WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from September 14
September 14 promised a special In Your Face edition of Monday Night Raw. Competing against the return of NFL, WWE had a huge plan for the night to make this spectacular for wrestling fans.
Drew McIntyre returned to action against Keith Lee. His good friend has been on a roll since debuting on Raw, including defeating the WWE champion's rival, Randy Orton, at WWE Payback. Would these training partners go to the next level together, or would The Viper ruin their friendly competition?
Dominik Mysterio had a chance to finally shut up Seth Rollins in a steel cage match. Could Rey Mysterio's son pull off an incredible upset? Which members of the Mysterio family would be at ringside? Would Murphy attempt to get involved after his vicious beatdown at the hands of the frustrated family the previous week?
A longtime veteran performer, Mickie James finally got another chance to be champion. Asuka stood in her way. This massive title clash had the potential to change the course of the women's division.
As a part of the quarterly Brand-to-Brand Invitational, Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura graced the red brand with their presence. The champions wanted to show they were the dominant team in WWE over The Street Profits in a Champions vs. Champions clash.
This In Your Face Raw promised so much. It was just a matter of whether the red brand could deliver. Would the talent shine through? Would the booking get everyone talking?
Drew McIntyre Challenges Randy Orton to an Ambulance Match
Dolph Ziggler joined commentary with Michael Cole and Byron Saxton to replace Tom Phillips and Samoa Joe, who were off for the night.
Drew McIntyre told the WWE Universe that he was not fully cleared to compete. He refused to heal up and forfeit the WWE Championship. Instead, he would risk his health to stay champion. He challenged Randy Orton to an ambulance match for WWE Clash of Champions.
Adam Pearce arrived to announce that The Viper was not healthy enough to appear on this show and may not make it back by Clash of Champions. He advised that if Orton did not compete at Clash and Keith Lee defeated the WWE champion in the main event, The Limitless One would face McIntyre at that pay-per-view.
While it is always preferable to start with wrestling over talking, McIntyre has been a consistently excellent promo since becoming champion. This was a strong, fiery speech from the WWE champion on what it means to him to be the champion.
The segment also added complications to the night. McIntyre vs. Lee was an exhibition match before, but this wrinkle made it a huge contest. While Orton vs. McIntyre has to happen, a victory by Lee means he will eventually get a title match.
Champions vs. Champions: The Street Profits vs. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura
Cesaro started off hot, blasting Angelo Dawkins with an uppercut, and Shinsuke Nakamura helped him quickly isolate Montez Ford. Brief bursts of energy from The Street Profits were cut short by the power and continuity of the SmackDown tag team champions.
However, the resilient Raw tag team champions would not go down. Ford kicked out of a pop-up uppercut and got the tag to his partner. With Nakamura injured on the outside, Dawkins connected on the Cash-Out Splash on Cesaro for the victory.
Street Profits def. Cesaro and Nakamura by pinfall.
On a night expected to be loaded with great wrestling, this contest started the show off on solid footing. The action from both sides was good, though Cesaro clearly carried it. The Swiss Cyborg was a human highlight reel in a way no one else can be.
It is a shame that the new tag team lost. Cesaro and The Artist are still finding their footing as a unit and could have used the opportunity to define themselves as champions. The Street Profits have so much momentum that one loss would not have hurt them.
Cedric Alexander (w/ The Hurt Business) vs. Ricochet (w/ Apollo Crews)
Cedric Alexander explained again that he joined The Hurt Business because he wanted to have protection. He was done getting beat down week after week. Ricochet and Apollo Crews told Alexander that he was weak-willed and would regret his decision down the line.
As Ricochet vs. Alexander began, a fight ensued on the outside between Apollo Crews and the other members of The Hurt Business. Erik attacked Bobby Lashley, and the two brawled to the back.
Despite the odds evening a bit, The One and Only was too distracted by MVP and Shelton Benjamin at ringside. Alexander caught Ricochet with the Lumbar Check for the victory.
The lights went out afterward, and Retribution warned WWE that the group would destroy the foundations of the company. Backstage, The Hurt Business told Adam Pearce that it would take care of the Retribution situation for a price.
Alexander def. Ricochet by pinfall.
Despite the talent in the ring, this was a flat segment and match. Because of the rushed overuse of The Hurt Business the previous week, it was not necessary for either side to talk this week. It was just a time sink with a few bad speakers at the head.
The uninteresting explanation by Alexander led to a surprisingly weak match. Alexander and Ricochet did not seem to be on the same page in moments. When they were, the match was not nearly as heated as it should have been.
Raw Women's Champion Asuka vs. Mickie James
WWE showed a video package of Mickie James' career. The veteran explained in an interview that this might be her last opportunity at a women's championship, and she refused to lose.
Zelina Vega confronted Angel Garza flirting with Lana. As Garza and Andrade bickered, Vega walked out on her clients.
Asuka did not care about Mickie's story, blasting her in the face with kicks early. Firing back with kicks of her own, Mickie closed in on a victory. However, after a devastating back elbow, the challenger was left dazed and never found her way back into the fight. Asuka made her pass out to the Asuka Lock.
Vega confronted The Empress of Tomorrow in the ring. She told the champion that she was done wasting her career on ingrates and wanted gold. She slapped Asuka and walked away.
Asuka def. Mickie by referee stoppage to retain the Raw Women's Championship.
Mickie and Asuka could not find the same magic in the ring that they had upon the veteran's return to WWE. This was sloppy and hard to follow. Commentary repeatedly called out the missed moves. Mickie just seemed out of sorts, which might have led to the odd finish.
Vega's arrival was a nice surprise. She has spent too long as a manager. It is time to see what she can do on her own. While it is hard to believe that she could defeat The Empress of Tomorrow, a strong showing at Clash of Champions could pave the way.
Bobby Lashley vs. Erik
MVP joined commentary to talk about Bobby Lashley as The All Mighty took on Erik.
The Viking Raider tried his best to keep up with The All Mighty. However, the United States champion was just the better man. Lashley took down Erik and made him tap out to the Hurt Lock.
Lashley def. Erik by submission.
Lashley vs. Erik was always going to be a squash, but at least it had some story behind it. MVP hyped up The All Mighty as The CEO of The Hurt Business destroyed a thorn in the team's side.
It will be interesting to see who steps up to Lashley at Clash of Champions. He needs fresh competition. Apollo Crews and Lashley might have another good match in them, but it would be nice to see the opportunity go to someone else at least for one show.
Steel Cage: Seth Rollins vs. Dominik
Seth Rollins confronted Murphy, demanding that he stay in the back. Rey Mysterio standing alongside his whole family told everyone that he knew Dominik Mysterio would make The Monday Night Messiah pay.
Despite the warning of The Messiah, Murphy tried to redeem himself. He came out with a kendo stick that Dominik stole to batter Rollins. Dominik attempted to escape the cage, but Murphy attacked Rey at the entrance. In the confusion, The Disciple blasted The Messiah with the cage door.
Murphy managed to stop Dominik from escaping afterward, and Rollins kicked out of the frog splash. Unsure how to finish off Rollins, Rey's son ran into a pair of Stomps, which gave The Messiah the win.
Rollins taunted the Mysterios on his way out but attacked Murphy before leaving. He threw him into the barricade and cage, leaving him down on the floor.
Rollins def. Dominik by pinfall.
This was another really good match between Rollins and Dominik. However, it is time to move past this contest. The story has run its course. The Messiah has clearly outperformed Dominik every time. Until Mysterio is healthy, this feud needs to be put on hold.
Murphy's story is far more interesting at the moment. The Messiah seemingly has turned against The Disciple. While it is possible Murphy will still try to prove himself to Rollins for a little while longer, eventually he has to turn against Rollins. It might be Murphy's big break.
Braun Strowman Dominates Raw Underground
Dolph Ziggler left commentary before Raw Underground started. He dominated one man and then got into a real fight with Riddick Moss. Braun Strowman interfered, taking the ring and refusing to give it up.
Titus O'Neil stepped into the ring with The Monster Among Men and took the big man down. However, Strowman got back to his feet and knocked out O'Neil.
Ziggler and Moss kept attacking Strowman until The Monster Among Men laid them out with running powerslams. Dabba-Kato stepped up to Strowman, and Shane McMahon announced they would fight next week.
It is good that WWE is keeping Raw Underground fresh with new faces, but it would be nice to see more than 30-second brawls. Strowman certainly has a memorable aura in Raw Underground, but he should not just embarrass the others who have been built in this unique setting.
Moss has been portrayed as dominant until now. This is similar to the way that The Hurt Business immediately cut down Ziggler's rebuild in Raw Underground. There needs to be some separation between the main roster talent and the Raw Underground stars.
The only positive was the potential that Dabba-Kato might get something out of this next week. Next week, maybe Strowman won't dominate everyone.
Aleister Black vs. Kevin Owens
Aleister Black ambushed Kevin Owens from behind before the bell. The Dutch Destroyer continued the assault after getting to the ring. KO barely got in offense early, struggling to his feet especially after a kneebar.
Owens pulled out a surprise superkick. The lights flickered, which distracted Black. He was not ready for the stunner of KO when the lights went back on, giving Owens the three-count.
Owens def. Black by pinfall.
KO and Black brought what they could to this match with limited time, but the contest was rushed with a flat finish. There is no reason these two should have a conclusive finish in their first match that had no hype. WWE needs to protect The Dutch Destroyer in his new role.
Hopefully, this rivalry is far from over. The Retribution distraction somewhat helps Black's case for a rematch, even if it was an awkward way to extend the rivalry. The two men have brought so much to this story in spite of a lackluster spotlight.
The Riott Squad vs. Natalya and Lana
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler watched on commentary, including a pre-match taped promo from The Riott Squad where the challengers made clear they were a true team unlike the WWE women's tag team champions.
Natalya never even got into the ring before the match was over. Liv Morgan connected on a Codebreaker to Lana followed by a Riott Kick from Ruby Riott for the win.
Afterward, Baszler choked out Lana and then threw her to Jax, who sent The Ravishing Russian through the announce table with a Samoan Drop.
Riott Squad def. Lana and Natalya by pinfall.
This was an embarrassing waste of time. Lana and Natalya have been built up as a potential alliance, but The Riott Squad immediately embarrassed them. Adding injury to insult, the women's tag team champions sent Lana through the announce table. This felt like a hard burial.
While it is good that Riott and Morgan have found their stride as a team, it would be nice to see what they can do with time. Too often, The Riott Squad has been left with TV time remaining before the main event, which is less than five minutes.
Drew McIntyre vs. Keith Lee
Keith Lee promised he would do what he needed to do to get the WWE Championship, even injure his friend. Drew McIntyre insinuated that The Limitless One would have lost to The Viper before he got involved. The friends lost their cool and started the brawl early.
Adam Pearce forced them to break it up and wait until the main event. The fight in the ring was just as heated. The two big men fought with everything in their arsenal. Lee ducked a Claymore. McIntyre jumped out of the Spirit Bomb. The two then collided with running crossbodies.
Retribution hit the ring and attacked McIntyre and Lee. Commentary went silent as Retribution took the ring. The Hurt Business arrived and attacked Retribution until McIntyre and Lee recovered and took out everyone.
McIntyre vs. Lee goes to a no-contest.
McIntyre vs. Lee is a money match for another time. The preview was nice, but they have better in them. Neither one was going all out by the end because the contest was never going to finish conclusively. Hopefully, they get a second chance in the next few months.
Retribution returned to destroying everyone, but it seems The Hurt Business is the main group in the team's way. It is tough to follow this angle and who is involved. It would be nice if Retribution did more than cut cryptic promos, turn off the lights and beat people up randomly.