I will admit: I have a “Vince McMahon is appearing on SmackDown” level of intrigue for the return of Elias on tonight’s show. Mind you, there’s a really strong chance that there will be a “Vince McMahon appeared on SmackDown” level of letdown with how they handle it.

In the opening moments of the show, there’s a little sleight-of-hand promotion as the graphic says “Raw Tonight, the Return of Brock Lesnar” … but the commentary team makes it clear that Raw will simply feature a look back at his return on last Friday’s SmackDown. They do promote a Money in the Bank Qualifying Match between Riddle and Omos — but if Riddle claims the briefcase I guess he’ll have to wait until Reigns isn’t champion any more, right? Or are they ignoring that part where he wasn’t ever going to get another shot at Roman as champ?

Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair is first into the ring tonight, reacting to the news that Rhea Ripley will not be medically cleared to challenge her at Money in the Bank (Ripley has posted photos of dental surgery after an unspecified injury). The Judgment Day just might sputter to a quick demise after starting off really hot.

Belair says that five women are vying to replace Ripley: Alexa Bliss, Liv Morgan, Carmella, Asuka, and Becky Lynch (the crowd is fully behind Morgan and Asuka). Lynch interrupts and whines about being misused and mistreated, which of course brings out Asuka to mock her for whining. Next up is Morgan, who also targets Lynch and warns her not to overlook her.

Who’s next? Carmella, which has Corey Graves and nobody else amped up. She accuses Morgan of riding Bliss’ coattails. This leaves Alexa to arrive last and remind everyone that Carmella rode the coattails of James Ellsworth (not mentioning him by name, though) to win her own Money in the Bank.

Belair has heard enough, and announces that the Fatal Five-Way between these women to have a shot at her title begins right now.

Becky Lynch VS. Asuka VS. Liv Morgan VS. Carmella VS. Alexa Bliss – Fatal Five-Way for Raw Women’s Championship Number-One Contendership

These are usually a mess. Lynch and Asuka go after one another right away, rolling to the floor and out of view for a while, and a couple of punches and a dropkick by Morgan are enough to send Carmella packing for a couple of minutes as well. Morgan and Bliss put on a semi-competitive show, featuring a couple of ridiculous rolling pinning combinations that fulfill the comedy section of the match.

After they knock each other down with a punch, Carmella re-enters and tries to pin them both to no avail. As Bliss takes out Carmella again, Lynch comes back in via a missed second-rope legdrop intended for Bliss. Carmella badmouths Bliss and gets another two-count by yanking Bliss down by her hair. Oh, by the way, Carmella’s facemask is gone, post-wedding presumably.

After a break, Morgan nails Lynch with a missile dropkick, but Carmella gets into the fight and brings Lynch down with a hurricanrana onto Morgan for a two-count. Lynch gets a Manhandle Slam on Asuka, but Bliss launches Twisted Bliss to break up the pin by Bliss. A Jersey Codebreaker by Morgan doesn’t really faze Lynch, who counters soon afterwards with a Manhandle Slam, but Asuka pulls her away from the attempted pin.

The end comes as Morgan blocks a second Twisted Bliss but gets up right into a superkick from Carmella for the surprising win.

Winner via pinfall: Carmella

Belair looks surprised and, well, unenthused that it’s Carmella that she’ll be facing at Money in the Bank.

Belair’s face is just about everyone’s face when presented with this new Raw Women’s title match-up. Photo: WWE

Becky Lynch gets a few minutes to complain to Adam Pearce backstage, enough to arrange a Money in the Bank Qualifying Match against Asuka tonight.

Back in the ring, though, why it’s Vince McMahon! The crowd cheers, some genuflect, and everyone seems geerally happy to see him. McMahon says as little as he did on SmackDown last week, simply confirming that John Cena will appear on Raw next week, and then he leaves.

Matt Riddle VS. Omos – Money in the Bank Qualifying Match

Riddle gets some mic time and apologizes to Randy for letting him down. He also says that winning Money in the Bank would allow him to cash in against Roman Reigns for another attempt at his title … but no, that’s wrong. He can’t have another shot at Reigns as champion, according to Paul Heyman last week. MVP brings out Omos for the match and has a little chat with Riddle about how he’s not getting past Omos.

Whew, there was so much talking and such long entrances, we need a commercial break.

When we return, the match begins. Riddle, with his ribs taped up, receives a sidewalk slam early and is thrown hard into the turnbuckles. We see Seth Rollins watching from backstage, so that will surely lead to something. Riddle is then caught in a bearhug, but he escapes with a high knee, then attempts an RKO only to be caught and slammed by Omos for the victory.

Winner via pinfall: Omos

Omos hits the “Breakout” button (what’s up, 2K22 gamers) and continues the assault after the bell.

Once Omos leaves, Rollins makes his way to the ring and mocks Riddle for everything he has lost recently. Rollins says he’s the only one that can beat Reigns, and though Riddle attacks from behind during the promo, Rollins counters with a Curb Stomp to knock Riddle out.

The over-dressed wrestler is victorious over the under-dressed wrestler in this scenario. Photo: WWE

Next up, the ring is dressed up for a posedown. I know what you’re thinking — could it be? Yes! More posing from Austin Theory! He’s back for another Invitational Theory Posedown, except he’s not inviting anyone else this time. As he poses, Bobby Lashley sneaks up behind him, mocks his poses, and sprays oil in Theory’s face before spearing him off the podium. Ah, the sweet revenge we’ve all been dreaming of for a week.

After a break, Kevin Patrick catches up with Theory who says that Lashley can have a shot at the United States Championship if Bobby can win a Gauntlet Match against three men tonight.

In the ring, Jimmy and Jey Uso are here to talk a little trash about The Street Profits, and it’s not long before Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford appear to throw some smacktalk back at the champs. This leads, naturally, to a match.

Jey Uso (w/ Jimmy Uso) VS. Angelo Dawkins (w/ Montez Ford)

Uso takes a kick to the side of the head before pulling down the ropes and sending Dawkins spilling to the floor. He follows with a suicide dive attack and then launches Dawkins over the barricade before a break.

Coming back, Dawkins is hitting hard clotheslines, a flying back elbow, and an exploder suplex — all for a two-count. A lifting neckbreaker from Jey gets him his own two-count, so he follows up with a superkick and tries for a splash, but Dawkins pops up and grabs him in midair for a sit-out powerbomb.

Winner via pinfall: Angelo Dawkins

Somewhere backstage, Ezekiel catches up with Elias in a segment that would make the three faces of Foley proud. Elias says he’s a changed man after being so inspired by Ezekiel’s run. They kind of, sort of pull off a fist-bump.

And then, it’s time for Elias in the ring! He plays to the crowd and opens with a song dedicated to Ezekiel, only getting through a few bars before Kevin Owens interrupts and wants to expose Elias as a fraud. Ezekiel shows up on the screen to tell Owens it’s time to move on. Kevin smashes Elias’ guitar and take a high knee in exchange. So, Elias grabs another guitar and smashes it over KO’s head.

Kevin Owens isn’t buying it … fake beard and all. Photo: WWE

As Elias panders to the fans, Kevin Patrick meets Owens backstage and asks if he’s now convinced that Ezekiel and Elias are different people. He wants one of them in a match next week, and Ezekiel strolls up to accept.

Bobby Lashley VS. Chad Gable (w/ Otis) – Gauntlet Match

First up of Lashley’s three opponents is Gable, who brings out a little amateur wrestling from The All Mighty. A neckbreaker by Lashley is followed by knocking Gable off the apron and into the announcer’s table. As Gable re-enters, he’s picked up into a lengthy vertical suplex, but Gable revereses the ensuing spear into an ankle lock. Lashley rolls out but Gable hits a moonsault for a two-count.

Lashley has Gable in a Hurt Lock soon afterwards, which Gable escapes but is caught in another one almost immediately afterward with no escape.

Winner via submission: Bobby Lashley

Bobby Lashley VS. Otis (w/ Chad Gable)

Otis attacks Lashley immediately upon the bell and beats him up all around ringside before a break. Coming back in, a clothesline and standing elbow drop daze Lashley, but he dodges a Vader Bomb and finds that he can’t quite grasp Otis in a Hurt Lock so he uses a spear instead.

As he’s about to get his three-count, though, Gable breaks up the pin and brings the match to an end.

Winner via disqualification: Bobby Lashley

The Alpha Academy beat on Lashley some more before the third opponent appears.

Bobby Lashley VS. Austin Theory – Gauntlet Match

There’s not much here — Theory tries an A-Town Down, but Lashley slips away and wraps up Theory with a cradle for the win in this impromptu Championship Contender’s Match.

Winner via pinfall: Bobby Lashley

Backstage, Bianca Belair is with Sarah Schreiber, admitting she was a bit surprised by Carmella’s win earlier tonight. She says she won’t underestimate her before Carmella attacks her from behind.

Next up is Miz TV, with the host telling his guest AJ Styles that he’s a bit sorry for him after all of his troubles with The Judgment Day. Styles counters by continuing the epic bit about the size of Miz’s balls. That’s where things are at right now.

Eventually, Styles attacks Miz but is immediately attacked from behind by Tommaso Ciampa. This leads to a match.

AJ Styles VS. Tommaso Ciampa

The Miz is on commentary for this one, as Styles starts off with a backbreaker and a high dropkick to Ciampa’s face. A knee to Styles’ face is the payback, but a Phenomenal Blitz and a low forearm gives Styles the advantage again. A punch by Ciampa has the whole commentary team trying to out-“Boom” each other, but it’s the Phenomenal Forearm that seals the deal.

Winner via pinfall: AJ Styles

Miz tries for a sneak attack but finds himself in a Styles Clash instead. He grabs The Miz’s sunglasses and somehow instantly transforms into Johnny Nitro/Mundo/Morrison/Elite.

Styles already has his Hallowe’en outfit picked out for this year. Photo: WWE

Kevin Patrick is in his interview spot beside the entrance ramp talking to Veer Mahaan. The crowd “What’s” their way through his promise to continue wreaking havoc.

Becky Lynch VS. Asuka – Money in the Bank Qualifying Match

Lynch attacks Asuka during her entrance, but Asuka turns the tables on her and holds the advantage with an armbar soon after the bell. Lynch retakes control by sending Asuka flying to the floor, following her and slamming Asuka against the apron. Back in the ring, Lynch blocks a superplex but takes a Codebreaker soon afterwards. Asuka climbs the turnbuckles again only to be knocked to the floor again before a commercial break.

Asuka gets in an ankle lock, but Lynch rolls away and sends the Empress face-first into a corner. Both women end up on the floor where Asuka drives a knee into Lynch’s chin and they both barely get in at the count of nine. After escaping a Dis-Arm-Her via the ropes, Asuka delivers a firecracker of a kick to Lynch’s face to take the match.

Winner via pinfall: Asuka

TOP PHOTO: Biance Belair awaits her new challenger. WWE photo



Monday Night Raw, June 20th, 2020

Another aimless show that seems to be making things up on the fly week-by-week, and without a really solid match to make up for the mountain of wasted time. Plus, another pointless, ill-timed, and self-lauding appearance by Vince McMahon knocks it down a peg for sure. The Elias bit, though? I loved it.