Bayless’ WWE RAW Rundown 5/22/17

May 22, 2017
From the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI
Your hosts are Booker T, Corey Graves, and Michael Cole

We are shown a video package to hype the Universal Title #1 Contender Fatal Five Way match at Extreme Rules.

The live show starts with Bray Wyatt heading out to the ring. He tells us to stand up and rejoice as he is our true savior. He tells us he will rip open the head of the “beast” as he alone can protect us, unlike the others in the Fatal Five Way match. Bray then addresses Roman Reigns and wants to ask him what does a yard mean to a man that owns the world but Reigns himself comes out to the ring. Reigns tells Wyatt if he is going to run his mouth in his yard, he better say it to his face. Wyatt laughs and tells Reigns he lets his temper get the best of him before saying he is the only one who can beat Brock Lesnar. However, Reigns tells him that is not going to happen as he will beat four guys at Extreme Rules then beat Lesnar. Reigns then says the only thing on his mind now is how to “get his ass “out of his yard but Kurt Angle’s music hits and he appears. Angle says the Fatal Five Way could be the most important of the “New Era” and is looking at the two favorites to win. He then says he likes Reigns idea of having a match and orders a referee out to the ring as they will be having a match when we return from commercial.

Brief segment to set up a match for tonight. Bray’s promo was much better and focused than usual as this served its purpose well in creating more tension in the Fatal Five Way match. 

Tomorrow night on Smackdown, Jinder Mahal will have a “Punjabi Celebration” after becoming the WWE World Champion.

Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns

They start off slow then Reigns takes control for a bit. Wyatt bails as Reigns heads out and hits an uppercut. Wyatt stomps on Reigns after getting rolled inside then hits an uranage before beating on Reigns in the corner. He measures Reigns up for a running attack but Reigns charges and hits a clothesline. Reigns hits his corner clotheslines but Wyatt cuts him off with a tackle as both men are down. Samoa Joe then comes out as he is pissed and he orders Wyatt to get up and help him attack Reigns before he puts Reigns in the Coquina Clutch as the ref rings the bell for the DQ (4:38) *. Joe puts Wyatt in the clutch but Seth Rollins runs out and clears him from the ring. Bray goes for a sneak attack but Reigns cuts him off with a Superman Punch as the former Shield partners stand tall in the ring.

Thoughts: Not much of a match but designed to build to a tag match later on in the show.

Tonight, we will see Finn Balor vs. Karl Anderson and Matt Hardy vs. Sheamus, with the winner getting to pick the stipulation of their match at Extreme Rules.

Backstage, Reigns tells Rollins he doesnt need his help. Rollins then laughs and tells the “Big Dog” he was out there for himself. Angle comes out and says tonight is about teamwork and they will face off against Samoa Joe & Bray Wyatt. Reigns & Rollins leaves as The Drifter comes in and plays his guitar. Angle then goes ahead and gives him his first match. He says his opponent will be Dean Ambrose as The Drifter stops playing briefly before going back to his guitar. The announces actually refer to him as Elias Samson here. And they established some tension between Reigns and Rollins here too, which helps heading into the Fatal Five Way.

Ariya Daivari vs. Akira Tozawa 

Cole talks to The Brian Kendrick, who is backstage for this match watching on a monitor, as Kendrick tells us he is the teacher and Tozawa the student as they hype their street fight on “205 Live.” Tozawa starts off the match beating on Daivari. He misses a charge in the corner and Daivari clotheslines him for a nearfall as Kendrick tells us the only thing Tozawa does better than him are is “stupid” chants. Tozawa catches Daivari with a hurricarana then hits a Saito suplex and heads up top with a senton for the win (2:07) *. After the match, Kendrick says he will destroy Tozawa, who starts chanting with the fans.

Thoughts: Quick win for Tozawa to build him up for his street fight tomorrow night on “205 Live.” Despite a new gimmick, it was the same result for Daivari, who remains unimpressive. Tozawa’s chanting is slowly starting to get over.

Sasha Banks is walking around backstage. Charly Caruso asks her about losing to Alicia Fox and how she will fare tonight in the rematch. Alicia Fox & Noam Dar cut in and make fun of Sasha for being single then Sasha gets in Dar’s face as he cowers.

Elias Samson is singing in the ring with a spotlight on as the crowd boos. Ambrose comes out for the match as the crowd cheers.

Elias Samson vs. Dean Ambrose

The Miz & Maryse are on commentary here as Miz still believes Ambrose is a disgrace as champion. Samson grabs a side headlock for a bit until Ambrose hits an arm drag and works the arm. Samson cuts off Ambrose with an elbow smash then hammers away in the corner. Samson hits a running knee to the face outside as Ambrose is draped over the apron then we head to commercial. The match returns with Samson working a chinlock. He clotheslines Ambrose as Miz is on commentary talking about himself and how he is a star. Samson works the arm but Ambrose comes back with a neckbreaker as both men are down. Ambrose fires away but is favoring his hurt arm. He struggles to climb up top but gets with a jumping knee smash in midair as Samson eventually covers and gets two. Ambrose comes back with a clothesline as both men are down then Miz runs into the ring, pauses, and attacks Samson as Ambrose wins by DQ (9:50) **1/4. After the match, Ambrose chases Miz around and his about to destroy him but gets attacked by Samson, who hits Ambrose with an inverted swinging neckbreaker.

Thoughts: The match was fine and Samson was solid in his debut. Miz interfering was designed to show how the deck is stacked against Ambrose with the title can change hands on a DQ stipulation for their match at Extreme Rules. I liked the finish too as neither guy got pinned and with one making his debut and the other a champion, it was for the best.

We seen a pissed off Big Cass walking with a referee as they see Enzo Amore completely laid out backstage. Cass yells at him to wake up but he is unresponsive as we head to another commercial.

The show returns as Enzo is now sitting up but unable to recall who attacked him. He needs to be helped up as medical staff take him away. Cass then tells Angle he better hope to find out who did this before he does. My money is on The Revival.

Finn Balor comes out to the ring. He says the Balor Club is in the building and we have a Fatal Five Way match at Extreme Rules but tonight, he has Karl Anderson standing in his path and he is focused. However, Paul Heyman comes out to interrupt. Heyman runs down all of Fatal Five Way competitors until he gets to Balor. He gets into the ring and tells Heyman he is nobody’s victim and not an underdog as he is not sneaking up on anyone. Heyman believes Balor is the most talented WWE performer today and does not look at his client like a giant but the same as any other competitor he faces. Heyman says of all the possibilities to happen at Extreme Rules, he looks forward to his client facing Balor the most then extends his hand as Balor shakes it then says he wishes Lesnar was here. Balor wants Heyman to give Lesnar a message and that is he will win at Extreme Rules then face Lesnar to recapture the championship he never loss and that he will beat Brock Lesnar.

Good segment. Heyman had some sort of ulterior motive here and put over Balor at the same time. He spent a lot of time talking him up here. 

Finn Balor vs. Karl Anderson w/ Luke Gallows

This match started during the break. Anderson beats on Balor, who comes back with a basement dropkick after rolling through a sunset flip attempt. Balor stomps away but Gallows provides a distraction on the apron, allowing Anderson to attack Balor from behind. Gallows cheap shots Balor behind the ref’s back then Anderson works a chinlock for a while. Balor comes back with an upkick as both men are down. Anderson eats a double boot in the corner as Balor runs wild. He kicks Anderson off of the top rope then baseball slides Gallows down and kicks him in the face. He catches Anderson with a kick then heads up top but Anderson ducks the Coup de Grace and hits a spinebuster for a nearfall. Balor escape from a powerbomb then knocks Anderson outside and takes out both men with a tope con hilo. Back inside, Balor hits a sling blade and a shotgun dropkick before heading up top where he hits the Coup de Grace for the win (6:20) **1/2.

Thoughts: Good TV match. Balor came across as a star and Anderson has been rock solid in the ring over the past few months. On commentary, they played up the relationship Balor has with Anderson & Gallows so I expect that to continue in the coming weeks.

Alicia Fox w/ Noam Dar vs. Sasha Banks

Sasha takes Fox down to start. She then catches her in a drop toehold then Fox bails. Sasha takes Fox down with a baseball slide and rolls her inside but Dar provides a distraction as Fox kicks Sasha in the face. Fox works a chinlock but Sasha fights back and they go back-and-forth briefly until Sasha lays her across the middle rope in the corner and hits the double knee drop for the win (2:14) *. After the match, Dar gets in Sasha’s face and ends up being slapped but Fox attacks Sasha from behind and hits the scissors kick then celebrates with her man.

Thoughts: Fine for what it was but this just seems designed for Banks to kill time until something else comes along, like her rumored turn against Bayley.

Kalisto and Apollo Crews are backstage. Kalisto asks what’s wrong with him and why is he fighting Titus O’Neill’s battles. Kalisto asks if he attacked Enzo as Crews tells him he would never do that as Crews tells Kalisto Titus is giving him the exposure he never had before. Titus comes up and asks Kalisto if he wants to be the first International member of the Titus Brand as he doesnt care what currency comes into his possession as long as it can be spent but Kalisto denies. Titus then tells Kalisto that he made a mistake and he will now have to face Crews tonight. Kalisto looks at Crews, who shakes his head and walks away.

We get a replay of Goldust attacking R-Truth from behind, ending their team. Goldust then appears in a promo saying gold is the purest of them all and never loses its luster but Truth is fading away. Goldust then tears up a script, saying its his picture, as he claims to be back in the director’s chair and controls everything as he declares the “Golden Age” is back. With this promo, Goldust is reverting back to his original gimmick but with a modern and more family-friendly twist. More interesting than what he has been doing as part of the Golden Truth.

Charly welcomes Alexa Bliss and asks her about the Kendo Stick on a Pole match they will have at Extreme Rules. We see a clip of Bliss attacking Bayley last week and then a photo of Bayley’s back all marked up. Bliss says she does not feel bad and wants to hit Bayley again then calls her out for not being able to get “extreme.” Bliss promises to turn Bayley’s dreams into nightmares and promises us a preview of this tonight against Mickie James.

We get a video package on the Braun Strowman/Roman Reigns feud as Cole lets us know Strowman underwent elbow surgery and could miss up to six months of action.

Kalisto vs. Apollo Crews w/ Titus O’Neill

Kalisto lands a few kicks then takes Crews over with a headscissors. Kalisto sets up for a dive outside but Crews runs in and cuts him off with a dropkick. Crews hits a delayed vertical suplex for a two count then works a front facelock on the mat. Kalisto breaks out but runs into an enziguiri as but is able to turn a back suplex into a victory roll then comes back with the Salida del Sol for the win (2:41) *1/2. After the match, Titus yells at Crews as the announcers play up Titus was distracting him with all of his yelling.

Thoughts: They story they tried to push on commentary was that Titus’ yelling was distracting enough for Crews to lose but it wasnt pulled off well and at the end, Crews just ended up looking like an idiot. Its been a tough first year for Crews on the main roster to say the least.

Matt Hardy w/ Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus w/ Cesaro

Winner here gets to pick the match stipulation at Extreme Rules. They mix it up to start until Sheamus knocks Matt down then works a side headlock. Matt clotheslines Sheamus over the top rope then Sheamus bails after Matt went for the Twist of Fate. Matt comes out but Sheamus rams him into the apron then hammers away. A “Brother Nero” chant breaks out as Sheamus hits the Beats of the Bodhran before knocking Matt off of the apron. Back inside, Sheamus gets a nearfall with a top rope clothesline then hammers away in the corner. Matt catches Sheamus with a boot then gets two with a rollup but Sheamus takes him down to one knee with a forearm smash. Matt sidesteps a charge then rams Sheamus’ head into the turnbuckle as a “delete” chant starts up. Sheamus comes back with a rolling senton as we head to break. The match returns with Matt escaping from a chinlock. Sheamus boots Matt in the face and hits the White Noise but that only gets two. Jeff distracts Sheamus on the apron then Matt comes back with a tornado DDT as that gets two. Matt fires away then slips off of Sheamus’ shoulders and eventually hits the Side Effect for a nearfall. Sheamus blocks a Twist of Fate attempt then escapes from another Side Effect before hitting a knee strike for a two count. Cesaro pumps up his partner, who sets up for the Brogue Kick but Matt rolls outside. Cesaro runs over but Jeff takes him tout. Sheamus boots Jeff but Matt comes in and hits the Twist of Fate for the win (12:05) ***. After the match, The Hardy Boyz meet Charly on the stage and tell us their match at Extreme Rules will be a steel cage match.

Thoughts: Good match. However, why the Hardy’s did not pick a stipulation they are more familiar with (Ladder or TLC) is beyond me. What possible advantage do they hold over Cesaro & Sheamus in a cage match? This is also the 4th straight singles match loss against the Hardy Boyz by Cesaro & Sheamus.

Tony Nese vs. Austin Aries

Neville is out talking to Nese before the match. Nese charges at a distracted Aries and hammers away. Aries fights back and hits a knee smash then hits an elbow smash to the back of the neck for a nearfall. Aries works a headscissor/leg lock combo while staring at Neville but Nese powers out. Aries tries for the Last Chancery but Nese bails, only to get hit with a tope. He rolls Nese inside and stares at Neville but Nese kicks out his leg then stomps away. He targets Aries’ injured leg but Aries floats over on a suplex attempt and hits a few chops. Nese chops Aries down but eats boot on a charge then recovers and nails Aries in midair with an elbow smash. Nese tries another vertical suplex but Aries turns that into a guillotine. Nese tries to toss Aries but ends up getting caught in the Last Chancery and taps out (4:27) **1/4. After the match, Aries stares down Neville, who attacks Nese and puts him in the Rings of Saturn. Aries looks on from the ramp and claps sarcastically and asks Neville to try that to him as this ends with both men staring each other down.

Thoughts: Good action while it lasted. I liked the story of Aries making sure to show Neville how many submission holds he knows. Those two should have a really good match at Extreme Rules with the Submission Match stipulation. Nese has been good in the ring for the WWE and they do give him shine in his matches but he always loses and gets screwed over by the heel to the point you are left wondering why he has not just turned face.

Mickie James vs. Alexa Bliss

These two start off trading stuff until Mickie hits a pair of clotheslines and a neckbreaker. Mickie lays into Alexa with crossfaces but runs into a right hand then Alexa hits the DDT for the win (3:02) *. After the match, Alexa grabs a kendo stick from underneath the ring and whacks Mickie in the back but Bayley runs down and yanks Alexa down. She grabs the stick but Alexa is able to run away as Bayley tells Alexa she can get extreme.

Thoughts: Not much of a match. The post-match stuff made sense but the crowd did not care, which goes to show you how much damage her poorly booked title reign caused to the fan base.

Bray Wyatt & Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns

Reigns & Rollins argue over who is starting off the match then Reigns gets on the apron after staring down Wyatt. Rollins fights off his opponents then tosses Wyatt outside before showing Reigns what he did. Wyatt then knocks Rollins off of the apron and into the barricade right before the break. We return as Rollins makes the tag to Reigns, who runs wild on Wyatt. He sets up for the Superman Punch but Wyatt is doing the crab walk. Joe provides a distraction and Wyatt attacks from behind. Joe runs Reigns into the barricade outside then officially tags into the match. He beats on Reigns then works the neck for a bit. Reigns fights back but Joe nails him with an enziguiri in the corner as that gets two. Wyatt tags in and hit a clothesline then applies a chinlock. Reigns gets tossed outside but he manages to reverse direction and send Joe into the post. Reigns snaps Wyatt’s neck off of the top rope then nails Joe with the Drive By but as that happens, Wyatt knocks Rollins off of the apron. Wyatt gets tossed by Reigns, who is able to make the tag as Rollins returns to the apron. Rollins runs wild on Joe then takes out Wyatt with a pescado. He sends Joe outside then takes out both men with a tope. Back inside, Rollins takes out both men with a crossbody but Wyatt breaks up his finisher attempt. Reigns saves Rollins from the Sister Abigail then goes for the Superman Punch but Joe ducks and Reigns knocks down Rollins. Reigns tried to hold up though. Rollins yells at Reigns about being a team then Wyatt pulls Reigns outside and Joe puts Rollins in the Coquina Clutch and the ref calls for the bell (14:58) ***1/4.

Thoughts: Good match. They did a great job in building up tension between Rollins and Reigns here as that adds another dimension to the Fatal Five Way.

After the match, Wyatt and Joe have some words as Angle is shown watching on the monitor. Balor comes in and congratulates Angle for his job on the main event then says not to leave him out of it next week. He wants a match against one of the competitors as Angle says that will not happen because he is facing off against two of them as he will face Samoa Joe and Bray Wyatt while Reigns will face Rollins.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought this was a good show. They did a strong job in making sure everyone involved in the Fatal Five Way has tension with one another heading into the match. I really felt they succeeded in doing that tonight. They also put over the secondary feuds well enough and even hyped tomorrow night’s “205 Live” main event. There was very little in terms of wasted segments here and it turned out to be one of the better RAW’s in a while.