WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from July 26
The last week has been quite eventful in the world of pro wrestling. Rumors abound regarding certain Superstars returning to the ring in the future, but we also saw some make their comeback in the flesh.
John Cena made his return during the Money in the Bank pay-per-view and appeared on the following episodes of Raw and SmackDown to reiterate his desire to challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship.
We also saw Goldberg return to confront Bobby Lashley and declare himself to be next in line to face the WWE champion.
This week's Raw featured The All Mighty responding to the former world champion, AJ Styles and Omos defended the Raw tag titles against The Viking Raiders and Nikki A.S.H. began her run as the Raw women's champion after cashing in her MITB contract on Charlotte Flair last week.
Let's take a look at everything that happened on this week's Raw.
Editor's note: Due to a power outage, this recap is missing slides on the last two matches, which saw Reginald retain the 24/7 Championship against R-Truth and Charlotte Flair defeat Raw Women's champion Nikki A.S.H. in a non-title match.
Nikki A.S.H. Opens the Show
After a quick recap of how we got here, Nikki A.S.H. made her way out to celebrate her first official week as the Raw women's champion.
The Almost a Superhero came out to a good reaction from the crowd and looked more excited than ever before. We have seen Nikki look happy, but this was on another level.
She talked about how this still feels like a dream before the crowd began chanting "You deserve it." She spoke about her character and what it means to her. After a few minutes, Charlotte made her way out with a much angrier expression on her face.
She said Nikki's fairytale wouldn't have a happy ending and called her a disgrace. The Queen said Nikki didn't deserve to represent the company and didn't bring the kind of star power necessary to be the champ. She vowed to get a rematch at SummerSlam and take back the belt.
Rhea Ripley came down to a big reaction and mocked Charlotte for losing the title in one day. Ripley tried to claim a title shot, but Nikki said the women's division was ready for a change.
Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce showed up to book a Triple Threat match at SummerSlam. The Queen also wanted a match tonight. Nikki accepted immediately.
The Nikki A.S.H. gimmick is not going to be for everybody. It's definitely geared toward kids more than adults, but Nikki is just likable enough to pull this off. She comes across as genuinely appreciative of the opportunity.
When it comes to Charlotte, few people in WWE can command a crowd the way she can. She knows how to get it to boo louder or shut up so she can talk. It's a special skill many Superstars lack.
This segment was fine if a little clunky at times. Nikki almost felt like an afterthought once Charlotte and Ripley were in the ring together, which is not how the champion should appear.
Nikki saying she wanted to change the division just to end up in a Triple Threat with both women was an odd way to end the segment. Maybe those changes are scheduled for after SummerSlam.
Damian Priest vs. Sheamus
Damian Priest looked fired up to battle Sheamus in a non-title match. The powerhouses locked up and fought for control until Sheamus hit a side headlock takeover.
Priest recovered and brought him down with an arm drag. We returned from a break to see The Celtic Warrior in control until a clothesline from Priest took him off his feet.
The Archer of Infamy unloaded with a flurry of strikes that took the United States champion's protective mask right off. Priest hit a chokeslam from the top rope for a close two-count.
Sheamus hit an Alabama slam for another near-fall before attempting a cloverleaf. Priest kicked his way free, but a huge knee from Sheamus took him back down.
Bad Bunny's best friend eventually hit his finisher for the pin.
Sheamus and Priest ended up having a solid match with a lot of great physicality. They are still developing chemistry as new opponents, but they are working well together so far.
WWE appears to be trying to make up for lost time with Priest after his post-WrestleMania push was cut short. Putting him in the hunt for the U.S. title is a good start.
It will be interesting to see if Humberto Carrillo is totally out of the picture or if he tries to insert himself back into this feud.
AJ Styles and Omos vs. Viking Raiders (Raw Tag Titles)
Erik nailed a flying knee to Styles right away. He tagged Ivar for his seated senton in the corner. The Vikings worked together to take out Omos at ringside before hitting Styles with their finisher.
Omos yanked Erik out of the ring to save the match. He took out both men single-handedly by throwing Ivar into Erik against the barricade.
We returned to see Omos squeezing Erik's head between his huge hands. Styles and Ivar both tagged in, and the big man was able to avoid the Phenomenal Forearm and hit a clothesline.
The Phenomenal One spiked him with a tornado DDT for a two-count. Erik came in and drilled Styles with a massive knee to the face for a near-fall. Styles hit a Pele kick before he brought in Omos to hit a giant body slam. He dispatched Ivar again before bringing his partner back in for a 450 splash to get the pin.
This match may have made better use of Omos than any of his previous showings. He was in the ring just enough to matter and had several important spots.
Seeing Styles and Omos grow into the team they have become has been a fun ride. They didn't seem like they would work at first, but real effort and a few good matches have changed that.
The Viking Raiders looked good even if they did end up losing. This won't be the last time they fight for the gold.
Veer vs. Drew McIntyre
Drew McIntyre was out to battle Veer, but Jinder Mahal brought out his attorney first. He demanded an apology for McIntyre's brutal attack against Shanky last week.
The Scottish Warrior asked the crowd if he should apologize. The reaction was a resounding no. He also got a "Drew is gonna kill you" chant going.
Veer put McIntyre in the corner before they locked fingers for a test of strength. Mahal's enforcer took control for a moment before McIntyre hit a shoulder tackle and a body slam.
The Maharaja distracted his rival so Veer could take him down. The former WWE champion made a quick comeback. Mahal tried to pass a chair to his friend, but McIntyre Claymore-Kicked it into his face. The ref called for a disqualification and declared McIntyre the winner.
This match was what it needed to be, but it wasn't exactly exciting or surprising in any way. The only head-scratcher was the outcome.
If Veer holding a chair while it gets kicked into his face caused a DQ, then WWE must have changed its rules. It's this kind of inconsistent booking that angers hardcore and longtime fans.
McIntyre beating up the lawyer after the match was a little cheap, but the crowd seemed to love it.
Eva Marie and Doudrop vs. Natalya and Tamina
Eva Marie and Doudrop battled the women's tag team champions in a non-title match this week in the hopes that a win would earn them a shot at the gold.
As soon as Natalya tried to lock up with Eva, she tagged out to Doudrop. The Queen of Harts attempted a waistlock but was quickly knocked over with a shoulder block.
Doudrop used a nice pinning combination to score a near-fall. Tamina tagged in to put the two powerhouses in the ring together. She took Doudrop down in a headlock, but the newcomer to Raw hit a low crossbody to take her down. Eva tagged in and made the cover for a two-count.
A video from Lilly and Alexa Bliss played to distract Eva, allowing Tamina to nail her with a superkick for the pin. Natalya appeared to need help getting to the back after the match.
This match would have earned a D had it not been for the short burst of offense from Doudrop. She is the only reason this angle with Eva Marie might work.
Natalya being injured would be an unfortunate turn of events. Let's hope it ends up being nothing or something minor that doesn't require much recovery time.
Keith Lee vs. Karrion Kross
The man who lost to Jeff Hardy last week faced the man who lost to Lashley last week when Keith Lee faced Karrion Kross.
Kross tried and failed to get Lee off his feet, but Lee was able to suplex Kross without issue. He sent Kross over the top rope with a clothesline but refused to wait for him to get back in.
The NXT champion shoved Lee into the LED apron and the ring post before hitting a suplex on the floor. We returned from a commercial break to see Kross hitting him in the corner.
The Limitless One fought out of a Kross Jacket submission and hit a series of strikes. He ran Kross over like a Mack truck before calling for his finisher. Kross countered with a Saito suplex and nailed a running forearm to the back of the head. He applied the Kross Jacket again, and Lee was forced to tap.
This match could have been a lot better. This match should have been a lot better. This is a perfect example of the difference between the styles of the main roster and NXT.
The pace was a little too slow, there was no urgency to anything and the fans seemed to lose interest as time went on. On top of all of that, booking Lee in his second straight loss right after he returned from an injury makes no sense.
Both men put forth the effort, but they were hamstrung by how management wanted this to play out.
Mace and T-Bar vs. Mansoor and Mustafa Ali
Mustafa Ali and Mansoor tested out their new partnership by taking on two men who dwarfed them in size, Mace and T-Bar.
The former Retribution heavies quickly took control and dominated the action against Ali for a few minutes. Ali hit a desperate spin kick to give himself enough time to tag Mansoor.
The newcomers went right after Mace and nailed him with an enzuigiri and a reverse DDT. T-Bar managed to break up the pin and kick Mansoor out of the ring in one fell swoop.
Ali and Mansoor had a brief miscommunication, but it didn't stop Mansoor from being able to pin Mace with a victory roll.
This bout was quick, but it did a good job telling the story of Ali and Mansoor's partnership. Ali seemed annoyed at Mansoor, even after he won for their team. It's an interesting dynamic that could change over time and lead to them being a top team.
Mace and T-Bar need to be repackaged. WWE can either push them as monsters or keep booking them as glorified jobbers. There isn't much space between those two options for a team like theirs.
Mansoor and Ali seemed to have the crowd on their side, so that may be a factor in determining how long they stay together.
Bobby Lashley vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin
Lashley and MVP came out so the WWE champion could respond to the challenge issued by Goldberg last week. MVP asked the crowd to show some respect and made a joke about Tom Brady to get some cheap heat right away.
The crowd tried to drown out MVP with Goldberg chants. Lashley said he refused to dignify Goldberg's challenge with a response. This brought out Cedric Alexander.
He said Lashley kicked him out of The Hurt Business because he knew Alexander was better than him. Shelton Benjamin arrived and said almost the same thing. MVP tried to say this was beneath Lashley before the champ agreed to fight them at the same time.
The All Mighty took control immediately and threw Alexander out of the ring so he could focus on Benjamin. The former tag team partners worked together to take the champ down, but they couldn't pin him even with both of them making the cover at once.
Lashley destroyed them after he got back to his feet. He hit Benjamin with Goldberg's signature Jackhammer before slamming Alexander on top of him for the pin.
WWE never should have broken up The Hurt Business, but it's hard to deny how effective this segment was at making Lashley look absolutely dominant.
This was a glorified squash but in a way that actually makes the WWE champion look good. Alexander and Benjamin aren't exactly being pushed right now, so they won't suffer from the loss.
The match itself was more of a sequence of specific spots meant to highlight Lashley's power than it was a physical battle, but from a storytelling standpoint, it worked.
Riddle vs. John Morrison
John Morrison and Riddle locked up and had a nice exchange of counters and takedowns to kick-start this match. Both men looked smooth as they transitioned from one hold to the next.
Riddle applied an ankle lock, but Johnny Drip Drip escaped and hit a knee to the body. The Bro caught him with a suplex out of nowhere for a two-count.
Riddle ended up kicking over The Miz in his wheelchair before the show cut to a break. We came back to see Riddle hitting a series of body shots.
The Bro hit a springboard corkscrew at ringside before he spotted Styles and Omos walking toward the ring. JoMo used the distraction to hit a few kicks to score a two-count.
Omos broke Riddle's scooter over his knee before Morrison hit an impressive spinning slam and Starship Pain for the win.
Riddle and Morrison are both great athletes, so it came as no surprise to see them put on a decent show in the ring. Had they been given a little more time and fewer distractions, it would have been the match of the night.
Watching Styles and Omos beat Riddle up post-match was an extra bit of fun, especially for anyone who finds Riddle annoying.
Morrison continues to be one of the great unsung heroes of WWE with his consistently great performances and comedic ability.