Today's episode of WWE Raw aired live from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
We kick things off with a Falls Count Anywhere Match between Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley. It was a fast paced match with Strowman and Lashley making their way into the crowd using power moves against one another. The match would eventually end in a no contest when Strowman speared Lashley through the LED board on the stage, causing a series of explosions and Corey Graves to yell "Holy Shit!" The cameras focused on both men for several minutes as they lay motionless, and were then taken to a "local medical facility" and later Renee Young updated us to say that Strowman was said to have suffered a “ruptured spleen.” - This was a hard-hitting and intense solid opener and a refreshing way to kick off the show. The crowd seemed to love it as well as there was lots of good stuff here and much better than a 10 minute Baron Corbin or Shane McMahon promo which would normally fill this spot. I felt that this was the best opening to Raw for quite a long time. More action like this please.
The New Day Defeated The Viking Raiders by disqualification when Samoa Joe attacked Woods and choked him out with the Coquina Clutch. Kofi came out and made the save, which then led to a six-man tag team match. This was fine, just a further advancement in the storyline and build to Extreme Rules.
Samoa Joe and The Viking Raiders defeated The New Day. Joe won by submission with a Coquina Clutch on Kingston, causing him to pass out in the hold. I know that Kofi isn't really known for being a submission type of wrestler, but with Joe choking out Kofi two weeks in a row now, perhaps we'll get a submission match at Extreme Rules? Or maybe not.
Backstage, The Good Brothers (Gallows & Anderson) worked up AJ Styles into confronting Ricochet by spreading rumors about him. Karl Anderson bet Styles his “hot Asian wife” that he couldn’t beat Ricochet for the championship. Styles confronted and slapped Ricochet, who slapped him back. A match was made for later in the night.
Cesaro vs. No Way Jose never happened. Earlier in the night, Drake Maverick’s wife told him to choose between her and the 24/7 Championship. Maverick chose her, so R-Truth began hanging out around them and taunting him. Truth also joined No Way Jose’s conga line to the ring to continue taunting the Mavericks at ringside. 24/7 Division competitors chased Truth away. Cesaro decided to just attack Jose, and hit a Neutralizer on the floor.
The Street Profits made their Raw debut being interviewed backstage. They want some flavor on their introduction and Ford teases a Rock impersonation and then introduces themselves. They are on Raw to bring the swag to the show, and they want some smoke. This was a good way to introduce these guys and already they are the most entertaining tag team on the main roster. It wouldn't surprise me if Heyman had a hand in bringing these guys over from NXT. Montez Ford is going to be a star by the way, keep an eye out for him.
Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre cut a promo about how Roman Reigns begged the Undertaker to help him out. Undertaker interrupted, shooting lightning at the ring posts, and said Reigns never begged him. Instead, Taker explained that he’d lost respect for McMahon, and would defeat him at Extreme Rules. This was a solid segment to give the live crowd a Taker appearance and to hype the upcoming PPV match.
Lacey Evans and Baron Corbin’s winner take all match against Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins at Extreme Rules will now also be an extreme rules match.
Lacey Evans defeated Natalya by pinfall with the Women’s Right. This wasn’t good as it was slow and clunky, and while I can appreciate them trying to put over the heel act, Evans really could have used a clean and dominant win here; it’s just Natalya.
Ricochet is interviewed backstage by Charlie Caruso, and says facing AJ last week was an honor. He knows he lost last week, but next time, he thinks he can win. The Good Brothers arrive and say AJ could have beat him in three-minutes. Ricochet says next time, he can beat AJ. They tease a match for later.
The Good Brothers tell AJ that Ricochet talked shit to him and that he cam beat him the next time. AJ wants to go and talk with him but they say that he needs to get his edge back. AJ gets pissed and walks off. He finds Ricochet and says if Ricochet thinks he can beat him, he can prove it tonight and AJ slaps him after he accepts. Ricochet slaps him back.
2-out-of-3 Falls Match: The Miz defeated Elias. Miz won the first fall with a Skull-crushing Finale. Elias picked up the second fall with Drift Away. Miz won the third and deciding fall by submission with a Figure-Four. This was solid, but the 2 out of 3 falls stipulation adds nothing to these matches.
Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch were interviewed about their (awkward) relationship and the upcoming match at Extreme Rules, but were interrupted by Mike and Maria Kanellis. Maria begins to mock the Seth and Becky, talking about giving birth, and claiming that she and Mike are the real first couple of the WWE. Maria then calls Mike "her bitch" and they set up a tag match for tonight. Seth tells her Maria, “done messed up.” Great promo and writing for the two top babyface champions in the company... Ha!
Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch defeated Mike and Maria Kanellis. During the match, Maria avoided being attacked by announcing that she’s pregnant. In the confusion, Becky Lynch hip-tossed Mike into the ring and tapped him out with the Disarmer. After the match, Maria said she was ashamed that Mike is the father of her children, and that next time she’ll ask Becky Lynch to impregnate her. In theory, this was a fine match to book to have Rollins and Lynch get in a match together ahead of the PPV. Unfortunately, it was all a shit angle and it was confusing most of all since we haven't seen Maria and Mike on television for months, unless you watch 205 Live or Main Event. It'll be interesting to see what comes from this.
Nikki Cross was a guest on A Moment Of Bliss. Carmella interrupted and accused Bliss of manipulating Cross. Bliss called her a sidekick, and they decided to have a match about it.
Carmella defeated Alexa Bliss. Carmella won almost immediately with a roll-up. This led directly into Nikki Cross challenging Carmella.
Nikki Cross defeated Carmella. Cross won by pinfall with her swinging fisherman’s neckbreaker finisher, “The Purge.” After the match, Bliss taunted Carmella and posed with Cross on the ropes.
As Drake Maverick and his wife (Renee Michelle) were leaving the arena, the 24/7 competitors ran by. Maverick ran into a hiding R-Truth, who was relieved that Drake wasn’t going to try to pin him. When Truth turned his back, Maverick hit Truth with a suitcase and pinned him to win the 24/7 Championship, promising his wife a “24/7” honeymoon.
United States Championship Match: Ricochet (c) defeated AJ Styles.Styles initially “won” the match with a Phenomenal Forearm and was announced as the new United States Champion, but Ricochet’s leg was under the bottom rope. Referees reviewed the situation and restarted the match, with the Good Brothers also now at ringside. Ricochet picked up the win with a cradling pin. After the match, Styles shook hands with Ricochet, but then teamed up with the Good Brothers to attack him. The match was good for what they had to work with, but instead of giving them 15-minutes, the convoluted no wrestling during breaks just makes for an awkward layout. Thankfully the closing angle was really good.
This week’s WWE Raw started off really strong and promising, in what was a very good show for hour one, but then largely turned back into the same old Monday Night Raw for hour two, except for the Ricochet/Styles stuff. Hour three started with the horrible and weird Mike and Maria angle, and we got some okay angle advancement with Nikki and Alexa. The Street Profits were around for reasons not yet made clear and they were entertaining, and we closed with Styles and Ricochet making the best out of the shit formatting and then closed with a really well done heel turn which led to The Club reunion. I think this will be good for Styles and The Good Brothers, sort of a refresh for them all if you will. I never once expected changes over night, because it just doesn’t happen that way and they have a PPV coming up and plans in motion. Part of the issue continues to be that Raw is three hours long and it's simply just a bad format for TV wrestling because no one has cracked the code in terms of how to properly pace the show. But I enjoyed this episode of Raw more than previous weeks I have to say and hopefully this will be a sign of good things to come.