Tonight’s Raw is the final episode ahead of Night of Champions live in Saudi Arabia this Saturday where the brand new World Heavyweight Champion will be crowned. There are also questions about who will team up with Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens to take on Imperium in tonight’s main event, which is also Gunther’s debut on the red brand.
The show kicked off with Cody Rhodes arriving at the arena only to be greeted by a vicious attack from Brock Lesnar. Rhodes got thrown into everything in sight and Lesnar finished the job with a callback to his attack on Undertaker from the year 2002. He had his hand on the garage door and Lesnar hit his hand with a steel keg, likely breaking his hand ahead of their match this Saturday.
Brock Lesnar just took out @CodyRhodes on #WWERaw! pic.twitter.com/2Us6nGfTjI
— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2023
Paul Heyman was then in the ring to talk about Night of Champions, and especially about Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa challenging for the Undisputed Tag Team Championships. He said this Saturday Zayn and Owens will be losing the titles back to The Bloodline, while The Usos watch from home. Heyman was done talking, and then out came Zayn and Owens to share their opinions on their upcoming title defence.
Heyman disappeared upon their arrival and Zayn acknowledged that this Saturday will be their biggest challenge yet. Owens added that this match is very personal to him, and he said since Reigns is dedicating Saturday to The Wild Samoans, he wants to dedicate the match to The Usos on his and Zayn’s behalf.
Zayn and Owens then switched gears to talk about tonight’s main event against Imperium, but just as everyone expected out came Imperium. It seemed like the beatdown was about to be on, but out to make the save came Matt Riddle to even the odds. Owens, Zayn and Riddle got the advantage in this brawl and I guess we now know who will be Owens and Zayn’s mystery partner in the main event.
Ricochet vs. Bronson Reed
Ricochet and Bronson Reed ignited their feud last week when they were the two out of the final three in the number one contender battle royal for the Intercontinental Championship, which neither of them ended up winning.
With Reed having such a size advantage, it was clear it was Ricochet’s game plan to use his speed, but it was no match for Reed’s power. We were sent to a commercial break with Reed leaping off the apron shoulder blocking Ricochet to the ground. As we returned from the break, Reed hit Ricochet with a Samoan drop, but Ricochet’s speed then began to work.
Ricochet connected with Reed with a flurry of kicks and then a springboard moonsault, and then as Reed was going for another shoulder block he got caught with a big knee from Ricochet. He was then hoping to connect a springboard, but Reed pulled the ropes and hit Ricochet with a power slam. Reed then went to the top rope and dove hitting a Tsunami to get the victory.
Winner: Bronson Reed
Apollo Crews then got some time backstage to discuss his return to Raw from NXT, but he was rudely interrupted by Dominik Mysterio and Mami. Rhea Ripley was there to send a message to Natalya about getting in her business and said this Saturday she will be ending her career. Crews then made the mistake of interrupting Mami and now it will be Dom-Dom against Crews later tonight.
Seth Rollins sat down with Corey Graves ahead of the finals of the World Heavyweight Championship tournament this Saturday. Rollins is hoping to become the new champion and he said now is the perfect time for a new title, and even though he loves Roman Reigns he has no respect for the champion he has become.
It's been an emotional journey for @WWERollins to get to this match in WWE this Saturday at #WWENOC. pic.twitter.com/GRuOYykGdA
— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2023
He said Reigns is taking opportunities away from everyone else and he wants to become the World Heavyweight Champion so everyone can forget about Reigns. Rollins believes Raw can become the new catalyst for change and push the industry forward if he becomes the champion. He said his opponent this Saturday, AJ Styles, is once in a generation and a very special competitor. However, he said they have gone head-to-head before and he has come out on top before.
When asked why the World Heavyweight Championship is so special to him, he simply said it is time for change and because he was never pinned to be the guy he wants it so much more. He said wrestling is everything he ever dreamed of and it has given him a life beyond his wildest dreams. The World Heavyweight Championship is it for him and his opportunity to do something special, he said he is all in and he will give it everything he has to get the title.
Candice LeRae vs. Zoey Stark
Stark has been on a mission since her debut on the main roster, and she wasted no time getting this match started. She speared LeRae as the bell rang and then hit a half-and-half suplex, and as Stark locked LeRae in a chin lock Nikki Cross appeared at ringside to support LeRae.
It seemed like the support of Cross got LeRae going and she was able to hit Stark with a springboard crossbody. However, Cross then tried to celebrate with LeRae, but Stark launched them both into the steel steps. She then hit LeRae with a Z360 and remains undefeated since joining Raw.
Winner: Zoey Stark
Byron Saxton caught up with Mustafa Ali ahead of the biggest match of his career this Saturday when he challenges Gunther for the Intercontinental title. Ali said he has been dreaming of this his entire life, but his whole career has been failures and nobody believes in him. Just as he said that he was cut off by Brock Lesnar and told to go get a life, Lesnar was now on his way to the ring.
Lesnar said unfortunately Cody Rhodes will not be coming out to the ring tonight and this Saturday he will no longer be facing him. However, Lesnar said he will not let the people down and he will now be issuing an open challenge to face him at Night of Champions. As Lesnar was waiting for a new opponent, Cody Rhodes emerged from the back with his arm in a sling and officials begging him not to go out there.
Rhodes removed the sling and started to brawl with Lesnar with his one good arm, but Lesnar then grabbed the injured arm and locked him into the Kimura Lock. If Rhodes’ arm wasn’t broken before, it definitely is now. There is now an even bigger question mark around Lesnar versus Rhodes this Saturday, will Rhodes make it to Saudi Arabia?
Alpha Academy vs. The Viking Raiders
Erik was overpowering Chad Gable right from the opening bell, and then Ivar came in with an even bigger size advantage. Gable was lucky to get Otis into the ring and he got his team back into it before hitting Erik with a caterpillar.
Gable ended up back in the ring and it seemed like he was about to eat the loss, but Ivar got distracted by Maxxine and Valhalla arguing. With the distraction, Gable rolled Erik up to steal the win.
Winners: Alpha Academy
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Finn Bálor
This is quite the match to have on a random episode of Raw and to begin it was an exchange of holds with some entertaining chain wrestling. Nakamura got a nice advantage after connecting with two knees to Bálor’s gut and a sliding dropkick sending him into the barricade. Unfortunately, then Damian Priest got involved by pulling Nakamura off the apron and then clotheslining him.
After a commercial break, Bálor was kicking Nakamura, but his leg was caught and Nakamura then hit his sliding German suplex. Nakamura was gaining some momentum dropping Bálor on his face before hitting a number of knees. Following a big kick, Nakamura was calling for the Kinshasa, but Bálor cut him off with a double stomp to the chest.
Bálor now went to the top going for Coup de Grace, but Nakamura rolled out of the way and hit Bálor with a knee to the back of the head. Nakamura then turned his attention to Priest and sent him into the timekeeper’s area, but then Bálor caught him with a dropkick to the back. Bálor then threw him back in the ring and hit Coup de Grace to get the win.
Winner: Finn Bálor
It was then announced that next week there will be a fatal four-way to crown new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions following Liv Morgan’s injury. The match will include Bayley & Iyo Sky vs. Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler vs. Chelsea Green & Sonya Deville vs. Raquel Rodriguez & a partner of her choosing.
Raquel Rodriguez vs. Sonya Deville
Rodriguez made quick work of Deville, but she was then attacked by both Deville and Chelsea Green. She was getting beaten down, but then out to make the save came Shotzi! It seems like Rodriguez has found herself a partner for next week.
Winner: Raquel Rodriguez
It is now time for the contract signing between Becky Lynch and Trish Stratus ahead of their match at Night of Champions on Saturday. Lynch was out first and wanted to get straight to business by signing the contract as soon as she entered the ring. Trish was out next, but she was in no rush whatsoever since she said this was her first contract signing ever.
She then said Lynch is so calm because she’s had so many contract signings, and that is due to the road that Trish paved for her. Trish said she has been number one since she entered the WWE and it didn’t take a broken nose for her to get there. She also said once she wins on Saturday she is now it, and then Becky will have to crawl away again since her worst enemy is herself.
Trish then signed the contract by saying this is her first signing, but it will also be Becky’s last one. Becky then finally spoke asking Trish if she is scared, and saying she is afraid that history is forgetting her. Becky said Trish wants her flowers so bad, and she then said thank you, Trish, thank you for being everything I hope I never become.
She said Trish likes to stab people in the back, but she punches people in the face and she will carry on regardless. Becky then had a crazy mic drop by saying if you think barking like a dog was embarrassing wait till I beat you at Night of Champions. This match should be quite the brawl this weekend.
Dominik Mysterio w/Rhea Ripley vs. Apollo Crews
As time goes on, Dom-Dom impresses me more and more, I truly believe he is becoming one of the best heels in the WWE. Then thanks to the help of Mami, Crews was driven into both the steel steps and the ring post. Just as Crews beat the count at nine, he rolled into the ring only to be hit with a frog splash from Dom for the finish.
Winner: Dominik Mysterio
Announced for next week is the start of qualifying matches for this year’s men’s and women’s Money in the Bank ladder matches!
Imperium vs. Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens & Matt Riddle
In our main event, Imperium got the early advantage as Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci were utilizing quick tags to double-team Matt Riddle. Gunther was soon tagged into the matchup and he chopped the life out of Riddle to send us to a commercial break. However, following the break Riddle caught Gunther with a kick to the jaw and went to tag in Zayn, but Kaiser pulled Zayn from the apron.
Riddle was now forced to continue against Gunther and he was able to hit a German suplex and tag in Owens. KO came into the match at the same time as Vinci and was easily destroying him, quickly hitting him with a cannonball. However, Imperium then used their numbers game again, hitting Owens with a high-low on the apron.
Following another commercial, it was Owens hitting Vinci with a frog splash from the top rope and then tagging Zayn into the match. Zayn was able to outwork Kaiser but then The Ring General was tagged in and he was chopping Zayn with all he had. Despite the chops, Zayn somehow managed to hit Gunther with a Blue Thunder Bomb.
He was then looking for the Helluva Kick, but Gunther caught him into a sleeper hold on the mat. So, to break the hold Riddle flew from the top rope with a floating bro. Owens and Riddle then worked together to eliminate Gunther and focus on Vinci. Zayn hit him with a Helluva Kick and then Owens hit a senton bomb to get the victory!
Winners: Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens & Gunther
Following the final match of the evening, we were brought to Cody Rhodes’ locker room where he had been refusing help all night. However, now it was Triple H entering Rhodes’ locker room and he was there to tell Cody he needs medical attention because they both know damn well his arm is broken.
A determined @CodyRhodes still wants a fight with @BrockLesnar this Saturday at #WWENOC … and even let @TripleH know! pic.twitter.com/EwfsP3cI1A
— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2023
Triple H then said that Rhodes is afraid because he is worried if his arm is broken he won’t be able to face Lesnar this Saturday. HHH tried to remind him he missed a year of his career because he wrestled with an injury, but Rhodes then said what would you do?
He said HHH has fought so many times and now it is his time to go to Night of Champions and fight!