There are four pre-advertised matches for tonight, or three and whatever the hell Seth Rollins & AOP versus Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, & Big Show in a Fist Fight turns out to be. The other three are AJ Styles versus Randy Orton, Aleister Black versus Buddy Murphy, and Rusev versus Bobby Lashley. We’re also expecting a visit from Brock Lesnar and a contract signing for Becky Lynch’s Royal Rumble title defence against Asuka.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Drew McIntyre def. AJ Styles and Randy Orton
Ricochet def. Mojo Rawley
Charlotte Flair def. Sarah Logan
Bobby Lashley def. Rusev
The Viking Raiders def. The Singh Brothers
Aleister Black def. Buddy Murphy
Erick Rowan def. Local Competitor
Seth Rollins & AOP def. Big Show, Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe
♦ Randy Orton opened the show with a chat before his match against AJ Styles. Orton said he’d been asked to excitedly welcome everyone to the show, but excitedly isn’t his style, so he called AJ Styles out instead. Styles came out just in time to interrupt Orton saying RKO.
They bickered for a while about who’s going to win the Royal Rumble, then were interrupted by Drew McIntyre. There was a lot of posturing then McIntyre inserted himself in the match.
Randy Orton vs Drew McIntyre vs AJ Styles was immediately complicated by the arrival of Gallows and Anderson, who saved Styles and attacked Orton. Gallows took a kick in the face from McIntyre going into a break. They’d gone when we came back. The rest of the match was good. McIntyre was taken out by Orton wielding a set of steps. Styles got the better of Orton but kept trying to go for an RKO, which Orton blocked. Randy Orton delivered a Styles Clash to AJ Styles, but Styles kicked out. Orton finally got the RKO, just in time for Drew McIntyre to Claymore him and steal the pin.
♦ Seth Rollins gave AOP a pep-talk where he declared them unstoppable, talked about how much he’s suffered, and called himself the Monday Night Messiah again.
♦ Ricochet vs Mojo Rawley was short but fun. Ricochet is just too fast. Mojo Rawley threw him around when he caught him, and even got a credible pin attempt, but the match finished with a 630 from Ricochet.
♦ Street Profits had a backstage segment to hype up the rest of the show. I’m glad they’re still doing that.
♦ Charlotte Flair vs Sarah Logan was the match that should have happened last week when they had a brawl instead. Flair has not forgiven and forgotten, and she followed Logan to the outside when Logan wanted an early break. There was a brawl on the outside but almost as soon as they made it to the ring, Logan found herself tapping out in the Figure Eight. The whole thing was comfortably under three minutes. After the match Charlotte Flair threw Logan over the top rope because it’s rumble season.
♦ Kevin Owens seemed to be stressing about the rules in their group segment. He protested that he wasn’t while Samoa Joe and Big Show reassured him. Big Show showed off the size of his fist and left Owens and Joe to remark how glad they are he’s on their team.
♦ Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman left the ring without saying anything when the crowd started chanting ‘You Suck’. They stopped on the ramp while Heyman said Lesnar doesn’t suck, then got back in the ring. When he eventually got started Heyman recapped everything he said last week and pontificated about truths until he was interrupted by R-Truth.
R-Truth declared himself for the Royal Rumble match and threatened to put Paul Heyman over the top rope in the match. Heyman pointed out Truth’s error and R-Truth immediately undeclared himself. He almost got away without being levelled by Lesnar, but he pushed his luck too far and took a clothesline and an F5.
To make R-Truth’s night worse, Mojo Rawley kicked him in the face as officials were helping him out of the arena and pinned him for the 24/7 title.
♦ As promised last week, Rusev was announced as the Bulgarian Brute for Rusev vs Bobby Lashley. Liv Morgan did not come to the ring with him, nor was she mentioned in the build. It felt like a really long match. I hate this storyline and everything that goes with it, which meant investing in what was probably a reasonable match, impossible. Lana got involved, distracting Rusev by getting on the apron. Finally, after that, Liv Morgan turned up and had an un-mic’ed argument with Lana at ringside until Lana threw a fan’s drink over her and threw her into the barricade. Once that was over Lashley speared Rusev for the win.
Lana and Lashley crashed an announcement by Charly Caruso to complain about Liv Morgan’s behaviour. Lana challenged Rusev and Morgan to the inevitable mixed-tag match. Lashley complained and they walked off to the sounds of Lana shouting at him. We never did get to hear Caruso’s announcement.
After the next match, Rusev and Liv Morgan accepted the challenge.
♦ The Viking Raiders said every week it’s the same story. Anyone who challenges them gets put down. They have proven their dominance through the entire RAW tag team division so tonight they dare any team to try to stop them. I’m not sure they were expecting The Singh Brothers, but that’s who they got. The Viking Raiders vs The Singh Brothers was super-short and ended very predictably with a Viking Raiders win.
♦ Becky Lynch and Asuka’s contract signing was overseen by Jerry Lawler. He brought Becky Lynch out first and asked her if she had anything to say before Asuka came out, but she didn’t. Asuka brought Kairi Sane with her. Sane poked at Lynch with her parasol, but Lynch took it off her and threw it away and Kairi Sane left the ring. They both signed. Becky Lynch said may the best woman win and Asuka sprayed her with the green mist.
Officials tended to Lynch’s eyes and Lynch demanded a microphone. She yelled an angry tirade about Asuka being hungry and angry while Lynch has been happy and content. Asuka is the most dangerous woman she’s ever faced and she’s tried to find an anger to defend herself against her. But Asuka putting her hands on her has awoken a badness in her. At Royal Rumble, she’s going down swinging but she’s taking Asuka with her.
♦ Next week there will be a ladder match for the United States Championship, Andrade versus Rey Mysterio. Zelina Vega talked a lot to hype it up and said some unpleasant things about Mysterio being a poor role model for his children and about his representation of Latino people.
In his answering interview, Mysterio was angry about Vega’s accusations, but he’s looking forward to the ladder match and he’s planning to take back the title.
♦ Aleister Black vs Buddy Murphy was their most brutal battle so far. Much of it took place outside the ring, heavily utilising the barricades. Black kicked Murphy so hard while Murphy was against the barricades, Black ended up in the front row. Murphy tried to pin Black with a handful of tights, which would have been such a cheap way to end it. Aleister Black got his foot on the rope after taking Murphy’s Law. Murphy tried to go for a Black Mass but missed and got caught with one. Somehow, he kicked out, but he didn’t kick out of the second one.
Charly Caruso tried to interview him after a break and the intros for the next match. He was still sat against the barricade at ringside, but he wouldn’t/couldn’t talk to her.
♦ Erick Rowan vs Unnamed Local Competitor went a little differently, but not much. Rowan tried to show him what was in the cage but he backed away and Rowan threw him into a barricade. Rowan put his hand into the cage and it came away bloody. That annoyed Rowan and the poor unnamed guy got destroyed.
♦ Seth Rollins & AOP vs Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe & Big Show main evented the show. So, the rules of the Fist Fight. No Count out. No DQ. No Pinfall. The match ends when the ref declares one team can’t continue. It started early when Rollins and AOP jumped Big Show during his entrance. Owens and Samoa Joe ran down with kendo sticks to even things up. They slid a table into the ring then brawled off up the ramp with AOP leaving Big Show in the ring with Rollins.
There was a lot of chaos. Owens ran up the curved bit of the stage and launched himself off it onto AOP and Joe. Samoa Joe sentoned one of AOP through a table.
Buddy Murphy was still at ringside. Seth Rollins pleaded with him for help and Murphy came through. He low-blowed Big Show and helped Rollins put him through the table. AOP put Samoa Joe through Kevin Owens and the announce desk. When Big Show got up he threw Murphy out of the ring but he got back in and started helping again, after AOP had powerbombed Show and he was pretty much motionless. Rollins delivered the Stomp to Big Show and the ref called for the bell. After the match, Murphy accepted a hug from Seth Rollins.
What the hell was that? The ‘Fist Fight’ ended with a Stomp and a powerbomb, so no fists required. I’ve got no problem with them having a No DQ match, or a Last Man Standing, but call it that instead of trying to pretend it’s something new. Royal Rumble will be great, it always is, but RAW has been kind of a slog for a while.