On Monday’s WWE Raw, former NXT champion Samoa Joe, Raw commissioner Stephanie McMahon, and Nia Jax all made returns from absences of varying lengths. Joe had been out of action with an injury since SummerSlam in August, where he participated in a wild fatal four-way match for the WWE Championship against Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns.
Meanwhile, Stephanie hadn’t appeared on Raw since WrestleMania 33, where she was accidentally sent through a table by her husband Triple H during his match with Seth Rollins. While she did appear very briefly on a September edition of SmackDown – coming out to check on her dad Vince after he was beat down by Kevin Owens – this is her first time actually doing anything of consequence since April. As for Nia, she’s been gone for a few weeks for reasons that have yet to be specified publicly, although various rumors swirled that she had quit the company over problems with her booking.
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Nia returned on Raw to face off with longtime rival Bayley, after Alicia Fox – Raw’s team captain for the big women’s elimination match at Survivor Series – named the powerful competitor as her replacement. Nia dominated Bayley, picking up the victory fairly easily, and was then named by Fox as the first additional member of team Raw. Logically though, Bayley will probably end up on the Survivor Series team too, as Raw’s women’s roster only contains about eight people, and champion Alexa Bliss is already set to face SmackDown women’s champ Natalya at the show.
Joe came out directly after Nia’s victory, to a rousing ovation from the crowd. Joe wasn’t having that though, immediately running down the fans, and reasserting his heel status. Joe vowed to destroy his opponent for the night, and that turned out to be Apollo Crews. Joe made pretty quick work of Apollo, choking him out with the Coquina Clutch. To top things off, Joe proceeded to also choke out Apollo’s manager Titus O’Neil.
Earlier in the night, Stephanie returned to berate Raw GM Kurt Angle for allowing the Raw roster to get decimated by SmackDown last week, and also name Angle as the team captain for Raw’s male Survivor Series team. Never one to tolerate failure, Stephanie pulled a page out of her dad’s book, promising to fire the Olympic gold medalist if Raw doesn’t defeat team SmackDown at Survivor Series. It’s never a great idea to anger a McMahon, so one can bet that she plans to follow through on her threat if Angle doesn’t emerge victorious.