An overall strange edition of Raw on Monday night saw WWE focus on different storylines a half hour at a time, leaving little room for development of angles throughout the show. Even Raw Underground, which was originally set to be featured throughout the entire 10 p.m. ET hour, was relegated to a few segments over 35 minutes.
In the end, Monday night was a mixed bag. The main event segment with Randy Orton turning on Ric Flair and "killing" another legend was a massive success, as was his match with Kevin Owens and confrontation with Drew McIntyre. The opening of the show with Seth Rollins and Dominic Mysterio was also a win for WWE. However, Raw Underground was a massive failure, Retribution looked like the dorkiest faction in history, and a number of other segments failed to deliver.
As for everything that went down in detail, keep on reading our results and grades from Monday night.
WWE Raw results, grades
Seth Rollins, Dominic Mysterio sign contracts: With Samoa Joe hosting, Rollins and Mysterio hit the ring to sign contracts ahead of their match at SummerSlam. Before Mysterio could even speak, Joe cut a promo on his behalf, running down Rollins for his heel turn -- after being booed by fans just a couple of times -- and calling him out for fighting someone with no wrestling experience. Rollins again blamed the fans for forcing him to change and asked the world when it will get its fill with ragging on him. Mysterio called Rollins out for being selfish, but Rollins reminded him that the was on the cusp of becoming a WWE superstar only because of him. Rollins then said Mysterio would have no chance against him, the best wrestler in the world, one-on-one, so he would allow him to use any weapon he wants in their watch that way Mysterio has no excuse when Rollins ends his career before it begins. Mysterio signed both his match contract and his WWE superstar contract. The use of Joe to set the stage and deliver the difficult part of Mysterio's program was needed, but this was a solid segment from Rollins and Mysterio that gets extra credit for no violence at a contract signing.
Seth Rollins def. Humberto Carillo via pinfall: Short match that Rollins won with The Stomp that mostly served as a vehicle for Rollins to look dominant in front of Mysterio. Murphy attacked Mysterio and dragged him in the ring after the match where Rollins beat him incessantly with the kendo stick Mysterio has been carrying around -- including while Mysterio's arms were tied up in the ropes. Rollins then trash talked Rey Mysterio through the camera as he beat on Dominic's chest with the kendo stick. Dominic was covered with welts from the kendo stick when Murphy grabbed another from under the ring and they took turns beating him in the ropes. Dominic must have taken a total of 20 shots and was left absolutely covered in welts and blood. It was truly brutal and a bit surprising they went that far. Also, it made no sense that Joe had Dominic's back in the opening segment but not here, so that extra credit given earlier has been removed for continuity. Overall grade: B
Angelo Dawkins def. Andrade via pinfall: Before the match, Zelina Vega twice pled her innocence in the poisoning of Montez Ford, told Bianca Belair to check herself and promised that Andrade & Angel Garza would win the Raw tag team titles at SummerSlam. With Dawkins outnumbered and about to be beaten late in the match, Belair appeared to attack Vega and cause a distraction, leading Dawkins to hit the Cash Out for the surprise 1-2-3.
Bianca Belair def. Zelina Vega via pinfall: Belair dominated the early part of the match with Vega only getting in offense following a distraction, rake of the eyes and when Belair ran shoulder-first into the post. Seeing Vega use some of Andrade's moveset was a nice touch, but it was good that Belair was consistently allowed to overpower her challenger and win with the K.O.D. as the full-time wrestler needed to be put over strong here. It was also cool that Belair and Dawkins were able to cut a rare promo together after the match. Overall grade: C+
Shelton Benjamin def Apollo Crews (c) in a non-title match: After a quick back and forth with MVP in the VIP Lounge, including a fire promo from Crews (who lifted and chucked an entire touch clean out of the ring), this previously unannounced match went down. The match between Crews and Benjamin was fine, but the finish came as the numbers advantage got too much for Crews, who was rolled up and upset by Benjamin. MVP asked Bobby Lashley not to injured Crews after the match, but with Crews free, he was able to smack MVP with a spinning heel kick. This was a totally unnecessary loss for a champion who just looked strong a segment earlier with a great promo, and the match was nothing to write home about. Grade: C-
Natalya and Lana confront Mickie James: Making her return to WWE after a year off due to injury, James said she had plans to lead the women's locker room while her eye was focused on gold. Before she could continue with her supposed announcement, Natalya and Lana interrupted her, dressed alike, talking about social media and hashtags and how Natty was the best of all-time (B.O.A.T.). James said she would see them next week, presumably a match against Natalya.
Viking Raiders, Ricochet & Cedric Alexander def. Akira Tozawa & The Ninjas via pinfall: Pure comedy segment -- if you can call it that. This match lasted about one minute with the ninjas getting dominated and Tozawa shying away from action. After the match, Tozawa started walking up the ramp when ...
24/7 Championship -- R-Truth def. Akira Tozawa (c) via pinfall to win the title: ... a referee came out and R-Truth -- dressed as a ninja -- rolled Tozawa up on the ramp to become champion for the 38th time. The action wasn't good, the situation was obvious, and it was another roll up pinfall as we've come to expect. Overall grade: F
Peyton Royce def. Liv Morgan via pinfall: Short match with the story focused on the reunion of Morgan and Ruby Riott. With Morgan in the corner, Billie Kaye baited Riott into jumping on the ring apron, which distracted the referee and Morgan, leading to Royce hitting her spinning brainbuster finisher for the win. Morgan was visibly upset with Riott after the match but nothing came of it. I like the idea of the Riott Squad reunion not being perfect at the start rather than them just working well together and going on a ruin. Teams need to build. There was not much to this segment though. Grade: C+
Asuka def. Bayley (c) via pinfall in a non-title match: With the victory, Asuka won a rematch with Sasha Banks for the Raw women's championship at SummerSlam. Presumably thanks to Retribution, the lights flickered multiple times during the match. Bayley awesomely countered a head kick, grabbing Asuka's leg and putting her in an ankle lock midway through the match. Asuka tried some submissions of her own, but Bayley worked on that joint a bit later with an Indian Deathlock. This was a technical wrestling showcase with plenty of counters, reversals and submission attempts. A Codebreaker by Asuka was unsuccessful, and neither was an elbow drop by Bayley. A Sunset Bomb into the turnbuckles did not work for Bayley, but it was her decision to mock Kairi Sane that gave Asuka an opening to hit the Asuka Lock or the quick tap out. Just an absolutely fantastic match with the perfect finish to lead to the match we all expected. Grade: A
Raw Underground -- Riddick Moss def. Cal Bloom: Unlike last week, these two actually got a couple minutes. Bloom was dominating Moss early until Moss took him outside the ring, ran him into some metal poles and then planted him on the canvas with some ground and pound for the win. | Arturo Ruas def. Enhancement talent: Another more formal match, Ruas quickly won with a roundhouse kick. | Dabba-Kato def. Enhancement talent: Kato continuously planted a guy half his size ... and then unnecessarily grabbed an entire handful of his junk before delivering a knockout punch for the win.
Shayna Baszler def. Three enhancement talents: Baszler showed up and no one had the guts to ace her, so she picked a woman out of the crowd and beat her down. Two other women tried to intervene, including one who put Baszler in a chokehold, but she quickly dispatched of them, too. all three women then ganged up on Baszler, but she took them all down, tapping out the last. With more than 30 minutes left in the show, Shane McMahon said they were done for the week.
Since this was a taped episode of Raw, there was no opportunity for WWE to listen to criticisms, make changes, etc. ahead of this week's show. But considering the Hurt Business "took it over" last week and didn't even show up this week, there was no purpose to any of the matches and it was somehow even more boring than a week ago, they have no choice but to do something meaningful next week to save this concept. Overall grade: D+
Retribution caused minor chaos: Unlike on SmackDown where Retribution terrorized the inside of the WWE Performance Center at the end of the show, the new faction remained outside causing minor disturbances the entire night. The lights flickered a couple of times during matches, they were shown throwing a cinderblock through the front window of the facility, and later they were walking on an overturned car in the parking lot. Mostly, they just jumped around and yelled, "Yeah!" like a bunch of teenagers making trouble after school. It is clear this faction was rushed and not thought out well. Perhaps next week with a new set of tapings there will be a clearer direction, but right now, it's terrible. Grade: D-
Randy Orton def. Kevin Owens: Good match between two veterans. Orton (RKO) and Owens (Stunner) both missed signature moves early, and Owens got in a good amount of offense with his cannonball and senton. After hitting a senton bomb, Owens got overconfident and began playing the role of The Viper, crouching down and trying to size up Orton for a Stunner. Instead, Orton immediately countered it and planted Owens with the RKO for the 1-2-3. Owens may not be involved in anything major at this time, but he's a former universal, U.S. and NXT champion. For Orton to get that decisive of a victory was a nice surprise and a good touch as he's the WWE title challenger at SummerSlam.
Randy Orton calls out Ric Flair: After the match -- and commercial break -- Orton told Flair he was mad at him for booking a match with Owens that was completely necessary, saying Flair only did it out of ego. Orton said Flair is now a complete liability to him, and the only reason Flair took him under his ring all those years ago is because he thought Orton "could be the son you wish you had." As Flair teared up, Orton said that's all he's good for anymore. He said Flair was pathetic for having a pacemaker, slipping into a coma and becoming a "whore for the spotlight" who is "washed up and can't do it anymore." Orton said he was going to take the WWE championship for the 14th time at SummerSlam, and that's what Flair should have been concerned about. Intead, Flair was only concerned about himself.
That led Flair to take the microphone and tell Orton that he takes his words personally. The old Flair from 2001 is not here anymore, he said, but he does indeed love the spotlight and likes being in it -- especially because other guys like Hulk Hogan are jealous that he's on TV. Flair said he wants to see Orton, who has crawled from the bottom to the top and is now the "greatest performer in the business today," be the one to break his record. Flair said that, after being in his coma and stuck in the hospital, all he wanted to do was see the people he cared about and tell them that he loved them. Flair said all he wants to do is walk down the aisle with Orton. He's Charlotte Flair's dad and wants to be by Orton's side as he breaks his own record.
That led Orton to throw the microphone out of the ring, grab Flair, hug him tight and whisper in his ear. When Flair turned away, Orton low blowed the Hall of Famer, gently placed him on the canvas and whispered a number of things to him, including "thank you for everything you've done for me." With Flair lying prone and slowly getting to his knees, Orton backed up into the corner and then punt kicked him. The lights flickered due to Retribution and missed the punt (purposely as Flair is not cleared to take contact). WWE champion Drew McIntyre finally ran down to the ring to force Orton away as trainers tended to Flair. McIntyre and Orton seethed at one another from afar as Raw went off the air. "Everything is coming to you at SummerSlam. I'm going to hurt you, Randy, you evil son of a bitch," McIntyre said.
Great work from Orton. Great work from Flair. Smart production decisions by WWE to give Orton the ability to kill another legend without having Flair take physical contact. Everything about the final 30 minutes of Raw worked except for the fact that the crowd hardly booed Orton, who was a total heel in this segment. For an uneven show, the close was strong. Grade: A