Shane McMahon opened the…wait…Raw opened with a match this week!? It truly is the end of days! But, yes, Raw kicked off with a falls count anywhere match between Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley; after weeks of begging for the WWE to get back into some stupidly over the top stuff with these two, my prayers were finally answered as these guys belted each other all through the crowd and ended up trying to kill each other when Braun Speared Lashley through the LED screen at the top of the ramp. Explosions and EMTs galore as both men were stretchered out…though it kind of feels like such a big moment might have been best saved until later (or even the end of the show).
The Viking Raiders and the New Day went at it next; Big E and Erik bounced off of each other to start with until Ivar tagged in and the Vikings isolated Big E from Xavier Woods. Just as Big E began to mount a comeback, Samoa Joe came out and locked Xavier into the Coquina Clutch for a disqualification finish that, of course, turned into a six-man tag team match when Kofi Kingston came down to even the odds. It didn’t take long for Joe to take control of Xavier and, with the Vikings, lay a beating on him while taunting Kofi. Kofi eventually got the hot tag and flew around like a house on fire but, in the end, Joe locked him into the Coquina Clutch until he passed out.
Cesaro and No Way Jose tried to have a match but, when R-Truth snuck out to ringside as part of Jose’s conga line, all the random, faceless jobbers ran down to muddle things up. in the chaos, Cesaro hit Jose with the Neutraliser though so…there’s that…
Afterwards, Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre sucked the life out of everyone and everything. Luckily, the Undertaker arrived to scare them off and hype up their tag team match at Extreme Rules. Once all that palaver was over with, Lacey Evans made short work of Natalya in an awkward, stilted contest that really should have been Lacey destroying Nattie but, instead, was a bit too 50/50 to really help her out much.
Elias and the Miz went at it in the WWE’s newest classic troupe, a two-out-of-three-falls match; Miz got the quick first fall off the Skull-Crushing Finale but Elias easily evened things up with a Drift Away after a bit of stalling on the outside. In the end, after missing a knee strike and Miz targeting his leg, Elias tapped out to the Figure Four, which I think is Miz’s first win since turning face? Or at least in weeks…
After trying to hype up their mixed tag team match at Extreme Rules, Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch ended up in a mixed tag team match against Mike and Maria Kanellis; I legitimately forgot that they were even still employed! Despite them being on the same page prior to the match, Maria spent most of the contest yelling at Mike, putting him down, and announcing that she is pregnant, all of which cost them the match once Becky got the Dis-Arm-Her onto him. After the match, Maria berated Mike some more, which was all very strange and confusing.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross spent a bit of time praising each other before Alexa got into a stupidly short match with Carmella, which saw Carmella pin Alexa in seconds, only for Nikki to then defeat Carmella immediately afterwards in a second match. I guess this is to paint Alexa as a paper challenger who needs a sidekick to do all her heavy lifting but…isn’t she a multi-time former Women’s Champion who has proven that she can hold her own in the ring?
Raw finished with a United States Championship match between Ricochet and AJ Styles; the bout started strong and fast and suddenly ended after a Phenomenal Forearm took Ricochet out. However, as his foot was apparently under the ropes, the match was restarted but with a twist as Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson were at ringside. In the end, Ricochet countered the Styles Clash and got the surprise win after a roll up, only to get destroyed by AJ and the Club after the match to solidify AJ’s newest heel turn. I like that AJ is getting a new direction but I don’t necessarily know if he needed to turn heel again to reunite with the Club; also, why would he even want to after Gallows and Anderson have done nothing but lose lately?
The Kevin Owens Show opened SmackDown! Live this week with, who else, but Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre as Owens’ guests. Shane and Drew basically vowed to put the Undertaker and Roman Reigns away at Extreme Rules, which somehow caused Dolph Ziggler to pop out and cry about how “it should have been [him]” a bit more, which randomly led to Shane booking them into a tag team match to potentially earn a shot at the SmackDown! Live Tag Team Champions. Okay then…
Daniel Bryan and Big E got the first match of the night; Bryan had no time for Big E’s shenanigans and worked over the knee and the leg every chance he got. Big E looked to be building some momentum until Rowan bashed him off the ring post, which allowed Bryan to hit the Running Knee and get the win.
Nikki Cross and Bayley exchanged a few words, in which Bayley tried to convince Nikki to ditch Alexa Bliss; it didn’t exactly ring true but it did lead to a match between Nikki and Bayley, which Bayley won despite a decent effort from Nikki.
Kofi Kingston and Samoa Joe had a bit of a face-off afterwards; they traded barbs and the tension rose so far that Kofi actually ending up flipping Joe off before laying him out with the Trouble In Paradise.
Next up, Apollo Crews and Andrade went at it, with Andrade getting the win after a back and forth contest. It’s nice and all but it’s very hard to care as it’s not like it’s leading to anything, or like we’ve seen the Intercontinental Champion Finn Balor recently to help set-up some kind of chase or motivation of guys and matches like this.
Ember Moon defeated Mandy Rose to gain some retribution for the issues she’s had with her and Sonya Deville lately, though I find it difficult to really care too much about that. SmackDown! Live ended with Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler reluctantly teaming up against Heavy Machinery, with the stipulation that the winning team gets a title shot at Extreme Rules. The New Day and Daniel Bryan and Rowan were all doing commentary, which led to a bit of a brawl and Xavier Woods being smashed through an announce table but, in the end, Ziggler accidentally hit Owens with a Superkick, which allowed Heavy Machinery to get the win and the title shot. Owens took Ziggler out with a Stunner after the match, so I’m assuming/hoping that it’ll be a triple threat at Extreme Rules.