WWE usually has a letdown after its major pay-per-views, but with the NFL breathing down its neck as the football season is about to begin, the company is wasting no time putting its best foot forward ahead of its September PPV, No Mercy. This is why WWE has pressed “play” on two of its hottest potential feuds, booking Brock Lesnar to defend his universal championship against Braun Strowman and having John Cena call out Roman Reigns seemingly out of nowhere.
While the latter may have been a bit odd on last week’s Monday Night Raw, this week it took on a different tone entirely. Cena slid into the babyface role while Reigns attempted to stand tall against him. The segment was almost perfect save for two legitimate flubs, which we will break down below.
This week’s Raw results will take on a different format than usual, so be sure to read on below for the show’s biggest moments and everything else you need to know from the episode.
Cena, Reigns square off
Though Cena called Reigns out a week ago, they quickly teamed up in the main event and the tease earlier in the show appeared to be just that. Then WWE surprised us by announcing before Raw that there would be a contract signing on the show for a Cena vs. Reigns match at No Mercy. WWE spent some time on the show hyping this up, and when it came time to enter the ring, the two former world champions did not disappoint.
Cena took on an aggressive but face-like tone, breaking the fourth wall a bit by plainly calling Reigns “a cheap-ass, corporate-created John Cena bootleg” and noting that Cena is still around because Reigns was unable to fill his shoes. “You should be ashamed I’m a part-timer because I do this part-time better than you could ever do it full-time,” he said.
Reigns’ first attempt at a response was flubbed as he forgot a key line and Cena called him on it. Whether Reigns found that line later is unknown because he hit Cena back hard in what felt a bit more unscripted. Reigns called Cena “a part-timing, fake-ass bitch,” claiming he allows WWE to mold him into whatever they need at any given time. Cena remarked that it “took [Reigns] five years to cut a halfway decent promo,” and the two signed the contract. Immediately after they finished talking, the Good Brothers interrupted and challenged them to a match, which Reigns won with a spear for the pinfall victory.
Cena does not script his promos — and even if he is forced to occasionally, he has the latitude to flow relatively free as he sees fit. Reigns, on the other hand, most definitely had his lines written out ahead of this segment. Problem one was that he straight-up forgot a key line and looked like a deer in headlights standing in the ring against the best improviser in the company. Problem two was that WWE felt the best way to end this segment was by putting Cena and Reigns together after they just spent 10 minutes tearing one another apart. It would have been better for Samoa Joe to interrupt and have a triple threat match, holding the true one-on-one rivalry until a bigger event. But the bigger issues were Reigns not coming through all the way — proving Cena’s words right on the spot — and a tag match booked when a brawl would have sufficed.
Sasha Banks loses another title defense
In the main event on Monday, Banks was taken down by Alexa Bliss for the women’s championship as Bliss countered a couple Banks Statements and eventually hit a Snap DDT for the victory. Banks lost the title eight days after winning it from Bliss at SummerSlam, and she now officially has four combined title reigns of 83 days compared to Flair’s four of 246 and Bliss’ four of 224 (and counting). After the match, Nia Jax hit the ring and steamrolled Banks. She then lifted Bliss up onto her shoulders in celebration only to backdrop her to the canvas, setting up what will surely be a triple threat match at No Mercy.
It was obvious that Banks was going to lose the moment they mentioned her multiple failed defenses against Charlotte Flair early on Raw. Despite holding the championship four times, Banks’ longest single reign is 27 days (twice). In an interesting change of pace, her prior women’s title victories all came on Raw with her dropping the strap at pay-per-views. This reign flipped the script. It’s depressing for fans who believe Banks with the championship is exactly what the women’s division needs, and it makes little sense for WWE to give Bliss the belt back so soon if they were going to do a triple threat match anyway. Why not roll with Banks for a while?
Former world champion now a No. 1 contender
Raw opened with a rather brutal multi-segment storyline that resulted in a battle royal to determine the No. 1 contender for The Miz’s intercontinental championship. There were approximately 15 men in the match, including multiple tag teams and the Miztourage, but it was obvious who it would come down to at the end. (Side note: Curt Hawkins was thrown out seconds into the match by his peers, which was a funny spot.) Among those involved in the finish were Finn Balor, Jason Jordan, Jeff Hardy and Elias. An interference by Bray Wyatt resulted in Balor being caught off guard and tossed over the top rope. Jordan then eliminated Elias only for Hardy to toss Jordan out of the ring to win the match and title opportunity.
The entire thing lasted way too long, but it did its job in creating not one but three possible matches at No Mercy. Hardy will face The Miz for the title next week on Raw but that will almost certainly result in a screw-job finish and another match at the PPV. There is also the rerun of Balor-Wyatt, which is a bit confusing as no one was clamoring for them to go again, and Balor would’ve been a great fit against The Miz while the universal title picture is being dominated by heavyweights. There’s also a possible program between Elias and Jordan, which could go either way if they continue developing it.
What else happened on Raw?
- Enzo Amore def. Noam Dar via pinfall: Amore made his debut as a cruiserweight on 205 Live last week and remained under the purple banner on Raw, picking up his first legitimate singles victory in … forever?
- Lesnar and Paul Heyman put over Strowman as a legitimate contender for the universal title with the champion eventually grabbing the mic from Heyman and declaring that Strowman needs to get ready for “Suplex City, bitch.”
- Cesaro def. Seth Rollins via pinfall | Dean Ambrose def. Sheamus via pinfall: Some 50-50 booking for the tag team champions, who will obviously defend their titles against the former champions at No Mercy.
- Emma def. Mickie James via pinfall: Emma and James made a bet on the match, the gist of which had to do with Emma declaring she started the women’s revolution. She won, and she can continue saying and tweeting about it.
- Elias cut a promo in the ring on the Memphis crowd. Jerry “The King” Lawler, who was on commentary while Booker T. took care of his family in Houston, called him out and introduced Pelvis Wesley from Southpaw Regional Wrestling. Elias quickly took out Wesley, who was Heath Slater.