• Jayden Becker

WWE Raw Review 5/25/20

Updated: May 27, 2020


For the first time in months, fans are at the WWE Performance Center. These fans, however, are not members of the WWE Universe, but NXT Trainees to fill the void. This episode of Raw sees the United States Champion Andrade take on Apollo Crews in a rematch for the United States Championship.


Natalya, Nia Jax and NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair face off in a triple threat match for the winner to challenge Asuka at Backlash. The Viking Raiders and Street Profits continue their battle to find out who is the best outside of the ring by heading to the green for a round of golf.


Another week of Monday Night Raw, let’s take a look.


KO Show


After last week’s KO Show was thrown off the rails by Natalya’s tantrum, Kevin Owens gets another opportunity to host his segment. This week, Owens invites Raw’s Women’s Champion Asuka to talk about the upcoming triple threat match and her defense at Backlash. Asuka makes it known that she is still upset with Nia Jax and hasn’t forgotten about her actions last week when Jax assaulted Asuka’s friend and tag team partner, Kairi Sane.


Before Asuka can continue, NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair makes her entrance to confront the current Raw Women’s Champion. Flair reminds Asuka that she has never been beaten by her, looking back at their Wrestlemania 34 matchup in New Orleans. Natalya enters the fray and quickly apologizes to Kevin Owens because of her previous tantrum.


As the ring starts to fill Nia Jax completes the set and speaks fighting words to her upcoming opponents. This quickly turns into a brawl that sees Asuka stand tall through the melee.


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I thought this was a fine opening to the show. It begs me to ask the question, however, where is Shayna Baszler? Baszler beat Natalya… twice, why does Natalya get the push? My only guess would be that they needed a babyface in the triple threat match. If that is the case, why don’t they kick Charlotte Flair back to feud with the NXT Roster as NXT builds to In Your House?


I can also see Baszler stepping away given the outcome of the triple threat match and the company not wanting her to look weak in the aftermath.


Andrade (c) w/ Zelina Vega vs Apollo Crews - United States Championship Match


The last time these two competitors faced off was about a month ago with the United States Championship on the line. The match had to be called off, however, as Apollo Crews tweaked his knee and couldn’t continue. The kayfabe knee injury also cost Apollo Crews his spot in the Money in the Bank ladder match. Since then, Andrade and Zelina Vega have been feuding with most of the Raw roster.


As the match gets underway, Crews gains control early using his speed and strength. Seeing as her business associate is in trouble, Zelina Vega steps up on the apron and is inadvertently knocked off by Andrade.


Andrade is enraged by this and dominates the returning superstar outside the ring. As the action continues, Crews works on the defensive as a double stomp from the top rope lands onto his chest.


Angel Garza, watching from backstage, is interviewed during this match. Garza compares a wrestling match to making love. He does this by describing the build and climax of a match all ending in having to do it the next day.


As action comes to a close in the ring, Crews works his way back into the match and connects with his patented standing shooting star press. Crews pins, 1… 2… 3.


Apollo Crews is the new United States Champion.


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A title change in the first match of the night. Although I think this match could’ve served better in the main event, putting the belt on an up and coming star do wonders not only for Crews but also for Andrade. With Backlash coming soon, I can see the two square off again at the Pay-Per-View to complete the rubber match.


Having the “fans” in the stands was great to have for audio cues, but the excessive camera cuts made the match dizzying and was subjectively obnoxious. They stopped cutting as repeatedly throughout the night but the first match was brutal from a production standpoint.


IIconics Promo


After their loss to Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross last week Billie Kay slapped Peyton Royce in a fit of anger due to Royce causing the disqualification.


The IIconics don’t hold any bad blood, however, as Kay and Royce apologize to each other to start their in-ring promo. Signing their WWE Contracts and winning the tag team titles at Wrestlemania headlined their memories as the IIconics start to reminisce over the times they’ve shared throughout their careers. WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss and Niki Cross interrupt their walk down memory lane and make their way to the ring.


Before Nikki Cross has a chance to speak she is shushed away by Billie Kay. Cross doesn’t take kindly to the remark and is sparked into anger. Cross tells how she climbed and clawed her way to WWE and how she overcame the challenges she faced by finding a great friend like Alexa Bliss.


Kay and Royce heard enough to attack the champions, taking out their frustration on the duo from last week. Before the IIconics leave, however, they hold the titles over their heads leaving both Bliss and Cross left to waste in the middle of the ring.


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We can assume that this ends at Backlash. I’m not so much worried about what happens at Backlash, but what will happen after Backlash. Only three legitimate Women’s Tag Teams stand in the WWE at the moment, maybe four if you include Sasha Banks and Bayley. I fear the Women’s Tag Team Division could shrivel up and die if no new tag teams come into the fray.


Other than that, Nikki Cross did some of the best promo work on this episode of Raw. Similar to the Miz on Smackdown, I felt the emotion coming from her as if she has been holding it back for years. I would like to see more of this from her instead of the goofy sidekick role we have been accustomed to.


VIP Lounge


The VIP Lounge with MVP this week sees the invitation of the current WWE Champion Drew McIntyre. This meeting also commemorates the official match-up between Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre at Backlash for the WWE Championship.


As McIntyre enters the ring, he fears that the segment is a set up for him to be jumped by his future opponent. MVP lays his worries to the side by assuring McIntyre that Lashley will only fight under contract.


The two recall on the last time McIntyre set foot in the VIP Lounge. This was back before Wrestlemania when MVP offered his hand to the then challenger. McIntyre didn’t accept his offer then and looks back at it now as a great decision.


As tensions rise in the ring, Lashley makes an appearance causing McIntyre to Claymore MVP. Lashley and MVP scurry away to save themselves from the wrath of the champion.


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Well, it’s official. You can wait for the Backlash predictions article or you can read it now. McIntyre is going to win at Backlash and will win for a long time coming. What I wrote for his match against Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank still stands true. The WWE is currently lacking marquee talent with the loss of Roman Reigns, Goldberg and other stars due to COVID-19 precautions and contract expirations. WWE has been looking to make McIntyre the face of the company and has succeeded in doing so thus far.


Kevin Owens vs Angle Garza w/ Zelina Vega


Before the match gets underway, Kevin Owens is jumped by Angle Garza as he makes his way down the entrance ramp. Garza even goes as far as attacking the leg that was previously injured in the Wrestlemania match between Owens and Seth Rollins a couple of months back. With Owens barely able to stand, he urges the official to start the match and rings the bell.


Garza works the leg early on. Owens gets back on his feet, however, and pushes the match back in his favor with a DDT. Owens’ offense is stunned by the injury but continues to push through with a senton from the top rope.


A pop-up power bomber from Owens is reversed by Garza into the Wing Clipper. Garza pins, 1… 2… 3.


Kevin Owens, in his first appearance back in singles action since his injury, loses to Angel Garza.


After the match, Garza continues to attack the injured leg of Owens.


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Here is something that we haven’t seen in a while, a great heel victory. It’s almost like Garza read the heel handbook before the show opened. The attack during the entrance, working the injury, reverse the opponent's finisher, win and attack after the match. Couldn’t have done it better.


Heel victories like these are something we need to see more of. In WWE today we are too accustomed to the heel winning in a squash match or being too dominant for anyone to touch except the main eventer. Garza and his actions on this episode of Raw shows the perfect example of a heel from Yester-era that would trick his way to victory.



The Viking Raiders and Street Profits Play Golf


From the hardwood to the ax-throwing range, the Viking Raiders and Street Profits now take to the green for a round of golf.


The Street Profits see success on the first few holes, hitting on the green. The Viking Raiders, however, fall into the many traps around the golf course. Eric and Ivar are left to dig out of sand traps and swing divots onto the groomed fairway. The turkey legs left from hole to hole don't help their case as they are kicked out of the golf course.


The competition isn’t complete as both teams head to a mini-golf course instead. The Viking Raiders celebrate as the score is read because they have more points than the Street Profits. The Street Profit are the victors, however, as golf is scored with the winner having fewer points.


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Throughout the Twitter-verse, many people have been upset with the Street Profits and Viking Raiders partaking in seemingly useless activities. I like to argue that this is one of the only options the company has to work with at the moment.


With the loss of multiple Raw tag teams such as The OC and The Revival due to releases and The AOP due to injury, the Raw Tag Team Roster has been depleted. Instead of them building a rivalry going through match after match, it makes sense to take them out of the ring. This not only helps keep enhancement talent away from being squashed but also keeps both the Viking Raiders and Street Profits babyfaces through the process.


The boiling point between these two teams in the ring should be a huge payoff after this long build.



Austin Theory and Murphy w/ Seth Rollins vs Aleister Black vs Humberto Carrillo


This match comes to be after Austin Theory was kicked out of Zelina Vega’s faction and offered the black hand of Seth Rollins.


As the match begins Austin Theory and Humberto Carrillo work in the center of the ring. A more aggressive side of Theory comes out as he delivers strikes stronger than he has in his previous matches. As action falls outside of the ring, Theory is tossed onto Murphy who is there to break his fall. Both disciples run away in the nick of time before Aleister Black attempts an over-the-top-rope splash.


A double hot tag with Black in control escalates action toward the end of the match. Murphy tries to save Theory but is accidentally kicked by his teammate and falls outside the ring. As Black makes his way to the top rope, he is pushed from behind by Murphy.


An ATL from Theory crushes Carrillo for the pinfall victory.


Both of Rollins’ disciples attack their opponents after the match. As Black grabs a chair to stop the assault, Theory and Murphy have Carrillo set up by the steel steps. With the eye of Carrillo perilously close to the corner of the steps, Black thinks otherwise and drops the chair. The three back away head up the entrance ramp, not harming Carrillo in the process.


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As I wrote last week when Theory joined the group, I thought it was a perfect way for WWE to book themselves out of the hole they put themselves in. Not only did they take Theory off a group he shouldn’t have been involved in the first place but now moved him to an even better spotlight in the company. Matching Theory with Rollins and Murphy stamps a tag of approval onto the young star.


Not only does it help Theory but, hopefully, the Raw tag team division as a whole as Murphy and Theory should be expected to team up more often.



Edge Promo


After Edge accepted the offer from Randy Orton on Raw, Edge has been swarmed with self-doubt. In his promo, Edge says he was caught flat-footed by the question and needs to prove to himself that he can still wrestle.


Edge goes on and describes his past with the company and how he has hung with the best of the best the WWE had to offer. Edge doesn’t know if he can do it anymore but is willing to dig deep to try.


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A couple of things to pull apart here. Edge didn’t grit once, from me that's a plus. Since his first day back, Edge has played the role of the veteran who doesn’t know if they have what it takes. We are set to find out if that is true or not at what is being branded to be “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever.” Their words, not mine.


I like what Edge is doing, he does a great job of pulling at the heartstrings by staring deep into the camera and speaking directly to the audience at home. Although I can’t wrap my mind around this build, I can give credit where credit is due and Edge has consistently cut great promos throughout.



Charlotte Flair vs Natalya vs Nia Jax - Winner Challenges Asuka at WWE Backlash


After their meeting on the KO Show earlier in the night, all three competitors are ready to fight for the opportunity to face Asuka at Backlash for the Raw Women’s Championship. Although she’s not competing, Asuka makes an appearance on commentary for this match.


The match starts with Jax dominating the field. Flair and Natalya team up early on to take down Jax, the two go back forth keeping Jax a bay. This effort is short-lived as Jax rips Flair off the apron.


As the Triple Threat match continues Jax rips apart the announce table. Jax’s plans are thwarted as Flair and Natalya team up again to drive their opponent through the announce table. While Natalya and Flair regain their bearings, Asuka rolls Jax back into the ring for Natalya to pin. This doesn’t go as planned as the armbar Natalya places on Jax is reversed into a powerbomb.


Flair continues to prove why she is NXT Women’s Champion by connecting with a moonsault onto Nia Jax. The Figure 8 is locked in on Jax but broken up by Natalya. Natalya places her signature submission, the sharpshooter, onto Flair in the middle of the ring. Jax breaks up the sharpshooter.


As the match comes to an end, all three competitors find themselves by the turnbuckle. Natalya connects with a superplex powerbomb but is unable to pin either of her opponents. Jax Samoan Drops Natalya and picks up the win.


Nia Jax will face Asuka at Backlash for the Raw Women’s Championship.


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This was expected. After the brutalities from last week, Jax was a shoo-in for a title shot. This match didn’t need to happen to prove a contender and could’ve been handed to Jax. Although this match didn’t need to happen, I’m glad it did.


This match saw many great spots. The signature submissions to the powerbomb through the table surprisingly elevated this match to one of the best of the night.



Rob Gronkowski Promo


For the first time since Wrestlemania 36, the 24/7 Champion Rob Gronkowski makes an appearance on WWE television.


In this promo, Gronk talks about why he is the best person to hold the belt. 16 Years of playing football and growing up with four brothers have prepared him to defend this title anywhere at any time.


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This was a short promo but I felt the need to include it. Gronk was reading off a cue card in this promo. The effort to put glasses on him helped to mask it but taking them off exposed the ruse. Since it's Rob Gronkowski, I can’t get too mad.


The plan might be to have Gronk lose the title at an NFL Game. With the NFL season being a way away and COVID-19 protocols in play, I doubt the WWE waits until late August to pull the trigger.



Liv Morgan Promo


Last week, we saw Liv Morgan cut a promo about her mother and how she is a lot like her in terms of perseverance. This week on Raw, Morgan reflects on herself.


Morgan describes her past and can never remember a time where she felt good enough. The shortcomings that she placed on herself came to an end in WWE. Morgan says now she is alive and will fulfill what she is going to be.


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These promos are unnecessary. I would much rather see her compete than have her talk about what she is going to do. I thought we were past that months ago when she returned at the beginning of the new year.


There is no reason why Morgan shouldn’t be in the thick of it with the rest of the women in the race for the Raw Women’s Championship. She hasn’t recovered her loss against Charlotte Flair a few weeks back and needs to climb out of this whale before it is too late.



Street Profits vs Bobby Lashley and MVP


Earlier in the night backstage as the Street Profits are celebrating their victory over The Viking Raiders in golf, Bobby Lashley and MVP confront the Raw Tag Team Champions and consider them clowns for them continuing to compete out of the ring. MVP offers the smoke and the Street Profits accept for the match later that night.


Lashley and Ford start the main event. Ford uses his speed and agility to toy with Lashley early on but is caught and punished outside the ring. Lashley continues his assault by attacking Dawkins and knocking him off the ring apron. With Ford still beaten outside the ring, MVP throws Ford into the steel steps.


As the match progresses, Dawkins enters on a hot tag and has control over MVP. Dawkin even takes the extra steps to return the favor to Lashley and knock him off the apron. Pop-up Spinebuster by Dawkins and Split-legged frog splash by Ford has MVP down for the pin. Lashley breaks up the pin and wraps Ford in the Full Nelson.


The official calls for the bell as Lashley exceeded the 5 count and wasn’t the legal man. The Street Profits win by

disqualification.


Drew McIntyre makes his appearance and brawls with Lashley. With the official unable to break up two, he calls for the NXT Trainee’s in attendance to help. This is to no use as both McIntyre and Lashley toss the trainees away. The official calls for more trainees, pinning both McIntyre and Lashley against opposite turnbuckles as the show fades to black.


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There is something about how AEW does its “fans” compared to how WWE does it. It could be my bias or interpretation but when AEW does have fans it feels more authentic to the viewer. The attempt for WWE was good for the ear but not for the eye. The social distancing made it look like the people outside the ring were Smackdown vs Raw fans from back in the PlayStation 2 days. The NXT Trainee’s breaking up the brawl made it feel even more artificial than it should’ve.


I am glad the Street Profits didn’t lose here. The rule of thumb when it comes to tag teams is that tag teams should never lose to non-tag-team pairings. Although you can argue Lashley and MVP have enough familiarity to be a tag team, it doesn’t excuse them from beating the champions clean. Having the DQ finish saved not only the push for Lashley but also whatever is left of the Raw Tag Team Division.



Takeaways


Monday Nights have been must-watch television the past few weeks, starting with Becky Lynch’s announcement. The fans this week did their job and added in some aspects of the show. The ending was odd having the fans come in and be involved with the talent themselves. The show also felt a little promo heavy but was balanced out with some hard-hitting matches.


I am also getting sick of seeing the same things every week. It’s time to spice things up in the promo department with different people and different sets.


Pros:

  • KO Show

  • Andrade (c) w/ Zelina Vega vs Apollo Crews - United States Championship Match

  • IIconics Promo

  • Kevin Owens vs Angle Garza w/ Zelina Vega

  • Austin Theory and Murphy w/ Seth Rollins vs Aleister Black vs Humberto Carrillo

  • Edge Promo

  • Charlotte Flair vs Natalya vs Nia Jax - Winner Challenges Asuka at WWE Backlash


Cons:

  • VIP Lounge

  • The Viking Raiders and Street Profits Play Golf

  • Rob Gronkowski Promo

  • Liv Morgan Promo

  • Street Profits vs Bobby Lashley and MVP (The fan interference killed it for me)


Final Grade: C+


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