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Welcome to the Wrestlepurists’ live coverage of Monday Night Raw for the June 26th, 2023 episode.

Rhea Ripley & Dominik Mysterio In-Ring Promo:

We kick off the final Raw before Money in the Bank with Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley in the ring. As usual the crowd doesn’t let Dominik get in more than three words. Rhea takes over and calls Cody Rhodes a loser. That brings out Cody to a raucous ovation. Cody quotes Cat in the Hat because that’s what Dominik is. “You are a scared little boy.” Dominik and Rhea bail from the ring as Cody tries to lure Dominik back to the ring. He seemingly succeeds by offering a free shot but Dominik thinks better of it. Cody says the cheap shots have been effective. But on Saturday Cody wants to find out if Dominik if half the man his father is. Or if he is just “Mami’s little boy.”

Ricochet Defeats Shinsuke Nakamura:

Two of the men in this Saturday’s Men’s Money in the Bank ladder match square off after weeks of tension involving them and Bronson Reed. Ricochet and Shinsuke Nakamura have had some nice matches against each other and Reed, the latter who is sitting at ringside. Nakamura is a dark horse candidate to win this Saturday, while I’d be much more shocked if Ricochet won it. The two men trade counters until the both end up on the apron. Both men have the same idea and take each other out with big boots. Reed gets out of his chair and eats an enziguri from Ricochet and a kick from Nakamura. Reed continues to try and interfere but both men fight him off until the referee ejects Reed from ringside. I’m really glad Reed didn’t just get the match thrown out like he has done in past weeks. Nakamura nails the inverted exploder suplex but misses with the follow-up Kinshasa. Ricochet hits the Recoil but only gets a two count! Ricochet climbs the ropes but his ribs are clearly bothering him. This gives Nakamura enough time to hit a knee to the gut to Ricochet. These two exchange a sequence of reversals that has to be seen to be believed, with Ricochet hitting the Sliced Bread for the upper hand. One Shooting Star Press later and Ricochet gets the win!

Matt Riddle Interview:

We see a video from earlier today with Matt Riddle saying he is going to challenge GUNTHER for his Intercontinental title at Money in the Bank. He is backstage with Byron Saxton who asks Riddle if that’s a smart decision with what Imperium did to his ankle. Ludwig Kaiser interrupts and asks Riddle what makes him believe he can beat GUNTHER. Riddle attacks Kaiser to prove himself but GUNTHER attacks Riddle from out of frame. GUNTHER kneels down and tells him that his challenge has been accepted, before stomping on Riddle’s injured ankle for good measure.

Backstage With Dominik Mysterio:

Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley interrupt Adam Pearce who is still texting. He’s gotta have unlimited text and talk. Dominik says Cody embarrassed him tonight, and Dominik wants a match tonight to prove himself. Pearce asks who he has in mind, and Rhea whispers in Dominik’s ear. They tell Pearce they will get back to him. Can’t wait for it to be an absolute goober.

Money In the Bank Numbers Video Package:

We see a video package that is similar to the “by the numbers” videos they do every year with the Royal Rumble. Love them doing this for Money in the Bank since it has been around long enough and with enough variety to showcase.

Ronda Rousey Defeats Raquel Rodriguez:

This past Friday on Smackdown Liv Morgan made her surprise return from injury. I’m really happy she’s back, as her and Raquel Rodriguez are one of the few real teams the WWE has. They take on Ronda Rousey and Shanya Baszler this Saturday, so it’s another plus the Women’s Tag Titles are getting on the PPV. Raquel had a stare down with Rhea last week, so it will be interesting how they book this match if they have her in mind as an upcoming challenger to Rhea. Also its 8:47pm and this is only the second match we are seeing. Gotta be a Vince Raw. Ronda is trying to grab a submission over and over, which is probably smart since she is giving up significant size to Raquel. Raquel goes for a Vaderbomb elbow but Shanya pulls Ronda out of the way. Ronda rolls Raquel up and wins it. Are we unable to give the women more than like two minutes? It’s absurd.

Finn Balor Backstage Promo:

Finn Balor says that Seth Rollins wants the Balor who beat him seven years ago? He tells Rollins “that guy’s dead, this guy is much worse.” Balor says their problems didn’t start because Rollins injured Balor at Summerslam 2016. It’s because at Balor’s lowest moment, after he relinquished the Universal title, Rollins came out to the ramp and laughed at Balor. He laughed and mocked Balor. Balor says Rollins has everything. The fans love him. But Balor doesn’t care about any of that. He says the bitterness is all he has now. “The only song you’ll hear is the ringing in your ear as both of my arms are raised.” They show the footage of Rollins coming down the ramp and it’s incredibly effective to see. I love this, its so rare for WWE to do but when they go back and use their own footage like this it rocks. I remember when CM Punk and Randy Orton had their feud in 2011 and Punk pulled out the footage of Orton punting Punk and costing him the World title years prior. You have fans who remember this stuff, a lot of them! I was there that night that Balor relinquished the title and I totally forgot about Rollins coming down and laughing at Balor. Honestly this match has gone to an afterthought to the match I’m looking forward to the most on Saturday.

Seth Rollins In-Ring Promo:

Our World Heavyweight Champion introduces us to the NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes who gets a nice reaction. BIG fan of Hayes, it won’t be long until he is killing it on Raw or Smackdown. Rollins thanks Hayes for having his back on NXT. Rollins says he got his answer on which Finn Balor would show up last week when Balor jumped him over and over. But Rollins is still standing. So he challenges Balor to come out and try and finish the job right now! Balor doesn’t come out, and Rollins gives him props for being the smartest he has ever been. Rollins says he won’t be one hundred percent in London. But the one thing Balor hasn’t accounted for is Seth “Freakin” Rollins. “The best version of Finn Balor is not as good as the best version of Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins!” Before Rollins can finish his catchphrase Balor charges the ring with a chair. Balor goes for Rollins ribs but Rollins avoids the chair shot as they brawl on the outside. Balor throws Rollins rib first into the stairs and then the announce table. Balor goes for another chair but Hayes rips the chair from Balor. Rollins grabs the chair and chases off Balor. A big save by Hayes there as Balor could have done even more damage. I’m wondering if they will eventually set up for Balor and Hayes, or if a Hayes/Rollins feud is in the cards down the line?

Tommaso Ciampa Interview:

We see a backstage interview from earlier today with Tommaso Ciampa. Ciampa says over the last nine months he didn’t hear from the Miz one time during his recovery. Being left alone with your own thoughts gives you clarity. “Why is Tommaso Ciampa playing second fiddle to the Miz?” Ciampa says this time around he creates his own opportunities. You could say he is going to…do it himself?

The Miz Attacks Tommaso Ciampa:

Carmelo Hayes and Finn Balor is announced for later tonight, so I get my answer! Tommaso Ciampa and The Miz are scheduled for a rematch from last week but The Miz ambushes Ciampa before the match can start. I’m sure the Miz feels like it’s only right since he wasn’t prepared for Ciampa last week. Miz hits a great looking suplex into the barricade. I’m all for this angle, but we’ve barely had any wrestling on this show. Miz hits a Skull Crushing Finale and we are definitely not having a match.

Backstage With Imperium:

Ludwig Kaiser and GUNTHER say it’s official for Money in the Bank with Riddle challenging for the Intercontinental championship. They are interrupted by Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Sami tells they are here because of what Imperium did to Riddle. “We are?!” says Kevin. Sami says “We are!.” Kevin then gets on board and loudly defends Riddle. The two teams argue about the numbers game until we get a big match confirmed. GUNTHER versus Sami Zayn tonight! Okay this can make up for all the non wrestling. Thank god for these two!

Dominik Mysterio Defeats Akira Tozawa:

“Dirty Dom” seems to be a new nickname for Dominik Mysterio which I’m all on board with. Ah Dominik’s opponent is the ultimate goober, Akira Tozawa! Honestly Tozawa rules both in and out of the ring, but he is in certified jobber territory right now. But I’m a sucker for a heel asking for a tough challenge and then picking one of the wrestlers who loses the most. Tozawa, however, gets the upper hand on Dominik with his speed and hits an incredible tope to the outside. Rhea Ripley distracts Tozawa, which allows Dominik to climb the ropes and hit a Frogsplash for the three count. Maybe the cleanest Frogsplash Ive seen Dominik hit so far. Really excited for just how wild the London crowd will be for the Dominik/Cody match this Saturday.

Valhalla & Viking Raiders Promo:

Valhalla says the gods haven’t spoken to her in weeks. Man that’s rough. She says they will have to do terrible things to the Alpha Academy to hear them again. Look I don’t mess with some of their personal stuff, but that was a fine promo video. And anything that pushes Chad Gable is good with me.

Womens Money In The Bank Summit:

Will be interesting to see how they structure this segment. I remember when they had all the competitors sitting on the ladders years ago and how well received that was. Corey Graves is leading this one, which may be a good thing to move it along. Bayley immediately interrupts Corey to say she is the only women in this match that has won a Money in the Bank contract. Iyo Sky tells Bayley to let the best women win. Zelina Vega says she is sick of Damage CTRL downplaying everyone else in this match. Zelina gets some nice mic time and says her and Santos are bringing the contracts to the LWO. Trish Stratus says all she sees are a bunch of little girls. Trish says she is a women, and is the greatest women to ever do it. She says it may be her first ladder match, but winning is what she does. Becky is the most over one in the ring though. Trish asks Becky if she will be “man” enough to say thank you Trish. Becky goes to speak and then throws a strike at Trish instead. All hell breaks loose as all the competitors brawl. Damage CTRL has a two on one advantage on Becky, but Zelina comes to her rescue. It ends with Iyo and Becky squaring off, with Iyo hitting a picture picture moonsault. Becky sees everyone down and climbs up the ladder and unhooks the briefcase! Is this a sign of things to come on Saturday?

Carmelo Hayes Interview:

Cathy Kelley is backstage with Carmelo Hayes. She asks him what it feels like to be on Monday Night Raw for the first time. Hayes says the World Heavyweight Champion was the one who invited him here. He says that is an honor, so he is going to go out and handle the problem that is Finn Balor. Hayes says it may be foolish with his title match coming tomorrow night but “You gotta take shots to make shots, and tonight I won’t miss.” Excellent, so so happy Hayes is getting the shine tonight. You never know with how WWE can torpedo a call up but I truly believe him and Bron Breakker are really hard to mess up.

Backstage With Becky Lynch:

Becky Lynch is walking backstage and she runs into Rhea Ripley. Rhea tells Becky that she better hope that Becky doesn’t win the briefcase, because if she tries to cash it in it on her will be the last thing Becky ever does in the WWE. Becky says when she held that title, she defended it in every town. With Rhea, it’s become a main-event side piece. Becky says she doesn’t need that title, that title needs her. Oooooooh boy. That was fire from Becky, Rhea is going to need to respond at some point. Maybe costing Becky the match? I’m looking forward to their feud but whew, Becky is still clearly the number one woman on Raw.

GUNTHER Defeats Sami Zayn:

Kevin Owens is on commentary as GUNTHER and Sami Zayn are here to save us from a very wrestling-less Raw. These two had incredible chemistry in their tag team title match from a few weeks back. GUNTHER misses a chop in the corner that gets a nice “oooh” from the crowd. I’m so glad his devastating offense is over. Giovanni Vinci or as Kevin calls him “Baldie with the crutches” comes down to the ring to watch on as GUNTHER catches Sami off a springboard and slams him into the mat. Sami tries twice for the exploder suplex but GUNTHER counters with a nasty chop. Sami is such an excellent seller, the way he just crumbles from the chops is perfect. Sami and GUNTHER are both on the ropes, but Sami throws every punch he has and hits a sunset flip powerbomb that almost gets the three count. The crowd is coming alive for Sami and he is responding with stronger and stronger lariats. Sami goes for the Blue Thunder Bomb but GUNTHER counters it in a smooth reversal into the sleeper hold. Sami fights out and is somehow able to lift GUNTHER up for a Blue Thunder Bomb! Sami however still is only able to get a two. The chants of “Let’s Go Sami” ring out but are silenced when GUNTHER cuts off Sami’s dive with another chop. GUNTHER quickly goes to the top and hits a big splash but that only gets a two count! Kaiser gets on the apron but Kevin pulls him back down. GUNTHER hits a big boot on Kevin before he can powerbomb Kaiser, and that distraction allows Sami to nail a dive onto GUNTHER. Back in the ring Sami hits the exploder onto GUNTHER! Sami wants the Helluva kick but Kaiser distracts the referee and it allows Vinci to hit Sami with a crutch. GUNTHER grabs Sami and plants him with a viscous powerbomb for the three count. Great match here, not as long as I would have liked but there is definitely a lot more left for these two to revisit.

After the match Kevin comes in to fight off Imperium, but there is still the numbers advantage. Matt Riddle’s music hits and he hobbles down to the ring and takes out Vinci and GUNTHER! Kevin hits a stunner on Kaiser and the babyfaces are heading into Money in the Bank with some momentum! Like I said, really great match and Kevin was fantastic on commentary here. He always adds a lot on the mic, but just being himself as Kevin Owens and rooting for Sami added so much to this.

Backstage With The Alpha Academy:

Maxxine and Otis are working out when Coach Chad Gable asks the Viking Raiders if they think the Alpha Academy are idiots? They are constantly training and are ready for anything! Maxxine says even though she hasn’t had a match, she has been ready for everything Valhalla has thrown at her. Gable asks Otis what the plan is. Otis says the plan is “pure carnage.”

Interview With Natalya:

We see a replay of last weeks attack by Rhea Ripley on Natalya. Cathy Kelley is backstage with Natalya and asks her how she is holding up after last week. Natalya says she signed up for this life. The biggest battle isn’t in the ring but inside her head. The fear of giving up is worse than anything else. Natalya says there isn’t a single person here who can erase what she has done in this company. She challenges Rhea to bring her championship to Raw next week and face her one on one.

Finn Balor Defeats Carmelo Hayes:

Carmelo Hayes gets an excellent ovation when his music hits! You love to see it. Corey Graves plugs the NXT title match against Baron Corbin tomorrow night. I’d assume Corbin interferes tonight? Although losing to this version of Finn Balor shouldn’t hurt Hayes at all. Balor starts the match with an aggressive take down and some hard shots. I love that they are continuing the intensity from Balor on his way to his title match with Rollins. Hayes hits a beautiful drop kick followed up by the Fadeaway which is a crazy springboard backwards leg drop. Genuinely something you’ve never seen if you only watch Raw and Smackdown. Balor regained the advantage during the commercial break with the 1916. Hayes however uses his quickness and springboard offense to regain control. Balor hits a huge lariat that turns Hayes inside out. Slingblade from Balor, but Hayes hits a superkick before Balor can hit the dropkick. Another innovative springboard move, a backwards springboard DDT and Hayes stays impressive. Balor counters Hayes and hits a gutbuster,. This time he connects with the shotgun dropkick. Balor absolutely sticks it with the Coup De Grace for the three count. Excellent TV match here. Exactly what it should have been. Balor wins with intensity and experience since he is going into a World Heavyweight Championship match on Saturday. But Hayes almost had him and showed off moves that will leave casual viewers and diehards alike remembering his name.

Interview With Cody Rhodes:

Cody Rhodes is backstage with Pharoh! Cathy Kelley asks Cody about his match with Damien Priest tonight but I think Cody just wants to keep petting his dog. Cody says that Priest is walking into Money in the Bank not just with bruises on his body but with bruises on his ego. Cody says he almost wishes he could sit in the crowd and boo Dominik himself. But at Money in the Bank Dominik isn’t going to have any member of the Judgment Day to save him. Cody hasn’t laid a finger on him. So this Saturday, we will find out what Dominik truly has.

Recap Of Bloodline/Usos Storyline From SmackDown:

Our tradition continues as we take a look back at this past Friday’s mult-segment story with the Bloodline and the Usos. The Usos had a great promo to cement their face turn. The interesting note here is that they blamed Paul Heyman for poisoning their family and not Roman Reigns. We shouldn’t be shocked. At some point there will be a Roman Reigns face turn and its going to be massive.

Cody Rhodes Defeats Damian Priest:

There was a time where I was convinced Cody Rhodes was drafted to Raw so he could be kept away from Roman until around now. Cody would win Money in the Bank and go to Smackdown to win the Undisputed title at Summerslam. Obviously that’s not happening. I don’t think it’s a secret I’m on the LA Knight train, but I wouldn’t hate Damian Priest winning the briefcase. He has put in the work and the implications of Balor (presumably) failing to beat Seth and then Priest walking out with the briefcase would be very interesting. This is obviously all moot once Logan Paul wins it. (I’m joking, I hope.) This last hour of Raw has definitely been more wrestling heavy which I’m happy about. A little weird they didn’t plug Priest and Cody as the main event more heavily. Usually they make it pretty clear what the final match is going to be and are borderline obnoxious with the reminders. This is pure speculation but I’m wondering how late the changes were coming in to this show from Vince. Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley come to ringside a few minutes into the match. Their distraction doesn’t seem to work at first as Cody hits a suicide dive on Priest. Dominik lures Cody away from Priest, and by the time Cody gets back into the ring, Priest nails him with a flatliner. Back from break and Priest is still dominating Cody. Priest turns Cody inside out with a lariat but only gets a two count. Priest is on the top rope but the crowd’s anti-Dominik chants distract him. That allows Cody to run up the ropes and take Priest down with an arm drag. The crowd is fully invested in this one. Priest continues to cut off Cody’s comeback attempts but Cody just keeps coming at Priest. Cody finally hits a Disaster kick followed by a little Flip Flop and Fly ala Dusty but it only gets a two. Priest goes for South of Heaven but Cody counters into a Cross Rhodes that Priest fights off. Cody grabs Priest again and is able to hit the Pedigree! But Priest rolls out of the ring, making sure Cody can’t get a pin attempt. Rhea distracts the official and Dominik grabs Cody’s leg during Cody’s attempt at a springboard. Priest hits South of Heaven but only gets a two count! Priest lifts Cody up for the Razor’s Edge but Cody slips out and pushes him into Dominik who was still on the apron. Cody hits a beautiful Cody Cutter and then a Crossrhodes for the one…two…three! The Judgment Day miscommunication continues to cost Damian Priest, which is something to keep in mind this Saturday and next Monday. Dominik hits Cody from behind for one last cheap shot before Money in the Bank.

A rough Raw in spots that was really saved by it’s third hour. Love that we got to see Balor and Hayes tear it up. Money in the Bank can’t come soon enough, as I think the Raw side is desperate for some story shake ups. Can’t wait for what should be a hot crowd in London on Saturday!

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