WWE Monday Night RAW - July 1, 2019

by Samoa Rowe

WWE Raw

Some of you may be wondering why I, SamoaRowe, am using my valuable time and mental energy on a seemingly random edition of Raw. The answer is simple: this is the night that Paul Heyman takes control of the brand backstage as the new Executive Director. My understanding is that Heyman is calling the shots now, while still reporting directly to Vince McMahon. Does this mean that some aspects of the show improve while the overall product remains unwatchable? Will this be the start of a new golden age? Or will there be no noticable changes whatsoever and Heyman is removed from the position by the fall when he inevitable butts heads with Vince and Stephanie? Do Hollywoo celebrities know things? Let's find out!

From the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Our hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young.

Falls Count Anywhere: Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley

The fact that Raw is opening with a match and not a 20 minute talking segment is a pretty good sign of Heyman's changes backstage. A video package reveals that last week these guys had a tug-of-war contest that devolved into Lashley using the rope as a weapon to blind Strowman. Bell rings and they have a quick start with Lashley leapfrogging a charging Strowman to hit a spear. Stroman shoulder tackles Lashley at ringside and delivers a back senton for 2. Lashley bounces up and hits a spear into the timekeeper's area. They brawl into the stands, where Lashley goes nuts with chair shots and Strowman responds with a long sprint into a shoulder tackle. The fight moves to the stage where Lashley hits a vertical suplex for 2. Strowman answers by tackling Lashley through the video wall (Graves utters "holy sh!t on the air") as the lights go off and a scary long sequence of explosions go off. The crowd LOVES THIS. Fire extinguishers are rushed in and the cameras find Lashley and Strowman both down and out. A hard camera films the medical team loading the guys on stretches and it appears the match is a no contest after about six minutes of action. You can't do stuff like this every week, but this was a fresh and unexpected way to open the show and at the very least shake Raw of it's opening segment rut, **½.
No Contest After a commercial, several minutes are spent recapping the carnage and we see Lashley and Strowman get loaded into ambulances while the commentators use their funeral voices. Cole really hams it up with a speech about the importance of safety. I guess they really want us to think this was an accident.

Viking Raiders (Hanson and Rowe) vs. The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods)

I don't know the War Raider's new monikers and I don't feel compelled to learn them, so for now they are still Hanson and Rowe as far as I'm concerned. If that makes me seem unprofessional, then… well...good. New Day are here on Raw because of the "Wild Card" rule that basically says that the brand split is as good as over because they need Smackdown guys to pad Raw. Now we just have to sit patiently through 2-3 years of pretending the brands are still separate before they start unifying titles. Anyhoo, Big E gets a hot start, splashing Rowe on the ring frame while Woods plays the trumpet. Rowe through Big E into a Hanson leg lariat. War Raiders double team Big E, who saves himself with a desperation belly to belly suplex. Samoa Joe runs in and attacks Xavier Woods to spark the DQ at 2:39! This felt like Attitude Era booking, and I'm kind of okay with it!
Winners via DQ: The New Day

WWE Champion Kofi Kingston runs in for the save, and officials manage to break it up. I wonder if Heyman will resist the urge to have this continuing as a six man tag after the break.

The New Day (WWE Champion Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E) vs. Samoa Joe and Viking Raiders (Hanson and Rowe)

I guess even Paul Heyman couldn't resist the allure of the six man tag. Woods is quickly on the receiving end of a Samoa Joe beatdown. Kofi makes the hot tag to a good ovation and runs wild through the Viking Raiders, hitting the Boom Drop on Rowe. The match then breaks down with Big E saving Kofi from a double team, but Hanson wipes Woods out with a dive. Kofi hits Trouble in Paradise on Hanson, but gets blindsided by Joe's Coquina Clutch. This was just a heat sequence followed by about a minute of chaos.
Winners: Samoa Joe and Viking Raiders

Video recap of Drake Maverick losing the 24/7 Championship when R-Truth attacked him during his wedding ceremony. This is admittedly hilarious and makes me feel bad for (most of) the bad things I've said about the 24/7 title. Back on Raw, Drake is leading his blindfolded wife through the back, and she's rightfully pissed about spending their honeymoon at Raw and accuses him of being obsessed with the 24/7 title. Mrs. Maverick gives him an ultimatum: her or the title. Drake amusingly has to think about it before insisting he chooses her. R-Truth shows up to flaunt the title and sing about love. This is the sort of stupid wrestling comedy I can get into.

Anderson and Gallow are hanging out when they're paid a visit by AJ Styles, their old Bullet Club buddy. AJ rags on them for losing to the Viking Raiders and the Club responds by suggesting that it took him too long to beat Ricochet. Anderson bets his "hot Asian wife" that AJ can't beat Ricochet faster, and it sounds like we've got a 50/50 club rematch to look forward to later tonight. Gallows hopes Anderson is serious about the "hot Asian wife." This was cute.

Drake Maverick and his wife are trying to enjoy the show from the front row, and R-Truth is literally laying on the rail in front of them to flaunt the 24/7 title.

No Way Jose vs. Cesaro

Jose parties his way to the ring, only to get ambushed by Cesaro at ringside. The Neutralizer is enough to put Jose down for good. Good to see Cesaro possibly getting head up.

NXT Tag Team Champions Street Profits, Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford, debut in a backstage interview. They introduce themselves and dance with Charly Caruso. That's about it.

The Miz is interviewed backstage. He also has solemn words about the Strowman/Lashley incident. More tragically, he has to face Elias in a 2/3 Falls match, which is code for they have time to kill on Raw but Vince has declared that there be no wrestling during commercials breaks. Miz promises to send Elias back to being an out of work musician, and he hopes to cross paths with Undertaker tonight.

Shane McMahon and D’ come to the ring to talk, and this is the part of the show when it starts to hit me just how freaking long Raw is. Shane and Drew talk about putting Roman Reigns and Undertaker in the ground at Extreme Rules. Drew claims he is not scared of the Undertaker. He must have watched the last Saudi Arabia show. Undertaker's thunder and lightning special effects kick in and Undertaker takes his sweet time waltzing in to a big ovation. Shane and Drew are afraid enough to scoot out of the ring. Undertaker clarifies that Roman Reigns never asked for his help and he's simply here to collect their souls. Sounds reasonable to me. Taker seems to lose his train of thought and basically threatens to kill Shane and Drew. Family show, right, folks?

Baron Corbin is watching Lacey Evans put on her makeup and seems to just notice there's a camera pointed at him, so he starts jawing off about Extreme Rules. Evans seems way more comfortable playing her character as she questions Seth Rollins' faith in Becky Lynch.

Lacey Evans (with Baron Corbin) vs. Natalya

Natalya shoves Lacey through the ropes, but Evans knocks her down on the floor. Seth and Becky are seen backstage watching the match on the impossibly staged monitor. Evans continues to roll with her modified bronco buster. Natalya escapes a chinlock but Evans hits a neckbreaker. Natalya strings together a comeback but gets tripped up by Corbin. The distraction allows Evans to hit a strong closed fist for the win at 3:30. Not a fan of Natalya being used as enhancement talent, but this nicely portrays Evans and Corbin as an underhanded unit.
Winner: Lacey Evans

U.S. Champion Ricochet is interviewed backstage. He was honored to face AJ Styles, even if AJ was not giving 100% and would be happy to face him again. The Club interrupt, saying that it was a mistake that AJ did not beat him in 3 minutes. The "real AJ Styles" would have him beat. Ricochet politely disagrees, stating that given another opportunity, he thinks he would win. I guess he's been studying Raw booking patterns. The Club laugh him off.

The Club approach AJ Styles and make up a bunch of lies about things Ricochet did not say about him. I guess AJ doesn't watch Raw. Anderson wants to know what happened to the AJ Styles they knew in Japan. This seems to strike a nerve in AJ, who storms up to Ricochet and accuses him of running his mouth. AJ challenges him to a match and they trade slaps.

2/3 Falls Match?
The Miz vs. Elias

Miz is all fired up and immediately hits the Skull Crushing FInale to win the first fall at 0:35. Is EVERY 2/3 falls match on WWE TV going to play out this way? Cole promises the commercial will happen after the second fall, which means they have about 2 minutes by my estimation. Elias regains his bearing and hits Drift Away for the second fall at 1:56. I hate this booking so much. Cue the commercial. Back from break, Elias lifts Miz into an Electric Chair powerbomb for 2. CUE THE CHINLOCK! Miz powers out and they trade shots. Spinning neckbreaker by Elias gets 2. Miz dodges a running knee on the apron and Elias takes a nasty spill into the ring post. Miz capitalizes with the Figure Four for the submission win at 5:43. This was the epitome of everything that annoys me about WWE's TV match booking: two guys going through 50/50 motions in a redo from a Smackdown match, and was 2 out of 3 falls for the sole purpose of filling two segments on a 3 hour show that they have no idea how to fill. DUD.
Winner: The Miz

Charly Caruso interviews Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins backstage. Seth wishes Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley speedy recoveries (oh, stop it, already). Charly wonders if Seth is impulsive, and they ham it up with exaggerated scoffing over the notion. Becky advises that Seth not lose her title at Extreme Rules, because she sleeps with it. Seth confirms that, because it's "a bit of a problem." They continue to play the cutesy act when they are randomly interrupted by Maria Kanellis, who feels slighted because she pushed an 8 pound baby out of her uterus, and that Seth is only Universal Champion because her husband has never faced him. I know I'm a bit out of the loop, but have Maria and Mike EVER been on Raw together? Maria wants match between her and her "bitch" against Seth and "his bitch." OOOH, HEYMAN MUST HAVE WRITTEN THAT! Anyhoo, the match is on.

Universal Champion Seth Rollins and Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch vs. Mike and Maria Kanellis

I guess if WWE is going to re-sign Mike and Maria to random multi-year contracts, they might as well use them on TV. That that, AEW! Mike starts against Seth, who wrestles circles around him, earning him a mouthful of criticism from his nagging wife. Seth hits a buckle bomb and superkick and drags Mike into a tag to Maria, who wants no part of Becky. Maria grabs a mic and tells Mike off for not being able to mop the floor with Seth when he can't even mop the floor at home. Becky is about to attack when Maria pleas that she's pregnant. Becky gently pats Maria on the stomach and leaves her alone while Mike gushes over the news. Mike: "How are you pregnant?" Maria: "I don't know, you aren't man enough to get me pregnant!" Heyman definitely wrote that. Lynch puts Mike in the Dis-armer and wins at 3:31. I enjoyed this way more than I should have.
Winners: Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins

Maria berates Mike for the loss and being a continual disappointment. She says next time, she'll ask Becky to impregnate her, since she's a "man" and all.

Charly Caruso interviews Paul Heyman backstage, who teases the possibility that Brock Lesnar could cash in his Money in the Bank contract tonight. The Street Profits interrupt and are overly amused that Lesnar might be in the building. Heyman is annoyed and heads off, but Caruso finds the Profits to be absolutely charming as they sing and banter.

Alexa Bliss hosts A Moment of Bliss, with her guest, Nikki Cross. I've said it before and I'll say it again, THIS SHOW IS SO GODDAMN LONG I CAN'T STAND IT. She solemnly sends her thoughts to Strowman and Lashley. ENOUGH WITH THE FAKE TRAGEDY CRAP! Bliss congratulates Cross for being Smackdown Women's Champion Bayley on Smackdown last week. Does this mean they have a rematch tonight that Bayley wins? Maybe not, as they're interrupted by Carmella, who questions why Alexa is getting a title match and not Nikki. Bliss dismisses Carmella as nothing more than R-Truth's sidekick, so Carmella challenges her to a match so she can give her a side kick. Hahahaha, that's punny. I am so done with this show.

Carmella vs. Alexas Bliss (with Nikki Cross)

Carmella rolls Bliss up and wins at 0:05. Well, they were due for a commercial, so of course that's how it would play out. Maybe they'll decide during the break that this should be 2/3 falls and continue the match.
Winner: Carmella

Nikki Cross (with Alexa Bliss) vs. Carmella

Oh, so instead of a 2/3 falls match, we just get a new opponent for Carmella instead. How else would they fill a 3 hour show, right? Carmella is too much for Cross early on, but she gets caught in the ring apron for a bunch of freebie shots. Carmella recovers with a chin breaker and celebrates with a moonwalk. Cross misses a top rope move but connects with a swinging neckbreaker for the win at 2:39. Carmella got 50/50ed. I guess it's a neat storyline involving Cross continually outshining Bliss, but not getting the same opportunities.
Winner: Nikki Cross

Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss are approached by the blond interview lady and asked about Nikki getting the next title shot at Bayley instead of Alexa. "NO COMMENT!"

R-Truth is hiding from the gang of losers looking to take the 24/7 title when Drake Maverick just can't control himself anymore and clocks Truth with his luggage to regain the title. Drake grabs his wife by the hand they skedaddle to celebrate.

United States Championship:
Ricochet © vs. AJ Styles

This is NOT 2/3 falls, so if they aren't going to wrestle during the commercial, I guess they either have to restart it somehow or turn it into a six man tag. Which way will it go? I can't wait to find out! Bell rings and Ricochet looks for a quick roll-up, but AJ tries to slow it down. Ricochet hits a springboard clothesline, but AJ blocks the standing SSP for a nearfall. Ricochet comes back with a shotgun drop-kick and scores a dive to the floor. Ricochet seems to injure his ribs in the highspot. AJ answers with the Phenomenal Forearm for the apparent pinfall at 2:23! Uh oh, Ricochet had a leg under the ropes, so the match will be restarted AFTER A COMMERCIAL! Gawd, at this point I'm begging WWE to just have matches continue through commercials again. Back from break, and you'll never believe it, but the match has restarted, but now with Anderson and Gallows in AJ's corner. Ricochet builds some serious momentum, hitting an enziguri and suplex for 2. Ricochet dumps AJ over the ropes but misses the plancha, allowing AJ to hit a Phenomenal Forearm to the floor. AJ follows with a Brainbuster for 2. AJ's twirling powerbomb also gets 2. Ricochet rolls into a pinning predicament and pins AJ at 5:40. Man, this felt so disjointed since they had to plan everything around the commercial break. Very disappointing, but they'll probably get an awesome PPV match out of this.
Winner and still United States Champion: Ricochet

AJ and Ricochet shake hands, while Anderson and Gallows bemoan that this is not the "real AJ Styles." AJ is like "oh yeah" and clocks Ricochet, to seemingly turn heel for real this time. Anderson and Gallows hit Ricochet with the Magic Killer for good measure. I'm actually very intrigued to see AJ officially reunited with the Club as they serve Ricochet up for a top rope Styles Clash. AJ and the Club do the "too sweet" signal and AJ goes nuts punching the life out of Ricochet.

Final Thoughts: This show is very long and full of annoying and somewhat hilarious booking habits. The "no wrestling during commercials" edict is inadvertently entertaining, as they find a different excuse to restart matches several times during the show, rather than just booking short, TV-friendly length matches. Thumbs Down for being long, boring, and funny for the wrong reasons.

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