The last WWE Raw before Payback was a step back after three straight weeks of above-average shows. It was as if they forgot the things that worked during those shows and decided to go off the rails this week. I can’t explain their reasons for it.
I’ll do my best to make sense of this week’s Raw like always. But this was one of those episodes where if you missed it, you really didn’t miss a lot.
Braun Strowman destroyed Kalisto after losing a Dumpster Match
Strowman was featured heavily again this week following his ambulance attack on Roman Reigns two weeks ago and breaking the ring with Big Show last week. The Dumpster Match was set up after Kalisto tweeted about it on Sunday since Strowman tossed him into a dumpster last week. Kurt Angle made the match official, so it was the only match advertised before the show.
The match featured a dumpster placed right beside the ring. Strowman dominated the majority of the contest as he tossed Kalisto all around. Kalisto got in a bit of offense to stagger the big man, but was mostly on the defensive as Strowman used his power moves. Strowman ended up going to the apron along with Kalisto to try to put the smaller man in the dumpster. Instead, Kalisto went back in the ring, hit a dropkick to the knees and Strowman landed feet first into the dumpster, so he was standing inside of it.
After the loss, Strowman was really mad. He went into the ring and hit Kalisto with three Chokeslams in a row. Strowman put him in the dumpster and rolled it up the ramp. He was confronted by agents in suits such as Fit Finlay, Jamie Noble and Adam Pearce, who was not a WWE wrestler, but used to wrestle elsewhere. They tried to stop Strowman from his attack. Referees also joined in on the fun. Strowman teased leaving and changed his mind by shoving the dumpster off the railing, which was about four feet high. After a break, Kalisto was taken away on a stretcher and put in an ambulance.
The most famous dumpster spot happened in 1998 when Mick Foley and Terry Funk were shoved off the Raw stage by the New Age Outlaws. That was a much bigger fall and legitimately hurt Funk at the time. Since I loved it so much, here’s a clip of it.
I think they booked the finish that way to give Strowman a reason to become really mad to set up the dumpster spot. When I was watching it, I thought Reigns would come out to make the save to prevent the attack, but they didn’t go that route. Instead, poor Kalisto took the hard fall. Hopefully, they put some padding in the dumpster to make it less painful for him.
Would I have booked Strowman to lose that match? No, but the loss became irrelevant quickly because of the assault after the match was over. It could also lead to another match between them with Strowman beating him easily after being humiliated by the loss.
Bray Wyatt attacked Chris Jericho, Dean Ambrose and his “partner” The Miz to end the show
The show began with a long promo segment as Chris Jericho welcomed us to The Highlight Reel with himself as the guest. The Miz and his lovely wife Maryse interrupted the segment to welcome us to Miz TV instead. Dean Ambrose interrupted them to being his Ambrose Asylum show. Ambrose gave Jericho a new jacket since he destroyed Jericho’s jacket last year. This new jacket was grey with Christmas lights on it. Cheesy but mildly funny too.
Ambrose told Miz he had a present for him too and gave him the Dirty Deeds DDT. Jericho followed that by putting Maryse on “The List” because she was married to a loser like Miz. It was a long opening segment that went nearly 20 minutes, but there were enough laughs to make it enjoyable.
In a backstage segment, Miz complained to Raw GM Kurt Angle about what happened. Angle told him they settle things in the ring and told Miz to find a partner for a match against Ambrose and Jericho.
The Miz was featured in several backstage segments searching for a partner. When he tried to ask Heath Slater and Curtis Axel to team with him, they turned him down too. Miz was handed a piece of paper, which led to him smiling because his partner’s name was on it… or so he thought.
The main event began with Jericho and Ambrose against The Miz in a handicap match because nobody showed up to team with The Miz. It was an odd situation because it’s rare to see a heel Miz in a 1-on-2 setting, but that’s what they did. Seeing Miz on offense against two guys made the whole thing look awkward more than anything.
There wasn’t a decisive finish to the match. Miz left up the ramp to escape, Ambrose chased after him and suddenly the lights went out as Bray Wyatt’s graphic appeared on the screen. When the lights came back on, Wyatt was standing on the announce table with Ambrose. Wyatt beat up Ambrose and sent him head-first into the video wall on the stage.
Wyatt and Miz went down to the ring with Jericho where Jericho hit Miz with a Codebreaker. Wyatt capitalized on that by hitting Jericho with the Sister Abigail. Miz smiled about it, celebrated with Wyatt and was met with a Sister Abigail of his own. Wyatt posed to end the show.
I thought it was a poor ending to the show. The point was to put over Wyatt in a big way to make him look strong heading into his House of Horrors match with Randy Orton on Sunday. They accomplished that, but it also made the main event feel like a waste of time after spending nearly three hours hyping up a tag match. It’s the kind of show ending that is going to make people turn off because it wasn’t that exciting.
Last week’s Raw had a big ending with the ring collapsing spot. This week’s show ended with a whimper. It just fell flat with me and didn’t make me care about anybody in the match because of how poorly they were booked. I guess it makes Wyatt look strong, but the guy barely has matches on television at this point and had a terrible WWE Title reign as well. He has lost a lot of momentum. I’m not sure if he can get it back.
This Week’s Raw Matches
This was a poor week for matches. During the past two Raw episodes, WWE gave more matches time and it led to a better show. This week felt like the opposite, with a bunch of short matches and several bad finishes. Here’s what happened on the rest of Monday night’s program.
Matt Hardy defeated Sheamus
They did this match because Jeff Hardy beat Cesaro on Raw last week. Jeff and Cesaro were at ringside in the corners of their partners.
It was a decent match that went about 10 minutes. Matt was doing the “delete” thing to get the crowd behind him. It’s hard to get into a Sheamus match because he was a heel for so long and now he’s more of a friendly guy, but not a full face either. The action spilled to the floor as Jeff checked on Matt and Sheamus shoved Jeff away. That led to Jeff jumping on the apron to yell at Sheamus, so Cesaro pulled Jeff off the apron and when Sheamus turned around, Matt hit him with a Twist of Fate to win.
Post-match, they all shook hands. It was the second week in a row where they teased a post-match confrontation. I think the Hardys will retain at Payback on Sunday and after the loss, Sheamus and Cesaro will attack them instead of shaking hands.
Austin Aries & Jack Gallagher defeated Neville & T.J. Perkins
Good tag match between the cruiserweights. Gallagher was worked over by the heels for a bit, Aries was fantastic after he got the hot tag, Gallagher stunned Neville with a headbutt and Aries pinned Perkins after the Discus Fivearm (because it’s better than a forearm) to win the match for his team after five minutes. Aries faces Neville at Payback on Sunday, so it gives Aries some positive momentum going into that match.
Dana Brooke defeated Alicia Fox
Bad match. One of the worst matches of the year so far. The best thing I can say about this is that it was done in less than two minutes. Brooke is so sloppy in everything she does. She didn’t even hit her finisher right. The match drew no reaction.
Post-match, Emma went into the ring and hugged Brooke, who was her former ally in NXT. Brooke didn’t hug her back. Are we supposed to care? I don’t and neither do the fans. Brooke is much better as a heel. She’s hard to root for as a face.
Seth Rollins, Big Cass & Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
It was originally going to be Enzo Amore teaming with Cass and Rollins, but Gallows & Anderson attacked Enzo before the match. That led to Kurt Angle announcing a new partner for Cass and Rollins. It was Finn Balor because Raw‘s creative team has had nothing for Balor to do since his return earlier in the month.
The match was an easy win for the faces. Cass was barely in the ring, Balor was the face that the heels worked over and Rollins was the guy who got the hot tag. Rollins looked great as he hit a suicide dive to take out Joe and Anderson on the floor. Prior to that, Cass hit a big boot to Gallows that sent both of them to the floor. Back in the ring, Rollins hit a springboard clothesline to take down Anderson. Balor teased a Pedigree. Instead, he hit a high knee to the face of Anderson to pin him and get the win for his team after eight minutes.
Rollins looked great in getting the win for his team. That was the whole point of the match. I’m probably picking Samoa Joe to beat Rollins at Payback, but I’m not sure yet. I’ll figure it out when I write my preview later in the week.
Sasha Banks defeated Alexa Bliss by countout
There was a promo before the match that featured Bliss alone, followed by Bayley and then Banks after her. Bliss was great at dealing with the crowd doing the “what” chant by saying “Alexa Bliss is the best say what” and the crowd said “what” which shut them up. That old trick always works.
Their match only went about three minutes. Bliss walked out of the ring and lost by countout. Why even book the match? So lame. Post-match, Bayley tried to send Bliss into the ring, but Bliss got away. When Bayley turned her back, Bliss hit her in the back to knock her down. Banks made the save leading to Bliss running away.
Basic stuff. I think the crowd at Payback may be strong for Bayley because it’s her hometown, but the feud hasn’t been booked very well.
Apollo Crews defeated Curt Hawkins
Easy win for Crews in about three minutes. I like his Spinout Powerbomb finisher that he uses. After the match, Titus O’Neil celebrated with Crews, even though Crews didn’t want to celebrate with him. Similar to the Emma/Dana thing.
Other Key Items From Raw
No Roman Reigns on the show for the second straight week
There was no sign of Roman Reigns for the second week in a row. On the April 10 episode of Raw, he was brutally attacked by Braun Strowman in an attack that put him in the hospital. Reigns was off last week to sell the injuries. I thought he would be back on TV this week because he was reportedly at the show, but they chose to leave him off.
Reigns has been dealing with a lot out of the ring as well because his older brother Matt Anoi’a, aka former WWE superstar Rosey, passed away last Monday night at the age of 47. The funeral took place over the weekend. Reigns was given the weekend off WWE live events this week, which was nice of the company to do.
There are a lot of fans out there who probably thought Reigns wouldn’t miss even one week of TV after the Strowman attack. He ended up missing two weeks, which is a nice surprise. Selling a big attack like what Strowman did is important.
To make up for no Reigns on the show, a video package aired about him and they also did an interview with him that appeared on WWE.com as well.
Looking Ahead To Payback
The next WWE pay-per-view event is Payback, which is a Raw brand show this Sunday, April 30 in San Jose, California. Here are the announced matches.
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
“House of Horrors” Match: Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt – This is no longer a WWE Title match. It starts in the “House of Horrors” and ends in the ring apparently.
Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins
United States Championship: Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho – The winner of this match will take the US Title to Smackdown Live, which is the show Owens is already on.
Raw Tag Team Championships: The Hardy Boyz vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
Raw Women’s Championship: Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss
Cruiserweight Championship: Neville vs. Austin Aries
Enzo & Cass vs. Gallows & Anderson (Kickoff Show)
Miz TV with Finn Balor as the guest (Kickoff Show)
No match for Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose unless they add it to the show.
I thought it was a bad show. In this same spot the past three weeks, I kept writing about how WWE was heading in the right direction because the matches were better and they did some cool angles. This week was a boring show that a fan could have skipped without really missing anything important. It did not do a good job of building up to Payback at all. That doesn’t mean Payback will be a terrible show because I like some of the matches. I just don’t think Raw helped it very much.
I’ll be back Wednesday with a review of Smackdown Live featuring Shinsuke Nakamura opening the show and Naomi defending the Smackdown Women’s Title against Charlotte Flair. It’s usually better than Raw. Later in the week, I’ll also have a preview of Sunday’s WWE Payback pay-per-view as well.