By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Triple H Addressed the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Oh, a member of The Authority kicked off Raw? I would've never guessed. In all seriousness, this was a logical follow-up to the conclusion of Battleground and an effective way of hyping the main event segment. The teasing of tension between Randy Orton and Kane has grown tiresome since I don't think anyone really cares about either guy as HHH's lackeys at the moment. Roman Reigns was over with the fans with his promo and this segment served as a nice tie-in to the subsequent Handicap matchup.
Roman Reigns def. Randy Orton and Kane in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
The match was nothing special, but the sole purpose it served was to further tease dissension between Orton and Kane. Again, fans have zero incentive to care about either guy right now, so the idea of the two feuding is boring to most. Sure, Reigns overcame the odds and scored a big win, but the outcome of the bout was heavily foreshadowed. I'd like to see Reigns vs. Triple H at SummerSlam, but it's looking more and more like Reigns will be facing Orton at the event instead.
Alicia Fox, Cameron, Eva Marie and Rosa Mendes def. Nikki Bella in a 4-on-1 Handicap Match
Was it really a smart idea to hold one Handicap match right after the other? Thankfully, it was kept short and sweet and it didn't really matter much. Better yet, the main focus of this segment was on the hot angle between Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella at ringside. It's good to see Brie back in a regular role on WWE TV and I assume this is the official start of the build to their rumored match at SummerSlam. Please let this be the end of the line of Nikki competing in Handicap matches. No one cares. End of story.
Bo Dallas def. LeBron James (Damien Sandow)
You had to know they'd do something with Dallas and/or Sandow in Miami when it came to LeBron James. I was mildly surprised Dallas didn't cut a promo on James leaving Miami and telling the Heat fans to "bo-lieve" to garner some heat, but I guess that role was reserved for Sandow instead. Heel vs. heel matches are always odd, but it wouldn't be the first time Dallas has competed in one. Is WWE trying to turn him babyface? I surely hope not given how good he is as a heel.
Bray Wyatt Hosted 'The Highlight Reel'
I never saw Wyatt's loss to Jericho at Battleground as a bad thing and this attack only goes to show that Wyatt only needs to cut one of his usual great promos to get his heat back. It wasn't his best promo in recent memory, but it furthered the story accordingly without the two even encountering each other. Expect a rematch between the two to be announced for SummerSlam sometime soon.
Dolph Ziggler def. Intercontinental Champion The Miz (Non-title)
Ziggler and Miz have had great matches in the past, so I knew for a fact that'd this be much of the same from the two going in. The action from bell to bell was extremely entertaining and they did a superb job of getting the crowd invested in all the nearfalls. I'm usually against midcard champions losing non-title matches, especially when the champion just won the title the night prior, but it sets up a future feud between the two over the strap. I have no doubt that these two could have a strong series of matches together given their awesome (no pun intended) chemistry.
Divas Champion AJ Lee and Paige def. Natalya and Emma
First off, it was cool to see Paige and Emma clash for the first time on the main roster after their storied history together down in NXT. It was disappointing to see Natalya and Emma serve as the background players in this match, but at least they got TV time at all. Paige's attack on AJ could be seen coming from a mile away, but it was very well done. The crowd reacted nicely to it and Paige looked vicious by the end of it. Here's hoping the rest of the build to their SummerSlam rematch is just as strong as this.
Zack Ryder def. Fandango
It's become obvious that Fandango will be losing every match he's involved in as long as Summer Rae and Layla are around, and I can't complain. What I can complain about, though, is the fact that the Fandango love triangle is still going on. Why?! If nothing else, it was very cool to see Ryder win on Raw for once. I believe this was his first victory on the flagship show in nearly two years. Good for him, though any devoted 'broski' shouldn't see this as the start of something new for the former United States Champion, unfortunately.
Flo Rida Performed
Being the die-hard wrestling fan I am, I tend to watch everything. I don't miss a thing, even when I watch Raw on DVR like I did with this show. This was the first time to my memory I've ever skipped anything. I just don't care for Flo Rida and I can't say if the live crowd enjoyed it or not because I didn't watch it, nor do I plan to. Music and wrestling rarely mix and this seemed like more of an attempt to garner mainstream media attention than anything else. At least they blew off the "feud" between him and Heath Slater from WrestleMania 28.
Stephanie McMahon Was Arrested
The angle itself was great albeit a bit illogical given all the other instances in wrestling where someone should have been arrested for committing a heinous crime but wasn't. That aside, did this really need to be dragged on for as long as it was? The fans in attendance loved seeing Stephanie being taken away by the authorities, but the length of this felt unnecessary. Don't make matters worse, WWE, by replaying the entire segment out once again after the commercial break.
Rybaxel def. Kofi Kingston and Big E
This was the same match we saw play out on Main Event last week, so it was nothing out of the ordinary and the crowd had no reason to care. That said, I was glad to not see it last too long. I figured it was done to give Rybaxel a win and set them up for another shot at the WWE Tag Team Championships, but apparently not. Xavier Woods' post-match promo was extremely random, but I absolutely loved it. It's been rumored for a while that WWE has been thinking about bringing back the Nation of Domination, but I never thought they would go through with it. I hope this is WWE's way of turning all three men heel, especially Kingston who has had the same character since he debuted. I'm incredible intrigued by this angle and where it goes from here.
Rusev def. The Great Khali
It might have been for the best that Lana's promo was cut short this week on Raw given the bad press her one comment at Battleground received from the media. I don't think the pro-Vladimir Putin stuff is going away, though, for those curious. The match was exactly what it needed to be, but what I was most surprised by was that Jack Swagger didn't make an appearance nor was he even mentioned. Please don't let this be the end of the line for that feud already.
Cesaro def. Dean Ambrose by Disqualification
The match had potential to be great on paper and while it didn't exactly live up to my expectations, it was very good. Most of it happened during the commercial break, sadly, but with the time they were given they definitely delivered. Cesaro proclaiming he is no longer a "Paul Heyman Guy" was interesting and pretty much solidfies their pairing as a failure. Hopefully he can find success on his own, perhaps as a babyface. It was odd to see the hot Ambrose and Seth Rollins feud take a backseat this week, especially after their brawl at Battleground.
Brock Lesnar Returned
It's been obvious for months that this was the direction they were going in, so I can't say I'm surprised to see him back. However, I am happy. This is the guy that broke The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania, so to put him in any other match at SummerSlam wouldn't make any sense at all. Paul Heyman's promo was excellent and they made up for John Cena's absence. Internet fans would know why that is (he was filming a movie), but it was strange for it not to be explained. Either way, Cena vs. Lesnar Part 2 at SummerSlam should be epic and I very much look forward to it.
Post-pay-per-view shows are usually hot and this one was no exception. From the return of Brock Lesnar to Paige's heel turn to the potential forming of a new Nation of Domination, there was a lot to like about this week's show that keeps fans intrigued going into next week. Raw was light on action this week, but if there was one match you should go back and check out, it's The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler. SummerSlam is shaping up to be awesome, so I hope WWE continues to build toward it properly in coming weeks.