Live from T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada!
Kicking off Raw is something of an unexpected manner, Sasha Banks cut off the opening introductions of the show by making her way out from the back.
As Sasha walked down the ramp, the commentators were extremely confused by her unscheduled appearance. Things got stranger from there, as Sasha Banks approached a young girl in the audience, who wore Bayley merchandise and had an “21 Today” badge on her t-shirt. Taking a microphone, Sasha Banks explained that this girl had been at the show earlier, and had the chance to meet Bayley as a birthday treat. Banks feigned interested, asking questions, before suggesting the girl talk about her experience in the ring. Initially she didn’t want to, but Sasha intimidated the girl, who was with her mother, to step over the guardrail. Sasha then led the girl, who looked worried, towards the ring. Once in the ring, Sasha Banks’ demeanor changed completely, and she put her arm around the neck of the young woman.
At this point, Bayley came out, but was warned by Sasha not to take another step. Looking to get the situation under control, the commentators were ordered to send to a video package, showing the events of last week’s Raw. They returned to the ring after the recap, and to to the incident currently unfolding. Sasha Banks still had the woman “hostage”, demanding that she gets added to the Raw Women’s Championship match at SummerSlam. This brought out a concerned Kurt Angle, who tried to talk Sasha down.
He told Sasha that doing something to the fan would be “career suicide”, saying that she doesn’t want to do something now that she will regret for the rest of her life. In the state Sasha was in, she didn’t care, telling Kurt “try me”. The look in Sasha’s eyes convinced Angle that she was serious, and he told her he was going to go and speak to Nia. Sasha demanded he didn’t, saying that other than Bayley and Kurt, this doesn’t need to involve anybody else. With his hands almost completely tied, and not wanting a lawsuit on his hands, Kurt Angle made the call - adding Sasha Banks to the Raw Women’s Championship match at SummerSlam. This drew comment from Stephanie McMahon, who was interviewed during the break.
She suggested that the situation being allowed to happen reflects badly on Kurt Angle and on the Raw brand. Stephanie added that this was yet another example of “weak management… from a weak man”. Of course this played right into her hands, filling her with confidence for this Sunday’s match.
The Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax also had something to say, questioning Kurt Angle for giving into these tactics from Sasha Banks. While Kurt questioned what he could possibly had done differently, Stephanie tried to stoke the flames, pointing out how much more difficult it would be for Nia to retain her Championship now that it is being defended in a three way.
Later in the evening, a six woman tag team match was contested, scheduled from before Sasha was added to the match. Teaming with Nia Jax and Bayley, Ember Moon was approached by Sasha Banks prior to the match. Banks suggested that Ember “get herself noticed”, seemingly encouraging her to turn her back on her teammates. She didn’t, and as a result the three women defeated The Riott Squad. Following the match, Sasha Banks came out to further her personal rivalry with Bayley, but was cut off by the Champion. Telling Sasha to shut up, Nia Jax said that on Sunday the “soap opera” comes to a screeching halt, when she cracks Bayley and Sasha’s heads together and leaves with her title.
Heading back to the start of the show, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel spoke on behalf of Elias, who would not be performing on the show. This was as a result on an injury to his jaw which he suffered last week, at the hands of Heath Slater. They also confirmed Elias would not be performing at SummerSlam. While they put this over in a grave and serious tone, Slater & Rhyno didn’t take it seriously at all. In the following match between the two, there was no decisive winner, as Ziggler & McIntyre decided to make their mark, attacking both teams.
The duo then called out their SummerSlam opponents, asking where The DELETERS of Worlds have been hiding. When they got a response, via the video screen, they saw that Wyatt & Hardy were at “The Compound”. Despite this, the Raw Tag Team Champions said they would teleport to the arena, in time to go face to face with their SummerSlam challengers.
Later, after Ziggler & McIntyre defeated The Ascension, they called out the Raw Tag Team Champions. Growing inpatient, Dolph and Drew called The DELETERS of Worlds cowards and fakes, saying that their little games are an embarrassment to the Tag Team Championships. Eventually, their words drew The DELETERS of Worlds to the ring.
Appearing from out of nowhere, after the lights went out, Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt caught Dolph & Drew off-guard, sending them out of the ring. They then issued a response to their SummerSlam challengers, vowing to “DELETE” them this Sunday.
As well as the crossed words between Kurt Angle and Stephanie McMahon, the four competitors in that “all or nothing” match at SummerSlam were in action on Raw. This initially wasn’t the case, with only Seth Rollins set to compete. However, Jason Jordan approached Kurt Angle (as he spoke with Chad Gable), seemingly having had a change of heart about the SummerSlam match.
Jason Jordan apologised for his entitlement, but said that he only wanted to help his father. Kurt Angle was happy to hear this, and Jordan added that he would do anything to help the cause. Jordan would go on to suggest a Tag Team match, with American Alpha reuniting - if only for one night - to face Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn. Despite his recent desire to distance himself from Jordan, Chad Gable liked this idea, and agreed that the match should be made. When it was, Stephanie McMahon caught wind of this, suggesting that since the three other men were in action, Finn Balor should be too. McMahon then picked Finn’s opponent herself, selecting Baron Corbin.
First up was Seth Rollins, who set out his open challenge once more. This time he was answered by “The Modern Day Maharaja” Jinder Mahal, who had been on a roll lately. He said that he would use Seth Rollins’ distraction to take the Intercontinental Championship from him.
While Jinder Mahal did come close on a number of occasions, he was unable to fulfil his pre-match claim, losing out to Seth Rollins from a Curb Stomp.
Not long after, Finn Balor went one on one with The Lone Wolf, who last week put Bobby Lashley down for the first time since “The Destroyer” made his WWE return.
Baron Corbin was just as brutal as he had been the previous week, but didn’t seem interested in putting Finn Balor away. Instead, Baron Corbin look to send another message, setting up the Steel Steps on the outside. Hitting Finn Balor with an End of Days to the steps, Corbin was DQ’d. After the match, there was clear concern for Finn Balor, with question marks over his fitness for SummerSlam throughout the night. It was eventually confirmed that Finn Balor would be cleared to compete, as Kurt Angle gave his final pep talk to his team, six days before SummerSlam. This came after a huge final match of the show, as promoted earlier in the night.
Making their first entrance together, since their days on Smackdown, American Alpha came into the match with a clear goal, which was to test their opponent to the limit ahead of this Sunday’s all important match. Things started well for the reunited American Alpha, but eventually an incident soured their chances. Taking a Superkick from Kevin Owens, Jason Jordan landed badly. Rolling out of the ring, Jason Jordan remained on the floor. Chad Gable helped him back to his feet, and tagged himself in. Jordan was clearly hurt, and as he had done before when teaming with Seth Rollins, he took a seat on the Steel Steps. This didn’t sit well, but Chad Gable accepted he had a job to do. Throughout the rest of the match, Jason Jordan claimed he couldn’t return to the ring, and the referee requested he be assessed. Now in a handicap situation, Chad Gable was brutally beaten by Zayn & Owens, but still Jordan couldn’t bring himself to help. Eventually, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn won the match, having barely had to step out of first gear to defeat the isolated Chad Gable.
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn bt. American Alpha
Following the match, Stephanie McMahon joined her representatives in the ring, raising their arms high in the air.
Of course, that isn’t the only huge match set for SummerSlam, and earlier in the night Ronda Rousey was set to reveal the person who would be in her corner at the event. Reacting to this, Alexa Bliss and Mickie James had made fun of Ronda Rousey, suggesting that nobody liked her and she was not going to find anybody in the locker room capable of protecting her from finding out how a “Real Raw Superstar” operates.
Continuing down this line, Alexa Bliss and Mickie James came out to the ring when Ronda Rousey was ready to make her announcement, suggesting that there was nobody who had her back. Rousey replied to some of Alexa Bliss’ comments by taking a shot at her boyfriend, saying “doesn’t your boyfriend work here?” before adding “because my husband said if you don’t watch your mouth, he’s going to get his ass kicked!”
This knocked Alexa back, and she had little else to say. Taking pleasure in this, Ronda Rousey took the time to introduce Alexa and Mickie to the woman who would be in her corner at SummerSlam. Coming out from the back, Alexa Bliss and Mickie James’ reaction was pure fear, as they fled the ring…
The NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler then joined Ronda Rousey in the ring, staring down Alexa Bliss and Mickie James who had looked to escape through the crowd.
Throughout the evening, various hype packages and “sit-down” interviewers were played, each leading to a huge “SummerSlam Main Event Weigh-In”, which took place on the stage at the top of the ramp. Earlier in the night, Brock Lesnar’s words towards were shown to have gotten to Roman Reigns, as live reactions from the competitors were played after the interviews with the three Superstars. The whole show had been built to this final showdown, with Paul Heyman serving as de-facto host of proceedings.
Heavily staged managed, it was clear that Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns were feeling tetchy, and didn’t enjoy the waiting around as things were explained. First, Braun Strowman stood on the scales, weighing in. Raising his hands in the air, Strowman was in the best mood of the three. As the segment continued, the jabs that were going back and forth between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns almost became physical, and probably would have had Braun not been stood between them.
When all three men had weighed in, Brock Lesnar went nose to nose with Roman Reigns, with Braun Strowman looking at the two men. Brock Lesnar turned to Braun, telling him that this has nothing to do with him, but Strowman saw it differently. He laughed at Brock, taking the whole thing much less seriously that his two fellow SummerSlam Main Eventers. Braun Strowman then said “I’m just here to save the WWE Universe from watching you two again!” Strowman laughed, but it was obvious that he had ruffled Roman Reigns’ feathers.
It was apparent that Brock wasn’t so offended, instead showing off his Universal Championship to the Money In The Bank holder. Lesnar then turned back to Reigns, saying “even Braun knows you can’t be trusted to get the job done”, before implying that “The Big Dog” turned into a “little puppy” on the big stage. Roman told Brock to shut his mouth, but Lesnar fired back at Reigns, saying “you don’t have the balls to shut me up!”. This resulted in Roman Reigns throwing the first punch, causing mayhem to erupt on the stage. Quickly, hordes of security came from the back, looking to come between the two competitors, as Paul Heyman ran to safety. When this didn’t manage to calm things down, more men flooded out from the back, with over two dozen security guards trying to keep the each man under control. Their attempts to get each other continued, but soon they were buried within a sea of people. Led to separate ends of the stage, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns continued to throw verbal abuse at each other. Taking a look at both ends of the stage, it was Brock Lesnar on one end surrounded by security guards, with Roman Reigns in the same situation at the other end.
Brock Lesnar’s rage had manifested as it always does, with an extremely red face and a spit soaked string of expletives. Roman Reigns on the other side gritted his teeth, his trademark stoic expression conveying just how ready he was for a “fight” at SummerSlam. Stood in the middle of the stage, at the parting of the sea of men, Braun Strowman stood on the weigh-in platform. Metaphorically and physically remaining above Lesnar and Reigns’ personal issues, Braun Strowman stood alone.
Raw would come to a close with a shot of Brock Lesnar’s face, which looked on the brink of exploding, followed by the face of a coiled Roman Reigns who was ready to blow. Still being held back, the image of the two men contrasted with Braun Strowman, who remained calm. Now with a close-up of Braun, “The Monster Amongst Men” raised his arms, yelling out his famous “BBRRRRAAAAAUUUUNNN!” as the camera panned out. Initially focused on just the face of Braun Strowman, the shot eventually displayed the entire of the stage. Giving a birdseye view of the carnage that had just unfolded, the two groups of security guards were seen to be restraining Lesnar and Reigns, keeping them as far apart as possible.
Between them, with his arms raised about his head, was Braun Strowman, the larger than life “Monster Amongst Men”, for whom many in the WWE Universe are depending on this Sunday. Turned off by the overexposed Roman Reigns, and the part-time Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman stands in the middle ground between the two, the popular choice to walk out of SummerSlam as the WWE Universal Champion. However, in the WWE, the backing of the audience can only take one so far. This Sunday, Braun Strowman will have to pull out of the biggest performance of his career, as he looks to “save the WWE Universe” from the latest chapter in the Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns saga, and walk out of the Barclays Center as the “Figurehead of Monday Night Raw”.
Axel & Dallas went to a No Contest with Slater & Rhyno
Seth Rollins (c) bt. Jinder Mahal [Intercontinental Championship]
Finn Balor bt. Baron Corbin (DQ)
Drew McIntyre & Dolph Ziggler bt. The Ascension
Bayley, Ember Moon & Nia Jax bt. The Riott Squad
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn bt. American Alpha