Last week, Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre got themselves a bunch of new friends last week when half the entire locker room helped them lay out The Shield. That said, it doesn't seem from Raw's opening moments like that alliance was anything more than a partnership of convenience.
After thanking the Superstars who had made what Ziggler called the “hard choice” of standing up to The Shield, Strowman & Co. found their backup all but evaporated after The Hounds of Justice came down through the audience, axe handles in tow, and tried to fight their way to Braun and his “dogs of war.” Rather than throw down on even footing, however, Strowman, Ziggler & McIntyre opted to head for higher ground.
Once again, however, The Shield found themselves in a standoff with the law, as local police officers cornered The Hounds of Justice backstage. Rather than have them hauled off to prison a second time, however, Acting General Manager Baron Corbin offered them an ultimatum: The Shield must vacate the premises, or Reigns and Rollins would forfeit their titles and all three would go to jail for a "long, long time." The Shield can call this skirmish a victory, but clearly, the bigger battle isn't quite being dictated on their terms just yet.
Nikki wins, no riot(t). Following a petty act of locker-room vandalism, Nikki Bella knocked off Ruby Riott in a singles victory that built nicely upon The Bella Twins’ win over Ruby's two henchwomen, Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan.
That Nikki used her powerhouse style to get past Ruby's wild brawling would be impressive enough, but given that The Riott Squad was lurking at ringside, the former Divas Champion kept having to turn her attention to her would-be interlopers. A haymaker made quick work of Logan on the apron, but Morgan took a little help to get rid of: After Nikki thwarted the Riott Kick and got Ruby in position for the Rack Attack 2.0, Liv rushed the ring, but Brie Bella pulled her out of the squared circle and clocked her with a right hand to clear the way for Nikki's fornidable signature move.
So Nikki gets the win, and Brie turns away one devious blonde en route to a confrontation with another. Yep. The Bellas are back.
Raw played host to several Superstars of a different variety tonight, as Big Show took the stage to introduce the Connor's Cure “Superstars of Tomorrow,” who arrived on Raw as part of WWE's support of Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month.
“We fight to win matches. These incredible superstars on this stage with me are far more courageous,” Big Show said before introducing the eight assembled Louisiana-born Superstars: Super 4, Brayden the Punisher, Diva Supreme, Super Messiah, T-Vic the Skull Crusher, Charlie the Champ, The Quiet Storm and Lae Lae the Unstoppable. At the conclusion of their introductions, the New Orleans faithful gave the Superstars a hero's welcome.
To find out more about Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month and how you can join the fight, visit ConnortheCrusher.com.
The resurrection of AOP continues, with Drake Maverick once again shepherding Akam & Rezar through a one-sided demolition of local talent. There's certainly something to be said for seizing opportunities where they come, but the intrepid duo of Ronnie Ace & Nathan Bradley might have been better off leaving this one alone: Rezar brutalized Ace to such a degree that Bradley tried to take a walk, only to wander into a clothesline from Akam on the outside. After that, it was a short walk to the Super Collider and another victory in AOP's book.
Triple H isn't sweating the 81 percent of the WWE Universe who think he's going to lose to The Undertaker at WWE Super Show-Down, but he noticed that there was one Superstar who seemed to take one of the predictions personally: The Phenom himself. And after the legendary Superstar appeared on Raw last week to menace Shawn Michaels over HBK's prediction that The Game would prevail in the Last Time Ever, Triple H came to Raw to offer a rebuttal.
Having initially surmised that Undertaker had violated the spirit of “mutual respect” Triple H had intended the bout to embody, The Game decided upon further reflection that the opposite was true: Undertaker had lost respect for himself. According to the WWE COO, The Deadman knew his four WrestleMania matches with Triple H and HBK — “his last, epic moments of greatness” — had diminished him in the long run and amounted to the beginning of the end of his legend. All that was left, The King of Kings said, was a “reputation” who blamed Triple H and Michaels for his mystique's “demise” but couldn't bring himself to confront his foe face-to-face.
The Game did, however, agree with one thing Undertaker said. Now it's personal. And he ended his message to The Phenom in personal fashion: “Out of the last little bit of respect I have left for you, Deadman, I will put you down.”
With their win over The B-Team, Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre cleared the decks of competition and cemented themselves as the kings of Raw's Tag Team division, but they might find that it's harder to hold the throne down than it was to take it.
Even though the champs held off an effort by The B-Team that was so gritty and inspired that they had to resort to chicanery — McIntyre dispatched Curtis Axel with a Glasgow Kiss, and Ziggler raked Bo Dallas’ eyes — to set up the Claymore-Zig Zag combo, they didn't get to enjoy the fruits of their labor: Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins jumped the titleholders from behind immediately after the match and sent them scurrying.
Acting General Manager Baron Corbin was furious that his edict had been defied and The Shield had returned, but Rollins & Ambrose pointed out that they were acting on their own, and The Shield had technically kept to their word and stayed away. They also seemed to get Corbin to kind of-sort of admit he had them arrested last week, bringing out a Deputy Sheriff (“G. Ambrose,” according to his uniform) to take The Lone Wolf into custody. However, after a quick sidebar, Rollins & Ambrose opted not to press charges and Corbin later ruled that Ziggler & McIntyre would defend their titles against Ambrose & Rollins at the WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. His reason? That Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon wanted Sunday's event to have as many big matches as possible.
Kevin Owens seemed pretty dead set on quitting a couple weeks ago, so what brought him back? The short answer is that Acting General Manager Baron Corbin made him an offer he couldn't refuse: That Owens could do whatever he wanted to anyone he wanted without fear of reprisal. In other words, the devastation KO inflicted upon Tyler Breeze in lieu of their planned match was essentially business as usual — as was his role in the attack of The Shield and especially his bushwhacking of Bobby Lashley last week, the last of which Owens elaborated on after dismantling Prince Pretty.
Upon further reflection, KO had decided that Lashley had some business to answer for, as the former ECW Champion is the one who injured Sami Zayn and kept him from his rightful place at KO's side the last couple of months. That, Owens claimed, is Bobby Lashley's fault. And with carte blanche at his back, KO is out to re-institute The Kevin Owens Show with "anarchy, agony and destruction" for whoever he deems deserving. And that, too, will be Bobby Lashley's fault.
Last week, Chad Gable bailed Bobby Roode out of a tight spot in their first match as a tag team against The Ascension. This week, The Glorious One repaid the favor, throwing his new partner a lifeline in a rematch against Konnor & Viktor that was a mirror image of the contest the previous week.
Once again, the former NXT Tag Team Champions focused the entirety of their offense on one opponent — Gable, this time — hoping to keep the other from ever getting into the ring. Once again, a crucial tag — from Roode, this time — turned the tide. And, once again, Gable provided the final exclamation point, tagging in on an unsuspecting Roode to execute the rolling German Suplex for the win.
A last-minute switcheroo was no trouble for Ronda Rousey & Natalya, who prevailed against Alexa Bliss & Mickie James on Raw despite The Goddess’ last-ditch attempt to throw her opponents off with a sub (her original scheduled partner was Alicia Fox until less than an hour before Raw began). But despite the victory, the effects of the match might leave Rousey at a surprising disadvantage going into her Raw Women's Title defense at WWE Hell in a Cell.
Team Alexa's strategy, unsurprisingly, revolved around keeping Rousey out of the ring at all costs. Team Ronda's strategy, unsurprisingly, revolved around getting Rousey into the ring with the woman she savaged at SummerSlam. Thanks to some tag-team chemistry (they broke out the Hart Attack in tribute to Natalya's late father Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) and some grit from Natalya, they got Alexa where they wanted her, but The Goddess proved a greater threat to Rousey than anticipated.
Playing off Ronda's single-minded aggression, Alexa lured the champion outside the ring and went to work on her already-tenderized ribs, throwing Rousey torso-first into the barricade and apron. Rousey fought through the pain to submit Mickie with the Armbar, but she tellingly had to fight through a lot of pain to do it. And given that Alexa landed one more cheap shot that brought the champion to her knees, it's clear she's banking on a less-than-100% Rousey this Sunday. She just might get it.
There are few Superstars who know the Hell in a Cell structure, inside, outside and on top, better than Mick Foley. So it stands to reason that he and Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon would put aside their differences and come to an agreement that's clearly best for business: As Foley revealed in a 20th-anniversary commemoration of his infamous Hell in a Cell bout with The Undertaker, The Hardcore Legend, looking to feel the magic once again, will be the Special Guest Referee for the Universal Title Match between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman inside Hell in a Cell this Sunday.
The issue, however, was that he announced this right as Elias had been preparing to serenade New Orleans with his musical genius, and The Living Truth wasn't about to let Foley's emotional speech pass without incident. In fact, Elias was so vocally unimpressed with Foley's decision, his history, and Foley himself, that he told the WWE Hall of Famer to “shut his mouth.” But Foley had the last word: As a former General Manager, he had received special permission to make a match for the night. The match he'd chosen? Elias vs. Finn Bálor.
Mick Foley may well be right, and Elias may well be a future Universal Champion. But The Living Truth's wasn't quite matched up to the legend he is in his own mind on Raw, as he fell to Finn Bálor in an impromptu match organized at the last second by The Hardcore Legend.
To his credit, Elias was more than up to the task of hanging with The Extraordinary Man; despite the lack of preparation, they’d had enough history together that The Living Truth was able to put together a game plan on the fly. He even managed to avoid the Coup de Grâce and cue the first-ever Universal Champion up for Drift Away. In the end, however, Finn used the oldest trick in the book to get the win over Elias: A small package reversal. Just because it's simple, doesn't mean it's not (too) sweet.
After the events of Raw's opening, Braun Strowman went "Big Dog hunting" in an arena-wide search for Roman Reigns. And after his rampage through the arena came up empty, he decided (off the suggestion of Charly Caruso) to go to the ring and let Reigns find him. He got what he asked for, though, perhaps, not what he wanted.
With Reigns initially refusing to answer Strowman's call-out, The Monster Among Men reiterated his promise to take Reigns’ title and even threw a warning in the direction of guest referee Mick Foley. That's when The Big Dog made his presence known, appearing atop the commentary table with his title in hand. Strowman pursued Reigns up the ramp and got the better of him in the initial throwdown by driving him into the stage's LED board before laying him out atop the commentary desk.
His attempts to finish The Big Dog off, however, were quickly upended — literally: Strowman hoisted Reigns onto his shoulders and dropped him through the stage with a titanic Samoan Drop that The Gift of Destruction was unable to rise from. Give Reigns credit for doing the near impossible and managing to keep Strowman down. To keep his title, however, he'll have to do it again. And again. And again. And again.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) (w/ Drake Maverick) defeated Ronnie Ace & Nathan Bradley (1:20)
- The Show (Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre) (c) defeated The B-Team (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) to retain the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship (8:50)
- Kevin Owens vs. Tyler Breeze match never got started
- Owens attacked Breeze before the bell could even ring.
Other on-screen talent