The Big Takeaway: Seth Rollins pinned Finn Balor to retain the Intercontinental Championship in the main event. They announced Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens for Backlash. It was a show where Owens and Zayn came across like hometown superstars, so they were booked to lose.
* Dedicated to the memory of Andrew Davis*
Reigns started things. They showed a tweet from referee Chad Patton where he admitted blowing the call in the Brock Lesnar-Reigns match, saying that Reigns should have won because both of his feet hit the floor when he speared Lesnar through the cage. Reigns said he's the real Universal Champion. That didn't stop him from getting booed like hell. A loud "Roman sucks" chant. Reigns had to talk over the boos to say he should be Universal Champion, but he's not--yet. Reigns said a lot of people doubted him, a lot of people lost faith in him, but he beat Lesnar in the cage match, so he will never lose faith in himself.
Joe popped up on the big screen and said he told Reignsthat he would lose to Lesnar and Reigns lost. This Sunday, Joe said he would put Reigns spiraling career to sleep. Jinder Mahal walked out with Sunil Singh. Mahal said he can't stand people who make excuses for their shortcomings, but he has a legitimate excuse for losing to Jeff Hardy. Mahal said Reigns would lose to Joe at Backlash, and tonight Reigns would lose to the Modern Day Maharaja. Sami Zayn showed up to a huge babyface reaction. Zayn opened his promo in French. Zayn claimed the reason he wasn't able to wrestle at the Greatest Royal Rumble was because of a serious injury sustained at the hands of Bobby Lashley. He joked he suffered a serious case of vertigo. Zayn challenged Reigns. Zayn was the biggest babyface on this card--until Kevin Owens show up. He got an overwhelming reaction.
Owens also spoke French to chants of "Oui." Owens said he knows Zayn can beat Reigns, but tonight what people want to see is Owens vs. Reigns. More "Oui" chants, and Owens told Reigns "That means yes." Owens proposed having a coin flip to determine who would face Reigns, but he didn't have any coins. So Owens measured it by crowd response. Mahal got booed loudly. Zayn got loudly cheered, and the place exploded for Owens.
Then came a strange sequence. Reigns popped Owens with an uppercut like a total heel. Zayn, Owens and Mahal went after Reigns. Then Bobby Lashley ran in and jumped on Zayn, Owens and Mahal and got booed. Braun Strowman came out and got cheered, but he also cleaned house on Zayn, Owens and Mahal. Strowman got light boos. Strowman press slammed Mahal and threw him onto Zayn, Owens and Mahal. This set up a six-man tag for later tonight.
Later tonight, Natalya faces Mickie James with Ronday Rousey in Natalya's corner.
Elias was in the ring. Michael Cole claimed Elias has a new drinking fluid that helps his singing voice. Elias brought up the Greatest Royal Rumble and bragged about eliminating Kurt Angle, the New Day, and Randy Orton. Elias said he's reaching a new level of fame that almost no one can comprehend, including Bobby Roode. He began a song and has his gave his disclaimer about silencing cell phones, the fans began applauding. Elias said Roode thought he was Glorious, but he's not and called Roode a pathetic as the people of Montreal. Roode came out but the announcers talked over his entrance so it was hard to tell if anyone was singing his entrance song.
Elias defeated Bobby Roode by referee's stoppage (11:52)
Elias focused on Roode's throat during the match with kicks and chinlocks. Roode got a brief comeback before Elias ran under an attempt of a Blockbuster by Roode, then threw Roode over the top rope. Roode landed on his feet on the apron, but Elias rammed Roode's throat into the apparaus that holds the turnbuckle against the turnpost. Roode collapsed to the floor and sold it like he couldn't breathe. A group of referees and medical personnel surrounded Roode, who was gasping. The bell never sounded, but Elias announced himself as the winner to a mixture of cheers and boos.
The jobber team of Francois and Jean-Paul are facing the Authors of Pain. Charly Caruso did an interview with them where they came off like goofy, naive babyfaces. This night looks like your annual "The creative team sticks it to Canadian fans" Raw.
The Authors of Pain defeated Francois and Jean-Paul (1:05)
A squash where Rezar pinned Jean-Paul with the Last Chapter. Akam and Rezar gave Francois and Jean-Paul the Super Collider before the finish.
Rezar and Akam did a postmatch promo where Akam said the book of pain remains open. Rezar said there will be a chapter for every team on Raw.
They showed mainstream media reports from the Greatest Royal Rumble. Cole had to nerve to describe how Saudi Arabia "is evolving into more of a progressive company."
Seth Rollins came out. Rollins will defend the Intercontinental Championship against the Miz at Backlash. Rollins was very over as he said the last month has been wild. He's won the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania, defended the title in South Africa, St. Louis and Saudi Arabia, and now he's in Montreal. Crowd chanted the "Olay, Olay" song and gave him a standing ovation. Rollins didn't talk for several minutes just to soak in the cheers and "you deserve it' chants. Rollins said he had a long trip back to Saudi Arabia and he had a chance to reflect about what type of champion he wants to be. He says he doesn't want to be a champion like Lesnar, who only shows up when the price is right. Rollins says he wants to be a fighting champion.
Finn Balor walked out and told Rollins he was right, it was a long flight from Saudi Arabia. He had a chance to watch how close he became to becoming Intercontinental Champion. But he gave Rollins credit because Rollins beat him. Balor says they've had four singles matches, he's won two and Rollins won two. Balor challenged him to a match tonight for the championship. Rollins said he has the Miz at Backlash this Sunday, but he is a fighting champion. So he asked the fans. Crowd stood and cheered. Rollins accepted.
Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel came out. Axel told them not to worry about what the people want, worry about what's best for themselves. Dallas says they should be fighting together. Axel said they made a mistake last week in approaching them separately when they should have had a group conversation. Axel and Dallas revealed they were wearing t-shirts with the faces of Rollins, Balor, Axel and Dallas duct taped onto them like they were some new faction. Dallas said forget the Balor Club and forget the Shield, Dallas proposed a new group called "The Four Horsemen of the WWE." Rollins and Balor talked among themselves. Rollins said that was going to be a hard no. Axel put his head down. Dallas and Axel went after Balor and Rollins. Rollins gave Dallsa a superkick. Balor delivered a a Sling Blade to Axel and Rollins clotheslined Axel over the top rope. Then Balor jumped Rollins and gave him a Final Cut to a heel reaction. Balor told Rollins to always keep his eyes on him.
Sasha Banks did an interview with Caruso. Banks said that Bayley wouldn't be in her corner for her match tonight against Ruby Riott because Bayley hasn't returned her phone calls or text messages.
Ruby Riott (w/ Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan) defeated Sasha Banks (12:31)
The storyline was Banks couldn't withstand the numbers game against the Riott Squad without Bayley, who was shown watching the match from the back. Banks had the Bank Statement on Riott, but Sarah Logan ran in to tie up the referee. That allowed Liv Morgan to run in and break up the hold. Logan interfered again when Banks climbed the top rope. Banks was distracted and Riott hit the Riott kick for the pin.
The Public Service Announcement known as A Moment of Bliss was next. Alexa Bliss said you never know when a bully will strike. It can happen at school, at work or on vacation. Bliss said she knows because it happened to her. She was visiting DisneyWorld with a person she thought was her best friend, Nia Jax. But Jax spent the entire day making fun of Bliss' height and asking park employees if Bliss was tall enough for the adult rides. Jax even asked if Bliss was tall enough for the Mad Tea Cup ride. Bliss said "It's a cup! You just sit...in a cup." Then at lunch, Jax insisted Bliss receive the kids' menu. Bliss claimed Jax had a turkey leg in each hand while laughing at her. Bliss feigned tears saying she took a day at the happiest day on Earth and turned it into the saddest day ever. Bliss vowed to win at Backlash and not to let the bully win.
Titus O'Neil did an interview with Renee Young where they replayed his faceplant running to the ring at the Greatest Royal Rumble. O'Neil had a smile on his face as they replayed it. Cole called it the greatest moment in Royal Rumble match history. Young said O'Neil has broken the Internet. O'Neil started to claim it all went according to plan, but then thought better of it and said he just fell. O'Neil said it happens in life, it happened to Jennifer Lawrence a few years ago at the Oscars. O'Neil started to say it's not how many times you fall down, it's how many you get back up. Baron Corbin walked in and said Young should have asked him why did O'Neil fall in the first place. Corbin just laughed at O'Neil, who told Young not to worry about it.
Matt Hardy did a promo reading from his favorite nonfiction book "The Light and the Darkness." Hardy said the story of he and Wyatt have forever transcended time and space. Then Hardy showed Hardy and Wyatt's faces in the background of a wall of a caveman wall, sailing on a boat with George Washington as he crossed the Delaware River, watching from a distance as the man and woman kissed during the parade at Times Square at the conclusion of World War II, and looking into Neal Armstrong's visor as he landed on the moon. Wyatt showed up with the Raw Tag Team Championships and said their tag team name is the Deletors of Worlds.
Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley defeated Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Jinder Mahal (w/ Sunil Singh) (20:51)
After what happened last year, we were given the strange sight of Reigns making the hot tag to Strowman. For the second week in a row, Strowman wiped out Owens and Zayn on the floor with shoulder checks during his comeback. Zayn tried to give Strowman the Helluva kick, but Lashley caught him with a belly-to-belly suplex. Mahal landed a superkick on Lashley, then tagged in Owens. Mahal told Owens to whip him into Strowman, but Reigns plowed Mahal with a spear. Owens gave Reigns a superkick, then delievered another to Strowman. The crowd went nuts thinking Owens was going to hit the cannonball on Strowman, but they booed when Strowman grabbed Owens by the throat and pinned him after the running powerslam. Singh got in the ring, so we're seeing much more outside interference on this show. The match was like wathing those early Nitro episodes where Ric Flair & Arn Anderson would work as heels against Hulk Hogan & Sting---in Charlotte or Winston-Salem. It was a total heel crowd and Strowman even got booed for winning. Good match.
No Way Jose defeated Baron Corbin (2:39)
As Corbin had the upper hand, O'Neil, Apollo Crews and Dana Brooke came out. They played up O'Neil's fall from the Greatest Royal Rumble. As Titus Worldwide came down the ramp, Crews made sure that the walkway was safe for O'Neil to walk over. All of this distracted Corbin. Then Corbin jumped up on the apron but slipped and fell. It was played up like this was O'Neil playing possum to distract Corbin. No Way Jose came up and pinned Corbin with a schoolboy cradle in a standard distraction finish.
Natalya (w/ Ronda Rousey) defeated Mickie James (w/ Alexa Bliss) (3:04)
Not much of a reaction for Natalya, but the crowd chanted for Rousey. Bliss jumped up on the apron to distract Natalya, allowing James to hit a chop block. Rousey chased Bliss up the ramp. The director was so focused on Rousey that they missed the finish, which was Natalya pinning James after a small package.
Postmatch, Jax came out and chased Bliss, who escaped through the crowd. Jax went in the ring and raised the arms of Rousey and Natalya.
Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler did a cell phone interview. Ziggler said they didn't come to Raw to steal the show, they're just going to take it.
Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins defeated Finn Balor to retain the Intercontinental Championship (15:23)
They tore it up again. Rollins won with the Stomp. The first big spot was Rollins cutting off Balor while he attempted the Coup de Grace and gave Balor a superplex, but Balor immediately got up and hit a Falcon Arrow for a near fall. Crowd had been in a lull since the six-man match, but that spot revitalized them. Balor went for the 1916, but Rollins got a knee to the head. Balor hit an overhead kick, but Rollins responded with an enzuigiri. Balor hit a kick to knock Rollins out of the ring and followed with a flip tope. Balor caught the Woo Dropkick and went for the Coup de Grace, but Rollins escaped and caught a side kick. Rollins went for the stomp but Balor got a schoolboy cradle. Rollins tried the Stomp again but Balor got another schoolboy for two. Balor hit the Sling Blade, but Rollins countered with a superkick. That led to the finish.