Despite a weak crowd in Lafayette, this week’s Monday Night Raw had a real surprise for all the fans as they went with an out of the box idea. Debatably, the top four superstars of WWE’s NXT brand made their main roster debuts as Aleister Black, Ricochet, NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano, and NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa all made an appearance and competed on the same night. It was truly a different feel, so let’s take a look at the best highlights and our MVP of the week.
The One and Only Arrives
At the Elimination Chamber, Finn Balor won his first championship since relinquishing the WWE Universal Championship all the way back in 2016, defeating Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush to become the newWWE Intercontinental Champion. Last night on Raw, it was Finn’s time to finally gloat about being champion, rather than saying why he will someday be champion. However, what followed was Lio Rush, saying how he doesn’t deserve to be Intercontinental Champion, but Bobby Lashley does. “The All Mighty” would follow up by attacking Finn from behind, as it would become a 2 on 1 assault of the new champion. Then, would be the big moment, where “The One and Only” Ricochet would make his official main roster debut to save Finn Balor from the onslaught, wowing the crowd and giving them just a slight glimpse of what he brings to the table night in and night out. This would lead to a two on two match where Ricochet would continue to show off his incredible ability, showing why there simply has not been anyone that can do what he does in pro wrestling before. This led to an amazing sequence towards the end of the match, where Ricochet would be getting chased by Lashley, just do moonsault over him from the barricade, leading to Lashley being taken out by Finn on a missile dropkick into the barricade. Following this would lead to Ricochet laying out Rush with a superhero like springboard uppercut, followed by his famous 630 Splash for his first victory in his debut. What was a story between Finn and Lashley led to the coming out party for “The One and Only” Ricochet.
Elias Fades to Black
Per usual, Elias had his normal in-ring performance for the WWE Universe. And like that, he had it interrupted by someone. Instead, however, of being interrupted by a washed up veteran, Elias was interrupted by the debuting “Dutch Destroyer”, Aleister Black. Black would get his complete attention stealing entrance, rising from the depths of darkness to have the first match of his WWE main roster career. And before the bell even rang, Black would let Elias know that it was simply his time to “fade to black”. Black would get the offense going early, including his signature moonsault feint where he would sit in the middle of the ring to show he fears no man. The former NXT Champion would hit a few of his key combinations, including a sliding knee then left the crowd in awe. After lots of back and forth action, there came a point where Black would launch himself from the top rope at Elias, just to be caught right in the skull by a perfectly placed knee for a long two count. Finally, Black would get to his feet, finding just enough time to hit Elias with his signature Black Mass kick, ending the match and making it be known that Aleister Black is finally here to stay, and everyone should be afraid.
Rousey vs Riott
It has become a custom for Ronda Rousey since winning the Raw Women’s Championship to defend the championship the night after a PPV, and she continued that custom last night as she had a rematch with Ruby Riott for the championship. This match, unlike their Elimination Chamber match, was far more competitive. Riott owned most of the match as she had her outside help of the Riott Squad by her side. As the match continued to go on, Ruby continued to bring it to Rousey, not allowing her much offense at all and having one of her overall best outings as a part of Monday Night Raw. As they got close to the end of the match, Riott would connect with a Riott Kick, which would lead the crowd and everyone at home to the edge of their seat as it was very possible the match was over. Rousey, to her credit, managed to kick out and continue her title reign. As the match continued, Rousey finally started to fight back, leaving Ruby with continuous shock on her face when she couldn’t get the job done. Riott would get to Rousey on the top rope after both Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan manages to distract the champion. Riott would connect with yet another Riott Kick, where Rousey would kick out again. She would finally bounce back, getting Ruby into her patented armbar, but Sarah Logan would save her from the ultimate end. This is where Rousey would get to the top rope and launch herself onto the Riott Squad on the floor, getting Ruby back into the ring, flipping Riott on to her back and connecting with the armbar to get the victory. Rousey would lay out Logan and Morgan after the match when they tried to attack her, and it looks more and more that she is not only ready for Charlotte Flair, but any possible matchup with “The Man” Becky Lynch when the time comes.
Raw MVP: #DIY
When Triple H announced at the beginning of the show that his four stars from NXT would be making their main roster debut and competing at the same time, he didn’t specify in what match. We would learn as the night continued that the former team of #DIY, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, would take on the new Raw Tag Team Champions, The Revival, in a rematch from their MOTY at NXT Takeover: Toronto all the way back in November of 2016. The reigning champions of NXT had changed in a huge amount of ways since that match, as both had become major single stars for the NXT brand, including having NXT’s Rivalry of the Year in 2018 against each other. Now, carrying the NXT Championship and NXT North American Championship, they were out to prove that not only were they the real deal, but NXT is the top brand. It was a surreal scene to see both Ciampa and Gargano make their entrances on Raw, but here it was. These two teams showed that you can’t really ever lose chemistry, going in there and putting on a show. The back and forth action all night long would lead to another mat classic on back to back weeks for The Revival, but it was truly about the “new guys” last night. Ciampa and Gargano worked well as a team once again, having each others backs from the ring bell. There was the great sequence in the match where The Revival seemed to have catch Ciampa in the Shatter Machine, but instead, Gargano hit Scott Dawson with a superkick, while Ciampa caught the legs of Dash Wilder to go into a perfect bridge for a close pinfall. Gargano would hit his springboard DDT which won him the NXT North American Championship at NXT Takeover: Phoenix, but again would only get a near fall. The match would continue the crazy back and forth action as “Johnny Wrestling” and the self-proclaimed “Greatest Sports Entertainer of All-Time” would finally hit the #DIY superkick and knee combination to win the match. While all very impressive wins for the NXT call-ups last night, Gargano and Ciampa not only showed why they are the two best things going in wrestling today but why NXT is the number one brand in the WWE today.
As Raw had many unexpected matches and fun segments, SmackDown LIVE is on right now and should follow the closing moments of Elimination Chamber where Kofi Kingston was just a second away from achieving his dreams. The Highlight Rundown will be back tomorrow at its normal time. Enjoy the show.