By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. WWE begins their two-night stand in the 6 as the Road to SummerSlam draws to a close. The Raw Women’s Championship match between Alexa Bliss and Bayley has been canceled due to Bayley dislocating her shoulder during her match against Nia Jax last week. Who will fill her spot heading into the PPV? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.
· Miz TV started with The Miz wanting an apology from Jason Jordan after he embarrassed him last week. Kurt Angle informed Miz that Jordan had a match against Curtis Axel and would be unavailable to do an interview this evening. However, Angle had the perfect replacements in the form of Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman.
· Before Heyman could speak, Miz cut him off and proceeded to berate Lesnar for taking his ball and going home in the event he doesn’t retain the Universal Championship at SummerSlam. Miz would bid good riddance to bad rubbish and allowed Heyman to speak once he was done with his spiel.
· Heyman asked Miz if he ever role played with Maryse because he was about to participate in an unauthorized dramatization of the Fatal Four Way match at SummerSlam. And with that, Lesnar proceeded to destroy Miz and his Miztourage in epic fashion as he sent them on a trip to Suplex City before hitting a trio of F5s for good measure as the opening segment came to an end.
· This was a great way to start the show. Miz was a wonderful shit stirrer as he tried to rattle Lesnar and Heyman on the mic. Ultimately, his smug attitude led to an epic ass kicking which pleased the crowd to no end. The Beast destroying everyone in sight is always a treat when it makes sense from a creative standpoint. Tonight was no exception as fans were treated to a sneak peek of what’s to come at SummerSlam. It won’t be this one-sided, but it should be a spectacle nonetheless considering the talent involved.
· Sheamus defeated Seth Rollins with a roll-up in a decent match after Cesaro provided the distraction at ringside. The in-ring action was fine, but it was very similar to what they did last week which was pretty nondescript to begin with.
· After the match was over, Rollins laid out Cesaro with a suicide dive to even the score. However, the numbers game caught up to him as Sheamus and Cesaro laid him out with White Noise. Dean Ambrose was noticeably absent during the 2-on-1 beat down which kept the familiar case of déjà vu at bay. It’s safe to assume that Rollins will confront Ambrose backstage in order to continue their reconciliation storyline.
· Jason Jordan defeated Jean Pierre Goulet with a neckbreaker as the fans showered him with boos. The Toronto crowd rooting for the jobber pretty much says it all from a zero fucks standpoint. Jordan is flat lining at an alarming rate which is sad to see.
· The Character Assassination of Bayley is complete as the Hugger Extraordinaire got booed during her promo. She didn’t get any sympathy for her shoulder injury which was stunning, to say the least. The tepid crowd reactions have been hard to watch and it was obvious that the boo birds were getting next to Bayley. It might be premature to hit the red button, but it’s not inconceivable to consider a heel turn at this point.
· Sasha Banks defeated Alicia Fox and Emma in Triple Threat Match #1 to determine who will face Alexa Bliss at SummerSlam for the Raw Women’s Championship. Emma was the sentimental favorite as the fans willed her to victory. She had a razor thin near fall, but Banks eventually made the Artist Formerly Known as Emmalina tap out to the Bank Statement. The match was fine, but it was nothing special.
· Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson defeated The Big Show and Enzo Amore when Anderson nailed Amore with a kick to the face for the win. The match was pretty one-sided as Enzo was in sell mode for the most part which detracted from the overall viewing experience.
· Big Cass appeared on the main stage to watch the closing moments of the match before delivering a Big Boot to Big Show after the bout was over. Enzo laid Big Cass out with a tope, but he got tossed against the barricade seconds later.
· Big Cass was chasing Enzo at ringside when he got nailed with the Knockout Punch from Big Show in a great spot. Big Cass was laid out like a chalk outline during an episode of Law & Order as the segment ended with the babyfaces standing tall.
· Sluggish match aside, this was a nice way to forward the Big Show-Big Cass feud heading into SummerSlam. Let’s hope their rematch is better than their first outing in Pittsburgh last week.
· Finn Bálor called out Bray Wyatt and Wyatt showed up to get his ass kicked for the second week in a row before going ghost.
· Wyatt appeared on the Titantron and warned Bálor that he would rip him and his fans from the heavens at SummerSlam. That’s big talk coming from a guy that ran away like a scolded dog. Just saying…
· Dean Ambrose defeated Cesaro with a roll-up in a very good match. Cesaro dominated the action early on as he targeted Ambrose’s midsection which left the Lunatic Fringe in peril heading into the commercial break.
· Ambrose mustered a comeback, but Cesaro found a way to stunt his momentum. Sheamus played a role in the finish, but it was to no avail as Ambrose squeaked out the win.
· After the match was over, Sheamus attacked Ambrose from behind which led to another 2-on-1 beat down until Seth Rollins made the save. Once the ring was cleared, Rollins and Ambrose stood face to face in the ring. The crowd was cheering for them to reunite. The atmosphere reached a fevered pitch when Ambrose extended his fist to Rollins only for his former Shield brother to give him the cold shoulder as the fans’ elation turned sour.
· WWE is doing a great job delaying the instant gratification of Rollins and Ambrose reconciling. When the reunion takes place, it will be a beautiful moment that should be bottled up and preserved until the end of time. *sniff*
· Akira Tozawa defeated Ariya Daivari with the Senton Bomb in a decent match. Tozawa tried to get the fans involved by doing his signature grunt, but their reaction was muted at best. At least Tozawa built momentum heading into his Cruiserweight Championship match against Neville at SummerSlam.
· Nia Jax defeated Mickie James and Dana Brooke in Triple Threat Match #2 when she pinned Brooke with a leg drop in a decent match. Jax will face Sasha Banks next week to determine who will vie for Alexa Bliss’ Raw Championship at SummerSlam. Both ladies had a solid match a few weeks ago in Los Angeles and I expect similar results despite the monotony of their never ending feud.
· For the third time in less than a year, the shark cage will be in play as Kurt Angle booked Big Show vs. Big Cass at SummerSlam with Enzo Amore suspended above the ring in a shark cage. We can thank Mattel for breathing new life into this gimmick.
· Braun Strowman was the Last Man Standing after Samoa Joe choked out Roman Reigns with the Coquina Clutch in a very good main event match. Strowman and Reigns showed up and showed out once again as they beat the hell out of each other. Both men had their moment to shine with Reigns laying out Strowman with the Samoan Drop through a table while the Monster Among Men chucked an office chair in Reign’s face to avoid getting drilled with a Spear through the barricade.
· Strowman and Reigns took their fight to the announce table as Reigns slammed Strowman’s head against the bottom of the desk. Strowman eventually got back on offense and tossed Reigns into the LED Board. He was about to put Reigns through the announce table when Reigns powered out of the move and nailed him with a pair of Superman Punches.
· He went for another Spear, but Strowman cut him off at the pass. Strowman was trying to gather his bearings at ringside when Reigns charged down the ramp and dropped him with a wicked Spear. It appeared that Reigns had the match won when Joe locked him in the Coquina Clutch while he was sitting in the front row. It was a great spot that took everyone by surprise.
· The interference gave Strowman an extra minute to recover which allowed him to get to his feet before the count of ten. Strowman takes a 3-1 lead in his feud against Reigns which is pretty damn impressive considering the fact that this epic battle has been going on for EIGHT months. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
· Joe getting a measure of revenge on Reigns keeps him in play for the Universal Title heading into SummerSlam. The loss from last week shouldn’t cause any long-term damage as long as he’s presented like a true badass who should be feared at all times.
· With next week being the go-home show for SummerSlam, Lesnar should confront his opponents face-to-face instead of being isolated from them. The demolition derby should be reserved for the PPV, but an appetizer wouldn’t hurt as we head into the biggest party of the summer.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was middling at best. Toronto is usually a hot crowd, but they were tepid with the exception of the opening segment and the two matches that bookended the final hour of the show. In all honesty, WWE didn’t give them much to work with which made the broadcast a chore to get through at times.
· The saddest moment of the night was Bayley getting booed. The poor girl had her arm in a sling and received little to no sympathy from the crowd. She was rattled by the reaction which made things worse. The booking has killed her deader than dead and a heel turn might be in order. Such a thought would’ve been blasphemous two years ago, but times have changed. L
· All roads lead to Boston as the go-home show for SummerSlam emanates from the TD Garden next week. The WWE hype machine will be in full effect as we head into the second biggest PPV of the year. Here’s hoping there are no more speed bumps along the way. 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!