So, the WWE is apparently trying to sell the Roman Reigns/Bobby Lashley feud as the greatest, most intense and personal rivalry since The Rock took on Triple H in 2000, which is simply ludicrous. To that end, Reigns and Lashley once again open Raw to trade insults and end up in such a massive brawl that the entire locker room comes out to separate them, prompting Reigns to leap over the top rope and take everyone out. If only Reigns could be like this every week.
The seemingly never-ending issues between Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax continue in yet another tag team match, this time seeing Nia and Natalya defeat Alexa and Mickie James after Nia all-but-squishes Mickie into a puddle for the win.
Speaking of never-ending, it’s Mojo Rawley and No way Jose…again…but with the added twist that, this week, we get an actual match! Mojo gets the win after an Alabama Slam, to the sound to crickets and mild annoyance. Afterwards, Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler, and Drew McIntyre get into it again to keep that fire burning; you might think it’s hypocritical of me to complain about Alexa/Nia and Mojo/Jose being never-ending but being okay with Rollins/Ziggler, and maybe you’re right, but the difference is that Rollins/Ziggler actually have decent matches.
Bray Wyatt is back after his car accident the other week, but obviously not in the ring! Oh, God no! Instead, Matt Hardy takes on Bo Dallas to shake things up a bit but, despite Wyatt being at ringside and fending off Curtis Axel, loses after a Draping Neckbreaker. Got to say that our Raw Tag Team Champions look like a right bunch of chumps against these guys.
Ember Moon and Liv Morgan went at it (I want to say again, and I’m sure I’d be right, but I can’t be bothered to remember), which saw Ember pick up another win, before tradition returns to the WWE creative team and Finn Balor teamed up with Bobby Roode to take on Baron Corbin and Elias. Apparently, Elias and Corbin have a bit of a “thing” going on at the moment, which could actually work as an odd couple, big-man/little-man tag team going forward. As if to emphasise that, the heels got the win after Balor let his emotions get the better of him and took himself out of the match by hitting the ring post and then Roode got planted, and pinned, following the End of Days. These guys seem to gel and work together quite well; it’s too bad they aren’t more involved in the Intercontinental Championship.
Speaking of which, Rollins get the main event because, unlike some muscle-bound freaks of nature, he’s actually around every week and in competition for the top belt on Raw. The stipulation here is that, if Drew McIntyre loses, he won’t be allowed at ringside at Extreme Rules…so quite the high-stakes match, then. Anyway, this was all about Drew’s strength vs. Seth’s speed as both men are so crisp and skilled in the ring that they can technically match each other blow for blow. Drew had Dolph at ringside, though, and his interference distracted Rollins enough for McIntyre to lay him out with the Claymore, get the win, and again beg the question of why he isn’t the Intercontinental Champion.
It’s Miz TV time…again…with Team Hell No…again…this time with Miz continuing to stir the pot and wind up Daniel Bryan and Kane, of all people, being the voice of reason. Eventually, the Bludgeon Brothers arrive for a bit of a fight, only for the New Day to fend them off, but then SAnitY remember that they exist and also get in on the action.
AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura then have another match…as the opening match on a random episode of SmackDown! Live. That’s…well…weird is one word, disappointing is another; so we were expected to pay to see AJ/Nakamura battle for the WWE Championship on pay-per-view but, now that all the conflict has died away, it’s a throwaway match on a Tuesday night? Rii-iii-ght. Anyway, they were actually putting on quite the entertaining match before Rusev got involved; to be fair, Rusev attacking AJ for the disqualification probably kept AJ from getting his dick kicked again. However, Jeff Hardy joins the fray and Paige turns it into a tag team match, which makes a lot more sense as Jeff and Nakamura are supposed to be feuding over the United States Championship. Don’t worry, though, Nakamura has his eyes on Jeff’s balls now and crotched him as he goes for the Swanton Bomb, which allowed Rusev to hit the Machka Kick and get the win. Great to see Rusev building some real momentum leading up to his title shot but I kind of liked the idea of him being a bit more face/tweener in this feud and, now, he seems to be right back to a heel, which doesn’t fight with the massive crowd reactions he gets.
Because we didn’t get enough of this shit last week, James Ellsworth and Asuka try for another match this week, this time with all of the SmackDown! Live women (except for Charlotte) surrounding the ring for a lumberjack (or should it be lumberjill?) match. With all those women at ringside, Ellsworth had nowhere to run and ended up tapping like a bitch after being owned like a bitch; can we really not find anything better for Asuka to do than this rubbish?
Well, slap my ass! Andrade Cien Almas is finally back on television…and in a match, no less! I mean, against Sin Cara…but still! Apparently, these guys are former friends? I must have missed that as I thought Almas had just attacked Sin Cara because he had to fight someone. Despite Sin Cara getting in some shots, Almas got the win pretty handily but, still, you would never know from this (or his main roster run so far) that he had a hell of a run as the NXT Champion not that long ago.
After the mayhem of the opening brawl, we get an eight-man tag team match for the main event this week as Kane, Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods take on Eric Young, Killian Dain, Alexander Wolfe, Harper, and Rowan. Thankfully, they just went at it right from the bell and didn’t waste time pretending that this was anything other than a clusterfuck. In the end, it obviously all descended into anarchy and Bryan manage to hit his Running Knee on Young to get the win; he even set off Kane’s pyro in celebration! Nice touch but I guess SAnitY are the new Ascension as, since being called up, they’ve won zero matches and made zero impact. It’s like the WWE is treating them like they’ve already had a decent main roster run, maybe a run with the belts, and are now old hands helping new teams…and that simply isn’t true.
Kickoff Match: Tables Match: SAnitY vs The New Day
Now this is more of a reason to have SAnitY on the main roster: over-the-top, fun six-man gimmick matches! It’s too bad that there seems to be very little reason for the New Day to actually fight them, though, as they’ve kind of already gotten a modicum of revenge against them by being on the winning side this week. Anyway, if SAnitY are to be taken as a legitimate force, they need this win so I’m picking SAnitY here in the continued hope that Eric Young will get a decent run near the top in the WWE.
Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin
As I said the other week, it seems that whatever plans the WWE had for Daniel Bryan and Big Cass have been transplanted into this feud. I actually like Corbin and being in the ring with a guy like Balor (who, no doubt about it, deserves so much more) should, hopefully, help him to improve his game and show why he was given that Money in the Bank win a while back. Given that the WWE are also pushing him as their new enforcer, I think we’ll see Baron Corbin get the win here and Finn can get his win back at SummerSlam.
Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley
Boy, has it taken Lashley a long time to make any kind of impact since his return to the WWE. I still say he should have been Braun Strowman’s mystery partner; imagine the tear those two could have been on as the Raw Tag Team Champions and how much more it would mean if the B-Team could unseat them, and then imagine the Strowman/Lashley wars we’d get afterwards! Instead, Lashley gets to call Reigns out on his bullshit and be a stepping stone on Roman’s path back to right where he doesn’t belong, challenging Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship. Therefore, yep, Roman Reigns to win.
Steel Cage Match: Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens
Poor Kevin Owens; remember when he was the Universal Champion? Now he’s treading water doing great character work but being fed to Strowman as Strowman waits to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Just another way that Lesnar’s absence hurts the Raw roster, and the WWE in general. However, I reckon this might be quite the surprising match and that Kevin Owens will use his conniving ways to steal a victory…that or Braun will simply launch him through the cage wall like the Big Show!
WWE Intercontinental Championship Thirty-Minute Iron Man Match: Dolph Ziggler (c) with Drew McIntyre vs. Seth Rollins
Just the fact that this is Rollins, Ziggler, and a God-damn Iron Man match means that this will steal the entire show! In a perfect world, this would be the main event but it’ll probably actually be the opening match to set us up to believe this pay-per-view will be good. As noted, Drew’s victory this week means that he gets to be at ringside and I suspect that will be what tips this in Ziggler’s favour; also, I’m expecting Rollins to move on to other things higher up the card and to use this match to help legitimise and reinvigorate Ziggler for whomever challenges him next so I’m gonna pick Dolph Ziggler to retain.
WWE United States Championship Match: Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Rubbish build here, partially because I think Jeff’s working hurt and also because Nakamura got bit by that dog the other week. I also don’t think these two will mesh well at all and am expecting this to be an absolute dumpster fire that further casts a shadow over Nakamura’s WWE career. With all that in mind, I also expect Jeff Hardy to retain in characteristically sloppy fashion.
WWE SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship Match: Carmella (c) with James Ellsworth in a shark cage vs. Asuka
Man, the WWE is never going to give up on this shark cage fetish they have! The shark cage has never stopped anyone from interfering or screwing up the match so I’m expecting Carmella to win after Ellsworth slips her a metal pole or something and she takes Asuka out behind the referee’s back and for this dogshite of a feud to continue onwards.
SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championship Match: The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. Team Hell No
I may have mentioned this but I am not really impressed with Harper and Rowan since they won the belts; they haven’t been the dominating force they should be and have barely competed at all. Weeks can go by where they’re barely a factor at all and they really should have been destroying SmackDown! Live’s tag teams in order to justify the reunion of Team Hell No. Saying that, I like Kane and Bryan teaming up again; again, it really feels like the WWE is getting as much as they can out of Bryan in case he gets hurt again and Kane is seriously winding down now as he gets closer to being elected mayor so I reckon this’ll be a fun match…that sees the Bludgeon Brothers retain.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt (c) vs. The B-Team
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: why are the WWE not getting behind the Revival? At this point, after pushing Titus Worldwide and now the B-Team towards the belts, it’s like they are deliberately holding them back from competing for the belts like petulant children! This should be a feud based on the insanity of Matt and Bray against the technical wizardry of the Revival; instead, it’s a couple of goofballs lucking their way to a shot. I will maintain the hope that the Revival or the Authors of Pain will unseat the champions, though, and therefore pick Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt to retain.
Raw Women’s Championship Extreme Rules Match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax
And here we are, right back where we were a few months ago! Honestly, what was the bloody point of having Nia win the belt if Alexa was just going to get it back and they were going to fight again? all this just so that Ronda Rousey has a more “fitting” opponent to win the belt off when her “suspension” ends, conveniently just in time for SummerSlam. It could have been Ember Moon as champion, or Ruby Riott, or anyone just to get some fresh faces in there. Oh well, at least Alexa Bliss looks cute with the belt.
WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Rusev
I am super happy to see Rusev finally get a shot at the top belt and the main event but I don’t think that the WWE really, truly believes in him as a competitor or potential World Champion. AJ Styles isn’t yet become stale to drop the belt; he’s a great fighting champion and the people love him so surely it makes more sense for him to drop the belt at SummerSlam so his opponent can get a bigger win out of it? At the same time, I’d hate to see Rusev get shunted down the card if he loses here…so I’m going to pick AJ Styles to retain after Rusev gets disqualified or they get counted out or something.