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The Miz and Bobby Lashley (Credit: WWE)
Welcome to Bleacher Report’s coverage and recap of WWE Raw on September 5.
We are officially in the post-Clash at the Castle period before WWE begins to sink its teeth into the buildup for Extreme Rules, but we still saw some groundwork laid this week for the next pay-per-view on October 8.
With more than a month between major events, WWE has given itself a little breathing room so it can take its time building up the storylines that will fill up the card.
Monday’s show didn’t have much fallout to deal with since no titles changed hands on Saturday, but we did get to see Bobby Lashley defend the United States Championship against The Miz inside a steel cage.
Let’s look at everything that happened on Monday’s show.
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Raw opened with Edge coming out to a huge pop and plenty of pyro. He spoke about what it felt like when Dominik Mysterio turned on him at Clash at the Castle.
The Rated-R Superstar said he convinced himself he didn’t need to worry about Dom because he thought of him like a nephew, but now he just wants to beat him up.
Rey Mysterio came down and begged Edge to forgive his son on his behalf, but Edge said if Dom is old enough to compete, he is old enough to answer for what he did. This brought out Rhea Ripley to taunt them before bringing Dominik out to stand by her side.
Rey asked his son not to confront Edge but his son wouldn’t even look him in the eye. He walked away from his son heartbroken as Ripley flashed a devious smile. Finn Balor and Damian Priest attacked Edge from behind, but he saw it coming.
Dom came in and took out Edge’s knee and then he blocked Rey from helping Edge. The Nightmare took Rey out and threw him into the steel steps. Judgment Day used a chair on Edge’s leg to leave him down and out.
While most of this should have played out on Saturday instead of Monday, it’s still good that WWE finally pulled the trigger on this. Now, we can build toward Rey vs. Dom at some point. This segment was better than expected and a good sign that Dom might actually fight in with Judgment Day if booked properly.
Notable Moments and Observations
- Edge is in a class by himself. The time he spent learning how to act has really helped make him one of the best performers WWE has.
- Dom’s hair looks only slightly less ridiculous when it’s slicked back the way he had it in this segment.
- Ripley beating up dudes every week is a good sign that we might get to see her face men in matches someday. If anyone could follow in Chyna’s footsteps and win a WWE singles title usually reserved for men, it’s Ripley.
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The first match of the night put the tag team division in the spotlight with a Fatal 4-Way to determine the next contenders for The Usos and the Undisputed Tag Team Championships.
Angel, Humberto, Otis, Chad Gable, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins all looked fired up.
At one point, Kingston and Woods ended up as the two legal men in the ring, so they tried to pull a fast one with Woods covering Kingston for a pin, but everyone else broke it up in time.
The rest of the match was filled with the kind of action you would expect from these four teams. The big spots all looked good, but it was easy to lose track of who was legal at times.
After the second commercial break, Braun Strowman made his return to WWE and got into the ring with Gable. He started taking out everyone in the match as the ref looked on helplessly. The Monster Among Men took out several security guards who tried to stop him.
While Strowman certainly looked dominant in his big return segment, it came at the expense of most of the tag team division. We didn’t get new No. 1 contenders, so that will have to be decided at some point. This is one of those segments that most people will either love or hate. There will be very little middle ground.
Winners: No Contest
Notable Moments and Observations
- It made no sense for the ref to allow Woods and Kingston to be the two legal men in the match, but the shenanigans that came as a result were funny enough to justify it.
- Dawkins hitting a pounce that sends someone into Ford’s arms for a back suplex is a great spot.
- Ford slamming Otis was an impressive show of power.
- Strowman got a decent pop when he came out, so maybe WWE was right to bring him back.
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Aliyah and Raquel Rodriguez had their first match as the women’s tag team champions this week when they faced Doudrop and Nikki ASH in a non-title bout.
Aliyah and Nikki started for their teams. Doudrop tagged in and dominated her smaller opponent after knocking Rodriguez off the apron.
The powerhouse recovered and tagged in to give Aliyah a break, but Doudrop did not make it easy on her. Rodriguez hit what was supposed to be a powerbomb on Doudrop to get the win, but she wasn’t able to get Doudrop into the correct position.
This match wasn’t long but it wasn’t a squash either. The champions picked up a win and it looks like WWE is going to put some effort into the women’s tag team division, so this segment served its purpose.
Winners: Raquel Rodriguez and Aliyah
Notable Moments and Observations
- The announcers talked about how Aliyah didn’t do much during the tournament, so they may already be planting the seeds for something down the line.
- Rodriguez was not in a good position to hit her finisher at the end. It wasn’t really her fault, but at least she pulled off a slam of some kind.
- Damage Control was shown watching this match from backstage, so Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky still have their sights set on the titles.
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Austin Theory came out and gave a promo about how despite failing to cash in this weekend, he plans to win the title with it soon. This brought out Kevin Owens to respond with his usual brand of humorous insults.
They ended up going back and forth for a few minutes before a ref came down and KO initiated a match.
The Prize Fighters took it to the 25-year-old until the show cut to a break. Theory began to mount some offense when we returned by using his speed and agility to stay one step ahead of Owens.
They fought through a second commercial break and had plenty of time to make this match both competitive and fun. It seemed like it could go either way for a little while, but Owens was able to get the pin and celebrate in front of a happy crowd.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Notable Moments and Observations
- Owens bringing up that WWE gave Theory his first name back was hilarious.
- KO may have gotten a little too meta for some fans with his insults, but he is so good that he pulls it off.
- Theory has a great dropkick. It’s a move he hits well just about every time he does it.
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Bayley, Sky and Kai came out to give a promo declaring their intentions to win the women’s tag titles. Kai pointed out how she was pinned but wasn’t the legal competitor, so there will likely be a rematch at some point. Bianca Belair came out and challenged Bayley to a match, but nothing ended up happening.
After what happened earlier in the night, Rey ended up in a singles match with Priest. The Archer of Infamy was able to easily overpower and dominate the luchador.
The 47-year-old veteran made his usual comeback, but Priest never let him get in too much offense before putting him down again. Ripley, Dominik and Balor eventually made their way down to watch from the aisle as their teammate destroyed Dom’s father.
They did a good job balancing the long periods of time when Priest was in control with the short bursts of offense Rey would have, and since they were also given a decent amount of time, it never felt like they were in too much of a hurry.
Priest was able to avoid the 619 with help from Dom, and then he hit South of Heaven for the pin and the win.
Winner: Damian Priest
Notable Moments and Observations
- Bayley trying to weasel her way out of a match by claiming she doesn’t work on Labor Day is hilarious.
- It’s hard not to think of McDonald’s whenever someone has red gear with yellow accents. Did Rey’s gear make anyone else want some McNuggets?
- Dominik being silent for all of this is a good move. Ripley doing all of the talking is going to make all of this work much better.
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The main event of the night saw The Miz challenge Lashley for the United States Championship inside of a steel cage.
The Miz grabbed the belt and attacked Lashley before the match actually started. He and Ciampa continued to beat him down at ringside to give The A-Lister the biggest advantage possible. They focused on his arm and used a chair and the steel steps in an attempt to break it.
The match finally got started during the break, so The Miz was already trying to win when we came out of the commercial. The All Mighty used his good arm when he could, but whenever his bad arm gave him problems, The Miz would capitalize.
With a guy like Lashley, WWE has to find creative ways to make him an underdog because he is so dominant in every way. He’s as strong as a bull and has the speed of a man half his size, so having Ciampa and The Miz attack his arm helped go a long way toward evening the playing field.
Dexter Lumis appeared from under the ring to scare The Miz into not escaping, and that allowed Lashley to hit a Spear for the win. Lumis got into the cage and choked The Miz out to end the show.
This was a relatively predictable cage match in terms of how everything played out. It was good, but it won’t stand out among other cage matches we have seen. It served its purpose of highlighting the U.S. title and giving Lashley another successful defense on his record.
Winner: Bobby Lashley
Notable Moments and Observations
- If Lashley had a couple of people holding mirrors, his entrance would be similar ot Lex Luger’s when he was The Narcissist.
- This is one of the few times when using picture-in-picture helped a lot. We got to see everything Ciampa and The Miz did to Lashley’s arm, so there was no mystery about why he was favoring it when we returned from the break.
- The Miz is one of those guys a lot of people will appreciate more after revisiting his career down the line. He does so many little things well. He sells for his opponents, has great facial expressions, and he knows exactly what to do to make the crowd react when he wants it to.
Panthers outlast Hurricanes in 4th OT in 6th-longest game in NHL history
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers seemed determined to keep playing. And playing. And playing.
The teams opened their Eastern Conference final playoff series with Florida’s 3-2 victory in four overtimes early Friday, with the game ranking as the sixth-longest game in NHL history.
Matthew Tkachuk’s goal came at the 19:47 mark of the fourth OT to end this one, which marked the 15th four-overtime game in NHL history and the longest game in franchise history for each team.
The longest game in NHL history came on March 24, 1936, when the Detroit Red Wings beat the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in the sixth overtime on Mud Bruneteau’s goal at 116 minutes, 30 seconds of extra play.
Florida’s previous record for longest game was 104:31 in Game 4 of the 1996 Stanley Cup final against Colorado. Carolina’s previous record was 114:47 for Game 3 of the 2002 Stanley Cup final.
The only good news for the teams is they had an extended break before this series began. Carolina closed out New Jersey exactly a week earlier, while Florida eliminated Toronto a day later.
But this game ended roughly six hours after Thursday night’s puck drop, and the teams have a Game 2 in less than 48 hours.
AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Barcelona says probe found no evidence of corruption by club
MADRID (AP) — The investigation ordered by Barcelona into its controversial payments for refereeing reports found no evidence of corruption by the club, president Joan Laporta said Monday.
Laporta reiterated that the club’s payments over several years to the company owned by the vice president of Spain’s refereeing committee were only for technical reports and not to influence referees. He said he believed there were no ethics breach and that Barcelona was the victim of a campaign to hurt its reputation.
“This is one of the most ferocious attacks in our history,” Laporta said. “I ask FC Barcelona supporters to be as united as ever in defense of our crest, our essence, and our ownership model. No campaign to discredit us will prevent us from continuing to be an organization of reference in the world of sports that is beloved and admired by millions of Catalans and by many more millions of people around the world.”
It was the first time Laporta spoke at a news conference to give explanations after it became public that the club paid 7.3 million euros ($8 million) from 2001-18 to the company of then committee vice president José María Enríquez Negreira. Prosecutors have accused Barcelona of alleged corruption in sports, fraudulent management, and falsification of mercantile documentation.
Barcelona opened the probe to look into the actions of all the different presidential administrations that made payments over the years, including Laporta’s first at the club. The investigation was conducted by an external company.
The club said the probe found that “no conducts of a criminal nature associated to sporting corruption have been identified, nor are there any grounds to investigate any form of criminal activity associated to bribery.” It added there was “official documentation on the invoices and payments” for the services of “scouting and advice regarding referees, which are common practices in the professional sports sector.”
“Consulting on technical-refereeing issues does not constitute any type of illegal act,” Laporta said. “Consulting, as is done by the big clubs, that was carried out transparently, with the corresponding invoices, at least in my first mandate as president.”
The probe found 629 technical refereeing reports and 43 CDs that the club received over 18 years for what Laporta called “market price.” More reports were likely lost over time, he said.
“I reiterate with all my resolve, I am convinced that FC Barcelona has not committed any crime of sports-related corruption. I hope that sooner rather than later, it is fully exonerated,” he said. “Accusations must be proven. We live by the rule of law, which guarantees among its basic principles the presumption of innocence.”
He said that if there were any irregularities committed by Negreira, Barcelona would be a victim of them. He also said Negreira was not in a position to directly influence referees, and that it was Negreira’s son who actually produced the refereeing reports.
“I dare anyone to show an instance in which Barcelona was favored in a match because of these payments,” Laporta said. “We will allow the justice system to do its work and I’m sure that Barcelona will be cleared. I am fully convinced that FC Barcelona has never performed any act with the intention of altering the competition to gain an advantage.”
The Spanish league, Real Madrid and other clubs have been among those taking part in the legal proceedings against Barcelona. Laporta criticized league president Javier Tebas for making accusations against Barcelona, and also took a shot at rival Madrid.
“Everyone knows that Real Madrid is a club that is historically favored by refereeing mistakes,” he said.
Laporta said Barcelona has always been a club that takes pride in its values, and it would never want to win anything with outside help.
“Throughout its 123-year history, FC Barcelona has always been a model of fair play, both on and off the field,” he said. “If we have won for so many decades, it has undoubtedly been a result of effort, talent and knowledge.”
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Silicon Valley councilman indicted in 49ers report leak
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Silicon Valley city councilman has been charged with perjury after he allegedly lied about leaking a grand jury report to the San Francisco 49ers last year that detailed a purportedly unethical relationship between the team and the city council, prosecutors said Friday.
Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker is accused of providing the secret report titled “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Santa Clara City Council” to the team’s former top spokesperson and a local media outlet in 2022, days ahead of its official release.
Becker then allegedly lied to the grand jury about the leak, prosecutors said, prompting the criminal charges.
The 49ers play in Levi’s Stadium in the city of Santa Clara, about 35 miles (56.33 kilometers) south of San Francisco. Santa Clara County is broadly considered home to Silicon Valley.
The city of Santa Clara owns the stadium and leases it to the team; fighting between the two groups has led to ethics complaints, legal disputes and years of bad blood.
Al Guido, the team’s president, and Larry MacNeil, the former CFO who worked extensively on the team’s stadium project, were named in the indictment as witnesses who spoke to the criminal grand jury for Becker’s indictment.
“The 49ers have cooperated fully with the District Attorney’s Office in their investigation, and will continue to do so,” team spokesperson Brian Brokaw said in a statement Friday. “However, because this is an ongoing legal matter, the organization is not able to make any further comment at this time.”
Prosecutors say the team has bankrolled Becker’s political career by spending $3.2 million through independent expenditure committees for his 2020 city council race, which he won, as well as his unsuccessful 2022 mayoral bid.
The “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” report alleged that Becker and four other councilmembers regularly voted “in a manner that is favorable to the 49ers” and would routinely meet with the team’s lobbyists but not disclose what was discussed.
Becker faces a felony charge of perjury under oath, as well as a misdemeanor charge of willful failure to perform duty. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.
Becker did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday, and it was not clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
“Councilmember Becker violated the public’s trust,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “That an elected official would commit perjury and lie under oath before the grand jury strikes at the very heart of our justice system and requires accountability.”
Representatives for the Santa Clara City Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.