Brock Lesnar Attacked Rey Mysterio and Dominick
Dominick has basically been a regular on WWE TV since the beginning of Mysterio's feud with Samoa Joe before WrestleMania 35. I was shocked at the time that Joe never once got physical with Dominick, but hey, I'd argue Dominick getting his ass kicked was worth the wait. It didn't come at the hands of Joe, mind you, but Lesnar was an even better choice to do the deed. Props to Dominick, who sold the beating like a champ. Both he and Mysterio came across as incredibly sympathetic while Lesnar scored a ton of heat for the ruthless assault. Mission accomplished. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that this planted the seeds for a future face-off between Lesnar and Mysterio, possibly over the WWE Championship post-Draft.
Sasha Banks def. WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Alexa Bliss
Banks vs. Bliss is hardly a rivalry I was excited to see revisited, but this was solid enough, so I can't knock it. It was hardly memorable for the four minutes it got, but I liked that there wasn't any outside interference from Nikki Cross or Bayley. Instead, Becky Lynch (who sat in on commentary) ran down to the ring afterward and forced Banks to flee. Her promo didn't light the world on fire, but thankfully, I was already sold on their Hell in a Cell clash this Sunday.
Raw Tag Team Champions Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler def. Heavy Machinery
I realize Heavy Machinery has been on a bit of a winning streak on SmackDown Live lately, but this match came completely out of nowhere. They weren't feuding coming into this contest, so fans had zero reason to believe that Heavy Machinery could capture the belts. I'd say that a SmackDown team winning Raw's tag titles is ridiculous, but then again, The Revival (who are Raw wrestlers) are the current SmackDown Tag Team Champions. Nevertheless, this was a nice little match with the heels winning clean (and Roode once again picking up the win for him and Ziggler).
Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair Announced Team Hogan vs. Team Flair on Miz TV
If you haven't heard already, the critically-acclaimed WWE Crown Jewel pay-per-view (and I say that sarcastically, of course) will be making its return to Saudi Arabia, this year on Halloween. I actually appreciated that this wasn't another pointless segment with the legends doing their usual shticks. Rather, it set the stage for Team Hogan vs. Team Flair at the event. I was worried for a second that they'd be wrestling on the show (which wouldn't surprise me considering it'll emanate from Saudi Arabia), but they'll instead be acting as coaches for their teams. Seth Rollins will the captain of Team Hogan (apparently alongside Rusev) and Randy Orton will captain Team Flair (with King Corbin joining him as well).
The Viking Raiders def. The O.C.
I really liked the match these two tandems had last week. This wasn't quite as strong in my opinion, but there's no denying they have quality chemistry together. Unfortunately, the crowd was quiet and didn't pop for Viking Raiders winning as loudly as they did last week. On the bright side, Viking Raiders remain undefeated. If they aren't contending for the Raw Tag Team Championship in the near future, something is seriously wrong.
Ricochet def. Cesaro
This bout came about after Cesaro disrespected Mysterio during a backstage interview, leading to Ricochet standing up for him and challenging Cesaro to an impromptu match. If you can recall, these two feuded for a few weeks on Raw earlier in the summer, so it's been established that they can produce fun matches against each other. That was once again the case here, even though it didn't last long, and the finish looked awesome. I realize it's a long shot, but Cesaro should be drafted to NXT or NXT UK in the upcoming WWE Draft. At least he'd actually be utilized to his full potential on either one of those shows.
United States Champion AJ Styles def. Cedric Alexander
I was disappointed that their encounter at Clash of Champions was barely five minutes in length (let alone how it was placed on the Kickoff show), so I was happy that they were given some more time here to go out and kill it like only they can. Both men brought the intensity, kept the action exciting throughout, and had the crowd hanging on their every nearfall down the stretch. Selfishly, I was pulling for an Alexander title win, but Styles was able to steal the victory yet again. Here's hoping Alexander can maintain momentum despite definitely being removed from the title picture following his latest loss.
Lacey Evans def. Natalya
Isn't it funny how anything involving Evans and Natalya in recent weeks has been put in the third hour of Raw just before the main event? Okay, it's not really that funny, but WWE is well aware that it's filler and how no one cares. As I've said before, it's nice WWE is booking a program for the women on Raw outside of the title picture, but Natalya has bored me to tears for years and Evans is still improving. This match was as basic as it gets. Please let Evans' win mean that we can move on from this once and for all.
Universal Champion Seth Rollins vs. Rusev Ended in a No Contest
I hate to sound negative, but almost everything about this was trash. First and foremost, Rollins vs. Rusev was a significant step down from what we were supposed to get (Rollins vs. Mysterio) before the segment that started the show. It was obvious it was going to be less about the match and more about who'd be revealed as emerging from the limo. Sure enough, it was the returning Bobby Lashley and Lana, who are apparently an item now (based off how they made out on the stage while Rusev looked on from the ring). Why didn't Rusev react? Why was Rollins out for so long at ringside? Why would such an atrocious angle close out the show? "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt attacking Rollins was well done, but the rest of this was... uh, something else, to say the least.
As a "season premiere" of Raw (which will forever sound dumb to me because this show doesn't have seasons like normal television shows do), this was decent. It peaked early with that amazing opening segment, but the rest of the three hours were largely enjoyable between the United States Championship and Raw Tag Team Championship matches and Miz TV. More importantly, the updated graphics, entrance theme, commentary team and set (in addition to the return of pyro) were a needed change and made the show feel fresher than it has in years. As a go-home show for Hell in a Cell, however, this was lousy and featured too much filler. How the hell was there for more build for Crown Jewel in a month than Hell in a Cell this Sunday? I'm not joking when I say that there are only three matchups advertised for the card as of this writing. I doubt many more will be added on the SmackDown premiere on FOX given that the focus will be on everything else going on that night. It's almost as if WWE forgot they're having a pay-per-view this weekend and are choosing to deal with it when the time comes as opposed to announcing anything else in advance aside from the main matches. That's alarming.
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