The show was kicked off by an extremely irate Rusev and Lana, who refused to leave the ring and Rusev announced that there will be no Raw (because he has that power, apparently) unless Roman Reigns came down to the ring to apologise for his actions last week. Foley came out instead, much to Rusev’s dismay. Rusev told Foley that he was essentially a fraud, and demanded to speak to Stephanie McMahon instead. Stephanie reprimanded him, telling him that Mick Foley demands more respect than anyone. Reigns then decided he should make an appearance, and gave out faux apologies about the relationship between Lana and Rusev. Foley then announced that the two wouldn’t have to wait until Sunday to clash, they would to so tonight as Rusev looks to defend his wife’s honour.
The first match of the night was next, and it was to be Sami Zayn taking on the Celtic Warrior, Sheamus. The two exchanged locks and holds for the early moments of the match, but it was to be Sheamus who would gain the early momentum, as he would drive Sami Zayn into the ring post, reversing an attempted tornado DDT. The match resumed after the break to a still dominant Sheamus, clotheslining an unprepared Sami Zayn. Sami began to get back into the match moments later, knocking Sheamus out of the ring before flying out of the ring himself to clatter the Celtic Warrior. Zayn was then able to hit a blue thunder bomb to Irishman, as he looked to end the match with a following Helluva kick, which he successfully landed due to a distraction from Cesaro. Sami wins in an excellent opening matchup.
There was a brief scuffle backstage between Cesaro and Sheamus, but Mick Foley intervened and announced that the two will clash at SummerSlam, in the first of a best-of-seven series.
It was then time for Tag Team action, with the Dudleyz taking on the WWE World Tag Team Champions, The New Day (minus Big E). D-Von started the match against Xavier Woods, throwing the champion from turnbuckle-to-turnbuckle. It wasn’t long before the champions were back to their usual standards however, as they capitalised on a mistake from D-Von. Kofi was tagged in, hit trouble in a paradise and picked up the win from the New Day.
Nia Jax was up next, as she took on another jobber, Rachel Leavy. Nia tossed the poor girl out of the ring with ease, before dragging her back in and slamming her to the mat to pick up the win with absolutely no effort whatsoever.
The beast incarnate Brock Lesnar and his advocate Paul Heyman made their way to the ring next to send another message to Randy Orton ahead of their ‘dream match’ this coming Sunday at SummerSlam. As Paul began to speak, the hottest free agent in the WWE today, Heath Slater, made a very bad choice, interrupting him and claiming that he was going to face Brock tonight and he came to ask Paul’s permission. Brock then took the mic, telling Heath that he has guts to come out and call him out, but he respected that as they both had a family to provide for, but he doesn’t give a s**t about them. Brock then delivered Heath an Ultimatum, but Heath chose the wrong choice and Brock suplexed him all over the ring like a Great Dane playing with a kitten. It was not at all pretty, poor lil’ Heath Slater.
It was time for a singles match next, with Big Cass taking on Kevin Owens. Kevin Owens started the match in control, as he (with the help of Jericho) began to chop the big man down, before slamming him into the ring post. The match resumed after the break with KO keeping the big man down with headlocks, until Cass broke free and side slammed Owens to the mat, before hitting him with a huge big boot. Jericho then began assaulting Big Cass from behind, and the ref ended the match due to the interference. Y2J hit a huge codebreaker to take the big man out, and allowed JeriKO to stand tall at the end of the match.
Backstage, Roman Reigns was interviewed ahead of their match in the main event, but it was quickly interrupted as Rusev ambushed and assault Reigns during the interview.
Next up the Prime Time Players (yes, it’s a thing again, at least for tonight) took on the Shining Stars. Titus began the matchup against Epico, but a quick tag was made to Primo and he began chopping the big man down. That didn’t last long however, as Darren Young inadvertently knocked the big man out of the ring after Bob Backlund was giving him advice. Titus did not take this lightly, and slammed Darren Young down with the Clash of the Titus and gifted The Shining Stars an easy win.
More singles action next, with Jinder Mahal taking on the man gravity forgot, Neville. Neville started the match with a much more aggressive version of his high-flying style, before Jinder used a plea for mercy to distract the Geordie momentarily. This didn’t put him off his game for too long however, as Neville hit a huge kick to the back of the head, setting him up for the Red Arrow. Neville delivered right on target as always, and picked up the win.
There was a backstage segment with Seth Rollins, Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon, as they agree to give Seth the night off, only after he goes and call out the Demon King from the ring first, to which Seth agreed.
Seth came to the ring, and did indeed call out The Demon King, but again to no avail. Seth then claimed that Finn Balor was scared of him, and that he won’t come out to face him because he knows that Seth is the face of his failure. That was until the lights went out, and the Demon’s music began to play, and the fog drew in, the demon was here, and wasted little time taking the fight to Rollins to give him a little taster of what he – and the powers of the demon – have in store for him at SummerSlam.
Next up it was time for Tag Team action, as the number one contenders Gallows and Anderson took on the Golden Truth. Surprisingly, Goldust started the match brilliantly, actually attempting a pin on Anderson at one point. This, obviously, didn’t last long and the two regained control, before dispatching Goldust with the Magic Killer and winning the match.
There was then a brief backstage segment with Charlotte and Dana Brooke, as Charlotte lambasted Dana for failing her last week when she lost to Sasha Banks, leaving her all alone at SummerSlam.
Charlotte was actually in action next, facing off against Alicia Fox. Alicia started the match on top, hitting multiple cross bodies before attempting a pinfall. Charlotte didn’t take too kindly to this, and delivered a vicious natural selection to Alicia to pick up the win. Charlotte then called out the Women’s Champion Sasha, as she made her way into the ring, only to be attacked by Dana Brooke, before Charlotte locked in the figure 8 to damage her SummerSlam opponent.
It was then time for Rusev to defend his wife’s honour against Roman Reigns. Roman wasted little time as he attacked the US Champion, before the match had officially begun. The match actually started after the break, and Rusev was targeting the arms of Reigns, trying to limit his ability to hit his spear. Reigns was able to start a brief resurgence however, hitting a Samoan Drop to the champ before Rusev carried on his assault to the left arm of Roman, launching him into the steps repeatedly. Reigns, not being one to take a beating lying down, continued to fight back and eventually started to gain some momentum against the Bulgarian and attempted a Superman Punch, but was caught by a huge spinning heel kick from Rusev. Rusev peppered the No.1 Contender with flying head-butts, but Reigns continued to kick out, much to Lana’s dismay. Reigns was somehow able to pull off a Superman Punch out of nowhere, but the brute was able to kick out yet again. Rusev was able to then lock in the accolade, but wasn’t able to stop Roman dragging himself to the bottom rope as these two behemoths continued to do battle. Reigns then dodged an attempted clothesline, before slamming into the brute with a huge spear and picked up the win.
So, with the battle lines fully drawn, what will occur come Sunday? Make sure to visit back all week for the Smackdown Live recap and SummerSlam content.
Liam’s Raw Rating: 8/10.