WWE Raw Review 5/4/20
The final Raw before the Money in the Bank Pay-Per-View this Sunday sees the Last Chance Money in the Bank Gauntlet match to determine the final entrant for the Money in the Bank ladder match.
We also see The Street Profits take on Eric and Ivar of The Viking Raiders. Although The Street Profits are the Raw Tag Team Champions, they have never beaten The Viking Raiders. Tag team action doesn’t stop here however as MVP’s two recruits Shane Thorne and Brendan Vink have their rematch against Cedric Alexander and Ricochet.
The WWE Champion Drew McIntyre gets his chance at revenge at Seth Rollins’ disciple Murphy after last week’s altercation.
Money in the Bank is edging closer but let’s see how Raw turned out.
The show opens with MVP’s VIP Lounge. This week MVP introduces Raw’s participants for the Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match. The competitors include Asuka, Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax.
All guests take their seats, including Nia Jax who awkwardly sits on the coffee table in between the two couches. MVP asks Jax if she believes if she has the skill set to defeat the field of women in the Money in the Bank ladder match. Jax believes that what puts her above is that she is relentless. Asuka can’t stand to hear this, however, as she yells in Japanese about Kirie, the fact the Jax has a “big booty” and other words I honestly don’t understand.
Baszler is asked the same question as was asked to Jax and responds with a Latin phrase meaning that her actions will speak louder than her words. Asuka interrupts Baszler by saying that the ladder match will be “easy peasy.”
All of MVP’s guests stand up staring eye to eye. The action doesn’t last long, however, as Jax is kicked in the chest by both Asuka and Baszler. As Jax falls back she breaks through the small coffee table. MVP defuses the situation as the segment ends.
This was a simple yet effective opening. One thing qualifying matches do is automatically build storylines and rivalries between the competitors naturally. Talk show segments also have been historic for ramping up momentum towards Pay-Per-Views so this seemed to be the perfect mix.
It still amazes me how Asuka beats both Jax and Baszler on the mic by vomiting Japanese phrases and throwing in a few English words across for the folks at home. Jax always sounds like she is reading directly off the script and Baszler has done better work in the past (especially in the lead up to Maina). I wonder what they write on Asuka’s script before she goes out. Maybe a few keywords and the rest just says “go crazy”.
This opening didn’t lead into a match later in the night but I’m okay with that. I think we’ve seen enough of them and are best saved for the Pay-Per-View.
Last Chance Money in the Back Gauntlet Match
Until last week, the red brand had all their Money in the Bank ladder match spots filled. This was changed when Apollo Crews suffered a kayfabe knee injury in his match against Andrade for the United States Championship.
The match opens with Bobby Lashley and Titus O’Neil as the first two entrants. The last we saw Titus O’Neil was Wrestlemania of all places. O’Neil was the fill-in for Rob Gronkowski after he snuck away with the 24/7 Championship.
A struggle early surprisingly see’s O’Neil in control. This doesn’t last long however as Lashley ends O’Neil with a spear.
Lashley’s next opponent: Akria Tozowa. The last we saw Tozowa he was squashed by the returning former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal.
Tozowa rushes the ring and attacks Lashley, catching him off guard. However, Tozowa’s fate is the same as O’Neil’s and is hit with the spear. Lashley pins Tozowa to move on to the next man.
Lasley’s next opponent: Humberto Carrillo. The last we saw Carrillo was back in March when fans were still allowed to attend WWE events and the world was normal (sigh).
Programming returns from a commercial break with Lashley's boot is on the back of Carrillo. Carrillo gains momentum as he breaks free, hitting Lashley with a top rope dropkick and a rolling moonsault soon after. Carrillo gets too greedy with his top rope activity and is tossed back down to the mat.
Lashley’s dominance is cut short by the official who disqualifies him for shoving him away.
A furious Lashley spears and beats down the returning Carrillo.
Carrillo’s next opponent: Angel Garza with Zelina Vega. The last we saw these two was last week in the opening match of Raw where Apollo Crews pinned Andrade in a 3 on 3 tag match.
As we return from break, Garza has control over the battered Humberto Carrillo. Garza wastes no time to rip off his pants after a big kick connects with Carrillo. A springboard reverse suplex into a superkick drops Carillo, 1… 2… a kick out by keeps him in the match.
As the action continues Garza looks for the wing clipper and is rolled up, 1… 2… 3. Carrillo continues.
Carrillo’s next opponent: Austin Theory with Zelina Vega who remains at ringside.
Theory dominates through the commercial break but is halted after Carrillo slips through a suplex. Theory won’t go out without a fight, however, as he connects with a left hand reversing a springboard splash. Theory pins, 1...2… kick out by Carrillo.
Theory takes matters into his own hands and looks to the top rope. Both superstars balance their way up the turnbuckle as Theory sets up for a superplex. As both competitors are launched into the air and connect with the mat, Carrillo rolls up Theory.
1… 2… 3. Carrillo moves on to the final competitor.
Carrillo’s next opponent: AJ Styles. The Phenomenal One makes his first appearance after being buried by the Undertaker in their Boneyard match at Wrestlemania.
As we come out of the final commercial break of this match Carrillo connects a dropkick onto Styles’ chest. Carrillo’s momentum is cut short by a kick to the gut. Styles continues by working the legs of the high flyer with multiple submission attempts and dragon screws.
Carrillo scouts the multiple dragon screw attempts and reverses. A flying kick to the head downs Styles. A roll-up by Carrillo surprises Styles, 1...2… kick out. Both superstars make it back to their feet and both connect with a double clothesline.
Styles works his way back into the match and locks in the Calf Crusher. Carrillo taps and Styles wins.
AJ Styles advanced to the Money in the Bank ladder match as the final entrant.
The action doesn’t end, however, as Styles continues to attack the legs of his Carrillo by slamming them into the ring post.
Styles cuts his first promo after being buried alive. Styles mentions what he will do at Money in the Bank, including the chance of throwing Rey Mysterio or Aleister Black off the top of WWE Headquarters in the Money in the Bank ladder match.
Welcome back AJ, I missed you. With that being said, I wonder if we were living in normal times if he would be out longer maybe to Summerslam. I can’t complain, however, with his return. Styles always brings an energy that can’t be replicated without him appearing night in and night out.
Last week when Apollo Crews was nicked from the card, I predicted a match close to this with where most of Raw’s talent get a shot at the final spot. Although I was wrong with the outcome, the idea still stands and I’m pleased with how it was booked to finish. After Smackdown, I felt the Money in the Bank ladder match needed more star power to it and Styles fills that role perfectly.
Gauntlet matches make it super easy to see who WWE is pushing for success. Lashley was a dominant force and was DQ’d to keep him lossless on the night as he builds towards… something. Carrillo, the star of the night, took down both Garza and Theory while also putting up a fight against Styles. This will most likely lead to the rehashed feud between Carrillo and Vega’s Men down the line. We’ve seen this before way too much but hopefully, the blowoff bookends it.
Seth Rollins Interview
After the break, Charly Caruso is found in the ring ready to interview The Monday Night Messiah Seth Rollins before his WWE Championship match against Drew McIntyre at Money in the Bank.
Before the championship match, however, Caruso asks Rollins for his last-minute prediction on Murphy’s match later in the night against McIntyre. Rollins believes whatever is meant to be will be and that Murphy could handle the Champion.
Caruso responds to this by asking how Seth will prepare for Money in the Bank. Rollins responds by reminding the audience that McIntyre is not a leader. Rollins is willing to relieve McIntrye of the burden of being WWE Champion.
As the Messiah character builds to Money in the Bank I wonder how far it can go. The architect character of Rollins ended around Survivor Series. I was okay with that because change is usually a good thing when done right. The Messiah character has been done right as well by providing a faction around Rollins with the AOP and Murphy.
The faction idea had to be put on hold because of Rezar’s injury. Now, Rollins is kind of stuck. The return of Murphy last week helped and has perfectly launched us into Money in the Bank.
Could’ve Rollins done this gimmick by himself? I’m not sure. Most of Rollins’ career in the WWE has seen him in a faction. Whether it was the Shield, Authority and now as the Messiah, he’s always had help.
Shane Thorne and Brendan Vink VS Ricochet and Cedric Alexander
Last week after Ricochet and Cedric Alexander’s victory over Ever-Rise, MVP interrupted their celebration to claim their previous victory over his new clients Shane Thorne and Brendan Vink was a fluke. That accusation caused the match this week on Raw.
Previous to the match MVP, Thorn and Vink cut a promo backstage about the upcoming match. MVP says great moments are born from great opportunity, a quote from Miracle. Vink continues to say that tonight Ricochet and Cedric Alexander will learn how to lose.
The match gets underway with Vink and Alexander to start things off. Alexander uses his speed to avoid Vink but is caught early on. Thorne is tagged in trying to work off of Vink’s momentum but is cut short by a double team move from Alexander and Ricochet. With Ricochet in control, Alexander is tagged back in.
As the action continues, Alexander gets distracted by Vink on the outside and is tossed outside the ring by Thorne. Vink attacks Alexander on the outside, throwing him into the barricade. A double hot tag sees Ricochet with the advantage, kicking Thorne in the head while posted in the corner. Thorne is able to tag in Vink as he slips away. Thorne stays involved however and cannonballs into the corner distracting Ricochet.
A big boot by Vink flips Ricochet's head over heels. Vink pins, 1… 2… 3. Vink and Thorne take the rematch over Ricochet and Cedric Alexander.
Raw’s tag team division took a hit on Black Wednesday as Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson of the OC and Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson of The Revival were released from the company. Another blow was Rezar’s injury that put the AOP on the shelf in late March. Young talent, however, has kept Raw’s tag team division alive and surprisingly competitive.
Cedric Alexander and Ricochet have won for the past few weeks not counting this match. The Street Profit have taken Monday Night Raw and the WWE Universe by storm seemingly overnight. The Viking Raiders are extremely athletic for their size and add a “WOW” factor inside the ring. The faction of Vega’s Men has also been onscreen seemingly every 30 minutes since Raw started to be taped at the Performance Center.
Rumors are floating around that MVP is here to stay and will be the leader of this faction. MVP’s role is presumably similar to Vega’s as he will be a recruiter of talent. The promo before the match was short, sweet and to the point.
I am a big fan of Vink. I like the way he carries himself through promos and can back it up in the ring. Usually, tag teams have the smaller of the two do the talking but Vink can hang with the rest of them from what I’ve seen.
Street Profits VS Viking Raiders
The second tag team match up of the night sees current Raw Tag Team Champions Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins of the Street Profits take on Eric and Ivar of the Viking Raiders.
Before the match starts the Street Profits cut a promo revolving around the history of the Street Profits and Performance Center. Ford mentions that they both met at the Performance Center and have been together ever since. Ford also talked about how they have always been chasing the Viking Raiders since day one and will prove today why they are on top.
The action starts with Ford and Eric in the ring. Eric rushes Ford and both begin to run the ropes ending with Ford taking a scary spill. Eric takes advantage and starts to dominate as Dawkins is attacked off the apron. A double team move by the Viking Raiders has Ford down for the pin by Ivar, kicking out at 2.
Dawkins is tagged into the match, kicking away the interfering Eric to the side. The Street Profits look for a double team move but Ivar finds his way out and drags Ford into a double team move of their own. The Viking Raiders connect with the Hammer of Thor. 1… 2… kick out by Ford.
The Viking Raiders stay in control with Eric as the legal man. Ford works his way to Dawkins for a hot tag. Dawkins explodes and knocks down Ivar. Dawkins continues to dominate heading outside the ring, taking down both Viking Raiders single-handedly as action fades to commercial break.
Dawkins remains in control as programming returns. A double team move from the Street Profits plants Eric with an awkward dropkick. Dawkins is tagged back into the match but can’t continue his dominance as Eric breaks free for a hot tag to Ivar.
Ivar takes complete control, knocking down both Street Profits. A double team move from the Viking Raiders ends with a knee to the face of Dawkins. 1… 2… kick out.
Another double hot tag finds Ford with the advantage over Ivar with a flurry of kicks. A double team move by the Street Profits can’t keep Ivar down. With Ford back in the match, Ivar is able to break through the double clothesline and hits both the street profits with a spectacular flying double back elbow.
The Viking Raiders attempt the Viking Experience but fail due to Ford’s resilience. The Street Profits hit their finisher the Cash Out to no avail as Ivar breaks up the pin. Ford is tossed out the ring and Dawkins is hit with the Viking Experience.
The Viking Raiders beat the Raw Tag Team Champions.
As soon as I think that Raw’s tag team division can’t get any stronger he Viking Raiders pick up a clean win over the champions. This should lead to a match at Money in the Bank for the titles that can honestly go either way.
Both tag teams are faces that perform at such a high level. If this match does happen I can see Viking Raiders taking it to continue to shake things up. All of these tag teams have performed so well that I can see each tag team I mentioned early holding the belts for at most two months each at a time. Now is not the time to put the Street Profits over as the new New Day, let's wait until Big E makes his hopeful heel turn.
Aleister Black and Rey Mysterio Promos
After AJ Styles made the threat to throw either Aleister Black or Rey Mysterio off of the top of WWE Headquarters both superstars cut their promos addressing the matter.
Aleister Black dressed in black in a smokey black room and asks Styles how it felt to be buried six feet deep. Black believes that the burial didn’t make Styles more humble in his time away. Black finishes his promo telling Styles that he’d wish he would be six feet deep after he was done with him.
Rey Mysterio’s promo revolves around the idea that he won’t have many matches left in the tank after Money in the Bank. Mysterio says that he is closer to the end than the beginner and doesn’t know how many title shots he’ll have left.
These weren’t my favorite but added some juice as we edge closer to Money in the Bank. I love Black’s facial expression here that brings an out of this world life to his twisted character.
The real conversation that comes out of this is the future of Rey Mysterio. Mysterio’s contract with WWE ends in September and many ask the question if he will resign with the company. There is no way that Mysterio wins this Money in the Bank ladder match and is my guess on who gets chucked off the roof but it’s not like Mysterio has been booked poorly.
Mysterio headlined Survivor Series with Brock Lesnar as he fought for the WWE Championship. Mysterio has also been in the thick of it with Vega and her Men for the past few months. Sure his booking is a little repetitive but he’s always on the screen. What Mysterio is looking for is to make sure his son Dominick is taken care of in the future, this does not necessarily have to be in WWE.
We have already seen the likes of Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, Matt Hardy, and recently Brodie Lee jump ship from WWE to AEW. Rey Mysterio could be the perfect fit as he could end his career the way he sees fit. The money doesn't compare to WWE but AEW allows for the reigns to be loosened compared to the vice grip WWE holds on its talent. If Domnick gets a guarantee from AEW, we could see one of the most famous if not the most famous masked luchador wrestle Wednesday nights on TNT.
Charlotte Flair VS Liv Morgan
Charlotte Flair makes her appearances on Raw to cut a promo on her next challenger for the NXT Women’s Championship, Io Shira. Flair is cut short by Liv Morgan. The last we saw Liv Morgan, she defeated her ex-Riott Squad member Ruby Riott for the second week in a row.
Morgan insults Flair by talking about her father Ric Flair. Morgan says that she didn’t have anyone to walk me to the front of her career of choice. Flair then retaliates by insulting the character of Liv Morgan and how Morgan doesn’t know who she is yet as a person.
Morgan then challenges the NXT Champion to a match.
Flair pushes Morgan to the corner to start the match. Morgan constantly has a smile across her face as she is being beaten down. Flair dominates early in the match, giving Morgan no time to establish any offense.
Morgan works her way back into the match by laying a dropkick to the chest of Flair pushing her into the corner. Morgan continues to push the issue with a hurricanrana. As Morgan looks to produce more offense she is caught and thrown upside down into the turnbuckle. Flair proceeds to brutally stomp into the back of Morgan as programming head to break.
Flair is still in control as the action continues. Morgan once again finds momentum by slamming Flair’s face into the mat. A double stomp in the corner of the ring leads to Morgan going for the pin. 1… 2… Kick out by Flair.
Flair fights back with more stomps to the body. Morgan is able to work the head of Flair with a hurricanrana but is stopped in her tracks as Flair reverses into a sit-out powerbomb. Morgan kicks out at 2.
Morgan finds herself on the top rope and is caught again trying to produce an offense. Flair locks in a Boston crab as Morgan claws to grab the rope and break up the submission attempt. Morgan continues to fight and connect with double knees from the top rope. Morgan's efforts to the match turn futile as The Oblivion is caught and turned into a Figure 8 in the center of the ring.
Morgan taps, Flair claims a submission victory.
I kneel by my bed at night praying for the usual things like world peace, good health and that Will Ospreay wrestles in a timezone convenient for me to watch without waking up at 4 a.m.
I also pray that Liv Morgan becomes a star. She’s easily my favorite Women on Raw and 2nd behind Banks in the whole company. Her gimmick is the erotic and sexually conflicted Mickey James done right. It’s a lot less of a slap in the face and more of a suggestion. The smile on her face while she gets pulled down the mat and the way she presents herself as a person that’s finding themselves not only in this company but in this world adds depth to a character who once needed it desperately. Morgan also has an aggressive move-set that matches the character that seems to come naturally with the rest of her gimmick.
Thank god this wasn’t a squash match and let's leave Flair to deal with the NXT roster.
Drew McIntyre VS Murphy W/ Seth Rollins
Earlier in the night, Murphy had an interview asking the big question of where he stands with Rollins. Murphy spoke on the future of his career saying that hopefully one day he’ll be on the same level as Rollins and one day hopefully better than Seth.
As Murphy makes his entrance Rollins stays at the top of the ramp to watch from afar. McIntrye sets the tone early dropping Murphy down the mat. Murphy’s attempts at offense early on are to no avail. Murphy is able to regroup out of the ring but takes a big boot by McIntyre on to the diamond plate. McIntyre tosses Murphy around the outside of the ring and over the barricade.
As Murphy is shuffled into the ring, Rollins takes a couple of steps closer. McIntyre takes notice and confronts Rollins. This distraction by Rollins allows Murphy to hit a dropkick through the bottom rope. Action falls back into the ring allowing for Murphy to pin, 1… kick out by McIntyre.
Kicks by Murphy on to McIntyre are no effect, one chop to the chest of Murphy drops him to the mat. A Glasgow Kiss connects dropping Murphy. Murphy is able to avoid the Claymore to follow but is thrown out of the ring.
As action enters the ring again McIntyre climbs to the top rope and drops an elbow onto the head of Murphy. Murphy is able to slip away towards the ropes and works off the mistakes of McIntyre, planting him with a sit-out powerbomb. 1… kick out by McIntyre.
A bewildered Murphy sets up to hit McIntyre with the Claymore, and even counts down to add insult to injury. McIntyre has his move scouted and hits Murphy with Claymore himself. 1… 2… 3.
McIntyre defeats Seth Rollins’ disciple Murphy as we head into Money in the Bank.
The post-match antics begin as Rollins starts his way down the rest of the ramp and up the steel steps. McIntyre begs for Rollins to enter the ring but Rollins thinks better of it and walks back through the curtain.
With McIntyre’s back turned, Rollins sneaks through the backstage area and superkicks McIntyre. Rollins tries to hit McIntyre with the Curb Stomp but is caught around the throat. McIntyre connects with the Glasgow Kiss and waits for Rollins to rise for the Claymore.
Rollins wisely rolls out of the ring and runs away as the show fades to black.
This spin is a lot less about the match but the promo that was cut earlier that night. Murphy planted the seeds for the future. The apprentice vs the master, the future vs the past, the disciple vs the messiah. Hopefully, this doesn’t come at least until next year because a long build could catapult Murphy into the stratosphere, much like how Triple H launched Batista into stardom.
We’ve seen glimpses of greatness from Murphy before, his run in NXT is nothing to scoff at as he was NXT Tag Team Champions with Wesley Blake for seven months. Murphy’s matches with Aleister Black stole the show for three weeks on Raw a few months back. Those matches reminded me in a good way of the endless Orton and Cena feuds from when I was a kid.
The go-home Raw for Money in the Bank was very good. Battle lines were drawn, crossed and drawn again for multiple feuds throughout the night.
Raw also showed Money in the Bank highlights throughout the night, ending the Top 10 list with Seth Rollins cash-in at Wrestlemania 31. Roman Reigns was cut out of the package and was not mentioned. The WWE has continued to keep the Big Dog off television since his absence at Wrestlemania.
Predictions for Money in the Bank are coming soon so stay tuned.
Last Chance Money in the Back Gauntlet Match (AJ saved it)
Shane Thorne and Brendan Vink VS Ricochet and Cedric Alexander
Street Profits VS Viking Raiders
Rey Mysterio Promo
Charlotte Flair VS Liv Morgan
Drew McIntyre VS Murphy W/ Seth Rollins
Aleister Black Promo (Facials saved it from being a wreck)
Final Grade: B