Well, this is a first. Actually, it's four firsts. As SummerSlam approaches — and with it, The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar's rematch — The Authority decided to ramp up The Biggest Pre-Party of the Summer by announcing a trio of never-before-seen matches. First up was Big Show against Dean Ambrose, followed by former Divas and NXT Women's Champion Paige against current NXT Women's Champion Sasha Banks, Kevin Owens vs. Randy Orton, and Nikki Bella & Alicia Fox vs. Charlotte & Becky Lynch.
Looking to get in on the fun, Seth Rollins seized hold of the microphone, and after recapping his own historic victory at WrestleMania, he demanded that WWE the Universe acknowledge his greatness for the first time ever. Out came John Cena, demanding a first-time ever match of his own against Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Rollins balked, but The Authority allowed a compromise: Rollins would battle Cena one-on-one, and it would be under a never-before-seen-stipulation ... for the United States Championship.
Seven-feet tall, a first-time ever matchup on Raw and a noticeable strength disadvantage? Solid odds for Dean Ambrose. In the first match of a night of firsts, Ambrose went one-on-one with Big Show and attacked the giant like he'd asked for his clothes, his boots and his motorcycle. Show gained an early advantage, however, by stripping The Lunatic Fringe's shirt off. Ambrose was then forced to go left-field to escape Show's offense.
The gutsy persistence of The Lunatic Fringe angered the giant that he attempted to pulverize Ambrose enough to earn a count-out win, which he got with a KO Punch. For what it's worth, though, Ambrose only missed the count by one even after the big right hand. He then one-upped The World's Largest Athlete after the match by outsmarting the giant by side-stepping a spear that carried Show through the barricade instead. If The Miz's mouthy proclamations at commentary were any indication, the giant's fellow challenger for the Intercontinental Title is certainly taking notes.
The Altitude Era continues, though “The Prince of Dark Matter” Stardust lurks, ever-waiting, to bring Neville back down to Earth. The Man That Gravity Forgot certainly proved himself worthy of his super-hero bonafides in a hard-earned victory over Fandango. The two-stepping grappler nearly contorted the former NXT Champion into a pretzel in the match's opening moments, yet Neville managed to kick ’Dango into a stupor and seal the deal with the Red Arrow. That wasn't all, though: Stardust, his disdain for Emerald Archers and Men That Gravity Forgot alike fully intact, appeared on the TitanTron, spouting platitudes and throwing star glitter, with dire prophecies of a confrontation between hero and villain yet to come.
Presented for your consideration: The Diva Revolution in full swing. One week after Sasha Banks earned her first main-roster victory in tag team action, the NXT Women’s Champion went one-on-one against Paige and came out money, prevailing in a neck-and-neck contest that featured European catch style, Japanese arm drags and some good old-fashioned superkicks to the sternum.
Tensions rose high enough that Team Paige and Team B.A.D. were both ejected from ringside, but the lack of reinforcements didn’t hamper The Boss one bit. It didn’t exactly slow Paige down either, as The Diva of Tomorrow thwarted The Boss’ double-knees on the turnbuckle and locked in a submission hold Sasha barely escaped. Ultimately, she did escape, and once the Bank Statement was applied, it was all she wrote.
Rusev's got his groove back, and he's got the stunning (and subservient) Summer Rae to thank for that. So like any man worth his salt, Rusev took his opportunity on Raw to, for the first time ever, bestow gifts upon his beloved manager. It was a solid plan, but the execution was admittedly hit-and-miss. The neutered dog (“Dog Ziggler” — cold, bro) was a hit, but the cold, dead fish meant to symbolize Lana ended up backfiring when The Ravishing Russian herself stomped to the ring and rubbed Summer's face in the sea-creature's scales before giving Rusev a hard slap across the face. That wasn't the first time that's ever happened, but given the events surrounding it, it was certainly the most memorable.
The WWE Tag Team Title picture has gotten even more competitive, but at least the division's latest developments came on the heels of a truly breathtaking match. Squaring off for — you guessed it — the first time ever on Raw, The Lucha Dragons battled Los Matadores, who upset The Prime Time Players last week thanks to The New Day's interference.
PTP were perched at commentary as the Dragons and Matadores butted heads in a match that defied description, especially when Kalisto tagged in to spur his team on in the final moments. The New Day once again make their presence known by confronting Darren Young & Titus O’Neil, and Kalisto sprang with a handstand hurricanrana in the ensuing confusion to earn The Lucha Dragons the pin. So Los Matadores beat PTP. Lucha Dragons beat Los Matadores. New Day influenced both victories. Who's got next?
They didn't exactly mark their reunion with a picnic, but then again, The Wyatt Family has never been your traditional brood. Now that Luke Harper has realized his purpose, Bray Wyatt's “Prodigal Son” officially returned to the flock and pledged his allegiance to The New Face of Fear once more on Raw following a bone-chilling sermon from The Eater of Worlds. Having reunited his clan, Wyatt turned his attention to Roman Reigns and his brother Dean Ambrose, who find themselves facing an enemy they still do not understand. Once again, WWE Universe: The Wyatt Family is here. Run.
Notch one for Becky Lynch in the win column. The dynamic Diva, late of NXT, officially earned her first victory on Raw as part of the evening's second Divas contest, a tag tilt between Becky & Charlotte and Team Bella's Nikki & Alicia Fox. That the lovely lass-kicker got the win wasn't exactly shocking; she’ been upending unsuspecting ladies for months down in Full Sail.
But it was surprising that Becky even got the chance to show her stuff, as she spent the majority of the match on the apron while Team Bella ganged up on an isolated Charlotte. “The Nature Boy’s” baby girl only made the tag by the skin of her teeth, but Becks didn't disappoint when she got her moment, overcoming interference from Nikki to reverse Alicia's roll-up into a tendon-wrenching Dis-arm-her. Not bad, Becky, but she won't have long to rest on her laurels. SmackDown is three days away, and a match with Nikki awaits.
Kevin Owens has mixed it up with John Cena a few times now, but the ascendant brawler has never tangoed one-on-one with the Cenation leader's chief contemporary, Randy Orton. Luckily, Raw was a night of firsts, which meant Owens got to check off another name on his main-roster bucket list. So did KO catch an RKO? Not exactly.
The former NXT Champion beat the mush out of The Apex Predator for the majority of what quickly turned into a brawl. But Sheamus, who sat at commentary, Brogue Kicked The Viper just as he began to reclaim the advantage. As Sheamus and Owens began to gang up on Orton, Cesaro thundered down the ramp to Orton's rescue with fists and uppercuts flailing. Owens caught The King of Swing with a Pop-up Powerbomb, though, to end the night just the way he likes it: on his terms.
It would appear the unification of the U.S. and WWE World Heavyweight Titles under Seth Rollins will have to wait. John Cena's first-ever defense of his U.S. Title against The Architect ended with the Cenation leader victorious, though not for a lack of effort on the part of “The Future of WWE.”
The contest was, in all fairness to Rollins, a neck-and-neck affair, thanks mainly to Rollins’ scouting of The Champ and his timely thwarting of Cena's signature moves, plus a knee from Rollins that shoved The Champ's nose halfway across his face. Gruesome though it was, the injury kicked both Superstars into high gear. Rollins unleashed a superplex and a Michinoku Driver, one after another, and the broken-nosed Cena eventually locked in a pair of savage STFs to force the champion to tap. The Champ is still here. Now somebody set that nose.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- The Big Show defeated Dean Ambrose by countout (11:20)
- Neville defeated Fandango (1:52)
- Sasha Banks (w/ Naomi & Tamina) defeated Paige (w/ Charlotte & Becky Lynch) by submission (13:56)
- The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto & Sin Cara) defeated Los Matadores (Diego & Fernando) (w/ El Torito) (8:05)
- Team Paige (Charlotte & Becky Lynch) (w/ Paige) defeated Team Bella (Alicia Fox & Nikki Bella) (w/ Brie Bella) by submission (6:03)
- Randy Orton defeated Kevin Owens by DQ (11:22)
- John Cena (c) defeated Seth Rollins to retain the WWE United States Championship (17:03)
Other on-screen talent