Last week was a Raw for the ages. Finn Balor got instant credibility by winning two matches in one night, including defeating Roman Reigns in the main event to earn a match against Seth Rollins for the new WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam.
Sasha Banks became the new WWE Women's Champion after beating Charlotte. It was one of the best episodes of Raw in years, and tonight is the follow-up show in Atlanta.
It features the return of Brock Lesnar, making his first Raw appearance since March 28th, the go-home show for WrestleMania. Lesnar's advocate will also be alongside him as Paul Heyman has reached a deal with the company and will appear on the show.
The WWE website is teasing another squash match for Braun Strowman, and the New Day's new program with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows will continue, as well.
The Big Takeaway --
It took only two weeks before a SmackDown performer showed up on Raw. Randy Orton gave Brock Lesnar an RKO in the main event segment, moments after Paul Heyman said Orton would never hit an RKO on Lesnar.
After one of the great Raws in recent memory last week, this week's show wasn't particularly newsworthy and had only one standout match.
Roman Reigns has been relegated to a program with Rusev for the U.S. Championship. Kevin Owens has a new gimmick of watching Chris Jericho's back. Jindal Mahal is back on the Raw roster after beating Heath Slater in a match where the winner earned a roster spot.
Show Recap --
Sasha Banks started the show with an in-ring interview.
She got a "You deserve it" chant. She said it was about time Raw popped off with a statement, a Banks statement from the new WWE Women's Champion. She talked about her match with Bailey at NXT Takeover in Brooklyn, and how they stole the show.
Charlotte came out. She nearly tripped over her long robe on the ring steps. Crowd chanted "You tapped out" at her. Banks talked about how Charlotte looked different and couldn't figure out why, then sarcastically said she has Charlotte's gold.
Banks wondered where Dana Brooke was. Charlotte said she didn't need Brooke or her father to beat Banks. She vowed to beat Banks at SummerSlam by herself.
Charlotte said she was the very best for over 300 days and Banks capitalized on one mistake. She said it's one thing to take home the prom king, it's another to get him to put a ring on your finger. She said Banks was just a one night stand. Banks reminded Charlotte she was the daughter of Ric Flair and if it wasn't for a one-night stand, Charlotte wouldn't be standing here.
At this point, Chris Jericho walked out, saying "quiet" repeatedly.
He's got a new villain style mustache and goatee. Jericho called Banks an "ungrateful, disrespectful little punk." Jericho said Charlotte was royalty and looked like a princess. Jericho said Charlotte may be Flair's daughter, but he's surpassed anything that her father has ever done.
Jericho asked Banks what makes her the boss. Jericho said she was only the boss of purple haired stupid idiots. Or that she was a distant relative of Snoop Dogg. Jericho said she wasn't a boss, she was a brat.
Enzo Amore came out. Amore kissed Banks' hand. He said Big Cass is usually by his side, but sometimes he likes to handle his business by himself. Amore said he'd like to make a Certified G deposit with Banks, "How you doin?"
Banks and Amore looked smitten with each other. Charlotte said Sasha should go for it because she's heard about Amore's love life, there's only one word to describe him.
Amore said listening to Jericho speak, time passes like a kidney stone. It's like having a text conversation on an iPhone and you wait for those three buttons flash waiting for them to respond, but they never do.
Jericho called Amore a "hip hop hobbit" and said he better watch it. Amore said "Watch what?" Jericho said "It." Amore said for him to watch his mouth before he speaks is like wiping his rear end before he poops. He called Jericho Bon Jovi and dropped several Bon Jovi song titles.
Finally, Mick Foley showed up and said he may not be THE boss, but he is Jericho's boss. He said Amore is a certified G and he is a GM. Foley said he can't wait to see Charlotte and Banks in the ring again, and it would happen tonight. He arranged a mixed tag team match between Jericho and Charlotte vs. Banks and Amore immediately.
Charlotte & Chris Jericho defeated Sasha Banks and Enzo Amore (9:57)
Charlotte pinned Banks after Natural Selection following a distraction by Brooke. Banks slapped Jericho before the finish. Highlight was Banks and Amore doing stereo topes on the heels before a commercial.
Kevin Owens was on commentary. First thing he did was steal Byron Saxton's tie and draped it on himself. When Banks used a double kneedrop onto Charlotte's abdomen, Banks called it a great move he started using on the indies in 2005.
Post-match, Jericho gave Amore a codebreaker. Big Cass came out to confront Jericho, who walked off.
Saxton did a pre-match interview with this week's Braun Strowman's squash victim, Evan Anderhold. When asked why he would get in the ring with Strowman, he said he gets $1,000 for showing up and $5,000 for winning. Saxton said Anderhold would have had a better chance playing the Powerball lottery.
Braun Strowman defeated Evan Anderhold (1:01)
Strowman pinned Anderhold, who tried to run away at the opening bell, with the reverse chokeslam.
Stephanie McMahon told Foley how great an idea the mixed tag team match was. Mark Henry walked in. Stephanie said Henry was the WWE's ambassador for the Summer Olympics. Henry said he made some renovations in the Hall of Pain and said it is time for a reopening. Stephanie said one of the reasons they brought her back was more of an advisory role, not active wrestling.
Henry said she was wrong, he was the strongest man who ever lived, a former world champion and he wanted one more run as a wrestler. Foley suggested Henry face Rusev for the U.S. Championship tonight. Stephanie looked a little unhappy with Foley about that.
R-Truth looked for Pokemon characters again backstage. Goldust suggested they wrestle tonight instead and he would help Truth find as many Pokemon characters as he wanted.
The Shining Stars defeated the Golden Truth (2:00)
Primo pinned Goldust with a cradle. Goldust dove to Truth for a hot tag, but Truth moved because he was more focused on the Pokemon game than the match. Then he dropped his iPhone, but instead of making the tag, he went to get his phone.
Michael Cole did an in-ring interview with Finn Balor.
Balor said when he heard his name called in the draft, he knew he had to come to Monday Night Raw and make an impact. Right away, Seth Rollins interrupted him. Rollins told Cole to take a hike. Rollins said Balor is a former NXT Champion, but not the first one, because that was him.
Rollins said Balor was among the first draft picks for Raw in the brand extension, but he wasn't the first overall, because that was him.
Rollins said Balor pinned Roman Reigns last week, but he had done it two weeks ago. So really Rollins was the original and Balor was a bad remake, like the new Star Trek or the terrible Ghostbusters film. Rollins said he was Bill Murray and Balor was Melissa McCarthy.
Balor said he was going to beat Rollins and become the first WWE Universal Champion. Rollins said that was as laughable as the Atlanta Braves winning the World Series, which got the crowd to bring back the Tomahawk Chop.
Rollins said this is Monday Night Raw, this was his house. Balor said he's been to a lot of places where people have bragged they were the man. And he's beaten every one of them.
Rollins said Balor has never faced anyone like him. Balor said there's one difference between him and Rollins. Balor said he earned his shot at the Universal Championship at SummerSlam, while Rollins had it handed to him.
Rollins said the only thing he'll have handed to him is the Universal Championship when he beats Balor. That prompted Balor to say the only thing Rollins will have handed to him at SummerSlam is his ass. They had a staredown, Rollins tried to cheap shot Balor, who quickly responded with an overhand kick to send Rollins away.
Lana was in the ring wearing a wedding dress and introduced Rusev as her new husband. Cory Graves said the dress cost $75,000. They showed pictures from the wedding in Malibu and said they would get married again next month in Bulgaria.
US Champion Rusev defeated Mark Henry via submission to retain (6:34)
Rusev won with the Accolade. Henry played to the crowd and his facial expressions got people involved. Henry got more offense that he did last year, when he was basically a jobber. Better match than you would think.
Post-match, Rusev did a promo about how the International Olympic Committee is rigged. Anyone who saw Real Sports last week certainly can't question that. He said the IOC bans Russian and Bulgarian athletes so Americans can win medals. He kept blabbing away when Roman Reigns came out to more cheers than boos, maybe because the fans were surprised.
He got in a staredown with Rusev, who kept trying to walk away. Reigns wouldn't let him leave. Reigns attacked Rusev, who quickly turned the tables and hit a kick. Reigns teased the Superman punch, but Rusev rolled out of the ring. Reigns left the ring and gave Rusev a Superman punch.
Titus O'Neal defeated Darren Young (3:36)
Titus O'Neal won with a schoolboy cradle while holding the trunks after Darren Young missed an elbow charge in the corner. O'Neal teased a heel turn. He worked heel throughout the match. In a pre-match promo, he told Young he liked the "Make Darren Young great again" campaign, but wondered when Young was ever great to begin with.
O'Neal got about 80% of the offense. The fact they were former tag team partners got some play. Crowd wasn't into it at all. Bob Backlund was with Young again.
They aired a promo piece with Nia Jax putting her over as the next monster heel.
Backstage, Backlund screamed at O'Neal about cheating. O'Neal told him to stop screaming at him before he knocked his old ass out. Young ran in, knocked O'Neal down and told him not to talk that way to his coach.
Nia Jax defeated Ariel Monroe (1:09)
Another squash. Jax won with a torture rack into a powerslam. Saxton did a post-match in-ring promo where he asked Jax how it felt to be on Raw so far. Jax gave Monroe a splash in the corner and told him to ask her.
The New Day came out. Kofi Kingston said Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows complained to an unknown authority figure and got one member of the New Day banned from ringside. To determine who would be banned, they drew fruits out of a bag. Kingston and Big E. drew oranges, while Xavier Woods drew a banana, leaving him the odd man out.
Once they got in the ring, they held the banana and two oranges together to symbolize you know what.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day defeated Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows to retain (1:19)
Our third schoolboy cradle finish of the night. Big E. went for the hot tag for Kingston, but Gallows pulled Kingston off the apron. Anderson gave Gallows the too sweet sign, but Big E scored the schoolboy on Anderson for the pin.
The post-match beatdown was four times longer than the match. Anderson and Gallows gave the Boot of Doom to Kingston. Then they gave the same thing to Big E. Woods ran out, but Anderson and Gallows laid him out, as well.
Gallows and Anderson looked ready to leave, but they went back to the ring and crotched Big E against the post. Big E sold that huge. They showed medics checking on Big E. backstage while Kingston and Woods looked concerned.
Cesaro defeated Sheamus (5:53)
Cesaro won with the Gotch Neutralizer after escaping a spinning backbreaker. Good, physical match. Sheamus hit the 10 Beats of the Bodhran leading to the comeback spot, where Cesaro made an impressive reversal of a suplex.
During a commercial break, Sheamus and Cesaro had a pull-apart brawl. We never actually saw the brawl, just Sheamus and Cesaro screaming at each other as referees separated them.
Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal were in the ring. Slater said he was a free agent and introduced Mahal as his good friend. Foley came out and ordered a referee to get in the ring to officiate a match between the two, with the winner getting a spot on the Raw roster.
Slater acted like he didn't want to wrestle his friend. While Slater had his back turned, Mahal ordered the referee to ring the bell.
Jinder Mahal defeated Heath Slater to earn a spot on the Raw roster (:14)
Mahal hit a big boot immediately and pinned Slater, who couldn't believe his friend would do that to him. Foley shook Mahal's hand and welcomed him to the Raw roster.
Jericho did an interview saying he wasn't a marked man, Amore was a marked man for comparing him to a kidney stone, saying he looked like Bon Jovi and making fun of his $700 scarf. He said Amore has Cass to watch his back, but Jericho has someone to watch his back.
The announcer wondered who was that person. Jericho mumbled something Jim. The announcer said Jim? Jericho mumbled Jimmarvin Luetter, who he claimed was from Winnipeg and set shotput records.
Owens showed up and shook his head knowing that Jericho made that person up, but told him not to worry because he would watch Jericho's back. Jericho laughed and said "Just like I said, Kevin Owens."
Seth Rollins defeated Sami Zayn (11:38)
Very good match where Rollins won with the Pedigree. Zayn used the Michinoku Driver and Blue Thunder Bomb for near falls, and also hit a flip tope. Zayn escaped one Pedigree attempt, but missed the Helluva Kick, leading to the finish. Rollins used the Buckle Bomb and teased a superkick, but Zayn hit his own kick to start his comeback. Crowd chanted "This is awesome" down the stretch.
Paul Heyman came out to introduce Brock Lesnar.
He called Lesnar the single greatest attraction in combat sports history. He called him the Beast of the Brocktagon and the Viper Slayer. The announcers didn't mention his UFC victory from three weeks ago.
Heyman built up the match against Randy Orton. He said Lesnar would entertain the fans because Lesnar's form of entertainment isn't the same type of entertainment the WWE likes to market and sell.
He said Lesnar's brand of entertainment is poetically incorrect and violent, which may not be words he's allowed to say. But he's standing beside Brock Lesnar, so he can say anything he wants to say.
Heyman said Lesnar doesn't need to step up to the new era of the WWE, the new era of the WWE needs to step up to Lesnar. He isn't here to court favor to Stephanie, Foley, Vince McMahon, anyone in the Raw locker room or the SmackDown Live locker room, especially Orton.
Heyman said Orton was a 12-time champion, possessor of the RKO, a third-generation wrestler. Heyman said he's heard that Orton is one RKO away from victory at any moment.
Heyman said he wondered where Orton gets these ideas... perhaps from the voices in his head, which is mentioned in his theme song. Heyman wondered how many of the voices in his head tell him Lesnar will beat his ass at SummerSlam and drag him down to Suplex City.
Heyman said if the voices aren't telling him that, they are full of malarkey, in Joe Biden's words. Heyman said if Orton's voices are telling him that and he isn't listening, then Orton should listen to Heyman: Lesnar will beat his ass at SummerSlam and drag him down to Suplex City.
Heyman said Orton has a chance of surviving against Lesnar only because of the RKO. But Heyman said Orton would never hit an RKO on Lesnar.
At that point, Orton ran out of the crowd and hit an RKO on Lesnar to a huge pop. Referees, Foley and Stephanie, and lots of security guards ran out to play up that Orton is a member of the SmackDown roster and was trespassing on Raw territory. Lesnar was back up in less than a minute after taking the move. Orton ran up the stands and posed with fans as the show ended.