Well, here we are, my first Raw since WrestleMania, because I’ve been gallivanting around being terribly ill, and then cuddling pretty UK wrestlers at Fight Club: Pro on Friday! So we’re off to a good start, with a recap of Braun Strowman murdering Roman Reigns last week, overturning an ambulance and everything to make sure the Big Dog was well and truly buried. But it’s okay, because, due to beating The Undertaker at WrestleMania, Roman has his gimmick now, and therefore can’t die. It’s perfect.
Braun Strowman is here in Columbus, Ohio, along with Booker T, Corey Graves, and Michael Cole. Normally I don’t like Booker T on commentary, but he’s better than Otunga will be in a few weeks. How is Otunga doing a movie? Guy has the charisma of a whelk. Braun says that Roman’s not here, and he’s going to smash the whole locker room up… and here’s Kurt Angle! God, I love hearing his fucking music, and ‘you suck’ yelled with such love. Apparently in two weeks, Braun and Roman are going to have a match at Payback, but Braun asks what about tonight, and Angle tells him he’s done enough damage, and he should be suspended. Braun says he wants more competition, and Angle says ‘or what?’. Good call. What on earth could a massive man do, loose backstage?
Sethie’s here! Hello, my little emo power ranger baby! He’s going to be on commentary for the next match.
MATCH: Samoa Joe vs. Chris Jericho
We get a recap of KO and Joe taking down Jericho, because the friendship is officially over, and Seth looks bored on commentary, and also like he could do with a lie down and maybe a cuddle. Jericho comes out in his sparkly scarf, and I do like that sparkly scarf. We’re reminded that if Jericho wins at Payback, he’ll be going to SD.
- Joe straight on to the waist, powering Jericho into the corner, headbutts and kicks, and we go to commercial, because apparently this match isn’t important. Well, fair enough. Also, they keep cutting back to commentary.
- Kicks to the chest from Joe, followed by an elbow drop, cover for two. How much sweat does Joe drip? And now we’re talking about Seth and Triple H’s match, and Seth’s knee injury. Kicks from Jericho to the face. Axe handle off the top rope from Jericho, but Joe reverses a cross-body into a powerslam, pin for two.
- Joe goes for an elbow drop, Jericho moves, Lionsault, but lands awkwardly, pinning Joe for two. Kicks from Jericho to Joe’s head, getting Joe in the corner, but he chokeslams him into the floor. Joe to the second rope, senton attempt, Jericho moves out of the way and tries for Walls of Jericho – and gets it locked in.
- Joe manages to roll himself over, but Jericho stays with it, flipping Jericho into the ropes and going for the Coquina Clutch. Jericho uses the ropes to get them to the floor, Joe’s shoulders down, but he rolls it over and keeps the submission locked in. Jericho taps, Joe takes the win.
Seth shakes his head on commentary, and then Joe calls him out, Seth taking his headphones off and standing up. Joe says he remembers when he arrived, hearing Seth’s knee pop, and his cries for mercy. Joe says that was just business, Triple H’s say so, but now, it’s personal.
Goldust and R-Truth are around, and Braun slams into them and smacks them about a bit, although if he’s looking for competition, I don’t know why he went for them first. Then some guys in suits appear and somehow Braun doesn’t touch them because they’re protected by the magic of tailoring.
MATCH: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
So, because Braun took out Goldust and R-Truth, and they were meant to be their opponents, they want some nerds from the locker room. So here they are.
- Cass and Anderson first, blows from Cass to Anderson’s back, blows to the gut, just sending Anderson all over the ring. Enzo in, Cass throws him into Anderson, and locks on an armbar. Cass back in, big blows to Anderson, followed by a shoulder tackle, then a huge lariat that takes Anderson over the top rope and to the outside.
- Air Enzo, thrown into Anderson on the outside, and they climb back in, Anderson and Gallows on the floor on the outside. And we go to commercial.
- Back, Gallows has taken control, Enzo in The Club’s corner. Anderson tags in, Enzo flat in the middle of the ring, cover for two. Gallows back in, twisting Enzo around on the mat. I wish I found either of these tag teams interesting or tolerable. I wish we had anyone on commentary who actually called moves. Knee drop from Anderson on Enzo’s arm, at some point Anderson tagged in, apparently.
- Enzo leaps for a tag, Anderson drags him back and he doesn’t make it. He goes for a kick, but gets his leg wrapped up on the top rope, Anderson going for the hot tag, he misses, but makes it on the second go. Cass in, side slam to Anderson. Empire Elbow from Cass, followed by a big boot. Enzo tagged in, going for Bada Boom Shaka Laka, but Gallows gets in the way. Cass takes Gallows over the top rope and out, Enzo goes to drop on Anderson, but he catches him, throwing him onto the top turnbuckle, and pinning him – for the win.
Too sweets on the ramp. Sorry boys, I got to see The Elite do it in the flesh on Friday. You’re not as impressive.
The Miz and Maryse are here! I’ve missed them, and the fact that Maryse is announced first makes me very happy. Hello, beautiful power couple. Miz looks good in a red suit, and Maryse always looks incredible. But you know what would make it even better? The Intercontinental Championship on Maryse’s waist. She’s always been the best IC champ. But who’s this here to interrupt them? It’s our favourite scruffy puppy, Dean Ambrose!
Dean thinks Miz’s suit and shoes are a joke, and there’s a lot of stuff about how Dean’s scruffy and is lazy, and how Miz is a preening peacock, and I’m already a bit like I could do with a lie down and maybe a beer. Maryse wants to say that a title doesn’t make you a champion, and then she calls Dean ‘boy’. He hands her his mic, and then starts taking things out of his pockets and stripping off his jacket. He folds it as Miz tells him that he’s made the title into a joke. He throws his jacket to Maryse, and punches Miz. Maryse catches him in the back with the mic, and as he stalks towards her, Miz goes for her, and Maryse and Miz scuttle back up the ramp.
That’s… I sort of expected more, if I’m honest? There didn’t feel like there was any bark there, but that might be the sheer amount of opiates I’m on right now that’s screwing me up.
Backstage, Braun is dragging Kalisto along the floor like he’s going to take him back to his cave and mate with him, and then he throws him in a dumpster. Big Show turns up to tell Braun to pick on someone his own size!
MATCH: TJ Perkins vs. Jack Gallagher
Cruiserweight time! TJ Perkins, eh, but Jack Gallager makes me a happy happy girl, because there’s nothing better than a gentleman, frankly. Neville is making a “special appearance” at ringside with a mic, and then out comes Austin Aries, so he can sit with Neville and be annoying. He only gets a folding chair, though, where Neville has a proper chair.
- TJP is distracted as Aries peels a banana and Neville takes his chair further away. Collar-and-elbow tie early, shoulder takedown from Gallagher, headlock, and a snapmare with the headlock still locked in. Gallagher isn’t letting up, but finally, TJP locks in a wrist submission, countering it. Jack twists out of the wristlock and gets his knee on TJP’s wrist, before bridging into a cover, pinning for one.
- Back to their feet, Jack holding TJP’s wrist, but TJP wraps it into a headscissors, flipping out. Monkey flip from Gallagher TJP throwing William III onto the floor. Gallagher in the corner, headstand, kicks TJP away, but TJP gets hold of him and throws him over the ropes, where Gallagher hits the floor outside hard.
- Stream has an issue, and we’re back into the action with a springboard forearm from Perkins, Gallagher with a headbutt that sends TJP rolling out of the ring. He picks up William III and holds him aloft, opening him up and climbing to the top rope. Off he leaps and onto TJP, putting William aside. He rolls TJP back in, but he rolls out again, Gallagher having to go and get him. He shoves Gallagher hard into Aries at ringside, and he comes up, stripping his jacket off, and Neville comes up behind him, knocking his legs from under him.
- While Gallagher is distracted by those two, TJP hits the Detonation Kick – and that’s all she wrote, Gallagher eating the pin.
Backstage, Apollo Crews and Akira Tozawa are having a chat, and then Titus O’Neil comes in, and we hear that Crews is going to become a father for the first time soon. Aww. Titus says Crews needs to link up with the Titus Brand. Crews rolls his eyes a bit at the way Titus talks, and takes his card.
Matt and Jeff Hardy are here! They say everything is louder and brighter, and they’ve got the most athletic competitors to face. They’re excited to be back, and ready to be there. Sheamus and Cesaro are here, and welcome back the Hardy Boys. Sheamus says he remembers being a little boy and watching them at WrestleMania, and they’re ready to take their titles back. Cesaro just wants them all to be friends. This is so surreal that I’m actually having to google if the amount of opiates I’ve taken might be causing hallucinations.
MATCH: Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks vs. Mickie James vs. Alexa Bliss – Raw Women’s Championship #1 Contender’s Match
Sasha out first, being bloody incredible as per usual. Alexa’s here in her hometown with zero time for anyone, and she actually looks a little bit nervous as she heads into the ring. Sasha’s meant to be looking at her with scorn, but there’s a little smile there, too. Mickie James out next, Alexa watching her with a hint of a smile and a hint of nerves. And then it’s Nia, our favourite female destroyer.
- There’s a small pause as we get started, like no one knows what we’re doing, and as Alexa tries to head out, Sasha throws her into Nia. Alexa out of the ring, Nia gets Mickie in the corner, then gets Sasha down too. Alexa and Nia square up, Nia getting Alexa by the hair. Slap from Alexa.
- Alexa goes for the other side of the ring, Nia pulling her hair again, Mickie kicking them both out., Mickie and Sasha circle, swapping shoulder tackles. Mickie with a dropkick, Sasha spinning her to the floor, and then a hurricanrana and a neckbreaker on Sasha, pin for two.
- Nia drags Mickie clear of the ring so she can’t get the win, and Sasha comes over the top rope onto the two of them. We come back to Alexa pinning Mickie for two, holding her by the throat and bending her backwards. Nia in, breaking it up, Sasha off the top rope and Nia making a pile of women. She covers Mickie for two.
- Bayley looks on from backstage. Nia ragdolls Mickie around, until she almost seems to collapse, but she struggles to her feet and fights free. Nia just slings her into the corner, then slams into her. Alexa goes for Nia’s knees, tossing Alexa to the floor. Punches from Sasha to Nia, but Nia comes in with back elbows, then a bear hug.
- Sasha goes for a guillotine, but Nia turns it into a vertical suplex, cover for two. Mickie James comes in with a flurry of jabs, but Nia lifts her by the throat and just shakes her around – but Mickie gets an armbar on the mat. Nia manages to twist around, and lifts Mickie high, throwing her into Sasha.
- Nia goes for Mickie, but hits the post, Alexa straight in, she takes Sasha out, then pins Mickie, but Mickie fights out. Sasha in to get Mickie out of the way. Alexa goes for a kick, Sasha catches it and kicks her instead. She goes for double knees on Alexa, Mickie gets in the way but Sasha gets her away, double knees to Alexa, pin from Sasha, but Nia drags her out of the ring.
- Mickie knocks Nia onto the apron, but Alexa takes Mickie out. Alexa smashes into Sasha, but Sasha with a Banks Statement. Mickie breaks it up, and the two trade punches. Mickie grandstands for a moment, goes to the top rope, but Sasha’s up, knocking her down. Nia comes back in, Sasha on her shoulders, knocking Mickie off the ropes. Samoan Drop from Nia, Alexa in, quick as a whip, knocking Nia down, and pinning Sasha – for the win!
Fuck, that was fast and intense, and there were some brilliant comedy moments from Alexa where she stepped away, kept her distance, and backed off. On the ramp, we see her say “I told you. My division.”
Charly Caruso is backstage with Big Show, and he says that Braun needs to understand what it’s like to be intimidated. He’s so big, you literally can’t fit him and Charly in the same shot. I know that feel, Charly. I know that feel.
Curt Hawkins is here to talk about how he helped Big Show into the main event, somehow. And also about the X-Men. I don’t know what he’s doing, but he just makes me think of a smaller Ryback combined with a less charismatic Miz. But it’s okay, because Finn Balor is here and I’d watch this man do almost anything, so…. Yeah.
MATCH: Curt Hawkins vs. Finn Balor
I love that Finn’s pose is basically ‘I’m going to shove my dick into the camera’ and the camera just pans along at crotch level like it knows us.
- Finn with a chop to Hawkins, slingblade early, and then a beautiful dropkick. Finn to the top rope, Coup de Grace – and that’s all she wrote.
I mean, with Finn coming back off a concussion, I don’t mind him having a short squash, at least we got to see him and we got to see him do all the beautiful things that make us love him so much. So I don’t mind too much.
Jericho is talking to the bloke who isn’t Tom Phillips (Mike Rome), and Jericho says there’s nothing wrong with losing to Samoa Joe because he’s a strong competitor. He says he was too focused on Kevin Owens. He says he doesn’t care where he goes, because the friends of Jericho will follow him. Jericho calls him Tom. Elias Samson shows up, walking through the promo, and he makes the list.
Bray Wyatt promo! Hello Mr Spooky! He wants to know what I’m afraid of. Mostly that I’ve taken too many opiates and the last thing I’m ever going to have done is recap Monday Night Raw, actually, lambkin. He says Randy Orton is scared of something. Is it black people? There’s some more stuff about being scared, but I got distracted by a little black cat mewing at me. She’s a good omen, that one.
Alicia Fox and Dana are talking, when Emma appears to say that Dana was laughing at Alicia’s misfortune on 205 Live. Fox stalks off, and Emma says to Dana that she wanted to stand on her own two feet? They’ll see how good her balance is. Yes. I love this.
MATCH: Cesaro (w/ Sheamus) vs. Jeff Hardy (w/ Matt Hardy)
Cesaro and Sheamus are in their kilts, stripping off for us to be pretty and lovely. Jeff throws his shirt into the crowd and people are literally fighting over it. Fucking wow.
- Cesaro starts heading towards Jeff, who rises a clap from the crowd before they lock up, wristlock from Jeff, and kip up from Cesaro to get out. Cesaro walks into a kick from Jeff, then is thrown to the outside, kicked from there. He leaps off the apron and onto Cesaro, throwing him back into the ring for a cover for one.
- Axe handle from Jeff, Jeff goes for a leapfrog, Cesaro catches him and flings him to the floor, cover for two. Jeff limps to the barricades, and comes in with an uppercut against the barricades, standing high. He takes Jeff into the ring, and pins him for two.
- Jeff counters a suplex attempt with a headbutt, goes to the top rope, and Cesaro rolls out of the ring to avoid a swanton, as we go to commercials. I miss us coming back, but Cesaro takes a huge clothesline. Cesaro dodges a move into the corner, and comes in with an uppercut, getting a pin for two and a half!
- More uppercuts from Cesaro, Jeff coming off the ropes with a lariat, then an inverted atomic drop, dropkick to the face and a pin for two. Uppercut from Jeff, uppercut from Cesaro, and a pin for two on Jeff.
- Cesaro goes for the swing, but Jeff kicks him away, Cesaro coming off the ropes with a corkscrew springboard uppercut, and a pin for two on Jeff.
- Cesaro goes for the swing again, but Jeff with a kick to Cesaro’s face, and he goes up to the top rope, Cesaro catching him with an uppercut. Cesaro goes high, trying for a superplex, but Jeff fights him away, dropping him on the ropes. Jeff off the top rope, pin for two on Cesaro.
- Jeff with a kick, and trying to use the ropes to help him, Cesaro dodging. He goes for a Neutralizer, Jeff reversing it and hitting Twist of Fate. As Cesaro lies there, Jeff comes in with a Swanton Bomb, and Cesaro eats the pin for the loss.
Sheamus and Matt Hardy square up for a second, and then Sheamus offers his hand, Cesaro also standing to offer a hand. They shake, Cesaro and Jeff sharing a hug before Cesaro staggers back into the ropes in pain. Jeff and Sheamus shake hands. That mutual respect is a brilliant way to keep both teams face, and just how good that is. It feels amazing.
Heath Slater and Rhyno interrupt an update on Goldust, R-Truth and Kalisto’s status after their attack from Braun Strowman.
MATCH: Braun Strowman vs. Big Show
My stream panics for a moment, like it’s got a weight limit on it, and honestly, before we even get a bell ringing, these two are after each other, Big Show throwing Strowman into the steps, into the barricades, just showing Strowman how it feels.
- The bell rings, and Strowman comes in with a blow to the gut, Big Show throwing Strowman over the rope like this is a fucking rumble. Baseball slide from Big Show, sliding to the outside, and he throws Strowman into the steps again. Big Show back into the ring, goes to drag Strowman back in, but Strowman comes in with a forearm. Dropkick from Strowman, pin for two, kick out from Big Show.
- Strowman rolling through an armbar, then a kip up, arm drag from Strowman, and it’s weird but brilliant. Another arm drag from Strowman, Big Show staying on the mat this time. Both men going for a powerslam, and blocking each other, lifting each other off their feet. Big Show manages to get Strowman up and slam him onto the mat.
- Big Show goes for the chokeslam, but Strowman blocks it, suplexing Big Show. He drops Big Show a couple of times, then kicks to the ribs, keeping Big Show down as the crowd cheers for Strowman. The crowd start to chant for Big Show, duelling chants, but Show is struggling to get up off the mat, a fallen giant. He eventually gets to his feet, and Strowman goes for a slam, but Big Show blocks, coming to the corner with a splash.
- Big Show gets Strowman up high, goes for a superplex, but doesn’t get it. Strowman comes off the ropes into a chokeslam, a pin for two – but Strowman gets a shoulder up! Big Show goes for the KO Punch, Strowman gets out of the way and hits a powerslam, pinning Show – but it’s only for two!
- Strowman goes to the top rope, Big Show knocking him down. Show with a headbutt, Strowman tottering on the tope rope. Show comes up as well, to the top rope, but Strowman knocks him onto the ropes. Show hits the mat, but Strowman’s still crumpled on the turnbuckles. He leaps off the second rope – straight into the KO Punch! Strowman pinned for one, two – and he KICKS OUT.
- Big Show manages to get up, goes up to the top rope, but Strowman’s faster, meeting him there for a superplex. They land, and the WHOLE RING collapses. All of it. The medics are trying to move the two huge superstars, and Strowman slowly gets to his feet, staggering upright. Big Show is perfectly still on his back in the mat, and Braun roars, stalking to the top of the ramp as Big Show lies still in the collapsed ring.
If you’d told me, a year ago, that I’d be watching a match with two big guys, and I’d give a shit about it, I’d have laughed in your face, but my fucking GODS that was really, really intense – and that’s how we fade out on Raw – Jess will see you tomorrow for SmackDown!