This Week in WWE: The Phenomenal One rises again, KO's old habits die hard

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Robert O’Neill: The first Raw after the Superstar Shakeup looks positively loaded, with WWE having announced a pair of triple threat matches to decide the #1 contender for Seth Rollins’ title:

AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe (who is on Raw now, more on that in a moment) vs. Rey Mysterio in one, and Miz vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Baron Corbin in the other.

Additionally, Cesaro (who is also on Raw now) will be facing Cedric Alexander and Becky Lynch will face Alicia Fox.

As noted, Samoa Joe and Cesaro are on Raw now. Andrade, Zelina Vega, and Aleister Black are on Smackdown.

Chris Novak: The show, officially, is starting up with Triple H. Not sure what The Game has to say/what’s on his mind, but we’ll soon see. Before he even gets started, Seth Rollins, who’s from iowa in case you didn’t know, comes out. Seth touts up the fact that he’s home, which naturally garners a loud reception. Triple H touts up his victory and points out how the landscape has changed and that he’s now the measuring stick. Rollins says he’s fine with everyone gunning for him though.

Robert O’Neill: Samoa Joe comes out and says that Becky Lynch is onto something with the double champion concept and he would like to be a double champion as well! Then Rey Mysterio comes out and says that he wants to face Seth! Then Drew McIntyre tells them it doesn’t matter what they think or what the people think, and the only reason Seth is champion is because he got to Brock first. Miz says that he’s faced Rollins before, but he’s a different man now and wants to do it again.

Chris Novak: This is pretty much your basic, stock revolving door promo. Baron Corbin comes out and says he’s the most deserving man to challenge Seth. He points out that he retired a legend at WrestleMania. AJ Styles comes on out, last but not least, of course. Styles says, of course, that he intends on winning and showing why SmackDown was the house that AJ Styles built. Seth then says he’s up for the task and will burn it down, yada yada, and now we’re on to our first Triple Threat Match -- AJ Styles vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Samoa Joe.

Robert O’Neill: What a damn match. These three guys are all over 40 and had one of the best TV matches of the year. Samoa Joe did a super double backdrop, and AJ Styles got the win after taking down Joe, then Styles Clashing Mysterio on top of him. That was incredible.

Chris Novak: It certainly was great.

Now we’re getting Naomi vs. Billie Kay. Last week, Naomi got the pin for the win last week in a tag team match featuring new SmackDown superstar, Bayley. Now, Naomi’s on her own. What ever will she do now? Well, for Naomi’s sake, hopefully defeat Billie Kay.

She defeated Billie Kay with a sunset flip. The match was… very short.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah that seems like it could have been a bit longer!

Chris Novak: They ran another Bray Wyatt vignette.

Triple Threat Match #2 is about to start. Unsurprisingly, this winds up being a pretty great match too. Drew showed out big time, and so did Miz. Corbin played his role pretty well here too. Lot of great near falls towards the end of this one. Corbin won after McIntyre hit the Claymore Kick on Miz. He snuck in, sent Mac flying and got the pin. Honestly, a pretty smartly booked finish. I don’t love the prospect of Corbin-Rollins at all, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Robert O’Neill: Sami Zayn is here! He’s telling everyone the truth about themselves, and accuses everyone of being in denial, then starts showing everyone all the vacations he took over the past 10 months and how happy he was. And now he’s not happy because the WWE structure sucks and the people around him suck and Des Moines sucks. He closes by saying everyone should take a trip… to hell!

Chris Novak: As usual, a legitimately funny promo again from Sami.

Cedric Alexander vs. Cesaro is NEXT!

Turned out to be a pretty solid match, honestly. Cesaro picked up the win after destroying Cedric with an uppercut. Ceddy got some good offense in but, in the end, it was Cesaro who prevailed. Dug this entirely, to be perfectly honest.

Robert O’Neill: The newly-named Viking Raiders demolished Lucha House Party. Alright then!

Becky Lynch is here now. She’s not pleased with Lacey Evans, and was kind of problematic about it. So here’s Lacey now, and she’s naturally not pleased with Becky and wants her to know to be on high alert at Money In The Bank. That was effective but, again, kind of not great on Becky’s end.

Chris Novak: I don’t think you can say “kind of.” She was problematic. Don’t care for the direction here and, quite frankly, don’t care much for the promo battle in general.

Becky’s now facing Alicia Fox. I can give you a few guesses to how this match will go. It actually went… a bit differently than I expected. Even though Becky win, it certainly went longer than I expected it would. Nevertheless, she won, and Lacey Evans came in and hit her with The Women’s Right two times.

Robert O’Neill: That match went a bit long but it worked out in the end.

Ricochet is here now for a match with Robert Roode. He has a mustache now and his name is Robert.

Chris Novak: Hey, it’s a throwback to Robert Roode Inc. He also just has a stache now so he looks like Rick Rude. Is that what they’re trying to play off of? Who’s to really say?

This match went… fine. I guess. I think I’m suddenly remembering why Roode as a singles guy got really old really quickly. It’s not that this is bad. It’s just not very high-energy. The Des Moines crowd doesn’t particularly help matters, either. Also… very surprising result in that Roode beat Ricochet. That’s the… first loss that I can remember Ricochet having in a while.

Robert O’Neill: I enjoyed the match. Bob Roode is the Iowa of wrestlers, so they should have liked it more.

BRAY WYATT IS A CHILDREN’S HOST NOW.

Chris Novak: God damn that vignette was awesome hahaha. Time for Styles-Corbin.

A Moment of Bliss is set to take place next week, in which Alexa will be announcing the Raw side of things. Sure do wonder if she’s going to announce herself as one of the participants (she’s probably going to).

Okay! That was a SURPRISING result (in a good way!). AJ Styles defeated Baron Corbin with the Phenomenal Forearm. Match was pretty solid. I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty intrigued

Robert O’Neill: Yeah, they got me I thought Corbin was going to win and everyone online was going to be very mad about it. This was a nice surprise.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Just like every week, I enjoyed Raw and found myself entertained throughout. This is where it gets difficult to assign a letter grade because if you compare it to the fall when the show was actually awful, it’s night and day. Every show obviously isn’t an A+, but when most things hit and I’m not bored or displeased by everything, it deserves an A-

Chris Novak: I’m going to give this show a B. It was not nearly as bad as people thought it was going to be, and helped to set some pieces for future development. I look forward to seeing who’s going to be in MITB next week during AMOB. The in-ring action was pretty good, although the women’s matches… missed the mark for me. So that’s why I’m going to give this a B. A quality show that could’ve definitely been aided by better in-ring work in certain departments.

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Chris Novak: SmackDown Live is beginning with Shane McMahon. I have a hunch that we’ll probably spend the next few minutes hearing Greg Hamilton call him the best in the world. If that sounds a little cynical, I’m sorry, but this has certainly gotten a bit old. Alright, luckily they didn’t do this for too long. Shane says he’s here to talk about Roman Reigns and what he did to Vince last week. He goes over possible options for discipline, but instead just orders that he come out here. So, naturally, here comes Roman to the ring.

Robert O’Neill: He squared up with Shane, but Elias came out from behind and attacked and the Big Dog fell to the numbers. Not ideal!

Chris Novak: Roman is going to need to find some friends. Anyways, Andrade and Finn Balor are about to face off again. The match was fun, although I think their Raw match was better. Finn got the better of him this time around after a misdial by Zelina Vega. I’m digging this feud and don’t really care that they 50-50’d it. This all really worked for me.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah that was fun. I’m here for that continuing as an Intercontinental Title feud

Peyton Royce is facing Kairi Sane as the tag scene continues to be developed. Sane gets the win relatively quickly, as the IIconics look weak for the second straight night.

Chris Novak: “Look weak.” There’s never been another setting for the IIconics, Rob. Never.

Aleister Black had a short vignette where he actually wore a t-shirt. Didn’t speak at length or anything, but I’m intrigued a bit to see where it all goes.

Chad Gable-Jinder Mahal is a match that was supposed to happen, but never did. Why? Lars Sullivan came out, beat up Chad Gable and the Singhs. R-Truth tried to avenge what happened last week, but he too caught a beatdown.

Roman Reigns was interviewed by Kayla Braxton in the back. Reigns accepted Elias’ challenge for a match at Money in the Bank. So, that should be fun!

Robert O’Neill: Charlotte is here, and she’s ready to go face to face with Becky Lynch for the first time since Wrestlemania. That’s exciting. She’s not sure why she lost her title since Becky didn’t beat *her*, but Becky reminds Charlotte what winner takes all means.

But then Bayley comes out! And she’s tired of Charlotte getting all the opportunities all the time, and isn’t going to take it anymore!

Chris Novak: Two words: Fuck. Yeah. Bayley also told Becky that she’s never beaten her (Facts! At least on the main roster) before. This sets up a match between Bayley and Charlotte Flair, where the winner will get a future title shot at Becky Lynch.

Bayley and Charlotte’s match was an outstanding one. They did some great limb work with Bayley working through a bum knee that wound up being her undoing. Tremendous fire shown from her though, and great crowd chants in her direction (I’m shocked that everything reversed course here). Bayley didn’t win, as she succumbed to the Figure Eight. But she still looked great in defeat.

Becky doesn’t really have a problem with facing Lacey and/or Charlotte. Will that be her undoing? Time will tell!

Robert O’Neill: Really great match. Seems like they have big summer plans for Bayley, and I’m here for it.

Kofi Kingston vs. Shinsuke Nakamura is next!

Robert O’Neill: It was a very good match before Rusev (in a suit) interfered to cause a disqualification. Woods and Kevin Owens hit the ring to take care of Nakamura and Rusev, but the two get their shots in and it comes down to Kofi and Shinsuke yet again. Kofi takes him out but runs right into a Kevin Owens superkick! Owens spends the final few minutes of the show picking Kofi and Woods apart.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Well, if I gave Raw an A- and enjoyed Smackdown more than Raw, Smackdown gets an A! Fun stuff this week.

Chris Novak: God this show is so good. Week-to-week. We had a great, GREAT TV match in Bayley-Charlotte, some fun matches elsewhere, and a not-so-surprising heel turn by Kevin Owens to cap off the show. I look forward to KO-Kofi down the road. Give me an A for this show.