Alexa Bliss def. Bayley in a Raw Women's Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
As soon as Becky Lynch ran off Damage CTRL from ringside before the bell rang, it was pretty obvious Bliss was winning. Then again, I think most of us predicted that last week since Bayley has already lost to Belair on pay-per-view twice this year. Bliss and Bayley had a good match, but what really piqued my interest was Bliss nearly hitting Sister Abigail on Bianca Belair while the Bray Wyatt symbol popped up on the Titantron in the background. I have no interest in Bliss going back to being aligned with Wyatt, but I do want heel Bliss to return.
AJ Styles def. Chad Gable
This stemmed from last week's six-man tag team match where The O.C. beat Baron Corbin and Alpha Academy. They had the enjoyable outing I hoped they'd have, even though here was zero uncertainty surrounding the outcome. Gable consistently has strong performances against all of his opponents but can never seem to win when it matters most. Alpha Academy have had a terrific year, but I would like to see Gable used in a singles capacity and in a more serious manner in 2023.
The Judgment Day (Finn Balor, Damian Priest and Dominik Mysterio) def. Akira Tozawa and The Street Profits
For a match as predictable as this was, they received a ton of time. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I assume that was because WWE wanted to kill time with this match more than anything else. It was a well-wrestled affair and the crowd got into the action down the stretch, particularly when Tozawa was on offense. Judgment Day continue to roll and rack up wins. They're pretty much in a holding pattern until Edge returns to resume his rivalry with Balor.
The Miz Agreed to Face Dexter Lumis in a Double or Nothing Ladder Match on Next Week's Raw
The segment started with Johnny Gargano and Lumis giving away merchandise to kids around ringside before Miz showed up and attempted to steal back the briefcase full of the money Lumis won from him. Gargano threw out the idea of the two wrestling one more time in a Double or Nothing Ladder match. The rivalry ran its course a while ago and I have no idea why a rematch is necessary other than to keep them busy. This was simple setup for their rematch, but I can't bring myself to care.
WWE Women's Tag Team Champion IYO SKY def. Candice LeRae
Longtime fans of NXT will remember the history these two have and how SKY turned heel by betraying LeRae in the summer of 2019. They went on to have great matches on TakeOver specials and on NXT TV. Amazingly, I don't think LeRae has ever beaten SKY one-on-one and that didn't change here. The crowd was quiet for this, but they worked hard, nonetheless, had a quality contest in the time they were allotted. WWE needs to do more to get LeRae over with the audience.
Solo Sikoa def. Elias
A recent report from BodySlam.net revealed that Matt Riddle was written off WWE TV last week with an injury angle after failing a second drug test and will apparently be entering rehab, so I'm not sure how long he'll be gone for. Riddle's buddy Elias stepped up to the plate to face Sikoa but was defeated decisively in a match that did not need to last eight minutes. Realistically, this should have been a straightforward squash for Sikoa.
Rhea Ripley def. Asuka
Ripley and Asuka have had so many matches since WrestleMania 37 that it's hard to stay were this ranks among them all, but similar to LeRae and Sky, they have strong chemistry together and, also similar to LeRae and Sky, I can't recall Asuka ever beating Ripley. Ripley winning here (albeit with assistance from Dominik) was the right call and they had a solid match. I'm totally in favor of Asuka ditching the goofy aspects of her character and becoming more serious again. It's long overdue.
Seth "Freakin" Rollins def. Bobby Lashley in a United States Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
Rollins and Lashley have had a handful of matches this year and especially lately, but they always work well together, so I can't complain. This was on par with their other encounters and Rollins winning was the right call. Post-match, Lashley roughed up some referees as well as Adam Pearce, resulting in Pearce "firing" Lashley. I'm curious to see where they go next with that, but it's clear all roads will lead to Lashley vs. Brock Lesnar III either at the Royal Rumble or at WrestleMania 39 (I prefer the latter, personally).
Man, these three hours are really affecting Raw's quality now more than ever. Some of the storylines are engaging enough and there tends to be a number of entertaining matches each episode, but there's also plenty of stuff that could easily be cut if Raw was two hours. I realize that isn't realistic as we've been dealing with three hours for over a decade, but you start to feel it halfway through and the show suffers significantly as a result. This was another one of those episodes that wasn't exactly exciting and will be forgotten about fairly quickly, but most stuff served a purpose and two new contenders were crowned. The Lashley firing cliffhanger was also appreciated.