Raw Tag Team Champions AJ Styles and Omos Confronted Randy Orton and Riddle
We've been wondering for weeks when Orton would be back, so I'm happy he finally resurfaced here. It would have been better had his return been saved as a surprise for this show, but I realize advertising it in advance allowed them to gain more viewers. This was an excellent segment with the chemistry Riddle and Orton being as strong as ever and Styles and Omos being the perfect foils for them. Orton turned down Riddle's request to continue teaming, but that was only done to draw out the storyline and keep people tuned in for the rest of the show to see what would happen.
Drew McIntyre def. Baron Corbin
This is the third time we've seen this match in the last year, and yes, they're still on separate shows. I blame the Brand-to-Brand Invitational, if that's what they're still calling it. I've never cared for any of their encounters, and although this wasn't the most thrilling outing either, I liked the finishing sequence with Corbin begging McIntyre for $100,000 and McIntyre playing along with it. It felt like something you'd see at a house show, which is a good thing. I've bene digging this Corbin character, but not so much McIntyre's feud with Jinder Mahal. At least McIntyre didn't face Veer or Shanky this week.
NXT Champion Karrion Kross def. Jeff Hardy (Non-Title)
Hardy inexplicably beat Kross in Kross' Raw debut three weeks ago. Reportedly, they were set to have a rematch two weeks ago that would have been won by Hardy had he not tested positive for COVID-19. Now that he's been cleared to compete, it was obvious WWE would be revisiting this. I'm glad Kross didn't lose a second straight time, but the point still stands that he never should have faced Hardy in the first place. This was decent, but the 50/50 booking helps nobody. Needless to say, my excitement level for Kross vs. Samoa Joe at NXT TakeOver 36 has certainly waned in recent weeks.
Alexa Bliss def. Doudrop
Bliss is giving her all to this character and she portrays it well, but the over-the-top supernatural stuff is just garbage. Worse yet, I can't bring myself to care about her feud with Doudrop and Eva Marie, who are also heels. I feel bad for Bliss whenever the "We Want Wyatt" chants start up, but it's WWE's fault for basically giving her the Fiend gimmick. This was fine while it lasted, but the Lily shit needs to stop.
United States Champion Sheamus def. Ricochet in a Championship Contenders Match
Ricochet was embroiled in the United States Championship picture back in the spring until he qualified for the men's Money in the Bank Ladder match and feuded with John Morrison for a few weeks. At least they went back to it so Sheamus could eliminate Ricochet as a threat to his title. They had a really fun match with Ricochet getting to show off his aerial abilities and everything that makes him special in the ring. Sheamus cheating by using his face mask to win protected him in defeat as well.
Damian Priest def. John Morrison
As talented as Morrison is (and as much as I want WWE to give him a meaningful singles push one of these days), I had no problem with Priest beating him yet again here. As I've said time and time again, I despise the 50/50 booking, so it's refreshing that Priest is being booked so strong. The problem is that WWE shouldn't be putting these two against each other so often, especially after Priest defeated him twice last week. Despite all that, this was the usual quality contest from them. The Miz stood up from his wheelchair afterward when confronted by Priest, so it looks like he's cleared to compete again. We also found out for sure that it will be Priest vs. Sheamus for the United States Championship at SummerSlam.
T-Bar def. Mustafa Ali
I was expecting a rubber match between Mace and T-Bar and the duo of Ali and Mansoor, so thankfully, that wasn't the case. Ali and Mansoor are still trying to find their footing from a storyline standpoint and this loss means they aren't a cohesive unit just yet. This was a nice little match while it lasted between two criminally underutilized talents. T-Bar is worse off than Ali because of how he's still being saddled with the awful Retribution look and name. Dominik Dijakovic would suffice, but I have no faith they'd use him much at all if he was on his own.
WWE Champion Bobby Lashley and MVP Addressed Goldberg
Although MVP is a terrific talker and everything he said here made sense, this segment felt pointless. I'm aware it was designed to hype up the WWE Championship clash for SummerSlam, but I have zero interest in seeing Goldberg challenge for the title at this point, and he wasn't there to confront Lashley, anyway. Again, MVP and Lashley did what they could with the material they were given and it was pretty straightforward stuff, but the crowd sat on their hands for most of this and it was hard to blame them.
Raw Women's Champion Nikki A.S.H. def. Rhea Ripley by Disqualification (Non-Title)
Was this billed as a Championship Contenders match, or was it just non-title? I have no idea anymore. Nonetheless, this was a good match from Nikki and Ripley before the non-finish. I honestly didn't hate it because neither woman should be losing at this point and Flair standing tall over them both made up for her loss to Nikki last week. Kudos to Nikki for getting this gimmick over, but I don't see it having a long shelf life, especially since she's already hit her peak as champion.
Randy Orton def. Raw Tag Team Champion AJ Styles
I feel like we've seen Orton vs. Styles at least a dozen times over the last four years, but they always work well together, so it's hard to complain. The real story here was whether Orton and Riddle would be able to get on the same page, and thanks to Riddle thwarting Omos' interference at ringside, Orton was able to secure the victory with that beautiful Phenomenal-Forearm-into-RKO counter that we've been waiting to see for years. Orton embraced Riddle in a hug afterward only to immediately lay him out with an RKO. The crowd ate up all of this, and despite that RKO at the end, I'm sure we're getting RK-Bro vs. Styles and Omos at SummerSlam. It's easily the Raw match I'm most looking forward to.
Needless to say, the ongoing angle with RK-Bro throughout the night carried the entire show. The opening and closing segments were centered around them and the backstage segments involving them were well done, too. The rest of the episode did a fine job of building toward SummerSlam, but I'm still far more excited about the SmackDown side of the card on the whole. This wasn't an abysmal episode by any means as there were a handful of matches I enjoyed, but it feels like we get most of the same matchups week after week and the three hours lack life as a result. The sense that nothing matters is also an issue with the program.