If WWE was looking to put the bad taste of Sunday's justifiably maligned House of Horrors Match from Payback in the past as soon as possible, Monday's close to Raw went a long way in helping viewers develop short memories.
With Bray Wyatt's nine-month feud against Randy Orton finally behind him, his late pop-in during an already spectacular triple threat main event took the last hour of Raw and elevated it to a whole new level.
Wyatt planted the seeds for what could be an explosive feud with Finn Balor by appearing late to cost the "Demon King" a chance at the No. 1 contender spot for Dean Ambrose's intercontinental title, just moments after Samoa Joe did the same to Seth Rollins. The pair of heel interferences opened the door for The Miz to steal the match, continuing his ongoing program with Ambrose.
But the post-Raw headlines deservedly surround the use of Wyatt, who delivered a cryptic promo earlier in the night in which he, in one breath, offered his services to Kurt Angle before asking the Raw general manager whether he had plans to stand in Wyatt's way.
The electric main event, littered with high spots and near falls, also repaired what was a tame opening two hours of the show, which also included strong heel work in the opening segment from Raw women's champion Alexa Bliss and the debut of Sheamus and Cesaro's new look as heels.
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WWE Raw results and review
The coronation of Alexa Bliss: One night after winning the Raw women's championship, Bliss stood on a platform inside the ring surrounded by seven female superstars. "I want to make something perfectly clear: The queen is dead," Bliss said. "And for the first time in Monday Night Raw history, I can say, 'Long live Alexa Bliss. The one and only goddess of WWE.'" After Bliss took turns tearing each one down personally, Bayley flipped over her platform and a brawl ensued.
Alexa Bliss, Emma, Alicia Fox & Nia Jax def. Bayley, Sasha Banks, Dana Brooke, & Mickie James via pinfall: This two-segment match took a long time to heat up. Chaos eventually ensued as all eight got involved, including a particularly heated brawl with Fox squaring off against both Bayley and Banks. In the end, Bliss used a thumb to the eye on Bayley while the referee was distracted and followed up with a DDT for the 1-2-3.
Bliss did well to verbally carry what could've been an awkward opening segment if placed into the wrong hands. She has truly made Raw her own in almost record time. While the largely pointless match went on for far too long, Bliss continued to put over a more sinister turn to her heel persona of late.
Luke Gallows def. Enzo Amore via pinfall: Gallows and Karl Anderson interrupted the opening promo from Enzo and Big Cass with a blindside attack. Amore then rallied back from a long beatdown to finally gain the upper hand in the match. But after he climbed to the top rope, Anderson stood on the apron to distract him, allowing Gallows to scoop Amore into his fireman's carry flapjack finisher for the pin.
Backstage -- Neville and TJ Perkins: Neville told TJ Perkins that the youngster needs to start pulling his own weight with "our problem," Austin Aries, if he wants to eventually leapfrog him as No. 1 contender to the cruiserweight championship.
In the ring -- Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Dean Ambrose and The Miz: Feeling good for "the first time in a long time," Rollins told the crowd he was finally done with Samoa Joe and ready for Brock Lesnar's universal championship. Balor interrupted and staked his claim to the No. 1 contendership. Ambrose hit the ring and put over his intercontinental championship as Raw's top title due to Lesnar's part-time schedule. After calling general manager Kurt Angle on his cell phone, he then booked a triple threat match involving Rollins, Balor and Miz to determine the No. 1 contender to Ambrose.
As much as I love seeing Lesnar with the company's top title, Raw has too many top wrestlers deserving of main event pushes for the belt to sit idle. The continued tease toward a possible Miz-Balor feud created even more anticipation one night after they tussled on Miz TV.
Jack Gallagher, Rich Swann & Akira Tozawa def. The Brian Kendrick, Tony Nese, & Noam Dar via pinfall: Not much to talk about in this one outside of a creative spot in which the three faces combined on a triple backdrop to catapult Nese outside of the ring and onto his teammates below. After Tozawa hit a Shining Wizard to break Kendrick's submission attempt on Gallagher, the Englishman recovered to hit Kendrick with his Gentleman's Dropkick for the 1-2-3.
Like the earlier eight-woman tag match, the goal here appeared to simply be getting as many wrestlers on television as possible in a glorified house show match.
In the ring -- Sheamus & Cesaro: One night after their official heel turn, the duo debuted new black jackets and a bad attitude. They dismissed The Hardy Boyz as a novelty act and shared their new catchphrase in unison: "We don't just set the bar, we are the bar." Matt and Jeff Hardy came out to dispute the claim, flashing "delete" hand gestures before rushing to the ring as the heels retreated.
Apollo Crews def. Heath Slater via pinfall: Before the match, Titus O'Neil scolded Crews in the locker room for taking parenting advice from Slater and Rhyno. "You're talking to the enemy," he said. "You want advice, you come to me." O'Neil continued to encourage Crews during the match, which Crews won following a sit out powerbomb to set up the pin. O'Neil's post-match selfie with Crews was photobombed by Rhyno.
In the ring -- Kurt Angle and Bray Wyatt: Angle updated the injuries suffered to both Roman Reigns (reaggravated ribs, internal injuries) and Braun Strowman (torn rotator cuff) at Payback, relaying that both weren't done with each other. After the lights went out, Wyatt entered the ring to formally introduce himself to Angle. "I'm not here for destruction -- not yet," Wyatt said. "Actually, I have come to you tonight as a savior." After saying he closed the chapter on Randy Orton at Payback, Wyatt told Angle he is reborn and asked him, "Are you going to allow me to do my work? Are you going to walk by my side or are you going to stand in my way?" Angle reminded him that Raw is his show before Wyatt countered: "This may be your show, but you need to understand, this is my world."
It's difficult not to be extra cynical of Wyatt's handling being that we are still so closely removed from Sunday's House of Horrors Match. But while his largely cryptic promo didn't make a ton of sense in the moment, there was enough of an intriguing tease toward what it might mean for the future. It was also refreshing to see him in a back and forth with Angle, which featured strong energy.
Dean Ambrose's backstage interviews: Ambrose commandeered the mic for a trio of talks with the main event participants over the last hour of the show. His interview with Balor was the most entertaining with Finn accepting Ambrose's offer to eat a donut. "For the love of God man, eat a carb. There's like a vain in there [pointing to his abs]. It's not right," Ambrose said. Elias Sampson drifted through seconds later with his guitar, leading Ambrose to ask if he knew any Pearl Jam.
Austin Aries def. TJ Perkins via submission: Aries brought the energy in this one, which carried a pay-per-view feel. Perkins worked over Aries' knee for most of the match, which set up a strong comeback that crowd amped up for. Aries' rally ended by him countering into a Last Chancery submission to force the tap. After the match, TJP sought instant retribution, putting Aries into a knee bar.
Backstage -- Kurt Angle and Golden Truth: Angle shot down Golden Truth's request for a shot at The Hardy Boyz' titles by saying their win/loss record wasn't good enough. But Goldust wore the general manager down, citing their 20-year history. Angle booked a Tag Team Turmoil match for next week to determine a new No. 1 contender.
No. 1 Contender's Match -- The Miz def. Finn Balor and Seth Rollins via pinfall: In a main event match that could've headlined a PPV, all three superstars brought similar intensity to the many high spots and near falls. Rollins appeared legitimately injured when his cross body attempt from the top rope on Balor ended with him falling on his head. But with the crowd chanting, "This is awesome," seemingly on a loop, Rollins later rallied with a double blockbuster off the top rope and a frogsplash on Balor for two. He then hit a superplex into a Falcon's Arrow for another close call. After a pair of suicide dives on opposite sides of the ring in succession, Rollins was cut down by Samoa Joe. Moments later, Balor went to the top rope before the lights went out and Wyatt appeared. He tossed off Balor with Sister Abigail before disappearing again, allowing Miz to crawl over and get the pin.
Hands down, this was one of the best Raw matches of the past year. Rollins, in particular, looked like he trying to make a statement with how spectacular he was willing to work. The reveal of Wyatt was handled perfectly, opening the door for a feud with Balor that offers tremendous potential. Even reigniting an Ambrose-Miz feud wouldn't be the first choice of most, Miz is plenty deserving of competing for a title.