WWE Raw results, recap, grades: Roman Reigns gets a reaction, new title match set
If you don’t have anything nice to say about Monday Night Raw, should you say anything at all? That’s becoming a weekly dilemma for those tasked with taking in the full three hours of WWE’s flagship show in the weeks and months that have followed WrestleMania 34 in April. This week’s episode was no different as things were largely mailed in from a creative standpoint, including another main event with a non-finish and nothing tangible at stake.
The in-between was equally forgettable as WWE continues to build toward Money in the Bank in the slowest and least exciting way possible. Bad acting surely didn’t help matters in the escalation of the Nia Jax-Ronda Rousey feud while poor writing continued to sink a Bobby Lashley-Sami Zayn program that is on pace to become one of the worst in recent memory.
The return of Roman Reigns created a brief bright spot, as did the pop received by The B-Team in securing an unlikely title opportunity. But Raw is seemingly anything but war these days and, to be blunt, it has largely become a bore.
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Roman Reigns draws big cheers
The show opened with Seth Rollins interrupting Elias’ singing as he sought retribution for the attack from last week. Rollins grabbed a chair from under the ring and knocked the guitar out of Elias’ hands when they both swung but a run-in from Jinder Mahal and Sunil Singh led to all three heels stomping on Rollins. That triggered Reigns’ music and an overwhelmingly positive reception from the crowd after being off for a week. After Reigns cleaned house, Raw general manager Kurt Angle came out to book an instantaneous tag team match between the four.
The lengthy match featured hot tags to both Reigns and Rollins to pop the crowd. Steady interference from Singh led to chaos as Reigns was thrown into the crowd by Mahal. After Rollins blocked Singh’s attempt to use a chair, Elias put Rollins into a DDT on top of it (which referee John Cone somehow didn’t see). Elias then hit his Drift Away for the pin. Later on, dueling backstage interviews from Reigns and Mahal led to a brief brawl between them that saw Mahal thrown twice into a garage door until referees and road agents broke it up.
Unlike just a few weeks ago, the desperate move of using Rollins’ red-hot status to help sway the crowd back in Reigns’ favor seemed to work this time. The fact that fans are so eager to see a Rollins-Elias feud may have helped matters. Still, it was hard to ignore just how happy the crowd was to see Reigns return, even if there were seemingly equal reasons to love and hate the opening 30 minutes, which was as entertaining as it was forced. The inconsistency of when and why Reigns and Rollins seem to conveniently remember they are Shield teammates needs to be considered, as does the fact that no one seems to want or need a Reigns-Mahal feud at the moment. Grade: C+
Baron Corbin named ‘constable’ of Raw
Following his interference in Curtis Hawkins’ match earlier in the night (see more below), Corbin interrupted Angle backstage to complain about how much he has been overshadowed every week on the show. He revealed he spoke directly to commissioner Stephanie McMahon at WWE headquarters and returned with a message to read. Due to several questionable judgement by Angle, McMahon appointed Corbin as the new “constable” of Raw. The new role led to tension between him and Angle throughout the show, including when the results were changed following a six-woman tag tam match.
It’s a bit too early in the game to know whether this advancement will be a success, but Corbin at least did his part to help overcome how cheesy the idea of him being appointed to constable really is by relying on his unlikable heel qualities to sell it. If this leads to increased conflict between McMahon and Angle with a proper payoff down the road, it could benefit Corbin along the way by acting the part of a protected authority heel who likely lets power go to his head. That is, if you can get over someone who looks and acts like Corbin being believably elevated into a decision making role of this stature. Grade: C+
The B-Team secures a title shot
Before a tag team battle royal designed to create their next title challenger, champions Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy cut a lengthy in-ring promo. Hardy described the Deleters of Worlds as “unmatched, unparalleled and unstoppable.” Wyatt then declared, “Let it be known no matter what team wins tonight, first they will suffer and then they will be deleted.”
The eight-team match saw Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre suffer an early elimination, which led to both cleaning house inside the ring in vicious fashion. The field quickly narrowed down with the finish coming when Heath Slater picked up Bo Dallas and accidentally knocked him into Rhyno, sending him off the apron and onto the floor to give B-Team the victory. Dallas and Curtis Axel set off a wild celebration featuring hugs, rolling around and Axel splashing the center of the ring.
You know Raw’s creative team is having issues when B-Team proves to be the best part of the show for three straight weeks. With that said, this entire storyline has worked fairly well thanks to the underdog narrative and comedic timing of Dallas and Axel. It’s just hard to see a team that has been booked as strong as Ziggler and McIntyre have be given such a weak exit from the title picture in what came across, outside of the finish, as a lame match. Grade: B-
What else happened on Raw?
- James Harden def. Curt Hawkins via disqualification: Hawkins attempt at avoiding a 200th consecutive loss saw him face a local enhancement (with a convenient name in Houston) with free tacos for the crowd at stake. But Hawkins’ late rally was foiled by Baron Corbin’s run-in, which saw him hit his End of Days on Harden to purposely force the DQ. Corbin then assaulted Hawkins with tacos from a ringside table before flipping the entire table on top of him.
- Nia Jax def. Natalya via pinfall: With training partner Ronda Rousey sitting in on commentary (and twice failing to awkwardly deliver an inappropriate joke about her husband), Natalya fought even with the Raw women’s champion until she injured her left knee while running the ropes. Jax instantly took advantage by hitting a Samoan Drop for the finish. Both Rousey and Jax attempted to comfort a dejected Natalya, with Rousey angrily telling Jax, “You’ve done enough, just go.” After Rousey helped Natalya to the locker room to ice her knee, Jax walked in to apologize. The subsequent argument (and bad acting) between Rousey and Jax led an annoyed Natalya to ask for time alone.
- Braun Strowman def. Bobby Roode via pinfall: After a pre-match interview in which he said he only hopes to survive against Strowman, Roode was barely doing just that. Late in the match, he pulled a ladder out from under the ring and suspended from the apron to the announce table. But his attempt to run Strowman into it while giving chase ended comedically when Strowman chopped the ladder in half with his bare hands. A running powerslam inside the ring quickly followed or the 1-2-3. Outside of the ladder spot, this was just another standard beating for Strowman as he continues to bide time without a dedicated feud.
- Sami Zayn questioned Bobby Lashley’s credentials: For all of the bad things you could have said about this feud entering this week, WWE somehow found a way to make things even worse. Lashley challenged Zayn to come to the ring and face him the old fashioned way. Zayn refused and instead traded insults with him from the crowd. He eventually made fun of Lashley’s inspirational posts on Instagram before openly questioning whether Lashley actually did serve in the U.S. Army or if it was just another lie. Zayn tried his very best, once again, but couldn’t save yet another atrociously written segment.
- The Riott Squad def. Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks & Ember Moon via disqualification: Talk about another cluster of psychology. Bliss was booked as a babyface until she smartly faked a leg injury and left the match abruptly. Bayley eventually ran in to replace her and received a hot tag from Banks before hitting her Bayley-to-belly suplex on Sarah Logan for the 1-2-3. Corbin convinced Angle backstage that the win shouldn’t count and threatened to tell McMahon if Angle doesn’t overturn it. The Raw GM did just that by informing a reunited Bayley and Banks, which instantly led to Banks giving her a dirty look and walking away. Corbin then was shown lecturing referee Cone and telling him, “This job is not for everybody.” The only thing worse than Banks believing the finish would stand is how quickly she flip-flopped in blaming Bayley.
- Finn Balor def. Kevin Owens via disqualification: Both Michael Cole and David Otunga on commentary erroneously said this was “the first time in WWE” that the two had met in a singles match (they faced off in title matches at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn and at The Beast in the East special). The ensuing match was physical but largely nothing special as Balor came up short in three attempts at setting up his Coup de Grace. Owens eventually forced an abrupt DQ by stomping Balor and added a frog splash off the top rope. Owens, however, couldn’t follow through in doing the same off the top of a ladder and his cold feet led to Balor hitting a Coup de Grace of the top before pulling down the briefcase in yet another main event match with nothing at stake.