Monday Night Raw was all about flipping expectations on their heads, and with just three weeks until Hell in a Cell, Monday night brought more questions than answers. But that may just be for the best.
Reigns gets burned by teaming with Strowman
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
One week after Roman Reigns employed Shield compatriots Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose to ward off a Braun Strowman Money in the Bank cash-in attempt, Reigns turned around at the start of Monday night's edition of Raw and tried to claim the high ground. Strowman, realizing the numbers game would forever be against him, decided to officially cash in his Money in the Bank contract with a challenge at Hell in a Cell and take his chances with a straightaway approach. Baron Corbin then set up a tag team match that paired champion and challenger against the villainous Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. Stop me if you've heard this formula before. It seemed as though the match would come down to the "greater good," putting differences aside and having their battle one-on-one -- but then everything got flipped on its head.
During that tag team main event, Reigns was destroyed throughout the match and finally got a tag to his partner -- only Strowman didn't forget what had happened the week before. He let Reigns take every bit of punishment Ziggler and McIntyre had to dish out (and then some). Ambrose came out to try to help after his win over Jinder Mahal a few minutes prior, but got overwhelmed by the numbers, and then Rollins tried to give it a go with one good arm (more on that later), but all three Shield members got running powerslams, Zig Zags and Claymores were flying and Strowman lifted Ziggler and McIntyre's arms into the air to a stunning amount of boos.
- WWE (@WWE) August 28, 2018
As much as Becky Lynch's "heel turn" has been an utter disaster in terms of effectiveness, the reaction Strowman got at the end of Raw was anything but positive. Taking Strowman out of the pattern of the friendly monster he's been over recent months (his treatment of Kevin Owens and Brock Lesnar notwithstanding) is a bold move that generates a lot more animosity and tension than a situation in which everyone is smiling and it's a matter of "may the best man win." It also gives Ziggler and McIntyre a lot more credibility in a hurry.
Kevin Owens quits after IC title challenge falls short
After a slow start to Monday Night Raw, Seth Rollins -- like Roman Reigns did to open Monday Night Raw -- seemed to want to put Shield business aside and opened himself up to an Intercontinental championship open challenge.
Kevin Owens answered the call to a tremendous reaction from the Canadian crowd (which he quickly dispelled by elevating Montreal over Toronto), talked about his hardships on Raw over the last few months and then proceeded to have one of his best matches of the last couple of years. Rollins and Owens threw down in an incredible display of modern creativity and old school mindset; Rollins injured his arm midway through the match and Owens worked it over for the rest of the contest. That allowed Rollins to creatively set up some moves, and between the suicide dives, the Stone Cold Stunner that Owens hit and everything in between, the crowd was absolutely on fire.
Owens fell short when he attempted a twisting leap-up moonsault from the top rope, which allowed Rollins to hit the stomp. After a match that stretched over multiple commercial breaks and thrilled the crowd, Owens sat on a steel chair in the middle of the ring to address his pre-match promise that he'd leave the building. Then he quit.
While there are all sorts of conspiracy theories and creative ways this could go, Owens stole back the narrative and instantly made his story one of the most fascinating ones WWE has to offer at the moment.
Trish Stratus returns on Raw
As far as someone who could respond to Elias' habit of putting down whatever city the WWE is in, Trish Stratus standing up for Toronto is about as good a fit as you're going to find.
Stratus, a WWE Hall of Famer who's set to return to action at WWE's upcoming Evolution pay-per-view, tried to keep it polite until Elias decided to put down both Toronto and Stratus. Once he implied that Stratus' match with Alexa Bliss would be a swimsuit model pillow fight, and said that he doesn't date women in their 60s, a slap was the inevitable conclusion.
Stratus crossed paths with Bliss, Natalya, Ronda Rousey, Alicia Fox and her old rival Mickie James as Natalya beat Fox in front of a friendly crowd, and it was a strong way to light the sparks between Bliss and Stratus as they build towards their one-on-one match. In the meantime, Bliss gets her rematch against Rousey at Hell in a Cell.
- Baron Corbin predictably exercised his new power as acting general manager and bamboozled Finn Balor with a midmatch No DQ stipulation. Getting wrapped back up with Corbin is a major backslide for Balor.
- Ric Flair, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Christian, Booker T, Big Show and DDP all weighed in on Triple H-Undertaker in Australia. The most important opinion on the matter will come from Shawn Michaels, who will be on Raw next week.
- The Bella Twins will return to action next week against the Riott Squad. It's going to be a busy few weeks for Brie Bella, who's also embroiled in a situation with Daniel Bryan, The Miz and Maryse on SmackDown.