If you don’t have anything good to say about a long and woefully unfulfilling episode of Raw, should you say anything at all? That’s the position WWE presented us on Monday following three hours of flat and repetitive pro wrestling that was short on reveals and creativity.
Despite operating on a part-time schedule with few guaranteed appearances, universal champion Brock Lesnar’s surprise reveal was limited to the opening segment and void of any dialogue or physicality. He was absent during a triple threat match later in the show meant to showcase the SummerSlam main event just three weeks away.
While the match had its moments — featuring top performers Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman — there was nothing at stake, and the match was used as nothing more than a ratings grab in a scenario that was ultimately par for the course in the episode.
The main event was likely the worst sin of all as the underperforming Big Cass and Enzo Amore breakup feud treaded water without the kind of payoff reveal to justify it closing the show.
WWE Raw results
Confrontation — Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman: Angle thanked his hometown Pittsburgh fans for their support through his ups and downs. His attempt at leaving was interrupted by the surprise of Lesnar’s music. Heyman instantly called out Angle by presenting a conspiracy theory that Lesnar was booked into a Fatal 4-Way at SummerSlam so he could lose his title and “pay the ultimate price.” Although Heyman never directly mentioned it, he was clearly referring to Lesnar’s very public interest in returning to UFC to face Jon Jones. Heyman closed with one final threat: If Lesnar loses, he’s leaving WWE — and Heyman is going with him.
Very smart tie in of real-life news involving Lesnar. This could be WWE’s way of writing Lesnar out of the storyline for some time in the long run considering the company’s history of keeping the temperamental Lesnar happy (including allowing him a one-off UFC return last July).
The Hardy Boyz def. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson via pinfall: Booked as a strong comeback bout for “Team Extreme” after finding itself on the business end of attacks in recent weeks, brothers Jeff and Matt fought off a Magic Killer attempt to rally late in the match. Matt landed a Twist of Fate on Gallows and tagged in Jeff for the Swanton Bomb and the 1-2-3. With The Revival having sat in on commentary, all three teams brawled on the stage after the match. Matt and Jeff took turns landing a Twist of Fate on Scott Dawson before Jeff jumped off of Matt’s back to hit a Poetry in Motion off the stage onto Dash Wilder and Anderson below.
Backstage — Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Sheamus & Cesaro: After Renee Young showed Ambrose a replay of what happened during his Shield reunion the week before, Rollins interrupted. Ambrose said he still doesn’t trust Rollins and “as much as the WWE universe might want it — and maybe some small pat of me wants it, too — I got burned once by you and it’s not going to happen again.” After commercial, a flustered Rollins was heckled by the Raw tag team champions, who put over their trust in one another. They also told Rollins that Ambrose has no reason to forgive him after getting stabbed in the back. Rollins eventually snapped and challenged them to a singles match later tonight, which Sheamus instantly accepted.
Akira Tozawa, Rich Swann & Cedric Alexander def. TJ Perkins, Ariya Daivari & Tony Nese via pinfall: With Tozawa’s left shoulder still damaged, Daivari and Nese focused on it early, which led to Titus O’Neil threatening to stop the match midway through. The energy picked up considerably late in this cruiserweight six-man tag, including an incredible spot in which Swann and Alexander landed duel forward dives outside the ring before Tozawa followed with a suicide dive, landing hard on his shoulder. A still visibly injured Tozawa went on to land a senton from the top rope on TJP for the pin as the announcers put over his toughness to preview Tuesday’s match with Daivari on 205 Live.
Miz TV with guest Jason Jordan: The Miz offered Jordan a chance “to let me guide your career” by joining The Miztourage. Twice, Jordan politely declined. An angry Miz then took shots at Angle, saying: “This is your hero? That man threw away years, the best years of his life through shattered dreams and broken promises. It’s no wonder he is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He’s a lot like this town — sad and pining for glory days that are never, never coming back.” Jordan threatened to make him regret his words. After The Miz turned his back to calm down Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas, his attempt at surprise attacking Jordan was countered with a belly-to-belly suplex that flipped Miz onto the entire Miztourage.
Good segment here to plant a seed for Jordan’s first feud entering SummerSlam. Miz was ruthless when ripping Angle, which could lead to added heat down the road. Considering Jordan’s relatively green ability on the microphone, The Miz makes the perfect foil as a mouthpiece.
Vignette — Roman Reigns: In a pre-recorded bit previewing tonight’s main event, Reigns said he’s out to remind everyone who he is and walk out of SummerSlam as the new champion. “I drove Braun Strowman straight to hell once, now it’s time to send him back for good,” he added.
Seth Rollins def. Sheamus via pinfall: Rollins was forced to overcome distractions from Cesaro at ringside throughout. Late in the match, Rollins jumped off the top rope to hit Cesaro on the apron and turned back around into a Sheamus kick. But as Sheamus attempted White Noise, Rollins countered with a rollup for the pin. Sheamus and Cesaro instantly attacked Rollins and beat him down with a spiked White Noise from the second rope as the crowd chanted, “We want Ambrose!” It took a second attack on Rollins for Ambrose to arrive and he paid for his bravery. A long beatdown ensued, as Cesaro hit Ambrose with his Gotch Neutralizer. After Ambrose tried to rally, Cesaro choked him with his own shirt and held him up for a vicious Brogue Kick from Sheamus.
Not a bad way to build heat here for the heels heading into SummerSlam. Having the former Shield members forced into an unwanted union was the right way to build a foundation for their eventual breakup.
Vignette — Samoa Joe: “For 20 years, I’ve been putting braves men to sleep all over the world,” Joe said, before reminding that no one has dominated Reigns quite like him.
Confrontation — Bray Wyatt and Finn Balor: Alone in the ring, Wyatt delivered a long promo chiding both Balor and the audience for attempting to hide behind their sins “and become something you’re not and could never be.” After Wyatt finished, the lights went out and the pulse of Balor’s “Demon King” entrance music began playing (Raw announcer Michael Cole strategically said, “Speak of the devil!”). Balor appeared behind Wyatt, dressed in his normal leather jacket, standing in the ring with his arms outstretched and his back turned. Wyatt laughed before attacking and was caught with a perfectly timed overhead kick to the face. Balor booted Wyatt outside the ring and hit a running missile dropkick that sent him over the barrier and taking shelter in the crowd.
It’s clear Balor has been gifted with at least some of the same storyline demonic powers as Wyatt, which include being able to control the house lights and suddenly appear. While the storyline can be picked apart until more is revealed, the energy for this segment was strong, complete with the tease that the full demon version of Balor is coming.
Vignette — Braun Strowman: “I’m not like most men. When I have a difference of opinion, I break things. I cause chaos,” Strowman said. After he promised to destroy Reigns and Joe later tonight, Strowman said he’ll have Lesnar all to himself at SummerSlam.
Roman Reigns def. Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe via pinfall: Surprisingly, this wasn’t the main event of the show. Most of the action throughout took place on the floor and all three superstars enjoyed big moments. In the end, Reigns used the ring steps that Strowman had thrown into the ring to knock the big man out of it. A spear followed to Joe, which gave Reigns the pinfall, setting of boos from the crowd and thumbs down from those sitting in the front row.
While the premise of attracting TV viewers and building excitement for SummerSlam was clearly the motive, giving away three-quarters of next month’s main event with absolutely nothing at stake proved baffling in the end. Having Lesnar appear to open Raw only to then not use him in this match in any form was equally unforgivable. These three guys are money together inside the ring, but tonight felt like too much of a good thing and the foundation for customer fatigue.
Backstage — Enzo Amore and Big Show: Amore apologized for getting the giant into this miss with Big Cass. “It’s OK, it’s a battle I don’t mind fighting,” Big Show said. “Big Cass is seven-foot tall but Big Cass needs a lesson in respect. I can teach that.”
Elias def. Kalisto by pinfall: Noticeably presented for the first time without his Samson surname, the artist now known as Elias played a disparaging song for his hometown Pittsburgh crowd. He then mopped up on Kalisto in a virtual squash match. Elias hit his Drift Away cutter to set up the pin.
We all know Vince McMahon prefers superstars with one name, which is why names like Big E
Langston, Adrian Neville, Alexander Rusev and Antonio Cesaro are no longer used. This one feels particularly extra cheesy, robbing Elias a bit of what made him cool.
Backstage — Alexa Bliss: In an interview with Charly Caruso, Bliss said she’s ecstatic about facing Bayley at SummerSlam and let out an evil laugh when mentioning Bayley would have to deal with Nia Jax later tonight.
Backstage — Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins: Nursing their wounds in the locker room, Rollins thanked Ambrose for getting his back earlier tonight. But Ambrose responded by calling him an “architect” who planned out the situation in advance, knowing he would be attacked and would need backup. Ambrose essentially told Rollins off and walked away.
Even though this was essentially a rehash of the previous weeks’ developments (substituting the tag champs for the Miztourage), Ambrose delivered the dialogue well and continued planting the seeds for his distrust.
Bayley def. Nia Jax via countout: Jax aggravated Bayley’s left shoulder injury by tossing her outside of the ring like a ragdoll. Bayley eventually rallied outside the ring and stepped aside just in time to avoid a blindside attempt from Bliss. Bayley then deftly avoided a running splash attempt from Jax that sent her crashing hard into the ring steps as Bayley rolled into the ring to secure the countout win.
Backstage — Big Cass: The big man went in hard on his ex-partner Amore. “My grandmother always taught me that you’ll be judged by the company you keep,” Cass said. “Well Big Show, you’re nothing more than a miscreant.”
Big Cass def. Big Show via disqualification: Amore cut a scathing promo on Cass before announcing his muscle into the ring. After Cass walked out to a new guitar-driven theme song, Show instantly attacked him after he walked through the ropes. Cass rallied to floor Big Show with a boot to the face, so Amore jumped on his back to force the abrupt finish. Cass laid him out cold with another big boot and talked trash in his face. But Cass then walked directly into a knockout punch from Show, who fell to the ground due to the impact. The credits appeared with Show and Amore walking up the aisle.
That’s about as flat a main event to close a flat episode of Raw as one could imagine. With nothing in terms of a reveal and no heat to speak of (outside of Cass further refining his stiff big boot), this was a puzzling way to end a show with a feud no one has reason to care about.