Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley in a Falls Count Anywhere Match Ended in a No Contest
It's amazing how WWE (er, Paul Heyman) was able to take a feud most fans could not have cared less about even one week ago and make it one of the hottest angles on Raw in many, many months. The match itself before the big stunt was a lot of fun and exactly what it should have been. The pyrotechnics over the stage exploding really kicked the night off on a high note and gave the feeling that anything could happen. The unique camera angles were also a very nice touch as they made people think what they were seeing was real. This is how you start a wrestling show right.
The New Day def. The Viking Raiders by Disqualification; Samoa Joe and Viking Raiders def. The New Day
Big E and Xavier Woods first took on Viking Raiders before Joe interfered because they're obviously allies of his Extreme Rules opponent Kofi Kingston. It then predictably turned into a six-man tag team match after the commercial break, but it was enjoyable for as long as it lasted. Joe and the Raiders are a trio I didn't know I needed until now and the heels winning was the right result. Kingston hasn't lost at all since becoming WWE Champion, so Joe forcing him to pass out here actually meant something and positions him as a threat to the title (something WWE was never able to accomplish with Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn or Dolph Ziggler previously).
Cesaro vs. No Way Jose Went to a No Contest
It's interesting to note that part of Jose's entrance was televised whereas Cesaro's was not. Then again, that was done to show that R-Truth was in the congo line and messing with Drake Maverick and his wife in the crowd, so it probably means nothing. The match never got started as a result of the nonsense of the 24/7 Championship, so Cesaro instead attacked Jose on the outside of the ring. We all know Heyman is a big supporter of Cesaro, so hopefully this leads to something substantial for him.
The Undertaker Interrupted Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre
To be completely honest with you, McIntyre and Shane have been saying the same stuff for weeks if not months at this point, so I largely zone out during their promos. I'm glad Undertaker was given some rare mic time to address why he chose to align himself with Roman Reigns last week on Raw. Granted, his explanation made zero sense and was typical Undertaker gibberish, but I appreciated the attempt, nonetheless. Hey, at least the crowd liking seeing 'Taker live.
Lacey Evans def. Natalya
After losing to Lynch twice decisively on pay-per-view, Evans could use all the credibility she can get at the moment. WWE having her win a match for a change was refreshing, but there was no need for Baron Corbin to aid her to victory. I mean, come on, it's Natalya for goodness sake! Evans could have defeated her on her own and it wouldn't have made a lick of a difference for Natalya. The match itself wasn't anything special whatsoever.
The Miz def. Elias in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
I am so sick of these 2-out-of-3 Falls matches that I never want to see another one after this. From a storyline standpoint, it was logical for Miz to exact revenge on Elias after Elias cheated to beat him on SmackDown Live last week, but this could have been a standard singles match and I don't think anyone would have cared. It was great to see Miz more aggressive than usual and on the winning side for once. He needs to continue to build momentum to repair all the damage done to his character since WrestleMania 35.
Universal Champion Seth Rollins and Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch def. Mike and Maria Kanellis
I'm stoked that Mike and Maria Kanellis were finally featured on Raw for the first time in, well, ever, but that's about all the good I can say about this. I didn't originally have an issue with WWE openly acknowledging the Rollins-Lynch relationship on the show, but they have since shoved it down our throats, and their cringe-worthy backstage segment that preceded this didn't help matters. The actual "match" was a total squash of Mike Kanellis and ended with him tapping out to Lynch. I'm not even sure how that was possible if he wasn't legal. Maria berated him on the mic afterward and outright said she'd rather have Lynch impregnate her in the future than Mike because he isn't a real man. That was certainly something, to say the least.
Carmella Crashed Moment of Bliss with Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross; Carmella def. Bliss; Cross def. Carmella
Everyone was asking what the point was of Cross beating Bayley on SmackDown if Bliss was going to be the one getting the SmackDown Women's Championship shot at Extreme Rules and not her. Of course, that was brought up here and Cross refused to believe Carmella about Bliss trying to manipulate her. That led to Carmella defeating Bliss in a matter of seconds only for Cross to defeat Carmella a few minutes later. This was an effective angle with Cross earning her way into the SmackDown Women's title match at Extreme Rules (or so I hope).
United States Champion Ricochet def. AJ Styles
After Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson "motivated" Styles earlier in the episode, I had a pretty decent idea of how this was going to play out, but I still loved watching it unfold. Similar to last week, they worked well together and produced an entertaining main event, but I hated the restart because of the dumb edict that there can't be any wrestling during commercial breaks. I'm really looking forward to them facing off Extreme Rules so they can avoid that all together. Just when it looked like Styles and Ricochet would oppose Gallows and Anderson, Styles blindsided Ricochet and turned heel. As popular of a face as he is, he desperately needed a change in character, and I'm also excited because this gives Gallows and Anderson something to do as well. This came off wonderfully and closed the show with a strong cliffhanger.
There was a ton of talk online about how much influence Heyman had on this show. My speculation is that he had a lot to do with the opening segment, but I'm not sure about the rest of the show. Was he responsible for that trash with Rollins, Lynch and the Kanellis couple, too? No clue. Hopefully he gets more control over Raw as time progresses, because that angle with Strowman and Lashley was masterful. The Club reuniting was also excellent along with the six-man tag team match. Street Profits showing up in two backstage segments was super random, but I got a kick out of them. On the whole, this was a much better show than usual. I believe it'll be a while before Raw is great again, but it seems they're taking the appropriate steps in the right direction.
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