The WWE Raw brand is moving on from Great Balls of Fire, which was a pretty good show, as they look ahead to SummerSlam on Aug. 20. It was one of those weeks where there wasn’t a running theme in terms of a big angle.
I thought the biggest part of the show was the promo featuring Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and others at the top of the third hour. I’ll focus on that in this opening section while fitting in everything else in the appropriate spot.
Brock Lesnar Went Face-To-Face with Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe
Kurt Angle, the General Manager of Raw, made his entrance towards the top of the third hour. They spent the previous two hours on the show talking about how there would be an update on the status of Braun Strowman after Roman Reigns crushed him in an ambulance at Great Balls of Fire. What did we get? Angle merely said that Strowman was injured and they had no idea when he was going to return. It wouldn’t surprise me if he is back next week because when they said he was going to be out six months with an elbow injury, he was back in six weeks. The dialogue in this segment was really good, so I figured I would change it up a bit this week to include some of the lines they said.
Brock Lesnar, the Universal Champion, and his advocate Paul Heyman made their entrance to a great ovation. Lesnar was all smiles since he retained his title. Angle reminisced about how Lesnar beat him in the main event of WrestleMania 14 years earlier while noting that Lesnar keeps getting better. Angle brought up SummerSlam, which brought out Roman Reigns.
Reigns was booed on his way to the ring like usual, but he wasn’t acting any different. There’s no sign of a heel turn from a booking perspective at least. If you’re wondering if Angle would punish Reigns for destroying Strowman with an ambulance, you are wrong.
Reigns to Angle: “You can thank me because you didn’t know how to handle Braun Strowman.” Then he turned to Lesnar: “And you’re never around to.” Fans let out an “ooohhh” reaction since Brock is absent a lot. Reigns said that he did Angle a favor and he owes him one, so maybe it should be Reigns and Lesnar at SummerSlam.
Lesnar spoke up, which is rare. Lesnar to Reigns: “You actually think you deserve a shot at this? You don’t deserve s**t, buddy.” The swear word was bleeped. I loved it because swearing on Raw is such a rare thing that when somebody does swear, it makes that person (Lesnar) looks like such a badass.
Samoa Joe joined the segment to say they were living a fantasy and he will take them to reality. Lesnar responded to that saying: “Reality is I kicked your ass last night. That’s the reality.”
"If you're really honest with yourself, you didn't BEAT me last night, YOU ESCAPED ME!" @SamoaJoe isn't finished with @BrockLesnar! #RAW pic.twitter.com/zCbmCvFTbW
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) July 11, 2017
Joe fired back at Brock: “Oh, don’t worry about that, because sooner than later I’m putting your ass to sleep.” Joe told Lesnar that he didn’t beat him, he escaped him. Joe also told Reigns that he has never beaten him.
Heyman yelled at Joe that he was not going to face Lesnar again. Joe said that Heyman knows Joe can beat Brock and that Heyman was protecting Lesnar from Joe. Joe said that Heyman knows that he has Lesnar’s number.
Reigns tried to interrupt, so Joe told him that he was real mouthy for a man that got beat down by Braun Strowman. Reigns made a good point to retort that: “Look at me… now look at Braun… if you can find him.”
Angle interrupted Reigns and Joe. Angle said that they had grueling matches on Sunday, so next week on Raw it will be Reigns vs. Joe with the winner of that match going to SummerSlam to challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title. Angle told them if they fought right then, the match was off. Joe left to end it.
IT'S OFFICIAL: @WWERomanReigns takes on @SamoaJoe NEXT WEEK on #RAW! The winner will face @BrockLesnar at #SummerSlam! @HeymanHustle pic.twitter.com/tP9ZYlcvzI
— WWE (@WWE) July 11, 2017
I thought it was a tremendous segment with great lines by all five men in the ring, the crowd was into all of it and it sets up a big match next week that will lead to an even bigger match at SummerSlam. Lesnar stood out to me because he spoke with a lot of confidence. He rarely says anything, so having him speak up helped. Joe was tremendous as well.
Who wins next week? I’m leaning towards Reigns since he’s 0-2 against Samoa Joe in television matches, so maybe WWE wants to do Reigns vs. Lesnar at SummerSlam. Perhaps Braun Strowman shows up to distract Reigns to cost him the win. Strowman could also show up to beat up both guys, lead to the match getting thrown out and maybe it becomes a 4-Way match at WrestleMania. Another option is Lesnar vs. Joe vs. Reigns because that way they can have a longer match than a typical Lesnar match and it could also lead to a title change without beating Lesnar. There really are a lot of options.
If I had to pick one guy to win the match, I’m leaning towards Reigns at this point, although I think a 3-Way or 4-Way (with Strowman added) may be the better option. Normally, I like singles matches too. Anyway, I’m looking forward to it next week.
This Week’s Raw Matches
It was a decent week for matches with the main event being the best of the week.
Finn Balor defeated Elias Samson
This was teased for a few weeks and most of us thought this would be at Great Balls of Fire, but that card had too many matches to fit this one in too. Samson worked over the arm for most of it. Balor made the comeback with the Slingblade, the dropkick in the corner and the Coup de Grace double foot stomp to win. It went about 10 minutes and it was fine.
Hopefully, Balor isn’t left off the SummerSlam card like he was at Great Balls of Fire. If I had to guess, they might go back to the teased rivalry with Bray Wyatt.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson defeated The Hardy Boyz
Prior to the match, the Hardys did a promo teasing their “Broken” gimmick they did in Impact Wrestling. Jeff said some people think they should become “obsolete” (drew a big reaction) and later Matt said they are somewhat “broken” to tease that as well. It led to a match against Gallows & Anderson.
The story was that the Hardys were banged up from the 30-minute Iron Man Match loss at Great Balls of Fire, so Gallows & Anderson took advantage of that. It was a clean win for the heel G&A duo with the Magic Killer double-team move.
Post-match, The Revival went to the ring to destroy the Hardys as well. Dash Wilder hit Matt Hardy with a knee to the face and then the Revival hit a Shatter Machine double-team move on Jeff. Good to see The Revival back in the ring. The lack of face teams on Raw likely means a Revival vs. Hardys feud, while I’m not sure what Sheamus & Cesaro might do in terms of a tag title defense. There isn’t a face team out there for them to wrestle.
Sasha Banks & Bayley defeated Alexa Bliss & Nia Jax
This was a rematch from last week and just like last week, the face team won. This time, it was Bayley getting the win for the team with a dreaded roll-up, which I like to call the ROLL-UP OF DEATH~! For whatever reason, WWE loves that finisher and people can’t seem to kick out of it. It’s so deadly! Jax wasn’t in the ring because she missed a charge on Banks on the floor, which led to Jax hitting the barricade.
The win by Bayley gives her some positive momentum for a change. Bad two days for Bliss since she lost by countout and got pinned here. If I had to guess, they might be leaning towards a 4-way Raw Women’s Title match at SummerSlam with these four ladies. That would be similar to what they did at WrestleMania too.
Goldust defeated R-Truth
After nearly two months of build, we finally got this match. The crowd didn’t care at all. They were dead from the minute the wrestlers got out there. Truth came close to winning with the axe kick, but was unable to get the job done. Goldust came back with a spinning suplex style move to get the win. They worked hard and it only went five minutes, but nobody cared.
I think the problem is Goldust is 48 years old and people don’t want to boo him at this point in his career. He’s loved by a lot of the fans, so they’d rather support him in this final run as a wrestler. Turning him heel didn’t make sense to me, especially since this team could have had an interesting story going for the tag titles. Goldust’s heel turn is an example of WWE’s creative team thinking short-term and not long-term. Who is he going to feud with now? There isn’t much out there that’s going to get people to care.
Akira Tozawa & Cedric Alexander defeated Neville & Noam Dar
The lone cruiserweight match of the night saw Tozawa get his revenge on Neville by pinning him after doing a similar move to the one Neville did at Great Balls of Fire. That match saw Tozawa get crotched on the top rope, so Neville kicked the rope and delivered more pain, leading to a pin after a kick.
In this case, Neville was crotched on the top rope, had to sit there for about 20 seconds and wait for Tozawa to get back in the ring to kick the rope. It was fine in terms of making a heel pay, but it took way too long to set up. Anyway, Tozawa pinned Neville, which will probably lead to another title shot on Raw or 205 Live in the near future.
Bray Wyatt defeated Seth Rollins
Two wins in a row for Wyatt! Shocking! It’s been so long since Wyatt has been booked well that I have to get a little excited for some victories. The story of this match was that Rollins was dealing with an eye injury after Wyatt poked him in the eye on Sunday. Rollins spent a lot of the match working on the right hand of Wyatt because I guess he thought it would prevent another eye poke. Rollins got a lot of near-falls throughout the match as well.
The finish was well done. After Rollins hit a superkick, Wyatt came back with a headbutt to the eye that Rollins sold in a big way. Rollins was flopping around on the mat like a fish. Wyatt picked him up, hit the Sister Abigail neckbreaker and pinned him. I’m shocked that 50/50 booking didn’t strike with Rollins getting his win back. It’s great for Wyatt, who really needed some quality wins.
This was better than their Great Balls of Fire match. They got 17 minutes as opposed to 10 minutes on Sunday and the crowd really got into the last few minutes.
After the match, The Miz and friends went after Rollins because Rollins went after them earlier in the show. Dean Ambrose made the save with a steel chair. The scene in the ring saw Ambrose with a chair while Rollins was out in the corner.
It’s a slow build to Rollins and Ambrose trusting each other again after Rollins turned heel on Ambrose and Reigns three years ago to end The Shield group. While I don’t expect a full Shield reunion because Reigns is busy, this should lead to Rollins and Ambrose teaming up to face Miz and his buddies possible in 2-on-3 matches. It could also lead to a Rollins challenging Miz for the IC Title too.
As for Wyatt, I mentioned going back to that feud with Finn Balor that never really got started. The timing would be good for them.
Other Key Items From Raw
1. Kurt Angle’s secret will be revealed next week
For the past few months, Raw General Manager Kurt Angle has received some mysterious messages about some sort of personal problem. On this week’s Raw, Angle revealed to announcer Corey Graves that next week he will have to go public with whatever this news is. Angle showed concern that it may ruin him.
At the end of the night, Angle was shown talking on the phone telling the person on the other end that he’s proud of them and he hopes that they feel the same way about him. Angle told the person to come to Raw next week, so they can tell the world together and whatever happens… happens. Angle said “I love you” before saying bye and that’s how Raw ended.
I don’t know what the story is going to be, but I think it will involve Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon. In the early 2000s, they teased a romantic angle with Kurt and Stephanie a lot, but it never really got anywhere. Perhaps they will make up some story about them having an affair, say Triple H never knew about it and that leads to Triple H vs. Angle at SummerSlam. I don’t know exactly if that’s the plan, but it’s possible.
Another name thrown out there is former TNA President Dixie Carter since she appeared on the Angle “WWE 24” documentary. I don’t think that would make for an interesting story.
To WWE’s credit, it’s building up interest and getting some attention, so that’s a positive for sure.
2. Big Cass was confronted by Big Show
Big Cass did the show-opening promo bragging about how he beat up his former partner Enzo Amore at Great Balls of Fire. He took joy in laughing at how Enzo was limping around in pain after the match. Cass also said he’s going to be Universal Champion, he’s going to headline WrestleMania, he’ll be on The Tonight Show and his face will be on banners all over the world. It was a cocky heel promo that he did well. Towards the end, he bragged about how big he was, which brought out Big Show to interrupt.
Big Show didn’t say a word to him. Cass stepped up to him, said something without a microphone and Show hit him with a headbutt to stagger him. Show had the advantage in their tussle, which led to Cass bailing after Show beat on him with punches.
This should lead to Cass facing off with Big Show likely at SummerSlam. It would be a case of the older Big Show putting over the younger big man of the future. It’s similar to Show putting over Braun Strowman a few months ago too.
If you’re wondering about Enzo Amore, he was off the show this week.
3. The Miz handed out “The Mizzies” Awards that were interrupted
There was a Miz TV segment where The Miz was in the ring with his wife Maryse, along with his Miztourage duo of Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. Miz handed out awards to his entire group for their great performance at Great Balls of Fire. Miz ripped on some of the losers at Great Balls of Fire such as the Hardys, Tozawa and Rollins. Miz called Dean Ambrose the toughest guy in WWE, so Miz claimed that meant he was tougher.
Ambrose ran out to interrupt. The heel trio beat him down, so Seth Rollins ran out to make the save. He cleaned house, which meant that Rollins saved his former Shield ally Ambrose.
Backstage after the segment, Ambrose told Rollins he didn’t trust him or want his help. As I mentioned earlier, Ambrose ended up saving Rollins from an attack from Miz and friends just like Rollins did earlier.
Good story development in terms of starting the angle to build seeing if Ambrose will be able to trust Rollins. I like that there will be a slow build to it.
Looking Ahead to SummerSlam
The next WWE pay-per-view event is called SummerSlam and it takes place on Sunday, Aug. 20 in Brooklyn. There’s nothing announced yet , but I expect we might know the main event next week.
WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Winner of Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns
There’s a lot of time to build up the show, which should run for four hours.
It felt like a very average Raw this week. The best segments were in the in-ring segments with Lesnar and the others as well as the main event match. Everything else felt pretty basic with no matches impressing me that much while the rest of the promos were standard. It’s been a long time since there was a Raw with several hot segments and great matches. Hopefully, we can get one or two weeks of consistency heading into SummerSlam.
Next week’s Raw will feature Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe to determine the number one contender to the Universal Title held by Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam.
I’ll be back Wednesday with a review of Smackdown Live featuring AJ Styles as the new US Champion and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin as an advertised big match.