Braun Strowman Attacked Universal Champion Brock Lesnar
Paul Heyman's gloating is always worth looking forward to after every one of Lesnar's big victories, and his promo in this segment was no different. Things only got better once Strowman showed up and laid a brutal beating on Lesnar like no one has before. That's a real endorsement of him by the company and how much of a star they see him as. The stage has been set for No Mercy with the two squaring off for the Universal Championship and I can't wait. It's best to strike while the iron is hot with Strowman right now.
Enzo Amore def. Big Cass by Referee Stoppage in a Brooklyn Street Fight
I'm ready for this rivalry to wrap up as much as the next person, but this was a fine effort from them. It was a fitting place for them to have a Street Fight and the use of weapons made it more bearable than if it a standard singles match. Yes, referee stoppage was a weird way for a Street Fight to conclude, but I assume it's because the injury Cass received was legitimate. He looked visibly upset and wasn't cowardly about dodging the rest of the match with Amore, but if that's the case, I feel really bad for him. Granted, his push hasn't been exactly smooth so far, but he is obviously favored by the company and beat Big Show clean at SummerSlam. Here's wishing him a speedy recovery.
Nia Jax def. Emma
Remember when Jax was regularly beating local athletes last year? Those worked because she wasn't winning at the expense of other women on the roster, such as Emma. It was bad enough Jax squashed her in the matter of a minute a few weeks back, and there was no point in doing a repeat performance here. I understand giving Jax some momentum, but Emma deserves so much better than this. I wouldn't be surprised to see her ask for her release from the company before the end of the year.
Elias def. R-Truth
Elias continues to grow on me as a midcard heel and officials are clearly high on him as well based on how often the commentators praise him. His pre-match concerts have quickly become one of my favorite parts of Raw and his subsequent match with Truth was exactly what it needed to be: short and sweet. I'm genuinely interested to see who his next program will be with.
Intercontinental Champion The Miz and Samoa Joe Confronted John Cena and Roman Reigns
It's been rumored for a while that Cena was headed to Raw, so although this was an expected move, I still find it supremely dumb that WWE didn't bother to explain why he's a free agent or why he chose now to come to Raw as opposed to last month. Nevertheless, it was a cool moment when he and Reigns went face-to-face and I'm glad WWE is apparently holding off on that money match until WrestleMania 34 (or at least I hope so). Joe vs. Cena is a matchup I want to see in the interim, while I'm curious whether Miz vs. Reigns means the end of Jason Jordan's push toward the Intercontinental Championship.
Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali, Gran Metalik and Rich Swann def. Tony Nese, Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari and Noam Dar
Multi-man matches with the Cruiserweights were a staple of Raw immediately following the dawn of the division last year, but they're more of a rarity nowadays. They can sometimes be a ton of fun when the guys are allowed to go all out, but that was not the case here. Instead, it was a formulaic eight-man tag team match that the fans couldn't have cared less about outside of some of the spots. Alexander picking up the victory for his team gives me hope he'll be challenging for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship in the not-so-distant future.
Raw Tag Team Champions Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins def. The Hardy Boyz (Non-title)
Between Ambrose and Rollins and The Hardy Boyz, Raw's tag team division is loaded at the moment, so I didn't think they would blow through this match so soon. That said, it was an extremely entertaining encounter and the two teams worked well together. The fans were hot for both tandems and I hope this isn't the last we've seen of them against each other. Look for Sheamus and Cesaro to resume their rivalry with Ambrose and Rollins heading into the No Mercy pay-per-view.
Alexa Bliss Interrupted Raw Women's Champion Sasha Banks
Banks is undoubtedly more over than Bayley as a babyface at this point, but she still tends to receive mixed reactions because she doesn't come across as a face in her promos and her character work. This was a solid verbal exchange between the two that effectively built toward their rematch for the championship on next week's show. We'll see if Banks can break her curse of never successfully retaining her title.
Finn Balor def. Jason Jordan
As noted, no indication was given as to whether Jordan's days of feuding with Miz are over or not, but I guess this was his way of "testing" himself after losing on the SummerSlam Kickoff show. They contested a quality match, but the live crowd wasn't too concerned with the matchup and were more focused on the beach balls being bounced around the arena. Normally, I would blame them for that, but what reason did fans have to rally behind Jordan here? His Raw run has been fairly disappointing thus far, to say the least.
John Cena and Roman Reigns def. Intercontinental Champion The Miz and Samoa Joe
No one should be shocked that a rowdy wrestling crowd like Brooklyn would be bored by the end of a three hour show and would turn to popping themselves with beach balls, chants and doing the wave. It's unfortunate, but it's also the reality of Raw. Despite that, it's a testament to the talent of these four guys that they got those in attendance invested in what was going on in the ring and delivered a nice main event. The tension teased with Cena and Reigns should lead to a 'Mania match in the spring while Cena branches off into a program with Joe for the fall.
WWE heavily touted this as the post-WrestleMania Raw of the summer, and in terms of crowd reactions, it certainly felt that way. Granted, there was no announcement of a second Superstar Shake-up or any fresh faces from NXT (though Cena did return), but those might be coming soon. Meanwhile, No Mercy is five weeks away, but the seeds have been planted for the pay-per-view's biggest bouts, so that was encouraging. All things considered, this was an above-average edition of Raw and a vast improvement over SummerSlam from the night prior.
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