WWE Raw Results: Roman Reigns' Redemption and Top Takeaways
The march to SummerSlam is underway and Monday night, fans found out the main event of the summertime spectacular when Roman Reigns defeated Bobby Lashley in a grueling bout to earn a date with Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship on August 19.
Reigns' victory and what it means to the WWE Universe was the biggest takeaway of the night, but hardly the only one.
Find out why Kevin Owens, Finn Balor and the Women's Revolution were at the forefront of Monday's show and why fans should be buzzing about them in the wake of the July 23 episode of WWE's flagship with this recap of the most recent USA Network presentation.
WWE Goes Back to the Roman Reigns Well for SummerSlam 2018
Roman Reigns defeated Bobby Lashley to cash his ticket to SummerSlam and challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship on August 19.
There are some that will complain about WWE Creative opting to push Reigns back to the top of the card and, ultimately, pay off his months-long chase of the Universal Championship with a victory over Lesnar at SummerSlam but the fact of the matter is: title or no title, Reigns has been the top dog in WWE for the duration of Lesnar's year-plus title run.
He has headlined pay-per-views, he has beaten every major star put before him and he continues to get the John Cena-esque loudest ovations of the night, regardless of how unfavorable they may be. He is the closest thing to a legitimate star they have and booking him in this spot is exactly how he should be utilized.
Reigns' in-ring work and dedication to his spot as the centerpiece of WWE has earned him this opportunity, which would be his first run with a world title of any kind since the summer of 2016. He has won when booked to and lost when necessary, most recently putting Bobby Lashley over clean at Extreme Rules.
You do not have to like him or the constant push by WWE officials but Reigns has done for Raw exactly what fans have criticized Lesnar for not doing during his stint as champion: he has shown up, carried the brand on his back and consistently delivered in big match situations.
At SummerSlam, he will be rewarded with his first reign as universal champion.
Whether you like it or not.
Announcement of WWE Evolution Brings Celebration, Self-Congratulations
Triple H, Vince and Stephanie McMahon announced the first-ever women's pay-per-view event entitled Evolution in a segment that can best be considered pomp, circumstance and a whole lot of back-patting.
The significance of the announcement was matched by the presence of the royal family of professional wrestling. There was applause for the hard work of the women of WWE, some self-criticism on the part of management and a ton of celebration by the Superstars, all of whom worked extremely hard for the opportunity to have a pay-per-view event they can call their own.
The issue is, as is typically the case every time WWE rewards its female performers, the unabashed self-congratulations that ensue.
How many times has the company patted itself on the back, touting the opportunities it is giving its talent.
If the average viewer took a shot everytime the company mentioned "making history" during the hype to the first women's Hell in a Cell match, the first women's Money in the Bank or the first women's Elimination Chamber, they would have been sloshed before those matches ever even started.
Too often, the company rewards its dedication to the women's revolution despite years of misusing and objectifying its Superstars. It treats its wealth of talented female competitors like a charity act it finally is paying attention to.
Considering all of the back-patting that is sure to go on between now and October 28, one can only long for the days when women have the same opportunities as men in WWE without all of the obnoxious, narcissistic press releases and self-rewarding proclamations that accompany them now.
Kevin Owens Schemes His Way into MITB Opportunity, Should Win
Kevin Owens will battle Braun Strowman at SummerSlam and if he defeats The Monster Among Men, he wins the Money in the Bank briefcase.
And he totally should win.
The Prizefighter has low-key been the brightest spot on Raw over the last month. A calculating and manipulative star, he tried everything in his power to get Strowman on his side. Despite the story he told Monday night about becoming friends with Strowman at the suggestion of his young son, one can only imagine Owens was planning on suckering the big man in for some gain of his own.
When that did not work, he suffered the wrath of Strowman, getting those hands week after week until the jaw-dropping bump from the top of the steel cage at Extreme Rules.
Fueled by vengeance, Owens will now look to wrest away the briefcase that would guarantee him a championship opportunity and rob Strowman of his dreams of one day hoisting the top prize on the Raw brand.
That is an easy story to tell and more importantly, would be the proverbial cherry on top of the rejuvenation of his character that has occurred since his return to Raw.
Strowman does not need the briefcase to win a championship. He is, arguably, the most over babyface on the roster and a totally believable champion. Owens, on the other hand, fits the briefcase gimmick and can use that scheming and manipulation to win a title he may or may not actually deserve.
It works, it makes for more captivating television and will reaffirm Owens' spot as one of the best heels in the industry.
Finn Balor Needs a Move to SmackDown, Greater Opportunity to Headline
If watching Finn Balor's match against Drew McIntyre taught the WWE Universe anything, it is that Balor is as over as any babyface on the roster and really needs a move to SmackDown, where he can enjoy a more substantial role and push.
Despite a longer show, Balor's star has dimmed since becoming the first universal champion in WWE history. He has remained a solid member of the upper card on the show but has routinely been the guy who gets beat to build up a heel or tag teams with the babyface the writing team is actually focusing on.
Case in point, Monday's show.
What started as Balor vs. McIntyre descended into Balor and Seth Rollins vs. McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler. When all was said and done, it was Rollins who pinned Ziggler to set up an Intercontinental Championship match against The Showoff at SummerSlam and subsequently overshadow Balor.
The Irishman was an afterthought, a Superstar involved simply to even up the sides.
Even his ongoing rivalry with Constable Baron Corbin, which should be a higher-profile program given Corbin's association with Stephanie McMahon, feels like a lackluster secondary program designed to keep both guys busy rather than elevate either one.
Balor's work and connection with the audience deserve better.
Unfortunately, the crowd at the top of the card makes it almost impossible for him to actually get it on Monday nights.