The greatest, most improved wrestler of all time, Ronda Rousey, gets some mic time to open the show. She talks a bit about Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, who unfortunately died just the other day, to get some manufactured face pops and then transitions from that into her apparently deep and unshakeable friendship with Natalya, and then from thatinto vowing to defeat Alexa Bliss at SummerSlam like Bliss is a Brock Lesnar-like figure/obstacle. Alexa takes umbrage to this and ends up in a match with Ember Moon, which is a great spot for Ember (who should really have been given the title shot over Rousey, in my opinion, but Ronda is the greatest woman to ever adapt to the WWE style ever so…). Luckily for Ember, her hot streak isn’t affected too much as interference from Alicia Fox causes the disqualification and allows her to lose but not lose lose.
Baron Corbin gets in the ring against Raw’s newest jobber-to-the-stars, Tyler Breeze, who is apparently destined to just get the piss beaten out of him until Fandango returns from injury. This happens again here, and did little to build audience confidence in Corbin’s ability against Finn Balor, but then seamlessly transitions into a tag team match pitting Balor and Braun Strowman against Kevin Owens and Jinder Mahal. I do like how they’re maintaining continuity by having Balor and Strowman team up again, and again they work pretty well as a big man/little man tag team. Here, they’re able to fight off interference from the Singhs, and Braun got a measure of revenge against Mahal and Ownes by smashing the hell out of them and getting the win.
Elias once again baits Bobby Lashley into a confrontation to bash him with a guitar using a proxy; again, I can’t help but feel like Lashley would fit in and stand out much better on SmackDown! Live where he won’t be lost in the sea of other big, sweaty men on Raw.
The Raw Tag Team Championships were on the tine as the B-Team defended against Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt and the Revival, which was odd because I thought we were building towards this match happening at SummerSlam? I guess that goes to show you how much attention I actually pay. Either way, I’m very happy to see the Revival finallygetting involved in Raw’s lacklustre tag team scene, and their presence directly contributed to the B-Team lucking out with the win after Curtis Axel pinned Bray following the Shatter Machine. Methinks a ladder match could help spice up their SummerSlam match…
Roman Reigns is here to soak up to jeers and mixed reactions of the crowd and to vows once again to end Brock Lesnar. Paul Heyman comes out to kiss up to him and do his usual bit where he hypes up Lesnar’s opponent whilst also hyping up how Lesnar cannot be beaten; very contradictory. Anyway, turns out it’s a trap!!! as Lesnar’s cheque cleared so he’s here to kick seven kinds of piss out of Reigns; Heyman even maces Roman, apparently indicating that they’re still on the same page despite what appeared to be a pretty definitive falling out the other week. If only we could’ve seen this every week, maybe then people who have some sympathy for Reigns.
The Authors of Pain are back in action, this time teaming with Raw’s next biggest star, Mojo Rawley, against Titus Worldwide and one of the WWE’s most underused talents Bobby Roode, in meaningless, classic six-man tag team action. Oh, and Titus Worldwide and Roode won because nothing says “take these heels seriously!” like having them lose.
Sasha Banks and Ruby Riott get into it next, with Ruby maliciously targeting Sasha’s hand, and even getting the surprise win off a cradle after seemingly the entire women’s roster of Raw gets involved at ringside. Afterwards, our main event was a contract signing between Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins for another Intercontinental Championship match at SummerSlam. Drew McIntyre is out as well, as is Kurt Angle to oversee things, and everyone trades mean comments, jibes, and threats. After signing the contract, Rollins announces that Dean Ambrose will be in his corner to even the odds and Dean (sporting a shaved head, a beard, and a noticeably “improved” physique) makes a triumphant return to lay out Drew and Dolph. Still hoping that Dean turns on Rollins going forward, especially given his more heel-ish look.
It’s all about the women this week as Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Carmella open the show to hype up the unnecessary triple threat match they’ll compete in at SummerSlam. Paige steps in just as things start heating up and, you guessed it, books a tag team match pitting Charlotte and Becky against Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville while Carmella sits on commentary. The story here was that, once Becky got tagged in, she refused to tag out and won the match by herself, proving that she, and she alone, deserves the title shot.
After the Bludgeon Brothers destroyed some jobbers in what I guess was a match but was more of a ten second showcase, the New Day went up against SAnitY in another of those “we were in an intense rivalry but now we just randomly have throwaway matches on television” matches. Even worse, this was simply a vehicle to give the New Day momentum heading into SummerSlam, once again raising the very real question of why the WWE bothered to call SAnitY up to the main roster when they clearly have nothing for them.
Andrade “Cien” Almas and Aiden English were up next, as English attempts to make up for his recent “mistakes” but ends up being defeated in less than two minutes. Afterwards, there’s a bit of a confrontation between Rusev and Lana and Almas and Zelina Vega, apparently setting up an intergender tag team match for some time.
Jeff Hardy and Shelton Benjamin (remember him?) had a bit of a match next, which never really got a chance to be the match it could have been as Jeff just kind of won in less than five minutes. After the match, Shinsuke Nakamura attacked as Randy Orton looked on but Jeff got the better of him too!
The main event of the week was AJ Styles promising the he knows how to defeat Samoa Joe and that he will defeat him at SummerSlam, but Joe was all like “no, I will beat you!” and that was it…
Zelina Vega and Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Lana and Rusev
Oh, hey, it’s the intergender tag team match I was just talking about. I’m still not sure why the WWE thinks it’s a good idea to split up Aiden English and Rusev, especially as it may lead to matches between the two and I have no desire to see that because Aiden is diabolical and boring in the ring. I’m guessing, though, that the aim will be to continue that angle and he will get involved and somehow cost his guys the match, so I’ll give the win to Zelina Vega and Andrade “Cien” Almas.
Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz
A match being hyped as being eight years in the making, and that could not wait for WrestleMania. Again, it really seems like the WWE is predicting a limited shelf life for Bryan’s return and is trying to get all the big, marquee matches out of him so putting this on here is a great idea and this has a lot of potential to steal the show. I’m actually going to bet against the grain and give the win to The Miz as I feel there’s more to be done with these two, maybe even jump them both to the WWE Championship picture for a fatal-four way with Samoa Joe and AJ Styles.
Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin
Poor, poor Finn; he went for the Universal Champion to just complete mediocrity and now he’s being used to make Corbin look strong…and I say that as a fan of Corbin! I am sure that Finn can carry him to a decent match here but, as much as I’d like him to win and get back on track, the smart money is on Baron Corbin.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Drew Gulak vs. Cedric Alexander (c)
If this actually makes it on to the main show, I’ll be pleasantly surprised but, of course, it won’t because, even though205 Live has supposedly improved, the WWE has no intention of spotlighting the cruiserweights ever again. Also, I haven’t really been following this so I’ll just go with Drew Gulak to win.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler (c) with Drew McIntrye vs. Seth Rollins with Dean Ambrose
The return of Dean Ambrose and his “addition” to this match has really helped to add a new spice to the mixture of this feud but I’m still confused as to why Drew is involved since he said a few weeks ago that he was done with Dolph. Either way, I’m pretty sure that these two will cause this to devolve into a clusterfuck and allow Dolph Ziggler to steal the win. Maybe this will also evolve into a fatal-four way later down the line?
WWE United States Championship Match: Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Jeff Hardy
I love how the WWE treats the United States Championship as a conciliation prize; it’s like, “oh, you’re not able to win the top belt? Just take this!” and really begs the question of why Nakamura didn’t just use the tactics he used against Jeff to win the WWE Championship. Either way, these two don’t seem to gel too well and I expect Shinsuke Nakamura to win here, possibly thanks to Randy Orton, to shunt Jeff towards his feud with Orton.
Money in the Bank Contract On the Line: Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens
I missed somewhere that this was the stipulation for this match and I’m not exactly thrilled that it is the stipulation; the Money in the Bank briefcase, like the Royal Rumble win, isn’t something you should be able to put on the line and I don’t get why Strowman who agree to doing that just to face someone he’s already beaten. I actually have a horrible feeling that Kevin Owens will win this match but I’m going to stick with Braun Strowman.
SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championship Match: The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. The New Day
It feels like we’ve already seen this match a dozen times already but I must be misremembered that, or something. I am disappointed that the Bludgeon’s reign has been less-than-thrilling; I expected them to wreck shit up on a weekly basis but, instead, they’re hardly ever on the show for a minute. Because of that, I am hoping that the New Day work their asses off to put the Bludgeon Brothers over to help solidify their reign and get them back on track.
SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match: Carmella (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair
Again, I am pretty unimpressed to see Charlotte return from injury/boob surgery and just be granted the chance to be put into this match and yet nobody batted an eyelid and there’s been nowhere near as much controversy as there is when this happens to Roman Reigns. They could have at least made it a fatal-four way with Asuka thrown in there but, while I can see Carmella stealing the victory for face her one-on-one later down the line, I’m sticking with Becky Lynch to win.
Raw Women’s Championship Match: Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss (c)
And here we are, another championship match featuring a former MMA star that has had a lacklustre build due to said star being absent for weeks on end. What, exactly, has Ronda done to earn this shot and are we really supposed to believe that Alexa has any kind of chance against her? This is obviously Ronda Rousey’s time and I can only hope that she improves in the ring with the belt and actually bothers to show up once she has it.
WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe
I’m excited to see this match, especially given their matches in Impact Wrestling, but the build has been cra-aa-ap!Just like with Nakamura/Styles, the WWE chose to go completely the opposite route and build this through a series of promos featuring either one man, a man talking to the TitanTron, or one man in the aisle and one man in the ring. This leads me to believe that, no matter who wins, the feud will step up a notch going forwards with them attacking each other out the blue. As much as I like AJ, I think it’s maybe time to finish off this run and learn from the mistakes of his feud with Nakamura; therefore, I’m picking Samoa Joe to win and, as I mentioned earlier, this to evolve into a fatal-four way featuring Miz and Bryan.
WWE Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Please, please let this be the last time! This has to be it, right? After the WWE botched it all up at WrestleMania and has been desperately trying to tell us that Reigns is being held down and screwed over my management despitenobody ever interfering in his title matches this must be the time when he wins, surely? To me, Roman Reigns gets the win and as he’s crying amidst a sea of confetti and boos, Braun Strowman cashes in and wins the title to set off a new feud between those to. Either way, this needs to end!