Stomping Grounds is over (read the full review here), Ricochet is the new United States Champion and already has a new challenger in the form of AJ Styles. They have a non-title match tonight, but that could be the beginning of something very special. WWE are advertising that as part of a triple main event, with Kofi Kingston versus Sami Zayn, also in a non-title match as the second part. The final part of the triple main event is Roman Reigns in a two-on-one handicap match against Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre. WWE’s favourite couple, Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch, are due to get the evening underway, presumably to address Lacey Evans and Baron Corbin.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
The Usos & New Day def. Daniel Bryan & Rowan & The Revival
R-Truth def. Drake Maverick
Shane McMahon & Drew McIntyre vs Roman Reigns – abandoned due to interference
24/7 Title Changes – R-Truth > Heath Slater > Cedric Alexander > EC3 > R-Truth
Kofi Kingston def. Sami Zayn
Kofi Kingston def. Kevin Owens
Alexa Bliss def. Naomi
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross def. Naomi & Natalya
AJ Styles def. Ricochet
The Key Bits
» Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch did open the show, as advertised. Rollins came out first and started to talk about Baron Corbin. Lynch interrupted him after his first sentence. She got a much bigger pop as well.
He jokingly told her off for interrupting then said he had to give Baron Corbin some credit. Corbin was smart enough to know he couldn’t outwrestle him, or outfight him, and he was smart enough to get a referee who would side with him and he wouldn’t destroy. But he wasn’t smart enough to know he had the best backup in the world.
Lynch said it pays to be The Man’s man, and that last night they proved, individually, why they are the champions of their divisions. Lacey Evans has run her mouth week after week but she nothing when it came time to fight (seriously, nothing), so she tapped out. Then she turned up at the end of the night, once again trying to steal a title for someone else, but not on Lynch’s watch.
Baron Corbin’s music hit and, while they were waiting for him, Lacey Evans jumped Lynch from behind. Becky Lynch quickly overpowered her and, when Rollins tried to pull her away, she shoved him. She went back to pounding on Evans and Corbin attacked Rollins. Corbin was cleared from the ring by a slingblade from Rollins and Evans by a Bex-ploder.
It was Corbin who suggested the now inevitable mixed tag, after some toxic masculinity, casual misogyny, and stupid comments. Becky Lynch accepted on the condition that when they lose they’re completely done, no more title chances.
Evans and Corbin conferred and said they had another stipulation, Rollins accepted without hearing it. So, at Extreme Rules, both titles will be on the line, Winners Take All. I can’t believe they’re dragging this out until the next PPV.
Backstage, later on, Evans and Corbin spoke backstage. They seem to think taking out Becky Lynch will weaken Rollins enough to make him beatable, but that hasn’t worked too well for Evans so far. Baron Corbin suggested they could become the new power couple. Evans’ response was noncommittal.
» Daniel Bryan & Rowan & The Revival vs New Day & The Usos – Tag Team Elimination match – was the opening match of the show. It was a big deal because it was both brands’ champions versus their number one contenders. Both members of a team were eliminated if one member was pinned or submitted. It was good. High energy and a bit of chaos to wake the crowd up.
Daniel Bryan & Rowan were the first eliminated when Xavier Woods pinned Bryan with a rollup after Dash Wilder punched Bryan in the face, probably because Bryan had accidentally taken out Scott Dawson with a suicide dive earlier. New Day were eliminated moments later after Woods took a Shatter Machine.
The match was reset during the break (new thing, no wrestling in the ads) and picked up with The Usos and The Revival after. Tandem suicide dives from the Usos as we came back, get things underway and another good match was had. It definitely felt like a separate match
The Revival were in control, but an unseen tag was their undoing. Dawson missed Jimmy’s tag to Jey just before Jey Uso hung Wilder up on the turnbuckle. Dawson superplexed Jimmy Uso but Jey landed a splash before Dawson could recover from the move, and pinned him.
» I could not be more bored of Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre vs Roman Reigns, in all its various incarnation, if I tried. They made it a straight two on one rather than having the pretence of McIntyre and McMahon having to tag. It was, as you’d expect, a beatdown with a ref present. Reigns had a good half minute before they overwhelmed him, but that was it.
Shane McMahon was about to deliver a coast to coast while McIntyre held Reigns in place. There was a gong, then the lights went out. When the lights came back on The Undertaker was stood between McMahon and Reigns. He caught Shane McMahon as he jumped off the turnbuckle and choke-slammed him, big booted McIntyre then punched him and lot and tipped him from the ring, then tipped Shane McMahon out to join him.
Later in the show, Shane McMahon & Drew McIntyre versus Roman Reigns & The Undertaker was announced for Extreme Rules.
» Kofi Kingston didn’t get a chance to have his in-ring interview because it was hijacked by Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. They wanted to ask Kingston why he was there, who does he think he is, why doesn’t he just get the hell out of there, and why he’s such a paper champion. They talked a lot about Kingston’s friends, he talked about their weird friendship. They don’t think he can win by himself, he pointed out he has done several times. Too much talking.
Once the talking stopped, Kofi Kingston vs Sami Zayn was a really good match. Kevin Owens took a sneaky opportunity to stamp on Kingston when he was down at ringside and the ref’s back was turned. It gave Zayn temporary control and a few really close calls, but Kofi Kingston picked up the pin after rolling Zayn up.
As he was leaving, Kevin Owens challenged him to fight him there and then.
Kofi Kingston vs Kevin Owens started after a break. Kingston caught a superkick early on, thanks to a Sami Zayn distraction, but got his knees up for the frogsplash that followed. The action quickly moved to the outside and Kingston delivered an SOS on the ramp and as he rolled back into the ring the bell rang to count Owens out.
Kofi Kingston put Zayn and Owens down on final time with a suicide dive, then left. He got halfway up the ramp before Samoa Joe attacked him and left him laying. When officials were helping Kofi up, Joe attacked again and slapped on the Coquina Clutch until Kingston passed out (WWE just announced Samoa Joe will face Kofi for the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules).
» Ricochet vs AJ Styles took the main event spot it deserved. Anderson and Gallows turned up early in the match and made their presence felt at ringside by distracting Ricochet. Styles grabbed a mic and told them they weren’t going to ruin the match so it wouldn’t carry on until they left. That provided the excuse to stop the match for an ad break.
When we came back the match was excellent. Styles was bleeding from the bridge of his nose, but not enough to cause an issue. I dislike the veteran versus newcomer angle when it refers to someone like Ricochet, for whom WWE is just the latest step in a 15-year-plus career, but that’s the story they’re telling and the frustration at not being able to put Ricochet away was evident on Styles’ face as the match progressed. Ricochet got a close call from a standing shooting star and another from a moonsault. But AJ Styles landed a Phenomenal Forearm and got the pin.
There was a well-earned show of respect between the two after the match. Now we can look forward to the next round.
The Other Bits
» Miz TV hosted R-Truth and Carmella. They checked under the ring and kept looking around until Miz confirmed the title rules were suspended for the duration of the interview. Miz pointed out the title had been in play for a little over a month and reeled off some of the places it has been defended before showing the footage of R-Truth winning it back at Drake Maverick’s wedding.
Maverick interrupted Miz TV after Truth had complained about the strain of holding the 24/7 title. His wife won’t talk to him, or do anything else (we didn’t need that detail, or the ‘consummation’ chant). Maverick asked R-Truth for a match so he could win back the love of his life, the 24/7 Championship. Miz told Truth that if he accepted then all other challengers would be banned from ringside. R-Truth still thinks Drake Maverick is Hornswoggle, but he accepted.
R-Truth vs Drake Maverick – 24/7 Championship match – lasted mere seconds before Truth pinned Maverick. The chasing pack ran down as soon as the bell rang to finish the match and R-Truth got away again when they started fighting each other. Drake Maverick was interviewed post-defeat and asked where he goes from here, but he just cried and walked away without speaking.
Not content with arm-wrestling, Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley had a tug of war this week. Braun Strowman was shown warming up by pulling a truck. Bobby Lashley’s warmup involved snapping a rope while trying to dislodge a telephone pole. They had to try to pull each other over a line laid diagonally across the ring. Strowman let Lashley think he was winning then grinned at him and pulled him over the lie in a couple of tries. They fought, Lashley used the rope around Strowman’s eyes to inflict damage. So Strowman won the tug of war, Lashley won the scrap after, but there were no winners in that segment.
» AJ Styles backstage interview was interrupted by No Way Jose’s conga line, with Gallows and Anderson partying with them. Styles told them off again for not taking things seriously. He wants to see the Gallows and Anderson he met in Japan, the ones who first arrived in WWE. Karl Anderson got mad at Styles, but Luke Gallows promised they’d prove him wrong and went off for their match. In fairness, Anderson & Gallows vs The Viking Raiders was good, and Gallows and Anderson were doing great until Karl Anderson took some time out to call out to Styles (watching backstage) about how well they were doing. Viking Raiders took over from there and finished the match with a Viking Experience.
» Alexa Bliss seems to have cooled off on Nikki Cross after the events of Stomping Grounds. They spoke in the locker room. Cross said she felt like Bliss’ loss was her fault and Bliss told her to use the feeling for motivation, but Bayley does a good job of making feel bad about stuff she’s done. They agreed must be a way to get Bliss a rematch, they just needed to come up with a plan, then Bliss dismissed her with a look.
After she left Bliss, Natalya and Naomi approached Cross. They tried to tell her Bliss wasn’t to be trusted. Cross was trying to defend her when Bliss appeared. There was a brief argument to set Bliss and Naomi up for a match later in the show.
Naomi vs Alexa Bliss, with Nikki Cross, was short and sweet. Naomi took Nikki Cross out with a baseball slide meant for Bliss. When Naomi tried to explain that, Bliss took advantage and secured the win with a DDT.
Bliss attacked Naomi after the match and encouraged Cross to do the same, although she clearly didn’t want to. Natalya ran down to help and a tag match happened after the break.
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs Natalya & Naomi was a little longer than the singles match. Natalya and Naomi controlled both Cross and Bliss for the majority of the match. Cross gave Bliss the advantage by distracting Natalya, but she was soon overpowered again. When Cross came in, all kinds of fired up, she used Natalya to knock Naomi off the apron and worked over Natalya. Nikki Cross put Natalya down with a swinging neckbreaker after Bliss had tagged in unseen, allowing Bliss to take the pin. Cross seemed a little confused after the match like she didn’t know Bliss had tagged in either. Not long now.
» Heath Slater was supposed to have a match with Mojo Rawley, but R-Truth and the chasing pack arrived before it could start. Slater won the 24/7 title, then lost it back to R-Truth. Then Cedric Alexander won it and lost it to EC3. Carmella grabbed the belt off EC3 and R-Truth pinned him to regain the title and become 9-time 24/7 champion.
There were some good matches on RAW this week, and the 24/7 title shenanigans have turned out to be a high point of the show. It’s silly, but it’s entertaining. The new, no wrestling in the ad breaks, rule has caused some clunkiness and tortured pauses, but I’m not sad about not missing any of the good stuff. There was no new Firefly fun House this week, but Abby The Witch was spotted in the background when The Miz was walking through backstage on his way to Miz TV and Mercy The Buzzard was in the background of Kofi Kingston’s backstage preparations shot. Bray Wyatt has to be back soon…