WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from September 21
The allure of championship gold.
It was at the center of some of WWE's most prominent rivalries Monday night as the company marched toward Clash of Champions this Sunday on pay-per-view.
Keith Lee started the show on the outside looking in at the WWE Championship picture, but would he end it the same way? Which team would earn a date with The Street Profits and a shot at tag team title glory? Would anyone have the intestinal fortitude to step up to Bobby Lashley and challenge the enforcer of The Hurt Business for his United States Championship?
Those questions and more were answered on the red brand's September 21 episode.
Announced ahead of Monday's show:
- WWE champion Drew McIntyre vs. Keith Lee (If Lee wins and Randy Orton is unable to compete, Lee will challenge for the title at Clash of Champions)
- Raw Underground: Braun Strowman vs. Dabba-Kato
- Triple Threat tag team match: Dominik Mysterio and Humberto Carrillo vs. Seth Rollins and Murphy vs. Angel Garza and Andrade (Winners to challenge The Street Profits at Clash of Champions)
This week's show kicked off with the revelation by commentator Tom Phillips that WWE had offered contracts to Retribution. This before the group revealed itself to include Mia Yim and Mercedes Martinez, apparently Dio Maddin and Dominik Dijakovic, and maybe Shane Thorne.
Retribution had some ominous words about continuing its chaotic invasion of WWE before The Hurt Business interrupted. Bobby Lashley said his team was not afraid of a group of people hiding behind masks.
This led to the emergence of more Retribution members and a beatdown of the United States champion, MVP, Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander as we headed to break.
There was so much wrong here.
Yim, Martinez, Dijakovic, Thorne and Maddin didn't have contracts despite being on-screen talent for well over a year now? Why were they wearing masks that suggest someone backstage showed Vince a DVD copy of Mad Max: Fury Road?
Yeah, The Hurt Business mounted an offensive against the group last week, but why sacrifice the momentum and heat the group has garnered to this point for the sake of putting over another heel faction?
Seriously, what the hell is up with those masks?
Are we supposed to forget that Yim's real-life relationship with Keith Lee was heavily featured on NXT and that now she is at the forefront of a faction that attacked him last week?
And finally...who signed the renegade invaders to a contract?
This has more open threads than a knockoff Steelers jersey from the clearance section of a local Walmart.
Triple Threat Tag Team No. 1 Contenders' Match
The top contenders for The Street Profits' Raw Tag Team Championship were determined in a Triple Threat match to kick off the in-ring portion of Monday's show as Angel Garza and Andrade put recent differences aside to battle "Monday Night Messiah" Seth Rollins and Murphy and the newly formed tandem of Humberto Carrillo and Dominik Mysterio.
An action-packed match climaxed with Murphy creating separation and trying to tag Rollins in. The egotistical messiah hopped off the apron and could be overheard saying he had "better things to do," leaving his disciple to endure a sickening back elbow by Andrade and the Wing Clipper by Garza as the Zelina Vega-less team cashed its ticket to Clash of Champions on Sunday night.
Andrade and Garza defeated Carrillo and Mysterio and Rollins and Murphy
The action was fine, but like the first segment, there were more questions than answers to be had.
What did Mysterio and Carrillo do to deserve a potential shot at the tag titles? Why did Mysterio have to lose another match that he should not have been in?
Why not just book Garza and Andrade to be the No. 1 contenders rather than going through the motions of booking a match that didn't really make sense from the start?
WWE Creative has to settle down and focus because this show has been an abstract mess early on, and it shows no signs of stopping.
'The Kevin Owens Show' with Shane McMahon
Kevin Owens welcomed Shane McMahon to the latest edition of "The Kevin Owens Show."
Noticeable tension hung over the segment, their past issues clearly not completely behind them.
McMahon, blown up as if he had just wrestled an Iron Man match against 1996-era Shawn Michaels, huffed and puffed his way through the promotion for Dabba-Kato vs. Braun Strowman later tonight on Raw Underground before introducing the massive rookie to the WWE ThunderDome.
Owens slapped Kato, the classic pot-stirrer that he is, and then introduced Braun Strowman.
McMahon tried his best to keep the massive competitors apart until Underground.
Aleister Black took advantage of the distraction, attacking Owens and crotching him around the ring post on two separate occasions.
Aleister Black was wearing the damn eye wrap that he conveniently dropped for the last two weeks—yet another sloppy and unforgivable detail that was conveniently missed/undone/ignored.
Besides that, this was lazy hype for a match that is "meh" at best.
Kudos to Owens for doing his absolute best to get this whole thing over. There are few better antagonists in WWE than KO, who really should be above this.
Keith Lee vs. Drew McIntyre, and Randy Orton's Words of Warning
For the second week in a row, WWE burnt through Keith Lee vs. Drew McIntyre, this time with the added stipulation that a win for the former would earn him a title opportunity against the latter if Randy Orton cannot compete Sunday at Clash of Champions.
Of course, if Orton is cleared to go, he challenges McIntyre in an ambulance match, thus leaving Lee on the outside looking in.
Heading into the break, McIntyre dropped Lee across the announce table. Back from the commercial, Lee rocked the WWE champion with a forearm to the jaw, a part of The Scottish Psychopath's body with an established injury.
McIntyre recovered, countering a Spirit Bomb with a headscissors. The big men exchanged blows and hard strikes until Lee flattened the champion with a lariat for two. "This is my chance, Drew!" Lee exclaimed as he set him up for a Spirit Bomb.
McIntyre escaped and delivered a Claymore...just in time for Orton to appear and deliver a chair shot for the disqualification.
He added the running punt to Lee for good measure as artificial boos rained down from the...sound system?
McIntyre defeated Lee via disqualification
We definitely deserve a one-on-one match between McIntyre and Lee where the finish is not marred by some sort of interference.
WWE Creative booked itself into a corner here and had no other option but to book it the way it did. McIntyre could not afford a loss, because he is the WWE champion and doesn't need to eat the pin here. Lee, on the other hand, is still finding his feet on the main roster and should not be losing this soon.
Orton interfering sets up his showdown with McIntyre, puts him in Lee's sights and potentially sets up a series of matches with The Limitless One down the line.
That is, if WWE Creative is even thinking beyond one show at a time at this point.
The ambulance match at Clash of Champions will probably be garbage, because most instances of that particular gimmick match are, but at least it is different. It really is time to wrap this one up and move on, though.
No. 1 Contender's Match: Mickie James vs. Zelina Vega
With Asuka's opponent for Sunday's Clash of Champions unknown, Mickie James and Zelina Vega battled to determine The Empress of Tomorrow's next challenger. James reiterated this week that she did not quit in last week's match with the Raw Women's champion and then looked like a woman possessed as she took the fight to La Muneca early and often.
James overcame Vega's midmatch submission and delivered a big seated senton for two.
Vega recovered from the near-fall and delivered a Backstabber for the hard-fought victory.
Vega defeated James
This would have meant so much more if James hadn't seen her match with Asuka a week ago end in such puzzling fashion.
With that said, it was a fairly solid, entertaining match that put Vega over as a threat in the ring, something she has never been presented as on the main roster. While few believe she will actually beat someone of Asuka's caliber, a defining performance could very well be the start of the in-ring push so many have expected and hoped for out of Vega.
Apollo Crews vs. Cedric Alexander
After a video package in which Bianca Belair outworked a male counterpart at the WWE Performance Center and beach high jinks with R-Truth and 24/7 champion Akira Tozawa, Apollo Crews and Cedric Alexander squared off in the latest chapter of the babyfaces' battles with The Hurt Business.
Alexander withstood an early onslaught from Crews and seized control coming out of the commercial break. A frog crossbody by Crews turned the tide in his favor until a tope suicida had Alexander rolling late. A brief confrontation with Ricochet on the floor led to Crews scoring the roll-up for the win.
After the match, The Hurt Business recovered some heat, brutalizing Crews and Ricochet as they sent a message to Retribution. Lashley added injury to injury, applying the Hurt Lock to Crews ahead of their match at Clash of Champions.
Crews defeated Alexander
Why sacrifice Alexander, who is fresh off a heel turn and should be red-hot, when Shelton Benjamin just as easily could have eaten the pin here and been no worse for it?
And the post-match beatdown that ended with Lashley's Hurt Lock on Crews hardly does enough to promote or hype his United States Championship defense against Crews this Sunday night.
With those two things taken into account, this was merely there, a match for the sake of a match with no real storyline advancement or benefit to any of the men involved.
Seth Rollins' Stunning Revelation
Raw Underground kicked off with Arturo Ruas battling Dolph Ziggler.
A spirited back-and-forth gave way to Ziggler putting the accomplished martial artist down for the referee-stoppage win.
Back inside the ThunderDome, "Monday Night Messiah" Seth Rollins made his second appearance of the night, a yellow envelope in his hand as he entered the squared circle.
After inviting the Mysterio family into the arena, he revealed that a DNA test has proved that Rey is not the father of daughter Aalyah.
He went as far as to show a brief moment of the youngest Mysterio consoling Murphy after last week's steel cage match.
Aalyah and mom Angie walked off in disgust and confusion, followed by Dominik and Rey. Rollins left, flashing a brief grin as his plan came to fruition.
What is old is new (and crappier) again.
The 2005 storyline over Dominik's custody was not good. Sure, we view it through rose-colored glasses because Eddie Guerrero was involved and we love him, but that storyline was over-the-top soap opera garbage.
Repeating it 15 years later, without a virtuoso like Eddie to carry things, is not a recipe for success.
This is going to be a disaster.
Lana and Natalya vs. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler
With Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan watching from the commentary position, Women's Tag Team champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler battled Natalya and Lana.
In a one-sided squash, the champions rolled to victory, courtesy of Baszler's Kirifuda Clutch.
After the match, the victors intimidated Riott and Morgan, backing them away from the squared circle ahead of their bout this Sunday at Clash of Champions.
Jax and Baszler defeated Natalya and Lana
Does a squash match really prop up the winners if the team they beat loses to everyone else anyway?
Not only did this do absolutely nothing for the champions, it made Riott and Morgan look like cowards. They wanted nothing to do with the champions, completely avoiding confrontation and backing away like wholly overmatched contenders.
How or why anyone would believe they can actually win Sunday given their booking here is a mystery.
Asuka vs. Peyton Royce
The creative team remembered Peyton Royce was on the roster this week, and it booked her in a singles match with Raw Women's champion Asuka. Billie Kay watched from ringside, supporting her former tag team partner.
A newly aggressive Royce scored a near-fall at one point and then countered out of an Asuka Lock and into a roll-up for another two. Royce scaled the ropes, but Asuka blasted her with a kick. They tussled as Asuka sought her finisher, but Vega interrupted for the disqualification.
Asuka threatened the back elbow, but Vega dodged it and headed up the ramp as Tom Phillips announced their match will be on the Clash of Champions Kickoff Show.
Asuka defeated Royce by DQ
This was the worst match of Asuka's WWE career. It was rushed, ugly and never felt like the competitors were on the same page.
Asuka having to get in position for the Vega run-in only shined a light on everything that was disjointed and messy about this one.
Now factor three potential challengers to Asuka's title cowering in the face of her dominance and you have all the evidence you need as to just who the creative team values here.
Retribution vs. The Hurt Business
Retribution's Slapjack (the one who looks like Casey Jones), T-Bar (Dominik Dijakovic) and Mace (Dio Maddin) battled The Hurt Business' Cedric Alexander, Bobby Lashley and Shelton Benjamin in the main event.
The masked invaders dominated Alexander until a hot tag to Benjamin sparked a comeback of sorts for The Hurt Business. Retribution again isolated the opposition, this time cutting Benjamin off from his teammates.
Benjamin created separation and tagged Lashley into the match.
As the U.S. champion built momentum, Retribution hit the ring, drawing the DQ.
Drew McIntyre rushed the ring with the Raw roster, making the save and clearing the ring of the heels. As McIntyre rolled, Orton came from out of nowhere, again, and dropped The Scottish Psychopath with an RKO to close things out.
The Hurt Business defeated Retribution via DQ
There was nothing to the match, nor was Retribution really that impressive in its first outing here.
The match was seemingly set up to deliver the brig brawl and Orton's RKO as WWE put the finishing touches on the build to the ambulance match for the WWE Championship at Clash of Champions.
In that regard, it worked, but that certainly is not the reason the audience remained tuned in until the last match of the show.
An underwhelming close that is completely apropos given the rest of the show.