Samoa Joe incurred the wrath of The Shield last week, and the experience left him profoundly unimpressed. After managing to singlehandedly upend Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins’ bid for the Raw Tag Team Titles, The Samoan Submission Machine opened Team Red by unleashing a slew of insults in the direction of The Hounds of Justice — particularly in the direction of Roman Reigns, as part of Joe's continuing efforts to goad the Intercontinental Champion into a fight.
He got what he was looking for, as Reigns answered Joe's call, only to be waylaid by Cesaro & Sheamus, who instigated a brawl that also brought the remaining members of The Shield charging to the ring. Joe indeed got the better of Reigns in the scuffle with The Bar's help, but Ambrose — scheduled to face Joe later in the night — was quick to pick up the slack, throwing hands with Joe until Cesaro & Sheamus intervened, dispatching Rollins and feeding The Lunatic Fringe into a Uranage that ended the fight on Joe's terms.
After competing in her first match in over a year and defeating Sasha Banks last week on Raw, Paige sent a clear reminder to the Raw Women's division of just what she's capable of. This week, the Team Red ladies got to see what the former Divas Champion's lieutenants were made of, as Mandy Rose teamed with Paige to take on the duo of Bayley & Mickie James.
Paige seemingly chose her backup wisely. With Sonya Deville patrolling the outside (Sasha provided reinforcement for Bayley and Mickie), Paige and Mandy had free reign to tee off on The Huggable One until she reached Mickie at the last possible second to make the tag. With Mandy alone in the ring, the six-time Women's Champion was primed to make quick work of the newcomer, but a timely kick to the head from Paige broke up Mickie's DDT attempt and allowed Rose to steal the pinfall.
Bray Wyatt and the WWE Universe met “Woken” Matt Hardy for the first time last week, and the newly reborn former Raw Tag Team Champion continued his war of words with The New Face of Fear, promising to illuminate the masses with his “Woken Wisdom” and “Broken Brilliance” and proclaiming that Wyatt's very presence was the result of an "addiction" that had consumed the soul of Sister Abigail.
Hardy doubled down on his vow to "delete" Wyatt even as the former WWE Champion warned the Universe to choose their allegiances wisely. Despite Wyatt's proclamation, it was Hardy's demented cackle that once again got the last word.
Last week, it was Bo Dallas. This week, Curtis Axel got intimately acquainted with Finn Bálor's boots when the former Intercontinental Champion suited up to avenge his Miztourage comrade, even removing his ubiquitous neck brace for the occasion. And even after a pre-bell cheap shot from Dallas threatened to derail the match, Bálor rallied to dispatch Axel with the running dropkick and Coup de Grâce, sending Axel to the showers and leaving him writhing while clutching his neck.
Score one for The Shield. In the first of three singles contests pitting The Hounds of Justice against Samoa Joe and The Bar, Seth Rollins landed the first blow in a victory over Sheamus despite a savage assault on Rollins’ knee from the Raw Tag Team Champion.
The Celtic Warrior soundly executed his game plan, grounding The Kingslayer and threatening to take away the efficiency of Rollins’ signature ripcord knee. When The Alabaster Gladiator applied the Cloverleaf, it seemed like a tapout was a foregone conclusion, but Rollins went to his agility and his speed, escaping the hold and delivering a one-legged superplex/Falcon Arrow combo to bring the bout to an even keel.
The move took as much out of Rollins as it did Sheamus, allowing the Irishman to tee him up for the Brogue Kick. The Architect had one more burst in him, though, stopping Sheamus cold with a superkick and landing the knee for the victory while Dean Ambrose watched backstage.
With WWE having revoked Rich Swann's opportunity to compete for a WWE Cruiserweight Title Match, a “Second Chance” Fatal 4-Way was sanctioned to determine who will face Drew Gulak for an opportunity to challenge Enzo Amore for his title. And one week after narrowly missing out, Cedric Alexander stepped up and redeemed himself to advance one step closer to his first WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
To do so, he once again had to go through Mustafa Ali, and the two Cruiserweights picked up exactly where they left off last week with a dazzling back-and-forth that was briefly interrupted when Ariya Daivari and Tony Nese got involved. Refusing to be overlooked, Tony Abs and The Persian Lion focused their efforts on grounding and pounding Ali after a top-rope hurricanrana took Alexander out of the running.
Cedric roared back at the exact right moment, however, breaking up a surefire pinfall on Nese after Ali landed the astonishing 054. That instigated a train of big moves — Lumbar Check to Ali; running knee to Cedric — that ended with Alexander dispatching Daivari and Nese singlehandedly, finally planting the former with a Lumbar Check to win.
With Gulak on commentary watching the whole affair unfold, the battle lines are officially drawn. And given that Enzo rebuked Gulak's declaration of friendship after the match (though he was far more receptive to another encounter with Nia Jax), he might not even have the luxury of a friendly challenger if Gulak prevails over Alexander.
Roman Reigns’ status as a fighting champion has already landed him in the path of two hungry up-and-comers. This week, it almost cost him the Intercontinental Title, because Cesaro was The Big Dog's challenger of the week, and The Swiss Cyborg threw everything at Reigns to attempt to add a second title to his waist.
Even though Reigns prevailed, 90 percent of the bout was a brutal showcase for the challenger, who absolutely decimated Reigns’ arm to take the Superman Punch out of the game by way of some wrenching holds and a thunderous Cesaro Swing into the barricade. Effectively rendered one-armed by his challenger's game plan, Reigns had to get crafty — rollups, Drive-By, Samoan Drop — to stay in the fight, and when the fight spilled to the outside, Reigns threw caution to the wind and landed a Superman Punch off the steps.
It seemed the high-risk strike would put Reigns back in control, but all it did was send Cesaro into a blind frenzy. A few close calls aside, The Swiss Superman firmly seized control of the match by pulverizing the champion with European uppercuts before hauling a dazed Reigns into the center of the ring to set up for the Neutralizer. But a back-body drop thwarted the challenger, and an exhausted Reigns followed that up with a last-ditch Spear to narrowly — very narrowly — retain his title.
For two weeks now, Absolution has threatened to make an example out of Asuka. This week, they went and did it, though it didn't quite go as they planned.
But before everything went south, the trio of Paige, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville did indeed throw down against The Empress of Tomorrow moments after dispatching her planned opponent, Alicia Fox, in the backstage area. Trapping Asuka in the ring, Paige laid out her terms to the undefeated Superstar — move or be moved — and sicced the entirety of Absolution on The Empress of Tomorrow when Asuka refused to comply.
The former NXT Women's Champion was struggling against the three-on-one onslaught, but the arrival of the entire Raw Women's division more than evened the scales. The combined efforts of Team Red ladies didn't just neutralize Absolution — it sent them into retreat for the very first time.
With Samoa Joe standing across from Dean Ambrose and two-thirds of The Shield already victorious on Raw, absolutely nothing was going to stop The Lunatic Fringe from gutting out a win against The Samoan Submission Machine in their first-time-ever clash. Except, as it turns out, Jason Jordan.
The former SmackDown Tag Team Champion once again took his father, Raw General Manager Kurt Angle, to task for not granting his previous demand of a match against Joe, and went so far as to plant himself at the top of the ramp in a chair to watch Joe battle The Lunatic Fringe.
Jordan's presence didn't quite throw Joe off his game, though it did distract the ref when he tried to throw Jordan off the apron following a scrap on the outside, robbing Ambrose of a pinfall and instigating a nose-to-nose between the two competitors. Joe capitalized by taking out both men with a suicide forearm, flattening Jordan with a running senton, and finally putting Ambrose to sleep with the Coquina Clutch for the victory.
Last week, Kane challenged Braun Strowman to a battle of monsters to determine which colossus holds dominion over Raw. This week, the stakes were raised to a beastly degree, as the winner would be given the right to challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title at the Royal Rumble event. So, who will step into the ring with The Beast Incarnate? The answer isn't so simple.
WWE officials reinforced the ring to prevent an indecisive conclusion, but Strowman and Kane's ferocity simply could not be contained. Literally. After Strowman kicked out of two Chokeslams and Kane kicked out of one, the two titans brawled into the WWE Universe, with Strowman plowing Kane through the barricade right as the referee reached a count of 10.
Despite the final bell sounding, the two Superstars continued to clash, using steel steps, furniture dollies and a steel chair in an escalating brawl that ended with The Monster Among Men planting Kane through a table with a Running Powerslam. So, the fight goes to Strowman, but given the end of the match, the question of who will face Lesnar remains unanswered. Perhaps The Beast will have something to say when he returns next week.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Absolution (Paige & Mandy Rose) (w/ Sonya Deville) defeated Bayley & Mickie James (w/ Sasha Banks) (8:19)
- Finn Bálor defeated Curtis Axel (w/ Bo Dallas) (1:39)
- Seth Rollins defeated Sheamus (13:48)
- Cedric Alexander defeated Tony Nese, Mustafa Ali & Ariya Daivari in a Fatal Four Way match (13:02)
- Roman Reigns (c) defeated Cesaro to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship (16:53)
- Samoa Joe defeated Dean Ambrose by knockout (10:53)
- Braun Strowman vs. Kane to be the #1 Contender for the WWE Universal Championship ended in a double count out (4:33)
Other on-screen talent
The Shield brawled with Samoa Joe, Cesaro & Sheamus
Paige & Mandy Rose vs. Bayley & Mickie James
Finn Bàlor vs. Curtis Axel
Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus
Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro
Absolution attacks Asuka
Samoa Joe vs. Dean Ambrose
Braun Strowman vs. Kane