Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City, OK)
After a recap video highlight of Liv Morgan and Rusev crashing Lana and Bobby Lashley’s wedding ceremony last week, the show began with Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar in the ring for a promo. Heyman said no one on the roster is man enough to challenge Lesnar for his WWE Championship. Paul announced that Brock will make history by declaring for the Royal Rumble and entering the match first. Heyman ended the segment by predicting his client will be the last man standing when the Rumble ends.
Backstage, Rey Mysterio thanked his son Dominick for convincing him to stay. Mysterio said he was going to take his US Title back from Andrade before heading down to the ring. Rey hit the first big move of the match, slamming Andrade head first into the steel steps on the outside. After rolling the champion back in the ring, Mysterio tried to hit a springboard move off the top rope but Andrade countered with a dropkick. Mysterio got the first near fall of the contest after hitting a springboard moonsault into a DDT combination. The crowd showed their support for the challenger with loud 619 chants. Andrade went for a double stomp off the top of the ring post but Mysterio moved and he went crashing down to the outside. After hitting a double knee stomp to Rey on the outside, the two traded attacks until Mysterio pinned Andrade for a three count, which was ultimately waved off after the referee spotted the champ’s foot on the rope.
The match was restarted. Early on, Mysterio had the advantage over a wobbly Andrade, hitting him with a sunset flip powerbomb into the post. The crowd showed their appreciation for the legendary luchador’s performance with a “this is awesome” chant. It looked as if Mysterio had the match won after a 619 but Andrade rolled outside of the ring and tossed Mysterio into Zelina Vega and tossed Rey into the steps. Mysterio showed his concern for a fallen Vega. Andrade took advantage of the distraction by finishing off Mysterio with a Hammerlock DDT. It was a rather flat finish to an otherwise exciting match that got the crowd heavily invested. After the match, Andrade ripped off Rey’s mask and gave it to Vega as a post-match present.
A recap highlight video of Seth Rollins and AOP’s brawl with Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe was shown. Charly Caruso interviewed both Owens and Joe backstage. Kevin admitted that he doesn’t usually play well with others but the circumstances call for him and Joe to watch each other’s backs. Joe challenged Seth and AOP to a six-man tag match, assuring KO that he’s got a guy that can help them even the odds.
Charly caught up to Rollins and AOP roaming the halls backstage. She relayed the challenge to Seth. Rollins said the challenge he was most concerned about was the challenge of being the chosen one and the messiah of Monday Night Raw.
The Street Profits cut a quick in-ring promo, mocking The O.C.’s hand signals and saying that they were going to be the one pillaging tonight instead of the Viking Raiders. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson and the Viking Raiders made their way down to the ring for the three-way tag title match. Montez Ford and Ivar had the first big sequence of the match, displaying their athleticism with matching cartwheels and flips. The action slowed down a bit when Anderson entered the match and took turns with Gallows grinding down Ford. Erik tagged in and managed to single-handedly take out Gallows, Anderson and Angelo Dawkins before Ivar came in to join the fun by hitting a Viking Experience on Ford. The pin was broken up by The O.C. The Raiders regained the advantage for a while before Ivar accidentally crotched himself in the corner. Dawkins and Ford were able to create a quick flurry of offense. Montez hit a flip over the top rope onto Anderson and his partner Dawkins on the outside. The champs took advantage of the two on one advantage on Anderson. Ivar finished him off with a big splash off the top rope to retain the tag titles.
Backstage, Charly asked Samoa Joe if he would reveal who his third man would be. Kevin Owens said he was also interested to find out. Joe declined to say who it was, instead saying that he would rather show KO by letting Owens peek inside the locker room where the third man was waiting. Kevin came out looking happy while Charly was left looking confused.
Becky Lynch cut an in-ring promo. Lynch said that she had spent months wondering what kind of champion she wanted to be. She admitted that she had second thoughts about demanding a match with Asuka at Royal Rumble. A video of Asuka tapping out Becky at last year’s Rumble and The Kabuki Warriors beating Becky and Charlotte at TLC was shown. Just as Becky was about to say what she had figured out, Asuka’s music hit and she made her way down to the ring. Becky leveled her with a right hook before walking off and taunting a visibly upset Asuka.
Backstage, Erick Rowan and Mojo Rawley had a quick face to face confrontation. Rawley asked if he could take a look at what’s inside Rowan’s cage. Surprisingly, Rowan agreed. Mojo peaked in and quickly recoiled in disgust, asking “what the hell is wrong with you, man?” Rowan smiled and continued walking.
Backstage, Sarah Schreiber interviewed Andrade, asking him if he crossed the line in his match against Rey Mysterio. Andrade laughed and held up Mysterio’s mask. Rey came running in to attack him and reclaim his mask as Zelina screamed for him to stop.
Erick Rowan squashed KJ Orso in 25 seconds. He forced Orso to look inside the cage. KJ emerged with blood running down his face and then ran up the ramp screaming. Rowan smiled and picked up the cage.
A recap video was shown of last week’s in-ring interaction between AJ Styles and Randy Orton, which ended with a possum-playing Randy stunning Styles with an RKO. AJ looked to take out his frustrations on Akira Tozawa. He hit a quick Phenomenal Forearm and went to pin Akira but instead picked up his shoulders before the ref could count three. He teased a Styles Clash before changing his mind and mimicking Orton’s vintage DDT off the second rope. He finished off Tozawa with an RKO. He posed on the ropes in a similar arms up style as Randy. As AJ walked up the ramp the camera briefly caught a man in a blue suit running into the ring and being tackled by security as the show rushed to a commercial break.
The man in the suit turned out to be the wedding officiant from last week’s ceremony. Bobby Lashley and Lana came down to the ring and said that they were going to get married right here, right now. The officiant pronounced them man and wife. Lana took the mic and said that she felt extremely sad. She flaunted her ring and called the fans basic, pathetic civilians that should be honored to be in her midst. Rusev appeared on the screen, saying he was taking a honeymoon of his own on the beach. He said he had a present for the two of them: a special wedding album of last week’s ceremony. After sitting through a quick photo montage of the hijacked festivities, Lana screamed “I hate you” over and over again before Bobby told her to shut up. Lashley told Rusev that if he had any balls left, he should show up to Raw next week so Bobby could shove them down his throat. Rusev said that next week will be the return of the Bulgarian Brute. He threatened Lashley, saying that he was going to brutalize every part of his body and Lana could have whatever was left.
Backstage, Liv Morgan interrupted an interview between Charly and R-Truth. She offered up her services to be in Rusev’s corner when he faces Lashley next week.
Sarah Logan jumped Charlotte before the bell could ring. The two briefly brawled into the crowd before the ref finally was able to get the Sarah back into the ring. Logan wiped her feet on Flair’s robe before throwing it at Charlotte. That antagonistic action earned her a spear and a suplex into the barricade. Flair finished things off with a boot before putting her robe back on and wiping her feet in Sarah’s direction.
Drew McIntyre delivered a Glasgow Kiss to one of No Way Jose’s conga line before body slamming another. McIntyre entered the ring and inflicted some punishment on Jose. He made his way back outside and slammed another member face first into the apron. McIntyre finished off Jose with a Claymore Kick and tossed him over the top rope onto the conga line. Drew grabbed a mic and asked the crowd “who dares me to do one more Claymore?” He tossed Jose back into the ring and hit him once again. McIntyre cut a promo saying he’s never had the chance to fight for the world title since everyone was too scared to fight him. He declared for the Royal Rumble and said “when it was all said and done, there can only be three, two, one.”
Aleister Black squared off with Shelton Benjamin. The two had a feeling out process to start and did some grappling on the mat. Benjamin picked up the advantage early after slamming Black. The two traded strikes before Aleister finished off Shelton with a Black Mass. After the match Buddy Murphy attacked Aleister and threw him all over the ringside area. He hit two knees to the head that left Black flat on his back.
Seth Rollins and AOP came out. Rollins grabbed a mic and talked about being chosen to be the one to lead Monday Night Raw to the promised land. He said he needed to eliminate people like Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe who impede progress. He dared Joe and Owens to come down to the ring and meet their fate at the hand of the AOP and the Monday Night Messiah. Joe and KO obliged. They revealed The Big Show as their surprise partner. Show started things off with Akam. He quickly tossed Rollins in the ring and delivered a big slap to the chest as the show headed to commercial break.
Back from the break, Owens and Rollins were battling it out before Rezar nailed Owens with a cheap shot. Rezar tagged in and worked over Owens as the crowd chanted “we want Big Show.” Akam and Rollins took turns beating on KO as well. Kevin eventually made the hot tag to Show who came in and inflicted punishment on the messiah. Big Show eventually caught AOP in position for a double chokeslam but Rollins broke things up with a steel chair to the back, which earned him and AOP a disqualification. Big Show got the last laugh, however, nailing Seth with a KO Punch.
The show ended with match announcements for next week’s show, which will feature Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles, Buddy Murphy vs. Aleister Black, Rusev vs. Bobby Lashley and Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens and The Big Show vs. Seth Rollins and AOP in a fist fight.
Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade was the match of the night. Although the finish was a little convoluted and fell a bit flat, the crowd was invested for the majority of the action.
The three-way tag match was predictable but still pretty fun. It was a good way to get the Street Profits in the ring with some established teams without forcing them to eat a loss.
The other four matches were quick squashes but each of them at least had a bit of nuance and meaning. Rowan is now letting people peek inside his pet cage. Styles mocking Orton helps add some more fuel to that feud’s fire. McIntyre seems to have something with his “three, two, one” gimmick. Tonight’s crowd was into it and gave him the desired reaction. Murphy’s post-match attack on Black was actually fairly violent and gives cause for a match, considering Aleister has already beaten him twice.
The main event was more of an angle than a true match. The crowd did seem excited for Big Show’s return, so it can be deemed a success. Show also looked to be in good shape after such a long layoff.
Lashley telling Lana to shut up during her promo added an interesting dynamic to that storyline.
The Charlotte/Sarah Logan brawl was a bit odd. Charlotte’s still just treading water without any real direction at this point.
Becky Lynch’s promo felt like a reiteration of things she’s already said in the past few weeks, so there really wasn’t any new ground covered there.
Brock Lesnar entering the Rumble No. 1 seems like a bit of a cop out since it just doesn’t feel like there is any believable challenger for him to face right now. It could be good if done right and somebody gets the rub of eliminating him (preferably an ascending NXT talent like Keith Lee or Matt Riddle), or it could be a disaster if it turns the Men’s Rumble into a Brock-centric affair in which he just squashes the entire roster.
Overall, tonight’s show started off hot with Mysterio and Andrade, had some squashes in the middle, and finished with a well received surprise return of an established veteran. This seemed like the set up show for a big lineup next week but it was still a worthwhile watch without any real low points.
Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio
Bell Times: (8:20:10 – 8:40:03)
Result: Andrade pinned Mysterio following a Hammerlock DDT (19:53)
The Viking Raiders vs. The O.C. vs. The Street Profits
Bell Times: (8:58:53 – 9:14:13)
Result: Ivar pinned Karl Anderson following a splash off the top rope (15:20)
Erick Rowan vs. KJ Orso
Bell Times: (9:36:32 – 9:36:57)
Result: Rowan pinned Orso following an Iron Claw (25 seconds)
AJ Styles vs. Akira Tozawa
Bell Times: (9:46: 22 – 9:48:32)
Result: Styles pinned Tozawa following an RKO (2:10)
Drew McIntyre vs. No Way Jose
Bell Times: (10:21:39 – 10:23:22)
Result: McIntyre pinned Jose following a Claymore Kick (1:43)
Aleister Black vs. Shelton Benjamin
Bell Times: (10:33:07 – 10:35:31)
Result: Black pinned Benjamin following a Black Mass (2:24)
Seth Rollins and AOP vs. Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and Big Show
Bell Times: (10:48:24- 10:58:37)
Result: Rollins was disqualified following a steel chair attack (10:13)