By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Charlotte Interrupted WWE Women's Champion Sasha Banks
You know it's a New Era when the women are kicking off the show. I couldn't tell you the last time that was the case, if ever. And there wasn't a better time for it to finally happen than one week removed from (in my opinion) the greatest main roster women's match in WWE history. The "one night stand" line from Charlotte was slightly shocking if only because WWE did away with a pay-per-view of that same name years ago because it wasn't "PG," but hey, it's a different time apparently. Banks' rebuttal about Ric Flair having a one night stand was pretty classic, though. I was initially confused why they confirmed their SummerSlam rematch over the weekend on WWE.com, but nevertheless, Banks and Charlotte cut solid promos here to hype up the matchup. The inclusions of Chris Jericho and Enzo Amore were rather random, but both of them were extremely entertaining, so I can't complain, not to mention it set up the subsequent mixed tag team match.
Charlotte and Chris Jericho def. WWE Women's Champion Sasha Banks and Enzo Amore
I'm actually somewhat sad Banks and Amore are currently dating other people right now because they'd be a cute couple in storyline. That's merely the sappy romantic in me talking, though. At any rate, this was a very fun mixed tag team matchup with all four athletes shining at one point or another. I understand giving Charlotte her win back from last week, but beating the champion in non-title action screams "old era" to me. In other news, I so hope this Enzo and Jericho angle leads to Enzo and Big Cass vs. Jericho and Kevin Owens (who was hilarious on commentary per usual might I add) at SummerSlam. The promos alone would be nothing short of sensational.
Braun Strowman def. Evan Anderholm
Man, I am so happy the classic squash matches are back. These will be much more effective in getting Strowman over as a monster heel than if he dominated stars such as a Curtis Axel or a Bo Dallas. This was another pure showcase of dominance from the former Wyatt Family member and I already care about him infinitely more than I did before. Not to say he should be facing The Undertaker as was originally planned earlier this year, but the slow build should do him wonders.
The Shining Stars def. The Golden Truth
This match probably belonged on WWE Superstars, but at the very least, it didn't completely come out of nowhere since The Golden Truth inadvertently cost The Shining Stars their match against Enzo and Cass last week. The match was total throwaway, but can you blame R-Truth for being addicted to Pokemon Go? Okay, so you can blame him, and while I'm not into the game myself, I can understand everyone's addiction to it from what I've seen.
Seth Rollins Confronted Finn Balor
I know we've been saying for months for now that Rollins should be a babyface, and he should still turn at some point, but this segment was pure proof that he is absolutely brilliant as a heel. From trashing the Atlanta Braves to making a hysterical reference to the new Ghostbusters movie, he has really come a long way on the mic in the last two years, whereas Balor has work to do in terms of his talking ability. It will improve in time, and he more than held his own against Rollins in this solid verbal exchange.
United States Champion Rusev def. Mark Henry
I like the guy, but I honestly couldn't care less about Henry being an active member of the roster in 2016. If they can find a proper role for him, perhaps he won't be worthless. I say that out of respect because I truly feel he should have bowed out in his home state of Texas at WrestleMania 32. Either way, he had a decent showing here, and Rusev went over in decisive fashion as he should have. I probably shouldn't have, but I got my hopes up for a Kurt Angle return afterward. Roman Reigns was the last person I expected to confront Rusev, but I guess it makes sense to slot him with Rusev given he won't be in the world title picture at SummerSlam. I'd rather see someone else benefit from beating Rusev (like when Rusev dropped the strap to John Cena the first time around and Rusev was worse off for it), but at least it's something fresh.
Titus O'Neil def. Darren Young
This should answer the question if Young would continue chasing the Intercontinental Championship after the convoluted conclusion to his match with The Miz at Battleground: a big fat no. With Miz on SmackDown, that should have been obvious, but to transition him into an apparent feud with O'Neil seems strange considering they have hardly interacted since they went their separate ways late last year. Plus, a heel O'Neil vs. a face Young didn't work out too well two years ago, so I'm already skeptical as to how this going to play out.
Nia Jax def. Ariel Monroe
Similar to Strowman, these squash matches are going to be very beneficial for Jax long-term. She, too, is still quite green, but these short and sweet matchups play to her strengths. I would wait a while before putting her a program with someone such as Paige or even Banks so she could build momentum in the meantime. Her post-match promo didn't blow me away, but if nothing else, it didn't overstay its welcome.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day def. The Club (Non-title)
What a weird match. It seemed like they spent more time talking about how Xavier Woods was banned from ringside with New Day's pre-match promo than focusing on the actual match, which was significantly shorter than I thought it would be and should have been. New Day making quick work of the duo obviously does nothing to establish them as threats to the titles, so what will earn them a championship shot now other than their attack on New Day afterward? Bizarre booking, to say the least.
Cesaro def. Sheamus
These two have always had excellent chemistry together inside the squared circle and this was no exception. I liked the narrative that both guys had something to prove being picked so late in the Draft, and the added stipulation that the winner might earn a future championship match was a nice touch. They contested a well-wrestled matchup and needless to say, Cesaro going over was the right move. Here's hoping this leads to something bigger for him on Raw.
Jinder Mahal def. Heath Slater
No, the "dirt sheets" weren't mistaken: WWE did in fact broker a deal with Mahal to return to the company. Why? Well, I'm trying to figure that one out myself. I was high on him for five seconds when he arrived in WWE back in 2011, but it was all downhill from there. He was easily the least interesting member of 3MB and he never did anything for me as a performer, so we'll see where this leads. I have no problem with WWE bringing back old talent, but Mahal? Really? I could think of a hundred other people I'd sign before him.
Seth Rollins def. Sami Zayn
As the greatest in-ring storyteller in WWE today, Zayn is capable of having standout matches with just about anyone on the roster. Thus, with Rollins as his opponent, it was a no-brainer they would have a barn-burner of a bout. It was nicely paced and the final few minutes were fantastic with plenty of suspenseful counters and pin attempts. This is a match I would love to see more of (as well as a full-fledged feud between the two) down the line.
Randy Orton Attacked Brock Lesnar
WWE was wise to give Heyman whatever the hell he wanted in order to re-sign him to a new deal in time for Lesnar's return to Raw. He has been so valuable to not only Lesnar as a mouthpiece but to the entire program through his sporadic appearances over the past four years. He has been dearly missed since we last saw him at WrestleMania 32 and he cut a gem of a promo here as one can only expect from him. No one is better in the business than Heyman when it comes to hyping up a marquee match. I realize the commentators say it all the time, but Orton's RKO was indeed out of nowhere, and it worked wonderfully. Yes, people will complain about a SmackDown Live guy appearing on Raw, but Orton darting out of the ring immediately made it feel like a chaotic scene and it was an effective tactic. Now fans will want to see them go out at it even more. Brilliant.
Was this week's show as hot as last week's? Of course not, but no one should have thought it would be going in. This was more along the lines what we'll be getting week-to-week and I thought it was a solid show on the whole. It had its fair share of filler, but the build for SummerSlam was awesome and it's slowly shaping up to be a blockbuster card from both brands. From the closing segment to Rollins vs. Zayn (and his segment with Balor) to the mixed tag team match, this episode had enough highlights to receive a thumbs up from me.
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