Written By: Mark Armstrong
(Read the original version on Pro Wrestling Journal at http://prowrestlingjournal.com/index.php/2018/05/14/wwe-raw-uk-review-analysis-14-05-2018/.)
Raw returned to British shores, as we continue the slow build to Money In The Bank, and I was in attendance at the O2 Arena to see it live. The main questions coming into this show were: which other wrestlers would be added to the two MITB Ladder matches, and how would the presumed feud between Roman Reigns and Jinder Mahal progress?
After a tease of a Ronda Rousey/Nia Jax interaction from earlier today in New York, Roman Reigns marched out to the usual reaction of some cheers being overwhelmed by major boos. Cutting to the chase, Reigns called out Jinder Mahal, but instead Raw GM Kurt Angle answered the call. Seemingly influenced by the Authority, Angle explained that Jinder wouldn’t be coming out because he’d be facing Elias and Bobby Lashley later on in a MITB qualifier, and Reigns wouldn’t be receiving another chance.
Roman said he understood that Kurt did what he had to do, and now he was going to do whathe had to do. Finding Mahal backstage, Reigns actually took the initial punishment from Jinder, but he soon took control and sent him to the stage, where he drilled him with a Superman Punch having damaged Jinder’s ribs, putting his main event status (hah!) in doubt.
Seth Rollins (C) vs. Kevin Owens
Starting slow and building to a crescendo, this was by far the best match of the night. There were some great spots in this one, including an Owens senton blocked by Seth’s knees, an attempted frog splash by Rollins, and a brutal suplex sit-out slam on the apron by Rollins, which must have hurt like hell. Some fans were behind Owens, many behind Seth, but all were in agreement that the match itself was a cracker.
In the end, Rollins caught Owens with the Stomp as KO was re-entering the ring for the pinfall win. Later on, Kevin demanded another title shot, which Kurt Angle rejected, though KO claimed that he would have Stephanie McMahon intervene. Owens’ night wasn’t over, but not for the reasons you may think …
Ronda Rousey meets Nia Jax
Recorded earlier today back in the States, this brief exchange of very positive words alongside Charlotte Flair set up these two clashing for the Raw Women’s Championship at Money In The Bank. Rousey herself acknowledged that she’s only had one match, which should stop fans turning on her Reigns-style for now. Looks like UK fans will have to wait until November in Manchester to see Ronda in person.
Money In The Bank Qualifier
Bobby Roode vs. No Way Jose vs. Baron Corbin
No Way Jose was really over in London. Roode was popular too. As for Corbin, he seemed to be an object of derision more than anything; one of the many memorable chants from this show was “He’s going bald, he’s going bald, he’s going, Corbin’s going bald.” Match quality was fine if a bit forgettable. Roode won by drilling Jose with the Glorious DDT, and he had an exchange of glances with an angry Baron afterwards.
Breezango vs. The B-Team
This followed an amusing backstage segment where Kurt Angle refused to give Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel a Raw Tag Team Championship opportunity because they’d never won a match as a team ever, and compromised on giving the “B-Team” (for “Best Team”) a match against another combo. A comedy match was enhanced by fans chanting the A-Team theme (this was a suggested name by Axel). And following some double-team offence, the B-Team finally won a match! The celebrations of the former Miztourage were suitably over-the-top.
Sasha Banks, Ember Moon & Natalya vs. The Riott Squad
Though largely unmemorable, save for some fine moves by Moon and a bit of Ma-Trish action from Liv Morgan, this was a decent match nonetheless, even if it does little to change the statuses of anybody involved. Natalya claimed the submission win by making Morgan tap out to the Sharpshooter. How Natalya’s on-screen alliance with Ronda Rousey is impacted by Rousey facing Nia Jax remains to be seen.
Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt vs. The Revival
Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson must be wishing that they had been traded to SmackDown, because their Raw careers are still going nowhere, and they lost again here in a match that few will have remembered when the evening had ended. A double Sister Abigail sealed the victory for the Raw Tag Team Championships; as ever, their crowd interactions were the highlight of the match.
Though the women’s MITB qualifier was promoted as being next, Sami Zayn came out for a promo, following prolonged fan singing of his entrance theme. Zayn notes that Bobby Lashley was out to get him, and he would rebound by having Bobby’s sisters (who Lashley discussed at length last week) appear on Raw next week to reveal the truth about Bobby. Oh my!
Money In The Bank Qualifier
Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James
Despite some occasional “Hey Bayley!” chants, the fans weren’t into this bout as much as WWE would have liked. The effort was definitely there, but it felt like something was missing (possibly the Raw Women’s Champion?). Alexa and Mickie’s friendship was tested here with the two scrapping multiple times. Bliss won with a DDT to Bayley. Afterwards, she pointed up to the MITB briefcase, as Roode had earlier. Briefcase-pointing is about to replace sign-pointing as the “in-thing”.
Backstage, Roman Reigns speared Jinder through a makeshift wall. You read that right. The unexpected visual meant that Mahal was now definitely out of the main event. But who would replace him?
Braun Strowman & Finn Bálor vs. Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre
As you might have guessed, Strowman was mega-popular here. McIntyre also got a good pop in his first televised UK appearance since his WWE return. I was thinking that the Dolph/Drew combo were being unnecessarily sacrificed here, but instead, the heels won: after Braun mowed through Drew at ringside (knocking his own Greatest Royal Rumble trophy over in the process), Ziggler dragged Bálor off the top for the win.
Money In The Bank Qualifier
Bobby Lashley vs. Elias vs. ?
With Jinder destroyed, Angle needed a replacement for him and apparently had one lined up … only for Stephanie to allegedly intervene and provide the opportunity for none other than Kevin Owens. It helps Kevin to have friends in high places, though it makes Angle look weak that Stephanie can still overrule him at any moment.
The match itself was most notable for the fans being completely behind Elias (KO had interrupted Elias’ introduction, thus depriving us of a song), and they were hoping for an Elias tune as much, if not more, than an Elias win. Lashley was booed, which is a shame. He had the match won with a Dominator on Elias, only for Sami Zayn to drag him out of the ring and nail him with a Helluva Kick at ringside. Meanwhile, KO hit Elias with a frog splash to claim Raw’s final spot in the men’s MITB match.
I definitely enjoyed this show as a spectator live, though I feel like it will be less enjoyable on television. The show had its moments, but the Rousey-Jax announcement and Seth-Owens are the main reasons to check it out. The remaining content is entertaining, but not quite must-see.