Welcome everyone back to WNW! WWE returned to Madison Square Garden last night for this week’s edition of Monday Night Raw!
The O.C. confronted Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin during the Universal Championship Match contract signing
After the chaos of last week’s Raw opening, would the presence of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin be enough to carry Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman’s Universal Championship Match contract signing across the finish line? The answer is, of course, hell yeah. Not only was the deal signed, sealed and delivered, but the second straight interruption from The O.C. was quickly turned inside out thanks to The Texas Rattlesnake’s presence. After The O.C.’s trash talk led to a retaliatory strike by Rollins & Strowman that took out Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, AJ Styles found himself alone in the ring with Austin, who promptly hit the two-time WWE Champion with an emphatic Stunner and left, having quite satisfyingly arrived and raised hell to boot.
Cedric Alexander def. United States Champion AJ Styles via Disqualification
If turnabout is fair play, then nobody is going to begrudge Cedric Alexander for jump-starting his match with AJ Styles just seconds after The Phenomenal One was laid low by a Stunner from “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. After all, it was Styles and The O.C. who ambushed the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion last week, debatably playing a part in costing Alexander a King of the Ring quarterfinal match against Baron Corbin.
But the rest of The O.C. had no intention of leaving Styles unguarded: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson ambushed Alexander again mid-match, handing the former champion a disqualification win and teeing him up for a second beating that was only stopped by the unlikely — yet very welcome — arrival of The Viking Raiders, whose lingering issues with The O.C. from a few weeks back finally came to the fore. Erik & Ivar handedly helped Alexander dispatch the good brothers, leaving Styles & Co. with more questions than answers for the second straight time in a half hour.
Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair def. SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley & Sasha Banks
Unusual times make for unusual allies, and with The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection broken bad, it fell to a very, very unlikely team to put them in their place: Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. That they did it in a tag team bout that pit the “Four Horsewomen” against each other speaks well to at least half of the victors’ chances this weekend at WWE Clash of Champions, where Becky will defend the Raw Women’s Title against Sasha Banks, while Charlotte challenges for Bayley’s SmackDown Women’s Championship — though it goes without saying a Sunday sweep is far from a sure thing.
For one, Bayley and Banks gave their opponents fits throughout the match, leaning on their tag team experience — remember, they’re the first WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions — to put the impromptu pairing on their heels. Becky also made a point to target Banks outside the ring in the middle of the match, putting the fate of the bout in jeopardy when all four women brawled around the ring. But Charlotte, who was calm, cool and collected throughout, played closer in ruthless fashion: The nine-time Women’s Champion blocked a top-rope elbow drop from Bayley and nailed Natural Selection to prove that, at the very least, The Queen might be a step ahead of the SmackDown Women’s Champion as their title bout approaches. Whether Becky can say the same about Sasha, however, is a question still to be answered.
Rey Mysterio def. Gran Metalik
People have been asking if Rey Mysterio is back. We’re thinking he is. After an emotional almost-retirement that he got talked out of at the last second by his son, the legendary Superstar made his official in-ring return against Gran Metalik in a victorious effort on Raw.
If Mysterio’s victory seemed somewhat inevitable — there was simply too much emotion at play for him to accept defeat — Metalik certainly made him work for it. As fun-loving as The King of the Ropes has been with The Lucha House Party of late, he’s one of the most accomplished luchadores of all time and was a runner-up in the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic. It was that version of Metalik that Mysterio got on Raw, and it was that version he had to outsmart and out-grind.
Perhaps the task was taller than Mysterio expected: The King of the Ropes casually swatted away Mysterio’s signature maneuvers at the start of the match (accompanied by a taunting finger-wag, no less) and a step-up plancha over the ropes left The Ultimate Underdog looking worse for wear. But Rey found a way as he always does, finally landing Metalik on the ropes before connecting with a 619-Frog Splash combo to secure the win. After the match, Mysterio showed sportsmanship to his opponent, shaking Metalik’s hand in thanks for bringing out the best in him, and, perhaps, for setting the bar for all his opponents for follow.
Baron Corbin def. Ricochet and Samoa Joe to advance to the King of the Ring Final
Two weeks ago, “King Corbin” was a joke, a boast, a braggadocious dress-up play by a man who remains so utterly loathed by the WWE Universe that they simply did not allow themselves to believe it could come true. Now, it’s one match away from becoming a reality: Baron Corbin is in the King of the Ring Final, having won the first Triple Threat in tournament history to leave Ricochet and Samoa Joe in his dust, and the throne just inches from his grasp.
Corbin’s victory was unlikely, and not just because of his crowd support. In the final stretch of a match that had been, for the most part, a dead heat, The Lone Wolf found himself locked in Joe’s Coquina Clutch and fading fast before Ricochet took out both his opponents at once with a moonsault off the apron. With The Lone Wolf seemingly dispatched, Ricochet escaped a Clutch of his own to hit Joe with the 630, but unbeknownst to him, Corbin had recovered and picked his moment to strike: The former Constable threw Ricochet over the barricade and brazenly stole the pin, earning — or rather, taking — his spot in the tournament final, where he’ll face either Elias or Chad Gable for the throne.
Perhaps we should have seen this coming: For all the disdain heaped on Baron Corbin by the WWE Universe, the man has assembled some truly impressive honorifics. Should he prevail, history won’t look back on him as the Superstar whose reign nobody saw coming, but as the one who perhaps should have been the favorite all along.
Natalya def. Lacey Evans
Last week, a revved-up Natalya fell victim to a less-than-sportsmanlike strategy by Lacey Evans, leading to a Woman’s Right and a 1-2-3 for the beleaguered Queen of Harts. But things might be finally turning around for the former SmackDown Women’s Champion: Natalya made handy work of The Sassy Southern Belle, overwhelming her early on after some immediate disrespect from Evans.
Lacey took control with some more dirty pool on the outside, but her pause to symbolically toss a handkerchief in Natalya’s face — similar to the distraction that got her the win last week — backfired when The Queen of Harts booted her in the stomach and locked in the Sharpshooter for the victory. Natalya pointedly refused to release the hold after the bell as well, sending an unmistakable message to anyone who thought she’d be easy pickings: The cruel summer is over, and things will be different going forward.
Bray Wyatt taught about “Stranger Danger” on Firefly Fun House
Welcome to “Firefly Fun House,” where strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. At least, that’s Bray Wyatt’s view of things, though he had to teach his Fun House pals to come around to his view: Ramblin’ Rabbit, Huskus the Pig, Mercy the Buzzard and Abby the Witch had been all bent out of shape ever since “Stone Cold” Steve Austin made friends with Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman — Abby’s clock was even stuck at 3:16.
But Bray, somewhat incensed by the increasing cries of “Stranger Danger!” quieted his crew and fixed Abby’s clock by smashing it with a hammer, causing it to read 11:19 instead. He also took the opportunity to remind them that Seth & Braun had made three new friends in Cedric Alexander and The Viking Raiders, proving that strangers aren’t inherently bad. Unfortunately, where they’re going, friends won’t save them, and The Fiend — who was practically invoked by what Rollins & Strowman took from Bray in another life — wouldn’t forget.
Universal and Raw Tag Team Champion Seth Rollins, Raw Tag Team Champion Braun Strowman, Cedric Alexander & The Viking Raiders def. The O.C., Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
It took a little longer than anticipated, but Cedric Alexander got his man: The former WWE Cruiserweight Champion pinned United States Champion AJ Styles in the final moments of a truly chaotic 10-Man Tag Team Match that encompassed champions, challengers and grudge matches all in one.
On the side of the victors were Alexander, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman and The Viking Raiders; the losing side encompassed the entire O.C. as well as Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode, who’ll challenge Rollins & Strowman for the Raw Tag Team Titles on Sunday. It was The Viking Raiders who proved to be the difference-maker — in particular, Ivar, who took out the entire field with a top-rope cannonball to the outside near the end of the match. That astounding maneuver brought things down to Alexander and Styles, and Cedric pounced with a lightning-quick Lumbar Check to seal the match. Right on cue, the glass shattered and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin re-emerged to kick off a Broken Skull IPA beer bash with the winners, ending Raw in truly classic fashion.
Lost in the well-deserved thrill of victory, however, was one interesting wrinkle: Braun Strowman had the match all but won earlier on, until Rollins was shoved on top of him to break up the pinfall. The miscue lead to the first friction between the Raw Tag Team Champions and Universal Championship opponents, and, perhaps, a hint of stormy skies for this weekend. For now, however, “Stone Cold’s” here, the IPAs are flowing, and all is well. Anything beyond that is a problem for Sunday.