Venue: Allstate Arena (Rosemont, IL)
The show began with a Raw town hall featuring Seth Rollins in the ring surrounded by the entire roster. Rollins was initially greeted with a mix of boos, CM Punk chants and NXT chants before telling the roster that they all sucked last night at Survivor Series. He called out Randy Orton and referred to him as the weak link of the Raw Men’s Survivor Series team. Orton responded by walking to the backstage and giving Rollins a not so respectful hand gesture on his way out.
Seth, in his trademark nasally, whiny voice, then criticized Charlotte and called out AOP who followed Orton’s lead and walked backstage. He then admonished Rey Mysterio for not being able to beat Brock Lesnar with a lead pipe and “his stupid kid.” That was the comment that turned the entire roster against him
Kevin Owens then entered the ring for a face to face showdown. Seth called him a “lazy piece of crap” and told Owens he could “never be Seth Rollins.” Owens decided to let his actions speak louder than words and stunned Seth, which received the first big cheer of the night.
Commercial Break No. 1
Charly Caruso interviewed a frustrated Rollins backstage. Seth laid down the challenge to Owens to fight him later tonight before storming off.
Bobby Lashley vs. Titus O’Neil
Bell Times: 8:17:22 – 8:18:23 (One minute and one second)
Donned in his finest Bloodsport t-shirt and sweatsuit, Rusev came charging out of the crowd to attack Lashley for the quick disqualification. He then let out his pent up anger by pounding away on Lashley, shouting “Come on Bob!”
Result: Lashley won via disqualification following a Rusev attack
As Lana screamed in horror, Rusev dragged Lashley up the ramp to the announce table before he was finally apprehended by police for violating the terms of the restraining order. The police unfortunately weren’t able to stop the enraged Bulgarian Brut from kicking over a metal stage truss onto the fallen Lashley.
Commercial Break No. 2
AOP vs. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins
Bell Times: 8:27:22 – 8:29:14 (One minute and 52 seconds)
As expected, AOP”s first match back was nothing more than a quick dominant squash.
Result: Rezar pinned Hawkins following a sit out powerbomb
Akam and Rezar have changed up their look a bit, ditching the swat team vests and instead wrestling shirtless. They showed some good tandem slams but the crowd didn’t seem to care all that much, which isn’t surprising considering how low on the totem pole Hawkins and Ryder are.
Andrade vs. Akira Tozawa
Bell Times: 8:35:43 – 8:38:12 (Two minutes and 29 seconds)
Besides a quick kick and a german suplex by Tozawa, this one was completely dominated by Andrade.
Result: Andrade pinned Tozawa following a Hammerlock DDT
Aleister Black warned Buddy Murphy that he was going to come collect what he is owed.
Commercial Break No. 3
Matt Hardy vs. Buddy Murphy
Bell Times: 8:45:29 – 8:48:26 (Two Minutes and 53 seconds)
Matt Hardy got a big pop from a crowd that was obviously surprised and excited to see him back in action. That excitement was short lived, though. Murphy quickly took the fight to Matt, knocking him woozy with a kick before throwing him into the post and slamming him to the outside. Hardy was able to hit a side effect to buy some time to recover. He actually gained the advantage and attempted the twist of fate before Buddy countered and him with three straight knees to the head to knock him out for good.
Result: Murphy pinned Hardy following a knee to the head
Following the match, Buddy got on the mic and called out Aleister who came storming down to the ring for a confrontation. Black nailed Murphy with a spinning elbow and a knee to the head, which got a big “oh!” reaction from the crowd, sending Murphy fleeing to the back. Aleister is one of the best pure strikers on the roster and it’s always a treat to see those skills on display even if it’s just for a few seconds.
Backstage, Charly interviewed Charlotte, asking her about her confrontation with Asuka at Survivor Series. Flair reminded everyone that she was the one that ended Asuka’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania 34.
Commercial Break No. 4
The planned US title match pitting the champion AJ Styles against Humberto Carrillo never materialized. The O.C. took out Carrillo before he even got into the ring hitting him with a magic killer on the steps. Ricochet then came out to check on Carrillo and offer to be an impromptu replacement in the title bout.
Styles declined the request. Randy Orton’s music then hit and he offered to be the challenger instead. AJ reminded Orton that he already beat Randy at Wrestlemania and he had nothing left to prove against him. Drew McIntyre then came down to the ring to throw his hat into the ring. Styles said he’s a little to sore to compete, though.
Rey Mysterio then came down to the ring and was met with the same response as his three predecessors. Ricochet then came up with the idea to have a fatal fourway match and the winner would get the chance to fight Styles for the title.
After consulting with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, who were surprisingly supportive of the idea, Styles finally gave in and agreed to the idea.
Commercial Break No. 5
Ricochet vs. Randy Orton vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Rey Mysterio
Bell Times: 9:13:45 – 9:28:13 (14 minutes and 28 seconds)
Orton hit an interesting move early sliding Mysterio under the bottom rope who then splashed onto Ricochet down on the floor. McIntyre and Orton teamed up to work over Ricochet before Mysterio entered the fray and took control. McIntyre, Mysterio and Orton came up with a unique combination superplex/german suplex off the top rope. While Randy was putting Rey into position for a superplex, Drew, who was dangling from the top rope by his knees, popped up and hit Orton with a german suplex of his own, sending Randy and Rey flying down to the mat.
The O.C. then returned to the ringside area to get a closer look at the finish.
Commercial Break No. 6
The two big fellas had a quick stare down in the middle of the ring and traded slaps before Randy raked Drew in the eyes.
A few near falls, including an O.C. interference spot which cost Orton a possible pinfall, got the crowd invested before Mysterio got a surprise roll up pin on Ricochet for the win.
Result: Mysterio pinned Ricochet following a roll up
Overall, this match was the type of fun, fast-paced affair that would be expected of these four. The McIntyre-Orton confrontation had some decent intensity.
Rey Mysterio vs. AJ Styles
Bell Times: 9:33:46 – 9:49:03 (15 minutes and 17 seconds)
Styles wasted little time going on the offensive right from the opening bell and wearing down his already fatigued challenger. Mysterio got a hope spot after managing to counter Styles and toss him shoulder first into the ring post. A 619 attempt was thwarted by an interfering Karl Anderson. Unfortunately, that mischief caught the attention of the referee who tossed both Anderson and Luke Gallows and sent them to the back.
Commercial Break No. 7
AJ had another issue with the ring post, this time going in for a baseball slide on a dangling Mysterio who moved out of the way and sent Styles sliding crotch first into the post. Mysterio got multiple near falls before finally hitting a 619 which got a standing ovation from the crowd. Unfortunately, Styles went flailing and knocked out the referee. The O.C. Took advantage of the situation by coming back down to the ring and beating on Rey. Fortunately for Mysterio, Randy Orton came down to fight them off before the two teamed up to hit Styles with a 619/RKO combination before Rey went up to the top and finished off AJ with a frog splash to pick up the win and the US Title.
Result: Mysterio pinned Styles following a Frog Splash
This match was a little slow to start but it built up well and finished with a bang. By the end, the crowd was standing and going nuts and they popped huge for the title change. Rey deserves major props for pulling double duty, especially considering he went to battle with Brock Lesnar last night. One minor gripe is that referee John Cone whiffed on the three count, hitting Styles’ foot on his way to slam down his hand for the final strike to the mat, but the crowd didn’t really seem to notice or care so it didn’t really have an effect on the moment.
Commercial Break No. 8
Backstage, Kevin Owens took the mic from Charly and delivered an emotional response to Seth Rollins, talking about how he is authentic and knows who he is. Owens then accused Seth of trying too hard to be a company man and in doing so, turning himself into a “miserable, whiny, insufferable prick.” He then said the next stunner he hits on Seth is “going to turn Monday Night Rollins into the Kevin Owens Show.”
This was a short but to the point passionate promo by KO. It outclassed any promo Rollins has cut as of late.
Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka
Bell Times: 10:00:21 – 10:17:38 (17 minutes and 17 seconds)
These two were in the unenviable spot of having to follow such a hot Mysterio/Styles match. Charlotte wasted no time taking out some leftover frustrations from Survivor Series, beating on Asuka early. Eventually, the presence of Kairi Sane on the outside distracted Flair and allowed Asuka to gain an advantage.
Charlotte eventually chased off Kairi who went running out into the crowd.
Commercial Break No. 9
The two traded some big shots before Charlotte went up to the top for a moonsault. Asuka was able to move out of the way. The women’s tag champ got a nice “oh!” reaction from the crowd with a running knee for a near fall.
There was a nice counter maneuver when Asuka reversed a natural selection attempt into an arm lock. Charlotte was able to escape and apply a submission of her own, locking in a Boston Crab.
Kairi returned to ringside to distract Charlotte some more. While the ref tended to Sane, Asuka repeated her Survivor Series shenanigans, once again spitting the green mist into the eyes of Charlotte before rolling her up and getting the victory.
Result: Asuka pinned Charlotte following a green mist spit
Overall, the crowd was pretty cold for this one, which probably had more to do with the fact that they were a bit drained from the Mysterio match. Asuka and Charlotte were actually working pretty hard and trading big moves and near falls but they just happened to be in a tough spot on the card tonight.
Commercial Break No. 10
Erick Rowan vs. Kyle Roberts
Bell Times: 10:24:04 – 10:25:28 (One minute and 24 seconds)
Robert started the match by rolling to the outside and trying to look inside the covered pet cage. That enraged Rowan who came out to powerbomb Roberts spine first into the ring post before tossing him back in the ring and hitting two claw chokeslams to pick up a quick victory.
Result: Rowan pinned Roberts following a claw chokeslam
This was like all the other Rowan squashes jobber matches they’ve been doing in recent weeks. This got absolutely no reaction from a disinterested crowd. It feels like Rowan actually had a bit of momentum going from the Daniel Bryan/Roman Reigns stuff on SmackDown. Since he’s moved to Raw, though, he seems to have lost that. Hopefully, the hidden pet in the cage angle has somewhat of an interesting pay off because if it doesn’t, he really doesn’t have much else going for him.
Commercial Break No. 11
AJ Styles was interviewed backstage. When asked what was going through his head, Styles struggled to come up with an answer before finally uttering “Randy Orton” and then walking out of frame.
Charly asked Lana about what she thought of Rusev’s actions. She called him an animal and said that the WWE should fire him. She then said that she’s going to be OK.
Commercial Break No. 12
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
Bell Times: 10:42:50 – 10:56:50 (14 minutes)
The two went back and forth for a bit before Seth went to the outside to grab a chair and stair at Owens menacingly. Kevin gestured to bring it on.
Commercial Break No. 13
Owens went for a cannonball off the top rope but Seth was able to get his knees up. Rollins worked over KO for a bit before Kevin was able to buy some time to recover with a DDT. He hit Seth with a running cannonball before heading to the top rope but Rollins rolled out to the floor. Owens improvised and decided to hit it off the apron instead.
After hitting a frog splash off the top rope, Owens proceeded to mock Seth’s setup for the stomp before missing on a pop up powerbomb attempt. Rollins countered with a falcon arrow before warming up for the stomp. Owens moved out of the way and missed on a stunner attempt but followed that up with a successful pop up powerbomb.
The two traded superkicks before Owens finally hit a charging Seth with a stunner. The two drained competitors both laid on the mat trying to compose themselves while AOP came down to the ring.
They both attacked Owens tossing him into the post shoulder first multiple times why the crowd voiced their displeasure at the unsatisfying finish, chanting “Bullshit!” Akam and Rezar then glared over at Seth before leaving the ring. Rollins took the opportunity to send a message to the helpless Owens by giving him two stomps and yelling at him as the show went off the air.
Result: Owens won via disqualification following an AOP attack
This is the second week in a row a Kevin Owens match ended prematurely right as it started to get really good. Last week, it was HHH coming out to halt his bout with Drew McIntyre. This time, it was AOP coming out for a beat down that the crowd obviously did not want to see.
After a few quick squash matches, this show peaked in the middle with the No. 1 contenders fourway and the US Title match between Rey Mysterio and AJ Styles. Mysterio winning the belt clearly felt like the biggest moment of the show. The build up of tension between Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens throughout the night was also well done. Ultimately, though, that build up ended up feeling almost all for naught in the end given the AOP interference ending it led to. Still, it was a good start of what looks to be a long overdue heel turn for Rollins. After getting bombarded with boos at Survivor Series, it seems like they really had no choice but to lean into the crowd’s dislike for Seth.
Seeing how the show played it out and how tired the crowd was after Mysterio’s title win, it probably would have made more sense to start the show with the Asuka-Charlotte match, especially given the unresolved issues they had from Survivor Series, and swapped its position with the Lashley/Rusev angle.
Four straight sub three minute squash matches to start things off had this episode trending down in a hurry. Luckily, Mysterio, Styles and the other competitors in the fourway were able to pick up the excitement level. The KO/Seth match was good but it felt like it could have been a little better, and it was definitely hurt by a flat interference cop out ending.
Samoa Joe was missed on commentary. An absent Becky Lynch was missed in general. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman were also not in attendance but that was to be expected.
Overall, now that the brand invasion stuff and Survivor Series is done, it at least looks as if Raw has a direction and some interesting feuds (Owens/Rollins, Murphy/Black, Charlotte/Asuka) moving forward.