Venue: Schottenstein Center (Columbus, OH)
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, & Renee Young
This week’s RAW features the return of Shawn Michaels to hype up the upcoming Australia supershow as well as the return of The Bella Twins in tag team action as they take on The Riott Squad.
I picked a week to resume weekly live recaps, huh?
- WWE Universal Champion: Roman Reigns
- WWE Intercontinental Champion: Seth Rollins
- RAW Women’s Champion: Ronda Rousey
- RAW Tag Team Champions: The B-Team (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel)
- The Bella Twins vs. The Riott Squad (*1/2)
- Bobby Roode & Chad Gable vs. The Ascension (**)
- Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss (**)
- The B-Team [c] vs. Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre for the RAW Tag Team Championship (**1/2)
- The Authors of Pain vs. Jobbers (SQUASH)
- The Boss ‘n Hug Connection vs. Dana Brooke & Ember Moon (NR)
- Finn Balor vs. Braun Strowman (**1/4)
Braun Strowman makes his way out to open the show, flanked by his new friends Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. Yay Renee Young is back on commentary, no Coach this week! Strowman immediately gestures to the Tron and we get a slick recap of Strowman “turning heel” and joining forces with Ziggler/McIntyre to combat Roman Reigns and The Shield. If this means Strowman is finally cutting out his dumb manbaby shtick finally, I’m all for it. Back live, Strowman says he has a pack of his own and vows to show Reigns that it’s actually HIS yard at Hell in a Cell. McIntyre says The Shield’s time IS OVER and everyone is looking at the new kings of the jungle. Ziggler tells The Shield they started this, and they’re going to end it.
To the shock of absolutely no one The Shield (Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, & Seth Rollins) interrupts. They make their way to the ring, Baron Corbin comes out and sends a host of wrestlers to stop them. The first and second waves are dispatched easily, and The Shield start brawling with Strowman’s squad. The third wave of wrestlers/officials come out and do their damndest to separate these six from killing each other. They are successful at dragging Strowman, Ziggler, and McIntyre to the back and keeping The Shield at bay until Rollins breaks through the line and runs after them backstage, Reigns and Ambrose in tow, as the show goes to commercial.
After a replay of what we just saw we go backstage where The Shield are loaded into the back of a paddy wagon at the behest of Baron Corbin. I’m sure they won’t be back tonight.
The Bella Twins (Nikki & Brie Bella) vs. The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan) [w/ Ruby Riott]
This is The Bellas’ first tag team match on RAW in three years. I’m sure some folks are real excited about this, but I’m not one of them. At least we’re getting it out of the way early.
Morgan mocks Nikki with a ‘YOU CAN’T SEE ME’ taunt, causing Nikki to charge at her. HA! Logan tags in and belts Nikki with a series of forearms after backing her against the ropes. Nikki goes to work on Logan’s left arm. She goes for the Rack Attack, Logan escapes and uses the hair to take her to the canvas. Logan applies an armbar, Nikki escapes and connects with an armbreaker from the middle buckle. Brie tags in, Bella Twins connect with a double armbreaker and Brie covers for two. Brie is teaming with husband Daniel Bryan to face The Miz and Maryse at Hell in a Cell in two weeks, so I guess she’s warming up. Brie rolls Logan up, Morgan tags in and kicks her in the spine, then takes Brie to CHINLOCK CITAAAAY. Morgan ducks under Brie’s clothesline Matrix-style and slams her to the mat using the hair for a two-count. Logan tags back in and Brie sorta kinda hits her with a dropkick. Glancing blow. Brie hits some YES! Kicks, Morgan tags in and gets dropkicked as well (in full this time). BRIE MOOOOOODE. Brie goes for a tope suicida but gets caught up on the ropes and Logan has to run over to clobber her in the head. Yikes, she’s lucky she didn’t fall head-first to the floor. Riott Squad back in control as we go to commercial.
Back live Logan has Brie in a cobra clutch. Brie escapes but Logan intercepts her and drives her into the Riott Squad corner before a tag can be made. Brie fights out and drops Logan with a middle-buckle missile dropkick. Morgan tags in, Brie kicks her away, and NIKKI GETS THE HOT TAG. Nikki goes ham on Morgan with clotheslines a facebuster to the knee, followed by a flying kick for the 1…2…Logan breaks it up. Nikki tosses Logan out and knocks Riott off the apron. Brie tries a tope suicida AGAIN but gets caught on the ropes again and faceplants. Yikes. Back in the ring Nikki keeps the offense going and hits the Rack Attack 2.0 on Morgan for the 1…2…3.
The Bella Twins defeated The Riott Squad when Nikki Bella pinned Liv Morgan after The Rack Attack 2.0 (7:51 shown)
- The Bella Twins pick up the win unsurprisingly, but their ring rust was VERY apparent making for some ugly moments. I’m surprised Brie could stand after smashing her skull on the floor after missing that tope suicida. Yikes. That was okay for a nostalgia pop I guess, but I reeeeeeally don’t want to have them on the show again week to week. (*1/2)
Baron Corbin is backstage on his phone, assuring Stephanie McMahon that everything is okay and back on track. Corbin hangs up and Finn Balor shows up to challenge him to a rematch. Corbin wants nothing to do with it, Balor insinuates he has a small dick and continues challenging. Corbin is goaded into it and agrees to face him in the main event. And the crowd goes…mild. Real mild.
Bobby Roode and Chad Gable are talking in Gorilla when they are interrupted by Charly Caruso to ask about their upcoming tag team debut. Gable says he wants in on Roode’s spotlight and is a great tag team wrestler. Roode appreciates the kind words. These poor guys.
They make their entrance, Gable trying his best to mimic Roode’s mannerisms in hilarious fashion. Their opponents, The Ascension, make fun of them before the bell rings, especially Roode for being a failure in the singles division. Ironic that The Ascension of all teams are talking crap, given how they’ve been a giant joke since day 1 of their main roster run.
‘The Glorious’ Bobby Roode & Chad Gable vs. The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor)
Gable makes Konnor and Viktor pay with suplex after suplex and tags in Roode, who wasn’t expecting it. Roode goes to work, planting Viktor with a snap suplex for a two-count. Viktor backs Roode into the corner and tags in Konnor, who stomps him down. Viktor tags in, gets a two-count, then goes into a rear-chinlock. Roode escapes, but Viktor keeps on him and tags Konnor back in to do his big man stuff, including a beautiful elbowdrop for a two-count. BIG MAN GOT HOPS. Frequent Ascension tags, frequent chinlocks on Roode. Gable gets the hot tag and outclasses everybody with suplexes and a cannonball off the apron. Gable hits Viktor with a missile dropkick followed by a rolling German suplex into the bridge for the 1…2…3!
Bobby Roode & Chad Gable defeated The Ascension when Gable pinned Viktor following a bridging German suplex (4:59)
- Chad Gable was the easy MVP of this one; the fluidity of his moveset is a sight to behold. What a goddamn talent. Roode getting more and more pumped while watching Gable just wreck everybody was great too. I can get behind this team…and Gable eventually getting the win when Roode turns on him. (**)
An excited Roode celebrates with Gable, pumped to have found such a good tag team partner.
Elias is shown pimping his album backstage. We get to walk with him right after this commercial break!
Elias treats us all to a song about following him to the promised land, leading to folks using their cell phones as lighters. Elias says he strongly dislikes women who hit men, which is what Trish Stratus did to him last week. WWE stands for ‘WALK WITH ELIAS’. You know the drill. Elias dumps on Columbus, calling it pathetic and weak, and then throws shade at the Ohio State Buckeyes while praising the Michigan Wolverines, who I’m going to assume is their rivals.
Elias’ second song is interrupted by Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, and Alicia Fox. Bliss is a Columbus native so naturally she gets a hero’s welcome. Bliss plays into it, saying she graduated in the very building they’re in, and does a Buckeyes chant with the crowd. Bliss pumps the break and then starts DUMPING on Columbus, turning the crowd against her in rapid fashion. Awesome! Bliss makes fun of them for being ‘zombies’ and how she’s done so much better than the people she went to high school with. Cold-blooded. Bliss apologizes to Elias on behalf of Stratus, saying she’s setting a bad example for women everywhere. Bliss asks Elias to play the song he was about to play because she wants to walk with him.
An adorably flustered Elias starts playing but gets interrupted by Ronda Rousey and Natalya. Natalya takes on Bliss next while poor Elias has to deal with getting c-blocked. Poor guy.
Natalya [w/ Ronda Rousey] vs. Alexa Bliss [w/ Mickie James & Alicia Fox]
We join the match in (very early) progress, Natalya flips out of a headscissors and Bliss bails into the ropes to avoid repercussions. Natalya takes Bliss to the mat with a fireman’s carry, locking in an armbar on the way down. Bliss escapes with a headscissors. Natalya kips out, Bliss once again bails to the ropes to stop the momentum. Natalya catches a kick, Bliss begs her to not do anything. Natalya lets go, Bliss offers a handshake, Natalya takes it and stomps the hand. HA. Natalya keeps it going, a basement dropkicking netting her a two-count. Bliss dodges Natalya in the corner and drops her with a hard-ass right hand. Bliss distracts the ref, allowing Fox and James to attack her from the floor, then Bliss drills her with a DDT. Bliss points to Rousey and applies a cross armbreaker, forcing Natalya to tap! YEEEEEEEES.
Alexa Bliss defeated Natalya via submission with a cross armbreaker (3:14)
- Bliss using a cross armbreaker to tap Natalya was a great ending, showing that she’s learning and is working on a legitimate plan to regain her Women’s Championship after being humiliated in short order at SummerSlam. Alexa Bliss rules. (**)
Rousey tosses Fox around until Bliss clips the knee. Bliss throws Rousey into the steps, Rousey fights back with jabs, Bliss bails from the ring and goes back to checking on Natalya.
The commentators recap the whole Shield/Braun Squad brawl from earlier, leading to The Shield getting led away handcuffed in the back of a paddy wagon. Sports idiot Mike Rome is reporting on the situation via Twitter. Gross.
Cut backstage where Baron Corbin forces a production assistant to clean his watch. In walk Braun, Ziggler, and McIntyre. Braun and company want competition, and Ziggler wants a Tag Team Championship match for he and McIntyre. Corbin says they’ve already promoted a B-Team/Revival match. McIntyre asks what if The Revival can’t make it, Corbin says then he would have to make other arrangements. They walk off, Braun demands some competition as well.
Charly Caruso is standing by with The Revival. Naturally they get jumped by Ziggler and McIntyre, who take them out of action so they can claim the Tag Team Championship spot. HOW SHOCKING.
The B-Team make their way out for the next match. The music of their scheduled opponents, The Revival, hit but instead out come Ziggler & McIntyre. Wholly unnecessary to have the fake-out, they JUST DID THE WHOLE BEATDOWN like five minutes ago. Not like it’s a surprise.
RAW Tag Team Champions
The B-Team (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) [c] vs. Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre
Ziggler & McIntyre dominate in the opening seconds, Dallas sends McIntyre to the floor and Axel gets a couple of roll-ups for nearfalls. Dallas tags in and The B-Team clear the ring, standing tall as we go to commercial.
McIntyre is working over Dallas when we return from the break but Dallas keeps kicking out, much to the annoyance of the sociopathic Scotsman. Dallas tries to make a tag, McIntyre throws him to the mat like a bag of trash and tags out to Ziggler. Dallas belts Ziggler with rights, Ziggler brings him to his knees and connects with a dropkick for another two-count. Dallas is somehow not dead yet. McIntyre back in, Dallas catches him with a tornado DDT from the middle turnbuckle. Dallas counters a suplex with a neckbreaker, and this time makes the HOT TAG. Axel clubs McIntyre, calling him an ‘Idiot’ then hits Ziggler with a PERFECT necksnap and a Perfect Plex for the 1…2…McIntyre breaks it up and slams Axel to the mat. Dallas attacks McIntyre, but gets run head-first into the middle turnbuckle. OUCH. McIntyre is forced back to the apron, Ziggler goes to tag in but gets rolled up for the 1…2…Ziggler kicks out and connects with a SUUUUUPERkick. McIntyre tags in and he and Ziggler hit a combo Claymore Kick/Zig Zag for the 1…2…3.
Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre defeated The B-Team [c] to win the RAW Tag Team Championship when McIntyre pinned Curtis Axel following a Claymore Kick/Zig Zag combo (6:38 shown)
- Good match, glad The B-Team actually got in some offense and showed real fire as a tag team before losing the belts. I hope they don’t get shunted down the card after this, they worked their asses off to make the goofy gimmick work as best they can. But it made sense to end their reign so McIntyre and Ziggler could do Tag Team Title battles with The Shield and honestly they’re a good team in their own right. Man, the RAW tag team division is just full of thrown together weird teams, eh? (**1/2)
The Authors of Pain are shown walking backstage alongside…205 Live GM Drake Maverick? AND HE’S WEARING AOP GEAR?!? The fuuuuuuuu-
After a really cute Connor’s Cure video and a commercial break, we go back to the ring where Drake Maverick leads The Authors of Pain to the ring for the next match. Maverick introduces himself as the 205 Live GM but also the manager of AOP and vows to lead them to the RAW Tag Team Championship. I DON’T UNDERSTAND BUT I LOVE.
The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) [w/ Drake Maverick] vs. Jobbers
The Authors of Pain steamroll the sh*t out of their “opponents” and win with the Super Collider.
The Authors of Pain defeated Two Jobbers with the Super Collider (0:55)
- I have absolutely no idea why Drake Maverick is pulling double duty, or why he’s going to be a heel on RAW and I assume a face GM on 205 Live, but it’s intriguing to say the least. Does this mean AOP is going to start flattening those who cross Maverick on 205 Live? WHAT IS HAPPENING (SQUASH)
The commentators segue into a video hyping the ‘Last Time Ever’ meeting between The Undertaker and Triple H scheduled for WWE’s Super Showdown show emanating from Australia next month. A host of legends, including ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and The Big Show. I know Australia is starving for live wrestling, but why is WWE going to torture them with a goddamn Undertaker/Triple H match? Seems cruel.
Natalya is backstage nursing her wounds along with Ronda Rousey. Natalya says she isn’t feeling herself and bails, leaving Rousey to deal with The Bella Twins. Natalya is a terrible friend. Nikki says Ronda inspired her and Brie to return to the ring. Rousey thanks them for the offer but already has Natalya, The Bellas also offer their business advice and Rousey again thanks them for the offer. Oh god I hope she doesn’t actually consider it. Gross.
‘The Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels makes his way out to the ring to weigh in on the upcoming Undertaker/Triple H match being threatened at Super Showdown next month. He’s dropped the hobo beard which is disappointing. Michaels allows the crowd to praise him and does some shilling. Michaels announces that he will be in Australia to personally see the ‘Last Time Ever’ circle jerk. I’m trying to pay attention here but guys it’s really hard to feign enthusiasm for this bullsh*t.
Michaels rambles on in support of Triple H until the bell tolls and the lights go out, signaling the coming of The Undertaker himself. My feelings of this dumb match aside, it’s hard not to get goosebumps for an Undertaker entrance. Objectively cool stuff. Music dies, crowd goes nuts, Undertaker gets on the mic and says this just became personal (as opposed to the other times when it was also personal). Undertaker says he spent the past 20 years tearing Michaels and Triple H down, and says their egos just can’t accept getting got. Undertaker says Michaels chose Triple H because Undertaker took what was most important to Michaels: his career.
Michaels puts over the fact he has stayed retired, because he’s a man of respect and a man of honor (LOLOLOLOLOLOL). Crowd predictably chants ‘ONE MORE MATCH’, Michaels brings up how he hears it every single time he’s out there and from all the wrestlers in the back but has turned it all down. Undertaker asks if it’s respect…or FEAR. Undertaker says he would put Michaels down all over again if he came back and will be putting Triple H down AGAIN come Super Showdown.
- A cool segment with better than expected mic work from Michaels and Undertaker. But it’s still building to a match I really don’t want to sit through so it feels for naught. And I really hope they don’t waste an HBK return on THIS.
Finn Balor is taping up his wrists in the locker room when he’s interrupted by Baron Corbin. Corbin pulls out of their planned main event due to being so busy, and announces Braun Strowman as his replacement. Wait I thought Braun wanted competition?
Twitter update from Mike Rome: The Shield have been charged with a bunch of whatever by the police it’s totally real don’t worry about it.
The Boss ‘n Hug Connection (Bayley & Sasha Banks) vs. Dana Brooke & Ember Moon [w/ Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews]
Match barely starts before we go to commercial. K. Back live Moon fights off Bayley and Banks, connecting with a springboard double crossbody. An overly eager Brooke tags in after the ref FORGETS WRESTLING IS FAKE AND MAKES THEM TAG FOR REAL and lays into Banks. Banks counters a fireman’s, Brooke escapes a back stabber and connects with an enzuigiri. O’Neil and Crews scream advice, Brooke yells at them to stop because she’s got this. She doesn’t got this though and loses after getting rolled up following a missed back handspring nothing into the corner.
The Boss ‘n Hug Connection defeated Dana Brooke & Ember Moon when Sasha Banks pinned Brooke following a roll-up (2:11 shown)
- Wasn’t much of anything to really review, but I like Dana finally growing a pair and realizing she can do things on her own. (NR)
Brooke says she’s had it with O’Neil and Crews, and walks off frustrated.
Bobby Lashley exits Corbin’s office with a piece of paper and smiles to himself until Charly Caruso FINALLY shows up to interrupt him. She reads the paper, which is Lashley’s performance review, and Corbin has required him to attend a Meditation session with Jinder Mahal tonight. Lashley sarcastically says he looks forward to overcoming his anger issues with Mahal. What the f*ck is this sh*t.
Jinder Mahal and Sunil Singh are already in the ring when we return from the commercial, the ring covered in a big ol’ meditation carpet. Bobby Lashley makes his way out to the indifference of the crowd (or maybe me, who knows). WWE knows they’re paying Lashley a bunch of money to do sh*t like this, right? Mahal asks Lashley to sit with him and Singh as he senses much anger in him. Lashley sits and wraps a (meditation?) scarf around his neck. Mahal tries to get him to repeat things but instead Lashley says ‘MY MAN’ a bunch. This meditation session gets broken up by Kevin Owens, who had supposedly quit last week. Guess not! Mahal tries to help but gets cleared from the ring, leaving Lashley open to a superkick. Owens puts an exclamation on things with an apron powerbomb, then walks off. No one accosts him despite the fact he technically doesn’t work there anymore and put his hands on WWE employees but hey whatever it’s Labor Day.
- A horrifically lame and embarrassing segment thankfully put out of its misery by the Owens sneak attack. Lashley has to be missing Impact Wrestling at this point, at least there he could still do the MMA thing on the side.
Recap of the Shawn Michaels/Undertaker segment from the top of the hour.
Rousey/Natalya vs. Bliss/Fox announced for next week.
Mike Rome has tweeted that The Shield have posted bail and have left the police station. UH-OOOOH.
Finn Balor vs. Braun Strowman [w/ Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre]
Balor tries early to both kick out Strowman’s legs and put him to sleep, but neither work and soon enough BRRRAAAAAUUUUUN is in control. Balor escapes a Running Powerslam attempt and counters with another sleeper, Braun throws him off. Balor sends Braun to the floor and follows up with a double stomp to the back of the head, standing tall as we go to commercial.
Back live (following a weirdly place ‘VISIT OHIO’ slide) and Braun is now in control once again, working on the neck of Balor and making him pay for trying to escape with clubbing blows to the chest. Action moves to the floor and Balor catches Braun with a sling blade. Balor gets goozled and tossed into the corner, Balor catches him with a pair of boots…but gets splashed anyway the second time. Crowd just went BONE silent. Braun charges again, Balor hits a dropkick and tries to lift him up but can’t. Braun picks Balor up, Balor applies another sleeper which is easily broken once again. Braun charges and hits nothing but post, falling to the floor. Ziggler and McIntyre check on him, Balor takes the opportunity to flatten all three with a tope con hilo. Back in the ring Balor catches Braun with a kick and heads to the top, Braun gets to his feet and goozles him. Balor applies a bodyscissors/headlock combo. Braun falls down, Balor transitions into a triangle choke and Braun breaks it by slamming him to the mat. One Powerslam later and it’s over.
Braun Strowman defeated Finn Balor via pinfall with a Powerslam (6:58 shown)
- Decent David vs. Goliath match with Balor trying to stick and move and overcome the odds and Braun just decimating him at every turn. Clean win for Braun heading into Hell in a Cell which makes sense. Balor is just sorta here sucking wind with nothing to do anyway but people like him. (**1/4)
Braun and company continue the attack and tease a Triple Powerbomb until they’re interrupted by police sirens. The paddywagon from earlier backs up into the arena and out pops Roman Reigns from the driver’s side. He opens the back doors to bring out Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Looks like they’re going back to jail after this, you can’t steal cop cars. The Shield stand for a minute staring down Braun and company until Kevin Owens and company (Authors of Pain, Ascension, Drew Gulak for some reason, Mike Kanellis, Jinder Mahal, Elias) attack from behind. Reigns gets massacred with steel steps while Rollins gets thrown off the stage and into the windows of the police wagon, McIntyre stomps Ambrose’s head into the stage. All three are piled up outside of the ring, the league of heels standing around while Braun, Ziggler, and McIntyre celebrate inside the ring. That’s the show.
Final Thoughts: Despite all of the bad on this show I weirdly didn’t hate it. While none of the matches really stuck out (in a good way), we did get a title change and a great segment between Undertaker and Shawn Michaels (in service of a match I don’t care about, but I digress). It flowed well enough for my tastes and didn’t feel like torture, so I consider this a win.
- Match of the Night: The B-Team vs. Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre
- Moment of the Night: Drake Maverick hilariously dresses as mini-AOP for his managerial debut.