Enzo Amore isn't doin’ so well, and Big Cass wasn't doin’ all that great either by the time Raw's opening came and went.
What began as a victory lap for the seven-footer following his annihilation of Amore at WWE Great Balls of Fire turned into a staredown of epic proportions when Big Show — who, of course has no love lost for Cass — confronted the Queens native following Cass' assertion that nobody could look him eye-to-eye. Of course, Show did that and more, headbutting Big Cass and taking him down to the mat. Their titanic tussle ended with Cass getting out of dodge, which means Cass managed to avoid Show vs. Strowman levels of destruction – for now, at least.
After weeks of circling and baiting Finn Bálor, Elias Samson finally got his one-on-one crack at the Irish high-flyer. And while the match ended on a sour note for the guitar-slinging scoundrel, Samson did get to play a solid tune on the first-ever Universal Champion.
Bálor opened strong but had to fight from underneath after Samson shifted into second gear to put him on his heels. Samson's reversal of Bálor's running punt and a concentrated attack on his opponent's surgically-repaired shoulder took away Finn's striking abilities ... so the Irishman went and switched to his feet.
Bálor blasted Samson into the turnbuckles with a running dropkick and closed the book with a Coup de Grâce, a rally that was enough to earn him a show of respect from The Hardy Boyz on the ramp.
Matt Hardy said they were beaten, battered and “somewhat broken.” Jeff Hardy openly wondered if they should “fade away and classify themselves as obsolete.” Safe to say, The Hardy Boyz’ hellacious loss in the 30-minute WWE Iron Man Match for the Raw Tag Team Championship to Cesaro & Sheamus certainly gave the former titleholders a lot to think about, and the events of Raw only gave them more to contemplate.
When Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson popped up to talk trash to the stitched-up Hardys, Matt & Jeff attempted to prove their continued “magic” in an impromptu match, only to be denied in the form of a Magic Killer.
As Gallows & Anderson took their leave, The Revival made their long-awaited return, swaggering down the ramp and feasting on the former champions with a brutal beatdown that was punctuated by a Shatter Machine. Top Guys — in.
The Miz managed to hold off Dean Ambrose and retain his Intercontinental Title at WWE Great Balls of Fire (with assists from Maryse and The Miztourage, of course), so he came to Raw with one thing in mind: to give himself and his people some awards.
In fact, The first-ever “Mizzies” were little more than an excuse for Miz to present trophies to his team: Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel co-won Best Supporting Actor, Maryse won Most Beautiful, Gorgeous, Sexy Leading Lady and Miz himself won Greatest Man in WWE. And during his “acceptance speech,” The A-Lister came out of left field to label The Hardys, Akira Tozawa and Seth Rollins as “frauds.”
But The Lunatic Fringe was ready to play spoiler, crashing The Mizzies and taking the fight back to the Intercontinental Champion. Much like WWE Great Balls of Fire, Ambrose found himself outnumbered, at least until he cleared the ring with a clutch assist from one of the very same men Miz called a fraud: Seth Freakin’ Rollins.
Despite the brief reunion, however, Ambrose wasn't exactly raring to re-team with his old running mate in a pointed backstage confrontation.
The last time Sasha Banks & Bayley teamed up to battle Alexa Bliss & Nia Jax, the imposing Nia took The Huggable One out of the match and Banks had to fight through a 2-on-1 disadvantage to score the victory. Well, this time, the two former Raw Women's Champions came prepared, focusing their offense entirely on slowing Jax down in the early goings, much to the chagrin of Little Miss Bliss.
Ironically, Jax took herself out when it came down to the wire. Banks saved Bayley from a Twisted Bliss pinfall, and following a brief brawl outside the ring, Nia rammed herself into the barricade and slumped to the floor in a heap. The Huggable One capitalized, stacking up a stunned Bliss for the three.
Despite R-Truth's disrespect of “The Shattered Truth,” Goldust's comeback opus was a bona fide hit. And The Bizarre One followed it up with a hard-hitting sequel on Raw, finally taking his rivalry with his old tag team partner to the conclusion of a one-on-one match. And, as if to prove the box-office potential of The Bizarre One's “reboot,” the bout was almost all Goldust.
The former Intercontinental Champion dug deep into his old well of tricks, stalking Truth around the ring, caressing him in his arms and chopping him in the knee to soften The Rapping Superstar up for the decisive Final Cut. Fin.
That Braun Strowman managed to walk away from Roman Reigns’ savage, post-Ambulance Match attack on his own power is nothing short of a miracle, even if The Monster Among Men hasn't been seen since and Raw General Manager Kurt Angle wasn't sure if, or when, he'd return. That said, Reigns did lose that match, and his continued claim to the Universal Title picture thus came under scrutiny.
When an unapologetic Reigns interrupted The Olympic Hero's confab with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman, The Beast questioned why Reigns’ presumed, self-proclaimed No. 1 contender status should stand in the wake of a loss. The final voice in the growing chorus of naysayers turned out to be Samoa Joe, who pointed out (not incorrectly) that Brock barely beat him at WWE Great Balls of Fire and Reigns has never beaten him.
Angle's solution? Reigns and Joe would face off next week in a No. 1 Contender's Match, with the winner to face The Beast for the title at SummerSlam — and if any of them laid hands on each other throughout the rest of the night, the match would be called off.
If not for some below-the-belt shenanigans, Akira Tozawa might have walked out of WWE Great Balls of Fire as WWE Crusierweight Champion. The Stamina Monster's desire for a rematch might have a little more legs, however, now that he's defeated reigning titleholder Neville.
Granted, the victory came in a tag team setting that united Tozawa with Cedric Alexander and Neville with Noam Dar, but The Stamina Monster's top-rope senton onto The King of the Cruiserweights himself gave his team the victory. Tozawa's strike occurred after Alexander stranded Neville groin-first on the ropes (turnabout is fair play) and landed a suicide dive on Dar, who he'll battle in an "I Quit" Match on 205 Live tomorrow. All of which is to say, Titus Worldwide might have a little more negotiating power than Neville would like when it comes time to organize a potential rematch.
A jab to the eye cost Seth Rollins his bout with Bray Wyatt at WWE Great Balls of Fire, but the rematch on Raw was, ironically, eye-opening in several capacities.
To begin with, it reaffirmed Wyatt's power — despite Rollins compromising his hand so that Bray couldn't cheap-shot him again, The Reaper of Souls reversed The Kingslayer's jumping knee with a headbutt to the eye and hit Sister Abigail to win.
When Wyatt vanished after claiming the victory, The Miz and The Miztourage reappeared to pick the bones, and Dean Ambrose came to his former brother's rescue with a chair, an eye-opening change of tune given his fight-our-own-battles speech to Rollins earlier in the night.
And, finally, Kurt Angle — whose mysterious personal business has become so tumultuous he's resolved to “go public” next week — was shown after the match speaking to an unknown individual whom he asked to join him next week to “tell the whole world together.” The subject of their conversation remains unknown, but The Olympic Hero's final words were about as eye-opening as it gets: “I love you.”
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
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