The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 05/25/20 Review (11 Year Raw Deal Anniversary)


Welcome to the WWE Raw Deal review right here on Rajah. This is a big episode for me because as you can see in the title above it’s the 11 year anniversary of my WWE Raw Deal reviews.  Some of what you see below is I wrote last year for the 10 year anniversary because A) I’m tired, B) I like what I wrote last year and C) I doubt you would remember last year considering how awful this year has been. I did tweak it a bit, but not that much.
It was eleven years ago today when I decided to start writing weekly reviews of WWE Monday Night Raw for the May 25, 2009 episode of Raw, which I re-posted last year.  It was a terrible show that I rated it 3 out of 10 (Festus was in action!), but it was memorable for Ken Kennedy getting fired after it was over and some bad content all night long.
It’s been over 20 years since I started writing about wrestling on the internet. I was learning about pro wrestling while trying to figure out what I wanted to do in my life. Two university degrees, several jobs in different fields and 20 years later, I’m still writing about wrestling although now I can say it’s a career. Life is weird like that. Throughout the 2000s I stopped and started a lot due to a busy life in my 20s. There were some years where I wrote way more while other years I barely did anything. I didn’t commit to a regular weekly review of WWE content until May 2009 with the Raw Deal, so that’s why I’ll always remember May 25 as the anniversary. Life was at a point where I wasn’t sure what was next career-wise. I had a job that I hated and I knew it was affecting me in a negative way, so I had to figure out something else. Since I had a pretty good audience on Rajah, plus I knew Facebook and Twitter were really starting to get popular, I remembered how happy writing made me. I felt that I could make this work as long as I worked hard at it. That's why I think of 2009 as my reboot of sorts because it's when I turned a hobby into what has become a career.

By late 2009, I started a blog on Wordpress, then a company bought me out and agreed to pay me to write content on thejohnreport.net. When that ended a few years later (and I lost everything on that site), I started tjrwrestling.com through other contacts I made. That went well for a few years, but then in 2015, I was screwed over when the payments stopped and I lost about five years of content. Let’s just say my trust in people online is very low due to losing all of my content for about five years. Everything is saved on my laptop, but the majority of it is not online. Since February 2015, we have been at the permanent home of TJRWrestling.net with no plans to change any time soon. We’re doing well, but there’s no doubt that the health crisis in the world has led to fewer fans having an interest in wrestling due to no crowds at shows.
Thank you to you, the reader, for supporting me. You made the choice to click on my column or review the first time and you made the choice to come back. Whether it’s been 20 years, 10 years, a few years, months or even a week, I truly appreciate your support. I try to have fun when I write about wrestling because if I was miserable then I would hate myself for doing it. We all want WWE (or any wrestling company) to have great shows and I think with AEW as well, there are a lot of options for wrestling fans. For everybody that complains to me about Raw booking, believe me, it frustrates me too. I’ll always try to keep it positive. Will I be critical? Sure, because I care and WWE is like a favorite sports team that I want to see do well. I don’t want to bitch and moan, but if I have to, then it's because I care. Pro wrestling has been there with me through the toughest moments of my life. When I can't sleep, I write. When I feel sad, I write about things that will help put a smile on my face and usually that is pro wrestling. Writing has helped me get through difficult times because it’s a way to release what I’m feeling. It’s therapeutic, at least for me.
I’m not sure how many Raw Deal reviews I have written, but I'm proud that I am going strong eleven years into it. There are 52 weeks in a year and I only missed about three over four reviews, so it’s getting to close to 600 Raw Deal reviews in that time. Plus, I have written a lot of wrestling content that is not called the Raw Deal, so it’s been a lot. An average Raw Deal since 2012 runs about 7,000 words and it was about 5,000 words in the three years before that. That’s a lot of writing! I'll give myself a Horowitz pat on the back for that.

I think I’m done now. I just want you guys to know how grateful I am. Without you guys and the overwhelming support especially in the last decade, I doubt I would have kept going. If you want to send along a comment, my Twitter is @johnreport and you can email me at mrjohncanton@gmail.com as another option.
I edited out some of what I wrote last year, but a lot of it is above. It felt right to me. I think of 2020 as possibly the most difficult year of our lives due to the health crisis the world is dealing with and I'm glad I am still able to write about pro wrestling so that at least something normal continues to be part of my life. I'll try to make some jokes, try to inform and always try to entertain you. Thanks again for supporting me. Here's one of my favorite banners ever.

From the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1409 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please visit TJRWrestling.net daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage, insightful columns from our team along with reviews about wrestling’s past and present. Let’s roll.
There was a video package about Memorial Day because that’s what day it is in the United States. They also showed it on Smackdown on Friday. It’s really done. It’s nice of WWE honor the brave men and women that have fought for our freedom. We salute you and we thank you.
The Raw intro video aired.
The show began at the WWE Performance Center with some wrestlers placed in the crowd to make some noise. That’s a new thing in WWE, but we have seen it in other companies. The wrestlers at ringside were developmental wrestlers that have all been tested and are practicing social distancing. They were behind plexiglass in the crowd.
Analysis: I'm glad that WWE has finally done this. They should have done it for the last two months.

Kevin Owens Show
Kevin Owens started his talk show welcoming us and welcoming the developmental wrestlers as well. Some of them are familiar while others are not that familiar. Owens said that he’s got a match against Angel Garza later, but right now he has a guest…the Raw Women’s Champion Asuka.
Asuka made her entrance with the Raw Women’s Title around her waist. Asuka chanted “Becky” repeatedly for the former champion that is now off because she’s pregnant. (Somebody on Twitter complained to me about Asuka chanting for Becky. Yes, really. Calm down, people.) Owens said that Becky is “The Mom” now and the t-shirt is available on WWEShop now. Owens congratulated Asuka on becoming the Women’s Champion.
A video aired from last week when Asuka knocked Nia Jax out of the ring when Jax tried to trash talk her. Jax beat up Kairi Sane in a cheap attack backstage. Asuka also kicked Jax in the head to knock her down.
Charlotte Flair showed up in her ring gear with the NXT Women’s Title around her waist because she is in a number one contender’s match tonight.
Charlotte said she needs to get this off her chest (Andrade marked out for the chest reference) and said that Raw Women’s Championship should have been handed to her. Charlotte pointed out that she beat Asuka at WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans and on Smackdown while saying that Asuka has never beaten her.
Natalya was the next woman to interrupt as Owens cleared the ring of his “KO Show” signs since Natalya ruined the set last week. Natalya said she’s not there to cause any trouble. Natalya apologized to Owens and the KO Show crew for the temper tantrum she threw last week. Flair laughed at her saying not even sucking up to Owens will help Natalya win this match. Flair said that Natalya was irrelevant.

Nia Jax was the third woman to interrupt. Jax wondered if they could stop and said that she would be the next Raw Women’s Champion while saying that Flair and Natalya know what’s going to happen to them later tonight. Owens left the ring as the four women were in the ring. Jax told Asuka she should remember what Jax did to Kairi because it will be what she does Asuka at Backlash. Asuka hit a spinning back fist on Jax, who bailed while Natalya and Flair went brawling out to the floor. Natalya was all alone in the ring to end this as her music played.
Analysis: It was a decent way to promote the women’s triple threat match for later. It sure seems like the focus is on Asuka and Nia Jax, so the other two women don’t seem to matter in this story, but at least Jax is going to have to earn it later. Flair got in some good lines as a confident heel while Natalya is at a bit of a crossroads where she might be on the brink of a heel turn. Owens was pretty funny when needed too.
Apollo Crews was interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton, who is usually on Smackdown, but here she is on Raw. Crews said he will defeat Andrade to become the new United States Champion. That was it. Simple.
Andrade made his entrance with the US Championship with the lovely Zelina Vega by his side. She is wearing some giant heels again. The Raw announce team of Tom Phillips, Samoa Joe and Byron Saxton were positioned at ringside this week.
A commercial aired plugging Backlash on June 14 featuring Edge vs. Randy Orton and the “Greatest Wrestling Match Ever” tagline that WWE is using. I don’t think it’s a smart tagline to use, but that’s what they are doing.

(Commercial)
Apollo Crews made his entrance for the title match. Crews had some tape on his left leg to sell the knee injury storyline. The wrestlers stood in the ring as ring announcer Mike Rome did the introductions. Good job by the wrestlers surrounding the ring making some noise.
United States Championship: Andrade (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Apollo Crews
Crews sent Andrade to the turnbuckle to start as Angel Garza was shown watching on a TV backstage. Crews with a running back elbow followed by a delayed suplex into a slam. Andrade came back with a spinning back elbow for two. Crews got out of a DDT attempt with a back body drop. Crews pressed Andrade over his head, then he ducked a clothesline attempt by Andrade and Crews kicked Andrade into Vega, who was on the apron and she bumped to the floor. They went to break two minutes into the match.
(Commercial)

It was a short commercial break as referees and a trainer checked on Vega at ringside. Andrade tripped up Crews on the apron and Andrade sent Crews into the barricade. Vega refused to leave the ringside area as Andrade got a two count. Andrade slapped on an armbar, Crews got out of it with two punches and a running clothesline. Crews sent Andrade into the corner with shoulder tackles and a running corner splash. Andrade with boots to the face, but then Crews came back with a rising kick to the head. Crews went up top, Andrade tripped him up and Andrade hit a double foot stomp off the top for a two count. Nice nearfall there. Kayla Braxton interviewed Garza, who said that a match is like making love to a beautiful woman with eye contact and the clashing of bodies and exhausted bliss. That was weird. Anyway, the match was still going on and Crews hit a move sending Andrade into the turnbuckle. Andrade sent Crews into the turnbuckle and then he hit the running double knee attack on Crews for a two count. Crews came back with an enziguri kick, a press slam, a standing moonsault and a standing Shooting Star Press for the pinfall win after about seven minutes.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW United States Champion: Apollo Crews
Analysis: **1/2 The match was fine, but it was shorter than I thought going into it. Crews winning clean with a standing SSP after a standing moonsault isn’t the finish I was expecting either although I do think it’s a nice combo move. I just think his spinning Powerbomb is a better finish. Going into the match I thought a title change was possible, so I have no problem with that. I just figured they would have had a match in the 12-15 minute range, so it was a bit disappointing that they weren’t given a chance to do more and make it a more meaningful title win. Nice job having a crowd there to pop for Crews as well.
That is the first title win of Apollo’s career. The crowd cheered for Crews holding the title and Samoa Joe put over Crews for the victory as well.
Post match, Apollo was interviewed in the ring by Charly Caruso. Crews said 11 years of dedication, sacrifice and discipline and now he can say he’s won his first title in WWE. Crews said he never gave up, he always believed in himself and he can stand in this ring and say that he’s the new United States Champion. Crews said it felt so good to say that.
Analysis: I'm happy for Apollo Crews. He's a likable guy, he's a hard worker and puts on good matches when given a chance. Andrade wasn't doing much as the US Champion anyway. I hope Crews has a meaningful feud for the title.

Andrade was shown in the backstage area and he was throwing a temper tantrum about losing the title.
There was a shot of Seth Rollins in a suit and he was holding a Rey Mysterio mask in his hands. Seth is up next.
This Wednesday on NXT, Matt Riddle faces Timothy Thatcher in a Cage Fight with Kurt Angle as the referee. Also, it’s Drake Maverick vs. Kushida vs. Jake Atlas for a spot in the Cruiserweight Title Tournament Finals. Go Drake.
(Commercial)

Let’s Hear from Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins was backstage for a promo saying that he was doing better than he’s ever done and that was all due to one man, Rey Mysterio. They showed highlights from two weeks ago on Raw when Rollins attacked the right eye of Rey Mysterio.
Rollins said that he was in a dark, dark place after Money in the Bank, but Rey presented himself to Seth in a time of need because Rey was sacrificed to a greater good. Seth said he couldn’t imagine the pain that Rey went through with his eye pushing against the steps, his blood vessels popping and he mentioned Rey’s son Dominick watching his father suffer. Rollins said he didn’t know what the future holds for Mysterio, but if that was his final act as a WWE superstar then it was a courageous one. Rollins said it allowed them to move forward into the future as Rollins introduced us to his newest disciple Austin Theory. Rollins said that Murphy and Theory understood what it was like to be under-utilized and underappreciated. Murphy said that in his career he faced obstacles, but then he needed guidance, a mentor and a leader and he needed the Monday Night Messiah to lead him into the future. Murphy thanked Seth. Theory said he thought he had friends on Raw, but when they abandoned him the Monday Night Messiah found him and Theory thanked Seth. Rollins said that later this evening they can show Humberto Carrillo and Aleister Black what happens when you get in the way of the Monday Night Messiah.
Analysis: A good promo from Rollins as usual. I enjoy his heel persona a lot and you can just tell how comfortable he has become in delivering these promos. It was nice hearing from Murphy and Theory as well. The group still needs a name, but I like the potential that they have as a trio. It’s too bad that Rezar of AOP is injured or else they would be an even stronger group with five guys, but I guess WWE wants to keep Akam sidelined too. It’s okay for now.

Charlotte Flair was interviewed backstage by Charly Caruso, who asked Flair what it would mean for her legacy if she became a double champion. Flair said that she raises the bar for every female in this division and no one else compares to her. Asuka walked in with her Raw Women’s Title telling Flair that red is not her color. Flair said nothing as Asuka left.
The IIconics made their entrance as the show led to break.
(Commercial)
Peyton Royce and Billie Kay were in the ring with microphones in hand. Royce apologized for losing last week, Kay apologized for getting mad and slapping her last week. They talked about growing up together, signing WWE contracts together and they won the Women’s Tag Team Titles together. Royce and Kay complained about the current champions, so that led to the interruption.

Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross entered with the Women’s Tag Team Titles. Bliss said that they have had every opportunity in the world, but honestly they blew it. Royce interrupted Cross when Nikki tried to talk. Kay told Cross to stand there and look grateful. Cross fired up saying she left Glasgow, Scotland with nothing in her pocket, but she’s there in WWE and she had nobody and she scratched and clawed her way for everything. Cross said that Bliss was actually there for her. Cross said that they’re the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions because Bliss helps Cross focus and Cross has taught Bliss too. The IIconics attacked with punches as the four women paired off in the ring. Royce hit a spin kick on Cross. Royce and Kay sent Bliss into the turnbuckle and slammed her down. The IIconics hit a double team slam on Cross. Royce and Kay held up the Women’s Tag Team Titles as they stood over the champions.
Analysis: I thought Nikki Cross did an awesome job in that promo because she brought the passion and intensity that she’s known for when she’s in a match. The IIconics getting the upper hand on the attack likely means they’ll get another title shot even though they lost last week.
There was a backstage scene with MVP looking at his phone while Lana walked up to him saying they need to talk and MVP said no we don’t. MVP left.
A commercial aired for Total Bellas. Poor Daniel Bryan.
Analysis: There were only about seven minutes of wrestling in the first hour of Raw this week. I would like to see more action.
(Commercial)

There was a graphic that said “In Memory of Shad Gaspard 1981-2020.” He was a great man that died a hero. Gone too soon. Rest in peace, big man.
VIP Lounge with Drew McIntyre as the Guest
Montel Vontavious Porter welcomed us to the VIP Lounge and welcomed the Performance Center trainees while saying the tab is on him. MVP introduced a man that he said would be a former WWE Champion and that's Drew McIntyre.
Drew McIntyre walked out in a dress shirt and slacks with the WWE Championship in his hand. The crowd gave Drew a nice ovation as respect for the champion. McIntyre defends the WWE Championship against Bobby Lashley at Backlash on June 14. McIntyre flipped over the couches and tossed other stuff out of the ring.
McIntyre asked MVP where is he? MVP asked who. MVP told Drew he didn’t have to worry about an ambush. MVP said that Lashley won’t put the full nelson on Drew tonight, next week or the week after because Lashley will save it for Backlash. MVP reminded Drew that he offered to guide him, he tried to be a friend to Drew and Drew gave him a Claymore Kick to the face. MVP said that after finding himself on his back on the business end of a Claymore Kick, he had two thoughts – that Drew was going to be WWE Champion and he knew when Drew loses the WWE Championship MVP was going to play a role in that outcome. MVP said it took Lashley 13 years to get a WWE Championship opportunity.

McIntyre said it took him 19 years to get his first WWE Championship opportunity. That was a bit silly to since Drew is 34 and it’s not like he was going to get a title shot as a teenager. Anyway, McIntyre reminded MVP he was in the main event of WrestleMania and he beat Brock Lesnar in under five minutes. McIntyre said he didn’t need anybody thinking for him, talking for him and he didn’t want somebody like MVP kissing his ass. McIntyre said Lashley said something that was true last week and that’s the only way he will win the title is prying it from his cold, dead hands. MVP said that can be arranged.
Bobby Lashley showed up in his tights as MVP announced him as the future WWE Champion. As that happened, McIntyre hit MVP with a Claymore Kick and Lashley pulled MVP out of the ring. MVP held Lashley’s leg to prevent him from going in the ring and Drew wanted Lashley to fight him. Lashley backed away with MVP.
Analysis: This was fine with MVP doing his usual great job in terms of getting his points across well in a promo. MVP is perfect in the role as a manager for Lashley, who isn’t known for being a strong promo guy. McIntyre is the confident babyface that is also able to make some jokes sometimes and I think it works for him. I’m fine with no physical contact between McIntyre and Lashley after Drew takes out MVP like that. Save it for another time.

Natalya was interviewed backstage by Charly Caruso. There was a phone call and Natalya answered the phone from “TJ” her husband TJ Wilson aka Tyson Kidd. Natalya said she apologized for her actions and said she can’t deal with this right now because she had a match tonight, so she hung up the phone. Caruso told Natalya she’s out of time now. Samoa Joe said that was unprofessional.
Analysis: I'm not sure what the angle is going to be, but they're obviously doing something with Natalya based on her actions of late. I assume it's a heel turn.
Kevin Owens entered for a match and before he got to the ring, Angel Garza hit a chop block to the back of the left leg. Garza ran into the ring because they have a match.
This week on Smackdown: Jeff Hardy vs. Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles vs. Elias in the Intercontinental Title Tournament semifinals. That should be fun.
(Commercial)

The match began after the break.
Kevin Owens vs. Angel Garza (w/Zelina Vega)
Garza went after KO’s leg with a dropkick and he wrenched the left knee. Garza stretched KO’s leg against the ropes followed by a kick to the knee. Garza put his foot on the back of the leg of Owens while stretching the leg until Owens got the ropes to break the hold. Owens came back with a DDT on Garza. Owens with a clothesline, then a back elbow and a senton splash. Owens charged, but then he sold the knee injury and Garza hit a superkick for two. Garza isn’t doing the spot where he took the pants off leading to the trunks because he’s just wearing the trunks in this match. They battled by the ropes, Owens with a headbutt and Owens hit a Senton Bomb onto the chest of Garza. That was a lot of weight crashing onto Garza. Owens went for a Popup Powerbomb move, Garza got out of it because KO sold the knee injury and Garza hit the Wing Clipper for the pinfall win after about three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Angel Garza
Analysis: ** A quick win for Garza is a surprising finish for a match like that. It was set up by the cheap attack to the back of the knee, so that gives Owens an out to say he lost because of the knee injury. Owens is a babyface, though, so he won’t make an excuse like that. It’s just something to keep the story going. I liked how they set up the finish with Owens being too hurt to hit the Popup Powerbomb and that led to Garza hitting his finish to win. That put over Garza in a big way.
After the match, Garza kicked the back of the left leg of Owens again. Garza celebrated the win with Vega while Owens was down selling the knee.

Analysis: That tells me this is going to become a feud that may lead to a PPV match. Garza has a bright future in WWE, so putting him against a bigger name like Owens is a nice spot for him. I’m intrigued by how they book this feud.
The Street Profits and Viking Raiders are up next in a golf matchup.
There was a video package for Hire Heroes USA that was narrated by The Undertaker. It’s rare to have him do something like that.
(Commercial)
There were highlights shown of The Street Profits and The Viking Raiders having competitions with Street Profits winning in basketball while Viking Raiders won at axe throwing.

Golf Competition: The Street Profits vs. The Viking Raiders
The Street Profits duo of Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins had elaborate outfits. Ivar had a turkey leg with him because he was hungry. There were two guys that worked at the golf course there. Ford and Dawkins hit decent shots. Erik threw a club close to the hole. Erik had trouble golfing, so he threw the ball near the hole. Ivar had trouble hitting the ball, so he destroyed the grass. A shot from Ford bounced in from a distance. It was edited of course. Ivar hit a random golfer, so the golf club attended kicked them out.
The video continued saying “later that day” they went mini-golfing. Ford and Dawkins hit some great shots while the Viking Raiders did awkward things. A woman that worked there said that Ivar looked cute just like the cop last week. Ivar hit a three foot putt and celebrated like it’s a big deal. The Street Profits got the lower score, so they won and they were up 2-1 in their series. Ivar reached down into the hole to find a wallet, a red drink cup and the turkey leg. There was also a fake looking alligator, Ivar wanted to fight it, but the guys stopped him.
Analysis: It’s similar to the last two weeks with some comedy moments. It’s not that funny, but it’s a way to build up a friendly rivalry between two babyface teams.

Bobby Lashley and MVP were shown walking backstage with Bobby’s “wife” Lana there. Lana had a bag of ice for MVP and she said that she was sorry that Drew did that to MVP. MVP said that this is not a joke and he reminded Lana that Lashley had a WWE Title match after 13 years. MVP said that they had to send a message back to Drew McIntyre and the guys left. Lana got mad, so she threw the ice down.
Analysis: They should just end the Lashley angle with Lana. It failed. Lashley working with MVP is better for Bobby. Say there's a divorce and stop with the bad acting Lana segments where she screams every week.
Seth Rollins was backstage with Murphy and Theory for their tag team match.
(Commercial)

The duo of Austin Theory and Murphy entered with Seth Rollins, who was in a suit along with Rey Mysterio’s mask in his hand. It’s the first time Theory and Murphy have teamed up after Rollins “saved” Theory last week.
Humberto Carrillo entered first for his team with Aleister Black as his partner.
Aleister Black and Humberto Carrillo vs. Murphy and Austin Theory (w/Seth Rollins)
Murphy and Theory worked together to start, but then Carrillo sent both guys out of the ring. Black got the tag, teased a dive, but then Black jumped back into the ring. Carrillo went up top and hit a dive onto both opponents. Black with a STO trip on Theory and a running kick for two. Carrillo tagged back in with a jumping foot attack off the top onto the arm of Theory. Carrillo with a kick to the face of Theory, Murphy grabbed the leg of Carrillo and Theory hit a belly to back suplex on Carrillo. Murphy unleashed on Carrillo with some kicks, but then Carrillo hit a jumping kick to the head. Black tagged back in with kicks on both guys, a sweep kick on Theory and running knee. Black with a moonsault off the middle ropes onto both opponents. Theory got a rollup for two. Black with a back elbow and a running knee to the face. Carrillo got a tag, Murphy shoved Black to the floor, Carrillo kicked Murphy and Theory hit the ATL slam off the shoulders for the pinfall win after about four minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Murphy and Austin Theory

Analysis: **1/4 This was okay although as I said earlier I would like to see longer matches. Last week’s Raw had shorter matches as well, so I guess we have to get used to that. Theory getting the win was the right call since he’s new as an ally for Rollins. Theory hasn’t won that much on Raw and now he can look like more of a star because he actually won a meaningful tag team match.
Post match, Rollins instructed his guys to attack again. Murphy and Theory tossed Black over the barricade by the timekeeper. Murphy and Theory held Carrillo by the steel steps and Rollins told Murphy not to take another step or Carrillo will lose an eye. Rollins said that Mysterio was sacrificed for the greater good, so don’t stand in Seth’s way. Rollins made Black put the chair down or Carrillo loses an eye. Rollins threatened that he would be sacrificed them the way he did to Mysterio. Black and Murphy let Carrillo go while Rollins left with his guys.
Analysis: Rollins is becoming one of the best characters on Raw. I really like the intensity and the way he uses his disciples to get what he wants.
Edge was shown backstage because he’s up next for an interview.

(Commercial)
Let’s Hear from Edge
Edge was seated in the backstage area saying that he took the bait that Orton put out there. Now Edge finds himself doubting his ability and he said he was fully transparent about it. Edge noted he was retired for 3,212 days and in that time, Orton competed in 1,126 matches while noting that he did the research. Edge said he was looking at it realizing he had to prove himself to himself. Edge said that strangely he wanted to thank Orton for making him contemplate things he had buried very deeply. Edge said that same night he watched the first installment of The Last Ride documentary series. Edge said he was on there talking when he was still retired and now here he is. Edge talked about going toe to toe with The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, Christian and so on. Edge said he adjusted no matter the opponent and he was damn good at his job, which is why he taught guys to get to the next level. Edge said he was a five tool workhorse for this company. Edge said that everything he said was in the past tense because he doesn’t know if he can do any one of those things anymore, but at Backlash he’ll dig to the very depths of his soul to try because that’s all a man can do.
Analysis: I loved that promo. I think it came off as very real, intense and exactly the kind of thing that will make people more excited for his first "regular" wrestling match in 9 years. I don’t love the advertising for the match, but it’s not like that is Edge’s fault. I’ve always been a fan of his from the indy days here in Ontario and I’m so happy he's back. This was likely taped at the last tapings two weeks ago because I don't think Edge was there this week.

The Backlash match is Edge vs. Randy Orton for a match that WWE is billing as “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever.”
Asuka entered to join commentary for the women’s match after the break.
(Commercial)
There was a video about WWE’s work with the Real Heroes Project that they have been showing all month.
The Street Profits and The Viking Raiders were talking about their next challenge. The Viking Raiders suggested bowling next week, sot hey left. MVP and Bobby Lashley walked up to The Street Profits with MVP mocking them for doing goofy things like golfing. Ford and Dawkins asked MVP how he was feeling after the Claymore Kick earlier. MVP challenged them to a tag team match for later tonight as the heels left and Street Profits stared at them.
Analysis: That’s how you make a main event for the show two hours after it began.
The three women entered for their match with Raw Women’s Champion Asuka at the announcer’s table. Charlotte Flair was up first as the NXT Women’s Champion. Flair defends that title at NXT In Your House on June 5 against Io Shirai and Rhea Ripley. Natalya was up next in this triple threat. Nia Jax was up last.

Analysis: Natalya lost clean to Shayna Baszler in each of the last two weeks and she’s in this match while Baszler is not. I like Natalya more, but logically it doesn’t make sense other than WWE simply wants Natalya in this match to lose.
Nia Jax vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya
The winner of this match gets to challenge Asuka for the Raw Women’s Title at Backlash.
Jax shoved Natalya down and Jax gave Flair a body slam. Jax gently slammed Natalya onto Flair. Jax missed a leg drop when Flair moved. Natalya and Flair sent Jax shoulder first into the ring post. Flair grabbed a side headlock, Natalya grabbed a headlock of her own and they stood back up for a staredown. Flair was sent out of the ring and Jax hit a clothesline on the floor on Flair. Jax cleared off the announce table, Natalya tried an attack, but Jax stopped that and slammed Natalya onto the floor. Flair used the hood of the announce table to go after Jax, then Jax took it from her and jabbed Flair in the ribs with it. Flair and Jax battled on the apron with Flair connecting with repeated chops to the chest. Natalya hit the leg of Jax and then Flair worked with Natalya to pick up Jax and put Jax through the announce table. There are no disqualifications in triple threat matches, so that’s why the match kept going. That led to a break.
(Commercial)

The match returned with Jax still out on the announce table while Flair and Natalya did a running cross body block spot that knocked them both down. Asuka sent Jax into the ring and Natalya slapped on an armbar on the left arm, but Jax came back with a one arm Powerbomb. Flair went back in with a kick on Jax and a two count on Natalya. Flair drove her knee into the back of the head of Jax to send her into the mat. Flair went up top and hit a moonsault although she jumped too far and it barely connected. Natalya went up top with a cross body block on Flair for two, but then Jax came back with clotheslines on each woman. Jax with a running splash on both women against the turnbuckle. Asuka tried to lift both opponents, but she was unable to do it. Flair sent Natalya out of the ring and Flair hit a forearm on Jax followed by a knee drop on the back of the left knee. Flair slapped on the Figure Four Leglock and she locked in the Figure Eight submission, but Natalya broke it up with a dropkick. Natalya slapped on the Sharpshooter on Flair in the middle of the ring as the wrestlers in the crowd were making more noise and so was Asuka. Jax broke that up with a running body attack on Natalya. Flair got back into it with a boot to the face of Jax and Natalya broke up the pin. Flair sent Natalya out of the ring with Asuka rooting for Nattie. Flair with a boot to the face of Jax to keep her down. Flair with a forearm to Natalya, then Jax with headbutts on Flair and Jax went to the middle ropes. Natalya showed up and they set up for the Tower of Doom Spot with Natalya doing the Powerbomb while Jax did a superplex on Flair. Natalya got two counts on both women. Flair got a rollup on Natalya for two and then Jax broke up a Figure Eight attempt with a leg drop on Flair, who rolled out of the ring. Jax with a Samoan Drop on Natalya for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Nia Jax
Analysis: ***1/2 Great match that was the best and longest of the night so far. The outcome of that match was obvious with Jax beating Natalya, but I still enjoyed it. We knew going in that Natalya was there to take the pin and that's exactly what happened. Flair was there to add some star power. There were some creative spots with the table breaking (No DQ in triple threats) and the Tower of Doom spot was impressive. Flair and Natalya were great - they always work well together. Jax isn't as good as them in the ring although to her credit, she worked hard here and kept up with them. I liked how they worked it in a way where it looked like any of them could win. Booking Jax strong like that gives her some much-needed momentum.

Jax had a staredown with Asuka since they will have a Raw Women’s Title match at Backlash.
Drew McIntyre was interviewed by Kayla Braxton backstage. Drew said he didn’t want to Claymore Kick MVP, but then it just happened. Kayla informed him of Lashley and MVP in a tag team match later, so Drew teased that he’ll be around for that match.
(Commercial)
There were highlights shown of Rob Gronkowski winning the 24/7 Title at WrestleMania in early April.
They showed a promo from R-Truth on Twitter where he did one of his comedy promos talking about how tough he was and he was coming from Gronk.
Rob Gronkowski of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers was in a gym telling R-Truth to bring it on. Gronk said he was the WrestleMania 36 host wit the most and the reigning 24/7 Champion. Gronkowski said he’s the present and future while adding that he’s played football 16 years, he had four brothers growing up and he’s prepared for this. Gronk warned Truth that he’s got eyes in the back of his head.
Analysis: Congrats to WWE for remembering the 24/7 Title still exists. My interest level in this title is very low. If it went away I wouldn’t miss it. Truth’s promo was great. Gronk looked like he was reading something off a screen, but he got through it fine.

Bobby Lashley and MVP were backstage getting ready with Kayla Braxton asking why MVP wanted to be in a match. MVP pointed at Lashley to say “that’s why” and that’s it.
Ric Flair will join Raw up next. Ric recently signed a new contract with WWE, so there he is again.
(Commercial)
Ric Flair was shown at his house doing a promo talking about how he has been in more great wrestling matches than anybody in wrestling history. Flair said that WWE came to him asking what he thinks will happen when Edge faces Randy Orton. Flair said that Orton is the greatest wrestler in WWE today and he’s picking his man Orton to win the match.
Analysis: Flair was fired up there. It wasn’t long, but it was typical Flair. Woo.

There was a clip of The Undertaker’s “The Last Ride” documentary showing chapter three highlights while focusing on Undertaker’s classic WrestleMania 26 match with Shawn Michaels. Read my detailed review of Chapter Three of “The Last Ride” right here. The next episode is on June 14. I’ve enjoyed it a lot so far.
Liv Morgan was backstage doing a promo talking about her own self-worth. Morgan said she remembered being six years old wondering what life had in store for her. Morgan said she finally found something she was missing when she made it to WWE and got her first wrestling gear with her name on it. Morgan said that she’s alive, she’ll fulfill who she has always been destined to be and she is living her best life.
Analysis: I think Liv has a bright future. I’d like to see her in a meaningful feud soon.
The Street Profits made their entrance for the main event that is a non-title match.

(Commercial)
Next week on Raw: Aleister Black vs. Seth Rollins. They are also saying there’s a Rey Mysterio retirement ceremony and then on Twitter after Raw it said that Seth Rollins will be the "host" of Mysterio's retirement ceremony.
Analysis: It’s unlikely to be a real retirement. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb with that prediction. Rey will probably say he's feeling good, he'll attack Rollins and set up a match at Backlash. Perhaps they'll use Rey's son Dominick to tell his dad not to retire. Maybe Dominick turns on Rey to become a Rollins disciple? I don't know about that part, but Rey will most likely keep wrestling. Black vs. Rollins should be an awesome match.
Bobby Lashley and MVP made their entrance for the main event.
The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) vs. Bobby Lashley and Montel Vontavious Porter

This is not for the Raw Tag Team Titles held by the Street Profits.
Lashley was in control of Ford early on with a flatliner. MVP tagged in with punches to the ribs of Ford and a shoulder tackle. MVP with some punches followed by Lashley tagging in with a running shoulder tackle. Ford and Dawkins sent Lashley out of the ring. Ford went for a dive out of the ring, that didn’t work and Lashley sent Ford off the apron and into the barricade at ringside. Lashley put Ford on his shoulders and drove him into the ring post. That led to a break.
(Commercial)
The match returned with Ford as the face in peril in the heel corner. Lashley worked over Ford a bit while knocking Dawkins off the apron. MVP tagged in, sent Ford into the barricade and got a two count out of it. MVP sent Ford into the turnbuckle, then MVP charged with a kick, Ford moved and MVP hit the turnbuckle. Ford with a punch to knock down MVP. Dawkins got the hot tag with clotheslines for MVP, a jumping back elbow and a sloppy looking flapjack. Dawkins with a spinning splash on MVP against the turnbuckle followed by a bulldog. Dawkins punched Lashley off the apron. Ford tackled Lashley into the barricade. Ford got the tag, Dawkins with a spinebuster and Ford hit a Frog Splash. Lashley sent Dawkins into the ring post. Lashley broke up the pin attempt and gave Ford the Full Nelson submission. The referee called for the break after five seconds, but Lashley didn’t let go, so it’s a disqualification finish. It went about 12 minutes.
Winners by disqualification: The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins)

Analysis: **1/2It was a basic tag team match with the heels isolating Ford for most of it, Dawkins did well after the hot tag and then Lashley was put over as a dominant beast. The Full Nelson leading to the disqualification shows that Lashley didn’t care about the win – he was just out there to hurt Ford. I also don't mind the DQ finish because I figured the Street Profits would lose to Lashley and instead the DQ actually prevents the champs from having a non-title loss. I applaud the DQ ending! This is the perfect example of when it’s the right time to have a DQ ending.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance and he went after Lashley in the ring with a Glasgow Kiss headbutt. They went brawling on the floor with each man shoving the other guy into the barricade and the side of the ring. McIntyre was pounding on Lashley with punches. The referee John Cone called for developmental wrestlers to try to break it up, two guys went into the ring and McIntyre took them out with headbutts. Lashley hit a Spear on McIntyre. Four more wrestlers went into the ring, McIntyre and Lashley got rid of them and Lashley got back into a brawl with McIntyre. There were many more wrestlers that went into the ring to try to break up the fight. McIntyre and Lashley were separated on opposite sides of the ring. The show ended like that.
Analysis: That was a strong ending to Raw. The pull apart brawl is always a nice way to tell a story of two guys that are wanting to fight eachother and it takes over a dozen guys to break up the fight. I noted earlier that it was smart to not have them interact and then it built up the anticipation for the Lashley/McIntyre fight to end the show. It’s classic pro wrestling storytelling right there. I fully expect McIntyre to retain the WWE Title at Backlash. I’m just happy to see WWE has finally booked Lashley the right way as a heel contender with MVP as his mouthpiece watching his back. I think McIntyre and Lashley will have a very good match.

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Apollo Crews – It wasn’t a long match, but I’m happy for him
  2. Charlotte Flair/Natalya – They were the ones that were the stars of their match even in defeat.
  3. Edge – I really liked that promo.

The Scoreboard
6.75 out of 10
Last week 5.75
2020 Average: 6.35

Final Thoughts
This was a better Raw than the last few weeks. I wouldn’t call it a great show by any means since it was still lacking the match quality that I prefer, but I think they are getting better at telling stories. I think all of the Raw matches at Backlash are being booked well, especially McIntyre vs. Lashley and their brawl to end the show.
I’m happy for Apollo Crews as the US Champion because he’s a talented guy that wasn’t used much for years, yet now he breaks through to win a title for the first time. The women’s triple threat match with Jax beating Charlotte and Natalya was the best match of the night for sure.
I think the presence of WWE developmental wrestlers in the crowd helped. They didn’t do any significant chanting or anything that really made them stand out. However, just their presence and the fact that they made noise really helped the presentation of Raw this week. I know it's WWE "copying" AEW with wrestlers in the crowd and that's okay. I'm not for one company or another. I'm for all companies. I'm a fan that loves the business and wants them all to succeed. Support the guys and girls in the ring. That's how I roll.
The next WWE pay-per-view event is Backlash on June 14. Here is what we know so far:

Edge vs. Randy Orton – I think this will be the main event.
WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Bobby Lashley
Universal Championship: Braun Strowman (c) vs. The Miz and John Morrison
Raw Women's Championship: Asuka (c) vs. Nia Jax
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Thanks for reading.

John Canton
Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com
Twitter: @johnreport
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