Welcome to the Wrestlepurists’ live coverage of Monday Night Raw for the September 18th, 2023 episode.
CODY RHODES IN-RING PROMO
No Raw opening package for us tonight as we go straight into the American Nightmare Cody Rhodes’ entrance that blows the damn roof off in Salt Lake City, Utah. Raw is a program that historically starts with a fifteen minute promo segment, so I’m stoked that they are starting with a match instead. Aaand I believe I have been hoodwinked and bamboozled (even led astray) as Cody is going to cut a promo to start. He says he was interrupted last week, so he would really like to talk about Main-Event Jey Uso. But Dominik isn’t going to let Cody finish. Dominik says the only thing the people need to know about Jey Uso is that once he joins the Judgment Day, they will continue to be the most dominant faction in all of WWE. Dominik says Rhea Ripley isn’t here because she was injured last week by Nia Jax. Oh man I already forgot that happened. Dominik says he is dedicating his victory tonight to Mami. Cody says maybe that will be what impresses Rhea enough for her to finally define their relationship. He compares them to Urkel and Laura Winslow LOL Cody says he gets the vibe that Dominik is far more into her than she is him. Cody points out that last week it seemed like Rhea had eyes for Jey Uso. That upsets Dominik, who yells that a family always has each others back. This brings out the WWE Tag Team Champions Damian Priest and Grand Slam Finn Balor to back up Dominik as we head to break. Okay not a long promo segment to start, and I’m intrigued that Cody is once again cut off before addressing the Jey to Raw drama.
CODY RHODES DEFEATS DOMINIK MYSTERIO
Dragon Lee is ringside and it’s announced he will battle Dominik for the NXT North American Championship on Raw next week! That’s awesome, great for Dragon Lee and a continuation in WWE’s attempt to solidify NXT as a true third brand. Cody is all over Dominik to start, their match at Money in the Bank wasn’t much of a contest and this doesn’t look like it’ll be much different. The referee is distracted and Finn grabs Cody’s leg and flings him off the apron. This allows Dominik to get a brief upper-hand but Cody quickly hits the Cody Cutter followed by the Crossrhodes for the win. Finn and Priest get on the apron with Domink ready for an attack on Cody but Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn run down to the ring to even the odds. I know Cody is God like protected (as he should be) and they sometimes portray Dominik as a bit of a dweeb, but I feel like this would have benefited from a few more minutes. Even having Finn and Priest distracting Cody until he finally overcomes.
Cody goes to leave, but Kevin has a mic. Kevin tells Cody that they need to talk about something and asks Cody to get back in the ring.
CODY RHODES, KEVIN OWENS & SAMI ZAYN IN-RING PROMO
All three men are back in the ring with Kevin sitting on the top rope. Kevin wants to confirm that Jey Uso is back on Raw because of Cody. Cody says yes. Kevin says he doesn’t need to go through the details of all the damage the Bloodline did the past few years. All he wants from Cody is to explain why he thought it was a good idea to bring Jey into their locker-room. Cody says sure, there are a lot of people in the back that want to know why. But there are a lot of people in the audience that know why he did it. Cody said his job is to make the people happy. He asks the crowd if they like Jey Uso and they respond yes. “You are looking at someone who has received a very large amount of second chances.” Cody says because of that, he thinks Jey also deserves a second chance. He points out that now the Bloodline is down a member, and that can’t possibly be a bad thing. Sami grabs the mic and says Kevin has always been the one to take a long time to trust people. But Sami says he knows Jey. Sami tells Kevin he doesn’t have to give Jey a second chance, but he should. Sami says both of them gave each other second chances. And because they did that, they won the Tag Team Championships in the main-event of Wrestlemania. Kevin says he hears them, he understands. Kevin brings up Sami losing the Universal title match at Elimination Chamber. He says he will pretend that didn’t happen. He says he will pretend Jey didn’t have a large part in costing Cody the Universal championship. Kevin says hell Jey must have cost him the championship at least five times but he’ll pretend that didn’t happen. “I can’t trust Jey Uso, but I trust both of you. So I hope you’re right.” Really great segment here, logic from all sides around. Yes people deserve second chances, but Kevin probably got screwed by the Bloodline more than anyone. And like he said, he watched both Cody and Sami get screwed over too.
RECAP OF WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
We see a recap of last week’s Women’s World Heavyweight Championship match between Rhea and Raquel Rodriquez that ended in the shocking return of Nia Jax. Michael Cole says Rhea suffered bruised ribs and is on a day-to-day basis and Raquel is also on a day-to-day basis due to whiplash.
KOFI KINGSTON DEFEATS IVAR
We see a video earlier today from Adam Pearce telling the New Day that Erik is no longer medically able to compete. They first assume Pearce is going to come out of retirement and tag with Ivar LOL Kofi and Woods do rock paper scissors to determine who will face Ivar one on one. Kofi wins so that’s why we have this match in place of the planned two out of three falls tag match. Kofi starts the match hot but the corner sit down move by Ivar stops all of that. Kofi sold that move like death. Kofi hits a roundhouse kick on Ivar that only gets a two. He goes to follow up but Ivar ducks and Kofi goes flying over the ropes. Ivar hits a nasty splash onto Kofi on the floor to send us to break. Back from break and things aren’t going much better, Ivar splats Kofi with a side slam and then follows up with a cross body. Ivar goes to the top but Kofi moves at the last second to stay in the fight. Kofi hits a frog splash to the back of Ivar but it only gets a two count. This is the match of the cross bodies as Kofi hits a springboard one for a two count of his own. Kofi stacks Ivar up with the S.O.S. but Ivar kicks out. Kofi doesn’t waste time and hits a running knee followed by the Boom Drop. The crowd is feeling it as he goes for Trouble in Paradise but Ivar rolls through. He goes for the Spin Kick but Kofi ducks that. The two men trade reversals until Ivar hits a double underhook butterfly powerbomb for an extremely close nearfall. Where is this coming from?! Kofi gets up but Ivar connects flush with the Spinning Kick and still it’s not over! Man these two are WORKING. Ivar hits the Bronco Buster on Kofi and the former world champion seems done for. Ivar goes up to the second rope but Valhalla tells him to turn around. Ivar goes for a moonsault and he gets all of it! 1…2…NO. Kofi Kingston is still in this thing. Ivar props Kofi up on the top rope and looks to be going for a superplex. Kofi starts to fight back and hits a sunset flip powerbomb! Kofi can barely stand, but has enough energy to connect with Trouble for Paradise for the three count.
Raw continues to offer some incredible TV matches, although that one was even more impressive to me. When he’s allowed to, Kofi is one of the best babyfaces in the world. I hope Erik is alright but him missing tonight was a huge boost to this feud. Now I can’t wait for their two out of three falls match.
INTERVIEW WITH RICOCHET
We see a recap of Shinsuke Nakamura attacking Ricochet backstage last week. Jackie Redmond is backstage with Ricochet. She asks for any final comments for his match with Nakamura. Ricochet says Nakamura may see this match as just another pawn in the war with Seth Rollins. But he is making a mistake looking past Ricochet. He tells Nakamura to be careful playing games because he is a cheat code. Good stuff.
SHINSUKE NAKAMURA DEFEATS RICOCHET BY DQ
Nakamura makes his way down to the ring, and as he hits his pose Seth “Freakin” Rollins’ music hits. Adam Pearce and security come out to try and prevent Rollins from confronting Nakamura, but he breaks free. Nakamura ducks out of the ring before Rollins can reach him. Security grabs Rollins as Nakamura taunts him to the break. Nakamura gets a cheap shot in on Ricochet behind the referee’s back as the match starts, but Ricochet is determined to prove he is more than just a pawn in the feud between Nakamura and Rollins. Nakamura hits a sliding dropkick when Ricochet is upside down mid move. This is the kind of wrestler Nakamura should be now, a technical assassin. This is such an interesting match, two months ago depending on the crowd this might not get any reaction at all. But they’ve done a great job in positioning Nakamura as this nasty heel. Even though it doesn’t make up for all the loses Nakamura has taken over the years, they’ve been steadfast in presenting Nakamura as a legit threat. It’s carrying over to matches like this, and in turn helping a guy like Ricochet feel like he isn’t just spinning his wheels. THIS is the benefit of a harder brand split. Nakamura is feeling himself and goes for a running dropkick in the corner but Ricochet is ready for it and counters with a running knee! Ricochet connects with the springboard elbow and running shooting star press for a two count. Nakamura goes to the outside and sweeps the leg of Ricochet who is on the apron. Nakamura wants the Kinshasa but Ricochet counters by basically walking up Nakamura like a damn ladder. While outside, Nakamura grabs a chair and swings at Ricochet but misses. Ricochet grabs the chair and hits Nakamura! The bell rings and Nakamura is announced the winner by DQ. As Ricochet is arguing with the referee, Nakamura comes in and hits a chop block on Ricochet. Cole and Wade Barrett speculate that Nakamura never cared about winning this match the normal way, as he went for very few covers. Nak wraps Ricochet’s leg around the post and starts wailing away at it with a chair! After the third or fourth shot, Rollins is out for the save! They brawl in the ring and Rollins has Nakamura set up for a Pedigree onto a chair. Nakamura counters and Rollins takes a bump on the chair on his bad back. Rollins still wants to fight despite security holding him back, and Nakamura takes advantage again! He grabs Rollins and hits a back suplex onto the announce table ala Randy Orton and the Singh Brothers. Nakamura is just feeling himself, vibing up the ramp. He takes a big sign that is just a cut out of Rollins’ face and holds it in front of his. Brilliant.
BACKSTAGE WITH SETH ROLLINS
Rollins is yelling that he doesn’t need the referee’s help to make it to the trainer’s room but he then falls to the ground. He begrudgingly accepts help. It doesn’t look good.
INTERVIEW WITH CHELSEA GREEN & PIPER NIVEN
We see a recap of what happened between Shayna Baszler, Zoey Stark, and the Women’s Tag Team Champions last week. Byron Saxton is backstage with Chelsea Green and Piper Niven. Chelsea says Shayna and Zoey aren’t even a real team. What makes a real team is being friends like her and Piper. Piper interrupts and says they aren’t friends. She has Chelsea guess what country she is from, with Chelsea guessing Florida. She also keeps calling Byron Brian and it has no business being as funny as it is.
ZOEY STARK & SHAYNA BASZLER VS. CHELSEA GREEN & PIPER NIVEN – NO CONTEST
This non-title match against Piper and Chelsea should be an interesting insight into how they want to book things in this division going forward. You’d think they wouldn’t want the champs to lose immediately but they haven’t exactly tried to make Piper and Chelsea a well oiled machine. The match starts with Chelsea as a punching bag for Shayna and Zoey. Piper finally gets involved and allows Chelsea to hit a missile dropkick on Zoey Stark to get some separation. Chelsea tags in Piper and the mood of the match instantly changes. Piper and Shayna find themselves on the outside, with Piper slamming Shayna on the outside. Piper goes to get back in the ring and Nia Jax makes her mark again. She takes out Piper and then goes in the ring to hit a Samoa Drop/Senton combo on Zoey. Nia throws Chelsea around, and then hits her old tag team partner Shayna with the Vader Bomb. I just…honestly the attack was well booked here but I feel like the women’s tag division is this very delicate flower that needs to be taken care of with gentle hands. There have been so many unfortunate injuries and mishaps with it, I don’t know it just feels wrong to have this happen during this tag match. ALSO TWO DQ FINISHES IN A ROW? Come on H, let’s get with it (Raw’s been pretty good lately, so we’ve gotten jump on what we can lol)
BACKSTAGE WITH ADAM PEARCE & CHAD GABLE
Adam Pearce is on his phone but he is talking and not texting! Maybe he got unlimited minutes? Chad Gable comes in and asks for another opportunity. Pearce says it was a career making performance against GUNTHER but Gable can’t just get another shot without earning it. Enter BIG Bronson Reed. The usual back and forth happens and a match is made. Going to be a great match, but also Gable seems just so much more comfortable in these moments. Pounding the table for Gable to eventually go for the World title as well.
INTERVIEW WITH JEY USO
Jackie Redmond is backstage with the man everyone is talking about, Main-Event Jey Uso. She asks Jey about people like Kevin and Drew McIntyre’s reaction to him being on Raw. Jey says it’s okay, he understands where they are coming from. But with Drew he knows tonight he will have to be physical. Damian Priest interrupts and politely asks Jackie to leave. He says that the Judgment Day really wants an Uso. The rest of the crew wants Jimmy, but he wants Jey. Priest says that he is asking Jey to not make him look bad in front of his family. “Yes or no, give us an answer by the end of the night.” Ooh so are we getting a decision tonight? Probably not, probably going to be some muddle thing that allows the Judgment Day to think he joined them when he actually didn’t.
BRONSON REED DEFEATS CHAD GABLE
Reed has an obvious size advantage over Gable, but that isn’t any different than what Gable has been fighting against for the past few weeks. Gable smartly starts by sticking and moving, but he tries for a suplex on Reed and just can’t get the big man up. Reed hits an awesome powerslam/throw on Gable, just whipped him around. The story of the match seems to be seeing if Gable can get Reed up for a suplex. Reminds me of the old Brock Lesnar/Big Show Survivor Series 2002 match. Reed has Gable up over his head in one corner, and walks that man across the ring and throws Gable onto the other corner. My goodness, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Reed puts Gable up on the top rope but gets himself caught with an armbar by the Olympian. Gable avoids a splash from Reed and now its time for him to fire up. He hits a Liger kick followed by a Diving Headbutt for a two count. Gable keeps going for the suplex on Reed but he just can’t get it done. Reed tries for the running Senton but Gable gets his knees up! Looks like Gable hurt his knee trying to counter. Reed lays out Gable and then goes up for the Tsunami and…wins? Oh. Um. Okay. I don’t like this at all. I’m sure there is a plan, story, etc. But GUNTHER is ready to move up. Gable is ready to win the title. Wow I’m shocked here. Also if you were going to do this, maybe have Bronson Reed win more than like two matches in the past few months?
BACKSTAGE WITH TOMMASO CIAMPA
Tommaso Ciampa is backstage and says when he came to Raw he agreed to himself to be patient. He realizes now that in this universe patience is not a virtue. If you want something done you need to make it happen yourself (he doesn’t say DIY). Ciampa tells Imperium they didn’t chose him, he chose them. “GUNTHER, you have what I want.” So looks like Ciampa will be the next challenger. Not sure if they’ll have Gable try and do something drastic to get the match, or if he will just not be in that program for a minute? Geez what a deflating loss.
RECAP OF BECKY LYNCH VS. TIFFANY STRATON
We see a recap of Becky Lynch winning the NXT Women’s Championship over Tiffany Stratton this past Tuesday. She is walking backstage to the ring and gives Akira Tozawa a fist pump. Glad my boy gets his weekly appearance.
BACKSTAGE WITH KEVIN OWENS, SAMI ZAYN & JEY USO
Kevin and Sami are backstage and arguing about Jey Uso. Jey comes into frame and tells Kevin if he has something to say then say it to his face. Kevin doesn’t hesitate to say he thinks Jey is with the Judgment Day. Jey denies that and Sami tries to get everyone to calm down. Kevin leaves, and Sami tells Jey that Kevin just needs time to come around. Sami says he doesn’t know what is going on with the Judgment Day, but it does seem like Jey has a big decision to make. He wishes Jey luck and Jey thanks him.
BECKY LYNCH IN-RING PROMO
Becky says the Man is the new NXT Women’s Champion! She admits winning this championship wasn’t on her bingo card for this year, but she says she’s learned to take the opportunities when you can. Becky says she didn’t want to win the title and put it on her mantle. She wants to defend the title and elevate it to heights it’s never seen before. She says NXT represents the future and progress and she wants to test herself against the best. Becky announces she will be on NXT tomorrow night, but tonight she is in Utah! She then issues an open challenge which is answered by Natalya. She comes down the ring and says she wants Becky to tell her who else has worked harder for an opportunity. Natalya accepts the challenge but Becky says she meant this challenge for someone new. Natalya fires back that Becky went down to NXT and stepped all over the women there who were waiting for an opportunity and then calls her a “hypocritical ginger witch.” Becky accepts and Natalya wastes no time attacking.
BECKY LYNCH DEFEATS NATALYA (NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP)
Natalya throws Becky into the post as we head to break. I know the rumor was Tegan Nox was going to answer the challenge. I think that would have been nice, but I’m glad they put some story behind the Natalya decision. Back from break and Becky has gotten her legs under her. She hits the Bexploder out of the corner for a two count. Natalya and Becky are throwing big shots at one another, definitely not pulling any punches tonight. Becky goes up top for the leg drop but Natalya ducks and connects with the discus clothesline for just two. Natalya goes for the Sharpshooter but Becky reverses right into the Dis-Arm-Her. Natalya reserves that into a pinfall attempt but Becky kicks out. Becky rolls up Natalya for two, who reverses into a roll up on Becky for two, before Becky gets the last rollup for a three count. They didn’t get a lot of time but they made the most of it.
BACKSTAGE WITH ADAM PEARCE & DRAGON LEE
Adam Pearce is backstage with Dragon Lee, telling him next week will be a big moment. Dominik barges in and complains about losing to Cody because Rhea wasn’t there. He blames Pearce for not taking care of Nia Jax. He then sees Dragon Lee and tells him he hates people in masks lol A nice back and forth between the two to hype up what should be a great title match next Monday.
TOMMASO CIAMPA DEFEATS GIOVANNI VINCI
Ugh I’m still very much not over Gable losing to Reed earlier. BUT I am a big Ciampa fan so I’m excited to see a match between GUNTHER and him. Kaiser almost immediately grabs the leg of Ciampa to distract him, allowing Vinci to gain the upper-hand. We see GUNTHER watching from the locker-room as Vinci hits a back suplex on Ciampa for a two count. Ciampa hits a Lou Thez Press (WHAT) which starts his comeback. Ciampa wants a running knee but once again Kaiser gets involved. This is basically a two on one match. OH MAN. Vinci goes for a springboard attack and Ciampa catches him with a nasty and i mean NASTY knee. Ciampa locks in the Sicilian Stretch on Vinci and he has no choice but to tap out. Seriously, go back and watch that knee. Up on the ramp Kaiser looks absolutely disgusted by Vinci. My man cannot catch a break.
INTERVIEW WITH SETH ROLLINS
Byron Saxton catches Seth Rollins leaving the training room. Saxton asks the champion how he is feeling. Rollins says he is tired and he is in a lot of pain but he is losing his mind. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get that son of a bitch in the ring.” Rollins realizes that Nakamura wants to do this on his own terms, so maybe Rollins has been doing this all wrong. He looks into the camera and tells Nakamura that the ball is in his court. Nakamura gets to name the time, place and stipulation. Rollins says Nakamura and his legacies are intertwined “will you be the one to define your legacy, or will it be me?”
DREW MCINTYRE DEFEATS JEY USO
I’m pumped for this one, feels rare that we have a one on one main-event for Raw that is absolutely fresh. Commentary is mentioning Drew’s big moment being in front of no fans. I love that they are continuing to bring that up. And Barrett makes the connection that back at Clash at the Castle was Drew’s moment to make all of that good. Jey was one of the men that prevented Drew from winning the title back. Drew is in control early, telling Jey “if that’s all you have it’s going to be quick.” Drew rips Jey’s shirt off and hits a viscous chop on Jey in the corner. Drew hits a snap suplex on Jey but it only gets two. Jey hits two consecutive suicide dives onto Drew. The second brings out The Judgment Day. We head to break with Jey staring at Finn, Priest and Dominik. We can’t get a good read on what Jey is thinking here. Honestly bravo to WWE for making it believable that Jey would even consider going to another group. You’d think he would never consider it after what happened with the Bloodline, but the weight of the majority of the roster not trusting Jey has to make him at least think about joining. Back from break and the two men are fighting up on the top rope. Drew hits a big forearm and then takes Jey over for the superplex! Both men are slow to get back to their feet, and they start to exchange right hands. Jey goes for the Rock spit in the hand strike but Drew cuts him off with the Glasgow Kiss! Jey follows that up with a Samoan Drop they are both laid out again. Jey attempts his third dive of the night but Drew was ready for it with a forearm. Drew is calling for the Claymore but Dominik gets up on the apron to distract the ref, with Priest grabbing at Drew’s foot. When Drew does go for the Claymore, Jey nails him with a Superkick for a two count! Jey sits in the corner as the Judgment Day give him a pep talk. Priest keeps talking to Jey and the two fist bump. Has Jey joined the Judgment Day?! No! Jey hits a Superkick on Priest! The crowd goes wild and Jey hits another kick on Finn and then on Dominik. Jey turns around and Drew hits a pinpoint Claymore for the three. The Judgment Day come into the ring and start the beatdown on Jey. Drew looks on from the ramp, clearly deciding whether he should save Jey or not. Drew decides against it and walks away until he stops again at the top of the ramp and looks back. Just as Drew seems like he is going to save Jey, Cody Rhodes runs down to the ring for the save! Jey and Cody take out the Judgement Day and oooh boy we are absolutely getting the Drew/Cody feud soon. That’s going to be great.
Really fun match, I like that Jey is protected from the loss because of the Judgment Day. I also love that Drew didn’t hesitate to win that match. You can’t blame Drew for taking his time to decide to help Jey or not. You also can’t blame Cody for running out for the save. Although, I get a feeling Drew is going to find a way!