The go-home Raw to SummerSlam was, to say the least, interesting. The choices made by the WWE heading into the biggest party of the summer were in some ways baffling and in others smart.
The WWE decided to give away not one, but two of the scheduled pay-per-view matches for free a few days earlier. Was that due to a lack of room on the card to fit every match in? Or, was that to advance story lines?
Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt battled, which confirmed the suspicion that The Demon would be making his return. All four members of the Fatal 4-Way match stood in the ring at the same time (sort of) and a new number one contender for the Raw Women's Championship was decided. And yes, the WWE Universe learned the fate of a squabbling Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.
Here are The 5 Winners and 5 Losers From Raw Aug. 14, 2017
5. Loser - Elias Sampson
It's not that Elias isn't entertaining, but the fact that he moved from a battle with Finn Balor to a battle with R-Truth means that there is no immediate plan for "The Drifter" which includes SummerSlam. I guess no one wants to walk with Elias.
If the WWE hopes to keep his momentum going, he needs to have a prominent feud with someone of importance and have him come out on top of that feud. Otherwise, the WWE Universe will tire of a gimmick that is working now but could turn sideways in a hurry.
5. Winner - Akira Tozawa
What this means for his match with Neville at SummerSlam is uncertain, and if it doesn't happen, that could be a mistake, but it was a solid match with a somewhat surprising finish. It was perhaps spoiled a bit by the celebration with Titus Worldwide as that group still seems forced, but Tozawa is the real deal and should be made into a contender in the Cruiserweight Division.
It was a good choice to give him the belt and it will be fun to watch Neville try to regain a title he held onto quite feverishly for a long time.
4. Loser - Balor vs Wyatt
There could have been a hundred other ways to get to the finish line that these two were trying to reach. There was no need to have a full match and basically make their bout meaningless at SummerSlam with the exception of the appearance of The Demon.
Having Wyatt win clean was good for his character, but it has also virtually guaranteed the finish at the pay-per-view. No one will care about the match now. The WWE Universe will tune in exclusively for the entrances and lose interest now that they've already seen the bout.
4. Winner - Sasha Banks
What Sasha Banks and Nia Jax displayed on Monday is how the WWE should be booking the Women's Division. Strong single's matches with some real time to showcase the chemistry between performers.
Jax looks like she should beat everyone, but the underdog victory by Banks is a real plus, and will make for an interesting battle at SummerSlam with Alexa Bliss. There is no real life love between Bliss and Banks, and it will be fun to see how that works itself into the match.
3. Loser - The Hardy's
Making reference to Matt Hardy being "Woken" felt extremely forced since the Hardz no longer have a storyline to work from with Scott Dawson's recent injury news. Their opponents were shelved, and the Hardy's were forced into an angle with Jason Jordan and The Miztourage and it left no room to really work the potentially new (but old) personas into the story.
The WWE might have better served to keep the Hardy's off television until they could really dig into this whole "Woken" story more deeply.
3. Winner - The Demon
Rumors were floating around that Finn Balor was not going to bring back The Demon at SummerSlam, and that was extremely disappointing. His comments were that he didn't feel the match between he and Wyatt was special enough to warrant stepping out of his regular persona and into The Demon King.
Using Raw to have the first match was not cool, but the ending and setup to sell the idea that Balor has to find another gear and retribution of Wyatt's heinous act gives the WWE Universe what they want to see.
2. Loser - Big Cass
This one could be a winner, but it's teetering. Big Cass could barely get in a word edgewise thanks to the chorus of boos from the Boston crowd. Normally, boos are good if you're the heel, but in this case, those boos might be directed at him because they don't like his push.
That said, the storyline that was told in injuring Big Show's hand and neutralizing the knockout punch was smart storytelling and it will be interesting to see where and how the match is affected as a result.
2. Winner - Gallows and Anderson Hired Hitmen
As a side note to the Cass, Enzo and Big Show triangle was Gallows and Anderson. They are much better suited for the kind of role they played on Monday, and should be given more angles like this to work from. Playing the role of hired guns suits their personas and it makes sense that a guy like Cass might call upon them to help do his dirty work. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.
Less humor, more @$$ kicking is the way to go with these two. What are the chances the WWE has figured this out?
1. Loser - Main Event Send-Home
The idea was to have all four men stand in the ring and face off. Instead, they never actually did, and what the WWE Universe got was another wicked promo by Paul Heyman and a quick setup to a Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar battle. The other two combatants were forgotten rather quickly.
Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns seemed like side dishes to the main course, and that isn't the image the WWE should be sending on the last Raw before SummerSlam. This was a missed opportunity.
1. Winner - Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins
It was a story you could sense coming from a mile away, but the way that story unfolded was some of the better creative work by the WWE writing staff. You could see a match between Sheamus and Cesaro versus Ambrose and Rollins on the horizon, but you were never 100% confident that it would unfold that way.
The tag match between these men will now be a match to watch on the card and it wasn't officially announced until six days prior to SummerSlam.