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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Since Raw is in the home of Elvis Presley, it’s only fitting that the show began with not a hound dog, but a Big Dog. And it was one with a suspicious mind, no less, as Roman Reigns basically walked to the ring at the top of the broadcast looking for satisfaction after Rusev attacked him last week. He got it courtesy of Raw’s power team of Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley, who both gave Reigns a United States Title opportunity against Rusev at Clash of Champions and confirmed that The Bulgarian Brute would battle Seth Rollins on Raw. The showdown would be their punishment for interfering in the main event the previous week.
Moreover, Foley, who felt he was GM’ing for his job after weeks of insurgency from the Raw roster, attempted to rectify the situation by sanctioning a rematch between Reigns and WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens later in the night. That, of course, didn’t sit well with Owens, who popped up to openly question The Hardcore Legend's decision-making process. And while Stephanie managed to placate Owens with a non-title qualifier, Foley still put a capper on the bout by adding a steel cage stipulation.
What with his ravishing bride, U.S. Championship and two weddings, it’s hard to imagine Rusev as being short-changed in any way. Yet that was exactly the feeling of The Bulgarian Brute, who was fuming over his U.S. Title Match against Roman Reigns on Sunday and decided to take it out on a heavily overpowered Seth Rollins in Raw’s opening contest. The two-time WWE World Champion was subject to all manner of physicality from The Super Athlete, and it seemed, early on, like Rusev would (wait for it) crush Rollins before he even made it to Clash of Champions by targeting his lower back.
But, of course, they don’t call Rollins “The Architect” for nothin’. A worked-over Rollins tapped into his speed, peppering his foe with kicks, forearms and just enough power moves to close the gap. A pair of suicide dives sent Rusev stumbling out of the ring and Rollins pursued his foe past the count of 10, stopping the match. But even though the match might have ended in a tie, The Architect got the last laugh by avoiding a powerbomb through the commentary table and flattening Rusev with a crossbody off the stage.
A couple of weeks ago, Sin Cara got a moral victory against Braun Strowman by staggering the big man and forcing him to take a count-out win over a more typical obliteration. It was no such luck tonight for The International Sensation, who faced Strowman a second time and suffered a far more decisive defeat. To his credit, Sin Cara picked up where he left off and took Strowman to the proverbial limit on the strength of several kicks to the leg and a suicide dive that nearly took him off his feet. But Strowman caught Sin Cara clean out of the air when the luchador went for a moonsault, and slammed him into the mat for a decisive 1-2-3.
Charlotte can’t catch a break: First, Dana Brooke’s attempt to call off the Raw Women’s Title Match at Clash of Champions by pointing out Sasha Banks and Bayley pinned each other last week backfired — now, it’s a Triple Threat. Then, Charlotte was forced to team with her increasingly embattled protégée against Sasha & Bayley (in a shaky alliance themselves) in a Women’s tag team match on Raw.
It’s tough to be the Queen, clearly. But even in Charlotte and Dana’s contentious relationship, things occasionally go right. They did in the tag team match when, after a hurting Sasha tagged in Bayley, Dana saved Charlotte from a Bayley-to-Belly by literally grabbing her ankles. Brooke sacrificed herself to do so as Banks quickly took her out, but Charlotte blasted Bayley with a big boot to claim the win.
That’s three for the new-look Bo Dallas, who continued his “Bo-lieve in Bo” campaign with his third-consecutive defeat of a local competitor. This one, named Gary Graham, actually made it tough for Dallas, even notching a two-count off a rollup. But once Bo flipped the switch, there was no stopping him. Dallas trapped Graham’s head in the ropes, punched the poor guy senseless and finally finished him off in short order.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a tie game. Or more to the point, a tied Best of Seven Series between Sheamus and Cesaro, as The King of Swing rattled off his third unanswered victory to even the series at 3-3 on Raw. Such a development was unfathomable only two weeks ago, when The Irishman had pummeled Cesaro into a 0-3 hole, but here we are.
Granted, Cesaro kind of bent the rules for last week’s win by using the ropes. So Sheamus was out for vengeance in the most brutal sense of the word in Match No. 6, all but obliterating The Swiss Superman’s back with White Noise on the apron, a Celtic Cross-backbreaker hybrid and a Cloverleaf. The King of Swing hung tight and Sheamus tried a rope-assisted pin of his own, but the ref caught this one and Cesaro sprang into action, European uppercutting Sheamus out of a Battering Ram and hitting the Neutralizer for win No. 3.
Chris Jericho is not a fan of Mick Foley’s management skills, which is why The Ayatollah of Rock ’n’ Rolla originally went to the ring to air his grievances via “The List of Jericho” (drink it in, maaaannnnn.) But what turned into an open-air vent sesh soon turned into a match when Enzo Amore, Big Cass, The New Day, The Shining Stars, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson and Sami Zayn all came to the ring, leading to a 10-Man Tag between the various teams of rivals.
What was shaping up to be a lengthy bout took a dramatic turn when Big Cass entered the fray against Primo, as every Superstar started throwing hands. The final scrap was between Zayn and Jericho, and it ended up deciding the match when Zayn went for the Helluva Kick, but hit Primo with the move when Jericho dodged it. Cass quickly rushed back into the ring to tag in Enzo and Rocket Launcher Primo for the win. Bada boom. Add that to the list.
The Cruiserweight Classic has come and gone (watch it if you haven’t), and a face from the past has returned to stake his claim on the future. In the debut of Raw’s rebooted Cruiserweight division, a revitalized, crazy-eyed Brian Kendrick stormed past three Superstars — CWC finalist Gran Metalik, fan-favorite Cedric Alexander and charisma incarnate Rich Swann — to become No. 1 contender to T.J. Perkins and the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Credit Kendrick’s veteran instincts for carrying him there, because his opponents certainly pulled out all the stops. Swann nearly knocked Alexander cold with a forearm to the face and executed a jaw-dropping, bouncing 450 Splash, and Alexander and Metalik both took flight with twin over-the-top rope dives. Metalik seemed to have the match when he broke up both Sliced Bread No. 2 and Kendrick’s Captain’s Hook, only Alexander rushed in with the Lumbar Check to take Metalik out, and Kendrick pounced, locking in a second Captain’s Hook on Alexander to force a submission.
Even on The Kevin Owens Show, Kevin Owens can’t win ’em all. The WWE Universal Champion’s main-event battle with Roman Reigns didn’t quite end as well as last week’s did, though the victory was hardly as decisive as Reigns would have preferred. After dishing and absorbing an equal amount of punishment, The Big Dog and The Prizefighter both resorted to escape attempts from the cage. Reigns, who climbed over, won by the skin of his teeth against Owens, who attempted to crawl through the door.
Things really got interesting after the match, however, as Rusev thundered down to the ring and, with Owens’ help, incapacitated Reigns inside the cage and locked the door. Enter Seth Rollins, who scaled the side of the steel and took to the skies, flattening Owens and Rusev with a crossbody off the top of the cage, leaving everyone down as Raw came to an end. Like we said, they don’t call him The Architect for nothin’.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Seth Rollins vs. Rusev (w/ Lana) ended in a Double Count Out (11:50)
- Braun Strowman defeated Sin Cara (1:50)
- Charlotte & Dana Brooke defeated Sasha Banks & Bayley (11:11)
- Bo Dallas defeated Gary Graham (1:16)
- Cesaro  defeated Sheamus  in a Best of Seven Series Match #6 (9:38)
- The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) & Big Cass & Enzo Amore & Sami Zayn (w/ Xavier Woods) defeated The Shining Stars (Primo & Epico) & Gallows & Anderson & Chris Jericho (5:27)
- The Brian Kendrick defeated Rich Swann, Gran Metalik & Cedric Alexander by submission to be the #1 Contender for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship (15:03)
- Roman Reigns defeated Kevin Owens in a Steel Cage Match (14:39)
Other on-screen talent