Dean Ambrose provided a key assist in helping Seth Rollins advance over Drew McIntyre to a slot in the WWE World Cup — a development that should have put to rest any question of whether The Lunatic Fringe is still all in on The Shield, except the aftermath of Ambrose’s interference left Rollins and Roman Reigns with more questions than answers as to where their brother’s head is at these days.
It's not that Ambrose was conspicuously absent for the pre-match confrontation between Rollins, Reigns and Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler & McIntyre — the “pack” that has tormented them over the past couple of months and handed Ambrose the deciding, demoralizing pinfall in last week’s main event. Rollins knew Ambrose would show up when it mattered, and he did, though he waited until the last possible minute to do so (Ziggler had interfered several times from ringside), instigating a scramble outside the ring that led to a narrow count-out victory for The Kingslayer after he hit McIntyre with a Stomp on the arena floor.
Rather, any questions about The Shield's unity will likely stem from their interaction after the match in the backstage area, where Rollins gently razzed Ambrose for his down-to-the-wire timing. “Lunatic time,” Rollins called it, but Ambrose didn’t take it as a term of affection. The former WWE Champion lashed out at his brothers over the implication that he was only good for a laugh until they needed bailing out before walking off to prepare for his own qualifier against Ziggler, alone.
The future will be rewritten at WWE Evolution in more ways than one, as Raw brought the announcement of a Battle Royal to determine a future Women’s Championship challenger. If what happened on the red brand is any indication, there’s an early favorite, and it might not be who you expected.
It seemed the early momentum would go to Nia Jax, who teamed with Ember Moon to defeat Dana Brooke and the returning Tamina. But after the victory — via an Eclipse from The War Goddess to Brooke — Jax found herself overwhelmed by the unlikely alliance of Moon and Tamina, who tossed The Irresistible Force over the top rope. While those two Superstars began to throw down, Dana made her move, sneaking up behind them to dump both women to the outside. It was a power move, but not that surprising of one: Dana has said for weeks she wanted an opportunity to compete at Evolution. It appears she won’t be letting it go to waste.
The Bella Twins made their move last week by betraying Ronda Rousey, which led to a Raw Women's Title opportunity for Nikki Bella at WWE Evolution. But now that Rousey’s initial, biblical anger has cooled, The Baddest Woman on the Planet came to Raw looking for an explanation. She didn’t like the one she got.
According to the Bellas, their attack of Rousey came down to reclaiming the respect they felt the champion had taken from them; to Nikki & Brie, Ronda jumped the line and was now taking credit for an evolution they started in the Divas division and bolstered with the outreach of their reality shows. Ronda admitted that she had tried to be respectful of the Bellas’ seniority, regardless of her personal feelings on the Divas Era, and initially felt that maybe they could join forces to spearhead the evolution together. After last week, she came to a different conclusion: All the twins wanted was a camera.
The insults got pretty invasive after that — so much so that Rousey successfully goaded The Bellas down from the ramp, albeit surrounded by a team of private security guards. Ronda made quick work of the hired hands, The Bellas made themselves scarce, and suddenly, Evolution became a lot more personal. The good news, if you believe Rousey’s talking points, is that the Bellas will have their cameras. But with a furious champion now staring them down, Nikki & Brie may not like what ends up on film.
Seth Rollins is in the WWE World Cup thanks to Dean Ambrose. Dean Ambrose is out of the WWE World Cup despite Rollins’ attempt to return the favor. The Kingslayer rushed the ring as an equalizer against Drew McIntyre, who crashed The Lunatic Fringe’s match with Dolph Ziggler in the hopes of providing a key assist to his fellow Raw Tag Team Champion. Ambrose shoved Rollins on his backside after a ringside scrap — in fairness, he was rising to his feet and may not have realized who was out there with him — but unfortunately, he rolled back into the ring and ran straight into a superkick from The Showoff that ended the match and rounded out the Raw participants of the World Cup.
Needless to say, Ambrose was in no mood to put on a happy face after the loss; he and Rollins got into a shoving match at the top of the stage that was so heated Roman Reigns emerged in a desperate attempt to play peacekeeper. Luckily for them — kind of — Acting General Manager Baron Corbin showed up and sanctioned a rubber match between The Shield and Braun Strowman, Ziggler & McIntyre as an opportunity for The Hounds of Justice to “redeem” themselves.
Finn Bálor’s red-hot run continues, but one Superstar remains unimpressed. After The Extraordinary Man Who Does Extraordinary Things knocked off Jinder Mahal in a continuation of their Mixed Match Challenge-adjacent series (Bayley and Alicia Fox were present at ringside again, and Samir Singh rejoined his brother Sunil to Corey Graves' unmitigated delight), Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush crashed the victory lap. With Rush singing Lashley’s praises, “The Rocky Mountain-Made Machine” snatched Bálor’s moment with such blatant dismissiveness of the first-ever Universal Champion that Bayley had to seemingly talk Finn out of doing something drastic.
If brushing off Finn Bálor and beating Kevin Owens up so bad he needs surgery wasn’t any indication, Bobby Lashley is a much meaner dude these days than the smiling muscleman who made his return the night after WrestleMania, and Tyler Breeze found out as much in agonizing fashion on Raw. Prince Pretty is an underrated, tremendously talented competitor in his own right, but he was little more than an appetizer for the ravenous Lashley, who mauled The Gorgeous One with a full nelson and flattened him into the mat while Lio Rush sang his praises from ringside. For all his perhaps-excssive boasts, The Man of the Hour was right on point in at least one part of his hype: There are very few people like Bobby Lashley, in presence or in attitude.
Last week, Lita made her return to join forces with Trish Stratus at WWE Evolution. Alexa Bliss, who will team with Mickie James to face the two Hall of Famers at the historic pay-per-view, still isn’t impressed. In fact, The Goddess and her lieutenant interrupted Trish & Lita to do a few demeaning impressions and promise their opponents the “nostalgia” of their return would be fleeting due to their lack of practice. Trish & Lita didn’t miss the layup of an Allen Iverson homage (“PRACTICE?!?”), but they decided that they actually could use some reps, and they attempted to bait Alexa & Mickie down to the ring for a fight. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, but the good news is we won’t be talking about practice in two weeks’ time. Then, it’ll be game time.
Kurt Angle took a vacation from his vacation to sneak into the WWE World Cup under the guise of The Conquistador last week, last eliminating Acting General Manager Baron Corbin from a Battle Royal to punch his ticket to the tournament. Corbin, of course, wasn’t thrilled about this, hence slotting Angle into a Handicap Match against AOP — ostensibly a tune-up for The Olympic Hero but perhaps also a not-so-subtle attempt to feed Angle to Akam & Rezar to balance the scales from last week’s humiliation.
Angle, who was visiting backstage and didn’t bring his gear, seemingly arrived to the ring in the only outfit he could scrounge up: The Conquistador bodysuit. But after AOP quickly dispatched the golden competitor as Corbin watched from a steel chair on the ramp, they unmasked him to reveal a local of similar build. The real Angle was lying in wait, and he made his presence known in the most dramatic fashion possible: By sneaking up behind Corbin and dropping him with the Angle Slam while still dressed in his Hawaiian finest. Now that’s intelligence.
Give The Riott Squad credit for hanging tough after a pair of losses last week, but give Natalya even more credit for refusing to get baited into a three-on-one attack after her locker room got vandalized by the Squad: The Queen of Harts brought Bayley and a returning Sasha Banks to the ring as backup for her singles match against Ruby Riott, and The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection paid major dividends down the stretch for the former SmackDown Women’s Champion. After Sarah Logan attacked Natalya to break up the Sharpshooter and hand her a disqualification win, Bayley & Banks thwarted The Riott Squad’s attempt at a post-match mugging and sent them scurrying to regroup, having found — at least for tonight — the limits to the chaos they were willing to endure.
Apollo Crews has been bubbling under the surface for years, and the uber-talented Superstar decided to seize his moment by taking it away from the one man who prizes the spotlight above all else: Elias. The Living Truth was in the middle of running down Philadelphia and its various sports luminaries (he even spoke ill of Gritty) when Crews made his move, taking “his turn” interrupting the guitarist and admitting he had allowed too many Superstars to pass him by — Elias among them.
Elias, who took Crews so lightly that he asked him who he was, took his time un-mic’ing himself before taking a wild swing, but Crews quickly fired back, connecting with a stinging kick and press-slamming The Living Truth into the mat to force him into retreat. Whether the guitarist takes this upstaging lightly remains to be seen, but for good or ill, one thing is certain: Elias knows who Apollo Crews is now.
It was a tale of two teams in Raw’s main event, and the third bout between The Shield and Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre seemed like it wouldn’t come down to who could hit a Powerslam or a Stomp first, but which team would crack after weeks and weeks of stress. Would it be The Shield, who were threatening to implode thanks to the mercurial Dean Ambrose? Or would it be Strowman’s “pack,” which was under such pressure from their putative leader it was bordering on antagonism?
For a while, it looked like The Shield would crack, especially since Ziggler shoved Seth Rollins into Ambrose to spark a fresh round of hostilities among The Hounds of Justice. But Strowman’s increasingly hostile demands that his teammates pull their weight led to some internal hostilities of their own, so Ziggler went back to the well and shoved Rollins into Ambrose again, this time as he was attempting to record the deciding pinfall after hitting McIntyre with Dirty Deeds.
Ambrose was so heated that he attempted to hit Rollins with his signature maneuver as well, but Roman Reigns quickly rushed the ring to clean house. Not only did he olé McIntyre into blasting Braun with a Claymore, he shook off a Zig Zag attempt moments later that sent The Showoff tumbling into the waiting clutches of a Triple Powerbomb.
Ambrose scored the winning pinfall, The Shield embraced in solidarity after surviving the night, and then Strowman went to work. Having hit his limit, The Monster Among Men flattened Ziggler with a Running Powerslam, only to be Claymore’d again by McIntyre, this time on purpose, before the Scotsman turned and left Strowman and Ziggler in the ring. In short, faced with Strowman’s warning of "get-these-hands," Drew McIntyre has seemingly done the one thing that could possibly counteract The Monster Among Men: He went looking for them.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Seth Rollins defeated Drew McIntyre in a WWE World Cup Qualifying Match (13:30)
- Nia Jax & Ember Moon defeated Dana Brooke & Tamina (4:50)
- Dolph Ziggler defeated Dean Ambrose by Count Out in a WWE World Cup Qualifying Match (9:40)
- Finn Bálor (w/ Bayley) defeated Jinder Mahal (w/ Alicia Fox, Sunil & Samir Singh) (1:50)
- Bobby Lashley (w/ Lio Rush) defeated Tyler Breeze (3:30)
- The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) (w/ Drake Maverick) defeated The Conquistador (0:58)
- Natalya (w/ Bayley & Sasha Banks) defeated Ruby Riott (w/ Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan) by disqualification (2:57)
- The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose) defeated Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre) (14:55)
Other on-screen talent