With all the misfortune that’s befallen him the last few weeks, Dolph Ziggler is theoretically due for a turnaround. Tonight, however, is not that night: After The Showoff inexplicably tweeted insults in the direction of Roman Reigns over the weekend and downplayed the various, still-unsolved attacks against the former Universal Champion, he received his comeuppance in the form of a Superman Punch and a Spear. He did, however, stave off defeat for an impressive amount of time before that happened.
The former World Heavyweight Champion started his evening with a bang, cheapshotting Reigns with a pre-match superkick and forcing The Big Dog to start off his back foot. Ziggler later dropped his foe with a pair of Zig Zags — one on the outside and another in the ring, though Reigns kicked out at the last possible second. But Dolph insulted The Big Dog one too many times after landing a Famouser, leading to the fateful Spear that dropped him like a rock.
The hard-fought win gave Reigns some much-needed pep in his step as he heads to SmackDown LIVE, where his mystery attacker will supposedly be revealed by Daniel Bryan & Rowan. Ziggler, meanwhile, might do well to reexamine his mouthy strategy: He’s always been known for his trash talk, but after the past couple of weeks, there’s something to be said for results, or lack thereof.
Sasha Banks’ return last week was shocking enough to land her in the hot seat on an episode of Jerry Lawler’s “King’s Court” talk show, but any speculation as to what “The King” would get The Boss to share went out the window when “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt came calling. Lawler had yet to even introduce Banks when the lights began to cut out; the Hall of Famer wisely tried to get out of dodge while he could, but he didn’t get far. The Fiend found Lawler atop the ramp, crept up behind him and locked in the Mandible Claw to bring down his third WWE Hall of Famer — and, if the trend continues, it won’t be his last.
Only four of Raw’s eight King of the Ring contestants will vie to advance in the bracket this week, though that isn’t to say the other half got the night off: In a tag team preview of next week’s Round One matches, Ricochet & The Miz teamed up against Drew McIntyre & Baron Corbin for a “feeling-out process” and a tantalizing taste of things to come.
Miz & Ricochet seemed to have the match well in hand early, with The A-Lister taking his partner’s cue during a house-on-fire opening salvo. Corbin, however, had fresher legs — this was his first match in several weeks — and an all-business mentality, turning the fight back in his squad’s favor until Ricochet tagged in to even the odds. The former United States Champion ran circles up and around The Lone Wolf, and thanks to a pair of assists from The Miz, he landed a Recoil that dropped Corbin for a hard-fought win that will either give Ricochet and Miz all the momentum they need to advance next week … or, give their opponents just the scouting they need to strike back in their first-round matches.
AJ Styles’ M.O. at this point is to get you by yourself and then beat you up with the rest of The O.C. It’s simple, yet effective; the only question is whether his target can escape the beatdown, and as even Braun Strowman can now attest, that is a tall order indeed. The Monster Among Men’s United States Title Match against The Phenomenal One was quickly waylaid by the combined might of The Good Brothers, who interfered in the match and caused a disqualification, though a left-field assist from Universal Champion Seth Rollins saved Strowman’s hide.
As Rollins made clear after the interaction, his appearance was a bit of debt-settling from Strowman’s own helping hand last week — a favor Strowman was happy to accept with a handshake, albeit one that was just a touch too firm, leading to the briefest expression of panic on The Beastslayer’s face. In a post-match interaction in the backstage area, Rollins all but admitted he'd have Strowman named as his next challenger if he had his way, but in the meantime, he had an idea of how the two could settle their beef with The O.C.: By teaming up and challenging Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson for the Raw Tag Team Titles tonight.
The King of the Ring tournament has begun, and Samoa Joe is the first man to advance out of the Round of 16 with a victory over Cesaro. The two former United States Champions set the tone for their fellow Superstars in the opening minutes of their match, as Cesaro sent Joe clean off his feet with a rocketing European uppercut and the Samoan answered with a suicide dive that sent Cesaro tumbling into the first row.
The King of Swing refused to let Joe slow down the match, drilling his opponent with as many uppercuts as his body would allow, though the fast pace had the inadvertent effect of emptying his tank faster than usual. All Joe had to do was absorb the hits and pick his moment, and that he did: The big man withstood the Cesaro Swing and Sharpshooter before escaping a Neutralizer and dodging a springboard European uppercut to lock in the Coquina Clutch and submit his foe. Glory is within sight for Samoa Joe, though attaining it will be easier said than done: This match was as grueling as they come, and it’s only going to get harder from here.
Let’s be honest: Elias was never going to get out of his “Farewell Musical Performance” without an interruption, especially since he holds the 24/7 Championship. (Indeed, the anything-goes nature of the title is precisely why he’s swearing off performing.) What is slightly surprising is that the guitarist escaped his final concert with the title, especially since R-Truth sprang one of his most ingenious traps to try to claim the championship for the 13th time.
To sneak up on Elias, Truth seemingly switched the singer’s guitar out for a poorly-tuned instrument, then disguised himself as the roadie Elias attempted to berate into giving him a new one. His various roll-up attempts, however, only landed a series of two-counts; even a scissor kick wasn’t enough to pry the title loose from Elias’ grip. A wild-eyed Truth seemed to embrace the chaos by swinging the guitar at the titleholder, though Elias escaped the ring with a look of terror in his eyes, having survived his farewell performance while also justifying his decision to have one in the first place. Having to contend with this is no way for an artist to live.
Is Rey Mysterio retiring? Not so fast. Despite suffering a string of humiliations against Andrade over the past few weeks and admitting his years in the ring are starting to catch up to him, The Ultimate Underdog opted not to hang up his mask thanks to the emotional urgings of his son, Dominick. Dominick — who has been more involved in his father’s career since WrestleMania season — made a surprise appearance during Mysterio’s interview with Charly Caruso and stopped his father from a ceremonial self-unmasking at the last possible second. Reminding Rey of a promise he had once made to partner with Dominick on the night of his son’s debut — whenever that may be — the young man convinced his father to keep his mask and remain in WWE.
Given their total absence of empathy for their fellow competitors, The Revival and Randy Orton make such perfect sense as allies, and it’s a wonder they didn’t start teaming up sooner. They all embrace the old school, they’re all ruthless in the ring and they all have a bone to pick with The New Day. And any idea that the beef was squashed after last Tuesday was put to rest by the trio’s heinous actions on Monday.
The Revival still think New Day are too fun-loving to represent the tag team division, and Orton is still out for retribution after failing to capture the WWE Championship from Kofi Kingston at SummerSlam. Orton crashed Raw during the non-title Revival-New Day match and struck Big E with an RKO to hand The Revival a disqualification loss but set up their most savage beating yet of the beloved trio. Though Kofi darted to the ring to even the odds, Orton and The Revival made short work of The New Day, as The Viper dropped Kingston with an RKO, and all three joined in on a Shatter Machine-RKO combo to Xavier Woods.
Woods got the worst of the assault, with The Revival decimating his knee while Orton forced Kofi to watch. And for a group that prides itself on finding signs of positivity even in the most dire of situations, something truly ominous is fast approaching: Half test of faith, and half reality check, and they won't know which it is until they're on the other side of the storm.
The dominant streak continues for the new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, as Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross tried their hands against Fire & Desire and emerged with a convincing victory to cement their hold on the women’s tag team division. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville seemed to have the champs’ number on more than one occasion — The Golden Goddess dropped Cross with a hard right on the outside, and Deville turned the tide every time she stepped in the ring — but Bliss & Cross got the last word, with Nikki catching The Jersey Devil in a swinging neckbreaker to claim the victory.
Even in defeat, Cedric Alexander looked like a Superstar to watch last week in his match against Drew McIntyre, and now, he’s one step closer to becoming King of the Ring thanks to a first-round victory over Sami Zayn.
On the one hand, the match was a continuing trend — Sami’s in a bit of a rough patch — but it was something of an upset nonetheless: Zayn is a veteran, while Alexander is a newcomer still on the come-up, but the hungrier man proved to be the victor. Alexander rallied down the stretch to nail Zayn with a Neuralyzer, following up with the Lumbar Check moments later for the win. And while Sami finds himself deeper and deeper in a rut, Alexander finds himself on his steepest upward trajectory yet; "King Alexander" may still be a long shot, but it's nowhere near out of the question.
If you ask Becky Lynch, the only reason Sasha Banks’ star is on the rise is because she stepped to The Man last week. If you ask Natalya, she’s still not over one of her best friends attacking her in the manner she did. If you ask Sasha, she’s not saying much; she’s only offering a cryptic “You’re welcome” to Michael Cole during her backstage interview (her “King’s Court” appearance was derailed by Bray Wyatt earlier in the night.) That isn’t to say Banks didn’t make a statement, as she ruthlessly ambushed Natalya once again in the backstage area while targeting her injured arm and offering some truly uncalled-for insults about her late father, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. She didn’t offer much in the way of an explanation for her string of attacks, but she’s clearly letting her actions do all the talking for her.
Coming into Raw, it seemed Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman might eventually throw hands over the Universal Championship. Coming out of it, Rollins & Strowman were the Raw Tag Team Champions, having made the most of a last-minute opportunity against Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson of The O.C., who find themselves headed back to the drawing board after weeks of running the show.
The victory was doubly impressive, not just because of any lingering tension among the challengers, but because some canny cheap-shotting by The O.C. effectively took Strowman out for the middle section of the match, leaving The Beastslayer to go it alone. AJ Styles made his presence known behind the ref’s back, too, though Strowman rallied just in time to repay The Phenomenal One and take him out of the action with a running charge outside the ring.
The re-energized Monster Among Men did his part in the ring, too, tagging in to truck Gallows and pulverize Anderson with a Running Powerslam. Rollins neutralized Styles’ final, attempted interference with a Stomp when The Phenomenal One entered the ring, Strowman made the cover and that was all she wrote. So Strowman walked into Raw with his eyes on the United States Title (and maybe the Universal Championship) and leaves with a Raw Tag Team Title. And Rollins, who walked into Raw with his mind set on a potential challenge, instead leaves with a partner that renders him unstoppable by association. Everybody wins — though, of course, Strowman’s lingering gaze at the Universal Title suggests these new partners still have a thing or two to iron out.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Roman Reigns defeated Dolph Ziggler (10:50)
- Ricochet & The Miz defeated Drew McIntyre & Baron Corbin (10:10)
- Braun Strowman defeated AJ Styles (c) (w/ Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) by DQ. Styles retained the WWE United States Championship (1:50)
- Samoa Joe defeated Cesaro in a King of the Ring 2019 First Round Match (9:56)
- The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) defeated The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) by DQ (6:20)
- Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross defeated Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville (4:15)
- Cedric Alexander defeated Sami Zayn in a King of the Ring 2019 First Round Match (3:35)
- Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman defeated The O.C. (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) (c) (w/ A.J. Styles) to win the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship (12:15)
Other on-screen talent