WWE invades the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA tonight as the road to SummerSlam continues. Seth Rollins and Finn Balor are set for a title match for the WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam. They got into a bit of a war of words last week, but will they get physical this week instead? Also, how will WWE continue to flesh out the Raw side of the SummerSlam card? Will there be repercussions for Randy Orton showing up on the show last week?
Show Open, Live from the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA;
We got a recap video then the Raw intro. The commentary team checked in, with Corey Graves hyping up a feature on the “intertwined history” between Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton. That is a big matchup so it definitely deserves some shine and storytelling. Cole told us that Mick Foley had invited Daniel Bryan to the show to “clear the air.”
From there, Enzo and Big Cass got their entrance. The live crowd seemed really into them and responded with “how you doin'” chants before they even had a chance to cut a promo. WWE, please don’t screw this up – these guys seem hot right now. Enzo talked about how he spit some game at Sasha Banks and she was smitten by it. Cass said Enzo was like catnip to a kitten, and Enzo continued about their chemistry. Cass made a Mike Trout comparison.
Enzo said Chris Jericho robbed him of a home run by hitting him with the Codebreaker, then said the only code Jericho broke is the man code by wearing a scarf. Funny. Enzo said that he and Cass are like the Anaheim Angels on their way to heaven, while Jericho is on the highway to hell. He completed his heavy metal references by referring to the Guns and Roses hit “Welcome to the Jungle” and said Jericho is going down.
That brought out Jericho, who said Enzo spitting out song titles was worse than (Billy Ray Cyrus’) “Achey Breaky Heart.” Jericho called him Enzo Annoying and said Cass had to clean up his messes. Jericho said he also had someone watching his back, which brought out Kevin Owens. Jericho said they used to have issues, but now they are close Canadian brothers. Clearly this is heading to a fun mid-card SummerSlam match, and the talking so far has been effective.
Jericho continued to talk about how Owens has his back and turned to him and asked “You got my back, right?” There was a brief tease of tension when Owens paused before answering, saying he thought it was a rhetorical question. Cass referred to it as Bert and Ernie scrubbing each other’s back in the same tub. Jericho called him a stupid idiot for saying it, and Cass told him to do something about it.
Owens talked about how Cass was one of the guys he liked in NXT, and compared his relationship with Sami Zayn to the one between Cass and Enzo. Owens said he cut his dead weight off, whereas Cass brought his along to Raw. Owens said he doesn’t like Cass, because now he has to listen to Enzo on the show. “I don’t care that you’re seven foot tall, I’m going to hurt you.”
Cass and Owens faced off. Owens said if it’s not him that hurts Cass, it will be Jericho. “Then let’s go right now,” Cass said. Jericho said he wasn’t talking to Cass, and Cass pointed out that Jericho was looking right at him. Jericho said he was talking to the hip hop hobbit and said Enzo would get it. Enzo said he didn’t know what the “it” was, but he will shove it down Jericho’s throat once he finds out. They hyped Jericho vs. Enzo for after the break and the Stone Cold Podcast for later after Raw.
This was good, as it built to what I think will be an expected mid-card level tag match between these two teams for SummerSlam. WWE is seeing the value in Enzo and Cass, and they realize the cool factor that the two guys have. Raw hasn’t had a talent like them it seems, and the fans are into it. Plus, I like the matchup – I think it will be fun.
Match #1 – Enzo Amore (w/Big Cass) vs. Chris Jericho (w/Kevin Owens);
Winner: Chris Jericho by disqualification
The Summary: Graves got a good line in there when he said that Jericho wasn’t ducking Cass, but was just playing everyone. Jericho took early control, and Owens taunted along at ringside. Cass confronted Owens, who backed down and said he was shouting encouragement. Sure, Owens. He quickly threw in a cheap shot moments later. Enzo skinned the cat moments later, then sent Jericho tumbling to ringside on a charge. After Enzo hit a baseball slide, Owens pulled Jericho away.
Graves asked if people could imagine if Jericho lost to Enzo, and Cole referred to Enzo as a gnat that won’t go away. Odd alleged babyface call there, Michael. Jericho got Enzo in the Walls but he broke it in the ropes. Jericho thought he won but ate a running fist after arguing with the official. Amore hit a cross body block for two, and Jericho took a powder. Enzo followed with a dive to the outside onto Jericho.
Owens got involved again, grabbing Enzo’s leg. The distraction let Jericho hit the Codebreaker but Cass had seen enough and hit Jericho with a big boot. Disqualification! Owens and Jericho celebrated the match afterward at ringside. After, Cass got a mic and challenged Owens and Jericho to a match at SummerSlam. Owens told them to be careful what they wish for, and accepted the challenge. He said they will kick Enzo and Cass’ ass because they’re winners. Cass got the crowd to tell them they’re SAWFT.
This was a fun match, especially with Enzo cast as the underdog and Jericho acting thrilled to get the cheap DQ win. The dynamic between the teams is fun, and should make for a good short-term program to get to SummerSlam, and in the meanwhile burn 30 minutes of television time on the show tonight.
Cole hyped a wedding celebration for Rusev and Lana. Yawn. That doesn’t excite me much because brutes don’t do that.
Mick Foley told Stephanie McMahon by phone about the Randy Orton/Daniel Bryan issue, and Foley said they need to nip the issue in the bud so that’s why he invited Bryan to Raw. Sasha Banks entered and Foley hung up the call. Sasha demanded a handicap match against Dana Brooke and Charlotte. Foley gave her a one on one match with Dana, saying if Sasha beats her, Brooke is banned from ringside at SummerSlam, and if not, Brooke will be added to the match to make it a handicap match. Foley wished her luck, but Sasha said she didn’t need it. I think these kinds of things can be pretty dopey – not “Ziggler putting his title shot on the line at Smackdown last week” dopey, but close. The idea, it seems, is that Banks is frustrated by Brooke enough to take that handicap match. I’m lukewarm on the idea.
Braun Strowman got his entrance, so it’s jobber time. Byron Saxton talked to Jorel Nelson why he took the match and Nelson couldn’t come up with the words. He got a televised entrance, and was billed as being from Anaheim. Strowman’s reaction to his entrance was interesting, and that seemed to be why they went this route.
Match #2 – Braun Strowman vs. Jorel Nelson;
Winner: Braun Strowman.
The Summary: Nelson got on the apron after the bell, but Strowman retrieved him, hit a clothesline and followed with the face-first chokeslam he uses to get the win. Quick, simple, effective still. And a nice touch to have the jobber get an entrance.
Foley was using an iPad backstage when Sean Combs entered the room. Combs told Foley the GM role looked good on him then invited Foley and his family to the first night of his Bad Boy tour. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods entered, and congratulated Combs on being in charge of the WWE 2K17 video game. Combs asked about Big E’s nuts, and Foley chided him for saying that on TV. Kingston called Gallows and Anderson the Vanilla Ice of WWE and called them Bald Boy Entertainment. Woods said they would call Big E. Dammit, WWE, way to kill off the heat on Anderson and Gallows with the “business as usual” comedy of New Day. They need to get serious at the right times, and an “injury” to their tag partner is a good reason to do so.
They recapped the tension between Darren Young and Titus O’Neil
Match #3 – Darren Young (w/Bob Backlund) vs. Titus O’Neil;
Winner: Darren Young
The Summary: In the case of “I still don’t know who the heel is,” the commentary team called this like Titus was the heel. Young slapped Titus to start, then Titus hit back with a knee in a miscommunicated spot. Young rolled out, but Titus gave chase and worked on him outside. Back in the ring, O’Neil tried for a running slam but Young slipped away and rolled Titus up and held his tights for the win. A very awkward feud all the way around and I don’t think too many really care about it.
The commentary team hyped Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor for SummerSlam, and Rollins would be appearing after the break. They hyped NXT for this week with the contract signing between Asuka and Bayley. They also hyped the cruiserweight division coming to Raw.
Seth Rollins came to the ring for a promo, and waited out a crowd reaction. He called the New Era a learning experience for him as well. He said he thought he knew all there was to know about Finn Balor, and called him the Jared Leto to his Heath Ledger. Rollins said he was forced to re-evaluate his opinion of Balor after their exchange last week, which WWE recapped in a video package.
Back live, Rollins said if being the best was an olympic sport, he would have more medals than Michael Phelps. Rollins made fun of Balor’s name, saying Finn meant “warrior” and Balor “Demon King.” He called it as ridiculous as calling himself Rambo Apocalypse. He said the more he learns of Balor, the more he dislikes him.
Rollins called Balor arrogant for standing in his face on his show and said he would win at SummerSlam. “Are you kidding me?” He said Balor won two matches in WWE, and while over good opponents they were not over Rollins. He called Balor ignorant, disrespectful and arrogant, “and I am none of those things.” Rollins said he knows his place in WWE and it’s at the top. Yes, but do you know your role, Seth? Dated Rock reference is dated.
Rollins said he doesn’t have to surround himself with myth, legend, pomp and circumstance. He called himself the myth, the legend, and the man and that 200 years from now parents will tell stories of him. He ended by saying he would add to his legend at SummerSlam by becoming the first WWE Universal Champion.
This was a good promo, but the live crowd didn’t buy in. The best reaction that Rollins got was when he boasted about beating Roman Reigns, oddly enough. I still think Rollins should have come back as a babyface, and he’s in that place where he needs another layer to his character. I can’t tell if the fans just don’t know enough about Balor to rally behind him (a total possibility) or that they just are at the same place I am with heel Rollins. I don’t know what WWE should do, but Rollins is in an odd place right now.
The commentary team hyped SummerSlam matches then recapped Randy Orton showing up and RKO’ing Brock Lesnar last week. They hyped Foley and Daniel Bryan getting together later.
Back after a break, Saxton hyped the WWE/Scooby Doo DVD, and Cole pointed out that he’s in the movie as is the next guy to be introduced – Sheamus. Way to sell a film, guys!
Match #4 – Sheamus vs. Cesaro;
The Summary: After an early break in the match, Graves referenced the Mighty Ducks movie. Cesaro ducked a Brogue Kick and rolled Sheamus up for two. Sheamus hit the Irish Curse for a near fall of his own. Some fans chanted that they thought the match was awesome. This is actually good – it was a hard hitting affair and some were into it and letting WWE know that. Sheamus hit White Noise for two and got frustrated.
Late, the official got between the two, and Sheamus landed a cheap punch and had him pinned, but the official was down for no reason at all. Sheamus went to him, but Cesaro rolled Sheamus up for the win. A bit of an awkward finish to a good match.
They recapped Lesnar showing up on Smackdown to F5 Randy Orton, then Saxton told us we would see the parallels between the two mens’ careers for after the break.
After a generic Smackdown ad, the announce team hyped up the Lesnar vs. Orton video package. They went into the archives, using footage from their OVW days. Orton talked about how he just started there when Lesnar showed up, and said everyone asked ‘what the hell is that.’ about him. Orton called the competition fierce and said Lesnar motivated him to get better. Orton said they went on to win titles and soaking it up together ‘when he decided to leave because he doesn’t like people.’ Orton said he didn’t like that.
Lesnar and Heyman commented from a different sit-down setting. Lesnar acknowledged knowing Orton but has no relationship with him, “nor do I give a f- about Randy Orton.” Lesnar said he accomplished what Orton could only dream of. Lesnar said he became a megastar in a different universe than Orton.
Orton addressed last week’s attack, saying he did what he had to to provoke Lesnar. He said he wanted Lesnar to know he’s the conqueror that will rip him apart at SummerSlam. Lesnar called Orton “just another guy” like all the guys in the locker room. “He’s not the guy to beat Brock Lesnar. Ain’t gonna happen.” Heyman called Orton the best surfer on the beach and Lesnar is the shark that will take him down. Orton said Lesnar is underestimating him and it will cost him. He said one RKO will take Lesnar to ViperVille. Lesnar cussed a bit more and talked about how he eats, trains, and destroys opponents.
WWE gets so many production things right, and this is one of them. Lesnar shines in these sit-down style settings, and they let him seem like the out of control beast with the censored swearing and what not (USA Network isn’t going to let them air the curse words, we all know that). This was well done all the way around and for me elevated this match to a must-see level. Much better than the first thing we saw on UFC 200.
They hyped Lesnar appearing next week, and the still-to-come Foley and Bryan segment.
Match #5 – The Dudley Boyz vs. Neville and Sin Cara;
Winner: Neville and Sin Cara
The Summary: Late in this one, Neville hit Bubba with a big dive on the floor and hit the Red Arrow on Devon to get the victory. I’m not sure why they haven’t given up on the Sin Cara experiment, and why three of these men are even on Raw. Neville really could have used a reset on Smackdown. Also, did I sense a tense glare at one point between the Dudleys?
They showed Rusev primping up a bit for the wedding celebration.
Rusev and Lana’s Wedding Celebration;
Guaranteed shenanigans here. There’s a table in the ring, as well as a cake. Someone’s eating that shit. Graves talks up how we should show respect and celebrate their love as soft wedding music plays. Lana bragged that none of the fans were at the wedding because it was VIP only. Fans booed but Rusev told them to respect his wife.
Rusev called Lana beautiful and bragged that she is all his. Lana wanted a kiss, Rusev flexed, and at times the duo lost their accents so there was some disconnect there. Lana gave the fans a gift of reliving their wedding by showing still shots over piano music. The fans called this boring, and they are right. Rusev played it as if they were chanting more, and said that’s all they had.
Lana put Rusev over as the greatest of all time, and he added that this is why he trains and fights so hard. He said it’s so he can give his wife everything. Lana said that they wrote their own vows and were going to relive the moment. Fans booed, Rusev yelled for respect, and Lana told the fans to get up and take pictures.
Cue Roman Reigns. He gets a mixed reaction, and once he got to the ring he told Rusev to relax. He said he wasn’t there to fight, but noticed that Rusev didn’t have a best man. He figured he should step up and take that role. He offered drinks and to toast the couple, but Rusev told him he didn’t need it. Reigns is helping this segment, but not by much.
Roman told Rusev that if he wouldn’t accept the toast, he should accept a challenge for the US Championship at SummerSlam. “I’ll say no to that,” Rusev quickly retorted. Roman decided to deliver his toast instead, as this segment started to again die a painful death. Reigns said he never got to see a wedding between a Bulgarian Sasquatch and a mail order bride. Ow. Reigns said he expected more, just like Lana did on their wedding night. Penis jokes for everyone!
Rusev had enough and attacked Reigns, who fought back with punches. He knocked Rusev into Lana, and she pie-faced right into the cake. Reigns left the ring, Rusev and Lana threw a fit, and Graves complained that Reigns ruined a beautiful moment.
This got off to a bad start, including Rusev and Lana breaking accent very noticeably, and Reigns did not save the segment much either. I guess WWE hoped that they would bore fans with the wedding, then get them to pop for Reigns when he appeared. There were better ways to get to this match, which I think will be good. Swing and a miss here.
They hyped up Banks vs. Charlotte and Brooke for next and Dean Ambrose on the Stone Cold Podcast later.
Rusev and Lana threw a fit backstage to Mick Foley. Foley told Rusev he bumped into Lana, which sent her into the cake. Foley made the Reigns/Rusev match official for SummerSlam. Expected.
Cole congratulated WWE Network for surpassing 6,000 hours of on-demand content. Graves said it would take two years of watching eight hours a day to watch it all. This Raw has felt like an eight hour edition by itself.
Match #6 – Sasha Banks vs. Dana Brooke (w/Charlotte);
Winner: Sasha Banks, Dana Brooke now banned from ringside at SummerSlam
The Summary: They hyped the stipulation of the match as if Sasha wins, she gets Dana Brooke banned from ringside, but if Dana wins the match at SummerSlam becomes a handicap match. Brooke hit a nice clothesline and slapped her a few times. Charlotte tried to run interference but ended up slapping Brooke. Banks took Charlotte out then hit Brooke with the double knees to the gut to win.
This was quick and uneventful, though it gets to the “no interference” stipulation I suppose. I still have never accepted Brooke as a legitimate part to Charlotte’s act, and think she’d be better off on her own or with Emma once she returns from her back injury.
Cole hyped that Nia Jax would be waiting for the winner, and fed it to a well-produced video package. Cole hyped Finn Balor letting viewers in on the myth behind the man.
They recapped 1-2-3 Kid beating Razor Ramon back in 1993.
The commentary team set up a video package for Finn Balor. Balor sat in a dark room and cut a promo. He said that Rollins had misconceptions. He said what Rollins called disrespect, he calls honesty. He said what Rollins called arrogance, he calls confidence. What Rollins called ignorance, he calls irony.
Balor talked about his namesake and demons, and asked Rollins if he knows who Balor is. He said when the evil eye opens, the world ends. Balor said they are a source of power, and when a warrior enters a battle, he can tap into these creatures and become a man greater than himself. Balor said he knows Rollins has demons, but has never seen a demon like this. “At SummerSlam, you will meet the demon.” Graves acknowledged how unreal it is when Balor taps into the demon.
Backstage they did a pre-tape with Gallows and Anderson playing doctor. They talked about the disease of “ringpostitus” and showed Big E getting his nuts run into the ring post. He said they did surgery on Big E, and the results were nuts. They said they would get another sample from Kofi Kingston. What is it with Raw and the nut jokes tonight? And this would have worked if Kofi and Xavier didn’t engage in the same stuff earlier. Build me a match – don’t tell jokes.
Match #7 – Luke Gallows (w/Karl Anderson) vs. Kofi Kingston (w/ Xavier Woods);
Winner: Luke Gallows
The Summary: Anderson and Gallows continued the doctor theme in their ring gear. The fans chanted for New Day, and Woods played the trombone but Anderson took him out. Gallows won clean, then he and Anderson set up for a nut shot but Woods recovered and chased him off with a chair.
Footage aired of Goldust waiting for R-Truth, who showed up in the Mystery Machine with a person in a Scooby Doo costume. Truth and Scooby teased fighting, but Goldust stopped him and suggested they go watch the movie and eat Scooby Snacks.
Mick Foley made his entrance for an in-ring segment. The fans chanted for him, and Foley said the wedding was fresh. He talked about competing eye for an eye and ear for an ear, but it seemed barbaric. He introduced Daniel Bryan in a spirit of brotherhood. Bryan got a huge reaction.
Bryan opened by saying it pained him to say it but Foley is doing a great job running Raw. Tonight’s show is not an example of that. Foley complimented Bryan for his job on Smackdown and calling the Cruiserwieght Classic with Mauro Ranallo. Bryan talked about how impressive Smackdown Live has been, and claimed people agree. Drew does. I haven’t seen it. Bryan started a plug but Foley cut him off.
Foley apologized for Lesnar showing up, and Bryan apologized for Orton showing up on Raw to slay the beast. Foley told him to knock it off, and fed it to a clip of Bryan mocking the Universal Championship. “Now that was taken completely out of context,” Bryan said and mocked that they could have done an interspecies championship. Foley said the title isn’t a joke.
Rusev interrupted, saying he would crush Bryan for “the greatest GM ever” Mick Foley. Bryan asked if Rusev was trying to suck up to get out of the match against Reigns. Rusev said he would crush Bryan, but Cesaro’s music interrupted. He reminded Foley that he could have a title match. Foley noted that Sheamus almost had him beat, but Cesaro retorted that he thought Foley was a man of his word. Bryan noted that Cesaro is underutilized on Raw, and Foley chided him to stay out of it. Foley booked Cesaro to face Rusev next.
Why they had Bryan cross the brand split line for this is beyond me. He is the most over guy on this show tonight though.
Cole hyped Lesnar and Heyman appearing on Raw, and Saxton hyped Rollins calling out the Demon King next week.
Match #8 – Rusev (c) vs. Cesaro; WWE United States Championship
Winner: Rusev to retain the United States Championship
The Summary: JoJo gave in-ring introductions, and Rusev demanded she introduce him first. Rusev attacked Cesaro’s bad shoulder, then Cesaro fought back with uppercut shots and a tornado DDT. Rusev tried to go for the Accolade, but Cesaro countered by getting him in the Electric Chair and hitting it.
Cesaro hit a corkscrew uppercut, then the Swing, then locked in the Sharpshooter. Sheamus ran out, and Cesaro saw him so he broke the hold and knocked Sheamus from the apron. Rusev landed a kick for a good near fall. Sheamus and the official went at it, and someone got shoved into the official for the referee bump of the night. Cesaro hit the Neutralizer and had a visual pin, but no official to count. Cesaro got the referee and ended up with a two count. Rusev gouged Cesaro’s eye then Sheamus kicked him. Rusev kicked again and got the victory.
Rusev celebrated the win outside the ring by the ramp. When he turned though, a charging Roman Reigns met him with a big spear. Rusev sold it like he died as Reigns made his way back up the ramp. They flashed to Stone Cold and Dean Ambrose getting ready for the Stone Cold Podcast, then flashed back into the arena to focus on Reigns as the show ended.
This match was fine, and while the result was expected the two got some good near falls in there. In my mind I was hoping for a Cesaro win that would lead to a triple threat match, but we got interference from Sheamus which will likely set up a showdown between the two of them at SummerSlam as well.
Tonight’s show was weak, as much as I hate to say it. There was some good stuff here and there, but for whatever reason nothing felt all that hot or important. WWE has a couple weeks to go to SummerSlam, so here’s hoping they heat things up a bit more.
Drew will be by with Around the Ring tomorrow with his thoughts, and more in the world of pro wrestling. Thanks for following along tonight.