Roman Reigns Relinquished the Universal Championship
Wow. I really do not know what else to say. Reigns announcing he has leukemia came completely out of nowhere. He mentioned that it has been in remission for over 11 years and now it's back. There's no telling how long he'll be out for, but here's wishing him a speedy recovery. The crowd was as classy as could be. Obviously, no one else knew about this announcement considering the very real reactions from the commentators afterward. Can we all just agree that cancer sucks?
Finn Balor def. Bobby Lashley
Don't get me wrong, Lashley as a heel is a great move, but he needs to show some more personality and not leave it all up to Lio Rush (who should not be talking as much as he is during Lashley's matches). At any rate, this was a solid match, but I'm sure these two could do better with more time, and based off the fluky finish, the feud will continue. Hopefully Lashley bounces back by beating the living hell out of Balor and getting that aggressive edge back he used to have in IMPACT.
Ruby Riott def. Sasha Banks
The Riott Squad vs. Banks, Bayley and Natalya has been added to the Evolution card, and honestly, I couldn't care less. No disrespect to The Riott Squad, but Banks and Bayley deserve to be involved in a much more important match on the pay-per-view. On the bright side, Banks and Riott worked well against each other here and built toward the six-woman tag team affair effectively. The heels building momentum makes sense if the babyfaces end up going over on Sunday.
The Brothers of Destruction Interrupted D-Generation X
Personally, I have no desire to see Triple H and Shawn Michaels reunite against The Undertaker and Kane at WWE Crown Jewel, but crowds are still super into the DX shtick and were very much behind them here. However, it was a pretty standard promo and the response from Undertaker and Kane was exactly what you'd expect. The buzz around this bout just isn't there for me, but I'm not at all speaking for everyone else. It feels like like a one-off attraction and nothing more.
Braun Strowman Interrupted Paul Heyman
I was glad Heyman was respectful of Reigns and his situation instead of turning it into something storyline-driven by calling him a coward for relinquishing the championship or whatever. Rather, he hyped up the match for the vacant Universal Championship at Crown Jewel, which will see Braun Strowman take on Brock Lesnar. Strowman appears to be in full-on face mode at this point, especially following Drew McIntyre's attack on him. That's probably for the best with Raw losing Reigns for the time being.
Elias def. Apollo Crews
This match was teased on last week's Raw, so it was only appropriate that WWE delivered on it. My hope was that Crews would be able to showcase his skills a bit and give fans a feel for what he can actually do in the ring, but no such luck. It was a rather average outing and Crews didn't gain much in defeat. In fact, Elias was the one who had everyone talking afterward when he laid out Baron Corbin with a guitar shot to the head. An Elias turn is totally unexpected yet I'm in favor of it because it's something new for him and could be the shot in the arm his character needs.
Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey and Nikki Bella Signed the Contract for Their Match at Evolution
I was among those who were impressed with Rousey's mic work last week, even if not everything she said felt natural. Thus, I was happy she did the exact opposite this week by letting the Bellas do most of the talking for her, resulting in Rousey keeping her lines short, sweet and straight to the point. If wasn't already obvious enough, Rousey vs. Nikki is headlining Evolution. We'll see if they deliver in the ring, but at least they've done everything possible to get people invested in their match.
Ember Moon def. Tamina, Nia Jax and Dana Brooke in a Fatal 4-Way Match
These four were involved in a tag team match together last week that meant nothing, and this wasn't much better. I realize they'll be a part of a throwaway Battle Royal at Evolution where the winner will earn a future title shot, but I can't imagine that they truly thought a two-minute Fatal 4-Way would get people to look forward to that. If nothing else, Moon won as she should have.
Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose def. Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre to Win the Raw Tag Team Championship
I loved the match these two teams had at Hell in a Cell last month, and although the circumstances were different this time around, this was an equally excellent outing with a fantastic second half that the crowd was white-hot for. Strowman's interference was totally logical because now he and McIntyre can feud going forward. The reaction to Rollins and Ambrose capturing the gold was off the charts... only for Ambrose to betray Rollins out of nowhere! WWE has been teasing it for weeks, but for them to pull the trigger on the turn when they did was mind-blowing. The audience in attendance was in awe of his assault on Rollins, with most fans outright angry and upset about it. The heel heat he received was unreal, and I don't think it would have packed as much of a punch if it was on any other night. What a crazy ending.
Needless to say, Reigns having to relinquish the title changed everything WWE had planned for Raw. That alone caused them to turn Strowman, Ambrose, and even Elias. That's unbelievable. I hate for Reigns to be gone from Raw, but the show absolutely had a must-see vibe about it coming out of tonight. Meanwhile, I feel bad for the women because although there was hype for Evolution on Sunday, it got lost in the shuffle with everything else that happened on this show, to the point where the focus is hardly on the pay-per-view compared to everything else going on at the moment. Part of that isn't the company's fault, and I have faith that the event will be worth watching, but the build left a lot to be desired.
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