Paul Heyman Addressed the Audience; Matt Riddle and Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens Fended Off Imperium
Heyman said Heyman things, and none of it was all that important. Honestly, I'm not sure why he even needed to be on the show seeing as how he was drafted to SmackDown and he had no interaction with Owens and Zayn here. Owens and Zayn said more of the same about The Bloodline, so this segment didn't accomplish much outside of establishing Riddle would be Owens and Zayn's tag partner against Imperium later in the night (though it was already announced on social media earlier in the day).
Bronson Reed def. Ricochet
These were the last two eliminated in last week's Intercontinental Championship number one contender's Battle Royal. Ricochet is a good person for Reed to be working with because he's (somewhat) over with the audience and Reed needs all the crowd heat he can get. I loved the dynamic they had here as Ricochet sold really well for Reed's offense and that made Reed look even more dominant. It was an enjoyable outing. If Ricochet is still aligned with Braun Strowman, maybe this leads to Reed vs. Strowman soon?
Zoey Stark def. Candice LeRae
I really liked the video packaged for Stark that preceded the match. It's not a guarantee she'll ultimately get over, but using video packages to showcase her is a smart approach and WWE is doing all the right things with her so far. This would have been a very good match if it was more competitive, but I had no issue with it being a straightforward squash for Stark. Nikki Cross was cheering for LeRae at ringside, but their storyline wore out a while ago because there's been no progression.
Brock Lesnar Attacked Cody Rhodes
Lesnar ambushed Rhodes backstage at the start of the show, so Rhodes came into this segment "injured." Lesnar reinjured Rhodes' arm by locking him in a Kimura, teasing that Rhodes may not be 100 percent for their match at Night of Champions. It was a night-long storyline and this was only one part of it. Considering Rhodes legitimately wrestled with a torn pec inside Hell in a Cell last year, it only makes sense that he wouldn't back down here, either (regardless of how it made him look like a dumb babyface).
Alpha Academy def. The Viking Raiders
The stuff with Chad Gable, Otis and Maxxine Dupri has been going on almost as long as the never-ending storyline with LeRae and Cross, but I don't mind it as much because it's at least been entertaining at times. Viking Raiders aren't remotely over at this point, but they're still a talented team and this was a well-worked match. It's nice to see Triple H putting in the work to rebuild the tag team divisions on both brands.
Finn Balor def. Shinsuke Nakamura
This was only the fourth match these two have had in WWE, with Nakamura having won all of their previous encounters. They once again worked really together and had a fun match. I assumed Nakamura would win to set him up for a match with Damian Priest, but Balor won instead thanks to some outside involvement from Priest. Nakamura vs. Priest is probably still coming, though. Priest becoming a bigger focal point following his critically-acclaimed match with Bad Bunny at Backlash is cool to see.
Raquel Rodriguez def. Sonya Deville
It was announced on Friday's SmackDown that Rodriguez and Liv Morgan were forced to vacate the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship due to an injury to Morgan and thus new champs will be crowned in a Fatal 4-Way tag team match next Monday on Raw. Deville and Chelsea Green had little to not chance of winning the titles in the first place, and now they're even bigger afterthoughts with two more teams added in. This was short and sweet as it should have been because the outcome was never in doubt. Shotzi emerged to help Rodriguez fend off Deville and Green afterward, so she'll be her new partner going forward.
Becky Lynch and Trish Stratus Signed the Contract For Their Match at Night of Champions
Most contract signings in wrestling tend to end the same way, but I appreciated that we didn't get the usual brawl here. It was all about the mic work selling viewers on their match. Stratus continues to struggle to find her footing as a heel on the mic, but at least Lynch has been holding up her end as I thought she cut a strong promo here. I wouldn't be surprised to see Stratus win just to extend this program through Money in the Bank if not SummerSlam.
Dominik Mysterio def. Apollo Crews
This was the third straight singles win for Mysterio on Raw. I'm curious what he's being built up for, if anything. He certainly has the crowd heat, but with Gunther being the Intercontinental Champion, it's not like he's headed for the midcard title. Hopefully he doesn't remain directionless for long, but at least he's racking up wins in the meantime. This was another quality contest from Mysterio and I was happy to see Crews back in the ring on Raw, even if he didn't win.
Matt Riddle and Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens def. Imperium (Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci)
Owens, Zayn and Riddle proved they have terrific chemistry as partners at Backlash, so it was hardly a surprise that they had top-notch match with Imperium here. Imperium being featured in the main event was encouraging as Gunther would have to be considered the biggest full-time heel on Raw right now. These six worked a chaotic pace and the crowd was into the action. I'm really looking forward to Gunther vs. Riddle eventually.
The Rhodes-Lesnar storyline dominated this episode and I can't say it was particularly interesting. I applaud them for telling a story with Rhodes and it looks like he'll have an out if he loses (which he likely will). The sit-down interviews with Seth Rollins weren't as compelling as they were last week, but they still did an effective job of hyping up the World Heavyweight Championship match at Night of Champions. Speaking of which, the top of the pay-per-view is stacked and I'm hoping it lives up to the hype. This was another average edition of Raw where the three hours once again dragged, but the abundance of video packages and character profiles the past few weeks have been refreshing.
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