Last Friday was, somewhat surprisingly, a pretty good night for Seth Rollins. Tonight is shaping up to be a different story. The Universal Champion hadn’t gotten two minutes into Raw before Baron Corbin — his once and future challenger at WWE Stomping Grounds — surfaced to declare that, in light of his beef with John Cone at Super ShowDown, he’d somehow finagled a Special Guest Referee stipulation for their upcoming title match, with Corbin getting to pick the zebra himself. (We say again: The man is good at what he does.) Still, that’s not the worst outcome in the world for The Beastslayer, right? After all, nobody likes Corbin, so it’s unlikely he’d be able to corral anybody to his cause.
Not so fast. Corbin had not one but two allies waiting in the wings: Sami Zayn and SmackDown LIVE Wild Card Kevin Owens, both of whom declared their support for “San Jose’s Favorite Son,” declaring him a better fit for the title than the Brock Lesnar-obsessed Rollins. Owens also took issue with The Beastslayer’s treatment of Zayn, leading to a spur-of-the-moment decision between KO and Rollins to battle in the main event.
The Lucha House Party willingly getting themselves disqualified against Lars Sullivan last Friday was pretty odd on its face. But trading a loss for a beatdown that could theoretically damage The Freak’s mystique wasn’t the worst bargain in the world; even if it backfired and Sullivan got the last word, the big man was denied the kind of definitive triumph he seemed to be cruising toward in his debut match.
Alas, thanks to an Elimination Match provision added to the rematch, Kalisto, Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik weren’t so lucky the second time around. Not only did Sullivan singlehandedly thwomp each masked man with relative ease, he got the victory without any kind of qualifier attached to it. Kalisto was first to go, suffering a Freak Accident almost instantly; Dorado followed via running sit-out powerbomb, and Metalik was the last to fall, though Sullivan continually pulled The King of the Ropes off the mat just before the count of three so he could keep the match going and continue to brutalize the previously-eliminated luchadores.
A flying headbutt finally put Metalik down, and Sullivan ended his night with all three of his foes in ruin, cruising toward whichever Superstar — or Superstars — who has the misfortune to catch his attention. Clearly, the number makes no difference.
With all due respect to the 24/7 Championship, there may be no field more wide-open on Raw than the United States Championship picture. With the title back in Samoa Joe’s hands thanks to Rey Mysterio’s forfeiture, no fewer than five Superstars have begun circling The Samoan Submission Machine, each with reasonable grounds for an opportunity: Cesaro and Ricochet have steadily accumulated victories since coming to Raw; Braun Strowman is very intimidating and thus tends to get what he wants; Bobby Lashley has history with Joe; and finally, The Miz had the misfortune of raising Joe’s ire in a pre-match “Miz TV” after questioning the champion’s “line-crossing” against the family of Rey Mysterio.
After a wild brawl on the set of “Miz TV,” the champion and his accumulated challengers were shuffled into a Six-Man Tag Team Match that pitted Miz, Strowman & Ricochet against Joe, Cesaro & Lashley, but the champ had little desire to play a part in the scramble to determine his next challenger; Joe grabbed his championship and made his exit after he found himself on the wrong end of These Hands, leaving Cesaro — somewhat wobbly after administering a long Cesaro Swing to The A-Lister — to suffer a combo of Miz’s Skull-Crushing Finale and a 630 from Ricochet. Hasty exit aside, it would be premature to label Joe as ducking anybody: Given his status as a "habitual line-stepper," Joe clearly doesn’t care who challenges him. But given that this crew doesn’t have a single scrub in it and he's already vastly underestimated at least one of them, he disrespects the field at his peril.
WWE Stomping Grounds is shaping up to be a make-or-break night for both Women’s Champions: Becky Lynch needs to put a stop to Lacey Evans’ insurgency and prove becoming a double-champ didn’t come at the cost of her killer instinct, and Bayley has a chance to rewrite history against Alexa Bliss, who snapped her first title reign a few years ago and sent The Huggable One on a long road through the wilderness. If what happened on Raw is any indication, both women have their work cut out for them.
Evans & Bliss scored the win in a match that pitted champions against challengers, and The Sassy Southern Belle carried the day with a pinfall over the hometown heroine. Ironically, the deciding factor was someone who wasn’t even in the match: Nikki Cross, who had come to ringside in support of Bliss. Evans shoved WWE’s Twisted Sister into Becky’s path of pursuit during a ringside chase, leading to a Woman’s Right from the Belle that dropped Becky to the ground. An under-the-radar tag made Evans the legal woman outside Bayley’s vision, and while the SmackDown Women’s Champion sized up Bliss for a Bayley-to-Belly, Evans slid into the ring and cracked Bayley with another Woman’s Right. Cross looked somewhat conflicted over the role she played in the outcome, but Bliss and Evans showed no such qualms. They got their win. It didn’t matter how.
The IIconics are now the longest-reigning WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions of all time. And as such, they have demanded the best competition the world has to offer. Whether you think they’re genuine in that effort or not depends largely on what you think of Lisa Lace & Aleyah Mia, the two San Jose locals they recruited after what they referred to as an exhausting, worldwide search. Peyton & Billie made quick work of their handpicked opponents, leading to a ceremony that was, perhaps, a bit more emphatic than warranted: After all, their foes were visibly outmatched. In other words, if The IIconics really want to be fighting champions, they’ll need to find better competition. But if they want to make sure their record-setting reign continues, they might just be onto something.
If there’s one lesson to be taken away from The Revival’s last couple of weeks, it’s that it pays to be in good with Shane McMahon. Not only did Dash & Dawson get a Six-Man Tag win last week with Shane and Drew McIntyre in their corner, but they were introduced by Shane-O-Mac in advance of a Triple Threat title fight that they won, making the “Top Guys” two-time Raw Tag Team Champions.
Yes, that means the clock strikes midnight on the Cinderella story of Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins, who looked great in defeat and were simply overwhelmed by the Triple Threat chaos. Ryder found himself on the worst end of it when he took the brunt of a splash from a superkick-happy Jey Uso, who has traded wins with The Revival alongside his twin brother Jimmy. But unbeknownst to Jey, Scott Dawson had tagged in on him before he took flight for said splash, which made Dawson the legal man. After Jey nailed the splash, Dawson threw him off the pinfall position and stole the win with some help from Dash Wilder, who held Jey's leg to stop him from breaking up the three count.
The stolen pinfall was enough to hand The Revival the titles, as well as pass to Shane and Drew’s Super ShowDown celebration, where there’s champagne waiting for them on ice. Given that Dash & Dawson were getting roasted for their grooming habits and scalded by Ucey Hot below the belt a few weeks ago, that’s a remarkable turnaround that can’t be overstated.
The 24/7 Championship has already taken on the air of a particlarly intense social experiment — if not a straight-up test of endurance for reigning champion R-Truth — but the scramble for the title took an odd turn when R-Truth and Carmella found themselves trapped in an elevator with Drake Maverick, EC3, Cedric Alexander and Heath Slater. Given that the refs who would typically count a pinfall were outside the elevator doors with several other challengers, the chase turned into an impromptu, close-quarters therapy session that led to an oddly therapeutic heart-to-heart about Maverick’s impending wedding, over which he is very nervous. (Less heartening? EC3 is willing to entertain the idea of cannibalism in a life-and-death situation.)
If you’re a believer in the power of family, it was strangely reassuring — at the end of the day, all these Superstars care about each other. And, if you’re just in it to watch the world burn, you were not disappointed on that front, either: Once the elevator resumed operations and the doors opened to reveal several other Superstars and a ref, the chase resumed as if nothing had ever happened, and the champion narrowly escaped with the help of Carmella once again. Clearly, the pursuit of the 24/7 Championship is all business for Truth’s “family.” But as long as he’s champion, it’s a business he’ll have to deal with.
Welcome to “Firefly Fun House,” where the hits keep coming for Ramblin’ Rabbit. Literally. After Mercy the Buzzard tried to eat the bunny for a second time, Bray Wyatt intervened with the threat of The Fiend and squashed any of Mercy’s carnivorous designs, instead giving Ramblin’ the spotlight. Unfortunately, Ramblin’ Rabbit talked himself into an even more grisly fate when he threatened to expose what was really going on in the Fun House, leading Bray to smash him repeatedly with a giant mallet painted with the face of The Fiend. The good news is that the goo that came out of Ramblin’ Rabbit was apparently delicious, leading to the reveal of this episode’s sponsor: Ramblin’ Rabbit’s Bohemian Breakfast Spread. Start your day off with a smash! Just don’t ask where it comes from. You might not like the answer.
Forces conspire against Seth Rollins. Baron Corbin will face him in two weeks, Kevin Owens Wild-Carded his way to Raw for a match and Sami Zayn somehow got himself appointed the “Special Outside Guest Referee.” And we haven’t even gotten to Brock Lesnar, who is still Mr. Money in the Bank and is no longer interested in pre-announcing his cash-in or even pre-announcing where and when he’s going to show up. For all the WWE Universe knew, as Paul Heyman claimed, The Beast could be there tonight.
He wasn’t, so that, at least, remains tomorrow’s problem for the time being. And needless to say, Zayn’s abuse of his already-questionable authority led to Rollins losing that main-event match when Sami goaded The Beastslayer into laying hands on him, thereby handing KO the disqualification win. (All things considered, the increasingly-beleaguered John Cone might have gotten to Zayn first, if not for an abundance of professionalism.) But Rollins nonetheless ended the night on an up note, tanning Zayn’s back with a chair and driving away Baron Corbin, who attempted to get one up on the champion in a post-match sneak attack. It’s shaping up to be a long month, or year, or life, for Universal Champion Seth Rollins. The good news, as always, is that he seems ready to handle it.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Lars Sullivan defeated Lucha House Party (Kalisto, Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado) in a 3-on-1 Handicap Elimination match (3:10)
- Braun Strowman, Ricochet & The Miz defeated Samoa Joe, Cesaro & Bobby Lashley (13:45)
- Lacey Evans & Alexa Bliss (w/ Nikki Cross) defeated Becky Lynch & Bayley (10:45)
- The IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) defeated Aliyah Nia & Lisa Lace (1:15)
- The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) defeated Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder (c) & The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) in a Triple Threat Tag Team match to win the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship (8:20)
- Kevin Owens defeated Seth Rollins by disqualification (w/ Sami Zayn as special guest referee) (12:45)
Other on-screen talent