WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from July 24
SummerSlam has a main event, courtesy of the announcement by general manager Kurt Angle that Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman will all challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship in a Fatal 4-Way match.
The announcement tipped off a nasty brawl that saw security guards launched from the squared circle, The Monster Among Men lay out Reigns and the bar set seemingly impossibly high for the rest of the show.
Strong storytelling and solid in-ring product helped the July 24 episode of Raw succeed at a level that is becoming the norm for the red brand.
With a No. 1 Contender's match between Bayley and Sasha Banks and a huge six-man tag team match, the show was stacked from top to bottom with essential matches and moments that will help shape this road to WrestleMania.
Kurt Angle Kicks Off Raw
Just one week after revealing to the world that Jason Jordan is his illegitimate son, Angle kicked off this week's Raw.
The Olympic gold medalist said he did the right thing and was happy to catch up with his son before announcing Jordan will have his first match. He then turned his attention to the ongoing Universal Championship situation.
He was about to announce plans for the SummerSlam main event when Strowman, the man who interrupted last week's No. 1 Contender's match between Reigns and Joe, interrupted. Joe followed, as did Reigns, shortly thereafter.
The fans rained down a chorus of boos on The Big Dog as he stood across the ring from his two most recent rivals.
All three potential challengers ran down the reasons they should challenge for the universal title before Angle announced a Fatal 4-Way match for the summertime spectacular.
A brawl erupted between the three Superstars, with Strowman unleashing hell on the security that attempted to break it up. The locker room attempted to break up Reigns, Joe and Strowman, but the furious battle between them proved too much.
The Monster Among Men left Reigns lying following a powerslam, while several Superstars held Joe at bay at ringside.
This was a fantastic start to the show, with a scorching main event announced for SummerSlam and a wild, chaotic brawl that continued to build the sheer, unadulterated hatred between the Superstars.
The bump by the unnamed security guard will be an instant hit on social media, the subject of numerous GIFs, but the heart of this one was the intensity and aggression that exist between the three Superstars.
Their SummerSlam war with Lesnar gives the event a marquee bout that appeals to fans of the red-hot stars and, more importantly, those who enjoy heavyweights beating the hell out of each other.
After a Battleground pay-per-view from the SmackDown crew that underwhelmed significantly, this was the perfect way to generate some excitement.
No Disqualification Match: Finn Balor vs. Elias Samson
The image of blood pouring from lacerations on his head, the product of a vile guitar shot from Elias Samson, Finn Balor sought vengeance Monday night as he unleashed on The Drifter with a fury not seen since his days in NXT.
Balor introduced a steel chair into the match, but Samson grabbed hold of it and blasted the Irishman across the shoulder as the match headed to commercial break. Back to the action, and Samson flattened Balor with the shoulder breaker for a count of two.
Balor reversed Samson and sent him shoulder-first into a steel chair propped up in the corner.
At ringside, Balor trapped The Drifter in the ring apron and teed off on him. Balor pummeled Samson with a steel chair across the back, eliciting screams of agony from his opponent. A dropkick into the corner and the Coup de Grace followed, but then a Bray Wyatt bump aired.
The Reaper of Souls appeared, dropped Balor with Sister Abigail and Samson scored the pinfall victory.
After the match, Wyatt leaned over a fallen Balor and uttered, "Follow the buzzards," as if that phrase still means something.
Elias Samson defeated Finn Balor.
Watching Balor flip the ultra-aggressive switch and beat the ever-living hell out of Samson was a nice reminder to the WWE faithful that he can be one of the nastiest, grittiest and most dangerous stars on the roster when he wants to be.
He wanted to be here, and the result was a much more engaging match than it would have been had he been his typically great self.
The Wyatt stuff has little effect after all these years, and Michael Cole's disinterested declaration of the strangeness of the ordeal proves just how ineffective the character has become.
If nothing else, the supernatural element of Wyatt will reintroduce The Demon King to the WWE Universe come SummerSlam, and for that, fans should be thankful.
Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
The rivalry between Enzo Amore and Big Cass continued this week as they met in a rematch from Great Balls of Fire.
As was the case at the July 9 pay-per-view event, Cass obliterated Amore and finished him off with a big boot in a one-sided ass-kicking.
After the match, Cass teased further punishment for Amore, but Big Show hit the ring and stalked toward the squared circle. The younger, faster, more athletic Cass threatened to snap his former partner like a twig but Show proceeded.
A cheap big boot by Cass and an Empire Elbow left the giant lying for the second time in as many weeks.
Big Cass defeated Enzo Amore.
This did absolutely nothing to advance the ongoing rivalry between Cass, Show and Amore. In many ways, it was a longer, less entertaining replica of last week's show.
Cass is not nearly as over as a heel as Amore is a babyface, but that should surprise no one. Amore fired up the audience and Cass ran through the competition. He is the naturally charismatic star fans latched on to while Cass carried the act in the ring.
Eliminate Amore's promo work, and you have a relatively generic big man.
Beat said babyface down in consecutive weeks and throw in The World's Largest Athlete for good measure, and you have an undefined bad guy with no character development to speak of outside of "I deserve more" to lean on like a crutch.
Emma vs. Nia Jax
Emma made the unfortunate mistake of threatening to date Kurt Angle's son, Jason Jordan, leading to a showdown with Nia Jax.
Jax dominated her, tossing her around the squared circle and squashing her with a flipping senton.
Nia Jax defeated Emma.
A week ago, Emma tweeted this.
This week, she is literally and figuratively squashed in a non-competitive match.
Could the two be related?
Either way, Jax looked like a star coming into her own and discovering her athleticism. That flipping senton was fantastic, serving as another weapon in her growing arsenal.
Akira Tozawa Wants a Match with Ariya Daivari
A week after a controversial loss to Ariya Daivari and a cowardly attack one night later on 205 Live, Akira Tozawa was determined to gain a measure of revenge. Titus O'Neil, his representation, was not supportive and had his scheduled match canceled.
Tozawa answered by stomping to the ring, slapping O'Neil and demanding Daivari make his way to the squared circle.
Instead, Neville answered and reminded him that he defeated Tozawa just two weeks ago.
A fight broke out and Daivari joined the fray, leaving both men lying and insinuating he will be chasing championship gold.
This was a solid segment that showcased Tozawa's fiery determination, kept his ongoing rivalry with Neville at the forefront of the cruiserweight division and introduced Daivari to the title picture.
The rivalry between Tozawa and Neville may deliver from an in-ring standpoint, but creatively it had disappointed to a degree. Daivari may not be the most electrifying choice to throw into the mix, but it does give a new, unexpected element for fans to pay attention to as the feud marches on.
No. 1 Contender's Match: Sasha Banks vs. Bayley
Alexa Bliss made her way to the ring after Bayley and Banks took to the squared circle for their No. 1 Contender's bout.
She had a bird's eye view of the bout as The Boss took control heading into the commercial break.
Bayley fought her way out from underneath Banks, dodging a double knee from the top rope. A running knee to the face barely stunned Banks, who answered with a Shining Wizard, leaving both looking at the lights.
The crowd came alive, alternating chants of "Let's go Bayley" and "Let's go Sasha" as the women fought to the ropes. Banks sent the former champion to the mat below and delivered a big Frog Splash. As The Boss went for the pinfall, Bayley shifted her weight and scored the upset victory, cashing her ticket to SummerSlam to battle Bliss.
Bayley defeated Sasha Banks.
The march toward Banks' heel turn continued Monday with The Boss' mounting frustration evident on her face following the defeat.
She even appeared to undergo a tonal shift during her backstage vignette with Bayley prior to the match.
Whether in the ring or behind the scenes, it is quite obvious that Banks is turning heel on her unsuspecting friend. When that time comes, WWE will have on its hands a feud that can earn tremendous heat without necessarily having to have the women's title at its center.
That is effective booking and something that SmackDown Live should re-educate itself on as it approaches SummerSlam.
Jason Jordan vs. Curt Hawkins
Jordan made his Raw in-ring debut Monday night, moments after cutting a painfully one-dimensional promo.
His opponent? The self-proclaimed "Star Marker" Curt Hawkins.
Jordan ran over Hawkins from the get-go. He used a belly-to-belly overhead suplex to set up a big spear in the corner and a side suplex into a neckbreaker for the pinfall victory.
Jason Jordan defeated Curt Hawkins.
Jordan squashed Hawkins here, but everyone squashes Hawkins.
Whether he will be successful really depends on whether he can discover in-ring charisma. Firing up and hitting a spear at the tail end of the match is not the way to get over with the audience—not when there is substantial time preceding that one spot.
If Jordan can take a page from Angle's book and find that charisma, the world is his. If not, this push will have been wasted on the wrong member of American Alpha.
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows vs. The Revival
Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder dismissed Charly Caruso and took over their own interview. Instead of being able to finish the promo, the self-proclaimed "Top Guys" found themselves interrupted by Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows.
The Good Brothers cut a decidedly babyface promo, putting an exclamation on it by calling Wilder and Dawson "nerds."
It did not take The Revival long to prove they were not nerds, isolating Anderson from his partner and working him over, looking to pick up another quality victory over former tag team champions. A hot tag to Gallows, though, had the heel reeling.
A nasty chop block by Dawson had Gallows grounded when The Hardy Boyz's music played. Matt and Jeff's arrival was not enough to deter the heels from picking up the win, which they did with a pinfall on Anderson.
After the match, though, Matt and Jeff delivered Poetry in Motion, and the heels fled to safer ground.
The Revival defeated Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.
On the same night WWE Creative introduced Anderson and Gallows as babyfaces, they fail to capitalize on a distraction by the Hardy Boyz and lose anyway.
That is not exactly the best way to execute a turn.
This was never about them, unfortunately, as WWE is clearly planning on another higher-profile showdown between The Hardys and The Revival. Where that leaves tag team champions Sheamus and Cesaro is the real question.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz and The Miztourage
Distrust reigned supreme on the part of the babyfaces as Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins partnered for the first time in three years to battle The Miz, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel in a 2-on-3 Handicap main event.
The heels isolated Rollins for the majority of the match, working over The Architect. The crowd was hesitant to invest in the slower-paced match early, but Rollins made the tag to Ambrose late, and The Lunatic Fringe exploded into the match with the energy of a speeding locomotive.
Dallas took a nasty bump late, his face crashing into the bottom rope as he attempted a slide, but it would be erased in seconds as Ambrose and Rollins delivered stereo suicide dives.
Back inside the squared circle, Miz attempted to catch longtime rival Ambrose with a small package, but he kicked out. A Skull-Crushing Finale was countered, and Ambrose flattened him with Dirty Deeds, earning his team the win.
After the match, Rollins extended his fist to his former friend. Though hyped about the victory, Ambrose refused to partake in a show of solidarity, bailing up the ramp and leaving Rollins to close out the show, his arm still extended.
Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins defeated The Miz, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel.
The slow build is absolutely the right approach to take to Rollins and Ambrose fully embracing each other as friends. It would be completely illogical to have The Lunatic Fringe just willingly accept the show of respect from Rollins after one win together—not after the suspicion he has demonstrated on more than one occasion.
The match itself may have started slow but made up for it with an electric finish that reminded fans of the magic Rollins and Ambrose are capable of when on the same page. Ambrose pinning The Miz should bring an end to their rivalry, particularly with the revelation that Miz will host Jordan on Miz TV, essentially tipping WWE Creative's hand to an Intercontinental Championship match between the two.
Where the Ambrose-Rollins story goes from here remains to be seen, but WWE Creative has taken two guys who were growing somewhat stale and reinvigorated them, creating a story that makes sense and is immensely interesting.