Liam Hoofe reviews this week’s Raw…
This week’s Raw opens with all of the Raw male and female competitors sat on top of ladders in the ring, which is a sight that never fails to amuse me, and makes very little sense, when you think about it. The eight competitors will face off in two fatal 4-way matches later in the night, which should be fun. Angle arrives to talk about MITB. As he goes to speak, he is interrupted by Baron Corbin, who has only gone and shaved his head! Finally. The new look suits him a hell of a lot more than his old one.
Angle and Corbin talk over each other about Stephanie McMahon and the competitors in the ring started doing the same. Bliss says that she is ready to go on Sunday, and Sasha calls her out for faking an injury. The men all take turns with their catchphrases, and Braun gets several big pops. Alexa makes a reference to mixed match challenge, which gets a big pop from the audience as well. This goes on for a few more minutes until the segment ends. This was a slightly chaotic opening segment, but it made for an amusing visual, and the crowd seemed invested in it.
Back from the break, and the women are down from their ladders and ready to square off in the night’s first fatal 4 way- Ember Moon Vs Alexa Bliss Vs Sasha Banks Vs Natalya. This was a really great match to kick off the night, and one that has got me excited to see what these ladies can do on Sunday. Everyone got a little bit of time in the spotlight here, with Ember Moon and Alexa Bliss putting on really strong performances. Sasha was great, but she always is. Bliss has not had a great match in some time, so it was nice to be reminded of how good she is. Moon is a future star and the crowd have really gotten behind her. Natalya picking up the victory with the sharpshooter was a surprise and could be a clever bit of misdirection on the part of the WWE. She is many people’s favourite to win, so seeing her pick up the win on a go-home show is a bit of a shock. (Rating: *** 1/2) Really enjoyed this match.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) June 12, 2018
We see Finn Balor backstage in the locker room. He is approached by Kevin Owens who, rather amusingly, brings him some olives as a peace offering. He tells Balor that they need to work together to take out Braun Strowman in the main event. Owens brings up the fact that neither of them ever get a Universal Champion rematch, and they need to stop Braun from getting the belt and keeping it forever. This was an amusing segment, I’m really enjoying both of these guys at the moment.
Breezango are out for a match and their opponents are Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler. This was basically an extended squash match to give Dolph and Drew some momentum after they were defeated in the battle royal last week. They hit the combined Claymore and Zig-Zag for the win. (Rating: Squash) After the match, they take to the mic and put the whole tag division on alert.
Roman Reigns Vs Jinder Mahal is advertised as being up next. Jinder is in the ring talking, and out comes Reigns to a chorus of boos. Jinder says he is not facing him tonight, instead, he is facing another Indian. He teases The Great Khali, and then reveals that he is facing Sunil Singh. Reigns comes to the ring and makes super quick work of Sunil, hitting a Superman punch and a spear to get the easy pin. (Rating: Squash) After the match, Jinder attacks Reigns from behind and leaves him lying. This was fine, and a nice way to give Mahal some heat before the match on Sunday.
The B-Team, the new number 1 contenders for the tag titles, are out next for a match with Heath Slater and Rhyno. The match doesn’t even go for two minutes, and The B Team continue their winning streak by pinning Slater. This was fairly pointless, and just existed to keep the B Team on TV before their match, which I guess is taking place on the pre-show on Sunday? Anyway, The Deleters of World appear on the stage after the match and do their usual shtick. This feud has zero momentum.
Elias is shown backstage next, he says he doesn’t want to perform for Arkansas hillbillies and gets plenty of heat.
Cut back, and Elias is in the ring with his guitar. He sings a song about winning the Intercontinental Title, which is great and then he shows off his new guitar for his performance when he wins the belt. It was made for him personally by Jon Mayer, apparently. Elias is great here, and Rollins finally comes out after Elias was, for once, given enough time to nearly finish a song. Rollins comes to the ring and Elias exits. Rollins says all Elias had to do if he wanted a shot, was call him out, not attack him from behind. Rollins then hits the curb-stomp on Elias’ custom guitar. This was a fun segment and a nice final bit of build before their match on Sunday.
Bayley is in the ring, and we see The Riott Squad backstage walking to the ring and terrorising backstage staff. Ruby Vs Bayley begins. The match gets given a good 10 minutes but the two women don’t exactly make the most of it. The match is fine, but the two women could have delivered better and there were a few sloppy moments during the bout, and it had no real storyline behind it. Ruby Riott picked up the victory with the Riott Kick (Rating: **). After the match, Riott drew on Bayley’s face with some mascara, which didn’t really make much sense, but I guess this is their thing now?
Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax are out to talk about their match this Sunday. Jonathan Coachman is there to introduce both women, and they really put over the recent announcement that Rousey is joining the UFC Hall of Fame. Jax runs down Ronda, and Rousey says she has always proved people wrong. She mentions her Olympic background and once again plugs the fact she is joining the UFC Hall of Fame. Jax holds her belt up in-front of Rousey and goes to hit her, only for Rousey to stop her and lock in the arm-bar. After a bit of a struggle, Rousey floors Jax with the arm-bar, and makes her tap-out. Rousey leaves the ring looking pleased with herself. This segment was okay- the promo work was far from special, but the physical showdown built a bit of hype for Sunday, which is better than what they’ve done in recent weeks.
Curt Hawkins is out to end his losing streak next against No Way Jose. Jose makes his way to the ring with his conga line. He stands in the ring and waits for Hawkins to make his entrance. Someone runs out of the conga line and tries a roll-up, and surprise surprise, it’s Hawkins. Jose manages to kick out, then finishes Hawkins off with a big uppercut, making Hawkins 0-201 (Rating: Squash). Meh, this happened. Hawkins is at least taking this all in his stride and is fun to watch.
After the break, there is an assault course set up around the ring, and we find out that Sami Zayn has set it up as a challenge for Bobby Lashley. Zayn comes out to explain things, and the crowd is painfully dead throughout. This whole feud has been a disaster and it has done nothing for anybody involved in it. Lashley comes out to a muted reaction with a big goofy grin on his face. He does the course and then gets attacked by Sami from behind to end the segment. This was only slightly less painful than the other week’s promos, which really isn’t saying a lot. These two men need to be kept far away from each other.
Main Event time. Bobby Roode, Braun Strowman, Kevin Owens and Finn Balor are competing in a fatal 4 way just days before they will meet again at Money in the Bank. Like the women’s match earlier in the night, I really enjoyed this and every superstar got time to show what they can do. The match largely focused on the three men trying to work together to take down Braun, and at one point, he was put through a table by a Kevin Owens frogsplash. The match had a really high tempo and some excellent spots. The opening and closing matches on Raw did an excellent job of building excitement for Sunday’s Money in the Bank matches. Braun picked up the win after taking one hell of a beating and rallying back to hit a running powerslam on Owens onto a ladder. (Rating: *** 3/4) I really enjoyed this match.
Verdict: This week’s Raw still had a lot of rubbish going on, and the middle part of the show dragged but it was better than the last two weeks. Ultimately, this was saved by the two fatal four way matches, which both really delivered.