Monday Night RAW was another packed show, and it started with one of the best matches seen on RAW in some time. Nia Jax and Asuka’s rivalry continued to grow fiercer, Apollo Crews made his first title defence since winning the United States Championship last week, Rey Mysterio addressed the WWE Universe on his status, and Bobby Lashley got his hands on Drew McIntyre in the dying seconds. With no time to waste, let’s get into what happened on this week’s show.

Quick Results

Aleister Black def. Seth Rollins via pinfall

Kevin Owens vs Apollo Crews ended in a double DQ

Kevin Owens & Apollo Crews def. Angel Garza & Andrade via pinfall

Viking Raiders def. Street Profits in a bowling match

Billie Kay def. Nikki Cross via pinfall

R-Truth def. Rob Gronkowski via pinfall

Nia Jax def. Kairi Sane via pinfall

Charlotte Flair def. Asuka via count-out

Drew McIntyre def. MVP via pinfall

Rollin’s Twisted Scriptures

The show kicked off with Seth Rollins, Murphy, and Austin Theory coming to the ring. Rollins talked about how Rey Mysterio is a legend and a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. He then went on to say that Mysterio was a sacrifice for the greater good for RAW. Rollins showed off a video package that highlighted the career of Rey Mysterio that ended with his eye being grated along with the steel steps by Rollins. Enough was enough for Aleister Black, who ran down to the ring and attacked The Monday Night Messiah.

Seth Rollins vs Aleister Black

Aleister Black went straight to work with various kicks to Rollins, but it didn’t last for long as Rollins turned the tables, hitting a picture-perfect dropkick. He then followed it up with a suicide dive over the top ropes that knocked Black into the barricades. Murphy and Theory approached Black at ringside, but Humberto Carrillo came down to help even the odds.

Aleister Black managed to build a bit of momentum, striking Rollins with a big boot to the face. After a two count, Black hit another boot to the face and followed it up with a German suplex into a bridge, but again, Rollins kicked out at two. Both guys were giving it everything, and it was such a good match. Rollins hit a falcon arrow then a frog splash, but Black got his knees up.

A little later on, Rollins finally landed a frog splash. He tried to deliver the stomp, but Black countered with an armbar. Rollins then countered that with a powerbomb and climbed to the top rope. He jumped off, but Black landed an epic knee strike that reverberated around the entire Performance Center. As Black set Rollins up for Black Mass, Murphy and Theory jumped up onto the apron, but Carrillo took them out. Back in the ring, Rollins attempted a pin to no avail, allowing Black to counter with a pin of his own and pick up the victory.

After the match, Murphy, Austin Theory, and Seth Rollins attacked Humberto Carrillo and Aleister Black. Rollins hit Carrillo with a stomp as Murphy and Theory help Black on his knees. Rollins shouted at Black, “this is what happens when you want to be a hero.” He followed up with a stomp on Black and walked to the back with his disciples.

Is Mysterio Retiring?

Later on, Rey Mysterio appeared from home to talk about his future in the WWE. He said there was no timetable for his return, and that if an infection was to set in, his career would be over. Samoa Joe asked him outright if he was retiring, but Mysterio said it wasn’t his decision. He was furious that his whole family had to see what Rollins did to him, and it affected his wife and children. Dominik was sat with Mysterio, and after Rey said he would never forgive Rollins for what he did, he walked off. This left Dominik on his own, who said, “Rollins, you are a man of scripture. An eye for an eye.”

Is WWE leading to a match where Dominik Mysterio faces Seth Rollins? I hope not, because it won’t work. I understand his anger, but in the squared circle, Rollins would destroy him. Hopefully, we’ll get to see Rollins take on Mysterio soon, and if Dominik is getting involved, let’s hope it won’t be in an actual match. The Monday Night Messiah and his two disciples are standing tall on RAW at the moment, and I’m enjoying where WWE is taking it. Aleister Back is getting the spotlight shone on him, and after a victory over Rollins, it’ll do his career a world of good.

Crews Control

Kayla Braxton welcomed the new United States Champion Apollo Crews to the ring. He spoke about how his first week as champion had been and then selected his first challenger for his title, Kevin Owens. KO came to the ring and spoke about how he felt he was chosen out of pity due to Angel Garza’s actions last week. Crews dismissed his claims and said it was because he deserved a shot. Owens then said he felt bad for Crews because his first reign as US Champion would be a short one.

United States Championship Match: Kevin Owens vs Apollo Crews (C)

This would have been a great match had it gone the distance. Apollo Crews went for a moonsault to Kevin Owens outside but missed. This led to KO hitting a senton on Crews outside, then one inside of the ring seconds later. After Owens appeared to kick Crews below the belt, the referee checked on the champion to see if he was OK. Crews played on this and drew Owens in which led to an explosive fistfight that spilled outside the ring.

Back inside, KO hit a superkick but only managed a two-count. He then landed a moonsault, yet it led to another two-count. Crews fought back, and after a standing moonsault on Owens, Angel Garza and Andrade ran to the ring and attacked both Superstars.

Kevin Owens & Apollo Crews vs Angel Garza & Andrade

The team of Garza and Andrade tried to get the upper hand, but Crews wasn’t going to let it happen. Although Garza managed to counter Crews’ crossbody off the top rope with a dropkick, their luck eventually changed. Andrade and Garza focused on Owens’ bad leg, with Garza taking out Owens as he stood on the apron. In the ring, Andrade tried to roll up Crews, but he retaliated with a toss powerbomb for the victory.

Having Apollo Crews as the champion is a great call as he’s been on the peripheral of RAW for far too long. Hopefully, his reign lasts for some time, and we get to see this feud play out for a little longer. Angel Garza is amazing in the ring, and on the mic, he’s even better. His backstage interview with Charly Caruso was great, and he’s really grown as a performer in recent months. I’m not sure how Owens fits into all of this. He deserves a title shot, but I’d rather it be for the WWE Championship.

The End Is Nia

The rivalry between Nia Jax and Asuka continued this week, and I think I’m finally on board. I don’t like Jax, but I have to hand it to her this week. She delivered a solid promo before her match with Kairi Sane where she said Asuka was gifted the title because of “hormones,” and because Becky Lynch was pregnant and couldn’t compete. She’s normally pretty weak on the mic, but this was great work.

Nia Jax vs Kairi Sane

Kairi Sane tried to take Nia Jax down with a sleeper hold and then launched a tirade of kicks on her whilst she was down. Jax got up and grabbed Sane, but before she could do anything, Sane countered with a DDT. Jax went outside as Sane followed after attempting a baseball slide, but she was caught. In true Jax fashion, she slammed Sane face-first into the steel steps, once again looking incredibly dangerous. She scooped her up and threw her in the ring, hit the leg drop, and covered for the win. Asuka ran down and stared down Nia Jax, but she left the ring before anything happened.

Charlotte Flair vs Asuka

Before the match started, Charlotte Flair delivered another speech that put down her peers, this time focusing on the NXT hopefuls. When the match started, Asuka got plenty of momentum behind her, hitting a sidekick, German suplex, and Shining Wizard in quick succession. In one of the best sequences on any brand for some time, Flair and Asuka showed just why they’re the best at what they do.

Asuka locked in an armbar which transitioned into a triangle lock. Flair then countered with a Boston crab, but Asuka reversed into an ankle lock. Flair managed to land a German suplex on Asuka, ending the stunning series of counters in fashion. Asuka locked in another armbar and triangle lock, but Flair dead-lifted her into a powerbomb. I would have loved to see this one go the distance, but Nia Jax had other plans.

Asuka’s music hit, and Jax walked down with the mask on. She took it off to reveal the green make up. This distracted Asuka, which led to her walking up the ramp towards Jax. The referee counted her out, then Jax hit her with a huge clothesline. Things are heating up on their way to Backlash, and as long as Jax can put in a great performance, this storyline may actually amount to something.

Battle Of The Big Men

I’m a big fan of slow build-ups to PPV matches, and the drama between Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley has shown a lot of promise. I’m excited to see them face off at Backlash, and I hope we’ll get a face-off filled with quantity and quality. The only issue with the storyline at present is Lana. WWE are trying to fit her in, but it doesn’t work at all.

At the turn of the year, Lashley was involved with Rusev, which saw him marry Lana in the end. However, that storyline has run its course, so why is Lana still getting involved? It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. She’s not as talented in the ring as other Superstars, and her performances during recent promos have been terrible.

She approached MVP earlier in the night to call him a leech and said he was trying to revive his career. MVP responded by saying he wasn’t, but if he was then it would make “two of us.” Lana slapped him and walked off. She then appeared before MVP’s match to say that whilst Lashley had banned her from coming to the ring for his matches, he didn’t say anything about anyone else.

Drew McIntyre was interviewed by Charly Caruso, where he said he’s defeated seven Superstars since becoming champion. He’d make MVP the eighth, and Claymore anyone else that wanted to step up. McIntyre is becoming increasingly comfortable on the mic, and I enjoy listening to him. He’s a pure champion, and I hope he defends against Lashley at Backlash.

Drew McIntyre vs Bobby Lashley

Before the match started, Lana came to the ring. She affected nothing, and by the end of the match, her appearance seemed completely pointless. As for the action itself, McIntyre was in full control. He hit MVP with a Glasgow Kiss headbutt, which caused MVP to roll outside the ring. As McIntyre followed him, Lashley got in his face. MVP saw an opportunity to push Drew into the ring post and took it. Back in the ring, McIntyre was getting ready to deliver a Claymore, but Lashley pulled MVP out. Drew hit a huge flip over the rope on both MVP and Lashley. McIntyre finally hit a Claymore on MVP and got the three count, but Lashley ran in after and locked in the full nelson. The show went off the air with Lashley in full control.

The Highs And Lows From The Rest Of The Show

Highs

Randy Orton delivered a great promo where he talked about how he was handed everything and all he needed was his name to get to where he was. He said Edge was right when he claimed Orton had half-assed it for 20 years and still managed to achieve more the R-Rated Superstar had. He also said that the greatest of all time Ric Flair picked Orton to win at Backlash. Shawn Michaels appeared earlier on RAW and picked Edge to win. I love how this is playing out, but calling it the “Greatest Match Ever” may have been a mistake. Have they heard of NJPW?

The Street Profits faced Viking Raiders in another competition. This time they faced off in a game of ten pin bowling, and once again it provided plenty of laughs. I personally love these segments. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins have great chemistry with Erik and Ivar, and although it was silly in parts, it did exactly what it set out to do and bring joy to the WWE Universe.

Nikki Cross and Billie Kay’s match wasn’t amazing, but they’re both so fun to watch that this was entertaining nonetheless. I was surprised Kay got the win, but anytime The Iiconics get to celebrate, I’m happy. We’re likely to get these two teams to face off against each other pretty soon for the Women’s Tag Team Championship, and if Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross manage to retain against Sasha Banks and Bayley, maybe a match at Backlash is on the cards.

Lows

I almost put this in the highs for the sole reason that this stupid Rob Gronkowski storyline has been horrendous. He’s no doubt one of the finest tight ends in the history of American Football, but when it comes to wrestling, he’s a goofy pastiche of early 90s Superstars, with no talent on the mic. This set up was stupid, and the 24/7 title has become a burden on WWE. I just want them to get rid of it, but it looks as though R-Truth is ready for another run as champion.

Final Thoughts

Most of tonight was much better than it has been recently. I’m loving Seth Rollins at the moment, and his feud with Rey Mysterio has plenty of different directions it could take. McIntyre and Lashley are doing some good stuff together, but Lana’s involvement could derail the whole thing.

Asuka and Nia Jax are building something decent, and I hope their match at Backlash lives up to the hype. The Street Profits and Viking Raiders are bringing the smoke, and I’m all for more of the same as the weeks roll on. I’d love to see Apollo Crews continue his reign as champion by challenging some other deserving stars, and I’d rather have him finish a match via pinfall as opposed to interference.

Randy Orton and Edge’s feud will reach a head at Backlash, and once again Orton delivered a great promo. Finally, Gronk’s run with WWE is (fingers crossed) at an end, and although I don’t enjoy the 24/7 title, at least R-Truth’s charisma makes it far less painful than it could be.

All images and videos courtesy of WWE