August 1, 2016
From the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, GA
Your hosts are Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, and Michael Cole
Before the show we got a video recap of last week’s show.
The live show starts with Sasha Banks heading out to the ring. The announcers put over her title defense at SummerSlam against Charlotte, who is calling Sasha’s win a fluke. Sasha puts over how her match against Bayley last year at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn not only stole the show, they owned the show as well. She says that the reign of the Boss has just begun as Charlotte interrupts. They have an awkward interaction where Sasha seems pissed Charlotte interrupted then starts laughing as Charlotte gets taunted by the crowd. Sasha then makes fun of Charlotte for not having the belt then asks about Dana, who is not here. Charlotte tells Sasha she does not need Dana or her father, who is probably vacationing at a “nursing home,” to regain the title. Charlotte then compares Sasha to a one-night stand, unable to get the prom king to put the ring on her finger. Sasha then tells Charlotte if not for a night stand, she would probably not be standing here as she yells out a loud “Wooooooo!” We then hear someone repeating “quiet” over and over again as Chris Jericho comes out. He calls Sasha an ungrateful, little punk while putting over Charlotte as “royalty” and sucks up to her some more, stating she has accomplished more than her father. Jericho then asks Sasha what makes her a boss and has some fun with that before stating she is a boss of “stupid idiots” like everyone in the crowd. Now, Enzo Amore interrupts and goes through his schtick. He then asks Sasha “how you doin'” as he kisses her hand. He then says sometimes, he likes to do things by himself. Sasha and Enzo then flirt with each other while repeating the same phrase over and over again. They all trade barbs as the crowd mocks Jericho with a “stupid idiot” chant. Enzo calls Jericho “Bon Jovi” and makes fun of him some more as Jericho tells us he does not care how anyone is doing, hoping we are all doing terrible. RAW GM Mick Foley comes out and says he does care how the crowd is doing and while not the boss, he is their boss and makes Charlotte & Jericho vs. Sasha & Enzo as that match will happen next.
This had its moments and it was nice to see different performers lead off the show. However, it went almost twenty minutes and really dragged until the end. The beginning of Sasha and Charlotte’s interaction was terrible, actually. Way too awkward as Sasha kept laughing and smiling and Charlotte once again appeared rattled in front of a live crowd. However, it did get better and they traded some good insults at the end. The part with Enzo & Sasha flirting went on for too long and seemed pointless too but that segment started to get entertaining once they traded insults too. In closing, it had its moments but we didnt need 18 minutes to set up this tag match.
Charlotte & Chris Jericho vs. Sasha Banks & Enzo Amore
This match is joined-in-progress. Kevin Owens is on commentary, stating that his match last year at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn was the one that sold the tickets and stole the show. They go back-and-forth to start until Enzo & Sasha take their opponents over the top rope with a clothesline then fly out with stereo topes as we go to another commercial. We return with Enzo eating boot on the charge but able to send Jericho to the corner after an attempted bulldog. Enzo comes back with a crossbody for two as Owens is pissed about where he was drafted and puts himself over while making fun of Saxton. Enzo reaches the ropes after being put in the Walls of Jericho then head up top but is hit with a dropkick in midair. Charlotte is tagged in then Sasha comes in and runs wild. Dana Brooke runs in to provide a distraction after Sasha hit the Banks Statement but gets knocked down. Sahsa counters a rollup then slaps Jericho after that but Charlotte hits Sasha from behind and gets the win with the Natural Selection (9:58) *1/2. After the match, Jericho hits Enzo with the Codebreaker then Big Cass comes out as Jericho bails and retreats up the aisle with his arms around both Dana and Charlotte.
Thoughts: The match itself was not that good. However, the point was to build a Jericho vs. Enzo & Cass feud. And Owens was just fantastic on commentary though as he also voiced displeasure with Enzo, stating he can kick his ass. The ending made sense too as they had to build up some drama for the Charlotte vs. Sasha rematch at SummerSlam so by having Charlotte win and attempting to plant seeds of doubt in Sasha.
We see a clip of the Bella Twins at the 2016 “Teen Choice Awards” as they won Female Athlete of the Year
Evan Anderholm vs. Braun Strowman
I have no idea the spelling of Evan’s name. He is Corey Hollis, who wrestles on the Southern Independent scene and has done enhancement work in NXT and the WWE in the past (he was against the Shooting Stars in their WWE debut). Saxton asks Anderholm why he took this match. His response was that it was for $1,000. Strowman tosses him around and kicks his ass until hitting the reverse chokeslam for the win (0:59).
Thoughts: These squash matches have done more for Strowman in two weeks than anything from his run in the Wyatt Family. At the end of the day, I personally think Strowman is too uncoordinated for wrestling but there can still be hope for him and this gimmick of squashing guys is a good idea.
Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley are all happy and talking about the show when Mark Henry enters. Stephanie points out how Henry is the ambassador for the WWE in the Special Olympics. Henry then talks about wanting to reopen the Hall of Pain but is told he was brought on for more of a mentor role. Henry then tells them they are wrong as Foley decides to let Henry chase some gold and books him in a match against Rusev for the United States Title. Henry becomes elated and promises to bring the U.S. Title back home, stating “that’s what I do.” Nice of them to toss Henry a bone but he is well past his point of usefulness inside of the ring.
In the hallway, we see the Golden Truth. Goldust tells R-Truth is obsessed with Pokemon Go. However, if they take care of business in the ring tonight, he will help him catch all the Pokemon afterwards.
Golden Truth vs. Shining Stars
R-Truth is playing Pokemon Go on the way to the ring. Goldust works the arm of Primo while R-Truth continues to play Pokemon and does not pay attention to the match. The Shining Stars take control as Graves has a problem with Truth playing a child’s game. Goldust dives over to make the tag but Truth is still preoccupied with the game and walks away. Truth then sees Goldust and tries to put his phone away but it drops on the floor. Truth looks over at this partner then tells him to wait and grabs the phone as Primo tags and rolls up Goldust for the win (2:01) 1/4*.
Thoughts: The new problem between the Golden Truth is R-Truth’s addiction to Pokemon Go. It was funny last week but if this is his new thing for the time being, its going to get old really fast and to be honest, it already felt that did tonight.
A plug to remind us that Brock Lesnar will be here tonight to address Randy Orton for their match at SummerSlam. After that, we see NBA players Dwight Howard and Tim Hardaway Jr. in the crowd. Howard was quite enthusiastic.
Cole is in the ring and welcomes Finn Balor. He asks Balor about being a first round draft choice and getting the chance to wrestle for the WWE Universal Championship as Balor briefly talks about his opportunity when Seth Rollins interrupts. Rollins tells Cole to leave then puts over Balor for being a former NXT Champion, like himself, but not the first NXT Champion. Rollins puts Balor over for being a first round pick but not the first overall pick, like himself. Rollins compares Balor to actress Melissa McCarthy then Balor tells Rollins he will be the first WWE Universal Champion. Rollins laughs at that line, saying its as funny as the Atlanta Braves winning the World Series. The crowd taunts Rollins with the Tomahawk chant as Rollins tells them their team sucks. Balor tells Rollins that everywhere he has been, there is someone just like him and he beat them and took their spot. Rollins tells Balor he has never faced someone like him, who is stronger, faster, and more resilient than any other superstar in WWE history. He also told Balor he will be facing his friend, Sami Zayn, tonight and promises to make an example out of him. Balor then tells Rollins he earned his title shot and did not have it handed to him as Rollins takes offense. Balor tells Rollins the only thing Rollins will get handed to him at SummerSlam is his ass as the crowd starts cheering for their staredown. Rollins tries for a cheap shot but Balor was prepared and ends up sending Rollins away with an overhead kick.
Good segment. Rollins really showed his chops on the mic here as he really seemed to carry Balor, who was decent enough here and did what he had to in getting over their title match at SummerSlam. The crowd reacted well to Balor but he did not appear to get what you would consider a “star” reaction.
United States Title Match: Rusev (c) w/ Lana vs. Mark Henry
Lana was wearing a white dress and talks about being Rusev’s husband as we see clips of their wedding this past weekend, with Cole telling us it will be seen on “Total Divas.” These two fight over a lockup before Rusev gets shoved into the corner. They trade punches until Henry takes control. He tosses Rusev out from the corner then hits a slam before a headbutt as Rusev rolls outside. Rusev re-enters and boots Henry in the gut before firing away. Henry catches him with a clothesline before jumping on Rusev’s back as we head to commercial. The action returns with Rusev in control. He attempts the Accolade but Henry powers out and hits a clothesline. Rusev comes back with a thrust kick to the back of the head and finally puts on the Accolade for the win (6:35) *3/4. After the match, Rusev mocks Henry for being an American Olympic hero then calls the Olympic Committee out for “rigging” the games in favor of the Americans. Rusev says he is a super-athlete and a Natural born winner and goes off some more until Roman Reigns interrupts. He gets into Rusev’s face and doesnt let him leave as he keeps cutting him off. Rusev catches Reigns off guard but runs into a clothesline. Rusev rolls out to avoid the Superman Punch but Reigns gets out on the apron and hits one off of the steps.
Thoughts: Henry looked better here than he has in a while as they had a passable TV match. However, the big news here was the confrontation between Rusev and Reigns. The actual confrontation itself came off great but the damage has been done to Reigns as far as his character so he did not get over huge as a face, although he did get a better reaction than he usually does tonight as I’m sure the fact he played college football at Georgia Tech lessened the boos from the crowd. If they played Reigns’ character like this after the split from the Shield, like they should have, then this would have been a big deal. Besides all of that, sending Reigns down the card for a bit is a good idea and these two should have a really good match at SummerSlam, if they are heading in that direction.
We get a video package on Nia Jax. She will be wrestling again tonight.
Darren Young w/ Bob Backlund vs. Titus O’Neill
We saw this match being made on the pre show, with O’Neill asking Young when was he great to begin with. Titus runs through Young after a lockup. Young fights back with chops but gets sent into the corner. Titus catches Young and hits a pair of backbreakers then hits a corner splash after the Gator Bark. Titus works an armbar then cuts off another comeback with a knee to the gut. Titus gets two off of a fireman’s carry slam then goes back to working the arm. Titus stays in control until they have a reversal that ends with Titus grabbing the tights on a rollup for the win (3:56) *.
Thoughts: Titus essentially squashed Young the entire match before cheating to win. He pretty much turned heel at the end of this match and as a result, the crowd was dead when they were in the ring as they did not seem to know who to route for. I do not know if they are already giving up on the Young gimmick but after being built up for weeks with vignettes, it has failed to get over and there is little chemistry between Young and Backlund. Young and Titus are better off together as the Prime Time Players and their first singles feud together was terrible so I do not care to see it again.
Backstage, Stephanie hands Mick Foley a tablet that features the RAW logo. Sheamus interrupts to say how it was ridiculous for Mark Henry to challenge for the United States title. Cesaro comes in and says that the people do not want to see Sheamus, they want to see himself. Those two bicker as Stephanie and Foley tell them to stop. She even brings up how Cesaro wanted to go to Smackdown to begin with. Foley tells Cesaro his draft stock took a hit due to his shoulder injury and how Sheamus has not had his head in the game since cashing in the Money in the Bank Briefcase. He then tells them they will have a match tonight and whoever impresses the most will get a future title shot.
Odd segment. First off, stating Cesaro’s draft stock took a hit due to a shoulder injury while making Seth Rollins the top overall pick, who was coming off a surgery that they detailed in a documentary on the company’s own Network, is one of those comments that makes you shake your head at how poor a job the WWE does at creating storylines. The details of this title shot were not clear at all either (Are they getting U.S or a Universal Title shot?) and they did not say the winner would get this future title shot, it was the person who impressed them the most. With a screwy stipulation like that, I expect the heel to come out on top.
We get another video package from the CWC to hype up the Cruiserweight Division.
Backstage, Backlund is screaming at Titus because he cheated. Titus yells at him to calm down before he knocks his old ass out. Young then flies in and lays out Titus. So this does appear to be a feud now.
Nia Jax vs. Ariel Monroe
Monroe has wrestled on a few of the “Queens of Combat” shows. Jax places Monroe on the top rope and gives her a chop. Jax then hits a clothesline and a headbutt while Graves puts over her NXT career. Jax then drops an elbow before putting Monroe away with a fireman’s carry slam (1:10) NR. After the match, Saxton asks Jax what it has been like to compete in the WWE. Jax runs over and knock Monroe then tells Saxton to ask her how she feels instead.
Thoughts: They did a great job at making Jax appear like a monster. Jax also has a great presence about her in the ring. The wrestling is still not there yet but she appears to be able to carry herself like a star.
Tom Phillips is backstage with Sami Zayn. He asks him about Seth Rollins saying he will make an example out of him tonight. Zayn said he knows Rollins from the past and that his mouth gets him on trouble, much like Kevin Owens. Zayn then said he closed the chapter on that and tonight is looking forward to advancing his career. Just a generic promo by Zayn here.
The New Day come out to the ring. They talk about Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson filing a complaint on them, despite the fact they laid them out, and as a result, one member of the New Day will be banned from ringside. After playing a “bag of fruit” with Xavier losing. Xavier says that his parents and friends are here and cannot wrestle in front of them. However, he will be able to eat Booty O’s backstage as they plug how you can buy some at FYE or at FYE.com.
Kofi Kingston & Big E vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Big E takes down Anderson, who was waving by to Xavier. Anderson catches Big E with a knee to the face then stomps a mudhole in the corner. Big E comes back with a belly-to-belly then tries for the tag but Gallows yanks Xavier off of the apron. Gallows & Anderson give each other the Too Sweet hand gesture but Big E sneaks in and rolls up Anderson for the win (1:21). After the match, Gallows & Anderson attack New Day. Xavier runs out as Gallows boots him down. They then hit Big E with a pair of Boot of Doom’s. Xavier fights back but gets destroyed then Gallows & Anderson give the Too Sweet sign.
Thoughts: The beatdown looked good again this week but losing in under 90 seconds via rollup makes Gallows & Anderson seem more like goofs than threats to the title. I guess this will all end up in a Title match at SummerSlam.
After the break, Big E is shown withering in pain backstage due to the fact he was crotched on the barricade. He insists that he is fine, however.
Cesaro vs. Sheamus
They end in a stalemate after some mat work. After that, they trade uppercuts until Sheamus knocks him down with a Polish Hammer. Cesaro fights back with uppercuts in the corner then uses the Uppercut Train until Sheamus ducks outside. Cesaro then takes Sheamus down with a senton off of the apron but after that gets his injured shoulder rammed into the post. They head back inside where Sheamus beats Cesaro down. He hits a flying shoulder tackle off of the top for a nearfall. Sheamus hits a suplex then tells Cesaro that he is not as tough as him. Cesaro blocks a suplex then deadlifts Sheamus for one as both men are down. Sheamus catches Cesaro and hits a rolling fireman’s carry slam. Sheamus has Cesaro by the face but Cesaro lands a headbutt. Sheamus blocks a swing attempt but Cesaro flips out of a tilt-a-whirl slam attempt and hits the Neutralizer for the win (5:58) **1/2.
Thoughts: Good match for the time allowed but the crowd was dead for this one. Sheamus needs a character overhaul in the worst way and Cesaro is great at what he does but again might find himself stuck in the same position he was before the draft.
Back from break, Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal are in the ring. Slater calls them “2MB” and that they will set Monday Night RAW on fire. Mick Foley then comes out and is surprised because neither one of them are on the roster. However, tonight they will have a “Battle of the Band” and the winner gets a RAW contract. Slater does not want the band to break up and that this will not cause them to break up as the bell rung. Slater then turns around as Mahal boots him the face and gets the win. Mahal then goes over to shake Foley’s hand. I’m guessing Mahal got hired because he is tall as he did not show anything other than the ability to be a lower-card goof in his previous run and they have enough of those on the roster already.
Clips from the Charlotte & Jericho vs. Sasha Banks & Enzo Amore match earlier in the show.
Tom Phillips is backstage with Chris Jericho. He asks Jericho if he is worried about being a marked man but Jericho is not worried as he insists he does not look like Bon Jovi and makes fun of Enzo and Cass before stating someone has his back. Phillips presses Jericho as to who has his back while he struggles to make up a name. However, Kevin Owens comes in to tell Jericho not to worry as he has his back. Jericho then smiles and tells “Tim” that he has Owens.
Looks like we are getting a Enzo & Big Cass vs. Jericho & Owens feud. I am fine with that and I have a feeling, if they go that route, a Jericho vs. Owens feud will happen with Owens turning face.
Seth Rollins vs. Sami Zayn
Rollins cheap shots Zayn in the corner after a break. He chops Zayn against the ropes but gets caught with a leg lairat after that. Rollins ducks outside for a breather as Zayn follows out. Rollins lands a few punches and sends Zayn into the barricade but Zayn takes him down with a moonsault block. Rollins then sends Zayn into the barricade before heading back inside. Rollins works over Zayn in the corner. Zayn tries to fight back but Rollins cuts Zayn off of the top then knocks him to the floor as we head to break. We return with Rollins in control. Zayn sneaks in a rollup but Rollins boots him and hits a buckle bomb. Rollins sets up for a super kick but Zayn comes back with a clothesline as both men are down. Zayn is up first and gets two with a Michinoku Driver. Blue Thunder Bomb gets two. He tries a half nelson suplex but Rollins breaks it up with an enziguiri. Rollins tries for the Pedigree but Zayn counters and hits a DDT. Rollins rolls outside to dodge the Helluva Kick so Zayn flies out with a tope con hilo. Back inside, Rollins boots Zayn as he was in midair and tries another Pedigree but Zayn escapes. Zayn tries for the Helluva Kick but Rollins gets out of the way then hits the Pedigree for the win (11:39) ***1/2.
Thoughts: Really good match. Zayn got the chance to shine even in defeat and it gives Rollins a decisive win en route to his title match at SummerSlam, positioning him again as the favorite over newcomer Finn Balor.
Paul Heyman is in the ring. He uses all sorts of superlatives to put over Brock Lesnar then calls him the “Viper Slayer” as Lesnar himself comes out to the ring. Heyman lets us know that at SummerSlam, Lesnar will entertain us. He then talks about being violent and how he is not supposed to say that word but did because he is standing next to Lesnar. He also tells us Lesnar does not care about the New Era, McMahon Family, and all of the wrestlers, including Randy Orton. Heyman makes fun of Orton’s act and says Lesnar will drag him down to suplex city. Heyman keeps going and going when Orton himself runs into the ring and hits Lesnar with an RKO as the place goes nuts. Stephanie and Foley come out as Orton goes through the crowd. Security come out with Stephanie flipping out as Orton takes off his shirt and the fans chant “RKO.”
The Heyman promo was the same exact one he has been cutting on behalf of Lesnar for years. However, the ending with the RKO was fantastic and the camera angle they used made it look even better on TV. The fans lost their minds for Orton here and they seemed checked out by this point in the show. The added stuff with Stephanie and Foley ordering out security to escort Orton, a member of the Smackdown Live roster, also helped pit the brands against each other as I suspect this to be played upon in the coming weeks. Great ending to what was an average show at that point.
Final Thoughts: This show had its ups-and-downs but the ending here was memorable and got the crowd insanely jacked for Orton. I cannot say enough good things about that. I did like the Rollins vs. Balor interaction and felt they have created a solid story to build upon on the road to SummerSlam. The use of squash matches to build up Jax and Strowman continue to work as well.
They also created a new feud with Rusev/Reigns and Jericho & Owens/Enzo & Cass as well, which seems promising. However, stuff like R-Truth’s Pokemon Go addiction and another feud between the Prime Time Players highlights the problems they will have filling three hours of RAW, something that can be remedied by the Cruiserweight Division, however. Some of the interview and backstage segments were too long and was anyone really clamoring for a Jinder Mahal comeback?
Anyway, there was some good here but also some of the garbage that made episodes of RAW drag before the draft. The middle of the show dragged for the most part. They did a fine job promoting their top SummerSlam at least. And once again, they ended the show on a high note and made you want to tune in next week and see what happens next.