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WWE RAWtrospective 5/15/17: The Buzzards Circle

WWE: Monday Night RAW was LIVE from The Prudential Center in Newark, NJ on 5/15/17!

Highlights of last week’s vicious attack on “The Monster Among Men” Braun Strowman at the hands of Roman Reigns welcomes us to the broadcast tonight. Strowman was further injured at Roman’s hands, leading to the explanation of his shelf time, which in actuality is to allow him ample time to heal from recent elbow surgery. We wish Strowman well and we look forward to his return to action and progression to a future world title opportunity.

“You Suck” chants bring out the celebrate RAW GM, Kurt Angle, who recaps what we saw to begin the show. Strowman has a shattered elbow and he’s had reconstructive surgery and he may miss six months of action. That’s a crushing blow, I’d heard two to three. We certainly wish him a quick and full recovery, but we move on. Kurt asks who’s next to challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title. At Extreme Rules, we’ll have a fatal five way match and the winner will face Brock for the title. The five competitors are Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns. Wow, that’s going to be one heck of a match. Kurt says it’s gonna be extreme, it’s true, it’s damn true.

Here comes “The Big Dog” Roman Reigns and he’s out to a mixed reaction in front of passionate Newark fans. Roman tells Kurt we don’t need a fatal five way match because he’s the number one contender. He reminds us that he bested the Undertaker, he put Strowman in the ambulance and he’s the only guy who can beat Brock for the title. Here comes Finn Balor! The founder of the Bullet Club has issue with Roman’s comments and he’s out to address “The Big Dog”. He never lost the Universal title and he was the first. If Roman wants a piece of the Beast, the line starts behind him. Roman says he’s got a lot of heart, but he doesn’t have the killer instinct to best Brock. Balor reminds Roman that he beat him during his first appearance on Raw. Here comes Joey Headrocker. Samoa Joe is out and to be frank, he’d be a hell of a hand to compete against Lesnar in my opinion. Joe says it isn’t about any clubs, or hearts or yards. It’s about action and results. He talks about locking Rollins in the Coquina Clutch and as a result, his body goes limp. He says he’ll win the match at Extreme Rules. He prepares to continue, but the jump cut brings us “The Eater Of Worlds”. Bray says that as the beast approaches, he can feel the three men in the ring trembling. He says they will cower and fall and they will run. Bray, on the other hand will have to wait to finish because here comes “The Architect” Seth Rollins. He plugs the pay per view and he says Jersey didn’t come to here idle chatter, they came to see men fight. Joe and Rollins mix it up on the outside and Bray attacks Balor before Roman clears the ring. Joe retreats as Rollins gets attacked by Bray. Balor clears the ring with a double dropkick and he ducks a superman punch. Roman eats a sling blade and then Balor dumps Rollins as well. “The Real Rock N Rolla” stands alone as the pay per view is hyped very well to start the broadcast.

We see the “Broken” Hardyz headed to the ring and after the break, one half of the tag team champions, Jeff Hardy, will compete against Sheamus. Sounds good to me!

Arguments backstage lead to Kurt Angle booking Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt and Finn Balor against Roman Reigns for later tonight. Holy cow. They must not have been pleased with the rating last week because we’ve got this and the IC Title match with Ambrose defending against Miz as well. We head to the ring for singles action!

Jeff Hardy defeats Sheamus via pinfall with a Swanton Bomb. This was a solid outing from both man yet again. Outside interference from both Matt and Cesaro muddled the contest, leading the viewer to question the outcome. Sheamus missed an attempted Brogue Kick on Matt on the apron, but a second kick landed, but the distraction was enough to allow Jeff to hit the Twist of Fate and capitalize after that with a Swanton. Ball game. Good intro match to start the show.

Alicia Fox defeats Sasha Banks via pinfall with the Axe Kick. Yes, I typed that, and you read it correctly. I can’t say I’m too upset with this as Raw really needs talent to step up, especially with Emma going down again with injury. Alicia had Noam Dar on the outside, I don’t know if they are trying to get them back together as they had separated on 205 Live the last time I’d checked. Alicia and Sasha worked a fine match for the short time given. Alicia getting the win is huge because she’s a trusted veteran and it doesn’t hurt to have her presence on the show as they develop new stars and fresh programs. After the break, the action continues with the IC Title match.

The Miz defeats Dean Ambrose via DQ allowing Ambrose to retain the IC Title. Maryse looked awesome. She had a black outfit that looked like something a valet for the Legion Of Doom would have worn. The Miz and Ambrose came to work tonight! The Jersey crowd is getting their money’s worth for sure. They worked a very enjoyable match and we saw some cool spots including Ambrose heading to the top and Miz placing Maryse in front of him, but after giving her fair warning, Ambrose took flight. Ambrose kicked out of a Skull-Crushing Finale. The end came when Maryse distracted the ref and Miz tried for a low blow, but Ambrose caught the hand. He then delivered a rising kick to the lower anatomy and the ref called for the bell. This was smart. This will allow them to book another title match for Extreme Rules and we’ll get another very good contest between these tenured athletes. Kudos to the Raw booking team here for the ending, which allows the casual fan and the mark to want more from this story.

Finn Balor is interviewed backstage about his match with Roman Reigns tonight and they promote his special, which will air immediately following Raw. Alexa Bliss, the women’s champion, makes her way to the ring, and she’ll speak to Newark after the break.

Bliss mocks Newark, trying to find out what the city nickname is. She calls it “The Sweat Glands” of America. She calls the fans the poster children of failure. She says the fans will experience the opposite of that tonight, Alexa puts over the fact that she won both the Smackdown and Raw women’s titles. The crowd is hostile after she trashed the city. She says she is smarter and more dominant then everyone else. She gets the “what” chant and tells the fans to say “what” if you’re a failure. Sadly, the lemmings jump from the bridge and that’s that. She puts over besting three of Raw’s top stars in short order and then she says she is better than Miss USA. Bayley interrupts her, much to the displeasure of Little Miss Bliss. Bayley hugs a young fan dressed up in Bayley attire as she makes her way into the ring. Bayley puts over Alexa’s accomplishments and then runs her down. Alexa talks about Extreme Rules and tells Bayley she’s too nice to take it to the next level. Bayley has heard enough and she strikes the champ, but Alexa drops her and then she goes underneath the ring and she brings out a kendo stick! Alexa wallops Bayley and you can hear that throughout the entire state of New Jersey! A huge “ECW” chant breaks out as Alexa does her best Sandman to Dreamer work as they head to the break. That was awesome! If we get a hardcore match between these two?! Yeah, I’m all for that. After the break, we’ll have Cruiserweight tag team action as Austin Aries teams up with “Gentleman” Jack Gallagher to take on TJP and the champ himself, Neville.

Kurt Angle is talking to Sami Zayn on the phone, congratulating him on his recent Smackdown work. The Miz is frantic after what happened earlier and it leads to Kurt booking he and Ambrose for a rematch at Extreme Rules and it sounds like it’ll be a No DQ match. He and Maryse then have a fun exchange where she yells at him in French and he tries to counter, referencing being a gold medalist. “The Drifter” Elias Samson rolls into the segment. Miz and Maryse leave and Kurt asks if he can help him. Samson leaves. Time for Cruiserweight action.

Neville and TJP defeat Austin Aries and Jack Gallagher via pinfall after a Detonation Kick by TJP on Gallagher. We learn that Neville will defend the title against Aries once again at Extreme Rules as the four men make their entrances, and quite frankly, this needs to lead to the title change. Neville has been awesome, but give Aries the strap and let Neville work back to it. He and TJP can interact and backstab each other on the way to the title. It can make for some great television. Great match, but those with short attention spans bring us a “CM Punk” chant. I appreciate that, because it always makes me laugh. Many of them probably have no idea who Punk is, and they are probably lifelong Golden State Warrior fans, not even knowing that they play in Oakland. It’s the “cute” thing to do at the expense of four great workers trying to entertain them. I always say, chant what you want, you bought a ticket, but you’re going to get called out for doing so on occasion, so expect that as well. After sifting through the nonsense from the crowd, we find a distraction on the outside by Neville. Aries nails him with the discus fivearm and it leads to Gallagher turning away from TJP, who crushes him in the corner and then he puts him away with the Detonation Kick.

Bayley is getting her shoulder and back iced backstage after the Kendo stick shot earlier. Kurt says that even though she got attacked, at Extreme Rules, it’ll be a straight up wrestling match. Bayley says she wants to make it an extreme match after everything she’s put her through. And holy hell, the fans have conjured the demon that is circa-2000 WCW Russo booking. Alexa and Bayley will compete in a “Kendo Stick On A Pole” match at Extreme Rules. This is what “boring” chants get you folks. I wonder if Judy Bagwell will be the guest referee? I have no words for this. Leave it off the pole and under the ring and I’ll be a-okay.

The Golden Truth have a backstage segment after their loss last week and we head back to the ring as Finn Balor makes his entrance. He and Roman Reigns will do business next!

Roman Reigns defeats Finn Balor via pinfall with a spear. These two beat the holy hell out of each other! I always expect Roman to work strong, work hard and work fast, but Finn held his own and the pacing in this contest was tremendous. This might be a future feud to keep an eye on when one of these men turn heel because there is a lot here. Very pleased to have enjoyed this match as I don’t recall their first contest being this good as Roman was coming off the suspension and getting his feet wet again. Finn is really doing his best to make waves, putting on stellar matches and making it known that he wants to be a player, especially coming off an injury like the one he suffered last year. One of the coolest spots was Roman looking for a powerbomb, but he sold the rib injury from his war with Strowman and Balor countered with a leaping double stomp. That looked awesome. The crowd was MUCH better for this one, you could tell it was holding their interest as they supported the star they wanted to get behind, whether it be Reigns or Balor. Balor took Roman down and went up top, Roman hit the ropes and Balor spilled from the top before eating the spear. Roman got the victory and in this case, it was the right call. As the cliche goes, Roman has to “look strong” heading into Extreme Rules, especially when they take it away from him, because it will happen. Which of the four men will do it? Who knows. This was a great match.

The lights cut out after Roman’s victory and Bray Wyatt cuts another great promo about a lurking beast, Roman’s yard and Bray taking the spear of destiny, where he will drive it through the heart of the beast. He questions whether or not Rollins has what it takes to look evil right in the eyes or whether he’ll surrender to his gutless instincts and run? Cut to commercial. Rollins responds after the break, saying that after the year he’s had, he has what it takes. He said the man that slays the beast will be the man who slayed the king.

The Golden Truth are headed to the ring for tag team action. They do their intro and as R-Truth tells the crowd to react, Goldust attacks him from behind! Goldust turns heel and puts a savage beating on his good brother before dumping him out of the ring, the crowd both pleased and surprised by his actions. R-Truth is a great fan favorite and Goldust was a masterful heel. Hopefully this will lead to a solid singles push for the treasured veteran and R-Truth has the opportunity to get the crowd behind him as a fan favorite. You could see this coming from a mile away after they lost the turmoil match last week, but it was still done well.

Big Cass defeats Titus O’Neil via pinfall with a big boot. Enzo came out in his home state and he entertains fans as he prepares for singles action against Crews with Cass at his side. Titus comes out and does his own version of Enzo’s introduction and it’s awesome. This has literally become Lavar and Lonzo Ball in a WWE arena and I love it. Titus is doing all the talking and it’s leading to some great heel heat for both he and Crews. Crews isn’t quite the heel yet, but he’s there and he doesn’t even know it yet. The dialogue continues and we find out that it’s not Crews and Enzo, but in fact, it’s Titus and Cass instead. Cass puts over how nice he looks and says after the match, he won’t like how he looks. Needless to say, the match is what it is, short and sweet and it keeps the hometown fans happy as the local wins. After the match, Enzo takes a selfie and gets dropped like a bad habit by Crews, who isn’t amused with his braggadocio. We prep for the main event which will take place after the break.

Seth Rollins defeats Bray Wyatt via DQ after interference from Samoa Joe. A heck of a main event. These two, similar to Roman and Balor, have a very good chemistry and if these two matches are a sign of things to come with the fatal five way match, then we look to be in good shape. They worked strong and worked hard, hitting their signature spot and the end came after Bray hit a Uranage and went for Sister Abigail and Rollins escaped and countered. The action spilled to the outside and the DQ came as Rollins took Bray out with a high spot and Joe charged in and destroyed Rollins. The ref immediately called for the bell. You could tell that the commentary team was enjoying the match because of several comments that both Cole and Booker T. made. Bray and Joe engaged in a stare down, leading us all to wonder if Bray was upset that Joe caused the DQ. They stomped Rollins and Bray turned and nailed Joe with Sister Abigail for causing him to lose the match. Rollins gets the same treatment and the show ends with Wyatt standing tall.

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