By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Roman Reigns Interrupted The Authority
This was the first time to my memory that all of The Authority was together at the same time, so it felt like something of a special occasion in that sense. The segment was nothing more than a glorified commercial for the SummerSlam pay-per-view, the night's Raw and the WWE Network. Does anyone else find it funny that Triple H shoved the Network promotion down our throats only days after the low subscriber count was announced? Things didn't get interesting until Reigns' interruption, who performed better than usual on the mic. The Last Man Standing match with Kane was a nice hook going into the commercial break.
Roman Reigns def. Kane in a Last Man Standing Match
Last Man Standing matches can usually be hit or miss based on who's involved, but Reigns and Kane managed to make this as entertaining as possible. The match mostly consisted of brawling between the two, but neither of them are master technicians anyway, so the stipulation worked to their strengths. They didn't go to the extreme nor did they need to. Reigns went over strong at the end and it was an effective in furthering Reigns' momentum going into SummerSlam.
Brock Lesnar and WWE World Heavyweight Champion John Cena Addressed Their SummerSlam Match
Say what you will about his mic skills (or lack thereof), but Lesnar shines in the pre-taped environment when it comes to these interviews. He was excellent here and, along with Cena, put his SummerSlam match over in a big way. They made it feel like the showdown of the summer and showed incredible intensity. WWE should these type of promos more often, especially with guys like Lesnar who can't be on the show live most of the time.
Mark Henry def. Damien Sandow
As soon as I heard the "Boomer Sooners" music, I figured it had to be Sandow and not a returning Jim Ross. Henry, who's been out with an injury for quite some time, had a fitting return in his hometown and received a great reaction from the live crowd. The match was a total squash, of course, but it was nice to see Henry showcased for once after being treated like an enhancement talent earlier this year. The key for Henry is the follow-up, though.
Dean Ambrose def. Alberto Del Rio in a Beat the Clock Challenge Match
Del Rio may not have been the most interesting opponent for Ambrose, but it made sense from a storyline standpoint given Del Rio's armbar finisher. He did a nice job of targeting the arm throughout and telling a solid story. It was slow and methodical at the start, but they picked up the pace down the stretch and delivered a fun final few minutes. Is this not the longest Beat the Clock Challenge Match in history? I know they wanted to sell Ambrose's injury and I'm a sucker for long matches, but in a Beat the Clock environment this was very strange. It was something out of the ordinary, though, so I'll give them that.
Rusev def. Sin Cara
I legitimately laughed out loud when they came from commercial break and it was announced that the entire match happen on the WWE App. I couldn't have been happier to hear those words since this was a match we've seen oh so many times before. The post-match verbal exchange between Zeb Colter and Lana was once again enjoyable and Rusev's attack on Swagger was well done. He hasn't looked too strong during this rivalry so far so it was important for him to get the upper hand here.
Dolph Ziggler def. Cesaro
The two are capable of having a much better match if given the time, but they made the most of the time they were allotted here. There were some cool spots thrown in, but it was a shame that Cesaro was back to meaning nothing one week removed from his strong showing against the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Ziggler's win was a nice momentum boost going into his Intercontinental Championship match against The Miz and their feud has been well built so far.
Stardust and Goldust def. Rybaxel
You know the tag team division is in a poor state when Stardust and Goldust return to action after a month and they're still facing the same stagnant team. The match was no different than it was the first million times and therefore I didn't care about it. The mannerisms of Stardust and Goldust afterward were just... weird. I'm still not a fan of the act and fail to see what purpose it's supposed to be serving.
Chris Jericho def. Luke Harper by Disqualification
As expected, Jericho and Harper produced a very good matchup. The two have great in-ring chemistry together and always work well together. The ending outcome was never in doubt, the action was entertaining enough to the point where it didn't matter much. Harper was on the verge of losing anyway before Wyatt interfered, so it wasn't like he cost him the win. Harper was protected with the non-finish and it allowed Wyatt to score some retribution on Jericho afterward.
Diego def. Fandango
What's worse than doing this match twice? Doing it for a third time in the matter of a week! This Fandango love triangle has been garbage for the start and I'm still in shock that it has dragged on this long. It's simply a complete waste of time. The post-match bit served to reminder viewers that the feud between Hornswoggle and El Torito earlier this year was a waste of time as well now that they've made amends.
Bo Dallas def. R-Truth
The match was fine for what it was, but it was basically done to give Dallas his win back. I realize that him utilizing dirty tactics to pick up the victory was intended to get heat on him, but who has to cheat to beat R-Truth in 2014? I really have no desire of seeing these two feud. Truth couldn't be more stale and Dallas deserves better.
Heath Slater def. Seth Rollins in a Beat the Clock Challenge Match
I figured Rollins would make quick work of Slater and be done with it, but Dean Ambrose making his presence felt at ringside made it obvious that Slater was going over. Still, it was cool to see Slater score the upset win and the crowd popped big for it. Ambrose's actions at ringside were rather tame, but I still look forward to what stipulation he chooses for his SummerSlam match against Rollins.
Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella Signed the Contract for Their SummerSlam Match
Finally, a segment featuring Stephanie and Brie where neither of them said the word "bitch"! In all seriousness, this was another excellent strong verbal exchange from the two and Triple H and Nikki Bella also played their roles well. Stephanie got great heat as she took out both of The Bella Twins and made her look absolutely ruthless. This was a strong segment on the whole and I can't stress enough how brilliant the build for this match has been so far.
With John Cena, Brock Lesnar and several other stars off the show, Raw seemed a lot less star-studded than usual, which would explain the multiple of filler matches on this episode. Even still, there was a lot of strong build for SummerSlam and few solid segments and matches here and there, making it a good show overall. It won't be in contention for being one of the best editions of the year, but it was successful in what it set out to do and that was to push the pay-per-view.
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