The headline for tonight’s post-SummerSlam (read the full review here), pre-Payback episode of RAW is the debut of Keith Lee. From tonight, all RAW viewers will be able to Bask in his Glory (for he is limitless). The only other thing on the preview is Aleister Black’s appearance on the KO Show, which Kevin Owens announced last night. With just the one show to deal with the fallout from one PPV and build for the next, I’m expecting a busy night.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Shayna Baszler def. Bayley – DQ
Akira Tozawa def. R-Truth, Shelton Benjamin, and Cedric Alexander
Montez Ford def. Angel Garza
Bianca Belair & The Riott Squad def. Zelina Vega & The IIconics
Randy Orton def. Keith Lee – DQ
Asuka def. Sasha Banks
Rey & Dominik Mysterio vs Seth Rollins & Murphy – No Contest
♦ WWE Champion Drew McIntyre opened the show after the commentary housekeeping. The WWE ThunderDome wall of virtual fans was in place for the first time on RAW. A lot of people are loving it, but I still prefer the employee mini-crowd they’ve had. Real in-person reaction still beats virtual reaction for me.
After a recap of McIntyre’s win over Randy Orton, McIntyre asked for a thumbs up from the ThunderDome crowd and said it was cool. And beating Randy Orton was cool as well. He did it because he’s hungrier than Orton, and he works harder because he’s so proud to be champion. He’s like that because of his journey and the hardships he’s had on the way. Orton has never had that, he’s always been protected. As much as he hates him, he acknowledges Orton’s natural talent and called him ‘The absolute best’. And last night he beat him.
Now he’s looking forward to his next opponent. He doesn’t think Orton will just let it slide, so he invited him to step back up. If he does he’ll do the one thing he didn’t do last night, Claymore his head off.
Orton hit McIntyre from behind as he stopped to raise the title on the stage. They brawled into the production area and Orton smacked McIntyre’s head against the wall then punt kicked him. Officials backed him off, but he followed it with a second punt kick (which they should have picked a better camera angle for).
♦ Nia Jax has had her suspension lifted. Shayna Baszler greeted her by saying she was looking forward to the next time Jax does or says something to get herself kicked out. Then they made personal remarks about each other’s appearance because apparently, this is the primary school playground and no one ever taught them to be better than that.
♦ Bayley, with Sasha Banks, vs Shayna Baszler was the first match of the night. Sasha Banks and Bayley were still not ok. There were some loaded looks and Banks looked like she wanted to punch someone then cry. She has a rematch against Asuka later in the show in a lumberjack match of all things. Nia Jax watched the match from the ramp.
Sasha Banks saved Bayley from a submission by getting half into the ring so Baszler broke the hold. Bayley took control while Baszler was yelling at Banks.
Nia Jax attacked Baszler after Bayley threw her out of the ring, and handed Baszler the DQ win. It turned into a Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler brawl with Banks and Baszler cheerleading on the outside until Jax and Baszler forgot about each other and walked towards them. They backed off quickly and it came to nothing.
♦ Aleister Black did appear on the KO Show. He had a black bandage of his right eye and rolled into the ring after finding himself unable to deal with the steps that caused it. Kevin Owens asked him how he was, and Black told him to show the footage. He did, after making sure he wanted him to, but it looked like it affected Black badly. Owens tried to sympathise, but Aleister Black suddenly crouched on the floor like he was going to vomit, then stood up and took Owens out with a back elbow and a Black Mass. Officials tended to Owens while Black walked away.
♦ Charly Caruso interrupted Bayley and Sasha Banks yelling at each other to ask about them barely getting away from Baszler and Jax. Bayley said they didn’t want to get involved in their drama because Banks can’t get injured before her rematch. Banks said she shouldn’t be in this position at all, with a very pointed look at Bayley. Bayley said tonight was about making Sasha ‘Two Belts Banks’ again and then they’d deal with Baszler and Jax.
♦ Shelton Benjamin (C) vs Cedric Alexander vs R-Truth vs Akira Tozawa – 24/7 Championship Fatal Four-Way match – was a fun time. Anything involving R-Truth is a fun time because Truth is pure and good. He didn’t win though. Akira Tozawa did after his ninjas stopped Shelton Benjamin getting back in the ring. Tozawa ran off because as soon as the bell went the 24/7 rules were reinstated. Short and sweet.
♦ Randy Orton told us that for the longest time, he’s done what he wanted, when he wanted, to who he wanted. But last night, he couldn’t do that. He said he was going to RKO Drew McIntyre and kick him in the skull but he didn’t. Whatever else he is, he is a man of his word. He killed the legends of those he said he would because he’s the Legend Killer.
He saw the opportunity when McIntyre came out earlier and he took it. He kicked him twice instead of once because McIntyre offered him a rematch out of pity. Keith Lee arrived while Orton was reminding us who the hell Randy Orton is, declaring himself the greatest wrestler.
Lee has a new theme song for the main roster, which is a shame because I liked his old one. He said Orton looked a little perplexed but that was because they haven’t been introduced properly. Lee introduced himself and offered Orton the opportunity to bask in his glory. In his own poetic way, Lee offered Orton a match. The offer seemed to piss Orton off, but he declined the offer and left saying maybe later. He looked back a lot while leaving.
I know they’re on opposing brands, but give me Keith Lee versus Roman Reigns at Survivor Series and I will be a very happy fan.
♦ Charly Caruso asked Zelina Vega, again, whether she was ready to admit she poisoned Montez Ford. She was not. Angel Garza tried to help by saying, so what, she got caught, who hasn’t been caught.
Angel Garza vs Montez Ford took place with Demi Burnett watching from a chair at ringside. Andrade and Montez Ford accompanied their partners. Ivar came down mid-match to give Demi Burnett a turkey leg and she left with him. Ford didn’t manage to immediately capitalise on Garza’s outrage, but the frog splash that finished him didn’t take too long to come.
♦ Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler agreed to team up to go for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships at Payback. Jax told Baszler to follow her lead and poked her in the chest. Baszler slapped her in response, so I guess it’s not going to be the most harmonious of unions.
♦ Liv Morgan, Ruby Riott, and Bianca Belair have had enough of their tormentors, so Bianca Belair & The Riott Squad vs Zelina Vega & The IIconics happened. Importantly, Morgan and Riott were introduced as The Riott Squad, so I guess their reconciliation is complete. WWE have done every possible Morgan/Riott/IIconics combination recently, and it’s only a couple of weeks since Belair fought Vega, so this was just a slightly different way to get them all on the show without having to come up with anything new. I’m not complaining… much. The match was decent, and Bianca Belair won it with a K.O.D. on Zelina Vega, so it’s all good.
♦ Mark Henry had to take the arm-wrestling setup away from Cedric Alexander and Ricochet. Alexander won and there was banter. MVP arrived and tried again to recruit Alexander. He said his piece and left Ricochet and Alexander to a serious-looking conversation.
Henry was there to introduce the arm-wrestling competition between Bobby Lashley and Apollo Crews. They have a United States Championship match at Payback, so this is the build WWE came up with. Before they got started Henry made it clear he’d told Alexander, Ricochet, Mustafa Ali, and The Hurt Business to stay away. Then we entered the trash-talk portion of proceedings and eventually got underway. Lashley broke away from the first attempt to take his jacket off. While Lashley was staring down Henry, in an illegal position with his foot under the table, Crews stamped on his foot and forced his hand down for the win. He had a brief tussle with Lashley, then legged it after taking down MVP and Benjamin as they arrived at ringside.
♦ Dominik Mysterio has got the wish he’s voiced many times, teaming with his father to face Seth Rollins & Murphy. Rollins versus Dominik at SummerSlam was much better than it had any right to be for Dominik’s first WWE match. Before the match, Rey and Dominik had a backstage interview with Charly Caruso about how they’re feeling. Dominik’s parents expressed their pride in him. He admitted he was terrified but he knew he had his family in his corner. Rey said Seth doesn’t understand that, but he’ll have a family of his own one day and he’ll understand what he’s put him and his wife through. They talked about how much it means to them to share a ring, and Dominik was struggling to contain his emotions. Just now and again WWE gives you something beautifully real woven into the entertainment.
♦ Natalya and Lana did a fake Hall of Fame induction for Mickie James. It was just a lot of horrible mean girl stuff. Mickie James came down and knocked them both down.
♦ Bobby Lashley took out his frustrations on RAW Underground. Dolph Ziggler stepped up to face him. Ziggler is due to face Ivar on Underground later as well. He may be less into it after the punishment he took from Lashley though. Bobby Lashley kicked him off the platform and into a wall. Lashley is more interesting in the RAW Underground format.
♦ Randy Orton vs Keith Lee did happen, and it was good. It took Randy Orton a lot of time to make a real impact on Lee, and he got to sample his agility and his power in the process. Orton also got to feel the Pounce. Unfortunately, he got caught with a kick after retrieving Orton from the outside and took a draping DDT. Orton didn’t get to deliver the RKO because he got pulled out of the ring and run off by Drew McIntyre. Lee just left which was not the debut he should have had. His glory was not properly basked in on this occasion.
Backstage, McIntyre said he was very happy for his friend Keith, but doesn’t need him fighting his battles, and was just about to deliver a message to Randy Orton when Orton delivered one of his own. He attacked McIntyre from behind and punt kicked him again.
After the break, Charly Caruso reported from outside the trainer’s room, saying she overheard the doctor’s fears it might be a skull fracture.
♦ Asuka (C) vs Sasha Banks – RAW Women’s Championship Lumberjack match – was fun. Bayley tried to keep the lumberjacks form putting Sasha Banks back in the ring and found herself face to face with Baszler going into a break. If anything happened, we didn’t see it. We did get back in time to see Bayley hit Asuka in the stomach while Banks held her. No consequences because Bayley was one of the lumberjacks. Banks took down Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan off the apron instead of Asuka, then took a wicked knee from Asuka.
Asuka shoved over Natalya, Lana, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay as Bayley pushed them towards her in an attempt to get away.
Bayley tried to get Sasha Banks a chair when she asked for it but she was stopped by Shayna Baszler. Asuka slapped on the Asuka Lock before Bayley could get back up and Banks tapped out.
♦ An update saw McIntyre being driven away in an ambulance for evaluation. Keith Lee joined Charly Caruso and said he’d normally be annoyed McIntyre interrupted his RAW debut, but he just watched his friend get loaded into an ambulance. Drew McIntyre will be ok. But Randy Orton won’t.
Keith Lee versus Randy Orton was confirmed for Payback shortly after.
♦ Cedric Alexander vs Bobby Lashley happened in RAW Underground. Lashley had to be pulled off Alexander by MVP and Shane McMahon way after he was out. Ivar and Erik turned up to brawl with The Hurt Business. The Hurt Business triumphed.
♦ Rey & Dominik Mysterio vs Seth Rollins & Murphy main-evented the show. There was a little pre-match brawl, but Murphy and Dominik started things off and Dominik wasn’t playing. Rollins avoided Rey’s 619 when Murphy pulled him out of the ring, but they both caught the dive from Dominik. Sentimental as it is, there was something special about watching Rey Mysterio tag in his son. Dominik would have secured the pin on Murphy if Rollins had been a quarter of a second later. As it was, Murphy took a double 619 and Dominik went up for a frog splash to end it. The lights flashed, Rollins shoved Dominik off the turnbuckle, then RETRIBUTION showed up and thoroughly beat up the Mysterios. Rollins and Murphy escaped.
That was a genuinely good episode of RAW. The ThunderDome, or the back to back PPVs, or something seems to have injected some energy. We’ll see what Payback brings, and the WWE Draft isn’t far off, but there are things to be hopeful about.