Monday Night Raw
Date: May 22, 2023
Location: Giant Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Kevin Patrick, Corey Graves
It’s the go home Raw for Night Of Champions and that means it is time for the final push towards the show. That might be a little tricky since there are three main events, all of which are only half Raw stars. Maybe they have a way to draw in some interest tonight otherwise so let’s get to it.
We open in the back with Brock Lesnar beating down Cody Rhodes. The beating goes on for a bit and Rhodes is left laying, including his arm being crushed against a door with a keg (similar to what he did to Undertaker about 20 years ago).
Here is Paul Heyman in the ring to say he had nothing to do with that beating. That’s just the kind of thing you can expect to see at Night Of Champions (Note that Heyman said the show is on Saturday at 1pm. That’s more detail than you often get from WWE and I have no idea why it’s that much to ask. You want people to watch the show. Let us know when we can do so.), where there will be three main events.
This includes the Bloodline taking the Tag Team Titles from Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, who come to the ring as Heyman leaves. Zayn: “Where did Heyman go?” Sami talks about their title defense on Saturday but he has already said everything he has to say to Reigns’ face. Tonight they have a six man tag match and here is Imperium to interrupt. Matt Riddle runs in to even things up and Gunther calls the troops off. Imperium charges back in and are promptly kicked out to fight another day. Or probably later tonight.
Ricochet vs. Bronson Reed
Earlier today, Reed blamed Ricochet for losing the battle royal last week. Suffering is promised. Reed misses a charge into the corner to start so Ricochet kicks the knee out to stagger him. Ricochet scores with an enziguri but gets run over, setting up the rolling splash to crush Ricochet down.
We take a break and come back with Ricochet slipping out of a suplex to hammer away at the head. The standing moonsault gets two but Ricochet gets knocked to the floor. Reed’s dive off the apron misses though and they head back inside, where Ricochet’s springboard is broken up. That’s enough to set up the Tsunami for the pin at 8:29.
Rating: C+. There’s always room for a big man vs. little man match and that’s what we had here. These two worked well together and had a nice match, as Ricochet tried to keep the pace up but ultimately got crushed by Reed. There is some serious potential for a monster with Reed’s athleticism and we very well may be seeing him get a heck of a push sooner rather than later.
Apollo Crews is back but gets cut off by Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley. Dominik isn’t happy that Crews is getting this time, but Ripley is apparently scheduled next. Dominik: “Apollo who?” Crews isn’t impressed, only to have Ripley talk about how she is going to beat Natalya at Night Of Champions. Crews still isn’t cool with this and seems to get a match with Dominik tonight.
We get part three of the Seth Rollins interview. Rollins loves Roman Reigns but doesn’t like him. We see some clips of the Shield days (or at least 2/3 of them) but that’s not the Reigns that we’re seeing today. Rollins has no respect for this Reigns, who has been poisoned by his own ego. Raw can be a different place with Rollins on top. Someone has to take his place when he’s gone or when Reigns is gone and that’s who he wants to rise up. He’s ready for AJ Styles at Night Of Champions. He also sounds like he’s ready for some major showdown with Reigns down the line. Maybe even after Reigns costs him the title?
We look at Shinsuke Nakamura arguing with Judgment Day last week on Raw Talk.
Damian Priest yells in Spanish about Nakamura.
Video on Zoey Stark, who trains a lot and is ready to end our heroes.
Zoey Stark vs. Candice LeRae
Stark drives her into the corner to start and hammers away on the mat. The chinlock goes on but here is Nikki Cross to cheer LeRae on. LeRae knocks her to the floor and hits a springboard dive, only to have Nikki celebrate with her (against LeRae’s will). The distraction lets Stark send them both into the steps. Back in and the Z360 (Stark picks her up and backflips her into a knee to the chest) finishes LeRae at 2:29. Solid squash for Stark.
Mustafa Ali can’t bring himself to say anything positive about Night Of Champions. He has always tried but only come close over and over. No one believes he can do it….and Brock Lesnar walks past him on the way to the ring. Lesnar: “Get a life kid.” And with that, Lesnar heads into the arena, as Ali should probably hope he has a shovel to get out of the grave Lesnar just buried him inside.
Lesnar asks what we want to talk about. The thing is, Cody Rhodes is not going to be able to wrestle at Night Of Champions, but don’t worry. Lesnar is going to issue an open challenge for Night Of Champions, and all you have to do is step up right now. Cue Cody Rhodes with his arm in a sling and a big bag of ice under it but referees and Adam Pearce beg him not to do it. Cody gets in anyway, but Brock quickly Kimuras him and seems to break the arm. Lesnar steps on the arm to make it worse before leaving (and drops his hat on the way out).
Alpha Academy vs. Viking Raiders
Maxxine Dupri and Valhalla are here too. Erik blocks Gable’s flying headscissors (complete with a THANK YOU) to start but gets armdragged into an armbar. The Vikings be clubbering on Gable as the fans want Otis. Instead they get Gable taking another beating from both Vikings until he rolls over for the hot tag to bring in Otis. House is quickly wrecked and the Caterpillar hits Erik. Gable gets kneed in the face but knocks Ivar off the top as Valhalla chases Dupri off. A bridging rollup finishes Erik at 4:54.
Rating: C. So I guess Otis is just going to be with both Gable and Dupri, which is better than picking a side….I think? Either way, it’s more of the best thing they can do with Otis as he’s really only succeeded at oddball comedy. Other than that, this was another run of the mill Academy match, which they have perfected by being on TV pretty much every week for what feels like the last ninety four years.
Cody Rhodes refuses medical attention and still wants to fight Brock Lesnar.
Indus Sher is menacing and threatening.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Finn Balor
Damian Priest is here with Balor. Feeling out process to start with Balor taking him down and working on the wristlock. A headscissors keeps Nakamura in trouble and Balor slams his leg down onto Nakamura’s face. Back up and Nakamura hits the running knee to the ribs in the corner but Priest gets in a clothesline on the floor as we take a break.
We come back with Nakamura fighting out of a chinlock and screaming at Balor a bit. Nakamura sends him into the corner for the sliding German suplex and then tells Priest to COME ON. Priest chases him back inside, where Nakamura hits a spinning kick to the head for two.
The Sling Blade looks to set up Kinshasa but Balor reverses with the standing double stomp. It’s too early for the Coup de Grace though and they’re both down for a breather. Priest pulls Balor away from Kinshasa though, earning himself a clothesline into the timekeeper’s area. Balor scores with a quick dropkick and now the Coup de Grace finishes Nakamura at 11:21.
Rating: B-. This is a good example of “well, what were you expecting?”. Was there any doubt that Balor and Nakamura were going to have a good match together? I’m not wild on Nakamura losing again, but there are certain things you just get used to in wrestling. Balor gets a boost back up the ladder, but there is little reason to believe that anything he does is going to stick these days. For now, I’ll settle for just having a nice match.
We look at Liv Morgan’s shoulder injury, which forced the Women’s Tag Team Titles to be vacated.
Raquel Rodriguez vs. Sonya Deville
Chelsea Green is here with Deville and offers a quick distraction so Deville can jump Rodriguez from behind to start. A middle rope knee to the face drops Rodriguez for two but she runs Deville over. The corkscrew Vader Bomb connects and the Texana Bomb finishes for Rodriguez at 1:48.
Post match the double team beatdown is on but Shotzi runs in for the save.
Trish Stratus is here for the contract signing and suggests that Adam Pearce put a no touch clause in effect for her contract signing with Becky Lynch. That’s a negative actually.
Video on Matt Riddle.
It’s time for the contract signing between Trish Stratus and Becky Lynch. Becky, in some odd sunglasses (they look like hands covering her eyes), signs before Trish comes out and then tells her to get out here. Cue Trish to say Becky was a lot more eager to sign than it was to come back to Raw after she kicked Becky in the head.
This is Trish’s first contract signing and she wants to savor it here….wherever we are. Trish is back to be the biggest star again and she won’t need a broken nose to do it (Becky is still sitting still and not looking at Trish whatsoever). We’re not done as Trish talks about how Becky’s worst enemy was herself. Trish signs, saying that this is going to be Becky’s last contract signing. Becky says Trish is scared of time passing her by, because the fans remember her being better than she is.
If Trish wants her flowers, Becky says “Thank You Trish”, for being everything Becky doesn’t want to be. Trish can stab people in the back and Becky will hit them in the face. Becky has had a career that Trish can only dream of, while Trish has done things that would embarrass Becky horrible. If she thinks barking like a dog was embarrassing, just wait for what Becky does at Night Of Champions. Trish turns the table over and leaves. This made it feel a lot more personal and that is what the feud needed.
We look at Brock Lesnar beating Cody Rhodes down earlier tonight (twice).
Adam Pearce is on the phone with someone and reiterates that Cody Rhodes will not accept any medical attention.
Shotzi and Raquel Rodriguez are a team and they’ll win the Tag Team Titles next week.
Dominik Mysterio vs. Apollo Crews
Rhea Ripley is here with Dominik. Crews starts fast with a suplex into a delayed gorilla press for two. Dominik catches him on top though and takes Crews down for the stomping. A suplex gives Dominik two and we’re off to the chinlock. Crews fights up and hits something close to a Blockbuster, followed by a middle rope crossbody for two of his own. They head to the floor where a clothesline hits Dominik but Ripley offers a distraction. Dominik trips him into the steps for a nine count, followed by the frog splash to give Dominik the pin at 4:56.
Rating: C. This is the kind of match that makes me wonder how far Dominik can go. While he’s not his dad in the ring, he’s certainly able to wrestle a competent match and is far from some joke that was turned into a heat magnet. Dominik gets amazing reactions from the crowd and does well enough in the ring to back it up. You don’t get that kind of a combination very often and he is making it work.
Video on AJ Styles.
We get the final part of the Seth Rollins interview. As Rollins said when he started, he but he wants to change things around here and this is his moment to do something special. He’s going all in for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Night Of Champions rundown. Rhea Ripley vs. Natalya is official.
Imperium vs. Matt Riddle/Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens
Kaiser strikes Zayn into the corner to start but Zayn takes him over for the tag to Riddle. Vinci comes in as well and strikes away at Riddle, who sends him flying with a gutwrench suplex. It’s off to Gunther, who blocks Riddle’s double leg but can’t block the kicks to the chest. We take a break and come back with Gunther blasting Riddle for two before hitting a heck of a clothesline. Riddle enziguris his way to freedom though and the tag brings Owens in.
House is cleaned, including a Cannonball to Vinci, but Owens is knocked off the apron for a crash as we take a break. Back with Owens hitting a frog splash to Vinci, setting up the desperation tag to Zayn. The Helluva Kick is blocked though and Gunther chops the heck out of Zayn. A Blue Thunder Bomb gives Zayn two on Gunther as everything breaks down again. Owens Stuns Vinci but Gunther cuts off the Helluva Kick with a sleeper. Riddle breaks it up with the Floating Bro before throwing Gunther over the announcers’ table. That leaves Zayn to Helluva Kick Vinci, setting up Owens’ Swanton for the pin at 15:18.
Rating: B. I could have gone for a more complete version of this without losing so much time due to the two breaks. Owens and Zayn get some momentum heading into Night Of Champions, Gunther still looks like a monster and the match was good as a bonus. Not a bad use of a main event match and everyone did what they needed to do.
HHH comes in to see Cody Rhodes, who still refuses medical attention. They both know Cody’s arm is broken but he is NOT afraid. No one is questioning Cody’s bravery but he brings up what HHH has done before. Cody is going to Night Of Champions to fight Brock Lesnar. HHH finally accepts it and leaves to end the show. They’re pushing this Cody match hard but him winning on another fluke sounds pretty insane.
Overall Rating: B-. The show wasn’t bad at all but there were some dull stretches that dragged it out. In other words, it’s what I once dubbed the Raw Special: a solid two hour show that was stretched out to three hours and lost a lot of steam as a result. Night Of Champions should be a good show, but there are some matches that haven’t quite made it to must see, or even want to see, territory. This Raw didn’t exactly help that and while the action was good, it needed something else to really make it a smash.
Bronson Reed b. Ricochet – Tsunami
Zoey Stark b. Candice LeRae – Z360
Alpha Academy b. Viking Raiders – Bridging rollup to Erik
Finn Balor b. Shinsuke Nakamura – Coup de Grace
Raquel Rodriguez b. Sonya Deville – Tejana Bomb
Dominik Mysterio b. Apollo Crews – Frog splash
Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn/Matt Riddle b. Imperium – Swanton Bomb to Vinci
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