We start with a recap of Roman Reigns, sassmonster extreme, and Lana ending up in the cake, screaming that she hates Roman, and that’s how Rusev ended up having a match at SummerSlam for his US title. Then we remember we had Seth telling us that Finn’s all stories, and then Finn told us a bedtime story about demons.
We cut to Seth outside, who breathes in like Jericho about to tell us to drink it in – Seth, can we pause for a moment and ask you to buy your clothes in a slightly bigger size so it doesn’t look like they’re literally staying on your body through a mixture of hope and hormones? – and says we can feel the sense of inevitable, when he’s going to win the Papier Maché Title, or whatever it is. There’s a lime green car behind him, and it’s really offputting. He calls out the demon king, and cackles when he doesn’t appear in broad daylight. Alright, man. Have you even got a sense of theatre?
Our first segment is Lana and Rusev in the ring, furious about something or other, but they won’t leave the ring, and we all have to listen to what they have to say. Apparently they have to share a mic now – well, that’s marriage for you. Rusev says there will be no Raw, no matches, nothing will happen until Roman apologises for what he did to Lana. Instead, out comes Mick Foley, and Rusev’s given up all pretence of being nice to him, and shouts some Bulgarian at him, then says he demands respect. Foley’s beard looks like it’s being held on by elastic. Foley tells Rusev to ‘get’ and Rusev just looks at him, and tells him that he sucks, and that Roman has does nothing to deserve the United States title. Rusev starts saying that Stephanie should come out instead, because she knows what’s what, and as she walks out, she looks fairly frustrated. Lana smiles at a fellow evil queen and applauds her.
“You know what it is to be married to a great superstar,” Rusev says, and that’s probably your second mistake, Rusev. Steph calls his behaviour unacceptable and says that he can’t demand respect if he’s not prepared to respect Mick. Rusev looks stunned by this, but I suppose Steph has to team with someone, and she’s not allowed to tag her husband in anymore. Rusev asks who Foley even is, and says that he’s the champion, and he might just give Shane and Daniel Bryan a call. Whoopsie.
Roman comes out, with his facial hair back to its previously groomed state – maybe they made him shave before they let him into Australia, in case there was a badger hiding in it – and says that if an apology will end this bullshit, he’ll apologise. He says he’s sorry Rusev found the site where he met Lana, and he’s also sorry about the ugliness of their future children. Rusev calls him a greasy pig, and calls anyone who supports him stupid, and lets the crowd rise into a USA chant. Roman says he doesn’t feel like waiting until SummerSlam, and he’ll fight Rusev right now. Steph says no, the match for the title is at the PPV, and Rusev says that this isn’t about that, this is about his wife’s honour. Oh god, this isn’t going to be a Lana on a pole match, is it? Nope, apparently not, it’s a Roman vs. Rusev match for Lana’s honour. Is honour a tangible thing we can fight for, now? Is Roman fighting for Lana’s disgrace? Who knows. Can we stop with the sexist mail order bride shit right now? Can Lana just kick Roman in the balls and say ‘I can defend my own honour’? I know that wouldn’t be a feud, but it’d be really funny.
As a note, they try to shoot Roman mostly from the right to hide a cut by his left eye, which he got in a tag match in Melbourne, which has developed into a livid-looking wound and a nice shiner. Two stitches isn’t nothing, especially in that sort of area, so we’ve got to hope that it’s avoided ahead of this weekend at SummerSlam.
MATCH: Sheamus vs. Sami Zayn
Sheamus is already in the ring when we get back from commercials, having an interview with Byron Saxton about this whole thing with Cesaro. Sheamus says he’s proved he’s the dominant superstar – though he has the tell the crowd that he’s in the middle of a conversation, and that they paid to see him – and that he’s on his way to greener pastures in the form of Sami Zayn – who’s here. Hello, Sami!
- Before we’re even supposed to start, Sheamus kicks Sami’s hat out of the ring, and so Sami throws his windbreaker at Sheamus, and the two men are down in a tussle before the bell has even rung
- Sheamus gets Sami against the turnbuckle and holds him there, before Sami reverses it and the ref has to physically drag Sami away
- Cesaro is on commentary, and commentary are talking about whether anyone actually likes Sheamus.
- Headscissors from Sami, sending Sheamus down and out of the ring, Sami goes to leap over the ropes but stops himself on the apron
- Sami tries for a tornado DDT, but Sheamus catches him, and it’s Sami who ends up on the ground on the outside
- Back from commercials, Sheamus has Sami in a headlock, and he breaks free as we see a replay, clothesline from Sheamus, but doesn’t go for the cover
- Another headlock from Sheamus, as Cesaro talks about how he’s happy to be on the Raw team, with a red pocket-square
- Sami with some huge punches to Sheamus, Sheamus catches him off a rebound, and pins him for two
- Sheamus’ hair is wilting, poor soul, and he looks slightly more ridiculous
- Sami holds the ropes down and lets Sheamus go over them, but as he goes to run across the ring, Sheamus gets Sami’s ankle, and set shim up for the ten beats over the ropes
- Clothesline from Sami, Sheamus down hard, and another clothesline sends Sheamus over the ropes
- This time Sami gets his rebound off the ropes, and goes flying into Sheamus, both hitting the barricades hard
- Sheamus back into the middle of the ring, Sami going up high, leaps over Sheamus, who’s got too close
- White Noise from Sheamus, Cole miscalling it as the Irish Curse Backbreaker at first, and Sami kicks out at two, as more of Sheamus’ hair melts
- Sami with a Blue Thunder Bomb (Cole calling it at Michinoku driver) to Sheamus, another two count but for Sami this time
- Has someone destroyed Michael Cole’s cheat sheets on this match, or is he just desperately trying to be Mauro and failing? I mean, I can’t do better, but I don’t call matches for the biggest wrestling promotion in the world, for money. He does. Somehow.
- Sami beckons for Sheamus, goes for a Helluva Kick, and is caught by what actually IS the Irish Curse Backbreaker this time
- Cesaro says Sheamus is taking too much time, and excuses himself from commentary
- Sheamus sets up for the Brogue Kick, and pauses to punch Cesaro off the apron. The distraction opens up a chance for Sami to hit the Helluva Kick, and get the win!
Cesaro walks off with a smug grin, Sami celebrating, so this clearly isn’t the last we’re seeing of Cesaro and Sheamus having a little battle of wills. Sami looks very happy, and that’s nice, we like a happy Sami, as Sheamus just lies in the ring, unable to believe what’s happened.
Tom Phillips is maybe not standing in such a weird crouch position this week, as he stands between KO and Jericho, who will face Enzo and Cass at SummerSlam, and god, I love these two. They say they’re closer in a week than Cass and Enzo have ever been, and Jericho questions Enzo’s ‘g’ credentials, and wants to know who certified him. They call Tom ‘Brian’ and ‘Robert’ as KO does his best not to corpse and tells us how Big Cass can’t spell, that he can spell better, and English isn’t even his first language. Tom manfully tries not to corpse, and does a far better job than most of us would. Jericho tells Tom to watch it, once more. KO explains how by ‘it’, Chris means that Tom should watch them beat up Enzo and Cass. It goes on a bit long, and frankly, the dynamic where KO explains every one of Jericho’s weird catchphrases is sort of a downer, but possibly they didn’t have time to script anything decent this week.
Backstage, a flurry of referees are trying to keep Sheamus away from Cesaro, who doesn’t seem bothered, and then Mick gets involved, getting between them. He says that they’re going to have a best of seven series, which starts at SummerSlam. Okay.
MATCH: The Dudley Boyz vs. The New Day
Executive decision is that I don’t care about this match, so you’re just getting the winner. Sorry, but medical stuff does not allow for a lot of time with these recaps. Some things have to be sacrificed, and those things will be Dudley matches.
Gallows and Anderson have another ringpostitis thing, and The New Day watch with varying degrees of suspicion – no Big E, because he’s off with a groin contusion.
The New Day take the win, giving them momentum on their way into SummerSlam, and there’s more Gallows and Anderson ball jokes, and jars suggesting they want to collect the balls of Xavier and Kofi.
Kofi doesn’t take too kindly to this, and mocks Gallows and Anderson, telling them they don’t have the power to take the titles away from them.
Seth is backstage, in an anonymous blue corridor, asking about a demon king. Keep shouting, boyo, you’ll summon him soon enough. He comes across Neville, who offers him the advice that he isn’t ready for the demon king. “U fucked, boi,” is basically what Neville says.
MATCH: Nia Jax vs. Rachel Levy
Another squash, another day. Rachel’s cute, in a sort of Bayley went pop-punk way, blue hair and tats, like a girl you’d expect to see in roller derby, and says the Olympics have taught her she can do anything she sets her mind to. The match is all over in slightly over a minute, and we’re all unsurprised.
Oh, god, it’s Brock Lesnar. I’m skipping this, I’m sorry, I love Paul Heyman, but I’m just doing this thing where I don’t consume Lesnar media. Also, I’ve been warned that the Beast himself talks, and I think that’s actually one of the signs of the apocalypse.
Heath Slater interrupts Lesnar, because he figures he may as well pick up a death wish if he can’t get signed. Apparently if Heath beats Lesnar tonight, he gets signed for Raw. Paul Heyman looks like he might die of amusement. Lesnar says that he respects Heath Slater, he’s got guts, and he’s got kids to feed… and lets Slater come into the ring with him to talk about his kids – to tell him he doesn’t give a shit about them. So Lesnar gets to dodge wellness AND he gets to dodge the swearing rules? Anyway, he sends Heath Slater running for his life, then sweats for a bit while Heyman talks. That’s about it.
MATCH: Big Cass (w/ Enzo) vs. Kevin Owens (w/ Chris Jericho)
We get the usual patter from Enzo as they enter the ring, and I rather enjoy Corey Graves asking if Byron Saxton is a counterfeit G. Enzo gives us a lot of talk about SummerSlam… and they call them JeriKO. Uh, that’s the ship name, boys, you might wanna hush that up or hide your tumblr accounts. Juuust saying.
Nope, apparently we’re all calling them Jeri-KO, and I feel like maybe everyone should be hiding their fanfic, because apparently the producers have tumblr, and none of us are safe.
- KO starts with kicks and a few blows, before a shoulder tackle from Cass takes him down
- Cass with KO in the corner, whips him into the ropes, and KO rolls out for some encouragement from Jericho
- KO lets Cass grab him, bouncing Cass’ face off the top rope, and then KO back into the ring, attacks Cass from behind to send him to the outside
- While the ref is busy talking to Owens, Jericho hits Cass with a cheap shot on the outside before KO slams Cass into the ring post, and Enzo goes to his fallen friend to ask if he’s okay
- Back from commercials, KO has Cass in a headlock in the middle of the ring, Enzo banging on the apron to rally his buddy
- Sideslam from Cass, KO rolling away, but Cass is still unsteady
- Corner clothesline from KO, Cass surging up and giving KO the big boot as both men lie in the ring
- Cass struggles up or a splash in the corner, followed by a second, sending Owens over the ropes
- Cass sets up for a rebound big boot, Owens pulls the ropes down and Cass goes sailing over them to the outside
- Owens takes Cass by the hair and goes for the apron powerbomb, but Cass reverses it into a back body drop, and then has to turn away, because Jericho is attacking Enzo on the outside
- Cass chases Jericho around the ring, slams into Owens, and then Jericho is there, and the bell rings
- Winners via disqualification, Enzo and Cass!
A short match, just to whet our appetites for SummerSlam, I guess, but it seemed a little less of the KO we know and love. I missed the trash talk. Jericho continues to beat the hell out of Cass, slamming him into the barricades with KO’s help, as the ref tries to get them to give it up. Cass fights back with big blows to both men, but a superkick from KO and a Codebreaker from Jericho takes him down.
Tom Phillips is backstage with Roman, whom they’re still trying to shoot from the right, like they think a few scrapes will damage his appeal. Tom wants to talk about the main event, and Roman’s talking about his bloodline again, saying he’s ready for a food fight or a wedding cake fight, and wants it to be the big fight. Rusev attacks him from behind, Lana standing far enough back to shout orders at her husband as he slams Roman around until he sounds like he’s wheezing, through tables and into metal doors. Officials break up the two of them, so uh… guess the main event’s coming in hot, right?
We get the news that there’s a two hour SummerSlam kick off show. Fuck me, I don’t have to recap all of that, do I? I’m actually working Sunday night, so I’ll have a few hours to grab food before it’s SummerSlam time.
MATCH: Prime Time Players vs. The Shining Stars
Really? After all that, we’re just going to have Darren and Titus come out and do millions of dollars together? Skipping this, but while Backlund and Titus are talking, Darren bounces into him. So Titus comes into the ring, hits the Clash of the Titus on Darren, and The Shining Stars pick up the win.
MATCH: Jinder Mahal vs. Neville
Ooh! So, our winner over Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, is here to face Neville, and I might be pressed for time, but I’m damn well watching this. I can’t say no to a Neville match, ever. He slips on his way into the ring, and pauses, looking at Mahal, then makes his way to the top rope to grandstand for us.
- Mahal wants to lock up, but Neville’s keeping his distance, kicks from Mahal
- Schoolboy roll-up from Neville, pin for one
- Headscissors from Neville, sending Mahal out of the ring, followed with a dropkick to the chest of Mahal, standing on the outside
- Neville goes to the top ropes, corkscrew moonsault off the top turnbuckle to Mahal on the outside
- Mahal back in the ring, Neville goes to the top turnbuckle, but Mahal moves away and Neville comes back off the turnbuckle, both of them with hands in pranamasana, Jinder taking the advantage and taking Neville down for two
- Back dropkick from Mahal, with another pin for two, followed up by a headlock
- Neville stuns Mahal, hits a springboard moonsault over his opponent, and comes back down with kicks to Mahal, knocking him down
- Crane kick pose, Neville goes to Mahal in the corner, is bounced clear over the ropes to land on the apron and kick Mahal in the back of the head
- Jinder’s down, Neville goes to the top rope and hits the Red Arrow, pinning Mahal for three.
Neville poses on the ropes after his ring, and I love it, he’s glorious and I adore him. I could watch that man all day.
Steph and Mick are backstage talking about how Jon Stewart is going to be their guest at SummerSlam, and then Seth appears, looking like a man possessed. Appropriate. He says he’s been looking for the demon king all night, and Mick says maybe he’s in their office… and then say no, that’s not likely. Look, Seth, we all know where demons come from. They come from the portal to hell under the ring. Mick says that Seth should try calling the demon king out from the ring. See, Mick knows where the portal to hell is. Mick says Seth might be scared, but Mama Steph says her boy is never scared, and tells him to go get ‘em. Aw, she’s a better soccer mom than AJ Styles.
Seth’s in the ring, calling out the demon king, and a fan tries to make his way in to fight the cackling deity he sees before him. It’s okay, random fan, you’re not the only person who feels a desperate need to leap on Seth Rollins, but most people try their luck after the show in a low-cut top. Seth, to be fair to him, plays it off pretty well as the fan gets in, and is pushed aside. The demon’s creepy chanting noises arise, and the lights all go red as we await the arrival of the demon. Seth goes silent. Fuck, there’s nothing like it, is there? They eye of Balor on his back, and he’s chasing the camera – fuck me, the boy’s got a knack for theatre you can’t help but love.
When the lights go up, it’s the demon in the middle of the ring, and Seth on the ring steps, watching the demon’s snakelike movements as the crowd chants ‘holy shit’ for the demon’s first main roster appearance. Seth slowly climbs back into the ring and approaches the demon, who rises from the corner to face him. The crowd chant ‘this is awesome’ as Seth’s breathing hard, and lines up for a punch. He gets the first offense in, and then the demon unloads with a barrage of kicks, getting Seth to the ground easily, manipulating his body, dragging him by the hair. He goes for a Coup de Gras, and Seth dodges, but gets hit by the suicide dive from the demon, and backs away. He stands on the ramp, staring at the demon in the ring, breathing heavily and looking terrified.
MATCH: Alicia Fox vs. Charlotte
Foxy! We thought you were dead! I mean, not really, but we missed you, okay? I’ve missed your Northern lights suplex. Charlotte out, Sasha is on commentary, and we get to actually see where commentary are, which is… by the ramp? I that where they always are? Looks uncomfortable.
- Sasha’s running her mouth the whooole way through, and I love it
- Charlotte’s got big kicks to Alicia, but schoolboy roll-up from Alicia, followed by a couple of huge spinning kicks
- Charlotte bounces Foxy off the ropes, then puts the boots in
- ‘We want Sasha’ chants from the crowd
- Foxy to the top rope, Charlotte with a punch to the face
- Pin from Charlotte while we’re busy asking Sasha about who’d going to be at her party, and she gets the win
Charlotte beckons Sasha to come down to the ring, and down she comes, Dana diving in as Sasha gets into the ring, and Charlotte locks in the Figure Eight, Dana stamping on Sasha’s hands when she can. Charlotte won’t let go of the hold, and Sasha’s holding her knee, writhing in pain as Charlotte mocks her opponent. ‘Charlotte sucks’ chant the crowd, and Charlotte waves her hands at them like it’s a benediction. Sasha is left in the ring, holding her title.
Match: Rusev vs. Roman Reigns
We get a lot of Lana talking as she announces her husband, calling herself the Russian princess, which is utterly adorable and I love it, and then Roman’s down to the ring as well.
- Roman doesn’t wait for the bell to ring or the title to be removed from it, straight in with the offence, Rusev quickly getting the upper hand with huge punches thrown
- Rusev takes a huge kick to the face, and the bell still hasn’t rung as Rusev rolls out for a breather, and Roman comes back with a drive-by
- Rusev keeps rolling out, and this time it’s Roman who’s sent into the barricades, the ribs he hit earlier giving him trouble, and then he’s pinballed off the ring post as well
- When we come back, Roman’s lying in a heap on the canvas, and we have to be told Roman’s left arm is injured… oh god, not this again. Not the injured arm stuff.
- Rusev goes for the left ankle, as well, and then takes Roman by the hair and gives him an elbow to the face
- Rusev puts Roman’s throat on the ropes as he shows him off to Lana, the crowd chanting for Roman
- Roman fights out, right hands to Rusev, but he takes a kick to the mid-section that backs him up
- Rusev comes off the ropes right into a one-armed Samoan drop from Roman, both men staggered by this
- Slaps from Roman to Rusev, ducking under a punch and felling him with a clothesline
- Huge punch off the ropes from Roman, Rusev in the corner, but he dodges out of the way, Roman sent into the ring post again with the left arm, and tumbles off the apron onto the floor
That’s all the play-by-play there’s time for, sadly! It’s a long match, with a lot of near-falls towards the end, and the crowd chanting for Roman. Roman gets the win off the spear, with a big cheer from the crowd, and we close out Raw with Roman in the middle of the ring, cradling his left arm, and Rusev and Lana stand on the ramp with the United States Championship.