It’s a bit of a mystery show tonight. Riddle and Xavier Woods have a one-on-one match. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax try to recapture the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships from Natalya and Tamina in what will hopefully be their last meeting for a while. And that’s all the preview we got.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Kofi Kingston vs Drew McIntyre – No Contest
Nikki Cross def. Rhea Ripley (Beat the Clock Challenge)
Charlotte Flair def. Asuka
Cedric Alexander def. Shelton Benjamin
Riddle def. Xavier Woods
Jaxson Ryker def. AJ Styles
Sheamus def. Humberto Carrillo
Natalya & Tamina def. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
♦ MVP opened the show and immediately introduced Bobby Lashley. Lashley brought his ladies with him, so I guess they’re a new feature… if a 30-year-old callback can be considered a new feature.
After a load of replays in case anyone didn’t see last week, MVP announced WWE leaving the ThunderDome and going back on the road in July (previously announced last week on social media and SmackDown). They moved on to talk about Drew McIntyre, who MVP described as a perennial dark cloud hanging over them. Lashley said he beat McIntyre at WrestleMania and WrestleMania Backlash, so he’s done with him. MVP was talking about McIntyre showing up during Lashley’s match with Kofi Kingston when McIntyre showed up.
He wants the title back and he wants his one-on-one rematch to get it. He thinks, deep down, Lashley wants it too, so he can prove he’s the number one superstar on RAW. But maybe he’s wrong and Lashley’s worried he won’t measure up. Maybe Lashley doesn’t have the balls.
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods turned up while McIntyre and Lashley were arguing about McIntyre’s interference last week. Kingston told them not to forget he pinned Lashley last week. Lashley asked if he thanked McIntyre, McIntyre said he was welcome. Kofi Kingston got annoyed and said he would have beaten Lashley anyway and he didn’t ask for his help. In fact, he and everyone else wants McIntyre to step to the side and get in line behind him.
Adam Pearce came to the stage and made a match, Kofi Kingston versus Drew McIntyre with the winner facing Bobby Lashley for the title at Hell in a Cell.
MVP liked that and took Lashley and the ladies to set up a VIP Lounge on the stage to watch from. It was all set up within an ad break.
Drew McIntyre vs Kofi Kingston, with Xavier Woods, is a decent opening match on any card. Despite it being a tough enough match to require his full attention, McIntyre couldn’t resist taunting Lashley and MVP and they moved to sit by commentary during the second ad break. It could easily have been the main event, especially with the number one contendership at stake, and would have been a perfectly acceptable PPV match. Kingston and McIntyre threw everything they had at each other. Lashley unwittingly got involved when McIntyre came over to exchange words and Kingston threw himself off the top turnbuckle and knocked McIntyre into Lashley’s lap. MVP got out of the way just in time.
After all that, and McIntyre kicking out of an SOS, Lashley and MVP invaded the ring and got the match thrown out. Lashley went for McIntyre. MVP went for Kingston and got chucked out of the ring by Xavier Woods. Woods took a clothesline from Lashley. Lashley took Trouble in Paradise and a Claymore.
So we don’t have a number one contender, but we might end up with another Triple Threat.
♦ WWE are really plugging getting back on the road – it seems a bit quick but different people will have different comfort levels – and they’re got Superstars cutting little mini-promos about looking forward to it. Braun Strowman was the first of those. Damian Priest, Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose, John Morrison, and Jeff Hardy all got one as well.
♦ Rhea Ripley approached Charlotte Flair in the corridor to wish her luck in her match and tell her she was going to need it. Flair accused her of being jealous and wanting to be just like her.
Nikki Cross appeared and said she could beat either of them. She asked if one of them wanted a match against her tonight. Flair was condescending and said if she didn’t have a match tonight she’d beat Cross in two minutes. She wasn’t worth her time. Ripley told Flair that talking down to people was a part of the reason no one likes her. Flair challenged Ripley to beat Cross in two minutes and Ripley accepted.
Rhea Ripley vs Nikki Cross – Two Minute Beat the Clock Challenge – was a shitty thing to do to Nikki Cross. This was her first match on RAW since February, and that’s what they give her. She deserves so much better. Ripley just let Cross come at her, but she got a little complacent and almost got pinned with a crossbody. She started taking Cross more seriously with just over thirty seconds to go, started stomping on her in the corner and completely forgot about the time limit. Nikki Cross beat the RAW Women’s Champion while being kicked in the head.
Charlotte Flair came out while Cross was doing a victory lap (I’ve missed Nikki Cross) and laughed at Ripley.
♦ Charlotte Flair vs Asuka was the next match up. Surprisingly, Rhea Ripley didn’t stick around to watch from ringside. I have said many times that Charlotte Flair versus Asuka is always a good match, but this was their fifth match since mid-April and I’m bored. Yes, they’re both at the top of their game. Yes, it was technically good. And it got the time so many women’s division matches are not given. But there’s only so many times you can get excited about variations of the same match. Asuka picked up some damage to her left knee during the match. Flair dropped her on the steps on it going into a break, but it was already hurting her by then. Flair stayed on the leg and systematically destroyed it throughout the match, but the growing frustration was obvious as Asuka kept getting up and coming back. Eventually, that frustration turned into a screaming rage. She did it though. They were scrambling around and Flair flipped backwards out of an Asuka Lock and got the pin.
♦ Drew McIntyre and Kofi Kinston are going to have a rematch next week. Kingston told Adam Pearce had to find a way to keep Bobby Lashley and MVP. McIntyre agreed.
♦ Adam Pearce summoned Lashley from his very crowded dressing room to his office. He wanted to tell them off for ruining McIntyre versus Kingston and to lay the law down for next week. If either of them interferes or even goes to ringside, Lashley will be suspended for 90 days without pay. MVP had to pull Lashley out of the room telling him to think of Hell in a Cell.
♦ Shelton Benjamin vs Cedric Alexander was delayed for a couple of minutes while Alexander got some stuff off his chest. He talked about The Hurt Business and being tag champions and his narrative that it was Benjamins’ fault they lost it all and got kicked out. It’s ok for him, he’s in his prime, but he was determined to convince Benjamin he’s washed up. All he did was piss him off. For all his talk, Alexander seemed reluctant to get into it with his old teammate. The match was good, but it didn’t bear out Alexander’s hypothesis and his frustration started to look like desperation as he repeatedly failed to put Benjamin away.
A series of kicks, seemingly designed to make Benjamin angry, worked like a charm. That was bad news for Cedric Alexander. He did eventually get the win but it took a thumb to the eye to allow him to hit the Neuralyzer for the win.
♦ Riddle vs Xavier Woods was unusual in that Woods was all alone. This was the RAW of the long matches and I’m so glad this one got time because it was great. Xavier Woods was out there showing off the power of Xavier Woods as well as the power of positivity. Riddle suplexed Woods off the second rope and Corey Graves called it one of the worst landings he’s seen from a German suplex, but Woods still kicked out, but it was that kind of match. In the end, Riddle finished it with an RKO and gave Woods the most intense of looks before returning to his smiley self. He did Orton’s pose in the corner as his celebration and shouted, ‘That’s for you, Randy,’ at the camera, but it remains to be seen if Orton takes it as a compliment.
♦ Rhea Ripley vs Charlotte Flair has been confirmed for Hell in a Cell.
♦ AJ Styles vs Jaxson Ryker saw Styles opting to leave Omos backstage. Ryker left Elias behind as well, or so it seemed until near the end of the match. While the ref was distracted, Elias popped out from behind a barricade and kneed Styles in the face, then hid again. Styles got pinned immediately but Elias didn’t account for Omos knowing his hiding place because he’d been watching from backstage. He pulled Elias from his hiding place by his head and chased him and Ryker up the ramp. He caught Elias on the stage and used him to break an LED board.
♦ Sheamus vs Humberto Carrillo happened again. And again Carrillo got thrown around the ring and battered. He’s still not that easy to keep down though and a suicide dive knocked Sheamus into the announce desk. A follow-up elbow from the top got him a two-count, but that was his best chance. Sheamus pinned him by sitting on him and grabbing a handful of tights. That wasn’t enough for Sheamus to make his point, so he beat Carrillo down until he was felled by a flying Ricochet dropkick. Between them, Carrillo and Ricochet delivered a high flying beatdown until Sheamus rolled out of the ring.
♦ Eva Marie is still coming back. This week’s vignette showed her training, but not actually wrestling. It’s an improvement on the photoshoot anyway.
♦ Natalya & Tamina (C) vs Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax got the main event slot, as a title match should. Hopefully, it will be the last time for this one for a while too. Before the match, Jax and Baszler got into an argument during a backstage interview. Baszler is sick of Jax being distracted and banned him from ringside. Reginald watched from a monitor backstage. Natalya and Baszler had a nice little run which ended with Baszler trying to put Natalya in a Sharpshooter then trying to rip her arm out of its socket when she failed. After a brief interlude with Jax delivering the punishment, she was about to compound the injury with an elbow stamp, when Reginald arrived. She stared at him just long enough for Natalya to get out of the way.
After a break, Natalya still hadn’t tagged out and was still in trouble. She and Baszler both tagged out after she caught Baszler with a slam. Jax got Tamina trapped in their corner and some fast tags kept her there for much too long, but she freed herself while the ref was distracted and it all broke down a bit. She and Jax ended up fighting at ringside. Jax tipped her over the barricade and collapsed against it. Reginald got up on the apron to distract the ref when Natalya was putting Baszler in a Sharpshooter, but he still had the ref’s attention when Baszler reversed it and she missed out on the pin.
Baszler kicked Natalya in the face but stopped to scream at Reginald and make him leave. He got to the top of the ramp and a big flash of fire knocked him backwards holding his eyes again. Natalya tied Baszler up in a small package and pinned her. Shayna Baszler looked like she wanted to break someone.
Baszler went to check on Reginald then grabbed him by the collar and told him she was sick of him interfering in her matches. She challenged him to a match and told him, if he had the balls to accept, she’d make him wish he was in that explosion.
The big positive I’m taking from tonight’s RAW is how much more I enjoy longer matches. If there were more matches that weren’t endless repeats and remixes, it would potentially be an enjoyable show. If you’d asked me six months ago if I wanted to see Charlotte Flair and Asuka go 20 minutes on RAW, I would have been excited. Now, I don’t want to see them in the same ring for a very long time. Drew McIntyre versus Kofi Kingston was excellent, but it’s tougher to maintain the excitement for round two next week. All we want are some fresh matches.