Right now is not a great time to be Seth Rollins. Sure, The Beastslayer still has the Universal Championship, but he got beat up by five men last week, will defend his title against the winner of tonight’s Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match on the season premiere of Raw next week and has to deal with the “the living embodiment of a nightmare” the week after that. And, to top everything off, Braun Strowman got in his face this week in a confrontation stemming out of the pair’s lingering beef from WWE Clash of Champions.
Clearly, The Monster Among Men isn’t quite over going 0-for-2 with and against Rollins at the most recent pay-per-view, but Rollins was in no mood for Strowman’s grudges. The champion got his back up mighty quickly when Strowman tried to spin Rollins’ words from last week as a passive-aggressive dig, and the long and short of the confrontation was that the two agreed to a match later in the evening. Now, Strowman has a chance to get some much-needed frustration off of his broad chest, while Rollins will put his mantra — “I survive and I prevail” — to an enormous test.
It’s been a few weeks since The Viking Raiders and The O.C. got into it during the biggest Tag Team Turmoil Match in Raw history, costing each other a Raw Tag Team Title Match in the process. Ever since then, the two teams have been slugging it out, but this week’s Raw brought the first official two-on-two bout between the former NXT and Raw Tag Team Champions since that moment, and the biggest victory yet for Erik & Ivar.
Clearly, the insurgent pair had not just been feasting on locals only for the fun of it; their wild, hybrid offense is so fine-tuned at this point that Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson were struggling to find answers from the start. AJ Styles’ ejection from ringside didn’t improve the good brothers’ odds much (adding insult to injury, The Phenomenal One was ambushed atop the ramp by his rival, Cedric Alexander), and an MVP-level performance by the fleet-footed Erik turned the tide permanently in the Raiders’ favor.
The brothers staved off defeat for a little while longer with a last-gasp effort, but Erik & Ivar got their man all the same. After administering the Viking Experience to Anderson, Ivar made the cover while Erik took flight with a suicide dive to take out Gallows on the outside, guaranteeing his team got the three. It seems odd to call this a statement victory given what The Viking Raiders have been doing for the last few months, but there is a difference between taking out locals and toppling a world-traveled tag team. Consider this, then, a belated — but no less ominous — planting of the flag.
Rusev is back, and having seemingly moved past all paternity-related matters, The Super Athlete came to Raw with the singular mission of raising his stock in the short period of time leading up to the new WWE Draft. In that regard, his performance on Raw was a rousing success: Facing EC3, the former United States Champion showcased his stamina and ring awareness by basically waiting for The Top One Percent (looking to raise his own visibility as well) to play directly into his hands. That he did, and Rusev didn’t look back once he took control, sealing the match with an Accolade that forced a near-immediate tapout and surely made an impression on any scouts in attendance — to say nothing of the Superstars who might be forced to share a locker room with this newly focused brute.
If there’s anything we should take from Sasha Banks’ return and reinvention, it’s that she’s out to demoralize her opponents just as much as she is to defeat them. The Boss has turned sports-entertainment into one sustained flex, which would help explain why she and Bayley have fixed their gaze so sharply on Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross. After all, there are fewer statements greater than defeating a champion, and Sasha has been doing that consistently when it comes to the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. She and Bayley toppled Bliss & Cross last week, and The Boss notched a singles victory over Cross tonight, putting even more wind at her back before Hell in a Cell and leaving the champs scrambling for footing in a division that is as wide open as it gets.
Despite an early burst of offense from the frenetic Cross, Banks was largely in control from the start, slowing the bout down to a crawl and reversing a wild sleeper hold with a backdrop to the arena floor when the match spilled to ringside. Most crucially, Banks waited for Nikki to come to her, seemingly certain that she’d be able to counterpunch at the right moment. And when Cross caught fire after witnessing Bliss obliterate Bayley at ringside, that moment came: WWE’s Twisted Sister dove at Banks with a top-rope crossbody, and The Boss rolled her over straight into the Bank Statement for a submission victory. Adding insult to injury, Banks mangled Bliss in her signature hold after the bell, a clear message that the beatings will continue until, or unless, someone stops her.
At this point, facing Lacey Evans if you aren’t Natalya should come with a warning sign. The Sassy Southern Belle’s singular pursuit of a tiebreaker against the Hart Family heiress has now fueled two Sharpshooter-induced victories in as many weeks; this one came against a game but overmatched Ember Moon.
Moon certainly possesses the kind of unpredictable style that could do well to combat Evans’ stately power maneuvers, but The War Goddess — still trying to right the ship after a high-profile SummerSlam loss — may have been trying too hard. Despite a truly unique performance (that stunner off the apron left Michael Cole aghast), Moon found herself subjected to the Woman’s Right as she prepared to administer the Eclipse. Despite landing her signature punch, Evans once again ended the match via submission, locking in her variation of Natalya’s Sharpshooter to secure the deciding tapout. The Queen of Harts wasn't overly impressed with Evans' imitation of her maneuver during a backstage interview, but the decisionmakers might want to seriously consider giving Evans the match she’s asking for anyway. The Lady is a patient one, but she's made it very clear what awaits any substitutes thrown her way.
For four months, Carmella has been R-Truth’s trusty companion and running mate through thick and thin as he defended the 24/7 Championship — the one Superstar who seemingly never had it in her to betray him. But in one fell swoop, The Princess of Staten Island flipped the script on the beloved Superstar, seizing the title for herself and changing the complexion of the mad dash that is the 24/7 Championship scene.
How she did so was a stroke of strategic genius, essentially begging the mob of pursuers for a moment’s peace after they surrounded Truth in the ring, then rolling up Truth to take the title and leaving the other Superstars at a loss for how to proceed. Truth seemingly respected the move by raising the new champ’s hand, but the victory lap was short-lived. An all-new female mob of 24/7 hopefuls sprinted out of the locker room, leaving Carmella and Truth to go back on the run. Suffice it to say, the game has changed, and Drake Maverick has his work cut out for him.
The peasants are revolting! Or at least one of them is, and he was dealt with accordingly. Chad Gable, who lost in the King of the Ring tournament to the newly-crowned King Corbin just last week, has been waging a sustained, one-man rebellion against His Grace ever since — an insurgency that provoked a brutal, if slightly desperate, statement from the king during a rematch of the tournament final on Raw.
That Corbin got the last word of the night is news for the new monarch, who could charitably be described as “divisive.” That he had to resort to it at all does not reflect quite so shiningly on him. Gable, after absorbing a slew of short jokes, used his size and speed to his advantage by wearing Corbin down and locking in a torturous Ankle Lock, which Corbin broke by seizing his scepter and bashing the rebel with it to provoke a disqualification. King Corbin continued to use the staff against Cable after the bell, leaving the folk hero despondent despite his nominal victory. Obviously, the outcome of this one match will serve as a warning to all the king’s opponents, which is what he wanted out of the night no matter what. But it is a poor look for His Highness all the same, while Gable suddenly looks like a king in all but name.
It’s wild to think that just a few weeks ago, Rey Mysterio had one foot out the door after a demoralizing series of losses to Andrade. But since Rey's son Dominick convinced him not to hang up the mask, The Ultimate Underdog has been on an incredible roll, one that peaked on Raw with a massive Fatal 5-Way Elimination victory that earns Mysterio a Universal Title bout on next week’s season premiere of Raw.
On paper, Mysterio’s box score doesn’t indicate dominance — he only notched one elimination — but it's hard to overstate how clutch the former World Heavyweight Champion was in the sprawling match, which saw him line up against three reigning champions and a bona fide superhero. Ironically, all of those opponents largely canceled each other out. Shinsuke Nakamura (the Intercontinental Champion from SmackDown LIVE) took out Ricochet with the Kinshasa; United States Champion AJ Styles answered with a Phenomenal Forearm to The King of Strong Style, and Raw Tag Team Champion Robert Roode quickly dispatched Styles with the Glorious DDT. That brought the bout down to Roode and Mysterio, and the old magic kicked in like clockwork.
Though Rey had taken a beating throughout the bout, he had a little bit left in the tank at a critical juncture, evading the Glorious DDT and turning on the jets to land a 619 on Roode, which he followed up with a Frog Splash off the ropes for the win. Clearly, Rey Mysterio is at the point where he can simply will himself to victory, no matter the odds. If he does it one more time, he’ll change the landscape of WWE.
“Sharing is caring,” said Bray Wyatt on an all-new “Firefly Fun House” that aired in the middle of Raw. He even broke a Seth Rollins action figure in half to illustrate the point to Rambling Rabbit and Huskus the Pig Boy, who both like The Beastslayer and didn’t want to share him. Wyatt’s alter-ego, however, was somewhat less open to the lesson of the day.
“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt reared his head once again in Raw’s final moments, robbing Braun Strowman of what was shaping up to be a decisive win against the increasingly overwhelmed Universal Champion. Rollins, visibly stressed going into this match, pulled out all the stops to defeat his former tag team partner and was answered with the full force of The Monster Among Men. Wyatt made his appearance before Strowman could deliver the Running Powerslam, muscling the big man down with the Mandible Claw before again creeping over to Rollins in the corner.
Rather than menace the champion some more, however, Wyatt turned his attention back to Strowman, locking in a second Mandible Claw moments before Raw faded to black. Sharing may be caring, but as far as the real Seth Rollins is concerned, it's looking like he might belong to one man and one man alone.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- The Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar) defeated The O.C. (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) (w/ A.J. Styles) (10:45)
- Rusev defeated EC3 (1:45)
- Sasha Banks (w/ Bayley) defeated Nikki Cross (w/ Alexa Bliss) (15:35)
- Lacey Evans defeated Ember Moon (5:30)
- Carmella defeated R-Truth (c) to win the WWE 24-7 Championship
- Chad Gable defeated Baron Corbin by DQ (14:55)
- Rey Mysterio defeated Ricochet and Robert Roode and A.J. Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura (w/ Sami Zayn) in a Fatal Five Way Elimination Match to become the #1 Contender for the WWE Universal Championship (20:25)
- Shinsuke Nakamura eliminated Ricochet
- AJ Styles eliminated Shinsuke Nakamura (17:50)
- Robert Roode eliminated AJ Styles (18:00)
- Rey Mysterio eliminated Robert Roode
Other on-screen talent