said they stood up for themselves. McIntyre said that the balance of power has shifted, now they are in control and tonight they will continue the carnage when they dismantle the B Team in their Tag Team Title rematch. Strowman said that is nothing compared to when he gets these hands on Reigns this Sunday inside Hell in a Cell.

The Shield trio of Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose ran down to the ring. They battled the heels that were outside the ring. Oh no, the shaky camera was giving me a headache already. Reigns had a duffle bag that had wooden axe handles, so they hit everybody at ringside in ribs with the axe handles. Ambrose hit Mahal in the shoulder with it. The trio of Strowman, Ziggler and McIntyre left and did not take any punishment at all. The Shield’s music played to end it. The six men had a staredown.

Analysis: It was a solid start to Raw that followed the ending of last week’s show. The heels on the show looked like such losers because of how easily three guys beat them all up, but that’s how WWE books segments like that where they want The Shield guys to stand out. It appears as though WWE is using the name “Dogs of War” for Strowman, McIntyre of Ziggler, which is okay as a name, but it will take some time getting used to it.

Still to come: Ronda Rousey and Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. It was Alicia Fox with Bliss, but they changed it. Triple H is there to talk later. Earlier today, The Bellas locker room was spray painted by the Riott Squad with it saying “Riott Mode” instead of Brie Mode. Oh no. The horror.

The Bella Twins duo of Nikki and Brie Bella were shown backstage because Nikki faces Ruby Riott in the first match up next.

(Commercial)

The Shield trio were backstage with their axe handles where the indy wrestlers dressed like cops were there to argue with them. Every one of the cops was short, which was probably not an accident by WWE because they want to make their superstars look bigger. Baron Corbin, the acting General Manager, showed up and said they can’t fight the cops and said they had to vacate the premises or they will go to jail for a long time. Ambrose was fired up, Rollins said “no problem” and Reigns had a staredown with a cop. The Shield left.

Analysis: Remember before Reigns won the Universal Title, he said he would defend the title often? That’s not going to happen. He did it once against Finn Balor, so that’s something. Other than that, The Shield has been written out of shows. Anyway, if you think The Shield aren’t coming back later then you haven’t watched enough WWE in your life.

Nikki and Brie Bella made their entrance. Brie remains the only wrestler that is currently on Raw and Smackdown every week with no explanation because WWE doesn’t care to explain things.

Nikki Bella (w/Brie Bella) vs. Ruby Riott (w/Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan)

Nikki was impressive early on with an arm drag leading to Riott bailing to the apron. Riott avoided an attack and sent Nikki into the turnbuckle. Riott took down Nikki with a STO for a two count. The announcers were talking about everything else the Bellas have going on. Nikki tackled Riott, but Riott came back by kicking the top rope when Nikki was on the apron and Nikki went to the floor.

(Commercial)

The match returned with Riott in control for a bit until Nikki hit a spinebuster. Nikki with a facebuster off the knee, clothesline and a dropkick. Riott with a kick to the midsection, but Nikki came back by slamming Riott to the mat. Nikki hit a jumping kick off the middle rope for two. Logan on the apron, so Nikki decked her off the forearm while Young was talking about the Bellas being trailblazers while the Riott Squad should thank the Bella Twins, which is a bit much. Riott hit a flatliner for a two count. When Riott went for her Riott Kick, Nikki blocked it, Morgan tried to interfere, but Brie pulled her back out of the ring and Nikki hit the Rack Attack 2.0 for the pinfall win at 8:43.

Winner by pinfall: Nikki Bella

Analysis: **1/4 The match was just average. They had a few sloppy moments, but I liked the story with Nikki selling for most of it and then making the comeback as the face. Brie was there to prevent Morgan from interfering. The rumor is that Nikki is going to face Ronda Rousey at Evolution, so WWE wants to keep building up Nikki by giving her wins and trying to convince the fans that she’ll deserve a title shot. The announcers are trying hard to put over the Bellas as two of the biggest women stars in WWE history. I don’t think most fans think of them that way, but WWE will continue to do it as much as they can.

The announcers plugged two tag team matches and a recap of the historic confrontation from last week with Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker.

A video package aired about WWE’s charity Connor’s Cure where they introduced kids dealing with pediatric cancer. Kids from the New Orleans children hospital were shown given WWE style entrances along with nicknames.

There was a Connor’s Cure segment with the children from New Orleans Hospital on the stage. Big Show was there in his ring gear to read the names of all the kids while the families of the kids were standing in the background. The fans in the arena gave the kids a big ovation. Show said that they are proud of their Connor’s Cure superstars while adding that there are real superheroes all around the world that need your help. Show asked us to join their fight and let’s hear it for them and he said “Go Connor’s Cure, yeah” to end it. Go to ConnorTheCrusher.com to join the fight.

Analysis: That is a charity WWE started a few years ago, so it’s no surprise that they dedicated a few minutes to it. It’s a three-hour show. There’s plenty of time to do it.

A video package aired about Shawn Michaels doing a promo last week that was interrupted by The Undertaker. It was a good segment that teased a potential return for Michaels while Undertaker said he’d put down Triple H at Super Show-Down next month. Still to come: Triple H is on Raw.

The Authors of Pain were backstage with their manager Drake Maverick, who is in a tank top this week instead of wearing a vest like them like he did last week. Maverick said people won’t forget the carnage caused by AOP.

(Commercial)

The Authors of Pain duo of Akam and Rezar made their entrance. It appears that WWE has changed their name because they were only introduced as AOP. That’s all the announcers said. That’s what the graphics said, so it looks like a name shortening for them.

AOP (Akam and Rezar) w/Drake Maverick vs. Ronnie Ace and Nathan Bradley

Rezar gave Ace a Gorilla Press Slam onto the top turnbuckle. Rezar with a fallaway slam on Ace. Akam was on the floor and he took out Bradley with a clothesline. Akam tagged in and gave Ace a body slam onto Bradley. The AOP guys went into the ring, they did the Super Collider Powerbomb and pinned Ace to end the match at 1:20.

Winners by pinfall: AOP

Analysis: 1/2* It was a squash match victory for AOP designed to put them over in a big way with their new manager. AOP won every match they have had since they debuted in April and have yet to have a proper feud other than wrestling Titus Worldwide a bunch of times. They could have been doing a lot more since then. Maybe now they will be booked better with Maverick as the heel manager.

A video aired about Smackdown’s Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy at Hell in a Cell on Sunday. The announcers shilled Hell in a Cell this Sunday and Super Show-Down coming up on WWE Network on October 6.

A limo pulled up to the arena. It was Triple H in a suit and he walked by the rent-a-cops that were standing in the parking lot. He just stared at them and walked away.

Analysis: That was the end of the first hour. I thought it was weak.

(Commercial)

Let’s Hear From Triple H

Triple H walked out in a suit with his full beard. He got a nice ovation from the crowd and shook hands with some fans at ringside. The graphic reminded us of Triple H vs. The Undertaker at Super Show-Down from Australia on October 6. The announcers were all excited about it.

There was a mild “Triple H” chant as Hunter started by saying that the night after SummerSlam, he told us the era was back and he would face The Undertaker one last time. Hunter talked about legends talking about the match, polls were taken and a poll showed that 81% of people voted for Undertaker to win against Triple H, who had 19%. Hunter said that at this level, it doesn’t bother you and they don’t mean anything.

Hunter talked about how it was shocking last week when Shawn Michaels gave his opinion on the match, it bothered one man so much, The Undertaker. Hunter said it’s almost laughable to think that The Undertaker was bothered by Shawn Michaels’ opinion. Hunter said that he was so rattled by Shawn’s opinion that Hunter would beat Taker, that Undertaker appeared. Hunter said that Taker accused Shawn of bitterness, fear and baiting Shawn with threats over Shawn’s opinion. Hunter said when he watched it back, it made him mad and made him feel like The Undertaker had lost respect for Shawn and for Hunter. When he watched it back, Taker did not lose respect for Shawn or Hunter, but Taker lost respect for himself. Hunter pointed out that The Undertaker didn’t show up there to tell him to his face.

Hunter spoke about how if you go back to the four matches at WrestleMania (two with Shawn in 2009-10, two with Hunter in 2011-12) and he pointed out that Taker wasn’t the same after that. Hunter noted that The Streak would go away (to Brock Lesnar in 2014) and then Taker was left with a reputation. Hunter said those series of matches were his last epic moments of greatness, so he blames Shawn and Hunter for his demise. Hunter said that Taker said something that was true and that was when he said that now it’s personal. Hunter said that in Melbourne, Australia, in the last bit of respect that Hunter has for Taker, Hunter will put him down. Hunter’s music played to end it as Hunter stared straight into the hard camera looking intense with his full beard.

Analysis: Good promo from Triple H. It feels weird to see how much time WWE is spending promoting that match at Super Show-Down while barely mentioning anything else on the card. It’s a case of WWE feeling like they need to push it heavily to help ticket sales as well as interest in the show. I’m not complaining about it. I’m just saying it feels weird that they spend so much time on that and it feels like it is overshadowing Hell in a Cell, which is this Sunday.

A replay aired of The Shield trio from earlier in the night and how Corbin told them to leave. The cops were shown in the parking lot.

Still to come is Mick Foley.

The lovely trio of Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Alicia Fox were shown talking backstage ahead of their tag team match.

Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre made their entrance for their first Tag Team Title defense.

(Commercial)

The B Team duo of Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas made their entrance playing to the crowd. They already stopped wearing “B Team” shirts and were wearing Connor’s Cure shirts. The announcers tried to put over The B Team as a good team even though nobody watching believed they were going to win this.

Raw Tag Team Championships: Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler vs. The B Team (Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas)

Ziggler started off with a back elbow on Dallas followed by a dropkick. Dallas and Axel worked over Ziggler in the corner with stomps while doing their “B Team go, go, go” chants and Axel hit a DDT for a two count. McIntyre with a distraction and Ziggler his a superkick on Axel. With Axel on the apron, McIntyre kicked him to the floor.

(Commercial)

Back from break, McIntyre had Axel grounded with a belly to back suplex. Ziggler tagged in with a kick to the head followed by a reverse Alabama Slam from McIntyre where he flipped Axel over onto his chest. Strowman went for a superkick, Axel blocked it and hit a catapult that sent Ziggler into the turnbuckle. Dallas got the hot tag with a forearm on Ziggler, punch to the gut, knee to the face and a running shoulder tackle by Dallas got a two count. Dallas got a rollup, McIntyre kicked Dallas in the ribs and a headbutt by McIntyre on Axel. Eye gouge by Ziggler on Dallas while the ref was dealing with McIntyre. That led to McIntyre tagging in and they hit their Zig Zag/Claymore Kick for the pinfall win at 8:48.

Winners by pinfall: Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler

Analysis: **1/2 It was a standard tag team match that will likely be the end of The B Team in the Tag Team Title picture. The fans got behind The B Team more than I thought, but I doubt anybody thought there would be a title change. The finish was a bit cheap thanks to the eye gouge, but it’s fine for heels to win that way.

After the match was over, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose attacked McIntyre and Ziggler. Seth and Dean ran in through the crowd or “from the WWE Universe” as the robot announcers would say. There was a double clothesline from Seth and Dean that sent McIntyre out of the ring. Ambrose clothesline on Ziggler. Rollins wanted The Stomp on Ziggler, but McIntyre pulled Ziggler out of the ring. The heel champs left while Rollins and Ambrose stood in the ring.

Analysis: It sets up the obvious tag team title match at Hell in a Cell. I miss when Rollins was a fighting IC Champion that actually defended the title on Raw.

The announce team talked about what just happened while wondering what acting GM Baron Corbin might do. They set up Hell in a Cell footage from 20 years ago.

To promote Mick Foley’s appearance on Raw, a video package aired for King of the Ring 1998 when The Undertaker faced Mick Foley as Mankind. That led to two insane spots with Undertaker tossing Mankind off the cell through the Spanish announce table. Jim Ross had the famous call with “As God as my witness, he’s broken in half.” They showed clips of WWE superstars talking about the moment and you could tell the clips were a few years ago considering how young guys like Chris Jericho and Kofi Kingston looked in them. Foley went back up and Undertaker gave him a Chokeslam that sent him through the cage into the ring while a chair also went through the age with Foley. That led to the shot of a tooth in Foley’s nose and blood on his face. It was insane. They had clips of John Cena saying he’ll never forget it and Terry Funk added that it was the damnedest thing he’s ever seen in his life. Shawn Michaels spoke about people remembering it and Jericho said that nothing will compare to that. Foley is still to come on Raw.

Analysis: The match is not legendary in terms of being one of the best matches ever, but it is one of the most memorable matches ever. I would put it high up on that list if I were to write that list. Foley being tossed off the cell through the announce table might be the most replayed spot in WWE history because they have showed it so many times in the last twenty years. The bump through the cell (they didn’t think it would break, which seems silly in hindsight) was even more damaging for Foley. I’ll never forget it.

Kevin Owens made his entrance.

(Commercial)

A clip aired from last week when Owens attacked Bobby Lashley with a Powerbomb on the apron.

Baron Corbin was in his office with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, who were wearing their own shirts. Rollins said The Shield left and they are probably in a barn. Ambrose said this is Ambrose and Rollins, so he said it was just the two of them. Corbin said he’ll arrest them. Rollins said that somebody arrested them last week, but it’s funny how Strowman, Ziggler and McIntyre didn’t get arrested. Rollins said that his threats are bogus like Corbin’s charges from last week. Rollins complained about falsifying criminal reports. Rollins and Ambrose brought in a Sheriff to arrest Corbin. The Sheriff read Corbin his rights, so Corbin told him to hold on and Corbin asked the wrestlers if he can talk to Seth in private. Ambrose left the room talking to the Sheriff. Rollins thanked the officer, but he told him they didn’t need to press charges. Ambrose to the cop: “I’ll call you the next time I’m in jail.” The sheriff replied: “Anytime.” Renee Young, Dean’s wife, laughed about it.

Analysis: The wrestlers get arrested angles are lame. I’m tired of them.

Owens was still in the ring. He had to sit there for about five minutes between the break and that segment.

Tyler Breeze made his entrance with his selfie stick and the cell phone on it.

Owens attacked Breeze with a kick to the back of the head. Owens whipped Breeze into the barricade. Breeze with a jumping kick to the head of Owens. Breeze tried to continue the attack, but Owens kicked him in the jaw when they were outside the ring. Owens hit Breeze with a Powerbomb on the ring apron. That always looks very painful.

Analysis: No match. Just an ass kicking from Owens to put over his more aggressive attitude.

Owens did a promo in the ring saying that two weeks ago he walked away from this place and it felt great. Owens said that immediately, the acting General Manager Baron Corbin begged him to reconsider and come back. Owens said that Corbin recognizes his value as the true MVP of Monday Night Raw. Owens said he agreed to come back under one strict condition and it is that he is not held accountable for what he does to his opponents. Owens said that he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He said what he did to Breeze was him just doing his job and last week when he attacked The Shield he wasn’t doing anybody any favors, he did it because he wanted to. Owens said he’s as sick of The Shield as anybody else. Owens said he can do whatever he wants and there’s not a thing anybody can do about it. Owens claimed there is somebody that everybody can blame…Bobby Lashley. Owens talked about how Lashley was the sick maniac that injured his best friend Sami Zayn and he’s the reason why Zayn is on the shelf instead of beside Owens. The reason Owens quit was because of Lashley and he’s also why Owens is back. Owens said this is a reminder that this is still the Kevin Owens Show and on this show, you can expect three things: Anarchy, Agony and Destruction and it is all Lashley’s fault.

Analysis: That was a very good promo from one of Raw’s best talkers. It feels like a bit of a reboot of the Kevin Owens character with him showing more aggressiveness and perhaps putting an end to some of the comedy stuff he used to do. I think Owens explained a lot by saying he quit due to Sami not being with him and coming back due to Lashley taking out Sami, so he wants revenge. Lashley has needed a feud, so based on KO’s attack on Lashley last week, those two can hopefully have a good rivalry for a few months.

A video package aired about AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Title at Hell in a Cell on Sunday.

The new tag team duo of Bobby Roode and Chad Gable made their entrance to Roode’s Glorious theme song. There was a pre-taped promo with Roode saying that he was skeptical, but then Gable added that the tag team division will be Glorious.

(Commercial)

The Ascension are the opponents.

Bobby Roode and Chad Gable vs. The Ascension (Viktor and Konnor)

Gable tagged himself in off the bat with a German Suplex on Viktor, a belly to belly suplex and then a German Suplex. Exploder Suplex by Gable on Viktor, so Konnor went into the ring with a boot to the face. Konnor tagged in with a chinlock on Gable. Konnor with a splash to Gable and Viktor with a jumping knee to the face. Roode got the hot tag with a forearm on Viktor followed by a spinebuster. Roode was set to do his “Glorious” pose, but Gable tagged himself in. Gable hit a rolling, bridging German Suplex on Viktor for the pinfall win at 3:15.

Winners by pinfall: Bobby Roode and Chad Gable

Analysis: ** It was an easy win for Roode and Gable to give them some momentum in Raw’s paper thin tag team division. It is weird to see the spot where Gable tags himself in, which could suggest this team will have problems soon, but I think it’s worth giving them a run as a face team. It’s not like Raw has many other good face teams right now.

Ronda Rousey and Natalya were shown getting ready in the locker room for their tag team match up next.

(Commercial)

TJRWrestling on Patreon: Our new project is up and running and going very well so far. It’s called TJRWrestling on Patreon and it launched over a week ago. I have started the reviews of WWF shows from 2000 with coverage of Raw every Monday and Smackdown every Thursday. I just posted a review of the January 10, 2000 episode of Raw where The Rock teamed up with Mick Foley and The Acolytes against the Degeneration X foursome of Triple H, Road Dogg, X-Pac and Billy Gunn in the main event. Those episodes of Raw and Smackdown often times had nine matches in two hours, so all of them were short, but the flow of those shows were good and it was never really boring. I’m also doing podcast reviews of current episodes of Raw and Smackdown. I’ll also have a podcast preview of the Hell in a Cell lineup and a podcast review of Hell in a Cell too. I’m hoping to get material up there every weekday along with some weekend content. There will be a written and podcast review of WCW Starrcade 1998 this week as well.It’s not free, but it’s a way to support what we are doing and I’m grateful for that. You can join for $3, $5 or $7 for one month, so it’s not like we are asking a lot. It’s just something to keep us going strong. Thanks to everybody that has joined already and if you have any questions, my contact info is at the bottom of this review. Go sign up now at TJRWrestling on Patreon and thank you again for all the support.

A video sponsored by Popeye’s showed Finn Balor’s four great moves from a superstar: Somersault dive over the top, Slingblade, dropkick into the turnbuckle and then the Coup de Grace double foot stomp.

The announcers talked about the “E People’s Choice Awards” with Nikki Bella, Nia Jax and Monday Night Raw as the show of 2018, which his pretty laughable considering the quality of Raw this year. Since WWE has two reality shows on E, of course they are going to push that bullshit.

The trio of Strowman, McIntyre and Ziggler were in the locker room. Corbin walked into the room saying New Orleans has some Napoleonic code. Corbin added that this Sunday, McIntyre and Ziggler must defend the Raw Tag Team Championships against Rollins and Ambrose. Ziggler complained about those guys getting a tag team title match after attacking them. Corbin said that he wants Hell in a Cell to be epic and that match will be great. Corbin told Strowman that Stephanie wants him to win the Universal Title at Hell in a Cell. Strowman said he’s going hunting for Reigns now.

Analysis: It’s no surprise that they added the Raw Tag Team Title match to Hell in a Cell. The bad thing about that is the Intercontinental Title held by Seth Rollins is being ignored right now.

Alexa Bliss made her entrance with Mickie James and Alicia Fox had on a unique outfit that is hard to describe. Natalya entered first followed by Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey. The match was originally was Rousey and Natalya vs. Bliss and Fox, but they made the switch to James because she’s better than Fox. At least that’s my explanation for it. It Rousey vs. Bliss for the Raw Women’s Title at Hell in a Cell.

Ronda Rousey and Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James (w/Alicia Fox)

Bliss with a back elbow early, but Natalya came back with a slam followed by the step on the back and the running dropkick. Rousey tagged in, so Bliss tagged out and brought James in. Rousey took down James with a clothesline and quickly tagged out to bring in Natalya leading to a double team suplex on James for two. Cole mentioned James is facing Lita at Evolution on October 28. James hit a kick on Natalya that didn’t connect, but Natalya sold it anyway. James choked Natalya on the middle rope. Natalya tried to tag out, but James took her down with a clothesline. Bliss did her two knee attacks to the ribs of Natalya. Bliss teased an armbar on Natalya, but Natalya got a rollup for two and Bliss took down Natalya with a clothesline. Bliss hit Rousey wit ha hard slap to the face. Rousey chased after her, Natalya picked up Bliss and Rousey hit a Hart Attack clothesline on Bliss. That was a cool spot that was set up well. James pulled Bliss out of the ring as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

The show returned with James working over Natalya with a body scissors around the ribs of Natalya. When Natalya broke free, James pulled her down by the hair. Bliss tagged in, Natalya with a back elbow and Rousey got the hot tag. Bliss left the ring, James distraction and Bliss whipped Rousey into the barricade and also sent her ribs first into the side of the ring apron two times. Bliss with a knee to the ribs. James tagged back in with kicks to the ribs, Bliss back in with more shots to the ribs and that became the story of the match with Rousey selling the rib injury. Bliss put her back into the ribs and pulled back on the arms. James back in with a running dropkick into the ribs. Rousey took down James, so James knocked Natalya off the apron and a knee to the ribs by James. Rousey with a clothesline on James, a punch for Bliss on the apron and Rousey worked over James with punches. James with a kick to the ribs. Rousey with two arm wringers and Rousey slapped on an armbar on the left arm of James as Bliss looked on from ringside. James tapped out quickly to give Rousey the win for her team at 13:50.

Winners by submission: Ronda Rousey and Natalya

Analysis: *** That was a good tag team match that was given a lot of time, which I didn’t expect with Rousey involved. They booked it in a smart way with Natalya getting worked over for most of the match and Rousey making the hot tag, which is what we expect any time Rousey is in a tag team match. When Rousey got in there, she did a good job of selling a rib injury. Some of Rousey’s offense looked bad, but they got through it. That’s the way they need to book her sometimes because if she no sells everything then that doesn’t help the story of a tag team match. The booking was predictable with Rousey getting the win against James rather than Bliss to protect Bliss going into the Hell in a Cell match.

Post match, Bliss went into the ribs, kicked Rousey in the ribs and Bliss left the ring.

Analysis: The story will be that Rousey is dealing with a rib injury going into Hell in a Cell, so when they have the title match, Bliss can have a few minutes of offense. Rousey will not lose that match.

A video package aired to promote Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Title at Hell in a Cell.

Analysis: They don’t usually air Smackdown videos on Raw, but I guess it’s a new directive from WWE since Raw is such a long show, so they might as well push Smackdown PPV matches too.

Elias was shown backstage. He was given a drink and told the guy to fix it. Braun Strowman was shown looking for Roman Reigns. Strowman grabbed a guy and threw him onto some boxes. Poor indy wrestler.

(Commercial)

Ronda Rousey and Natalya were interviewed by Charly Caruso backstage in the Gorilla Position backstage. Rousey said that even though she’s hurt, she’s still going to be at Hell in a Cell because even on her worst day, she is still the best.

Analysis: It’s typical of a babyface to do a promo like that where they show confidence even though they had an injury.

The Weekly Elias Gets Interrupted Segment

Elias was in the ring for one of his concerts where he did his “Walk With Elias” shtick with the crowd joining in. Elias ripped on New Orleans by mocking them for the Saints losing on Sunday and saying that QB Drew Brees is sick of the city of New Orleans. Elias said that his song can save them all. Elias was interrupted by the music of Mick Foley.

Mick Foley, the WWE Hall of Famer, made his entrance to a nice ovation Foley was walking well after having hip and knee surgeries in the last year. He also lost weight, so it’s awesome to see Mick doing well. The crowd chanted “Foley” for him.

Foley got in the ring with Elias saying that he’s a big fan of his. Foley said that Elias may not be Nia Strauss, but he is very good and he admires his craftsmanship. Foley said that as a lyricist, Elias doesn’t have a sincere bone in his body. Elias said he knows that Mick wants to talk about 20 years of Hell in a Cell. Elias said that as hard as it may be to believe, Elias was a child once and as a child, he sat in the stands in Pittsburgh and watched as Mick’s body was thrown off the cell. Elias said that Mick’s career was never the same, he prayed that he didn’t get back up, but Mick got up and Undertaker Chokeslammed him through the cage and Mick’s life was never the same. Elias said that is the stuff of legend, but that was then and this is now. Elias reminded Foley that he is standing in the ring with Elias and Elias is in the ring with a broken man. Elias said that Foley is singing the same song he is singing the last 20 years and he barely remembers the words. Fans chanted “Mr. Socko” for Foley.

Foley said that in a nutshell, that is him. Foley said he came there to address the future. Elias said that he is the future. Foley thinks that if Elias keeps his eyes on the prize, he could be a Universal Champion. Foley talked about how he had a meeting with Stephanie. Foley said that he asked her to have a role at the Hell in a Cell PPV. Elias thought that Stephanie laughed about that. Foley said that he reminded her of a moment of time when Foley was being wheeled out on a stretcher, he found the strength to roll off that gurney and he talked about how special it felt. Foley wondered how he could feel alive like that night where he was almost dead. Foley claimed that it was ten minutes later after that match where he met Stephanie for the first time and told her not to shut her out and let him be a part of the action somehow at Hell in a Cell. Foley said that six nights from now, he will be the special guest referee for the Universal Championship between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman. The fans cheered that. Foley did the “bang, bang” yell like Cactus Jack. Fans chanted “yes” for that.

Analysis: Good promo by Foley mixing in some Hell in a Cell history with the current stories going on in WWE. Foley as referee of Reigns vs. Strowman adds a little something to it. That match can definitely go a lot of different ways.

Elias told Foley to shut his mouth and go back where he came from. Foley said that he hasn’t been there in 18 months and Elias will listen to what he has to say. Foley claimed that Stephanie also said that Foley could make one match right there in New Orleans. Foley said the match will be Elias against this man…Finn Balor. Good ovation for Balor’s entrance.

(Commercial)

Strowman was shown walking backstage yelling about Reigns while wrecking things backstage.

Finn Balor vs. Elias

The bell rang to start the match. Elias with a forearm followed by a headlock. Renee kept saying throughout the show “I talked to (insert name) earlier” for nearly every match. She did it for Balor too. I get why she does it, but it felt like too much. Maybe I’m nitpicking with that. Anyway, Elias was in control with a hard whip into the turnbuckle. Elias with a vice grip on the neck. Balor came back with boots to the face. Balor sent Elias into the ropes and hit a dropkick followed by a double foot stomp. Balor with a Slingblade takedown, but Elias stopped his momentum with a running knee to the face for two.

(Commercial)

The match returned with Balor sending Elias out of the ring. Balor ran the ropes and Elias hit a lefty clothesline on him. Balor came back with an elbow drop to the slam. Elias avoided a double foot stomp and hit a spinning sitout Powerbomb for a two count. The crowd was dead for most of this match. They battled on the top rope, Balor with forearms, Elias avoided the Coup de Grace off the top and Balor got an inside cradle for the pinfall win at 10:15.

Winner by pinfall: Finn Balor

Analysis: **1/2 It was just an average match without a story and the crowd wasn’t into it that much except for some of Balor’s offense. Balor winning with a cradle shows that it was an even matchup rather than a dominant win. It will probably lead to a rematch. At least we didn’t have to see Balor vs. Corbin again. It would be nice if Balor had a meaningful storyline because it’s been so long since he had something interesting to do. I guess it was around WrestleMania time. As for Elias, he’s still stuck in the midcard. I guess this counts as the “main event” for Raw? There’s still a segment to come, but this was the last match.

Bobby Lashley was in the gym lifting weights. Lio Rush, a cruiserweight wrestler on 205 Live, was with Lashley talking about how impressive Lashley looks and how he looks like money. Rush said that he’s there to motivate him. Lashley slapped him in the shoulder and told him to motivate him. Rush did that as the segment ended.

Analysis: I think it’s a smart move to give Lashley a manager. Lio has a big personality, so it could be a good fit.

Braun Strowman was about to be interviewed by Charly Caruso. He asked her where Roman Reigns was, she said last time she saw him he was leaving and she suggested that maybe if Strowman goes to the ring, Reigns will find him. Strowman said that’s what he’ll do.

(Commercial)

Next week on Raw: The Undertaker returns.

Braun Strowman Calls Out Roman Reigns

Braun Strowman made his entrance for the main event segment. It’s Reigns vs. Strowman for the Universal Title at Hell in a Cell with Mick Foley as the special referee.

Strowman went into the ring. Strowman said he’s sick of waiting and told Roman to come out there to face him like a man. Strowman yelled at Reigns to come on and said that he’s a coward that’s afraid. Strowman said that there’s nowhere to run inside Hell in a Cell because Reigns is a man that will be locked in a cell with a monster. Strowman said that nobody can help Reigns with no Reigns or Ambrose. Strowman also threatened Foley. Strowman said that at Hell in a Cell he’s sending Reigns to hell and he’s never coming back. Roman Reigns’ music hit.

Roman Reigns entered by the stage and stood on the announce table. Strowman went up the ramp. Reigns with a Superman Punch. Strowman picked up Reigns and shoved him against the video screen repeatedly. Strowman cleared off the announce table. Strowman put Reigns on the announce table. Reigns picked Strowman up and Samoan Dropped him through a table that was part off the stage that was beside the table. Replays aired of the big spot.

Analysis: That was a good bump that sounded loud like a table breaking spot. The fall wasn’t that far, but it looked impressive, so that’s what matters.

Reigns got back to his feet first. Reigns grabbed the Universal Championship and held it up in the air while Strowman was down on the floor underneath him. Reigns’ music played as Raw ended.

Analysis: A finish like that with Reigns standing tall could mean that Strowman is winning at Hell in a Cell due to the “get beat up on TV, win on PPV” theory. However, WWE has gone against that theory a lot this year and in the last few years, so it’s not a sure thing. Plus, I don’t expect Reigns to have such a short Universal Title reign. With that said, I would like Strowman as Universal Champion too. I’ll get into it more in our preview on Friday, but right now I’m leaning towards Reigns.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Braun Strowman
  2. Roman Reigns
  3. Kevin Owens

 

The Scoreboard

5.5 out of 10

Last week: 5

2018 Average: 5.76

Last 5 Weeks: 5, 6.5, 6.5, 5, 4

2018 High: 8 (February 19)

2018 Low: 4 (June 4, July 2, August 6)

 

Final Thoughts

I give it a 5.5 out of 10.

It felt like an average Raw like last week. I think the build to most of the Raw matches at Hell in a Cell was good, but I think Smackdown has better matches. Match quality was below average, which is part of the reason why the rating is what it is. In a three-hour show, you should always have two or three matches above that three-star level, yet lately WWE doesn’t seem to care to put on matches that really stand out. The women’s tag team match was the best because it got the most time. When I say things like I expect better matches it’s not a negative. It’s a belief in this roster being good, but if they don’t get the time, it’s tough to really shine in the ring.

I liked the opening and the closing segments. I thought Foley’s promo with Elias was well done. Maybe Foley should have interacted with Strowman and Reigns, but it’s not a big deal that WWE failed to go that route.

The next WWE PPV is Hell in a Cell on September 16. Here’s what we know so far:

Universal Championship Hell in a Cell Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Braun Strowman (Mick Foley is the referee)

WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe

Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Alexa Bliss

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Becky Lynch

Raw Tag Team Championships: Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins

Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse

Hell in a Cell Match: Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton

That’s it for official matches right now. A Smackdown Tag Team Title match will be added as well.

You can contact me using any of the methods below. See ya next time for the Smackdown review. Go Los Angeles Rams. Thanks for reading.

John Canton

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport

Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling on Facebook

 

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