By Steven Flora
After a solid Payback PPV last Sunday, Raw’s superstars came out to do battle once more. A proud goddess, a lunatic fringe and a wicked Wyatt made this episode of Raw one of the best in a very long time.
Wyatt sets his sights on Balor
The Miz def. Finn Balor & Seth Rollins in a Triple Threat match to become No. 1 contender for the Intercontinental Championship
This match came about as both Balor and Rollins expressed their interest in challenging Brock Lesnar for the Universal title. Ambrose made his way to the ring to remind the two that since Lesnar is rarely on Raw nowadays (SHOTS FIRED), the IC title is the No. 1 title on Monday Night Raw and he’ll defend it anytime, anywhere. The Miz once again runs his mouth about how he made the title relevant and that he deserves a shot at the belt. Miz and Balor trade strikes but Miz then takes control with a sleeper. Balor works to his feet, but Miz maintains control. Balor cuts off the corner clothesline, but Rollins returns to take him out with an awkward looking high cross. Miz posts Rollins and hits the corner dropkicks. The clothesline follows, with Miz covering for 2. Miz then slams Rollins into Balor, sending him to the floor. Miz then works the Daniel Bryan kicks to both, but Balor makes the comeback, sending Miz into a Rollins DDT. Balor lays in running chops to both, and sends Miz to the floor and hits the PK off the apron and then hits the running dropkick to Rollins. Back in and Balor hits the 1916, but Miz makes the save. Balor works over Miz, Rollins joins in and Rollins hits the superkick for a near fall on Balor. Rollins works over Balor in the corner, and then takes out Miz. Rollins hits a blockbuster to both, heads up top and hits high fly flow on Balor for a great near fall! Rollins tosses Balor, and hits a superplex into the falcon arrow on Miz for a great near fall! Rollins takes out Balor and Miz with suicide dives, but Joe is here to take out Rollins! Back in and Balor hits sling blade and the corner dropkick on Miz. But Bray Wyatt is here, and takes out Balor and hits Sister Abigail, and disappears, allowing Miz to win.
Side Note: I’m not even mad at the interference because this match was absolutely incredible in every sense of the word. The Miz now stays in the IC title hunt, Rollins still has problems with Joe and Wyatt can now start his highly-anticipated feud with Balor! All three feuds should provide some great storytelling, resulting in some phenomenal matches, later down the line.
Medical update on Reigns & Strowman
After last Sundays’ brutal main event match at Payback, Raw GM Kurt Angle tells the WWE Universe that both Reigns and Strowman have suffered major injuries. It was noted that Reigns re-injured his ribs (and suffered other internal injuries), whilst Strowman had injured his rotator cuff.
Side Note: So far I’m invested in this storyline. Roman Reigns has been performing well in this feud and with him having time off; it allows other midcard stars to shine on Raw. Strowman, on the other hand, has benefited massively from this feud and has placed him right at the top of the Raw roster. I have no idea where this feud will go next but if it’s anywhere near the brutality of their Payback match, then I’m all for it.
Sheamus & Cesaro turn a new page
Cesaro & Sheamus are sporting some new heelish black jackets which look pretty awesome. Sheamus says it feels good to be set free; he never really liked any of you (the fans). Cesaro then says that the people felt the nostalgia, just like they do when some new shiny trinket shows up, and refuse to embrace what is right in front of them. But last night, they proved that the Hardys were a novelty act and that they don’t belong in the ring with a warrior and a superman. Last night they showed the novelty act that this is a new WWE, one that they run. They will win back the titles, because they don’t set the bar, they are the bar. The Hardys arrive, and Matt says it’s amazing that Sheamus Cesaro believe what they are saying. They then rush the ring and Cesaro & Sheamus bail.
The Raw women’s’ division go to war
Alexa Bliss, Emma, Alicia Fox and Nia Jax def. Sasha Banks Mickie James, Dana Brooke and Bayley
Bayley and Emma worked to begin, James tagged in and worked the arm and then landed kicks and a clothesline. Brooke tagged in as Emma quickly tagged in Fox. Brooke took control, hitting the back handspring elbow in the corner. Banks in now, she worked the arm of Fox and tagged Bayley in. Quick tags by the faces follow, with James in and scoring a near fall. Banks finally got the hot tag, working over Bliss and then hitting the stunner in the ropes. It breaks down, James hits a dove onto Jax on the floor. Emma tosses Brooke, Bayley and Banks beat down Fox, but Bliss rakes Bayley’s eyes and hits the DDT for the win.
Side Note: Great opener to Raw showcasing all the women on Raw and giving them equal time to show off their skills. The Raw women’s division feels fresh with Charlotte’s departure, and it’s nice to see more women get TV time.
Other notable moments
Austin Aries took on TJP in a below average match. TJP had control, dabbing while he works the knee. TJP stayed one step ahead of Aries, continuing to attack the knee; every time Aries tried to fire up, TJP would cut him off or avoid him and attack the knee. TJP to the floor, Aries then hit a suicide dive, moments after not being able to support his own weight, and hit the dive at a full run. Back in and Aries took control, playing the hits and then hitting the second rope elbow drop. TJP fought back, but Aries avoided the kick and hit a shin breaker into a German. Aries then countered the detonation kick, and locked in the last chancery for the win. Winner: Austin Aries.
Tony Nese, Brian Kendrick, & Noam Dar took on Rich Swann, Akira Tozawa, & Jack Gallagher in a classic 6-man tag match. Kendrick and Tozawa brawl right away, with Tozawa rolling through the sunset flip and hitting a kick. Nese cuts him off, and takes control. Nese then works a torture rack, Tozawa escapes and tags in Swann, he and Dar battle back and forth, Gallagher in and sends Dar to the floor. Tozawa escapes, hits the suplex but Dar cuts him off for a moment, and Swann is now in and runs wild with clothesline and a rolling thunder for 2. Kendrick cuts him off, but Gallagher tags in and hits the head butt for 2. Gallagher head butts Nese; Tozawa saves Gallagher from the captain’s hook as Swann and Tozawa hit dives. Corner dropkick by Gallagher and he pins Kendrick. Winner: Jack Gallagher, Akira Tozawa & Rich Swann.
Gallows took on Enzo Amore in a boring matchup. Gallows attacks right away, hitting a big boot and then working over Enzo in the corner. Gallows then grounds Enzo with a top wristlock. Enzo back to his feet, hits a boot and DDT off the ropes for the double down. Enzo then followed with jabs and a dropkick to the knee. The running kick to the face follows, but Gallows cuts him off with an uppercut, but Enzo counters a suplex into a small package. Enzo up top, Anderson distracts him allowing Gallows to hit the flapjack for the win. Winner: Luke Gallows.
Apollo Crews took on Heath Slater in an average filler match. They worked back and forth to begin, playing it clean and keeping it friendly. Crews picks up the pace, hitting dropkicks, but Slater sidesteps him and sends him to the floor. Crews hits the sidekick, and then the leaping lariat. They worked a series of counters, Crews hits the enziguri and follows with the Apollo bomb for the win. Winner: Apollo Crews.
Ambrose to Balor – “Eat some carbs maaaaaan”.
Alexa Bliss to Bayley – “Now your family have a role model to look up to!”
Overall Raw Rating: B
Things to look forward to next week
When will Reigns and Strowman return to Raw?
Who will be the next rising star to take on Neville for his Cruiserweight title?
When will Lesnar defend his Universal title?
Will Elias Samson ever wrestle?
How will Balor respond to Wyatt’s interference?