Randy Orton Attacked WWE Champion Drew McIntyre
McIntyre's promo was excellent as always, but you had to know Orton was going to ambush him after McIntyre didn't beat him with his finisher at SummerSlam the night prior. I was fine with that, but the angle itself didn't come across well at all. The punt kicks looked terrible, though part of that was because the cameras should have shot them better. Either way, it was completely ridiculous for McIntyre to get punted twice before stumbling back to his feet. I know he's the WWE Champion, but that move has taken out people for months who we haven't seen since, so the no-selling of the move was bizarre.
Shayna Baszler def. SmackDown Women's Champion and WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Bayley by Disqualification (Non-Title)
Much like when Baszler faced Sasha Banks a few weeks ago on Raw, this was a match that should have been saved for when it actually meant something and not randomly thrown out on TV. It was obviously designed to be backdrop for Nia Jax interfering and brawling with Baszler, only for them to form an alliance out of nowhere and set their sights on the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship. I loathe the idea because Jax is awful and Baszler should be chasing the Raw Women's Championship. They literally went from shoving each other to being on the same page moments later. The whole thing was way too rushed.
Aleister Black Attacked Kevin Owens on The KO Show
We haven't seen Black on WWE TV since Seth Rollins and Murphy injured his eye and put him on the shelf a month ago. I'm glad he's back and that it appears he has newfound direction along with Owens. Neither guy has been involved in anything of note since WrestleMania 36 and have seen their pushes drastically curtailed, so this was a step in the right direction for both men. I'm not exactly sold on heel Aleister Black, but with Keith Lee now on Raw, I suppose the move makes sense and I'm willing to give it a chance.
Akira Tozawa def. R-Truth, Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander in a Fatal 4-Way Match to Win the 24/7 Championship
The silliness surrounding the 24/7 Championship continues to be a complete waste of television time. By this point, it's evident WWE is trading the title between these four guys because they don't know what else to do with them or how else to fill the three hours. It was a perfectly competent Fatal 4-Way from an in-ring standpoint, but I can't possibly bring myself to care about anything involving the 24/7 Championship.
Keith Lee Interrupted Randy Orton
I was excited that WWE had the debuting Lee interrupt Orton and immediately inject himself into the main event mix, but my enthusiasm stopped there. Lee's new entrance music is as generic as it gets. There's been a lot of rumblings as to why Lee had his signature song taken away from him, but it hurt the moment of his arrival in my opinion. The back-and-forth they had on the mic effectively set up their match for later in the night, but the music change left a sour taste in my mouth.
Raw Tag Team Champion Montez Ford def. Angel Garza
Didn't The Street Profits just beat Andrade and Garza at SummerSlam? If they've beaten them twice in the last month, why is this rivalry still going? The focus was obviously more on Ivar walking away with Demi Burnett than it was the match itself, which was decent. I'm honestly curious if Burnett has been brought in on a full-time basis with how frequently she's been appearing on Raw lately. As for Street Profits, I'm ready for them to transition into their next title program, if only so all this talk about Ford getting poisoned can come to an end.
Bianca Belair and The Riott Squad def. Zelina Vega and The IIconics
Vega isn't a regular in the ring, so while she was hardly a threat to Belair and The Riott Squad here, I thought she held her own. It was a fun six-woman tag team match on the whole that was nicely paced and managed to further two feuds at once. I was happy that Belair picked up the victory for her team, but she needs to move beyond this rivalry with Vega eventually and win matches that are more meaningful so she can work her way into the Raw Women's Championship picture.
United States Champion Apollo Crews def. Bobby Lashley in an Arm Wrestling Competition Officiated by Mark Henry (Non-Title)
It was good to see Henry back on Raw for the first time in a while, but this was a complete waste of him as the segment was stupid. Arm wrestling competitions are almost always ridiculously dumb, and although I partially appreciated this not lasting long, there was no reason for it to happen in the first place. The Hurt Business looked like fools for allowing Crews to get away as easily as he did. Needless to say, this did nothing to make me look forward to Crews vs. Lashley for the United States Championship at Payback. That said, I'm anticipating (and hoping for) a title change.
Mickie James Attacked Natalya and Lana
I'm all for more feuds happening in the women's division outside of the title picture, but this program doesn't interest me whatsoever. Natalya bores me to tears, Lana is terrible, and James deserves better. The only positive thing I can say about this segment is that it didn't overstay its welcome. If there was an actual crowd in the building for this, they would have sat on their hands for this. At least James got to stand tall for a change.
Randy Orton def. Keith Lee by Disqualification
What a disappointment of a debut match this was for Lee. It barely lasted four minutes, Lee didn't do anything out of the ordinary, and he was disqualified once McIntyre reemerged to get revenge on Orton. It didn't help that it looked like Lee was about to lose before McIntyre interfered. On top of the terrible new theme, his new gear is lame, too. Why fix something that wasn't broken? Part of me is happy Lee didn't get pinned his first night on Raw, but this didn't exactly get me excited for a rematch at the Payback pay-per-view. WWE would have been better off having Lee confront McIntyre and challenge him at the event instead of going through all this crap.
Raw Women's Champion Asuka def. WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Sasha Banks in a Lumberjack Match
As well as these women work together, there was no need for this rematch aside from continuing to tease tension between Banks and Bayley. That could have been accomplished some other way. What we got here was perfectly fine albeit nothing close to the magic they made at SummerSlam. The important thing is that Asuka retained her title so we can finally put this rivalry to rest (hopefully).
Rey and Dominik Mysterio def. Seth Rollins and Murphy by Disqualification
This was a pay-per-view caliber match that unquestionably should have been saved for Payback at the earliest if not another event coming up. Don't get me wrong, this was entertaining and Dominik followed up on his phenomenal performance from SummerSlam extraordinarily well, but it shouldn't have happened. This was also the third (THIRD!) non-finish of the evening with RETRIBUTION attacking the Mysterios while Rollins and Murphy got the hell out of dodge. I'm not saying there should have been a clean finish. What I'm saying is that this should have been saved until Payback to begin with and therefore WWE wouldn't have had to worry about protecting either team in defeat. As for RETRIBUTION, there's nothing to get excited about when it comes to them until we find out more about them or learn their identities.
WWE had a chance to capitalize off the momentum and rave reviews that Sunday's SummerSlam pay-per-view received by putting on a hot episode of Raw, but not only did it fail to meet my expectations, it was one of the worst shows in some time. That's not an exaggeration, either. There was far more that I hated and shook my head at than I enjoyed. I realize there's another event coming up this Sunday with Payback and they were put in a tough spot to confirm multiple matches for that card, but that's no excuse because the amount of mind-boggling booking decisions made was through the roof. Lee's debut fell flat to me, the non-finishes were ridiculously overdone, the arm wrestling competition was a waste of time, Asuka vs. Banks was a rerun from SummerSlam, McIntyre no-sold two punt kicks, and there were some questionable developments in the women's and tag team divisions. What the hell happened in the span of 24 hours? When I read that Vince McMahon reportedly tore up the script for Raw less than an hour before they went on the air, I wasn't surprised in the slightest. Leave it to WWE to produce one of their best pay-per-views all year and follow it up with an all-time atrocious episode of Raw.