By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman Addressed the WWE Universe
It's amazing how Heyman's promo never cease being awesome. The guy is an absolute master of the mic. If anything, this promo was probably better than anything he's done in recent memory. He played up Lesnar's accomplishments in a massive way and made his upcoming match with John Cena at SummerSlam feel like a bigger showdown than it already was. Not only that, he also built intrigue for the rest of the night when he mentioned Lesnar would be back. This was an all-around amazing opening segment and definitely a nice change of pace (The Authority not kicking off Raw for once is a plus).
Roman Reigns def. Rybaxel in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match by Disqualification
Rybaxel haven't been a threat since... well, ever, so I don't know how much of a threat they posed to Reigns. Even still, Reigns sold well for them and vice versa. It was a longer match than I expected it would be, but I'm not complaining. The disqualification finish was odd since Rybaxel have nothing to lose so I don't see why they didn't just lose via pinfall. Reigns took them out afterward anyway, which the crowd was hot for.
Seth Rollins def. Rob Van Dam
Rollins and RVD have worked well together in the past and that proved to be the case here. It was also a nice follow-up to the match they were supposed to have last week. It's hard to take RVD seriously as a threat when he's lost most of his recent matches, but at least he's over and fans were in his corner throughout the bout. It was a good win for Rollins going into SummerSlam and Dean Ambrose breaking out of the present on the stage was a nice touch. Fans will be salivating to see them finally go at it on Sunday.
Stephanie McMahon Revealed Daniel Bryan Was Having an Affair
This feud between Stephanie and Brie Bella has been a pleasant surprise so far, so I hated to see them ruin any positive momentum it had with this segment. Love triangles and/or affairs rarely work in wrestling and this was total garbage. It felt like a complete retread of TNA's Claire Lynch angle from 2012, and we all know how god awful that angle was. They must have run out of ways to push their SummerSlam match in interesting ways so they reverted to this trash instead.
Jack Swagger def. Cesaro
Seeing how Cesaro lost a two minute match to Dolph Ziggler last week, I figured this would be much of the same, so I was happy to have been proven wrong. Cesaro, while he may not be doing anything of note at the moment, is still one hell of a worker and he and Swagger had a good, solid match. If you told me Cesaro would be cleanly tapping to Swagger six months ago, I would've called you crazy. The final hype for the Swagger vs. Rusev match was tame compared to what they've done before, but the feud is already hot enough that this didn't hurt it at all.
Michael Cole Interviewed Bray Wyatt and Chris Jericho
I was originally skeptical about this. I mean, how strange was it seeing Wyatt in a sit-down setting for an interview? Why would he even agree to something like that? That side, the verbal exchange between Wyatt and Jericho was strong. It was perhaps their best mic work in their feud to date and it couldn't have come at a better time right before their rematch at SummerSlam. Wyatt's delivery was spot-on and I really liked how serious Jericho was. Hopefully their second in-ring encounter will be better than their first.
Eva Marie def. Divas Champion AJ Lee (Non-title)
Eva Marie wrestling is never a good thing, but at least this was more of an angle than it was a match. Eva getting the win made me cringe, of course, but at least AJ got her heat back afterward by destroying her (which was a welcome sight). Paige cut a decent promo and I've been loving how much attention this feud has gotten over the last several weeks. Both AJ and Paige have played their roles well and the scary thing is that their matches have the potential to be just as if not more awesome.
John Cena Sent a Message to Brock Lesnar
Cena is money on the mic whenever he keeps a straight face, stays serious and composed and that was the version of Cena we got here. He admitted that he'll be getting from Lesnar in their match, but was also confident he'll be walking away as champion. The "breaking of the fourth wall" felt unnecessary and didn't really ring true (most fans probably didn't even know what he was referring to), but everything else about this promo was perfect.
Stephanie McMahon Had Brie Bella Arrested
The continuation of the angle from earlier wasn't much better than the previous segment they were involved in. The whole "affair" angle was done to get Brie "arrested" similar to Stephanie getting arrested a few weeks back and I understand that, but it felt like Creative couldn't come up with anything else to top their last few segments together so they came up with this instead. The acting from Brie was terrible and it did nothing to sell me on their match. Good thing the feud was already hot going into this because this didn't peak my interest in the slightest.
Heath Slater def. Dolph Ziggler by Count-out
The match was pretty ho-hum for the most part as the focus was on The Miz on commentary talking about Ziggler and their SummerSlam match. Ziggler's obsession with getting his hands on Miz cost him the match and while Slater took a Zig-Zag following the bout, it was still cool to see him win on Raw for the second straight week. Could this be a turning point of the One Man Rock Band? As for Ziggler and Miz, their feud has been nicely built over the last month to the point where I'me excited about their upcoming encounter over the Intercontinental Championship.
Randy Orton def. United States Champion Sheamus (Non-title)
Orton and Sheamus don't have the best track record for having matches that exactly "excite" audiences, but for all intents and purposes, this was a very good match. There was plenty of back-and-forth action and the two developed superb chemsitry together down the stretch. It was definitely one of their better matches from what I've seen and the clean finish surprised me. It was important for Orton to look as strong as possible going into SummerSlam, but you'd think they'd at least attempt to protect Sheamus a bit given that he's the United States Champion. In all honesty, WWE more than likely forgot he had the damn thing. Just unify the midcard titles already and get it over with.
Brock Lesnar Interrupted Hulk Hogan's Birthday Bash
I was slightly shocked Hogan wasn't on the show at all outside of this segment considering the entire episode was built around him. Then again, he wasn't overexposed this way and it made his first appearance in this segment mean that much more. It was really cool seeing Legends from the past show up including Paul Orndorff, Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. Lesnar's interruption was expected, but the way it was handled was well done with Cena making the save before he could inflict any damage on anyone. It put the focus back on SummerSlam while giving Hogan his brief moment to shine on his birthday.
From an entertainment standpoint, this was one of the dullest episodes of Raw in a while. As a go-home show, there was a lot of solid build for many matches on the SummerSlam card, though this episode of Raw didn't leave me as excited for the pending pay-per-view as some past episodes have. Even still, the card has potential on paper to be excellent and I still look forward to seeing how it all plays out on Sunday night.