By Steven Flora
With Great Balls of Fire fast approaching, Lafayette hosted the Beast and the Destroyer's first ever face to face confrontation. With the Raw exclusive PPV emanating from Dallas in four weeks, Alexa Bliss looks to separate herself as Queen of the Raw women's division while The Miz looks to solve his Dean Ambrose problem for good.
Lesnar & Joe face-off
The big story coming out of Raw was the historic meeting between WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar and the No. 1 contender, Samoa Joe. Both men were chomping at the bit to get their hands on one another and though they did indeed clash, it left the WWE universe wanting more.
In the opening promo, Paul Heyman asks how many Samoans have been in the business, and then claims the other Samoans want nothing to do with Joe, because he’s not a real Samoan, he’s a mutt. Heyman says the clutch was everything Joe said it would be. But he will never get the clutch on Brock, because he is not man enough to do so. Joe enters, and he’s walking with a purpose. He and Brock go face to face, and Joe attacks and they brawl. Angle sends out security to break it up, Brock takes out some guards and then Joe attacks with a head butt to the face (shades of the famous Angle face off in TNA). Angle sends out all of the goofs from the back to try and break it up, but Joe breaks free and kicks Brock straight in the face (Brock was not happy) and the brawl spills to the floor. They are finally separated and the segment ends.
Side Note: Great segment, and for once, it seems as though Lesnar has met his match. Joe delivering that wicked headbutt to Lesnar was brilliant as we now have a superstar that can take it straight to Lesnar and isn't afraid of the Beast. It'll be interesting to see how they progress this feud leading up to Dallas, but with Lesnar rumored to be at every Raw before GBOF, it look as though we could be in for an exciting few weeks.
The Hardyz & Cesaro and Sheamus leave it all in the ring
WWE Raw Tag Team Title Two Out of Three Falls Match: Cesaro & Sheamus (c) vs. The Hardy Boys ended in a draw (1-1) with a double countout
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand your main event sees The Hardy Boyz looking to reclaim the Raw Tag Team Titles from Sheamus & Cesaroooooo. This feud has been ongoing since April when The Hardy Boyz returned to win the Raw Tag Team Titles in a 4-way ladder match. There has been many matches between the two teams as of late and though it's getting tiresome seeing the same teams involved in the title picture, the two out of three falls match this Monday night was a great match with an anticlimactic finish.
Sheamus misses a Brogue kick at the bell, the Hardys work double teams and Cesaro makes the save and then gets tossed to the floor. Cesaro pulls Matt to the floor, Sheamus kicks Jeff as he goes for a float over and that gets the champions the first fall. Post break, Sheamus works the heat on Jeff, hitting a back-breaker for 2. Jeff fights off the cloverleaf, sending Sheamus to the floor. Jeff hits the mule kick, and that allows Matt & Cesaro to tag in. Matt runs wild on Cesaro, slamming him repeatedly to the buckles. Matt hits the tornado DDT, covering for 2. Matt heads to the apron, side effect on Sheamus and back in and the twist of fate gets the pin on Cesaro. We’re all tied up. Cesaro fights off a twist of fate and lays out Matt with an uppercut. Sheamus tags in, hits a high knee to Matt, covering for 2. Sheamus & Cesaro work double teams, but Jeff makes the save. Matt fights of the neutralizer, but locks in the sharp shooter. Matt gets a small package for 2, hits a clothesline and tags in Jeff. He works over Sheamus, twist of fate but Cesaro makes the save. Matt dumps Cesaro and they brawl on the floor. Cesaro uppercuts Jeff, allowing Sheamus to cradle him for 2. Cesaro takes out Matt on the floor. Jeff battles back, hits the swanton on Sheamus but Cesaro pulls Sheamus to the floor. Jeff wipes out Cesaro on the floor, they all brawl on the floor and we get a double countout.
Side Note: Great, great match. When the contest had ended in a draw, I couldn't help but think was this a direct reference to Omega & Okada's 60 minute championship match draw at NJPW's Dominion PPV? Perhaps it wasn't, but one thing is for sure, this feud is not over yet. It's clear both Sheamus & Cesaro are set to be the leaders of the tag team division on Raw, however, getting rid of the seven-time WWE Tag Team champions is proving difficult by the week. It would be great to see new tag teams in the title picture and hopefully we'll get that by SummerSlam.
Ambrose one ups The Miz AGAIN!
Heath Slater & Rhyno def. The Miz & Bear
No guys this is NOT a typo, remember the bear from last week that Miz viciously attacked before revealing the bear as just a production worker (who looked awfully similar to Johnny Gargano), well, he became the Miz's tag team partner this week as The Miz looked to dispatch the team of Slater & Rhyno.
Miz thinks The Bear is Ambrose. Corey makes bear jokes, including nods to Yogi & Smokey. Miz offers Slater a handshake and wants him to attack The Bear. Slater opts to work over Miz, and then he and Rhyno work quick tags, and keep control on the Miz. Props to The Bear for holding the tag rope. The Bear finally tags in, slaps Slater around and uses a bear hug, but Rhyno makes the save and tags Miz in. Miz attacks The Bear on the floor, slams him to the barricade and then the apron. Miz unmasks The Bear, but it’s not Ambrose. Back in and The Bear is back in, hits dirty deeds on Slater and Miz stares The Bear down and he now unmasks to be Ambrose. Miz runs into Maryse and sends her to the floor. She’s pissed, Ambrose hits Miz with dirty deeds, and pulls Slater onto Miz and he wins. Winner: Heath Slater & Rhyno
Side Note: Contrary to the negative reaction to this segment on social media, I found it to be quite entertaining. Initially seeing the bear, I admit I had my head in my hands. The cheesy bear references by Cole did make up for it as you could tell the commentators were genuinely hysterical over this match. In all seriousness, I do feel for Dean Ambrose. Here is a guy who fell from grace when he lost his WWE World Heavyweight title and just spiralled out of control to a point where I don't even think he enjoys work. Ambrose's character is ultimately limited in WWE's PG format, but I think there are ways around it to get him over with the crowds without resorting to toilet humor. As for The Miz, I hope they don't break him away from Maryse because as much as she disrupts everything, she makes The Miz look legit.
The mystery behind Enzo & Cass deepens...
Gallows & Anderson def. Enzo & Cass
They should really get some private investigators in, because at this rate, we'll never know who keeps attacking Enzo and now Big Cass.
Cass was laid out last week, and that led to Big Show teaming with Enzo, and they beat Gallows and Anderson. Cass has been laid out again this week, but Cass still wants to team with Enzo and fight tonight. He got hit in the head, shouldn’t he take an impact test? Gallows and Anderson make jokes about it in the ring, saying Cass didn’t have to beat himself up over fighting them this week. Cass gets in some shots on Anderson early, but is staggering around after the attack. Cass hits a side slam, hits the elbow but stumbles around some more. Enzo tags in, lays in rights and a knee lift. Anderson cuts him off with the running boot, Cass is down on the floor, and Enzo tries to fight back but jumps into a superkick. The magic killer finishes it. Winner: Gallows & Anderson.
Side Note: I like that they are continuing the Cass & Enzo angle and included Show to play off of last week. Thankfully Gallows and Anderson were able to overcome the odds and beat a loud mouthed midget and his big concussed friend. I was anticipating a segment with Graves & Angle but the most we got was The Miz mentioning Angle's "personal problems." Hopefully next week we'll get a clear indication as to whether this mystery will be solved.
Bayley vows to win back HER Raw Women's Title
I feel like this deserves as much coverage as it can because it's very important. Bayley is one of the most talented superstars in the WWE today. After the car crash of a segment two weeks ago on Raw, Bayley seems to get the brunt of the criticism when the actual fact is it isn't her fault, but rather the fault of WWE's creative team (Pipebomb!).
Corey Graves interviewed Bayley in a taped segment. They discuss her loss to Bliss at Extreme Rules. Corey asks what happened, and Bayley says she’s not here to hurt people, which is what the match was designed for, she’s here to put smiles on people’s faces. She didn’t get here being someone she isn’t, she’s 100% Bayley. She won’t change who she is to become a goddess or a queen, she’ll be Bayley. She has always wanted to be the best, and just because she lost to Bliss, nothing has changed. She wants to win her title back, and wants to walk back into WM as the champion and wants to give the dreamers something to believe in. Bayley and Graves share an awkward hug to end things. Bayley certainly does better in pre-tapes, and while the message is sweet and fits her, the “here to put smiles on people’s faces” is such a Vince line.
Side Note: This interview could've done a lot more for Bayley. When I say "a lot more," I mean set herself up as a legitimate superstar, much like the interview between Jim Ross & Triple H in 1999. Regardless though, I think WWE will take Bayley off TV for now and let other women have their chances at the Raw Womens Title. Bayley will always be a great star and nothing will change that. The transition from NXT to the main roster has proven difficult for a lot of superstars, but if WWE were confident in giving Bayley the strap, I'm sure they'll have long-term plans for the 'Hugger'.
Other notable moments
Kalisto took on Apollo Crews in a “toilet break” match. Titus is out with Crews. Titus has bought Akira Tozawa a front row seat as he continues to try and recruit him to the Titus brand. Solid back and forth to begin, with Crews cutting off Kalisto and covering for 2. Titus talks at Tozawa, who seems annoyed. Kalisto makes his comeback, hits a RANA and then a spiked RANA, covering for 2. Kalisto lays in kicks, but Crews catches him and hits the powerbomb for the win. Winner: Apollo Crews.
Sasha Banks, Dana Brooke, & Mickie James vs. Alexa Bliss, Emma, & Nia Jax. The heels work quick tags, isolating and keeping the heat on Brooke. Emma cuts off the tag, knocks Mickie to the floor but Brooke gets the tag to Banks. Banks slams Emma into Jax, but Bliss gives Emma the old alligator arms and walks. Jax saves Emma, James in and low bridges Jax to the floor. James hits a Thesz press to the floor, wiping out Jax. Banks locks in the banks statement and taps Emma. Winner: Sasha Banks, Mickie James & Dana Brooke.
The Drifter took on Dean Ambrose … AGAIN. Slow start here, which is fine because it gives Graves an adequate amount of time to bury both guys on commentary. Ambrose sends Samson to the floor for the break. Post break, Samson worked the heat, keeping Ambrose grounded. They traded chops, Ambrose fired up with clotheslines and a fisherman’s suplex for 2. Ambrose then sends him to the floor, and takes like 150 steps and then hits the suicide dive. Back in and they battle up top. Ambrose with head butts and sends Samson to the mat. Ambrose looks for the elbow drop, but Miz is out and distracts Ambrose. Samson gets a roll-up for 2, but Ambrose then hits a lariat to stop that. Ambrose chases Miz on the floor, but Miz uses Maryse as a shield. Ambrose slams Miz to the barricade, almost gets counted out but Samson hits a knee drop and hits the encore for the win. Winner: Elias Samson.
Bray Wyatt talks about the world ending, and he’s the only one that can save it. Wyatt says those that deny him will be judged, and the apathetic will pay for their guilt. Just like Seth Rollins, who thinks he has all of the answers. But it only took one dose of his truth last week, and Rollins’ glass house was shattered. Seth will pay for his transgressions and ignorance. If you take my name in vain, you will fall. Rollins arrives. He wants to clarify things, and says Wyatt cost him his match with Joe because he called him some names. He says Wyatt is a false prophet, and drinks his own Kool-Aid. Wyatt likes to hide in the dark, and is a coward. Rollins is here, daring Wyatt to prove him wrong. Wyatt laughs him off, and says Rollins’ pride will betray him. Rollins thinks he’s the man, but Wyatt sees a man beneath him and says Rollins doesn’t want this fight. Wyatt disappears and leaves Rollins alone in the ring. He then appears on the screen, saying Rollins may have slayed a king, but a God lives forever. “Run.”
Overall Raw Rating: C-
Things to look forward to next week
What's next for Enzo & Cass?
When will R-Truth & Goldust finally solve their differences?
What's next for Bayley?
Can Seth Rollins cope with the power of Bray Wyatt?
Will The Miz ever get rid of Dean Ambrose?