With WWE Clash of Champions just around the corner, this week’s Raw episode promises a night to remember and there’s no better way to do it than having the Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin host a segment. The segment is none other than contract signing between Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman for their Universal championship at the upcoming pay-per-view.
This time, under Austin’s watchful eye, the signing went well until The O.C. came out to interrupt. After some trash talking from AJ Styles, Rollins and Strowman attacked The O.C. Even Austin got involved with a huge Stunner that left the United States champion lying alone in the middle of the ring.
With Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson out of the picture, Styles stayed in the ring to face Cedric Alexander in the first match of the night. Despite sporting the Kinesio taping on his shoulder, Cedric made a huge impression against Styles with his speed and power. But it didn’t take long for Gallows and Anderson to return to the ring and attack Cedric. The match ended, disqualifying Styles, but The C.O. didn’t care as they continued with their 3-on-1 assault. Luckily for Cedric, cavalry came in the form of The Viking Raiders who helped even the playing field. Eventually, Cedric and The Viking Raiders managed to throw The O.C. out of the ring.
It was definitely an explosive start to the show that left me both in awe and confused. What’s the long-term plan here for The O.C.? It’s intriguing but the weeks of efforts have yet to be paid off. There’s got to be more to it than just attacking people mid-match or mid-segment. Hopefully, we get answers after Clash of Champions.
Another confusing thing for me is the rematch between Lacey Evans and Natalya. Probably the most confusing one too. Evans may not be the best wrestler on the roster but she has effectively sold her character as someone to despise, especially after the handkerchief trick last week that won her the match.
But for some odd reason, Natalya continues to play aggressive like unnecessarily prolonging submission holds while being lauded as doing something right. Besides that, there’s not even chemistry between the two wrestlers so this whole feud is taking a strange turn at this point.
On the upside, there’s Rey Mysterio taking on Gran Metalik in one of the most anticipated matches of the night. Both luchadores gave their all with their numerous high-risk attempts and well-timed counters. But something was definitely off after Metalik nearly crushed Rey’s head and neck with a step-up plancha over the ropes. The landing was so awkward and it didn’t help that they kept repeating that cringe-worthy moment many times in slow motion to make a point.
While the match continued on with Rey eventually winning with a 619 and diving frog splash, I have a feeling that both competitors held back some and kept the back and forth tamer than originally planned. Nonetheless, it was good to see Rey and Metalik shaking hands in respect after the match.
I’m not sure why, but that ‘off’ feeling occurred sporadically at different points during the show. Yet the episode isn’t without its good moments.
Here are my favourites from this week’s Raw!
Cedric Alexander is MVP of the night
When the main event was first announced, I was THIS close to skipping it. It’s not that I dislike multi-man tag team matches. I just hate them when they serve no other purpose than creating chaos to hype up the upcoming PPV. Chaos isn’t just empty noise, it’s a tool that when done right, it can drive a story forward. And in this match, I didn’t think it could, even if we could watch Cedric wrestle again (poor guy) and The Viking Raiders finally get a proper match.
But it actually turned out alright, especially with The Viking Raiders showing off their skills against much worthier competitors and Cedric pulling off a fast Lumbar Check out of nowhere. Even the tiff between the Tag Team Champions when Strowman thought Rollins stole his moment and broke up his pinfall — which I thought was a waste that they didn’t expand on this to show that friction between them. Instead, they smiled and drank beers together at the end like nothing happened. Odd.
Anyway, there were great spots in this match that really let Team Good Guys shine, including the big ‘clear the ring’ sequence and Ivar’s top tope cannonball that also wiped out everyone on the outside. And then there’s Cedric who wrestled two matches in one night without holding back and somehow pulled off the single greatest victory of his WWE career with one bad arm. It was such a thrill seeing him get the winning pin.
Stone Cold Steve Austin’s appearance
As mentioned above, seeing Austin back on a WWE episode is always great. The back and forth between him and Styles during the show opener was fun and I couldn’t help but gleefully watch him calmly put aside the contract signing table while Styles suddenly looking concerned and asking, “What are you doing?” That Stunner Styles received after that was definitely the icing on the cake. Austin still got it!
But that’s not the end of Austin as he returned to the ring after the main event to celebrate with the victors with…. what else? Beer! Austin went on to do his signature ‘toss me all the beer cans’ gesture and gave multiple toasts with Cedric, Rollins, Strowman, Ivar and Rick of The Viking Raiders. It was always a spectacle to watch and it’s one that long-time fans surely miss.
Watch the contract signing that leads to Styles getting the Stunner:
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair vs Bayley and Sasha Banks
The most solid match of the night goes to the women’s tag team match featuring WWE’s top four. After all the drama that happened amongst them for the past weeks, it all came to a boil here and it’s no surprise that the match was all about out-wrestling the other team. The time for talk and gloating is over!
Becky giving Charlotte that death glare gave me life and goosebumps all the same. It was such a great moment but whatever personal feelings they have with each other, they manage to put them aside to defeat the team of BFFs Bayley and Sasha. Both teams work very well in trying to one up the other and it was amazing to see them pull out all the stops in what could easily be the episode’s main event.
Despite some awkward moments like Charlotte’s moonsault landing on Bayley, the match has some really vicious spots (see Bayley’s hard German suplex on Charlotte, yeesh!) that I hope we’ll see more of at Clash of Champions.
Ricochet vs Samoa Joe vs Baron Corbin
This week, the King of the Ring tournament reaches the semi-final rounds. For the first time ever, the spot to represent Raw in the finals is contested under triple threat rules with Ricochet, Samoa Joe and Baron Corbin. There’s no doubt at all that each man wanted that spot and they gave their all in the fight, except maybe Corbin who strategically let the other two wear down each other before swooping in at opportune moments.
That of course didn’t sit too well with the fans as they continually jeered at him. Both he and Joe brought the brutality and power but Ricochet really shone in the match, his desire to win was made clear with every high-risk move he dared including that crazy shooting star press off the apron to break up Joe’s Coquina clutch on Corbin outside.
Just when it looked like Ricochet was in the clear path to victory after the 630 senton, Corbin once again stole his opportunity and spot in the finals.
Catch the intense fight to the finish (and the fans’ reactions at the end):