With only one victory to its name, Raw got waxed at Survivor Series, a drubbing that led Seth Rollins, the self-appointed locker-room leader of the brand, made his feelings known in a Town Hall Meeting that opened Raw. Which, in turn, led the roster to return the favor.
“You all sucked,” said Rollins, who was doling out a bit of tough love that he hoped would right the ship but seemingly did not sit well with the WWE Universe nor the assembled Superstars, including Randy Orton (who walked out on the meeting), Charlotte Flair (ditto) and AOP (who didn’t compete at Survivor Series, but walked out too). Rollins' insults to Rey Mysterio and his son were ultimately a bridge too far, leading the entire roster bailed on The Architect until only one Superstar remained: Kevin Owens. And despite Rollins’ attempts to convince Owens that his dedication to Raw remains unmatched and that the meeting was coming from a good place, Seth let his temper get the best of him when he accused Owens of laziness and sneered, “You will never be Seth Rollins.” As Rollins’ temper finally cooled, Owens responded with a thunderous Stunner and a stroll out of the ring. Sometimes, even in open forums, the simplest answer is the best.
As Lana and Bobby Lashley continue to humiliate Rusev, the WWE Universe has been left to wonder how much The Bulgarian Brute would take before he finally fought back. Raw answered that question, as The Bulgarian Brute defied a restraining order he’d been served at the arena to ambush Bobby Lashley seconds into The All Mighty’s match with Titus O’Neil.
The Super Athlete’s attack cost Titus the match (Lashley won via disqualification), but what happened next cost the two-time Intercontinental Champion his pride, as Rusev beat Lashley up the ramp and laid him out on the announce table. The authorities quickly arrived to cuff Rusev, but even Chicago’s finest couldn’t stop him from shoulder-tackling Lashley off the stage, and then kicking a lighting rig on top of him.
It was only a matter of time before AOP left their dark room and returned to the ring in earnest. And following last week’s impromptu attack of Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins in the locker room area, that time has come. Akam & Rezar competed in their first match since WrestleMania season, bulldozing Ryder & Hawkins in what amounted to a rout in favor of the former Raw and NXT Tag Team Champions. Ryder & Hawkins were subjected to one tandem maneuver after another, including the Last Chapter, Super Collider, dueling Death Valley Drivers into the corner and, finally, a combo of a powerbomb and neckbreaker. Given the display, it's hard to argue with Seth Rollins' assessment that Raw could have used these two at Survivor Series. Now that they're back, it bodes for potentially good news the next time the brands battle. Until then, however, they have Raw's tag teams all to themselves.
Andrade was conspicuous by his absence at Survivor Series, but the former NXT Champion is going a long way toward ensuring he’ll be a first-round pick on every captain’s team from here on out. This week, he added to his impressive winning streak by defeating Akira Tozawa, who’s as impressive a performer as Raw could ask for — check out his match with Buddy Murphy last week — but who served as little more than grist for the mill against Andrade. Andrade handily bulldozed The Stamina Monster with his running knees and spiked him with the Hammerlock DDT for the win. Whether the display was a response to Seth Rollins’ speech or just Andrade asserting his value remains to be seen. Either way, the result remains the same.
As it turns out, you can’t un-knock on Aleister Black’s door. One week after taunting the former NXT Champion, Buddy Murphy found himself face-to-face once again with The Ominous Man From Amsterdam, this time after defeating a returning Matt Hardy.
Hardy looked great in his first match in several months, but Murphy took advantage of his opponent’s ring rust to turn the tide quickly and put him away with three straight knees to the face. Murphy mockingly challenged Black again by knocking on the microphone, but this time, Black answered by charging the ring and knocking Murphy through the ropes with a jumping knee of his own. It’d be smart of Murphy to give Black’s door a wide berth in the future, but as Black said before confronting Murphy, he is “owed.” And he doesn’t seem like the kind of man to leave before he gets what he came for.
Is there anyone who can stop AJ Styles? Perhaps, but Humberto Carrillo might not be that man as of yet. Not that this has anything to do with Carrillo’s skills, which are downright incredible, but the young man didn’t quite have his head on a swivel when he made his way to the ring. If he had, he might have been ready for the rest of The O.C. to attack him, or he might have at least been able to fight back instead of suffering a Magic Killer to the steps that sent him to the locker room area.
Clearly, Styles was looking for the night off. But he was quickly confronted by four Superstars all vying for a chance at his title: Ricochet, Randy Orton, Drew McIntyre and Rey Mysterio. Styles declined all on various grounds (he has beaten Ricochet and Orton; he’s too sore to face McIntyre; Rey is entitled), but when Ricochet cut off Orton to propose a Fatal 4-Way to determine The Phenomenal One’s challenger, the rest of The O.C. begrudgingly admitted it was a good idea. That wasn’t what Styles wanted to hear, but he agreed to the plan on the assumption that he’d pick the bones of whoever made it to his doorstep. The question of who can stop AJ Styles remains open-ended, but there are clearly no shortage of Superstars looking to answer it.
Rey Mysterio is never one to stay down for long, and The Ultimate Underdog bounced back from a nail-biting loss to WWE Champion Brock Lesnar to a thrilling Fatal 4-Way victory over Ricochet, Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre, earning himself an immediate rematch for the United States Championship Mysterio never lost.
That’s no small feat, especially since The O.C. were lurking at ringside for the back end of the match and considering that McIntyre was well on his way to bulldozing his way to the title match. Not only did the Scot execute a modified German Suplex-version of the Tower of Doom, he turned Orton’s chest purple with just two chops in an impromptu slugfest between the two.
Orton poked him in the eye rather than continue and eventually repaid McIntyre with an RKO, only to be bum-rushed by The O.C. when he tried to make the cover. That brought the match down to Ricochet and Mysterio, and The Ultimate Underdog prevailed in the battle of high-flyers by pinning Ricochet with a small package. Onto the title match …
Can anybody stop AJ Styles? Yes! Battling through all the wear and tear, Rey Mysterio did just that, winning a Fatal 4-Way to earn a championship bout and then winning the title match, dethroning Styles to kick off a second reign as United States Champion.
That’d be impressive enough on its face, but taking into account that Mysterio was barely mobile after challenging WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and winning the 4-Way within 24 hours, it’s far closer to the miracle some hoped the luchador might have had in him at Survivor Series. Styles clearly didn’t see Rey as much of a threat, mocking Mysterio right up into the second he found himself thrown into the turnbuckle. Sensing danger, The O.C. tried to interfere and got themselves promptly ejected, setting up the possibility of an upset for the first time in the match.
As we know by now, a possibility is all Rey Mysterio tends to need. Slowly but surely, Rey crawled his way back into the match, connecting with a 619 that sent Styles tumbling into the ref and rendered the zebra unable to make the count. The O.C. returned to clean house, but Randy Orton reemerged with payback on his mind. The Viper took out Gallows & Anderson singlehandedly, helped Rey drill Styles with a second 619 and administered an RKO to make sure The Phenomenal One stayed down for the fateful Frog Splash. Hardly the night Styles envisioned for himself. But as you can gather from the visual of Mysterio atop his son’s shoulders, one man’s disaster is another man’s miracle.
With one spew of green mist into Charlotte Flair’s face at Survivor Series, Asuka reminded her longtime nemesis that she’s still capable of shifting the balance of the Women’s division. Unfortunately for The Queen, she didn’t quite take to the lesson, leading to yet another face-full of mist on Raw and the second straight humiliation of the proud, 10-time Women’s Champion.
This one must sting doubly, as Charlotte and Asuka had been in the middle of yet another classic when a unique series of events led to The Queen’s defeat. Kairi Sane, who had been chased from ringside earlier in the match, reemerged to provoke Charlotte just as she went to set up the Figure Eight. The Queen dispatched Sane by hurling her into the ring post, but by the time she had gotten back into the ring, Asuka was lying in wait. The Empress of Tomorrow unleashed another torrent of green into Charlotte’s eyes, then rolled her up for a quick pinfall that Flair was powerless to stop. This is becoming a distressing trend for The Queen, even more so because it’s one that shows no sign of stopping. If Charlotte’s not careful, it’ll become a streak of a different kind — one even she might have trouble breaking.
At this point, even the locals Erick Rowan faces are curious about what’s in his pen. The Chicago product who drew Rowan this week — Kyle Roberts is the poor man’s name — actually went to peek under the burlap cover of Rowan’s precious cargo. Whatever he saw made him spring back in fright, directly into the merciless path of Rowan. What followed was, to put it generously, merciless, at least until Rowan finally pinned Roberts after an Iron Claw. The mystery of Rowan’s pen continues, its answers known only to Kyle Roberts — not that he’s going to be talking anytime soon.
Say what you will about Seth Rollins for his criticism at the beginning of Raw, but someone definitely listened. Not just Kevin Owens, who stepped to The Beastslayer in the show’s main event, but AOP as well.
Just hours after making their victorious in-ring return (and hours after Rollins admonished them for their Survivor Series absence), Akam & Rezar stormed to the ring to confront both Rollins and Owens. Their arrival was a lucky one for The Beastslayer, who had just suffered a Stunner from his opponent and was likely about to be pinned before the former Raw and NXT Tag Team Champions arrived. Akam & Rezar sized up both men, but Owens staggered to his feet and threw the first punch, leading the team to attack him and hand him the disqualification win.
When it came time to turn to Rollins, however, AOP demurred and made their exit. Rollins took the opportunity to provide what Jerry Lawler called the “exclamation point” of the night, drilling Owens face-first into the mat with a pair of Stomps while proclaiming that he made Raw a better place. For now, at least, there’s no one standing to argue with him.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Bobby Lashley (w/ Lana) defeated Titus O'Neil by DQ (0:57)
- The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) defeated Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder (1:25)
- Andrade (w/ Zelina Vega) defeated Akira Tozawa (2:25)
- Buddy Murphy defeated Matt Hardy (2:55)
- Rey Mysterio defeated Ricochet and Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton in a Fatal Four Way Match to become #1 Contender for the WWE United States Championship (14:30)
- Rey Mysterio defeated AJ Styles (c) (w/ Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) to win the WWE United States Championship (15:30)
- Asuka (w/ Kairi Sane) defeated Charlotte Flair (17:20)
- Erick Rowan defeated Kyle Roberts (1:25)
- Kevin Owens defeated Seth Rollins by DQ (14:00)
- Dark Match: The Fiend (c) defeated Drew McIntyre in a Steel Cage match to retain the WWE Universal Championship
Other on-screen talent