Renee Young makes her Raw commentary debut! The Big Dog gets sprayed – naughty dog! And Dean Ambrose makes his WWE return from… nine months in prison it looks like.
Ember Moon beat Alexa Bliss
Raw opened with Corey Graves and Michael Cole welcoming Renee Young to the commentary team. I’m going to miss your valuable insights, Coachman!
But the proper show got off to a sad start – Ronda Rousey coming down to the ring to mourn the death of Jim ‘the Anvil’ Neidhart. Even though this was scripted, Ronda delivered her lines with a genuine emotional weight.
With Natalya out, it was Ember Moon’s turn to be Ronda’s best friend forever, who very nearly beat Alexa Bliss clean, if it wasn’t for Alicia Fox causing the DQ.
Ronda got plenty of spots herself, entering full MEAN MODE and awesomely beating up all Alexa’s security.
Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre
Setting up the night long narrative, Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler – oh my god your hair is gorgeous – asked Kurt Angle why Seth Rollins isn’t here yet for their contract signing. And then joked about Rollins not having anyone in his corner. Come on Jason Jordan!
Baron Corbin beat Tyler Breeze
Baron Corbin dominated Tyler Breeze, pinning him with the Deep Six – not even his finisher.
Finn Balor & Braun Strowman beat Jinder Mahal & Kevin Owens
And then he announced Finn Balor will have to fight two men: Kevin Owens and former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal (I still can’t believe he was champion for so lon-.
Babyface Kurt made it a tag match, though, with Finn’s super over partner BRAAAAAUN – who won the fun match.
Bobby Lashley beat Ricky Roberts
Bobby Lashley squashed Elias-uber fan jobber Ricky Roberts next , but not before Elias claimed he’d sold out Madison Square Garden three times. I’m sure that’s totally unrelated to anything else going on in wrestling right now.
B Team beat Deleters of Worlds & Revival
After working out they’ve got a 33 ⅓ % chance of winning – maths – the B Team successfully stole the Revival’s pin in a fun, but very short three way. It’ll be B Team vs The Revival on the pre-show now, meaning Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt don’t have a match at SummerSlam. There’s many layers of depressing to Raw’s tag title scene.
Big Stakes For The Big Dog
Then we got a segment teased throughout the night as ‘Big Stakes for the Big Dog’. Which sounds like a children’s book.
It involved Paul Heyman’s latest ingenious plan: use Reigns to get revenge on Lesnar turning on him – but the plan doesn’t stop there!
Because the real plan was to stage the Brock attack on Heyman, pretend you’ve split up, make a tiny tease you’ve got another plan in a clip not even shown on last week’s Raw, try to become Roman’s advocate, use pepper spray on his eyes when your close enough, for Lesnar to come down and do a minor beat down angle with a choke hold. That’s a great plan.
It was a very entertaining segment, with the crowd popping huge for a potential Heyman/Reigns partnership, but when you pause to think about it, the whole storyline is pretty contrived, and the super heat you got Lesnar for attacking Heyman is undermined, because they were actually in cahoots all along.
Bobby Roode & Titus Worldwide beat Mojo Rawley & Authors of Pain
Bobby Roode pinned Mojo Rawley in about three minutes for one of the most inconsequential Raw matches of all time.
Jim Neidhart Tribute Package
WWE do memorial video montages better than anyone, and Jim Neidhart’s was no exception.
Ruby Riott beat Sasha Banks
A member of the Riott Squad wrestled either Sasha Banks or Bayley because… that’s what always happens before the main event of Raw.
Seth Rollins Vs Dolph Ziggler Contract Signing
And the main event saw Ziggler trash Seth, the WWE locker room and the fans in a promo so good, it stopped me being mesmerised by his beautiful hair. He signed the SummerSlam IC title match contract, expecting it to be forfeited because Seth wasn’t here yet, and the six days in between now and Sunday don’t exist.
But Seth was here, in fact, he’d been here for quite a while- he just wanted to wait until Dolph had made the match official. Because Rollins does have back-up… the returning from injury Jason Jorda-I mean, Dean Ambrose, complete with a new short haircut and that ‘I’ve just done hard time in jail’ muscular body.
And this was no ‘take it easy, just stand in Seth’s corner’ return, as the Shield brothers ran down and took out Drew and Dolph, with Ambrose hurling himself at both men. Rollins and Dean closed the show with a fist bump. It’s good to have Ambrose back.
This was a very effective go-home show, with Raw’s three main titles all having angles that make you want to see what happens on Sunday – with the Ambrose return being a great surprise at the end. This week’s Raw is Cor.