Shawn Spears def. Brian Pillman Jr.
I'm honestly surprised it's taken this long for AEW to utilize Pillman in an official capacity. Granted, he was a part of the Casino Battle Royal back at Double or Nothing 2019, but other than appearing in the audience at recent shows, he hasn't competed for the company since. I believe he's currently under contract to MLW because otherwise he'd be an easy signing and a great get for AEW. Although this didn't last long, he was able to impress even in defeat and have a memorable showing. This was a fun little opener.
Big Swole def. Rache Chanel
This was my first time seeing Chanel in action and nothing she did made me want to see her brought back. This was the exact opposite of the opening match in that it felt like it dragged on and was sloppy at certain points. I understand it was designed to be a showcase for Swole, but if that was the case, then there was no reason for this to last as long as it did. At least Swole and Britt Baker furthered their feud by exchanging looks at ringside.
WWE Champion Drew McIntyre def. Heath Slater (Non-Title)
While none of this made me any more excited for McIntyre's WWE Championship defense against Dolph Ziggler at Extreme Rules than I was before, it was a strong segment with Slater (who was legitimately released from the company back in April) delivering the best promo I've probably ever heard him cut. I loved how they weaved reality into the storyline and McIntyre made up for not keeping in touch with Slater by saving him from Ziggler afterward. The match itself was over in under 30 minutes, but this was an excellent use of Slater assuming it was a one-off.
Kairi Sane def. WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Sasha Banks by Disqualification (Non-Title)
This marked Sane's first appearance on Raw in a while and it was great to see her back. There have long been rumblings that Sane could be returning to Japan sometime soon, so hopefully this means those rumors aren't true. She was well protected here, which was surprising since I figured Banks would win decisively. This was a quality contest while it lasted that set up the obvious WWE Women's Tag Team Championship match next week's Raw.
Isiah "Swerve" Scott def. Matt Martel by Disqualification; Scott and Tony Nese def. Ever-Rise
I'm becoming a big fan of Ever-Rise, but I can't say I'm particularly interested in them as singles competitors because they've barely been defined as a team so far. At least they were entertaining as heels here. Scott vs. Martel never reached that next gear before Chase Parker's interference, leading to Tony Nese coming to Scott's aid and turning it into a tag team match. I'm surprised Nese is already being back to being a babyface (seemingly), but maybe it's a part of a bigger story with Nese turning on Scott after earning his trust. I'd rather they form an alliance because they've already had a bunch of matches together, even though their encounter last week was a banger.
Legado del Fantasma (Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde) def. Leon Ruff and Liam Gray
I'm happy the trio of Santos Escobar, Mendoza and Wilde have finally arrived on 205 Live. Their story has largely played out on NXT over the past month, but what's the point of 205 Live if the Cruiserweight Champion isn't going to appear? This was our first time seeing Mendoza and Wilde in action since their heel turn and it was a glorious squash. They work wonderfully together and are already great in their new roles. As I've said several times before, this faction has a ton of potential and I really hope they don't get bungled by bad booking.
King Corbin Interrupted Michael Cole's Interview with Matt Riddle; Riddle def. John Morrison
Riddle's pre-match interview with Michael Cole was decent, but I really hope Riddle's explanation for why he doesn't wear shoes doesn't lead to him eventually wearing boots. Then again, I've basically accepted it as an inevitability by this point. On the bright side, this was a hell of an opener between Riddle and Morrison. It's a shame Morrison and The Miz don't mean more at the moment coming off their string of losses dating back to April, but at least he can always be counted on for a quality contest. I assumed King Corbin would be Riddle's first foe on the main roster and that was made official here.
Intercontinental Champion AJ Styles def. Drew Gulak
This match was originally advertised for last week but ended up being saved for this show instead. I assume Daniel Bryan opted to stay home because of the current conditions, but it was cool they were able to include his comments on Gulak and Styles via Zoom throughout the bout. As expected, this was a very well-wrestled, enjoyable affair that received a ton of time. Gulak scored enough offense that he looked credible in defeat. This is exactly what I want to see from Styles as Intercontinental Champion, not whatever the hell his reign as United States Champion was last year.
Tegan Nox def. Dakota Kai, Mia Yim and Candice LeRae in an NXT Women's Championship No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match
The elimination stipulation, which was added just in the last few days, added to this match and allowed it to last longer. That isn't always a must, but it did eat up a good chunk of television time. All four ladies worked well against each other and the order of eliminations of logical. Yim and LeRae got to further their feud and Nox and Kai never cease to have terrific chemistry together. I assumed Kai would win after she called out Io Shirai last week, so Nox becoming the new number one contender to the title instead was a pleasant surprise. Shirai vs. Nox is fresh and should be a banger.
Timothy Thatcher def. Oney Lorcan
There are a ton of similarities between these two as far as their in-ring styles go, so I was really excited for this encounter coming into the show and they did not disappoint. They beat the holy hell out of each other, worked a frantic pace and were given an ample amount of time. Thatcher has plenty of momentum right now following that Fight Pit win over Matt Riddle back in May and now this, so here's hoping NXT has something important for him planned soon.
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