Rusev and Lana Signed Their Divorce Papers
WWE must have opened the show with this segment because they figured it would draw ratings. And maybe it will, but as far as I'm concerned, the storyline sucks. No, Rusev isn't benefiting from it at all because he was already over with the WWE Universe well before it started. He comes across like he doesn't give two shits anymore (similar to Dean Ambrose's behavior before he left around WrestleMania season), but that just may be him making the most of the awful material. He was hilarious at points, but Lana was downright unbearable whenever she spoke. As expected, Rusev and Bobby Lashley will face off at TLC. It was later announced that it would be a Tables match.
Drew McIntyre def. Matt Hardy
This marked Hardy's second appearance on Raw in the last few weeks and we still have yet to hear from him on TV. I assume he's being brought in to lose to the up-and-coming heels on the Raw roster, but he deserves better creatively. In a perfect world, I'd want him to end his career in WWE, but he still has a lot left in the tank and shouldn't be relegated to enhancement status when he has the option to go elsewhere when his contract expires next year. This was a fine squash for McIntyre, but I think McIntyre's pre-match promo lasted longer than the actual match did.
Raw Tag Team Champions The Viking Raiders def. The Street Profits
Thank the lord Viking Raiders acknowledged how they need to start facing teams that are a higher level of competition. They've done next to nothing as Raw Tag Team Champions over the past two months, so this was a nice way to heat them up again. That said, I would not have given away Viking Raiders vs. Street Profits so quickly in a three-minute match. It was all action from bell to bell (similar to that one matchup they had on NXT many months ago), but I wasn't a fan of Street Profits suffering their first loss in that fashion. Now it's time for Viking Raiders to enter a real rivalry with another team. I'd argue The O.C. make the most sense.
Sami Zayn and Mojo Rawley Confronted Kevin Owens
I appreciated that this storyline with Owens, Seth Rollins and AOP played out over the entire episode, but this segment felt pointless to me. Hell, Zayn's presence in this segment was even more pointless. Yes, he's a SmackDown Superstar, but at least he attempted to explain how he's under a manager's contract, which allows him to float between brands if he so chooses (like Paul Heyman). I guess he was used here because he has history with Owens, but considering it was Rawley that ate the Stunner and not him, I questioned why he was out there to begin with. Rawley is a waste of a roster spot at this point, but at least the crowd popped when Owens laid him out.
Aleister Black def. Akira Tozawa
Tozawa has been all over Raw lately, and while he has yet to win a match on the show, I love that his entrance has been televised every time. That has to mean something, right? Like he'll eventually score a big win when fans least expect it? Regardless, he makes everyone's offense look awesome and Black was no exception. This was a fun little sprint with Black going over strong in the end. It was confirmed here that Black will battle Buddy Murpy one-on-one at TLC this Sunday.
Humberto Carrillo def. Andrade
This feud was teased about a month or so ago, so it was cool to finally see it come to fruition. What we got from them was solid, but I know they have an even better match in them. The talk about Carrillo "upsetting" Andrade was a bit overblown, simply because Andrade hasn't been much more than a midcard player on the main roster and seems to have lost more than he's won on the whole. Is it bizarre to anyone else that Andrade hasn't lost in months yet he and Zelina Vega tease tension the first time he does? You'd think the guy was on a losing streak with the disagreement they had afterward. Here's hoping they aren't on the verge of being broken up because they work so well together and neither of them is as good without the other.
Buddy Murphy def. Zack Ryder
Murphy has beaten everybody who has stepped up to face him since his arrival on Raw and I love that he's getting a chance to showcase his skills after doing virtually nothing on SmackDown earlier this year. The outcome was never in doubt, but Ryder getting more aggressive after Murphy shoved Curt Hawkins at ringside was a nice touch. With the win, Murphy maintained momentum ahead of his outing with Black at TLC, which is guaranteed to be a barn burner if given the time it deserves.
AOP and Seth Rollins Attacked Kevin Owens
Truth be told, I wish they would have waited another few weeks to deliver the payoff to this angle, but I understand they pulled the trigger on it now because TLC is coming up this weekend and they may want Owens to take on Rollins at the event. AOP and Rollins are officially aligned and I thought the execution was excellent. Even better was the promo Rollins cut on the stage, going off on the WWE Universe for how they soured on him this year. It felt genuine because everything he said was completely true. I'm really looking forward to seeing how his heel turn freshens up his character and what will come out of his pairing with AOP.
Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch def. WWE Women's Tag Team Champions The Kabuki Warriors in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match by Disqualification
Charlotte Flair failed to overcome the odds against Kabuki Warriors last week, so Lynch tried her luck this week by also challenging Asuka and Kairi Sane to a Handicap match on this show. It wasn't nearly as compelling as Flair vs. Kabuki Warriors, but it was what it needed to be. It would have been ridiculous for Lynch to win, so I was glad that it ended in a non-finish with it being confirmed afterward that Lynch and Flair will collide with Kabuki Warriors in a TLC matchup. If this is what they had in mind the entire time, they shouldn't have given the TLC stipulation to Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin, too.
Erick Rowan def. Local Athlete by Referee Stoppage
Another week, another boring Rowan squash match. I will say, though: The dude who Rowan faced this week was the smartest of all the opponents he's had to date. He was never given a name, but he did run up the ramp and put the clothed cage on the stage before darting back into the ring, nearly winning by count-out. Unfortunately for him, Rowan beat the count and destroyed the jobber. I can't believe WWE continues to save this trash for the third hour when the crowds are too exhausted to care.
United States Champion Rey Mysterio def. AJ Styles
Mysterio and Styles have quality chemistry together, so I'm slightly disappointed that Styles is more focused on Randy Orton at the moment and not Mysterio. I would have saved this for TLC, but it made for an enjoyable main event on Raw, if nothing else. In predictable fashion, The O.C.'s interference backfired and Orton provided a distraction that allowed Mysterio to capitalize and retain his title. This was going well until that terrible Styles Clash botch toward the end, but at least no one was hurt. They cut it so close that the show literally went off the air seconds after the contest concluded.
I came away from this show with mixed feelings. I was thoroughly entertained for a majority of the three hours and don't have an issue with the vast amount of squash matches as much as other people do, but you have to remember that there is a pay-per-view this weekend. More matches were made official (Kabuki Warriors vs. Lynch and Flair, Rusev vs. Lashley, and Black vs. Murphy), but everything about this upcoming pay-per-view feels horribly rushed. How the hell was the ending to this show supposed to get me excited about TLC? I find myself digging more stuff on Raw these days than SmackDown, but overall, WWE needs to do a better job in 2020 of promoting their pay-per-views in advance and not building a card at the last minute.