The draft is over, the rosters are set, and it’s full steam ahead for Crown Jewel. Tonight’s show is set to open with Ric Flair announcing the last member of his team for the event. Seth Rollins, who is no longer captaining Team Hogan due to the match with The Fiend, will talk about burning down the Firefly Fun House. Rey Mysterio is appearing in an unspecified capacity. And we have two announced matches. Sin Cara faces Andrade, and Street Profits plus a mystery partner, take on The OC.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review
Drew McIntyre def. Ricochet
Aleister Black def. Jason Reynolds
Andrade def. Sin Cara
The Viking Raiders def. Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins
Seth Rollins def. Humberto Carrillo
Street Profits def. The OC
♦ We got a pre-credits recap of the Seth Rollins vs The Fiend shenanigans, then Ric Flair opened the show proper. He rambled a lot, but eventually he named Drew McIntyre as the final member of Team Flair. The teams are:
Team Hogan – Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ricochet, Ali, and Shorty G (formerly Chad Gable)
Team Flair – Randy Orton, King Corbin, Bobby Lashley, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Drew McIntyre
McIntyre told Flair to take a seat because he was about to make things uncomfortable… but it turned out he had a match against Ricochet.
Drew McIntyre vs Ricochet was the opening match. Ricochet bounced around of his own accord a lot, and got thrown around a lot by McIntyre as well. Drew McIntyre has come back with every bit of the viciousness he had before he got injured, possibly more. Ricochet took the punishment and came back with a dropkick that sent McIntyre off the apron and a dive that put them both on the ground. After a break, McIntyre was back in control. Ricochet bought himself some time by landing a dropkick as McIntyre came off the turnbuckle. For a while, it looked like that would be the turning point, but once again McIntyre halted his momentum and nearly got the pin. Finally, after a long and extremely entertaining match with a lot of near falls on both sides, Drew McIntyre delivered a Claymore and got the pin.
Just to clearly position himself, McIntyre went back and beat Ricochet up, finishing by flipping him face-first into the steps.
♦ Charly Caruso interviewed The OC about their attack of the Street Profits and asked if they had a strategy for the match. They said they didn’t need one because Street Profits are rookies and they are one of the best tag teams in the world. They feel that Ford and Dawkins need to earn their place.
In Street Profits answering promo, they accused The OC of being out of date and jealous. They didn’t reveal their mystery partner though. Montez Ford apparently didn’t know either.
♦ There was a nice hype package to introduce some of the new RAW roster members, Andrade, Buddy Murphy, and Aleister Black. And we got a shot of a composite photo for the entire roster (for details on the new rosters, click here).
Aleister Black got a promo segment. He’s angry and he’s ready to pick a fight. After a break, he did and Aleister Black vs Jason Reynolds took longer than it needed to before the inevitable Black Mass finisher.
♦ Jerry Lawler hosted King’s Court with Rusev as a special guest. He wanted to talk about Lana and Bobby Lashley. Lawler listed some of the things Lana has said about Rusev and asked for Rusev’s thoughts. Rusev said it’s all Bobby Lashley’s fault. He’s poisoned Lana’s brain against him and will be crushed. But he still wears his wedding band and hopes one day he and Lana will get their happy ever after.
Bobby Lashley and Lana appeared via video link from their date at a romantic restaurant. They professed they’re love for each other while Rusev looked on dejected. Lawler asked for a response. He said he’d like to deliver his message personally because he knows exactly where they are, then ran off up the ramp.
Later in the show, the restaurant manager had heard Rusev was on his way and tried to get Lashley and Lana to leave. Lashley reassured him. Of course, Rusev turned up and attacked Lashley, trashing the place in the process.
♦ Andrade, with Zelina Vega, vs Sin Cara was a really fun match. Zelina Vega got involved by grabbing Sin Cara’s leg, distracting him long enough for Andrade to take advantage. Andrade very much controlled the match, right up until Sin Cara pitched him out of the ring. Andrade was rocked, so Zelina got involved with a distraction, then by taking Sin Cara down on the outside with a hurricanrana. Andrade dragged Sin Cara back into the ring and delivered the hammerlock DDT for the win
Interestingly, Humberto Carrillo was shown watching backstage. I’m very excited to see what he does on RAW, he’s exceptional. After the match, Charly Caruso asked for his thoughts. He said he has a lot of respect for Sin Cara but when you face Andrade, you face Andrade and Zelina at the same time and they’re awesome. Andrade is a future Universal Champion unless he beats him there. He has a lot to prove but when he’s champion he won’t be a champion that plays with fire like Seth Rollins
♦ R-Truth was creeping around backstage with the 24/7 Championship, but without Carmella, because she’s on SmackDown now. He got pinned by Sunil Singh after being distracted by Samir. And they might now be the Bollywood Boyz again.
Later, R-Truth tried to get his title back by pinning Samir Singh.
♦ The Viking Raiders vs Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins was a non-title match. Before the match, Ryder and Hawkins said they were grateful for the opportunity. I’m guessing the gratitude didn’t last long because within seconds they were being destroyed by The Viking Raiders. They fought back into it, for a little while, but Curt Hawkins was given The Viking Experience to end the match.
♦ Rey Mysterio wanted to thank everyone for the outpouring of love following Lesnar’s attack on him and Dominik, and before that when he was thinking of retiring. He’s honoured and humbled and the WWE Universe is his family. So everyone can celebrate together when Cain Velasquez beats Brock Lesnar.
Paul Heyman appeared via video. He asked if Mysterio would say all this if Lesnar was there. He wouldn’t, but he feels safe because Lesnar isn’t allowed on RAW now he’s been drafted to SmackDown. But Heyman can be wherever he likes. Heyman thinks Mysterio is mistaken if he believes there will be a repeat of Lesnar losing to Velasquez because Lesnar has looked at the scar Velasquez gave him every day since he got it. And at Crown Jewel, he gets his revenge.
Mysterio interrupted Heyman, then Shelton Benjamin interrupted Mysterio by coming to the ring. Apparently, he’s a friend of Lesnar’s, family even. He objects to Cain Velasquez getting a title opportunity just because he’s defending Mysterio’s honour and wanted to test the theory that pushing around Rey Mysterio results in a title shot.
He pushed him around, asking where his buddy was, and Cain Velasquez arrived. Shelton Benjamin made it physical, Cain Velasquez made him tap.
♦ Seth Rollins was asked if The Fiend had gotten inside his head. He said maybe he has, but maybe he’s got inside The Fiend’s head as well. The Fiend is different and once you’ve been in the ring with him, you’re changed forever.
He spotted Humberto Carrillo and told him he did burn down the Firefly Fun House. He didn’t want to, but he needed to. Sometimes as a champion you have to do things that are right, not popular. He’d do it again if he had to. He’d heard Carrillo say he wanted to be champ one day, so he offered him a match, immediately.
Seth Rollins vs Humberto Carrillo was the match of the night. When your first match on RAW is framed as ‘by invitation of the Universal Champion’, you’re probably something fairly special. Humberto Carrillo is the real deal. Rollins had had a lot of power-based opponents recently, so it was nice to see something different from him. He mainly tried to keep Carrillo grounded, which is sensible, but he had to play it Carrillo’s way at times too. There was an edge to Rollins’ offence which commentary kept mentioning. A little trash talk here, an unnecessarily vicious move there, all allegedly evidence of The Fiend’s influence. Realistically, there was no way Carrillo was going to win unless there was interference, but he came really close a couple of times and the RAW crowd got a taster of what he’s capable of. After ten minutes plus, Rollins got his feet up as Carrillo came off the top turnbuckle and followed up with a Stomp for the win.
After the match, Rollins returned to the ring to shake Humberto Carrillo’s hand.
♦ Street Profits vs The OC main-evented the show. Throughout the show, we’d been given the impression it would be three on three, but it was just a tag with AJ Styles on the outside. The RAW crowd were treated to the full Street Profits entrance, which seems to have translated quite well to the main roster. AJ Styles called them out during The OC’s entrance because their third partner hadn’t arrived, but they still hadn’t brought anyone out when the match started. It was weird, but quite nice to see Ford and Dawkins’ dynamic undiluted. Main eventing on their in-ring debut is quite an accolade.
They had Gallows and Anderson rattled early on, until AJ Styles caused a distraction. Sadly, after that, we mostly got to see them being beaten up by Gallows & Anderson, with regular interference from Styles. It took some underhanded tactics on the part of The OC at times, but they’ve never minded that. Street Profits did get a few more opportunities to shine, and they took them.
Kevin Owens turned out to be the third person. He turned up to deal with AJ Styles, with a stunner, when the ref tried to dispatch Styles to the back. In the commotion, Dawkins and Ford finished the match with Montez Ford landing a huge frogsplash on Karl Anderson, top turnbuckle to the centre of the ring.
Street Profits headed into the crowd to celebrate, and the final shot of RAW was Montez Ford jiggling a baby.
There was something missing from tonight’s RAW. The women’s division. I know they’re building to Crown Jewel and no women are allowed to be involved in that show, but surely that’s more reason to give them television time, not less. A 3-hour show without a single women’s match, or even a promo segment, is not acceptable. Most of the women’s roster is in Australia, and Becky Lynch is doing something in LA with ESPN, but there were at least three women who could have been used (Natalya, Sarah Logan, and Liv Morgan) so there’s no excuse.
Other than that, RAW was actually pretty good this week. Humberto Carrillo and Street Profits debuted. Drew McIntyre returned, and some good matches happened. There’s a noticeable trend towards slightly longer matches at the moment, and those couple of extra minutes can make all the difference to the quality.