Becky Lynch and Raw Women's Champion Bianca Belair Showed Respect for Each Other
This is the type of talking segment I want to see start Raw more often. Nothing that was said felt overly scripted or unrealistic. Between the delivery of her promo and how she dressed, it really feels like The Man is back and that's great to see. Belair was also really good in showing respect for Lynch and addressing the new threat of Bayley, Dakota Kai and IYO SKY. Speaking of the trio, I liked how they attacked Lynch backstage and are the storyline reason for why Lynch will have to miss time due to injury because now she has something to avenge when she returns.
AJ Styles def. Mustafa Ali and The Miz in a Triple Threat Match to Qualify for the United States Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
This marked Ali's first appearance on Raw since he failed to beat Theory for the United States Championship at Hell in a Cell two months ago. Is that a coincidence with this being Triple H's first Raw in complete creative control? I think not. Styles and Ali both got to showcase their skills for a change and Miz played his role perfectly. This was a terrific Triple Threat with an absolutely fantastic finish. Seriously, that sequence was one of the coolest things I've seen on this show in some time. Kudos to Styles and Ali for pulling that off so well.
Seth "Freakin" Rollins def. Montez Ford
Rollins once again laid out Riddle at SummerSlam, so Riddle may be kept off the show for another week or two to sell the injury before they likely face off at Clash at the Castle. The Street Profits showing up was a pleasant surprise and I love that it led to Rollins vs. Ford in an impromptu match. Ford continues to have strong showings in singles competition and he had a damn good match with Rollins here, looking credible in defeat. Rollins playing into the rumors of Street Profits splitting up was clever.
Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka Ended in a No Contest
When this was announced earlier in the evening, I was curious if Bliss would turn heel and the two would feud, but the direction they went in instead was much better with Bayley's trio attacking them both. There wasn't much to the match since it was so brief, but it served its purpose in giving Belair two new allies and setting up Belair vs. SKY for later in the night. It's nice to see Bliss involved in something meaningful for the first time since returning.
Ciampa def. Chad Gable and Dolph Ziggler in a Triple Threat Match to Qualify for the United States Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
While not on the same level as the previous Triple Threat, this was still very fun with all three guys working well together. Even Ziggler, who I couldn't care less about as a character, shined at several points (that Zig-Zag while Gable was suplexing Ciampa was an awesome spot). I hope we see Gable get more opportunities with Triple H now in charge creatively, but Ciampa winning made sense given his issues with Styles as of late.
Edge Addressed The Judgment Day
I was looking forward to hearing whatever remixed Brood entrance theme Edge came out to at SummerSlam again, but he brought back "Metalingus" instead. Hey, it's an iconic song and I'm not complaining, but I thought we'd wait a little longer before we got the Rated-R Superstar version of him. Either way, this promo was short and sweet and exactly what it needed to be. He explained his face turn by apologizing for being an asshole and establishing his motive of wanting to destroy what he created. Needless to say, I don't see Judgement Day emerging from this feud on the winning end.
Raw Women's Champion Bianca Belair vs. IYO SKY Ended in a No Contest (Non-Title)
Belair being SKY's first opponent on the main roster sent the message that she's going to be positioned as big star in the women's division and rightfully so. She's one of the very best in the world. Fans needed to be reminded of that since she hasn't wrestled in almost four months. She and Belair had a top-notch match and I appreciated they got as much time as they did, but I know they're capable of better. The non-finish was annoying, but I'd rather they do that than Sky lose in debut match or have Belair take an unnecessary non-title loss. I hope they hold off on the six-woman tag team match until Clash at the Castle.
Ciampa def. AJ Styles in a United States Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
I saw a lot of people buzzing about Styles vs. Ciampa following their interaction at SummerSlam, but I guess those people forgot they already had a match a few months ago. Nonetheless, this was as entertaining as you'd expect given the talent involved. I figured Styles would win and I was on board with Styles vs. Bobby Lashley, but Ciampa winning was quite the shock and I'm stoked for him. Now, with next week's Raw taking place in Cleveland, is there any chance Miz cost Ciampa the title out of jealousy and Johnny Gargano returns afterward to make the save?
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos def. The Mysterios
I liked how it was noted by the commentators at one point how it was The Mysterios who The Usos beat a year ago at Money in the Bank to become SmackDown Tag Team Champions, and they've been champs ever since. I honestly thought we might get a title change to close the show, but I'm glad that didn't happen. Still, that sense of unpredictability made each nearfall more suspenseful and it was an entertaining main event on the whole. In saving The Mysterios from Judgement Day afterward, Edge accidentally speared Dominik Mysterio, so we'll see what that leads to and if he ends up joining the heel group after all.
Triple H was named head of Creative last Monday, but we found out later in the week that edition of Raw in Madison Square Garden was already written by Vince McMahon prior to his departure. This week, we were able to get a real feel for what HHH can bring to the table as the new showrunner for Raw and I thought he delivered. It was a wrestling-heavy show and we got some excellent action across the three hours. The renewed focus on the United States Championship was wonderful as well as the focus on the women's division. I don't want Belair, Bayley and the rest of those ladies to be overexposed, but they had everyone talking coming out of SummerSlam, so featuring them prominently on this episode was logical. There weren't any major surprises or additional call-ups, but I did come away from this show very optimistic about its future. The question is, can Triple H work his magic and improve SmackDown as well?