Finn Balor Interrupted Universal Champion Roman Reigns
It's crazy to think it's been almost exactly two years since Balor vacated the Universal Championship the day after SummerSlam 2016. It's also funny that he was finally given his rightful rematch for the title... the day after Brock Lesnar lost it. This was a great way to kick off Reigns' latest championship reign, though it should be noted that fans are still largely booing Reigns and the ending to SummerSlam didn't fix much. Additionally, Baron Corbin coming out and almost ruining the party was quickly thwarted by Kurt Angle, who put him in a match with Bobby Lashley instead.
Bobby Lashley def. Baron Corbin
I commend them for putting together a fresh match, but this was almost as dumb as putting Corbin up against Reigns a few weeks ago. Their styles didn't mesh at all. Rather, it led to a fairly boring bout that lasted longer than it needed to. I'm glad Lashley picked up the victory as he should have, but he needs to be booked more dominantly. He also needs to turn heel because he would clearly be better off in that role.
The Riott Squad def. Sasha Banks, Bayley and Ember Moon
Ah, the never-ending rivalry with Banks, Bayley, Moon and The Riott Squad continues. I swear I feel like I'm watching house show matches week after week with these women because it's never anything new, though I will give them credit for contesting a solid six-woman tag team match here. The Riott Squad maintaining momentum with the win was key, but if Banks isn't going to turn on Bayley any time soon as a result of these losses, then I'm left wondering what the endgame is.
Triple H Addressed The Undertaker
I held out hope that Triple H was making a rare Raw appearance to not only hype up his upcoming match against The Undertaker at WWE Super Show-Down but to also give a rub to a new star arriving from NXT. Of course, that didn't happen, but HHH's promo was still strong and did an effective job of getting fans to look forward to that encounter, even though they probably should have left it at their WrestleMania 28 encounter.
Dean Ambrose def. Dolph Ziggler
After having been gone for so long, Ambrose finally feels fresh again, so perhaps his long absence was for the better because he desperately needed a reset of some sort. What was especially encouraging about this match was how Ambrose didn't revert back to his wacky ways and was instead all business. This was an enjoyable encounter with the right finish. I figured Ziggler and Drew McIntyre would tease tension ahead of an eventual split, but apparently not.
Elias def. Curt Hawkins
Elias did his usual concert before being interrupted by Hawkins, who is a New York native. Officials may have thought he would have received a bigger reaction than he did, but I don't blame the crowd one bit because Hawkins is on WWE programming so inconsistently and has largely been positioned as a heel up to this point. Brooklyn did pop for a few nearfalls Hawkins scored, but that was about it.
The Authors of Pain def. Titus Worldwide
Needless to say, I couldn't have cared less about seeing yet another match between Authors of Pain and Titus Worldwide and it was painfully apparent the audience felt the same way. It was a lethargic effort overall, but I will give props to Apollo Crews for an impressive performance. I'd be all for him getting a singles push in the near future, especially if he and Titus O'Neil go their separate ways as was teased here. He isn't damaged goods just yet and can still be salvaged in my opinion.
Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey Attacked Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMAhon
The idea here was for Stephanie to attempt to manipulate Rousey into thinking she was superior to the rest of the Raw women's division by having them stand ringside for the official coronation, but Rousey denied and encouraged them to join her in the ring. I understood what they were going for, but it felt forced. Rousey can get over as the endearing yet badass babyface on her own and doesn't need stuff like this to accomplish that. That said, there are rumblings that Stephanie will enlist the help of Shayna Baszler to rival Rousey.
Scott Dawson def. Raw Tag Team Champion Bo Dallas; Dash Wilder def. Raw Tag Team Champion Curtis Axel
Both bouts were practically the same (and by that I mean completely lifeless), so I simply decided to combine them into one paragraph. The Revival fell short of capturing the Raw Tag Team Championship last week on Raw and again at SummerSlam, but this was their way of getting back on track: by beating the tag champs in one-on-one action. I'm in favor of Revival getting another shot at the straps, but it was dumb to do these matches so late in the show when the crowd was already losing energy as it was.
Universal Champion Roman Reigns def. Finn Balor; The Shield Attacked Braun Strowman
Remember when Balor faced Reigns in the main event of that episode of Raw where he made his main roster debut? They proved on that night that they work well together, and this was equally excellent. It simply had the perfect pace and Balor came across like an equal to Reigns throughout, despite being booked like an afterthought in recent months, and I was happy he was made to look strong in defeat. Braun Strowman attempting to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase afterward led to a monster reaction before Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose unexpectedly hit the ring to The Shield music, which was an awesome surprise. This certainly shakes things up in the main event picture moving forward.
WWE set the bar pretty high in past years with hot post-SummerSlam editions of Raw featuring NXT call-ups and whatnot, and unfortunately, this one didn't exactly measure up. Of course, not everything was dull, as the final 30 minutes or so were fantastic between the outstanding Universal Championship main event and The Shield reuniting. Ambrose vs. Ziggler was also entertaining and HHH showing up was a treat, but everything else was just kind of there. Nonetheless, I'm excited for next week's Raw if only to see where they go with the Shield/Strowman storyline.