Last week saw new RAW Tag Team Champions with the unlikely duo of Universal Champion Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman defeating The OC’s Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson as well as the start of the King of the Ring tournament with victories for Samoa Joe and Cedric Alexander.
This week’s RAW promised to be a stacked show, with Baron Corbin vs The Miz and Drew McIntyre vs Ricochet concluding the first round on the red brand, while Strowman gets a chance to become a double champion himself when he faces AJ Styles for the United States Championship in the main event.
Did this week carry on the recent trend of exciting shows? Let’s find out!
Sasha Banks & Natalya brawl
RAW started with the recently returning Sasha Banks, as with the compulsory “it’s boss time” from Michael Cole. Before Banks could address her recent actions, she played a video package recapping said actions instead. Surely it would’ve made more sense to play the video either before she came out or while she was making her way to the ring.
Banks would go on to talk about she heard all of the gossip about throwing a fit and crying at WrestleMania and she admitted that she did exactly that. She would go on to bury the Women’s Tag Team division by saying she was ‘relegated to a match she didn’t care about’ at WrestleMania while Becky Lynch was in the main event against Ronda Rousey. I guess her passionate speech after winning the titles with Bayley at Elimination Chamber really meant nothing after all.
She claimed she was the ‘standard-bearer of the women’s division’ before Natalya ran down to the ring to initiate a brawl. A number of referees quickly came down to separate the two women who’d face off later in the show.
Summary: Sasha’s promo was good, even if the delivery was a little lacking at times. She maybe said a little too much as the crowd just didn’t seem at all interested in the latter stages. The brawl made sense on paper to give the crowd a hot start, but it was one of the most uninspiring face-offs in recent memory.
King of the Ring: Ricochet defeated Drew McIntyre
In a match that’s arguably worthy of being the final, Ricochet faced off against Drew McIntyre in the opening round of the King of the Ring. This was perhaps the only match in the first round where both superstars needed a win. McIntyre doomed himself by posing at the throne and cutting a promo before the match.
The opening stages of the match saw McIntyre in complete control and literally throwing Ricochet around the ring like a rag doll. Ricochet would fight back but got a brace of sidewalk slams, one on the barricade and then the ring apron for his troubles.
Ricochet would recover once again as the match reached its exciting finale. McIntyre would hit a reverse Alabama slam and a painful looking release suplex but Ricochet responded with a springboard clothesline and a ‘Recoil’ from the top rope for a near fall.
The ending of the match saw Ricochet escape a top rope fireman carry and drop McIntyre on his back. The trademark 630 splash sealed the victory for Ricochet much to the delight of the New Orleans crowd, and he will now face Samoa Joe next week.
Summary: Another exciting King of the Ring first-round match and further proof that the superstars selected are among the best that WWE has to offer. It is perhaps surprising that Ricochet got the win but given that Samoa Joe is still a heel, for now, it gives the fans someone to cheer for in next weeks match. I would give this match a higher rating, but I have to make a note of just how badly Drew McIntyre has been booked since WrestleMania. He was tipped for title opportunities and main event pushes, and now he’s been sacrificed early in the King of the Ring after a meaningless feud with Cedric Alexander. If the rumours of an upcoming draft are true, then one would have to consider McIntyre jumping to the blue brand.
King of the Ring: Baron Corbin defeated The Miz
The Miz cut a promo before the match vowing to become ‘King Awesome’. If there ever was a time that you knew The Miz as a babyface wasn’t working, that was the moment.
The action was basic in the opening stages, with Baron Corbin seizing control with a big clothesline. Corbin would remain in charge, hitting a Deep Six for a near fall until The Miz fought back with his signature DDT. The ‘A-lister’ even managed to hit a Skull Crushing Finale, but Corbin just got his shoulders up.
A second attempt was unsuccessful, as Corbin would reverse and hit the End of Days to progress to the next round. Ahead of his match next week with Cedric Alexander, Corbin cut a promo to draw more ire from the fans. The RAW side of the first round is now complete.
Summary: This had a hard job following Ricochet vs McIntyre but the final few minutes, in particular, were exciting to watch. It’s a shame that neither of these guys were really given much time, and the nature of that makes The Miz’s loss even more damaging for his character. He’s rumoured to be next to challenge Shinsuke Nakamura for the Intercontinental Championship, but does he honestly deserve that? He needs a heel turn badly. Corbin, however, is getting better in the ring and on the mic, and he’s now a genuine contender to become the next King of the Ring.
Bayley defeated Nikki Cross
SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley rekindled her rivalry with one half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions Nikki Cross this week, for reasons I don’t really know. Noticeably absent was Alexa Bliss, best friend of Cross and other half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions.
Cross would target the midsection early on before Bayley would fight back with a series of moves including a running knee and sidewalk slam. Bayley would then seal the victory with the flying elbow. Yes, it was that quick and pointless.
Summary: Not really much to say here. This match was made to make Bayley look strong ahead of her title defence against Charlotte Flair at Clash of Champions, but Nikki Cross should not have been used in that manner, especially as a champion herself. This would’ve been the perfect opportunity for Dana Brooke or Sarah Logan to finally get some TV time.
Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler win the Tag Team Turmoil by last eliminating Heavy Machinery
The Tag Team Turmoil match was announced on Twitter before the show started, and it was revealed that the winners would face Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman at Clash of Champions for the RAW Tag Team Championship. The teams announced were The OC’s Gallows & Anderson, Heavy Machinery, The Viking Raiders, The B Team, Lucha House Party, The Revival, Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder and Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler.
The first two teams were Erik & Ivar of the Viking Raiders facing Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas of The B Team. As you’d expect this was yet another squash match that ended with the B Team being quickly dispatched in less than one minute.
Surprisingly, Gallows & Anderson were next. On paper, these were the two teams you’d expect to be the favourites. This also ended quickly but not in the way that anyone wanted. Both teams were hard-hitting and brawling around the ringside area before the action continued in the ring. The referee then called for a double disqualification much to the anger of the crowd.
Roode & Ziggler then entered the match, facing Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik of Lucha House Party. At this point, the crowd’s interest in the match had died and the in-ring action wasn’t enough to rejuvenate them. Despite a quick fightback from the masked luchadors, Ziggler was able to superkick Metalik for the pinfall.
Next to face the makeshift team were The Revival, who challenged New Day for a SmackDown Tag Team Championship match last week for Clash of Champions, so the outcome was obvious. Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder controlled the majority of the match, showing why they’re among one of the best tag teams in the world. That wasn’t enough though as Roode hit Dawson with a Glorious DDT to eliminate The Revival. It was clear at this point who was going to win the Tag Team Turmoil. Hawkins & Ryder entered next and were quickly eliminated courtesy of a Ziggler superkick on Ryder.
The final team to enter were Otis & Tucker of Heavy Machinery. It looked like Ziggler and Roode had finally met their match, with Otis hitting the Caterpillar for a near fall. As Heavy Machinery attempted to secure the win with the Compactor, Ziggler would superkick Tucker out of the ring allowing Roode to pin Otis following a Glorious DDT.
The team that everyone joked about before the match started will now have a RAW Tag Team Championship opportunity at Clash of Champions. Wrestling is weird.
Summary: So, the RAW Tag Team Championship match at Clash of Champions is between two teams that didn’t exist eight days ago? That right there just shows how little Vince McMahon cares about tag team wrestling which is a shame because talent-wise it’s the best it’s ever been. This would have been perfect for The Viking Raiders to finally have some sort of story, plus they’re the only team that can realistically match Strowman’s size and strength. Why not use this match to elevate the Street Profits, as entertaining as they’ve been backstage they’re even better in the ring so have them perform similar to Kofi Kingston in the gauntlet matches earlier this year to get the crowd excited. The in-ring action was quick, basic and not enjoyable at all, especially after the double DQ. Does anyone seriously believe that Roode & Ziggler have a chance of winning at Clash of Champions?
Sasha Banks defeated Natalya
Both women continued on from their brawl at the start of the show as Natalya attacked Sasha Banks before the bell. Banks was sent crashing into the barricade and then suplexed out at ringside. When the action finally returned to the ring Natalya hit a vicious looking German suplex that Banks sold really well.
Banks would control the match by targeting Natalya’s injured left arm sending her into the ring post. The ‘Queen of Hearts’ would lock in the Sharpshooter but Banks managed to break out of the hold and go back to targeting the injured arm.
The backstabber followed by the Bank Statement looked like securing the victory for Banks, but Natalya was trying desperately to counter. Just as it looked like Natalya had broken free, Banks used Natalya’s injured arm to modify her hold for the victory.
After the match, Banks re-entered the ring to lock Natalya in the Bank Statement once again before being pulled off by officials. This was an emphatic way of sending a message to RAW Women’s Champion Becky Lynch.
Summary: They put so much into a four-minute match and I enjoyed it thoroughly. With Becky Lynch not appearing, probably due to her recent engagement with Seth Rollins, it was vital that WWE focused on building up Banks as a huge threat, and they certainly delivered. Her attitude, her walk to the ring and the viciousness in which she beat Natalya were all executed superbly. Obviously, a confrontation between Banks and Lynch would’ve really got the crowd invested, but that’ll have to wait until at least next week.
Cedric Alexander defeated Cesaro
Two superstars with contrasting fortunes in their respective King of the Ring matches faced off this week. Cedric Alexander and Cesaro have had a number of matches against each other since WrestleMania, and each time they’ve delivered. Tonight was no exception.
Cesaro would focus on restricting Alexander’s aerial offence by targeting his knee. Attempts at a half-crab were thwarted by Alexander’s persistence and heart to reach the bottom rope. Despite the pain in his knee, Alexander would start to show the resiliency that is gradually making him a popular member of the RAW roster.
Alexander would hit a superb Spanish Fly just as he was gaining some much-needed momentum. An attempt at a springboard kick followed, only for the ‘Swiss Cyborg’ to counter and lock in yet another half-crab. Cesaro’s best efforts weren’t enough as Alexander would roll out and follow with a painful-looking Lumbar Check for the big win.
Next week sees Alexander face Baron Corbin in the King of the Ring tournament, and it’ll be interesting to see if Corbin will use Alexander’s leg injury to his advantage. Cesaro is, unfortunately, floundering despite his talent, but he’ll be making an appearance at NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff this Saturday. That’ll certainly be worth watching!
Summary: As expected the match was used to elevate Alexander before his big King of the Ring match next week. Does he get a roll-up win after being dominated or is it going to be a gutsy defeat to Corbin? Whatever the case, I’m now looking forward to this next week. Cesaro is just so good at what he does, and it’s a shame that he isn’t at least pushing for a mid-card title. Having him appear in Cardiff on Saturday will be great, but I’m hoping that it isn’t a regular occurrence.
United States Championship: Braun Strowman defeated AJ Styles (C) via Disqualification
This week’s RAW main event saw Braun Strowman challenge AJ Styles for the United States Championship in a rematch from last week. With Seth Rollins seemingly absent and The OC not at ringside, it looked like the possibility of a new champion would come true.
The match itself was what you’d expect, with Styles trying to target Strowman’s legs to limit his power moves. Despite Strowman appearing to have Styles down for the count, the ‘Phenomenal One’ managed to lock in the Calf Crusher for what seemed like an eternity. Strowman looked close to tapping out, but would use his strength to power out of the hold by literally pushing himself up alongside a shocked Styles.
The final few minutes of the match are where it really starts to pick up. Strowman collided into the ring post, and during that the referee managed to dive out of the way in a split second. Not often you get a smart referee in those scenarios. Lightning didn’t strike twice though, as Strowman attempted to run through Styles only for him to duck and bump into the referee on the ring apron instead.
With the referee unconscious at ringside, Styles could sense a rare opportunity to retain his title. A thumb to the eye and a low blow gave Styles enough time to get a steel chair, only for him to run straight into a powerslam from Strowman. This prompted Gallows & Anderson to run down, but they were dealt with chair shots as a consequence. Styles then channelled his inner Eddie Guerrero and feigned an injury whilst Strowman still had the chair in his hands. The referee recovered and came to the conclusion that Strowman hit Styles with the chair forcing a disqualification.
Not pleased with the referee’s decision, Strowman proceeded to hit powerslams on all three OC members to end the show.
Summary: The match was okay, but nowhere near the level of Ricochet/McIntyre or even Alexander/Cesaro. Having a DQ finish for the same match for the second week in a row is also lazy booking and the outcome of the post-match beat-down just made no sense. Why have Strowman overcome all three members when his tag team partner is absent? It would’ve made more sense for Strowman to get laid out by The OC and then tease having issues with Rollins when he makes his return next week. A weird ending to this weeks RAW.
Not the most newsworthy episode of RAW, which is a surprise given the upward trend of the shows in recent weeks. The King of the Ring continues to showcase some fantastic matches, especially Ricochet vs McIntyre while the focus on Sasha Banks was great.
However, the Tag Team Turmoil was awful. It’s a contender for worst match of the year along with the Fatal-4-Way Women’s number 1 contender match a few months ago that went nearly 30 minutes. The fact that two makeshift teams are contesting for the RAW Tag Team Championship rather than The Usos, Viking Raiders, The OC and Street Profits is just ridiculous.
This weeks RAW wasn’t necessarily a bad show, but it wasn’t a show really worth watching either.