(WWE RAW Live Event – Covelli Center – Youngstown, OH – Attendance 4500 – July 30, 2017)
Correspondent: Tim Malone
Results & Observations
I had committed to conducting a workshop in West Virginia months before the WWE announced Raw’s return to Youngstown, OH, so I had no plans to attend. By fate, I left the event with enough time to catch the show. I literally parked right at bell time. I missed the opening 8-man tag of Kalisto, Titus O’Neil, R-Truth, and Jason Jordan vs. Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Curt Hawkins, and Goldust. I do know Jason Jordan got the win, as his music was playing as they were leaving ringside.
Winners: Titus O’Neil, Kalisto, R-Truth & Jason Jordan
I settled in just in time for a treat: Cruiserweight Champion Neville defending against Akira Tozawa. It’s a known fact that I’m not one of WWE’s biggest fans. One of the reasons I attended was for the chance to see wrestlers I’ve enjoyed for a long time that I may never have the chance to see live any other way. In that regard, I hit the jackpot when Tozawa (even with an injured shoulder) came out. I’ve been a fan of his since Dragon Gate USA first brought him in years ago. I popped just as much as the little kids behind me.
Neville has hit his stride as a heel. The crowd legitimately hated him. As a longtime fan who has read all the criticisms about Neville’s lack of charisma, I ate up watching the fans eating out of his hand. The match consisted of the “Japanese Warrior” dazzling the crowd with a fast-paced offense, such as kick and strikes, then the champ would cut him off and work over Tozawa’s injured shoulder. The end came when “The King of the Cruiserweights” locked his foe in the “Rings of Saturn.”
Finn Balor vs. “The Drifter” Elias Samson
The lights went dark while a promo aired on the arena screens. When they went back up the crowd was treated to “The Drifter” already sent up in the ring to serenade the fans. The audience was not appreciative. I couldn’t even hear the words over the crowd’s hearty boos. They were saved from the unwanted musical invasion when Balor’s music brought the impromptu concert to an end. I witnessed Elias break into wrestling as “Logan Schulo” about ten years ago. Prince Devitt was one of the athletes that made me such a fan of New Japan Pro Wrestling. So, this match was special to me. Balor was able to overcome the powerful offense of his MUCH larger foe and get the duke with a “Coup de Grace,” that Elias sold like a gunshot blast.
Winner: Finn Balor
Enzo Amore came out and cut his rap, with which the crowd loved repeating along. He calls out Big Cass for their match. Cass responds by beating the tar out of the little motor mouth and leveling him with a boot before the ref even made it to ringside. He just walked off, leaving the ringside attendants to scrape Enzo off the mat.
Winner: Big Cass
Cesaro & Sheamus defeated Heath Slater and Rhyno to retain their RAW Tag Team Titles. I don’t know why the champs aren’t bigger stars. The crowd went absolutely bonkers for them. The challengers showed a brief glimmer of hope that a title change would occur in Youngstown, but alas, the power and ring generalship of the Raw premier tandem was too much for them. The thing that sticks with me after this match was just how massive Rhyno is. His thighs are bigger that Heath’s waist.
Winners: Cesaro & Sheamus
Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins defeated The Miz, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel.
The big take away from this match for me was how un-PG the crowd was towards Maryse. I’m glad I didn’t have time to invite my nephews along. Luckily, I moved to a closer seat by this point and there weren’t many kids around. The ref became the fans MVP of the match when he ejected the Miz’s wife for outside interference. This match did exactly what it was supposed to do: give the fans a happy send off to intermission. As well as set up JoJo to hype the signed Rollins and Ambrose posters available in the lobby. (I witnessed a little boy in the merch line have an absolute meltdown at the prospect of only choosing one $20 autograph.)
Winners: Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins
Bayley & Sasha Banks defeated RAW Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax. This match was just what it was meant to be—the kids loved “The Hugger” and “The Boss.” The only acceptable outcome came to pass.
Winners: Bayley & Sasha Banks
Bray Wyatt defeated Apollo Crews. Something I noted was how some wrestlers like Braun Strowman and The Miz didn’t look as big as they do on TV. Crews looks massive in person. He is basically a house with legs. Bray’s entrance was the most over on the show. I believe every phone in the building (including mine) was lit up for him.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
Roman Reigns defeated Braun Strowman via disqualification. I was a bit tired by the time the main event started. I had trouble distinguishing boos from cheering for Reigns. I just heard a solid wall of noise. Strowman played the massive badass that wouldn’t go down. He tried to murder Reigns with the ring steps, but the ref was somehow able to save a life. Ultimately, Strowman did pummel the hero with the stairs and lost by DQ. Strowman kept mauling Reigns after the bell. He brought out a table to finish him off once and for all, but fortunately, Reigns made a comeback and saved the day.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Overall, it was well worth the $17. WWE has this down to a science.