Seth Rollins Addressed the Raw Roster
Rollins ran down everyone who represented Raw at Survivor Series and sparred no one. What's funny is that he acted exactly the same way he has on social media and in interviews for months. Crowds have been booing him for a while, so it's great WWE seems to be finally taking the appropriate steps toward turning him heel at long last. It's the role he's most comfortable in. Owens hitting him with a Stunner successfully set them up to do battle later on in the evening.
Bobby Lashley def. Titus O'Neil by Disqualification
I honestly forgot O'Neil was a member of the Raw roster. I can't remember the last televised match he had (random Battle Royals aside). Thankfully, the match was a minute long and ended once Rusev interfered. I've wrote many times about how much this storyline with Lashley, Lana and Rusev sucks, but this was the easily the best angle they've run yet. Rusev came across as intense and the crowd was hot for his attack on Lashley.
AOP def. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder
Believe it or not, this is the first televised match AOP have had together all year. I've enjoyed the vignettes WWE has been putting out for them since September, but now it's time for them to back it up in the ring. The new look is a welcome change and I liked how dominant they were throughout this outing. Here's hoping this run for them is better than their last, which saw them reign as Raw Tag Team Champions for all of a month.
Andrade def. Akira Tozawa
Tozawa had a breakout performance against Buddy Murphy last week, so I appreciated that he was given another opportunity to shine on this show. Granted, this was significantly shorter and Andrade was far more dominant, but it was decent while it lasted. Andrade is already off to a stronger start on Raw than he ever was on SmackDown. Now he just needs to be placed in a program with someone of note. Ricochet, perhaps?
Buddy Murphy def. Matt Hardy
It's about damn time Hardy resurfaced on WWE TV. He hasn't been used since he and Jeff were forced to vacate the SmackDown Tag Team Championship back in May due to Jeff suffering an injury, which is no excuse. He absolutely could have been utilized in a singles capacity for the past six months, but better late than never, I suppose. Obviously, this was designed to get Murphy over, but he sold nicely for Murphy's offense and had the crowd behind him before eating defeat. I'm stoked the Murphy vs. Aleister Black program is finally getting underway and I'd love to see them clash at next month's TLC pay-per-view.
The O.C. Attacked Humberto Carrillo
AJ Styles vs. Carrillo for the Untied States Championship has been advertised for this show since last week, yet it never had a chance to get started due to Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson ambushing Carrillo before the bell. Poor Carrillo, the dude can never catch a break. Ricochet, Randy Orton, Drew McIntyre and Rey Mysterio then staked their claim for a shot at the strap, leading to the subsequent number one contender's Fatal 4-Way match. Everyone played their respective roles well here and made the U.S. title scene feel important for a change.
Rey Mysterio def. Ricochet, Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre in a United States Championship No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Match
McIntyre has been able to build up some momentum since returning last month, but WWE really needs to strap the rocket to him sooner rather than later. If he wasn't going to win this thing, Mysterio was the next best choice. The crowd popped big for his victory and the match itself was entertaining. There was never a dull moment and all four guys had strong showings.
Rey Mysterio def. AJ Styles to Win the United States Championship
This marked the first time Mysterio and Styles have gone one-on-one in WWE. I had high hopes for it and they did not disappoint. There was a ton of drama, they had quality chemistry, and the crowd badly wanted Mysterio to win the title. Sure enough, he managed to overcome the odds thanks to an assist from Orton (who I guess is officially a face again?) and pinned Styles for his second United States Championship. His post-match celebration with Dominik was what we should have gotten at Survivor Series, but it was an awesome moment, nonetheless. An extended Styles vs. Orton rivalry would be a blast, but I get the sense Styles vs. Orton is where we're headed.
WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Asuka def. Charlotte Flair
Asuka and Flair have faced off only a handful of times since WrestleMania 34, so this actually felt fresh. Unfortunately, the crowd largely sat on their hands until the final final minutes. It was a very well wrestled match, but they couldn't bring the likely exhausted Chicago crowd to care. That said, Asuka winning was the right call. Becky Lynch was conspicuous by her absence on this show, so fingers crossed this isn't building to Flair and Lynch vs. The Kabuki Warriors for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship at TLC.
Erick Rowan def. Kyle Roberts
I may be in the minority, but I'm not intrigued by this angle with Rowan at all. He's been teasing this cage nonsense for a few weeks and I have no clue where it's going. Usually, that could seen as a plus, but I don't trust that the endgame will be worth it. Rowan made short work of Roberts, who took a quick peek under the cage's cover at one point and backed away scared. Again, this crap doesn't interest me in the slightest.
Kevin Owens def. Seth Rollins by Disqualification
Owens and Rollins have always worked well together and this was no exception. Rollins was super hated by the Chicago crowd while Owens couldn't have been more beloved. That well-defined dynamic kept the crowd engaged from start to finish, even if the finish was lame. On the bright side, Rollins may be aligned with AOP sometime soon. They didn't go all the way with it here, but it looks like it's going to be a slow burn until the reveal. This is a major spot for AOP after almost a year away from Raw and Rollins can benefit from the change in character as well.
As a post-pay-per-view show, this was actually an excellent edition of Raw all things considered. I feared what would happen once the Brand Split rules went back into effect and NXT would no longer have a heavy involvement, but these three hours were far from a waste. We got some notable returns, a big (and much-needed) heel turn, a newsworthy title change, and a handful of meaningful enhancement matches. Call me crazy, but I'm slightly optimistic about the immediate future of Raw heading into the final stretch of the year. Maybe this was merely a one-off, but I was left satisfied by this show.