Things are pretty complicated as it is between Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman — they’ll battle over Rollins’ Universal Title and defend the Raw Tag Team Titles together at WWE Clash of Champions — but was shaping up to be a relatively straightforward contract signing quickly grew into something thornier when The O.C. interfered, leading to an impromptu tag team match between the two squads that highlighted both the strengths and weaknesses of the still-young pairing.
The impetus for the good brothers’ arrival was the frustration of United States Champion AJ Styles, the O.C. head honcho who believed he had a better claim to a title match than Strowman, who only had to glance at Rollins’ championship to get a match. (Adding to Styles’ frustration: As of yet, he has no challenger for Clash of Champions.)
The Phenomenal One voiced his gripes by tearing up Rollins’ and Strowman’s signed contract, and Strowman responded by flinging the table into AJ’s face, setting off a brawl between the two sides. In the ensuing matchup, Rollins & Strowman used a unique combination of speed and strength to claim the victory. The chemistry faltered beyond that, however, as Strowman inadvertently trucked Rollins in a post-match scrum, leading to a combined beating from the full O.C. and Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode, who will challenge Rollins & Strowman at Clash of Champions.
The 5-on-2 odds proved too much, as Rollins was dispatched with a superkick and Glorious DDT, while Strowman met his end with a super-sized Magic Killer and Phenomenal Forearm from Styles. To say the night ended in disaster for Rollins & Strowman would be an understatement, but perhaps there is a silver lining, and not just that they'll get a redo on the contract signing next week with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin as the moderator: For all the lingering tension over their Universal Title Match, the shared beatdown might only serve to make them a stronger team in the long run. If nothing else, they’re each the enemy of each other’s enemy. And that might be more than enough.
Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode became a tag team last week and immediately got themselves a title match, which means they have a lot of catching up to do. Fortunately, an accelerated timetable doesn’t seem to be too much trouble for the newly-formed tandem: Their win over former Raw Tag Team Champions Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins was quick, emphatic and incredibly impressive, as The Showoff and The Glorious One showcased a remarkable amount of teamwork that rivaled even those of the former champs they were facing.
Once Ryder was out of the picture and the pair had Hawkins to themselves, the challengers pounced, with Ziggler landing an on-the button superkick that sent Hawkins staggering straight into the path of Roode’s Glorious DDT. As unlikely as these two seemed as a team, let alone championship challengers, their combined actions throughout the first hour of Raw should dispel any notions that they’re not the real deal: There’s something there.
It hasn’t been an easy few weeks for Natalya, but Raw offered the former SmackDown Women’s Champion her first glimmer of hope since SummerSlam in the form of a very winnable match against Lacey Evans. The Queen of Harts, understandably riled up thanks to the insults and injuries inflicted on her by Sasha Banks, used all her recent indignities as fuel, and the strategy paid off against The Sassy Southern Belle … at least to a point.
Natalya opened the match by rushing Evans from behind on the entrance ramp, and her usual smile stood in stark contrast to a notably more aggressive style that only grew more and more feral as the match progressed. Evans grabbed hold of the ropes to break the offensive press, then tossed her handkerchief in the Canadian’s face before uncorking a Woman’s Right that dropped Natalya for three. Kudos to Natalya for taking her destiny into her own hands after a dispiriting run, but she’s not out of the woods yet, and there's clearly something to be said for fighting so hard you forget to fight smart.
If nothing else, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks have been refreshingly, unquestionably blunt in the early stages of their rivalry. No cryptic hints or double-talk; Sasha attacked Becky to make a play for the spotlight she feels she deserves, which Becky countered by pointing out that the only reason Sasha is being talked about again is because she attacked The Man.
That trend continued on Raw, where Lynch responded to Banks’ latest attack with her typical candor — in short, she thinks Sasha’s mad because she was supposed to be the game-changer Becky ended up being, and is probably bitter that Bayley seems to be better off without her — and Sasha, surprisingly, agreed. She was supposed to get the spotlight, and maybe she would have if Nia Jax had punched her in the face. Clearly, neither woman was holding back, but The Boss’ brutal honesty led to an agreement: When Banks refused to fight Lynch unless she was challenging for the Raw Women’s Title at WWE Clash of Champions, The Man accepted. In short: Becky gets Sasha. Sasha gets Becky. Both of them get a moment. Everyone gets what they want.
So, technically, there’s an asterisk attached to Baron Corbin’s win over Cedric Alexander in the King of the Ring Quarterfinals: Alexander ran afoul of The O.C. before the match, subjected to an unprovoked locker-room mugging that left him at far, far less than 100 percent, and that’s before we count any lingering damage the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion suffered at the hands of Cesaro last week.
But King Corbin cares not for technicalities. In fact, he exploits them: The Lone Wolf did not hesitate to target Alexander’s banged-up left arm, ramming him over and over into the ring post and leaving the high-flyer a step slower than usual. Corbin’s strategy of simply waiting for Alexander to leap into his clutches didn’t quite bear fruit for some time — Cedric simply kept kicking out, and he even turned the tables by ramming Corbin’s shoulder into the post to even the odds — but the would-be king’s patience paid off, as he tripped up Alexander in the ropes and quickly pounced with the End of Days to secure the win.
Should Corbin’s dream come true, and the crown rest on his shoulders, it will likely be a bitter pill for the WWE Universe to swallow, especially given Alexander’s condition. But the same ruthlessness that earns the fans’ scorn might well be what carries The Lone Wolf to the throne. It’s a real possibility now. Best we all get used to it.
Challenging The Viking Raiders has proven to be a hazardous choice, especially for local competitors, but the poor souls who tried their luck this week had a unique take on volunteering for the job: They wanted to make Erik & Ivar look like “Baltimorons.” (That they were Pittsburgh locals who made the drive did them no favors for the Baltimore crowd.) In short, they did not: Erik & Ivar disposed of these two the same way they have so many others, ensuring that the raid will continue until (unless?) they are stopped.
Going into the King of the Ring Quarterfinals, it was apparent that longtime rivals Ricochet and Samoa Joe knew each other well enough to battle to a dead heat. What was not expected, perhaps, was that the two would quite literally cancel each other out: The pair’s showstopping quarterfinal battle ended without a clear winner, as a top-rope Coquina Clutch from Joe led to a backdrop reversal by Ricochet, and what referee John Cone ruled as a double pinfall after the two landed on top of each other for a three-count.
The ending was controversial enough on its face, but given the ferocity of the fight, it seemed particularly worrisome: It was hard to even find a throughline in the Superstars’ respective plans, as they simply threw everything they had at each other — including, in Ricochet’s case, their own selves. Luckily, Cone immediately got on headset to communicate with WWE officials behind the curtain, and a ruling was later reached: The double-pin did not lead to an elimination, and both would advance to a Triple Threat Match against semifinal qualifier Baron Corbin.
Bray Wyatt has been a very, very bad boy. Not only did he maul Finn Bálor at SummerSlam (he’s sorry, though), he apparently also laid down a challenge to either Seth Rollins or Braun Strowman at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. (His besuited, horned boss puppet was furious, but he was soon placated with a wad of cash to the mouth.)
In any case, Bray has been watching Rollins & Strowman, and he’s not sold on them as a team. As far as he’s concerned, they’re too selfish and greedy to coexist, whereas he has a crew that has taught him the value of teamwork. Never mind that “Help” sign Ramblin’ Rabbit is holding up; they help him cope with pain. The Fiend, however, helps him inflict it. Wyatt closed out his latest “Firefly Fun House” with an ominous warning: “See you in hell!” Who he was talking to remains unclear, but it’s safe to say they know who they are.
With an Intercontinental Title Match against Shinsuke Nakamura at WWE Clash of Champions looming large, The Miz walked into Raw in need of a statement win. He got one by knocking off Cesaro, who was fresh off a clinic with NXT UK’s Ilja Dragunov (Side note: Watch that match) and seemed all but set on continuing his own hot streak. In fact, it seemed Cesaro would dispatch Miz the same way he defeated Dragunov — pop-up European Uppercut into a Neutralizer — but The A-Lister proved more wily than his opponent expected; he escaped Cesaro’s signature maneuver and writhed himself into position for the Skull-Crushing Finale. One win does not a reversal make, and the hill against Nakamura hasn’t gotten any less steep. But anyone who underestimates Miz’s ability to climb it does so at their peril.
With all the talk about Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross, there hasn’t been a lot of people turning their eyes toward Bayley. That seems sure to change after the events of the first-ever Women’s Championship Showcase, which pitted Becky & Bayley — the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Champions, respectively — against WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross in a match that Bayley promised would determine who was in whose shadow.
The match ended in a disqualification when Sasha Banks, who had been lurking ringside, attacked Lynch with a Backstabber, handing Becky & Bayley the victory. The Boss’ attempt to brutalize Lynch with a chair was quickly stopped by The Huggable One — or so it seemed, until after a long, pointed staredown, when Bayley flashed a sly smile at Sasha and turned the steel on The Man, raining down blows on Lynch’s spine as Raw faded to black. Why the lovable champion suddenly decided to commit such an act may yet be revealed in time. Suffice it to say, she wasn’t the one in anybody’s shadow.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman defeated The O.C. (Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) (w/ AJ Styles) (10:50)
- Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode defeated Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder (4:00)
- Lacey Evans defeated Natalya (5:10)
- Baron Corbin defeated Cedric Alexander in a King of the Ring 2019 Quarterfinal Match (14:30)
- The Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar) defeated Tyler Hastings & Brian Thomas (1:25)
- Samoa Joe vs. Ricochet ended in a Double Pinfall in a King of the Ring 2019 Quarterfinal Match (16:00)
- The Miz defeated Cesaro (5:05)
- Bayley & Becky Lynch defeated Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross by DQ (10:45)
Other on-screen talent