WWE SummerSlam 2016 Commentary

WWE SummerSlam 2016 Commentary

The Biggest Event of the Summer is upon us and holy crap there’s a lot of matches on this show. There weren’t even this many matches at WrestleMania this year. Not including the pre-show (and nobody does) this years edition of SummerSlam consists of ten matches. Every championship will be defended, the first ever Universal Championship will be crowned and Brock Lesnar is here to collect a paycheck and nothing else. There is so much to cover seeing as it’s a four hour show, so I’m going to jump straight into it.

We start off the show with Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens, now known collectively as ‘Jeri-KO’, taking on Enzo & Big Cass who are in their hometown of Brooklyn tonight (Well, technically Enzo is from New Jersey, but Big Cass is in his hometown so that counts). Regardless, Enzo & Cass received a massive ovation to get the crowd pumped up because they’re in for a long night. They do their usual spiel and make some New York song references, it’s all fine.

The match goes roughly ten minutes and was a perfectly adequate way to kick off the show. Enzo & Cass did their usual stuff of Cass using Enzo’s body as a weapon just by throwing him into people throughout the match. Jeri-KO get the win when Kevin Owens launched Enzo into a Codebreaker. Pretty good opener.

As you’ll see throughout the show, the scheduling of the matches is baffling and one of the main events of the show is coming on second as Sasha Banks is defending her WWE Women’s Championship against Charlotte. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written, but I just wanted another excuse to post this.

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I spotted Sasha Banks wandering around the streets of Adelaide catching Pokemon the other week during the Australian tour. We briefly spoke about Pokemon and now we’re friends and don’t you dare tell me otherwise. Anyway, I’ll get back to the match now.

Rather early on in the match a scary moment occurs when Charlotte drops Sasha along the top rope and she lands nastily on her neck, which in slow-motion makes me cringe even more. For the rest of the match I was just watching her neck and her nearly land on it multiple times. In a genuine shocker, Charlotte reverses the pressure of the Bank Statement into a pinning situation and scores the win. Charlotte has regained the WWE Women’s Championship. The match went almost fifteen minutes and was once again a great showing from them. It doesn’t quite top their encounter from Raw a few weeks ago, but very good nevertheless.

We’re moving onto the first offering from Smackdown on SummerSlam with The Miz defending the Intercontinental Championship against ‘Mr. Personality’ Apollo Crews. You have to feel sorry for Crews, he has been given no character and this match has received no build. In fact, the only build that this match received was aired during the commercial break and I’m not even joking. The match goes about five minutes and Miz retains off the Skull Crushing Finale. Apollo Crews is on thin ice, he needs something big and needs it soon.

Another main event is about to start prematurely as we finally get the return match, AJ Styles vs. John Cena. Back at Money in the Bank, AJ Styles pinned John Cena with interference from The Club but now that The Club have been separated and put on different shows, this match will be guaranteed to be one on one. The match was easily the best of the night, going almost twenty five minutes and obviously topping their encounter from Money in the Bank.

AJ Styles managed to kick out of the Attitude Adjustment off the second rope, which left Cena in a state of bewilderment. Cena wasted time staring at Styles, which allowed him to hit the Styles Clash followed by the Phenomenal Forearm to pick up the one hundred percent, squeaky clean victory. AJ Styles for the first time, manages to come out of a rivalry on top. Let’s hope that this means he will be moving towards the WWE Championship.

When Gallows & Anderson took out Big E. by driving him groin first into the ring post, they started dressing as doctors and going ‘ball-istic’ on the testicle jokes (yes, I am very proud of that one). Kofi and Xavier will be representing The New Day while Big E. recovers as they defend their Tag Team Championships against The Club. Jon Stewart is at ringside for The New Day because f**k it, why not?

When Jon Stewart jumps into the ring and Gallows & Anderson look like they’re about to replicate what they did with Big E. to Jon Stewart, Big E. returns and attacks The Club, thus causing a disqualification and The New Day retain the Tag Team Championships. Tomorrow, The New Day will have held onto the championships for exactly one year.

If you had told me six months ago that Dean Ambrose would be defending the WWE Championship against Dolph Ziggler in one of the main events at SummerSlam, I would have called you a dirty liar and a scoundrel for lying. But in this weird world, that is exactly what’s happening. After miraculously retaining the title in the Triple Threat at Battleground, Dean Ambrose awaited a new challenger when Smackdown properly launched four weeks ago. After several years of floundering, Dolph Ziggler found new life and scored himself a fresh main event push.

Sadly, this match was quite underwhelming. The crowd in Brooklyn didn’t seem particularly interested in it, Dean and Dolph didn’t have a contest that matched the impressive build that the story deserved. Plus, Smackdown really needed this bout to make their main event scene look as big as Raw’s is and they didn’t follow through, which is disappointing.

Eva Marie has been one of the most entertaining aspects of Smackdown these last few weeks. What a sentence that is, it feels weird to type but it’s true. Eva has been doing this gimmick where she finds every excuse not to compete and ironically (and it’s unintentionally hilarious) has been legitimately suspended for violating the WWE Wellness Policy. This just works too easily into the storyline. That means Alexa Bliss and Natalya had to find a replacement in the tag match against Becky Lynch, Carmella and Naomi who has this new gimmick where she’s a literal walking rave. Nikki Bella makes her surprise return after ten months away following neck surgery and gets a hell of a reaction which you can see in the video above.

Nikki Bella needed to find a new finishing move as her previous one is actually what caused her neck issues, and she gets the win for her team with a TKO. I’m so happy to see Nikki again, she worked so hard for the women’s division to be taken seriously and she deserves to be able to be part of a division that WWE is at least attempting to take seriously.

When Dean Ambrose took the WWE Championship to Smackdown, it left Raw without a championship and required them to create a new title. It was announced four weeks ago that at SummerSlam, the first ever WWE Universal Champion would be crowned in a match between Seth Rollins and newcomer, Finn Balor. One of the main talking points is what the new championship would look like and they went with this…

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What the absolute f**k is that!? Does Charlotte know that WWE have gone into her bag, taken her title and defaced it? We just got rid of the ugliest title WWE have ever seen in the Diva’s Championship, but I think we’ve got ourselves a new contender for that crown. It looks absolutely hideous. Brooklyn noticed very quickly that the title is ugly as sin, so chants of “that belt sucks” to the New Day Rocks chant and “that title sucks!” to the tune of John Cena’s music. It was quite the burial.

Sadly, the outcry over the championship design distracted from the match itself which was pretty good. It wouldn’t have set the world on fire if the crowd had it’s full attention on it, but it was a decent contest which saw Finn Balor hit the Coup De Grace to pin Rollins and become the first ever Universal Champion. Whenever the title was on screen, the crowd booed it so Finn was wise enough to not raise the title when he was in the middle of his celebration. Congratulation Finn Balor, sorry about your new belt.

Following Roman Reigns’ suspension, he was sent to the mid-card and is now in the hunt for the United States Championship. This show has been dragging for a while now, so mercifully this match doesn’t properly get started and it’s just a brawl all over ringside and Reigns bludgeoning Rusev with a chair. Rusev is trying to defend the honour of his wife and is being destroyed for it, what a good guy Roman is. Anyway, Rusev is still champion and we can finally get to the main event.

Main event time (finally) and if you include the pre-show, it’s been a six hour wait for Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton. This match is exactly what you expected it to be, physical and filled to the brim with German Suplex’s. For weeks Randy Orton has been saying “it only takes one RKO to go to Viperville” while everyone groans, but he delivered an RKO on the announce table and another one in the ring and he still didn’t win. Lesnar goes on a ground and pound attack on Orton and causes him to be busted open and it’s a bad cut. Blood is pooling on the canvas and Randy is in a bad way so the referee calls for the bell. Brock Lesnar wins by TKO.

Just because the match is over doesn’t mean Brock Lesnar stops. Brock Lesnar is a giant, walking, hairless Rottweiler and will not be contained. He keeps on Orton until Shane McMahon comes in the ring, asking him to please stop and leave the ring. Lesnar stares down Shane and hits him with the F5 to close the show. Wait, that was it? Huh.

Final Thoughts:

I’m not mad at you SummerSlam, I’m just disappointed. Going into the show with all the matches that were confirmed, the show had all the potential in the world but it for some reason or another didn’t live up to the hype in most cases. Some of the few highlights included AJ Styles getting a clean win over John Cena which is his most important win of his short WWE career thus far. Finn Balor receiving his crowning moment by becoming the first WWE Universal Champion. Sasha Banks and Charlotte putting on yet another killer match and Nikki Bella making her surprise and successful return.

The negatives far out way the positives today with Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler putting on a thoroughly underwhelming performance. The Intercontinental Championship being a complete after thought. Both the United States and Tag Team Championships ending in disqualification and of course, that absolutely atrocious Universal Championship design. But I think we can qualify the highly anticipated main event ending in a TKO and a tease for a Brock Lesnar vs. Shane McMahon match as just a ‘what the f**k!?’ ending.

I feel a little entitled when I say that I expected more from this pay per view, but I did. Matches ranged from not-so-great to pretty good, the order in which the matches appeared on the card was like WWE just hit the random button and the show ended in a whimper. It’s the second biggest show of the year and WWE have once again missed the mark.

Final Rating: 5/10

WWE Raw Commentary August 8th 2016

WWE Raw Commentary August 8th 2016

Coming off a ridiculously awesome episode, last week’s Raw certainly wasn’t as exciting or particularly noteworthy. That’s not to say it was bad, it just had little to no chance of following that up with an episode of the same level. But we’ll have a quick run-through of last week’s events which included the first forty minutes being devoted to the women, Randy Orton RKO’d Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns became Rusev’s next challenger, Titus O’Neil turned heel because of reasons, Big E’s balls were destroyed and R-Truth (like most of the world, including myself) is still playing Pokemon Go rather than working.

Which brings us to this week, what’s next for Seth Rollins and Finn Balor before they collide for the first time at SummerSlam? How many video packages will be played because Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton both probably won’t be on the show this week? What is the latest on Big E’s groin? Did R-Truth catch them all? Answers to those (maybe) and more tonight, so let’s get to it.

Kicking off the show is Enzo & Big Cass and Enzo is talking about how he’s mad at Chris Jericho for ruining his chance with Sasha Banks last week, despite Sasha looking a tiny bit repulsed at times. Imagine a walking, talking raccoon with aftershave hitting on you, it’s not pretty. This brings out Jericho, who brings out his new back-up, Kevin Owens. Enzo & Cass make a gay joke about them, which is disappointing because I like those guys and they’re better than that. Jericho challenges Enzo to a match.

On to the match itself and it was fine. It just really showed that Enzo is definitely best in his tag team role at the moment and that goes for Cass too. These two shouldn’t be split up any time in the near future. Jericho hits a Codebreaker on Enzo but Cass runs in with a big boot to cause a disqualification. Cass challenges the Canadian dad’s to a tag match at SummerSlam, which they accept. This should be a very fun match, which I would imagine will kick off the pay per view.

More delectable murder’s from Braun Strowman this week. Am I a bad person for enjoying these?

In a rematch from last week, former tag team partners collide as Titus O’Neil goes one on one with Darren Young. Last week Titus cheated by grabbing the tights to get the win. This week the exact same thing happens only Darren gets the win. Bob Backlund had his back turned during the tight pulling, so Backlund thinks Darren won fair and square. I don’t quite know what is happening and I’m not sure that I care.

Seth Rollins is in the ring and cuts a promo about Finn Balor, where he got his name and how Seth is going to add to his legend by becoming the first WWE Universal Champion. This promo was pretty bad actually, which is surprising from Seth but I think it comes down to it being totally scripted and not at all written by him, or at least I hope it wasn’t. Rollins sounded like he was trying out at an open mic night at a comedy club.

“Did you guys know that Finn Balor isn’t actually his real name? And while we’re at it, what’s the deal with airline food?”

Okay he didn’t actually say that, but it was certainly within the tone of his voice. Seth says that Finn means ‘Famous Warrior’ and Balor means ‘Demon King’. Seth likens that to him naming himself ‘Rambo Apocalypse’. Which sounds funny but in all seriousness, there’s probably a guy in an independent promotion somewhere in South Carolina wrestling as Rambo Apocalypse who thought it was a really cool name. Anyway, I’ve gotten so off track but this promo sort of missed the mark and I was certainly hoping for more conflict between the two men.

Another rematch from last week as Cesaro faces Sheamus. After Cesaro picked up the win, thus earning him a future title opportunity, the two men had a brawl through the commercial break. Which brings us to this week and Cesaro picks up another win over Sheamus with a roll up. Another good match between these two, probably a better encounter than last week and like I said last week, I think I only like Sheamus when he’s wrestling Cesaro as they bring out the best out of each other. Cesaro has two wins in a row over Sheamus.

Because Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman aren’t on the show this week, a video package will have to carry the story progression for us. With that being said, it’s a really good video package but it’s actually unintentionally hilarious too. Because Brock Lesnar doesn’t even pretend to give a f**k about Randy Orton or take him seriously. I am looking forward to their SummerSlam match, but I do want to hear Brock Lesnar say something about how he’s going to beat something gross out of Orton.

On the Raw Pre-show, The Dudley Boyz challenged Neville to a tag match and Neville should find any partner he wants. Neville, out of the entire roster he could have chosen from, chose Sin Cara because apparently Neville hates us for some reason. Seriously, you have Sami Zayn just sitting in the back doing nothing this week and you choose Sin Cara? Use your brain, Neville! Neville gets the win with the Red Arrow and Bubba Ray looks at D-Von angrily, so it looks like we’re getting that Dudley Boyz feud that no-one asked for.

A few weeks ago, Rusev and Lana were married (in real life) and this week they will celebrate in the ring, like a wedding reception of sorts, I guess? Raw has had a long history of weddings from Stephanie McMahon & Test to Lita & Edge to AJ Lee & Daniel Bryan and you know what they all have in common? They all ended in disaster, so Rusev and Lana were smart to have there ceremony as far away from a wrestling ring as possible.

Anyway, good lord was the segment bad. It ran so long, poor Lana was noticeably struggling, trying to remember her meticulously scripted promo. Then Roman Reigns came out to ruin the newlyweds day because he’s just that sort of guy. Roman makes some bad jokes and pushes Rusev into Lana who goes flying into the cake. Literally about fifteen minutes of build up went into that cake spot and to Lana’s credit, she went all in with the cake to the point it looked like she bladed like Ric Flair.

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I don’t think this segment would have been anywhere near as bad if it was cut short by five minutes. It just seemed to drag, especially when we knew that a bride with three cakes in the ring was going to lead to only one thing. Also, Roman Reigns going back to his hokey jokey stuff is literally the worst thing that they could have done with him. Right when Reigns was only being a super serious, ass-kicker he reverts back to what people hated about him in the first place. Anyway, Rusev will defend the United States Championship against Roman Reigns at SummerSlam but good lord I hated this and now I will finish up this segment with this image…

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Doesn’t he just have the most punch-able face?

Earlier in the night, Sasha Banks asked Mick Foley to make her Women’s Championship match against Charlotte at SummerSlam a handicap match so she can keep her eye on Dana Brooke. So Foley says that if she can beat Dana tonight, Dana is banned from ringside at SummerSlam. Honestly, none of that makes any sense. Why wouldn’t Sasha just ask for Dana to be banned from ringside to begin with? Why are all babyfaces so stupid? Anyway, Sasha wins and gets the better deal that she for some reason didn’t ask for to begin with, oh well!

Before Luke Gallows goes one on one with Kofi Kingston, Gallows and Anderson (wearing white coats) pretend to be doctors and explain Big E’s injury from last week as ‘ringpostitis’. Karl literally holds up a jar of Big E’s testicles and proceeds to make many jokes on Big E’s groin and I will not apologise for laughing at all of them.

Luke: “We recently completed emergency surgery on Big E and the results of which were nuts.”

Karl: “It kind of makes you want to ball your eyes out, doesn’t it doctor?”

Luke: “It does make me a little bit testie.”

Now the immaturity is out of the way, Gallows hits a flapjack on Kingston to score the win. After the match, Gallows and Anderson try to do the same thing to Kofi as they did to Big E. but are chased off by Xavier who comes running with a steel chair.

Following Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton invading the other’s show to attack each other last week, Raw General Manager Mick Foley invited the Smackdown General Manager Daniel Bryan to Raw tonight to clear the air. Many backhanded compliments later, Mick Foley replays footage of Daniel Bryan making fun of Raw’s new Universal Championship. Foley says the title isn’t a joke which brings out Rusev who says that Raw doesn’t need another champion because he’s the top champion on Raw. Rusev starts sucking up to Mick Foley to try and get out of his match with Roman Reigns at SummerSlam.

Cesaro interrupts and mentions that Mick Foley told him that if he won his match against Sheamus last week, he’d get a title match. Mick Foley seems hesitant at first but Cesaro asks if Foley is indeed a man of his word. Daniel Bryan interrupts and says he thinks that Cesaro is being totally underutilised on Raw, which Cesaro agrees. So Mick Foley makes Cesaro vs. Rusev for the United States Championship right now.

This was a fun little segment, teasing tension between the two opposing authority figures plus bringing some superstars into it too. Cesaro appears to be very unhappy with his spot on Raw and with Daniel Bryan also sucking up to Cesaro, could we see our first defection of this brand split? I certainly hope so as Smackdown desperately needs more people.

I don’t know what I did to earn this, but it’s a second Cesaro match for the night and its a title match too. Cesaro was wrestling like he didn’t even compete earlier because he’s superhuman like that. As to be expected, these two put on a very entertaining match but it’s all ruined when Sheamus arrives on the scene. Distractions and ref bumps later, Sheamus lands a Brogue Kick on Cesaro, which leads to another kick from Rusev to keep Cesaro down for the three count. Following the match as Rusev is walking backwards up the ramp, Roman Reigns spears Rusev to close the show.

Instead of going into two separate singles matches at SummerSlam with Cesaro/Sheamus and Rusev/Reigns, I would prefer them to throw them all together for a Fatal-4-Way for the United States Title. Especially considering Cesaro was cheated out of his shot and Roman Reigns hasn’t actually earned his, it would make a lot more sense. But the cynical side of me believes Roman will just beat Rusev one on one for the title and do it for America. Yay America.

Final Thoughts:

Even taking the last two Raw’s out of the equation, this episode was objectively bad. There were very few positives to come out of it, the only ones I can think of are the chemistry between Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, the quality video package promoting Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton, Gallows & Anderson pretending to be doctors, more tension between the opposing authority figures and Cesaro being pretty much the MVP of the night by wrestling two quality matches and looking like a star.

Meanwhile the negatives are through the roof with Seth Rollins’ promo sort of missing the mark, Titus O’Neil and Darren Young’s story hitting a stalemate, the lacklustre surprise partner of Neville’s being Sin Cara, new stars like Nia Jax, Sami Zayn and Finn Balor were all not in action plus that horrendously long segment with Rusev, Lana and Roman Reigns. I guess this new era of Raw is only good two out of three times.

All is not lost though, WWE were obviously rushing this show because most of it’s stars are heading off to Australia and New Zealand that night and we’ve still got one more episode before SummerSlam. Using a term that’s thrown around a lot, I’m cautiously optimistic that this horrible Raw was a one off due to time and circumstance and we’ll be back to normal next week.

Final Rating: 4/10

WWE are in Adelaide on Friday night, which I will be in attendance for and I can’t wait.

I’ll be tweeting a bunch from there plus you can find my usual live tweets from Raw at @MichaelFarrer92 on Twitter.

I’ll see you soon.

WWE Raw Commentary August 1st 2016

WWE Raw Commentary August 1st 2016

One week into this post-draft WWE world and holy cow, did Raw deliver in its first outing. In what was probably the best edition of Raw in many years, it was also the most important episode in a good while too. Last week we saw the creation of a new championship, the WWE Universal Championship. Sasha Banks finally won the WWE Women’s Championship and Finn Balor made his debut by winning a Fatal-4-Way, then beating Roman Reigns one on one and he will now face Seth Rollins at SummerSlam to determine the first ever WWE Universal Champion.

Moving on to this week and it’s always difficult following a mammoth episode because tonight will be subconsciously compared to last week, whether that’s fair or not. SummerSlam already has its top matches set in stone, now it’s time to see how the rest of the card is going to fill out. Plus, Brock Lesnar is making his first appearance since WrestleMania and all those failed drug tests and stuff. Let’s get to the show!

Raw kicks off with the brand new WWE Women’s Champion, Sasha Banks and it doesn’t take very long at all until Charlotte interrupts. The Atlanta crowds chants “you tapped out” at Charlotte, but she says there was a fly in the ring last week, brilliant logic. Charlotte says that she was the best for over three hundred days and that Sasha only capitalised on a mistake. Which leads to this amazing back and forth…

Charlotte: “It’s one thing to take home the prom king, it’s another to get him to put a ring on your finger and that’s what you are Sasha, you’re just a one night stand.”

Sasha: “You’re the daughter of Ric Flair. If it wasn’t for a one night stand, you probably wouldn’t be standing here. WOOOOOO!”

Hot damn! That is some absolute gold right there. Bizarrely enough, Chris Jericho interrupts and puts over Charlotte by calling her royalty, while calls Sasha a little punk and ‘the boss’ of purple haired, teeny bopper stupid idiots. This brings out Enzo Amore, who starts flirting with Sasha and it gets uncomfortable to watch for a bit. The four trade insults until the new Raw General Manager Mick Foley arrives to make a mixed tag team match between the four.

The match gets under way and Kevin Owens is on commentary because… Well… I don’t really know why, but I’m happy he’s here to make me love this match even more. After a distraction from Dana Brooke, Sasha slaps Jericho across the face and Charlotte takes advantage by hitting Natural Selection to pin the Women’s Champion. After the match, Jericho hits a Codebreaker on Enzo and Cass comes out to make the save, which makes Jericho, Charlotte and Dana Brooke retreat. The referee then tries to hand the Women’s Championship to Charlotte and the look Charlotte gives the ref is hilarious.

The final shot also makes it look like Jericho is a dad during a midlife crisis, hanging out with women way younger than him. Anyway, I loved this opening so much. The first thirty minutes of Raw felt refreshing and different and I couldn’t be happier. Men and women interacting like equals, old and new being woven together seamlessly, this is what I have wanted Raw to be for a while. Plus, the match itself was pretty good too.

Following the humorous antics of the first half hour, Braun Strowman is up next to bring everyone’s mood back down to earth. My favourite part is when Braun Strowman murders this man. Braun flattens this poor guy and it’s all over. My weird, sadistic side of me is loving these murders every week. Please, let’s have some more destruction, I crave it.

You know how last week I said that I couldn’t hate on the Golden Truth/Pokemon Go stuff because at least it came to a pay off later in the night? Well this is where WWE does what it does best and completely over does it to the point where they lose me and I hate it. The Golden Truth are taking on The Shining Stars and R-Truth is too busy playing Pokemon on the apron and it costs them the match. The Shining Stars won a match, Michael Cole gets to say “Pokemon No” and I die a little inside.

Michael Cole is in the ring and is going to interview Finn Balor, who won his way into the main event of SummerSlam last week. Much like the top of the show, it takes almost no time at all for Seth Rollins interrupt. Rollins brings up instances where he did things before Balor like being the first ever NXT Champion and beating Roman Reigns on his first night back from injury. Rollins say Balor is okay, he’s just not that great, like Star Wars or Ghostbusters remakes.

Balor says that there is one difference between them, Balor earned his title opportunity while Rollins had his handed to him. Finn adds that the only thing that Seth will be handed at SummerSlam is his ass and kicks Rollins out of the ring to end the segment. This segment was fine, it brought up points that I hadn’t even thought about and it did what it needed to do. The upside is that we still have another two episodes before SummerSlam to make this even more intriguing.

Earlier in the night Mark Henry was backstage with Stephanie and Mick Foley and Stephanie was explaining to Mark that they really only drafted him to be in a mentor-ship role, not so much an active competitor. This was Stephanie being nice in saying that nobody wants to see Mark Henry wrestle in 2016. Mark says he still has a lot left in the tank and Foley gives him a United States title match against Rusev. Rusev vs. Mark Henry in this ‘New Era’ of Raw, even though it seems remarkably similar to 2014 era of Raw. Rusev beats Mark Henry and hopefully this retires him. I just realised how mean that sounds, but we just don’t need him around anymore.

Following the match, Rusev cuts a promo about how no man can take the United States Championship away from him, which brings out Roman Reigns!? Reigns takes out Rusev and forces him to retreat. Following his suspension and many decisive losses, Reigns is down to the mid-card which he leap frogged over to begin with. This is definitely the best direction they can go with Reigns as a match with Rusev certainly intrigues me. I just hope this goes over a few months and Rusev doesn’t take a loss straight off the bat.

Former Tag Team Champions collide next as Titus O’Neil goes one on one with Darren Young. Formerly known as The Prime Time Players, these two quietly split late last year with Darren Young creating this new gimmick with Bob Backlund and Titus O’Neil taking everything about The Prime Time Players which only made them mildly successful. The two were having a competitive match until Titus rolls up Darren and grabs the tights to get the cheap win.

Titus threatens Bob Backlund backstage until Darren Young intervenes and knocks down Titus. So it looks like they’ve turned Titus O’Neil heel and it’s probably for the best. Titus isn’t particularly likeable, while Darren Young and Bob Backlund are so crazy it’s sort of endearing. I was initially cold on the idea of this rivalry but seeing what they’ve done with it in one week, I’m listening.

Let’s turn our attention to another beautiful slaughter. Nia Jax is in her second match on Raw and she is once again brutalising a local athlete. This week Nia shows us a brand new move, turning a Samoan Drop into a Powerslam, very impressive stuff. I still absolutely adore these obliterations each week. Good lord, what is wrong with me?

Following Gallows and Anderson’s attack on The New Day last week, we have ourselves a tag match with the extra member of New Day barred from ringside. Xavier drew the short straw (or in New Day’s case, the banana) and left Kofi and Big E. to fend for themselves. When Karl Anderson gets caught up celebrating with Gallows, Big E. rolls him up and scores the surprisingly quick win. But Gallows and Anderson immediately go on the attack.

Xavier tries to make the save but is laid out too. After Gallows and Anderson hit Big E. with the Boot of Doom twice, they crotch Big E. into the ring post and finally leave. I’m not a massive fan of having the number one contenders pinned clean to start off the feud, you could have had the same result with this match ending in a disqualification. But with that point aside, Gallows and Anderson looked dominant this week.

A little earlier in the night, Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley were interrupted by Sheamus and Cesaro who were both unhappy with their position in the draft. So Foley decides that whoever wins in a match between the two, they will receive a future championship match. They didn’t tell you which title, so it’s probably the United States title. To the match itself and it was a hard hitting affair, as it always is between these two. Cesaro counters a Back Breaker seamlessly into the Neutralizer to get the win and a future title opportunity.

Cesaro is probably the only opponent that makes a Sheamus match fun to watch, because they will absolutely try to take each other’s heads off. I’m so very happy with Cesaro getting the win, I have been hoping that he would be the one to take the United States title off of Rusev, but it’s looking like that honour is going to Roman Reigns. After the match, a brawl between Sheamus and Cesaro broke out during the commercial break. So until Cesaro’s title opportunity, it looks like we might be getting more Sheamus vs. Cesaro and I’m more than happy to watch it again.

Okay, so this is where Raw got a little weird. Heath Slater was the only superstar to not be drafted to either Raw or Smackdown, so he’s been turning up on shows asking for a contract. On Smackdown he turned up and asked for a contract, but was GORED by the returning Rhyno. This week Heath has brought a friend, his former team-mate in 3MB Jinder Mahal. Jinder was released from WWE with little fanfare in 2014 and hasn’t been thought about since, but he’s back for whatever reason.

Foley comes on stage and says that Slater and Mahal will face each other in a match and the winner gets a contract on Raw. Heath complains, but Jinder takes advantage by hitting Slater with a vicious looking boot to the face and getting the win. Jinder Mahal has won himself a contract for Monday Night Raw and the crowd in Atlanta reacts sort of like… “Huh? Why?”

For the first time ever on Raw, Seth Rollins goes one on one with Sami Zayn. This is a match I could watch all day everyday, but I also like that they don’t do it very often because I can tell this will be a tremendous main event rivalry in the years to come. But until that day comes, this will do just fine. As expected these two put on a great match with Seth Rollins getting a clean win over Sami with a Pedigree. I don’t ask for much in this world, but all I want is for Seth to get his own finisher.

Brock Lesnar is making his first appearance since WrestleMania and he still has Paul Heyman in tow. It’s ridiculous how much Lesnar was probably being paid to turn up, stand in the ring and jump on the spot while Heyman does all the work. Paul Heyman cuts a long and typically brilliant promo building up Lesnar again and going through Randy Orton’s accomplishments but explaining why he still doesn’t have a chance at SummerSlam. Just as Heyman says that he will never hit an RKO on Lesnar, guess what happens?

Randy Orton bursts into frame, faster than the crowd can react to it and hits an RKO on Lesnar. Michael Cole welcomes Brock Lesnar to ‘Viperville’ and the whole world cringes in unison. Orton escapes through the crowd while security, referees, the Raw roster and Stephanie and Mick Foley come to ringside to make sure he leaves. The show goes off the air with Stephanie screaming “HE’S TAKING OFF HIS SHIRT, GET HIM OUT OF HERE!”

Final Thoughts:

As I said at the top of the post, it would be hard to not compare this weeks episode to last week so I’m doing my best not to. There is a lot to like about this week such as the women opening the show and interacting as equals with the male superstars. Cesaro picking up and important win, gaining himself a future title opportunity. Those delicious beat downs from Braun Strowman and Nia Jax. Seth Rollins vs. Sami Zayn will never fail to entertain and the final segment with Paul Heyman’s promo and a surprise RKO from Randy Orton.

But we have to look at some of the negatives like Mark Henry wrestling, WWE hammering home the fact they know what Pokemon Go is thanks to Xavier Woods’ gaming channel and the baffling decision to bring Jinder Mahal back. Although you do have all the stuff that we need to see how those stories progress like New Day/Gallows & Anderson, Roman Reigns/Rusev & Titus O’Neil/Darren Young.

This week was a perfectly fine episode of Raw. I didn’t leave it with a sense of dread of what’s to come in the coming weeks. I must still be reeling off of the excitement and pure optimism that this brand extension has provided WWE with a new way of thinking and determination to give the viewers a fresh and more exciting product… But that may have something to do with the USA Network complaining about tanking ratings of Smackdown over the last six months. Either way, I’m still optimistic for the future.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

Follow me on Twitter @MichaelFarrer92 for live tweeting WWE PPV’s and Monday Night Raw’s.