Oh, it's true: Raw General Manager Kurt Angle was apparently so impressed with Dean Ambrose's matchmaking suggestions last week that he named the Intercontinental Champion as his acting replacement during the opening minutes of Raw's international stopover in London.
Ambrose had to contend with opposition almost immediately when his No. 1 contender, The Miz, arrived and revealed that Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon had named him Co-Acting General Manager in order to mitigate Ambrose's unpredictability, but The Lunatic Fringe quickly proved his management skills were still beyond reproach. When a returning Kalisto confronted a sling-bound Braun Strowman, The Monster Among Men claimed he could defeat The King of Flight with one good arm if he so desired, so Ambrose gave Strowman the opportunity to prove it in a match later that night. On top of that, The Lunatic Fringe even managed to get one up on his trash-talking No. 1 contender by declaring Miz would face Finn Bálor in the night's first match.
Last week, The Miz made a dent in history (albeit with some help) when he handed Finn Bálor his first pinfall defeat in WWE during an epic Triple Threat Match to determine the No. 1 Contender to the Intercontinental Championship. He did not repeat the accomplishment in their one-on-one clash.
Miz almost finagled a disqualification win for himself when he threw Bálor into the referee, after which The A-Lister used his Co-Acting General Manager powers to disqualify his opponent. But Dean Ambrose quickly overruled the decision, had the match restarted and banned Maryse from ringside. With Miz's security blanket gone, Bálor made quick work of him, pouncing with a Sling Blade and sealing the deal with a Coup de Grâce.
The only woman Alexa Bliss didn't trash talk during her “coronation” last week was Nia Jax. This week, the WWE Universe found out why.
The powerful Jax accompanied Little Miss Bliss to the ring for her non-title match against her former ally Mickie James, claiming she would be Bliss’ “best friend” provided the champion granted her a title match as soon as she had put Bayley in the rearview. The Huggable One herself wasn't far from the action either, serving as Mickie's muscle in a confrontation that quickly tilted James’ way. (The audience's chants of Toni Basil's “Mickey” didn't hurt as a motivator).
In fact, Mickie gained such an advantage that Nia attempted to (literally) trip her up on the top turnbuckle, and while Bayley was quick to neutralize the interference, Alexa doomed Mickie with a forearm to the face. When The Huggable One chased Bliss up the ramp following the match, Jax lingered behind, pulverizing James in a harrowing bit of post-match devastation.
Despite his claims that he could defeat Kalisto with one arm, Braun Strowman didn't intend to compete in a match organized by Dean Ambrose while recovering from injuries incurred at the hands of Roman Reigns, whom he called a “pathetic coward.” While he brutalized The King of Flight anyway once the ref called for the bell, the match quickly turned into a brawl when Reigns himself appeared to answer Strowman's fighting words.
Hampered somewhat by his own injuries but boasting the use of all his extremities, Reigns picked Strowman apart with Superman Punches and rammed his injured shoulder into the ring post. The Big Dog's following assault with a steel chair was enough to send The Gift of Destruction scurrying for cover in the WWE Universe.
The Golden Truth's bid for a major comeback match ended in heartbreaking fashion on Monday when the veteran Superstars fell to a surging Cesaro & Sheamus in the final round of a Tag Team Turmoil Match to determine The Hardy Boyz’ No. 1 contenders.
The small consolation for Goldust & R-Truth is that the majority of the Tag Team division joined them in defeat: Cesaro & Sheamus ran the table in the marathon contest, dispatching Enzo Amore & Big Cass (via Sharpshooter to Enzo), former SmackDown Tag Champs Heath Slater & Rhyno (Brogue Kick to Slater) and former Raw Tag Champs Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (Brogue Kick to Gallows) before Golden Truth finally arrived to bat cleanup.
Taking advantage of their battle-worn opponents, Golden Truth mounted an emotional effort to carry themselves over the finish line. Truth turned on the jets when Goldust's leg was brutalized by their foes, but a rollup from Cesaro spelled the end. The Hardy Boyz themselves quickly drove their No. 1 contenders from the ring, but the team that claims they don't just set, but embody, the bar has a chance to prove it, while Goldust & Truth find the bar just slightly beyond their reach.
At WWE Payback, Seth Rollins was ready for Samoa Joe to target his banged-up knee and surprised his foe with a sound game plan to counter it. And while he won the rematch on Raw, The Kingslayer did not escape unscathed.
The bout stemmed from a five-alarm backstage brawl between Joe and Rollins earlier in the show, and the two picked up right where they left off once the bell rang, though Joe claimed the advantage when he trapped The Architect's leg in the ropes and booted him right in the bum knee.
Joe maintained his advantage to the point that Rollins accidentally exposed the turnbuckle while grasping for the pad, and The Samoan Submission Machine capitalized by whipping The Kingslayer into the steel. When the ref paused the action to replace the cover, Joe decided he'd rather brutalize Rollins further than defeat him outright: Despite the ref's warning, Joe rammed his opponent into the buckle again to the tune of a disqualification, then locked The Architect in the Coquina Clutch to remind Rollins that the punishment ends when he, and only he, decides.
Question his tactics all you want, but there's no arguing that the recent attitude change and friendship with WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville hasn't paid dividends for TJP. The Fil-Am Flash has consistently found a way to retain prominent positioning in the Cruiserweight division, and this week, after Neville made a promise of sorts to help TJP secure a title match if he defeated Gentleman Jack Gallagher, TJP delivered with an ill-gotten victory by rolling Jack up with a fistful of tights.
Fortunately for Gallagher, he was saved from a post-match mangling by TJP when Austin Aries (showing the effects of his own hobbling from last week) prevented the Fil-Am Flash from savaging the Englishman's knee, exploding from out of the audience and chasing The Duke of Dab up the ramp where he quickly reconvened with Neville, who was quick to claim on commentary that he hadn't actually promised TJP anything.
If not for a ferocious fistfight between Sasha Banks and Alicia Fox last week, Bayley might have been able to hand Alexa Bliss a non-title loss in an Eight-Woman Tag Team bout. Alas, Bliss prevailed in that match, and The Boss and Miss Fox's grudge match on Raw picked up right where last week's fight left off, with both Superstars throwing hands at each other before things settled down into a rhythm.
To her credit, Fox dictated the pace of the match, holding the three-time Raw Women's Champion at bay for minutes on end, at least until Banks pounced off the top turnbuckle with a pair of knees to the face and hooked the leg for a win. Though, as an eagle-eyed Corey Graves pointed, depending on the vantage point, Alicia may have gotten a shoulder up outside the ref's field of vision. Round Three, perhaps?
arlier in the night, Dean Ambrose used his matchmaking abilities to feed The Miz to Finn Bálor. Well, The A-Lister didn't just end the evening with one leg up on Ambrose, he ended it with two: Not only did Raw General Manager Kurt Angle move Miz's Intercontinental Championship Match to next week from its originally assumed time at WWE Extreme Rules, but The A-Lister used some matchmaking savvy of his own to pit Ambrose against Bray Wyatt in Raw's main event.
Awesome if you're Miz, not so much if you're Ambrose: The Reaper of Souls was all over his longtime foe, and when the Intercontinental Champion gained some momentum, Miz got involved, sauntering down from commentary to mug with the Intercontinental Title itself and, eventually, hit Ambrose in the back with it out of the official's sight.
Wyatt hit Sister Abigail to defeat Ambrose moments later, but Miz got the last word, raking Ambrose's face in a post-match beatdown before promising to reclaim the title and once again usher in an era of awesomeness.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Finn Bálor defeated The Miz (w/ Maryse) (13:20)
- Alexa Bliss (w/ Nia Jax) defeated Mickie James (w/ Bayley) (8:15)
- Sheamus & Cesaro defeated Big Cass & Enzo Amore, Heath Slater & Rhyno, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson and Golden Truth (Goldust & R-Truth) in a Tag Team Turmoil match to be the #1 Contender for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship (27:45)
- Seth Rollins defeated Samoa Joe by disqualification (15:05)
- TJP defeated Jack Gallagher (3:05)
- Sasha Banks defeated Alicia Fox (2:45)
- Bray Wyatt defeated Dean Ambrose (15:20)
Other on-screen talent