WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from August 19
It's time for King of the Ring. The longstanding WWE tournament has gone under the radar in recent years, but its importance will always be felt. Tournament wins made Bret Hart, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar, to name just a few.
The 2019 edition will not be a one-night spectacle, but it can be its own grand experience thanks to the 16 men involved and the potential to crown the next big WWE star.
The August 19 edition of WWE Raw featured the first two matches, with Sami Zayn facing Cedric Alexander and Samoa Joe battling Cesaro. No one involved was seen as a favorite, but they all had a chance to prove they deserved this opportunity.
These were not the only big matches of the night, though. Braun Strowman got the first shot of his career at the United States Championship against AJ Styles.
The show also promised to address the return of Sasha Banks with her appearance on "King's Court," while Rey Mysterio was set to explain where he plans to go next in his career.
Raw didn't just promise big matches, it also offered serious potential for massive storylines in the months to come.
Roman Reigns vs. Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler taunted Roman Reigns, stating that he should replace him as "the guy" in WWE before planting The Big Dog with a superkick. The Showoff seemed to have his opponent's number after the cheap shot.
However, Reigns refused to stay down even after taking the Zig Zag. He fought back with a Superman Punch for a near-fall. After reversing a Spear into a Famouser, Ziggler got overconfident and walked right into a Spear for the loss.
Reigns def. Ziggler by pinfall
While it is questionable having Reigns put over Ziggler this much after his recent terrible losses, the match was great. In particular, The Big Dog let The Showoff do what he does best and drive the action along.
It may mean nothing, as he'll keep losing, but Ziggler felt like a star in this match more than he has in recent months. He gave Reigns a big fight and pushed him to the limit, seemingly only failing because of his ego.
The Fiend Shuts Down 'The King's Court'
In a pretaped interview, Becky Lynch called out Sasha Banks for only finding her motivation thanks to The Man calling her out in interviews. She questioned if The Boss was ever going to be great or just follow where she led.
Jerry Lawler prepared to host "The King's Court" with Banks but wanted to put over the King of the Ring tournament first.
After saying he expected Raw's side to come down to Cedric Alexander and Ricochet, the lights went out and Bray Wyatt choked out Lawler with the Mandible Claw.
This was a good surprise. Wyatt shut down an entire segment to take out another legend. Lawler had been stumbling through his words on commentary and clearly wasn't going to add much to the Lynch vs. Banks feud. The Boss can now speak for herself on her own time.
The Fiend, as always, makes for quick and frightening appearances. His domination of legends has been a solid use of him until he finds his next real target.
The Miz and Ricochet vs. Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin
After an early burst of energy from the babyfaces, Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin took over, isolating The Miz. He got to the corner of Ricochet, though, who took over.
With The A-Lister's timely assist, The One and Only hit The Lone Wolf with the Recoil for the win.
Ricochet and Miz def. Corbin and McIntyre by pinfall
This was another solid match to keep up the momentum of the show. Everyone got a chance to shine. Corbin looked better for his time off, and McIntyre looked deadly even though his partner lost the match.
It was ultimately a showcase of what is to come. Ricochet vs. McIntyre could have easily been the semifinal for Raw, so it is certain to be a big match next week.
Meanwhile, Corbin has a chance to build himself back up or put on another boring, overlong performance with Miz.
United States Champion AJ Styles vs. Braun Strowman
AJ Styles struggled to get anything off on Braun Strowman and was quickly stopped mid-Phenomenal Forearm with a chest chop.
As The Monster Among Men set up for a running powerslam, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson got involved, causing a disqualification.
The O.C. threw Strowman into the steel post and then went for a Magic Killer, only for Seth Rollins to make the save. He cleared the ring and helped The Monster up, evening the score from last week.
Backstage, the WWE universal champion found his likely next challenger and stated he wanted to fight Strowman for the title next, but he first wants to deal with The O.C. He stated he would request a tag team title match against Gallows and Anderson later.
Strowman def. Styles by disqualification; Styles retained the United States Championship
This felt lazy all-around. Styles is among the best in the business and could give Strowman a true challenge on his own. However, he more or less got squashed to sell the size difference.
Rollins returning to help Strowman likely continues to build the two toward a match, especially now that the United States champion has been established as a non-factor against The Monster.
It's a shame Strowman is already in title contention, as it makes it less likely he will win.
King of the Ring: Samoa Joe vs. Cesaro
Both Samoa Joe and Cesaro sounded confident in pretaped interviews, but The Swiss Superman struck faster after the bell with a sudden European uppercut for an early near-fall. The two got physical from there on out with chops and kicks.
The Samoan Submission Machine caught The King of Swing off the ropes with the Coquina Clutch for the tapout.
Samoa Joe def. Cesaro by submission to advance in the King of the Ring tournament
Heel vs. heel matches always lack energy from the crowd, but the fans still seemed invested in the physicality on display. The two men laid the shots on each other to show why they both deserve better than they have gotten so far.
It was the right move for Joe to win, as he has more of a story going right now. However, both men should be in a better spot than their match feeling like filler rather than a legitimate brawl of great veterans.
R-Truth Ruins Elias' Farewell Concert
Elias attempted a farewell concert before disappearing from the public eye to remain 24/7 champion. However, bad sound and a poorly tuned guitar ruined things quickly, and his stagehand revealed himself to be R-Truth with a referee in tow.
The Living Truth managed to kick out of two roll-ups and a scissors kick before dodging a guitar swing to escape with his title.
This was fun but rushed. As always, it feels like no time is allotted to the 24/7 Championship, so everything is played out in two-minute segments. This could have been so much more and developed into a bigger impromptu match.
At least Elias showed he can kick out of multiple pinfall attempts unlike everyone else who has been champion.
Dominic Stops Rey Mysterio from Retiring
Rey Mysterio announced in a backstage interview that he was hanging up his mask.
However, his son, Dominic, interrupted and begged him not to retire. He stated he wanted to debut by wrestling alongside his father as partners.
One of the greatest wrestlers of all time almost retired in a backstage interview. While it was set up as an angle to debut Dominic, this should have been handled better. Give Mysterio the spotlight he deserves even for a fake retirement speech.
It would have meant more if Dominic had to run down to the ring to stop his father from retiring rather than appearing behind him backstage.
The New Day vs. The Revival
The New Day and The Revival fought to a standstill, struggling to the hot tag. However, Randy Orton struck with an RKO on Big E to cause a sudden disqualification.
Kofi Kingston ran in to make the save but took an RKO for his trouble. Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder then lifted up Xavier Woods for an elevated RKO.
The Viper forced Kingston to watch as The Revival landed a devastating diving knee on the leg of Woods.
New Day def. Revival by DQ
While the match getting cut short was disappointing, the post-match was the best storytelling yet in the Kingston vs. Orton feud. It was painful to witness the WWE champion forced to watch as his friend was injured right in front of him.
Orton and The Revival are a fantastic combo, and they are the most interesting pairing to feud with The New Day in years. The elevated RKO alone was must-see.
This was the first time since Kingston won the title that his team has felt like an underdog in a storyline.
Sasha Banks Refuses to Explain Her Attack on Becky Lynch and Natalya
Michael Cole interviewed Sasha Banks, who was not at all focused on Becky Lynch and Natalya.
She talked up how happy she was with her new blue hair and then simply stated "you're welcome" for her attack on the two women.
Backstage, The Queen of Harts was in a sling and addressed the attack by her former friend, only to get assaulted again by Banks, who called her a crybaby and told her to go to hell with her dad.
This was surprisingly ineffective. Banks did not seem on her game here and struggled to make the shift between fake sincerity to genuine malice.
While it is smart to hold off on her full explanation for now, The Boss could have delivered this interview with much more focus.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville
Nikki Cross was the ace in this match, as she managed to wear down Mandy Rose and fend off the hot tag of Sonya Deville.
After The Twisted Sister took out Rose on the apron, The Goddess distracted Deville so that she ran into a whiplash for the loss.
Cross and Bliss def. Deville and Rose by pinfall
While it's great that the new women's tag team champions have brought more attention to the titles, it feels like they're holding back. They just aren't delivering at the top level that they can.
It hurts Bliss and Cross a bit that it's not all that clear whether they are faces or heels right now. They didn't have much of a story to tell with Fire & Desire.
King of the Ring: Sami Zayn vs. Cedric Alexander
Sami Zayn promised to make this tournament his moment to turn it all around in a pretaped interview, and he came out fighting.
He grounded Cedric Alexander for a moment, but The Lumbar Legacy refused to stay on the mat. He came back fighting and connected with the Lumbar Check for the win.
Alexander def. Zayn by pinfall to advance in the King of the Ring tournament
Given the talent involved, this was a massive disappointment even if it was expected.
These two could be phenomenal together, but The Critic of the Critics is not even allowed to compete anymore. He loses too fast to show anything in his arsenal.
Raw Tag Team Champions The OC vs. Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman
The injured ribs of Seth Rollins served as a target for Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, who isolated The Beastslayer to keep him away from Braun Strowman.
The Monster Among Men was wiped out on the outside to force the champion to continue to fight on his own.
Just as AJ Styles got involved to potentially injure Rollins, Strowman recovered and cleared out both The Phenomenal One and Gallows. This set up a hot tag to The Monster, who won with a running powerslam after Rollins hit the Stomp on Styles.
Strowman and Rollins def. Gallows and Anderson by pinfall to become the new Raw tag team champions
This was a fun main event to close the show. Rollins did good work taking the brunt of the offense and setting up the fans to get fired up when Strowman entered the ring.
The closing stretch was just what you want in a Raw main event. It was exciting, impactful and surprising. While it is an odd choice to put the titles on the two world title contenders, it is likely a short-term move before the men implode over the Universal Championship.