It’s the go-home show for the RAW brand before the big “Money In The Bank” spectacle. Last week it was announced that all 4 RAW male and female competitors will be competing in a Fatal4-way match, but after two had suffered apparent injuries, that match was looking more like a singles competition. We were also teased that RAW Women’s Champion Nia Jax will go Face to Face with her MITB opponent Ronda Rousey.
RAW began with what looked like a cheesy photo shoot with all the male and female MITB competitors standing on top of ladders in the middle of the ring. Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Sasha Banks and Natalya representing for the women (so I guess those injuries weren’t as much jeopardy as they were billed) and Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens and Bobby Roode representing the men.
What follows is a bit of a pep talk from RAW General Manager Kurt Angle, hoping that one of these Superstars brings the case to RAW. Then things get a little corny, they all squabble about wanting to win the MITB, weirdly Banks comes off as a heel by interrupting Moon, Bliss pretty much reveals that she’s not injured and Natalya claims she’s ready to compete… they soon they start bickering with the men. Bliss then gets flirty and predicts that her Mixed Match Challenge partner Strowman will win, while Banks bigs up Balor. After all the arguing, Strowman shouts them all to silence we’re set up for the women’s Fatal 4-way match.
Now watching this match back for the review, this was a pretty clunky start. Natalya has her leg bandaged up to sell the injury, Bliss is up to her typical cowardly tricks and both Moon and Banks play their role in hitting the flashy spots – including a sick suicide dive by Moon where Banks literally could have broken in half by the barricade. With the faces out of action for the moment, Bliss spends a lot of time working over Natalya’s injured leg.
It soon becomes a game of breaking up near-finishes, Bliss breaks up a pin after Moon hits a tornado suplex on Banks, Natalya breaks up a Banks Statement, Moon breaks up a Sharpshooter, Bliss breaks up a pin after Moon hits her Eclipse and Banks breaks up Bliss’ attempt on a stolen pin. Eventually, Bliss throws Moon into the steel steps and Banks into the ring post to take them both out the closing stages of the match, but Natalya catches Bliss off guard with a roll up that she turns into a Sharpshooter. Bliss taps and Natalya gets the big win heading into Money In The Banks!
Backstage, Renee Young catches up with Natalya who mentions that her knee is a nagging injury but she’s not going to let a little setback stop her from becoming the next Ms. Money In The Bank.
Next up, we’re treated to Bayley vs. Ruby Riott, who is obviously flanked by her Squad members Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan. For the first time, The Riott Squad actually seem to be causing a riot as they head to the ring backstage, throwing snacks, making a mess and even cutting a guy’s tie off.
Onto the match and it’s a bit of a weird one, which plays into the booking for both women this year. Bayley, despite being the underdog, is on the offence for 80% of this match and Riott, who is meant to be a fresh heel, looks weak AF since she pretty much gets countered and reversed every time she does a move. I’m also gonna need Bayley to stop using that ‘through the buckle’ dropkick because she’s not hit that right on the last couple of tries – at least they recovered with a nice backdrop on the outside.
Inevitably, the numbers game catch up to Bayley. An interference by the other Riott Squad members allows Riott throw Bayley into the ringpost and makes her a prime target for the Riott kick and get the win. Morgan and Logan continue the punishment post-match as Riott marks an “R” across Bayley’s stomach with what looks like a marker pen or black lipstick… I dunno! With Banks taken out by her earlier match, there is no one to help her as poor Bayley is left laid out in the ring.
Backstage, Charly Caruso claims that Riott’s victory is ‘undeserved’, but Riott is quick to bat away her comment. She claims that her squad had to scratch and climb their way to get attention, unlike other women in the division who were ‘spoon-fed’. She states that they deserved to be in the MITB match, but since they aren’t… the whole division is on notice.
Before the ‘Face to Face’, Natalya meets Ronda Rousey backstage and warns her to watch out for Nia Jax.
Coach is the host tonight’s ‘Face to Face’ between Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey. As Rousey makes her way to the ring, social media posts are shown celebrating Rousey’s upcoming induction to the UFC Hall of Fame.
The segment starts quite friendly, with Jax praising Rousey for her success… but her success isn’t in the WWE and there are certain things she can do, that are banned in UFC. She claims that Rousey just isn’t ready… which sets off a trigger. Rousey gets up and takes Jax on a little memory trip – reminding her that no one said she was ready for the Olympics… but she was or how people told her she wasn’t ready to be UFC Champion and now she’s being inducted to the UFC Hall of Fame!
Things start to get heated as Jax raises the title up. As she brings it down, she tries to take a cheap shot, but Rousey catches her arm. Jax headbutts her down and starts dragging her by her hair, but Rousey manages to ground the Champ with an armbar attempt. Jax tries to power out of it but eventually has to tap out. Jax rolls out the ring and Jojo rings the bell for some reason? Meanwhile, Rousey puts her jacket back on and is beaming with confident smiles as she walks back up the ramp.
Thoughts: Well that was fun! Now I can’t say I’ve been the biggest fan of the booking for the women’s action at MITB – two randomly thrown together title matches that could have been really strong feuds if booked properly and a ladder match where only half the competitors I’d be excited to see… but this was a nice “take home” show. It was also nice to see how the women seemed to have almost half of the entire broadcast time, which was amazing to see.
So let’s start with that first promo with the ladders… yeah they need to not do that again. It also didn’t help that Kevin Owens’ line about “talking about things that are important” was a bitch-ass way of slagging the women’s division, but whatever. The only thing I liked about this segment was how it brought up the Mixed Match Challenge because looking back, wasn’t that a complete waste of time! Asuka’s streak was protected and all those partnerships (aside from the actual married couples) just fizzled away. I’m here for Team Little Big, would definitely like to see that again!
The women’s fatal 4-way match was strong, but damn was that a bit of a heavy match to have just days away from another big ladder match. I honestly felt it when Sasha went into that barricade, surprised she didn’t break a rib! I was a big fan of the match though, not only did it include some fun action as a precursor to the MITB spots, but it strengthened everyone’s characters. Sasha and Ember looked very credible, Alexa played up to her heel antics by constantly breaking pins and Natalya needed that strong credible win. I know I mentioned how I was over her last week, but it’s this simple booking that works. Not her picking up a pin in a throwaway tag match against the Riott Squad. From this win, she’s moved up the ranks among the faces and we have more reason to care for her with the ‘leg injury’.
As I mentioned, these aren’t my dream 4 for the MITB (I’d replace Alexa and Natalya with Ruby and Mickie) but after the showing on RAW, I’m more than confident that these 4 will be some of the stronger contenders in the match. Do I see any of them winning? Well, I wouldn’t rule out Sasha Banks from getting the case. After the case was won by a relative newbie in Carmella last year, I’m thinking that they’re going to give the second win to an already established Superstar. With RAW’s title picture looking a bit busy at the moment, it would be a good way to keep Sasha’s popularity consistent.
While I wasn’t a fan of the actual match booking between Bayley and Ruby, I’m pretty happy that they picked up the win and their little WWE.com segment too. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ruby was next in line for a title push (even if it is just a filler). They are the only consistent stable on RAW right now and they need to work that to their advantage, the numbers game does make the matches boring, but it would work perfectly against someone like Nia Jax or Ronda Rousey. That little pre-match segment with them actually causing a riot is needed too, it’s about time that they take it up a notch and become a memorable team.
Finally, the ‘Face to Face’ segment. Now, don’t get me wrong, I hated the whack ending with Jax tapping out so quickly, but that mic work was excellent. Jax has really improved her mic skills over the last few months and she’s definitely learned a nice condescending promo style from her mate Alexa. Meanwhile, Rousey’s script was well written, nicely playing into her Hall of Fame induction and just her intensity. I mean, she’s going to have some terrible frown lines one day, but she is also getting better on the microphone. It’s weird, she’s either really weird and shaky or really strong and passionate but give it a couple more months and it will definitely improve.
Going into MITB, I can’t say I’m super excited, but ‘curiosity’ is probably the stronger term to use here to describe my thoughts. The RAW title match will be interesting as Jax has never been the one to carry someone and Rousey will be working a ‘different’ style. The SmackDown title match seems a bit more predictable but is also a ‘How will this end?’ situation. Finally the ladder match… well, I still can’t get over how they have Lana in the match. Give me all the ‘give her a chance’ crap that you want and with so many women, it will be easy for Lana to be taken out for most of the match, but to know that 8+ other women who would all benefit more are sitting on the sidelines, then that’s a no from me. I’m sure we will get amazing action and some great interactions between the RAW and SmackDown ladies, but this also has the potential to be a spot-fest-mess.
Did you enjoy RAW last night? What did you think of the Face to Face? Do you care about Banks VS Bayley still? Does anyone think the Riott Squad did that guy a favour by cutting that horrible green tie? Let me know what you think in the comments below!