Rejoice and give thanks for, once again, Raw actually opened with a match this week! This time around, building from the exchange of words between Roman Reigns and John Cena from last week, it’s Roman’s turn to take on Jason Jordan in singles action. Unfortunately, the WWE didn’t pull a complete swerve on us and have Jordan upset reigns like Shelton Benjamin did with Triple H back in the day and, despite getting in some good offense and holding his own, Angle’s son fell to the Spear in just over fifteen minutes. He got a handshake and a good rub out of it, I guess, but I don’t like how this has taken precedence over his previous aspirations towards the Intercontinental Championship, which now flounders around the Miz’s waist with no immediate challenger. After the match, Cena came down and, once again, traded barbs with Reigns; Reigns criticises Cena for having lacklustre matches and not being able to make it in Hollywood while Cena jabs back, saying Reigns is burying himself with his poor mic skills and again chewing him out for not stepping up to fill his shoes. All in all, as smarky as these exchanges have been, this makes Reigns look like a total chump; he should just beat the hell out of Cena, or at least say stuff that gets Cena riled up enough to lay into him. Instead, it’s just handbags at dawn once again.
Afterwards, Sasha Banks handily took care of Emma in a particularly dull match. Apparently, the Raw women’s division is simply treading water until Asuka debuts. Then, Paul Heyman came out with Brock Lesnar to build some hype for the big showdown at No Mercy. Once again, Braun Strowman came out and, after completely no-selling Lesnar’s German Suplex, planted Lesnar with the running powerslam and posed with the Universal Championship. Honestly, Braun is looking stronger than anyone else has against Lesnar – stronger than Reigns, Samoa Joe, and even Goldberg – and I would not at all mind if he crushed Lesnar to win the belt and then dominated the rest of the card until some plucky babyface (ideally Finn Balor) takes the belt off him at WrestleMania.
Apparently, Goldust is a face now? As he lost to Bray Wyatt in a match whose sole purpose was to give Bray a win (he desperately needs them, after all) and to have him wipe off Goldust’s face paint to taunt Balor. Why Balor should even want to face Bray again, though, is an entirely different story; he’s beaten him, so what else is there to prove?
Elias then made a startling comeback from losses and near-obscurity by beating Kalisto. Remember when Kalisto was supposed to e a big deal? He had that single push, a United States Championship reign, and even upset Braun Strowman. Now, instead of being the next Rey Mysterio, he’s even more insignificant than Sin Cara. Kind of mind-boggling as I thought that the WWE wanted to make more in-roads with the Mexican market when they brought back Alberto del Rio…instead, they’re apparently happy to have Kalisto do absolutely nothing. I bet his parents are super proud, though.
Oddly, rather than being hyped for a week and given some build or at least put in the main event, the never-before-seen match of John Cena and Braun Strowman then happened. Unfortunately, Cena wasn’t in the mood to take a pin fall and won by disqualification after Braun got carried away and powerslammed Cena onto the steel steps. I guess that could tie into a future feud between the two, as Cena was never pinned and Strowman’s win was tainted, but this seem like a very odd match to throw out there with no build or anything, especially as both guys are involved with completely different stuff right now.
After a verbal altercation, the Miz then took on Enzo Amore, who will apparently still be making regular Raw appearances despite being on 205 Live now and all the apparent backstage heat he has. During the match, both guys kept grabbing microphones and taunting each other; Miz ended up losing by disqualification after the Miz-tourage got involved and helped him kick the crap out of Enzo. At least the Miz is winning matches again.
Finally, the main event of the night saw what is probably the entirety of Raw’s tag team division face off as Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and the Hardy Boyz defeated Cesaro, Sheamus, and the Club. Not sure why this got the main event as, even with Ambrose and Rollins as the Raw Tag Team Champions, the WWE is hardly focused on their tag team divisions right now. Maybe this is leading to a four-way match for the belts at No Mercy? Either way, it’ll come as no surprise that it was Karl Anderson who took the loss here, because the Club are just never going to win a match ever, apparently.
Following on from last week, Kevin Owens opens the show to brag about all the things he’s going to change once Vince McMahon gives in to his demands, listing all the popular names he will fire and proving again why he’s one of the best talkers around right now.
AJ Styles then made good on his promise from last week and faced Tye Dillinger, one-on-one, with the United States Championship on the line. There was a great finisher exchange where Styles countered the Tye Breaker into the Styles Clash but Tye fought out of it, landed the Tye Breaker, and came this close to getting the upset win. Styles kicked out at the very last second and then rolled Tye into the Calf Crusher to retain the belt. After the match, Baron Corbin attacked them both and planted Styles with the End of Days on the outside and then challenged Styles to a title match next week. This was a great match, with Tye finally getting a chance to shine and some spotlight after weeks of misuse and being absent from the show. Despite Corbin’s backstage heat, he’s still being kept strong and relevant by feuding with AJ so that’s nice to see.
The Usos then defended the SmackDown! Live Tag team Championships against the New Day in a Las Vegas Street Fight. Some good, fast-paced action here with the finish coming when Kofi Kingston launched one of the Usos through a table at ringside and then hit the Midnight Hour with Big E to pin the other Uso and regain the belts. While the match was good, it’ll be no surprise than I’m less than thrilled to see the New Day holding the belts again; I guess we’re going to see them win and lose the titles a whole bunch of times in a rush to usurp Edge & Christian, the Hardy Boyz, and the Dudley Boyz for most championship reigns.
Natalya then retained the SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship against former champion Naomi, locking her into the Sharpshooter and staring right at Carmell as she forced her to tap out. This was quickly followed by Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin continuing to build momentum as a tag team by beating the Hype Bros in a short and unspectacular affair; after the match, Zack Ryder refused to shake hands and left the ring in a huff. I remember, yeah, they were teasing a split between Ryder and Mojo Rawley, yeah…months ago! Who cares now? All of the momentum that Mojo had from his singles run and winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale (he…he did win it, right? I forget…I think he did?) and the intrigue surrounding whether he would turn on Ryder has all evaporated after weeks of nothing and not being on the show. Now we’re supposed to buy Zack as the one who will turn?
The main event of the show was the showdown between Vince McMahon and Kevin Owens. Vince says he suspended Shane McMahon because he didn’t finish the job once he started and that Owens didn’t retaliate because he was getting his ass kicked. He then books a Hell in a Cell match between Owens and Shane at Hell in a Cell and gives Owens his permission to attack a McMahon if he is provoked. This leads to Owens headbutting Vince, busting him open, kicking him in the face, and then landing a Frog Splash. This was great for Owens; he came off as a complete asshole when he was beating up Vince, but I am still not happy that Shane is getting another match. He really needs to stick to being an authority figure; think of all the guys who could be getting this opportunity instead: Sami Zayn, Bobby Roode, Chad Gable, hell even Dolph Ziggler and Mike Kanellis (remember him? Where’s he been the last two weeks!?). But, no, instead it’s Shane jumping off stuff to make Owens look good; news flash, he doesn’t need the rub because he’s already good!