We said it before, and we’ll say it again: They make a good team. Following an impressive if unsuccessful showing last week, Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair notched their first victory as a tag team in Raw’s opening match by knocking off The IIconics. Although Becky and Charlotte weren’t exactly keen on teaming up, the match nevertheless seemed to cement them as players in the Women’s Tag Team division. And that was before the post-match scrum with NXT’s finest.
Despite their well-documented differences in philosophy (Becky wants to fight anything that moves; Charlotte is a bit more calculating) and trajectory (The Man will battle Shayna Baszler and Bayley on Sunday in an all-champions Triple Threat; Flair leads Raw’s Women’s Survivor Series team), the pair worked in near-perfect sync, with Lynch providing a crucial assist that allowed Charlotte to secure the Figure-Eight submission victory. They continued that teamwork after the match, too, defending Raw when NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke stormed the ring to take out The IIconics.
Unfortunately, the NXT Horsewomen got the better of The Man and Queen connection, landing a few hits and escaping into the crowd where a wall of security stopped Becky & Charlotte from pursuing them. That isn’t to say Lynch was denied the punchout she so clearly craved. The Man knocked one of the guards out cold with a right hand as the NXT women made their escape. Like we said, she’ll fight anyone.
Humberto Carrillo finally pinned AJ Styles last week, but the young talent isn’t exactly about to get hot-shotted to the United States Title anytime soon. Under the pretense of punishing Carrillo for his “disrespect,” Styles instead sent his good brother Karl Anderson to deal with his rival, a move he surely hoped would expose Humberto as a one-and-done wonder. Instead, however, the 205 Live draftee picked up a surprising surplus of cache and a stronger case to potentially once again challenge Styles.
To be fair, there was one element that proved key to Carrillo’s victory besides dimples and a can-do attitude: The presence of The Street Profits, who served as a check on Styles and Luke Gallows and essentially kept the match from turning into Carrillo against the entire O.C. And when Styles & Gallows tried to get involved by distracting the ref, the Profits engaged in a bit of turnabout, with Montez Ford reversing Anderson’s ill-gotten small package in Humberto’s favor while Angelo Dawkins held Gallows at bay. That was enough to snuff “Hot Karl’s” efforts, and as for Humberto, he has now pinned the champ and one half of the best tag team in the world. If it’s a title match he wants, he’s got a leg to stand on.
Lost in all the revelations surrounding Bobby Lashley and Lana’s extracurricular activities is the fact that The All Mighty is also a full-time WWE Superstar — one who hadn’t competed in several months. A harsh reminder was served on Raw, as the two-time Intercontinental Champion returned to action against No Way Jose, eventually winning with a vice-like Full Nelson that put The Dominican Dancing Machine to sleep with Lana looking on at ringside.
The Ravishing Russian's estranged husband Rusev was nowhere to be found in all this, having been served with a temporary restraining order and divorce papers on the same day. All of which meant that Lashley and Lana were free to kiss to their hearts’ content following the match — a privilege they enjoyed in emphatic fashion. Lashley appears to have been renewed with rest, motivation and the love of a beautiful woman. At least on paper, there’s not much can stop him at this point.
After a close call, Seth Rollins is still going to Survivor Series, thanks in no small part to a group of interlopers from Friday Night SmackDown whose arrival ensured that Andrade didn’t steal The Architect’s captaincy.
Somewhat surprisingly, that would be The Lucha House Party, who made their presence known at the end of the contest with a kind of brand-boosting boast, but they thankfully waited until after Rollins and his opponent had wowed the audience with a true, blue show-stealer. Safe to say the match delivered from an in-ring perspective, with the two trading holds, dives, kicks and bombs at a breakneck pace. Zelina Vega’s ejection halfway through the match left the two to battle at an almost dead heat, though Rollins eventually gained the upper hand by getting Andrade into position for a Frog Splash.
The Luchas struck The Architect at that very moment, securing the win for Rollins but raising the ire of both men, who clearly wanted to see which of them would have gotten the win. That’s not just speculation, either. After driving away the masked trio, Andrade and Rollins shared a moment of respect after the match, seemingly agreeing to pick up where they’d left off down the line. Only one is going to Survivor Series, but when it comes to workhorses, there might be room enough for both of them.
The sky is the limit for Buddy Murphy, but the former Cruiserweight Champion might have a line of his own. In Murphy’s latest consecutive Raw victory, he knocked off fellow former titleholder Akira Tozawa in a fast, furious and pretty extraordinary match. Tozawa more or less decimated Murphy, only to very, very narrowly get caught with Murphy’s Law — though it was more what Murphy did before and after his match that might signify where he’s going long term.
Murphy vs. Tozawa was bookended by a pair of trips to Aleister Black’s door, the first of which saw Murphy loudly knock in what appeared to be an attempt to provoke Black into a fight. “All talk,” he replied when Black was a beat too late to the door. But when Murphy made a return trip, he didn’t even get a chance to knock. The door swung open to reveal The Dutch Destroyer, very much ready to throw down. Nothing came of the confrontation except for a staredown, but there’s no disputing after these past two weeks that Buddy Murphy is up for a good fight. Whether he's ready for that fight is another matter entirely.
What’s under Erick Rowan’s sheet? We’re still no closer to knowing, but we at least now know what happens when someone gets too close to it. Oddly enough, the offending party was once again The Singh Brothers, who ran afoul of Rowan for the second consecutive week — this time during his bout with a local named Alex Malcom. The brothers’ transgression amounted to little more than coming too close to Rowan’s precious cargo, and given that R-Truth was still trying to chase down Samir’s 24/7 Title, there was little they could do about it. Samir & Sunil were punished all the same, however, with Rowan obliterating them and the local with a crossbody at ringside while Truth backed away in fright. To top it all off, Rowan won the match, cementing himself as the most imposing kind of monster: The kind who can destroy not one, not two, but three people at once.
What began as an incredible match between Kevin Owens and Drew McIntyre turned into a truly Machiavellian power play from Triple H on Raw. After allowing the two former NXT Champions to duel to a stalemate, The Game reared his head to essentially stop the match and lay the groundwork to potentially turn Owens from Team Raw to NXT.
Triple H’s assessment that Raw management sees Owens as something of an unwanted burden may have been an aggressive sales pitch, but there’s no disputing a series of GMs have tried to fire him. The King of Kings, however, pointed out that KO never had any such issues during his days as the brutal, backstabbing NXT Champion. Much like the proposal Triple H dangled in front of Seth Rollins a couple of weeks ago, it was definitely something worth thinking about, hence the human wall of The Forgotten Sons, Damian Priest and Dominik Dijakovic that The Game employed to give him and Owens some privacy.
Luckily for Owens, whatever choice to be made was made for him when Cedric Alexander, Ricochet, Mojo Rawley and Buddy Murphy sprinted down the ramp to equalize the NXT contingent, and The Undisputed ERA’s attack of KO put any negotiations to a halt. The O.C. hit the scene to finally turn the tide in favor of Raw by chasing off Undisputed ERA, and while the NXT collective’s retreat seemingly prevented Owens from joining them, it oddly made Triple H’s point all the same. NXT takes care of its own.
A few weeks ago, Rey Mysterio did what very few Superstars have managed to do and took Brock Lesnar’s legs out from under him with a steel pipe in a display of aggression that netted him a WWE Title Match against The Beast at Survivor Series. Both Superstars have been relatively quiet since then, and as Paul Heyman admitted, that has led to speculation that Brock isn’t 100 percent for the match. Heyman disputed the rumors — Team Brock’s public statement is that he’s fine — but also used them to his advantage, offering a No Holds Barred, No Disqualification stipulation to “make things interesting.”
Whether Heyman is playing some kind of four-dimensional chess or trying to give his client the leeway he needs to cover for an injury isn’t quite clear. It’s really never clear with Heyman, but it made no difference to Mysterio. With the pipe — his "friend" — in hand, The Ultimate Underdog made it clear he wasn’t looking for Lesnar to apologize for the torments against his family that led to this rivalry. Instead, he’s just looking to punish the biggest bully in WWE. In short? He accepted, and as he made clear, he's bringing his "friend" with him to get what he wants.
Natalya didn’t get to challenge The Kabuki Warriors for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles last week, but unfinished business remained between her and Asuka all the same. And The Empress of Tomorrow settled that account by repaying The Queen of Harts for her submission victory two weeks ago with a vicious pinfall of her own — one she didn’t even have to use the green mist to secure. Thanks in no small part to the efforts of her partner Kairi Sane on the outside, Asuka withstood Natalya’s slow dismantling and finally pounced with a high kick to the side of the head, dropping the former SmackDown Women’s Champion for three and reinforcing something that the Raw roster might have forgotten. Asuka may have gotten to the point where she can stomach a loss, but two? That’s a different story.
Randy Orton doesn’t play well with others, but he seems to want to keep Ricochet close for some reason. Despite lingering tensions, The Viper chose Ricochet as his partner to face The Viking Raiders for the Raw Tag Team Titles after the original challengers, Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins, were ambushed by AOP in the locker room area. Unfortunately, the saga of The Viper and his friend (foe?) was quickly overwhelmed by the latest and greatest salvo in the battle for brand supremacy.
Orton and Ricochet made for an effective tag team, but in the middle of the match, SmackDown Superstars Dolph Ziggler, Robert Roode and Cesaro were shown attacking Raw talent in the bowels of the TD Garden. They stormed the ring later in the title bout in an ambush that led to a disqualification win for Orton & Ricochet, who were quickly overwhelmed by seemingly the entire NXT roster. The black-and-gold stalwarts rushed the ring to pick off Orton, Ricochet and The Viking Raiders, though The Viper landed a couple of RKOs before succumbing. Despite a plethora of Raw Superstars joining the fight, NXT got the last word when Keith Lee hoisted Humberto Carrillo over his head and chucked him from the ring onto a crowd of Superstars.
They also got the last word in the literal fashion. During the melee, Triple H appeared on the TitanTron to announce an “open door” policy for this Wednesday’s NXT. Anybody who wants to come to Full Sail and show what they’re made of is free to do so. Given the shellacking Raw took at the end of the night, there are more than a few who might be tempted to take him up on that offer. But unless they come prepared, it’s going to be a long week, and the battle for brand supremacy will be very short indeed.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair defeated The IIconics (Peyton Royce & Billie Kay) (2:20)
- Humberto Carrillo defeated Karl Anderson (w/ A.J. Styles & Luke Gallows)
- Bobby Lashley (w/ Lana) defeated No Way Jose
- Seth Rollins defeated Andrade (w/ Zelina Vega) by DQ (15:15)
- Buddy Murphy defeated Akira Tozawa (6:40)
- Erick Rowan defeated Alex Malcom (0:50)
- Kevin Owens vs. Drew McIntyre ended in a No Contest
- Asuka (w/ Kairi Sane) defeated Natalya (4:40)
- The Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar) (c) vs. Randy Orton & Ricochet ended in a No Contest. Viking Raiders retain the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship (8:15)
- The Fiend (c) defeated Drew McIntyre in a Steel Cage match to retain the WWE Universal Championship
Other on-screen talent