Brock Lesnar wasted no time making his presence felt on Raw’s season premiere, brutally ambushing Rey Mysterio and his son Dominick moments after the legendary luchador kicked the show off by dedicating his upcoming Universal Title Match to Dominick, who was sitting in the front row.
The Beast struck so fast that Mysterio didn’t even have a chance to prepare himself, administering a pair of F-5s mere seconds after The Ultimate Underdog snatched the mic from Paul Heyman’s hand in a gesture of defiance after Lesnar had done the same to Rey moments earlier. Mysterio certainly paid for his boldness, but Dominick got the worst of the attack by far. Lesnar hauled the young man out of his seat, manhandled him around the ringside area and suplexed him halfway across the squared circle. Neither Mysterio’s feeble attempts to shield his son nor Paul Heyman’s pleas from ringside were enough to stop Lesnar, who returned to his attack again and again in a dead-eyed trance, even shoving a few WWE officials who were trying to stop him.
The WWE Universe made no secret about their disapproval as Lesnar took a victory lap. The Beast even seemed to be experiencing a strange array of emotions as he paced across the ring. And needless to say, this certainly bodes ill for Kofi Kingston as he prepares to defend the WWE Championship against Lesnar on Friday Night SmackDown — it all made for a terrifying preview of what could await the beloved champion on SmackDown. And if this was Lesnar’s final time on Raw, it was also a potent reminder of what made him so scary and unique in the first place.
Sasha Banks is 2-0 against the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, but Becky Lynch is apparently still living rent-free in The Boss’ head, as evidenced by a confrontation between the two Superstars moments after Banks earned a grueling victory over Alexa Bliss.
Even though Becky got the last word on the evening, it must be said that Bliss came to the match more than willing to put The Boss through her paces. Between Alexa’s efforts and a mandate that banned Bayley and Nikki Cross from ringside, it seemed The Goddess might upend Banks when all was said and done — at least until Sasha looked to the crowd, apparently calling Bayley to her side in a crucial moment. A distracted Bliss took her foot off the gas, and Sasha capitalized with a roll-up, but The Boss wanted no such part of Lynch, who had been sitting at commentary for the match.
Lynch had been on her best behavior per some promise she’d made prior to the match, but she wasted no time making a beeline for her opponent this Sunday at the conclusion of the bout. After briefly trading fists with Becky, The Boss made herself scarce by fleeing into the crowd, and despite Sasha’s posturing from afar, The Man’s last word — “You made it personal; I’m gonna make it painful” — clearly left her rattled. And for all of Sasha’s meticulous preparation, it’s becoming clear that she’s still staring down a fight she might not quite be as ready for as she thinks.
The argument that Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode are fluke Raw Tag Team Champions is holding less water by the week, as the unlikely titles retained with a decisive, if ill-gotten victory over SmackDown hosses Heavy Machinery.
That’s notable because, going into the match, some pundits suggested an established team like Otis & Tucker would take advantage of the champs’ relative inexperience to seize the titles. Ziggler & Roode didn’t necessarily have the kind of inventive, two-man maneuvers Heavy Machinery are fast becoming known for, but they were clearly on the same page in terms of competing smart rather than competing fair. Roode bent the rules by mugging Tucker outside the ring following a hot start by Heavy Machinery, and Ziggler broke them by catching Tucker with a Zig Zag as the challengers prepared to execute the Compactor.
With Tucker taken out and Otis caught unaware, the champs moved fast, ejecting Otis from the ring to leave Tucker helpless against Roode’s match-ending Glorious DDT. Nitpick Ziggler and Roode’s origin story and underhanded tactics all you want, but Heavy Machinery is about as cohesive a unit as you can find, and they weren’t enough to solve the champs. Ziggler & Roode might just be here to stay.
One of the more unique items on the agenda for Raw’s season premiere was the joint appearance of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair on “Miz TV.” Nobody quite knew what was in store from the two Superstars, who never faced each other in WWE. As it turned out, they were there to announce a match.
Of course, they’re not lacing ‘em up for one last go. (Though, for what it's worth, Flair seemed open to the idea.) Rather, the two WWE Hall of Famers will be coaching teams of five Superstars at the WWE Crown Jewel event on Oct. 31 as a way to settle their differences. They’ve even got captains lined up, as Hogan will be represented by Universal Champion Seth Rollins, and Flair has tapped his former Evolution running mate Randy Orton to lead his squad.
As Orton revealed, the captains will be filling out their teams over the next few weeks. But, true to form, The Apex Predator was looking to get a little early advantage over his opponent, challenging Rollins to a captain’s bout that the champion accepted. Things quickly spiraled out of control when King Corbin came to The Viper’s side, initiating a 2-on-1 attack that was only evened out when Rusev came to the rescue, helping Rollins clean house before joining Rollins and Hogan in a ceremonial pose-down atop the ramp.
The Bulgarian Brute’s appearance was certainly surprising, though he made it clear after the scrum that he didn’t quite assist Rollins out of the goodness of his heart. The former United States Champion instantly called in whatever favor Rollins might owe him, asking to receive tonight’s title bout Rey Mysterio could no longer compete in following Brock Lesnar’s attack — and received it.
That’s two in a row for The Viking Raiders against The O.C.’s Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, who have come up empty in their efforts to assert dominance over the former NXT Tag Team Champions following weeks of skirmishes and brawls.
Unfortunately for the good brothers, the dominant showing belonged squarely to Erik & Ivar, who used the full scope of their barbaric offense against the two-time Raw Tag Team Champions. This isn’t to say Gallows & Anderson didn’t hold their own by isolating the smaller Erik, but Ivar was the game-changer, taking fight with a splash off the top rope that shook the ring and earned his team the victory. It was a display that had all the hallmarks of a dominant team — including, of course, the promise of further victories to come.
One Superstar who isn’t shedding many tears over Rey Mysterio’s predicament is Cesaro, who has disrespected The Ultimate Underdog at every turn and didn’t hesitate to do so again after Brock Lesnar attacked the masked Superstar at the beginning of Raw. Unfortunately, he hurled his insults within earshot of Ricochet, who both defended Mysterio’s honor in an impromptu match and paid homage to the icon in the process.
Not only did Ricochet pull off the kind of moves that would make his idol Mysterio proud, he competed at such a speed that the typically surgical Cesaro had trouble keeping up. The King of Swing caught his opponent with a few jaw-droppers — witness that gorilla press into a knee — but Ricochet rallied, planting Cesaro with a West Coast Pop straight out of Mysterio’s playbook. It likely won’t be enough to teach Cesaro the error of his ways, but it was certainly a reminder that Rey Mysterio's greatness isn't just measured by what he does in the ring, but in those he inspires to follow his lead.
Cedric Alexander’s attempted Cinderella run to the United States Championship has been one of the more inspiring elements of Raw in recent weeks, but the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion may have hit the end of the line. Alexander came up short in his second title opportunity against the obstinate AJ Styles, despite putting on the kind of performance everyone has come to expect from the supremely talented Superstar.
It was, unfortunately, not enough. Alexander and AJ are near-identical in terms of their in-ring styles (so to speak), but what this match came down to more than anything was experience. So, while Alexander had certainly learned enough from his WWE Clash of Champions loss to make this one a fight, Styles leaned on his years of experience, busting out counters to Alexander’s counters — the most astonishing of which was a whirling midair escape of the Lumbar Check, which led instantly to a match-ending Styles Clash. And while the list of competitors who can’t quite catch AJ Styles is long and illustrious, that doesn't make this one any less of a heartbreak for Cedric.
For weeks, Lacey Evans has been angling for a tiebreaker in her series with Natalya by stealing the Hart family’s Sharpshooter in her matches in an attempt to coax The Queen of Harts to the ring. That The Sassy Southern Belle got what she wanted was no surprise — you can only push someone for so long — but what is somewhat surprising was the manner in which she attacked and defeated her rival.
Nearly all of Evans’ Southern hospitality was gone in this match. She slammed Natalya face-first into the steel steps and the ring apron, looking not so much to defeat the former SmackDown Women’s Champion as embarrass her. Natalya found some daylight after Evans slowed the pace a bit too much for her own good, even showing some Canadian fire. But The Lady was just a little bit nastier, raking Natalya’s eyes to set up a roll-up victory and and dropping The Queen of Harts to the floor with a wicked Woman's Right. On its face, it was somewhat surprising that Evans didn’t go for the Sharpshooter to seal the win, but it makes a certain kind of sense. Evans got the match by stealing Natalya's statement maneuver. It's only fitting she end the series with her own.
Some shenanigans seemed likely with Randy Orton and King Corbin present for Seth Rollins’ Universal Title bout against Rusev, but those two turned out to be the least astonishing appearances during a bout that got out of hand quickly as Raw’s season premiere faded to black.
The first unexpected guest was Bobby Lashley, who came to the ramp and was soon joined by Rusev’s wife, Lana. The Ravishing Russian, who has been conspicuous by her absence amid rumors of “problems at home,” locked lips with The All Mighty in front of a distraught Rusev. Moments later, the lights went out, and Rollins got his visitor: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt, whose arrival was forecasted on “Firefly Fun House” earlier in the night. The menacing Superstar didn't wait to make his move, appearing instantly at the side of the ring and locking Rollins in the Mandible Claw during the final moments of the show. So a night that began with unmitigated chaos ends in mayhem with a broken heart, a broken body and the promise of Hell to come. And it’s only the first episode of the season.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Sasha Banks defeated Alexa Bliss (4:25)
- Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode (c) defeated Heavy Machinery (Otis & Tucker) to retain the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship (11:55)
- The Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar) defeated The O.C. (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) (10:35)
- Ricochet defeated Cesaro (2:45)
- AJ Styles (c) defeated Cedric Alexander to retain the WWE United States Championship (9:20)
- Lacey Evans defeated Natalya (3:50)
- Seth Rollins (c) vs. Rusev ended in a No Contest. Rollins retains the WWE Universal Championship
Other on-screen talent