Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre will be signing the contracts tonight for their WWE Championship match at Hell in a Cell. There’s a huge Tag Team Battle Royal set for the show, which is actually the only advertised match on the preview. The New Day, Randy Orton & Riddle, Lucha House Party, MACE & T-BAR, and The Viking Raiders will fight it out to decide who becomes AJ Styles & Omos’ next challengers for the titles. And, after crashing Reginald’s appearance in Alexa’s Playground last week, Shayna Baszler will be Bliss’ official guest this week.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
The Viking Raiders def. MACE & T-BAR, RK-Bro, Lucha House Party, The New Day, and John Morrison
Jaxson Ryker def. Elias
Ricochet vs Humberto Carrillo – Double Count Out
Jeff Hardy def. Cedric Alexander
Nikki Cross & Asuka def. Rhea Ripley & Charlotte Flair
Mansoor def. Drew Gulak
Kofi Kingston def. Riddle
♦ The New Day vs The Viking Raiders vs MACE & T-BAR vs Lucha House Party vs RK-Bro (it’s official, there’s merch) opened the show. Only Orton and Riddle got an entrance, everyone else was in the ring… except Lince Dorado was alone because Gran Metalik is injured. AJ Styles and Omos came to the stage before things could get underway and gave a State of the Tag Team Division address. The WWE are going back on the road next month and they want to defend their titles in person against the very best. He went on to say a lot of nice things about everyone in the ring, making sure everyone knew he and Omos are better. A few of them got a right to reply, but Riddle ended up having to zip his mouth and give Orton the key.
The Miz and John Morrison arrived onstage, with Miz in a wheelchair to play up his injury, which is apparently not as bad as first reported. They were there for Morrison to enter himself in the Battle Royal on behalf of their team. Miz rolled off down the ramp when Morrison let go, but disaster was averted. Randy Orton RKO’d Xavier Woods before Morrison got in the ring. Orton and Riddle were back to back and surrounded as we went to a break.
Styles and Omos joined commentary for the match, which didn’t officially start until we returned. Morrison eliminated Dorado with the help of the Drip Stick and sprayed MACE. That was his last act before he hit the floor. MACE and T-BAR chokeslammed The New Day but didn’t eliminate them. They tried to eliminate Orton but Riddle saved him and took a double sit-out powerbomb. When they faced up to The Viking Raiders, everyone else joined Erik and Ivar to help eliminate them.
The New Day, The Viking Raiders, and RK-Bro remained, and it was the best kind of chaos. Riddle was the next out, but both members have to be thrown out to eliminate the team. Xavier Woods went next, leaving a long spell with The Viking Raiders as the only full team. Kingston landed a perfectly timed leap from the top to send Ivar crashing onto Erik, but Riddle came back into the ring to shove Orton out of the path of Kingston’s Trouble in Paradise and take it himself. Orton tossed Kofi Kingston out before he’d collected himself then The Viking Raiders threw him out to claim the victory.
Backstage, Omos ate Ivar’s turkey leg and Styles called them ‘Wannabe Vikings’.
♦ Bobby Lashley and MVP once again had the executive suite to party with their guests.
♦ Charlotte Flair spoke to Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville about Nikki Cross. She wanted the loss removed from her record. They refused so she accused them of being jealous. She demanded a rematch, but before they could agree Rhea Ripley arrived and said she should get a rematch instead. She admits she took her eye off the clock when she should have taken Cross seriously. Pearce and Deville decided to make them team up against Cross and a partner of her choosing.
♦ Ted Dibiase has a big announcement to make on NXT tomorrow night. They’ve got NXT TakeOver: In Your House on Sunday so it should be a packed show.
♦ Just in case we’ve forgotten the Alexa Bliss story since she met The Fiend, we got a recap vignette. I’m looking forward to her getting back in the ring, and Shayna Baszler is a statement choice of opponent.
♦ Elias talked about ditching Jaxson Ryker, making him out to be unhinged. He didn’t get to sing because Ryker, attacked him from behind. He’s got a new haircut. Officials dragged him away from pounding on Elias going into the break, and Jaxson Ryker vs Elias started when we came back. Pure anger carried Ryker through until he got his head bounced off the steps, then it evened out. When Ryker started to assert himself again, Elias walked out and took the count-out loss.
♦ Drew McIntyre brought his sword to the contract signing but it was out of sight by the time he’d been joined by Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce. Bobby Lashley didn’t appear when his music played. McIntyre wasn’t bothered. He told a story about a Scottish King, Robert the Bruce, spending three months inside a cave in hiding after losing some battles and watching a spider trying to build a web. The spider’s persistence led to the king assembling his army for one more try and gaining Scotland’s independence at Bannockburn. Similarly, while he’s failed to win his title back so far, he’ll do it at Hell in a Cell.
He wanted to sign the contract, but MVP interrupted by video and the champ plus entourage finally arrived. They wanted to be rewarded for not interfering in McIntyre’s match last week, with a stipulation. If McIntyre loses, he can never face Lashley for the title again.
McIntyre accepted on the condition he got a match where no one could interfere. He wants the match inside Hell in a Cell. Lashley accepted and the contract was amended and signed. Lashley said he liked McIntyre’s story, but once he loses to him he just loses and slinks off with his kilt tucked between his legs. In turn, McIntyre talked about how Hell in a Cell matches change you. He’s never been through anything like it before, but he’s willing to go through it again and inflict punishment as Lashley has never felt before. He advised him to enjoy the next few weeks and said he’ll see him in hell. Lashley said he’d beat him there as well and started to leave. McIntyre cut the table in half with his sword.
♦ Nikki Cross told Sarah Schreiber the ability to win has been inside her the whole time. She has to remember it doesn’t matter if she’s the prettiest or strongest or most experienced. It’s her spirit that will make her a winner, and the only thing she’ll regret is not taking the chances. Schreiber asked if Cross had selected a partner. She had. Asuka.
♦ Sheamus, with heavily bruised eyes post-nasal surgery and wearing a protective mask, joined commentary for Ricochet vs Humberto Carrillo and had a rant to get off his chest before the action. His complaint is that one of them will get a match for his title when they (or Carrillo anyway) broke his nose. They both faked out jumping at him, then Ricochet attacked Carrillo from behind while he was still focused on Sheamus.
The match began after a break and it was great except for the end. Ricochet gave Carrillo a Spanish fly from the apron to the floor, which was stupid because it wiped them both out and the match finished in a double count-out. Sheamus said neither of them is in his league, called them jokes, and left laughing.
♦ MVP approached Kofi Kingston when he and Woods were up to mischief. He let Woods leave them alone. MVP said he was impressed with Kingston’s match last week, but he wasn’t surprised he came up short. Before he was Lashley’s manager, he was a Kofi fan. He watched KofiMania take over the world and he still gets goosebumps. He moved on to talking about why it ended, suggesting it was because Kingston is too nice. There are no friends in this, it’s showbusiness. Kingston cut him off and told him it’s his friends and family who motivate him and the kids who might be motivated by him. He asked why Lashley does it, was it money? MVP said no, it’s pride, honour, and the accoutrements that come with it.
♦ Eva Marie will be returning to RAW next week. This week’s vignette was all about how hard it’s been to become a success. There was some wrestling training in it, so maybe it’ll be ok. She said she’s going to pull back the curtain and reveal exactly what it takes to make hard work and resilience look effortless.
♦ Mustafa Ali asked Mansoor if he’s really ready to fight Drew Gulak if Gulak decides to play dirty. He was trying to get into Mansoor’s head, but why is not yet clear.
♦ Jeff Hardy vs Cedric Alexander was very bad-tempered. Hardy asked for the match because Alexander needs to learn to respect locker room veterans. Alexander says RAW needs a breath of fresh air instead of washed-up has-beens taking up time and space. Alexander’s offence was brutally disrespectful, but he couldn’t put Hardy away. Hardy was forced to show his resilience and dig deep into the veterans’ toolkit. The frustration started to show when Hardy kept kicking out, but it was Alexander’s arrogance that cost him the match. A kick in the gut as he came off the top was quickly followed by a Twist of Fate and a Swanton for the win.
♦ Charlotte Flair suggested Rhea Ripley follow her lead in their tag match and told her she could take care of Nikki Cross. Ripley said her title trumps Flair’s experience, so Flair can follow her lead. Nikki Cross & Asuka vs Rhea Ripley & Charlotte Flair was excellent, and a decent length. Cross and Asuka had one of my favourite NXT matches almost exactly four years ago, a Last Woman Standing.
Nikki Cross threw herself into everything. Asuka looked like she was having a ball. Ripley and Flair spent most of the match getting at each other. There was a shove from Ripley and an elbow from Flair going into a break. One of Flair’s tags on Ripley was a chop. Ripley’s next tag on Flair was aggressive head pats. They had an all-out brawl in the end, which directly led to the finish. Flair put Ripley down with a chop block and Natural Selection and barely glanced back as Nikki Cross took advantage and pinned the champion.
♦ Alexa Bliss said Shayna Baszler was wrong to say Lilly was just a stupid doll and if we don’t believe her, we should watch Baszler’s appearance. It’s going to be a real scream.
♦ Mustafa Ali watched Mansoor vs Drew Gulak on a monitor backstage. It was short and sweet and Mansoor won it reversing Gulak’s pin attempt. Ali wasn’t wrong, the countered pin included Gulak having a handful of tights.
♦ Scarlett had a promo for the NXT Championship face-off tomorrow. Karrion Kross will come face to face with all his opponents – Kyle O’Reilly, Johnny Gargano, Pete Dunne, and Adam Cole – ahead of Sunday’s TakeOver match.
♦ Randy Orton gave Riddle to key to his mouth back. He immediately regretted it because Riddle wouldn’t stop talking. He managed to compliment Orton’s RK-Bro hoodie and ask if he’d be ringside for his match before he had to zip up and give the key back. Orton threw it in the bin. Riddle was alone for the start of Riddle vs Kofi Kingston and he looked very disappointed. He let himself get distracted by Xavier Woods playing his trombone and paid for it. Orton came out and stalked Woods, but got dropkicked into a barricade by Kingston. He caught Woods playing the trombone over Riddle on the outside and slammed him on the announce desk. A flying Kofi Kingston put him and Riddle down while he was helping him up.
After the break, we got a great match. With Woods and Orton neutralizing each other on the outside, it was straight one on one. Riddle used Orton’s draping DDT and Orton encouraged him to end it. He went for an RKO but missed. He avoided the first Trouble in Paradise, but the second one got him, and he got pinned. Orton looked less than impressed that Riddle’s showboating had cost him.
♦ Alexa’s Playground was the closing segment. On her way there, Baszler spoke to Nia Jax. Jax was trying to be supportive, but they argued. When Jax did offer her help, Baszler said she didn’t need it. She’s not intimidated by a little blonde girl with a doll.
The playground was set up in the ring. Baszler arrived while Bliss was telling Lilly to be open-minded about making a new friend and flipped over the rocking horse for no apparent reason. Bliss said that wasn’t nice but she wanted to give Baszler a chance to be their new friend. All she had to do was apologise to Lilly.
Baszler thinks Bliss is more delusional than she looks. Bliss was responsible for Reginald’s accidents and it’s Bliss’ fault she and Jax are no longer tag champs. Bliss said she would never, then listened to Lilly for a moment and earnestly encouraged Baszler to apologise.
Baszler grabbed Lilly from Bliss and said she’s sorry Lilly’s just a stupid doll. Bliss smacked her in the face, knocked her down, and laid into her. Baszler shoved her out of the ring. Before Bliss could get back in, Baszler had her boot on Lilly. She stamped on Lilly’s face and Bliss looked like she might cry. Then the lights and sound effects got weird and Bliss’ expression changed. She cuddled Lilly as flames chased Baszler backstage where the set started falling around her. Baszler ran through the corridors looking for a way out then barricaded herself in a room. The lights went out there too and when they came back on, Lilly was in the mirror but not the room. Baszler kicked the mirror, but Lilly was still there. Her scream was how RAW ended.
That final segment is going to split people. Baszler is great at what she does, but I’m not convinced that the cinematic stuff is her forte. The storyline itself is weird and vaguely ridiculous, but WWE does that every so often. I’m happy to see how it plays out. RAW is a variety show. Not everything is for everyone and that’s ok.