By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. This is part one of a two night affair as WWE makes their final push towards promoting SummerSlam which takes place on Sunday. It is a jam packed week as we have a shitload of shows/specials on the WWE Network to whet our appetite leading up to NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II on Saturday night followed by the biggest party of the summer the following day. SummerSlam is going to last at least SEVEN hours when you add in the two hour preshow starting at 5:00 p.m. on the network. Will our minds melt between now and then? Will we survive? Will it be worth it? Did WWE do enough to get us ready for the onslaught of wrestling heaven that is upon us? Some of these answers can be found throughout this blog. The final verdict won’t be in until next Tuesday when the marathon is over. Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentleman. It’s going to be one hell of a ride. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.
· Rusev plans to defend Lana’s honor by facing Roman Reigns in a one-on-one match. He is such a chivalrous man.
· In the Battle of The Gingers, Sami Zayn topped Sheamus with an assist from Cesaro. Cesaro provided the distraction which allowed Zayn to nail Sheamus with the Helluva Kick to pick up the win. The match was solid and it’s nice to see the Cesaro-Sheamus feud forwarded in a meaningful way. Plus, Sami Zayn picked up a quality win. That is always a good thing.
· Michael Cole is a little off his game tonight as he blew two spots during the match when he said that Sheamus dropped Zayn with The Irish Curse Backbreaker when it was actually White Noise and made the same mistake when he said that Zayn dropped Sheamus with the Michinoku Driver when it was really the Blue Thunder Bomb. Corey Graves managed to make the save and correct Cole, but those mistakes did make me raise my eyebrows a couple of times.
· The G Association of America sounds like an awesome club to be a part of.
· Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho are a great team. I love how Jericho keeps butchering Tom Phillips’ name on purpose. It’s a great running gag that will never get old.
· A Best of Seven series between Sheamus and Cesaro? I am actually okay with this. It gives both men something to do and the winner should be rewarded with a WWE Universal Title shot. That seems more than fair. Plus, their matches will mean something and fill up television time which is sorely needed to make these three hour shows breeze by. This should be a blast to watch over the next several weeks as long as the matches do not become repetitive in nature.
· In The Battle of the Balls, The New Day almost took things seriously for once. Testicle jokes aside, of course. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows continued their ballsy puns and it was cute. But, I think two badass dudes from New Japan should do more than microwave some faux balls to prove how tough they really are. The fun and games should be over on Sunday as they take on The New Day for the Tag Team Championship. Hopefully.
· Rachel Levy is a cute little pixie who is about to get killed by Nia Jax. Poor thing...
· And we have confirmation. The blue-haired pixie got destroyed by Jax. Short and sweet. Just as it should be.
· Heath Slater has a death wish as he had the nerve to interrupt Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar.
· Brock Lesnar doesn’t give a shit about kids unless they are his own. Point. Blank. Period.
· Paul Heyman is a hype man extraordinaire. Heyman was masterful promoting Lesnar’s match against Randy Orton at SummerSlam this Sunday. He pretty much gave Orton no hope which is completely understandable since this is The Summer of The Beast and he’s in heat. That last line is a bit much, but I digress. Lesnar got on the mic and got a chance to talk which can end badly if he has to talk too long, but he was great. The whole segment worked and I must give kudos to Heath Slater for playing his part to perfection. Slater took a quick trip to Suplex City and got F5’d for his efforts, but he showed guts. He did it for his two daughters and his other kids. That’s bravery and idiocy rolled into one spectacular package.
· JERIKO (Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens) made a statement as they laid out Big Cass heading into their tag team match against Enzo and Cass at SummerSlam on Sunday. Owens vs. Big Cass was not about picking up a win to build momentum for the PPV, it was about sending a message that the Canadian Duo means business and are willing to get down and dirty in order to gain the upper hand. Plus, Big Cass didn’t have to eat a pin which keeps him looking strong in the win-loss column.
· The Primetime Players reunited and I missed it? This is so random.
· Thankfully, The Raw preshow cleared things up for me. I smell a setup, though.
· And just like that, The Primetime Players are no more once again. Titus O’Neil laid out Darren Young with Clash of the Titus after Young accidently knocked him off the ring apron. And their feud continues. Oh joy! *Insert Sarcasm Here*
· Neville had a close call as he slid awkwardly in the ring during his entrance. I thought he injured his ankle again in another freak accident. He made a quick recovery, though.
· Jindal Mahal showed flashes of what he is capable of, but Neville had the match well in hand for the most part as he finished Mahal off with The Red Arrow. Decent match.
· A random fan just jumped in the ring during Seth Rollins’ promo. What an idiot.
· Hello, Demon King. The body paint on Bálor is on point tonight. This was a great way to educate novice fans on the darker side of Balor. I loved how Mick Foley set up Rollins on the walkie-talkie by having the production crew cue his music before the commercial break. Rollins proceeded to dig himself in a hole that he couldn’t get out of and got schooled by Bálor. It was a sweet moment. I have to give kudos to Rollins for remaining calm after that crazy ass fan jumped in the ring during his promo. He was rattled for a second, but he shook it off. Cole deserves credit for saying that Rollins was in a trance thinking about The Demon King instead of acknowledging the chaos unfolding off camera. He gets a few brownie points back after his slipups from earlier tonight.
· Charlotte and Dana Brooke laid the sticks for Sasha Banks and she fell for the trap as they got the jump on her. Charlotte locked in the Figure Eight and wouldn’t let go for about a minute. I question Banks wearing a pair of high heel boots because the combination of fancy footwork and physical activity can be a recipe for disaster, but she held her own and sold her ass off. I am looking forward to Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks at SummerSlam. It should be a great match if they are given enough time to do their thing in the ring.
· Rusev and Roman Reigns had a good, but slightly too long match to wrap up Raw. It was physical and gnarly as Rusev dominated the pace for a large chunk of the bout. He targeted Reigns’ shoulder and ankles which was smart strategy because it gave him the opportunity to toss The Samoan Badass into the steel steps and barricade with ease. The referee was surprisingly lax as he did not initiate a ten count and allowed both men to beat the hell out of each without any repercussions short of Rusev trying to use his United States Championship belt as weapon in order to get disqualified. Reigns thwarted his efforts as the action spilled back into the ring.
· Rusev got numerous near falls on Reigns as he tried to take him out with a series of flying headbutts from the top rope, but it was to no avail. Reigns fought his way back into the match and it was pretty even until Rusev locked in The Accolade, but Reigns grabbed the ropes to break the hold.
· Rusev tried to make his wife proud by beating Reigns, but it was not meant to be as Reigns nailed him with a Spear to pick up the win. The newlyweds walked away in shame while Reigns celebrated with the fans as Raw went off the air.
· Since Reigns got the clean pinfall, one has to assume that Rusev retains the US Title by nefarious means at SummerSlam to keep the feud alive. Also, what else can both men possibly do to top what they did in the ring tonight? We shall find out on Sunday.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was decent at best. There was a lot of fluff on this show, but it was inoffensive for the most part. The New Day, Gallows & Anderson, and Charlotte picked up maintenance wins while Y2KO decided to take out their competition to make a point. Those matches had a rhyme and reason to it which allowed everyone to look strong heading into the PPV on Sunday.
· Most importantly, WWE did a good job highlight the key matches taking place at SummerSlam. The Brock Lesnar segment was the best thing on the show with the Demon King-Rollins confrontation coming in second place. Their respective matches should live up to the hype if everything goes according to plan.
· This is only part one of the final hard sell for SummerSlam. SmackDown Live! gets their turn at bat tomorrow night. We shall see how they will measure up to Raw as the blue brand have their own marquee matches to hype in the form of John Cena vs. AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and Orton’s response to Lesnar. It should be a newsworthy show. Fingers crossed!
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!