The journey to SummerSlam has officially begun. One night after the Extreme Rules pay-per-view event nudged us in the direction of the annual summer event in Toronto on Aug. 11, Raw emanated from Long Island, New York, and it was time to begin filling out the SummerSlam card we’ll be enjoying in just a little under one month’s time now.
During an up-and-down three hours of action on Monday night (with the third hour providing the most down), we learned who the challengers will be to go up against the top men’s and women’s titleholders on Raw at SummerSlam. We also witnessed some feuds continue as well as begin to build, while quite possibly the most newsworthy aspect of Raw on Monday night was a returning superstar that we’ve been waiting weeks for making a maniacal impact.
Let’s have a look at everything that went down on Monday night’s edition of Raw.
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WrestleMania rematch at SummerSlam
The now-three-time universal champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman kicked off Raw. Heyman gloated about following through with the promise of Lesnar cashing in his Money in the Bank contract at Extreme Rules before turning his attention to the 10-man, cross-branded battle royal set to determine Lesnar’s challenger at SummerSlam. Heyman referenced the real-life fact that he’s the executive director in charge of Raw right now and admitted that he was the one who set up the battle royal because WWE was unprepared to have a challenger ready for Lesnar. The advocate for the universal champ ran down the list of the entrants on the titantron as the crowd reacted to each before letting them all know that, no matter what, they’re nothing more than “Brock’s bitches.”
Seth Rollins won the 10-man All-Star cross-branded battle royal by last eliminating Randy Orton to punch his ticket to SummerSlam and a rematch with Lesnar. The universal champion was seated at the top of the ramp on a steel chair with Heyman by his side, and afterwards, Heyman congratulated Rollins on earning the right to be brutalized, victimized and conquered by his client at SummerSlam. Rollins responded by again saying he’s a man possessed before telling Lesnar that SummerSlam will be the same as the WrestleMania result as he stomps his head into the mat. Order of elimination: Bobby Lashley eliminated Cesaro; Braun Strowman eliminated Bobby Lashley; Sami Zayn eliminated Big E; Randy Orton eliminated Sami Zayn; Baron Corbin eliminated Rey Mysterio; Seth Rollins eliminated Baron Corbin; Seth Rollins eliminated Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns; Seth Rollins eliminated Randy Orton
I can give credit to WWE for making Rollins earn the right to face Lesnar following the show-closing events of Extreme Rules by outlasting nine other superstars as opposed to simply ignoring the no more automatic rematch clause rule that was implemented a few months ago. That’s all the credit I shall give, however. This match felt underwhelming from the moment it was announced on Monday afternoon, simply because it was painfully obvious that only three of the 10 men involved honestly had a legit shot at getting the title opportunity on a card the magnitude of SummerSlam. Then the match itself happened, and it went right ahead a confirmed that underwhelming status with its lack drama. Rollins was the most logical challenger for Lesnar after he lost his title via cash in on the heels of a grueling Extreme Rules match on Sunday, but cementing him as the opponent was less than enjoyable. Grade: D+
Bray Wyatt escapes the Funhouse
Samoa Joe def. Finn Balor via pinfall: Balor’s little losing skid continued as Joe sealed the victory with a crucifix rollup. Joe pounced to inflict more damage onto Balor after the bell but the former intercontinental champion eventually got the upper hand and sent him packing with a Coup de Grace. As Balor celebrated in the ring, it was then that we were treated to a long-awaited surprise.
The lights began to slowly fade in the arena before the venue eventually went completely dark while Balor stood there in confusion. When the lights returned, Bray Wyatt, in complete “The Fiend” character, held Balor in the Sister Abigail position. Wyatt hit his finisher on Balor and posed briefly as the lights again faded out and the crowd cheered with excitement of the surprise return.
Following weeks and weeks of anticipation amid the incredible “Firefly Funhouse” vignettes, Wyatt’s return to an arena setting was as exciting and visually-pleasing as we all had hoped. From the lights to the maniacal laughter in the background over the speakers to that amazing “The Fiend” mask, this version of Wyatt has a ton of potential if WWE can finally get out of its own way as it pertains to his booking. And as for Balor seemingly serving as the first target of the returning Wyatt, that puzzle is easy to piece together. In addition to their past feud that at one point was to see “The Demon” square off with Wyatt possessed by Sister Abigail, Pro Wrestling Sheet reported on Monday evening just prior to Raw that Balor has requested a couple months off from the company to “recharge.” Looks as if we’re headed towards “The Fiend” sending Balor on that vacation come SummerSlam. Grade: A
What else happened on Raw?
- Ricochet & The Usos def. Robert Roode & The Revival in a 2-out-of-3 falls match. The Club made its way out to taunt Ricochet afterwards, leading to a massive brawl that saw AJ Styles eventually lay out Ricochet with a Phenomenal Forearm. Gallows & Anderson finished off the former U.S. champion with the Magic Killer.
- The Viking Raiders def. Vinnie Burr & Jackson Rains via pinfall in another squash match with the Viking Experience.
- Cedric Alexander def. Drew McIntyre via pinfall in a match that was set up during a backstage segment. Alexander earned the clean upset after countering an inverted Alabama Slam and quickly hooking the leg of McIntyre.
- Zack Ryder def. Mike Kanellis via pinfall after the Rough Ryder. Post-match, Maria berated Mike once again for being a loser after she earlier tried to wrestle the match in his place because … well, he’s a loser.
- 24/7 champion Drake Maverick and his wife checked into a hotel to finally consummate their marriage. R-Truth tried to bribe the hotel desk clerk with a crisp $1 bill to learn which room “Hornswoggle” was staying in.
- The Club def. Lucha House Party via submission after Styles made Kalisto tap to the Calf Crusher. During the match, Ricochet emerged to pull Styles off the apron and try to gain some retribution from earlier. He got his shots in, and officials eventually broke it up and booted him to the back. Sending a message to Ricochet, Styles cranked the Calf Crusher on Kalisto just a little bit longer after the bell.
- Natalya def. Alexa Bliss, Naomi and Carmella in a fatal 4-way No. 1 contender elimination match to face Becky Lynch — who was seated at ringside throughout — at SummerSlam. Post-match, Lynch told Nattie in the ring not to expect her friend at SummerSlam and to be ready for a war. Natalya fired back by taking a shot at Lynch’s relationship with Seth Rollins and saying that she’s got a war coming. Order of elimination: Alexa Bliss def. Carmella via pinfall; Natalya def. Naomi via pinfall; Natalya def. Alexa Bliss via submission with the Sharpshooter.
- Dolph Ziggler requested to appear on “Miz TV” and it was simply to call out Miz for turning into a company man who only cares about fame and fortune. After Ziggler brought Maryse’s name into the equation, Miz battered him out of the ring.
- 24/7 Championship — R-Truth def. Drake Maverick (c) via pinfall to win the title. As Maverick — with only the title covering his private areas — and his wife were ready to finally do the deed, Truth found a way into the room by hiding underneath a room service cart. Truth pinned Maverick right there on the bed, in front of his wife, to regain his precious championship.