WWE Raw results, recap, grades: New champion, Ric Flair and Gronk appear, fans behind hockey glass

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WWE

The Memorial Day edition of Raw brought action with title ramifications to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. It also, for the first time, brought a "crowd" to watch the action with NXT and PC talent surrounding the ring following social distancing guidelines behind hockey glass. This followed on cues from AEW, which has used small groups of talent to add crowd noise to their shows with good effect. The addition of a crowd did help address some of the awkwardness of televised wrestling without an arena full of fans.

In the most notable action on the show, Apollo Crews won his first singles championship in WWE, beating Andrade to capture the United States championship. The victory was sweet revenge for Crews, who had been taken out of the Money in the Bank ladder match due to an injury inflicted by Andrade in his previous shot at the title.

In other championship news, Nia Jax managed to outlast Charlotte Flair and Natalya in a bout to determine the challenger for Asuka's Raw women's championship at the Backlash pay-per-view on June 14. Jax survived being powerbombed through a table to pin Natalya and secure her shot at Asuka, a match that has been teased since Jax took out the champ's friend, Kairi Sane, on last week's edition of Raw.

Let's take a look at everything that went down on a holiday Monday.

WWE Raw results and grades

Kevin Owens opened the broadcast with a "KO Show." Owens announced he would be taking on Angel Garza later in the evening before welcoming Asuka to the ring. After replaying the incident involving Nia Jax from last week, Asuka was cut off by Charlotte Flair's music. Flair said the Raw women's championship should have been handed to her instead of given to Asuka for winning Money in the Bank -- then pointed out that Asuka has not been able to beat her in their past matches. This of course brought out Natalya and Nia Jax before a brawl broke out between Asuka and the three women who will be wrestling for a shot at her at Backlash. The Raw opening segment has become so repetitive at this point. There's an introduction, a quick interruption, half of a promo and a brawl nearly every week, it seems. Grade: C+

United States Championship -- Apollo Crews def. Andrade (c) via pinfall to win the title: Andrade ran into Zelina Vega early in the match, leading Andrade to snap and throw Crews into the ringside barricade. Angel Garza was interviewed backstage during the match, comparing a wrestling match to making love to a beautiful woman. The match felt like it was just starting to build to where their past matches have gone when Crews hit a press slam, standing moonsault and standing shooting star press for the win a bit out of nowhere, capturing the title. We've seen these two men have shown great chemistry in the past and this match was solid for the time it had, but the end felt a little sudden and without the right build. Still, a powerful moment for Crews, who cut a promo after his victory and talked about his 11 years of sacrifice to win his first WWE title. Grade: B

The IIconics, Nikki Cross cut passionate promos: The duo said they should still be the women's tag team champions before calling Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross "some crazy lady" and "the office's favorite blonde." At that point, the tag champs walked out and said The IIconics had blown plenty of opportunities already, before Cross let loose with a fiery promo about how hard she had to work to get to the championships. This, of course, led The IIconics to launch a full-on attack, laying out Cross and Bliss before posing with the championship belts to end the segment. Cross needs to be allowed to cut more promos like this, she is very good at showing raw emotion on the mic and deserves more than being Bliss' giggling buddy. Grade: B

Drew McIntyre guests on The VIP Lounge with MVP: McIntyre immediately tore apart the in-ring set before asking where Bobby Lashley was. MVP promised Lashley would not be attacking McIntyre tonight saying, "No contract, no contact." McIntyre said he doesn't need anyone to speak for him and the only way to take the title from him would be to pry it from his cold, dead hands. Lashley's music hit and McIntyre blasted MVP with a Claymore before the title challenger at Backlash could hit the ring. As McIntyre begged Lashley to get in the ring, Lashley instead grabbed MVP and helped him up the ramp while the champ celebrated in the ring. This was a solid enough moment as they build toward another big challenge for McIntyre, and things are only going to get more tense from here. Grade: B-

Angel Garza def. Kevin Owens via pinfall after a Wing Clipper. As Owens made his way to the ring, Garza attacked from behind, dropping him with a chop block. Owens got to the ring, allowing the match to officially start and Garza to continue assaulting the leg. Owens couldn't fight back on the bum wheel, giving Garza the chance to hit the Wing Clipper for the win after Owens couldn't execute a pop-up powerbomb. After the win, Garza hit Owens with one last kick to the leg on his way out of the ring. This wasn't much of a match, given the length and the story involved, but the pairing of Garza and Owens could be interesting moving forward. Grade: C+

The Viking Raiders and The Street Profits played golf: The Raiders had a cooler with turkey legs. Everyone was bad, but Montez Ford bounced a ball off several obstacles before making his shot. They were then kicked off the course and instead played mini golf. Ford and Angelo Dawkins prevailed before Ivar pulled a drink and a turkey leg out of the final hole. Later in the night, the Profits told the Raiders to pick the next sport to compete in, leading to a bowling challenge for next week. Mercifully, this was over fairly quickly, even if it wasn't good in any way. Grade: D

Austin Theory & Murphy def. Aleister Black & Humberto Carrillo via pinfall when Theory hit Carrillo with the ATL. Earlier in the night, Seth Rollins called the evening a "night for celebration." The match was short but effective, with WWE doing a good job of letting the threatening heel group be effective with four top-notch in-ring talents going at it until Theory was able to hit the ATL to get the win. After the match, Rollins directed Murphy and Theory to teach Carrillo a lesson, dragging him over to the ring steps. Rollins made Black stop his attempt to fight the off with a chair by threatening to take one of Carrillo's eye. Rollins and his disciples left without taking Carrillo's eye, but sent a clear message in the process. Grade: B+

Edge cut a backstage promo about his upcoming match: He said he took Orton's bait and now he has to answer the question of if he can hang with Orton. Edge said Orton had competed in 1,126 matches while he was sitting on the sidelines. Edge said he watched himself on The Last Ride documentary, talking about the right time to hang up your boots and now he understands the struggle for The Undertaker to retire. He then rattled off the great wrestlers he had gone hold-for-hold with before saying he doesn't know if he is still that guy anymore. "But, at Backlash, I am going to dig to the very depths of my soul to try," Edge said. "That's all a man can do." Edge continues to do great work in his comeback, though WWE is digging a hole with the "Greatest Wrestling Match Ever" promotion for the clash with Orton. Grade: B+

Nia Jax def. Natalya & Charlotte Flair via pinfall to become No. 1 contender for the Raw women's championship after a Samoan drop on Natalya. Earlier in the night, Natalya was being interviewed when she took a phone call from her husband, talking about her recent tantrums, only to have the interview time run out after the call. Asuka had also told Flair that "red is not your color" in an earlier segment. During the match, Natalya and Flair put Jax through the announce table with a double powerbomb. That was only one of several big moves in the match, including a Jax powerbomb to counter a Natalya armbar and a beautiful Flair moonsault. Natalya broke up a Figure-Eight on Jax, allowing her to lock Flair in the Sharpshooter. Jax broke the hold though and in the ensuing chaos, there was a Tower of Doom spot with Natalya powerbombing Jax off the second rope while Jax hit Flair with a superplex. Moments later, Jax broke up another Figure-Eight attempt before hitting Natalya with a Samoan drop for the win. It will be Nia Jax vs. Asuka at Backlash after a solid bout to crown a number one contender. Grade: B

Pre-taped promos from R-Truth and Rob Gronkowski aired: Truth had been smartened up that it was Gronkowski, not Tom Brady who was 24/7 champion. Truth said he'd tackle "any football man" to get back the title. Gronkowski said growing up with brothers meant he is ready to fight anytime, anywhere before putting his sunglasses on backward and saying he has eyes in the back of his head.

Ric Flair hyped up Randy Orton: Flair talked about having been in some of the greatest matches ever before saying he was asked to predict who would win the "Greatest Wrestling Match Ever" between Orton and Edge. Flair picked old Evolution running buddy Orton as the winner.
 
Liv Morgan spoke about her biggest stumbling block in life: Morgan said she can't remember a time growing up where she felt like she was good enough. Morgan said she found what she was missing when she found WWE and is now living her best life.
 
The Street Profits (c) def. MVP & Bobby Lashley via disqualification in a non-title match: This match was made earlier in the evening when MVP threw down the challenge after the Profits set up their bowling match against The Viking Raiders for next week. MVP and Lashley also blew off multiple attempts by Lana to get back in with their group. Ahead of the match, Drew McIntyre said he "forgot something" in the locker room and wouldn't find it until after the match ended, setting up the end of the show. In the actual match, after Montez Ford hit the frog splash on MVP and had the match won, Lashley jumped in the ring to lock up a Full Nelson. Lashley refused to break the hold, leading the referee to call for the disqualification. As soon as the bell rang, McIntyre ran to the ring to attack Lashley. Some Performance Center talent ran in to pull McIntyre off, only to get tossed by both men until finally enough talent hit the ring to hold the men apart as the show went off the air. The match itself was fine, but the intensity of McIntyre and Lashley has clicked well recently, even though Lashley would benefit from getting over on McIntyre a little in these moments. Grade: B

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The Street Profits def. MVP & Bobby Lashley via disqualification. This match was made earlier in the evening when MVP threw down the challenge after The Profits set up their bowling match against The Viking Raiders for next week. Drew McIntyre said he "forgot something" in the locker room and wouldn't find it until after the match ended, setting up the end of the show. In the actual match, after Montez Ford hit the frog splash on MVP and had the match won, Lashley jumped in the ring to lock up a Full Nelson. Lashley refused to break the hold, causing the referee to call for the disqualification. As soon as the bell rang, McIntyre ran to the ring to attack Lashley. Some Performance Center talent ran in to pull McIntyre off, only to get tossed by both men until finally enough talent hit the ring to hold them men apart as the show went off the air. The match itself was fine, but the intensity of McIntyre and Lashley has clicked well recently, even though Lashley would benefit from getting over on McIntyre a little in these moments. Grade: B

Liv Morgan spoke about her biggest stumbling block in life. Morgan said she can't remember a time growing up where she felt like she was good enough. Morgan said she found what she was missing when she found WWE and is now living her best life.  

A Ric Flair pre-taped video aired. Flair talked about having been in some of the greatest matches ever before saying he was asked to predict who would win the "Greatest Wrestling Match Ever" between Randy Orton and Edge. Flair picked old Evolution running buddy Orton as the winner.

Pre-taped promos from R-Truth and Rob Gronkowski aired. Truth had been smartened up that it was Gronkowski, not Tom Brady who was 24/7 champion. Truth said he'd tackle "any football man" to get back the title. Gronkowski said growing up with brothers meant he is ready to fight anytime, anywhere before putting his sunglasses on backward and saying he has eyes in the back of his head.

@WWE via Twitter
May 26, 2020, 2:26 AM

Nia Jax def. Natalya & Charlotte Flair via pinfall after a Samoan drop on Natalya. Earlier in the night, Natalya was being interviewed when she took a phone call from her husband, talking about her recent tantrums, only to have the interview time have run out when the call was over. Natalya and Flair put Jax through the announce table with a double powerbomb as Asuka looked on midway through the match. That was only one of several big moves in the match, including a Jax powerbomb to counter a Natalya armbar and a beautiful Flair moonsault. Natalya broke up a Figure-Eight on Jax, allowing her to lock Flair in the Sharpshooter. Jax broke the hold though and in the ensuing chaos, there was a Tower of Doom spot with Natalya powerbombing Jax off the second rope while Jax hit Flair with a superplex. Moments later, Jax broke up another Figure-Eight attempt before hitting Natalya with a Samoan drop for the win. It will be Nia Jax vs. Asuka at Backlash after a solid bout to crown a number one contender. Grade: B

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