Advertised for tonight: Ronda Rousey competes for the first time ever on Monday Night Raw, going one on one with Alicia Fox; the fallout from Brock Lesnar's assault on Kurt Angle and Paul Heyman last week, Sasha Banks and Bayley team up to face The Riott Squad, and more!
-We begin with last week's Lesnar "I hate WWE and its fans" timeline, every point explicitly made. WWE's all, "So you're gonna boo him in Brooklyn, and cheer Roman, right?"
-Kurt Angle and Baron Corbin lead things off, and Angle reminds us that Rousey's in action this evening, unlike a certain other former UFC titlist. Yeah, how dare Rampage Jackson not show up. Angle's letting Heyman keep his job, but Roman disrupts the gabbing. Crowd's kinda split, it seems. Reigns scolds Angle for kicking him out last week, then rips Corbin for turning tail when Lesnar attacked Angle. Weird that Angle's being treated like a vulnerable weakling. Like, "You shouldn't have kicked me out last week, guy who's made Brock Lesnar submit before. I could have protected you from Brock Lesnar." Angle tells Roman that he hopes he kicks Lesnar's ass, which draws Corbin's disapproval. He calls Angle out for bias, which angers Roman and wouldn't ya know it, it's impromptu match time.
Roman Reigns vs. Constable Corbin
Dig that alliteration. The referee hits the ring just as Reigns takes Corbin down with a Superman punch for a count of two, as we hit the early commercial. The corner slide/surprise clothesline spot from Corbin was really well-executed, but then I remember I'm watching a guy in office attire wrestle a man dressed as a SWAT officer, and now it just looks funny. Corbin takes over with some elementary offense, which gives me a chance to appreciate the dude in the front row with the 1994 all-over print Razor Ramon tee. Looking sharp, my man. Reigns clotheslines Corbin up and over, and follows up with the Drive By. Gorilla Monsoon would be aghast at any wrestler who voluntarily puts themselves in position to be hit with the move, for not "doing their homework." Back from a second commercial, and Corbin has that half nelson/chinlock deal applied for the third time. He's the evolutionary Orton. Reigns fights his way free and ends up getting a Samoan drop for 2. Corbin tries to counter the Superman Punch with a chokebreaker, but Reigns escapes, only to fall victim to the Deep Six for 2. Corbin takes out the cameraman on the corner slide sequence, and runs back into the Superman Punch for 2. Corbin rolls out of the ring before a spear attempt, and takes a walk, only for Finn Balor's music to hit. He backs Corbin toward the ring, where a Superman Punch lays Corbin out at ringside. Spear inside finishes in short order. Too much downtime, but fine otherwise. **1/4 Some woman in the front row pulls her hand away from Roman as he tags hands with the people, and makes a big show of it. She's gonna hate SummerSlam then. Balor then jumps Corbin in the ring, hitting the Coup de Grace. Didn't he lose cleanly last week?
-We see Natalya's good friend Ronda Rousey talking to Ronda Rousey's good friend Natalya backstage
-Angle tells Rollins to find a tag team partner, and he can face McIntyre and Ziggler in a tag team match tonight. When Jason Jordan's music hits instead of Dean Ambrose's, Twitter will be funner.
Bobby Roode vs Mojo Rawley
Cole notes that this is the first time these two have been in the ring together since the Greatest Royal Rumble. I hope Tucker Knight faces the fake Yokozuna one say, so Cole can apply that fact as well. We come back from commercial, and Cole goes on about how Rawley interned at Morgan Stanley when he was 12 years old. Well, that's why he won that Andre the Giant battle royal, clearly. Maybe that's where he learned this five-minute long waistlock. Finally, some excitement in the form of a side suplex. When Dino Bravo's finisher constitutes "excitement", you know it's a long night. Roode makes the comeback, getting a nice twisting neckbreaker that wakes the crowd up. Buff Blockbuster hits, and Roode sells the weakened lower back. At least it's consistent. And I'll be, Roode actually wins with the Glorious DDT after some countering. I'm sure Rawley wins the rematch next week, though. Match was there. *
-Elias is here to croon for Jacksonville. It's the usual spiel (catchphrases, plugging the album, insulting the audience), though the twist is that he's here to get his WWE Network documentary "right" with some re-shoots. As long as there's no restholds, I'm down. This goes on for a bit with the film crew circling him, until Lashley shows up. And here I thought he'd be one of the crew men incognito. People in the crowd are literally looking at their phones en masse while Lashley and Elias banter. Lashley insults everything about Elias, including his scarves, which should've prompted a fight to the death then and there. Elias goes to leave, and then throws the clipboard at Lashley's head before jumping him. This results in a spinebustering. He brings Elias' film crew back in and makes them film a delayed vertical suplex. That's gonna be one hell of a documentary.
-Tyler Breezes offers his services to Rollins. I have to admit, "Crossfit Breezeus" has a nice ring to it. Reigns shows up and usurps Breeze's spot. The internet will surely handle this well.
Rezar vs. Titus O'Neil
Rezar's extra aggressive because he had to stand there and wait in the ring while Breeze and Rollins had their chit-chat. Cole notes that many of Rezar's MMA fights didn't last 30 seconds. I wish I could say the same for this match. Titus makes the comeback, but an Akam distraction causes Titus to run into a big boot. Front spinebuster finishes for Rezar. Eh, at least it didn't overstay its welcome. 1/2*
The Kevin Owens Show with Jinder Mahal
Owens lauds Jinder for helping him via peaceful exercises, before shifting the topic to Strowman. They brag about beating Braun in respective matches (in unimpressive fashion, but that's besides the point). Owens keeps interrupting Jinder before he can answer any questions, and he tries talking him into facing Strowman tonight on his behalf. He interrupts Braun's non-entrance as a sign of cowardice, but it turns out that Strowman was hiding under the interview set, flipping it over like a conference table. Alright, that was pretty cool.
Braun Strowman vs. Jinder Mahal
Owens frantically and irritably yelling "SHANTI!" at Mahal is hilarious. Braun chases Owens to start, but doesn't fall for the countout this time. Strowman chases Owens again to get his briefcase back, and as he wrests it away, he accidentally strikes an intervening Jinder for DQ loss. Well, you gotta make it seem as though the odds are against Strowman at SummerSlam. Sunil Singh ends up as collateral damage.
-Angle fields another call from Stephanie. Corbin tries to laugh, but his ribs hurt too much.
-Brock/Roman video package, with the usual narrative.
-The Angle phone call pays off with Reigns being informed that he's barred from taking part in the tag match, per Stephanie's orders, so Rollins has to go it alone. Corbin takes a shot to the ribs as a result.
Dolph Ziggler/Drew McIntyre vs. Seth Rollins
Rollins gamely goes after both men early, and he and McIntyre mess up on a cross-body catch spot. Thankfully, neither appeared to be injured. So Rollins is imperiled and the crowd's mostly quiet, and I'm hoping Jason Jordan hits the ring, just to see the reaction. Rollins fights back, and manages to avoid what looked like the world's highest bronco buster from Ziggler. Rollins manages to prevent a tag by sending McIntyre into the post, and clotheslines Ziggler to the outside. Suicide dive follows. Back inside, Curb Stomp misses, but Rollins catches the famouser and buckle bombs Dolph, while McIntyre gets the tag off of. Rollins succumbs to the numbers game and takes the fall to Ziggler's superkick, despite McIntyre being the one that tagged in. Ah well. Short but fine *1/2
The B-Team vs The Revival
What in the hell did they do to the B-Team's music? I mean, I'll write that now, but in three weeks I'll probably be hooked on it. Dallas gets doubled on in the corner, and the quick tags prove to be too much for Bo Rida. Dawson gets a seated cobra clutch, as I begin to wonder if there's a new federal resthold quota in place. The Deleters of World show up, having teleported into Axel and Wilder's places somehow. That's different, at least. A beatdown of both teams gets the match thrown out. Meh. 1/2*
-Renee interviews a disconsolate, tearful Paul Heyman, who says he can't reach Lesnar whatsoever. Now he's just like anybody else, sans Dana White. Heyman begins demonstrating a fear that Brock won't like him doing this interview. Heyman brings the acting, upset at the divide between he and Lesnar. He even mentions that their kids play together. Heyman can't answer if he thinks Lesnar still needs him, and gets irked at the idea of managing somebody else. But he reiterates that with Brock's level of focus, Reigns doesn't stand a chance. That was one hell of a well-acted segment. Heyman's frequent repeating of the same boasts on Lesnar's behalf makes you forget that he's one the most effective non-wrestlers that the business has ever had. Hell, just put the belt on Heyman at this point.
Sasha Banks/Bayley vs. The Riott Squad
One of the inflatable tube men fell asleep on the job. How embarrassing. Sasha tells Liv to lay off the hair. Must be afraid she's going to try and sell a lock of it on e-bay. Cole calling Sarah Logan "The self-proclaimed Viking of WWE" may be the dumbest sentence he uttered all year, and that would cover some ground. Bayley plays face in peril, getting roughed up in the corner. Back from break, and Logan works the same cobra clutch that Dawson used in the previous match. There's gotta be a wheel of restholds backstage tonight. Logan prevents a tag to Sasha, and Morgan gets a tornado face-jam for 2 on Bayley. Bayley manages to counter a corner charge, and we get double tags. Cole reiterates that it's Boss Time. Heard you the first time, dude. Top-rope rana/meteora combo gets 2 on Logan, broken up by Morgan. Ruby Riott makes her return in a hoodie to aid in the win, taking Bayley out and allowing Sasha to get rolled up for the pin. Picked up toward the end. *1/2
Ronda Rousey vs. Alicia Fox
We get further recaps before the start of the match, at the 11 o'clock. That, and Alicia is cutting a lengthy promo. If I were watching The Sinner on USA Network after this, I'd be mildly irked. Then Alexa interviews her, and mercifully, Ronda's music disrupts it. That was probably the intent, really. Alicia tries psychological warfare at the bell, and Rousey puts her down quickly. Then Alicia dances around ringside at six after the hour, because WWE's hoping to beat my local news in the ratings. This allows Alexa to trip Rousey, so that Fox can take over. This only pisses Ronda off, and out come the strikes. Three vicious throws by the arm follow, and Ronda sends Alicia into the rail outside. Fox tries to take advantage of another distraction, but gets thrown. Armbar finishes right after. You'd think a 10-year veteran like Alicia would know how to block the armbar like Stephanie does. Did what it needed to do. *1/2 At least Ronda still looks like a star. Bliss tries to jump Rousey, only to get ragdolled.