One of the more unique items on the agenda for Raw’s season premiere was the joint appearance of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair on “Miz TV.” Nobody quite knew what was in store from the two Superstars, who never faced each other in WWE. As it turned out, they were there to announce a match.
Of course, they’re not lacing ‘em up for one last go. (Though, for what it's worth, Flair seemed open to the idea.) Rather, the two WWE Hall of Famers will be coaching teams of five Superstars at the WWE Crown Jewel event on Oct. 31 as a way to settle their differences. They’ve even got captains lined up, as Hogan will be represented by Universal Champion Seth Rollins, and Flair has tapped his former Evolution running mate Randy Orton to lead his squad.
As Orton revealed, the captains will be filling out their teams over the next few weeks. But, true to form, The Apex Predator was looking to get a little early advantage over his opponent, challenging Rollins to a captain’s bout that the champion accepted. Things quickly spiraled out of control when King Corbin came to The Viper’s side, initiating a 2-on-1 attack that was only evened out when Rusev came to the rescue, helping Rollins clean house before joining Rollins and Hogan in a ceremonial pose-down atop the ramp.
The Bulgarian Brute’s appearance was certainly surprising, though he made it clear after the scrum that he didn’t quite assist Rollins out of the goodness of his heart. The former United States Champion instantly called in whatever favor Rollins might owe him, asking to receive tonight’s title bout Rey Mysterio could no longer compete in following Brock Lesnar’s attack — and received it.
Cedric Alexander’s attempted Cinderella run to the United States Championship has been one of the more inspiring elements of Raw in recent weeks, but the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion may have hit the end of the line. Alexander came up short in his second title opportunity against the obstinate AJ Styles, despite putting on the kind of performance everyone has come to expect from the supremely talented Superstar.
It was, unfortunately, not enough. Alexander and AJ are near-identical in terms of their in-ring styles (so to speak), but what this match came down to more than anything was experience. So, while Alexander had certainly learned enough from his WWE Clash of Champions loss to make this one a fight, Styles leaned on his years of experience, busting out counters to Alexander’s counters — the most astonishing of which was a whirling midair escape of the Lumbar Check, which led instantly to a match-ending Styles Clash. And while the list of competitors who can’t quite catch AJ Styles is long and illustrious, that doesn't make this one any less of a heartbreak for Cedric.
Some shenanigans seemed likely with Randy Orton and King Corbin present for Seth Rollins’ Universal Title bout against Rusev, but those two turned out to be the least astonishing appearances during a bout that got out of hand quickly as Raw’s season premiere faded to black.
The first unexpected guest was Bobby Lashley, who came to the ramp and was soon joined by Rusev’s wife, Lana. The Ravishing Russian, who has been conspicuous by her absence amid rumors of “problems at home,” locked lips with The All Mighty in front of a distraught Rusev. Moments later, the lights went out, and Rollins got his visitor: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt, whose arrival was forecasted on “Firefly Fun House” earlier in the night. The menacing Superstar didn't wait to make his move, appearing instantly at the side of the ring and locking Rollins in the Mandible Claw during the final moments of the show. So a night that began with unmitigated chaos ends in mayhem with a broken heart, a broken body and the promise of Hell to come. And it’s only the first episode of the season.
In other action … Brock Lesnar attacked Rey Mysterio and Dominick … Sasha Banks def. WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion Alexa Bliss … Raw Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode def. Heavy Machinery … The Viking Raiders def. The O.C. … Ricochet def. Cesaro … and Lacey Evans def. Natalya.