The King of the Ring tournament continues tonight with Ricochet versus Drew McIntyre and The Miz versus Baron Corbin. Sasha Banks returns to action this week, one on one with Natalya. Nikki Cross faces Bayley, apparently to get some kind of payback for Bayley crashing ‘A Moment of Bliss’ last week. The new RAW Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman will find out their first challengers, they’ll be the winners of the Tag Team Turmoil match. And Strowman has another US title opportunity against AJ Styles. It’s going to be another busy show.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Ricochet def. Drew McIntyre
Baron Corbin def. The Miz
Bayley def. Nikki Cross
The Viking Raiders def. The B-Team > The Viking Raiders vs The OC ended in double DQ > Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler def. Lucha House Party > Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler def. The Revival > Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler def. Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder > Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler def. Heavy Machinery
Sasha Banks def. Natalya
Cedric Alexander def. Cesaro
AJ Styles def. Braun Strowman
The Key Bits
♦ Sasha Banks opened the show, but not for her match. After a recap of her actions since returning to WWE, and of Becky Lynch’s promo about her last week, Banks talked about the rumours surrounding her absence.
She confirmed she was seen crying at WrestleMania, and that she picked up her ball and went home. She was relegated to a tag team match at WrestleMania defending tag titles she couldn’t care less about when Becky Lynch was main eventing against Ronda Rousey. She took her, much smaller than Becky Lynch’s, WrestleMania paycheck and went on a couple of amazing vacations. Then she came back to work. But she needed a perfect moment and there was Natalya. So, she came out and gave her a hug and lied to her face when she said her daddy would be proud of her. And then came Becky Lynch to save the day.
Now, here she is, the centre of attention like she deserves. Because she is the standard of this women’s division. She’s been running the women’s division since day one and she deserves all the glory.
Natalya ran down and Banks got out of the ring to meet her. They brawled until they were separated by officials, which took a while.
♦ Street Profits hyped the Banks vs Natalya match, the King of the Ring matches, the US title match, and explained the tag team turmoil match. It’s basically a tag team gauntlet match. The match features Heavy Machinery, Lucha House Party, Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder, The OC, The Revival, The B-Team, The Viking Raiders and Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode because… unclear but it’s happening.
♦ Ricochet vs Drew McIntyre – King of the Ring Round 1 match – was the first match of the show. McIntyre took a few moments to check out the throne and crown sceptre before he made his way to the ring. The match was a classic speed vs power, a lot of speed vs a lot of power. Power did a lot of damage early in the match, focusing in on Ricochet’s back. Ricochet displayed some power of his own, suplexing McIntyre, but Ricochet held on to try again and McIntyre launched him across the ring. Great match, that actually got the time it needed to play out. Speed won out, Ricochet landed the 630 to progress to the quarter-finals.
♦ Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman had a backstage interview. Strowman still only has eyes for the Universal Championship. They were asked about Clash of Champions where Rollins will have to defend both titles and they said they’ll take on anyone at all for the tag titles. Then Strowman challenged Rollins for the Universal Championship and Rollins accepted. So, at Clash of Champions, Seth Rollins will defend the RAW Tag Team Championships with Braun Strowman, and the Universal Championship against him. That will be the first time that has ever happened in WWE.
♦ The Miz vs Baron Corbin – King of the Ring Round 1 match – Miz did a short promo before the match. This is his first step to becoming King Awesome. Baron Corbin, according to commentary, is motivated by the fact no one wants him to win. Overall, Miz had the best of the match. He has an extra layer of determination and intensity about him at the moment and he really looked like he wanted it more than Corbin.
After a gruelling match, Miz delivered the Skull Crushing Finale, but Corbin kicked out and escaped the ring to recuperate. Miz wasn’t so lucky when they made it back in and Corbin hit him with the End of Days. It will be Baron Corbin vs Cedric Alexander in the quarter-final.
On his way out, Corbin sat on the throne with the crown on and sceptre in his hand while he told the crowd he doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him. He got where he is today because of one person, himself.
♦ Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson made it clear they were unhappy during their locker room interview. It’s not fair that Rollins and Strowman were given a title match last week and it’s not fair they have to go through seven other teams to get a rematch. That’s exactly what they plan to do though.
The Tag Team Turmoil match started with The Viking Raiders vs The B-Team. It was lovely to see The Viking Raiders wrestling actual teams. They made quick work of The B-Team, but The OC were the next team up.
The Viking Raiders vs The OC was brutal. Gallows and Anderson want their titles back and they were going to throw everything at Erik and Ivar to get them. It got out of hand almost immediately and the ref couldn’t get control, so he disqualified them both. That could be a genuinely great feud.
Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler vs Lucha House Party was up next. It started in the break and Lucha House Party didn’t get a tv entrance. It was also short. Ziggler and Roode progressed.
Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler vs The Revival was a battle. The Revival are one of the best true tag teams in the world, which is why it was a travesty when Bobby Roode pinned Scott Dawson to knock them out of the match.
Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler def. Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder was ‘blink and you’ll miss it’, but once again Roode and Ziggler progressed.
Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler vs Heavy Machinery was the final match. Roode and Ziggler tried to call a time out, so Tucker went and collected them. Roode got some payback later, tipping Tucker out of the ring and destroying him at ringside before rolling him back into the ring. It wasn’t enough to keep him down though, and Tucker eventually got to Otis after slingshotting Ziggler into the corner.
Otis got to give Ziggler a Caterpillar, but Ziggler Superkicked Tucker as Heavy Machinery went for a Compactor on Roode, and ZigZagged Otis onto him. After that impact, it only took a Glorious DDT on Tucker for Robert Roode to get the pin.
I’m sorry, but it feels incredibly disrespectful to the tag division to have randomly paired singles wrestlers as both champions and challengers.
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode had the opportunity to talk about teaming up, later in the show. Ziggler thinks the Universal title match will go on before theirs because they’re the real main-eventers in WWE, so Rollins and Strowman will already have beaten each other up – I’m going out on a limb to say that’s not going to happen. Roode said their pairing was destiny. They’re the most talented, athletic, and best-looking team in WWE, and at Clash of Champions, they’re going to be the new RAW Tag Team Champions.
♦ Sasha Banks vs Natalya happened at the start of the third hour and was a chance to see if The Boss had any ring rust, and how her new attitude would translate to the ring. Answers: No she hasn’t, and really quite well. It was a brutal affair. Natalya wanted to get into it before the bell and she went in hard as soon as she was allowed.
The first part of the match was almost entirely Natalya getting her rage out, and a huge suplex with a dodgy looking landing provided her best chance of the match. But did anyone really think Sasha Banks was going to lose her first match back?
After smashing Natalya’s injured arm into the ring post and hurling her into the timekeeper’s area, Sasha Banks took them back to the ring to continue the punishment. Banks got Natalya in the Bank Statement and Natalya crawled for the ropes. Inches away from them, Banks trapped Natalya’s good arm with her legs and used the injured one to modify the hold until Natalya tapped out.
After the match, Banks went back to the ring and put the Bank Statement back on Natalya while Natalya was being checked out by a medic, just to make a final statement.
♦ AJ Styles had a pre-match interview. He’s not happy about the tag title situation or the fact Strowman got a rematch because Gallows and Anderson got him disqualified. He said he can beat Strowman by himself and he will. Strowman won’t walk out of Clash of Champions with all the gold because he’s not taking Styles’ title.
Street Profits had a second segment, to hype Styles versus Strowman. Angelo Dawkins was a little too focused on getting to the afterparty, but Montez Ford got him back on track. They didn’t get to make a prediction though, because Strowman walked past them on his way to the ring.
AJ Styles (C) vs Braun Strowman – US Championship match – main-evented the show. The rest of The OC were banned from ringside. Apparently, Rollins was also banned from ringside, which wasn’t a problem as he wasn’t at RAW (he and Becky Lynch are off celebrating their engagement, the interview segment was recorded).
Braun Strowman came in with his usual game plan, overpower and destroy, which is a proven strategy for him. But AJ Styles is not a normal calibre competitor. Styles first big break came after he’d tried choking Strowman out when he managed to chop block him after dodging his charge and leaving Strowman hooked on the ropes.
Once Strowman was down, Styles worked on keeping him there. Braun Strowman powered out of the calf crusher and Styles looked amazed, until Strowman headbutted him.
Strowman bumped the official and accidentally knocked him to the outside. As soon as Styles realised there was no official he raked Strowman’s eyes, low-blowed him then went and got a chair. He hit Strowman with it once, but Strowman scooped him up when he went for the second and powerslammed him. That would have got Strowman the pin if there had been a ref.
Gallows and Anderson ran down to help out and Strowman took them out with the chair. When the ref got up, Styles fell to the mat like he’d been hit. The ref saw Strowman with a chair and said he’d heard the blows, so he disqualified him.
Braun Strowman was less than pleased and decimated the entire OC.
The Other Bits
♦ After a recap of Rey Mysterio’s near retirement last week, and his son Dominik stopping him by saying he wants to team with him, commentary announced that Mysterio will be on RAW next week.
♦ Bayley vs Nikki Cross was good, but not hugely long. Nikki Cross was alone, and even in her absence commentary spent half the match talking about Alexa Bliss. They’ve been back and forth a few times now, and for a while, it looked like tonight might be another one for Cross’ scorecard. But Bayley picked up momentum in the second half of the match and never lost it. She pinned Cross from an elbow drop.
♦ There was a really long recap of the who attacked Roman Reigns saga. Daniel Bryan and Rowan are demanding an apology after revealing ‘random guy who resembles Rowan’ as Reigns’ attacker last week. Tune in to SmackDown Live to see what happens.
♦ Cedric Alexander vs Cesaro was great. Cesaro worked over Cedric Alexander’s knee in an attempt to ground him, with partial success. It was Cesaro’s match for the most part, with flashes of utter brilliance from Alexander including a Michinoku driver to show off his power. It looked like it was only a matter of time until Cesaro made something stick, he’d tried several submissions, but Cedric Alexander delivered the Lumbar Check completely against the run of play and got the pin.
♦ In 24/7 Championship news, R-Truth pinned Elias at the Fox Network’s Founder’s Day event. Drake Maverick gave chase but R-Truth was pinned by Rob Stone, a Fox Sports host, who was almost instantly pinned by Elias.
♦ We got a Firefly Fun House vignette, just a compilation of other clips with some shots of The Fiend to make sure we don’t forget about him.
We’re full swing into the build for Clash of Champions and tonight’s RAW was good without being great. Everything is structural, the ‘Other Bits’ section is nearly empty, and that’s as it should be. Tag Team Turmoil was fun, but Roode and Ziggler winning the title opportunity was definitely the odd decision of the night. I guess we’ll see what happens with that over the coming weeks.