Venue: Bon Secours Wellness Arena (Greenville, SC)
The show began with Jerry “The King” Lawler in the middle of the ring. Lawler solemnly informed the crowd that this will be the first time that he will preside over the signing of divorce papers. Lana then made her entrance with her lawyer trailing behind. Rusev then came out donned in a daffy duck t-shirt and a suit jacket. Lana, in her trademark rushed cadence, told Rusev that she used to love him but the adulation of the fans and their Rusev Day chants got to his head. She then blamed the WWE Universe for the failure of their marriage. After a video recap of Lana and Bobby Lashley getting arrested last week was shown, Lana reiterated the talking points from before and then broke down and wept. The two then argued about who would get custody of their dog before King intervened and got the signing back on track.
Rusev said he would sign on only one condition, that he get a match with Lashley. Bobby then came down and said he was tired of all this nonsense. He was waiting for the divorce to be finalized so he could ask Lana to marry him. Lashley slammed Rusev’s head on the contract signing table and the two brawled for a bit to the outside before ending back in the ring where Rusev caught Lashley in position for a belly to belly suplex and slammed him through the table. Lana looked on with fire in her eyes.
Backstage, Charly Caruso interviewed Kevin Owens, asking him why he thought AOP attacked him last week. Without hesitation, Owens said AOP attacked him because Seth Rollins told them to. Kevin said he was lucky that he was able to get away from AOP last time and tonight, that was going to be a problem because he was going to go looking for them. KO then went walking through the backstage area where he ran into Rey Mysterio, who offered up his lead pipe as an equalizer.
Matt Hardy got a nice pop from the crowd during his entrance. Drew McIntyre then came down to the ring and talked about Hardy’s recently born third child. He made a few groan-inducing cracks about Hardy’s out of the ring behavior and how he probably shouldn’t be reproducing. Matt hit him with the twist of fate as soon as Drew entered the ring. Matt took the fight to Drew early on but it didn’t take long for McIntyre to gain the advantage. After Drew ran shoulder first into the post, Matt was able to hit him with a side effect but he only got a one count on the pinfall. Matt then tried another pin attempt but McIntyre rolled through, hit him with a future shock DDT and finished him off with a Claymore Kick.
An ‘Earlier Tonight’ video was shown of Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch in the locker room. Charlotte told Becky she didn’t like her, but right now, she has more of a dislike for the Kabuki Warriors. Flair asked Lynch if she would like to be Becky Two Belts again. Lynch said she’d rather face the Warriors two-on-one than team with Charlotte.
Kevin Owens was shown walking through the backstage area with the pipe Mysterio lent him. He ran into Mojo Rawley and asked him if he had seen the AOP. Rawley toyed with Owens for a bit before KO slapped him and walked off.
Batista was announced as the first inductee into the 2020 Hall of Fame.
The Viking Raiders came out to the ring and issued an open challenge. The Street Profits answered the call. Ford and Dawkins started off hot out of the gate. Ford hit Erik with a frog splash to get an early near fall that was broken up by Ivar. Ford and Ivar then did some dueling cartwheels before Ivar got the advantage on Ford with a spinning kick to the head. Dawkins soon came in to match Ivar in the size department, slamming him with an overhead belly to belly suplex. Ford then tagged in but Ivar hit them both with flying elbows before tagging in Erik who did some damage before bringing his partner back in the ring to hit a Viking Experience for the win. After the match the two teams gave each other some mutual respect forearm bumps.
Seth Rollins’ music then hit. Rollins came down to the ring and said he had to take care of some unfinished business. He invited both teams to stay out there if they wanted to but both tandems opted to head to the back instead. Seth said he wanted to fight the AOP right now, but instead of getting Akam and Rezar, he got a pipe-wielding Kevin Owens to greet him in the ring. Owens asked Seth where the AOP were but Rollins denied being in cahoots with them. Suddenly, a video of a van pulling through the backstage entrance was shown on the screen and AOP hopped out.
Rollins and Owens bickered a bit before Seth said he was going to leave. KO then invited AOP down to the ring. Instead, they appeared on the screen, speaking in their native tongues in a threatening manner. Sami Zayn’s music hit and he walked out with Mojo Rawley. Zayn said that although he was officially part of the SmackDown roster, he was able to appear on Raw because he had applied for a managerial licence. Zayn then described himself as a liberator who sets people free. He then told Kevin that what he did to Mojo backstage was uncalled for and then demanded an apology. Rawley said everyone was tough when they have a steel pipe in their hands. Owens then tossed Mojo the pipe and stunned him.
After a commercial break, KO was shown walking through the backstage once again looking for AOP.
Back out in the arena, Aleister Black made his entrance for a match with Akira Tozawa, which was intercut with a video of a backstage promo of Buddy Murphy talking about how he was going to beat Black at TLC. The two had a back-and-forth feeling out process early on before Black hit the first big move of the match, nailing Tozawa with a knee as Akira came diving through the ropes on a suicide dive. Aleister then tossed his opponent back in the ring and knocked him silly with a thunderous Black Mass for the win.
Charly introduced a highlight video package of Humberto Carrillo before welcoming him into the backstage area for an interview. Zelina Vega and Andrade interrupted. Humberto and Andrade had a quick screaming and shoving match before parting ways while Zelina exclaimed, “Tonight?”
Out in the ring, Andrade went after Carrillo from the opening bell with what Samoa Joe called “unparalleled aggression.” The announce team wondered why Andrade was so fired up, theorizing it might have something to do with Carrillo and Zelina. After a few minutes of getting thrown around and beaten on, Humberto finally got his feet under him and started to fight back, hitting his usual high cross body/arm drag off the second rope combo. He then leaped to the top of the post and hit a moonsault on Andrade who was trying to regroup on the floor outside.
After a commercial break, the action was still going at a fast pace. Andrade hit Carrillo with a double foot stomp but then whiffed on a running double knee strike attempt into the corner. Carrillo countered with a missile dropkick off the top rope. He then went for an aztec press off the top rope but he missed by a lot. Andrade hit his spinning elbow but it wasn’t enough to put the rookie away. The two traded a stomp spot and kick spot before Andrade accidentally ran into Zelina and sent her flying off the ropes. Humberto capitalized with a surprise roll up pin for the win. Andrade and Zelina argued in the ring after the match.
Backstage, Rey Mysterio cut a promo talking about how important the US Championship was to him.
Buddy Murphy came down to the ring for a match with Zack Ryder. In a reverse of Murphy cutting a promo during Black’s entrance from before, this time Aleister was the one making the threats to Buddy. Murphy and Ryder then had a two-minute match in which Zack got a little bit of offense in before Buddy ended things with a Murphy’s Law.
Backstage, Owens walked up to AOP’s tinted van with a pipe in hand. He smashed the windows and passenger side mirror before breaking open the back door to reveal a hooded figure sitting in the backseat. Before he could see who it was, AOP attacked him from behind and beat him down, slamming his head into the back door. The figure then turned around and revealed himself to be Seth Rollins. Seth said “It’s come to this Kev. It’s a shame. I’m sorry,” before stomping KO’s head into the pavement.
Seth Rollins came out to face the live audience, passionately asking “What do you want from me?” Rollins finally cut the promo he’s seemingly been waiting to cut since he first started getting the boo bird treatment in the build up to the Brock Lesnar Summerslam match, a reaction which only became more pronounced during his ill-fated feud with “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. The fans responded with “you suck” chants. Seth said that the fans’ negativity has forced him to stand side by side with the AOP. Akam and Rezar then came out to join him for a quick pose on the stage.
Backstage, Owens was shown being stretchered into an awaiting ambulance.
After a two-week absence from Raw, Becky Lynch returned to square off with the Kabuki Warriors. Lynch and Asuka started things off. Lynch got the upper hand early but the Warriors’ numbers advantage eventually got the best of her. Becky eventually overcame the odds and ended up dropping both with a double DDT. Sane and Lynch took turns missing on an elbow and a leg drop respectively. Eventually, Becky caught Asuka in her own submission hold but Sane pulled her partner out of the ring. After nearly being counted out due to Kairi holding her down, Becky made her way back into the ring, where she was met with a shining wizard by Asuka. Lynch showed her resilience, though, kicking out at two. Sane hit Becky with a forearm off the top rope but Becky would not stay down. Kairi then went back to the top for an elbow drop but Becky got her feet up. Lynch put Sane in the Disarm-Her but Asuka pulled her out of the ring. On the outside, Asuka hit Becky with a chair, which forced the ref to call for a disqualification. Kairi and Asuka then set up a table on the outside and Sane hit her insane elbow from the top rope. The Warriors walked off, holding their belts high.
Backstage, AJ Styles talked about how The O.C. were going to take the tag titles from the Viking Raiders. Styles then threatened Randy Orton, saying they might just end his career.
In the trainer’s room, Lynch and Charlotte had a brief encounter. Charlotte asked Lynch, “How’d that go?” before walking off. As she was strolling down the hallway, the Kabuki Warriors attacked her with a chair from behind.
Erick Rowan faced an unnamed local talent. The guy started off the match by running out of the ring and stealing Rowan’s mysterious covered pet cage, bringing it to the top of the ramp. Rowan went to go check on the cage as his opponent ran back to the ring, hoping to win via count out. Instead, Rowan dashed back and gave him a barrage of claw chokeslams before the ref stopped the match. Rowan then went up the ramp to check on his creature.
Backstage, Charly caught up with the Kabuki Warriors, asking them what’s next. Asuka then laid down the challenge to Becky and Charlotte for the women’s tag titles at TLC. Back in the trainer’s room, Lynch asked Flair if she wanted to fight them. She said “yes, but let’s up the ante.” Becky, understanding full well what that meant, replied, “Tables, Ladders and Chairs.”
The Street Profits had a pretaped “Monday After the Weekend Update” spot spoofing SNL’s Weekend Update. This was the usual Street Profits backstage segment hyping up matches that have already been announced only in a very low budget studio setting.
Rey Mysterio and AJ Styles battled for the US Title in the main event. The two were each dressed in red and black gear. They started the action in quick fashion, trading roll up near falls before taking a breath. Mysterio eventually tossed Styles through the rope to the outside and followed it up with a dropkick through the ropes and a moonsault from the second rope to the outside. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows then made their way down to the ring to add some muscle. Their appearance was enough to distract Mysterio who got thrown shoulder first into the post by AJ.
Styles worked over Rey for a few minutes before Mysterio was able to fly through the ropes and hit Styles with what Samoa Joe referred to as a “sunset flip wall bomb” into the barricade. The two barely beat the count of nine to keep things going. Mysterio hit a flurry of offensive maneuvers before AJ countered by slamming him directly onto his face. Rey hit an enziguri and went for a 619 which Gallows shielded AJ from. Styles went up top but Mysterio met him up there. A hurricanrana attempt didn’t go that well. Both men crashed awkwardly towards the canvas. Styles regrouped and hit Rey with a power bomb and a Styles Clash but just as he was going for a potential winning pinfall, Randy Orton popped into the ring and winked at him. Having surpassed the 11 pm ending time, Rey rolled up a confused AJ to retain the United States Championship with the trademark & copyright graphic on the screen. The show awkwardly went off the air during the “still united states champion” announcement and a KFC waffles commercial played.
Ultimately, it was a bit of a rushed, awkward ending to what was otherwise a pretty good show. This Mysterio/Styles bout didn’t reach the high points that the match which Mysterio won the title did but it was a decent main event that featured another Orton run-in that was telegraphed but still popped the crowd regardless.
The left of the ramp corner had some bad juju tonight. There were two rough botches: Humberto Carrillo’s Aztec Press and Rey Mysterio’s hurricanrana into what looked liked it was supposed to be a Styles Clash counter spot. Both were towards the end of their respective matches and both took the wind out of the crowd for the finishing sequences.
Otherwise, it was a good go-home show that built up three Raw matches for the TLC card: Kabuki Warriors vs. Charlotte and Becky Lynch, Rusev vs. Bobby Lashley and Buddy Murphy vs. Aleister Black. It was a bit odd to end with an Orton interference on Styles spot, unless they’re planning to announce that match up later in the week. The Drew McIntyre/Orton stuff also had no resolution, so maybe they’re shelving those storylines for after Sunday.
The AOP/Kevin Owens/Seth Rollins stuff had a good payoff. After beating around the bush for a few months, Rollins finally came out and cut the true heel-turn promo on the fans that’s been building for a while now, and he delivered it well. Rollins’ run as a face champion post-Wrestlemania win over Brock started off so promising, but then the Becky/Corbin/Lacey Evans stuff happened and he just never recovered. The feud against The Fiend proved to be the nail in the coffin. Now, he has a fresh start and a good direction to head into with Royal Rumble/Mania season on the horizon.
The Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte vs. Asuka Tables, Ladders and Chairs match from last year’s TLC was one of the best overall matches of 2018. Adding Kairi into the fold and forcing Charlotte and Becky to work together adds some fresh, interesting dynamics this time around. From a pure ‘entertaining match’ standpoint, that one looks like it has the highest upside on the TLC card as of now. Though the build has been way more miss than hit, Rusev vs. Lashley may end up being a fun, shenanigans filled brawl as well. Black vs. Murphy should be good, but how well received it is by the crowd will likely depend on where they put it on the card. Hopefully, Buddy can match Cesaro’s performance against Aleister at Extreme Rules, which is possible, but it will be no easy feat.
Matt Hardy vs. Drew McIntyre
Bell Times: (8:30:37 – 8:32:53)
Result: McIntyre pinned Hardy following a Claymore Kick (2:16)
The Viking Raiders vs. The Street Profits
Bell Times: (8:48:07 – 8:51:19)
Result: Ivar pinned Ford following a Viking Experience
Aleister Black vs. Akira Tozawa
Bell Times: (9:13:35 – 9:17:10)
Result: Black pinned Tozawa following a Black Mass (3:35)
Andrade vs. Humberto Carrillo
Bell Times: (9:25:41 – 9:36:42)
Result: Carrillo pinned Andrade with a roll up (11:01)
Buddy Murphy vs. Zack Ryder
Bell Times: (9:45:00 – 9:46:59)
Result: Murphy pinned Ryder following a Murphy’s Law
Becky Lynch vs. The Kabuki Warriors
Bell Times: (10:04:51 – 10:17:46)
Result: Lynch won via disqualification following an Asuka chair shot (14:55)
Erick Rowan vs. Local Talent
Bell Times: (10:28:39 – 10:29:58)
Result: Rowan via ref stoppage following a claw chokeslam (1:21)
Rey Mysterio vs. AJ Styles
Bell Times: (10:45:58 – 11:30)
Result: Mysterio pinned Styles with a roll up (14:22)