WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from August 26
The August 26 episode of WWE Raw saw the continuation of the King of the Ring tournament, featuring Baron Corbin vs. The Miz and Drew McIntyre vs. Ricochet, as well as the in-ring return of Sasha Banks.
Those three matches, as well as Braun Strowman's latest attempt to dethrone AJ Styles for the United States Championship, headlined an episode devoted to the march to Clash of Champions on September 15.
Who stood tall in the aforementioned bouts, did any championships change hands and what storyline developments awaited the WWE Universe?
Find out with this recap of Monday's USA Network broadcast.
Sasha Banks Kicked Off Raw
Sasha Banks kicked off this week's show, but before she addressed the WWE Universe, a video package recapped her ongoing issues with Natalya and Becky Lynch.
Banks said she was gone for four months, out of sight, but all she heard about was herself. This brought chants of "Becky!" from fans. She said she heard all the gossip about throwing a fit, crying at WrestleMania 35 and taking her ball and going home.
The Boss said she did all of those things because she was relegated to a tag title match she did not care about, for tag titles that mean even less. Lynch, though, main-evented WrestleMania. She cited The Man's paycheck and then claimed attacking Natalya was part of her plan.
Banks claimed she was the standard-bearer of the division, before finding herself on the receiving end of an attack by The Queen of Harts.
Officials separated the two women to close out the opening segment.
This felt like it was set up to deliver Banks' pipe-bomb promo moment in that she alluded to reports from just after WrestleMania and admitted to being jealous of Lynch for headlining the event. The problem with all of that is the delivery was off and the promo felt unfocused.
The Boss went from acknowledging the reports to taking exception with not main-eventing WrestleMania, to some far-fetched plan involving Natalya, and back to asserting herself as the face of the division.
There was too much packed into this one and, when you add to it the idea that Natalya waited until Banks ran her mouth for minutes on end before rushing the ring for revenge, it was more of an unfocused mess than one would have hoped for.
King of the Ring Match: Ricochet vs. Drew McIntyre
Former United States champion Ricochet and Drew McIntyre kicked off the in-ring portion of the show with the first of two King of the Ring matches.
A ruthless, ferocious McIntyre took the fight to his smaller opponent from the opening bell, tossing him around the squared circle with reckless abandon. The One and Only withstood the attack and sent the Scot to the floor, but before he could capitalize, he fell prey to a backbreaker on the guardrail and then the ring apron heading to break.
The Scottish Psychopath worked over Ricochet's back, but the popular babyface caught him with a kick to the face, a missile dropkick and a tope to the floor.
McIntyre answered with a release suplex, but Ricochet recovered and delivered a springboard clothesline.
The action continued back inside, where Ricochet escaped a fireman carry on the ropes. He dropped McIntyre flat on his back and made his way up top. The 630 Splash followed, and the high-flying fan-favorite earned the three-count victory.
Ricochet defeated McIntyre
This was the type of match fans hoped for when the fantastic field of competitors was announced for this tournament. McIntyre vs. Ricochet was a pay-per-view-quality bout that reminded fans of how good the Scot is while continuing his opponent's momentum.
It is something of a surprise that WWE sacrificed McIntyre in the first round of the tournament. At the same time, he was saddled as Shane McMahon's lackey for four months, so it is less shocking when taking that into account.
Ricochet instantly becomes even more of a favorite to emerge from the competition with the crown now. Given his indie history and the crown he once sported there, it would be apropos.
King of the Ring Match: The Miz vs. Baron Corbin
The Miz cut a promo prior to his match with Baron Corbin, vowing to win the King of the Ring and forever be known as King Awesome.
The Hollywood A-Lister did not fare well early, eating a big clothesline by Corbin heading into the break. The Lone Wolf dominated until Miz mounted a comeback and even dropped him with the Skull-Crushing Finale for a very close two-count.
Corbin shook it off moments later and delivered End of Days to put away Miz and advance to the next round of competition.
Corbin defeated Miz
This was nowhere near the level of Ricochet-McIntyre from earlier in the show, but no one thought it would be. What was surprising was the lack of time allotted to the performers.
Everything felt rushed, there was little in the way of a heat segment and the result was two wrestlers doing moves until one's finisher actually earned him a win.
Corbin's post-match promo was more solid heel work, and whether you like it or not, the crown fits him. A heel character in which The Lone Wolf brags about being King of the Ring could get him over with audiences the way the "Best in the World" moniker has for Shane McMahon.
Bayley vs. Nikki Cross
SmackDown women's champion Bayley rekindled her rivalry with women's tag team champion Nikki Cross this week, battling the Scot in singles competition, just days after accepting a challenge to defend her own title against Charlotte Flair at Clash of Champions.
Cross wore down The Hugger, working on the midsection of the champ. However, the tenacious babyface fought back and delivered a big suplex. A running knee lift further stunned Cross, and a sidewalk slam put her down.
Bayley delivered a flying elbow drop to pick up the pinfall victory.
Bayley defeated Cross
The match was rather one-dimensional and never really gave fans the impression Cross had a chance of actually winning.
This was an exhibition win for Bayley that could have been against someone who was not a current champion and tasked with elevating the legitimacy of a title, but that is for those paid far more than this writer to determine.
Otherwise, this match did exactly what it was intended to.
Tag Team Turmoil Match
The Tag Team Turmoil match to determine the next contenders to Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman's Raw tag team titles kicked off with The Viking Raiders' Erik and Ivar battling The B-Team's Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas.
The match was short-lived and ended with Erik and Ivar putting away their opponents with the Viking Experience.
The Viking Raiders defeated The B-Team.
The O.C.'s Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson were out next. A hard-hitting, physical match ensued, including a suicide dive from Ivar onto the former tag champions. A big brawl on the floor broke out, though, and the official called for the bell, disqualifying both teams.
The Viking Raiders and The O.C. fought to a double DQ.
The makeshift team of Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode hit the ring next and were confronted by The Lucha House Party's Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik. The masked luchadors put up a fight, but The Showoff was able to down Metalik with a superkick and eliminate the babyface duo.
Ziggler and Roode defeated Lucha House Party.
Up next was The Revival, who wasted little time putting its expert tag team wrestling abilities on display against the first-time opposition.
Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder worked over Ziggler, who made the tag to his teammate and necessitated the comeback. The Revival appeared to cut off The Showoff and Roode's momentum, but the latter was able to score the pin on Dawson to eliminate the former tag champions.
Ziggler and Roode defeated The Revival.
After the commercial break, Ziggler and Roode dispatched Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins via superkick to Ryder.
Ziggler and Roode defeated Ryder and Hawkins
Heavy Machinery was the final team to enter the fray and gave Ziggler and Roode their toughest test to date. The heels sent Tucker into the guardrail and steel steps before isolating him from Otis and building heat for the bout.
A hot tag to Otis ignited the babyface comeback. Just as it appeared as though Heavy Machinery would score the win with the Compactor, Ziggler delivered a superkick that dropped Tucker. Roode finished off Otis with the Glorious DDT for the unexpected victory.
Ziggler and Roode won Tag Team Turmoil, last eliminating Heavy Machinery
So, the best competition to Strowman and Rollins' titles is...another team that was nonexistent eight days ago?
It was awesome to see Roode get some exposure, and if a tag team with Ziggler can benefit both, more power to them. They are far too talented to be wasted in the manner in which they have been over the last year.
Still, their win over the established teams in WWE essentially diminished those duos' credibility and hurt them going forward. How that can be considered a win when the Raw division is already in need of rejuvenation is mind-boggling.
Yes, it has teams like The Usos, The Revival, The O.C., Lucha House Party and The Viking Raiders, but those teams' inconsistent pushes have hampered the development of the division into anything more than a sideshow.
This did not help erase that label.
Natalya vs. Sasha Banks
A vengeful Natalya attacked Sasha Banks before the bell, continuing their brawl right where it left off earlier in the evening. The third-generation competitor sent The Boss back-first into the guardrail and followed up with a suplex on the floor.
Natalya continued her attack in the ring, sending Banks flying with a German suplex.
Capitalizing on the previously injured arm of her opponent, The Boss sent Nattie into the steel post and turned her attention to the limb. The resilient Queen of Harts fought through tremendous pain to counter a double knee with a roll-up. She applied the Sharpshooter at one point, but Banks broke it by refocusing her attack on the arm.
The backstabber and Bank Statement eventually forced the tapout from Natalya, securing Banks her first televised victory since before WrestleMania 35.
After the match, The Boss re-entered the ring and reapplied the Bank Statement before leaving, happy with her actions.
Banks defeated Natalya
This felt like the outline of a damn good match between two women who can deliver when given the opportunity.
Banks was ruthless and relentless, Natalya showed great heart, and the result was a story fans could easily invest themselves in. The post-match beatdown continued to showcase The Boss' new attitude, earning her heat before an impending showdown with Becky Lynch.
This hinted at such a potentially great match between the two that it would not be a bad thing by any means if WWE Creative were to revisit this feud after the Banks-Lynch program wraps up.
Cedric Alexander vs. Cesaro
A week after defeating Sami Zayn to earn his way to the next round of the King of the Ring tournament, Cedric Alexander battled the always-game Cesaro in singles competition.
The Swiss Cyborg targeted the knee of his opponent, taking away some of Alexander's aerial assault. However, the former cruiserweight champion fought through the pain and showed off the resiliency and gutsiness that fueled his success on 205 Live.
Late in the match, Alexander endured a half-crab, a la Lance Storm, that further damaged his knee. Double tough, he fought his way to the bottom rope and necessitated the break.
Shrugging off the pain, he delivered a modified Spanish Fly. He followed up with an attempt at a springboard kick, but Cesaro caught him and reapplied the half-crab. Again, Alexander fought through it and delivered a Lumbar Check from out of nowhere for the win.
Alexander defeated Cesaro
This was a hell of a match between two Superstars who have quietly become the backbone of the in-ring efforts on Monday nights.
Cesaro is so good that the idea of him not being a world champion at this point in his career is mind-blowing. He is, perhaps inarguably, the most gifted professional wrestler in all of WWE. There is no one consistently having the quality of matches he is, whether on TV or pay-per-view.
Alexander has made the most of his opportunity and is on his own roll of superb in-ring performances. His ability to sell for his opponent, build sympathy for himself and wow audiences with his innovative offense makes him a joy to watch.
This was great fun and adequately showed off both performers.
United States Championship Match: Braun Strowman vs. AJ Styles
The main event of the evening featured Braun Strowman challenging AJ Styles for the United States Championship, one week after The Monster Among Men teamed with Seth Rollins to defeat Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson to win the Raw tag team titles and end The O.C.'s dominance over the brand.
Strowman overwhelmed Styles heading into the break, leaving The Phenomenal One reeling.
Back from commercial, though, Styles wrested control of the bout from his opponent, even grounding him and applying a Calf Crusher. Strowman screamed in pain but was able to use his seemingly superhuman strength to break out of the hold and begin his comeback.
A blind charge into the corner, though, ended with The Monster crashing shoulder-first into the ring post. Another blind charge led to the official being bumped from the ring apron and to the floor. This allowed Styles to deliver a thumb to the eye and a low blow.
Styles grabbed a steel chair but fell prey to Strowman's running powerslam. With no referee to count the fall, Anderson and Gallows hit the ring. The Monster Among Men fought them off with the chair, but as the official recovered, Styles feigned injury, causing the referee to call for the bell and award the match to Styles via disqualification.
Strowman unloaded on all around him, dropping the heels with powerslams to end the show.
Styles defeated Strowman via DQ
It was nice to see Styles pull a page out of the book of the late, great Eddie Guerrero, but this still felt like a lackluster way to close out the show.
Without Seth Rollins as backup, did Strowman really need to get over on the entire O.C. and stand tall to end the night? It felt like the unnecessary sacrifice of the one truly over heel act the brand has. Would it have hurt The Monster Among Men's heat to have him get beaten down by the heels and then question where The Architect was?
Could he not have taken exception to the universal and one-half of the tag team champions bailing on him to go get engaged in Hawaii, thus adding tension to their partnership and heat to their title match at Clash of Champions?
Instead, we got the predictable finish where the babyface sends people home happy at the expense of the heels.
And we all wonder why Raw is full of ineffective heels who pose no threat to the good guys.