By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens and Big Cass Discussed the Fatal 4-Way WWE Universal Championship Elimination Match
WWE had very little time to build up this bout following last week's qualifying matches, so this was effective in making the match more meaningful than it already was. It allowed everyone to establish why they wanted to become champion, and although Reigns didn't speak at all, it worked out well because he was the last man standing, anyway. I'm typically not found of dick jokes in wrestling, but admittedly, the one Cass (who held his own on the mic nicely without Enzo Amore) made at Rollins' expense was pretty hilarious. A solid segment to open the evening.
Chris Jericho def. Neville
This was the barn-burner of a bout I was hoping we would see between these two earlier this year yet that match didn't met my lofty expectations. The in-ring action here was exciting, they were given great time, and it was another opportunity for Neville to showcase his skills and prove just how good he is. Sure, I was a bit disappointed it was never once acknowledged that it was in a match with Jericho back in March that Neville got hurt, but that's nitpicking. The Liontamer to finish Neville off was a nice touch because he was the perfect size for it.
Nia Jax def. Hyan
The match was almost as short as Hyan's name. Almost, but not quite. In all seriousness, this was more of the same from Jax as she continues to assert her dominance over her unknown opponents. It has worked out well so far, and I'm glad WWE didn't rush her into the WWE Women's Championship picture in the absence of Sasha Banks and are instead continuing on her with slow ascent.
Sami Zayn def. Jinder Mahal
If it wasn't already apparent, Mahal was merely brought back to serve as an enhancement talent. And no one could care less about him. It would have been better if he was built up to mean more, but whatever. The important thing is that this was a glorified squash match for Zayn to get him his win back from last week. He sold the ankle injury and was crazy over with the audience, so I hope officials picked up on that and will do more with him in the foreseeable future.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day and Bayley def. The Club and Dana Brooke
Just when you think New Day are starting to grow slightly stale, they pair up with someone as entertaining as Bayley and all is right with the world. They made for an incredibly fun tandem, and I thoroughly enjoyed their antics backstage and during the match itself. Brooke is absolutely awful in the ring, but to her credit, she does make a hot nurse, and at least her in-ring work was kept limited. I assumed we were getting New Day vs. Club at Clash of Champions, and we still might, but they have zero momentum at the moment.
Sheamus def. Cesaro in Match 2 in the Best of 7 Series
Most people (myself included) had their doubts that Sheamus and Cesaro could create a compelling series of seven matches, especially after they had two matches before the series officially began, but I like how they're switching up the story of each match they've had thus far. The match was mostly focused on Sheamus feigning an injury only to attack Cesaro and throw him into the ring post, which was innovative how he did it. Sheamus leads the series 2-0, but expect Cesaro to bounce back before long.
Braun Strowman def. Americo
The only thing different about Strowman's squash match this week was that his opponent was wearing a mask, but other than that, this was along the same lines as his previous short-lived affairs. It is a treat to watch him annihilate people in the matter of a minute, but like Nia Jax, I hope he too finds direction at some point so these squash matches don't wear out their welcome.
Paul Heyman Apologized to Stephanie McMahon
Well, this was weird. Part of me wished they would have advertised Heyman returning to Raw one week out, but after watching this unfold, I'm almost glad it didn't. Everyone should know that Stephanie fined Brock Lesnar $500 because she doesn't care for her brother Shane or his SmackDown stars. That made sense. That said, why would she be furious with Heyman? Then again, I guess I shouldn't be surprised because her character emasculates essentially everybody, regardless of whether they're heel or face, but I'm not exactly anxious to see where this storyline goes.
Darren Young def. Titus O'Neil
I really wanted to be engaged in this feud when it started, but it's been booked so badly that I can't find myself to care. Their matches and segments have all fallen flat and this was no exception as the crowd sat on their hands for this match. Young beat O'Neil again, yet was attacked afterward, so once again, no one walks away from this with any semblance of heat.
Kevin Owens def. Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Big Cass in a Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match to Win the WWE Universal Championship
Elimination Fatal 4-Ways are infinitely more exciting than those that are one fall to a finish, so I was ecstatic that stipulation was added at the last minute. It definitely made the match better as a result and all four competitors had their time to shine, including Cass. Of course, it was far too soon to put the belt on him, but he fared well for himself before getting eliminated down the stretch. The remaining three worked very well together, and as much as I wanted Owens to win, I assumed it would be Reigns or Rollins scoring the strap. Thus, I was shocked like everyone else when Triple H resurfaced and aided Owens to victory. I was hoping that would happen ages ago, but it worked out for the better timing-wise because now they can do Rollins vs. HHH at WrestleMania 33. Not only that, Owens is a fresh face in the main event scene and a world title win for him was long overdue. How could you not be looking forward to next week's show after what we witnessed here?!
It wasn't an amazing episode on the whole, and there were parts of the third hour that definitely did drag before the main event, but all things considered, it was newsworthy night that left me largely satisfied. Needless to say, the final few minutes were fantastic, but Jericho vs. Neville, the six-person tag team match and Sheamus vs. Cesaro were all awesome as well. I hate to sound pessimistic, but it always seems as if WWE hits a home run at the end of the summer before resorting back to the same old stagnant status quo for the fall season. I truly hope I'm wrong and Raw can carry this hot streak into the coming months.