Written By: Mark Armstrong
(Read the original version on Pro Wrestling Journal at http://prowrestlingjournal.com/index.php/2018/05/22/wwe-raw-review-analysis-21-05-2018/.)
With the WWE crews back from the European tour, normal business resumed as the slow road to Money In The Bank continued with this episode of Raw.
Online beforehand, we were told that Kurt Angle had a huge announcement to make. We never found out what it was, because shortly after he came to the ring, he was interrupted by the returning Stephanie McMahon. After saying that the Angle/Rousey/HHH/Steph business was now “water under the bridge”, Steph said that she, not Kurt, would oversee the Nia Jax/Ronda Rousey contract signing for Money In The Bank later in the show.
At that point, Stephanie herself was interrupted by Roman Reigns, who once again brought up Brock Lesnar’s name following Steph’s belief that Angle needed to try and tame Reigns. In the end, Kevin Owens also came out to thank Reigns for assaulting Jinder Mahal last week, thus allowing KO to replace Mahal and qualify for the men’s MITB match. Owens said that Stephanie recognised he was best for business, but made the mistake of resting his arm on McMahon’s shoulder. Possibly because of this, Steph made a Roman-Kevin match to start immediately.
Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
As is his mantra, Owens looked to avoid his opponent early on, only truly immersing himself into the action when an opening to seize control opened up, which eventually came as he blocked an attempted Drive-By by moving out of the way and drilling Reigns with a kick. After being worn down in a headlock for an extended period, Reigns fought back with his usual big offensive attacks, in particular the Superman Punch.
The match returned to ringside, where Jinder Mahal suddenly attacked Reigns for the disqualification. Back in the ring, Jinder and KO began pummelling Reigns, only to result in Seth Rollins making the save, which led to …
Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal & Kevin Owens
A tag team match, of course! Actually, the situation didn’t change that much, as Reigns was largely isolated by both Mahal and Owens, who were desperate to prevent Reigns tagging out to the much fresher Rollins. Of course, Seth eventually did tag in and unleashed his big moves, such as the flying clothesline off the ropes, a suicide dive and a blockbuster. As Reigns fought with Jinder at ringside, Owens dodged one Stomp only to immediately take another for the three-count.
Post-match, Mahal pounded both Seth and Roman with repeated chairshots (Jinder’s first strike to Rollins looked really weak). It was soon announced that Reigns vs. Mahal was officially on for Money In The Bank. One thing to note: all of this Reigns-related activity took up almost the entire first hour of the show, which was unusual.
Sami Zayn Introduces Bobby Lashley’s “Sisters”
As Zayn promised last week, Sami was here to introduce Lashley’s sisters, who unsurprisingly weren’t really his siblings. They were all male, and one even had a moustache! Sami tried to speak to each one to gather dirt on Lashley, with crowd interest dwindling by the minute. Bobby finally ended it by coming out to seem unaffected by Zayn’s attempts at humour, but after Sami threatened him with a Helluva Kick, Bobby went for him, only to be attacked by the, erm, guests, who Lashley destroyed in short order. This segment wasn’t very good at all, so let’s move on.
Alexa Bliss vs. Ember Moon
Prior to the match, Alexa cut a promo in what appeared to be the Gorilla Position, which was unusual. As for the bout itself, Bliss and Moon seemed to work well together, which suggests that the two would have a fine feud if they were paired together for a proper storyline. It seemed like Alexa might take this one, to try and recover from a series of losses ahead of Money In The Bank, but instead Moon picked up the victory with the Eclipse. At this point, I’m predicting Ember to be a surprise winner of the women’s MITB bout.
Backstage in Kurt Angle’s office, Stephanie McMahon rejected a request by Finn Bálor and Braun Strowman for a rematch with Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler and instead announced they would face each other in “friendly competition”. Braun reacted by crushing an apple. Bálor looked worried, and rightfully so.
No Way Jose vs. Baron Corbin
Though Jose only arrived on the main roster six weeks ago, and fan reactions are rather positive for him, it was impossible to envision him getting a second upset victory over Corbin. Sure enough, despite some nice spots by Jose, the relative newcomer fell to Baron’s End Of Days. Corey Graves: “Go away Jose!” No idea where Baron goes from here; a shot at Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins, perhaps?
Backstage, Kurt Angle (who was restricted to a hallway given that Steph was in his office) and Chad Gable were interrupted by Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, which culminated in a Gable-Ziggler bout being made for later on.
The B-Team vs. Breezango
This was a rematch from last week and was largely the same content as their previous Raw clash too. That being said, if was a bit shorter and saw Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas dominate the offence in the match. A double-team back suplex/neckbreaker combo earned B-Team a second straight win. A prolonged post-match celebration, which ended with both men riding Jonathan Coachman’s announcer’s chair to ringside, was more entertaining than the match itself.
Nia Jax vs. Ronda Rousey Contract Signing
As noted earlier, Stephanie McMahon presided over this segment. Of course she did. Initially, it seemed that Stephanie played it straight here, having been a heel earlier in the show. Once the signing began, though, McMahon tried to needle both ladies with veiled insults supposedly on behalf of the other competitor, impressing neither Jax nor Rousey. (That Stephanie implied that Nia was lazy was odd.) Amidst both signing the contract, Jax told Rousey that she would make her name at her expense and beat her at Money In The Bank. Ronda responded by saying she would take Nia’s title and her arm at MITB.
Chad Gable vs. Dolph Ziggler
This one started in progress off a commercial break; no entrances for anyone involved. The two had good chemistry, taking advantage of their shared amateur wrestling experiences with plenty of fine back-and-forth exchanges. Ziggler won with a superkick following a headbutt; Gable’s mini-push is already over. Post-match, Drew hit Chad with the Claymore, as Raw’s newest tag team continued to build momentum for a presumed future title shot.
Money In The Bank Qualifying Match
Natalya vs. Dana Brooke vs. Liv Morgan vs. Sarah Logan
Considering Natalya’s recent on-screen alliance with Ronda Rousey, and especially given how little we’ve seen of Dana in the ring over the last 12 months, this could only possibly have had one result. Corey: “Did you know that Dana Brooke is undefeated within 72 hours of a new Duchess being named?” As expected, the two Riott Squad representatives worked together over Natalya and Brooke, but unlike the two women’s qualifiers last week, the on-screen friends didn’t end up clashing at any point. In the end, a discus clothesline led to the Sharpshooter on Logan which – shock – earned Natalya the win.
Elias vs. Bobby Roode
Pre-match, Elias tried (in song, of course) to get fans in Albany to say that they loved him, which wasn’t very successful. More fruitful was his assault on Bobby Roode as The Glorious One made his entrance, allowing him to dominate much of their latest televised clash. Roode fought back with some hard strikes and a spinebuster, but a possibly tweaked knee allowed Elias to capitalise, and a Drift Away earned him the win over Roode. As Elias was heading backstage, Braun Strowman came out for his match and bulldozed through Elias, which was a funny sight.
Before the main event began, two matches were announced for next week’s Raw: Rollins vs. Mahal for the Intercontinental Championship, and a seven-woman Gauntlet for the final Raw spot in the women’s MITB bout.
Braun Strowman vs. Finn Bálor
Not surprisingly, Braun used his sheer size and power to dominate Bálor early on, in between Finn’s attempts to chop down the proverbial monster-sized tree. Strowman’s control over his short-lived partner was such that he demanded that Finn fight back, and at one point he shouted “Look at his smile, isn’t it pretty?”
Bálor finally did begin to fight back with kicks and attempted chops, which Braun understandably no-sold. Every attempted Finn comeback was cut off by the Monster Among Men, until a ringside Slingblade and running dropkick gave him hope, the latter sending Strowman into the crowd. A stomp off the apron and a Coup De Grace off the barricade were Finn’s attempts to seal a countout win, but Braun made it in and rampaged through Bálor. But another running dropkick by Finn gave him a renewed chance, only for two powerslams to finally give Braun the win in a surprisingly exciting main event. Afterwards, Strowman stood Finn up, seemingly out of respect.
Overall, it was a decent show. The Sami-Lashley segment was definitely low point, with Braun-Bálor being the highlight. Last week’s taping in London was more entertaining, though some parts from this show (namely Reigns/Rollins vs. Owens/Mahal and Strowman/Bálor) are worth checking out.