This Week in WWE: There Truly is No Stronger Connection...

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Chris Novak: Raw emanates tonight from Baltimore, Maryland. There’s a lot that will go down here tonight with Clash of Champions less than two weeks away. We begin with the contract signing for Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman’s Universal Championship Match at CoC. 

Robert O’Neill: I’m not a big contract signing fan because they’re all very similar, but let’s see how this one goes! 

Michael Cole asks how the two can co-exist as a tag team even though they have a title match later that night. They both say it won’t be a big deal though. They’ll beat Roode and Ziggler and retain the title, but Braun says he’s gonna win the title from Rollins later in the night. AJ Styles and The OC come out, though, and they don’t get why Strowman was just handed an opportunity and why Styles doesn’t have a US Title match at Clash of Champions. Strowman and Rollins have heard enough though and team up to get The OC out of the ring.

It leads to a match between The OC and Braun/Seth.

Chris Novak: Thought Styles’ jab at Cole was hilarious to be honest. Solid segment, nothing special. Things broke down but not between Braun and Seth so that was different than usual. 

The match eventually breaks down to the point where The OC, Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler all beat Seth and Braun down. Some effective heel work here, and it’s kinda cool to see the bad guys band together.

Robert O’Neill: Cedric Alexander is being interviewed by Charly Caruso and The OC come up and ambush him! OK, I like this. Let them beat everyone up tonight.

Chris Novak: Okay I am totally with this if this leads to Cedric facing AJ Styles at Clash of Champions. That would be a great spot for Alexander, especially since it’s in his hometown of Charlotte. 

Anyways, back to the ring already. Dolph and Bobby ar still here, facing Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder. Tag team wrasslin is overtaking things tonight! 

Robert O’Neill: That was fine. Roode and Ziggler won. Onward. 

Chris Novak: Lacey Evans is, apparently, facing Natalya again. I don’t know why this is happening. But it’s happening. Okay, and Lacey wins. The match was… fine. I just don’t know what it accomplished or what it does for either right now. Such is life in the “midcard” of the women’s division! 

Becky Lynch is coming out next to address Sasha Banks’ comments towards her. 

Robert O’Neill: Becky says Sasha (and Charlotte) has been treated better since they were in NXT and she’s not going to take it anymore, and wants Sasha to come out there. Becky also says Bayley is much better off without Sasha. Whew. 

Sasha comes out and says she doesn’t want to do this tonight in front of THESE people. She wants to do it at Clash of Champions and Becky accepts. 

Chris Novak: Very enjoyable segment. Can’t lie at all whatsoever there. Hit the right notes. The content was delivered nicely. I liked Becky planting the seed with Bayley’s name drop there. Very good stuff. I was always gonna be hyped for this match but this definitely did the right things for me. 

Baron Corbin vs. Cedric Alexander is next. 

Okay this match actually kinda ruled! Corbin defeated Alexander with the EOD. But this was, rather comfortably, the former Constable’s best singles match ever. Cedric got a LOT of good shine in this match also. I really, really dug this. The KOTR is producing a lot of high-quality stuff. 

Robert O’Neill: Yeah, this was great. All the King of the Ring matches have been great so far! Really glad they brought back the tournament. Wouldn’t mind it being an annual thing. 

Chris Novak: Bayley gets interviewed by Charly Caruso. Chuck, being the shit-stirrer that she is, brings up Sasha’s return and her comments. Bayley basically throws Sasha under the bus by saying that everyone handles things differently and she didn’t take her ball and go home and kept on. Charly then wondered if she would be in Becky’s shadow later in the tag match, but Bayley was PO’ed about that and said by match’s end, we’d see who was in whose shadow.

Robert O’Neill: Hell yeah. Plant those seeds.

Chris Novak: The Viking Raiders squashed some dudes. The dudes said some bad things about Baltimore so by proxy, the Viking Raiders are now faces. Cool by me. 

Sasha was asked if she was rooting for Bayley tonight. Sasha, not thrilled, told Sarah Schreiber to get the hell out of her face.

Ricochet vs. Samoa Joe, our other KOTR Quarterfinal tonight, is next. 

Robert O’Neill: After a long (and very good) match, we get a suplex off the top rope and a pin where both men had their shoulders down! The match is over and a ruling is coming soon. Well okay! Perhaps we’ll get a triple threat match next week?

Chris Novak: Okay! So… this could go a couple of ways. One way a Triple Threat, one way Corbin gets a bye. I’m … not mad at this I guess but we’ll have to see how things play out. 

Seth is backstage with Braun. Braun brings up how Stone Cold is moderating the contract signing next week. Rollins says that’s the best thing to come out of this. Braun says he’s not thrilled about it because he thinks that Austin and Rollins are setting him up because of how much praise Austin had for Seth.

Robert O’Neill: Listen, Seth is a Bears fan and Braun is a Packers fan. It’s Week 1, so it’s fuck Braun Strowman. I don’t make the rules. 

Oh my God, they had an all-time great Firefly Funhouse. Take a look!

Chris Novak: Amazing. Just… flat out amazing. 

We learn backstage that Baron Corbin will face Ricochet AND Samoa Joe in a Triple Threat Match. The winner of that match will move on to the KOTR finals for the Raw side. Honestly, cool. I look forward to that match. Big time. 

Rey Mysterio gets interviewed by Charly Caruso. Essentially, he’s not done yet. Not surprising!

The Miz is here now!

Robert O’Neill: He’s facing Cesaro! This should be good.

Well, it was shorter than I expected, but still good. Miz got a much-needed win with a Skull Crushing Finale as he looks to get on the right track before he meets Shinsuke Nakamura for the Intercontinental Title at Clash of Champions. 

Chris Novak: Quality win for Miz as he heads into COC. Cesaro’s a good body to have for that situation. Don’t mind that at all.

Main event time! It’s our Women’s Champions Showcase. Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross are facing SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley and Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch. Did you know: These are the Top 4 in the WWE Women’s 25? How nice of them to do this for me! 

Robert O’Neill: Alexa and Nikki get the victory by disqualification when Sasha Banks comes out and drops Becky with a backstabber and then gets a chair and starts hitting Becky again… 

Chris Novak: Which ultimately leads to Bayley grabbing the chair from Sasha! Bayley looked over at her best friend, chair in hand… 

And smiled…

And started to wail Becky with the chair! REPEATEDLY SO! This was an image that’s going to stick in the minds of a LOT of people for a while here if this was any indication. Especially yours truly. Holy SHIT! 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: Bayley… turned. I didn’t think I’d ever see the day. It was teased last year, even though it was patently obvious that it wasn’t a turn. But this? This though? Oh… oh, THIS is a turn. And it was the cap to a really, REALLY good episode of Raw. A- for me here. Just… wow. I can’t wait for SmackDown! 

Robert O’Neill: Yeah this was one of the more surprising endings in wrestling that I could remember, and it capped off a very good show. Excited to see where they go next. A

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Robert O’Neill: Right on cue, Bayley is here to start the show. What does she have to say for herself? 

Chris Novak: In essence, Bayley said that she would always be loyal to Sasha Banks and that she’s trying to be a role model. So basically, she’s being passive aggressive as all hell. She said that Charlotte is the most selfish person that she knows, which obviously springs Charlotte out. Charlotte says that she’d better hug the title tightly, because at Clash of Champions…

WELP, IT’S SUDDENLY BOSS TIME! Banks comes out and before she can get to the ring, Charlotte decks Bayley. Banks comes in for the save, and then she gets knocked down. But Bayley gets inside with a chair and cracks it across Charlotte’s back! The two of them get ino n the action, blasting Charlotte with a chair multiple times.

Fire, this is fire.

Robert O’Neill: I loved that. I’m definitely invested in this for sure.

Time for a King of the Ring match! Ali vs. Elias.

Much like all the other King of the Ring matches it was very good, and in a bit of a surprise, Elias got the win. So Elias will face the winner of Chad Gable vs. Andrade next week at Madison Square Garden. Neat.

Chris Novak: Okay, that’s a surprising result. I did not foresee Elias making the SmackDown final and being one step away from the KOTR final. So, okay! That works for me I guess? I have no idea what the result of Andrade-Gable is going to be later then. 

Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross will be in action next! Cool. 

Aleister Black basically says that he’s going to get in the ring very soon. Cool! 

Robert O’Neill: This was a real fun women’s tag match, which we’ll probably see again at Clash of Champions. Mandy and Sonya got a win with a very neat looking tag finisher that featured Mandy doing a V-Trigger. 

Chris Novak: I like that tag finisher. I really do! These two teams will likely face each other at Clash of Champions, likely on the Kickoff Show. Something I’m cool with: That. 

Chad Gable is warming up for his KOTR match. Samoa Joe comes over and mocks him. Cold stuff from Joe, but this is mighty intriguing. Especially considering the result from earlier. I would not mind it at all if Gable was pushed as an underdog here. Having him beat Andrade WOULD be interesting and not what I expected. But… if the good outweighs the bad here, then I’m cool with it!

Randy Orton’s here to talk down about Kofi Kingston. Because as loaded as this show is… just in case you forgot, we still have a great WWE Championship program going on! Orton calls Kofi out… and his music hits, but, The Revival are here to beat Kofi up! So they continue to be a unit. And I like it a lot. They get him in the ring and Orton tells him that he’s going to beat him in front of everyone he knows with the RKO. The Revival and Orton hit their Shatter Machine-RKO combo again. 

Robert O’Neill: Gonna be very interesting to see what they do at MSG. Will they let Kofi get his revenge on Orton for 10 years ago? They’ve been alluding to it quite enough.

Chris Novak: Andrade vs. Chad Gable is next. Holy! Chad Gable does it! This match was as great as I expected it to be and perhaps even surpassed my expectations. I was not expecting this result but I’m totally fine with it if it means that Gable can be made into a star. 

Robert O’Neill: Aleister Black is here and he wants someone to fight him. And Shelton Benjamin comes out to answer the call! 

The match doesn’t last long at all as Aleister overpowers Shelton for the win. I like that.

Chris Novak: 24/7 Championship shenanigans have returned! Drake Maverick is in a BOILER ROOM with Renee Michelle. They then get attacked by: The Singhs, Gran Metalik, Curtis Axel and then BO DALLAS, who wins the 24/7 Championship!

Shinsuke Nakamura promptly beats a jobber. 

Then afterwards, we had MORE 24/7 Championship shenanigans! The title fell back into the hands of Drake Maverick, and then Maverick lost it back to R-Truth! 

Robert O’Neill: It’s time for the main event segment as Daniel Bryan is going to demand an apology from Roman Reigns in the ring.

Chris Novak: This all spirals out of control. Rowan comes out and attacks Roman Reigns (They are fighting at Clash of Champions, btw). Rowan beats him up pretty good and then owns up to being the one to attack Reigns. Multiple times. It seems as though Bryan wasn’t actually involved this whole time, and to that point, he was chokeslammed through the announce table to end the show. Wild ending to this… although I don’t think it’s over…

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: Going to give SmackDown an A-. Some of the decisions here were curious but this was still a really good show. The opening angle was hot fire and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this plays out at MSG next week and then at Clash of Champions. 

Robert O’Neill: Enjoyed Smackdown overall. Interested to see how Bryan/Roman/Rowan plays out, and the King of the Ring matches were very good. I have high hopes for the MSG shows. A