The Road to SummerSlam for the Raw brand rolls through Nashville, TN this week and the Bridgestone Arena. For a few weeks now, Kurt Angle has been dealing with text messages that seem to disclose a darker secret. Who is on the other end of the line? Kurt plans to reveal the situation this week – will it destroy his run as GM, or enhance it? Dean Ambrose is slated to open up the show this week after dealing with Miz and his Miztourage over the past couple weeks. What does he have to say to them? Will it involve Seth Rollins in some way? And in what should be the main event, Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe will fight to determine who will face Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. Will Reigns finally score a win over Joe? Will Joe prevail? Or will Braun Strowman make things even cloudier yet?
Show Open, Live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN:
Then, Now, Forever. Fun Fact – the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup in this building a couple months ago. The show opened with a recap of the Kurt Angle saga via a video package. They went in the arena, where Cole said it was a moment of truth for Kurt later. Corey Graves hyped the main event of Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe for the right to face Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam.
Dean Ambrose made his way to the ring for a promo. Cole recapped the MizTV segment from last week, then Miz and the MizTourage attacking Seth Rollins later in the show. Ambrose introduced the fans to “Steely Dan” (the chair) and said that he introduced him to Miz last week. Ambrose called out Miz and his boys to pick up where they left off last week. When Miz didn’t respond, he told him to bring his stylist, publicist, and anyone else. He threatened to pop Miz’s bubble and send Miz back to The Real World when he woke up.
Seth Rollins made his way out. Rollins asked why he was picking a fight he couldn’t win alone. Rollins recounted Ambrose telling him to stay out of his business but then coming out to save Rollins at the end of the night. Rollins told him he needed a better plan, and Ambrose said that he felt like whacking Miz and his cronies with a chair.
Rollins said Miz got him involved when he and his glam squad attacked him. He asked Ambrose if he would stand in his way or in his corner when he went at Miz. Ambrose ranted about how Rollins turned on him and destroying the Shield. Rollins got upset and said it was three years ago and he was sorry. He recalled Ambrose cashing in Money in the Bank on him and taking the title. “All of that was in the past, and I’ve moved on. What’s it gonna take for you to move on.”
Ambrose said he saw Rollins’ lips moving but heard nothing. Rollins said he would let his actions speak for him and told Ambrose to hit him with the chair if it would make him feel better. Ambrose thought about it but threw the chair away instead. They talked off mic before Miz’s entrance interrupted.
Miz called it a scene of two brothers working out issues of a long standing betrayal. He said it wouldn’t work and Ambrose wouldn’t forgive Rollins and called Ambrose the “same lunatic fringe I’ve owned for months.” He told Ambrose he didn’t have what it took to win on his own. He said he knew what Ambrose would do and prepared a welcoming party for him. “And now I get two for the price of one.” Dallas and Axel went to the ring and grabbed chairs, and Miz picked up the one Ambrose threw to ringside.
Ambrose went at Miz while Rollins and Dallas hammered on Rollins in the ring. Miz got in the ring and hit Rollins with the Skull Crushing Finale on the chair to boos. Graves called it a beautifully executed ploy. Miz hit Ambrose one more time with the chair before leaving.
So it looks like they’re going with Rollins and Ambrose taking on Miz and his crew going forward for now. I’m not sure where this ultimately goes, but if it gets Miz and Ambrose apart, I’m all for it.
Miz and his crew headed for the exit backstage. Charly tried to get a word but he said he did all his talking in the ring. Bayley made her entrance, and the commentary team recapped the tag match between Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax that set this match up as Bayley won it.
Match #1 – Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley;
The Reax: Cole hyped that if Bayley could win here it would get her a shot at the title. Bliss slapped her but Bayley drove her to the corner and threw kicks and punches. Bliss retorted, but Bayley got the better of her again. Nia Jax made her way to the ring and Bliss backed off to the apron going into a break.
Bliss was in control coming back live, with Jax watching on. She focused the offense on the arm as Cole f’d up her “Little Miss Bliss” name. Bayley started to rally, draping Bliss over the ropes and hitting a couple clotheslines. Bliss separated for a minute but Bayley came back with a flying uppercut and an elbow drop. Bliss rolled to ringside, where Jax distracted Bayley enough to allow for a cheap shot from Bliss.
Sasha Banks ran to ringside and attacked Nia, taking her out with a drop kick against the ring. In the ring, Bayley hit Bliss with the Bayley to Belly and won. They recapped it and the heels backed away.
I can easily see them going to a multi-woman match at SummerSlam with all four of these women. The women’s division feels heel heavy, but I can see Sasha turning heel on Bayley here.
They hyped the Kurt Angle announcement and The Revival vs. The Hardys, then Corey Graves got all stupid (it’s how he’s produced, that’s all) and excused himself. Cole fed it to a video package that highlighted John Cena handing out the Jimmy V award at the ESPY Awards as well as Stephanie winning the Stuart Scott “Inspire” Award.
They came back live and immediately fed it to a video package hyping Roman Reigns in advance of the main event. This isn’t a bad idea to deliver hype for a match like this, actually.
Kurt was pacing backstage and saying he was having second thoughts. He wondered if this was something he should keep to himself. Graves told him this would get out in the golden age of social media. Graves encouraged him to go out and tell the truth, and he has nothing to be ashamed of. Angle thanked him and said his friendship means a lot.
Cole sent it to a recap of the cruiserweight tag team match from last week where Neville was pinned by Tozawa on Raw, then Neville attacked him on 205 Live. Backstage, Titus talked to his crew. He said they have to pick it up and recounted what happened to Apollo Crews and Tozawa.
In walked Ariaya Daivari. He said they hold wrestlers to a higher standard and asked about his tactics. He recounted that their match was interrupted and said if he had any courage he would face him tonight. Tozawa accepted. In the arena, Brian Kendrick got his entrance for a cruiserweight tag match for after the commercial.
Match #2 – Drew Gulak and Brian Kendrick vs. Mustafa Ali and Jack Gallagher;
Winner: Ali and Gallagher
The Reax: The four men have issues with each other here and they recapped Kendrick making fun of him on 205 Live and beating him down. Gallagher and Kendrick were going to start but Kendrick tagged out quickly to Gulak. Gallagher stomped on Gulak then went at Kendrick, but the distraction let Gulak get momentary control. In the end (I admit, I got distracted), Ali hit his inverted 450 after a vicious headbutt from Gallagher for the win.
The four men have issues, so it makes sense to put them together in the tag match. It was fine but not memorable. I think the 2 out of 3 falls match for 205 Live between Gulak and Ali will be much better.
They showed Enzo Amore walking backstage and we’ll hear from him next. After the break he made his entrance to a decent reaction. He did his routine and ran to the ring. He said for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and said there’s no one that can elicit a reaction on the mic like him. He said if he said it, he owns it and sometimes his losses outweigh his assets. He said you win some, and you lose some, but you always gotta fight for what you believe in.
He said Cass believed in it too despite recent events. He talked about the Boom-Shaka-Laka finish and said he let Cass throw him at opponents because he wanted to win. He said that Cass being seven feet tall didn’t win them championships. He talked about Cass’ height and said that when Cass tossed him 14 feet to the ground it hurt. He recalled Cass saying that he threw Enzo out of his life at Great Balls of Fire and said he didn’t throw him out that easily. He told Cass he got back in the ring and made him finish the fight.
He recounted Cass saying that Enzo wrote checks he couldn’t cash and asked for a recap of Big Show confronting Big Cass. Enzo made fun of Cass for bouncing a check and said he brought the fight to him at Great Balls of Fire, but when a man his size confronted him he folded like a lawn chair. Enzo put himself over for at least trying and said Cass was SAWFT. Cass had heard enough and here he comes.
Cass addressed Corey Graves first and said if it wasn’t for him none of this would have happened. “CassHole” chants rain down. He said Enzo didn’t learn at Great Balls of Fire so he would beat some sense into him and hopefully Enzo would learn to shut his mouth. Enzo taunted then rolled out of the ring. He jumped the barrier and said he was going to watch and then ask him how he’s doing. Big Show made his entrance.
Cass tried to get the better of Show but Show landed a headbutt and threw him into the barrier a couple times. Cass tried to fight back with some punches of his own. Show cut him off and threw him into the LED board on the ring. Show slammed him on the floor. There’s no official, so this is a brawl. Show chopped Cass across the chest and it resonated. Ouch.
Cass threw Show into the ring post from the apron a couple times then fed him in the ring to throw punches. Cass kicked him in the ribs a couple times. Enzo charged the ring but ate a big boot. Cass stared at both men and left. Show got to his feet, and Cass posed on the stage to boos.
Cass is definitely getting heat, so that’s a good thing. Given Show’s stare at Cass, that seems to be the program going forward and I’m fine with that. Assuming Cass gets the rub in that feud, it could launch him forward pretty well.
Backstage, they showed Roman Reigns getting ready for his match. Charly noted Joe won the last two encounters and the stakes are high tonight. Reigns said the stakes were high at Wrestlemania when he beat Undertaker, and Joe’s wins were in the past. He said he would take Joe down tonight and go on to take the title from Brock Lesnar.
Cole showed tweets from various people about the Kurt Angle situation and said that we would hear from him later.
Backstage, Ambrose and Rollins talked about what happened at the opening of the show. Angle entered and said he was sure both of them wanted to get their hands on Miz and the Miztourage. He said it was Rollins and Ambrose against any two of the Miztourage. Ambrose asked why not all three so it became a 2-on-3 handicap match.
Elias Samson was in the ring to sing a song. He asked who wanted to walk with Elias, and not many did. He talked about having a story in Nashville, and it inspired him to write a song. The fans wanted Balor instead. He insisted to sing his song, but didn’t get a chance to as Balor’s entrance cut him off.
Match #3 – Finn Balor vs. Elias Samson;
Winner: Finn Balor by DQ
The Reax: I will have to fill some gaps in as I went for a snack during break but it took longer than thought. Samson controlled the offense on Balor, throwing a big clothesline. He locked in a full nelson and controlled Balor. Balor hit an overhead kick and stunned Samson.
Balor started to get momentum, hitting a low drop kick then throwing chops and punches. Balor tried to float over a corner charge but Samson caught him and hit a sit-out powerbomb for two. Samson followed with a backbreaker for two then went top rope. Balor caught him with an enzugiri that sent Samson to the floor, then Balor followed with a drop kick thru the ropes then his running apron kick.
Balor hit him with a shotgun drop kick against the barrier and played to the fans. Samson had enough and hit Balor with the guitar for the disqualification. Officials tended to Balor as Samson walked away. They replayed the strike a couple times as Samson left to mostly boos (some people chanted “one more time”).
Looks like they’ll continue with this program for a bit, probably to SummerSlam. Makes sense, and we all know in the end that Balor will come out on top.
Wyatt cut-in. Maybe this changes my mind. He laughs and said Finn didn’t expect that and he’s been watching. He said he liked what he saw and said Balor has feelings like everyone else. He said the feeling of pain feels his soul and he needs to satisfy that. He said Balor said he was a product of Irish mythology but he’s not a myth. He said he planned to enjoy every second of it and laughed.
So, Wyatt jumps from beating Rollins in a quick two-match program to ending up going against Balor, and I can only wonder which way they plan to go with this. So maybe THIS is the SummerSlam program. I’m fine with it. They had teased this before, and it seems we’re going to it now. Guaranteed we get to see the Demon.
They ran a video package to hype Samoa Joe then hyped the main event.
Kurt was on the phone backstage and said he was ready to do this. Bayley and Sasha entered and said they have a disagreement. Sasha laid her cause out for a rematch, and Bayley said Sasha didn’t pin her at Great Balls of Fire. Kurt said both were deserving, but they would face each other next week for the right to face Alexa at SummerSlam.
Cole shilled Battleground, which Drew Koscelek and I will preview on Wednesday as well as WWE Network. He moved on to recap the situationb between The Hardys and The Revival. Charly asked The Revival why they did it, and they said they did it because they are the Hardys. They said that there’s a reason that their shirts say “no flips just fists” and that the Hardys have been doing flips for 20 years. They said that the Hardys didn’t know who they were when they met, but after tonight they will know and give them the respect they deserve.
Akira Tozawa made his entrance for the next match before they went to commercial.
Match #4 – Akira Tozawa (w/Titus O’Neil) vs. Ariaya Daivari;
Winner: Ariaya Daviari by stoppage
The Reax: No televised entrance for Daivari. Tozawa got a fast start but took knees to his back when he tried a senton. Daivari went at the shoulder that Neville damaged last week on 205 Live. Tozawa broke the hold but Daivari threw him shoulder first to the buckle then taunted.
Tozawa started to fight back with a suplex, nursing the bad shoulder. He floated over Daivari but Daivari hit an armbreaker for two. Another two after a corner charge. Daivari stomped away then Titus called for the bell because of injury. Daivari dedicated the match to an Iranian Olympian then Tozawa yelled at O’Neil that he never quit.
The match was fine for what it was. It looks like Tozawa is done with Titus, at least given what we saw here. Not sure. This could change after the next segment for all we know.
They showed Kurt Angle heading to the ring for his reveal, next.
Kurt Angle made his entrance to a rousing ovation and “you suck” chants. He said he was a bit nervous and apologized for being a distraction over the past couple months. He talked about how he was taught that as a child that actions have consequences. He said an action in his past has a consequence because it changed his life. He said he was afraid of change because he thought it would hurt his family, but they support him. WWE is supportive as well.
He talked about when he was in college, and said he dated a woman and they stopped dating. He found out that she gave birth nine months after their last date to a boy. He was unaware of the birth or pregnancy, and the boy was put up for adoption. He talked about the boy’s accolades, saying he went on to college and excelled at wrestling. He pursued his dream of becoming a WWE Superstar. He introduced his “son,” Jason Jordan as the newest Raw superstar.
OK, so, American Alpha is no more? That’s a shame, as they were a good tag team.
Jordan made his way to the ring and Angle was emotional. They hugged in the ring and posed. Jordan got a good reaction overall.
OK, so that was anti-climactic, to be so honest. I love me some Jason Jordan, and think he’s a tremendous talent with a lot of upside. But this story was built up so differently that it felt like it should have had a different payoff. That said, I think there’s a place for Jordan on Raw somewhere and I hope he shines.
They hyped the main event between Reigns and Joe for later. They recapped the previous angle once they came back live. Cole hyped an interview with Kurt Angle after Raw on WWE Network.
Match #5 – The Hardy Boys vs. The Revival;
Winner: The Revival
The Reax: The Hardys went right at the Revival before they could finish the entrance. They quickly separated and the official backed the Hardys off. Matt worked with Dawson to start, then tagged in Jeff. Jeff exploded out of the corner with a clothesline then tagged Matt back in. Gallows and Anderson were shown watching on backstage.
The Revival started to take over the offense as commentary compared them to Arn and Tully and other classic teams. Matt rammed Dawson face first to the buckle repeatedly then hit a running bulldog out of the corner for two. They double-teamed both members of the Revival going to a break.
Out of the break, the Revival focused the offense on Matt’s leg. They hung him up in a tree of woe and both men hammered on them. Jeff took a cheap shot on Wilder, which when the official tended to him let the Revival double team Matt some more. Gallows and Anderson continued to watch from backstage. The heels kept up the offense on Matt as fans rallied for him.
Dawson tried to lock on a Figure Four but Matt kicked him through the ropes. Wilder tried to cut Matt off but he backdropped him and tagged. Jeff opened up a flurry of offense, hitting a splash for two. Dawson blind-tagged in and they tried to set up a Shatter Machine but Matt dragged Dawson out. Moments later, the Hardys hit Poetry in Motion.
Late, Jeff hit a Twist of Fate and tried for a Swanton, but Wilder cut him off. Jeff fell to the mat and Dawson covered and hooked the pants for a three count. They replayed it a couple times and tried to call the finish controversial.
A good match with a bit of an odd finish. It looks like they tried to make it be controversial to be the reason to go back to another match, and I think they can go there. I wonder how they’re fitting Gallows and Anderson into this picture? Weird having them watching on.
Charly interviewed Samoa Joe and he said he’s not a man who possesses qualms. He said he came within inches of beating Lesnar and showed he isn’t afraid. He credited Reigns for being a top athlete with a wrecking ball for a right hand but his perspective is skewed. Joe said Reigns is counting on Joe being an obstacle on his way to Lesnar, but recalled beating Reigns twice before. “The third time, it’s going to be a charm.”
They aired a video package for a Special Olympian who competes in powerlifting. They showed him sitting front row and he played to the fans with some “Yes” chants.
Akira Tozawa was backstage with ice on his shoulder. Titus tried to help him understand why he stopped the match and said that Daivari was nearly going to injure him seriously. Titus said he was thinking about the future and Tozawa becoming Cruiserweight champion. Tozawa demanded a match with Daivari for tomorrow night on 205 Live.
Cole hyped a no-DQ match between Elias Samson and Finn Balor for next week, as well as Bayley vs. Sasha Banks and Rollins and Ambrose vs. The Miz and the Miztourage all for next Monday.
Main event time, as Roman Reigns made his entrance to a very mixed reaction.
Match #6 – Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe, Winner Gets Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam for the Universal Championship;
Winner: No Contest, I guess?
The Reax: Mixed chants for both men as they tie up in the early going. Early stalemate between the two, but Reigns shoulder blocked Joe down and threw a couple punches. Joe sold at ringside going to commercial. After break, Joe splashed Reigns in the corner and hit a kick to get two.
Joe took over the offense with punches. Reigns staggered around but rolled Joe up for two, but Joe came right back with a running elbow shot for two. Joe kept the pressure up. Graves put over Joe’s stamina and speed for a man of his size. Reigns fought out of a chinlock but took a snap suplex from Joe for two.
Joe went back to the chinlock and taunted Reigns with trash talk. Reigns fought back with punches and clotheslines. Joe ducked one and tried for the uranage but Reigns fought out. He came back with another running clothesline for two then hit his corner clothesline spot.
Reigns called for the Superman punch but Joe rolled to ringside. Reigns went outside and looked for the Drive By, but Joe took him out with a clothesline. Both men sold outside the ring going to a break.
Reigns threw headbutts and strikes, then Joe tried to load something but Reigns slipped out and hit a Samoan drop for two. Joe came back with a big boot and a running senton for two. Joe stalked Reigns and set for a uranage but Riegns fought out and tried to set something. Joe went back to the uranage but Reigns rolled it through with an arm drag then hit a Superman Punch. Good near fall.
Reigns dragged himself to the corner, and Braun Strowman’s music hit. I KNEW it! Strowman dragged Joe out of the ring and just stared at him, then turned to the ring and eyed up Roman. Reigns took the offense to Strowman right away, but Strowman drove him to the barrier then tossed him in the ring like a rag doll.
Joe stared down Strowman, then the two started fighting with kicks. Joe tried to whip him to the post but Strowman cut him off and clotheslined him down. In the ring, Strowman splashed both men in the corner. Joe locked the Coquina Clutch off the buckle, then Reigns hit a Superman Punch. Reigns tried for a second but Strowman hit a big spinebuster. Strowman took out Joe with a powerslam then gave one to Reigns for good measure.
Strowman went to leave the ring but stopped. He grabbed Reigns but security ran out to try and cut him off. Strowman hit a second powerslam and yelled before leaving the ring. Joe and Reigns sold in the ring. They recapped the powerslams to Reigns as officials tended to both men, which is how the show ended. They showed a shot of Angle and Jordan getting ready for their interview backstage.
Looks like the four way prediction is going to come true, given that sequence. If the goal is to get the title off Lesnar without harming the mystique, then you certainly can do it in that setting because Lesnar can lose the title without getting pinned. This was a solid main event though and Joe and Reigns put on a heck of a match and the fans were invested into it throughout.
Overall, a decent show that saw a few things as we head toward SummerSlam start to take shape. Looks like the Women’s title feud and the Universal championship feud are starting to heat up a little. Still looking for where the tag titles will head, as well as what will happen with Wyatt and Balor. There’s still time for those to heat up though since SummerSlam is a month away yet.
Drew Koscelek will have your Smackdown coverage tomorrow night as they have their go-home show for Battleground, which takes place on Sunday. He and I will get together on Wednesday to do our preview and predictions and talk about your Favorite Things in Wrestling and more. Be sure to hit us up on Twitter @RingRap and use the hashtag #FTIW to send those things to us. See you later this week.