Last week, Roman Reigns promised a big SummerSlam announcement. True to form, The Big Dog delivered. Opening Raw after a two-week absence, the former three-time WWE Champion touted his strong singles record and formally proclaimed himself as the No. 1 contender to the Universal Title at The Biggest Event of the Summer.
As you might imagine, Samoa Joe had something to say about that. The current No. 1 contender to Brock Lesnar's Universal Championship didn't take kindly to how Reigns’ addressed him — “that guy they call Joe” — and didn't waste any time reminding Reigns that he had never been defeated by The Big Dog.
Reigns remained unimpressed, so Joe got his attention in the form of a headbutt to the chin and a beating on the outside. And although Reigns narrowly avoided the Coquina Clutch and got the last word with a Superman Punch, Raw General Manager Kurt Angle was quick to sanction a match between the two for later in the night.
Having suffered an almost-unheard-of draw in their 2-out-of-3 Falls Raw Tag Team Title challenge last week, The Hardy Boyz came to Raw looking to put themselves back in the hunt for Cesaro & Sheamus’ championships. That meant they had to get past Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, the team The Hardys dethroned at WrestleMania to kick-start their comeback run.
The “good brothers” entered the tag bout on a bit of a roll themselves after making mincemeat of a weakened Enzo & Cass seven days prior, so Matt & Jeff were forced to dig deep to put themselves in position to win.
Jeff had to take out both opponents with Whisper in the Wind just to create an opening, but Matt made good on the opportunity after receiving the tag, kicking out of the Boot of Doom and hitting the Twist of Fate on Gallows.The Charismatic Enigma followed up, closing the book with a Swanton Bomb.
Bo Dallas has been searching for a big win, which meant that Raw's bout with Finn Bálor was something of a go-big-or-go-home moment for the former NXT Champion. Dallas, seizing the opportunity, attempted to give himself a leg up by jumping Finn before the bell sounded.
For a minute, it seemed the strategy would work, especially after Bo blasted Bálor with a knee to the side of the head. Alas, the inaugural Universal Champion roared back, administering the Coup de Grâce to deny his foe in ferocious fashion.
Oddly enough, Bo wasn't even the only Superstar to be one-upped by Finn. That honor also went to Elias Samson, who had his performance interrupted by Bálor's entrance just minutes before the match ... and repaid the Irishman later in the evening with a sneak attack in the middle of an interview, along with a warning to never upstage him again.
It's been a pretty good day for Seth Rollins, who earlier this morning was named as the cover star for WWE 2K18 with an awesome trailer to boot.
The Architect dedicated the honor to the WWE Universe for helping to will him down the path of redemption following his betrayal of The Shield three years prior, but Bray Wyatt wasn't buying the idea of Rollins as a man of the people.
The Reaper of Souls once again appeared on the TitanTron to try to tear Rollins down, though The Kingslayer's calm dismissal of Wyatt as a coward was enough to draw The Eater of Worlds out of his hiding place and into the arena. This turned out to be exactly what Rollins wanted; the second Wyatt had finished his long march through the fireflies, The Architect swooped down on him from the top rope, laying him out before making his exit.
While Akira Tozawa is still technically not signed to The Titus Brand, the idea might have more legs than the WWE Universe initially thought.
After organizing a successful bout between The Stamina Monster and TJP on 205 Live and standing up to WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville, Titus O’Neil was ringside for the Raw rematch between the inaugural and, possibly, future Cruiserweight Champion.
After hitting the senton, Tozawa again claimed victory over TJP, and O’Neil was quick to celebrate alongside his potential protégé and make promises of championship glory to come.
Neville, who sat near the commentary desk to check out Tozawa for himself, disputed the abilities of his would-be challenger, and The Big Deal didn't just counter; he coined a hell of a catchphrase in response — “Your little Neville Level will surely be annihilated by The Powa of Tozawa.”
It's safe to say that this is not what Roman Reigns had in mind for his Raw return.
Not only was The Big Dog's SummerSlam announcement interrupted by Samoa Joe, but he later lost his match against The Samoan Submission Specialist thanks to the titanic re-emergence of a rival he thought he'd placed in the rearview.
Joe, for his part, was the immovable object against Reigns’ typically unstoppable force during their match. He refused to bend an inch to The Big Dog and demanded that Reigns say his name proper.
The Big Dog eventually and barely found daylight with a Spear, though Joe broke the pinfall by getting his foot on the rope. The No. 1 contender to the Universal Title rolled outside to recover and barely made it back in before the count of 10, at which point Reigns revved up for Spear No. 2 ... and then an ambulance appeared on the TitanTron, from which burst the unmistakable sight of a bellowing Braun Strowman.
Shell-shocked by the reappearance of The Monster Among Men, who was presumed to be out with an injury for up to six months, Reigns was easy pickings for a Coquina Clutch that put him to sleep. And that's when Braun made his move.
The Gift of Destruction entered the arena and reminded Reigns in the most painful terms possible that he wasn't finished with him — via a Reverse Chokeslam into the mat and an Ambulance Match challenge for the Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view ... provided, he said, Reigns was “man enough” to show up.
Dean Ambrose hasn't just gotten inside The Miz's head over the last couple of weeks, he's managed to drive a wedge in the Intercontinental Champion's marriage.
The Lunatic Fringe's schemes have landed Miz so deep in the doghouse with Maryse that he had to stage a special apology edition of “Miz TV,” complete with a pair of giant apology bears, who were confirmed not to be Ambrose in disguise, and the inadvertently-destroyed grandfather clock The A-Lister repaired with his own two hands.
It all seemed to be going swimmingly until Ambrose's music hit, at which point a panicked Miz spilled champagne on Maryse and accidentally demolished the clock again while attempting to bum-rush The Lunatic Fringe.
That fiasco led to Maryse storming off and Ambrose knocking Miz over the ropes, but staying in the ring with the bears proved to be Ambrose's undoing. The bears attacked The Lunatic Fringe from behind while he was staring down Miz and unmasked themselves to reveal Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel, whom The A-Lister had offered spots in his “entourage” earlier in the evening. Miz provided the exclamation point, booting Ambrose in the face while Dallas and Axel held him down and administering the Skull-Crushing Finale moments later.
The Titus Brand may be making waves in the Cruiserweight division, but they have a ways to go in the Tag Team ranks.
And while Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews deserve credit for stepping to the Raw Tag Team Champions at the first possible opportunity, Cesaro & Sheamus powered past them all the same, despite a formidable charge from The Big Deal — a former WWE Tag Team Champion himself — that nearly put The Swiss Cyborg away.
Crews kept the momentum rolling against Sheamus, but an interfering Cesaro blasted him with an uppercut behind the ref's back, and the champs quickly claimed the victory with a devastating tag-team maneuver off the top rope.
How to sum up the Raw Women's division in one sentence? “Everybody Hates Alexa Bliss.” (SmackDown LIVE's, for what it's worth, is “Everybody Hates James Ellsworth.”) When the Raw Women's Champion sat ringside for Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax — ostensibly to watch her “best friend” destroy The Boss — Emma saw an opening to confront the champ over ditching her in a Six-Woman Tag Team Match last week and did just that, sending Alexa scurrying into the ring and hiding behind Jax, who didn't seem all that interested in protecting her.
Nia eagerly handed Alexa over to Emma, but the Australian's boot missed its target and hit Jax instead, handing her a disqualification win and instigating a brawl that ended up including Bliss, Banks, Jax, Emma, Dana Brooke and Mickie James. Bliss managed to get Jax and Emma on the same page long enough to overwhelm the other three Superstars, and it was only the arrival of Bayley that finally tipped the scales and forced Alexa, Nia and Emma into retreat.
Kurt Angle promised that he would discover the identity of Enzo Amore & Big Cass’ mystery attacker on Raw, and he did ... in a way. The Olympic Hero assembled Enzo & Cass, as well as The Revival, the chief suspects who had been spotted near almost every attack, and Big Show, who matches the description of a Superstar powerful enough to knock Enzo & Cass out with one punch.
Everyone, of course, denied involvement. Big Show openly floated the idea of leaving Raw over the accusations, and Dash & Dawson's alibi of “This time we’re innocent” held up. And then Corey Graves rose from his chair at the commentary desk. Not to deny responsibility, but to break the case wide open: The Savior of Misbehavior unveiled a piece of footage that revealed Big Cass had feigned his own injury, and the revelation was enough to shatter the seven-footer's façade.
Cass confessed to all of it: He attacked Enzo after having had his fill of “putting up with his crap” (including, recently, trash-talking Conor McGregor on Twitter), sticking by Enzo's side and bailing him out of trouble until he couldn't take it anymore. He even admitted to extending the controversy to see if Enzo was smart enough to figure it out. Cass laid into his tag team partner with such vitriol that Enzo shed tears, claiming Amore was the "dead weight" that had prevented him from ever becoming a champion in WWE. And then, he finally put Enzo down with a big boot to the face. Enzo couldn't reply even if he wanted to — Cass’ actions had done all the talking.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy) defeated Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
- Finn Bálor defeated Bo Dallas
- Akira Tozawa (w/ Titus O'Neil) defeated TJP
- Samoa Joe defeated Roman Reigns by submission
- Cesaro & Sheamus defeated Titus O'Neil & Apollo Crews
- Nia Jax defeated Sasha Banks by disqualification
Other on-screen talent