After the refreshingly good Hell in a Cell PPV, all eyes were on WWE to carry on that positive momentum and keep producing good quality TV. Since the past two RAW’s had been mostly dreary affairs, it’s a relief to say it was a fun RAW. It still had filler but there was a lot to enjoy. Let’s get into it and break down the big three shows of WWE this week.
Returning to Saudi Arabia
RAW’s entire opening segment was dedicated to announcing WWE’s next trip to Saudi Arabia, The Crown Jewel in November. The segment started with Roman celebrating retaining the title and calling out Brock. Braun comes out and decries the whole thing complaining about Brock. This brings out Corbin who announces that both Roman and Braun will be facing Brock in a triple threat match for the Universal Title as the probable main event of this Saudi show. Braun called the whole thing crap and basically said everything and everyone sucked. Paul Heyman then made an appearance to brag about Brock’s antics and the segment ended. It wasn’t particularly interesting to watch but it dumped a lot of new information about upcoming shows on the audience. Corbin also made the main event himself vs Roman for the Universal Title.
Let’s just talk about the Crown Jewel a second. This comes right after Evolution and basically means WWE will be doing another show without the women taking part. Let’s hope that this one is more consequential than the Greatest Royal Rumble. There have been talks of some of the rumoured matches but it’s all speculation for now. Hopefully WWE reveal more details in the coming weeks. WWE have also kind of sacrificed this feud’s momentum by making it wait until November for the next big match.
Ambrose and Dean Tear It Down
Drew McIntyre defeats Dean Ambrose via Claymore
The first match saw the burgeoning rivalry between Dean Ambrose and Drew McIntyre got it’s first televised singles match. This was the first of three matches seeing The Dogs of War take on the Shield at the hands of Corbin. This was an entertaining match where two of the stronger guys on the roster basically tore into each other for a few minutes. It felt a bit like a teaser of more to come but also provided a substantial finish. Dean would go for a dive to the outside that missed causing him to collide with a barrier. Drew tries to take a count out but Dean makes it in for a nine count. Instead of fighting just resuming, Drew blasts Dean with a Claymore as he enters the ring and gets the three count. First blood goes to Drew in this rivalry and it was the only victory that the Dogs of War would get that night.
A Forced Rematch
Seth Rollins defeats Dolph Ziggler via Curb Stomp
Seth was basically forced into defending his IC Title on RAW as Baron Corbin talked Dolph into invoking his rematch clause that night. Corbin would add the stipulation that if Seth couldn’t wrestle the match, his title would be stripped and given to Dolph. Both men weren’t at 100% after taken a plunge off the cell but Corbin tried to twist this into it giving Dolph an advantage. Both men wrestled again, in a much shorter than normal match. Dolph was targeting limbs, especially the back and trying to take advantage of the injuries Seth had obtained. It wouldn’t be enough though as after Dolph reverses the Superplex into the Falcon Arrow into a roll up, Seth kicks out leaving Seth in position to hit the Curb Stomp. The Stomp is hit and the match ends with Seth managing to put Dolph away. It’ll be interesting to see how Ziggler reacts to this loss and if he shows any aggression towards Corbin for forcing him into the match. This also means another person is open to challenge for the IC Title now that Dolph has lost his rematch.
This is Still Going…
Chad Gable defeats Viktor via Rolling German Suplex
Can this angle go somewhere please? It’s all well and good seeing Chad Gable and Bobby Roode in this awkward team/mentor angle but how many times can they fight the Ascension? This time it was a singles match between Gable and Viktor with Roode and Konnor on the outside. It was a standard match with Gable hitting multiple suplex types, dropkicks and basically controlling the match. He even manages to deal with Konnor, cutting off Roode’s help much to Roode’s disappointment. He would win with another rolling German Suplex. They would celebrate in the ring, only for Konnor to blindside Gable pushing Gable into Roode, wiping both men out. Konnor legs it and we are now forced to sit through another Ascension/Roode & Gable match. Roode clearly isn’t too happy with this angle and being constantly upstaged by Gable so is it too much of a leap to see this as a heel turn? It would be the best way to do it and we can finally have a relevant Bobby Roode again.
Dana Can’t Catch a Break
Bayley defeats Dana Brooke via Bayley to Belly
Dana Brooke can’t seem to pull out the win at the moment. She has now split from Titus Worldwide and was trying to go solo. Her first solo challenge saw her fight Bayley in a singles match. She would put on a solid performance and actually gave Bayley quite the challenge but would eventually succumb to Bayley’s ring skill and instincts. Dana would be snapped off the ropes and hit with a running knee then a Bayley to Belly for the three count. Bayley gets a win and Dana still eats a loss despite having no interference in her corner. It’ll be interesting to see how she’ll take this loss and if she continues trying to push on solo or goes back to Titus Worldwide after a series of losses. It’ll be nice to see her stay solo and push on to an eventual win.
An Open Tease
This was an endearing segment for Ronda as she wanted to put on an open challenge for the Women’s title but she had no idea how to go about it. She was backstage with the Bellas and Natalya asking about this challenge and they advise her to just do this. Later in the show Rousey makes the challenge and Natalya’s music hits. Rousey prepares for a friendly challenge with her sparring partner only for her to be dragged out by the Riott Squad. Ruby Riott grabs a mic and states she will be accepting the challenge and orders her henchwomen to attack. They start to attack Rousey but the Bellas make the save. The whole thing basically plays out as a teaser for the six woman tag match at Super Showdown and no one gets a chance for the belt.
Lio Rush vs RAW
Elias defeats Bobby Lashley via DQ
This was the best segment on RAW by a mile. Lio Rush lives up to his nickname as he is gold. Elias comes to the ring about to perform again only to be interrupted by the Man of the Hour. Elias pulls out some amazing burns on Rush, asking who let their child come to ringside and threatens to call security. Rush talks back, laughing at Elias’ jokes and applauding before announcing Lashley’s arrival and getting the match underway. Rush is on commentary and distracts from the match the whole time as he throws out barbs and explains why he’s there for Lashley. The topic of conversation changes to Kevin Owens and Rush calls him a coward. This brings out KO and Rush basically starts using the environment to run away from Owens, jumping over the announcer’s table and heading for the ring. Elias tries to intercept and also gets avoided. Eventually Rush accidentally hits Elias with a kick getting the match thrown out. KO tries to hit an apron powerbomb only for Lashley to grab him and bring him into the ring. He then throws Rush into Elias and KO before celebrating with his new manager. This was just a whole lot of fun and it’s nice to see Bobby and 205 Live getting over in a natural way.
Nia Jax Returns
Nia Jax and Ember Moon defeat Mickie James and Alicia Fox via Samoan Drop
Welcome back Nia Jax. She came back to RAW as Ember Moon’s surprise tag team partner in a match against Alexa Bliss’ teammates. The match played out with Ember getting beaten down by the heels and Nia being the hot tag. Nia destroys the competition and Moon hits Mickie with the Eclipse clearing the ring for Nia to win with a Samoan Drop. It was a nice way to bring Nia back and Ember Moon got a win in her home town. An act that requires some applause.
Corbin Tries to Take the Universal
Roman Reigns defeats Baron Corbin via Spear
This was an overbooked mess making it the perfect metaphor for the Universal Title scene on the whole. We have so many players in this game now that a simple heelish title match can now feature interference from so many parties. The match started with Corbin trying to fight, being outclassed and ends up getting himself DQ’d before restarting the match. There was more back and forth before the interference started. We got Braun coming in to try and attack. He runs into a ring post after trying to mash Reigns in the corner. We had more interference from the Dogs of War and The Shield as they brawl on the outside. The Dogs of War eat suicide dives whilst Baron takes advantage of the chaos to hit Reigns. He tries to get into the ring to capitalise on his attack only to eat a Spear and a pin. This was a lot of fun to watch and was chaotic enough to ignore the fact that Corbin was never going to win the match. Baron also had a lot of great moments in the match when he forced the ring announcer to call him Acting General Manager and telling the ref not to give him special treatment. This entire narrative of him trying to sabotage the Shield was also an excellent thread to follow throughout the night.
Miz and Mrs on MIZ TV
Smackdown opened with another edition of Miz TV. This week’s guest was Maryse who was there to brag about pinning Brie Bella. The segment was all about Miz and Maryse bragging about winning and questioning the legitimacy of Bryan and Bella as a couple. They also announce Maryse leaving Smackdown to be a mother and the stipulation of Bryan vs Miz at Super Show Down. Whoever wins their match will face Styles for the title. These comments bring out an angry Daniel Bryan who once again tells Miz to leave his wife out of it and enters the ring to attack. The two brawl and Miz ends up going into Maryse. She falls to the floor clutching her stomach and a guilty Bryan looks over checking on her. Miz is freaking out ordering medical help and pacing the ring. The whole thing is a ruse however and Maryse is on the apron smirking as Miz tries to attack from behind. This backfires and Miz goes in to Maryse again and the two are knocked out of the ring, Maryse by Miz and Miz by Bryan. Daniel Bryan wins the segment and the Yes chants flood in once again.
Randy Orton’s Disturbing Tastes
This was a small segment with disturbing undertones. The cameras cut to someone backstage looking at shots from Hell in a Cell when he is accosted by Randy Orton who is demanding to see his attacks on Hardy. The cameraman obliges trying to appease Orton who is clutching his shoulder quite tightly. He starts to watch the replays and celebrates them in a rather perverse manner alongside this uncomfortable stage hand. The stage hand comments on Orton hurting him only to be put in an even more uncomfortable position as Orton now grabs his face. This was dedicated to Orton looking for a new victim and showcasing just what he can do to his next victim.
Barred From Victory
Cesaro defeats Kofi Kingston via Neutraliser
This match didn’t get a lot of time but it used it wisely. Cesaro is one of the best wrestlers in WWE and putting him against anyone will yield results. Him and Kofi wrestle a technical match with Cesaro attacking Kofi’s leg to limit his offense. Kofi does get some offense back but is ultimately cut down when an SOS attempt is reversed into the Neutraliser. It is a simple match but the two competitors brought it to life and it’s great to see The Bar members getting wins before their match with the New Day at Super Show Down.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Rusev via Roll Up
Rusev Day is no more. Aiden English finally snapped after Rusev tried to blame him for their loss at Hell in a Cell. This was a fun match since both men can hit hard and wrestle. The main point of the match though was to set up this breakup. The finish saw Rusev knocked outside and Nakamura rolls him back in to set up the Kinshasa only to have it end in a Machka Kick. Rusev could go for the pin and win the US belt but Aiden English jumps onto the apron, mic in hand and orders Rusev to crush. Rusev is confused by this and gets into an argument with English before getting rolled up and losing another title opportunity. After the match Aiden gets in the ring and starts smashing him in the head with the microphone. He shatters the cover and continues smashing Rusev. English sings one more Rusev day before leaving the ring. Aiden English may be seen as the heel in this new feud but after Rusev’s comments and all the work he has put in to help Rusev and his team, this attack was totally justifiable.
El Idolo Takes on The Champ
AJ Styles defeats Andrade Cien Almas via Styles Clash
Is it too far to say if these two had a feud it would surpass any of AJ’s previous WWE feuds? Their in ring work alone is absolutely next level so throwing these two together in a feud would be amazing. This match was AJ Styles trying to keep his credibility after his controversial win at Hell in a Cell. There was so much to enjoy here. AJ was taken to the limit as Almas hit so many of his signature spots and reversed so many of AJ’s moves. These two work incredibly well together and need more matches. The finish saw Almas setting up for the Hammerlock DDT when Styles reverses into a jack-knife cover then drags Almas into a dead-lift Styles Clash for a more definitive win. He doesn’t have time to celebrate though as Joe comes out and attacks AJ. He gets some offense in before Joe starts getting countered and AJ gets the upper hand. Joe retreats but still shouts at AJ, “You know the truth, you’ll never be safe.” Never has a statement felt truer.
Asuka Destroys Kay
Asuka defeats Billie Kay via Asuka Lock
Well if you’re going to rebuild Asuka’s credibility, this is the way to do it. She beat Billie Kay in a couple of minutes with very little effort. The IIiconics got next to no offense in against Asuka and tapped out quickly to the Asuka Lock. It wasn’t flashy but it did it’s job and we got an Asuka squash match to add to this feud between the Iiconics and Naomi & Asuka leading to a match at Super Show Down. There’s no dynamic between Naomi and Asuka yet but it would be nice to see Asuka be something more than a goofy comedy wrestler.
A New Queen
Becky Lynch is the new queen of Smackdown Live. Her coronation took the main event spot for Smackdown live and it was everything you needed from it. Charlotte came out to once again try and show some respect to Becky Lynch only to once again get knocked back. Becky isn’t interested in playing nice anymore and this new swagger filled attitude makes her more threatening than ever. Becky even tries to get Charlotte to put the title around her waist as a way of mocking her. In the end Becky tells Charlotte to call her queen, which doesn’t happen and Charlotte starts to walk away. Becky calls her a bitch and the two brawl. Charlotte gets the first shot in, knocking Becky to the outside but that’s the only bit of offense she gets. Becky throws Charlotte into the steps and over the announcer’s table. Becky gets Charlotte in the Disarmer and looks to leave. She changes her mind, hits Charlotte with the Bexploder and collects her title. Becky storms off leaving Charlotte a heap in the ring.
Team Kick vs The Ladies
Aliyah and Lacey Evans defeat Dakota Kai and Deonna Purrazzo via Women’s Right
NXT opened with a tag team match that was teased last week. After Aliyah got into an argument with Dakota Kai, Lacey Evans and Deonna Purrazzo joined the fray making the match. This was a very heel centric match with Lacey and Aliyah most beating down Deonna. When she did make the hot tag to Kai, Aliyah took a lot of offense before hitting a sneak tag to Evans who hit a surprise Women’s Right on Kai to win the match. Aliyah and Evans works well surprisingly well as a tag team and it would be nice to see them work together again in the future. Once again it confuses me why Purrazzo wins in the Mae Young Classic but loses on NXT TV but it was a good match and we got a good tag match out of it. Dakota Kai can bounce back from any loss and will no doubt end up in another match with Aliyah soon.
The Final Forgotten Son
Jaxson Ryker defeats Humberto Carrillo via Slingshot Powerbomb
So Jaxson Ryker is terrifying. He came to the ring staring daggers through his opponent, the newly debuting Humberto Carrillo and basically dominated the entire time. Carrillo got one move in, hitting a big boot on Ryker but having any attempt at a comeback destroyed. Ryker basically threw Humberto around the ring, swatted him out of the air and won with a Slingshot Powerbomb. This was a strong showing for the Forgotten Sons hidden weapon and the man is an intimidating figure should he decide to pursue singles belts whilst Blake and Cutler go for the tag titles.
Champion vs Champion
Ricochet vs Pete Dunne ends in no contest
Wow. The one word to describe this match. Clash of styles matches often deliver amazing contests but this was on another level. What started as an intense mat wrestling session saw Dunne systematically try to destroy Ricochet’s arms and fingers. Dunne would grind down Ricochet for a large part of the match, keeping him grounded with submissions and later with strikes. Ricochet would eventually get his offense back as he would reverse Dunne and hit flurries of his own. A turning point came when he took Dunne out with a Reverse Frankensteiner. He would dominate a lot of the latter part of the match before the match was thrown out by interference from the Undisputed Era. This kinda ruined the match but also makes sense as WWE can’t really commit to having one man hold both belts. They also allowed both men to put on a stellar show before having the Era run in. This feud is not over, not by a long way and if this is only match one, imagine what match two is going to be like.
What a week for WWE. All three shows were worth watching and offered at least one thing that was fun to watch. Smackdown was on fire with Rusev and Nakamura or AJ/Almas, RAW had Lio Rush trading barbs with Elias and NXT had another amazing main event that could easily have been on a PPV. It’s always worth celebrating when WWE get it right and this week is no different. It’s easy to groan at another Saudi Arabia show as it will come off the back of Evolution but WWE is a business and businesses live to make money. It’s a cynical industry but let’s hope WWE make the best of it.
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