The preview for tonight’s show is minimal but does include AJ Styles & Omos defending the RAW Tag Team Championships against The Viking Raiders. Bobby Lashley will respond to Goldberg’s challenge. And brand-new RAW Women’s Champion Nikki A.S.H. will be celebrating her title win.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Damian Priest def. Sheamus
AJ Styles & Omos def. The Viking Raiders
Drew McIntyre def. Veer (DQ)
Natalya & Tamina def. Eva Marie & Doudrop
Karrion Kross def. Keith Lee
Mustafa Ali & Mansoor def. MACE & T-BAR
Bobby Lashley def. Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin
John Morrison def. Riddle
Reginald def. R-Truth
Charlotte Flair def. Nikki A.S.H.
♦ Nikki A.S.H. opened the show after a recap of the events leading up to her successful cash-in. She got excited about saying ‘Welcome to Monday Night RAW’ because she’s always wanted to do that. Being the RAW Women’s Champion feels like a dream – she had to stop for the ‘You Deserve It’ chant – but the dream is now real. In the past when she reached for the stars, she didn’t have the confidence needed because she was too afraid to fail. Then she realised that if she fails, she fails. It’s not a big deal. She’s still her.
The superhero outfit gives her confidence and reminds her, as she wants it to remind everyone, that no matter what, if you believe in yourself, you can overcome the odds. It worked for her, and we can all almost be superheroes.
Charlotte Flair arrived and said Nikki was telling a nice fairytale, except it doesn’t have a happy ending because Nikki A.S.H. is a disgrace. She doesn’t believe in her as a champion because she thinks she hasn’t worked for it. Flair was there to add star power and perspective to the ring.
The only reason Nikki beat her is that Rhea Ripley did all the hard work. She wants her rematch at SummerSlam. Before A.S.H. could respond she launched into a tirade of abuse aimed at the WWE Universe. It’s our fault for enjoying all the injustices perpetrated on her. And it’s all because we’re jealous.
Rhea Ripley came out to end that. She pointed out Flair got herself intentionally disqualified last week to avoid losing the title, but she still lost it after one day. As she was going to win, she should beat A.S.H. at SummerSlam.
Nikki said neither of them was going to beat her. It was headed for a scrap but Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville came to the stage and declared the SummerSlam match a triple-threat. Flair demanded a match against Nikki tonight. Nikki accepted and Pearce made it official. A non-title main event. They later billed it as a Championship Contender’s Match, despite having set and confirmed the triple-threat already.
It broke down then. Flair attacked Ripley and got dropkicked out of the ring by the champ.
♦ Damian Priest challenged Sheamus to a United States Championship match and got a contender’s match, which is a start. Sheamus vs Damian Priest was entertainingly brutal. It was going fine until Sheamus’ protective mask came off. That made him hesitant, and he got thrown off the top turnbuckle because he took too long. He was more focused on his nose than the match, but still got a near fall off an Alabama slam and had a crack at a submission.
Bravely, considering his nose was unprotected, Sheamus got into an exchange of blows with Priest. He came out on top with a knee to Priest’s chin, but the pin was only worth two. That was the champ’s last attempt. Priest kicked him in the head and Hit the Lights (which commentary called by its old name).
After the match, Sheamus demanded a doctor, saying Priest rebroke his nose.
♦ AJ Styles & Omos (C) vs The Viking Raiders – RAW Tag Team Championship match – was fun. Erik threw Ivar at Omos to knock him off the apron, but Omos just stepped down. Erik’s suicide dive follow-up still didn’t take Omos off his feet. Omos didn’t get back on the apron immediately, so he was perfectly placed to pull Erik off the cover after Styles took a Viking Experience. Ivar took a kick in the stomach and was thrown at Erik to see how he liked it. Both Viking Raiders were on the floor going into the break.
When we came back, Omos was crushing Erik’s face in the middle of the ring. Omos tagged out and Styles took a punch in the face from Erik and faceplanted the canvas. Ivar cartwheeled out of the way of Styles’ Phenomenal Forearm but couldn’t avoid a tornado DDT. He kicked out though.
There was a clever ploy for Ivar to hold Omos’ leg while Erik punched Styles again and pinned him. It worked except Styles kicked out and tagged Omos. Ivar got back in to try to save his teammate, but Omos threw him to the floor. Omos powerbombed Erik by his head, then deferred to Styles for a springboard 450 finish.
♦ We saw the 34 chair shots Drew McIntyre gave Shanky last week as an introduction to Drew McIntyre vs Veer. Before they got started, Jinder Mahal called McIntyre despicable and asked him to apologise. When he didn’t, he introduced him to his attorney and said they were suing. McIntyre told him to shut up and gave the crowd the final say, a choice between apologising or beating Veer up. The crowd chose violence, and joined him in a ‘Drew is gonna kill you’ chant.
Veer is big and strong, and he muscled McIntyre around a bit early on. Then he did a stupid thing. He slapped him. Mahal distracted McIntyre from the flurry of punches and kicks that answered the slap, and McIntyre was felled with a kick, which delayed the inevitable Claymore for a while. They made it interesting though. Mahal passed Veer a chair and McIntyre Claymored it into his face. Veer got disqualified and a chair in the face.
After the match, McIntyre got hold of Mahal’s attorney and threw him into the ring so he could take a Claymore too.
♦ After a recap of Eva Marie’s fall in Alexa’s Playground last week, Eva Marie told Doudrop to forget it because this match would take them one step closer to the tag titles. The Eva-lution will not be stopped, as long as Doudrop keeps up her end of the bargain. The completely neutral look Doudrop gave her for the last comment should be taken as a warning.
Natalya & Tamina vs Eva Marie & Doudrop was a non-title match. I’m still not sure how I feel about this, beat the champions to face the champions, thing. It’s overused and it feels lazy. Eva Marie started the match by shoving Natalya then running to the ropes and tagging out. The first thing Doudrop has learned from Eva Marie came out this week, it’s flicking her hair after moves… I watched Doudrop’s previous incarnation throw herself off a cage…
Tamina couldn’t get Doudrop up for the Samoan drop. Eva Marie insisted on tagging in after Doudrop put Tamina down with a crossbody to steal the glory, but Tamina kicked out.
Alexa Bliss’ Lilly featuring in an Eva Marie style spoof vignette for the Lilly-lution came on the big screen. After Eva Marie watched it, she took a superkick from Tamina and got pinned.
Natalya was hurt during the match. Her leg caught as Doudrop rolled her and she immediately tagged out and took no further part. She was helped out by Tamina and an official, putting no weight on her right leg. Hopefully, it’s not serious.
♦ Karrion Kross vs Keith Lee was an interesting choice. Lee returned last week and lost. Kross debuted last week and lost. They both needed this. Keith Lee took a suplex on the outside going into the ads. He was still struggling when we came back and his recovery didn’t start until he powered out of the Kross Jacket. It was going well until Kross countered the Spirit Bomb attempt into a Saito suplex, which effectively finished it. Keith Lee struggled in the Kross Jacket for longer than it takes most men to pass out, but he had to tap.
♦ Sarah Schreiber asked Nikki A.S.H. what was going through her mind. She said her confidence has grown and she’s no longer afraid to fail. She believes in herself win or lose, and she wants all the little boys and girls of the WWE Universe to know that the hardest challenges are worth fighting for. She’s going to go out there with her extraordinary positivity knowing that whatever happens, she’ll be defending her title at SummerSlam.
Rhea Ripley approached and said she can’t help but respect her unconditional belief in herself, but at SummerSlam, she believes she will leave champion. Tonight, however, she hopes Nikki gives Charlotte Flair hell.
♦ In their pre-match video before MACE & T-BAR vs Mustafa Ali & Mansoor, MACE and T-BAR said in the jungle the bigger animals exist to feed the smaller ones. The ring is their jungle and Mansoor and Ali exist to be devoured by them. Ali and Mansoor arrived with Ali trying to calm an excited Mansoor.
Ali dropkicked T-BAR right on the bell, but the advantage lasted seconds. Mansoor had to save the match. T-BAR kicked him off the apron to stop him doing it again, but he was back quickly, and trying to punch him again got T-BAR kicked in the head by Ali. Mansoor tagged in fired up and T-BAR had to break a pin on MACE. Ali’s suicide dive DDT put T-BAR on the floor before he could attack Mansoor, and Ali nearly took a chokeslam from MACE to save him. Mansoor kicked MACE’s hand away and pinned him with a rollup counter to a chokeslam. Ali pulled the celebrating Mansoor from the ring before MACE and T-BAR could hurt him.
♦ MVP demanded the crowd rise to show their respect for Bobby Lashley. They booed, so he wound them up some more. He handed over to Lashley after battling against Goldberg chants. Lashley isn’t going to dignify Goldberg’s challenge with a response. He just said this is his ring and he won’t be disrespected by anyone.
Cedric Alexander came out to whine about being thrown out of The Hurt Business. He’s realised it’s because Lashley knows he’s better than him and now he wants his title opportunity.
Shelton Benjamin joined them and told Alexander his voice was annoying. The Hurt Business is over, but he wants to offer Lashley a real challenge.
MVP started to dismiss them, but Lashley said he’d take them both at the same time and demanded a ref.
Bobby Lashley vs Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin started immediately, but it wasn’t a match. Lashley destroyed them both. They came back and worked together, and Lashley destroyed them some more. He gave Benjamin a spear and a jackhammer, as a message to Goldberg, then slammed Alexander on top of him and pinned them like that.
♦ AJ Styles had something secret to discuss with The Miz and John Morrison. Omos stood guard to make sure it stayed secret.
Riddle vs John Morrison, with The Miz, started after Miz sprayed Byron Saxton with a Dripstick. The snide remarks from Saxton as a result made it worth it. Morrison was in trouble when Miz sprayed Riddle with a Dripstick. This time, the distraction rollup didn’t work. Riddle kneed Morrison in the face to give himself time to kick Miz in the chest and knock his wheelchair over.
The match was decent, between the shenanigans, until AJ Styles and Omos arrived. Riddle got distracted and Morrison got himself a two count. Morrison kicked out of Riddle’s next attempt. Riddle told Omos and Styles they shouldn’t be out there. In response, Omos snapped Riddle’s scooter. Before Riddle could recover from the shock, Morrison slammed him into the mat and pinned him off Starship Pain.
Styles beat Riddle up after the match, culminating in a Styles Clash.
♦ R-Truth vs Reginald – 24/7 Championship match – took place with R-Truth wearing a mic. He was stunned by Reginald jumping into the ring and tried just asking Reginald for his baby back instead of fighting him. That didn’t work and there was a bit of a matador-type routine with Truth holding Reginald’s jacket before he threw it in his face. Somehow, R-Truth still couldn’t capitalise. He got himself caught up in the ropes and hurt himself. Reginald somersaulted over to sit on his chest for the pin then had to do a few extra acrobatics to avoid the chasing pack.
♦ Charlotte Flair told Sarah Schreiber she did take Nikki A.S.H.’s victory personally. Nikki only managed to pin her because Ripley assaulted her, and only dropkicked her out of the ring earlier because she was focused on Ripley. She’s sick and tired of the division being run down by almost superstars. She built that title. There wouldn’t be a women’s title without her.
Nikki A.S.H. vs Charlotte Flair was our main event of the evening. Flair started full of disrespect, trying to take Nikki’s mask off and verbally belittling her. It took Nikki some time to rouse her positivity, but she did, and a couple of pin attempts gave her a little momentum. That was abruptly halted on the outside when Flair chucked her over the desk.
After the final break, Flair was running the show. There was a ‘let’s go Nikki’ chant from the crowd, and maybe it helped because a crossbody from the apron put Flair down at ringside and fired Nikki up. A bulldog gave her a two count, but she spent too long hyping herself up and let Flair recover. It cost her many chops to the chest.
A tornado DDT put Flair down and Nikki was ready with a crossbody from the top when she got up. Charlotte Flair was anticipating it and rolled through for the pin.
Kevin Patrick got into the ring to congratulate Flair and she asked why. The win was a foregone conclusion. She told Nikki, who was wearing the marks from those chops, that no one is in her league. She can’t just put on a mask and a cape and become a superhero.
Nikki A.S.H. took the mic and reminded her she’s Almost a superhero. She lost, but she showed herself she almost could have won. She has the confidence she can beat her, so she’s challenging her to a rematch next week.
Flair accepted and extended her hand. Nikki took it. Flair elbowed her in the face, kicked her in the head, then dragged her out of the ring and mocked her in front of a Nikki A.S.H. sign. Finally, she dragged her back into the ring and laid her out with a big boot.
I’m going to have to start taking motion sickness pills before RAW if I want to keep watching. The camera cuts and wobbles have always been nauseating and distracting, but they’ve crossed the boundary into off-putting. Decent enough episode other than that.