Dean Ambrose opens things up this week, because nobody likes wrestling matches any more thanks to the WWE’s conditioning. Seth Rollins comes out and tries one more time to mend fences and get two-thirds of the band back together, only for the two to end up coming to blows. But, when Cesaro and Sheamus decide to join in, Ambrose and Rollins fend them off and finally hit the Shield fist bump to thunderous applause. Afterwards, Kurt Angle officially makes their match at Summerslam for the Raw Tag Team Championships. You know what would’ve been really surprising? If Dean Ambrose, who’s been a bit of a dick about the whole thing (though understandably, given Rollins’ past) totally rejected Rollins and turned on him. But, then again, that would only lead to more matches between those two; at least this way there’s some spotlight on the tag team division.
The culmination of last week’s two triple threat matches came to a head when, surprise upon surprise, Nia Jax once again could not get past the adamantium-coated rocket that is Sasha Banks and eventually succumbed to the Banks Statement, making Sasha the number one contender. Okay, maybe Nia isn’t totally ready for a run with the Raw Women’s Championship but, come on, would it really be so bad to have her just crush through some opposition for a while in a dominant run rather than seeing Sasha get shot after shot? Sasha really is the female John Cena at this point, but at least he has the credentials and history to back him up.
Big Cass then came out and ripped into Enzo Amore, and totally trolled the audience when they wouldn’t stop booing him. Enzo then pops out, does his thing, and brings out the Big Show to KO Cass again. However, in a surprising twist, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson instead jump Big Show and, alongside Cass, slam his KO-ing hand in the shark cage that will, apparently, suspend Enzo above the ring at Summerslam like some kind of prize trophy. Not sure where they’re going with the Club aligning with Cass but maybe it’s the birth of a three-man stable that I’ve been asking/begging for for a while now?
Summerslam’s card gets a little lighter as Neville finally loses the WWE Cruiserweight Championship to Akira Tozawa after a pretty exciting, decently-lengthed match. Tozawa got a pretty strong reaction after winning; whether it’s actually because of the win or because someone finally beat Neville is up for debate.
Bray Wyatt then actually pinned Finn Balor in another match that was supposed to be at Summerslam. Afterwards, Wyatt dunked a bucket of blood over Balor and, a little later, Balor confirms they’ll face off again at Summerslam only he’ll be bringing the paint and the “Demon King” back for his revenge. Wyatt may be damaged goods at this point but winning matches, especially competitive matches against the likes of Balor (who can easily take the loss if he gets the Summerslam win) is a good way to up his stock as a credible threat. The bucket of blood was also a good way of motivating Balor into busting out that awesome paint job again.
Mickie James beat Emma. It happened and does anyone care? I wonder if Emma is regretting complaining about not being on TV? The non-title match between Jason Jordan and the Miz never actually happened because the Miz-tourage decided to stick their oars in, leading to a six-man tag team match where Jordan was joined by the Hardy Boys. Jordan and the Hardys got the win after pinning Dallas, which is exactly one of the three guys who should be eating the fall in matches involving the Miz (that’s what the stooges are there for, even nobody jobbers like these two), and the Hardys tried their damndest to give Jordan their seal of approval as a babyface. I can’t help but thing, maybe, Jordan should be more of a cocky, chip-on-the-shoulder, tweener type of guy who thinks he deserves chances because of who his “father” is.
No main event this week. Instead, Brock Lesnar, Samoa Joe, Braun Stowman, and Roman Reigns came out to each calmly and logically state why they will win at Summerslam, shook hands, and wished each other the best of luck. Oh, no, wait, instead we got a massive four-way brawl, with security and the Raw locker room eventually desperately trying to split everybody up. The finale between Lesnar and Strowman was epic, with both men just tossing guys aside like flies and really laying into each other. Make no mistake, this is going to be the main even of Summerslam.
Jinder Mahal comes out to brag about how he is going to beat John Cena later that night (which, after his pathetic loss to Randy Orton last week, is harder to believe than it was two weeks ago). Shinsuke Nakamura comes out to remind everyone that he’s the number one contender and has a WWE Championship with Mahal at Summerslam, basically saying he’s going to win. It’s too bad that the WWE haven’t bothered to put any focus on this match until now, the week before Summerslam, completely derailing or scarpering any potential interest beyond wanting to see Nakamura in the ring/win the belt.
Natalya then desperately attempts to show why she deserves to be the number one contender by, surprisingly, slapping the Sharpshooter onto the far more deserving Becky Lynch and making her tap out.
Moving swiftly on, Rusev and Chad Gable fought to a double count-out. After brawling some more, Rusev stuck gable into the Accolade on the announcer’s table (because that somehow does double damage?) however, as he tied to cut a promo on Randy Orton, he got dropped from out of thin air as Orton darted into the ring and hit him with an RKO. The fire and aggression from Rusev was great to see; Gable took a good beating and gave as good as he could and looking very resilient but was no match for the fired-up Rusev. Orton’s RKO was hilarious and amazing, though I maybe would have preferred to see him suddenly strike later in the night as Rusev was preparing to leave or something so as not to instantly suck away the heat that Rusev just built up by destroying Gable.
Next up, more shenanigans as AJ Styles apologised for kicking Shane McMahon in the head last week. Shane accepted but threatened that he would give as good as he got if anyone laid their hands on him at Summerslam. Kevin Owens then goaded Styles into a fight and accidentally laid Shane out himself when the younger McMahon tried to break them up. Looks like no one is taking any shit from anyone this Sunday, Michael!
The Usos then got a win over the new Day (represented by Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods in a rare in-ring appearance from Woods) in a non-title match. The story here was that the Usos were targeting and damaging Kofi’s knee, which ultimately led them to victory of the champions and cast some doubts about whether Kofi will be 100% at Summerslam. If only there were another man in their team to substitute for him…
And then we got the main event and SmackDown! Live’s streak of having incredibly dumb stuff happen continued for the second week in a row. Mahal put up a good fight against Cena, kicking out of the Attitude Adjustment (loads of people may do it but it’s still a viable finisher) but looked like a complete bitch, again, because he got planted with a Super Attitude Adjustment from the second rope and was clearly about to lose to Cena when Baron Corbin ran in to attack Cena. Then, to my absolute horror, Corbin cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase only to get side-tracked with Cena and rolled up like a wuss to lose his shot. This was pretty good for Mahal, who used his wits and brains to sneak away with the belt, but the real story was clearly Cena and Corbin and quickly manufacturing heat between the two for their match at Summerslam. I’m not a fan of Corbin unsuccessfully cashing in the briefcase, as I was really hoping the WWE were going to push him hard, but apparently they’ve given up on making SmackDown! Live entertaining and are treading water with the show until the next “Superstar Shake-Up”.
Kick-Off Match: WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Akira Tozawa (c) vs. Neville
It’s very strange that the WWE decided to pull the title change on Raw this week rather than at the biggest event of the summer but, then again, it’s nice to see belts change hands on “free TV” every once in a while. With that said, I think Tozawa will retain the belt here to cement himself as the new reigning Cruiserweight Champion. The real question is whether the WWE can actually build up some credible heel challengers for him to face once he’s done with Neville.
Kick-Off Match: SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championship Match: The New Day (c) vs. The Usos
Given that the champions will be represented by Big E and Xavier Woods, I think this one is pretty much a lock-in for the champions to retain as all the work and effort the Usos put into injuring Kofi won’t mean anything here except to show that they’ll be trying to do the same to their opponents. Also, fuck the WWE for putting championship matches on the pre-show as it devalues the belts and where the hell is the Intercontinental Championship match?
Big Cass vs. The Big Show (With Enzo Amore Suspended in a Shark Cage)
My God is the WWE getting their money’s worth out of that shark cage! Isn’t this the third shark cage match in the last year alone? I don’t see the benefit to the match in having Enzo up there; does the winner get to take him home as a sex slave? Ugh, well, anyway, I want to see the Big Show do the right thing and put Cass over in a big way here like he did with Braun Strowman. Let’s say Big Cass takes the win and absolutely wrecks Show afterwards, then busts Enzo out and murders him, too, and finally moves onto new things the next night on Raw.
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
While it seems redundant now that Wyatt beat Balor this week on Raw, this match is now being sold as fresh and new by hyping Finn’s revenge and return to his Demon King persona. It’s a tough match to call as Bray really needs to be racking up credible wins to legitimise himself but they shouldn’t be having Finn use his top gimmick unless he’s going to win. So, I think we’ll see a great innings from both men but, hopefully, Finn Balor will end up with his hand raised.
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
Basically the complete opposite of the last match, I fully expect Rusev to earn a huge win by taking out Orton here. If Rusev is victorious, and Orton pinned Jinder Mahal, that means that Rusev should jump up the rankings and, following his win, get inserted into the main event scene, maybe to face Nakamura for the belt later on? Either way, yes, Orton does not need to be winning here in any way, shape, or form (well…maybe by disqualification, I guess…).
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
Man, is SmackDown! Live weird lately with guys jumping to and from feuds with little-to-no rhyme or reason! Anyway, rather than putting over Mahal strong in a WWE Championship match, I’d like to Cena do the right thing and put over Corbin as a major threat by taking the loss here. After Corbin’s unsuccessful cash-in he needs all the momentum he can get a definitely should be beating Cena here to use that victory as a means to insert himself into, perhaps, the main event scene for a four-way feud between Mahal, Nakamura, Rusev, and Corbin (sounds great just thinking about it, actually!).
SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship Match: Naomi (c) vs. Natalya
I cannot go into too much detail here as I am so apathetic to the whole thing: Naomi retains because why the hell is Natalya taking up his spot? Seems likely that Carmella will cash in her briefcase, though, so I expect to see Carmella become the new SmackDown! Live Women’s Champion and for Naomi to go back to chasing for the belt.
Raw Women’s Championship Match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Sasha Banks
Alexa because she’s cute and I am so sick of Sasha Banks getting shot after shot and have no desire to see her with the belt again. Plus, the longer Alexa holds it, the more people will/should despise her and will, hopefully, pop big for Bayley to dethrone her when she’s all healed up
WWE United States Championship Special Guest Referee (Shane McMahon) Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens
Things finally get interesting again with this match. Though soured by the weird referee bumps over their last few encounters and the apparent “need” to have Shane officiate the match, I am hoping this is where the Styles/Owens feud really kicks into high gear and they put on the show stealer we all know they’re capable of. Part of me world like to see Shane turn heel and screw AJ out of the belt but, if rumours are to be believe, they’re planning on screwing Owens over with a pointless feud against Shane so I think it’s more likely that AJ Styles will retain.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match: Sheamus and Cesaro (c) vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins
The Shield reunites…kind of. As my predictions so far have been very heel-heavy, I think we’ll see Ambrose and Rollins dethrone the champions and start an ongoing storyline where they hold the belts but constantly try to one-up, out-do, and are suspicious of each other until finally learning to get along just in time to lose the belts to, let’s say, the revival (if they can go more than five minutes without getting injured).
WWE Championship Match: Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Personally, I feel it’s too soon for this match; the WWE has done an okay job of pushing Nakamura but having him win his first WWE World title off a guy as divisive as Jinder isn’t anywhere near as impressive as, say, beating the man who pinned John Cena clean at Summerslam. Also, they’ve done a piss-poor job of building hype around this match as Nakamura and Jinder have only interacted once so far so I think we’ll see Jinder Mahal retain, perhaps through interference, disqualification, or some other shenanigans to let the feud actually get some heat and interest behind it and give Nakamura more of a chase.
WWE Universal Championship Fatal Four-Way Match: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe vs. Braun Strowman
If Brock Lesnar loses, he and Paul Heyman will leave the WWE “forever”. With the rumours that Lesnar is planning on heading back to UFC for a bit, it seems a foregone conclusion that he is losing here but is the WWE crazy enough to have him retain and carry their ugly-ass red belt into the octagon? Maybe, as bizarre as it sounds, I could totally see them doing that! I don’t think it’s Joe’s time to win the title, or if he is even ever planned to win it; I feel Joe’s job is to be a bad-ass, no-nonsense mechanic who presents a credible threat but doesn’t need to hold the belt. In fact, I could see him being a dominating Intercontinental Champion and never winning the Universal or World Championships and that being totally okay. Are the WWE ballsy enough to take a chance on Braun Strowman? As also-crazy as it sounds now, as I never thought I’d say it, I’d actually lose to see it; Strowman has become a top-tier monster with all the momentum in the world. Yet, I am reminded of Kane; he debuted in an impactful way, went on a reign of terror and looked unstoppable and, sure, he had a “cup of coffee” with the WWF Championship but he didn’t get a meaningful World Championship run until over ten years later because he was so over as a monster that he didn’t “need to be the champion”. Maybe the same is true of Strowman; maybe the WWE will slowly turn him face and have him win the Royal Rumble instead? Therefore, once again, I have to pick Roman Reigns to win. Come on, the rumour is the Cena is coming to Raw so, you have Reigns win and be a complete smug asshole about it, feuding with some guys for the belt and slow-burning towards Reigns vs. Cena at WrestleMania. Reigns needs a meaningful reign (lol) with the belt and has put up with way too much crap to not deserve it; let him carry it, do the build, and see what happens after that “torch-passing” match. If people still hate him, he can drop the belt to a super-over babyface (Balor, maybe) and start a run as the dickhead heel we all know he could be.