August 15, 2016
From the American Bank Center Arena in Corpus Christi, TX
Your hosts are Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, and Michael Cole
We get a video recap of last week’s show, mainly focusing on Roman Reigns interrupting the Rusev & Lana wedding celebration.
Earlier today, we see Seth Rollins outside of the arena as he calls out the “Demon King” Finn Balor. He then laughs when he does not appear but does promise to find him tonight.
The live show starts with Rusev and Lana in the ring. Rusev says they will refuse to leave until Reigns comes out to apologize as he is holding the show hostage. However, Mick Foley comes out to the ring. Rusev calls Foley’s music “stupid” before demanding respect. Foley tries to plead with him but Rusev refiuses to leave and that when he called him the greatest general manager of all-time last week, he lied. Rusev tells Foley he sucks and demands to get Stephanie out here because she knows what she is doing. Stephanie comes out and tells Rusev his behavior is unacceptable and that he will not get respect until he respects Foley. Rusev says he is the champion and will be respected and maybe he should call her brother and Daniel Bryan, because they respect talent. Reigns then comes out and makes fun of Rusev for being ugly and getting Lana off of a mail-order bride website. Rusev gets on the crowd and Reigns while a “USA” chant breaks out. Reigns gets into Rusev’s face and wants to fight tonight as Rusev accepts to defend his wife’s honor. Foley steps in between and says they will fight for the United States Championship at SummerSlam but tonight, Rusev can fight for Lana’s honor.
Decent segment. This is the second week in a row in which Reigns received improved crowd reaction as this feud is actually remarkable in the sense that Reigns is not getting ragged on by the crowd after coming back from suspension. Rusev was good here again and Reigns appeared more natural and relaxed than usual. I’m liking this feud.
Byron Saxton is in the ring with Sheamus, who will be facing Sami Zayn. Sheamus talks about moving past Cesaro to go on to bigger things. The crowd starts up with the “you look stupid” chant as Sheamus tells them they are stupid for paying to see him. Sheamus then calls Zayn a cheap knockoff of himself and promises to kick his head off. This is due to a Tweet Zayn sent out about not respecting Sheamus and even saying no one likes him.
Sheamus vs. Sami Zayn
These two get into it before the bell as Zayn tosses his shirt in Sheamus’ face. Cesaro comes out as he blames Sheamus for costing him his match last week against Rusev but that he does respect him. Sheamus roughs up Zayn, who fights back. Zayn pulls up on a dive to the floor then tries a leaping DDT from the apron but gets caught and tossed into the post as we head to break. The match returns with Zayn fighting out of a front facelock but he ends up getting pummeled in the corner. Cole asks Cesaro about the offer to join SmackDown made by Daniel Bryan last week as Cesaro says he was drafter on RAW and is a team player. Sheamus gets a nearfall with a tilt-a-whirl slam then hits his ten forearm smash routine to the chest. Zayn comes back with a clothesline as Cole brings up how Cesaro fought Zayn at the first NXT Takeover as Zayn hits a tope con hilo. Back inside, Sheamus catches Zayn with the White Noise for a nearfall. Zayn comes back with a Blue Thunder Bomb, or a Michinoku Driver if you are Michael Cole, as that gets two. Zayn sets up for the Helluva Kick but Sheamus catches him with the Irish Curse for two. Sheamus sets up for the Brogue Kick but Cesaro appears at ringside for the distraction as Zayn hits the Helluva Kick for the win (10:14) **1/4.
Thoughts: The match itself was okay but wrestled at a slower pace than you would expect. Cesaro was passable on commentary as they are seemingly giving him the gimmick of someone who never backs down from a challenge. Zayn is left with nothing to do as they should be capitalizing off of his feud with Owens but right now, who can he feud with on the roster?
Tom Phillips is backstage with Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens. He asks them about Owens match against Big Cass tonight. They promise to watch out for each other then put over they are closer than Enzo & Cass are after just one week. Jericho makes fun of Enzo for his claim that he is a “certified G” while Owens makes fun of Cass for not being able to correctly spell the word “soft” and how he can despite English being his second language. They close by promising to win tonight and to humiliate Enzo & Cass at SummerSlam in front of their hometown crowd. Good job here by Owens & Jericho. I enjoyed this and you can see how each guy is trying hard to be sincere but deep down we know they only care about their own well being.
After the break, several officials are separating Sheamus and Cesaro. Foley comes in screaming about how they will no longer interfere in matches and that Cesaro is tougher than he ever imagined while Sheamus’ head is back in the game. He then declares at SummerSlam ,they will kick off their best of seven series. Looks like we will see more of these two in the coming months. I’m fine with that as it gives them something to do but it would make more sense if they were tied at 1-1, not with Cesaro winning two matches then having them fight in a best of seven after that. At least they have good, hard-hitting matches together.
Dudley Boyz vs. New Day
Big E is still out with “ring post-itis.” We are then shown another video from Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson as they work to find a cure for Big E’s condition. D-Von attacks Xavier after Bubba provided a distraction. D-Von accidentally clotheslines Bubba after making a blind tag as Kofi tags in and quickly puts D-Von away with the Trouble in Paradise (1:35) 1/4*. After the match, we are back to Gallows & Anderson as Gallows says they need more test subjects and places jars labeled for Kofi & Xavier on top of a microwave. Kofi then calls out Gallows & Anderson for coming from all over the world to put eggs in microwaves then yells how this isnt a game. Later on, Kofi tells them they do not have the “power of positivity” or the ability to take away their titles.
Thoughts: These ring post-itis sketches are just awful and this is not getting over with the crowds. They are trying to play up how Big E’s absence will make it almost impossible for the New Day to retain the Tag Team Titles at SummerSlam and they would have been better served putting Gallows & Anderson over more as a threat instead of bad sketch comedy. Also, they had another miscommunication spot between the Dudley Boyz as it appears they might be headed towards a split.
Backstage, Seth Rollins is looking for the Demon King. He ends up running into Neville, who tells Rollins he might think he is ready for the Demon King but he is not. Neville walks away as Rollins tells him to go back to whatever “Hobbit Hole” he came from.
Saxton is in the ring with Rachel Lee (Independent wrestler and Funaki trainee Delilah Doom) , who learned by watching the Summer Olympics that she can do anything. She then talks about Simone Biles being short but still able to win multiple gold medals.
Nia Jax vs. Rachel Levy
Jax tosses Levy down then places her up top and knocks her to the floor. Jax then goes out and rolls her back in before hitting a fireman’s carry slam for the win (1:02).
Thoughts: They have done a superb job at putting Jax over as an unstoppable force. I also give credit to Jax herself as she knows how to carry herself like a star. And Levy took one hell of a bump to the floor. She certainly had a unique look going on too.
We see a determined and angry Paul Heyman backstage as he heads towards the ring.
The second hour kicks off with Brock Lesnar and Heyman headed towards the ring. Lesnar smiles as the crowd chants for him and soaks that up for a minute. As Heyman is about to speak, Heath Slater interrupts. Heyman tells Slater to not listen to the voices in Randy Orton’s head and wants to know who gave him the bad advice to head out here. Slater puts himself over as the hottest free agent in Sports Entertainment and that SmackDown could not recognize his talents and wants Heyman to take a look at him. Heyman laughs at the notion that he would be the advocate for someone lowly like Slater, who tells Heyman all he has to do to get a RAW contract is defeat Brock Lesnar tonight. Slater then asks Heyman if he can face Lesnar tonight as a “yes” chant breaks out. Heyman tells Slater he is doing too much partying on the “Freebird Tour Bus” and goes into his routine but Slater interrupts as he will not be disrespected. Slater then says that his two girls at home and the other kids he has rely on him for money. Slater also says he does not want to do this then Heyman tries to save him but Slater says he cannot be saved. Lesnar then interrupts and tells Slater he appreciates were he comes from and how he has to provide for his kids. Lesnar says he also has kids and invites Slater into the ring. Lesnar then gets into Slater’s face to tell him he does not give a shit about his kids and issues an ultimatum. Slater thinks about it and tries to attack but gets caught with a clothesline. Lesnar then tosses Slater around before hitting an F5. Heyman then grabs the mic and says Slater at least as the manhood to stand up to Lesnar, unlike Randy Orton, then talks about how he is supposed to sell us on the fact Orton has a chance to win at SummerSlam but this Summer belongs to Lesnar and no one in the locker room can stand up to him and this Sunday, we have a chance to see Lesnar after he blew through a minute of superlatives.
I liked this segment. Lesnar did a good job here and Slater was great in this role. If they continue to transition him in this role from a goof to a guy doing anything he can in order to receive a contract, he could end up getting a great reaction when he wins a match and they have an instant midcard face for RAW. Heyman’s interactions with Slater was fine but he cut the same promo he always did at the end and the segment made me care more about Slater than the Orton/Lesnar match at SummerSlam.
Enzo & Big Cass head out of the ring and they do their schtick. It was brief and completely forgettable but they still got a decent response.
Big Cass w/ Enzo Amore vs. Kevin Owens w/ Chris Jericho
Cass beats on Owens to start. Owens ducks out and re-groups with Jericho but gets pulled up onto the apron. Owens then stuns Cass with a jawbreaker and sends him to the floor as we head to break. We return with Owens working a chinlock as Enzo rallies the crowd behind his partner. Cass breaks it up with a back suplex but gets clotheslined into the corner. Owens sets up for a cannonball but eats boot as Cass runs wild. Owens pulls the ropes down on a charging Cass then tries a powerbomb on the outside but Cass counters with a backdrop. Jericho takes down Enzo from behind and provides a distraction as Cass chases him around. Owens then rolls back outside as Cass knocks him down but Jericho attacks Cass from behind for the DQ (6:18) *1/2. They head in the ring as Cass fights them both off until Owens catches him with a super kick then Jericho hits the Codebreaker.
Thoughts: The match itself was forgettable but they did a great job at putting Owens & Jericho over as a focused team heading into their match at SummerSlam. Let’s see how long that will last.
Backstage, Tom Phillips catches up with Roman Reigns. Phillips asks Reigns about what happened earlier tonight as Reigns says he is ready for any type of fight until Rusev attacks him from behind. They brawl for a minute as Lana stands in the background then a few officials run over and separate them. The brawl looked pretty good, with Rusev getting the advantage, as this feud continues to heat up.
The announcers hype up all of the shows this week on the WWE Network leading up to SummerSlam. Its an excellent week of wrestling, that’s for sure.
Primetime Players w/ Bob Backlund vs. Shining Stars
The PTP’s reunited during the RAW pre game show. The PTP’s work over Epico to start. Epico tags out after catching Titus with a back elbow smash as Primo works over Titus in the corner. Titus tosses him around then the PTP’s hit a double-team move. Young runs wild on Primo but accidentally knocks Titus off of the apron then Titus walks in and hits Young with the Clash of the Titus and walks up the aisle as Backlund chases after him. Primo then covers and gets the win (2:41) 3/4*.
Thoughts: This Titus/Young feud is not working. It was not any good after they first broke up a few years back and its still lousy today. You could also predict this ending once they showed you the clip from the pre show. I honestly forgot that the Shining Stars were even on the roster until tonight.
Another hype video for the Cruiserweight Division.
Jinder Mahal vs. Neville
I really dig Mahal’s entrance music and look. Neville fell down during his ring entrance on his way to the top rope. Mahal boots Neville to start but gets taken down shortly after that. Neville hits a hurricarana then boots Mahal to the floor where he flies out with a corkscrew moonsault. Mahal begs for mercy inside as he lures Neville into the ropes. Mahal lands a few nearfalls but Neville fights back and hits an enziguiri from the apron before hitting the Red Arrow for the win (3:05) *.
Thoughts: Another win for Neville since his return from injury. Mahal was also reestablished here as a lower card act. He can do some things well but is too mechanical in the ring and that is not going to cut it today. I have no idea what they are going to do with Neville. Maybe they give him a few wins until the Cruiserweight Division appears?
Stephanie and Foley are backstage. Foley impresses her by saying Jon Stewart will be their guest at SummerSlam when Seth Rollins walks in as he continues his search for the Demon King. He then says this is the last place he looked and now has more important things to do while Foley suggests that he call him out from inside the ring. Rollins leaves for the ring after stating he is not afraid while Foley pulls out a walkie talkie and asks for Rollins’ theme music to be played while Stephanie smiles. They’ve really put over how Stephanie & Foley have been working together as a cohesive unit tonight.
Back from break, Rollins is in the ring. He talks about never being more insulted when last week, Balor talked about the history of the Demon King. Rollins then tells us all to listen, including those in the media, because he has something important to say, which is nothing or no one can stop him from being the WWE Universal Champion. Rollins gives the Demon King one more chance to come out so he can send him back to the history books. He laughs when we do not get the Demon King as he says Balor is scared of him and just tried to use intimidation last week. Rollins calls the Demon King another chapter in the book of Rollins then we see something run in as Rollins shoves them down as the camera pans away. Rollins laughs as the lights flicker and we hear sounds as red lights flash from the entrance as the Demon King appears. His entrance takes a few minutes as the fans go insane. The lights come back on as a “holy shit” chant breaks out as Rollins slowly re-enters the ring and stares down the Demon King. They brawl as the Demon King gets the upper hand and takes out Rollins with a tope con hilo. After that, we cut back to the announcers as they hype up SummerSlam.
The segment itself was fine but I have to question as to why they decided to debut the Demon King on RAW instead of at SummerSlam. They could have teased the Demon appearing with some of the effects and played up Rollins’ fear instead but I suppose they wanted the audience to be familiar with the Demon King before SummerSlam. Its really the only reason I can come up with to be honest. I really do not see Balor losing at SummerSlam after tonight though as it would render it pointless.
Golden Truth vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Gallows & Anderson are wearing their doctor’s coats as Anderson is holding up the jar containing Big E’s testicles. Truth works over Anderson to start. He fights off both men in the corner until Gallows boots him down. Gallows slaps Truth around but get caught with a neckbreaker as both men are down. Goldust tags in and runs wild on Anderson and almost puts him way with a powerslam. Goldust dodges Gallows as he ran in but Anderson catches him from behind then he gets hit with the Magic Killer as Gallows & Anderson get the win (2:16) 1/2*. After the match, Kofi & Xavier run out and attack Gallows & Anderson from behind. The crowd is really into the New Day as they attempt to whack Anderson in the junk with Francesca but Gallows pulls his partner out to safety.
Thoughts: The crowd went nuts for the New Day’s post-match attack but this feuds feels like it is limping into SummerSlam as Gallows & Anderson are not looking like much of a threat anymore, especially when you are stuck doing terrible comedy.
Backstage, Dana Brooke issues an apology to Charlotte, who goes on and on about letting Dana into her world. Charlotte then calls Dana out for letting down and trying to step into her spotlight as she promises to beat Alicia Fox tonight all by herself and leaves before calling Dana an “epic failure.” It seems like they are building towards a Dana/Charlotte feud in the near future.
We get an ad hyping up NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II
Alicia Fox vs. Charlotte
Sasha Banks is on commentary as the announcers hype up her appearance on SportsCenter this Wednesday. Charlotte beats on Sasha, who claims to have taught Charlotte everything she knows while in NXT. Charlotte stays in control as Sasha guarantees victory at SummerSlam then Charlotte hits the Natural Selection for the win (1:28) 1/4*. After the match, Sasha answers Charlotte’s challenge to come down to the ring. She enters as Dana runs out for the distraction and let Charlotte attack Sasha and put her in the figure-eight as Dana shouts out words of encouragement. Charlotte eventually releases the hold after a few referees ran out to pry her off then mocks Sasha as she leaves the ring.
Thoughts: The post-match angle was solid as it puts the heel over and gives the babyface something to overcome as she defends her title. Having Dana and Charlotte tease yet another split is getting old though. The sooner they move Dana away from her the better for her career as she is floundering in this role.
We get a video package hyping up Braun Strowman, who the announcers call the most destructive force in the WWE today. Having him run through enhancement talent has worked greatly so far as they build Strowman back up as a monster.
Lana is in the ring and tells Reigns that he got just a taste of the punishment Rusev gave him today as he fights for her honor. Rusev is now in the ring then Reigns immediately attacks Rusev as these two brawl all over the ring. Cole tells us the match has not even started yet as Reigns hits the Drive By. Rusev takes control as he sends Reigns into the guardrail as we head to break with Cole asking if this match is going to start.
Rusev vs. Roman Reigns
This match started at some point during the break, where Rusev injured Reigns’ arm by ramming it into the ring post. Rusev chokes out Reigns and roughs him up but Reigns fights back. Reigns hits a Samoan Drop with one arm but is in pain. Reigns lands a few punches and clotheslines as the fans have his back. Rusev then dodges an attack as Reigns’ arm hits the post and he falls to the floor. Rusev attacks the arm and stomps it on the ring steps. He then grabs his title belt and tries to hit Reigns but ends up getting decked. Rusev shoves Reigns into the barricade as we head to another commercial. The action returns with Rusev grabbing a mic and asking the crowd to cheer for Russia and Bulgaria. He then heads back into the ring as he continues to attack the injured arm of Reigns. He applies a chinlock then places Reigns up top. Rusev tries or a superplex but Reigns fights back and shoves Rusev off before hitting a flying clothesline. Reigns fights back with corner clotheslines then a back suplex for a nearfall. Reigns sets up for the Superman Punch but Rusev grabs his arm and hits a spinning heel kick for two. He hits three diving headbutts but still cannot put Reigns away. Lana yells at Rusev, who heads back up top for another headbutt but Reigns is still able to kick out. Rusev is even more frustrated then tries another headbutt but Reigns rolls out of the way as both men are down. They slug it out as Reigns wins that battle then Rusev gets clotheslined to the floor. Reigns heads out and tries the Superman Punch but Rusev catches him with a kick. They head back in where Rusev measures Reigns up but runs into the Superman Punch as that almost gets the win. Reigns charges but runs into a kick then gets kicked again but that only gets two as Rusev is in complete disbelief. Rusev calls for the Accolade and tries to put it on but Reigns escapes. Rusev then catches Reigns with another kick and hits a super kick to the back of the head before applying the Accolade. Reigns slowly heads over to the ropes and makes it as Rusev throws a mini tantrum. Rusev charges but Reigns sidesteps that then they work an Irish whip sequence as Reigns hits the spear for the win (20:33) ***3/4.
Thoughts: A great way to cap off an uneven episode of RAW. I really enjoyed this match as Rusev’s foucs over wanting to stand up for his wife’s honor cost him the match. Reigns spear looked great here as he was really clutching his arm after the win, something you have to assume they will play up in their title match at SummerSlam.
Final Thoughts: Overall, this was an uneven episode of RAW. I enjoyed the first hour quite a bit but once the PTP match started, the show dropped off in quality. The top matches for SummerSlam were promoted well enough but nothing blew me away in terms of hype. Part of that is the way the business in the WWE is structured today with the Network subscriptions as the main point of business instead of PPV buys, which is why you saw mentions of the WWE Network all show long.
I really enjoyed the Reigns/Rusev match. However, it was the only good match on the show. There was a lot of talking and video packages tonight too. Some of the feuds are dying (New Day vs. Gallows & Anderson) or just flat-out terrible (Titus vs. Young).
I still think SummerSlam will be a solid show, possibly even great, from top to bottom. However, there was very little in terms of must-see stuff tonight.