Venue: Bridgestone Arena (Nashville, TN)
Walking back his “we all sucked” comments from last week’s town hall, Seth Rollins shifted tones in his show opening promo this time around, apologizing to the fans, the locker room and Kevin Owens. KO came down to the ring and let Rollins know that his apology didn’t pass the smell test. AOP then appeared at the top of the stage to challenge both Seth and Kevin to a fight. Ever the skeptic, Owens predicted such a scenario would end badly for him. Still trying to display the aura of peacemaker, Rollins simply shrugged and said he tried and walked to the back, having a brief stare down with AOP at the top of ramp before the two let him pass without incident. KO was clearly in fighting mode.
Lana came out to the top of the ramp and had some back and forth banter with Owens. KO said she was beautiful on the outside but repulsive on the inside. Lana called Owens a candy eater, pizza eater, basic everyday man. Lashley then came down the ramp with two local police officers trailing behind to protect Lana from Rusev. Bobby and Kevin then went on to have the kind of punch-heavy brawl that one would expect from those two. After Owens hit Lashley with a pop up powerbomb, AOP came down to attack KO before dragging his body to the back.
Charly Caruso entered the ring to talk with Lana and Lashley. As the detectives and Lana and Lashley all faced the stage, Rusev came running in from the crowd to surprise Lashley from behind with a superkick. He then taunted Lana before running off as the crowd chanted Rusev Day. Incensed, Bobby got in the detectives’ faces to scold them. One of the officers responded that in the state of Tennessee, they do things differently. Bobby angrily bumped the officer, which earned him a set of handcuffs. Lana then slapped him, which earned her the same fate. After a commercial break, footage was shown of Lana and Lashley being loaded into a squad car and being taken out of the arena as R-Truth and the Street Profits looked on.
Drew McIntyre had a quick ‘throw around a smaller competitor like a rag doll’ match with Akira Tozawa. Tozawa got a brief hope spot following a missile dropkick but McIntyre dashed those hopes with a Claymore Kick that turned Tozawa inside out.
After a dominant win, Drew picked up the mic and talked about cowards complaining on social media. He said he’d rather take a more direct approach and called out Randy Orton. McIntyre said that Randy was the most ferocious thing of the past but now the only thing Orton is ferocious at is posting on social media. Randy responded by saying there wasn’t a Drew McIntyre/Randy Orton problem; there was a Drew McIntyre/Reality problem. He then offered to solve that problem, but before the two could work out a proper solution, The O.C. interrupted things. They expressed their displeasure over the fact that Randy helped Rey Mysterio beat AJ Styles for the US Title last week. McIntyre excused himself from the ring, and Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows proceeded to beat him down. Ricochet, Humberto Carrillo and Mysterio luckily made the save.
After returning from commercial, Orton was backstage with Ricochet, Carrillo and Mysterio. Rey asked him if he was alright. Randy said he appreciated the assistance but that he didn’t need it.
Aleister Black and Tony Nese squared off in a match in which the former cruiserweight champion got in a surprising amount of offense. As usual, Black got some big “oh” reactions from the crowd with his thunderous kicks and strikes before finishing off Nese with a Black Mass, which Jerry Lawler referred to as Black Magic. Charly then interviewed Buddy who was watching the match on a monitor backstage, asking him if he regretted knocking on Aleister’s door. Murphy said that Black is a hothead who takes himself too seriously and he was going to be the one to calm him down.
Andrade beat Eric Young in a quick match that didn’t seem to accomplish much besides getting Andrade a win. R-Truth then came running out with the usual crowd of 24/7 title challengers chasing behind him. Truth decided to hide at the feet of NASCAR drivers Michael Waltrip and Kyle Busch who were sitting at ringside. The strategy worked as the chasers all went running by him into the crowd. Unfortunately, Waltrip took off his fleece to reveal a referee shirt as Busch rolled up Truth from behind to become the new 24/7 Champion.
A frustrated Seth Rollins talked with Charly backstage and said he can’t win, because he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. He said everyone’s a critic, but not everyone’s got the guts to be a leader.
Erick Rowan came out with his mysterious covered animal cage for a match with No Way Jose. He beat up some of the members of Jose’s conga line before turning his attention to their leader. He beat Jose after two claw chokeslams. Backstage, Sarah Schrieber asked Rowan what was in the cage but he simply glared at her before walking away.
The Kabuki Warriors battled Charlotte Flair in a handicap match. The Women’s Tag Champions got a two on one advantage on Flair throughout the match but Charlotte managed to fight them off and survive. Flair eventually attempted a moonsault off the top rope onto both her competitors but they each got their knees up. Charlotte went for a figure four leg lock but Asuka caught her in an armbar. Flair was able to power up and slam Asuka down to the mat but Kairi Sane saved her from a pinfall. Charlotte attempted to superplex both Warriors from the top but they countered and slammed her down to the mat. Charlotte hit a double spear on both Asuka and Sane. Shen then nailed Asuka with another spear and then applied the figure eight. Unfortunately, Flair didn’t realize Sane had tagged in. Kairi went up to the top rope and nailed a preoccupied Charlotte with an elbow drop to get the pinfall.
In the main event, Rey Mysterio, Ricochet and Humberto Carrillo faced off against The O.C. in a six-man tag match, which was the usual heels get the heat early and the faces make a comeback with all their exciting moves kind of affair. The crowd was pretty invested in the final few minutes of the bout, which ended when Styles hit Ricochet with a Styles Clash off the second rope and then another for good measure. As Styles was celebrating, Randy Orton sneaked in from behind and hit him with an RKO, then did his pose on the ropes as the show went off the air.
Some pretty good enthusiasm from the fans in attendance for the duration of the entire show is something that’s noticeably been missing from Raw crowds in recent months, so that was a welcome change. Speaking of welcome changes, Samoa Joe being put back on commentary was a great move.
As for the show itself, it was decent but it felt a little repetitive when compared to last week’s episode. There was another AOP assault on Kevin Owens. There was another Rusev/Lashley angle that ended in an arrest. The Kabuki Warriors’ numbers advantage got the best of Charlotte again. Erick Rowan had another squash match. Rinse and repeat.
There was no match tonight the quality of Rey Mysterio vs. AJ Styles for the US Title, although Charlotte vs. The Kabuki Warriors had some good action and intensity.
No Becky Lynch for the second week in a row is a bit strange. It seems like they could be saving her for next week’s go home show to have some sort of possible angle with Charlotte and the Kabuki Warriors and maybe build toward a tag title match at TLC.
Randy Orton’s a bit all over the place right now. Before Survivor Series, he was teasing tension with Ricochet. Last week, he cost AJ Styles his title. This week, he’s having face-to-face confrontations with Drew McIntyre and also getting into it with Styles and The O.C. as well.
They’re doing a nice job drawing out Rollins’s heel turn and having him fence hop a bit.
Overall, this felt like sort of a holding pattern episode. Last week set up a lot of angles coming out of Survivor Series. This week fleshed them out a bit. There are still no Raw matches announced for TLC, which is in less than two weeks, so presumably there should be a lot that happens on next week’s show.
Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens
Bell Time: 8:20:23 – 8:29:10
Result: Owens won via disqualification following an AOP attack (8:47)
Drew McIntyre vs. Akira Tozawa
Bell Times: 8:45:33 – 8:49:45
Result: McIntyre pinned Tozawa following a Claymore Kick (4:12)
Aleister Black vs. Tony Nese
Bell Times: 9:12:11 – 9:15:38
Result: Black pinned Nese following a Black Mass (3:17)
Andrade vs. Eric Young
Bell Times: 9:23:09 – 9:27:46
Result: Andrade pinned Young following a hammerlock DDT (4:35)
Erick Rowan vs. No Way Jose
Bell Times: 9:47:19 – 9:48:55
Result: Rowan pinned Jose following a claw chokeslam (1:36)
Charlotte Flair vs. The Kabuki Warriors
Bell Times: 10:01:27 – 10:15:23
Result: Sane pinned Charlotte following an elbow drop (13:56)
The Viking Raiders vs. Mark Sterling & Mitchell Lyons
Bell Times: 10:25:55 – 10:27:28
Result: The Viking Raiders won via pinfall following a Viking Experience (1:33)
Rey Mysterio, Ricochet and Humberto Carrillo vs. The O.C.
Bell Times: 10:43:47 – 10:58:26
Result: Styles pinned Ricochet following a Styles Clash