So, it’s been a minute since I covered Monday Night Raw — like, back in the days when Vince McMahon ran WWE. Reviewing this show will be like playing “Spot the Differences” since the last one I watched.
Who are we kidding, though … Vince is still “running” WWE, right?
The Judgment Day is first out in Washington, D.C., fuelled by their Alter Bridge theme song and feeling high on themselves for destroying the Mysterios, causing the father/son duo to miss tonight’s show. Looking forward, though, Damian Priest is excited for his wrestling match against Edge in Toronto next week, and is ready to send him back into retirement. Hey — I spotted a difference! Priest said the word “wrestling”.
Before Priest can conclude, it seems that Rey Mysterio didn’t get the memo about missing the show tonight, and he attacks Priest and Balor (though he’s still beholden to the ancient rules of combat and cannot strike Rhea Ripley) before the numbers win out and Mysterio is beaten down, finished off with a Coup de Grace by Balor with a chair on Rey’s stomach.
Asuka & Alexa Bliss (w/ Bianca Belair) VS. Nikki A.S.H. & Doudrop – Women’s Tag Team Championship Tournament Match
Asuka and Nikki kick things off with the near-super-hero gaining the early advantage until Asuka drives a knee into Nikki’s chin, then brings Bliss in to double-dropkick Doudrop before a commercial break. Coming back, we see a replay from during the commercials that had Doudrop rather gingerly run Bliss into the corner post while outside the ring.
Back in real time, Bliss hits a jawbreaker on Nikki and sends her barreling to her corner for a tag. Bliss also makes a tag, though, and Asuka flies in from the top rope with a missile dropkick. Nikki tags back in and takes a series of strikes before kicking out of a German suplex bridging pin attempt.
Nikki lands a cross body from the top rope and Bliss is forced to break up the pin to save Asuka. Doudrop eschews the top rope and squashes Bliss with a running cross body. She follows soon after with a Michinoku Driver on Asuka but only gets a two count.
Bliss and Asuka tag each other in and out to deliver a series of attacks on Doudrop until she’s weakened enough for Asuka to lock in an armbar, forcing Doudrop to tap.
Winners via submission: Asuka and Alexa Bliss
As the winners and Belair head up the ramp, they’re met by Dakota Kai, Bayley, and IYO SKY (the all-caps is a bit much). Nothing much more than a lot of threatening posture happens here.
Kevin Patrick is in the interview area, welcoming Austin Theory back for the first time since SummerSlam. Theory admits that he made some errors in judgment, but he’s as confident as ever. Dolph Ziggler pops in to almost, sort of, offer some career advice, but Theory predictably throws it back in Ziggler’s face and labels him a has-been. Ziggler’s rebuttal — a headbutt. They scrap into the commercial break and right through it.
Elsewhere, Sarah Schreiber welcomes The Miz and the way-too-colourfully-dressed Tommaso Ciampa to air their grievances. They’re upset at AJ Styles for interfering in Ciampa’s match against Bobby Lashley last week, but vow to pay him back. Miz also presents Ciampa with a keepsake to celebrate how awesome he is: a matching set of bedazzled photos of the two of them on a necklace.
The Miz & Tommaso Ciampa VS. Cedric Alexander & Mustafa Ali
Ciampa and Alexander take the first shift, with Ciampa making liberal use of Alexander’s hair to keep him from escaping a headlock. An acrobatic sequence ends up with Alexander dropping Ciampa to the mat and tagging in Ali for a senton upon entering the ring, only for Ali to tag Alexander back in for the same maneuver. Alexander tries a handspring, but Ciampa catches him in the face with a low dropkick before a break.
Back from the ads, Miz is in the match which is reason enough for him to finally remove his shirt which he’d been wearing on the apron. He delivers a corner clothesline to Alexander before tagging in Ciampa once again. After Alexander hits a snap suplex, both teams tag and Miz has to deal with Ali. Miz throws him towards Ciampa in the corner, but Ali says thanks and lands a dropkick on Tommaso.
Miz drops Ali’s neck across the second rope, so Ali tags out again and Alexander drives Miz to the mat with what may have been enough for a three-count, were it not for Ciampa placing his partner’s foot on the rope. Ali dives over everything to land on Ciampa and send him sprawling onto the commentator’s table while Alexander and Miz trade pinfall attempts.
Ali’s in and superkicks Miz down, preparing him for a 450 splash, but Ciampa had tagged in blindly and catches Ali on the way down with a running knee followed by a Fairytale ending for the win.
Winners via pinfall: The Miz & Tommaso Ciampa
Backstage, Drew McIntyre is headed to the ring with something to say, passing by a group of officials trying to douse some kind of garbage can fire. Hmmm.
When we return from ads, McIntyre has a mic and simply wishes to finish his thoughts that had been previously interrupted by the returning Karrion Kross. He vows to take the title from Roman Reigns at Clash at the Castle and defend it every week because that’s what the fans and the title deserve. He begins presumptively listing off dream matches for his future title defences, but Kevin Owens interrupts and doesn’t want to hear it.
Owens gets some loud cheers as he promotes how great he is (and shouts out Sami Zayn’s name, too). He says he misses who he used to be, and it’s time to bring back “The Prizefighter”. “Enough is enough, and it’s time for a change,” Owens pronounces in tribute to Owen Hart.
McIntyre lets Owens have his say but then unleashes back, demanding first his respect, and then, when he’s tired of talking, says he just wants to wrestle. Owens agrees.
Drew McIntyre VS. Kevin Owens
They lock up back and forth in the opening moments before McIntyre turns Owens quite inside out with a running shoulder. Owens, perhaps inspired by watching the A&E Biography featuring DX last night, uses a crotch chop ahead of a cannonball on McIntyre in the corner, before pulling him out for a standing senton and a second-rope moonsault, but McIntyre kicks out on one.
The crowd is split between “Let’s go Owens” and “Let’s go Drew” chants as McIntyre slams Kevin to the mat and pays him back a crotch chop. McIntyre is setting up a suplex from the apron to the floor, which is obviously crazy, but Owens escapes it and runs McIntyre’s head into the post before delivering a frog splash from the apron.
Back from a break, McIntyre uses a series of clotheslines and overhead tosses to gain control, but Owens rolls away from a Future Shock DDT to give one of his own. Owens tries a top-rope senton but McIntyre blocks it with his knees. After some back and forth, Owens is on the top rope again and lands his second frog splash of the match but can’t secure the pinfall.
He quickly climbs the ropes again for a Swanton but McIntyre kicks out once more. On cue, the crowd starts a “This is Awesome” chant, because all you need to do to get that chant going is kick out of some finishers. McIntyre hits a dangerous-looking avalanche White Noise, but even that only gets a two-count. Drew is thinking Claymore but runs into a superkick, then McIntyre slips out of a stunner and returns with a Glasgow Kiss.
Another superkick by Owens, a clothesline by McIntyre, and both are down. After they rise into a trading of punches, McIntyre leaps through a pop-up powerbomb attempt and hits a Future Shock DDT. Not going for the cover yet, he goes to the corner to ready a Claymore but is attacked by Jimmy and Jey Uso, bringing the match to an unceremonious end.
Winner via disqualification: Drew McIntyre.
Drew fights off the Usos but Owens is lying in wait with a stunner. After Kevin departs, The Usos try another attack on McIntyre but once again they’re brushed aside like lackeys.
After more ads, Seth Rollins gets some mic time in the ring. He’s excited to hear Matt Riddle, via satellite, retire — which is not, as you may guess, what Riddle has to say. Instead, Riddle says he’s medically cleared, and Rollins just wishes that he were here to stomp him once again.
Guess what? Riddle is here and he charges the ring, dodges a stomp, and takes it to Rollins early, but soon it’s back to a Riddle beatdown, though Riddle escapes another stomp and chases Rollins up along the old Shield entranceway through the crowd.
After the next break, Kevin Patrick meets Riddle backstage and hears his challenge for Rollins at Clash at the Castle.
Veer Mahaan VS. Beaux Keller
Keller is smiling and looking confident, dodging Mahaan’s early attacks and landing a dropkick before we return to our regular scheduled programming. That would be a squash, complete with Million Dollar Arm clothesline and cervical clutch.
Winner via submission: Veer Mahaan
Backstage once again, Sarah Schreiber meets with Kai, Bayley, and SKY. Schreiber just wants to know how Kai is feeling ahead of her singles match tonight, but the trio is not forthcoming with answers and instead walk off the set to try and intimidate Dana Brooke.
AJ Styles VS. Bobby Lashley (C) – for the United States Championship
Lashley predictably runs through Styles early, but AJ returns fire with a high dropkick, and a phenomenal-ish forearm from the apron to the floor not long after. Following a break, Styles takes a hard tumble into the corner post inside the ring, so Lashley takes Styles on a tour around ringside, throwing him back-first into just about anything.
Between the ropes again, Styles starts chipping back into the match with kicks to Lashley’s head, but he’s holding his lower back very gingerly. A big spinebuster by Lashley won’t help that, but the champ’s attention is drawn to the ramp as Miz and Ciampa head to ringside. They watch as Lashley picks Styles up and drape him over the top rope before knocking him to the floor.
With Ciampa distracting Lashley, Miz heads over to Styles, possibly thinking of a sneak attack. He doesn’t get a chance, though, as Dexter Lumis is once again caught trying to scale the barricade and everything stops for a moment while they sort that out.
After another set of ads, during which the ref ejected Miz and Ciampa from ringside, Styles hits another forearm to the floor. He drags the champ back into the ring and delivers another sort-of forearm, sort-of crossbody for a near-fall. He follows with a rack bomb, which he barely executed on the big man, but can’t get a Styles Clash going as Lashley backdrops him away.
Styles blocks a spear attempt with a low kick, rolling up Bobby into a Calf Crusher, but Lashley turns it into a prone Hurt Lock. Styles escapes by forcing Lashley to kick out, prompting the “This is Awesome” chant before a dodged Phenomenal Forearm leads to a spear for the victory.
Winner via pinfall AND STILL champion: Bobby Lashley
Dakota Kai (w/ Bayley & IYO SKY) VS. Dana Brooke (C) – Non-Title Match
Look, the 24/7 Championship is bad enough, but to have a non-title match for the title that is literally up for grabs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is truly next level stupid.
Brooke grabs Kai from behind, but a Pele Kick rocks the champ. A hard throw by Kai sends Brooke crumbling in the corner, but she fights back soon enough with a clothesline and springboard back elbow. Kai, though, follows with a running boot with Brooke in the corner (it was a twice-as-long Broski Boot) for the victory.
Winner via pinfall and somehow NOT new champion: Dakota Kai
Austin Theory VS. Dolph Ziggler
It’s a brawl right away as Ziggler and Theory trade off puches and pinfall attempts. A really hard left hand by Theory sends Dolph flat to the mat, which he follows up by driving him into a corner post three times. Ziggler fights back with a leaping DDT and throwing Theory into the post as payback. Theory blocks a superplex, so Ziggler turns it into an avalanche sit-out facebuster before a break.
Coming back, Corey Graves comments that Ziggler doesn’t want to become the Vince Neil of wrestling, just showing up and relying on past glory. Considering what I’ve heard from friends about the current Motley Crue tour, he may be onto something.
Theory, meanwhile, lands a rolling dropkick for two, then drives Ziggler into yet another corner post, and this one seems to really hurt him. Motivated to fight back, though, Ziggler lands a big standing elbow but can’t follow with a superkick as Theory blocks it. Austin tries another rolling dropkick from the apron, but Ziggler meets him with a Famouser for a two-count.
A headbutt by Ziggler can’t lead to a Zig-Zag, as Theory blocks it and tries an A-Town Down. Ziggler escapes that and gets his Zig-Zag, but can’t cover right away and only gets a two. Theory catches a superkick attempt and A-Town Down follows soon afterwards for the ending.
Winner via pinfall: Austin Theory
Monday Night Raw, August 15th, 2022
A fine show, but I only ended up spotting one difference so I’m not yet sold on this being a brand new era for Raw. The matches were definitely better, but it’s still … one … hour … too … long.