By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens Confronted Enzo Amore and Big Cass; Jericho def. Amore by Disqualification
We all knew this program had the potential to be phenomenal given the talented talkers involved and it's already off to a strong start after this hot opening segment. All four Superstars were extremely entertaining in their respective roles and demonstrated awesome chemistry together. The subsequent match between Amore and Jericho was well-wrestled and it was cool to see Amore gain some credibility by looking like an equal to Jericho (who hasn't been losing to just anybody this run) throughout. I was completely content with the non-finish and their tag team match at SummerSlam (as well as the rest of this rivalry) should be a blast.
Braun Strowman def. Jorel Nelson
Another effective squash match with Strowman making short work of his unknown opponent. The jobbers getting mic time before each bout continues to be a nice little bit (this dude received entrance music, too!) and it makes Strowman come off that much more destructive. I'm not sure what the next step is for Strowman, but these matches have yet to wear out their welcome, so I would ride this out until fans are sick of seeing them (or until Strowman improves).
Darren Young def. Titus O'Neil
I was confused by who the face was and who the heel was supposed to be when it started last week, and this match didn't help matters whatsoever. The match was whatever and although Young received a favorable reaction when he won, the crowd might not have noticed he cheated to pick up the victory. In other words, I officially don't know what to think about the direction this program is taking and I'm starting to not care either way.
Seth Rollins Addressed Finn Balor
Rollins has been known to drone on...and on...and on when he's cutting promos by himself, but this was pretty solid. It could have been a minute or so shorter, but that aside, I can't complain about effective hype for a marquee match everyone is looking forward to. I might not have been as kind toward it had it happened in the opening segment, so I thought it was perfectly slotted at the top of the second hour.
Cesaro def. Sheamus
I initially wasn't thrilled about this match happening so soon after their previous encounter, especially after O'Neil vs. Young was a rematch from last week as well, but they managed to hold my interest with yet another enjoyable outing. They're simply incapable of having a bad match together, and although the crowd was quiet for it early on, they became engaged in the action once they picked up the pace down the stretch. I also appreciated how they switched things up a bit and the final few minutes featured innovative counters and pleasant psychology. I really want to think Cesaro winning and building momentum will lead somewhere, but seeing is believing.
Neville and Sin Cara def. The Dudley Boyz
Well, Sin Cara as Neville's mystery opponent was slightly disappointing. Part of me was hoping it would be Sami Zayn given their history from NXT, but the other part of me is happy it wasn't considering it might have been seen as a demotion for Zayn. This was a decent match while it lasted and Neville and Cara aren't a terrible team, but I'd imagine this was merely designed to be a showcase for the two talent who will be prominently featured in the returning Cruiserweight division. Bubba Ray shooting D-Von the death stare afterward was interesting and leads me to believe they might be splitting up soon.
Roman Reigns Crashed United States Champion Rusev and Lana's Wedding Celebration
Rusev has been an absolute riot over the last year and I'm so glad he's been able to show more of his personality lately. Lana has felt much more refreshing as a result and (almost) makes me forget about their atrocious breakup angle. Reigns coming out was predictable, but the crowd was behind him more than I thought they would be. The real question is whether that will be the case come SummerSlam in Brooklyn. I'm going to assume it won't be.
WWE Women's Champion Sasha Banks def. Dana Brooke (Non-title)
Brooke's matches seem to be either hit or miss most weeks, and it usually doesn't matter who her opponent is. She's had passable matches with Banks, and she's had some below-average matches with her, too. I'd say this match was more of the former as they kept the pace consistent and they kept it relatively short and sweet. Additionally, the stipulation that the title match at SummerSlam would become a Handicap match if Brooke won made this matchup more meaningful and not just a throwaway TV match.
Luke Gallows def. WWE Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston
I like the idea of these two teams facing off for the WWE Tag Team Championship at SummerSlam, but this feud has been a bust up to this point. New Day defeating The Club as quickly they did last week was weird, and all the testicle jokes throughout this show were weak. Gallows decisively beating Kingston here was a step in the right direction, but the comedy has been bad so far.
Raw General Manager Mick Foley Invited SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan to Raw
I guess it made sense from a storyline standpoint for Foley to address the actions of Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar last week, but I expected something more from this segment. They simply took turns taking shots at each other and putting over their respective brands. I respect the hell out of Foley and Bryan, but save this crap for the dual-branded pay-per-views, not the end of Raw. The less we see SmackDown stars on Raw and vice versa, the better the Brand Split will be.
United States Champion Rusev def. Cesaro
This was probably a better way of closing out the show than if they ended the evening with the previous segment, and I suppose it gave Raw the feeling that anything can happen, but I would have waited at least another week before giving away this match. Cesaro looked strong in defeat and they produced a solid match, but I don't think most of the crowd legitimately thought Cesaro had a chance of capturing the gold given Rusev vs. Reigns was already made official for SummerSlam. That was feud was furthered, as well as Cesaro vs. Sheamus, but the show seemed to conclude on an underwhelming note.
Following great back-to-back editions of Raw, this show was a step backward in my opinion. I really liked the first 30 minutes or so and the fantastic video package for Orton vs. Lesnar, but the rest of the night fell flat for me with most matches dragging on or leaving me scratching my head. On the bright side, many matches were confirmed for the SummerSlam card, which is shaping up to be an incredible installment, but here's hoping next week's go-home show episode is an improvement over this one.
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