WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from July 15
The post-Extreme Rules episode of Raw featured the birth of new rivalries, the continuation of old and the first hype for the August 11 SummerSlam pay-per-view.
What happened when new universal champion Brock Lesnar arrived in Long Island for the broadcast, who stepped up to challenge him and which competitor actually will at The Biggest Party of the Summer?
The No. 1 contender to the Raw women's title was also decided, Ricochet continued his rivalry with AJ Styles over the United States Championship and Cedric Alexander pulled of an enormous upset to round out the remainder of the card.
New Universal Champion Brock Lesnar Kicks off Raw
Just 24 hours after successfully cashing in Money in the Bank to capture the universal championship, Brock Lesnar kicked off the July 15 episode of Raw.
Paul Heyman reminded fans that he promised Lesnar would leave Philadelphia with the title, telling the audience to boo themselves for not listening when he told them exactly what was going to happen.
He followed up by announcing a Cross-Branded Top 10 All-Star Battle Royal to determine Lesnar's SummerSlam opponent. The competitors? Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Big E, Cesaro, Braun Strowman, Rey Mysterio, Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, Bobby Lashley and Roman Reigns.
Heyman warned the participants that they risk their health, welfare and manhood if they set foot inside the squared circle with the new champion because at the end of the day, they are all "Brock's bitches."
This definitely did not have to be a full 10 minutes long but Heyman was his typically great self, putting over Lesnar's win from Sunday and the main event for the evening's broadcast.
The battle royal main event makes less sense when you factor in guys like Mysterio, Cesaro and Lashley, fresh off losses this last week, getting a shot a title match. Then again, not much about the WWE creative process makes sense, so there's that.
Still, Heyman was great, Lesnar was his arrogant best and the segment worked more than most recent show-starting promos.
Ricochet and The Usos vs. Robert Roode and The Revival
Ricochet and The Usos wasted little time putting the team of The Revival and Robert Roode at a disadvantage, winning the first fall of Best 2-Out-of-3 Falls match by scoring a pinfall on Scott Dawson.
The heels recovered shortly thereafter and Dawson tied the score up at one fall apiece with pin over Jimmy Uso.
Back from the break, the teams engaged in the third and deciding fall of the bout.
Uso made the hot tag to Ricochet, who exploded into the match with his lightning-quick offense. With The Usos and Revival taking their fight to the floor, The One and Only delivered the 630 splash to Roode back inside the squared circle to score the win for the babyfaces.
Ricochet and The Usos defeated Roode and The Revival
This was a match that existed solely to get us to the post-match festivities, which saw the arrival of The Club's AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.
While Ricochet was quick to take the fight to the new United States champion and his cronies, it was the high-flying magician of flight that suffered the wrath of The Club as he was left lying in a heap to close out the segment. That angle made sense given the events of Extreme Rules, as did The Revival and Roode wiping The Usos out.
Unfortunately, it was all too obvious that the match existed solely for that reason. There was no real structure, any kind of a flow or reason for anything that happened. The falls occurred too quickly to matter and the outcome was obvious given Ricochet's interruption of Lesnar.
The whole segment landed with a thud, which is a major disappointment given the wealth of talent involved.
The Viking Raiders in Action
Erik and Ivar squared off with unfortunate, unnamed opposition on this week's show.
The former NXT tag team champions bowled over the enhancement talent, putting them away with The Viking Experience to secure the uncontested victory.
The Viking Raiders defeated unnamed competition
The intensity shown by The Viking Raiders is a welcome addition to the Raw tag team division but this felt too much like the same squash match we have seen Erik and Ivar wrestle across NXT and the main roster for the last year.
We get it: they are incredibly gifted big men who can smash, crush and demolish the overmatched competition. It's time for the tandem to move onto more suitable competition or they will lose credibility amongst fans not willing to wait for their eventual ascension.
Cedric Alexander vs. Drew McIntyre
A week after Cedrick Alexander posed as a janitor to join Roman Reigns against Drew McIntyre and Shane McMahon, the former cruiserweight champion battled The Scottish Psychopath in singles competition.
McIntyre started hot and aggressively but Alexander wiped him out on the floor with a dive. A belly-to-belly overhead into the corner continued Alexander's suffering. He threw Alexander with reckless abandon, uncaring about the wellbeing of the underdog.
Late, McIntyre tried for a reverse Alabama Slam but Alexander countered into the victory roll for the huge upset victory.
Alexander defeated McIntyre
There are some who will denounce the fluke nature of the win but Alexander outwrestled McIntyre for the victory, so it could be argued that he beat McIntyre as impressively as possible.
The question now is whether this marks the start of a rivalry between the two or if Alexander will be brushed off and the focus will be on McIntyre's recent losing streak. The problem with that story is that McIntyre is a physically imposing beast of a heel. He should be rolling over people and when he doesn't it is almost embarrassing.
Maybe this results in a renewed push for McIntyre sooner than later. Perhaps it was designed to lend Alexander credibility. Whatever the case, it worked but how effectively given how neither Superstar could really afford a loss, is the question.
Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe
Fresh off disappointing losses at Extreme Rules, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe sought to build momentum for themselves in singles competition.
The match was short-lived as Joe caught the former intercontinental champion with a rollup for a quick three count.
After the match, Joe attacked and tried to trap him in the Coquina Clutch but Balor fought back, dropped Joe with a Sling Blade and followed with the Coup de Grace.
The leader of Balor Club stood tall to close out the segment.
After the match, the lights dimmed as Balor celebrated his victory. When they came back up, The Fiend persona of Bray Wyatt dropped Balor with Sister Abigail. The haunting laughter of the former WWE champion filled the arena as it went dark once more.
Joe defeated Balor
What was the point of booking Joe and Balor in a match at a time when neither can afford a loss, let alone in a seconds-long match? Throw in the fact that Joe lost anything he actually gained in victory during the post-match shenanigans and you have a real head-scratcher.
If the idea was to introduce Wyatt by having him attack Balor, that could have been accomplished any number of ways that did not involve the babyface losing another televised match.
With all of that out of the way, The Fiend looks extraordinary and the reaction was everything fans could have hoped after weeks of Firefly Funhouse segments.
Zack Ryder vs. Mike Kanellis
Long Island's own Zack Ryder was slated to square off with Mike Kanellis when Maria appeared and said she was taking the match. Hellbent on proving she was the head of the household, she made her way to the ring but neither the official nor Mike would let her near the squared circle.
Kanellis rolled into the ring, ate the Rough Ryder by Long Island Iced Z and lost in mere seconds.
After the match, Maria further chastised her husband, saying her unborn child had a better shot of winning the match than Mike. She tossed the mic down and headed to the back.
Ryder defeated Kanellis
What started with a bang has descended into weekly shaming of Mike Kanellis, diminishing whatever credibility he has left at this point. Whether it is the intention or not, you almost feel bad for the former Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling star, who is a solid worker but who has been saddled with some of the worst material of any Superstar since arriving in the company in 2017.
It is embarrassing to watch him beaten down, dismissed and humiliated by Maria. It is uncomfortable watching his treatment at the hands of the writing team despite pledging his allegiance to the company by signing new contracts not all that long ago.
The longer this goes on, the less likable it makes Maria and the more pathetic it makes Mike.
This despite both having clear potential to star.
Lucha House Party vs. The Club
An hour after beating down Ricochet and sending a message to the former United States champion, new titleholder AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson battled Lucha House Party's Gran Metalik, Kalisto and Lince Dorado.
Metalik caught Anderson off-guard early but The Club grounded the high-flier and isolated him from his partners.
As the beating continued, Ricochet appeared from out of nowhere and attacked Styles on the floor. Lucha House Party jumped Anderson and Gallows as chaos broke out. Referees and officials arrived as the show headed to break.
After the match, with tempers settled, the match restarted.
Kalisto nearly scored a fall on Anderson, which would have been an enormous upset, but the heels rallied and Styles put him away with the Calf Crusher for the submission victory.
The Club defeated Lucha House Party
This is how you use an act like Lucha House Party.
At this point, they are essentially high-profile enhancement talent that can bump around for heels and make them look like threats to the rest of the roster. With that said, Kalisto is a former United States champion and can still take even top talent to the limit.
We saw that here.
Lucha House Party provided a tough challenge to the higher profile Club and though they predictably did not win, provided the audience with a hotly contested match that did not sacrifice anyone's heat for the sake of eating up television time.
Add the Ricochet appearance and you have an effective segment that may not grade out particularly high but will do wonders to freshen up a product that would have found a way to force The One and Only into the match.
4-Way No. 1 Contender Match: Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss
The top contender to Becky Lynch's Raw women's title at SummerSlam was determined in a Fatal 4-Way Elimination match pitting former champions Natalya, Naomi, Carmella and Alexa Bliss against each other. The Man, hobbled by the heinous assault at the hands of Baron Corbin at Extreme Rules, watched from the ringside area.
Bliss bailed to the floor early, where she consulted Nikki Cross. Naomi and Natalya paired off and Carmella's persistence earned her a few near-falls. It was Bliss who snuck into the match, rolled The Princess of Staten Island up and eliminated her for the first fall of the match. Carmella eliminated.
Back from the break, Naomi delivered a blockbuster off the ring steps and to the floor on Natalya. Back inside the squared circle, The Queen of Harts recovered and applied a surfboard, seeking a tapout from Naomi. Bliss, though, pinned Natalya for a clever near-fall.
The back-and-forth action continued, Bliss repeatedly looking for a cheap elimination in between Naomi and Natalya unloading on her out of pure frustration. With The Goddess out of the way, Naomi tried for a sunset flip but Natalya countered, stacked her up and scored the pinfall elimination. Naomi eliminated.
After the second break of the match, Cross got on the microphone and criticized the audience for not cheering Bliss. Moments later, an errant clothesline by Natalya wiped Cross out on the floor. Unfazed, she tapped Bliss out to the Sharpshooter to cash her ticket to SummerSlam. Bliss eliminated.
After the match, Natalya and Lynch engaged in an intensely personal promo in which The Man vowed to go to war and her top contender promised to beat the hell out of her.
Natalya defeated Bliss, Naomi and Carmella
The fans' impatience with the lengthy match notwithstanding, this was a great showcase for women who may not typically get television time...and Bliss.
Natalya and Naomi really seized the spotlight and showcased their abilities over the course of the bout. Veterans of WWE programming, they understand that another push is not guaranteed. They made the most of what they had and really stood out.
The aforementioned reaction from the Long Island crowd was disappointing. With that said, it is interesting that WWE opted to book four women who have not picked up many victories of late, or even routinely appeared on television, to go 20 minutes on live TV.
The unwillingness of the audience to hang in there with a solid match, and WWE Creative's poor utilization of its talent beyond the tippy top of the division, can carry the blame for the negative reaction in the closing moments of the contest.
The post-match promo made up considerable ground in terms of getting fans to invest in the babyface vs. babyface title bout.
Miz TV with Dolph Ziggler
The Miz welcomed Dolph Ziggler to another episode of Miz TV.
The Showoff asked Miz if everything he has done to kiss ass and represent WWE was worth it to be left off the pay-per-view. Miz brought up Ziggler losing to Kevin Owens in 17 seconds. The promo intensified as Ziggler criticized Miz for becoming a walking, talking "yes man" who only cares about fame and fortune.
Like his wife.
That final line infuriated Miz, who unloaded on his longtime rival. Ziggler rolled to the sanctuary of the arena floor as an enraged Hollywood A-Lister watched from the squared circle to close out the segment.
What worked about this segment? The pace. Short, sweet and to the point, it never overstayed its welcome.
What did not? Ziggler and Miz settling for another chapter in their long feud, minus the heat and energy of their last program.
The mic work was solid but it will take a lot more than them exchanging barbs and insults to incite excitement for another series of matches between them.
R-Truth Regains the WWE 24/7 Championship
Throughout the show, cameras followed WWE 24/7 champion Drake Maverick and wife Renee Michelle as they visited a hotel in hopes of finally consummating their marriage.
As one would expect, R-Truth appeared and hijinx ensued.
As the happy couple settled into bed, R-Truth appeared with an official and pinned him to win the title, leaving Maverick flabbergasted and Renee not at all thrilled with her husband.
Truth defeated Maverick to win the 24/7 Championship
The creativity that has gone into the segments involving Truth and Maverick have been a revelation. If nothing else, it is a reminder that when it wants to, WWE Creative is capable of delivering an entertaining and engaging product.
It has, in all seriousness, been one of the highlights of some inconsistent television and a platform for otherwise afterthoughts like Truth and Maverick to prove they have plenty to offer the WWE product.
Kudos to those in power for letting Truth and Maverick do their thing and provide the incredibly fun segments they have.
Battle Royal to Determine the No. 1 Contender to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam
Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Cesaro, Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley, Rey Mysterio, Seth Rollins, Big E, Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin battled for the right to challenge for the universal title at SummerSlam in the night's main event while champion Brock Lesnar and advocate Paul Heyman watched from the entrance ramp.
Lashley eliminated Cesaro but quickly fell prey to the 619 from Mysterio. Strowman easily dumped The All Mighty a moment later. Big E delivered the Big Ending to Strowman but ate an RKO from The Viper. Zayn eliminated Big E, only to eat his own RKO and be sent packing following a 619.
Mysterio was out next, followed by Corbin.
Strowman unloaded on Rollins and Reigns, recognizing how important it was to keep them from partnering up. It worked as poor timing saw Reigns inadvertently deliver a spear to Rollins.
The Architect dumped Reigns and Strowman as they teetered on the apron, leaving him to square off with former Authority associate Orton. The Viper delivered a draping DDT and tried for the RKO. Rollins escaped, delivered the stomp and sent the third-generation competitor over the top to earn his rematch against The Beast.
Rollins issued a warning to Lesnar to close out the show.
Rollins won, last eliminating Orton
That may not be the most elegant way to put it but the match was devoid of story. Instead, it was guys throwing other guys over the ropes with no rhyme, reason or expectation for new feuds spawning from it.
The closest thing to storyline development was Orton's journey to get back to SummerSlam and avenge the humiliating referee stoppage that ended his last match with The Beast.
Unfortunately, that story will not be paid off. Instead, Rollins battles Lesnar in a match that makes sense within the context of the story but has been done enough this year.