The final Monday Night Raw episode before Summerslam is here with a night of hopefully entertaining action to lead us into the big event. WWE’s second biggest PPV of the year will take place this Sunday. Raw’s main event for the show will feature Seth Rollins facing Finn Balor for the right to become the first ever WWE Universal Champion. The other big match has Charlotte challenging Sasha Banks for a shot at the Women’s Championship in a rematch from their classic match a couple of weeks ago. Both of these matches need a big night to add excitement into Summerslam.
Brock Lesnar is the other big factor tonight. With his match against Smackdown’s Randy Orton scheduled for Sunday, Lesnar is making a rare television appearance on Raw tonight. Will Orton invade again? The rest of the Raw storylines feature tag matches and lower card work. Every current angle has potential to be special but the product has been ineffective lately at building momentum. We’ll find out if things change with the go-home Raw before Summerslam. Looking at the most important moments of the night, we’ll break down the top five huge takeaways from this week’s edition of Monday Night Raw.
The year 2016 has not been kind to Brock Lesnar when it comes to entertainment value. Lesnar had a horrible program with The Wyatt Family get cut short after the Royal Rumble. He moved into a hapless storyline with Dean Ambrose and the two had a disappointing match at WrestleMania 32. Ambrose claimed Lesnar was “lazy” not wanting to do anything special despite working in front of the biggest wrestling crowd of all time. Brock made his return to the UFC in successful fashion but failed drug tests putting his name negatively in the news.
It felt like WWE’s very expensive investment was starting to run its course. Luckily, Lesnar has started to build momentum again. The short segments featuring interactions with Randy Orton a few weeks ago reminded us how cool it is to see him in faction. Tonight, Lesnar dealt with an interrupting Heath Slater trying to get a job on Monday Night Raw. Slater wanted to provide for his children and Brock made sure Slater knew he didn’t “give a s**t” about Slater’s kids. Obviously, Lesnar destroyed Slater and it was a nice memory of the magic of Brock heading into Summerslam.
WWE’s tag team division has been on the rise with the introduction of new stars coming up to the main roster. Both Raw and Smackdown have a few interesting teams that can provide great storylines. New Day vs. The Club is not providing that. The angle has revolved around Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows trying to collect the testicles of all three New Day members after the “injury” to Big E a couple of weeks ago.
Anderson and Gallows are still wearing doctor’s outfit and appearing in silly vignettes. The wrestlers are quite talented but WWE is sinking their chances at being taken serious. New Day is still highly popular among the majority of wrestling fans. Sadly, this is one of their weakest programs in quite some time. The match will have to deliver big time with a successful payoff to warrant the bad television we witnessed tonight and many other weeks.
Roman Reigns moving down into the United States picture was both a demotion for him and a way to help add importance to the midcard title. The feud between Reigns and Rusev has been met with a fair share of ups downs but you can’t argue it had some appeal for the big Summerslam event. WWE completely ruined that by having the two main event tonight’s Raw in a non-title match. Rusev demanded revenge for Reigns humiliating Lana last week and Mick Foley made the match.
The two would main event Raw in a 20+ minute match with Reigns earning the hard fought victory. The match was pretty good but there’s officially no point to caring about the Summerslam title shot. Sure, this time Roman can win the title but we just saw them have a match with everything you’d want from them. Putting a match on television and giving them nearly 25 minutes the week before the same two men have a PPV bout is just horrendous booking.
The women’s division is one of the most important facets of Monday Night Raw. A weekly three-hour show requires variety and the talented female performers provide just that. Sasha Banks is establishing herself as a great champion for the division heading into Summerslam. The work of Charlotte is flying under the radar due to Banks being the better worker. Tonight proved Charlotte is still tremendous at executing her character work.
Charlotte talked down to Dana Brooke for losing her match against Banks last week and getting banned from ringside for the title shot at Summerslam. The promo sold the vengeful and petty character of the second generation Flair. Later in the night, Charlotte suckered Sasha into the ring before Dana attacked her. The plan worked to perfection as Charlotte got the better of Banks in their final interaction before the big match. Fans ate it up with “Charlotte sucks” chants and boos setting up the main event caliber title bout at Summerslam.
Seth Rollins and Finn Balor facing off for the Universal Championship has become the most exciting bout booked for Summerslam. Rollins was featured all night “hunting” down Balor’s alter ego known as the “Demon King.” The challenge would be answered when Rollins went down to the ring to call him out. Balor wore the usual body paint of the demon persona as remembered from his NXT days. The only notable difference was Balor having writing painted on him.
Fans reacted very well to Balor’s elaborate entrance and he got the better of Rollins during their physical interaction. Many are unhappy the first appearance of the Demon King was wasted on Raw but it did a good job setting up the likely main event of Summerslam. For those who watched this version of Balor for the first time, it was a great introduction. Balor and Rollins have the chance to pull off something special on Sunday and tonight gave a sneak preview at what is to be expected.
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