Monday Night Raw kicked off as hot as ever with Samoa Joe coming face to face with the WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar in an epic showdown. Unfortunately, from there the show only fell apart. Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt set their sights on each other while the Main Event saw the Raw Tag Team Championship defended in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match.
WWE began the show with their biggest punch, a showdown between the Returning Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe; getting the highlight of their show out of the way before Game 5 of the NBA Finals. This segment was absolute perfection. Paul Heyman was as good as ever on the microphone before Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar engaged in a brawl so ferocious it took half the locker room to break up. While it lacked the intensity of similar brawls between Lesnar & Cena/Undertaker, this still did everything to inject energy, intensity and anticipation into the feud; fans cannot wait to see these two monsters get their hands on each other. Samoa Joe too the fight straight to Lesnar showing that he is in no way intimidated, and that he is just as much a beast as the Universal Champion. Here’s hoping WWE pull a swerve here and have Samoa Joe win at Great Balls of Fire, an extended program between the two will be incredible and Joe can carry Raw each and every week as the top champion. Much better than the alternative speculated one-off match with Lesnar retaining before taking on Strowman and eventually dropping the belt to Reigns at WM34
Elias Samson defeated Dean Ambrose after the Miz caused a distraction. This was uneventful and underwhelming. Standard heel interference costing the babyface the match is nowhere near enough to spark some life into this feud.
Goldust and R-Truth continued with their promos and while its great seeing vintage Goldust back, in a three-hour show it’s about time to see these two hit the ring and advance their story further.
Noam Dar came to the ring facetiming his girlfriend Alicia Fox which while not something we see every week and reasonably fresh, seems incredibly cringeworthy and forced Cedric Alexander hit his finish on a distracted Dar almost instantly for the win. Hopefully Cedric Alexander can move onwards and upwards well past this rivalry now, hopefully towards a future Cruiserweight Championship feud with Neville.
Bray Wyatt cut another of his cryptic promo’s which he does so well, bringing out Seth Rollins as Wyatt cost Rollins the victory last week on Raw. The two went back and forth and produced what was a good promo segment, however everything Wyatt says now just seems to be on repeat, and he never wins. Bray Wyatt absolutely must beat Seth Rollins in this feud, Rollins can certainly handle the losses while out of the title scene and Wyatt desperately needs some convincing, clean and strong victories in an attempt to salvage his sinking ship.
Apollo Crews defeated Kalisto…again. This Titus Brand story has been bad from the start and isn’t getting any better. However the look on Akira Tozawa’s face was quite funny when dragged into proceedings by Titus. We all know Apollo Crews is great in the ring, but please just get him as far away from Titus as possible. Both Titus and at this point Kalisto have very little to offer. Tozawa should be red hot after winning his feud with Brian Kendrick and gearing up for a championship feud with Neville instead of stuck in this rut; especially at a time when the Cruiserweight Division needs some serious babyface challengers for the dominant heel champion; and including Cruiserweights in ‘Main Roster Raw’ storylines is absolutely a positive and should happen more, but this is not the way to build Tozawa.
Corey Graves had a sit-down interview with Bayley where she said that she doesn’t regret not getting extreme at Extreme Rules and that she isn’t here to hurt anyone, and will not change who she is for anything or anyone. Bayley ended the interview with a forced, awkward hug. While all that is jolly nice, could they make Bayley look any worse if they possibly tried.
Alexa Bliss addressed the WWE Universe only to be confronted with several women staking their claim to be number one contender. The interactions between Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax are genuinely hilarious, remarkably so given the fact they are both absolute heels; even more so when one factors in their size difference and that the two are real life best friends. Still Nia Jax played the role of furious that her title match last week wasn’t treated with the respect it deserved by Alexa, and that was great to see. A six-women tag match ensued where Alexa Bliss abandoned her partners again, before Sasha Banks made Emma tap out with the bank statement. Understandable that they did not want to put the loss on the champion Bliss or the dominant heel Nia Jax, but did Emma really have to tap out immediately after returning from another injury? Surely there’s a better way. Nia Jax unfortunately did not seem the unstoppable monster she has in previous weeks, and was essentially just another piece in the puzzle. The interactions between Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss were most noteworthy however and it seems this will be our next feud for the Raw Women’s Championship; and it should be fantastic.
If you weren’t watching Game 5 by now, you should have been. Heath Slater & Rhyno took on the Miz and his tag team partner…Mizbear (because Miz couldn’t find anyone else who would want to tag with him, which does make sense). Slater & Rhyno beat down the Miz for the first portion of the match, essentially two on one which makes no sense at all with Miz being the despised heel. Eventually the Miz attacked the bear, revealing nobody of note, until the bear re-entered the ring hitting Slater with Dirty Deeds. Obvious it was now Ambrose, Maryse tried warning Miz until he accidently knocked her off the apron. Ambrose hit Miz with Dirty Deeds and allowed Slater & Rhyno to get the win. Absolute nonsense, but I guess its arguably fun. It is very interesting that Maryse once again walked out on the Miz. Maryse plays a huge part of the Miz’s character and is a significant reason for his rise to prominence since the Raw after WM32. Breaking the two apart now makes absolutely no sense what so ever, and is a horrible idea.
Neville absolutely decimated Rich Swann before taking the microphone and reiterating his dominance over the Cruiserweight Division. Neville denounced Akira Tozawa as a worthy challenger seemingly indicating Tozawa will be Neville’s next challenger. This is interesting given Tozawa’s affiliation with the awful Titus Brand, but the two should put together a good program for Great Balls of Fire. Perhaps WWE is saving Cedric Alexander for Summerslam.
Once again Big Cass was attacked backstage. This time determined to compete with Enzo, he took to the ring clearly injured. This lead to Enzo taking the bulk of the work before eventually being put down by Anderson and Gallows (incredibly disappointing how far they have slipped, and how they have been treated in their time in WWE, even as tag team champions). After the match, Big Show hit the ring to prevent a further post-match attack by the Club. The fact that Big Cass got in so much offence against Karl Anderson was ridiculous despite being so clearly injured, almost making the victory to the Club redundant. Big Cass stared down Big Show with distain as he held Enzo’s arm raised. Surely all of this, with all the potential for so many different options, a Cass heel turn, the Revival, surely this isn’t all for another Big Show Heel Turn.
The Tag Team Championship match took its rightful place as the main event as Cesaro & Sheamus escaped with their championships after winning their 2-out-of-3 falls match against The Hardy Boys. After the standard heels going up 1-0 only for the babyfaces to fight back to 1-1, the match ended in a double countout being the final fall, meaning Cesaro & Sheamus retain their titles. This continues the story of Matt & Jess coming so close but just falling short. While a good fundamentally sound tag team match, this feud seems a little dull and left the show ending rather anti-climatically. A rather disappointing end to a show that started off so hot and only fell apart from there.
Interesting to note that there was no Roman Reigns on this show, however we learnt that next week he will announce his plans for Summerslam. Finn Balor also wasn’t on the show however they did show a basic but nice little promo package for him.