WWE Raw results, recap, grades: Money in the Bank build begins as show falls flat

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One night after WWE produced the low point in terms of fan morale thus far in 2018 at its Backlash pay-per-view, Monday’s edition of Raw failed to do much in terms of changing the overall narrative. Despite a trio of strong qualifying matches ahead of the June 17 men’s and women’s Money in the Bank matches, Raw was severely lacking in terms of energy and storyline reveals.  

With the likes of top Raw superstars Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey idle for the second straight night, WWE creative also stubbornly doubled down on a storyline angle for Roman Reigns that has done nothing but alienate fans.  While a post-WrestleMania hangover isn’t exactly a new thing for WWE creative from year to year, 2018 has been especially frustrating with the heavily promoted Greatest Royal Rumble doing nothing but adding to the oversaturation of the product and customer fatigue.

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Big names qualify for Money in the Bank matches 

Raw opened with general manager Kurt Angle announcing a pair of Money in the Bank qualifying matches that did not include Braun Strowman. The “Monster Among Men” came out to complain, and just as Angle was agreeing with Strowman, out came Kevin Owens to petition for himself. Angle booked an immediate qualifying match between them.  

Braun Strowman def. Kevin Owens via pinfall: A tornado DDT from Owens onto the floor turned the tide in his favor. Twice, Strowman was able to barely beat the 10-count back into the ring. But Owens could only get two on a frog splash and Strowman took over late by blocking a pop-up powerbomb and twice landing running shoulder tackles outside. He hit a running powerslam for the 1-2-3.

Ember Moon def. Ruby Riott (via pinfall) and Sasha Banks: This one took a while to get the crowd involved but an electric finish more than made up for it. There was no shortage of high spots spaced throughout as Riott hit a simultaneous reverse DDT on Banks and standing faceplant on Moon. All three then hit consecutive aerial moves onto the floor as Banks landed a springboard flip onto Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan, Riott followed with a dive onto Banks and Moon then hit Riott’s head into the barrier wall with a stiff suicide dive. Banks appeared to have Riott pinned late until Logan and Morgan interfered and continued to stomp her. That produced a run-in from Bayley to rescue Banks. The finish was creative as Banks looked to set Riott up for her finisher … until Moon leaped in from the top rope to instead land the Eclipse on Riott for the win.

Finn Balor def. Sami Zayn (via pinfall) and Roman Reigns: A pre-match promo from the self-proclaimed “uncrowned universal champion” Reigns talked about how he has been screwed over by WWE management. The continued kayfabe screwing of Reigns only continued in this main event match, which saw a “pissed off” Reigns double teamed by the babyfaces early and dumped behind the barrier wall in the soundboard area. Reigns returned late to leap over the barricade and splash Zayn out of nowhere to kickstart what was a dramatic finish. A wild sequence all three nearly hit their finishing moves. Reigns appeared to have the match won when he laid out Balor with a Superman Punch. But just as Reigns set up his spear in the corner, Jinder Mahal ran in to hold his leg from outside the ring. Zayn knocked Reigns out of the ring with a Heluva kick and Balor attacked Zayn from behind before hitting a Coup de Grace for the 1-2-3.   

While all three matches failed to produce pay-per-view quality from start to finish, the final two were fairly close when it came to excitement and something legitimate at stake. The only true storyline development came from the main event as Mahal appeared to gain revenge on Angle for twice refusing to enter him into MITB qualifying matches earlier in the night.  

I’s unclear whether Mahal will feud with Reigns as a result of the finish. Still, WWE couldn’t help itself from continuing down the dead-end creative road of trying to portray Reigns as a sympathetic figure. While it was good to see Strowman secure a spot in the MITB, the unexplained randomness of him only needing to win a singles match to do so (as opposed to Balor competing in a triple threat) was annoying at best. As was Strowman, who is still without a storyline, repeating the same spots on Owens for the third straight week. Grade: C+

What else happened on Raw? 

  • Baron Corbin & The Revival def. No Way Jose, Apollo Crews & Titus O’Neil via pinfall: Corbin got the last laugh in his quest to quiet Jose’s addiction to fun. Jose was unaware of a blind tag to Corbin and hit Dash Wilder with a pop-up forearm. Corbin snuck up from behind for End of Days to secure the win.  
  • Bobby Lashley gets an awkward close-up: Four weeks after his return to WWE, Lashley finally saw his character receive some layers after a video feature recapped his background as a standout amateur wrestler, Army veteran and MMA fighter with Bellator. But the Lashley push took a hard left turn moments later during his sitdown interview with Renee Young. Lashley talked exclusively about his childhood and shared peculiar stories about growing up with three sisters. He interrupted Young’s attempt to end the chat by awkwardly looking into the camera to tell his sisters that he loved them. Lashley went from being presented as an extreme white-meat babyface to a creeper in a matter of minutes.
  • Jinder Mahal def. Chad Gable via pinfall: Angle booked the match after Mahal interrupted him backstage to complain about not being included in the Money in the Bank qualifying matches. Mahal nearly avoided a second straight upset after Gable could only get two on a moonsault. Mahal finished Gable off by hitting his Khallas and followed with an extended beating after the match. Mahal then interrupted Zack Ryder’s backstage meeting with Angle to ask again for a MITB chance. Angle borrowed Ryder’s catchphrase by telling him, “Woo woo woo, the answer is no, bro.”  
  • Drew McIntyre & Dolph Ziggler def. Heath Slater & Ryno via pinfall: Quick squash for the heels, showcasing both their dangerous tandem offense and just how ready they look to be champions right now. McIntyre hit an Alabama Slam on Slater after Ziggler superkicked him to the head. Moments later, the duo combined for their devastating Zig-Zag/Claymore finisher as McIntyre pinned Slater.   
  • Elias def. Bobby Roode via pinfall: One night after attacking Elias at Backlash, Roode continued to have his number on Raw. The two-segment match certainly felt like it dragged at times. Roode finished him off with a Glorious DDT and cut an in-ring promo after about how “glorious” it will be when he wins the Money in the Bank match.  
  • Intercontinental Championship — Seth Rollins (c) def. Mojo Rawley via pinfall: Saying he’s not focused on Money in the Bank, Rollins cut a promo about his intention to be a fighting champion. His subsequent open challenge was answered by Rawley, which left the crowd largely indifferent and uninterested. Despite chants of “We want [Zack] Ryder” from the Long Island crowd, the heel Rawley did his best to hang with the red-hot Rollins. After a pair of near falls for Rawley, the finish came following Rollins’ Stomp.  
  • Deleters of Worlds def. Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel via pinfall: Despite a pre-match video promo playing up their future plans, the former Miztourage was no match for the Raw tag team champions in this squash match. Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy hit a unique double Sister Abigail on Axel to get the victory.
  • Money in the Bank promos: There were various selfie promos shown throughout the show featuring random Raw talent claiming how prepared and excited they were to compete for the chance to be in the MITB match. Including one promo published on Twitter, three tag teams were among those cutting promos, which went completely unexplained during the broadcast.



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