Universal Champion Seth Rollins Attacked Elias
Elias opened the show revealing that he had been chosen by Baron Corbin to be the special guest referee for the Universal Championship match at Stomping Grounds. However, he told Corbin he was no longer interested after getting attacked by Rollins as well as The Miz, Bobby Lashley, Cesaro, Ricochet and Braun Strowman in this segment. It was a decent start to the show and I liked the smooth segue into the Fatal 5-Way Elimination match.
Ricochet def. The Miz, Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley and Cesaro in a United States Championship No. 1 Contender's Fatal 5-Way Match
The elimination stipulation being added must have been a last-minute decision because I don't think it was originally advertised as such a few days ago. On the bright side, it added to my enjoyment of the match and it had a smart layout (even if a few Superstars took unnecessary pinfall loses when this could have been a normal five-way). The action was entertaining and the right man won. Ricochet vs. Samoa Joe is the only match I'm looking forward to at Stomping Grounds at the moment.
Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch Attacked Lacey Evans
I honestly had to go back and read a recap of this segment because I completely forgot what they said to each other. It was that forgettable. It doesn't help that this feud has been going on for two months now and it really feels like it's run its course. I'm ready for this rivalry to reach its end, but to their credit, they did a fine job of hyping up their Raw Women's Championship clash for Sunday.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions Daniel Bryan and Rowan Addressed the Audience
It was good to hear from Bryan on Raw for the first time, but he didn't say anything in this brief promo that he hasn't said before. It was just a quick way for him to put heat on himself before he faced Rollins later on in the night (and I guess it worked). I don't understand why this couldn't have happened before their bout, but at least it was kept relatively short and sweet.
The Viking Raiders def. Local Athletes
It's been over a month since Viking Raiders were last on Raw. That's ridiculous. How are fans supposed to care about these guys if their appearances are so inconsistent? They had a dominant showing here and won in under a minute, but I hope they move on to real competition soon. On a side note, I hope they don't wind up feuding with Bryan and Rowan over the SmackDown Tag Team Championship after what was teased while they were making their way to the ring. We don't need more Raw wrestlers challenging for SmackDown titles.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn Hosted The Kevin and Sami Show with Baron Corbin; The New Day def. Corbin, Owens and Zayn in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
I'm just going to bunch all of this nonsense into one paragraph. Corbin on The Kevin and Sami Show accomplished nothing except set up the six-man tag team match that didn't need to happen. I like New Day, but WWE is running the risk of overexposing Kofi Kingston with this stupid Wild Card Rule. Why this was 2-out-of-3 Falls, I have no idea (aside from killing television time), and it wasn't even that memorable, not to mention Corbin getting pinned made no sense. Oh, and EC3 is buried beyond belief. That's a fact.
Paul Heyman Addressed the Audience
I appreciate how WWE is having Heyman cut promos on the shows Brock Lesnar isn't on, but as excellent as they are, they don't serve much of a purpose. All he did was deny that he'd be the special guest referee for Rollins vs. Corbin and tease that Lesnar could appear on this episode and/or at Stomping Grounds. There are other ways of doing that without having him come out and cut a drawn-out promo.
The Usos def. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
AJ Styles approached Gallows and Anderson backstage about how disappointing their WWE run has been and how they have fallen far from when they debuted three years ago. Color me intrigued. Of course, they lost here in decisive fashion after an underwhelming match, but I have hope (how silly of me, I know) it's leading somewhere. Even if Gallows and Anderson are indeed on their way out, it'd be cool if they did something with Styles ahead of their exit.
Roman Reigns Attacked Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre
This is the first time we've seen Reigns on WWE TV since he lost to Shane at Super ShowDown a week and a half ago. As expected, Reigns was angry over losing to a 49-year-old and took the right to Shane and McIntyre backstage. He actually got the upper hand over the heels for once, which was refreshing, but fingers crossed this means McIntyre beats Reigns at Stomping Grounds. If not, I'm afraid he'll be heavily damaged.
WWE Women's Tag Team Champions The IIConics def. Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss
This was more of an angle than a true match, but The IIconics finally defended their tag titles, so there was that. As seen last week, the story is that Bliss is trying to convince Cross that Bayley isn't as genuine as she comes across. Bayley technically cost Cross and Bliss the belts here because of Bayley brawling with Bliss at ringside, so Cross now has a reason to detest Bayley. It was well done on the whole, but I still don't care about the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship.
Universal Champion Seth Rollins def. SmackDown Tag Team Champion Daniel Bryan (Non-title)
Rollins vs. Bryan is a fresh match and I loved how Bryan boasted about how Rollins has never defeated him in WWE. It had a solid start before the interference from Rowan. That caused the contest to be thrown out and several Superstars (including The Usos, The Revival and others) piled out of the locker room to brawl with each other. In other words, it ruined whatever momentum they had and forced them to start over. What we did get from them in the remainder of the show was great, though. I'd be all for a full-fledged feud between them eventually. Bryan is only a tag team champion, so it didn't hurt him to eat defeat here. It was a quality main event yet failed to get me excited for his upcoming title defense against Corbin and Stomping Grounds in general. To the surprise of no one, the special guest referee was not revealed (despite being promised). They should have said from the get-go that fans wouldn't find out until Sunday, but I suppose they had to entice viewers to watch this show somehow.
I saw some praise for this edition of Raw on social media, so if you're among those who enjoyed this episode, more power to you. That said, I can't possibly defend this show anymore. Its main goal was to sell me on Stomping Grounds and they were unsuccessful. Rollins vs. Bryan (once it was restarted, anyway), Styles confronting Gallows and Anderson, the Fatal 5-Way, and of course the latest Firefly Fun House were highlights, and while that is more than usual, I maintain that Raw is an atrocious television show that needs all the help it can get. Needless to say, the Wild Card Rule doesn't help matters whatsoever.