It’s a brand-new landscape for Monday Night RAW. There has been some rearrangement after last week’s Superstar Shake-up, Andrade, Zelina Vega, and Aleister Black are now listed as SmackDown Live Superstars, as is Chad Gable. Ricochet has stayed on RAW, so their team is no more. Whether that means we’ll see some other Superstars make the switch to RAW, we’ll find out. WWE have said goodbye to several superstars, Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, and Goldust have all left the company now.
Tonight is all about what’s next. Universal Champion Seth Rollins is all alone now, Ambrose is gone and Roman Reigns has moved to SmackDown Live. We’re due to find out who his new challenger is. And, The Viking Experience are now The Viking Raiders, which is a bit better. There was a massive outcry about the name last week, so it’s good to see it changed quickly.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review
AJ Styles def. Samoa Joe and Rey Mysterio
Naomi def. Billie Kay
Baron Corbin def. The Miz and Drew McIntyre
Cesaro def. Cedric Alexander
Becky Lynch def. Alicia Fox
Robert Roode def. Ricochet
AJ Styles def. Baron Corbin
The Key Bits
» Triple H opened this week’s RAW, sort of. While he was on his way to the ring commentary he announced two triple-threat matches for the show – Rey Mysterio vs Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles, and Baron Corbin vs Drew McIntyre vs The Miz. The winner will fight in the main event to become the number one contender for Seth Rollins’ Universal Championship. Before Triple H could speak, Seth Rollins came to join him. They shook hands and did the bro-hug in greeting.
Rollins said it was surreal to be standing his home state after everything he’s been through alongside the WWE Universe and with Triple H, with the Universal title around his waist. Two weeks ago, at WrestleMania, he was in the fight of his life, but he did what he said he’d do and brought the title home.
Triple H agreed Rollins walked in a Kingslayer and walked out a certified Beastslayer. But now the landscape has changed. Rollins is the standard bearer, the measuring stick, and the whole world is gunning for him.
Rollins said he knows Money in the Bank is just around the corner and if anyone knows about that briefcase it’s him. He’s been on both ends of the cash in.
Triple H told him he should be more concerned about who he’s facing at Money in the Bank not who wins the briefcases. Rollins asked if Heyman had been blowing up his phone and Triple H said he hadn’t heard from Lesnar at all, then explained the matches commentary had already told us about.
United States Champion, Samoa Joe, came out and announced he is now a RAW superstar. He said Becky Lynch had an interesting concept with the double championships. His shoulders are plenty wide enough for another and he wants Rollins’.
Rey Mysterio came to join them. He wants the title too. Drew McIntyre was next. He thinks he’s earned a title shot and the only reason Rollins is Champion is because he got to Lesnar before McIntyre did. Miz was next to the party, followed by Baron Corbin. AJ styles completed the group. Styles versus Rollins is THE match, but Rollins versus Mysterio would be great too. They all think they’re winning and going through to face Rollins at Money in the Bank.
Rollins said this is what Triple H was talking about, everyone gunning for him. He’s ready. It doesn’t matter who wins, he’s Seth Freakin’ Rollins and he’s going to Burn it Down.
AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe vs Rey Mysterio was the first match. Samoa Joe was sent out of the ring early on and didn’t come back until there was a pin attempt to break up. Styles and Mysterio had already done a fair bit of damage to each other, Joe did some more. We almost got a tower of doom spot, Joe suplexed Styles and Mysterio off the second turnbuckle. Really long match, fantastic, obviously. Samoa Joe took a 619. AJ Styles powerbombed Mysterio onto Joe, then gave him a Styles Clash onto Joe as well and pinned Samoa Joe. Something caught Samoa Joe on the bridge of the nose, possibly Mysterio’s elbow, because he was bleeding when he left.
The Miz vs Drew McIntyre vs Baron Corbin came at the end of the first hour. Miz was at a significant disadvantage considering how often Corbin and McIntyre have tagged together recently. They double-teamed him a lot in the early part of the match, until Corbin ruined it by smacking McIntyre in the face. We got another tower of doom-esque spot when Corbin brought McIntyre down from the turnbuckle while McIntyre had Miz on his shoulders. Miz took down Corbin and McIntyre on the outside with a dive from the top then flung Corbin into the timekeeper’s area to concentrate on McIntyre. Wrong move because McIntyre had recovered. Miz avoided a Claymore and got a figure four locked in, but McIntyre got out with a thumb to the eye. Baron Corbin wrote himself out of the match temporarily when Miz dodged his charge on the outside and he crashed into the steps. Baron Corbin stole the win from Drew McIntyre. McIntyre put Miz down for the count with a Claymore and Corbin threw him out of the ring and got the pin.
AJ Styles was asked how he’s going to deal with Corbin. Styles said it not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. He’s a bulldog, with more fight than Corbin. Baron Corbin likes to have all his accolades announced, but Styles has a few accolades of his own, which he listed. It’s not about that, it’s about picking a fight with the biggest bully in the yard and winning. And he will.
AJ Styles vs Baron Corbin – Number One Contender’s match – main evented the show. It was a decent match, brute force versus skill for the most part. Styles was clearly less than one hundred percent after his earlier match and wasn’t able to complete moves on several occasions through the match. It meant Corbin controlled long sections of the match, getting increasingly frustrated at his inability to keep Styles down.
AJ Styles gradually rebuilt his momentum, with the occasional setback. He survived a Deep Six and failed to get a submission from the calf crusher. The feeling of dread that Corbin might actually find a way past Styles didn’t dissipate until the Phenomenal Forearm led to the three-count.
Seth Rollins came out after the match and offered Styles his hand. AJ Styles hesitated but shook it and they had a little verbal exchange we weren’t allowed to hear. I can’t believe they’re doing this so quickly, but I am very, very, happy they are. There’s a great story behind the match. They faced each other on the indies thirteen years ago when Rollins (then Tyler Black) was really young, had a great match. Styles said lovely things about Rollins future, which proved to be true… I’m sure it’ll all be in the build for the next couple of weeks but the match is available on YouTube and it’s worth a watch.
» Becky Lynch spoke to the crowd before her match. She said there is something in the air tonight, it’s the Superstar Shake-up effect. The time of the year when opportunity presents itself and new challengers emerge. But she didn’t have to wait to find out who her next opponent in, it’s Lacey Evans, the woman who sucker-punched The Man. She doesn’t mind being sucker-punched she’s thrown a few sneaky right hands herself, it’s the woman behind them she objects to.
She has made a career out of slapping bleach blondes who have curried favour from management, so Lacey Evans is just a new version of an old approach. While Lacey is in the back trying to further her own career… she’s ready to fight anyone to cement hers. She called out Alicia Fox for their match but got Evans instead.
Evans had some stuff to say about what a lady is, but the only interesting bit was the fact she’s getting her title shot at Money in the Bank.
Becky Lynch called Evans a plank and told her she’s getting on her last nerve and she wants to slap her head right off her shoulders. Don’t confuse her recent happiness with contentment. At Money in the Bank, she will dismantle Evans because she can, then The Man will go back to collect her debts.
Alicia Fox arrived to end the exchange and Becky Lynch vs Alicia Fox began. Fox looks great, new hair same zaniness. She had some control and a few half-chances after slamming Lynch into the barricade, but she tapped out to a Dis-Arm-Her. Lacey Evans gave Lynch a Woman’s Right before she’d even had chance to let go of the hold, and a second when she got up.
The Other Bits
Naomi vs Billie Kay. The IIconics talk too much. This time it was about Naomi having no backup now Bayley has gone off to SmackDown Live. Naomi made short work of Billie Kay, even with Royce’s attempted interference. The match was 70 seconds long. If you’re keeping track, The IIconics lost twice last week as well.
» The creepy toys vignette was back. They are for Bray Wyatt. The UK didn’t see it due to the ad breaks, but there was also a promo segment for his new character. I can’t explain it, I wouldn’t know where to starts, so here it is.
Sami Zayn said that for the last few weeks he’s been telling people the truth about themselves, which no one else has the courage to do. There’s been a false narrative created about him that’s he’s become bitter and he wants to squash that. He is the opposite of bitter, he’s jubilant. He is a happy person and the time he was out was the happiest of his life. He showed some of his Instagram pictures – 70 seconds for a women’s division match and we’re looking at Sami Zayn’s Instagram photos – to prove how happy he was. As his return to work got closer, he started getting anxiety and depression, so he asked himself why. Was it the corporate structure he doesn’t really agree with, or the egomaniac superstars he’s surrounded with every day? No, it was the fans.
When the crowd booed he told them to go ahead because it was easier to boo him than to look in the mirror and hold themselves accountable for their role in all this. He is holding every member of the WWE Universe to account. We think the mob mentality will keep us safe, but it won’t keep us safe from him. He’d much rather be anywhere else on earth than Iowa, and if the crowd don’t like that they should take a leaf out of Sami Zayn’s book and take a trip… to hell.
He dropped the mic and left, but crossed Cedric Alexander on the ramp and got a big smile from him. That could be a fun match.
» Cedric Alexander vs Cesaro. That’s another post-Shake-up change. The Bar have been split up and Cesaro is on RAW. Alexander is looking to make an impact from 205 Live, and Cesaro is returning to single’s competition after a long time as one half of a team. Cesaro is one of the top talents in the company, it’s great to see him back He spent the whole match trying to keep Alexander grounded, mostly successfully, and finished it with a European Uppercut.
» The Usos told Charly Caruso they are very happy to be on RAW and they’re looking forward to facing everyone. The Revival interrupted and called them ‘decent hands’ in the tag team division and the greatest tag team in the history of SmackDown Live, but this is RAW and it’s top guy territory. The Usos pretended to nap while The Revival were talking then welcomed them to the Uso Penitentiary. The Usos versus The Revival is the feud we all deserve.
The Viking Raiders are an ‘Experience’ no longer, but they’re still Vikings and they’re still Ivar and Erik. Viking Raiders vs Lucha House Party didn’t actually start, Viking Raiders just destroyed all three members of Lucha House Party instead. Their finisher is now called The Viking Experience instead.
Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder were asked if they’re worried about the Viking Raiders. They big and strong and agile, but they’re new. They earned their title and they’re not going to let them take them away.
» Ricochet vs Robert Roode – yes, you read that right – Bobby Roode has changed his facial hair and now wants to be called Robert instead of Bobby. That confirms Roode and Gable are no more, so that’s three split tag teams tonight. Tough match for both but Roode came out on top with a Glorious DDT.
An interesting episode of RAW. There is still some settling of personnel to be done and storylines to be built. It’s a “be patient and wait and see what happens” time of year.