After Baron Corbin attacked Braun Strowman from behind so Brock Lesnar could beat him for the Universal Title last Friday, you’d be forgiven for thinking that The Lone Wolf had some explaining to do. But with a battle for brand supremacy coming up at Survivor Series, it quickly became clear the Acting General Manager-turned self-appointed Raw Team Captain (and aspiring permanent General Manager) would rather keep the past behind him and focus on toppling SmackDown LIVE. In fact, the only time Corbin touched upon the controversy was to write off his actions as a teachable moment for The Monster Among Men, who had attacked him the previous week.
Corbin did automatically slot Strowman into the Raw Men’s Survivor Series team alongside Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre in an attempt to force The Gift of Destruction to team-player status, but it goes without saying that absolutely none of this went as planned. The Lone Wolf’s captaincy was immediately challenged by Kurt Angle, who put his counterpart so thoroughly on the spot that Corbin agreed to a match against the former GM in a match where the winner would be named the captain of the Survivor Series team. And Strowman, unsatisfied with Corbin’s attempt to patronize him, stormed to the ring and instigated an all-out brawl among the roster before chasing the Acting GM behind the curtain.
About the only thing that didn’t blow up in Corbin’s face was his decision to name Alexa Bliss as the captain of the Raw Women’s squad and give her full control over her roster. Like Corbin, Alexa declared her intention to be a purely managerial captain instead of a competitor in the match herself, but that choice proved to be the perfect fit for The Goddess’ penchant for manipulation: Before everything went pear-shaped, the five-time Women’s Champions sanctioned a WWE Evolution rematch of Bayley, Sasha Banks & Natalya vs. The Riott Squad as a kind of show-me-what-you-got test to determine who had the right stuff to join her team.
If Alexa Bliss wants a Survivor Series team that has the in-ring aspect of competition down pat, the discussion might begin and end with Sasha Banks, Bayley & Natalya. But The Riott Squad came into the WWE Evolution rematch with an advantage that’s even rarer: A vicious shamelessness that cost them a victory, but still left the Squad’s opponents thoroughly demoralized after they destroyed something too precious to be quantified.
That object was a good-luck charm Natalya carried with her into the match: A pair of sunglasses belonging to her late father, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. It was clearly an important heirloom for The Queen of Harts, and when she found herself in a position to win the match by trapping Sarah Logan in the Sharpshooter, The Riott Squad didn’t hesitate to exploit it. Ruby Riott grabbed hold of the glasses as Natalya applied the hold, snapped them in half right in front of the former SmackDown Women’s Champion and stomped out the remnants. Logan rolled out of the ring and joined the Squad up the ramp while Banks and Bayley tried in vain to console Natalya and the match ended in a no contest.
It was, indeed, a despicable display, but the contrasting styles should give Alexa Bliss plenty to think about. There are plenty of women who can win a match. Completely tearing them down without throwing a punch? Now that is a rare, and terrible, skill.
For weeks, Apollo Crews has been attempting to make a name for himself by challenging some of Raw’s most talented Superstars. In Manchester, he finally found some daylight, notching a much-needed win over former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. Even then, it took a few minutes for Crews to find his footing, as the “human highlight reel’s” athleticism mostly came up empty against Mahal’s coordinated attack with the help of Sunil Singh at ringside. But Crews rallied to catch The Maharaja in a press-moonsault one-two to earn the pinfall. It was a display that was both impressive and effective, and the distinction is a crucial one: Being a human highlight reel is all well and good, but as Crews admitted, that only goes so far without the record to back it up. Now, he’s taken his first steps to correct that.
Lost in all the commotion of Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins’ acrimonious split has been the fate of the Raw Tag Team Championship, which the pair won moments before The Lunatic Fringe made his move and attacked his brother-in-arms. At the very least, we can cross that loose end off the list: After Rollins seemingly attempted to forfeit the titles, Acting General Manager Baron Corbin (having evaded Braun Strowman long enough to attend to some official business from a secure location) intervened and forced The Kingslayer and his partner to take on AOP in a title match.
Of course, Ambrose was never going to show for this one, so it went about as you would expect: Akam & Rezar feasted on Rollins, who fought the good fight but still found himself flattened by a powerbomb-neckbreaker combo and relieved of the titles in painful fashion. Ambrose finally made an appearance after the match was over, baiting The Architect with the one thing he knew Rollins really wanted. Sliding into the ring, Ambrose asked if Rollins still wanted to know why he had betrayed him, then dropped The Kingslayer once again with Dirty Deeds and left without giving an answer.
About the only positive development Dolph Ziggler can point to in the past week has been his appointment to Raw’s Survivor Series team. Besides that, it’s been a series of left-field stunners and upsets at every turn, beginning with a WWE World Cup Finals loss to Shane McMahon, of all people, who entered himself in the finals after The Miz suffered an injury (Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon will evidently deal with that one next week) and continuing with a defeat on Raw at the hands a newly-insurgent Elias.
The loss was all the more demoralizing because The Showoff was in control for almost the entire match. Ziggler’s amateur background has done wonders for him of late, and that skill set paid similar dividends here, keeping The Living Truth in first gear until he threw hands to turn the match into a brawl. Ziggler hit the Zig Zag despite the change of pace, only to have the pinfall attempt broken up when Elias reached the ropes. In the ensuing confusion, The Showoff stumbled right into his opponent’s clutches, and Elias executed Drift Away to win the match. The result was enough to leave Ziggler livid in the ring, and justifiably so: The Showoff might have a leg to stand on by crying conspiracy over a loss to Shane. But for all his undeniable pedigree, he let this one get away from him.
Come Survivor Series, all eyes will be on a marquee Champion vs. Champion Match between Ronda Rousey — Raw Women’s Champion and consensus Baddest Woman on the Planet — and SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch, a woman who has become so dominant that she is simply known, to herself and others, as “The Man.” Ronda isn’t certainly looking past Becky, as she made clear in a fiery rebuttal to The Irish Lass Kicker’s opening salvo from SmackDown LIVE. In fact, she welcomes the challenge. But Rousey’s problems, as we were reminded on Raw, do not begin and end with Becky Lynch.
Lest you forget, Nia Jax won a Battle Royal at WWE Evolution to earn a future title opportunity against Rousey, and she reared her head on Raw to both passive-aggressively remind Rousey that she’ll be fighting for an entire locker room at the fall classic and more overtly reassert herself as Ronda’s opponent down the stretch. It was as much a flex from Nia as it was a realization that Ronda might be at a disadvantage that goes beyond armbar vs. armbar at Survivor Series. After all, she has Lynch’s full attention. Ronda, on the other hand, must now keep one eye on Becky, and another down the road to where The Irresistible Force lies in wait.
The Women’s Survivor Series team is wide open for anyone who wants it, and Nia Jax made a power play that might take her to WWE’s fall classic and beyond in a rematch with Ember Moon. Not only did The Irresistible Force catch the surging War Goddess out of nowhere with a thunderous Samoan Drop to earn the victory, she joined in on a post-match beating with Tamina, who emerged once again to seemingly cement herself as The Irresistible Force’s enforcer. Exactly when she’ll challenge Ronda Rousey remains to be seen, but it’s looking like Nia Jax has gotten herself the one thing that could finally make the difference in her path back to the top: an ally.
For a long time, Lio Rush has propelled Bobby Lashley to the next level strictly by way of his talk. This week, The 23-Year-Old Piece of Gold swung the action in a far more direct way, interfering in Lashley’s third bout with Finn Bálor to hand The Rocky Mountain-Made Machine his first win of the series.
Not only did The Man of the Hour trip Bálor up at the start of the match, he continued to pester the former Universal Champion throughout the contest — so much so that Finn took his eye off the ball to blast Rush with a dropkick as he began to close the gap against his foe. Lashley took advantage of Bálor’s preoccupation to turn the tables, hitting Finn with a spinebuster on the apron before finishing him off with the gutwrench slam.
Complicating matters was the arrival of Drew McIntyre, who was slated to face Kurt Angle in the main event after Braun Strowman chased Baron Corbin out of the building. The Scottish Psychopath didn’t seem to care who he fought, though: He forced Lashley out of the ring by his mere presence, then downed Bálor with a Claymore after helping the Irishman to his feet in a fraudulent show of respect.
Returning to singles action did a lot to re-ignite Kurt Angle’s competitive fire. But for all the intensity, integrity and intelligence Angle brought to his main-event battle against Drew McIntyre, The Scottish Psychopath defeated the WWE Hall of Famer at his own game, concluding the match with a rare submission of the Olympic Gold Medalist that snapped Angle’s chances of captaining the Raw Men’s Survivor Series team for a second straight year.
Indeed, minus an early Glasgow Kiss that knocked Angle silly, McIntyre built his game plan largely around submission holds, only reverting to strikes when the Olympian began to rally. The match was functionally over after McIntyre dropped Angle with a Claymore, but rather than pin his opponent, the former NXT Champion decided to demoralize him. McIntyre insulted the Olympian to his face and offered him his leg, prompting a last-gasp Ankle Lock from the legendary Superstar.
It wasn’t enough. The Scotsman retaliated with maneuvers from Angle’s own arsenal, dropping him with the Angle Slam and grape-vining the Hall of Famer in an Ankle Lock of his own that was so agonizing that the gold medalist was forced to submit. It was a less a passing of the torch than a potential blaze of glory for Angle, whose future was openly speculated by the commentary team in what might not have been as much of an overreaction as it seemed. After all, Kurt Angle is no stranger to fighting past his physical limits and letting his spirit carry him through. This is the first time in a long time where even that wasn’t enough.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan) vs. Bayley, Sasha Banks & Natalya ended in a no-contest (17:00)
- Apollo Crews defeated Jinder Mahal (w/ Sunil Singh) (3:00)
- The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) defeated Seth Rollins (c) in a Handicap match to win the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship (9:50)
- Elias defeated Dolph Ziggler (14:20)
- Nia Jax defeated Ember Moon (4:55)
- Bobby Lashley (w/ Lio Rush) defeated Finn Bálor (6:30)
- Drew McIntyre defeated Kurt Angle by submission (14:35)
Other on-screen talent