WWE Pushes Midcard Stars with Baron Corbin, Cedric Alexander, More Raw Fallout
WWE made a singular promise with Clash of Champion. Every single championship will be on the line. Because of this, everyone on the roster was scrambling to earn one of those title opportunities on the final show before Sunday.
Baron Corbin earned his spot in the finals of the King of the Ring tournament by pulling off a surprise upset over Ricochet and Samoa Joe. He may not be the popular option, but he certainly caused a lot of fans to react.
The Viking Raiders and Cedric Alexander made their own statements throughout the night by sticking it to The OC. The talented stars picked up a major main event win that should indicate their bright future to come.
One champion was not so fortunate on the night as Bayley fell in a tag team match alongside her best friend Sasha Banks. It was a surprising and questionable booking decision that leaves the newly reformed team without any momentum.
These were the moments that defined the final Raw before Clash of Champions and shaped the future of a few surprise standouts.
Baron Corbin Does Not Care About Your King of the Ring Dream Matches
Baron Corbin planned to wait out the battle of Samoa Joe and Ricochet until he found his moment. That came right at the end as The One and Only caught The Samoan Submission Machine with the Recoil into a 630 splash. The Lone Wolf dragged Ricochet out of the ring and took the pinfall.
Did anyone go into the King of the Ring tournament with Corbin as the finalist for Monday Night Raw? It seemed ridiculous to even consider before this week. However, he took out two of the biggest favorites on the same night to emerge as the red brand's representitive.
The Lone Wolf has always been divisive. While his work in King of the Ring has been above his usual quality, he is still not going to match up to the efforts of Joe and Ricochet. Potential great matches coming into this night included Joe vs. Chad Gable and Ricochet vs. Elias.
Instead, it seems likely we're going into Clash of Champions with Corbin vs. Gable, the two least likely finalists possible. While it is certainly possible for these two to deliver far above expectations, it is a bold strategy from WWE to rely on the duo.
The biggest positive is that Corbin is the most hated heel in WWE. Anyone defeating him will get a major pop especially with so much on the line. Gable could get the biggest reaction of his career on Sunday.
The Viking Raiders Finally Get Long Overdue Spotlight
The OC interrupted the Universal Championship contract signing again, and AJ Styles took a stunner for it. The Phenomenal One then fought Cedric Alexander and looked off his game. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson had to cause a disqualification to save him before The Viking Raiders evened the odds.
Later in the match, The Raiders teamed with Alexander, Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman against The OC, Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode. Despite arguments between Rollins and Strowman, the faces winning after Alexander hit the Lumbar Check on Styles.
Erik and Ivar are fantastic performers, and it is about time they stop squashing jobbers. They are such a great pairing for The OC. It would not be surprising for Gallows and Anderson to have their best match in WWE with The Raiders.
The tag team division lost its way recently with the build to Clash of Champions, but that does not mean the talent isn't still around to right the ship. One of these teams will be champions again soon if they deliver in this rivalry.
This story already got them into the main event, and Ivar's shocking athleticism might have been the highlight of the whole 10-man tag. These big men have no ceiling for their future success.
WWE Can't Be Trusted to Build Credible Heels
Bayley and Sasha Banks teamed together for the first time in months against their Clash of Champions rivals Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch. Despite being the more cohesive team, the heel alliance could not get the job done as The Queen caught The Hugger with Natural Selection for the win.
If there was one thing that The Boss N Hug Connection could not afford on their second week working together again, it was a loss. This was a must-win match where it could be easily explained that Charlotte and Lynch could not find a common ground.
While the SmackDown women's champion losing makes it highly likely she will successfully defend her title, she needs to build her credibility as a heel. This returning alliance should be treated as unstoppable rather than falling quickly to their first challengers.
So many stories are dashed after a loss like this. If The Man and The Queen had suffered more and lost because they could not get along, months of storytelling could have followed as they tried to find common ground to defeat the two women ruining their lives.
Meanwhile, Banks and Bayley could have gone on a run straight to the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships. Instead, the status quo has been reestablished, leaving the question of why any chance was taken in the first place.
Cedric Alexander Earns His Way to First Main Roster PPV Match
It has gone under the radar just how good a month Cedric Alexander has been having. A man who could not get off Main Event put on a series of great matches and earned his way onto his first-ever WWE pay-per-view as a member of the Raw roster.
While it is still not official that AJ Styles will fight Alexander at Clash of Champions, it is the only result that makes sense. The Phenomenal One spent so much time focused on the Universal Championship that his next challenger snuck up on him.
Much like Styles and Ricochet already put on a series of great matches together, the United States champion should do fantastic work with The Lumbar Legacy. It would not even be beyond the realm of possibilities for Alexander to win the championship.
Just like his underutilized 205 Live peers now working SmackDown, Alexander is one of the best wrestlers on the roster, and he deserved far better than lounging away in obscurity. WWE has given him a chance, and there's no doubt he will knock it out of the park.