If WWE Raw had one defining trait this week, it was solid in-ring action. Unfortunately, not all of that action ended with satisfying conclusions. That was not the case for the first match on the show, however, as Aleister Black picked up his biggest win since moving off NXT by beating Seth Rollins cleanly in an outstanding match.
The bout came after Rollins hosted a "retirement ceremony" for Rey Mysterio after injuring Mysterio's eye weeks ago. A fired up Black hung through the best efforts of Rollins -- and his disciples, Austin Theory and Murphy -- to score the win. Things didn't go well after the victory, however, as Rollins, Theory and Murphy beat down Black and Humberto Carrillo, who had entered the picture to even the odds during the match, delivering a message -- and a stomp -- to both men.
The announced match between Asuka and Charlotte Flair didn't end in nearly as satisfying a fashion, as Nia Jax interfered to end things just as the match was truly hitting its stride and promising another classic between two old rivals. Similarly, Angel Garza and Andrade interrupted what was shaping up to be a good United States championship match between champion Apollo Crews and challenger Kevin Owens earlier in the night, forcing a tag team match won when Crews pinned Andrade.
Let's take a look at all the action from the night, including grades for the most meaningful action on the show.
WWE Raw results, grades
Seth Rollins "honors" Rey Mysterio: With Murphy and Austin Theory sitting in chairs at ringside, Rollins said he doubts Rey Mysterio will be able to formally announce his retirement later in the show when he speaks to WWE fans. As such, Rollins said he was taking some time to respect and appreciate Mysterio as a legend who was sacrificed for the greater good of Raw at Rollins' darkest hour. He then honored the end of Mysterio's career with a video package of legitimate highlights concluding with Rollins' brutality and an offer of inducting him into the WWE Hall of Fame. Good start to the show and an interesting tease for what's to come later in the night. Grade: B
Aleister Black def. Seth Rollins via pinfall: As Rollins' opening promo concluded, Black rushed to the ring to attack him with their match beginning after the commercial break. Humberto Carrillo later appeared with a chair to even the sides. Rollins had the early edge until Black picked up some momentum with a pair of springboard moonsaults, one in the ring and another off the turnbuckles to the outside. After getting one blocked earlier, Rollins picked up momentum with a frog splash and powerbomb. However, an armbar by Black hurt Rollins and a running knee countered a high-risk maneuver to shift the match. Carrillo got double teamed outside after stopping Murphy and Theory from interfering, and Black countered a Rollins roll up for a successful pinning combination of his own. The disciples beat down Black and Carrillo after the match, and Rollins forced Black watch as he hit The Stomp on Carrillo. Rollins then screamed in Black's face and hit him with The Stomp for good measure. Entertaining match with a clean finish and exceptional heel tactics. Grade: A
Angel Garza and Zelina Vega reacted to last week's controversy: Reacting to video of his controversial win over Kevin Owens on last week's edition of Raw, Garza said, "in love and in war, everything is fair." Vega said the win was "triumphant," not controversial, because he took what he wanted.Garza gave Charly Caruso a rose before walking off, a rose Vega took from the interviewer and destroyed seconds later.
Shawn Michaels gave his prediction for Edge vs. Randy Orton: Michaels said that he believes they can live up to the hype of the "greatest wrestling match ever." He then picked Edge based on experience, wisdom and fate.
United States Championship -- Apollo Crews (c) vs. Kevin Owens ended in a no contest: Crews announced he had picked Owens for his first title defense, an offer Owens accepted after making sure it was not out of pity after his brutal and controversial loss to Angel Garza last week. Early on, an Owens kick to the gut dropped Crews, leaving the champ clutching his groin and claiming a low blow. After a moment to recover, they began slugging it out and trading punches. The action continued to pick up before Angel Garza and Andrade ran in to attack and cause a no contest, bringing an unsatisfying end to a match with high potential to be very good and help cement Crews' status as champion. Grade: C+
Apollo Crews & Kevin Owens def. Andrade & Angel Garza via pinfall: Unsurprisingly, Andrade and Garza's interference turned Owens' opportunity at the United States championship into a tag match. The heel tactics of Zelina Vega's boys couldn't manage to steal the match, even with Garza again attacking Owens' leg with a cheap shot. In the ending sprint, Crews hit Andrade with a sit-out powerbomb for the win. This was a decent TV tag match, but neither this nor the Owens vs. Crews match quite got the time needed to build to the best possible match for anyone involved. Grade: B-
The Viking Raiders and Street Profits went bowling: The Raiders started off with some decent balls while the Raiders tossed gutter balls. They then shared a drink of goat's milk -- which didn't go over well with the Profits. Montez Ford dropped a ball on Angelo Dawkins' foot, the Profits threw more gutter balls, Ivar ate a turkey leg and raided the kitchen, almost getting kicked out. The Profits announced they wanted the smoke, causing the bowling alley to go into full cosmic bowling mode. Erik then bowled Ivar down the lane for a strike to win by one pin. These segments have become bigger wastes of time every week and are really doing nothing for either team at this point. Grade: D
Billie Kay def. Nikki Cross via pinfall: The IIconics and Cross & Alexa Bliss got into a confrontation backstage before walking to the ring. Kay scored an early near fall off a big boot, but cross was able to keep in the match. Kay threw a tantrum after the next near fall, throwing punches at the air and yelling, giving Cross enough time to come back with some forearms and a clothesline. A missed crossbody off the top opened Cross up for a uranage into a powerbomb from Kay for the victory. Not a great mix of styles, but an interesting pairing in a singles match and a surprisingly clean win for Kay. Grade: C+
Rey Mysterio gave a health update: Mysterio said they have no timetable on his return and said he is most worried that if infection sets in, it could mean the end of his career. Samoa Joe then asked if Mysterio was on Raw to retire, as Seth Rollins said earlier in the night. Mysterio said he doesn't know yet, but it's something he has been thinking about. Mysterio closed by saying Rollins carries too much negativity for a "messiah." Rey's son Dominick then interrupted the interview and said something needs to be done to Rollins by someone in the family. Mysterio tried to calm his son down before damning Rollins for everything he put the Mysterio family through. After Rey walked off, Dominick stayed in front of the camera and said, "Seth Rollins, you're a man of scripture. An eye for an eye." Dominick was a strong addition to Rey's angle with Brock Lesnar and is already adding a new wrinkle to the Rollins angle. Grade: B+
24/7 Championship -- R-Truth def. Rob Gronkowski (c) via pinfall to win the title: Gronkowski was at his home, being filmed doing a dance for Tik Tok in his yard when his friend took off his jacket to reveal a referee shirt and he was quickly rolled up and pinned by R-Truth, who was posing as a gardener. Truth took the title, jumped in the air and clicked his heels before running away. Not exactly the exciting or fun title change many may have expected, but the Gronk era may officially be over. Grade: C+
Nia Jax def. Kairi Sane via pinfall: Jax overwhelmed Sane early, but a sleeperhold and tornado DDT brought her down twice. Jax then snuffed out Sane's momentum by slamming her head into the ring apron twice and throwing her head first into the steel steps, busting Sane open. A leg drop was all it took to end the match. Raw women's champion Asuka ran out after the match to prevent any further damage. Sane's effort was admirable here. Grade: C+
Randy Orton delivered a message to Edge: Orton said he has been watching WWE Network and caught up on various WWE programs, and noticed the one thing everyone has in common is that they think Ric Flair is the greatest wrestler ever. But last week he saw Flair say that he, Orton, is the best to ever lace up a pair of boots and Edge has said the same. At the same time, Edge has said Orton was content and complacent, which Orton said is right. "You can't stand that for 20 years, I have phoned it in, I have half-assed it and still accomplished more than anyone else in that locker room," Orton said. Orton closed by saying he set the bait and Edge bit, and he would prove he is the better man at Backlash by ruining Edge's storybook ending. This wasn't as strong as Edge's promo last week, but the two men still are turning in quality mic work regularly, even if the "greatest wrestling match ever" is a lot to try and live up to. Grade: B
Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair ended via referee stoppage after interference by Nia Jax: Before the match, Flair addressed her upcoming title defense at In Your House on Sunday. Flair taunted Asuka during the match, yelling about the previous times she had beat Asuka. The two women went at it with hard strikes, with Asuka bloodying Flair's mouth. Asuka blasted Flair with a Shining Wizard for a near fall. Flair then had to survive an armbar and triangle choke, turning it into a deep Boston crab, which was then countered into a leg lock before Flair hit a high-angle backdrop suplex. Flair found herself back in a triangle choke, this time countering with a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall. The excellent match was then interrupted when Asuka's music hit and Nia Jax walked to the entrance ramp with an Asuka mask and facepaint to match. Jax laid out Asuka and threw the mask on her body before walking to the back. The bell rang before Jax and Asuka made contact, but it wasn't made clear if there was a count out or if the match was thrown out when Jax walked out. This was building to be a tremendous match and it feels like a robbery to not get a clean finish. Grade: B+
Drew McIntyre (c) def. MVP via pinfall in a non-title match: Early in the night, Lana slapped MVP after he turned her suggestion he was just leeching off Bobby Lashley back on her, saying "that makes two of us." Before the main event, Lana was interviewed backstage and pointed out that Lashley had asked her to not be ringside for his matches -- but that he never said anything about MVP's matches. She followed through on that plan, making her way to ringside after MVP and McIntyre were already in the ring. A bit of distraction by Lashley gave MVP the only break from a quick and consistent beating. As McIntyre was about to hit MVP with the Claymore, Lashley pulled MVP from the ring. McIntyre hit a big dive on both men, tossed MVP back into the ring and hit the Claymore for the win. As soon as the match was over, Lashley locked McIntyre in the full nelson as the show went off the air. The Lana stuff had no real payoff and the show went off the air just as Lashley locked in the hold, making the segment about two minutes shorter than it needed to be for its fullest impact. Grade: B-