Pre-SummerSlam RAW gave us everything we needed before the PPV

By: 
Joshua Waddles
Staff Writer

RAW performances have increased in quality over the past several weeks, and Monday’s edition of WWE Monday Night RAW gave us even better. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose masterfully worked the crowd into a frenzy at the start of the show. Good performances and good writing kept the crowd cheering throughout the entire show.

Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose

The performers and writers did everything right with the buildup for this reunion. The teases over the past several weeks practically tortured the fans, and the back and forth between these two had the fans on their feet screaming for the reunion to happen. RAW gave us a resolution at exactly the right moment. If they had dragged this one even one week longer, I believe the fans would have rage quit.

At first, it looked like a total melt down. Rollins and Ambrose started fighting. At first, the crowd was screaming “No!” but as the fight continued, the crowd reaction changed to some extent. It was a good fight, after all.

But when Sheamus and Cesaro came out, attacking Rollins and Ambrose, they put their differences aside to take the Tag Team Champions on in an even better fight. After clearing the ring, Rollins and Ambrose finally gave us that fist bump. The crowd went completely insane. And to top it all off, General Manager Kurt Angle announced Rollins and Ambrose will face Sheamus and Cesaro for the Tag Team Championship at SummerSlam this Sunday.

Nia Jax vs Sasha Banks

Sasha Banks defeated Nia Jax to become the number one contender for the RAW Women’s Title. This number-one contender slow opened up after Bayley suffered an injury a few weeks ago in a match against Jax.

I was kind of hoping that Jax would win this because I feel her time is coming, but Banks, clearly giving it her all in the ring, made it believable to me that she could win clean against Jax. I’m not sure, but I think Banks is the first to defeat Jax one-on-one.

R-Truth vs Elias

The supposed match never got started because Elias Samson brutalized R-Truth, laying him out before the bell even rang. It looks like this will be a feud between Elias and R-Truth, and I think this will be a good way to build Elias up. Some fans have said a feud with R-Truth looks like a demotion after Elias’ got disqualified, taking out Finn Balor a few weeks ago, but R-Truth is a solid performer and great on the mic. He’s one of those I’ve always felt deserved more of a push than he’s gotten.

Big Show and Big Cass

During the previous week’s RAW, Big Show laid out Big Cass with a knockout punch for the second week straight. This week, Cass got his moment and looked like a dangerous, sadistic heel as he enlisted help from Luke Gallows and Brian Anderson to beat Big Show down, slamming Big Show’s hand in an iron shark-cage door. This adds a layer to SummerSlam with a worked possible injury in the storyline.

Akira Tozawa and Neville

These two have put on great matches these past few weeks and Titus O’Neil, acting as Tozawa’s manager, does a lot to help get the crowd invested in this feud. Their match kept the buzzing crowd excited, and Tozawa surprised everyone by winning the Cruiserweight Title.

Most of what happens in the Cruiserweight Division takes place on their own WWE Network show, but RAW found time for the Cruiserweight Title feud. This may be an attempt to get more RAW viewers interested in WWE 205 Live, the cruiserweight show.

Finn Balor vs Bray Wyatt

The fanbase is divided on an issue within the WWE: when to showcase a match on RAW and when to save it for a pay per view. Monday’s match between Bray Wyatt and Finn Balor is an excellent example. These two have never wrestled before, and we got to see a clean win only six days before their match at SummerSlam.

The side of the fandom in favor of saving matches for PPV usually argue that these matches should be saved for a bigger impact. Showing the match on RAW basically means fans will be watching the same match at the PPV, especially if the match ends clean. These are good points in general, but I argue that Balor and Wyatt are an exception.

In previous weeks, the WWE has not done a very good job of building interest in this feud. Saving the match for a bigger impact would have been pointless because the crowd just didn’t care enough. This match, a great performance by both competitors in front of an enthusiastic crowd, has done a lot to build that interest.

As for seeing the same match again, Finn Balor will be competing as The Demon at SummerSlam. Of course it’s the same guy, but they are treated, basically, as different characters. Although Balor lost clean on RAW, his alter ego of The Demon almost never loses.

There’s a problem, though. Neither of these performers can really afford a loss right now. This is one of the few times I hope a PPV match does not end clean.

Mickie James vs Emma

RAW gave us a back-stage confrontation that led to a match between Emma and Mickie James, with James taking the win. Emma is trying to get over as a frustrated heel who can’t catch a break.

This match didn’t really compare with the rest of this great episode, but it was decent enough.

The Hardy Boyz and Jason Jordan vs The Miz, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas

I’m not entirely sure why Jason Jordan got chosen for this push, other than because he reminds people of Kurt Angle. (He’s not really Angle’s son.)

But either way, the WWE is attempting to get the fans interested in Jordan. Whether or not this is successful will depend on several factors, and may be difficult. Many fans have an aversion to wrestlers who get a push from the company before getting a more organic push from the fan base.

Jordan and The Hardy Boyz took the win, as expected. The Miztourage is basically a jobber faction. If they continue this feud, the WWE might consider mixing it up a little. Everyone expects the faces to win against The Miztourage. If the Miztourage actually wins, that will build interest in the feud and even get the fans more interested in Jordan. Especially if he eats the pin. This will show the fans up front that he is not going to be another John Cena.

Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns

This segment was a straight and forward hype builder for the four-way Universal Title Match at SummerSlam. Paul Heyman, Lesnar’s manager, worked his magic on the mic and then all four of the competitors poured into the ring for a brawl. Security rushed in to break them up.

Everyone involved in this match is going to look great, regardless of whoever wins. Some fans have said that Joe, after losing to Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire and getting pinned by Roman Reigns, has lost credibility as a contender. I don’t agree with this at all. Joe, like Lesnar, is a legitimate tough guy. It’ll take a lot more than a few pins to make him look weak.
 

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