Top Contender Match
Keith Lee defeated Sheamus
I'm not sure what would have garnered Sheamus a top contender match. Existing near Drew McIntyre? Winning the tag match? His last singles win was over two months ago. That just isn't how I personally like seeing people built for a "top contender" match.
Keith Lee isn't happy about Sheamus and says he doesn't trust Drew. Sheamus understandbly says that he attacked Keith Lee for running his mouth about turning on Drew. I don't blame Sheamus for beating up the dude who constantly badgers him about turning on his friend. Drew tries to start the match, but Sheamus Brogue Kicks Lee.
If this is an indication of Vince McMahon's preferred Sirloin Beef Sunsabitches style, it's a pretty good one. Lee does a great CrossBuick, and Sheamus does an incredibly hefty White Noise. I don't care if it's Keith Lee doing it, seeing Sheamus go up for a Spirit Bomb is really impressive. Keith Lee goes outside the ring and gets face to face with Drew McIntyre after the match.
Gran Metalik (w/ Lince Dorado) defeated The Miz (w/ John Morrison)
Gran Metalik scores a sneaky pin on The Miz after trying several. I liked this. It showed that you could get a pin even after trying several times. Miz has the Money in the Bank briefcase back after looking super dejected. Adam Pearce says only Miz could cash in the briefcase. I love this swerve. It's new, and different and something they haven't done in 15 years of the briefcase.
Shayna Baszler defeated Dana Brooke (w/ Mandy Rose)
Whoever agented this match didn't make a lot of sense of it. The action in the ring was good though. I could watch Shayna Baszler work over someone's arm every week. Baszler has the Kirafuda Clutch on outside the ring, and I think that would have been a really good finish. For some reason, Baszler breaks the countout at 8, and attacks Mandy Rose. I don't get it. Just wait a couple of seconds. Regardless, this goes back in the ring and it's really good. Baszler hits a big knee, and chokes out Dana, then Mandy. This was a really serviceable segment, and no sign of Nia Jax for some reason.
AJ Styles (w/ Omos) defeated Elias (w/ Jaxson Ryker)
AJ Styles and Omos bust in on Elias for playing music. AJ Styles screams "FRICK YEAH" after burning Elias. Omos is really working well in his role.
AJ Styles takes a back body drop like no other. I love the Old School Meteora , but I think it's time to abandon that spot as it doesn't make a bit of sense. There's some great action in this. Elias is pulling everything out of his arsenal. We haven't really seen what he can do of late. This was only his 14th televised match in about 16 months. Included are three gimmick guitar matches, two battle royals and a giant ten man tag. We've actually got to see him work in about ten matches in that period. Styles wins with the Phenomenal Forearm.
Mustafa Ali (w/ Retribution) defeated Ricochet
The in-ring work on Raw has been awesome lately, it's just that almost nobody wins consistently or gets over. This match is a really good indicator of that. There's Retribution slamming Ricochet into a barricade, followed by an Ali splash. A backflip into a German suplex by Ricochet. Then Mace pulls out Ali, but there's no DQ to break up the pin. What?
Ricochet beats the living shit out of the entire faction in amazing fashion. Really great stuff and one of the best examples of Ricochet getting to be Ricochet. He eats knees and gets put to sleep. Who got over here? Ricochet beat up all of Retribution, but got put to bed. He passes on joining Retribution and drops a corny line after attacking Ali.
Charlotte Flair (w/ Asuka) defeated Nia Jax (w/ Shayna Baszler) via DQ
Both Nia and Shayna enter the Royal Rumble.
There's always a distraction. Always some goofiness. Always someone else. Every match tonight had something else involved or at ringside. This match is okay at best, which is a ringing endorsement for Jax these days. Her sitdown powerbomb looked great, but you know the drill. Interference and a DQ. Again, who gets over here? Getting someone DQ'd when they're about to tap out in non-title matches rarely make sense.
R-Truth interrupts Angel Garza giving Charly Caruso a rose.
Hurt Business defeated Positively Hard Bros
Riddle pitches the team name to be the Positively Hard Bros. Well.
Xavier Woods used Brodie Lee's big discus lariat during the match. That was emotional. Tom Phillips even called it as such. Lashley gets the win over Jeff Hardy after a wild series to close the match. Bobby Lashley has been heavily protected as United States Champion and I love it.
INTERGENDER FIRE SETTING
Alexa Bliss gets out a gas can out of a wrapped present and challenges Orton to set her on fire. Alexa Bliss calls Randy Orton a little bitch and pours gasoline on herself. I love that Orton is like "I won't set you on fire because you want me to do it" instead of "I don't wanna go to FUCKIN JAIL, BRO."
We end with a cliffhanger. Did he burn her alive? Tune in next week!
10- Perfect, 9- MOTY Territory, 8- Excellent, 7- Great, 6- Good, 5- Average to above average, 4- Slightly below average, 3 or below: Poor
Each match starts at a 5 and slides up and down based on entertainment, execution, time, environment, reaction and stakes. The ratings are in no way an indication of a "star rating," which is a completely different system. A standard, non-offensive "TV match" lands at a 5. The gap between 5.75-6 is generally the largest, with anything reaching 6 being recommended viewing.
These are opinions, and incredibly inconsistent ones that may change upon a second viewing, or sitting on the match for a period of time. Don't take them too seriously, and have (and share) your own!