D-Generation X Reformed to Challenge The Brothers of Destruction at WWE Crown Jewel
We all knew where this angle was going months ago (despite WWE announcing Triple H vs. The Undertaker as the "last time ever," but they must have meant in singles competition), but now it's official: Michaels is coming out of retirement to reunite with HHH to take on The Undertaker and Kane. Whether you're excited for it or not, I think everyone can agree that this was a strong segment and it was very well received by the Chicago crowd. My only complaint is that Michaels announcing his return to the ring should have packed more of a punch since it's been eight years since he last laced up the boots.
Bobby Lashley def. Kevin Owens
As a match, this wasn't anything special whatsoever. I was actually upset when I realized they were doing the same matchup from last week's Raw (this show was already filled with rematches from Super Show-Down), but this served a purpose with a double turn seemingly being executed afterward. Lio Rush and Lashley will be the perfect heel pairing, while I'm interested to see what they'll do with Owens as a babyface (if they go in that direction). That said, Rush yelling on the live mic during Lashley's matches needs to stop. It's annoying, but in a change-the-channel type way. Save the trash talking for another time.
Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey and The Bella Twins def. The Riott Squad
It became clear afterward why this rematch from WWE Super Show-Down was being held, but this still rendered that original outing irrelevant. It didn't help that it wasn't any better than what we saw on Saturday, and The Riott Squad were once again made to look like losers (how will anyone take them seriously after this?), but at least the match was made somewhat worthwhile with The Bella Twins' heel turn (then again, they could have skipped the matchup all together and put some sort of segment with the same outcome in its place). Rousey vs. Nikki doesn't do a ton for me on paper, but at least Nikki going into the event as a heel is an improvement.
Finn Balor and Bayley def. Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox
I'm not going to lie, Balor and Bayley have really good chemistry together, but that's about the only positive thing I have to say about this. I hate to come across like a broken record, but Balor and Bayley spinning their wheels with this pointless Mixed Match Challenge trash is disappointing. They are above Mahal and Fox and meaningless matches such as this one. Please, please don't tell me we're getting Bayley vs. Fox again at WWE Evolution.
Kurt Angle Won a Global Battle Royal to Qualify for the WWE World Cup
This had the potential to be incredibly stupid (as well as slightly offensive based off what some of the "global talent" were wearing in the ring), but I was happy it turned into a fun little treat. Baron Corbin winning and entering himself into the WWE World Cup would have been way too obvious, so El Conquistador coming out on top and then revealing himself to be Kurt Angle (who we haven't seen on WWE TV in close to two months) was well done. It also allowed him to get a measure of revenge over Corbin, who essentially stole his spot as Raw General Manager.
Ember Moon def. Nia Jax by Count-out
I appreciate the women getting more time and multiple segments on the show, but I really could have done without this. Moon is an excellent athlete and has a tremendous upside, but not even she could carry Jax to a passable match. Worse yet, they're both babyfaces, so the audience had zero reason to invest in the action. Moon winning (albeit by count-out) was nice, but the two of them hugging it out afterward was hardly compelling and didn't leave me looking forward to what's next for them. Rousey and the Bellas are really the only women who matter on Raw at the moment.
Lita Returned After Alexa Bliss and Mickie James Challenged Trish Stratus to a Tag Team Match at WWE Evolution
The build to Stratus vs. Bliss at Evolution has left a lot to be desired since it was originally announced a month and a half ago, but I guess they were waiting until after Super Show-Down to kick it into high gear. I enjoyed their verbal exchange here, but better yet, I'm thrilled it's turning into a tag team match at the pay-per-view. Bliss vs. Stratus wasn't going to be an instant classic by any means, whereas James vs. Lita was flat-out random. It should make for a much more entertaining outing.
Bobby Roode and Chad Gable def. The Ascension
For the fifth straight week, we had some sort of combination of Roode, Gable and The Ascension and I honestly don't know if I can stomach it anymore. Nothing is being accomplished through these matches, which is even worse. Roode and Gable have beaten Ascension in tag team action three separate times, yet Konnor beat Gable and Roode one-on-one two weeks in a row. It should have been the opposite, if anything. Roode appeared to be frustrated by Gable tagging himself in at the end, but by this point, I just want them to fast forward to the part where Roode turns heel on Gable. I'm glad AOP is back to decimating fools, but the rest of Raw's tag division is quite weak.
Braun Strowman and Raw Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre def. The Shield
It should be noted Paul Heyman emerged before the bout to hype the upcoming Universal Championship Triple Threat at Crown Jewel and his promo was pretty pedestrian stuff. It'd be cool if Brock Lesnar actually showed up on Raw ahead of the event, but I'm not banking on it. Anyway, as soon as this six-man tag team match was announced, you had to know the heels were getting their win back. Truthfully speaking, they should have won at Super Show-Down, but better late than never, I suppose. Plus, it was every bit as great as their Super Show-Down clash from an in-ring standpoint and everyone shined at one point or another. Dean Ambrose turning heel was once again teased, though this time it was saved for afterward. I doubt it will actually happen any time soon, but I'm sure there are those out there who believe it will.
I wouldn't constitute this as an above-average edition of Raw whatsoever considering a majority of the matches were abysmal with the exception of the main event. However, it was a newsworthy night with a ton of stuff happening, so thankfully, it wasn't a waste of three hours. WWE began building toward Evolution and Crown Jewel, Lashley and the Bellas turned heel (which was long overdue), Angle returned, and D-Generation made a major announcement. The Shield stuff was more engaging than usual as well, so although Raw still has its fair share of problems, there are a few storylines that could catch fire in the weeks ahead.