Welcome to Fightful's Live Coverage of Monday Night Raw.
My name is Alex Pawlowski, aka The A Train (as I was dubbed by our Livestream commenters last night), and I'll be your host throughout the night's events.
It's supposedly a new era for Raw tonight, they've got a new logo...
... which, honestly, looks kind of like the Dodge Ram logo with the last letter upside down.
It is, how shall I put this ... not fire.
But maybe Vince realized this and course corrected, because the logo on the new set appears to possibly literally be on fire.
Will other things be on fire tonight?--Besides Enzo's promo, we know that's going to be on fire.
Will Finn Balor finally debut?
Will Neville make his televised in-ring return?
To that end, what of this new Cruiserweight Division?
Who will step up next to challenge United States Champion Rusev?
What's next for the Women's Division?
Will Sasha get her one on one match with Charlotte at Summerslam?
Where does Nia Jax fit into all of this?
Who's going to become the new #1 Contenders for the The New Day's
Has Xavier recovered from seeing a hairy man do a back bridge?
Do his teammates blame him for their loss at Battleground?
Have Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens finally put this feud behind them?
(Spoiler Alert: Probably Not.)
What's next for Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins,
now that Dean Ambrose took the WWE Title back to Smackdown?
How pissed is Stephanie McMahon?
Will she take it out on Mick Foley?
Is Braun Strowman going to just wander around wearing a black sheep mask,
awkwardly trying to make new friends?
Let's find out, shall we?
—New opening with a new song for Monday Night Raw.
We have a new set with the Announce Table up by the stage in Monday Nitro Territory, complete with new color man, Corey Graves.
Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon bring out the whole roster.
Most importantly, Braun Strowman got a new haircut.
Stephanie puts all the blame for the title being on Smackdown squarely on Roman Reigns. She says that the people demand a title on Raw, and that's exactly what they're going to get. Two Fatal 4 Way matches tonight, winners face each other in the main event tonight, winner of that match goes on to face Seth Rollins at Summerslam for the brand new, named-after-the-fans WWE Universal Championship.
The 8 men in the two matches are:
Also, since Charlotte tapped out to Sasha Banks last night, she's going to face her one on one tonight for the Women's Championship.
Quite a debut for the New Era, Raw. So far, I wholeheartedly approve.
First Fatal 4-Way Starts Right Now.
Cesaro vs Rusev vs Kevin Owens vs Finn Balor
Finn gets a great first pop on the main roster. Leather Jacket, not Demon Finn, by the way.
He and KO have a little reunion to start out, going at it in the ring as Rusev and Cesaro bruise each other on the outside.
Kevin Owens runs the ropes and eats a Balor dropkick to the mush.
Cesaro throws Rusev into the barricade, then nails him with a cannonball from off the apron.
We go to commercial.
As we're back from the break we see Rusev and KO hazing the rookie with German Suplexes, trying to one up each other.
Rusev shitcans Balor to the outside and he and Owens turn to assaulting Cesaro.
Rusev goes to pin Cesaro and KO pulls him off. "Come on," he says. "I'm right here."
Then Owens does his running senton and instructs Rusev to "Do that flipping thing." By which he means to do his somersault senton. Rusev obliges.
Cesaro rolls out, Balor back in, fights back against the heels with elbows and forearms.
Cesaro ends up throwing an uppercut party nailing all three opponents.
Balor hits a somersault plancha to the outside and works over Cesaro in the ring.
To commercial we go, again.
Back from the break and I have no idea who's going to win this match. My GOD.
Rusev hits the tower of doom powerbomb on all three men.
Owens hits his TKO on Balor, also hits a Pop Up Powerbomb on him as well.
Cesaro hits a springboard uppercut, then starts to swing Owens. Rusev breaks it up.
He puts Owens in the Accolade and Cesaro breaks it up.
Rusev tries to put Cesaro in the accolade but Cesaro rolls through it, puts Rusev in the Sharpshooter. Owens breaks it up with a Superkick.
Balor back in out of nowhere, running front dropkick to Owens who falls back into Rusev, then eats a Slingblade.
Another dropkick to Rusev, then a Coup de Grace from Finn.
WINNER: FINN BALOR BY PINFALL
MY GOD, THAT MATCH.
Nia Jax vs Britt Baker(?)
It might have been a good idea for them to release a couple of vignettes for Nia before her in-ring debut. Nobody has a clue who she is.
But less people have a clue who Britt Baker(?) is.
This is an old fashioned squash match.
Nia DESTROYS this poor lady. Like, I hope her family wasn't watching.
Nia hits two different avalanches into the cover, then nails the leg drop ... TWICE.
Winner: Nia Jax by Pinfall.
Keep booking her like the female Goldberg circa 1997, please, thanks.
Golden Truth is Golden Truthing backstage. Ugh.
Sasha promos about how Charlotte's been ducking her, but she can't hide anymore, etc etc.
Brock Lesnar is apparently going to be on Raw next week.
Fatal 4-Way Number 2 is up.
Roman Reigns vs Sheamus vs Sami Zayn vs Jericho
I am approximately 10000% less excited for this one than I was for the last one.
Jericho and Sheamus gang up on Roman, then turn their attention to Sami Zayn who is able to fight them off long enough to get the upper hand. By that point, of course, Roman is back in the ring, and he catches Zayn napping with a modified back suplex.
Zayn fights back again, sends Roman over the top rope. He starts to run the ropes for his tope con giro, but is caught by Sheamus standing on the apron. Sheamus does his "Beating the Drum" thing, but Jericho hits his springboard dropkick on Sheamus. Roman is back in, knocks everyone to the floor, then does his crazy running plancha to the outside nailing them all.
AFTER THESE MESSAGES, WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.
Back from commercial and Jericho & Sheamus are at it again, double teaming Roman. Zayn gets involved, leaving an opening for Roman to take charge. He beats on the heels for a while, then Sami suckers him into a Blue Thunder Bomb, getting a 2-and-a-half count.
Roman nails his Razor's Edge Powerbomb, gets a two count on Sami.
Brogue Kick from Sheamus to Roman, IMMEDIATELY followed by Helluva Kick from Sami to Sheamus.
Jericho breaks up the pin, puts Zayn in the Walls of Jericho for about a decade and a half.
Brogue kick by Sheamus, pinfall broken up by Sami.
SUPERMAN PUNCHES FOR ALL.
YOU GET A SUPERMAN PUNCH!
YOU GET A SUPERMAN PUNCH!
YOU GET A SUPERMAN PUNCH!
EVERYBODY GETS A SUPERMAN PUNCH!
Jericho botches a Codebreaker reversal into a Superman Punch, then takes one anyway.
Roman goes for the spear, right into a kick, then Codebreaker. Nearfall.
Jericho decides to taunt Roman, by kind of doing the "Ooh-Ah!" thing and rushing for a spear of his own.
Roman leapfrogs him, runs the ropes and hits the Spear.
WINNER: Roman Reigns by Pinfall.
So tonight we get Roman vs Finn for the #1 Contendership for the brand new WWE Universal Championship.
What a time to be alive.
—New Day's Big Celebration
They've been champs for 337 days, breaking the record for longest Tag Team reign.
To celebrate, they have an amazing video package and they've made their pretend butthole cereal into a reality.
That's right, Booty-O's is available for pre-order for the not low-low price of 13 bucks.
I say again, what a time to be alive.
They bring an obvious plant out of the audience to be an honorary member of the New Day.
They have a really long, really unfunny bit about this obvious plant's obviously fake name, and then Gallows and Anderson show up to wreck shop. They beat down Woods and Kofi, then give a Magic Killer to Big E.
And then they intimidate the obvious plant.
And then they botch the Too Sweet symbol.
This was a weird segment.
Neville vs Curtis Axel
Jojo introduces Axel as "Raw's Mr. Irrelevant," since he was picked last.
He takes umbrage at that fact, saying they saved the best for last.
Worthy of mentioning: Bo Dallas is not out with Axel.
Also: Neville has kept the beard and it suits him. He looks like a Dwarf-Elf half-breed from Middle Earth and I'm a huge geek, aren't I?
Neville hasn't lost a step. He even nails Axel with a dead lift German Suplex, then sets him up for the Red Arrow. That move will always be over with the crowd, but they were dead for 98% of the match.
Come on people, get hyped for Neville. Hopefully when he's turning in amazing matches against Kota Ibushi in 9 months for the Cruiserweight Championship, you guys won't be sitting on your hands.
WINNER: Neville by Pinfall.
Golden Truth Golden Truthing backstage as Bob Backlund yells and projectiles spittle all over Darren Young's face.
HEY WE FINALLY GET A FINN BALOR VIGNETTE 2 HOURS LATE.
Charlotte promos about how she's going to beat Sasha Banks.
That's weird. I expected her to promo about how she's scared of Sasha and wants to go home to daddy.
Sasha Banks vs Charlotte
We start with a tie up that lasts at least a minute. These women know each other so well.
Dana gets involved early, grabbing Sasha's ankle from down on the floor. The ref says he's got his eye on her. Sasha shrugs it off, going for a straitjacket hold, wrenching Charlotte back over her knee. It looked brutal. Speaking of brutal. Sasha hits a baseball slide dropkick to Charlotte on the floor, then hit her double knees spot off the apron. Brutal. Charlotte regains control with a kick to Sasha, putting her skull-first into the barricade. Charlotte grabs the belt and rubs Sasha's face in it. Charlotte slides in to break the count, leaving the belt behind.
In what will probably be a moment in the highlight package when Sasha is inducted into the Hall of Fame, she picks up the Belt, tosses it to Dana Brooke, then falls down. The ref sees Dana with the belt, see Sasha on the ground, and ejects Dana from ringside.
Viva la Raza.
We go to commercial as Sasha waves bye bye to Dana.
Back from the break, and this is a very even match. Back and forth, the two best women in the company.
Sasha hits a suicide dive through the ropes and lands awkwardly. A lesser woman might have died. And I am not kidding.
Later, Charlotte hits a Moonsault from the top rope to the floor and my god, one of these women might not walk away from this thing.
Charlotte hits a big boot, then Natural Selection, but Sasha gets her foot on the rope.
THIS IS THE BEST WOMEN'S MATCH ON RAW EVER.
Figure 4, with both women slapping the Holy Living Christmas out of each other, bridged into the Figure 8. Sasha pulls herself to the ropes and out of the ring.
She's able to lock in the Banks Statement, but Charlotte gets a foot in the ropes.
There is a staredown between the two, and Charlotte rushes Sasha with a clothesline. Sasha dodges and counters it into a backstabber and the Banks Statement.
YOUR WINNER, AND NNNEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWW
WWE WOMEN'S CHAMPION, SASHA BANKS!
There are Yes! chants and You Deserve It chants, because Yes, She Does.
Braun Strowman vs A Guy Who Regrets His Life Choices
Yeah, Braun's gonna do just fine on his own, if he keeps facing dudes that are literally 1/3 his size.
He does what they are calling a "Reverse Chokeslam," which is him picking up this poor guy by the back of his neck and slamming him on his face.
WINNER: Braun Strowman by Pinfall.
I love the idea of just booking local talent to face him and Nia Jax for the next three weeks, then put them on the pre-show vs like Bo Dallas and Summer Rae and have them do the same stuff to actual WWE Superstars. Continue that trend until they're fully established, then have them start facing stiffer competition. Build them as real monsters.
I LOVE THE NEW ERA.
Golden Truth backstage Golden Truthing.
I HATE THEM SO MUCH.
Enzo & Cass vs The Shining Stars
Enzo & Cass come out and do a promo about things that are better Raw.
And they're interrupted by The Shining Stars who are trying to heel by inviting people to leave Pittsburgh and visit the island paradise of Puerto Rico.
Listen, I've been to Pittsburgh, and it is objectively not as nice as Puerto Rico.
Everyone in that arena should take the Shining Stars up on their generous offer.
Anyway, the match is quick, and is interrupted by:
GOLDEN TRUTH IN THE RING GOLDEN TRUTHING.
(at least they pay off the running gag from all night, which is that they're playing Pokemon Go all over backstage and now R-Truth follows a Rattata or whatever through the ring, distracting Primo and setting him up for a)
BIG CASS BIG BOOT.
WINNER: Enzo & Cass by Pinfall
Roman Reigns vs Finn Balor
Man alive, this match has the potential to be amazing.
Roman starts off by chucking Finn all over the damn ring, with Finn selling his ass off.
Eventually, Finn finds himself down in the ropes in perfect position for the Drive By dropkick, but he dodges it, and hits a mini-Coup de Grace over the ropes and onto Roman on the apron.
Finn then hits a huge dropkick, driving Roman into the barricade, as we go to commercial.f
Back from the break and we see that Finn's been working Roman's left knee for a bit.
But Roman keeps working heel (!!!!!!!!), using his much larger frame to keep Finn grounded.
He does that schoolboy to deadlift to sitout powerbomb thing for a two count.
Finn dodges a Superman Punch, hits an enzuigiri, a dropkick, a running knee and a Coup de Grace to the back of Roman's head.
Only a nearfall.
Balor hits a slingblade, sets Reigns up for the corner dropkick, but Reigns counters with a Superman punch, but only a 2 count.
Reigns goes for his Avalanche Razor's Edge Powerbomb, but Balor counters with a roll-up, Roman counters with a double powerbomb. Two count.
Roman goes for the spear, but FINN HITS THE SLINGBLADE.
HE HITS THE CORNER DROPKICK.
HE HITS THE COUP DE GRACE.
HE GETS THE 1 2 3.
WINNER: FINN BALOR
WHAT A GODDAMN TIME TO BE ALIVE.
Comeback Tuesday afternoon for my Uncooked Raw Reaction, where I'll give you my piping hot takes about all of tonight's events.
Until then, I've been Alex Pawlowski
and you can follow me on Twitter @pawlowskithe4th