By Steven Flora
Braun Strowman defeated Big Show in a Steel Cage Match main event on Raw, but it didn’t end there. In an unbelievable feat of strength, The Monster Among Men picked up The World’s Largest Athlete and tossed him through one of the reinforced walls! How will Universal Champion Brock Lesnar respond to Strowman’s destructive message as their clash at WWE No Mercy fast approaches?
Strowman powerslams Big Show through the Steel Cage!
Steel Cage Match: Braun Strowman def. Big Show
Strowman promised to make a statement during his maiden voyage into a Steel Cage Match and potentially put his foe, Big Show, “out to pasture” before moving on to challenge Universal Champion Brock Lesnar at WWE No Mercy. He certainly made an example of his opponent, but Show did not cede the proverbial stage as easily as The Monster Among Men thought he would.
The giant gave a turn-back-the-clock performance that included an early KO Punch, the return of his old big elbow for a top-rope plunge straight into the heart of The Gift of Destruction, and multiple attempts to escape over the top of the cage. Unfortunately, each of those awesome feats depleted Show’s reserves bit by bit, and the younger Strowman held on to administer a top-rope superplex that failed to collapse the double-reinforced ring, but did enough to finally empty Big Show’s tank.
One Running Powerslam later and the match was over, but the astonishing display of power continued, as Strowman lawn-darted Show through the wall of the cage after the bell, breaking it off its hinges and sending The World’s Largest Athlete plummeting to the floor. He even had a statement of the literal variety to go with it: “Brock Lesnar, at No Mercy, this is your future. And mine is becoming the new Universal Champion.” After what he’d just done, it was a hard point to dispute. Winner: Braun Strowman.
Side Note: Great main event, once again proving how well both men work together. Big Show deserves all the credit in the world for putting over Strowman as much as he has over the past few months and Strowman, what can you say, he truly is a monster among men. His epic powerslam through the steel cage was emphatic and made for a loud and clear message that was sent to the Beast. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman are, for now, keeping a close eye on Braun Strowman.
Nia Jax & Emma added to women’s title picture
Nia Jax and Emma def. Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss & Sasha Banks to add themselves to the Raw Women’s Title Match at WWE No Mercy
And just like that, the Raw Women’s Championship picture grew by two. Mere hours after it was announced that Banks had invoked her rematch clause against Bliss for WWE No Mercy, Nia Jax (who dropped Bliss last week) and Emma (whose grassroots social media campaign is moving her toward the spotlight once again) got Raw General Manager Kurt Angle to sanction a tag match, pitting them against champion and challenger with a win-and-you’re-in stipulation attached for No Mercy.
Long story short, they won and they’re in. Emma insisted on shouldering the lion’s share of the match, tagging in on an unsuspecting Jax and eventually taking the brunt of Bliss & Banks’ offense before finally bringing Jax back into the fray. Nia showed no mercy (so to speak) on both her former ally and The Boss, eventually hitting Sasha with a leg drop. Emma seized the pin for herself thanks to another sneaky tag, but Nia quickly got payback, hitting Emma with a bone-jarring Samoan Drop. That one made a statement. The next could make her a champion. Winner: Nia Jax & Emma.
Side Note: This made for a slightly interesting match. The Raw Women's title picture has become stale with Alexa Bliss pretty much running the show with her good looks but fierce combat strikes. Now that Jax and Emma are involved in the title picture, this looks very interesting and makes for a fresh matchup. One would have to wonder how much of a favorite Nia Jax is coming into No Mercy!
The Miz continues his Intercontinental Championship World Tour
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match: Intercontinental Champion The Miz def. Jeff Hardy to retain his Intercontinental Championship
The Miz has been claiming for weeks now that both he and the championship he holds are owed much more respect than they’ve been given. He may have just taken that recognition for himself on Raw after retaining his Intercontinental Title against a wild Jeff Hardy, who won a Battle Royal last week to earn the opportunity.
The Charismatic Enigma pulled out all the stops in pursuit of his fifth Intercontinental title, forcing Miz to go it alone after both Matt Hardy and The Miztourage were ejected following a ringside brawl. The A-Lister proved to be a worthy opponent, answering almost all of Jeff’s signature moves and dodging a Swanton Bomb at the last possible second thanks to a heads-up from Maryse, who alerted Miz to the incoming Hardy.
The A-Lister sealed the match shortly thereafter, writhing free of the Twist of Fate and transitioning straight into the Skull-Crushing Finale. Even as The Miz accumulates haters by the day, defenses like this ensure his respect grows at an equal pace. Winner: The Miz (c).
Side Note: Solid match with obviously the veteran Hardy putting over the present and current champion The Miz. Miz winning was to be expected since he's being billed as possibly the greatest IC champion of our generation and with great credit too. He has grown with the title and not only that, elevated Bo and Axel into mainstream attention, well sort of.
Roman Reigns vs John Cena … Part 2
Last week, Cena and Reigns got on the microphone and aired a few grievances about each other in advance of their dream match at No Mercy. It got deeply personal in a hurry. And they didn’t hold back at all in Round Two, with Reigns openly questioning whether Cena had lost a step after taking so long to beat the “rookie” Jason Jordan.
In response, Cena floated the idea that perhaps he was hanging back, adapting to Jordan’s skills and waiting to drop the hammer … same as he might do to Reigns at No Mercy. As the barbs mounted and mounted, Cena eventually got to the heart of his gripe with Reigns, claiming his foe hasn’t had to scratch and claw the way the likes of Jordan, Chad Gable and even The Miz have. And, when the 16-time World Champion declined The Big Dog’s offer to fight then and there, Reigns replied that the feeling of disrespect was mutual.
Side Note: Great segment, though not as great as last week, it was a great follow up nonetheless. Both are trading insults back and forth to a point where I don't think this should be a WrestleMania match, but as long as these two are on the same roster, healthy and hungry, it looks like this dream match will become a reality at No Mercy.
Cena teaches Jordan a lesson
John Cena def. Jason Jordan
Jordan isn’t just learning from his father Kurt Angle, he’s learning from his old opponents. Much like when Cena stepped up to Angle in his debut, Jordan received a match with the 16-time World Champion to kick off Raw. And if Jordan didn’t quite unleash his inner ruthless aggression, he still displayed plenty of intensity, integrity and intelligence, grounding Cena with his mat game and forcing the decorated champion to adjust on the fly.
To Jordan’s credit, he hung with Cena almost every step of the way, escaping both the Attitude Adjustment and the STF before administering a jaw-dropping pair of Northern Lights Suplexes. But much like Cena against Angle, Jordan came up empty, succumbing to a quick-strike AA that didn’t come a minute too soon for the imperiled Cena. For all the similarities this match shared with the one waged between his father and his opponent many years ago, it turned out to be one of the most declarative statements yet about the path Jordan might forge on his own. Winner: John Cena.
Side Note: Really great match to open Raw and heck we even get to start Raw with a wrestling match! How rare indeed! Jordan put on a great showing to showcase why he's such a great athlete, however, that would have gotten you by in the 80's but now, you need more than great wrestling skills to be the very best in this business.
Other notable moments
Bray Wyatt challenged Finn Bálor to a match at WWE No Mercy: After a week where he was conspicuous by his absence, Bray Wyatt resurfaced on Raw seven days ago to eliminate Bálor from a Battle Royal and remove him from contention for the Intercontinental Championship. This week, we found out why: Bray wants another match with the first-ever Universal Champion at No Mercy, which is unsurprising given their series is tied thus far at one win apiece. However, he added a special wrinkle, challenging Bálor to face him “man-to-man” as himself rather than the dreaded Demon that downed Wyatt at SummerSlam in order to prove the charismatic Irishman can defeat Wyatt without the help of his “bow and arrow.” Bálor accepted The Reaper of Souls’ offer, but time will tell if he was wise to return to war without his greatest equalizer by his side.
Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno: Rough news awaits Heath Slater’s kids: The One-Man Band and Rhyno fell short in a Raw tag bout against Cesaro & Sheamus, who have managed to keep pace in the Tag Team division even after losing the Raw Tag Team Titles to Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins. The inaugural SmackDown Tag Team Champions gave “The Bar” a solid fight, with Rhyno nearly turning the tables against Sheamus while Ambrose & Rollins watched from commentary. Unfortunately, The Man Beast turned straight into the path of a Brogue Kick after he attempted to dispose of an interfering Cesaro, giving the victors a boost as their Tag Team Title rematch at WWE No Mercy approaches. Winner: Sheamus & Cesaro.
Enzo Amore, Cedric Alexander & Gran Metalik vs. Noam Dar, Tony Nese & Drew Gulak: Last week, Enzo Amore made his in-ring 205 Live debut by using some under-the-table trickery to win a match for his team in a Six-Man tussle. This week, he … well, he did it again. In a rematch of 205 Live’s spectacular Six-Man, Muscles Marinara made good on his promise to work “smarter” than the rest of the purple brand workhorses, sneakily tagging in right before Cedric Alexander and Gran Metalik soared over the ropes onto Tony Nese and Noam Dar. While the official explained to a fired-up Alexander that he was no longer legal, Amore administered a thumb to the eye of Drew Gulak behind the zebra’s back and planted Gulak with the match-ending maneuver. Smart moves indeed, and they may yet come in handy during tomorrow's all-important Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match on 205 Live, where the winner earns a dance with The King of the Cruiserweights, Neville, at WWE No Mercy. Winner: Enzo Amore, Cedric Alexander & Gran Metalik.
Raw Tag Team Champions Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson: Cesaro & Sheamus showed they’re not slowing down anytime soon with their win over Heath Slater & Rhyno, but Raw Tag Team Champions Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins are right there with them. The champs defeated Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, a move that won’t exactly earn them good-brother status but definitely does wonders for their momentum as their showdown with “The Bar” looms large in the distance.They might need it, too: Cesaro & Sheamus jaw-jacked with Gallows & Anderson before the match and lurked, stone-faced at ringside for the entire bout … at least until they attempted to interfere. Rollins used Anderson as a human projectile to thwart the intrusion, rolling his foe up for the win moments later. And then Cesaro & Sheamus surprised everyone by going after the good brothers instead of the champions, getting the better of a brief, but intense fight. Even when their plans go awry, they still set the bar, and might just dictate the pace as well. Winner: Raw Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose.
Overall Raw Rating: B-
Things to look forward to next week
How will Lesnar and Heyman respond to Strowman's decimation of Big Show?
Who will gain the upper hand heading into the fatal 4-way Raw Women's title match at No Mercy?
Who will cave into the pressure … Cena or Reigns?
Can Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose overcome "The Bar"?
What's next for the Intercontinental Championship?
What's next for the Elias?