Despite Braun Strowman’s clear interest in Seth Rollins’ Universal Title, The Monster Among Men teamed up with The Beastslayer to challenge Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson of The O.C. for their Raw Tag Team Championship. Could the unusual alliance knock off The Good Brothers to snare the red brand’s tandem title? Also on Raw, two Superstars advanced in the King of the Ring tournament, and The Fiend claimed another victim.
The King of the Ring tournament has begun, and Samoa Joe is the first man to advance out of the Round of 16 with a victory over Cesaro. The two former United States Champions set the tone for their fellow Superstars in the opening minutes of their match, as Cesaro sent Joe clean off his feet with a rocketing European uppercut and the Samoan answered with a suicide dive that sent Cesaro tumbling into the first row.
The King of Swing refused to let Joe slow down the match, drilling his opponent with as many uppercuts as his body would allow, though the fast pace had the inadvertent effect of emptying his tank faster than usual. All Joe had to do was absorb the hits and pick his moment, and that he did: The big man withstood the Cesaro Swing and Sharpshooter before escaping a Neutralizer and dodging a springboard European uppercut to lock in the Coquina Clutch and submit his foe. Glory is within sight for Samoa Joe, though attaining it will be easier said than done: This match was as grueling as they come, and it’s only going to get harder from here.
Even in defeat, Cedric Alexander looked like a Superstar to watch last week in his match against Drew McIntyre, and now, he’s one step closer to becoming King of the Ring thanks to a first-round victory over Sami Zayn.
On the one hand, the match was a continuing trend — Sami’s in a bit of a rough patch — but it was something of an upset nonetheless: Zayn is a veteran, while Alexander is a newcomer still on the come-up, but the hungrier man proved to be the victor. Alexander rallied down the stretch to nail Zayn with a Neuralyzer, following up with the Lumbar Check moments later for the win. And while Sami finds himself deeper and deeper in a rut, Alexander finds himself on his steepest upward trajectory yet; "King Alexander" may still be a long shot, but it's nowhere near out of the question.
Coming into Raw, it seemed Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman might eventually throw hands over the Universal Championship. Coming out of it, Rollins & Strowman were the Raw Tag Team Champions, having made the most of a last-minute opportunity against Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson of The O.C., who find themselves headed back to the drawing board after weeks of running the show.
The victory was doubly impressive, not just because of any lingering tension among the challengers, but because some canny cheap-shotting by The O.C. effectively took Strowman out for the middle section of the match, leaving The Beastslayer to go it alone. AJ Styles made his presence known behind the ref’s back, too, though Strowman rallied just in time to repay The Phenomenal One and take him out of the action with a running charge outside the ring.
The re-energized Monster Among Men did his part in the ring, too, tagging in to truck Gallows and pulverize Anderson with a Running Powerslam. Rollins neutralized Styles’ final, attempted interference with a Stomp when The Phenomenal One entered the ring, Strowman made the cover and that was all she wrote. So Strowman walked into Raw with his eyes on the United States Title (and maybe the Universal Championship) and leaves with a Raw Tag Team Title. And Rollins, who walked into Raw with his mind set on a potential challenge, instead leaves with a partner that renders him unstoppable by association. Everybody wins — though, of course, Strowman’s lingering gaze at the Universal Title suggests these new partners still have a thing or two to iron out.
In other action … Roman Reigns def. Dolph Ziggler … “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt attacked Jerry “The King” Lawler … Ricochet & The Miz def. Drew McIntyre & Baron Corbin … Braun Strowman def. United States Champion AJ Styles via Disqualification … R-Truth crashed 24/7 Champion Elias’ "Farewell Musical Performance" … Rey Mysterio addressed his future and his family … SmackDown Tag Team Champions The New Day def. The Revival via Disqualification … and WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross def. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville.