One of the more surprising moves in the WWE Draft on Night 1 was Raw’s selection of Drew McIntyre with the fifth overall pick. It appears, however, that Ric Flair was of the same mindset as the suits at USA who brought the Scot to Team Red. “The Nature Boy” opened Raw by naming McIntyre as the final member of Team Flair at WWE Crown Jewel, a “favor” the former NXT Champion was all too happy to accept. And while McIntyre hinted at having more to say in the future, for the time being, his business was clear: A bout against Team Hogan ace Ricochet that he happily offered Flair a ringside seat for, albeit with the grim caveat that things were about to get "uncomfortable."
Anyone who thought Drew McIntyre would need a little time to get back in the swing of things was soundly corrected on Monday night when the former NXT Champion defeated Ricochet in an in-ring return that was just as monstrous as he promised it would be.
The victory may have been even more impressive than it appeared on first glance. Smaller, faster Superstars tend to give McIntyre more fits than he’d like to admit (see: Alexander, Cedric), but there was rarely a moment in this match that the Scot wasn’t in control of the former United States Champion. Ricochet briefly found some distance by going high-risk, even connecting with a Shooting Star Press. But the depleted high-flyer was too worn down to hit the Recoil, and McIntyre capitalized by throwing his foe shoulder-first into the turnbuckle and connecting with the Claymore seconds later for the win.
Of course, McIntyre had promised to make everyone uncomfortable, and he made good on his word, brutalizing Ricochet after the bell with another trip into the post, his old-school Future Shock DDT and a reverse Alabama Slam into the steps. To say Ric Flair was happy is an understatement. To say Team Hogan is in trouble is obvious.
If the last two weeks weren’t enough of a hint for you, the days of Aleister Black sitting in a windowless room waiting for the fight to come to him are long gone. The only solace the rest of the Raw roster can take is that he was content, at least for this week, to feast on a local, a poor soul named Jason Reynolds who posed little threat to The Dutch Destroyer.
The Cleveland product certainly won points for pluck, throwing hands to start the match and seemingly catching Black somewhat unaware. But it was only a matter of time before The Ominous Man From Amsterdam found his mark, and he did so in quick order with Black Mass to Reynolds’ jaw. Clearly, Aleister Black is always up for a fight. He will even entertain whatever attempts his opponents can mount to give him one. But his generosity has limits.
Of all the tawdry developments in Lana and Bobby Lashley’s relationship, the most surprising has been silence from The Ravishing Russian’s apparently estranged husband, Rusev. The Bulgarian Brute didn’t necessarily reverse that course on King’s Court, despite allegations that he had interfered in his wife’s modeling contracts and restricted the amount of money she could spend on herself. Instead, Rusev placed the blame for his marriage’s dissolution on Lashley and reiterated his hope that the marriage would eventually work out.
He got a rude awakening on that front. Lana and Lashley once again appeared on the TitanTron, this time at a booth in a fancy restaurant that Lana claimed she had always wanted to go to. As the pair canoodled in full view of Rusev, the former United States Champion said he would pay them a visit. After all, he knew exactly where they were. And despite Lashley’s insistence Rusev would never throw hands in the restaurant, The Super Athlete did just that, causing all kinds of chaos when he attacked The All Mighty before being escorted out of the establishment.
Andrade has seemingly been on the verge of a breakthrough for some time, and the former NXT Champion certainly isn’t wasting the chance to raise his star as he begins his Raw career in earnest. One week being selected by Raw in the first round of the WWE Draft on Night 2 and subsequently defeating Ali, Andrade knocked off the Superstar who gave him one of his very first rivalries after leaving NXT, Sin Cara, in a showing that certainly caught the attention of the WWE Universe … and one Superstar in particular.
The former NXT Tag Team Champion looked solid in his own in-ring return, showing next to no ring rust and giving Andrade far more of a fight than he anticipated. Andrade rallied down the stretch with the Three Amigos, only to be answered himself with a sunset flip powerbomb off the top turnbuckle. Zelina Vega didn’t wait long to execute the contingency plan, downing Sin Cara with a hurricanrana off the apron to tee him up for Andrade’s Hammerlock DDT. Proof, as ever, that to defeat Andrade, you have to get past Zelina first.
As for that Superstar with his eyes on the action, it turned out to be Humberto Carrillo, Raw’s third-round draftee from 205 Live and a talent with abilities remarkably similar to Andrade’s and Sin Cara’s. Oddly enough, however, the former Cruiserweight didn’t have any fighting words for anybody in the match he’d just watched, instead declaring Andrade and himself future champions. He even had a passive-aggressive measuring stick in mind, predicting he would not be the kind of champion who "plays with fire." That, for reference, would be Seth Rollins.
How long would R-Truth make it as 24/7 Champion without Carmella by his side? All of a week, as it turns out. Even though the champ had a rare moment of peace from his would-be usurpers, there was little room for error, and he found himself waylaid by Samir Singh, who distracted the champ with a Bollywood song while his brother Sunil rolled up Truth to win the title. Adding to Truth's woes, his attempt to reclaim the title later in the night went nowhere for the simple reason that he attempted to pin the wrong Singh Brother. For once, it's looking like Truth's quest to reclaim his championship might be harder than the one to keep it.
It should be painfully apparent now that The Viking Raiders are simply going to continue destroying people until someone manages to stop them. And with the Raw Tag Team Titles around their waists, Erik & Ivar have moved on from mauling locals to taking on fully-fledged Superstars. This week, Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins found themselves trampled underfoot by the champs, with Hawkins suffering the fateful Viking Experience for the loss despite putting up a solid fight down the stretch.
Truly, Ryder & Hawkins didn’t fare any better against The Viking Raiders this time than they did in their first go-round. And true, they didn’t get the pyro they wanted, either. But in keeping with their “Gratitude Era” mindset, they should at least be thankful for one thing: It could have been worse.
Clearly, the Brock Lesnar-Cain Velasquez WWE Title Match at WWE Crown Jewel has turned into something of a family affair. And as of right now, Rey Mysterio’s clan holds the advantage. Despite some via-satellite trash talk from Paul Heyman and an appearance from a disgruntled Shelton Benjamin — a friend and former collegiate teammate of Lesnar’s looking to bully his way into a title opportunity — it was Cain Velasquez, godfather to Mysterio’s son, who had the last word of the evening when he hit the ring and manhandled Benjamin across the ring.
Despite The Gold Standard’s bold attempt to double-leg Velasquez, “El Padrino” didn’t move an inch and forced Benjamin to cry uncle after only seconds in a sleeper hold. Of course, Benjamin isn’t The Beast. But he is, in some ways, the closest thing to him. And as long as Lesnar has been salivating at the idea of payback against the man who took his UFC title, it's looking like Velasquez might be just as ready as the champion is ... if not more so.
Humberto Carrillo certainly did not waste his opportunity to make an impression on Raw, giving Universal Champion Seth Rollins all he could handle after some passive-aggressive shade compelled The Beastslayer to challenge the 205 Live veteran to a match. But with “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt looming ahead in a Universal Championship Falls Count Anywhere Match that can’t be stopped for any reason, Rollins was simply not going to let himself be defeated — let alone by an upstart, no matter how talented.
And make no mistake; Carrillo is talented. The purple-brand workhorse whipped Rollins to and fro with a seemingly bottomless array of springboard armdrags, darted the champion with suicide dives and generally gave Rollins such a fit that he couldn’t help but be impressed. Carrillo seemed inches from victory after a sky-high moonsault hit its mark, but his attempt at a second moonsault (the first only got two) was blocked by boots to the face from Rollins, who followed up with a superkick and Stomp for the victory.
Nonetheless, Carrillo seemed to have gotten, in some form, what he had come for. The champion was so impressed with his opponent’s efforts that he returned to the ring after the bell and shook Carrillo’s hand. He might not be ready to contend for the title, but the idea of Humberto Carrillo as Universal Champion is clearly not as farfetched as it was just a few hours earlier.
For a full week, the speculation surrounding The Street Profits was who they would recruit to even the odds against The O.C., who hold a distinct numbers advantage as long as United States Champion AJ Styles is lurking in the corner. As it turned out, that line of thinking may have been discounting the former NXT Tag Team Champions a little too much. Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins emphatically recorded a grinding, come-from-behind victory in their Raw debut, and the third man only made his presence known after Styles got himself ejected and threatened to derail the bout anyway.
The mystery equalizer was none other than Kevin Owens, a former Styles rival. The only hint the Profits gave before the bout was that their guy didn’t like Styles, and KO dropped The Phenomenal One with a Stunner on the ramp, teeing up The Street Profits to finish the match with a Dawkins spinebuster and a magnificent Frog Splash from Ford, both to Karl Anderson. So it’s a win for The Street Profits, who get the pin in their Raw debut. It’s a win for Owens, who got one over on a Superstar he still doesn’t like. And by the looks of things, it’s the first of many on both counts.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Drew McIntyre defeated Ricochet (17:40)
- Aleister Black defeated Jason Reynolds (1:45)
- Andrade (w/ Zelina Vega) defeated Sin Cara (12:00)
- Sunil Singh defeated R-Truth (c) to win the WWE 24-7 Championship
- The Viking Raiders (Ivar & Erik) defeated Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder (3:40)
- Seth Rollins defeated Humberto Carrillo (12:00)
- The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) defeated The O.C. (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) (w/ A.J. Styles) (13:05)
Other on-screen talent