By Steven Flora
In what was perhaps their most brutal encounter, Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman tore each other and the arena apart in the Last Man Standing Match main event. Who gutted out the monumental victory just two weeks before SummerSlam’s hotly anticipated Universal Championship Fatal 4-Way Match?
Strowman controls the yard!
Last Man Standing Match: Braun Strowman def. Roman Reigns
Can Toronto withstand a Last Man Standing Match between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman? Barely. The Great White North was shaken to its core in Raw’s hellacious main event between The Big Dog and The Monster Among Men, as the two Superstars inflicted an unimaginable amount of damage on one another just two weeks before challenging Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title along with Samoa Joe in a Fatal 4-Way.
Reigns follows Strowman to the floor and hits the drive by kick. Reigns slides a table into the ring, but as he goes for another drive by, Strowman cuts him off with a clothesline. Strowman sets up the table, Reigns fires up and looks for a Samoan drop and gets it putting Strowman through the table. They brawl into the crowd now, and then up to the announce table. The brawl goes onto the stage, with Strowman tossing reigns into the LED board. Strowman then dismantles the announce table, looks for a powerbomb but Reigns escapes and hits two superman punches. Reigns then looks for a spear, eats a boot and Reigns is down. Reigns then fires up and runs down the ramp, spearing Strowman. But JOE attacks Reigns from in the crowd and locks in the choke. Reigns is out, and Joe stands tall over both men and talks smack. The official had no choice but to restart the count once Joe finally released the hold, and The Gift of Destruction took advantage of Joe’s interference. Strowman rose to his feet at eight to claim the win, but it was Joe who had the most ominous words of the night to Roman: “The yard is on lockdown.” Winner: Braun Strowman.
Side Note: Great main event that had everything you could want … suspense, drama and a little twist at the end courtesy of Samoa Joe. Reigns did look strong heading into the final Raw before SummerSlam, however with all these recent losses, it does make me think if he will be the one to take the Universal Championship from Lesnar. Strowman has dominated much of 2017 and has done pretty much everything (albeit a win at Wrestlemania) he could do. Putting the title on the 33 year-old beast would definitely be good for business but may also hinder challengers as no one may step up to take the title from the monster among men. Joe, though still acting strong heading into SummerSlam, is still hiding the fact his loss to Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire PPV hurt him. A win at SummerSlam could help him regain his credibility as one of the most dangerous men in WWE.
Lesnar destroys the Miztourage
Miz calls out Jason Jordan, because he’s upset about last week. Maryse, Dallas and Axel are out with Miz. Kurt Angle arrives, and says that Jordan will not be on Miz TV because he is facing Axel later in the evening. Angle has a replacement guest for him, and it’s Brock Lesnar (along with Paul Heyman). Miz takes control of the show, so Heyman tosses his mic down. Miz says Brock will lose the title at SummerSlam and it’s all Heyman’s fault. Miz says he’d put his money on Joe, Reigns or BRAUN, because one of them will leave SummerSlam with the belt while Brock will take his ball and go home. Heyman takes his mic and goes into his usual intro, and then asks if Miz & Maryse role-play. Heyman is all about role-playing, and tells Miz he’s Reigns, Dallas is Joe, and Axel is Strowman. Heyman leaves so Brock can give us a preview of SummerSlam. Ass kickings, Germans and F5s for all!
Side Note: Great opening segment to Raw and it’s always nice to see Miz get his ass whooped, no matter how talented he is. Segment worked well and Lesnar got to show how dominate he is and it's always great seeing Heyman's epic promo skills. Solid segment all round.
Trust Issues among Rollins & Ambrose?
Dean Ambrose def. Cesaro (w/Sheamus)
After some pushing and shoving, they locked up and battle for position. Ambrose fights out of the neutralizer, heads up top and has to leap over Cesaro. Cesaro counters dirty deeds and looks for the sharpshooter, but Ambrose escapes and sends him to the floor. Cesaro cuts of the suicide dive with an uppercut for a near fall. They battle to the corner, Cesaro looks for the deadlift superplex, but Ambrose fights him off and hits a la magistral cradle for 2. They trade strikes, body shots by Cesaro but Ambrose hits a jawbreaker lariat to stop that attack. Sheamus distracts Ambrose, allowing Cesaro to lock in the sharpshooter. Ambrose finally makes the ropes, and then sends Cesaro to the floor. Ambrose up top and hits the elbow drop press to the floor. Back in and Ambrose back up top, Sheamus distracts him but he fights it off and rolls up Cesaro for the win. Winner: Dean Ambrose.
The champions attack Ambrose, but Rollins is here to even the odds and to prove he has changed. He clears the ring and saves the day. The fans want the former Shield brothers to hug it out and reunite, and Ambrose puts his fist out for the Shield salute. Rollins, however, refuses this time; he’s playing hard to get now I see.
Side Note: It felt odd seeing Rollins walking away. He had been trying to prove himself, and seemingly got exactly what he wanted, Ambrose’s approval, but now he walked away? Not sure about that, after taking the ass beating he did earlier, he should be kissing Ambrose’s ass for the help. However, in saying all this, the feud is going to be for the Raw Tag Team Championships, and with all this Shield drama going on, Cesaro & Sheamus are almost like the third wheel in this feud which is understandable yet annoying at the same time for a neutral. I guess we'll have to wait till next week for the match to be announced for SummerSlam.
Bayley out of SummerSlam
Charly is out to interview Bayley, and we see footage of her getting injured last week. She knew she was hurt last week, and is angry she’s out of SummerSlam. But she knew she had to finish the match, to prove herself. The fans made her feel better through their support. Wow the fans are not happy with her (we get a bizzaro world reference on commentary). Bayley promises to move forward and is looking forward to returning. When asked who will face Bliss at SummerSlam, she picks Sasha Banks. Banks arrives and they hug.
Side Note: As a WRESTLING fan not just WWE, this really frustrates me. Having been a fan of Bayley since her debut in NXT, I've always had high hopes she'd make it big on the main roster. Though she's won the title before, the booking of Bayley the character is not helping her one bit. In NXT, she was over with everyone. but she never once backed away from a fight or stepped to the side. WWE's version of Bayley is someone who wants to play by the book and doesn't want to hurt anyone … HURT ANYONE? WHO EVEN TOLD HER TO SAY THAT CRAP? It's simple things like this that make the Bayley character flawed and it really annoys me that she's getting booed. It's now 2017 and it seems as though WWE can't create top babyfaces with the exception of Finn Balor & Sasha Banks. Do I think Bayley should turn heel? Nope, but her character needs tweaking to a point where if Bliss hits Bayley with a kendo stick, Bayley will fire back with a steel chair and won't stop.
The Mind Games continue
Balor is here to talk and says this is Balor Cub. He gets a small too sweet chant and discusses kicking Bray Wyatt’s ass last week and jokes about Wyatt talking too much. He knows Wyatt is more concerned with hurting people than winning matches. The next time Wyatt comes at him, he better not miss. Whatever Wyatt starts, he’ll finish. Wyatt appears out of nowhere, and Balor is sitting on the ropes waiting for him. Wyatt fails at his attack and Balor hits an enziguri and sling blade, but Wyatt’s gimmick hits and he disappears. Wyatt’s on the screen laughing, saying he will rip him down from the heavens and the fans will fall with him.
Side Note: Weird segment, weird as in I'm not sure who had the upper hand. Balor gained the physical momentum going into SummerSlam with the potential release of Demon Balor. However, Bray seemed to have gained the psychological advantage by disappearing during the confrontation. This feud seems rushed and though it will be a good match, I wished WWE spent more time building up this feud to give it the respect it deserves. Regardless, I wonder how Raw will top this segment next week in Boston.
Other notable moments
Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus: This is a rematch from last week, Rollins won and Sheamus is looking for revenge. I’d say his revenge was the ass beating that he and Cesaro gave both Rollins and Ambrose last week. Cesaro is out with Sheamus; Rollins is alone. Rollins attacks at the bell, taking the fight to Sheamus and runs wild, scoring an early near fall. Sheamus fights back, cutting off Rollins as we head to the break. Post break, Sheamus works the heat hitting the Finlay roll, but Rollins avoided the brogue kick, and then cut off Sheamus as he went up top. Rollins looked for the superplex, but got knocked to the mat. He pops back up and hits the RANA off the top and follows with a superkick for 2. Rollins hits sling blade, but Cesaro distracts him and Sheamus rolls him up for the win. Winner: Sheamus.
Jason Jordan vs. Jean Pierre Goulet: Jordan got a scary lack of reaction on his entrance, but Goulet gets “lets go jobber” chants. Jordan tosses him around, and out wrestles him until Goulet fires back with elbows and rights. Jordan cuts him off to the jeers from the crowd. Jordan hits the pop up neck breaker for the win. Winner: Jason Jordan.
Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox vs. Emma: The winner moves onto next week to face the winner of Nia Jax vs. Mickie James vs. Dana Brooke; the winner of that match faces Bliss at SummerSlam. Emma attacks Banks, but gets sent to the floor. Fox misses a corner kick, and Banks rolls her up for 2. Emma pulls Banks to the floor and hits a wheelbarrow German to the apron, and then cuts off Fox. Fox then fights back and hits the northern lights suplex for 2. Banks returns, hits a shining wizard on Emma and then hits the double knees to both Fox and Emma. Emma dumps Banks and gets a near fall on Fox. Emma then tosses Fox around, hits the Emma sandwich in the corner, but Banks breaks that up. Back in and Banks hits the back stabber, into the Banks statement and Emma breaks it up, but she is trapped in the Banks statement and taps. Winner: Sasha Banks.
The Good Brothers (Anderson & Gallows) vs. Big Show & Enzo: Show cleans house early, and we take a break 25 seconds into the match. We return to action three minutes later with Gallows working the heat on Enzo. Anderson tags on, continues the heat and misses a charge. Gallows gets the tag, cuts Enzo off and hits a superkick. Big Cass walks out now. Big Show gets distracted and gets booted to the floor. Enzo gets a desperation roll up and eats the boot, and then gets pinned. Winner: Gallows & Anderson.
Akira Tozawa vs. Ariya Daivari: So even though Tozawa won the feud and title match, we have to watch them face off once again. Titus is out on commentary. I get Daivari wanting revenge and all, I just have no desire to see another match between the two. Daivari goes on the attack right away, attacking the previously injured shoulder. Daivari dominates for two minutes until Tozawa hits a RANA and suicide dive, and then rolls Daivari back in and covers for 2. Tozawa then hits the Saito suplex, heads up top and the big senton finished it. Winner: Akira Tozawa.
Nia Jax vs. Mickie James vs. Dana Brooke: The winner faces Sasha Banks next week, and the winner of that goes onto face Alexa Bliss at Summerslam. Jax overpowers both with ease to begin. But Jax does the monster thing, missing a charge and posting herself to make it one on one. James and Brooke battle back and forth, James score a near fall but Jax returns and takes James to the floor. Brooke tries to fight off Jax, but gets leveled. James back in, hits the seated senton and then covers Brooke; Jax sends her to the floor. Brooke fails to jump on Jax’s back, and Jax hits the leg drop and wins. Winner: Nia Jax.
Overall Raw Rating: C
Things to look forward to next week
What's next for Emma?
What's next for Neville? Will Tozawa get inside the head of the King of the Cruiserweights?
Shield Reunion perhaps?
A Brock Lesnar appearance maybe?
Will Wyatt bring out Finn's inner Demon?
Sasha Banks or Nia Jax?