Light in the darkness…

Monday Night Raw kicks off with the revelation that Samoa Joe is returning to commentary tonight… so that’s always a good time to start a show.

VIPs Only!

MVP opens the show with the VIP Lounge, announcing his guests to be the entrants into the Money In The Bank Ladder Match, Rey Mysterio, Apollo Crews and Aleister Black.

He tells Rey to make himself feel at home, asks Black not to break anything and predicts Crews to win the match. He asks them all what it means to win the contract, before pulling the mic away from Rey Mysterio and stating what he believes it means for each of them.

MVP gives Crews the mic, but just as he starts talking, Zelina Vega, Andrade, Angel Garza and Austin Theory come out. Zelina cuts a promo on how nobody is talking about the other three, they are instead talking about her trio. They walk to the ring and stare down in the ring while Vega continues to talk, “You three need to show the WWE universe that you are willing to do what’s best for Monday Night Raw, and allow these three to take your place.”

MVP starts to hint at the prospect of a match, but Rey finally gets his hands on the mic and states, “you came out here to pick a fight, with us,” before he and the others attack Zelina’s trio.

Crews Shines

The show comes back after the break with the matchup of Aleister Black, Rey Mysterio & Apollo Crews vs Andrade, Angel Garza & Austin Theory. Black and Garza start in the ring as Garza slowly takes off his jacket, with Black becoming frustrated. Garza goes for a handshake in the ring, but Black grabs his hands and takes him down, putting him in a leg lock until Garza grabs the ropes. Black continues his run of offence by focusing on the leg until Garza manages to gain control and strike Black’s leg. Black regains control until Garza gets a quick cover, Black gets a cover too and maintains control until Crews tags himself in.

Garza manages to get to Theory and a new matchup ensues. Crews looks great in the ring, showing off his athleticism and controlling Theory until Rey tags in. Rey gets a cover, but Theory has a short comeback, tagging in Garza. Rey manages to get both into a 619 position on the ropes, but Andrade tags himself in and halts Rey’s offence by jumping in the ring and attacking him.

The US champ taunts Black and Crews, before going back to Rey. Rey is about to hit the 619 on Andrade, but the champ is saved by his cohorts, allowing Black and Crews to go for dives over the top rope to take out both Garza and Theory. The show returns after a break with Black and Andrade in the ring. Zelina’s boys have Black in their corner, with Theory tagging in and staying in control.

Garza eventually tags in, attacking Black in the corner, before Andrade tags in and goes straight for a cover. Theory tags in again, keeping Black grounded for a while. Black attempts to fight back but Theory does a good job at working on his leg. Black baits Theory after being thrown into the corner, getting some offence in and a roll-up pin for a two-count. Black delivers a fantastic kick to the chest and tags in Rey, while Theory crawls to Andrade.

Rey and Andrade reignite their old rivalry in the ring, performing some great offence between the pair. Rey looks to be in control until he is slammed face-first by Andrade. Garza tags in, but Rey counters Andrade and pins Garza. Garza rips off his pants and throws Rey out of the ring.

The match returns from another break, with Garza still on top. He takes Crews and Black out from ringside before tagging in Theory who shows off his power by tossing Rey and maintaining control. Andrade is tagged in again and bullies Rey in the corner, being pulled back by the ref. Rey still has no teammates to tag in but manages to hit Andrade with a kick. He later hits a Spike DDT as Crews gets back on the apron.

Theory is tagged in, but Crews goes crazy in the ring, knocking Andrade off the apron, hitting a Spinebuster on Garza and hitting a Powerslam which is broken up by Andrade.
Theory hits some big offence to get back into it and gets a two-count for his hard work. Andrade tags in, tricking Crews to fall out of the ring while bouncing off the ropes. Black runs in and hits Theory with a Jumping Knee Strike, but is hit with a kick to the face by Garza. Rey hits a Seated Senton onto Garza before being hit by a Dropkick by Andrade.
Andrade gets Crews back in the ring and hits a sweet Back Right Elbow for a near fall. He goes for the Hammerlock DDT but is lifted up high and hit with a stunning Powerbomb via Crews for the win. Crews his pinned the United States Champion.

Aleister Black, Rey Mysterio & Apollo Crews defeat Andrade, Angel Garza & Austin Theory via Pinfall – Grade: B+

A long match and a very entertaining one, I struggled to decide whether it was an A- or a B+, but I decided to give it a B+ simply just because I feel like it could have been even better. Crews getting the victory here was great and really sets him up to be a bigger player in the US and MITB scene.

Samoa Joe really does elevate commentary, he’s well-spoken and has great knowledge of the wrestlers and everything that’s going on in the ring, he adds way more than Lawler in that position.

WWE play a video package for Triple H’s top 10 defining moments, a continuation of last week’s 25th anniversary. They show the formation of DX at number 10 and his controversial match with Sting in 2015 at number 9, before cutting to a backstage argument between Andrade and Zelina Vega.

Charly asks Andrade what happened in that match, with both Andrade and Zelina blaming his partners, Theory and Garza. Crews walks up to Charly as Andrade walks away, calling them sore losers and stating that he could go back out there and do it all again, stating, “they’re just not ready for me.” Apollo hits Andrade with the loudest slap in human history before Vega sets up a US championship match for tonight!

A video package for Drew and Seth is played, recapping their feud so far ahead of the contract signing tonight.

Two more moments from Triple H’s career are shown. At number 8 it’s his first SmackDown main event against the Rock, with Michaels as special guest referee. Number 7 is his argument and misunderstanding with a Stephanie McMahon in the year 2000… for some reason.

The Match That Never Was…

Asuka cuts a promo in the ring after her entrance, she talks about tapping out Nia Jax two years ago, before being cut off by Nia’s music. Baszler immediately pulls Asuka out of the ring before the match even begins, attacking her on the outside as Jax watches from the outside.

Baszler throws Asuka into a ladder before Jax runs out and slams Baszler into the barricade. Asuka takes Jax down with a kick to the head, misses a second kick on Baszler and is taken down. Baszler sets up a ladder against the steel steps like last week but is thrown into by Asuka before Jax bulldozes Asuka and throws her in the ring. She then throws the ladder in the ring, picking it up and taking down both Baszler and Asuka, standing tall in the ring. The match doesn’t start at all as the segment ends with Jax standing tall with Baszler and Asuka layer out on the outside.

Grade: C+

Making Nia stand tall without making the other two look too weak was a good idea, considering she is the big monster heel in the match (despite most of the match consisting of heels). Baszler and Asuka still looked strong and a match between the three would have been very hard to book. However, I am disappointed that we didn’t get the advertised matchup at all, it may have been an interesting bout.

Lana & Bobby Lashley are shown backstage, Bobby asks Lana not to go with him to the ring tonight, calling her a distraction. He tries to get out of it by saying it’s because of her beauty.

No Lana. No Problem.

Lashley hits an overhead Belly to Belly Suplex, before taking Denzel off his feet and smacking him in the face. Denzel dodges a bunch of running offence by Lashley, smacking him in the face as revenge. Lashley shows off his strength and gains back control, hitting a ton of powerful offence before hitting the Spear for the win.

Bobby Lashley defeats Denzel Dejournette via Pinfall – Grade: D+

Not much to say here… it was a squash match, but one to further the lacklustre Lana/Bobby Lashley storyline, at least Bobby showed some personality in this match.

A recap of Liv versus Ruby form last week is shown, with Liv picking up the win ahead of their rematch this week.

Send Her To Oblivion!

Liv Morgan versus Ruby Riott part two is next. Ruby starts off in control, kicking Liv in the corner. Liv counters with a drop toe-hold, knocking Ruby into the middle turnbuckle. Ruby counters Liv’s double foot stomp but is dropped to the mat by a Liv.

Ruby hits the Riott Kick, but Liv kicks out for a near fall. Ruby stamps on her hand, asking what she has to do and stating that she doesn’t want to do this, but Liv made her. Liv shocks Ruby for the second week in a row with the flat liner that she calls Oblivion, for the win.

Liv Morgan defeats Ruby Riott via Pinfall – Grade: B

More of the Triple H top 10 now with number 6 being the 1997 King of the Ring Finals. Commentary talks about the entire card so far for MITB, including the announced matches on the SmackDown side.

Nia Jax is interviewed backstage regarding her “actions” in the segment earlier. The Viking Raiders call out the Street Profits, bringing joy the fact that they’ve never beaten them and their past in NXT. I’m glad we’ve forgotten the Carpool Karaoke segment from the other week… I think.

Next up, Jinder Mahal finally returns, but not before number 5 of Triple H’s Top 10, which is the NXT takeover of Raw and SmackDown in 2019. In my opinion, one of the highlights of the last decade in WWE.

The Modern-Day Maharaja Returns!

Akira Tozawa gets a jobber’s entrance, the focus is clearly on Jinder’s return after a long time away. Mahal dominates, throwing Tozawa out of the ring, slamming him against the apron and tossing him back against the barricade. He gets him back in the ring and continues his dominance, hitting the Khallas for the win.

Jinder Mahal defeats Akira Tozawa via Pinfall – Grade: D

Not a fan of this match at all. Tozawa looked excellent on both Raw and NXT last week, but he’s been thrown to Jinder here, getting in close to zero offence. Jinder is made to look strong, but was it really worth feeding one of the contenders for the cruiserweight title, and a wrestler who took Andrade to the limit, to him?

Zelina and Andrade are again interviewed by Charly, or she attempts to before Zelina berates her and they walk off. Garza approaches Charly in an attempt to charm her, asking if they could get better acquainted in the future, before giving her a rose. Triple H’s number 4 is his and Shawn’s impersonation of Vince and Shane in 2006.

Broken Dreams

Andrade vs Apollo Crews for the US championship is next, with commentary hyping up Crews, stating that people always say he has potential, now is the time to meet it. The two grapple until Andrade gets the takedown on Crews. Crews gets out of Andrade’s hold by getting to and falling between the ropes onto the apron. Andrade attempts to grind Crews down, they both have a confrontation in the centre of the ring, ending with a Dropkick, which forces Andrade to roll out of the ring.

Crews rolls Andrade back in the ring, but the US Champ attacks Crews as he gets back in. Andrade chops Crews in the corner, delivering kicks and a knee before the referee intervenes. He continues to dominate, even after an impressive front flip from Crews which ends with him taking a Dropkick from Andrade. Andrade misses some big offence and takes a nasty looking fall to the outside.

Crews lands awkwardly after a backflip to the outside, seemingly tweaking his knee. The match continues after the break with Andrade focusing his offence on the injured knee. Crews manages to beat the 10 count on the outside but is immediately kicked by the champ as he slides back in the ring.

Andrade places Crews in the Single Legged Crab hold, injuring the knee further; he stomps on the knee after and then hits multiple forearms to the head. Andrade misses the Double Knees after Crews rolls out of the way. Apollo has a comeback, hitting a clothesline and an Overhead Belly to Belly. They both trade kicks, but Crews gets Andrade up for a Military Press and a Standing Moonsault for a cover of two.

Andrade escapes the Suplex, hitting a Drop Toe Hold and the Double Knees on Crews in the corner for a cover of two. They both miss big moves next, but Andrade kicks Crews on the injured knee. Crews attempts to lift Andrade up but is caught by a DDT. He covers for a near fall, attempting to go for the Hammerlock DDT, but failing after an attempted counter by Crews. Andrade, however, hits a Sunset Flip for another two-count.

Crews hits an Enzuigiri and Powerslam but only gets a two. Crews climbs to the top rope but Andrade slows him down. They exchange blows on the top rope, with Andrade getting knocked down. Crews attempts a Frogsplash but Andrade moves, with Crews landing awkwardly on his knee and in clear discomfort. The referee tries to check on Crews, holding Andrade back when he attempts to attack.

The referee calls off the match due to the knee injury, as Andrade asks Zelina why the ref called for the bell.

Andrade retains against Apollo Crews via Referee Stoppage – Grade: A

A great match between the two, but a shame for Crews here. I hope the injury is just for storyline purposes, as he has looked like a star since his match with Black a few weeks back. The match was still very entertaining and leaves me wanting to see the pair face off again in the future. The audible shouts of “no, no, no” as the referee called the match off and the announcers called the match in favour of Andrade were almost heartbreaking and made me really root for a future push for Crews.

Number 3 on the Triple H love tour is the formation of Evolution in 2003. After the break, commentary goes over the events in the last match leading up to Crews’ injury, including a recap of Andrade focusing on taking out the knee.

The Street Profits are shown backstage, talking about the Viking Raiders. They bring up the Carpool Karaoke segment, sadly, but they also call them out for a match next week, with Ford stating, “If it’s smoke that you want, it’s exactly what you’re gonna get.”

WWE shows a 5-minute segment from Becky Lynch’s 24 documentary before Cedric and Ricochet make their way to the ring.

Soon to be Challengers?

Cedric Alexander & Ricochet versus Ever-Rise is next. They face off against the NXT pair, with Ricochet starting off in the ring against Matt Martel. Ricochet tags in Cedric who go for a Twisting Neckbreaker/knee to the back of the head tag team move, before Cedric goes for a cover.

Ricochet is tagged back in but is taken down by Martel who tags in Chase Parker. They work together to put some offence on Ricochet and get a cover. Parker tags Martel back in but not for long as another tag team move leads to Parker being the legal man. Parker grinds Ricochet on the mat before Martel is back in and covers Ricochet.

A miscommunication between Martel and Parker leads to Martel taking a boot to the face. Martel tags in Parker, while Ricochet also tags in Cedric who runs wild on Parker and Martel. He hits a Twisting Neckbreaker on Parker off the shoulders of Martel, before hitting the latter with a Dropkick. Ricochet tags back in, with Cedric hitting a Tornado DDT and Ricochet hitting a standing Shooting Star Press. The cover is broken up by Martel who battles Cedric on the outside before being hit by a Dropkick off the ropes by Ricochet.

Parker rolls up Ricochet, holding the tights but only getting a two. Ricochet hits a Superkick before tagging in Alexander, they hit their tag team DDT/Foot Stomp which is yet to be named, for the win.

Cedric Alexander & Ricochet defeat Ever-Rise via Pinfall – Grade: B-

MVP appears on the screen, stating he has a keen eye for talent. He acts as a manager for Shane Thorne and Brendan Vink, who Ricochet and Cedric best last week. He calls their win a fluke, calling for a rematch soon. The number 2 moment on Triple H’s moments is the DX invasion of WCW in 1998.

Apollo Crews is shown on crutches in the medical room as he is interviewed by Charly. Crews looks physically upset and doesn’t make a comment regarding Charly’s question. It has been confirmed now that Crews is sadly out of the MITB match, which is a real shame, but hopefully, it is for storyline purposes.

A promo package for Drew and Seth is played ahead of their contract signing tonight. The number one moment in the Triple H top ten is his injury and return in 2001/2002. Street Profits versus The Viking Raiders is also officially announced for next week.

Sacrificial Lamb

Jerry Lawler is welcomed in the ring for the contract signing. He discusses the Money in the Bank Ladder Match itself, before moving discussions onto WWE Champion Drew McIntyre and Seth Rollins. Seth comes out first, interestingly dressed in a suit. Drew comes out next, with the WWE title hanging on his shoulder. Drew tells Lawler that he may want to leave the ring, stating, “you know how these things usually go.”
Lawler leaves as the two take a seat on opposite sides of the table.

Drew immediately gets up and signs the contract, stating to Seth that they can get this done in 30 seconds. Seth hesitates to sign before picking up the mic stating, “you think I want this… I have to do this Drew.” He states that this is bigger than everyone, that Drew will be a great champion one day. Seth concludes that Drew is, however, not a leader and that Seth himself is, which is what he believes the WWE Universe needs right now: “I can be the light in that darkness.”

Seth’s promo fits his preacher gimmick very well, with lines such as, “I don’t want to be the one to crush your dream, but that is a sacrifice I’m willing to make for the greater good.” Drew picks up the mic after Seth’s speech, commending him on it, before stating that he’s completely full of shit. Seth’s facial expression and reaction by saying, “what did you say?” was fantastic; he genuinely looked shocked and adds some depth to his character.

Drew says that he will not let Seth win the championship under any circumstance, telling him to shut his mouth and stop talking forever: “you have this unique talent, when you open your mouth, somehow you get your foot stuck in their…and yet at the same time, you get your head stuck up your arse.” He tells Seth that he should have finished the job when he jumped him a few weeks ago, informing him to make sure he goes for the throat at MITB because he will be.

Seth retorts by saying that at MITB, the big picture will become clear and Drew will be better off for it, before signing the contract. Seth starts to say, “Have faith in…” before Drew slams his head on the table, throwing the table and chair out of the ring and delivering a Glasgow Kiss to Rollins.

He attempts to go for a Claymore Kick but is blindsided by Murphy, who is finally back by Rollins side. Seth looks angry at first with Murphy, but he gives him a hug instead before Drew hits Murphy with a surprise Claymore as Seth escapes. Drew asks Seth if Murphy is his sacrificial lamb, as the two stare down to end the show.

Grade: B+

Drew is a great champion. That’s it. He looks menacing, his mic work has improved very well over the past few months, and he’s just so entertaining. Seth too has been great in his current role and I am excited for their match at MITB.

Overall Grade: B+

A great episode of Raw that made me care for Apollo Crews and kept me mostly entertained throughout. I am excited to see how MITB turns out, and to what happens in the weeks to come.

By Jimmy Ioannou

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