Welcome to Monday night RAW!
Unfortunately, we’re opening on some really unpleasant news – due to Finn Bálor dislocating his shoulder last night at SummerSlam, he is relinquishing his title tonight. Finn is introduced by Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon, and makes his way to the ring with his title over one shoulder and his other arm in a sling. The crowd is still throwing their arms up for him, even though he cannot.
There’s a sign right over his shoulder that says “red belt sucks” as he starts talking. I mean, yes, the new belt is ridiculously tacky. But I feel like now is not the time and place for that.
Finn thanks Seth Rollins for the incredible match, and the WWE universe – and the crowd breaks into a “Thank You, Finn” chant in return. He lets us know how important this is to him and that, when his shoulder is healed, he’ll be back fighting for it again.
Seth makes his way out as Finn makes his exit, in those ridiculous black and yellow tights from last night. He says that this should be a celebration and talks about how exquisitely designed the Universal championship belt is, so we know that he’s a heel. Seth would like his title, but some music hits. It’s one of those pieces of music that I start singing along with before my brain has caught up to the fact that Sami Zayn is walking to the ring.
There’s absolutely thunderous “Olé” chants as Sami throws his hands up and then more music hits and those chants are replaced by boos. It’s Chris Jericho, whose chest is not actually on display for the first time in a while, followed not long after by his new bestie Kevin Owens. The crowd doesn’t even know how to feel as yet more music hits and Enzo and Big Cass make their way down and everyone starts chanting “How you doing?”. My question is more like “What are you doing?”, especially as Roman Reigns joins them in the ring. If R-Truth and Goldust come out next, I’m just leaving.
Kevin has his head in his hands on the ropes, which is much like how I feel right now. Mick Foley announces that they’re all deserving – Jericho is pointing at himself like ‘excuse me, I’m the best’, and Kevin is pointing at Enzo like ‘really, that one?’- and so they’re going to have a tournament culminating next week to crown a new champion.
Most of the wrestlers leave, but as Sami and Seth are first up, they remain behind, and Seth hits Sami from behind before an official even makes it to the ring.
MATCH: Sami Zayn vs. Seth Rollins
Michael Cole tells us that the hashtag for this is “#UniversalChampionship”, but the top corner says “#UniversalTitle”. I’m just saying.
- They’re straight into it when we’re back from commercial; both men getting in some decent offense, with Seth attempting to go for a running powerbomb into the barricade, the same spot that dislocated Bálor’s shoulder, but Sami counters and moonsaults off the barricade instead.
- A lot more back and forth, and when Sami leapfrogs over Seth Rollins he lands awkwardly and a referee comes over to check on him. However, he’s still able to throw Seth over the ropes and dive after him.
- Commentary still talking about Sami’s injured ankle as both men trade strikes; Sami goes for the Blue Thunder Bomb, but can’t hold Seth’s weight on that ankle and buckles, taking an enzuigiri.
- Sami still looking dominant; hitting a powerbomb from the second rope, and managing to reverse a Pedigree into a rollup before hitting an exploder suplex into the turnbuckle.
- Sami goes for the Helluva Kick but can’t manage on the hurt ankle.
- Seth capitalizes on the ankle with an ankle lock, but Sami makes a rope break.
- Seth hits the Pedigree for a successful three-count.
Seth stands tall after the match, as Sami rolls out of the ring.
MATCH: Kevin Owens vs. Neville
I was really confused as Kevin made his way to the ring and then some different music hit; it’s Neville, who wasn’t in the opening segment! I am pleasantly surprised, honestly.
- Back and forth in the beginning, both men ending up out of the ring. Neither man look convincingly in control, both getting in offense.
- Neville hits a 450 splash off the apron, absolutely beautiful.
- Chris Jericho makes his way down the ramp, and I swear commentary calls him the “self-appointed best friend” of Kevin Owens. I may have misheard that, though. In any case, Jericho distracts Neville, letting Kevin get in with surprise offense from behind.
- Jericho settles himself in at ringside; Kevin misses a frog splash, and Neville hits a spinning corkscrew moonsault as though to show him how aerial moves are done.
- German Suplex with a bridging cover from Neville, but Kevin kicks out. Neville moves in for the Red Arrow, but Kevin gets out of the way and hits a Superkick.
- Pop-Up Powerbomb reversed into a cover, and Neville goes for another Red Arrow, but Jericho comes in with a distraction, taking a dropkick off the apron and buy Kevin time to cover.
- Kevin hits a Torture Rack into a neckbreaker for a successful cover.
Jericho comes into the ring to celebrate with him afterwards, and Kevin is more or less ignoring him.
Just to confirm; there will be two more matches tonight, and all four winners will take part in a Fatal Fourway next week. The remaining matches are Big Cass vs. Rusev, and Roman Reigns vs. Chris Jericho.
IT’S A NEW DAY, YES IT IS!
They have a unicorn pinata, and Big E is loud and has a big stick, so this is already going to be amazing. Of course, they’re celebrating that Big E is back, and they’ve had the tag belts for 365 days! And why wouldn’t you celebrate that? Of course, there’s a big “New Day rocks!” chant for them.
Before they can get anywhere with their pinata which is absolutely full of Booty-Os, as the smarky crowd successfully guesses, Gallows and Anderson come out to demand a rematch as New Day technically lost the match.
This is setting up to a match between Anderson and Big E tonight on RAW, and of course I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see another title defense coming up soon.
MATCH: Big E (with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) vs. Karl Anderson (with Luke Gallows)
We’re straight into the match as we come back from commercial!
- Big E being cheeky, of course, doing a New Day spank on Anderson almost immediately.
- Anderson does not appreciate this, of course, so he gets in with plenty of offense, primarily targeting Big E’s legs and specifically knee with stomps and kicks.
- Kofi and Xavier attacking Luke Gallows as he tries to get involved, Kofi hitting Trouble in Paradise and Xavier flooring Gallows with a DDT..
- Anderson continuing an assault on Big E, but he recovers to hit the Big Ending.
The New Day climb back into the ring with Francesca II and the pinata, Xavier triumphantly playing their theme.
Next up, we’re informed that the Dudley Boyz will be saying goodbye to us live on RAW tonight, leading into a brief video package about their history in WWE.
Titus O’Neil joins us in the ring next, to talk a little about the Prime Time Players losing the tag titles. People often ask him if that was the worst day of his life because he lost the tag titles, but no – it was the best day of his life because he got to drop Darren Young. Darren Young is dead weight, and he can’t be made great again by Bob Backlund because he was never great in the first place.
He asks for Darren Young to come out and confront him on this subject, but his music doesn’t hit. Titus talks a bit more about how Backlund has clearly told him not to come out, and then Backlund himself comes out and puts Titus into the crossface chickenwing. Or attempts to, at least. Titus is able to fight out of it and bodyslams Backlund, which means Darren finally comes in. Not to attack Titus, but just to check to make sure Backlund is okay, cradling his body.
Titus picks Darren up for Clash of the Titus, then walks away, leaving Backlund and Young both laying in the ring.
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon and Tom Phillips are having a chat. Stephanie states that there will be repercussions for Brock, who absolutely crossed a line last night at SummerSlam.
MATCH: Rusev (with Lana) vs. Big Cass (with Enzo Amore)
It’s a lovely matchup, because both competitors have a tiny, talkative blond to accompany them. Lana is looking absolutely gorgeous, and Enzo doesn’t know where Bulgaria is – is it East Side? West Side?
- Rusev right on the offensive in this match, absolutely laying into Big Cass.
- Cass eventually rallies with a big boot to Rusev, sending him flying out of the ring.
- Rusev is clutching at his stomach, and makes little effort to make his way back to the ring as Cass stares down at him.
- Cass wins by count-out!
Cass motions to his waist proudly, chasing that belt. Enzo is energetic as always, of course.
Tom Phillips is interviewing Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens, with the hot question – it’s great that Kevin qualified for the fatal fourway, but what happens if Jericho does as well? Well, Jericho is confident that he will, and they bicker back and forth over which one of them is inevitably going to win. But Kevin promises that he has Jericho’s back, even if they can’t decide which of them is going to become champion.
Next up, we have new Women’s Champion Charlotte making her way to the ring with Dana Brooke by her side. Dana is trying valiantly to lead a “you deserve it!” chant, but the crowd isn’t having any of it. Charlotte takes the mic and brags about being two-time champion and how she’s proven that Sasha just isn’t good enough. Just as she gets out of the ring, and I start to wonder who is going to interrupt her, because I can smell a challenge coming – it’s Mick Foley that comes out.
He congratulates Charlotte on winning the title, and for proving how strong the women’s division can be, and how they’ve been raising the bar higher and higher. Foley promises that Sasha will get a rematch upon her return, and Charlotte says she’d be happy to, but no one else in the division can step to her so she’s not going to defend it in the meantime.
Foley announces that he’s hired someone new, and I mean, I knew it was Bayley, I could smell Bayley a mile away (sorry Bayley, I know you don’t smell), but I still shrieked when her music actually hit. Because what if it wasn’t Bayley?
Charlotte looks sour and Bayley looks sort of… relieved to finally be here. It’s such a beautiful moment. Of course, Corey Graves is happy to see Bayley but can’t believe she took Charlotte’s moment.
An absolutely thunderous “you deserve it” chant as Bayley takes the mic. Dana must be pissed. Bayley demands a hug immediately from Mick Foley to seal the deal, and who wouldn’t? I’d love to be in the middle of that hug, it sounds like the best hug on the RAW roster.
It’s literally seconds later that Bayley makes a challenge for the championship, and there’s enormous YES chants from the crowd. And from me, a little bit.
Charlotte isn’t prepared to fight right now, but Dana is always ready, so let’s get into it!
Okay, look – quick sidebar from the excitement. And let me reassure you, there’s so much excitement. But I wouldn’t have minded seeing some of the RAW women besides Charlotte and Dana and now Bayley. Even though Charlotte claims they’re not on her level, I know there are other women in this division who could be doing something! Can we see some of them, please?!
But right now, okay, okay, for this week I’ll let that slide. IT’S BAYLEY!
MATCH: Bayley vs. Dana Brooke (with Charlotte)
The match is underway as we return from commercial.
- Bayley just looks so excited in this match! She’s probably popping harder than the crowd is, squealing at everything.
- Dana is thrown into the turnbuckle by Bayley for a two-count, and while Dana is getting in some offense, Bayley is well in control.
- Charlotte comes in for a brief distraction, allowing Dana to really throw Bayley around. Dana locks in the bow and arrow stretch and the crowd can’t stay quiet – “Bayley’s gonna hug you!” “Let’s go Bayley!”, and singing something I can’t actually distinguish.
- Bayley doesn’t go down easy, though, and fights out of the submission and kicks out of the cover.
- Bayley stops on the turnbuckle to fix her hair before throwing herself at Dana, and hits a Bayley-to-Belly for a successful pin.
Only a very short match, only a few minutes long, and I’m very torn – I want to see longer women’s matches, and I want to see more of the division represented, but I love making Bayley look strong in her debut. See, if more of the division was represented, and Bayley had a short match against Dana, and there was a respectable-length match between two of the other women? I’d have no problem. But I want more time for this division, I really, really do.
Sheamus is on the mic, comparing Cesaro to the Suicide Squad film and also every sports team in New York – hyped, but underwhelming. It’s the most blatant heel work since earlier in the show when Seth said he liked the Universal Championship belt design.
MATCH: Braun Strowman vs. Johnny Knock-Out
This time it’s someone who claims that they are fighting Braun Strowman because he likes big sweaty men. As do we all, Johnny, you’re in good company here.
- Braun throws him around the ring, reverse chokeslam, easy three count.
- Picks him up again, big slam, demands the ref counts another three.
Yep, it’s a Braun Strowman match.
The Dudley Boyz are out next, to thank us for our support over the years and to say an official goodbye. It’s a fairly moving moment, with them saying that they appreciate that not everyone gets to leave on their own terms, but being able to say goodbye to their fans on this night is amazing.
Of course, things can’t go perfectly smoothly – the Shining Stars come out to interrupt, offering the Dudleys a trip to Puerto Rico for their retirement. The crowd are chanting to get the tables, so what do you suppose happens next?
Primo and Epico get slammed by the Dudleys, and D-Von goes to fetch a table. Before anyone can go through the table, though, Anderson and Gallows make their way out, Anderson throwing D-Von into the steel steps and then both of them hitting Bubba Ray with the Magic Killer. D-Von gets to his feet and tries to come after them, but they climb back into the ring and Magic Killer D-Von right through the table.
Gallows and Anderson too sweet, and we cut away.
MATCH: Roman Reigns vs. Chris Jericho
Jericho makes his way to the ring first and while I appreciate that he has started wearing clothes with his scarves again, his facial hair still disappoints me. When Roman makes his way out too, we waste little time before getting into it.
- Some back and forth, but when Jericho slaps Roman, he slides out of the ring and runs around the ring rather than take an assault back.
- Once they’re back in the ring, Roman on the offensive, but Jericho rakes at Roman’s eyes and he’s struggling to maintain that offense.
- Back and forth when we come back from commercial – Roman goes to the mat from one of Jericho’s dropkicks, and Jericho able to lock in a chinlock. Crowd chanting “Y2J!”
- Roman with his knees up on a Lionsault, and taking Jericho down with a Superman Punch for a two-count.
- Spear meets a boot, and then the Codebreaker is reversed into a sit-out powerbomb for another nearfall.
- Kevin Owens runs out and distracts Reigns long enough for Jericho to get a roll-up, but Roman kicks out and floors Jericho with another Superman Punch.
- Jericho catches another Spear, and locks in the Walls of Jericho. Roman makes a rope break, but as the referee creates separation, Kevin superkicks Roman, and he turns around into a Codebreaker for a two-count.
- Reigns takes Jericho down with a Spear for a successful pin.
It’s official: the fourway for the championship next week is Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns, Big Cass and Seth Rollins. Roman celebrates on the turnbuckle as JeriKO sneak away together.
We’ll see you tomorrow night for SmackDown Live!