If there was any lesson to be learned from The Shield's breakup a few years ago, it's that the greatest threat to the group usually lies from within. So while The Hounds of Justice might withstand an outside threat like Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre — key word being might, but we’re a few weeks away from testing that — there's something to be said for The Monster Among Men's newest tactic of stirring up some latent discord by targeting Dean Ambrose.
Why Ambrose? The most devout Hound of Justice is also the only one without a championship despite having held down SmackDown LIVE as WWE Champion two years prior. According to Team Braun, he's the “sucker” who Seth Rollins begged to help win back his own title, and he's the one who, Ziggler pointed out, was replaced in a matter of weeks last year when The Kingslayer teamed up with Jason Jordan in the wake of The Lunatic Fringe's injury. Strowman & Co. made Ambrose a full-fledged offer: Join their crew and they would ensure he defeated Rollins for the Intercontinental Championship.
The Shield were having none of the pack's attempt to tear them apart, but Acting General Manager Baron Corbin, on thin ice already with Commissioner Stephanie McMahon, wasn't about to let The Hounds run roughshod over his show. The Lone Wolf ran interference to not so much stop the action as delay it — per Stephanie's orders, Corbin will team with two partners of his choosing to battle The Shield later in the night.
Next week, Finn Bálor & Bayley (aka Team B&B) will make their Mixed Match Challenge debut, while Jinder Mahal & Alicia Fox (aka Mahalicia) will suit up tomorrow. If what happened on Raw is any indication, the latter duo might have their work cut out for them, as a remarkable combination of events left Mahal defeated in both body and mind, briefly shattering The Maharaja's hard-won serenity before he pulled himself together.
To begin, there was the tension between Alicia and Sunil Singh in Mahal's corner, which threw off the delicate balance that The Modern Day Maharaja works so hard to maintain. Then, there was Bayley tripping up Mahal as turnabout for some earlier interference from Sunil. And finally, there was the beating The Huggable One administered to Jinder's entire crew, as she decked Alicia and pancaked Singh with a Bayley-to-Belly, which left Mahal vulnerable to a match-ending rollup ... and also left him so flustered that he briefly roughed up Sunil before he remembered his mantra and sat cross-legged in the ring with Alicia to reclaim a state of (tentative) peace.
Ruby Riott had been scheduled to battle Brie Bella on Raw tonight, but Ruby Riott & Co. are never content to have just one enemy at a time: The match was reconfigured into a Six-Woman Tag that roped in Nikki Bella (who'll team with Brie and Ronda Rousey against the Squad at WWE Super Show-Down) and Natalya (who got bushwhacked by Ruby & Co. when she attempted to answer Rousey's Open Challenge last week), and The Riott Squad survived the trio of veterans to walk away with a big-time win.
And “survive” is a very appropriate term: Brie came out swinging so hard that Liv Morgan had to exit the match after being incapacitated by a "Yes!" Kick to the face, handing the Squad a 3-on-2 disadvantage. Ruby and Sarah Logan hung tough, however, and they took advantage of Natalya's overzealousness to secure the victory: The Queen of Harts locked Logan in the Sharpshooter, but she didn't notice a tag to Ruby seconds earlier, which left her vulnerable to a quick-strike Riott Kick that put the match away.
Each year during Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, WWE drives funds and research in honor of the late WWE Hall of Famer Connor “The Crusher” Michalek. This year, they have a “tag team partner”: The Hyundai Hope On Wheels campaign, which has raised funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research for 20 years. The two organizations made the partnership official on Raw, when Carter and Elizabeth, two Superstars of Tomorrow, received their own championship titles from Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, and Hope on Wheels Executive Director Zafar Brooks presented Connor's Cure with a donation of $200,000 to aid in its mission. For more information on pediatric cancer and how to do your part in the fight, visit ConnorTheCrusher.com.
The lesson of the last two weeks has been that Chad Gable most certainly has the goods to anchor a newly-formed tag team. The lesson of this week was that he still has a thing or two to learn. In Gable's first defeat since linking up with Bobby Roode, the former SmackDown Tag Team Champion fell to Konnor of The Ascension, who was looking for a statement victory after Gable put up three straight victories against his own tandem — two tag team wins and a singles triumph over Viktor.
He got it, doubly so since Gable had been on something of a roll before Konnor decided he'd had enough. The big man snuffed out Gable's athletic, stick-and-move strategy by using his size to literally stop Gable in his tracks, before using his strength to hoist Gable in the air and plant him with a gutwrench slam for the win.
If not for Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre, The Revival might be Raw Tag Team Champions. That was true three weeks ago when they jumped Dash & Dawson in the backstage area and took their opportunity to challenge The B-Team, and it was true tonight when the “Top Guys” got the title match that had been stolen from them, as they came up short despite an inspiring effort that may well cement them as champions-in-waiting.
Alas, they'll have to wait. Dash & Dawson planned every move perfectly, isolating Ziggler from McIntyre and dissecting him bit by bit. But they ended up getting a taste of their own medicine when Dash, riding high after torqueing Ziggler with an agonizing Rings of Saturn, found himself olé’d into the steel steps. Now, both teams were effectively a member down, and despite a gritty rally from the two-time NXT Tag Team Champions that saw them briefly incapacitate McIntyre, The Scottish Terminator essentially ended the match when he tagged in and dispatched both challengers singlehandedly. With Dawson downed by a big boot and legal man Wilder dazed by a Glasgow Kiss, Dash was helpless to stop the Claymore-Zig Zag. A noble effort, but the coronation will have to wait: Ziggler & McIntyre clearly still run this show.
What good is carte blanche if you can't get your hands on the one guy you want to fight? Kevin Owens might be asking himself that same question right about now, as his two-week quest to annihilate Bobby Lashley has come up against the surprisingly difficult obstacle of Lio Rush, the motor-mouthed Cruiserweight who is carving out a nice little side hustle as Lashley's manager apart from his weekly duties on 205 Live.
Last week, it was Rush who got Owens all turned around during Lashley's match with Elias. This week, The 23-Year-Old Piece of Gold provoked KO again by refusing to walk into an apparent ambush on “The Kevin Owens Show” and, later, leading Owens on a second chase around the ring during Lashley and Elias’ rematch that ended in a repeat embarrassment for The Living Truth and the former Universal Champion. First, Owens accidentally ran into Lashley, costing Elias the DQ loss, and then, when he finally did get his hands on The Man of the Hour, Lashley came to the rescue, freeing Lio from KO's clutches and decking him right out of the ring. More questions than answers for Owens and Elias as WWE Super Show-Down approaches ... and John Cena hasn't even gotten involved yet.
Nia Jax returned last week in a Tag Team Match and didn't miss a beat, helping Ember Moon power past Alicia Fox & Mickie James. This week, The Irresistible Force was back to business as usual in the singles division, defeating Alicia Fox in her first one-on-one match since her return. The former Divas Champion did have a few moments of brilliance, taking Nia down to her knees after a brief fracas on the outside. But Nia quickly put the bout to rest when she hoisted Alicia into the air and drilled her into the mat with a Samoan Drop.
True, Dean Ambrose is the only member of The Shield without a title. Sure, Seth Rollins needed his help to become Intercontinental Champion. And maybe Rollins and Roman Reigns didn't text him every day during his recovery. But that doesn't mean The Shield's about to break up. In fact, they looked as good as ever in their first match together in nearly a year despite overwhelming odds both within the ring — Acting General Manager Baron Corbin picked AOP as his partners — and outside, as Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre sat in chairs while watching from atop the ramp.
Not only that, but The Lunatic Fringe himself turned the tide. After targeting Reigns for the entire match (Rezar went punch-for-punch in an early slugfest with the Universal Champion), AOP dispatched The Big Dog with the Last Chapter on the outside, and Rollins was stranded in the ring when Ambrose finally managed to tag back in. The former WWE Champion briefly found himself overwhelmed when AOP re-entered the fray, but thanks to interference from Reigns and Rollins, he planted Corbin with Dirty Deeds and teed him up for a Spear. And despite what appeared to be a moment of hesitation on his part, Ambrose rejoined his brothers for the customary fist bump at the end of the match. Turn on The Shield? Please. If tonight was any indication, they're just getting started.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Finn Balor (w/ Bayley) defeated Jinder Mahal (w/ Alicia Fox & Sunil Singh) (9:55)
- The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan) defeated Natalya & Bella Twins (Brie & Nikki Bella) (10:30)
- Konnor (w/ Viktor) defeated Chad Gable (w/ Bobby Roode) (2:35)
- The Show (Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre) (c) defeated The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) to retain the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship (12:30)
- Bobby Lashley (w/ Lio Rush) defeated Elias (w/ Kevin Owens) by Disqualification (13:05)
- Nia Jax (w/ Ember Moon) defeated Alicia Fox (w/ Mickie James & Alexa Bliss) (2:55)
- The Shield (Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins) defeated Baron Corbin & The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) (w/ Drake Maverick) (20:00)
Other on-screen talent