WWE Raw results, recap, grades: Money in the Bank go-home show puts forth solid effort
After some flat weeks, Monday's go-home Raw delivered the goods
Just when you think you're out, WWE Raw finds a way of pulling you back in.
Monday's episode was successful in bringing a bit of the magic back, and in timely fashion no less, just six days out from the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. More importantly, the flagship show snapped a particularly infuriating stretch of vanilla booking and disconnected storylines that had become par for the course in the aftermath of WrestleMania 34.
This week relied on the in-ring product as WWE bookended the three hours with a pair of Fatal 4-Way matches to preview Sunday's Money in the Bank ladder matches. In between, a bit of the missing edge returned to the dialogue and angles, and also included a much-needed final tease for the Nia Jax-Ronda Rousey women's title bout.
It wasn't all killer, however, as the Sami Zayn-Bobby Lashley feud only continued to produce multiple eye rolls. But considering recent history, the red brand at least succeeded in making the time investment feel a bit redeemed while doing a decent job raising expectations for Sunday's event along the way.
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Braun Strowman, Natalya win Money in the Bank tuneups
Raw opened with eight WWE superstars standing atop ladders inside the ring, debating who will come out on top on Sunday. General manager Kurt Angle came out to interject with constable Baron Corbin -- fresh off having his head shaved -- in tow. After Corbin referenced how disappointed commissioner Stephanie McMahon would be if Raw doesn't win both briefcases, the bickering between the superstars continued. Braun Strowman had the last word by screaming, "Enough! This Sunday, everyone is going to get these hands."
Natalya def. Alexa Bliss (via submission), Sasha Banks and Ember Moon: This three-segment Fatal 4-Way match featured plenty of high spots -- including a missile suicide dive from Moon that caused Banks to hit her head on the barrier wall -- and dramatic near falls. Natalya nursed the knee she injured against Nia Jax the week before. She also dove in to break up a Banks Statement attempt on Bliss. The finish came when Natalya forced Bliss to tap moments later with her Sharpshooter.
Braun Strowman def. Kevin Owens (via pinfall), Finn Balor and Bobby Roode: A series of backstage talks throughout the night saw Owens trying to convince Roode and Balor to join him in teaming up on Strowman. The trio eventually banded together during the match by utilizing a ladder on the stage. Owens then hit the biggest move of the night when he landed a frogsplash off the top of a tall ladder, crashing through Strowman on the announce table. An injured Strowman eventually returned, favoring his ribs, to hit a trio of shoulder tackles outside the ring. A melee of near falls followed, including late saves by others after Balor and Roode hit their finishing move on Strowman. Owens could only get two after another frog splash on Strowman, which led to Strowman hitting his running powerslam onto a ladder to pin Owens.
Talk about a quality go-home show, at least as far as the wrestling was concerned. Both matches had multiple moments of PPV intensity, with the women in the opening segment nearly succeeding in stealing the episode as a whole. Credit WWE for presenting Strowman as vulnerable as possible without forcing him to take a loss, which leaves him as the obvious storyline favorite. Natalya's victory also did well alternately to plenty of questions as to who might be victorious on the women's side entering SmackDown. Grade: B+
Ronda Rousey gets physical with Nia Jax
Jonathan Coachman hosted an in-ring debate between the Raw women's champion and the newly-announced 2018 UFC Hall of Famer. Jax pointed out Rousey's inexperience within WWE, referencing just how many holds and tactics which are illegal in UFC that she can use on Sunday. Rousey angrily responded with, "I don't game plan, I improvise. And I'm going to improvise your arm off."
Jax closed her speech by vowing she will take both Rousey's reputation and her "baddest woman on the planet" nickname after beating her because "at the end of the day, Ronda Rousey just isn't ready." Rousey countered by reading her long list of sporting accomplishments, all of which came after people told her she wasn't ready. "I am Ronda Rousey," she said, "and I was born ready." During their staredown, Jax attacked and floored her with a head butt. But Rousey reversed Jax into an armbar and after a long struggle forced the tap out.
After an incredibly painful build of late, this was a step in the right direction. Jax not only made some strong points in her debate as to why she's too difficult of a challenge for Rousey, and the violence which closed the segment was long overdue. After struggling a bit with her words early, Rousey effectively sold what makes her such a unique talent. The only surprise came in the form of Jax tapping out before the match, which proved effective in making what felt like a guaranteed victory for Rousey feel somewhat in question for Sunday. Grade: B
What else happened on Raw?
- Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre def. Breezango via pinfall: Looking for retribution for their early exit in last week's tag team battle royal, Ziggler and McIntyre made quick and violent work of Breezango. Tyler Breeze caught a super kick from Ziggler before Fandango walked into the Zig Zag/Claymore finisher for the 1-2-3. In a post-match promo, the heels re-established their plans to take over the division.
- Roman Reigns def. Sunil Singh via pinfall: An amusing pre-match promo from Reigns included lines such as "Jinder is an idiot" and "it's time to go out and deliver this receipt." But despite constant promotion for a Reigns-Jinder Mahal match (just days before they are to meet on PPV), Mahal inserted his underling in his place after teasing that it might be The Great Khali. Reigns speared Singh to get a quick pin before Mahal jumped him from behind and hit his Khallas.
- The B-Team def. Heath Slater & Rhyno via pinfall: Taking his cue from Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel's homemade t-shirts, Slater wore a black tank top with the words "Rhyno made this" on the front. The brief match ended with the B-Team remaining unbeaten by hitting their double-team finisher on Slater. After the match, The Deleters of Worlds appeared on the video screen to warn the B-Team ahead of Sunday's title bout. After the lights flickered, Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy appeared on the stage where Hardy promised "we will eat you and delete you" when the two teams finally meet. It was again not announced on Monday whether these two teams will be facing each other at Money in the Bank.
- Seth Rollins attacks Elias: The former "Drifter" played a song in the ring making fun of Rollins' nicknames. He also showed the crowd a custom-made Fender guitar given to him by his friend John Mayer, which Elias will use next week to play his "greatest song" as the new intercontinental champion. Out, then, came an angry Rollins. After a brief skirmish, Elias escaped but not before Rollins got a running start and stomped his special guitar as the crowd cheered "Burn it down!"
- Ruby Riott def. Bayley via pinfall: The mischievous Riott Squad made a mess of backstage and cut the tie off a producer's suit as they made their way toward the ring. This two-segment match featured moments of in-ring sloppiness, particularly from Bayley. A distraction on the apron from Liv Morgan led to the finish as Bayley walked into a Riott Kick. After the match, Riott used black marker to write an "R" on Bayley's stomach along with marks on her face while Michael Cole anointed Riott as a future title contender.
- No Way Jose def. Curt Hawkins via pinfall: Hawkins never appeared when his music hit, which led to the referee signaling for the bell to ring and a 10-count to begin. Hawkins, who entered the arena as part of Jose's conga line, removed his mask and jumped his opponent from behind. Jose instantly reversed into his pop-up forearm shot for the 1-2-3, sending Hawkins to his 201st consecutive defeat.
- Sami Zayn challenges Bobby Lashley to obstacle course: Zayn concocted a ringside military obstacle course so Lashley could convince him he served in the army, provided he beat Zayn's time. The segment was long and clumsy with questionable psychology as to why Lashley would even agree to this. Per usual, Zayn tried his best to save it but was unable to. After Lashley ran through the course in no time, Zayn attacked him from behind to gain the upper hand entering Sunday.
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