WWE Raw results, recap, grades: Roman Reigns’ reveal, a major heel turn and a title change
In one of the most emotional episodes of Raw in recent memory, WWE delivered a go-home swerve that’s among the single most shocking moments of the decade. On a night when Roman Reigns opened the three-hour show to share sad news that was anything but scripted, WWE perfectly toed the line between entertainment and bad taste in a way that toyed with wrestling fans’ emotions like no other genre of art can do.
Dean Ambrose’s heel turn, just seconds after he and Seth Rollins captured the Raw tag team titles after dedicating the match to their Shield brethren Reigns, was as grimy as it was immaculate thanks to perfect execution. Not only did this feel like it was straight out of the “Attitude Era,” it was as dramatic a restoration of faith in WWE creative after a post-SummerSlam stretch that has been anything but compelling. Storyline drama aside, the night’s developments regarding Reigns were heavy and moving as the biggest star in the business courageously bore all by sharing news that wasn’t easy to digest for anyone.
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Roman Reigns reveals real-life battle with leukemia
At just 33 years old, Reigns shocked the WWE Universe by opening Raw with the news that he will be forced to relinquish his universal title and step away in order to fight this disease. He also revealed publicly for the first time that this marks his second time being diagnosed. The segment became even more emotional when Reigns was greeted for a hug on the ramp by Ambrose and Rollins while announcer Corey Graves joined them in openly fighting back tears.
With Reigns’ universal title now vacant from a storyline perspective, Paul Heyman entered the ring to cut a promo after it was announced Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman would have a singles match at Crown Jewel on Nov. 2 at Crown Jewel for the championship. Heyman, who opened by tossing prayers and praise in the direction of Reigns, said Strowman wasn’t in Lesnar’s league, category or stratosphere and “not even a member of the same species.” The comment summoned Strowman to interject before saying Reigns would get the first title shot after he beats leukemia. Suddenly, Drew McIntyre laid him out from behind out of nowhere, one segment after he informed Dolph Ziggler backstage that he was going “monster hunting” and was the only WWE superstar who was unafraid of Strowman.
Focusing exclusively on the script here, credit WWE for its handling of the universal title by how quickly it readjusted without blowing things up unnecessarily. Simply put, no one is more deserving of a title reign than Strowman, who could use the rub of a clean and dominant win over Lesnar. With the seeds for a spinoff McIntyre feud already planted, the future still looks bright. The only thing we don’t know as of yet is which one will be the babyface. Grade: B+
How could you, Dean Ambrose?!
A backstage interview before the main event saw Ambrose get emotional. “There are not words to describe the ride the three of us have been on together for the last six years,” Ambrose said. “When you don’t know what to do and you don’t know what to say, you’ve just got to do what you know how to do and that’s win.” Rollins then dedicated their match to Reigns before closing with, “We love you, believe that.”
Raw Tag Team Championship — Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins def. Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre (c) via pinfall to win the titles: The crowd was hot throughout this four-segment match which featured dramatic near falls and a series of “This is awesome!” chants from the crowd. Rollins nearly tore the roof off by hitting a superplex into a Falcon Arrow for two on Ziggler before Dolph came right back with a Zig-Zag for another near fall. Just as the referee was inadvertently knocked out, Strowman came out to clothesline McIntyre over the top rope before the two brawled deep into the crowd.
Ambrose intercepted Ziggler’s attempt to use the tag belt as a weapon, and Rollins then hit the Stomp just as Ambrose revived the referee for the three-count. But as the new champions celebrated amid a huge pop from the Providence, Rhode Island, crowd, Ambrose hit Rollins with a Dirty Deeds on top of a title. Ambrose pounded the canvas and seemed torn by his decision before crawling over and attacking Rollins again while screaming, “Say it again! Watch your mouth! Watch your damn mouth!” With the crowd booing, Ambrose removed the padding on the floor to nail another Dirty Deeds before removing his shirt and exiting through the arena.
This was as good as it gets, and a reminder of what an edgy creative genius like WWE chairman Vince McMahon is still capable of. The fact that WWE left viewers unsure whether it was morally acceptable to enjoy the magnitude of Ambrose’s well-timed turn in light of Reigns’ illness was the exact reason it resonated so well. Setting up The Shield’s title win in such predictable fashion served as the perfect façade to hide such a genius turn behind it. The one night fans could be assured Ambrose wouldn’t turn on Rollins after such a never-ending and deliberate setup in the story turned out to be the best time to do just that. It’s great to be reminded just how surreal pro wrestling can make you feel, even in light of news that was rightfully presented as sad if not tragic. Grade: A+
What else happened on Raw?
- Finn Balor def. Bobby Lashley via pinfall: Hype man Lio Rush stayed busy throughout the match from ringside by putting over Lashley’s new heel persona. But despite getting a two-count on a stiff Samoan drop, Lashley was unable to finish him off. As Lashley lifted Balor up for his Dominator finisher, Balor reversed into a rollup to steal the victory in a fun match.
- Ruby Riott def. Sasha Banks via pinfall: Bayley and Natalya joined Banks at ringside to fend off the constant interruptions from the Riott Squad. Late in the match, Banks packaged a meteora from the second rope and a backstabber into a Banks Statement attempt. Shortly after Bayley cut off Sarah Logan’s attempt to run in, a brawl ensued outside with the Riott Squad getting the upper hand. Banks dropped the hold to help and knocked out Logan and Liv Morgan, but she ran into a Riott Kick upon re-entry to force the 1-2-3.
- D-Generation X interrupted by grave message: An in-ring promo from Triple H and Shawn MIchaels focused largely on nostalgia, with a stern warning to Kane and The Undertaker that they are coming to Crown Jewel “to kick your ass.” But just as HBK was set to end the generic rant with “two words,” the lights went out and the Brothers of Destruction appeared on the big screen from a cemetery. “Your first match against us will be your last match against anybody,” Taker said. “We will own your black and blistered souls for eternity.” Kane revealed a pair of gravestones with D-X’s names on them before Undertaker, after weeks of saying the opposite, told Triple H and Michaels, “you will never rest in peace.”
- Elias def. Apollo Crews via pinfall: For the second straight week, Crews interrupted Elias’ attempt to sing a song for the fans. A long rally from Crews during the match led to him getting a two-count following a standing shooting star press. Elias quickly countered with a running knee and his Drift Away finisher for the win. Shortly after, Elias returned to the stage to play his song until Baron Corbin ordered him to leave so he could relay an important message from Stephanie McMahon. After Elias played a song which mocked Corbin in the lyrics, Corbin had his microphone cut and threatened to fire him. Elias initially walked away before returning to break a guitar over Corbin’s back as the crowd showered him in babyface cheers.
- Ronda Rousey, Nikki Bella sign contracts for Evolution: Rousey alleviated the Bella Twins’ fear of sharing the ring with her by promising she wouldn’t lay a finger on them. “Unlike the two of you,” Rousey said, “my word is bond.” Bella delivered a perfectly snarky heel promo in which she called Rousey out for not coming through on promises to her mother that she would win Olympic gold, a world judo championship and retire unbeaten in UFC. “So tell me, Ronda, did you give your mother your word on all of those things?” Bella asked. After she signed the contract, Bella slapped Rousey across the face. Rousey collected herself, smiled and after signing, said, “Come Sunday, I will end you. I give you my word.” Mic drop.
- Kurt Angle promises a victory at Crown Jewel: Referencing his aging body that doesn’t always respond the way he wants it to, Angle ran down the field he’ll be facing in the World Cup tournament on Nov. 2 during a pre-taped promo. He closed by reminding the locker room of his confidence that, on any given night, he can still win.
- Ember Moon def. Tamina Snuka (via pinfall), Dana Brooke and Nia Jax in a fatal four-way match: In nothing short of an infomercial for Sunday’s battle royal at Evolution, Jax and Tamina continued to showcase their growing rivalry between female giants. The finish came quickly as Moon hit an Eclipse from the top rope on Snuka for the pin.
- Lita & Trish Stratus fight off blindside attack: The pair of WWE legends cut a promo on Sunday’s opponents during a backstage interview until Alicia Fox interrupted to say they will “be sent home where they belong.” As Lita prepared to deliver a message, Mickie James attacked both from behind and joined Fox in a beatdown. But as James began to celebrate, Lita and Trish returned the favor in a brief but fairly violent brawl that ended with Stratus saying, “That’s how we do it in the Attitude Era.” Inconspicuously absent from the segment was Alexa Bliss, who is scheduled to team with James on Sunday.
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