0 of 10
On the road to WWE Backlash, Seth Rolins found himself at the center of two major segments on the June 1 episode of Raw.
The Monday Night Messiah squared off with Aleister Black in a match that was weeks in the making and hosted a mockery of a retirement ceremony for the legendary Rey Mysterio.
Was he able to defeat the enigmatic antihero of Raw and bid adieu to The Master of the 619?
Elsewhere on the show, Apollo Crews defended his newly won United States Championship for the first time while Raw women’s champion Asuka squared off with NXT women’s champion Charlotte Flair in a non-title match.
Who emerged victoriously from those matches, which angles heated up the brand’s top storylines and did the flagship have any surprises in store for its fans Monday night?
Find out with this recap of the broadcast.
1 of 10
“The Monday Night Messiah” Seth Rollins graced the WWE faithful with his presence to kick off Raw, ready to wave goodbye to the career of Rey Mysterio just three weeks after brutally and sickeningly assaulting the future Hall of Famer.
He claimed Mysterio would likely not be able to bring himself to call it quits so he is here to do it for him. He referred to Mysterio as a legend…and a sacrifice for the greater good of Monday Night Raw.
After a sarcastic video package, Rollins said he would gladly induct Mysterio into the WWE Hall of Fame when his time comes.
Aleister Black’s music played and the former NXT champion hit the ring, clearing Rollins out of it and standing tall heading into the break.
Is it over the top? Absolutely, but this is the best Seth Rollins we have seen in WWE to date. He is insufferable, a false profit so full of himself that you cannot wait for a babyface to shut him up. Worse yet? He can weather any loss and be better, more over than before because of the way he has thrown himself into this persona.
In this one promo, he created a genuine desire for Mysterio to show up later and whoop his ass for disrespecting him, his legacy and his livelihood.
The match with Black should be damn good, too.
Kudos to Murphy and Austin Theory seated at ringside, watching their messiah spew his good word to the masses. It was a nice touch.
2 of 10
Rollins and Black squared off in the first match of the night after the break.
A quick start by Black was negated by well-timed distractions from Murphy and Theory, as well as Rollins’ ability to capitalize. Just as it appeared as though the numbers game would prove too much for Black to overcome, Humberto Carrillo’s music played and he rushed to ringside with a steel chair.
Back from the break, Rollins continued to work over Black, delivering a sling blade for a two-count.
Black fought back, delivered a wicked kick to the face and scored a German suplex for a near-fall of his own. Rollins answered with the Falcon Arrow. A frog splash was met by knees from Black and the fight spilled to the floor ahead of another break.
After another timeout, Black applied an armbreaker that had Rollins writhing in pain. The self-proclaimed Messiah fought out with a powerbomb that broke it up.
Moments later at ringside, Carrillo picked a fight with Theory and Murphy. A distracted Rollins fell prey to a rollup from Black, who scored the win.
After the match, the disciples of Rollins pummeled Black. Carrillo again attempted a save but found himself beaten down.
With Black restrained by his followers, Rollins exclaimed, “this is what happens when you want to be a hero!” He proceeded to deliver a stomp that put Black down. The trio of heels stood tall to close out the segment.
Black defeated Rollins
Rollins and Black had exactly the sort of in-ring chemistry you would expect from two wrestlers of their abilities. The finish may have been a bit of a letdown given everything that preceded it but it made sense within the context of the story so it’s forgivable.
The beatdown afterward allowed Rollins to rekindle heat while keeping things open for a rematch with Black. Maybe even at Backlash.
From the start of the show through this match, Raw caught fire on the back of Rollins’ promo work and his work with Black. Great stuff all around.
3 of 10
United States champion Apollo Crews joined Kayla Braxton in the ring for a promo. After expressing gratitude for his win and the overwhelmingly positive response, he issued a challenge to Kevin Owens for a shot at the title.
Owens made his way to the ring and said he didn’t want to take the title opportunity out of pity for his loss to Angel Garza last week. When Crews corrected him and said it was out of respect, Owens expressed guilt that he would end Crews’ title reign so soon after it started.
Owens scored a quick near-fall before the match came to a standstill upon a teased low-blow. Crews revealed it was feigned and a fistfight ensued. The competitors spilled to the floor heading into the break.
Back from the commercial, Crews scored a near-fall and Owens answered with a two-count of his own. As the challenger tried for a senton, the champion raised his knees, driving them into Owens’ spine.
Before the match could continue, Angel Garza and Andrade rushed the ring to draw the double disqualification. The heels stood tall heading into the break.
Crews and Owens fought to a double disqualification
This was too short to really leave a lasting impact, with interference that will probably lead to a tag team match that no one asked for.
With that said, it is understandable that WWE Creative would want to spare both Crews and Owens defeats but if it knew that going in, why even book it in the first place?
All it does is bait audiences in before switching to another, more predictable and less-appealing match. That is not at all how one keeps the viewers’ faith.
4 of 10
After the break, Garza and Andrade battled Crews and Owens in a tag team match.
The heels dominated the action, first isolating Crews before teeing off on the previously injured knee of Owens.
As the action broke down late, Garza clipped the knee out from underneath Owens, leaving him in a heap at ringside.
Back in the ring, Crews shook off the beating he had taken moments earlier and delivered the powerbomb for the hard-fought victory.
Crews and Owens defeated Andrade and Garza
This was too short, too disjointed to earn a higher grade.
That there was no real story to it, no opportunity for the heels to gain any sort of sustainable heat, only further hurt it.
Considering Andrade is Crews’ most logical contender for the pay-per-view, what is the benefit of having him lose the fall here? And if it is to protect Garza, who is still riding high after his win with Owens, why even book this whole thing?
No one benefited except Crews. As has been the case in WWE for the last decade, a champion is only as good as his opposition. If he beats everyone in meaningless tag team matches that should never have been booked anyway, where does that leave him?
5 of 10
After basketball, hatchet throwing and golf, The Street Profits and Viking Raiders continued their battle for competitive supremacy with games of bowling.
The Raiders dominated the competition, effortlessly scoring strikes while the Profits struggled to avoid the gutter.
Ivar could not resist the urge of the turkey leg, though, and nearly got them kicked out. With a score of 100-21, the Raiders seemingly had victory in-hand. Then, the tag champs raised a cup, demanded the smoke and started whooping up on the competition.
Ivar and Erik narrowly evaded defeat and picked up the win to bring the score to 2-2 in competitions.
Viking Raiders defeated The Street Profits
Is it something you want to show friends when defending pro wrestling? No, but this is fun and inoffensive television that has taken things out of the ring to change things up.
Furthermore, it has prevented the viewing audience from having to watch the same matches with the same wrestlers every week, thus avoiding exhaustion.
When The Street Profits finally defend against The Viking Raiders, it will feel like a fresh match and will, hopefully, have considerable anticipation accompanying it based on the segments that preceded the match.
6 of 10
The IIconics’ journey back to the women’s tag team titles continued this week as Billie Kay battled Nikki Cross in singles competition while Peyton Royce and Alexa Bliss watched on from ringside.
Kay delivered a massive big boot, referred to as “Shades of Kay” by Tom Phillips, that flattened Cross and earned her a two-count. The Aussie, dismayed by the near-fall, continued her attack on the tag champion. A quick rollup by Cross could not turn the tide as Kay remained in control.
Despite a comeback by the champion, Kay scored the win to continue building momentum for the top contenders.
Kay defeated Cross
This was fine for what it was. Kay got to showcase some of her skills as a singles competitor, something she has not really had the opportunity to do since her NXT days. She is still a better tag worker with Royce, but worked hard here.
Cross continues to be one of the hidden gems on the roster, a frenetically paced wrestler who knows when to sell and when to fire up. She is a great babyface, far better than she ever was as a heel, and will do wonders to help bring those like The IIconics up to her level.
Cross and Bliss have struck a solid chemistry as a team and, if their matches against Bayley and Sasha Banks and The Kabuki Warriors are any indication, their eventual title clash with The IIconics should not disappoint.
Even if the booking has.
7 of 10
Rey Mysterio and son Dominick joined us for an update on the former’s health following his assault at the hands of Seth Rollins.
Mysterio, typically soft-spoken, damned Rollins for what he did to him and his family. Frustrated, angry but still suffering from a career-threatening injury, he walked off.
Dominick, quoting scripture, issued a warning to Rollins: “You like to speak in scripture: an eye for an eye.”
This is about as fired up as you’re going to get Rey on WWE programming.
With that said, the foreshadowing of Dominick threatening retaliation for his father’s suffering was the real meat of this brief segment.
We know we are one angle or match away from him becoming a second-generation Superstar. There are far worse options for him to work his first match with than Seth Rollins, or even Murphy and Austin Theory. If that is the endgame of this whole thing, good for WWE for finally finding a way to introduce him to the ring through a storyline guaranteed to get over with fans.
8 of 10
After a brief promo in which Nia Jax played the “woe-is-me” heel, Tom Phillips threw to footage of R-Truth defeating Rob Gronkowski in Foxboro, Massachusetts to become the 24/7 champion.
Back to the ring, where a fired-up Sane was unabashed in her desire for revenge as she took the fight to Jax. Uncorking a running elbow in the corner and leaving her reeling, Sane appeared en route to a massive upset.
Jax, though, recovered and dropped Sane on the apron. She slammed her face-first into the hardest part of the ring before throwing her, unprotected and face-first into the steel ring steps. Moments later, she delivered the leg drop for a pinfall victory.
Asuka hit the ring and chased Jax off after the match while Sane laid in a heap.
Jax defeated Sane
Whether Sane sold it well or not, the bump into the ring steps was scary. Who knows if anyone was to blame or if it was a timing thing but that is the sort of spot that gets people hurt. That the finish came very quickly afterward was cause for concern.
Of course, with that said, Jax looked like a total monster heel coming out of it so it at least worked from that perspective.
If their match from NXT TakeOver: London is any indication, Auska and Jax may stela the show at Backlash. Giving that bout more heat and higher stakes will only add to it and, hopefully, help The Empress of Tomorrow’s first title defense be a memorable one.
And, hopefully, everyone walks away safely and unharmed.
9 of 10
As his “Greatest Match Ever” with Edge approaches, Randy Orton cut a promo in which he admitted to half-assing it at times in his career and that infuriates Edge. Why? Because The Rated R Superstar had to scratch and claw for everything while he was able to just get by at 50-percent…and he was still better than everyone. He, predictably, vowed to win on June 14.
From there, Charlotte Flair entered and cut a promo demanding respect from the NXT stars in attendance. She addressed her match with Io Shirai and Rhea Ripley Sunday at TakeOver: In Your House before Asuka entered for their champion vs. champion match.
After some trash talking, Flair targeted her opponent’s knee heading into the break. During the timeout, The Queen pounded away at Asuka, looking to beat the will out of The Empress of Tomorrow. “I beat you every time!” Charlotte exclaimed as she continued to dominate.
Asuka fought back, delivering a German suplex and shining wizard for a near-fall. She followed with a triangle choke but Charlotte fought out and applied a Boston Crab. Asuka countered into a knee bar, to which Flair answered with a deadlift release German suplex.
Asuka applied an armbar and transitioned into the triangle once more. Flair, again, powered out and into a powerbomb for two.
As Asuka built momentum for herself, Nia Jax entered the arena to her Backlash opponent’s theme song, wearing her mask, her face painted. The referee called for the bell, awarding the match to Flair via countout, before Jax bowled over Asuka with a clothesline on the ramp.
Jax left, standing tall as the champion writhed in pain.
Flair defeated Asuka via countout
The only thing keeping this from an ‘A’ was the finish.
Asuka and Flair were having a banger of a match. The reversals, submissions and near-falls were indicative of the wicked chemistry they have demonstrated time and time again. They know each other extremely well, know what works and what doesn’t. They had a hell of a hard-fought, hard-hitting match going before WWE Creative reared its ugly head and opted for the obvious Jax interference.
It burnt through two weeks worth of angles in one night and as a result, essentially discounted the impact of the Kairi Sane match that occurred moments earlier.
Still, the match was so good as to warrant the grade, even if the booking late was somewhat disappointing.
As for the Randy Orton promo that preceded the match, it was one of his best in a long time. What better way for a heel to assert supremacy over his opponent than to admit that everything he had accomplished in his Hall of Fame career was done half-assed? It is so arrogant, so unabashedly cocky. At the same time, there is something about Orton that suggests it is true and that he has no problem turning it up to 100 when the situation warrants it.
Beating Edge at Backlash and erasing the disappointment of WrestleMania 36 is such a situation.
10 of 10
Bobby Lashley joined MVP in the squared circle for the latter’s match with WWE champion Drew McIntyre, but was taken aback when wife Lana made her presence felt at ringside, standing by her husband’s side as he watched his new associate do battle with his Backlash opponent.
McIntyre rocked MVP with a Glasgow Kiss but a momentary distraction by Lashley allowed MVP to send the WWE champion into the ring post. In the ring, he delivered a big boot in the corner but could only keep his opponent down for a count of two.
McIntyre recovered with a big boot and flying clothesline. He set up for the Claymore Kick but Lashley pulled his new advisor to the floor. No problem, as McIntyre soared over the top rope and wiped both foes out with a plancha.
Back in the ring, McIntyre delivered the Claymore Kick to pick up the win.
Immediately after the count, Lashley applied the Full Nelson as the show faded to black.
McIntyre defeated MVP
The most important takeaway of this whole thing was Lashley getting over on McIntyre and leaving him lying to close out the show and…they missed it. The show ended before Lashley could show any sort of dominance and now, he limps into next week’s go-home show without any real sense of impending victory.
He feels like a lame-duck challenger, in a midcard partnership with MVP, rather than a genuine main event competitor with a credible shot at winning the title.
This did him no favors, only helped to further strengthen McIntyre and left the viewing audience why anyone would realistically buy Lashley as anything but a placeholder for the next great challenger to present himself.
It is unfortunately, really, because Lashley had built some momentum for himself through a series of strong wins and dominant performances that will be wasted by questionable booking.