RAW comes from Madison Square Garden tonight, which always makes for a special episode, and it’s the go home for Clash of Champions. To that end, Stone Cold Steve Austin will make an appearance, to officiate the Universal Championship contract signing between Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman. WWE’s Four Horsewomen will share the ring for a tag match, Bayley & Sasha Banks versus Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch. A Triple Threat will decide whether Baron Corbin, Ricochet, or Samoa Joe head into the King of the Ring final. Cedric Alexander takes on AJ Styles, and Rey Mysterio faces Gran Metalik.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Cedric Alexander def. AJ Styles
Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch def. Bayley & Sasha Banks
Rey Mysterio def. Gran Metalik
Baron Corbin def. Samoa Joe and Ricochet
Natalya def. Lacey Evans
Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Cedric Alexander & The Viking Raiders def. The OC, Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
The Key Bits
♦ Stone Cold Steve Austin opened the show, with the ring all set up for the contract signing. At least, the carpet soaked up the beer.
He said it has been 20 years since he’d been in Madison Square Garden and told a few stories before the contract signing. He talked about getting goosebumps when Bret Hart’s music hit for their match there, about giving Vince McMahon his first Stone Cold Stunner, and the Highway to Hell match against The Undertaker where he got knocked out. Then he brought out Braun Strowman, after eliciting a ‘Hell Yeah’ from the crowd.
Strowman offered his hand to Austin when he got to the ring. Austin ignored it and introduced Seth Rollins. Once Rollins was in the ring, Austin shook both their hands.
Rollins told Steve Austin that Strowman thinks Austin has it in for him, and he doesn’t trust Rollins in their title match either. Austin tried to keep them on track, but Rollins wanted to reassure Strowman he won’t be stabbing him in the back and remind him he’s the best wrestler on the planet before he signed. Then he signed.
Strowman told Austin he had nothing but respect for him, but a rattlesnake is still a rattlesnake and told Rollins he had nothing to worry about in the tag match because he likes being tag champ. But he’s going to love being Universal Champ. Then he signed too.
It was a fun and good-natured segment to that point, with the crowd playing along and everyone smiling.
The OC came to the stage and AJ Styles suggested no one cares about Austin. The crowd put him right. On their way to the ring, Styles told Austin to stay out of their business and whined about Rollins & Strowman not giving Gallows & Anderson a rematch. The crowd called him an asshole and Steve Austin made sure he’d heard them. Styles said Austin has turned into an asshole in his old age and asked him very impolitely for his thoughts on his whinging rant (he called him an old fart).
Stone Cold Steve Austin moved the contract signing table and Strowman and Rollins piled into The OC. AJ Styles avoided a Stomp from Rollins, but ate a Stone Cold Stunner to end the segment.
♦ AJ Styles vs Cedric Alexander was the first match of the night, so Styles only had an ad break to recover from the stunner. It was a decent match and one that Alexander looked to have a good chance of winning, despite Styles focus on his heavily taped shoulder. Unfortunately, Gallows & Anderson got involved and caused the DQ. While The OC were laying into Alexander, three on one, The Viking Raiders ran down and made the save. Erik dumped Ivar onto Luke Gallows, Cedric Alexander dropkicked AJ Styles out of the ring, and Karl Anderson took a Viking Experience.
♦ Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode had a proposition for The OC in a backstage segment later on. It was all very cryptic, but they seemed to reach some kind of understanding.
The reason became clear when the main event match was announced. A Ten-Man tag – Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Cedric Alexander & The Viking Raiders vs The OC, Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode. I guess it made ‘go home show sense’, a low stakes way of previewing some of the upcoming action.
After the endless pointless squash matches, it’s awesome to see Viking Raiders in a proper match with the potential to lead into an actual feud. It didn’t take long to descend into chaos, but it settled down over a break and turned into a highly entertaining match. Chaos reigned again later on, as everyone took something from someone.
The cracks in the harmony between the tag team champions became apparent when Rollins was pushed onto Strowman, breaking a pin attempt. They were arguing going into the final ad break of the show, but it had all blown over by the time we came back.
The end was impressive. Ivar launched himself off the turnbuckle to the outside, skittling everyone, then Cedric Alexander countered AJ Styles Phenomenal Forearm with a Lumbar Check, and got the pin.
Stone Cold Steve Austin came out to celebrate with the winning team and handed round the beers to close the show.
♦ In their pre-match promo segment, Bayley and Sasha Banks talked about how happy they were to be back together. Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair just glowered at each other.
Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair vs Bayley & Sasha Banks happened towards the end of the first hour. It seemed like a candidate for the main event, but I guess not. Lynch and Flair were obviously an uneasy alliance, but they slipped out of the ring in unison to meet Banks and Bayley on the ramp. They brawled on the outside, then Bayley and Banks piled on Becky Lynch in the ring until Charlotte Flair came in with a chair. The match proper started after a break. Banks and Bayley haven’t lost any of their synergy in the time Banks has been away and it was a truly great match. There is a reason these women are the pinnacle of the WWE women’s division and it’s a special moment to have all four in the ring together. It got a good amount of time as well, continuing through a second ad break. Flair and Lynch’s alliance held together, and Charlotte Flair secured the win for the with Natural Selection on Bayley.
♦ Samoa Joe vs Baron Corbin vs Ricochet – King of the Ring Semi-Finals match – was another strong match. It was Ricochet versus the other two in the early going. He was taken out of it for a while after being catapulted face-first into the ring post by Baron Corbin, then slammed into it again by Samoa Joe for good measure, but he was back in time to stop Joe pinning Corbin. It could have gone to any of them, multiple times, but it was Baron Corbin who came out on top. Ricochet landed a 630 on Samoa Joe, Corbin pulled Ricochet from the ring and threw him over the barricade so he could steal the pin.
The Other Bits
♦ The Street Profits’ segment was used for them to hype the Clash of Champions card. In fairness, it looks like it’s going to be a decent PPV. They also had a later segment to hype the rest of RAW. They’re proving to be an entertaining addition to RAW in their current role, but I want to see them wrestling.
♦ Roman Reigns made an appearance to talk about his recent battle with cancer and how the support he received has changed his outlook. He talked about wanting to pay it forward and raise awareness, and about visiting paediatric cancer units across the country. He said he’d been to a local one recently, and he brought out some of the kids he’d met, introducing them with their wrestler names as the Superstars of Tomorrow.
♦ Rey Mysterio vs Gran Metalik was a lot of fun to watch. Mysterio took a huge amount of punishment, and for a long time, it looked like he had no comeback for Metalik’s offence. It felt like watching Rey Mysterio approaching the end of his career. He kept coming back at Metalik, but never really got to build any momentum. There was also a dive over the top rope from Metalik that landed heavily on Mysterio’s head and neck and had the ref checking on him. With very little build to it, a 619 and frog splash finished the match in Rey Mysterio’s favour. Mysterio helped Metalik up after the match and there was a show of mutual respect.
♦ Natalya vs Lacey Evans was a rematch from last week. Natalya started strong but Evans dominated the mid-section of the match after turning things in her favour on the outside. The Sharpshooter that tapped Evans out came after Natalya got her foot up against Evans’ incoming bronco buster. They are now one match apiece, which makes a third one inevitable.
♦ Enes Kanter (NBA player) briefly won the 24/7 Championship from R-Truth, but Truth won it straight back to become 15-time champion.
♦ Firefly Fun House was about strangers this week.
This was a strong episode from RAW. It did what it needed to for the Clash of Champions build and still felt like a special show in its own right.
The Undertaker will be appearing on SmackDown Live. Why? We’ll have to watch to find out.