So, Roman Reigns came out to complain about Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman getting the drop on him on last week’s show. He accepts Braun’s challenge for an ambulance match at Great Balls of Fire before Strowman appears, still making his entrance in an ambulance. I’d love it if Braun’s official entrance was coming out in an ambulance and if he tossed his opponents in the back of one after every match, that’d be hilarious! As it is, Braun absolutely murders Reigns by throwing him from the stage and into the ambulance, causing Roman to take a sick bump to the floor. He then tosses him into the back of the ambulance and parades around like an absolute bad-ass.
The Hardy Boys and Finn Balor then defeated Sheamus, Cesaro, and Elis Samson. The composition of this match apparently has shifted plans towards a match between Balor and the Drifter, which is fine as it answers my call for new blood and new faces to be involved in high-profile feuds, but, again, I would have liked to have seen Elias drift (hah!) around the Intercontinental Championship scene, if only to bolster that division with some fresh match-ups.
The much-hyped match between Goldust and R-Truth never happened, as Goldust (now sporting a retro-inspired gold-and-silver version of his ring attire) kicked the crap out of him as his personal camera filmed the action. I’m a little annoyed on Goldust’s behalf that the WWE doesn’t really ever pull the trigger on his big one-on-one feuds; they dropped the ball on the blow-off to the Goldust/Stardust break-up, and now apparently don’t have the confidence to put this match on at Great Balls of Fire. I don’t see why, though, as the card is hardly stacked at the moment.
Miz TV stirred up some controversy this week as the Miz’s guests, Lavar and LaMelo Ball, shouted a bunch of racial obscenities when Dean Ambrose came out to continue flogging this feud to death. First of all, I have no idea who Lavar and LaMelo Ball are so who cares what they say? Second of all, I think it’s good that things go off-script and push the envelope a bit like the WWE used to. Finally, I’d really love it if the Miz/Ambrose match at Great Balls of Fire is their last; I’m all for long-lasting feuds and such but the amount that these two have faced each other now is ridiculous.
Anyway, this led to a six-man tag team match between Ambrose, Heath Slater, and Rhyno and the Miz, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas (inspiringly referred to as the “Miz-tourage”). The right team one here as Miz and his cronies used cheap tactics to pin Rhyno; obviously, wins like this are required as Axel and Dallas are hardly known as winners or effective competitors in the WWE so they’re going to have to try really hard to position them as worthwhile henchmen for the Miz.
Enzo Amore then came out to try and salvage his friendship, and partnership, with Big Cass. Cass came out and apologised, taking back all the things he said last week and reuniting the team, only to them turn on Enzo…again…at the top of the ramp and military-press him down the aisle. I’m glad that the WWE didn’t back-pedal on the Cass heel turn as it was perfectly executed last week, and this dastardly, devious extra turn only served to rub salt in the wound. Cass comes off as a massive dick, earning him real, vile heel heat, and he will hopefully be able to ride that momentum to steamroll over Enzo and towards a bit of a winning streak.
Seth Rollins then pinned Curt Hawkins. Why, exactly, did the WWE hype Hawkins as such a massive re-signing back in the “Superstar Shake-Up”? It seems crazy to think about now. Still, a quick, throwaway match with a decisive win over a guy who will never amount to anything doesn’t necessarily make Seth look that great but it’s better than facing Bray Wyatt or Roman Reigns or any of the other guys involved in big feuds. Speaking of Wyatt, he sends another ominous message to Rollins that he’s going to expose Seths “true self” at Great Balls of Fire. This is, of course, the usual stuff that Bray likes to say and amounts to basically nothing, but Rollins is known for being quite the sadistic, capable competitor so, if Bray does expose Seth’s “true self”, won’t that mean that Rollins just beats Bray more convincingly? Also, I really wish Rollins would execute that Kingslayer knee strike from the corner. You know, like….perform some kind of takedown or move, maybe that Falcon Arrow he does, then do a big taunt/set-up in the corner and just launch himself at the opponent’s face. As it is, he does this weird collar-and-elbow tie-up to a front-facelock and then just jumps in their face and it looks a bit…weird.
Anyway, Paul Heyman then introduces the WWE Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar. Seeing his opportunity, Samoa Joe tosses his Master Ball at the shiny, legendary Lesnar….and by that I mean he comes out, slaps on the Coquina Clutch and proceeds to choke the life out of Lesnar. Lesnar tries to fight him off but, like a rabid pitbull, Joe locks it back on and Lesnar ends up turning super purple. This was a great little segment; it made Joe look like a complete bad-ass, sold the Coquina Clutch as being capable of besting Lesnar, and even positions the champion as more of a face in this feud.
Neville then defeated Lince Dorado in a criminally short match, as is par for the course for the cruiserweight division on Raw. The “real story” of this match was that Akira Tozawa has officially joined what is now known as Titus Worldwide and that he is going to face Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship at Great Balls of Fire. Okay, so….Titus O’Neil is a cocky, arrogant, loudmouth heel, right? Apollo Crews is supposed to be a pure-blood babyface, though he’s not exactly connected with the crowd in that role and has shown some signs of having more of a heel edge lately, and Tozawa…is he a face? I don’t even know. I thought he was a heel. Either way…does this make the Neville/Tozawa match heel vs. heel, or at least heel vs. tweener? Seems a lot to ask from the audience to be invested, especially as Tozawa has barely done anything to really earn a championship match.
Despite finally being an absolutely dominating force, Nia Jax eventually fell to Sasha Banks in a women’s gauntlet match to determine the number one contender to the Raw Women’s Championship. Bayley actually showed some fire and personality in this match, and Nia looked great just mowing down everyone, but apparently the WWE will never give up on Sasha as being the face of the Raw women’s division. However, for me, given that I don’t particularly rate women’s wrestling, this was quite a weak main event for Raw this week.
This, of course, meant that I had little patience or interest in SmackDown! Live’s opening segment, which set up the re-do of the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match. Carmella came out to complain and reiterate all of the points she made last week, but Daniel Bryan stood his ground. Whatever.
Then, the Usos soundly and definitively defeated the Hype Bros, completely destroying their chance at facing the Usos for the SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championships, this was a bit of a stupid decision, for me; the Hype Bros had a legitimate claim to challenge for the belts, but couldn’t beat them here to actually earn the title match, all so that the New Day came just come out afterwards and award themselves the title shot at Battleground. What, exactly, have the New Day actually done to earn that shot? How can they just decide that they get one? Surely this would have been better if the Hype Bros had fought the New Day over who gets to face the Usos? But no, we just have to have the New Day fighting for the belts again. also, Mojo Rawley still didn’t turn on Zack Ryder and now seeds were sown for such a turn, which is the only intrigue generated by this match.
Naomi then defended the SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship with a super-quick, decisive victory over Lana, despite Lana sneak-attacking her. Naomi continues to no-sell Lana’s Spinebuster, making it the most ineffective finisher ever as it’s pinned no one making this even more of a pathetic and forgettable confrontation.
Randy Orton then comes out and RKO’s Aiden English. Okay…then he goes n a rant about how he deserves a rematch for the WWE Championship and will attack Jinder Mahal at every opportunity until he gets one. Shane McMahon comes out and awards Orton the rematch he wants so badly and announces that he will face Mahal in a Punjabi Prison match at Battleground. A lot of people have been complaining about this and about the match, purely based on the crap ones that we’ve seen before, however I quite like this. Sure, it’s a bit racist, as they’d never do this match if not for Mahal being of Indian descent, but it’s a rarely-seen match so it will make the match, and the event, visually unique and I’m all about spicing things up a bit in the WWE’s otherwise stale landscape.
Baron Corbin finally managed to defeat Sami Zayn; I guess winning the Money in the Bank briefcase allowed Corbin to level-up to the point where super-face underdogs can no longer upset him in the ring. This was a great match that really helped put Corbin over even more as a no-nonsense brawler who totally deserves the briefcase and a shot/push towards the main event. I’m not too worried for Sami having lost, again, here as he looked great in defeat, the crowd always loves him, and they teased a feud between him and Mike Kanellis prior to the match so, maybe, he’ll get a chance to shine and win more in that scenario.
Finally, in the main event, history repeated itself and the WWE earned itself some credibility in my eyes by having Carmella re-win the women’s Money in the bank ladder match. This time she used a chair to attack Becky Lynch as she was climbing the ladder; will people complain and bitch about that? I think not. Either way, the right woman has the briefcase (again), though this match was a lot safer and less hardcore than the one at Money in the Bank. I don’t think you can really complain about that, though, as it’s a bit much to ask any competitor to go through two massive ladder matches within a week or so of each other.