By Graham "GSM" Matthews
United States Champion John Cena Interrupted The Authority
For those who missed it earlier in the day, it was already made official that SummerSlam would be four hours this year, so Triple H's announcement wasn't anything new. Still, that's huge, and speaking as someone who will be there live, the weekend definitely has that WrestleMania feel to it now. As for the rest of the segment, they pushed the "first time ever" talk a bit more than they should have, but I appreciated them announcing so many matches for the rest of the show, including a championship main event. I'm typically not a fan of The Authority opening the night, but this was a better segment than expected given what was accomplished.
Big Show def. Dean Ambrose by Count-out
It's hard to get excited over a Big Show match in 2015, and while this match didn't have me jumping out of my seat, I liked how it was something we hadn't seen before (translation: it wasn't Show vs. Roman Reigns for the millionth time). They contested a nice match with the traditional "David vs. Goliath" dynamic that worked well for them. At first, I groaned over Show winning, but then I realized he's the one in the Intercontinental Championship chase while Ambrose isn't involved in anything major right now other than the angle with The Wyatt Family.
Neville def. Fandango
My initial reaction to seeing Fandango in the ring with Neville was, "Since when is Fandango a heel?" And then I reminded myself that it doesn't matter and to not care. It was a simple squash win for Neville and it was nice to see him win on Raw for once. I've voiced my concerns over him being directionless for weeks, but this apparent program with Stardust is a step in the right direction. While I still wish he was Cody Rhodes, Stardust is doing exceptionally well with what he's being given right now.
NXT Women's Champion Sasha Banks def. Paige (Non-title)
This was the first time Paige and Sasha have met in singles competition on the main roster, but not the first time they've ever done battle. I almost forgot about their past encounters in NXT because of how far both of them have come in the last two years alone. As expected, they had a very good match and I'm glad they were given as much time we they were. Having Sasha go over clean was the right move and I continue to enjoy the "Divas Revolution" going on right now. My sole gripe is it being a faction war, but hopefully that changes eventually.
Lana Interrupted Rusev and Summer Rae
After two weeks of getting Rusev the ass kicker, we were back to being stuck with Rusev the chickenshit heel in this segment. Ugh. With or without Dolph Ziggler, this is still the worst thing going in WWE today. The acting is awful and no one is benefiting from it at all. Is it bad I want Ziggler to return so we get hurry up and get to the mixed tag team match so we can blow off this atrocious angle?
The Lucha Dragons def. Los Matadores
There was plenty of talk from the commentators about the winners of this match potentially earning a future WWE Tag Team Championship shot, but there was no official announcement (from what I heard, anyway) of this being a No. 1 Contender's match. They put together a decent little match and I always enjoy the Dragons when they're in action, but the Matadores are such a dead gimmick that I couldn't care less about anything they're involved in. With the involvement of The New Day at ringside and the Prime Time Players on commentary, it looks like we'll be getting another meaningless multi-tag team match at SummerSlamm. Oh joy.
Bray Wyatt Welcomed Luke Harper Back Into The Wyatt Family
Man, words can't describe how happy I am to see The Wyatt Family back together, or at least two-thirds of it. Better yet, Wyatt cut a promo that made sense for once! He talked about his dog that ran away only to come back to him after not being about to survive on his own, a perfect comparison to his relationship with Harper. I was also ecstatic to see Harper get some mic time for once and he made the most of the opportunity by cutting a passable promo. I don't where Sting (who is rumored to return eventually) fits into all of this, but I'm glad they took the time to explain why they're back together.
Charlotte and Becky Lynch def. Divas Champion Nikki Bella and Alicia Fox
As previously mentioned, I'm not high on the "faction wars" in the Divas division, but I do like how it's getting us multiple Divas matches on Raw each week. This was another good bout from the women where everyone was given the time to shine, especially the NXT upstarts. I've commended WWE before for how they've established Charlotte and Sasha as credible in-ring competitors in the last few weeks and they did the same with Lynch in this match by allowing her to pick up the win for her team. It's so far so good for the ladies, but I'm curious what they have in mind for SummerSlam.
Randy Orton def. Kevin Owens by Disqualification
Again, I appreciated the freshness of this contest and I really think it could be a blockbuster if it was positioned as a major match (i.e. not randomly thrown on Raw). The match was solid while it lasted, but it was never reached the next gear before it abruptly ended. I didn't mind the disqualification finish, however, as it protected Owens and put heat on him and Sheamus when they laid out Orton and Cesaro afterward.
United States Champion John Cena def. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins
I question WWE's decision to hold this match on Raw. Unless they swerve us and change directions completely, we're getting Cena vs. Rollins for one or both titles at SummerSlam, so why give it way this soon? It'd be one thing to have it run short, but they were given an ample amount of time along with a clean finish. Don't get me wrong, the match was great once it picked up the pace down the stretch and the final few minutes were excellent, but the idea of Cena having to beat the world champ in order to get a title rematch at SummerSlam should be reserved for undercard feuds. There's always the chance they add a stipulation to the match to make it special, but if not, I'm less excited about a rematch because we basically saw it on this show.
Some will say that the show lacked from the absences of Brock Lesnar and Undertaker and while that is true to an extent, I thought the three hours were rather enjoyable on the whole. I wouldn't go so far to say it was one of the editions of Raw this year, but they delivered on their "first time ever" promise from the start of the show with several fresh matchups as well as some significant build for SummerSlam. Moreover, the time seemed to fly by for me personally and I take as a sign that WWE has gotten a feel how to better space out the episodes as of late.
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