Money in the Bank was excellent (read the full review here) and the SummerSlam build starts tonight. After John Cena’s surprise return to conclude MITB, he’ll be opening the show to address the WWE Universe tonight. And for the first time in months, the WWE Universe will be in attendance for RAW. That’s the only item on the preview, so the other two hours and fifty minutes or so are a mystery.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Riddle & The Viking Raiders def. AJ Styles, Omos, & John Morrison
Jaxson Ryker def. Elias
Natalya & Tamina def. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
Sheamus def. Humberto Carrillo
Bobby Lashley def. Keith Lee
Jeff Hardy def. Karrion Kross
Rhea Ripley def. Charlotte Flair (DQ)
Nikki A.S.H. def. Charlotte Flair
♦ John Cena started by giving a boy in the crowd a birthday shoutout, and by telling fans he missed them and the WWE. Packed out crowd as well. He was, of course, there to explain why he’s back and why he interrupted Roman Reigns’ championship celebration. Fans are the reason he came back. Fans and Roman Reigns. He wants the Universal Championship and he wants the match at SummerSlam.
He wants it not because of the pageantry of SummerSlam or the record-breaking number of title reigns, but because Roman Reigns is an asshole who needs to be taken down a peg or two. He’s an arrogant, self-absorbed, overhyped, overprotected, overexposed gimmick who’s not as over as he says he is. And that’s coming from him. There’s a saying, if you’re good you’ll tell everyone. If you’re good, you’ll demand they acknowledge you. If you’re great, they tell you.
He’s going to be at SmackDown on Friday and looks forward to seeing Reigns there.
Matt Riddle came out to see Cena. They said ‘Bro’ to each other a lot, then they said it together and Cena left. Riddle had a match. A feud mashup six-man tag.
Riddle & The Viking Raiders vs AJ Styles, Omos, & John Morrison, with The Miz, was the “why not I guess” match to get the action underway. The Miz sprayed commentary with a Dripstick before the match. If it’s as hot in there as it is here tonight, that might have been a kindness. Riddle and The Viking Raiders got skittled going into the break by a flying AJ Styles, hurled over the top rope by Omos. Erik and AJ Styles had a nice run, and it’s genuinely nice to see John Morrison letting his ring work do more of the talking (seriously, make him talk less). Morrison missed a huge opportunity when Ivar rolled out of the way of Starship Pain after missing a moonsault and taking a knee to the face.
Riddle set Miz up for bad times, stealing a Dripstick and squirting Omos then handing the Dripstick back to Miz. Morrison tried to save his partner and got lobbed into the ring. Styles tried to back Omos off as Miz desperately rolled himself up the ramp. Meanwhile, Morrison was still legal. He took a Viking Experience and got pinned.
♦ Jaxson Ryker’s pre-match promo was straight to the point, ‘Wait until you see what I do to Elias tonight’. We didn’t have to wait long because Jaxson Ryker vs Elias – Symphony of Destruction Match – was next up. Elias got to hear the crowd reassure him that WWE still stands for ‘Walk with Elias’ before Ryker interrupted via the big screen to tell him everyone was sick of hearing him introduce himself, but after tonight no one would ever have to hear it again. As you’d expect, there were a variety of musical instruments to use as weapons. A keyboard came into play first, then a cymbal on its stand. Elias took a trip into a drum kit but took over the match briefly after catching Ryker with a knee.
You’d hope all these instruments were already broken, especially the piano that got trashed with Elias landing on it and them standing on it to punch it out. Jaxson Ryker got knocked to his back on it and Elias got a two count. Ryker took a cello to the back, twice, which also got Elias a two count. Elias was busted open before he took the superplex to the outside, through a table. That was the finish though, and hopefully the end of the feud.
♦ Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville granted Mansoor’s request to team with Ali next week on RAW. It turned out he hadn’t told Ali, but Mansoor managed to convince him on condition it was a one-off. He warned Mansoor not to screw it up.
Sheamus arrived when Ali left and told Mansoor to go away so he could complain about having to face Carrillo again. Deville insisted that, after Sheamus attacked Carrillo before their match last week, the only fair thing was to give him another chance to earn a title shot. Sheamus wasn’t happy and threatened to leave Carrillo needing one of the steel masks he’s wearing while his broken nose heals.
♦ Charlotte Flair has her Championship Coronation, which is a slightly weird concept considering she arrived wearing the belt she’s had since last night. She said she’s the opportunity and Rhea Ripley is an opportunist. The difference is that she doesn’t have to take a page out of anyone’s book, she created the book.
The crowd chanted for Becky Lynch so loud that Flair had to tell them Becky is at home breastfeeding, while she’s dominating the entire women’s division. Her list of accolades now reads:
1 x Divas’ Champion, the final one
5 x SmackDown Women’s Champion
5 x RAW Women’s Champion
That makes her the only elven time women’s champion in history.
Rhea Ripley came out after Flair said she beat her last night and could beat her any night of the week. She challenged Flair to a rematch tonight if Flair thinks she can beat her any night of the week. Flair said no because Ripley is in no condition to face her again after what she did to her last night.
Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville came to the stage. Deville congratulated her, then told her she said she could beat Ripley any night. Pearce finished it off by saying if Ripley feels able, then he’s making it official.
Flair kicked her shoe at Ripley then kicked her in the knee and left the ring while Ripley conferred with Pearce and Deville.
♦ Natalya & Tamina vs Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax, with Reginald, started in the break. Jax and Baszler didn’t even get a televised entrance. Jax saves Baszler from a Tamina kick and took it herself, which knocked her off the apron and left Baszler alone. Reginald tried to help by causing a distraction, which nearly worked. Natalya pulled him off the apron and Baszler kicked her to protect him. That was the distraction that got Baszler pinned off a superkick she never saw coming.
After the match, Baszler yelled at Jax that they were unstoppable until Reginald came along. Jax cuddled him then told him she was right and headbutted him to the canvas.
Akira Tozawa appeared after they left, fleeing the 24/7 chasing pack. The mob fell over each other and Tozawa ended up alone with Reginald. Reginald is now the 24/7 Champion. It took some acrobatics to escape the chasing pack, but he left with the title.
♦ Sheamus vs Humberto Carrillo was brutal, but it had to be really. A grudge match that doesn’t need a gimmick because it has a legitimate broken nose fuelling one side and multiple savage attacks fuelling the other. Carrillo even used Sheamus’ protective mask in his offence, slipping his fingers under it and pulling… which isn’t your standard babyface move but commentary mostly agreed Sheamus may have asked for it.
Damian Priest was shown watching from backstage, more than once. Fair enough, it was a fun match. Humberto Carrillo will not be getting his title shot. He punched Sheamus in the face and hurt his hand on the mask. Sheamus headbutted him and followed with a Brogue Kick for the win. Please let this one be over now.
♦ Bobby Lashley, with MVP, issued an open challenge to celebrate his victory at Money in the Bank. Lashley said he did all the talking he needed to last night in the ring when he destroyed Kofi Kingston, so no more talking. Sadly, MVP didn’t feel quite the same way. He insulted the crowd and admitted that Kofi Kingston was right to say Lashley had lost his edge. That was his fault and he’s sorry. But hearing that lit a fire under the champ and now no one will take it from him. No more fun and games. No more Bullshit. They’re back to business.
Keith Lee answered the challenge and it’s wonderful to see him back (as a side note, can we have Mia Yim back too please). Bobby Lashley (C) vs Keith Lee – WWE Championship match – was probably more of a challenge than Lashley was expecting 24 hours after MITB. Lee started well, then struggled hard. He was reeling on the outside when he took a spear that nearly cut him in half. The Hurt Lock didn’t work, Lee’s shoulders are too big and he powered out. There was nothing he could do about the slam or the spear that got him pinned. Lashley retains, but it would be nice to see that one in a longer format one day.
There was another surprise for Lashley, while he celebrated in the ring bleeding from a cut by his ear. Goldberg. He laughed in Lashley’s face and yelled, ‘I’m next!’ MVP had to hold Lashley back while he got him out of the ring.
Backstage, MVP said he refused to dignify that level of disrespect with a response.
♦ Jinder Mahal, with Shanky and Veer, told us it was his birthday and ran us through his feud so far with Drew McIntyre. He went through the sword stealing motorbike trashing bit, and the three of them ruining McIntyre’s chance in the ladder match last night.
Drew McIntyre interrupted Shanky’s singing of Happy Birthday with a chair to Mahal’s spine. Mahal and Veer escaped the ring, so McIntyre destroyed the chair on Shanky’s back. The crowd chanted for one more, so McIntyre went and got a fresh chair and wore that one out on him too. The crowd counted out all twenty shots.
♦ Karrion Kross got an introductory vignette before his match. He’s been separated from Scarlett but kept his entrance music. His entrance is very underwhelming without her, just some dude walking to the ring and shouting. He’s still NXT Champion and was wearing the belt to the ring. He’s said previously he was never losing the title but he wasn’t planning to stay at NXT, so I guess he’ll probably relinquish it undefeated like Asuka did.
Karrion Kross vs Jeff Hardy was interesting. It’s tough to tell whether the huge pop from the crowd was for Hardy or the return of his No More Words theme. Weirdly, for a debut match against an undefeated NXT talent, Hardy got the win. He cheated. He pinned Kross with his feet on the ropes.
After the match, Kross told Kevin Patrick that Jeff Hardy just made the biggest mistake of his life because in the end everyone will fall and pray. Complete crickets from the crowd. I don’t know if Kross without Scarlett is going to work. The main roster is his natural home, rather than NXT, but he needs her.
♦ Lilly was Alexa Bliss’ special guest in Alexa’s Playground. Eva Marie and Doudrop interrupted, in matching gear and Eva Marie complained about being overlooked. She also called her a creepy gross little doll and threatened to get Doudrop to throw her in the trash. Bliss said that was a bad idea because she didn’t want to have to put Lilly back in time out so soon, and suggested they put Doudrop in time out again instead, so everyone can see what Eva Marie can do without anyone’s help.
Eva Marie asked if Bliss knew what she was capable of alone, but said she doesn’t want to waste any more of her time on her. When Eva Marie tried to leave, she tripped and fell. She stormed off and Alexa Bliss laughed.
♦ Next week, AJ Styles & Omos defend the RAW Tag Team Championships against The Viking Raiders.
♦ Charlotte Flair (C) vs Rhea Ripley – RAW Women’s Championship match – was our main event of the evening. I love to see the women’s division main eventing, but I hate night after rematches, especially for a feud that’s been going on a while. They had an excellent match yesterday, we didn’t need it again so soon. Going into the final break it looked like it might only be half a match. The ref was checking on Ripley after a vicious chop-block from Flair at ringside when Ripley was already holding her knee.
After the ads, Ripley was trapped in the corner while Falir wrapped the injured knee around the ropes. The medical team had checked on Ripley while we were gone, but she still looked to be in a bad way. Charlotte Flair was showing no mercy.
Ripley earned herself a few moments’ respite, shoving Flair into the corner then suplexing her, but the knee injury slowed her too much. Flair’s moonsault met Ripley’s knees and Ripley decided to take another one of Flair’s moves, putting her in a figure-four. Flair flipped her and Ripley had to get to the ropes.
Sadly, it ended when Charlotte Flair hit Ripley in the face with the title belt and got disqualified (thanks to a feed crash on BT Sport, I’ve no idea how they got on the ramp). Ripley didn’t take it well. They had a scrap afterwards and Nikki A.S.H.’s music hit as Ripley delivered a Riptide to Flair on the outside. Ripley helpfully put Flair back in the ring for her, and one crossbody from the top gave us a new RAW Women’s Champion. The purest soul in WWE, Nikki A.S.H., is our RAW Women’s Champion. What a fabulous way to end the first RAW back in front of fans. She celebrated with the fans as the show cut off.
Tonight’s RAW felt kind of chaotic but in a mostly fun way. Twenty-four hours after Money in the Bank and it looks like the men’s title matches for SummerSlam are already set. Roman Reigns versus John Cena for the Universal Championship, and Bobby Lashley versus Goldberg for the WWE Championship. I think the blue brand has the edge there, but we’ll see what else RAW comes up with in the coming weeks.