By Steven Flora
The face-to-face-to-face-to-face encounter between Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe didn’t stay civil for long. Find out what set off these powerhouse Superstars, six nights before their Fatal 4-Way match at SummerSlam.
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman went face-to-face-to-face-to-face
Brock Lesnar might be out the door if he loses the Universal Title on Sunday, but if this is The Beast’s last Monday Night Raw, it should be no surprise he went out in a hail of fists and a confrontation that needed every warm body in the locker room to quell it before it escalated into what Paul Heyman called a "prison fight."
After Heyman delivered what might be his final sermon in exaltation of the reigning, defending, undisputed Universal Champion, Lesnar’s challengers surfaced one by one: first Samoa Joe, then Braun Strowman and finally Roman Reigns. The Big Dog quickly speared Joe in retaliation for The Samoan Submission Machine costing him his Last Man Standing Match against The Gift of Destruction the week prior, and Strowman disposed of Reigns with a running powerslam.
That left The Beast and The Monster Among Men alone in the ring, and while they made quick work of the legion of security Kurt Angle had hired to enclose the ring, the near-entirety of the Raw locker room barely managed to separate them, though Lesnar and Strowman briefly broke free to land a few wild punches. The rest will have to wait until Sunday, and the titanic main event that could change Raw as we know it.
Side Note: Solid segment to end the the night. The confrontation between Braun & Lesnar would have been epic, but of course, Vince will never spoil the big collision before SummerSlam; just wouldn't make sense from a marketing perspective. Heyman did ramble a little longer than usual and you could see fans getting bored. Reigns’ nonsensical approach to these men was a fuse that sparked the brawl, and how can you have a ref who can control this match. The answer is you can't. I honestly can't predict a winner heading into Sunday but all I know is this will be a brawl, and with so much at stake, these massive egos will cause some serious damage in Brooklyn.
The Boss vs. The Goddess at SummerSlam
Sasha Banks def. Nia Jax to earn the opportunity to challenge Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss at SummerSlam
The Boss, in her hometown of Boston, won her way to SummerSlam to challenge for her fourth Raw Women’s Championship. If that’s not fate, we don’t know what is. Nia Jax certainly made it difficult for Sasha Banks to punch her ticket from Beantown to Brooklyn, though, where Alexa Bliss lies in wait.
With the smug Bliss watching from an elevated lifeguard’s chair (which Corey Graves referred to as a throne) at ringside, Jax powered her way to an early advantage, ruthlessly swinging Banks into the barricade and tossing her about the ring. Yet, The Boss slowly weathered the storm with strategically-timed submission and roll-up attempts, escaping the ring when it seemed like she was in danger of being pinned.
Banks finally pulled ahead by kicking Jax’s hamstring out while she was perched on the second rope, locking in the Banks Statement moments later to the point of a near submission victory. When Jax hauled herself to her feet with The Boss on her shoulder, Banks floated over into a thunderous tornado DDT and a second excruciating Banks Statement that forced Nia to tap out. Hello, Brooklyn. Winner: Sasha Banks.
Side Note: First things first, the right woman won this match. You can clearly see Nia is putting over these women because if she gets a chance at the Raw Women's title, she'll easily run through Alexa Bliss. This gives Nia experience, which she definitely needs as she's still really green in this business. Sasha needed this win because her feud with Alexa has just barely kicked off on the screen, but what isn't talked about is their real life feud. On the Great Balls of Fire Post Show, Sasha Banks explained how Alexa doesn't care about wrestling because she's in this business for the money & fame. Banks went on to explain how she didn't even notice the difference between Matt & Jeff Hardy … LOL. In all honesty, I wish this match was decided a while back and then we could've got a better build up to this feud, a feud which is based of real life heat.
Rollins & Ambrose reunite against common enemies
Like any pair of brothers worth their salt, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins were brought back together after fighting it out.
The two former WWE Champions put their cards on the table and threw hands in an explosive confrontation at the opening of Raw, bringing their years of tension and resentment to a head after several weeks of tepidly-received olive branches. So, it was easy to see why Cesaro & Sheamus decided to attack their rivals after the brawl left both men depleted at ringside, only Ambrose & Rollins surprised everyone by driving the Raw Tag Team Champions back as one, Shield fist bump and all. And, given that Raw General Manager Kurt Angle immediately sanctioned a Tag Team Title match between the two duos at SummerSlam, it might just be time to believe again.
Side Note: FINALLY! THE TOUCHED FISTS. This segment was electric and well received by a rowdy Boston crowd. This was needed a lot because both Rollins & Ambrose are directionless and need something to bolster their credibility and popularity. I feel like this story has taken over their current feud with Sheamus & Cesaro. That's not necessarily a bad thing but does make the champions look weak and are overlooked heading into SummerSlam. Personally, Rollins & Ambrose don't need the victory and the fact they are together, is 1/3 away from reuniting the Shield. Also I wonder if they play The Shield's old music at SummerSlam and they walk through the crowd like they use to. Heck, if they dress up like the old Shield and do all the Shield formalities, then maybe they deserve the tag titles.
Tozawa dethrones the KING
WWE Crusierweight Championship Match: Akira Tozawa def. Neville to become the NEW WWE Cruiserweight Champion
Titus Worldwide is bringing home the gold. In a stunning turn of events, Akira Tozawa defeated Neville to claim the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, usurping The King of the Cruiserweights and validating the wheeling and dealing from Titus O'Neil that resulted in the title match being moved up from SummerSlam to Raw.
It also showed Neville’s vulnerability for perhaps the first time all year, as The King of the Cruiserweights seemed to be looking past his challenger as he made his way to the ring. Tozawa, meanwhile, was laser-focused throughout, forcing the shaken champion to play dirty and target The Stamina Monster’s previously injured shoulder.
Neville overestimated his strategy, however, and a whiffed Red Arrow allowed Tozawa to strike with the top-rope senton for the incredible championship-clinching victory, kicking off a celebration with Titus and Apollo Crews in the ring. Long may he reign. Winner: Akira Tozawa (c).
Side Note: This was a very good match that likely played better here on Raw than it would have on the SummerSlam pre-show. Neville missed the red arrow, which he rarely uses these days, and that cost him. His run was really good, but I am thrilled for Tozawa. I just hope they don’t rush to a rematch and title change on 205 Live or SummerSlam.
Demon Balor meets the Eater of Worlds at SummerSlam
Bray Wyatt def. Finn Balor
Finn Bálor and Bray Wyatt couldn’t wait until Sunday to turn their psychological warfare physical, but a few extra days’ preparation might have been better for the inaugural Universal Champion, as Wyatt defeated his adversary in a heated match stemming from a backstage brawl that occurred earlier in the show.
Much to the shock of the Bálor Club, The Reaper of Souls was firmly in control for most of the match, brutalizing his foe with suffocating chinlocks and a reverse backbreaker-type maneuver that sucked the wind from Finn’s sails. Bálor briefly revved back to life, but The Eater of Worlds tripped Bálor up in the ropes pre-Coup de Grâce and hauled him off the turnbuckle straight into Sister Abigail for the win. Winner: Bray Wyatt.
With the battle won, Wyatt administered a second Sister Abigail and briefly vanished, reappearing only to empty a decrepit bucket filled with a viscous, acidic red fluid over Bálor's head, leaving the Irishman squirming in horror. He wasn't done yet, however: A recovering Bálor successfully petitioned Kurt Angle for a rematch on Sunday, leaving Raw with an ominous vow to reveal his "demons" to The Reaper of Souls.
Side Note: Standard match that wasn't well received by the WWE Universe. This match was simply a build up to Balor stating he will bring out his inner demon .. EPIC. The bloodbath was very Gangrel-esqe 1998, which is always a nice thing to see. Wyatt was obviously getting the win because Balor will shine like he always does at a PPV. This feud has been sub-par but that's only because of how creative have screwed over Bray. Let's start a hashtag … #GIVEBRAYACHANCE.
Other notable moments
Non-Title Match: Jason Jordan vs The Miz: Having taken a brief detour into Suplex City the week prior, The Miz has resumed his budding rivalry with Jason Jordan, and The A-Lister and his crew got a measure of payback against the two-time Tag Team Champion when Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel swarmed Jordan in the midst of his bout with Miz, handing the gold-blooded wunderkind a beatdown at the expense of a disqualification loss for Miz. Winner: Jason Jordan. Luckily for Jordan, two guardian angels quickly came to his rescue. The Hardy Boyz, who were backstage during an earlier confrontation between The Miztourage and Jordan’s father Kurt Angle, swarmed the Hollywood elites to even the odds, which set up.
Jason Jordan & The Hardy Boyz vs. The Miz & Miztourage. Thanks to Scott Dawson’s injury, The Hardy Boyz missed out on an opportunity to get their hands on The Revival. That said, The Miz & The Miztourage made for an excellent substitution as foes for The Most Exhilarating Tag Team In History all the same.With Jason Jordan joining the former Raw Tag Team Champions, The Hardys unleashed the full scope of their skills in an impromptu Six-Man Tag Team match. It seemed as though the bout would come down to Jordan and The Miz, at least until Curtis Axel saved The A-Lister from calamity. That kicked off a three-on-one assault of Matt Hardy, at least until Jeff and Jordan entered the fray. One by one, The Miztourage attempted to break up the action, and one by one they were denied — The Miz was the last to fall to Jordan’s Angle Slam-neckbreaker combo. With Bo Dallas as the last man standing, he was subjected to a belly-to-belly from Jordan, Twist of Fate from Matt and finally a Swanton Bomb from Jeff that sent him to the showers. Winner: Jason Jordan & The Hardy Boyz.
What began as a pointed confrontation between Big Cass and Big Show in the shadow of the Shark Tank that will enclose Enzo Amore at SummerSlam turned into a potential dagger for Muscles Marinara and The World’s Largest Athlete. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson got involved in the fray, blindsiding the giant right as he was about to go another few rounds with his opponent on Sunday, Big Cass. The attack by the good brothers left The World’s Largest Athlete stunned, and Big Cass — who weathered an unholy amount of vitriol from the Boston faithful and dispatched Enzo in the fracas — joined in with the former Raw Tag Team Champions in a coordinated and prolonged assault that appeared to break Show's right hand, though that could not be confirmed as the giant refused a medical evaluation. That KO Punch has been a persistent problem for the seven-footer, but come SummerSlam, he might just have one less problem to worry about.
The Drifter is here to gift us with a song. He buries Fenway Park, and then Boston in the song. R-Truth interrupts. Elias attacks and lays out Truth with drift away. He then grabs his guitar, and poses.
Mickie James vs. Emma: Emma’s one-woman crusade for the spotlight has certainly raised some eyebrows (she lost a close Triple Threat Match last week, after all), but it hasn’t exactly endeared her to women like Mickie James. The six-time Women’s Champion took exception to Emma’s all-about-me mindset in a backstage confrontation and put her in her place in a match later in the show, though Emma was all over her decorated foe from jump. That James claimed the win was more a matter of her veteran savvy than a lack of skill on Emma’s part; a scramble near the ropes left an overzealous Emma open for a split second, and James threaded the needle with a pinpoint kick to the chin to claim the 1-2-3. A narrow miss, but Emma might make it all about her yet. Winner: Mickie James.
Overall Raw Rating: B-
Things to look forward to next week
What's next for Emma?
After Tozawa's championship victory, what's next for Neville?
As Rollins & Ambrose reunite, will Reigns join them in the future?
Will The Boss overcome The Goddess at Summerslam?
Will Big Cass silence the Big Show?
What's next for the golden boy Jason Jordan?