Opening segment w/ Rusev, Lana & Bobby Lashley
RAW opens with Randy Orton and Baron Corbin beating on Rusev in the middle of the ring but just as the Bulgarian Brute is able to fend off the attacking pair, Lashley appears on the tiantron. Lashley gloats about the fact that he’s currently in Rusev’s house… in Rusev’s robe… in Rusev’s bed. Lana, scantily clad, then joins Lashley in the bed and suggests the reason for her betrayal is because of the fact that Rusev doesn’t spend enough of his money on her, cementing this pair as a despicable couple.
Being laughed at by Orton and Corbin, Rusev finally snaps and proceeds to assault the pair on the outside. The Bulgarian viciously relieves his frustrations on the opposing members of Team Flair, throwing both into the surrounding barricades, ring steps, and ring posts before exiting the arena.
A quick start to RAW where we’re thrown into the action immediately without having to sit through overly-wordy, non-sensical promos so that gets a thumbs up in my books.
Whilst the angle is a bit confusing having Rusev seemingly up against a whole team in Lana, Lashley, Orton, and Corbin, at least Rusev is back on our screens and for the most-part kicking ass.
Natalya def. Lacey Evans – Last Woman’s standing match
Evans delivers a fine little promo before Natalya makes her entrance. Evans sounds great on the mic, gets her gimmick over well and doesn’t stumble over her words which is making for a nice change these days.
It’s not long before the match spills to the outside which sees both superstars take some hard bumps onto the floor. Natalya is on top however whose able to lock in the Sharpshooter in the centre of the ring, before inexplicably releasing the hold after only a matter of seconds.
Lacey then is able to regain the initiative and begins to test Natalya’s resilience as she beats her down on the outside, leading to a number of counts from the referee. Lacey gets some nice heat from the crowd after teasing the introduction of a table before placing back under the ring which was a smart move to start eliciting some real reactions from the crowd. The match very much continued in this fashion, with Lacey throwing Natalya all about the outside and up the entrance ramp, the referee counting all along the way and Evans beginning to show her frustration.
Despite being dominated throughout the majority of the match, Natalya was finally able to counter a potential suplex off the side fo the ramp and instead managed to deliver a powerbomb to her adversary off the side of the stage and through a table. This proved to be enough for Natalya to earn the victory after Lacey couldn’t answer the 10 count.
An intriguing decision to give these two a last woman’s standing blowout match considering most of their rivalry had been played out on pre-shows and given very little promo time but the pair did well to garner the crowd’s interest as the match progressed.
I must say I’m baffled by the decision to put Natalya over Evans as out of the pair, only one has a future at the top of the women’s division… and it isn’t Natalya. Natalya put in a Cena-esque performance and didn’t particularly sell the wounds of the match after gaining the victory which just made Evans’ efforts look all the more sub-par.
The Viking Raiders (Eric and Ivar) def. Dolph Ziggler & Bobby Roode
A standard tag-team match for the most part which saw the Viking Raiders enjoy the best of it, entertaining the crowd with their offence, with Eric wielding Ivar like a human hammer at times.
The Viking Raiders are able to earn the victory after delivering the Viking Experience to Ziggler who takes the pin.
The Viking Raiders were made to look great in this match, they got plenty of offence in and kept the crowd entertained. They were also able to survive all that Ziggler and Roode could throw at them and emerge with the victory which sets them up for a title shot next week on RAW.
Aleister Black def. The Singh Brothers – 2-on-1 Handicap Match
Black is able to quickly dispatch the pair of 205-live stars with a couple of kicks and a modified Dragon-Sleeper submission manoeuvre in a quick squash match.
It’s great to see Black back on our TV screens, especially so close to the draft. It would’ve been nice to see Black given at least a couple more minutes, just to deliver some more offence as we haven’t seen Black too regularly over the past couple of months but he looked good going over.
The O.C def. Lucha House Party – Six-man tag-team match
Both teams shared the offence in this match to a near 50-50 split and it took AJ Styles delivering the Phenomenal Forearm to Kalisto to earn the O.C the victory.
After the match, every other member of the Lucha House Party was made to suffer another finisher from the O.C, the nastiest seeing Lince Dorado eat a Styles Clash off the middle rope.
A nice win to hand some momentum back to the varying members of the O.C ahead of the upcoming draft and nice not to see Lucha House Party treated as pure jobbers in this match.
MizTV w/ Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair & Becky & Charlotte vs The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane)
Despite getting off to a slow start, the temperature in the segment quickly heats up once Becky and Charlotte begin comparing their feats and achievements.
Before things come to a head, the Kabuki Warriors interrupt the pair and spout off, what I assume, were insults aimed at the singles Champions in Japanese. After a challenge, the new tag-team champions then charge the ring where a quick brawl breaks out between the foursome before setting up the start of the match.
The Kabuki Warriors were granted the opportunity to work over both of Becky and Charlotte at differing points in the match and despite their differences being highlighted before the contest, neither Charlotte nor Becky seemed to have any issue working with their partner in order to survive the assault.
The Kabuki Warriors were eventually able to pick up the victory after Charlotte sustained a leg injury, and Asuka was able to blast Becky with the Green Mist whilst Lynch had Sane locked in the Disarm-Her.
Attacking Charlotte after the match, the Kabuki Warriors were this time interrupted themselves as Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross (who they defeated for the Tag-Team titles) made the save to clear the ring of the villainous pair.
An interesting angle before the match teased a further rivalry between the two respective singles champs as well as Becky’s desire to once again, go 1-on-1 with Asuka who she’s yet to defeat but I’d be surprised if any of that is acted on anytime soon.
The match itself was solid, if unspectacular, and it was good to see the Kabuki Warriors pick up the victory to keep their momentum going before furthering their feud with Bliss and Cross.
Ricochet def. Apollo Crews
A quick match between the pair which saw Ricochet pick up the win after landing his single-leg Codebreaker.
This match wasn’t given a lot of time and was mostly used as a filler to remind everyone of the other superstars whose fate will be decided in the upcoming draft.
Tyson Fury addresses Braun Strowman
Tyson Fury walks out to a warm reception from the crowd and is here to demand an apology from Braun Strowman.
Strowman soon enters the ring and states that his problem with Fury is that he’s wrong to think that he’d want any piece of Braun Strowman.
The two exchange a couple of insults before beginning to brawl. Enforcers from the outside rush the ring to try and separate the pair of monsters. All these unnamed enforcers are easily beaten off by the two giants and the pair are at it again. This time, the locker room empties out into the ring to now separate these two.
The two close out the show in this fashion, still having to be held apart by the entire locker room.
Tyson looked comfortable in the ring and it’ll be interesting to see when and where this feud gets its blowout. Hopefully, it’s not anytime too soon as Tyson looks like he needs a lot more training before stepping into a WWE ring as a lot of his “shots” on the enforcers clearly didn’t land and it just made the angle look silly.
This show was clearly designed to set up the upcoming draft, with superstars who hadn’t had much screen time or momentum lately finally receiving it on this show. It was also a good choice not to feature either of Seth Rollins or the Fiend on the show as that would’ve greatly soured the crowds mood after their disastrous finish on last Sunday’s PPV.
Overall, not much to celebrate about tonight’s show but equally nothing much to complain about either.
Final Grade: B-