RAW kicks off with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon serving as some sort of hype-machine as they run down the major matches for the upcoming four-hour SummerSlam, starting with Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker, followed by the official contact signing between John Cena and Seth Rollins for their “Winner Take All” title match as the WWE Championship and United States Championship will both be on the line, lastly, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns will take on Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper. Between each, they hype the WWE Network.
Then comes the greatest announcement, as the former Daily Show host, John Stewart will be the official host of SummerSlam. Following the announcement, Randy Orton hits the ring for the opening match.
Very interesting way to kick off the show, reminiscent of the old school Vince McMahon ring announcer-era before the old time WWF supershows and pay-per-views.
Randy Orton teams with Cesaro to take on Sheamus and Kevin Owens. Got the feeling they have nothing for Orton and Sheamus is just going to wait in the dugout until it is time for the cash-in. Cesaro got a gigantic pop from the crowd, I think bigger than Kevin Owens. Lots of “Cesaro Section” signs, and “You Look Stupid” directed towards Mr. Money in the Bank from the live crowd. Cesaro is easily the MVP of this match, and runner-up is easily Owens. Cesaro and Owens equal money and WWE knows it. Of course, Sheamus eats an RKO by Orton to end the match. Figures. Orton has to get some measure of success considering he will once again face Sheamus one-on-one at a major show.
During the match, Michael Cole announced that ESPN will be broadcasting a show live from SummerSlam, hosted by former WWE commentator Jonathan Coachman.
Undertaker promo with druid chanting in the background. Theme is the “reaper” calling for Brock Lesnar to the gates of hell. Chilling.
Next up Roman Reigns takes on Luke Harper. Dean Ambrose hanging around at ringside. I have been enjoying seeing Ambrose and Reigns together, Ambrose always cuts a good promo, and Roman does what he always does. Luke Harper is a consistent delivery man in the ring, never a dull moment when put in the right situation. Ambrose is pretty comical asking about the “family” concept with the Wyatts, equating themselves to the Hatfields and McCoys. Bray is also at ringside, as Harper and Reigns have a decent match together. Ambrose is so good at putting them both over. Harper pulled off a solid Michinoku Driver mid-match. Reigns came back later with an under-the-leg side Suplex, very reminiscent of an old finisher of Shawn Michaels during his early 90’s heel days. Both broke out the signature moves multiple times, but nobody would budge. One point, Reigns went for a Superman Punch, but ate a Superkick, followed by a sit-out powerbomb, which in my opinion would have been a shocking and entertaining finish, but instead Reigns, with the crowd chanting for him, hits a Superman Punch followed by the Spear for the win. I have to hand it to Roman Reigns, he got the live crowd on his side and really performed well in the ring tonight.
A shocker, Tamina gets to wrestle tonight. Not shocking at all, she loses to Becky Lynch.
I think I must have hit something on my DVR, because I am seeing Rusev vs. Mark Henry for what, the third week in a row, not counting the consecutive matches they had during that short lived feud last year? Henry loses. Again.
The fun part comes post-match, as Lana calls out Summer Rae, and promptly decks her. She then dares Rusev to step in the ring with her! Suddenly, Dolph Ziggler’s theme hits, the crowd erupts and they fight. Ziggler goes for a superkick, but Summer is pulled in front to stop him. That is okay, as Lana hits Summer with a kick of her own, allowing Ziggles to knock Rusev senseless with a superkick. Backstage, Ziggler demands a match with Rusev at SummerSlam.
Another promo for Brock vs. Undertaker, and they do a great job of hyping this one. Not the biggest fan of the tag line “The Rematch Too Big for WrestleMania” considering WrestleMania is supposed to be the biggest show of all WWE programming.
Ryback makes short work of Miz, following a very funny promo from the Direct-to-DVD star. Post match Ryback calls out Big Show, but this one waits for Sunday. It is astonishing how over Ryback is now. Good for him. Very good to see him reclaim his popularity since feuding with CM Punk, then being reduced to a C-rate bully.
The Authority is out, introducing a man who wants a statue next to Bruno Sammartino should he win the United States Championship, Seth Rollins. After a long promo about Cena being on the outs and his era being over, said U.S. Champion makes his way out to sign the contract, and cuts a fantastic promo about being the champion, being the future, and being handpicked by Triple H to be the company poster boy. Except all it means is Rollins has become a Cena-wannabe, using the same clichés and gimmicks, and using Triple H’s Pedigree as a finisher.
Then the promo takes a turn, the turn which I have feared since Cena lost the WWE Championship to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam last year. Cena pulled the card. The “I’m going to tie Ric Flair” card. He did it well, by shifting his promo and directing towards Triple H, who was mentored by Ric Flair, and now mentors Seth Rollins. Cena cleverly made this all about Triple H and his own legacy. If Cena wins, and becomes a 16-time champion, he hits Triple H and Seth Rollins where it hurts the most. I feel like this just became similar to the Streak. If Cena ties Flair, I might faint.
We have the Prime Time Players and Lucha Dragons up against Los Matadores and The New Day in an eight-man tag. Prior to the match, New Day cuts a motivational promo, however Xavier Woods loses it before he completes his rhyme. In doing so, Kofi and Big E. argue with Wood about breaking their combo. Funny stuff. In an insanely short match, Titus O’Neil manhandles Primo and Epico, Woods picks a fight with El Torito, allowing Kalisto to pin Epico.
In what might have been the greatest pre-taped promo, Stardust and King Barrett cut a work of art on Neville and Stephen Amell about their upcoming match at SummerSlam. Stardust is completely out of his mind and it is awesome, and King Barrett kept pace with the crazy, going all Game of Thrones about eliminating fools from his kingdom. In fact, Stardust then bestows Barrett a new cape, and is dubbed the Cosmic King. I hope WWE keeps them together. Barrett can roll with the goofy comic book gimmick, and they could really be a great duo if kept together and booked correctly.
— WWE (@WWE) August 18, 2015
In our final matchup of the night, Sasha Banks forces Nikki Bella to tap out to the Bank Statement. Decent match, lost a bit of steam as the JBL chants began. Backstage, Team PCB promises victory at SummerSlam, “with a little bit of flair.”
Before the “Homecoming” for Brock Lesnar, we get one last video package highlighting the recent history between The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar. Yes, that means another shot of “Shocked Undertaker Guy.”
We also get hype for NXT’s big show the night before SummerSlam, featuring Kevin Owens challenging Finn Balor in a ladder match for the NXT Championship. Wow.
The final segment featured Paul Heyman cut a 10-minute-plus promo while Brock paced around the ring. Heyman continues to craft a promo regarding the current animosity between his client and the deadman. It was great. Interestingly, there was some focus on Undertaker using underhanded tactics to strike back. Inevitably, Undertaker showed up again, and like last time, used a low blow to stun the beast, delivering a chokeslam and a tombstone piledriver. Certainly a mark left on Brock’s homecoming, and for sure a shock to the fans.