WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from October 25
WWE ushered in a new era on its Raw brand on Monday with the introduction of new faces and stories for fans to follow through the end of the year.
Who stepped up to challenge Big E for the WWE Championship? Would RK-Bro find closure with AJ Styles and Omos as they battled for the red brand's tag team titles? What direction would the women's title picture take?
Those questions and more awaited on the October 25 episode of WWE's flagship show.
Big E Kicks Off the New Era of WWE Raw
Sonya Deville revealed in a blockbuster announcement to kick off the show that the next contender to Big E's WWE Championship would be determined later tonight in a Fatal 4-Way ladder match featuring four former world champions in Seth Rollins, Rey Mysterio, Kevin Owens and Finn Balor.
The former champions kicked off this new era of Raw by interrupting Big E and staking their claims to the No. 1 contendership.
Rollins sent the segment spiraling by attacking Owen's, sparking a brawl that ended with the announcement of said main event.
Longtime wrestling fans could have booked this one without thinking twice. It was very much in line with WWE booking tendencies, and though that isn't necessarily a bad thing, it does set up three stars to lose on their very first night on Raw.
The match will probably be awesome based on the talent involved, but booking a ladder match out of the blue seems like a dangerous, unnecessary ratings grab.
Triple Threat Tag Team Match to Determine the No. 1 Contenders
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode benefited from outside interference from Omos, who weakened Montez Ford and left Angelo Dawkins without a tag team partner in a Triple Threat match that also involved Otis and Chad Gable.
Ziggler and Roode, veteran competitors, seized the opening and delivered a Fameasser-spinebuster combination for the win and a shot at Riddle and Randy Orton's Raw Tag Team Championship later in the evening.
Ziggler and Roode defeated The Street Profits and Alpha Academy
The psychology employed by Alpha Academy, including Otis pulling Ziggler off Ford at one point and dragging him into the corner so he could tag himself in for the pin attempt, was excellent. Otherwise, the chemistry of the three teams was on full display.
The Street Profits, in particular, are just so good at bringing raw energy and excitement to their performances. They are the perfect option to work alongside a stale Omos and Styles pairing that could use a spark.
Ziggler and Roode are a solid tag team and established competitors. They should work very well with Orton and Riddle, who are a surprisingly great tandem.
Zelina Vega's Coronation and Match with Doudrop
Zelina Vega kicked off her reign as Queen of the Ring by vowing to be a queen that is beautiful, generous, cruel, loved and feared. She called on everyone to hail her, but Doudrop's music played, and the runner-up in the tournament made her way to the ring for a rematch of the final.
Doudrop dominated the match, overpowering Vega. She thwarted a comeback attempt by the new queen, but an alert Vega exposed a turnbuckle pad. A momentary distraction of the official allowed Zelina to grab her scepter and blast Doudrop with it en route to a pinfall victory.
Vega defeated Doudrop
Vega cut a confident promo considering she hasn't had the opportunity to talk as the main figure in a segment in a long time. She looks the part, she has the personality to carry that crown as a lead villain in the women's division and she can thrive as the pipsqueak heel who talks a big game but has to cheat to win.
The match itself was fine for what it was and featured a finish that supports the idea that this Queen of the Ring may be one who rules by breaking the rules.
Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch Throw Down
Becky Lynch made her way to the ring, still glowing following her victory in Saudi Arabia over Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks. She touted her victory and talked trash on Belair before The EST of WWE made her presence felt.
Belair reminded Lynch that she pinned Banks at Crown Jewel and only did that because Big Time Becks cheated. Lynch took exception to that and told her top contender to "get to the back of the line, b---h!"
Belair attacked and a brawl ensued, ending with Lynch narrowly escaping a beatdown. Frustrated and embarrassed, she accepted the challenge for a match with Belair...just not tonight.
This was some quality promo work from the two best talkers in the women's division.
Lynch has embraced this heel persona and absolutely relishes being the baddie. She hits all the nerves, knows how to manipulate the audience and somehow strengthens the babyface's argument at the same time. Most importantly, she is a heel who believes her means are just, and the result is typically a promo dripping in conviction.
Then there is Belair, who is so natural on the mic that it's a wonder she didn't have more opportunities to showcase her charisma in NXT. She commands attention, and promos like this work because of it. She is real in a company of scripted and, sometimes, dry performers who work entire careers to connect with audiences the way she has. She is a breakout star who has absolutely earned every ounce of success she has enjoyed this year.
Damian Priest vs. T-Bar
United States champion Damian Priest battled T-Bar in a championship contender match, the latter potentially benefiting from what would have been an upset victory.
The battle of the big men, a throwback to Ring of Honor a few years back, came to a sudden end when T-Bar threw an office chair at The Archer of Infamy. Suddenly enraged, Priest snapped, obliterating his opponent. He sent him into the barricade, brought him back into the ring, flattened him with the Reckoning and stood tall to close out the segment.
Priest defeated T-Bar via disqualification
We are witnessing a shift in character for Priest, who debuted new theme music and an edgier persona. Time will tell if it works, but he is definitely a character who felt perfectly fine as he was. He was big, charismatic and athletic. The Archer of Infamy character was cool and different. Why change it up to make him essentially like anyone else, with a penchant for losing his cool at times?
If this was the start of a feud with T-Bar, given the talent of both performers and their previous work together, it is hardly a bad thing. The artist formerly known as Dominik Dijakovic wasted a year of his career going nowhere as part of Retribution. Letting him reestablish himself and showcase his skills against a like-skilled performer is exactly what the proverbial doctor called for.
Unfortunately, he felt like a sacrificial lamb to this new Priest, a guy who doesn't have the cool, calm demeanor of his past self.
Liv Morgan vs. Carmella
Carmella and Liv Morgan wrote the latest chapter in their rivalry as they met in singles competition. The former sported her new mask designed to protect her face. It worked momentarily as she seized early control of the match. Morgan fought back, though, and taunted her opponent's new fiance, Corey Graves, at the commentary position.
That momentary halt in her momentum allowed Carmella to seize an opening and pick up the pinfall victory.
Carmella defeated Morgan
This was every other match between these two, with an equally dumbfounding finish.
Morgan is over and waiting for her opportunity to break out and become the star everyone knows she is. Having her lose, again, to enhance a Carmella character who is a bit too one-dimensional really helps no one. We know Carmella is a heel. She has been for years. What does she actually gain from this?
It has been a long time since a rivalry did more to cool a character off quite like this one has done for Morgan, who feels like an also-ran instead of a breakout, as she was for a brief moment in time on SmackDown a month or so ago.
Keith "Bearcat" Lee vs. Cedric Alexander
The newly repackaged Keith "Bearcat" Lee made his debut Monday night against Cedric Alexander.
The big man overpowered, rag-dolled and otherwise obliterated the former tag team champion en route to an impressive, one-sided victory.
After the match, Shelton Benjamin entered the ring to potentially confront Lee but backed down.
Lee defeated Alexander
Take one opponent. Let monstrous newcomer toss him around. Repeat.
It is an easy formula, and it worked here. Lee looked physically dominant, showed off his new arsenal and stood intimidating in the face of Benjamin challenging said dominance.
The nickname may never stick, and the growl at the beginning of his entrance theme is ridiculous, but the in-ring presentation of this worked well and presented Lee as a potential big star.
Dominik Mysterio vs. Austin Theory
Backstage, Dominik Mysterio talked up father Rey ahead of tonight's ladder match when Austin Theory entered the picture. He feigned fandom of Rey before insulting Dominik, who challenged him to a match.
The competitors clashed in singles competition that concluded with the 24-year-old prodigy Theory scoring the win. A post-match selfie with his fallen opponent followed.
Theory defeated Mysterio
This was a match that happened. Theory looks great, Dominik is continuously learning at this point in his career, and the seeds have been planted for a rivalry between Theory and Rey moving forward, if the creative team so pleases.
There was nothing more or less to it. It accomplished what it set out to in putting over the heel, and for that, it gets a passing grade.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match: RK-Bro vs. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode
Just over an hour after defeating The Street Profits and Alpha Academy to earn the title opportunity, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode challenged RK-Bro's Randy Orton and Riddle for the Raw Tag Team Championship.
After being cut off numerous times early, the heels settled down and wrested control of the bout from the champs, working over Orton to great avail. The Viper finally fought back, created separation and tagged The Original Bro into the match. Riddle wiped out his opponents with an energy-packed arsenal that included an overhead suplex and senton.
Orton caught Roode with an RKO, and Ziggler downed him with a superkick. The Showoff and Riddle sparred, countering and reversing pinfalls until the babyface scored the pinfall for the successful title defense.
RK-Bro defeated Roode and Ziggler
This was every bit as good as one should have expected. Ziggler and Roode worked very well with Orton but also bumped and sold well for Riddle. Ziggler, in particular, demonstrated a ton of chemistry with Riddle. Their history of amateur wrestling made for a fun exchange late that culminated with the babyface keeping his opponent's shoulders down for one second longer.
Who knows where this leaves RK-Bro moving forward, but fun matches like this have helped enhance a team that has no business being as good or entertaining as it is.
Fatal 4-Way Ladder Match
Seth Rollins survived the chaos, physicality and brutality of the Fatal 4-Way ladder match to earn a shot at Big E's WWE Championship in the main event of Raw, defeating Finn Balor, Kevin Owens and Rey Mysterio.
A powerbomb from Owens drove Mysterio through a table and eliminated him from the equation. An equally devastating powerbomb by Rollins through a ladder erased any chance KO had of retrieving the contract, while a stomp to Balor ended his night in disappointment.
Rollins engaged Big E in a bout of trash talk following the contest and then reiterated his status as a revolutionary and visionary to close out the broadcast.
Rollins defeated Balor, Mysterio and Owens
Owens' penchant for big ladder bumps is equal parts admirable and ridiculous. He throws his body around on ladders as if he were actually trained to fall on them, wracking his body with pain while selling the high-risk, high-reward nature of these matches. He was integral to the overall quality of the match and deserves recognition, even in defeat.
Rollins winning the match was the right call. The guy has been absolutely extraordinary this year, wrestling some of the best matches of his career. He has earned a championship opportunity and a long main event program.
The impending feud with Big E should be a ton of fun based on the enormous personalities of the performers involved and, more importantly, their skills and abilities between the ropes. There is a definitive heel, too, which will only help enhance Big E's status as a babyface world champion at a time when that should be goal No. 1.