In the hours before WWE Raw on Monday night, an interesting situation was created with a trio of singles matches leading to a main event triple threat to determine who would challenge Drew McIntyre for the WWE championship at the Clash of Champions. It would turn out to be Randy Orton's night, but not before Keith Lee again made himself known as a true force on the main event scene.
Orton, always able to play the angles, was able to set up a situation where he didn't have to wear himself down in a grueling first match before stealing the pin after Lee took out Seth Rollins. With that, Orton locked up a rematch with McIntyre at the Sept. 27 Clash of Champions event where he'll look to avenge his SummerSlam loss.
Let's have a look at everything that went down on Monday's edition of Raw, with full highlights available below our recaps of the action.
Randy Orton steals his rematch
Keith Lee def. Dolph Ziggler via pinfall after a Spirit Bomb to advance to the main event. Randy Orton cut a show-opening promo where he vented his frustrations with having to wrestle twice in the night to earn a rematch with McIntyre. He was interrupted by Lee, who pointed out that he had beaten Orton the night before, which should have earned him a title match. Lee was then jumped from behind by Ziggler, kicking off the first match of the night. Lee would survive a Fameasser and a Zig Zag in a grueling match before finishing Ziggler with a Spirit Bomb.
Randy Orton def. Kevin Owens via pinfall after a RKO to advance to the main event. Orton was shown walking out of Aleister Black's locker room earlier in the show. Black then executed a pre-match attack on Owens, ending with a Black Mass. All of this allowed Orton to hit an RKO seconds into the match to advance to the triple threat.
Seth Rollins def. Dominik Mysterio via pinfall after a stomp to advance to the main event. Before the match, Rollins berated Murphy for screwing up their tag match at Payback, costing his team the loss. Mysterio -- filling in for his injured father -- gave a spirited effort but was ultimately pinned after missing a frog splash and getting stomped. After the match, Rollins hit another stomp for good measure.
Randy Orton def. Seth Rollins (via pinfall) and Keith Lee after a Lee Spirit Bomb to become No. 1 contender. Orton immediately bailed on his suggested plan to work with Rollins to take out Lee, leading to an argument to start the match. They did soon get on the same page after Lee was running through both men, but Orton turned on Rollins at the earliest opportunity. Things broke down into chaos at that point before Lee countered a Rollins stomp into a Spirit Bomb, only to be hit with an RKO, allowing Orton to pin Rollins to secure the Clash of Champions title shot.
Three of the four matches were solid, with the other (Orton vs. Owens) at least fueling an emerging storyline between Owens and Black. Lee was kept strong in defeat, and part of that is the slick move of having Rollins eat the pin even after Orton hit Lee with an RKO. Rollins taking the pin doesn't hurt his status, and now we head toward the anticipated Orton vs. McIntyre rematch with Lee established as an obvious contender if there's a title change. Grade: B+
What else happened on Raw?
Mickie James def. Lana via pinfall after a Mick Kick. The match came about after Asuka was out for an in-ring interview -- following a confrontation backstage with new women's tag champs Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax -- looking for her next challenger. Mickie James, Natalya and Lana all interrupted before chaos ensued. The match wasn't much, but setting up something fresh for Asuka with James could be fun.
Cedric Alexander & The Viking Raiders def. The Hurt Business via pinfall after Alexander grabbed MVP's tights to score the pin. Alexander and The Raiders attacked The Hurt Business during a VIP Lounge segment. MVP showed a bit of respect to Alexander for his tactics after the match, but the teased respect went out the window when the group later attacked Alexander backstage.
The Riott Squad def. The IIconics via pinfall after Ruby Riott pinned Billie Kay with a jacknife pin. There was an odd stipulation announced on the show that the winning team would earn a tag title shot while the losing team had to disband. It wouldn't be smart to split up The IIconics in any way; they're not strong enough singles competitors and add a much-needed comedy element to the tag ranks.
Riddick Moss def. Titus O'Neil in Raw Underground. O'Neil ran through a few bodies before Moss entered for an opportunity and scored a fairly quick victory.
The Street Profits vs. Andrade & Angel Garza ended in a no contest after Retribution attacked. This was under tornado tag rules with all four men in the ring at one time. That led to a fast-paced match that ended when the lights flickered and Retribution ran in. Garza grabbed Bachelorette star Demi Burnett and helped her run away, but Graza and the Profits took a beating. Retribution was backstage later and Graza left Burnett to fend for herself, with both ultimately successfully running away. Same old, same old from Retribution, and maybe the group's least impactful moment yet
Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir took out Billie Kay on Raw Underground. Duke and Shafir both picked up quick wins before Kay was thrown into the ring by her now-former teammate Royce. Shafir feinted with a punch and Kay turned into a Shafir kick.
Shelton Benjamin vs. Apollo Crews in Raw Underground broke down into chaos. Benjamin was locked in a kimura when he threw Crews from the ring and into the rest of The Hurt Business. A brawl broke out between Hurt Business and Crews, Ricochet and Cedric Alexander with Hurt Business standing tall in the end.