By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Authority Previewed SummerSlam
This just might be the only time I don't complain about The Authority opening Raw. Not only because I'm super amped for SummerSlam on Sunday, but also tomorrow marks two years since The Authority first formed, so it was fitting in a weird way. Anyway, I'm a sucker for whenever they run down the pay-per-view cards the week before the event as it never ceases to get me excited for the event and it give it that extra special feel. I don't know how much sense it made for The Authority to do it given they're heels, but it was an effective way of hyping up SummerSlam as well as what was on tap for the rest of the night.
Randy Orton and Cesaro def. Sheamus and Kevin Owens
Usually I'm not a fan of throwing feuds together in tag team matches because it comes across as lazy booking, but this was a logical follow-up to the events of last week involving all four men. They worked a very solid match that was given plenty of time. Sure, there were a few visible botches toward the end, but other than that, I enjoyed the match. It will be interesting to see who goes over at SummerSlam considering the babyface duo won here.
Roman Reigns def. Luke Harper
This was essentially the same match we saw from them on SmackDown last week, but I didn't mind it much because they always work well together and this was no exception. I don't know if many people saw Harper as a big enough threat to beat Reigns, but I'd argue his win over Dean Ambrose last week helped with that. Speaking of whom, Ambrose's strongest attribute has always been his talking ability, so he shined on commentary during this bout. This wasn't as chaotic as some of their past battles, but it served as a nice preview for what we can expect from the two teams on Sunday.
Becky Lynch def. Tamina
Tamina was an understandable opponent for Lynch in her Raw singles debut because she can take a loss, but she couldn't bump around for her as some of the other girls. At the very least, she's a competent worker, so they contested a fine match that helped showcase the skills of Lynch. The crowd wasn't all that into the match, so I'd like to see more emphasis on the character development of the women going forward instead of trying to get over the "revolution" buzzword at every possible opportunity.
Rusev def. Mark Henry
Whose bright idea was it to book Rusev vs. Henry three weeks in a row? It was bad enough the first two times, to repeat it seemed beyond pointless considering the outcome was the same. Look, I really want the best for Henry and wish WWE would treat him like a complete jobber, but fans simply don't take him seriously anymore, and a win over him essentially means nothing these days. If nothing else, the crowd was hot for the post-match brawl between Lana and Summer Rae and the subsequent return of Dolph Ziggler, so it wasn't a total lost cause.
Intercontinental Champion Ryback def. The Miz (Non-title)
As this was his first match back since returning from injury, Ryback didn't look like he lost a step in the ring at all. Granted, he wasn't out of action for very long, but a staph infection is still serious stuff. The match wasn't anything special, but it was decent for what it was and it built toward the upcoming Triple Threat title match. On a side note, I find Big Show ten times more interesting as a commentator than as a wrestler. Perhaps he has a future career for himself behind the booth once he hangs up his boots for good.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and United States Champion John Cena Signed the Contract for Their SummerSlam Match
Rollins rambled on and on about Cena as he's done for weeks, but it was entertaining as all hell. I'd have to say Cena won this verbal exchange as it turned it up a notch as he's been known to do before each of his major matchups. He delivered a strong promo here and all the talk about him becoming a 16-time world champion was very interesting. That hasn't been the focus of this feud at all up to this point, so I wish they'd hold off on that instead of doing it so soon. Imagine Ric Flair to screw him out of the title. How glorious would that be?
WWE Tag Team Champions Prime Time Players and The Lucha Dragons def. The New Day and Los Matadores
Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't the Dragons teaming with the Matadores only a few short weeks ago? And now they're rivals? I guess it doesn't even matter as I've already conditioned myself to not care about anything involving them. This match barely got started before it abruptly ended, so it didn't do much good for any of the four teams. I continue to be disappointed by the build for this match because it just feels so thrown together.
NXT Women's Champion Sasha Banks def. Divas Champion Nikki Bella (Non-title)
The match definitely suffered from taking place so late in the show, but I was glad WWE didn't rush it as they did the eight-man tag. Banks and Nikki put forth a good effort and although the crowd was essentially drained by this point, it didn't affect their in-ring performance. I had my guard up for a non-finish of some sort, but I love the clean win for Banks. With Charlotte beating Nikki a few weeks back, a Triple Threat title match between the three in the near future would be wonderful.
The Undertaker Crashed Brock Lesnar's Homecoming
The reaction Lesnar received when he entered in his hometown of Minneapolis gave me chills. Never before have I seen him so happy! Paul Heyman's promo was also excellent and did quite a bit to boost my excitement for the match even more. The live crowd ate every bit of it up and was a great final sell for the epic encounter. I was expecting another brawl between Undertaker and Lesnar, but it was highly intriguing they went this route instead with Undertaker delivering a low-blow to Lesnar before laying him out. It was the first time in a long, long time that I've heard him booed that way, so perhaps they want him to be the heel in their match. I guess we'll have to wait and see, but it was a hell of a hook for the pay-per-view.
WWE has done a tremendous job with the build to SummerSlam the last five weeks and this was a terrific way of closing it out. Every match on the advertised card was hyped one way or another (some more than others), but the biggest selling points of the show will be the two main event matches and both were effectively hyped on this show. All in all, it was successful in getting me more hyped than I was before for the event, which is saying something considering I'll be there live. Speaking of which, I won't be providing any live coverage of the show as it airs, but check back mid-Monday for my full review! Enjoy the rest of SummerSlam week, folks!