The King of the Ring tournament starts tonight with Cedric Alexander versus Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe versus Cesaro (you can check out the full brackets here). AJ Styles will put his title on the line against Braun Strowman. Sasha Banks is set to make an appearance on King’s Court with Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler (Lawler is standing in the Corey Graves this week). 24/7 Champion, Elias, plans to give a ‘Farewell Musical Performance’ so he can go into hiding and keep the title safe – I’m going out on a limb to say that’s not going to work out. And Rey Mysterio will be addressing the current retirement rumours.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Roman Reigns def. Dolph Ziggler
The Miz & Ricochet def. Drew McIntyre & Baron Corbin
Braun Strowman def. AJ Styles
Samoa Joe def. Cesaro
The New Day def. The Revival
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross def. Fire & Desire
Cedric Alexander def. Sami Zayn
Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman def. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (TITLE CHANGE)
The Key Bits
♦ Roman Reigns opened the show for a match with Dolph Ziggler, because the brand split means nothing. After another lengthy recap of the saga of Reigns mystery attacker, Ziggler came out as well.
Ziggler said he wanted to say things face to face that he’d said on Twitter. He’s glad Reigns is ok after all the things that ‘nearly’ happened to him, but he doesn’t see why Reigns is getting all the attention for things nearly happening. Of course, Ziggler thinks we should be focusing on the things that have happened to him, like getting speared by Goldberg, superkicked by Shawn Michaels, and tapped out by The Miz.
While he was saying it should be him, he superkicked Roman Reigns in the face. The ref gave Reigns a minute, then Roman Reigns vs Dolph Ziggler got underway. Practically the first thing Reigns did was slap Ziggler out of the ring. He went for a superman punch off the steps, but missed and took a ZigZag on the floor going into the break.
After the break, it turned into a really entertaining, and very close, match. Ziggler kicked out of a Superman punch. Reigns kicked out of a Famouser. And there were multiple other close calls for both men. Ziggler got too talky at the end of the match and, in accordance with the wrestling laws of trash-talk, got speared and pinned.
♦ Becky Lynch had a promo segment before Sasha Banks scheduled appearance on King’s Court. She’s giving herself the credit for getting Banks back to WWE by calling her out in press interviews. She wants to fight everyone at their peak and, thanks to her, that’s where Banks is now. She called Sasha Banks ‘The greatest woman on the roster to never be great’, and she’s coming for her after last week’s attack.
♦ At the start of King’s Court, Jerry Lawler took a few moments to talk about the King of the Ring tournament. He said sometimes it’s a launching pad for careers. Bret Hart, Steve Austin, and Brock Lesnar have all been King of the Ring. He explained the format and showed the brackets. His picks from RAW were Cedric Alexander and Ricochet.
He didn’t get a chance to say any more because the arrival of The Fiend was signalled. Lawlor got out of the ring and walked up the ramp in darkness, but The Fiend applied the mandible claw on the stage.
No Sasha Banks interview and no more Jerry Lawler on commentary either. Vic Joseph took over for the rest of the show.
♦ Sasha Banks did speak, later in the show from backstage on a split-screen with Michael Cole. He asked her if she’d like to explain her actions. She said it’s been a crazy emotional week and she wanted to explain from the beginning. Last week she looked in the mirror and told herself ‘Blue is your colour’. She looks good and feels even better and it’s time for her to show up and show out. Cole asked her to explain he actions last week, specifically her attacks on Natalya and Becky Lynch. Sasha Banks said, ‘You’re welcome’ and left.
Natalya also had a chance to talk. She said she expected this to be an emotional week with the PPV match, her injury, and the anniversary of her ad’s death. But she didn’t expect to be attacked by Sasha Banks, one of her closest friends. She was complaining about it when Banks attacked her again. She didn’t expect that either. Banks told Natalya to go to hell and tell her Daddy Banks says hi.
♦ AJ Styles (C) vs Braun Strowman – US Championship match – was fun until Gallows and Anderson interfered and caused the disqualification. They then beat up Braun Strowman until Seth Rollins ran down to make the save and return the favour for Strowman heling him out last week. Rollins and Strowman shook hands, but Strowman took an extra second to let go… just to send a message.
After a break, Rollins caught up with Strowman backstage and told him he’s not stupid, he knows where this is headed and he sees the way Strowman looks at the Universal Championship. If he had his way Strowman would be his next challenger. But they have to deal with The OC. He suggested they team up and go for the tag titles. Strowman agreed and Rollins went off to organise it.
♦ Samoa Joe vs Cesaro – King of the Ring Round 1 – was an excellent way to start the tournament. They had pre-match promos; they both think they’re going to win. Cesaro tried to end it early with an uppercut, but it didn’t work and the match turned into a hard-hitting affair. So much fun to watch. Samoa Joe pitched Cesaro into the front row to minimise the ad break action. Cesaro got a swing in, just, but failed to get Joe in the Sharpshooter. Samoa Joe caught Cesaro coming off the ropes and locked in the Coquina Clutch. Cesaro tapped out.
Samoa Joe will face either Ricochet or Drew McIntyre in the next round. We’ll find out which one, next week.
♦ Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs Fire & Desire was a non-title match and another good match, in a RAW of good matches. Bliss and Cross are becoming a very cohesive unit. Nikki Cross got to be the difference-maker in this one. She pinned Sonya Deville off a swinging neckbreaker. It’s so good to see the Women’s Tag Champs in regular action, but they’re already running out of established teams to fight.
♦ Cedric Alexander vs Sami Zayn – King of the Ring Round 1 – was great but short. They both told us they were going to win in their promos as well. Cedric Alexander got to showcase exactly what he’s got to offer the division, and Sami Zayn had no answer for it. A lumbar check finished the match and put Cedric Alexander through to face either The Miz or Baron Corbin.
♦ Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins had a locker room conversation where they both expressed the desire to lead their team tonight, which doesn’t bode well. Strowman kept staring at the Universal Championship.
Gallows and Anderson were unhappy about Rollins and Strowman getting a shot. AJ Styles persuaded them to see it as a chance to show their greatness.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson of The OC (C) vs Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman – RAW Tag Team Championship match – closed the show. Strowman and Gallows got things underway, but Rollins tagged in early on and was in control until he got into trouble outside the ring. He was dumped onto the barricade, taped ribs first, twice as we went into the ads.
Rollins was still in trouble after the break. He needed a tag but a blockbuster from the top turnbuckle didn’t give him quite enough time. AJ Styles got too close to Rollins and Strowman got off the apron to warn him off. Gallows came up behind Strowman and shoved him into the ringpost, then followed up with a kick in the face to take Strowman out.
That had given Rollins a bit of time and he started to gather some momentum. He got a two count from a falcon arrow on Anderson and the momentum kept building. AJ Styles pulled Rollins legs out from under him on the top turnbuckle and he took a double team from Anderson and Gallows, but he kicked out. He fought free of the Magic Killer and was saved by Strowman taking down Gallows and Styles on the outside. Finally, he tagged Strowman in. Rollins had one more job. He Stomped AJ Styles to stop him breaking up Strowman’s running powerslam pin on Karl Anderson, and we have new RAW Tag Team Champions.
They celebrated but the show went off air with Rollins and Strowman looking at each other after Rollins caught him eyeing the Universal Championship.
The Other Bits
♦ The Miz & Ricochet vs Drew McIntyre & Baron Corbin was decent. Miz and Ricochet have a ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ kind of deal going on, but it worked. The match was mostly there to hype up the King of the Ring tournament. Ricochet faces McIntyre next week and Miz has Corbin. Baron Corbin got pinned by Ricochet after Miz dragged Ricochet away from Corbin’s charge into the corner.
♦ Booker T Skyped in this week. He talked about The Fiend attacking Hall of Famers, and compared Bray Wyatt to a rabid dog. They moved on to the King of the Ring tournament. Michael Cole called Booker T the most entertaining King in history and asked how it affected his career. Booker T called it an exclamation point on his career and said it catapulted him to new heights. His pick to win is Drew McIntyre.
♦ We were shown footage of Drake Maverick interrupting Elias in the studio to try to win the 24/7 title back, and Elias kicking his ass. During Elias’ live segment, he had intermittent terrible sound issues while he was telling the audience it was his farewell performance. When he started playing, his guitar was out of tune. He insisted a new guitar be brought to him and it was R-Truth who brought it in. Truth, without Carmella this week, had a couple of tries at pinning Elias, then went for the guitar. Elias escaped while R-Truth was swinging the guitar. For some reason, Truth didn’t chase him.
♦ Rey Mysterio’s interview was backstage instead of in the ring. He said he’s been a very fortunate man. He has a beautiful family and he’s had a wonderful career. He’s been wrestling since he was a little boy and he’s met people all over the world he considers his friends. But recently things haven’t been clicking for him. He talked about how insulting Andrade ripping his mask off was, and how frustrating it is not to have been able to do anything about it. His body just doesn’t respond the way it used to and all the injuries he’s sustained over the years have caught up with him. It’s time for him to hang up the mask.
He started to remove his mask and his son Dominik appeared and grabbed his arm to stop him. Dominik said Mysterio had always told him he would debut one day as his partner and he wants to be able to tell his kids he teamed with their grandfather. He asked him not to retire yet and promised to make him proud. Rey Mysterio tearfully agreed, and they hugged.
♦ The New Day vs The Revival would have been another fantastic match, it certainly started out that way. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a proper finish because Randy Orton RKO’d Big E ‘outta nowhere’. Kofi Kingston ran down to help his teammates, and also took an RKO. Xavier Woods tried to get back into it and took a Shatter-RKO. The Orton made Kingston watch while The Revival injured Xavier Woods’ knee by jumping on it.
Street Profits had their regular backstage segment to hype the SmackDown Live King of the Ring matches. I’d still like to see them in the ring on RAW, but their backstage segments are entertaining and it’s a really good way for main roster crowds to get to know them.
Vic Joseph was an absolute delight on commentary. I’ve always liked Corey Graves, but he’s become a caricature and only in his absence is it apparent just how annoying he’s gotten. There actually feels like there is a lot going on in WWE at the moment, which is good considering the major changes coming up over the next few months.