It’s the go-home show for WWE Summerslam (which will be hosted by John Stewart) and it featured a contract signing, promises of gold statues, Undertaker and Lesnar facing off and some half-decent matches. It’s this week’s Raw Report…
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon come out to start the show, cutting a promo to hype the Summerslam card and pushing the WWE Network. So Raw starts with an advert. Not promising. They were babyfaces this week in case you’re trying to keep score at home. They also announced that John Stewart would be the PPV host, which is a big deal in making sure Summerslam comes off as “The WrestleMania of the Summer”. It was a change of pace to have the show not start with a 20-minute promo by a heel, but this wasn’t much different. Still – buy the Network! It’s cheaper than PPVs (so we’re constantly told).
1. Randy Orton & Cesaro vs. Sheamus & Kevin Owens
Cesaro’s popularity is again rising, after a string of stunning matches. Deservedly so. Plenty of “Cesaro Section” signs, so someone in every city is starting to make it their responsibility to print these off and hand them round. This was, as expected, a cracking match, Sheamus and Owens are twp of the best heels in the business, not to mention fantastic performers. This match had everything. Acrobatic ability, check. Brute power, check. Another awesome Cesaro show, check. European uppercuts galore, check. Finish saw Orton attempt to RKO Owens, but Owens shoved Sheamus into it for the pinfall. The Money in the Bank winner jobs again – is he cashing in this Sunday?
Backstage, we get a promo from The Undertaker who is surrounded by fog and druids. He says Lesnar will rest in peace.
We then cut to Seth Rollins thanking Triple H and Stephanie for setting up the contract signing. He talks about the statues of the greats at Titan Towers like Andre the Giant, Bruno Sammartino and The Ultimate Warrior (no mention of Hulk Hogan) and asks that if he wins at Summerslam, can he have a statue made of him. This was pretty funny arrogant heel stuff.
2. Roman Reigns vs. Luke Harper
This was a rematch from Smackdown, which didn’t have a finish. It had one here. Dean Ambrose was on commentary and the match went so long that he started to repeat points he had made earlier. Bray Wyatt was also at ringside and just watched Ambrose. The match was decent enough, but we were all waiting for the inevitable degeneration of the match into a fist fight…which never happened. Reigns wins via pinfall after a Superman Punch and a spear.
3. Tamina vs. Becky Lynch
It’s nice not having to skip or dread women’s matches these days. This was probably the best match you’re going to get out of Tamina, but it wasa little short. Lynch wins with the DisarmHer. Team Bella watched from the back (in the most unnatural of ways possible) while the other girls were around ringside to smack the mat in case the crowd got bored.
4. Rusev vs. Mark Henry
Pretty much a crush match for Rusev, who very swiftly gets Henry into the accolade and wins via submission. The whole side show involving Lana seems to be dragging on serving no real purpose. Lana calls out Summer Rae as they’re leaving the ring, after slapping down Summer she calls in Rusev and out comes Ziggler to save the day, Rusev and Summer suffer super kicks from their respective enemies. Ziggler cut a promo and called Rusev “the Bulgarian Bonehead”. Oh boy, it’s really great to have Dolph back. They’re having a match at Summerslam.
We then got that brilliant Undertaker/Lesnar hype video.
5. Ryback vs. The Miz in a non-title match
Well this was short. Ryback won with a Shellshock in around two minutes. Not a great way to build up your title challenger this Sunday. Although that probably means he’s winning. Big Show was on commentary and was a face this week to promote his new film Vendetta with former Superman Dean Cain (directed by the brilliant Soska Sisters). After the match, Ryback challenged Show to get in the ring, but Show walked to the back. So… is he a heel?
We then get the contract signing between Seth Rollins and John Cena. Rollins comes out first and does what he does, generates heat, by any means necessary. After a very long Rollins monologue, Cena comes out to a chorus of boos. Considering the mess his nose was in last we saw him, he looks okay. What’s more surprising though is the amount of negative heat he got. After finishing a match to the best of his ability with a broken nose, I would have thought the crowd would have shown him some respect. Cena then cut an angry promo on Rollins and talked about becoming a 16-time world champion in just over a decade. So sad. He talks about the “lets go Cena/Cena sucks” chants and mentions that they’re not chanting for Rollins. That’s very true. He compares himself to Flair and says that Flair was never Triple H’s bitch, but on Sunday he would make Rollins his. That got the crowd behind him. Surprisingly, this didn’t end in a brawl.
6. The New Day & Los Matadores vs. The Prime Time Players & The Lucha Dragons
Criminally short to the point that I’m not even sure it was worth having it on the card. Lucha Dragons & Prime Time Players win via pinfall when Kalisto hit Diego with a Springboard Hurricanrana. The New Day were treated as babyfaces here by the crowd, who are actually now chanting “New Day rocks”. Xavier Woods was the highlight of the show.
Backstage, King Barrett and Stardust cut a promo on Neville and Stephen Amell. Barrett is now “the cosmic king”. That will do wonders for his career.
7. Nikki Bella vs. Sasha Banks
By this point of the show, the crowd were wanting Lesnar. Sasha didn’t even get her own entrance. The girls around ringside tried to get them into the match, but failed. This was pretty good though, with Banks winning with the Bank Statement following a distraction by Naomi. So, are the Bellas faces this week? Backstage, Renee interviews PCB who all do the WOOO gimmick. Guh. Why does every second generation star have to follow their father’s gimmick? Worked wonders for Ted DiBiase Jr…
But here’s what we all came to see. The always brilliant Paul Heyman comes down to the ring and delivers another storming performance on the mic. He then introduces the home town man: Brrrrrrrock! Lesssssssnar! He receives a stunning welcome. A good as Heyman is on the mic, we don’t usually hear him sing. But that’s what he did here! He says that Taker can team with God and the Devil and Lensar will take them all to Suplex City. He says that Undertaker has been obsessed with Lesnar since losing at WrestleMania (despite showing up on a couple of Raws and fighting Bray Wyatt at this year’s WrestleMania). The lights went out a couple of times, but Taker never showed up. Finally the lights went out again and Taker was in the ring, delivering another low blow to Lesnar. He was acting like a heel, and the crowd responded accordingly with a chorus of boos. The Undertaker leaves Lesnar in a heap after dishing out a Chokeslam and a Tombstone Piledriver.
Next stop: Summerslam, and probably Suplex City. A fairly decent go-home edition of Raw, but nothing to go out of your way to see. It feels as though these three-hour Raws need the same amount of good segments, but with a couple of really strong matches to make the shows worthwhile. Last week was a great example of this. It will be interesting to see this weekend’s Summerslam, as it’s a very wild card. Will Cena win and become 16-time champion, or will Sheamus cash in and ruin everyone’s day? Either way, I can’t see Rollins win the US title.