Last week saw Bayley reunite with her best friend Sasha Banks by shockingly attacking Becky Lynch despite being tag team partners. With RAW emanating from Madison Square Garden for the first time in 10 years, it promised to be a wild night of action with Stone Cold Steve Austin advertised as well as a Four Horsewomen tag team match.
Universal Championship contract signing – Stone Cold stunners AJ Styles
The glass shatters and WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin makes his way to the ring to a thunderous reception. He tells the New York crowd some stories about his past matches with Bret Hart and The Undertaker at Madison Square Garden before bringing out Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman for their Universal Championship contract signing.
Rollins was pandering to Austin and the New York crowd in typical babyface fashion whilst telling Strowman that he won’t turn his back on their RAW Tag Team Championship defence against Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler. Strowman responds by saying that he “likes being RAW Tag Team Champions, but he’s going to LOVE being the Universal Champion”.
Both men sign the contract before The OC led by AJ Styles appear who starts mocking Austin’s catchphrases. Styles complains about Gallows & Anderson not getting their rematch before the New York crowd start chanting ‘a**hole’ at him.
Styles then complains about Strowman getting a Universal Championship match without earning it before a brawl starts between the five of them with Austin in the background. The chaos results in Styles standing tall in the ring, only to turn around to a Stunner from Austin which was met with deafening pop from the crowd.
Summary: It’s always great to see Stone Cold in a WWE ring, but AJ Styles was the highlight of this segment. He’s so good at being a heel and has that unique mix of comedy and seriousness to his promos. Having Styles get hit with a Stunner does not damage his character at all, if anything it makes him more of a heel that people want to see regularly get his comeuppance. My only criticism is that Rollins and Strowman were irrelevant despite it being their contract signing, I’m not as invested in this match as I was two weeks ago.
Non-title: Cedric Alexander def. United States Champion AJ Styles via DQ
Styles was still feeling the effects of the Stunner as Cedric Alexander quickly made his way to the ring for their non-title match.
Alexander controlled the early stages of the match, an unrelenting attack on Styles as revenge for last weeks assault by The OC. Alexander gets a near fall after a back handspring followed by a hurricanrana and a series of dropkicks.
Styles manages to finally gain control and target the injured left arm of Alexander. Styles then hits a Michinoku Driver for a close near fall. Alexander fights back with a leaping enziguri but Gallows & Anderson attack him at ringside to cause the disqualification.
The Viking Raiders make the save for Alexander, seemingly turning babyface and starting a feud with Gallows & Anderson in the process.
Summary: A match that was short but focused more on the story of Alexander wanting revenge for last weeks attack. As we’ll find out later in the show, it seems like a rematch will happen for the United States Championship at Clash of Champions. While I don’t see Alexander winning the title on Sunday, he’s sure to produce a stellar match with Styles on the big stage. I’m glad that the Viking Raiders are finally in a meaningful feud, but this really should be for the RAW Tag Team Championships.
Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair def. Bayley & Sasha Banks
Surprisingly, the Four Horsewomen tag team match between unlikely partners Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair against best friends Bayley & Sasha Banks wasn’t the main event.
The match starts early as Becky and Charlotte charged up the ramp and attacked their respective foes. The plan backfires as Charlotte gets thrown into the barricade. Becky gets double-teamed by Bayley & Sasha only for Charlotte to run them out of the ring with a steel chair.
When the match finally does start, Becky dares Sasha to tag herself in by throwing Bayley into her corner. The ‘Boss’ decides against that notion by dropping down to ringside.
Charlotte and Becky appear to be showing signs of cohesion despite their storied past, with quick tags and double team moves on Bayley. The SmackDown Women’s Champion fights back by reversing Becky’s suplex into a hanging stunner on the middle rope.
The match at this point is already back-and-forth with hot tags and near falls from both teams. Sasha reversed a tilt-a-whirl into a Bank Statement, only for Charlotte to roll through and lock in the Figure-Eight. Bayley tries to break up the submission, only to get locked in the Dis-Arm-Her by Becky before throwing her into Charlotte.
Bayley and Sasha show their tag team prowess by isolating Charlotte in their corner and taking turns with chops and slaps. Becky finally gets the hot tag and takes out Bayley with a flying forearm and a Becksploder suplex on Sasha.
Becky would hit a guillotine leg drop onto Bayley before a moonsault from Charlotte only for Sasha to break up the pin at the very last moment. Bayley hits Becky with a Bayley-to-belly on the barricade before turning her attention to her Clash of Champions challenger.
After taking Becky out, Bayley would then hit Charlotte with a German Suplex on the outside before rolling her back into the ring. Bayley goes for her signature elbow drop, only for Charlotte to get her knees up. Sasha then gets hit with a forearm, which allows Bayley to attempt a roll up, but Charlotte kicked out and quickly hit the Natural Selection for the win.
Summary: Aside from a few slow parts especially when Charlotte was being isolated, this was a great showcase for the Four Horsewomen. The best thing about this match was the fact that we all know that they can be even better. Charlotte gradually turning face makes sense in her feud with Bayley for now, but if this is leading to something between all four of them then keeping her heel is the best option, if that makes sense. I’m hoping that with them being the focus of WWE 2K20 Showcase Mode that this potentially leads to a Fatal-4-Way at WrestleMania or earlier, a worthy main event wherever.
Rey Mysterio def. Gran Metalik
A ‘first time ever’ match was up next as Rey Mysterio faced Gran Metalik of 205 Live.
Rey attempted a 619 early in the contest but Metalik reversed only to then get rolled up for a nearfall. Rey went for his Baseball Slide Splash to the floor, but Metalik reversed with a picture-perfect superkick.
Metalik was in full control and hit a beautiful springboard somersault plancha onto Rey at ringside. Metalik hit a Slingshot Somersault Senton to Rey in the ring for a nearfall.
Rey would fight back and hit a spinning headscissors sending Metalik into the turnbuckle before a Seated Senton followed by a Springboard Flying Cross Body. Metalik would retaliate with a springboard cross body of his own.
The match continued at a lightning pace as Rey hit a Springboard Frankensteiner for another nearfall. Metalik would bounce back and attempt a Powerbomb, only for Rey to counter into a Code Red for yet another near fall.
Rey would finally get the much-needed victory with the 619 followed by the Frog Splash for the three-count. After the match, Metalik bowed to Rey as a sign of respect.
Summary: This was a fun match to emphasise that Rey still has it, even though we all knew that anyway. I just don’t know where this is heading, is Rey going to feud with his own son? Will he put someone over from NXT? I really don’t know. I’m glad however to see that WWE appear to be splitting the Lucha House Party with Metalik facing Rey and Lince Dorado involved in the Cruiserweight title picture on 205 Live.
King of the Ring semi-final: Baron Corbin def. Samoa Joe & Ricochet
The first ever triple threat match in King of the Ring history started at a frantic pace as Ricochet hit Samoa Joe with a dropkick that sent him out on to the floor. Baron Corbin was waiting outside for the moment to make his mark in the match, and he did so by laying out Ricochet with a running shoulder block preventing him from diving onto Joe.
Ricochet’s speed proves to be too much to handle as he connected with a springboard clothesline and standing shooting star press for a near fall on Corbin. After a lengthy period outside the ring, Joe would finally make his mark on proceedings with an Elbow Suicida through the ropes onto Corbin out on the floor. Joe would then throw Ricochet into the ring post before throwing Corbin back into the ring to take control of the match.
Joe hit a backsplash senton on Corbin, but Ricochet breaks up the pin attempt. Ricochet exchanges chops with Joe before being hit with a vicious snap powerslam.
Corbin would recover and attempt a chokeslam on Ricochet, but it was reversed into a sunset flip which was then reversed into a powerbomb and a superb looking Deep Six only for Joe to drag the ‘Lone Wolf’ out of the ring with the Coquina Clutch.
Joe wasn’t intending on letting go of the submission hold, locking onto Corbin all around the ringside area. Eventually, Joe drops Corbin down to the floor and fully locks the submission by wrapping his legs. Ricochet then appears from thin air to hit a shooting star press from the ring apron onto Joe and Corbin.
Ricochet would attempt a 630 on Joe in the ring, only for it to be countered into the Coquina Clutch. Ricochet would use the turnbuckles to flip out of the submission and connect with the Recoil. A second attempt at the 630 was successful, only for Corbin to throw Ricochet out of the ring and steal the win by pinning Joe.
The win sees Corbin advance to the King of the Ring finals where he’ll face the winner of the SmackDown bracket in either Chad Gable or Elias this Sunday at Clash of Champions.
Summary: A thoroughly enjoyable match as to be expected with these three. Corbin continues to impress me this year with his heel heat and in-ring talent, and while he might not be at the Universal Championship level, I would stake a claim for him to be a mid-card champion by the end of 2019. Joe and Ricochet as always are fantastic in the ring and it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here. ‘King Corbin’ however really is looking like a possibility, and I’m looking forward to it becoming a reality.
Natalya def. Lacey Evans
In a match that no-one asked for, Natalya faced the ‘Sassy Southern Belle’ Lacey Evans.
With the action basic and slow, the crowd were not enjoying it at all and started chanting “CM Punk”. Natalya attempted a Sharpshooter early into the match, but Lacey managed to reach the bottom rope and pull herself out of the ring.
Lacey would use the time outside the ring to recuperate and hit Natalya with a swinging neckbreaker on the floor. The ‘Sassy Southern Belle’ was in complete control and hit a springboard elbow for a near fall.
The one piece of Lacey’s offense that continues to impress is her springboard moonsault, but this time Natalya managed to move out of the way. Just as it looked like she was back in the match she would run straight into a vicious kick from Lacey.
Lacey would attempt her second headstand senton, but Natalya managed to reverse and lock in a Sharpshooter for the submission victory.
Summary: Is there really anything to say about this match? It was boring, dull and lifeless and was only done to get Natalya a win back to prolong this feud because 50/50 booking is unfortunately still a thing in WWE. It’s crazy to think that Lacey was tipped to be the woman to beat Becky Lynch for the RAW Women’s Championship.
In what was once again the highlight of RAW, Bray Wyatt was back with another episode of Firefly Fun House. Rambling Rabit and Bray were talking about ‘stranger danger’ with the stranger they’re eluding to being Stone Cold Steve Austin. Their alarm clock stopped at 3:16 and Bray starts to freak out at all his puppets continuing to yell ‘stranger danger’.
Bray smashes the clock with a hammer to ‘fix’ it with the time changing to 19:11. “Steve’s just an old Rattlesnake,” Bray said. “You can’t blame a rattlesnake for being a rattlesnake. A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.” What a great quote!
Bray talks about Seth and Braun and says friends won’t help where they’re going. “Friends forgive but the Fiend never forgets,” Bray said before ending with his now trademark “see you in hell!”
Summary: There are three guarantees in life: death, taxes and Bray Wyatt having yet another stellar episode of the Firefly Funhouse. The clock changing to 19:11 is an apparent nod to the date that The Undertaker debuted in 1990. He just so happens to be appearing on SmackDown tomorrow night. If this leads to The Fiend retiring the ‘Phenom’ at Survivor Series, then sign me up!
Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Cedric Alexander & The Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar) def. The OC (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson), Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
The match starts as you’d expect for a multi-man tag match, with the pace slow between Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler until the Viking Raiders are tagged in and double-team the ‘Show-off’ which causes all hell to break loose between all 10 participants. It proves to be a bad opening few minutes for Ziggler who gets a chokeslam from Braun Strowman for his efforts.
The heels start targeting Cedric Alexander’s injured left arm after the first ad break, with AJ Styles slamming his arm into the mat as he was trying to make a tag. Luke Gallows and Robert Roode take turns in adding more pain to Alexander’s arm.
Alexander fights back and tags in Rollins who gets a near fall on Karl Anderson after a superplex/falcon arrow combination. Styles later attempts a Phenomenal Forearm onto Ivar only for Rollins to catch him in mid-air with a superkick.
The action was once descending into chaos with all the combatants but in the ring Strowman hit a running powerslam on Anderson. Despite appearing to protect his tag partners pin attempt Rollins would get shoved onto Strowman by Roode and Ziggler and the RAW Tag Team Champions were arguing as the show went into its final ad break.
The action was back-and-forth with plenty of action in the latter stages, with Alexander tagging himself in after Erick was struck with a Pele Kick by Styles. It was down to Alexander and Styles in the ring after Ivar wiped out members from both teams after a somersault plancha to the outside.
Styles would attempt a Phenomenal Forearm but Alexander would reverse into a Lumbar Check for the biggest win of his career. Stone Cold Steve Austin would join the post-match celebrations as the babyfaces all had beers to end the show.
Summary: This really felt like a house show main event, which to me is lazy booking. Having Alexander pin Styles made sense going into their potential US Title match at Clash of Champions, but this should’ve happened during their match earlier in the night. Each time there’s a chance of Strowman and Rollins falling apart as a team they bounce back and forget about it all. That doesn’t leave me invested in their RAW Tag Team Championship defence against Roode and Ziggler at all, does anyone seriously believe that Strowman and Rollins will drop the titles?
From an in-ring perspective this was a very enjoyable show. Styles vs Alexander was a little glimpse of what to expect on Sunday while Rey vs Metalik was a fun exhibition.
The Four Horsewomen tag match was superb and really should’ve ended the night while the King of the Ring semi-final exceeded all expectations and delivered yet another stellar match for the tournament. The less said about Natalya vs Lacey Evans the better.
Bray Wyatt continues to be the best thing in all of WWE and fortunately, there’s no signs of his character slowing down. A prospect of a Hell in a Cell match against Strowman or Rollins was fascinating but add in the possible feud with Undertaker and quite frankly the sky is the absolute limit for Bray.
From a storyline perspective, there wasn’t much to suggest that this was a go-home show for Clash of Champions. Sure, the card looks great and there’s bound to be some great matches but there wasn’t any story progression that would’ve made me want to tune in to the event on Sunday.