WWE Raw aired Monday night from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California. Per the WWE’s usual as of late, Raw this week was a mixed bag. WWE opened the show displaying a photo paying tribute to the late Leon White, known to wrestling fans worldwide as Vader.
Kurt Angle and Constable Baron Corbin came out to the ring to make an announcement to the WWE universe. Angle began to address Paul Heyman’s recent Facebook post. He said that Heyman was starting rumors about Brock Lesnar’s status on his next title defense, and then Roman Reigns came out to interrupt and received a more positive ovation than usual; there were still plenty of boos, but many cheers could be heard as well.
Bobby Lashley then came out and started talking smack to the former WWE champion, and then Roman said something that’s a bit puzzling; Reigns remarked that Lashley left to chase an MMA career and implied that it didn’t work out too well. Bobby Lashley’s mixed martial arts professional record is an impressive 15-2, and he also won two championships.
This was an awkward promo to begin with, but after Roman delivered that illogical line, the crowd was completely checked out. This opening segment likely didn’t do the WWE any favors in helping their ratings, as WrestleView reports that this week’s show was even lower than the previous Raw. At the end of the uncomfortable opening, Kurt Angle announced that there will not be a multi-man match at Extreme Rules, and then he stated that Roman Reigns will face Bobby Lashley at the pay-per-view. The Revival came out to interrupt, and Kurt booked the first match.
The Revival Vs. Roman Reigns & Bobby Lashley
It seems that ever since The Revival said that they were professional wrestlers and not sports entertainers, the WWE has been burying them. Refreshingly, this wasn’t the case during Raw. The match was pretty solid, and the ending was a surprise: thanks to Reigns forgetting who the legal man was in the ring, he speared the wrong Revival member, and Wilder (the legal wrestler) took advantage of this to roll him up for the three-count. Reigns stood in the ring afterwards in shock, and Lashley looked disgusted. Largely, and to no surprise, it seems the live audience was behind Bobby more than they were Roman.
Matt Hardy vs. Curtis Axel
Prior to the match, it was announced that The B Team will face The Eater of Worlds at Extreme Rules for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Comically, Dallas and Axel dressed as The Eater of Worlds during the pre-match promo. This was particularly entertaining since Bo was in fact impersonating his real-life brother, Bray Wyatt.
This match was a short one, and after Hardy slipped while attempting to do a superplex, Curtis pinned him with a cross body for the upset victory. After the contest, Matt and Wyatt congratulated Axel for his “wonderful” victory.
Backstage, Kurt Angle tells Bayley that she will once again team with Sasha Banks, and that they will team with Ember Moon to face The Riott Squad. Afterwards, The Authors of Pain returned to in-ring action and faced two jobbers and squashed them. Backstage again, Braun Strowman interrupts Kurt Angle talking to Baron Corbin and Finn Balor, and Strowman tells the general manager that he’s been too hard on Kevin Owens and feels bad for throwing him through a wall. Braun says he wants to team with Kevin to face Balor and Corbin, and Kurt books the match for later in the evening.
Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss
Prior to the match, Bliss and Mickie James cut a promo, and Alexa once again demonstrated that she’s one of the best WWE superstars on the mic. Before the promo, the live audience was largely checked out, but the WWE women’s champion got them back into Raw. Natalya came out to interrupt the promo and Nia Jax accompanied “The Queen of Hearts” to the ring.
Though there was a botch or two, this non-title match was decent and it was another quick one. At the end of the match, Jax tripped Bliss, and Natalya seized the opportunity by locking in the sharpshooter making the champion tap out. The WWE has once again had one of their top faces cheat to secure a victory.
Ember Moon, Bayley, And Sasha Banks vs. The Riott Squad
This match was a little underwhelming until the aftermath occurred, and that was the moment of the night. Ruby Riott pinned Sasha to secure the victory, and then Bayley snapped. She immediately started pounding Banks with stiff blows, and Bayley even threw her against the steel steps and other objects surrounding the ring. While this is seemingly a heel turn for Bayley, the crowd did something they haven’t done in quite some time: they started chanting Bayley’s name.
Later, Angle told Bayley that she will have to undergo counseling, so this will likely lead to Bayley becoming a pure heel. What’s really cool about this whole thing is that ever since “The Huggable One” joined Raw, the WWE has not known what to do with her, and now it looks like the talented wrestler is finally involved in a compelling program.
This is also interesting because fans have not seen Bayley perform as a heel, so this will keep her character fresh. Though it may be a few more weeks before she is a pure baddie, it looks like the WWE finally has her on the right path. This program has been a longtime coming, and both Banks and Bayley have the skills to make this one of the most intriguing feuds of the year.
No Way Jose made his way to the ring in his normal routine, and Mojo Rawley got on the mic, said he was embarrassed to be here, and made fun of Jose. Nothing immediately came of this, including a match, but it looks like this will be a low-card contest in the near future.
Braun Strowman & Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor & Baron Corbin
This was a very entertaining contest, and as expected, the four WWE superstars put on a solid performance. Owens and “Mr. Monster in the Bank” worked well together as a team, and the duo would win the match via a count-out. Afterwards, Owens went to congratulate Strowman but then ran away in fear. This was one of the most entertaining angles of the evening, and fans will likely want the WWE to continue this.
Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler
Dolph defended the WWE Intercontinental championship against “The Kingslayer.” Where Bayley had the moment of the night, this was definitely the match of the night, and the two superstars performed a number of impressive spots and sequences. For the finish, Drew McIntyre, who was ejected earlier in the match, returned to the ring to pummel Rollins, causing a disqualification.
Ziggler and Drew continued to stomp Seth, but then Roman Reigns came down to help his former Shield brother. Rollins won the contest but since it was by DQ, Dolph Ziggler is still the champ. This was a solidly booked match that leaves the door open for a couple of different programs in the near future.
Overall, aside from the opening awkwardness and confusion, WWE Raw was a solid show despite the underwhelming ratings.