In the last Raw episode prior to SummerSlam, it felt like the Roman Reigns show as he started off dealing with an angry Rusev before beating him clean in the main event.
Was it the right decision to have Reigns beat Rusev in a non-title match six days before their SummerSlam match for the US Title? In a word… no. It wasn’t. Raw bored me this week and I thought it was the third straight below-average show after WWE had the best edition of Raw on July 25 — the first show after the brand split.
Raw started with the US Champion Rusev in the ring with his wife Lana complaining about Reigns. They wanted an apology. It led to Raw GM Mick Foley walking away, then Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon going out there before Reigns made jokes about Lana being a Russian mail-order bride. Foley and Stephanie told us that the SummerSlam match for the US Title is still on, but they’re also going to have a non-title match in the main event of Raw.
I immediately groaned at the idea of the main event because I hate the idea of giving away a future title match as a non-title match on television in the same week. Why do it? It’s lame. Come up with a tag match or something that we’re not going to see at SummerSlam.
During the show, Rusev attacked Reigns in a backstage segment to try to weaken him, as if we needed more of these guys.
The main event match with Rusev and Reigns started with a brawl. They went to a break before the match could begin. Then the bout took place and it was over 20 minutes long.
As a match, it was fine. Rusev worked over the left arm of Reigns for much of it, then Reigns forgot to sell the arm injury during his comeback and did his usual stuff leading to the clean win with the Spear. The crowd didn’t care for much of it, but in the last seven minutes, the near-falls were sold well, so the fans cared a bit more.
Here’s my question after Raw: Why have Rusev take a clean pinfall loss before a major title match at a big event like SummerSlam? There’s just no good reason to do it. That finish didn’t help anybody. It should have been a disqualification finish or better yet, don’t even do the match. Pick something else to go in that spot or make it a tag match like I said.
There was just too much of Reigns and Rusev on this show. If you combine the opening segment plus the three-segment main event match, they were on Raw for nearly an hour. A third of the show for one feud? That’s way too much. It’s a mistake, especially when you consider they are having the same match for the US Title at SummerSlam as well.
My feeling after the end of Raw is that I don’t want to see Reigns vs. Rusev again. We just saw them in this match. Now I’m supposed to care about a match at SummerSlam? I don’t care and I doubt a lot of people do. The way to promote matches is to build to the major shows like SummerSlam, yet they did this match on Raw and it just didn’t work that well, in my opinion.
If Roman Reigns was good of a performer as Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, The Rock, Kurt Angle or guys of that caliber, then I’m fine with putting them on the show for 1/3 of the broadcast. Reigns doesn’t have that kind of appeal. It’s not even close. What this is, more than anything, is WWE Chairman Vince McMahon saying “you guys are going to like Reigns because I’m not going to stop using him.”
Do you care about Reigns vs. Rusev at SummerSlam more or less after this week’s Raw? The answer is likely going to be a no and that’s why this week’s show was a failure.
This Week’s Raw Matches
It was another week full of short matches. The only match that got a lot of time was Reigns vs. Rusev, which really wasn’t that interesting. Here’s what else happened.
Sami Zayn defeated Sheamus
They had a 10-minute match that was back and forth a bit, which also featured a spot where Zayn hit the Blue Thunder that Michael Cole called a Michinoku Driver. At least the competent announcer Corey Graves corrected him. Anyway, it led to Cesaro showing up to cost Sheamus the win and Zayn hit the Helluva Kick for the win. That led to a Cesaro/Sheamus angle that I’ll mention later. As for Zayn, nothing is planned for him for SummerSlam, which is absolutely ridiculous. Shame on you, WWE Creative team.
Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods defeated The Dudley Boyz
No Big E with Kingston and Woods, since he’s selling the groin injury storyline. It was a quick win for The New Day boys, with Kingston hitting the Trouble in Paradise kick. It could lead to the Dudleys splitting up soon, but that wasn’t the focus of the match.
Nia Jax defeated Rachel Levy
It was a simple one-minute victory for Jax. She’s done that for three of the four weeks since the brand split started.
Big Cass defeated Kevin Owens by disqualification
This match followed Jericho’s bout with Enzo last week that ended in a disqualification. In this case, Jericho attacked Cass from behind and the ref called for the ball. Prior to that, Jericho beat up Enzo outside the ring. After the match, Jericho and Owens double-teamed Cass with Jericho hitting the Codebreaker. It was done to set up their tag team match at SummerSlam which Enzo & Cass will likely win.
The Shining Stars defeated Darren Young & Titus O’Neil
A rare win for the Shining Stars! That’s fake excitement, I assure you. Young and O’Neil tried to team up again, but Young accidentally knocked O’Neil out of the ring and O’Neil responded with his Clash of the Titus finishing move. Primo of the Shining Stars covered to win. It was just a three-minute match to further the heel turn for O’Neil.
Neville defeated Jinder Mahal
Quick match again. Neville won clean with the Red Arrow. He’s likely going to be one of the main guys in the cruiserweight division, so it’s about showcasing him. Mahal was brought back to WWE to put people over. Better than not being on the show, I guess.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson defeated The Golden Truth
Another short match. Was that a running theme for this show? Apparently. Easy win for Gallows & Anderson going into their title match at SummerSlam. Post-match, Woods and Kingston attacked Gallows & Anderson with Gallows saving Anderson from a trombone attack to the groin.
Charlotte defeated Alicia Fox
The short matches continued with Charlotte beating Fox easily with the Natural Selection. Post-match, Sasha Banks went into the ring to confront Charlotte and was attacked by Dana Brooke, who Charlotte insulted prior to the match. It was all a ruse. Banks vs. Charlotte at SummerSlam should be great, and I think Banks will retain at SummerSlam.
Roman Reigns defeated Rusev
This was covered earlier, with Reigns beating Rusev clean in a non-title match.
Three Other Key Items From Raw
1. Brock Lesnar showed up on Raw this week, along with his advocate Paul Heyman. They were interrupted by “free agent” Heath Slater, who manages to get more screen time on both shows than most people who were actually drafted. I don’t mind him as a performer, so it’s fine with me. He can be entertaining.
Slater was out there saying he was told he had to face Lesnar. He said he needed this so he can feed his kids. Lesnar fired back with a great line saying: “I don’t give a s**t about your children.” They muted the “s**t” part on the broadcast. It was a funny moment, although maybe it makes Lesnar come off as being a mean guy. Then again, it’s not like he’s out there begging the fans to cheer him. They just do it because they enjoy seeing him beat people up. I thought it was the best use of Lesnar in a while. I understand not wanting him to have a match on Raw, but beating up somebody like Slater is very entertaining. It worked well.
Heyman ended the segment with a final promo hyping up Lesnar as a special attraction that you can see in a rare appearance at SummerSlam. As always, Heyman was a fantastic hype man in that promo.
2. There was another Seth Rollins promo leading to Finn Balor coming out as The Demon King. It looked cool, like we’ve seen in the last two years in NXT, but why give it away on Raw? I think that was a stupid move because the whole point of a major show like SummerSlam is to do special things. If you give it away on the Raw before SummerSlam, then it loses its appeal on Sunday. It led to Balor knocking Rollins out of the ring and taking him out with a somersault dive. Rollins escaped before Balor could hit his finisher.
The build for Rollins vs. Balor has just been good and the SummerSlam match should be outstanding.
This random dude jumped in the ring and tried to fight @WWERollins !
By the way, a fan tried to get into the ring to go after Rollins. Thankfully, security was there to prevent that. The fan video is right above this.
3. Following the Zayn/Sheamus match, Raw GM Mick Foley was backstage with referees breaking up an altercation between Cesaro and Sheamus. Foley announced that Cesaro and Sheamus would take part in a Best-of-Seven series with the first match taking place at SummerSlam. Keep in mind that Cesaro and Sheamus already had two matches in recent Raw episodes that Cesaro won, but apparently those matches are going to be forgotten for this series.
I like the idea of a Best-of-Seven series. It’s something that is done rarely in wrestling, but it’s a way to build up a rivalry. The most famous one in modern times was when Booker T and Chris Benoit did it in WCW in the late 1990s. It was a lot of fun. I’m all for it because I think it will work out well for both guys. Cesaro should win the series.
Looking Ahead To SummerSlam
The next WWE pay-per-view event is SummerSlam, which is this Sunday, April 21 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Here’s the lineup that we know so far:
Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton
WWE Universal Championship: Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
John Cena vs. AJ Styles
WWE Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Charlotte
WWE United States Championship: Rusev (c) vs. Roman Reigns
WWE Tag Team Championship: The New Day (c) vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
WWE Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) vs. Apollo Crews
Best-of-7 Series Match 1: Sheamus vs. Cesaro
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens
No gimmick matches on the show. It’s a bit of a surprise, but that’s how it is at this point. I’m not sure if any more matches will be added on Smackdown.
Remember that SummerSlam has a 7 p.m. ET start time, so it’s a four-hour show at least, plus the Kickoff Show, which starts at 5 p.m. ET. Are you going to watch six-plus hours on Sunday night? It’s a lot.
It was another below-average edition of Raw. Even though I was bored during a lot of it, the results from this week’s show doesn’t really hurt my excitement about SummerSlam. That show is going to be awesome due to the outstanding matchups that are set to take place. I just wish Raw was a more compelling show week after week.
This coming Friday, I’ll have an in-depth preview of SummerSlam with a focus on the Lesnar/Orton match. Then on Monday, I’ll have a SummerSlam review and back next Tuesday with the Raw reaction.