About the only positive thing that can be said of The Riott Squad’s continued vendetta against Natalya is that they’ve at least stopped evoking the loss of her father. Apart from that, however, Ruby Riott & Co.’s tormenting of The Queen of Harts continued apace — this week, the trio ambushed Natalya during the start of Raw’s planned opening match, a tag team bout pitting Natalya & Ronda Rousey against Nia Jax & Tamina.
Nia and Tamina made quick work of The Baddest Woman on the Planet, and The Queen of Harts was left to The Riott Squad’s mercy, or lack thereof. The 3-on-1 attack was demoralizing enough, but they saved the finishing stroke for last, positioning the former SmackDown Women’s Champion on the apron and driving her through a table they had brought to ringside. Alexa Bliss quickly sent The Riott Squad home, but that wasn't enough for Rousey, who demanded a match with Nia & Tamina. And, unwilling to leave the selection of her partner to The Goddess, the Raw Women's Champion declared she'd find one herself.
Last week, Alexa Bliss began her tenure running the Women’s division by holding an open forum with Sasha Banks & Bayley. That ended in a coincidental (?) beatdown from Alicia Fox, Dana Brooke & Mickie James, so Sasha & Bayley walked into the do-over understandably wary that The Goddess was leading them into a trap. Surprisingly, the forum proceeded in an orderly, if tense, fashion, with one big headline item to boot: Asked by a fan what changes they’d make to the Women’s division in 2019, The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection stated their goal to become the first-ever WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions.
That was when Mickie, Alicia and Dana bolted to the ring, but The Goddess quickly seized control of the situation by sanctioning an immediate tag team match between Sasha & Bayley and Mickie & Alicia. The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection held strong, with Mickie suffering a decisive combo of a backstabber into a Bayley-to-Belly.
Undeniable masters of classic tag team wrestling though they are, The Revival seem to have fallen into Raw’s ironic punishment division, where they’re doomed to face The Lucha House Party over and over in matches contested under the decidedly non-traditional Lucha House Rules. This week’s rule switch was particularly egregious in the eyes of the “Top Guys,” as they had planned to send Scott Dawson into singles action in an attempt to restore some order to the rivalry before the House Party's signature stipulation was evoked for the third straight week.
Needless to say, The Revival's desired return to tradition did not happen. Dawson once again deployed the Gory Special and isolated Lince Dorado after some timely fists (though not flips) to Kalisto and Gran Metalik at ringside. When the House Party began to rally, Dash Wilder tried to act as an equalizer and came up empty. A trifecta of a crossbody from Dorado, a Salida del Sol from Kalisto and a gorgeous tightrope senton from Metalik spelled the end.
It’s Drew McIntyre Appreciation Night, but someone forgot to tell Dolph Ziggler. After The Showoff was omitted from the guest list of “General Manager-Elect” Baron Corbin in his tribute to The Scottish Psychopath — a ceremony that included a “Gold Medal of Excellence” — McIntyre effectively kicked Ziggler to the curb when The Showoff hit the ring to call him out on it. To McIntyre, the alliance that began the night of the Superstar Shake-up and netted both an Intercontinental and Raw Tag Team Title reign was little more than a "business relationship" that the Scot claimed had run its course.
Ziggler responded with a Zig Zag that landed him in an immediate match with The Scottish Psychopath, wherein McIntyre grabbed the mic while pummeling Ziggler around ringside. After admitting that he may still be harboring a soft spot for Dolph, McIntyre declared he was going treat The Showoff as he would Finn Bálor. The former Universal Champion appeared moments later, and his presence proved distracting enough that Ziggler was able to rally. It was only when Bálor got involved, though, that the match turned for good: After McIntyre rolled Ziggler into the ring and inadvertently into the ref, the Irishman blasted Drew with a running dropkick into the barricade.
The Scot barely beat the count of 10, but he staggered straight into a textbook superkick from The Showoff that ended the match and capped Drew McIntyre Appreciation Night with a bit of history that the Scot had probably not intended. You see, with that kick and subsequent three-count, McIntyre suffered his first loss by pinfall or submission since his Raw return. Points to Ziggler for getting the last laugh on the evening, but if The Scottish Psychopath's post-match interview was any indication, he won't stop until he gets the last word on The Showoff ... and Finn Bálor.
Elias came to Raw with one stated desire: to hit Bobby Lashley with a guitar. The All Mighty replied by hitting his favorite pose, provoking The Living Truth into a fight on the ramp that Lashley and Lio Rush were seemingly able to escape once Elias got the upper hand. But the guitarist would still get what he wanted, in a sense, thanks to a surprising assist.
Just when it looked like The Living Truth was going to come up empty, Rush was tossed back into his sights by Finn Bálor, who popped up unexpectedly near the commentary table. Elias didn’t hesitate to capitalize, shattering one of his six-strings over the back of The 24-Year-Old Piece of Gold and netting a well-earned Too Sweet from the Irishman. Elias’ retribution on The All Mighty might have to wait until WWE TLC. Until then, Lio Rush isn’t a bad consolation prize.
Last week’s Raw Tag Team Title opportunity ended in embarrassing fashion for Bobby Roode & Chad Gable, but this week’s non-title bout might have been worse. After successfully finagling a Roode vs. Drake Maverick match that would net The Glorious One and Gable another championship match against Maverick's AOP if Roode won, the upstart team ran afoul of Baron Corbin’s on-the-fly rule changing.
This time, it was an instant re-organizing of the match into a 3-on-2 Handicap contest after AOP ambushed Gable backstage. Roode planted Maverick with a Glorious DDT, but Akam & Rezar made it to the ring in time to break the count, and what followed was an extended dismantling, despite the last-second, gritty return of Gable to the ring. A Super Collider functionally ended the match, and Maverick tagged in to record the pinfall on Roode.
Having received his inoculations last week, Dean Ambrose deemed Houston sanitary enough to receive him, though he entered the ring wearing a gas mask and surrounded by a SWAT team. Once Ambrose felt comfortable enough to remove his mask, however, he spoke at length about the difference between himself and Seth Rollins.
According to Ambrose, Rollins’ need to control everything contributed to the deterioration of the brotherhood and led to The Lunatic Fringe’s betrayal. But now that Ambrose — the self-proclaimed “Moral Compass of WWE” — had unmanned The Architect with weeks of attacks, he was confident enough to predict that Rollins would lose control of everything at WWE TLC, including the Intercontinental Championship.
He might be onto something, as Rollins certainly looked like a wild man when he attacked from behind and took out the entire SWAT squad before pursuing Ambrose into the audience. The Lunatic Fringe gained the upper hand by hitting Rollins in the face with a gas mask, at which point he teed off on The Kingslayer and administered a pair of Dirty Deeds. Whether Ambrose’s moral compass points north is certainly up for debate. But should these trends continue, it's looking like Seth Rollins has nowhere to go but down.
Heath Slater & Rhyno have been a folk-hero tag team for a couple of years, but they found themselves subjected to one of Baron Corbin’s more Draconian power plays: Citing a lack of room on the Raw roster for both of them, the “General Manager-Elect” forced the two of them to battle for a single roster slot, with the loser getting fired from Raw. Surprisingly, The Man Beast was the first to throw their friendship out the window, doing what he had to do to keep his career going and starting the bout with a wicked right to the jaw.
What followed was such a rout that Slater only landed one move — but it was a big one. The One-Man Band hit a leaping neckbreaker on the former ECW Champion to earn the win, though neither looked that happy about it. After all, Rhyno has a family, too. As it turned out, Slater had even less to celebrate than he thought, as the hard-fought victory had netted him only fool’s gold: Corbin revealed to Slater that he would, indeed, be retained on Raw … as a referee.
With Jinder Mahal finally ready to turn a corner, there are certainly worse ways to gain favor with “General Manager-Elect” Baron Corbin than defeating Finn Bálor. Unfortunately, The Maharaja was thwarted at the last second by Apollo Crews, who took the liberty of bulldozing The Singh Brothers after they attempted to sway the match in Mahal’s favor. The former WWE Champion downed Crews outside the ring with a punishing kick, only to suffer a flurry from Bálor that ended with a match-sealing Coup de Grâce.
But where Jinder Mahal failed, Drew McIntyre succeeded: The Scottish Psychopath, seeking retribution for Bálor's meddling earlier in the evening, pounced on the former Universal Champion in the backstage area and beat him to a pulp, only relenting when officials interceded and threw themselves over Bálor to stop the punishment.
Nia Jax & Tamina certainly had the right idea in trying to hand Ronda Rousey a loss en route to her title defense at WWE TLC. Unfortunately for them, The Baddest Woman on the Planet picked an ace as a tag team partner in Ember Moon, and Nia’s plan fell apart at the last second when it turned out she might not be as ready to face Rousey as she claimed.
Despite a successful ambush of Rousey before the match began, Nia bailed on the match the second she was tagged in, leaving Tamina to fend for herself against the Raw Women’s Champion. When The Irresistible Force tried to interfere, she was expelled from the ring by The War Goddess, who pounced on Tamina with an Eclipse off the top turnbuckle. All Rousey had to do was apply the Armbar — which she did — and smile for the cameras as she extended her winning streak. As for Jax? She’ll have to do a little more than that.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Ronda Rousey & Natalya vs. Nia Jax & Tamina never got started
- Jax & Tamina attacked Rousey & Natalya before the bell could even rang
- Bayley & Sasha Banks defeated Alicia Fox & Mickie James (w/ Dana Brooke) (4:30)
- Lucha House Party (Kalisto, Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik) defeated Scott Dawson (w/ Dash Wilder) in a 3-on-1 Handicap match (2:40)
- Dolph Ziggler defeated Drew McIntyre
- The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) and Drake Maverick defeated Bobby Roode & Chad Gable (3:35)
- Heath Slater defeated Rhyno in a “Loser Gets Fired” match (1:05)
- Rhyno was fired from Raw and Slater was reassigned as a referee
- Finn Bálor defeated Jinder Mahal (w/ Sunil & Samir Singh) (7:30)
- Ember Moon & Ronda Rousey defeated Tamina & Nia Jax by submission
- Dark Match: Dolph Ziggler, Elias & Finn Bálor defeated Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley & Drew McIntyre
Other on-screen talent