By Steven Flora
Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose failed to reclaim the Raw Tag Team Titles thanks in no small part to the intervention of Samoa Joe. How will The Shield repay The Samoan Submission Specialist and his new allies, Sheamus & Cesaro?
The Bar & Samoa Joe get one over on The Shield
No DQ Match for the RAW Tag Team Championships: The Bar (c) def. Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose to retain the RAW Tag Team Championships
Ambrose & Rollins’ bid for their second Raw Tag Team Championship fell short not once but twice in a single evening, as their battle with Cesaro & Sheamus quickly descended into chaos that involved a reconfiguring of the match and an unwelcome appearance by Samoa Joe.
The Lunatic Fringe and The Kingslayer technically defeated The Bar at first, albeit via disqualification when Sheamus rushed the match without a tag to stomp Rollins into a pulp. Raw General Manager Kurt Angle disputed the conclusion of the title bout and restarted it under No Disqualification rules, which opened the door for The Samoan Submission Machine to provide a decisive (and legal) assist. His interference handed The Bar a more concrete victory over their challengers when Sheamus connected with a savage Brogue Kick on Ambrose after Roman Reigns hit the scene to chase Joe off.
The Alabaster Gladiator threw legal man Cesaro on top of The Lunatic Fringe to notch a pinfall that Reigns was a beat too late to save, though he did manage to help drive The Bar and Joe back up into the high ground of the crowd. They may find, however, that giving Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns a common enemy could leave them with precious few places to hide. Winner: The Bar (c).
Side Note: Everyone will know by now what amazing matches these two teams can come up with, and tonight was no exception. This match had everything: drama, suspense and a lot of interference. This is clearly building up to a six-man tag team match next week on Raw, but it's good to see intertwining storylines that actually make sense for once!
Roman silences Jordan
Intercontinental Champion Roman Reigns def. Jason Jordan
Even by his brazen standards, Jordan may have made what was his boldest bid for respect yet this week on Raw. After misses against Braun Strowman and Kane, the gold-blooded Superstar challenged Reigns for a title bout right as the Intercontinental Champion was demanding Angle sanction a match between himself and Samoa Joe, and even offered to throw down with Joe himself when the former NXT Champion stole his thunder by emerging to accept Reigns’ challenge.
When Reigns failed to treat Jordan’s presence seriously, the young Superstar suplexed the champion out of nowhere, forcing Reigns into a title match while Joe watched from the ramp. Jordan made good on the opportunity to showcase his abilities (catching Reigns mid-air out of a Superman Punch and charging him into the steps was a thing of beauty, as were his one-legged Northern Lights Suplexes), but the win was once again just beyond his grasp. Reigns sealed Jordan’s fate by targeting his taped-up knee — which Jordan re-injured after a tumble over the ropes — and landing the devastating Superman Punch-Spear combo for the win.
Jordan wasn’t about to let his effort be overlooked by Joe, however, as he intruded on a post-match attack from The Samoan Submission Machine by suplexing him away from Reigns just as Joe was locking in the Coquina Clutch. The Big Dog repaid Jordan by Superman Punching him out of the ring, and when Jordan demanded a match with Joe from Angle moments later in the locker-room area (while Angle was defending himself to Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon on the phone, no less), The Samoan Submission Machine added insult to injury by sneak-attacking him right in front of his father. Winner: Roman Reigns.
Side Note: Great match. Reigns looked strong as he did last week but Jordan, wow is he one hell of a talent. In some cases I feel sorry for him because he's in such an awkward situation that he'll always get boos from the WWE universe. You can hate his storyline all you want but there is no denying Jordan is one hell of a talent and definitely one for the future.
Absolution run the RAW Women's division
Paige def. Sasha Banks
This was a great women's match, one of the best I've seen this year. On paper this looked like a great match and it didn't disappoint. Both with contrasting styles with Paige being the more aggressive brawler and Banks being the the technical wizard, this match was great and it was nice to see Paige back in action. As for Absolution, they continue to target the Women of RAW, but I wonder how long it will be before they get to the RAW Women's champion, Alexa Bliss.
Matt Hardy sentenced Bray Wyatt to "deletion"
Last week’s loss to Bray Wyatt seemed to have destroyed Matt Hardy. Not so. The former Raw Tag Team Champion deployed a message to interrupt Wyatt’s latest sermon, enlightening the WWE Universe as to what, exactly, had happened to him seven days prior.
The Eater of Worlds had warned the WWE Universe against trusting “the ramblings of a madman,” but Hardy countered that his true self had become “woken,” and that he had burst free of his mortal "vessel" as a result of his defeat. While Wyatt promised he would “burn” all those who opposed him, Hardy got the last word this time around, sentencing Wyatt to nothing less than “deletion.”
Side Note: It took seven months but ladies and gentlemen, we finally got broken, I mean WOKEN Matt Hardy. If you weren't tuning into Impact Wrestling over a year ago, you may have missed the reincarnation of Broken Matt & Brother Nero (Jeff Hardy). This in tune reinvigorated Matt Hardy and thus he became the biggest star in the independent scene before he returned along with Jeff to WWE back in April. Broken Matt was a force to be reckoned with, however, Woken Matt has only just begun.
Balor defeats one half of the Miztourage
Finn Balor def. Bo Dallas
With The Miz out of action shooting a movie, The Miztourage’s quest to represent his brand continues apace. This week, it was Bo Dallas — entering to Miz’s music, no less — who flew the flag against Bálor in a match he intended to dedicate to The A-Lister, should he prove victorious.
He did not, though not for lack of trying. Dallas’ open challenge to Finn was certainly a bold maneuver, and he utilized The Awesome One’s “Mizdom” to pulverize Bálor with a bruising attack of his ribs. But the first-ever Universal Champion answered Dallas' impressive efforts, unleashing a quick-strike Sling Blade and a final Coup de Grâce that took him halfway across the ring for the victory. Winner: Finn Balor.
Side Note: Somehow, just watching this you feel as though Balor is being punished. It's like he's slowly slipping down the card and becoming featured less prominently in main event action. With all the talk about Mr. McMahon saying "Balor isn't over," will we see Balor challenging for the WWE Universal Championship?
Other notable moments
Drew Gulak vs. Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali vs. Tony Nese: The Last week, Angle sanctioned two Fatal 4-Way Matches to determine who would battle for the right to challenge WWE Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Amore. Rich Swann won the first, and now, Drew Gulak has prevailed in the second to each clinch their place in next week’s one-on-one match, setting up a potential confrontation between a member of The Zo Train and their ringleader (who had an interesting interaction with Nia Jax in the locker room area before the match began). It was almost going to be a battle between Swann and Cedric Alexander, who’s been both a friend and tag team partner to the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion over the last couple of months. Alexander unleashed the full scope of his offense against Gulak, Tony Nese and especially Mustafa Ali, the high-flyer who matched Cedric move for move in the early goings and resurfaced for another throwdown toward the end. Alexander even rallied from Ali’s astonishing springboard Spanish Fly to take out both Nese and Ali with Lumbar Checks, but Gulak blasted Cedric with a knee to the head before he could cover Ali, stealing the win for himself. Gulak had even planned to address the potential collision between himself and Enzo in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, alas, the show went to commercial before he could launch into his slides. That said, Gulak may end up making his point yet at Swann’s expense … and, perhaps, Enzo’s. Winner: Drew Gulak.
Braun Strowman attacked Elias: Elias came within inches of the Intercontinental Championship last week, so he was understandably miffed when Angle bestowed the next opportunity at Reigns’ title to his son instead. That said, Elias may have been a little too blunt in his criticism of The Olympic Hero, which is why he ended up facing a mystery opponent that turned out to be Strowman. To Elias’ credit, he didn’t even try to fight The Monster Among Men, instead leading the behemoth into a mad pursuit before the bell rang. When that didn’t get him anywhere, he went down swinging — literally. Elias smashed the guitar over the back of Strowman, who quickly shook it off and planted Elias with a Running Powerslam for his troubles. Strowman had eyes on an even more sinister outcome, tossing the steel steps into the ring, but his attack was cut short when Kane emerged on the TitanTron with retribution on his mind for Strowman’s assault the previous week — as well as a challenge for another in-ring confrontation. “Together, we will descend into the abyss,” said The Big Red Machine. “But only one monster will emerge.”
Asuka vs. Alicia Fox: Alicia Fox is unpredictable, but not so unpredictable that she’s ready for Asuka. The Empress of Tomorrow followed up on her near-instantaneous defeat of Dana Brooke last week (setting a record for fastest submission victory in a women’s match) by toppling the former Divas Champion, though Alicia did manage to make it interesting (that big boot!) before suffering the fateful armbar that spelled her end. The arrival of Absolution quickly complicated the situation, as they encircled the ring with both Asuka and Alicia still inside. Asuka once again accepted a stalemate and exited when Absolution made no move, leaving Alicia alone in the proverbial lion’s den. Paige reassured her “best friend” Fox that she had nothing to fear from her — the same couldn’t be said, however, for Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose, who quickly decimated the former Divas Champion. Winner: Asuka.
Overall Raw Rating: C
Things to look forward to next week
Will we see WOKEN Matt?
Will we see Rose & Deville in action next week?
What the hell is happening with Nia Jax and Enzo Amore?
How will Kane avenge Strowman after the assault made by the Monster among Men?
Who will be the next challenger for Brock Lesnar's Universal Championship?