If the cure for an underperforming Battleground pay-per-view one night earlier was a high-energy Raw to cause the bad memories to fade away, WWE just might’ve accomplished what it set out to do on Monday. From a red-hot opening segment announcing a highly anticipated SummerSlam main event in August featuring the company’s four hottest stars to the continuing drama of a mini Shield reunion in the main event, Raw largely delivered the goods over a quick-moving three hours of pro wrestling.
Bayley pinned good friend Sasha Banks to secure a women’s title shot, and Finn Balor saw his attempt at exacting revenge against Elias Samson get once again intercepted by Bray Wyatt as Raw produced a series of matches with the kind of electricity typically reserved for Sunday nights. Let’s look back on the night that was for WWE on Monday from Washington, D.C.
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WWE Raw results
In the ring — Kurt Angle, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns: The general manager shared he was giving his biological son, Jason Jordan, “an opportunity” later tonight on Raw but that “the rest is up to him.” He was also on the verge of announcing who would face Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam when Strowman, Joe and Reigns came out in succession, each one making a strong case for themselves. Reigns’ case was the most effective as he arrogantly ran down his accomplishments since joining the main roster. As tensions grew, Angle stepped in to change his mind, announcing a Fatal 4-Way match at SummerSlam.
After Joe took issue with Angle’s decision, Strowman said all he cares about is “piling bodies.” Reigns responded by rolling his eyes and telling Strowman to “shut up” before hitting him with a pair of right hands. A wild brawl ensued. Angle called for security guards and Strowman returned to single-handedly destroy them, tossing one onto the floor outside like a rag doll. Joe applied his Coquina Clutch from behind as Angle motioned for the entire locker room to try and break them apart. Amid the chaos, Reigns hit a spear on Strowman while Joe had the choke locked in. After Reigns cleared out those attempting to break it up, Strowman got the last word with a powerslam to stand tall.
Talk about a much-needed segment of hot fire one night removed from a disappointing Battleground PPV. Once again, WWE relied on its big four (well the big three in attendance) on Raw to carry the load, and they didn’t disappoint with a wild and physical segment. With a build this good, the Fatal 4-Way match has potential to be one of 2017’s best when all is said and done.
Elias Samson def. Finn Balor via pinfall (No Disqualification Match): This three-segment match was long and explosive with a PPV feel throughout. Balor, wearing Kinesio tape on his left shoulder, gained early revenge on Samson for last week’s guitar smash. Samson rallied to re-aggravate the injury with a chair, but Balor turned the tables again late and appeared poised to gain a pinfall after hitting his Coup de Grace finisher. Bray Wyatt’s music flashed, however, and the lights came back on to show Wyatt hitting a Sister Abigail on Balor. With Wyatt standing like a spider in the corner, a lifeless Samson crawled onto Balor to get the pin. Wyatt then whispered “follow the buzzards” into Balor’s face before posing.
That was one heck of a free TV match to keep an already high-energy show moving along. Wyatt’s random appearance for the second straight week was also well planned. But the continued lack of explanation about Samson’s relationship with Wyatt needs be addressed sooner than later.
Backstage — Kurt Angle and Emma: Angle told Renee Young about the butterflies in his stomach as a father ahead of Jordan’s debut. Emma walked in to interrupt and ask about her own opportunities, reminding Angle that she “started the women’s revolution.” Emma further nailed home the point by asking whether she needs to date Angle’s son in order to get noticed. An annoyed Angle responded by booking her in a match against Nia Jax.
Big Cass def. Enzo Amore via pinfall: Cass dominated his former partner for the second straight week using taunts, elbow drops and a running big boot to get an easy 1-2-3. Cass continued to slap and taunt Amore, which brought out Big Show. But Cass easily handled the giant with a series of stomps that brought boos from the crowd.
Not a bad sequence in theory except for the fact that the exact same scenario played out last week. While the idea of Cass and Enzo one day breaking apart has been talked about with excitement for more than a year, there’s something incredibly underwhelming about the method and timing in which WWE has executed it.
Backstage — Alexa Bliss: The Raw women’s champion played up the potential of Bayley and Sasha Banks turning on each other later tonight. “I just see Bayley sitting at home crying, eating Twinkies, watching her former best friend Sasha stealing the spotlight from her for like the millionth time,” she said.
Nia Jax def. Emma via pinfall: Jax dominated this glorified squash match by taunting Emma and tossing her all over the ring. She also unveiled an incredibly athletic new finishing move by flipping head over heels into a senton for the pin. This might have been some payback after Emma tweeted her displeasure about being left off Raw last week.
Confrontation — Akira Tozawa, Titus O’Neil, Neville and Ariya Daivari: Tozawa spoke with Charly Caruso about his want for a rematch with Daivari. O’Neil interrupted and referenced the “liability” that is Tozawa’s injured shoulder. The head of Titus Worldwide then revealed how he went to Angle and the medical staff to get Tozawa’s match canceled. An angry Tozawa stormed off and to the ring. O’Neil followed Tozawa and received a push for his troubles. After commercial, Tozawa cut a promo challenging Daivari to face him like a man. Out came Neville, who taunted Tozawa and took credit for his “shattered confidence.” After being called “a shell of his former self,” Tozawa attacked Neville and landed a senton from the top rope. Daivari ran in to beat him down with a devastating clothesline. He then did the same to Neville before yelling at them both in Persian.
Backstage — Sasha Banks & Bayley: With Banks visibly angry about Bliss’ comments, Bayley insisted nothing will ruin their friendship. But Banks began to look too far ahead, commenting about what she hopes to do to Bliss at SummerSlam. Bayley told her to focus instead on tonight and Banks responded with attitude, saying, “The best woman will win.”
Backstage — Jason Jordan: The former American Alpha member told Renee Young he can handle the pressure of having all eyes on him but admitted to having butterflies (with Young reminding him that Angle said the same thing). “This man who I grew up emulating and idolizing my entire life, he’s my biological father,” Jordan said. “My hero is my father. Imagine you had one of the wildest dreams and it came true.”
Backstage — Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose: Entering their first tag match together in three years, Rollins hoped to talk strategy and devise a game plan. Ambrose wanted nothing to do with it. After Rollins reminded him they would be up against three foes, Ambrose cut him off and made sure to remind him about his lack of trust. “You have to worry about three guys,” Ambrose said. “I have to worry about four.”
Women’s No. 1 Contendership — Bayley def. Sasha Banks via pinfall: With Bliss on commentary, Bayley secured a title shot at SummerSlam with a bit of an upset victory. The two-segment match was incredibly physical throughout, teasing a tear in their friendship by how willing each was to exchange slaps, stiff forearms and stomps in the corner. Banks appeared on the verge of victory late when she hit a frog splash from the top rope, but Bayley instantly reversed it upon impact into a pin. Bliss entered the ring afterwards to hold up the belt in Bayley’s face.
Raw delivered another match with PPV intensity here thanks to the prize at stake. But the booking of Bayley going over has to be questioned considering how well WWE had done of late in rebuilding Banks’ brand. If things stay the way they are, this will have been a failure. But don’t be surprised to see Banks added back into this match by the time SummerSlam comes around.
Jason Jordan def. Curt Hawkins via pinfall: With new ring gear and a much more physical style, Jordan was impressive from start to finish in mopping up Hawkins. As Angle watched proudly from a monitor in the back, Jordan mauled Hawkins with stiff strikes and dominant amateur wrestling holds. After a belly-to-belly suplex, Jordan removed the straps on his singlet to land a huge spear in the corner. He followed with what appears to be a new finisher — a pop-up neckbreaker — for the 1-2-3.
Strong debut here with enough of a tease toward a possible turn down the road thanks to the violent change in Jordan’s fighting style to make this storyline feel fresh and alive following last week’s partially disappointing reveal.
The Revival def. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson via pinfall: The “Top Guys” rudely dismissed Caruso before the match to deliver a promo about their domination in NXT and their potential as “the future of the tag team division on Raw.” Gallows & Anderson came out to refute and call them “Top Nerds,” which triggered the start of the match. The Hardy Boyz walked out onto the stage halfway through and provided a distraction for the Good Brothers to toss Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson out of the ring. But The Revival returned the favor seconds later by sneaking back in to catch Anderson in their Shatter Machine for the pin. After the match, the Hardyz ran in to land Poetry in Motion and a Twist of Fate. But Wilder was able to escape just as Jeff hit the top rope to attempt a Swanton Bomb.
Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins def. The Miz & The Miztourage via pinfall (Handicap Match): The Miz cut a passionate pre-match promo in the locker room passing this Shield reunion off as no better than a gratuitous Hollywood sequel. The heels then handed Rollins an extended beatdown as champions Sheamus & Cesaro watched on a monitor backstage. A hot tag to Ambrose predictably cleaned house. Chaos and a series of near finishes ensued. Rollins dove in to break up a pin attempt after Miz hit a Skull Crushing Finale. The former Shield members then connected on a double suicide dive onto Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel outside. Rollins intercepted a second Miz finisher attempt by hitting a knee off the top rope before Ambrose followed with Dirty Deeds for the pin. Both Ambrose and Rollins celebrated wildly inside the ring, pounding their chests and sharing multiple hugs as the crowd went sick. But Ambrose no sold Rollins’ attempt at a fist bump and abruptly ended the celebration by leaving.
This was superb handling of Ambrose’s continued distrust as WWE knows they had the crowd eating out of its hands thanks to the nostalgic Shield reunion. Ambrose’s actions teased just enough the notion of a heel turn down the road.