What’s the best way to get over predictable booking? Use your biggest stars in a series of massive spots and leave as much violence and carnage in your wake as possible. While that may not have been WWE’s exact working statement on Monday, it seemed to fit perfectly just the same.
Bookending Raw with a pair of explosive segments focused on the company’s best feud and hottest participants in recent months, WWE did well to make up for some holes in between and keep the momentum moving forward on the build toward SummerSlam.
After Brock Lesnar returned for the second straight week, this time to open Raw with a one-man destruction of The Miz and his Miztourage, the three other superstars who will make up the universal championship Fatal 4-Way match on Aug. 20 did their best to spice up the main event.
Samoa Joe’s late run-in brought an abrupt ending to an incredibly physical and exciting Last Man Standing match between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman. After last week’s triple threat match between them fell a bit flat in terms of meaning, this week felt like it helped the feud turn a positive corner just two weeks out of the summer’s biggest show.
Raw also featured escalations in the tension between “frenemies” Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins along with another chapter in the Bray Wyatt-Finn Balor feud, which was officially booked for SummerSlam. On the women’s side, Sasha Banks and Nia Jax came out on top in their respective triple threat matches, setting up a showdown next week to decide who replaces the injured Bayley against women’s champion Alexa Bliss.
WWE Raw results
Miz TV with Brock Lesnar: The Miz opened by calling out “Kurt Angle’s illegitimate son” Jason Jordan. Out came Angle, who said Jordan was busy preparing for his match against Curtis Axel. As a replacement, Angle sent out Lesnar to a massive pop. The Miz guaranteed Lesnar would lose at SummerSlam, saying it will be “good riddance to bad rubbish.” Paul Heyman asked Miz if he and wife Maryse were into role playing. He then assigned Miz, Axel and Bo Dallas the roles of Lesnar’s future opponents — Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman â offering a preview of SummerSlam. Lesnar then destroyed all three, hitting a double clothesline on the Miztourage before landing German suplexes and F5s on all three heels.
Creating a segment for Lesnar to get violent is always a red-hot way to kick off a show. Adding someone who can talk on the level of Heyman in Miz was a nice bonus. But for as irresistibly fun as the segment was to watch, it didn’t really make a ton of sense either having Angle send out Lesnar to face Miz. In this case, we can all agree to be forgiving.
Sheamus def. Seth Rollins via pinfall: Dean Ambrose was conspicuously absent, allowing Cesaro to constantly interfere. Late in the match, Cesaro climbed to the apron while Rollins was on the top rope and distracted him into jumping off. Sheamus then rolled up Rollins from behind for the 1-2-3. An angry Rollins hit a suicide dive on both outside the ring before the tables turned in a two-on-one beating. With the crowd chanting “We want Ambrose,” Sheamus hit a spiked White Noise with Ceasaro added impact from the second rope. But unlike last week, Ambrose never showed up to rescue Rollins.
Backstage — Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins: Ambrose scolded Rollins for making him look like a jerk. Rollins countered by asking, after three years, what more he has to do in order “to prove to you that I’m not the same guy.” Ambrose said he won’t get burned again and has a match to prepare for against Cesaro. “Like always, I’ve got to go it alone,” he added.
Jason Jordan def. Jean-Pierre Goulet via pinfall: With Axel being attended to by the medical staff backstage because of the Lesnar attack, Angle was forced to juggle on the fly and grabbed a local enhancement talent backstage. Despite loud chants of “Let’s go jobber!” by the Toronto crowd, Jordan dominated the squash match and hit his neckbreaker finisher for the 1-2-3.
In the ring — Bayley: In an interview with Charly Caruso, a discouraged Bayley talked about the shoulder injury that will keep her out of SummerSlam. The crowd wasn’t feeling her babyface routine and even booed her attempt to thank them for their supportive tweets. When asked who had the best chance of the six women involved in a pair of matches tonight to produce her replacement, Bayley didn’t hesitate to name “my friend” Sasha Banks.
Sasha Banks def. Emma (via submission) and Alicia Fox: Late in the match, Banks applied her submission move on Fox before Emma snuck up from behind to roll Banks up. After Banks kicked out, she instantly applied her Banks Statement on Emma to force the tap. A long-distance staredown between Banks and Raw champion Alexa Bliss, who joined the commentary table, ensued.
In a weird way, this Bayley injury appears to be a blessing in disguise for WWE’s booking team. After being criticized for putting Bayley over the recently refurbished Banks, WWE has no reason not to go back to Bliss-Banks for SummerSlam â a feud between the two most talented women on Raw.
Backstage — Braun Strowman: “I like hurting Roman Reigns. I like feeling his bones crack and hearing him whimper as I pummel his body. Most of all, I like seeing the hope leave his eyes as he tries to get back to his feet. .. I’ve broken his body. Tonight, I break his spirit.”
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson def. Enzo Amore & Big Show via pinfall: An impromptu tag team match was thrown together after The Good Brothers interrupted the babyfaces’ in-ring promo (with Gallows calling them “nerds”). Big Cass walked out to ringside late in the match, distracting Big Show into getting knocked out of the ring. Amore initially escaped being placed in the Magic Killer and rolled Gallows up, but Anderson came through with a running boot to get the pin. Cass immediately took out Show with a big boot, but Amore escaped his own beatdown, forcing Cass to give chase. Cass walked right into a knockout punch from Show to lay him out.
Confrontation — Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt: After Balor announced to Bray Wyatt “the next time you want to come at Finn, you better not miss” and “whatever you want to start, I will finish,” the lights went out and Wyatt appeared. But Balor was waiting for him, sitting atop the turnbuckle (causing Wyatt to chuckle with evil delight). Balor twice avoided Wyatt’s attacks and hit him with a slingblade. The lights went out again and this time Balor was left alone and confused in the ring. Wyatt appeared on the video screen, saying, “I can tell why these people like you so much Finn because when you fly, they fly. But after I rip you down from the heavens, they will all fall down with you.”
Good comeback for the heel Wyatt as the storyline continues to build toward SummerSlam. While Balor was too quick and smart for Wyatt’s physical attacks, “The Eater of Worlds” re-established his mental (if not spiritual) advantages. At this point, we can all but guess we will get the Demon King from Balor later this month, but it’s how we get there within the story that will ultimately define the feud.
Dean Ambrose def. Cesaro via pinfall: Outside distraction from Sheamus was the dominant theme in this long and physical two-segment match. Sheamus attempted one final climb to the apron late, but it was Ambrose who took advantage of the interruption by deftly rolling up Cesaro for the 1-2-3. Sheamus instantly attacked from behind and Rollins responded with a run-in. After Rollins cleaned house, the crowd erupted in hopes of a Shield reunion. After a long staredown, Ambrose put out his fist. Rollins briefly smiled but ultimately shook his head and angrily walked away, like Ambrose did last week.
Rollins last-second bitterness was a strong antidote to what felt like a predictable rekindling of their friendship. This remains a hot storyline entering SummerSlam and one that consistently draws massive reactions from crowds.
Backstage — Titus Worldwide: The three members of celebrated the cruiserweight championship they expect Akira Tozawa to win at SummerSlam. Neville was quick to interrupt, saying he’ll be scouting his competition later tonight.
Akira Tozawa def. Ariya Daivari via pinfall: With Titus O’Neil on commentary, the announce crew worked hard to put over Tozawa’s toughness as he rallied from an early beating while selling his shoulder injury. Following a suicide dive missile outside the ring, Tozawa went on to his senton bomb from the top rope inside it to get the pin.
Backstage — Roman Reigns: “The Big Dog” said he doesn’t care what Lesnar does and won’t be afraid to retire him at SummerSlam, similar to what he did to The Undertaker at WrestleMania.
Nia Jax def. Dana Brooke (via pinfall) and Mickie James: Jax largely dominated this one with little suspense she wouldn’t ultimately go over. She did so with a leg drop on Brooke for the 1-2-3 and pointed at Bliss, who sat in on commentary, while a confident Banks watched on a monitor backstage.
Vignette — Goldust: After quoting movie lines, Goldust said he has so much love to give, he’s about to burst. He also can’t wait to share his next big masterpiece, titled “The Great Audition,” and will be watching closely ahead of SummerSlam to find his next hero, villain and new starlet.
Backstage — Big Cass and Kurt Angle: Cass asked for a match against Big Show at SummerSlam on one condition â Amore isn’t anywhere near the arena or greater New York City area. Angle half-jokingly suggested putting Amore in a shark cage suspended above the ring and both liked the idea so much that Angle approved the match with the stipulation.
Braun Strowman def. Roman Reigns in last man standing match: As physical and intense as a pay-per-view match with just as many big spots, Strowman survived thanks to last-minute interference from Samoa Joe. But along the way, both superstars sold out for big moments including a missile dropkick from Strowman, brutal shots to the face using the ring stairs from Reigns and Strowman being driven through a table with a Samoan Drop. The most inventive spot may have been Strowman firing the timekeeper’s chair at Reigns’ head like it was a fastball. After they brawled on the stage, Reigns hit a stiff running spear at ringside to knock both men down. As Reigns rose, Joe sunk in his Coquina Clutch from the first row of the crowd onto Reigns and choked him out cold on the floor. Strowman rose at the count of eight to get the victory as Reigns was counted out.
Despite the fact that there was nothing tangible at stake and the main event played out rather predictably, it was violent and entertaining enough to make you forget. Seeing Lesnar make an early Raw appearance for the second straight week but not stick around for the main event, however, was much more difficult to forgive. Still, this was nothing but fun to watch and that was good enough on this night. It is worth noting that Strowman was down for nearly 30 seconds, but the referee stopped his initial count when Joe attacked Reigns and did not restart it until both were down again.