ST. LOUIS, Mo. - New Era or not, it just wouldn’t be Raw if a McMahon family power struggle wasn’t waylaid by Superstars interrupting at random to demand the advancement of their own agendas. In this case, it was Shane and Stephanie McMahon who kicked off Raw attempting to navigate the choppy waters of their shared custody of the longest-running weekly episodic show in TV history. For what it’s worth, Stephanie extended the first olive branch by returning the family photo Mr. McMahon had ruined on The Road to WrestleMania.
Before Shane could run down his plan for the evening’s festivities, however, he was cut off by Kevin Owens, who picked up where he left off at WWE Payback and demanded an Intercontinental Title Match. That didn’t sit well with Cesaro, who had said title won at Payback before Owens swung the match. So a compromise was struck: Cesaro. Owens. Winner gets Miz for the title. Right then and there. Ring the bell.
And the No. 1 contender to the Intercontinental Championship is … to be determined, since what started as a No. 1 contender’s bout between Cesaro and Kevin Owens quickly devolved into a four-way brawl also involving The Miz and Sami Zayn. The result of all this? Miz’s next title defense up in the air.
Truth be told, Owens should thank his lucky stars that things went down that way, because Cesaro had him so dead to rights that he attempted to hit The King of Swing with the Intercontinental Title itself, stolen from Miz’s perch at commentary. That didn’t pan out — Cesaro took him and Miz out — but The Awesome One’s interference moments later stopped the match. Zayn’s subsequent arrival stole the moment, though. Once he blasted Owens with a Helluva Kick, Miz made a narrow escape and left Zayn alone to hold the Intercontinental Title up in the air. By the sounds of the WWE Universe’s reaction to the sight, that’d suit them just fine.
There may be something to this Gorgeous Truth thing: R-Truth’s current tag partner/life partner/selfie buddy Tyler Breeze ended up getting the jump on Truth’s would-be tag partner/life partner/selfie buddy Goldust in the latest and strangest chapter of the Golden Truth saga yet. Born out of a backstage confrontation over who deserves Goldust’s attention more, the bout was going The Bizarre One’s way until Truth and Fandango, who’s latched onto Goldie of late, began competing for the former Intercontinental Champion’s attention at ringside. Breeze sprang with the rollup and that was that, much to the dismay of the jilted Goldust.
So here’s what’s up in the Tag Team division: The New Day are still your W. W. E. World. Tag. Team. Champions. An injury to Enzo Amore at WWE Payback derailed his and Colin Cassady’s chance to become The New Day’s No. 1 contenders, handing the spot, by default, to The Vaudevillains. The Dudley Boyz crashed a confrontation between champions and challengers to demand a redo of the entire No. 1 Contenders’ Tag Team Tournament, sponsored by Booty-O’s. (They make sure you ain’t booty.) Big Cass joined the fray looking for some payback for Payback.
The solution? An Eight-Man Tag Team Match, playa. The Dudleys served as de facto mentors to The Vaudevillains throughout the contest. But Kofi Kingston managed to battle his way out of a hole by taking out both Vaudevillains and tagging in Big Cass, who rampaged his way through the opposition and pinned D-Von Dudley with the East River Crossing. As for The Vaudevillains? They stuck it out till the end, but looks like they’ll have to abide by that most old-fashioned of strategies and live to fight another day.
If you’ve been following Emma and Becky Lynch on Twitter lately (and you should), you’ve likely noticed some subtle (and some less-than-subtle) sniping between the two Superstars. Well, the time came on Raw to stop tweetin’ and start fightin’, and it was Evil Emma who handed down an Irish lass kicking of considerable proportions. For what it’s worth, Becky made good on her promise to deliver an orange blur of forearms and suplexes, but the armbar part fell through after Emma rolled out of the Dis-arm-her, thumbed Becky in the eye while the ref’s back was turned, and pinned her with a Michinoku Driver.
You know what they say: You can’t introduce a potted plant in Week One of a talk show without it smashing it over someone’s head in Week Four. Blame Stephanie McMahon for Mitch the plant’s untimely demise, though. After guest-starring on “The Ambrose Asylum” — and enduring a harsh line of questioning in the process — her first order of business was to undo one of her brother’s more controversial edicts, canceling the show and rebooting “The Highlight Reel” on the spot.
The Lunatic Fringe didn’t mind his show getting shuttered all that much, but Chris Jericho’s return got him riled up good. Still, Jericho got the upper hand in the ensuing brawl, Codebreaking Ambrose and smashing Mitch square over his head, sending him to sidekick heaven alongside Francesca I.
Hold onto your Stars and Bars: Rusev is coming for the U.S. Title once again. The Bulgarian Brute punched his ticket to challenge Kalisto by winning a Battle Royal on Raw that featured standout performances from a number of Superstars who could just as easily have seized the honor for themselves. The Social Outcasts’ unity carried them through the bout together; Dolph Ziggler eliminated Baron Corbin and was summarily brutalized by The Lone Wolf moments later; Sheamus booted Apollo Crews and a returning Titus O’Neil out of contention.
Most thrillingly, Zack Ryder nearly battled his way to a second miracle win, making it to the final four alongside all three former members of The League of Nations. The three foreign menaces ultimately turned on each other, bringing it down to Ryder and Rusev. The Ultimate Broski hit Rusev with a flurry of fists and a torpedo Broski Broot to the face and had him an inch from victory, but a last-second reversal by Rusev handed him the win.
No “Bret screwed Bret” this time. The Harts got had again at WWE Payback, and this time Charlotte and Ric Flair instigated the “Chicago Screwjob” that prevented a title from falling into the hands of Canada’s finest. Official Charles “Li’l Naitch” Robinson was, of course, the lynchpin of the sinister plot, not that he admitted any involvement when the Flairs summoned him to the ring to explain his actions.
Robinson toed the champion’s line from start to finish, even insinuating that Natalya begged him to stop the match at Payback. The Queen of Harts wasn’t having any of it, arriving to punch Charlotte out, trap Flair in the Sharpshooter and abscond with his precious Rolex and WWE Hall of Fame ring. And if you thought this means that Natalya has one more title match coming her way? Well, “WOO!” to you, sir.
The Usos and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson have been getting involved in Roman Reigns and AJ Styles’ rivalry from the jump, so everyone decided to forego the formalities on Raw and unite with their respective #squads for a Six-Man Tag Team Match. It didn’t stay a “match” for long, though, as things quickly devolved into unmitigated chaos when Gallows & Anderson hit Reigns with the Boot of Doom on the outside, allowing Styles pin Jimmy Uso with the Phenomenal Forearm.
But Gallows & Anderson weren’t content with just winning, so they hauled Reigns into the ring and tried to convince Styles to finish an unconscious Reigns off with a steel chair. The Phenomenal One declined, but The Usos had no such scruples and attacked with steel of their own. Styles disposed of the twins with the first chair, at which point Reigns came to and went nuts, ultimately obliterating Styles with a running powerbomb through the commentary table. Get used to it, Styles. There’s more where that came from.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Cesaro defeated Kevin Owens in a WWE Intercontinental Title #1 Contendership Match by DQ (11:30)
- Tyler Breeze (w/ R-Truth) defeated Goldust (w/ Fandango) (1:48)
- Colin Cassady & The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) defeated The Vaudevillains (Simon Gotch & Aiden English) & The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley) (15:48)
- Emma defeated Becky Lynch (5:45)
- Rusev defeated Sin Cara, Zack Ryder, Darren Young, Apollo Crews, Dolph Ziggler, Viktor, Damien Sandow, Stardust, Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas, Alberto Del Rio, Titus O’Neil, Sheamus and Baron Corbin in a WWE United States Championship #1 Contender’s Battle Royal (13:38)
- AJ Styles, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson defeated Roman Reigns & The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) (11:30)
Other on-screen talent