Hey, want some bad news? Remember that nagging injury to Braun Strowman that was going to keep him out until SummerSlam. Yeah, about that. With Strowman possibly out for the rest of 2017, WWE Raw 05/15/17 will likely reveal a drastic shift from what was “planned” to a series of “plan B” programs. Does this mean WWE fast tracks Roman / Lesnar for SummerSlam instead of next year’s Mania? Will Finn Balor or Seth Rollins get the SummerSlam slot instead? Will WWE pull the trigger on some more NXT call ups to bolster the Raw roster a bit? I suppose over the coming weeks and months we’ll get the answer to those and other questions that have arisen. Man, Braun being gone for up to six months just feels like a punch to the gut. Let’s get to the recap.
WWE Raw 05/15/17 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. We open with a dramatic video package detailing all of the Roman / Strowman stuff over the past month or so. If you missed it, don’t worry – we see it again later in the show, in its entirety, for no reason whatsoever. Apparently “updated (?)” RAW opening credits, pyro, and we’re live from Newark.
Kurt Angle is out first – which pretty much seemed like a given with PPV plans up in smoke and all. Angle proceeds to announce a Fatal Five Way for Extreme Rules between Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, and Roman Reigns. Everyone gets a mild reaction when announced, save for Reigns who gets his standard boos. Kurt dances around the fact that the winner will face Brock at Great Balls of Fire, managing to not say the PPV’s stupid name. As Kurt goes to leave, Roman’s music hits and he’s out (to boos).
Roman hits the ring and tells Angle that he’s the Number One Contender because he beat Taker at WrestleMania and knocked Strowman out of commission. Of course, neither the Mania match, nor the random brawls had anything to do with the Universal Title or becoming a Number One Contender. That’d be like me claiming that I worked out last night, and set a new record on my fitness app – therefore I have Finn Balor’s abs. Reigns continues to be the most poorly written character on WWE television.
Balor heads out next and tells Roman to slow his roll because Finn was the first Universal Title holder and never lost the belt. He wants a piece of the beast (in the East?) and the line starts behind him. Roman begins to condescend to Balor and Finn is forced to remind Roman he beat Reigns in his first Raw match.
Joe is out next and cuts probably his best promo on the main roster thus far. Joey Headrocker says it’s all about actions and results and gives us several “cause and effect” relations of things he’s done on Raw so far. When he gets to saying what will happen to Lesnar when he faces him at – Wyatt stinger saves us from having to say that stupid name.
Bray appears in the ring and tells the three other guys in the ring that they’ll all cower, fall, and run. Bray is interrupted by Rollins who is NOT FINISHED WITH JOE YET and the expected brawl breaks out. Notable spots during the brawl include Wyatt getting Superman punched by Roman, Balor hitting Roman with a Slingblade, and Balor diving over the ropes to take out Roman and Seth.
Meanwhile, the Hardys are backstage… walking… Jeff has a match with Sheamus next. I hope Jersey has some good dentists nearby.
Back from break, Finn and Seth are backstage… arguing… while Roman looks on. Kurt shows up and is all flustered but manages to make Seth vs. Bray and Roman vs. Finn for later tonight.
Hardys are out next, followed by Sheasaro.
Match #1: Jeff Hardy (w/ Matt Hardy) vs. Sheamus (w/ Cesaro)
So we’re back to this, then? I imagine we get Cesaro vs. Matt next week? I suppose on the plus side, Jeff appeared to escape this match with all of his teeth. Not due to lack of Sheamus trying by way of a sick looking knee to the side of Jeff’s head. After an apparent botched interference spot, Sheamus attempts to Brogue Kick Matt on the apron twice – missing both times, which allows Jeff to hit a Twist of Fate and Swanton for the win.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Not terribly interesting, the set-up to the finish looked really weird, but hey, no one was injured too badly – so a wash?
Later tonight? Ambrose defends the IC Title versus the Miz!
Back from break, we join Sasha Banks’ entrance already in progress. Meanwhile, Alicia Fox (w/ Noam Dar (w/ no entrance)) is already in the ring.
Match #2: Alicia Fox (w/ Noam Dar) vs. Sasha Banks
OMG THEY’RE FINALLY DOING SOMETHING WITH ALICIA FOX IN 2017?!?!? Yeah, Fox goes over here, clean, with Booker T’s finisher. Normally, I’d be up in arms about Sasha Banks losing clean in a few minutes on TV, but Fox needed this badly to escape the mire of, essentially, being a “midcard title” on 205 Live. I also liked that they dragged Dar out to be her valet for this match. Of course, if Cedric Alexander is really returning soon, I could see him align with Sasha since it doesn’t appear that Fox / Dar is ending any time soon.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – A much-needed win for Alicia Fox.
Later tonight? Reigns vs. Balor. Even later tonight? Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt.
Up next? IC Title match!
Back from break, Miz and Maryse are out. Dean is out next.
Match #3: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. The Miz (w/ Maryse) (WWE Intercontinental Championship Match)
Wow, this was a lot better than I expected it would be – until the finish, which was hot garbage. We get the standard 50/50 stuff with each guy taking a brief advantage until Ambrose goes on a roll late in the match. He attempts a dive onto Miz off the ropes, but Maryse blocks Miz. Dean is having none of that and Maryse dodges just in time. Dean gets Miz back in the ring, Maryse distracts on the apron, and Miz goes for the low blow behind the ref’s back. Dean blocks it, waits for the ref to turn around, and kicks Miz in the junk. DQ. Match over.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – The finish completely killed it for me. I realize they’re doing this to set up at “No DQ” match or whatever for Extreme Rules, but what a waste of a great title match to do such a lame finish. Especially when, spoiler alert, this isn’t the only cop-out DQ finish on the show tonight.
Meanwhile, Finn is backstage with Charly. Finn says it’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, but more about the size of the fight in the dog. This may be Roman’s Yard, but it’s Finn’s Universe – and this happens in Brock’s City?
Later tonight? The same two “main events” we’ve already been told about.
Meanwhile, here’s Alexa Bliss – look at her. Shut up.
During the break, we see the “Just for Men: Hair Raising Moment” which is actually several moments from Alexa Bliss’ victory at Payback over Bayley.
Back from break, Alexa Bliss is still in the ring. I used to wonder if the Superstar just stood in the ring awkwardly with their music playing during ad breaks but finally got to see how they do this a few weeks back. Anyway, Bliss is back in the ring and starts cutting a promo on Newark. The crowd starts “What?”ing her and she shuts that down better than just about anyone on the current roster. Alexa wants to be known as a goddess and somehow this leads to Bayley coming out.
Bayley asks for a rematch at Extreme Rules and this leads to Alexa running Bayley down as only she can. After a few references to “Extreme Hopscotch” and telling Bayley to be a “good little girl and go sit at the kiddie table”, Bayley snaps and attacks Alexa. Bliss ends up out of the ring, finds a kendo stick, and brains Bayley with said stick.
Up next? Jack Gallagher & Austin Aries are taking on Neville & TJP. Get ready to hear “TJP” said a bunch of times.
Back from break, we see Kurt Angle backstage on the phone with Sami Zayn. Angle tells Zayn he will call him back and emphasizes that Kurt will do the calling. Poor Sami, always too intense. Meanwhile, Miz and Maryse storm in and Miz claims that Ambrose is making a mockery of the IC Title. Kurt says he makes a valid point and makes a No DQ match for the IC Title at Extreme Rules. Kurt also says that Miz should “watch his tone” which prompts Maryse to cut a promo on Kurt in French. Kurt attempts to cut a promo back in really broken French. The ultimate non sequitur, The Drifter Elias Samson, wanders in and starts playing a song to end the segment.
Meanwhile, #PurpleRopes. Neville and TJP out first – separately. Gallagher and Aries (w/ truncated entrance theme) are out last.
Match #4: Neville & TJP vs. Jack Gallagher & Austin Aries
Not going to lie, I’m getting a little sick of the Neville / Aries / TJP stuff already. I mean, at least Gallagher’s life debt to Aries is a new wrinkle in the script but scarcely enough to really keep my attention. Also, we’re only getting one Cruiserweight segment on the show lately, so of course it’s going to be the same guys over and over again. Ugh. This isn’t terrible by any stretch, but by the time Neville hits Gallagher with a Detonation Kick for the win I had already checked out.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – I wonder if the “one Cruiserweight match on Raw” is the result of a ring crew strike or if they simply can’t make purple tape quickly enough to supply WWE?
Later tonight? Kingslayer vs. New Face of Fear.
Up next? Big Dog vs. Demon.
Back from break, Bayley is in the locker room icing her shoulder. Interesting since it looked like the kendo stick hit her in the back of the head – but okay. Angle wants to assure Bayley that her match at Extreme Rules will be a normal wrestling match. Bayley says she’s ready to “get extreme” with Alexa. Kurt gets really excited and announces a “Kendo Stick on a Pole” match. Is this real life? How does that even work? Do you win by just grabbing the kendo stick? Do you have to hit the other person with the stick to win? Will the match take place in the Townhouse of Terror?
Meanwhile, Golden Truth are in the locker room. Truth is running himself down, but Goldust attempts to hype him back up. They have a match with Gallows and Anderson later tonight and they’re going to work their way back up from the bottom.
Back in the arena, Balor (w/ 5 minute entrance) is out and we head to break.
Back from break, the video we opened the show with airs again – for reasons.
Next, Roman (w/ boos) is out.
Match #5: Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns
Probably the best match on this week’s show. I’d have given it to the Miz / Ambrose match, but man, that stinker of a finish. I know it inflamed the internet, but the smart move here was to put Roman over. By booking and now by chance, Roman has retired Taker and put Strowman on the shelf. The absolute worst thing they could do here would be to have him lose cleanly to Balor. If they’re still building towards Roman / Lesnar at Mania, you can protect him in a Fatal Five Way and still get there. I expected them to put Finn over (especially with his WWE 24 airing tonight), but alas, they stayed the course and Roman manages to hit a Spear for a win after nearly getting nailed with a Coup de Grace. Both guys brought it and this match was a fun watch.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – A strong match that managed to not kill the character building they’ve been doing with Roman since WrestleMania.
The announcers are talking when the lights cut out. Bray Wyatt appears in the smoky room and cuts a semi-lucid (for him) promo saying he will be the next Universal Champion. It may be Angle’s Show and Roman’s Yard, but it’s Bray’s World. So. It’s Roman’s Yard, in Brock’s City, on Bray’s World, in Finn’s Universe. So, now it just has to be Seth’s country and Joe’s continent?
Back from break, Seth is with Charly. Rollins isn’t concerned with Bray’s criticisms of him and he says he doesn’t need to announce “I’m here” for people to know he’s arrived. If anyone slays the beast… it’ll be the kingslayer.
Golden Truth are out to their full entrance. Truth starts doing his “What’s Up?” call and response and he gets laid out from behind by Goldust. Goldust beats the crap out of Truth for a while before finally standing over him and saying “that’s what’s up”. Well, if that wasn’t just a completely random heel turn.
Later tonight? Tyler Black vs. Husky Harris.
Back from break, we see a video game ad.
Next, Enzo & Cass are out. They do their standard spiel until Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews cut them off. Titus emulates the Enzo & Cass entrance and even attempts to dance like Enzo and dabs. Solid stuff. Cass informs Titus that it’s Titus who is wrestling tonight, not Apollo. Titus isn’t down with this as he’s wearing a suit but Cass does not care.
Match #6: Titus O’Neil in a Suit (w/ Apollo Crews) vs. Big Cass (w/ Enzo Amore)
Titus O’Neil wrestles in a suit. Full stop. I may get my dream of seeing Drew Gulak work 205 Live in a suit as this match here sets an important precedent. Anyway, this “match” includes Titus trying to use his belt and eating a big boot from Cass and losing almost immediately. But, a man wrestled in a suit on WWE TV.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – #SuitWrestling
Post-match, Enzo attempts to take a selfie and eats a kick to the head from Crews. So, Crews turned heel officially? I don’t even know any more.
Tomorrow night on 205 Live? Austin Aries vs. TJP. No, it’s not a re-run.
Meanwhile, TJP and Neville are backstage in the locker room. TJP is proud of himself and Neville says they have Aries’ knee hanging by a thread and it’s up to TJP to take care of their Austin Aries problem once and for all.
Wyatt stinger hits and he’s out. Rollins enters next.
Match #7: Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins
Noticing Angle gave Samoa Joe nothing to do telegraphed the ending to this a little too much. Sure enough, Rollins mounts a comeback, hits a Falcon Arrow, Bray rolls out of the ring and Joe appears and drops Seth. DQ. The match leading up to that cop-out finish was all right. They hyped this up as “the first meeting between Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt” and whether that was true or not, I’m not entirely certain these two guys have the most compatible of styles. It was okay, but the cheap finish did this one no favors.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – If I knocked Miz / Ambrose all the way down for a weak finish, then obviously this one gets the same rating as it wasn’t nearly as good as Miz / Ambrose.
Post-match, Joe continues his assault on Seth. Bray gets back in the ring and helps Joe with a double team. Both guys back off for a second, but Joe heads back for more Rollins and eats a Sister Abigail from Bray. Wyatt gives a Sister Abigail to Seth.
We go off the air with Bray posing in the ring. Well, I suppose we now know at least one guy who won’t be winning the Extreme Rules match.