WWE Raw results, recap, grades: Ronda Rousey stands out on solid show hampered by Shield drama
Rousey cut what was likely her best WWE promo on Monday night against the Bellas
Sometimes too much of a good thing is exactly that.
WWE's insistence at creating viewer fatigue for a long-running feud between The Shield and The Dogs of War that seemingly produces multiple matches between them on every episode of Raw spoiled what had the makings to be a strong three hours of sports entertainment on Monday. Instead, the episode was littered with a gluttony of repeated matches -- including the same main event for the second straight week -- and constant teases regarding tension between both teams that not surprisingly gets repaired the following week. Outside of the drama surrounding the Shield, Ronda Rousey delivered what was likely her best promo since joining WWE in a red-hot segment opposite the Bella Twins, and Kurt Angle returned once more to double cross Baron Corbin.
Big fan of WWE? Subscribe to our podcast -- In This Corner with Brian Campbell -- where we go in depth on everything you need to know in WWE each week.
Never-ending Shield-Dogs of War feud rolls on
Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre & Dolph Ziggler opened the show by gloating about how they exposed Dean Ambrose's issues with the Shield. "I hate to say I told you so," McIntyre said, "but I told you so. We broke the Shield." McIntyre and Ziggler then exposed their own issues by arguing about who would win should they meet in the World Cup tournament at Crown Jewel on Nov. 2. After Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins came out to counter, with Ziggler ripping them for Ambrose's absence, Rollins explained that "The Lunatic Fringe" was simply operating on his own time, as usual.
Seth Rollins def. Drew McIntyre via countout (World Cup qualifying match): Ziggler's presence and the constant threat of his distractions played a big theme in the match. Rollins hit consecutive suicide dives on both heels from separate sides of the ring, but his attempt to set up the stomp saw Ziggler pull the top rope to send him flying. Out came Ambrose from the crowd to attack the heels. Rollins then hit a stomp on McIntyre and rolled into the ring just in time to win via countout before he and Ambrose made up by celebrating. Later on backstage, Ambrose took issue with Rollins saying he "always shows up on lunatic time," and angrily walked off.
Dolph Ziggler def. Dean Ambrose via pinfall (World Cup qualifying match): Rollins countered McIntyre's early attempt to interfere by running out to attack him. Ambrose then shrugged off Rollins' attempt to help him, rolled into the ring and walked into a superkick allowing Ziggler to score the pin. Ambrose brushed Rollins off again and the two began to push each other on the stage until Reigns ran out to separate them. Acting general manager Baron Corbin then booked a six-man tag match for the main event between both teams. Later on in the locker room, Strowman threatened McIntyre and Ziggler that if either one screws up, they "will get these hands."
The Shield def. The Dogs of War via pinfall: An early argument among the Shield led to Strowman clotheslining all three, including yet another collision between Rollins and Ambrose. The match featured plenty of high spots and chaotic sequences, including tandem suicide dives on opposite sides of the ring by Ambrose and Rollins. Late in the match, Ziggler shoved Rollins into his teammate again, breaking up Ambrose's pin attempt on McIntyre after hitting a Dirty Deeds. Ambrose nearly attempted the same move on Rollins, until Ziggler hit him with a ZigZag for a two count. After McIntyre accidentally sent Strowman out of the ring with a Claymore kick, Reigns hit a spear on McIntyre before a triple power bomb from the Shield set up an Ambrose pin. An angry Strowman powerslammed Ambrose before eating a second Claymore kick as McIntyre walked off to leave his teammates behind.
The once-promising Ambrose storyline has devolved into a "boy who cried wolf" scenario that began to feel like Groundhog Day. Even worse, WWE creative has essentially written the same storyline into the relationship between the heels with McIntyre playing the same role. Regardless of whether the storyline ends in a creative and entertaining place, the journey to get there continues to feel redundant as Raw can't seem to help itself in exploiting the fact that any combination of the six wrestlers in this feud tends to turn out an entertaining match. While it may be a smart strategy to hold ratings, it's nothing more than a public announcement that there's nothing new to see. Going back to the well with the exact same main event as last week is the surest way to make sure viewers on the fence about going to bed early do just that. Three matches on the same show involving the same two teams -- featuring incredibly similar outcomes -- is nothing short of lazy. Grade: C-
Bella Twins explain turn on Ronda Rousey
Rousey entered the ring and openly pleaded for the Bella Twins to come out and explain why they attacked her last week. Out came Nikki and Brie to explain how much it made them cringe to see an undeserving loser like Rousey presented at the forefront of the evolution that they helped build. "We made 'Divas' mean something, we made the word strong and powerful," Nikki said. "There are little girls in the crowd because of us and our reality show, and the championship you are wearing wouldn't exist without us." Rousey countered by saying the Bellas are "the embodiment of a stereotype -- DMB, do nothing Bellas," and that the Divas era they represented made her sick.
"The only thing you impressed me with was how far you were able to go with the absolute minimal amount of talent," Rousey said. "You leached off the names of your men. You plagiarized and dilute their move sets. You're not pioneers, you're callus. You are relics of the past waiting to be eviscerated like small pox." Rousey then responded to Brie's claim that she's jealous by pointing out that she knocked down doors in judo, Strikeforce, UFC and WWE along her journey. "The only door you ever knocked down was the door to John Cena's bedroom," Rousey said to Nikki. "And he eventually threw you out of the same exact door." Rousey challenged them to a fight, but the Bellas waited for a five-man security team to walk them to the ring area. Rousey beat down and judo tossed all five while Nikki and Brie ran off.
As long as you can look past Rousey's struggle on the mic to open the segment and the weak dialogue given to her, the rest of this segment was nothing short of gold. The intensity in Rousey's voice while delivering such an edgy promo may have been the best representation of her tough, babyface character to date. Nikki also stood strong in her defense of a Divas era that she was the face of before the recent evolution, and slammed home her point with a defiant shake of her rear end aimed at Rousey. The segment worked because of the strong writing and real-life themes that provided its core, including both Bellas benefiting from relationships with Cena and Daniel Bryan and the pitting of two women's eras against each other (which, in many ways, is a matchup between the promotional preferences of Vince McMahon and Triple H in terms of how WWE women are presented). The only thing the segment was missing was Nikki and Brie cutting into Rousey's prior public failures with the same intensity she did to theirs. Grade: A-
What else happened on Raw?
Brothers of Destruction respond to D-Generation X: In a pre-taped video promo that was more nostalgically bland than hot fire, Kane said his respect for Triple H & Shawn Michaels "died with their dishonesty," and that DX's reunion "is built upon a bed of lies." The Undertaker said Michaels retired out of fear for him and responded to Kane's prompt that they have three words of their own ahead of Crown Jewel by saying DX will "rest … in … peace."
Ember Moon & Nia Jax def. Dana Brooke & Tamina Snuka via pinfall: This tag team match was created simply to promote a battle royal at the Oct. 28 Evolution pay-per-view, with the winner getting a future title shot. Among the big names announced were Asuka, Carmella, Naomi and Torrie Wilson. An early standoff between Jax and Snuka also appeared to tease a future feud as Tamina hit a Samoan Drop on Jax. After Moon landed an Eclipse on Brooke for the pin, Snuka dropped Jax with a kick. Moon then turned on Jax by helping Snuka toss her over the top rope. Moon tried the same on Snuka from behind shortly after, before Brooke ran in to dump both onto the floor.
Finn Balor def. Jinder Mahal via pinfall: With Bayley in his corner opposite Alicia Fox and the Singh Brothers, Balor made quick work of Mahal via the Coup de Grace. Out came Bobby Lashley to pose in front of Balor as hype man Lio Rush told him, "You wish you could look like him."
Bobby Lashley def. Tyler Breeze via pinfall: The heel push for Lashley continued to progress as he dominated Breeze in this squash match. Lashley took his time and posed in between hitting a one-armed vertical suplex and a Dominator for the 1-2-3.
Trish Stratus & Lita share words with Alexa Bliss & Mickie James: In essentially a repeat of their segment last week, the pair of heels cut a promo on Stratus & Lita to hype their Evolution match. Bliss and James were quick to point out how long it had been since either of the legends had been in a WWE ring -- conveniently forgetting the inaugural women's Royal Rumble in January. Stratus & Lita countered with an annoyingly delivered response meant to play off the Philadelphia crowd and Allen Iverson's famous "practice" rant. Bliss & James initially accepted a request to come forward and fight before walking away.
AOP def. The Conquistador via pinfall in a handicap match: Kurt Angle showed up backstage dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and a straw hat while still on vacation. Corbin reminded him it has been 12 years since his last WWE single match and arranged a 2-on-1 bout later tonight to "help" Angle prepare for the World Cup. Corbin watched from the ramp with a big smile as Conquistador's poor attempt at an ankle lock turned into a vicious squash defeat. But after AOP unmasked their prey to reveal it was an unnamed jobber, Angle snuck up behind Corbin to hit an Angle Slam on the stage.
Natalya def. Ruby Riott via disqualification: The Riott Squad caused trouble backstage before the match by heckling Bayley and trashing the dressing room door of Natalya. Because of that, Natalya decided to bring Bayley and Sasha Banks to ringside as backup. Sarah Logan forced the DQ by breaking up Natalya's Sharpshooter attempt on Riott. After a melee ensued, Bayley and Sasha Banks rallied to prevent the heels from hitting their finisher on Natalya and cleaned house to stand tall.
Elias interrupted by Apollo Crews: Elias played his guitar and insulted the Philadelphia fans about their city and their beloved Eagles. Out came Crews, who cut a promo about keeping his mouth and temper shut for too long while others -- like Elias -- passed him by. After Elias removed his coat to attack, Crews ducked a clothesline and hit a drop kick and press slam to likely trigger a new (and not particularly anticipated) feud.
Everything you need to know ahead of this year's Royal Rumble event in Phoenix
Lesnar was a star for the Golden Gophers before making a big name for himself in WWE
There was no standout angle on Tuesday's show, but it was solid from start to finish
Apparently, replacing Braun Strowman was not a last-minute decision
The announcement came Monday with little fanfare, thrown into an edition of Raw
Brock Lesnar's new Royal Rumble challenger will make plenty of WWE fans happy