It’s night #3 in Brooklyn, NY for WWE as Raw comes to us from the Barclays Center. We’re coming off a hot weekend of wrestling, with NXT Takeover going down on Saturday and SummerSlam on Sunday. We have a new WWE Universal Champion, and it’s….Vacant?
Show Open, Live from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY:
They open with a recap of the title match between Balor and Rollins from last night at SummerSlam then roll to the Raw intro. Shinedown’s “Enemies” is a cool tune. Full pyro treatment to start this show off as Cole welcomes us to a sold out Barclays Center. He immediately gives us the breaking news of Balor’s injury and feeds it to a clip. Graves told us that he popped his shoulder back in and finished the match.
Cole told us that Balor’s shoulder pain got progressively worse, and he got an MRI only to discover he has a torn labrum and will need surgery. Mick and Stephanie were in the ring and they introduced Finn Balor who got a good reaction. Balor’s right arm was in a sling as he carried the title to the ring. The fans chanted for him before he cut his promo.
He said the title represented a lifetime of sacrifice and that believing in oneself anything is possible. He said he achieved the impossible last night but it came at a sacrifice. He thanked the company and the guys in the back and Seth Rollins for giving him the match of his life. He thanked the fans, who chanted “Thank you Finn” in return. “It’s me who should be thanking you…” he told them.
He said he was going to relinquish the belt, and the fans chanted “no!” He told them that once he’s healthy, he will be back and the title is the first thing he’s coming for. He handed over the belt and exited as his music played. Cole put him over as being classy in handing the belt over, and he will always be known as the first ever WWE Universal Champion. Graves said he will be back to fight for the title again. A well done segment that left Finn talk without interference of the next man coming out – Seth Rollins.
Rollins called it “what a shame” but insisted that they not live in the past – they know who the true winner was last night. He insists it should be a celebration, recalling “fabulous celebrations” with Stephanie in the past. He basically asks for the belt to be handed over to him, a la Seth Rollins of the Authority days. C’mon, give me a layer to Rollins…
Sami Zayn interrupts the festivities. The fans like Zayn. I like Sami Zayn too. But Chris Jericho interrupts before Zayn says anything. Well, looks like we’re going tournament style here! Now Kevin Owens comes out…and while Stephanie gets a few words in it’s time for Enzo and Big Cass to come to the ring. Now Brooklyn has a reason to boo their guts out (they were cheering pretty much all of the other folks who came out) as Roman Reigns makes an appearance. Brooklyn wants Lesnar.
Mick says that all the men who came out are worthy of a title shot, so they’re going to make it a tournament that will culminate next Monday on Raw. Brooklyn doesn’t like it that the title won’t be decided there. Steph says they’ll start with Sami Zayn vs. Seth Rollins. Owens jaws at Zayn, then Rollins jumps Zayn from behind as we go to break.
Match #1 – Seth Rollins vs. Sami Zayn; WWE Universal Championship Series Match
Winner: Seth Rollins
The Summary: In progress, the fans chanted for both Rollins and Zayn. Sami hit a reverse springboard leapfrog, then dropped to the mat and grabbed his ankle. The last thing anyone needs right now is an injury, and the official gave space for Zayn for a moment. Zayn came back to try a running dive, but instead pulled himself over the rope and hit a flip onto Rollins, then sold the ankle again. Zayn clutched at his foot and Rollins gloated going to another break.
Back with it, Zayn continued to try and work on the bad ankle, and Rollins would take advantage. Zayn tried for a Blue Thunder Bomb but the ankle gave out. Zayn hit a sunset flip powerbomb off the ropes for two, then went back to selling the ankle. Pretty sure this is a work, at least I’m hoping so. Graves implored that Zayn should give up for the sake of his career.
Rollins tried the Pedigree but Zayn fought him off and caught him for two, then hit the Exploder Suplex in the corner. He tried for the Helluva Kick but was too slow because of the foot. Rollins locked a hold on, but Zayn stomped himself free. Zayn tried to follow up but Rollins caught him with the Pedigree for the win. This was fine, and Zayn played the underdog pretty well throughout.
The commentary team ran down the rest of the matches that will happen tonight. Saxton promises us a special look at the ‘systematic destruction’ that Brock Lesnar inflicted on Randy Orton last night. Eh, I can pass on that one, thanks.
Match #2 – Kevin Owens vs. Neville
Winner: Kevin Owens
The Summary: The commentary team hyped that Neville was getting a tremendous opportunity. Sure, we know how this story ends. Neville got in some early offense which sent Owens to ringside to take a powder. Chris Jericho joined the party right before a break, which let Owens hit a clothesline going to commercial. I wish WWE would be more clear about what’s going on here – are they going for a four-way, or two singles matches?
Neville got back in charge and hit a nice corkscrew moonsault for a near fall. Cole said he had news about the matches but didn’t tell us. Jericho distracted Neville, and Owens cut him off on the ropes. Owens put Neville in a torture rack into a neckbreaker and got the win. Jericho and Owens celebrated. Again, a good match, but the result somewhat was determined before it ever got started.
So, finally, we get clarification – Cole says the title will be decided in a fatal four way. Saxton tells us that Big Cass and Rusev are going to go at it, as will Roman Reigns and Chris Jericho. They show New Day in the back celebrating being back together, and we’ll see them next.
New Day came to the ring with their full entrance. Big E proclaimed he’s back. Kofi talked about the magic in three numbers – 3-6-5. They boasted about being the tag champs for 365 days and the fans chanted “New Day Rocks.” Kofi said he wanted to be serious and acknowledge the fans for being part of making them, saying they were vocal through both the good and the bad.
They have a unicorn pinata and say it’s full of Booty O’s, because they make sure you ain’t booty. Enter Gallows and Anderson, who call this and Brooklyn stupid. They ask what New Day has to celebrate. “It’s almost like you forgot the fact that you lost last night.” Anderson says they’re owed a title rematch. They insult Kofi for talking about magic, and ask if he liked the Magic Killer he took last night.
They tell New Day that they will take the tag team titles and it starts tonight. Anderson will “dismember and decapitate the muscle” Big E. Big E cuts them off and said they’ll show Gallows and Anderson why New Day Rocks. Anderson and Big E is up next. I’m going to assume this is the story they will tell going to Clash of Champions in Indianapolis in a few weeks.
Match #3 – Big E (w/Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) vs. Karl Anderson (w/Luke Gallows);
Winner: Big E.
The Summary: They joined in progress and Big E had been in control early on. Anderson attacked Big E’s knee to take the big man down. Gallows tried to intervene at one point, as expected, but Kofi and Xavier helped Big E out. Anderson turned right into the Big Ending and that was that. Simple match, but I’d have preferred seeing Gallows and Anderson get some heat going into the next step of the feud – legitimate heat and not lab coat heat.
New Day celebrated after the match as the commentary team ran down some highlights. Cole told us that the Dudley Boyz made an announcement earlier in the day that they would be “saying goodbye” later on the show. They ran a brief video package.
Back live, Titus O’Neil was in the ring and he cut a promo. He talked about New Day winning the tag titles last year and how they won the belts from the Prime Time Players. He said he got asked if it’s the worst day of his life, and he said it was the best because he got rid of the dead weight that was Darren Young. He asked how Bob Backlund could make Young great again when he was never great to begin with. There’s some heat on this, but not a ton.
Let me clarify that – there’s heat on it, but it’s that the fans want Slater, as in Heath Slater. They don’t get him though, they get more awful promo from Titus. He blamed Young for holding him back from main events and being the WWE Champion. He demands that Young come to the ring so he can bury him. Bob Backlund came out and he tried to brawl with Titus but Titus got the better of him. Young hit the ring and took a Clash of the Titus. Honestly, this lost my interest and I zoned out. No one has really cared all that much about all three men involved in this.
Back live, they go to a video recap package of the match between Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton. Earlier in the day, Shane McMahon said that Brock Lesnar crossed the line. They went backstage to talk to Stephanie McMahon about her reaction. She said that Lesnar indeed crossed the line and there will be repercussions. They then recapped when Rollins injured Balor during the title match last night again. They recapped Balor relinquishing the belt at the top of the show again.
JoJo introduced Lana, who asked us to stand and welcome Rusev to the ring. He’s up next. They recap how Roman Reigns went crazy and beat up on Rusev last night.
Match #4 – Rusev (US Champion) vs. Big Cass (w/Enzo Amore);
Winner: Big Cass by count-out
The Summary: Rather than a Clash of the Titus, we’re about to get a clash of the titans, I suppose. Enzo and Cass do their entrance gimmick, and Brooklyn likes it. Enzo wasn’t sure if Bulgaria was east side, west side, or one of the boroughs. Cass got the offensive advantage as Rusev sold bad ribs.
After a break, Cass kept punching at the ribs. He tried for the Empire Elbow but Rusev rolled out. Cass followed and ran Rusev into the steps. Graves compared Rusev to Balor by saying he continued to fight despite the pain. Eventually Rusev had enough, and he headed out. He got counted out and Cass advanced.
Looks like we’ll get Reigns vs. Rollins vs. Owens vs. Cass next week. Not the most awful four-way, but if Reigns wins I get the feeling some will riot. Graves laid it on a bit thick with his heel color, but it was fine. Cole and Saxton actually balanced him out pretty well.
Backstage, Tom Phillips interviewed Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens. Phillips asked about the match for the Universal Title, and there was some tension between Jericho and Owens as they argued over who would be the one to go on and win the belt. Jericho said he would win tonight and go on to the finals. Jericho bragged about how he’d be a great Champion and Owens took exception. Too soon to break these guys up, really. Jericho said they’d worry about it next week and said Roman would get “It.”
They showed Charlotte and Dana Brooke walking backstage, with Dana carrying a crumpled “Where’s the Boss” sign.
Charlotte and Dana Brooke came out for a promo. The commentary team noted Sasha Banks’ lower back issues. Dana chanted “you deserve it” for Charlotte in the ring while everyone booed. “Damn right I deserve it.” She boasted that she is the greatest female athlete in the world.
Charlotte said she exposed Sasha for being “all flash and no cash” at SummerSlam and she didn’t need Dana or her father to win. Charlotte said that Sasha’s injury proved she doesn’t have what it takes to carry the division and Sasha will never challenge for the title again. Charlotte added that when and if Sasha gets cleared, she should never come back because the queen has reclaimed her throne. Mick Foley cut off the ladies from exiting.
Foley admitted Charlotte was the better woman, as chants for Bayley broke out. Charlotte yelled at the fans to get over themselves – yeah, good luck with that one champ. Foley said that Sasha will get a rematch when she comes back, and Charlotte said she will break her back again. Charlotte demanded the night off because there’s no one worthy to face her.
Foley said that there are aspects of his job that are tough, like asking Finn to relinquish his title. There are also moments that bring him joy, and he said that he and Steph have signed the hottest free agent for the division. Cue the music.
It’s BAYLEY! Hug life all around. She got a huge reaction and fans held up “Hugger Section” signs on the hard cam side. They chanted for her once she got to the ring, and sang “Hey we want some Bayley.” Bayley said she can’t believe this is happening while the fans told her she deserved it. She does, really. It’s about time. She said she had been waiting for this moment her whole life and asked Foley to seal it with a hug, right here in Brooklyn, NY. They hugged.
Charlotte mocked Bayley being a hot free agent. Bayley told Charlotte she respects her and wouldn’t upstage her. “But what I will do is challenge you for that WWE Women’s Championship.” The fans chanted for it, but Charlotte said she wasn’t dressed to compete. She said she taught her protege to be ready for a fight and Foley agreed to book Dana Brooke vs. Bayley, next.
Thrilled for Bayley, really. I hope WWE knows what they have on their hands here – a truly likeable and marketable babyface. WWE has something on their hands where they could reboot the “underdog” story from NXT and let all of WWE’s fans see it play out.
Match #5 – Bayley vs. Dana Brooke (w/Charlotte);
The Summary: This was a fine debut for Bayley, though I think I’d have preferred seeing her get cheated out of a win in order to start telling the story of her being the ultimate underdog. Charlotte distracted her at one point to let Dana take control, but Bayley battled back and hit a spinning elbow then the Bayley to Belly to win.
Tom Phillips interviewed Roman Reigns, who said he assumed Jericho was running his mouth earlier and would shut it either with Jericho’s scarf or his fist.
They ran a video to hype the arrival of the cruiserweight division, featuring guys like Rich Swann, Noam Dar, Brian Kendrick and TJ Perkins. The division arrives September 19. Happy about that as it’s fresh content for the show.
Backstage, Andrea D’Marco interviewed Sheamus about match #2 of the best of seven series with Cesaro. It’ll happen next week on Raw. Sheamus compared Cesaro to Suicide Squad by being full of hype but under-delivering. Sheamus mocked New York sports teams and said he would be a winner, unlike them.
Match #6 – Braun Strowman vs. Johnny Knockout;
Winner: Braun Strowman
The Summary: Saxton asked Knockout why he was doing this, and Knockout said – I shit you not – “because I like big sweaty men.” That’s no way to positively present such a character. Anyhow, Strowman hit him with a reverse chokeslam, had the official count, then picked him up and did it again. Strowman’s gimmick should be the six-count.
Cole hyped the Dudley segment coming up. They recapped their return a year ago.
The Dudley Boyz make their entrance to a good reaction. They shook hands with the commentary team, then once in the ring, Bubba cut a promo. He said he doesn’t often get emotional but this might be different. He recalled coming back to WWE in Brooklyn last year. He called it a hell of a year with some ups and some downs. He said sometimes the fans loved them and sometimes hated them but he knew the fans respected them because they busted their ass for them for 20 years.
Devon waited out a “Testify” chant before speaking. He called it a hell of a year and a hell of a career. He talked about being up and down the road with Bubba and creating history like the TLC match. He credited Edge and Christian as well as the Hardy Boys as well, and the Hardys got a big pop and a “Delete” chant.
Devon said he’d take every ladder bump and every chair shot again in the ring tonight. WWE has always been his home and it always will be. He said there would be no Dudleys without the fans and Bubba asked the fans to give themselves a round of applause. He thanked them.
Bubba said that you don’t get to go out on your own terms in the business, and while things didn’t go the way they wanted to, being able to say goodbye is on their own terms. Devon delivered “Testify” that the crowd yelled along.
The Shining Stars came out and called this embarrassing. Primo told them to leave because they’re washed up. The fans wanted tables and Epico said there would be no tables. Epico told them they got the Dudleys a going away present – a trip to Puerto Rico. Primo said he felt bad for the poor people who had to sit next to their ugly asses. The Dudleys attacked.
They hit a 3D on Epico and the Whassup spot after a slam. Bubba got the crowd to yell for Devon to go get the tables. Anderson and Gallows, in a what the hell moment, hit the ring. Aren’t they feuding with New Day? Anyhow, they attacked before the table could be put to use. They hit Bubba with a Magic Killer on the floor, then did the same to Devon in the ring, only through the table. “Driving a stake through the career of the Dudley Boyz,” Cole said.
My guard was up for a turn by one member or the other of the Dudleys, but one has to ask if this really was it – or if they’re setting up something else? The crowd was into this, the Gallows and Anderson attack was well done, and Corey Graves did his job really well here too to sell it. I guess we’ll find out whether or not this was a work.
Match #7 – Chris Jericho vs. Roman Reigns; Winner is final entrant to the Fatal Four Way for the WWE Universal Championship
Winner: Roman Reigns
The Summary: We were reminded that the winner of this match got the final slot in the fatal four way next week. Reigns got booed out of Brooklyn, and “you can’t wrestle” chants. C’mon, people, really? I don’t agree with his push at times but he can work. Jericho controlled the action going to the last commercial.
Jericho stayed in control coming out of commercial. Fans were behind him, and “you can’t wrestle” chants started for Reigns again. Reigns started to get some shots in and got booed. Jericho hit Reigns with an enzugiri a bit later and that drew a “stupid idiot” chant. Jericho went top rope but ate a punch on the way down.
Reigns scooped Jericho up and he slipped away and threw Reigns to the ropes and hit an elbow. He tried a Lionsault but Reigns got the knees up. Reigns hit a Superman punch for a near fall, and Jericho came back with a Codebreaker attempt that Reigns turned into a sit-out powerbomb. Reigns teased the spear, but Kevin Owens ran out for a distraction. Reigns tried the spear but Jericho countered to the Walls. Reigns struggled to the ropes but got there.
Late, Kevin Owens hit Reigns with a kick by the ropes. That let Jericho hit the Codebreaker, but he took too long to cover. Reigns kicked out on two in a decent near fall. Reigns came back and hit the Superman punch on Owens, who was on the apron, then speared Jericho to grab the victory. The commentary team recapped the finish then noted that Reigns would join Owens, Cass, and Seth Rollins in the Fatal Four Way next week in Houston for the right to be called champion. Reigns posed and celebrated to end the show.
I’m not sure the outcome of this match was ever in doubt but the down the stretch action was good. They kept it interesting throughout the match, and that made it fine. I know Reigns will always have his detractors but he does do good work in the ring – this was a solid main event.
Overall, Raw was average. It was a long night – in part due to burnout from some 12 hours or so of combat sports coverage between ROH, NXT, UFC 202 and SummerSlam. Bayley and the Dudleys both were big hits with the crowd tonight and I think what’s next for both is intriguing. I recognize the tough spot that WWE got put in through no fault of anyone’s by Balor getting hurt last night, but I still hate to see a second crowning of a champion in two weeks’ time. I dread the reaction that will go down if Reigns is the one who wins.
We’ll all find out together on Raw next week. Thanks for being a part of a big weekend for us here on the site, and be sure to catch up Drew Koscelek with Around the Ring audio and Smackdown live coverage tomorrow night. Thanks for reading tonight.