By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. After Braun Strowman destroyed Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe at the end of last week’s show, how did newfound father of six Kurt Angle respond to Strowman’s latest rampage? Did he give him some milk and cookies or reward him with a shot at Brock Lesnar’s Universal Championship at SummerSlam? That answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.
· Raw got off to a hot state when Kurt Angle announced that Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, and Roman Reigns will face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam. Joe tried to change Angle’s mind, but Strowman interrupted him and said that he cared more about piling bodies instead of complaining about a match stipulation.
· Reigns sucker punched Strowman which led to a melee as Reigns and Joe tossed Strowman over the barricade. The Badass Samoan Alliance was short-lived when Joe punched Reigns in the face as they took the action back in the ring.
· Strowman re-appeared and laid out Joe with a clothesline before ramming Reigns’ shoulder into the ring post. Angle called for security, but Strowman destroyed them one-by-one in a great feat of strength. I hope those rent-a-cops were paid handsomely for taking such amazing bumps.
· Joe locked Strowman in the Coquina Clutch as Angle called for more reinforcement. The locker room cleared out as they tried to pull both men apart. Strowman was able to back Joe in the corner to break the hold, but Joe reapplied his submission as Reigns speared both men in a great spot.
· Half of the wrestlers were able to hold Joe off while the rest tried to get Reigns out of the ring. Their pleas fell on deaf ears when Strowman laid him out with a Running Powerslam as the opening segment came to an end.
· This was a great way to start the show. WWE played it smart by booking a Fatal Four Way Universal Title Match featuring the top stars on the Raw roster. Each man brings something unique to the table which should create an electric atmosphere in Brooklyn next month. Here’s hoping the company doesn’t swerve us by trying to book a Triple Threat Match to determine a single opponent for Lesnar at SummerSlam.
· Elias Samson defeated Finn Bálor thanks to an assist from Bray Wyatt. Bálor had the match won when he hit Samson with the Coup De Grace, but the lights went dark in the arena which meant that Wyatt was about to magically appear in the ring.
· He nailed Bálor with the Sister Abigail as Samson crawled across the ring to make the cover.
· The Eater of Worlds told the crowd to Follow The Buzzards as the segment came to an end.
· Before Wyatt interfered, Samson and Bálor had a good No Disqualification Match. The Drifter targeted Bálor’s injured shoulder for the most part, but Bálor willed himself back into the match. The crowd was muted in spots, but they were solidly behind the Demon King throughout.
· The ending makes sense because Wyatt warned Bálor last week that he was coming for him. Step two of that plan came to fruition and it’s up to Bálor to respond next week. Both men should deliver the goods at SummerSlam as long as their feud doesn’t veer off into the supernatural.
· As for Samson, this was the biggest win of his career and he looked good in the ring despite the cheap win. It gives him legitimacy as a performer which speaks well for his future. The Drifter has to build on this momentum by getting better in the ring and we shall see whether or not he will thrive or wilt under the pressure.
· After Emma threatened to date Jason Jordan in order to get ahead, Kurt Angle booked her in a match against Nia Jax later tonight. Loose lips sink ships…
· Big Cass defeated Enzo Amore with a Big Boot in a very one-sided match. It was almost an exact replica of their bout from Great Balls of Fire a few weeks ago.
· Big Show tried to save Enzo, but Big Cass threatened to snap his neck which was a clear threat of attempted murder.
· Big Show got in the ring as Cass tossed Enzo into him before nailing the World’s Largest Athlete with a Big Boot.
· Cass kicked Big Show’s ass and dropped five Empire Elbows for good measure to send a message that there is room for only one 7 footer in WWE.
· The prolonged beat down overstayed its welcome as the fans were quiet for the most part. Cass got booed towards the end, but this ass kicking could’ve been accomplished in half the time in order for him to get even more heat than he did. Minor criticism aside, WWE has done a solid job building up Big Show vs. Big Cass for SummerSlam.
· Nia Jax defeated Emma with a Somersault Senton in a quick match. This was another lopsided bout where Emma got zero offense. Jax’s finisher popped the crowd which could be a good or bad thing depending on how she’s presented in the future.
· If Jax is going to be a heel long-term, she shouldn’t be performing babyface moves. If she’s undergoing a character shift, this might be her go-to spot down the road. Either way, it’s an impressive move that makes her stand out from the pack.
· Ariya Daivari put Neville and Akira Tozawa on notice when he laid out both men with a pair of Rainmakers.
· Neville came out and talked shit to Tozawa which resulted in Tozawa hitting him with a Senton from the top rope. The move caused further damage to Tozawa’s injured shoulder which allowed Daivari to pick the bones.
· It appears that Daivari is inserting himself in the Cruiserweight Championship picture which could produce mixed results depending on how he presented on television over the next few weeks. Will his cocky playboy persona translate on Monday nights? We shall see.
· Bayley defeated Sasha Banks and will move on to face Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship at SummerSlam. After a shaky first half, Bayley and Sasha upped the tempo after the commercial break and delivered a very good match. It was physical as the fans got into the action down the stretch.
· Banks went to the top rope and hit the Frog Splash on Bayley only for The Hugger Extraordinaire to counter Banks’ momentum with a roll through for the win.
· Banks was heartbroken in the ring as Bayley punched her ticket to SummerSlam. Alexa Bliss made her way to the ring and confronted the new number one contender for her title as the segment came to an end.
· Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Title at SummerSlam is an interesting choice. They had a terrible Kendo Stick on a Pole Match at Extreme Rules which caused Bayley to hit rock bottom as a character. The crowd reactions have been so-so since then and I wonder how the Brooklyn crowd will treat her next month. Will they forget how badly her character has been mishandled or will they back Bliss instead? We shall find out soon enough.
· As for Banks, it appears that she will be sitting on the sidelines next month. Is this a prelude to a heel turn for The Boss? Hmm…
· Jason Jordan defeated Curt Hawkins with a neckbreaker in a quick match. Jordan looked impressive while Hawkins made another star in his self-proclaimed Star Factory.
· When did Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows magically become babyfaces? Did I miss the memo?
· The Revival defeated Gallows and Anderson when Dash and Dawson hit Anderson with the Shatter Machine for the win. The Hardy Boyz came out towards the end of the match to scout their opponents and decided to cash in their receipt on The Revival after the Top Guys blindsided them a few weeks ago.
· Matt and Jeff hit Poetry in Motion on Dash before Matt nailed him with the Twist of Fate. Jeff was about to finish him off with a Swanton Bomb, but Dawson pulled his partner out of the way. The heels headed up the ramp as The Hardys stood tall in the ring.
· The Revival-Hardy Boyz feud is far from over while Sheamus and Cesaro await the next challengers for their Raw Tag Team Titles.
· As expected, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, and Samoa Joe will face off in a Triple Threat Match next week. Fortunately, this is a straight-up bout without SummerSlam implications. Whew!
· Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins defeated The Miz, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel when Ambrose pinned Miz with Dirty Deeds in a solid main event match. The 2-on-3 handicap stipulation paid dividends for the heels early on as Rollins was isolated from Ambrose for a large chunk of the match.
· Rollins eventually made the hot tag as Ambrose cleaned house to crowd’s delight. It appeared that the Lunatic Fringe had things under control until Miz hit him with the Skull Crushing Finale for a near fall that was broken up by Rollins.
· Rollins and Ambrose regrouped and did a double suicide dive onto Miz and his Miztourage. They tossed Miz back in the ring as Rollins nailed Miz with a flying knee which prevented him from hitting Ambrose with another Skull Crushing Finale. Ambrose hit his finisher moments later to send the crowd home happy.
· Ambrose and Rollins shared an embrace in the ring, but Ambrose wasn’t ready to bump fists with Rollins just yet as he left his former Shield brother hanging in the ring as Raw went off the air.
· WWE is doing a nice job milking Ambrose forgiving Rollins. Ironically, it’s similar to the relationship between Ruth and Debbie on the Netflix series GLOW because a betrayal ruined their friendship, but they put their differences aside for the greater good. Based on the camera cutting to Cesaro and Sheamus during their match, it appears that they will be entrenched in the tag team division for a while. If that’s the case, business just picked up in the best possible way.
· Most importantly, it appears that the Miz-Ambrose feud has finally come to an end. Hallelujah!
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was decent at best. After a hot first hour, things tapered off during the second hour due to a pair of rapid fire matches followed by a non-match that cooled the crowd down. Fortunately, Sasha Banks vs. Bayley woke them up to kick off the third hour as they kept the 10:00 P.M. Lull Period of Death at bay for the most part.
· Meanwhile, the marquee match for SummerSlam is set as Brock Lesnar, Samoa, Braun Strowman, and Roman Reigns will face off in a Fatal Four Way Match for the Universal Championship. This should be an absolute barn burner if everything goes according to plan.
· Elsewhere, it appears that Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins will become a tag team and vie for the Raw Tag Team Titles based on Sheamus and Cesaro watching the last two tag matches that closed out the show.
· Also, Next week’s Miz TV will feature Jason Jordan as his special guest which might hint at an Intercontinental Championship match at SummerSlam if The Miz goes rogue during his interview with Jordan.
· Based on these developments, the Raw side of the SummerSlam card is coming together nicely as the creative team has a clear sense of direction heading into the Biggest Party of the Summer. If only those creative juices seeped their way onto SmackDown Live in order to salvage the shit fest known as Battleground. Just saying…
· On a lighter note, WWE continues to hype Raw a week in advance as they advertised Miz TV and the Triple Threat Match featuring Reigns, Joe, and Strowman for next week. Giving fans added incentive to watch is always a good thing. Here’s hoping the Pittsburgh crowd is willing to play along because their reputation for being dead during live shows has been well-documented over the years. Can the company reverse that trend? We shall see.
On that note, this wraps up another installment of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will back tomorrow night with a brand new edition of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls.