Welcome to the weekly Uncooked Raw Reaction.
I'll be taking you through all of the happenings on last night's Summerslam "go-home" edition of Raw. in the order that I deem necessary.
If you missed last week's edition of the Uncooked Raw Reaction, you can find it HERE.
If you missed last week's edition of The SmackDown React-Down, you can find it HERE.
Now let's get started because this was a three-hour show and it felt three times longer.
Please Forgive Me, You Big Fat Sasquatch.
We began last night with Rusev and Lana in the ring.
(Actually, no. We began last night with Seth Rollins standing in a small grove of palm trees waiting for a paint job to appear. But more on that later.)
Rusev and Lana are in the ring, and Rusev is threatening to shut sh*t down.
Don't tease us, Rusev.
As Home Run Phil said in our Live Coverage Comments:
Rusev wants an apology from Roman Reigns for covering his new bride in wedding cake, and until he gets it, he says he's not leaving.
Mick Foley comes out, looking like he tripped and fell face-first into a vat of shoe polish.
For reference, this is what Foley looked like last week:
And this is what he looks like now:
Dude, that's a lot of beard dye.
Zack Ryder thinks you should take it down a notch.
Hollywood Hogan is going to sue you for gimmick infringement.
2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants Pitcher Brian Wilson called.
He want his look back.
Anyway, enough with the beard jokes.
Rusev says that Foley sucks. If he means "at grooming," he's not wrong. (Last beard joke, I promise.) Rusev says that Roman Reigns has done nothing to deserve a US Title match. If he means "done nothing to deserve being busted down to the mid-card," Roman probably agrees with him. Rusev demands that Stephanie come out, someone with some real power. Stephanie demands that Mick Foley be shown some respect.
Here, in a nutshell, is Rusev's response:
Rusev says that he is the one who deserves respect, as the only male singles champion currently on their show. And if not, he says, "Maybe I will give the little Daniel a call, and your big brother Shane. They appreciate talent. They appreciate the greatest United States Champion."
I LOVE THIS.
I want all of the great wrestlers on Raw to constantly be threatening to jump ship to Smackdown, where they might be utilized properly, and not put into jokey tag teams or Best of 7 series with Sheamus or LEFT OFF THE SUMMERSLAM CARD ENTIRELY. Anyway, more on those guys in a minute.
Rusev demands that Roman Reigns apologize to him, and Stephanie McMahon—yes this Stephanie McMahon—
—implicitly defends the man who speared her out of her boots just four months ago. Because the 'E expects us to have the memory of a tsetse fly.
Roman's music hits, and he fake apologizes. "I'm sorry," he lies, "I'm sorry you went to that website. You know, that website? That website where you met your wife?"
Um ... Match.com? eHarmony? OKCupid?
Oh, you were implying that she was a Mail Order bride, in a call back to the terrible joke from last week.
"And I'm sorry that one day you two are gonna bump uglies, and y'all're gonna make the ugliest little sasquatch babies."
Not only is this not an apology, Roman, it's objectively untrue. Like, have you seen Lana?
I'm pretty sure she could make a baby with this guy and it would come out looking fine. And what makes Rusev a sasquatch, exactly? The fact that he doesn't wax his chest?
I hate you, Roman Reigns. Not in the ring. You've improved tremendously there. And by all accounts, the real Joe A'noai is a great dude. But your character? That arrogant, unfunny douche? I hope he falls off a bridge and lands in a wood chipper.
Rusev calls Roman a "greasy pig," which is just fantastic. Rusev is just fantastic. Roman says he doesn't want to want for Summerslam so they should fight right now. Steph says not so fast, the fight for the US Title is going to happen at Summerslam. Rusev says he wants to fight tonight, to defend the honor of his wife. Mick Foley says he can respect that. So they'll have a non-title match tonight, for Lana's honor ... I guess?
Somehow Vince still seems to think that Rusev is the heel here, which makes no sense.
Our comments section has it all figured out, though.
Whatever happens with that match later, and no matter what the title of that YouTube video would have you believe, Roman still hasn't apologized for sticking his nose where it wasn't wanted last week. And it's making him look like a total ass.
Why not have him come out and say: "I'm sorry Lana. Sorry I pushed you into that cake and ruined your wedding dress. That was unfortunate, and I apologize" ...? Then have him turn to Rusev and say, "I'm still gonna kick your ass on Sunday in Brooklyn and take that belt." He's a stand-up guy who admits to his mistakes, but he's still a confident former champion. How is that not better?
Or you could build some serious heat for Rusev: Have Roman apologize and then have Rusev say "Not good enough. I want you to get down on your knees and kiss my wife's feet and beg her for forgiveness." Roman refuses to do it, because of course he does, and he catches a beat down for it. Boom. Now Rusev looks like the ass.
Halfway through the night, Rusev finally shows some heel behavior, attacking Roman from behind backstage. But still, Roman never apologized. He's an jerk, and he deserves to be thrown onto a catering table.
Then, at the end of the night, they have their match:
And it's great. Seriously, it's a great match. And if they want to put the US Title on Roman Reigns for some reason, and that was the match they were going to book to get there, I'd be okay with it.
But they didn't do that. They booked this match not for the title, but for Lana's honor. So I guess Roman gets custody of Lana's honor now? He doesn't, right? Please say he doesn't.
So if he doesn't, if Roman doesn't get the title, and if he doesn't get Lana's honor, then why was he fighting so hard again? Pride?
Man, in the words of the great philosopher Marcellus Wallace, "F*ck pride. Pride only hurts. It never helps."
Roman was getting himself killed for most of this match (before he wins it, obviously LOL), six days before a different match where the Title is on the line.
This makes no sense.
All of it. Zero sense.
Why are you showing us this on Raw? Aren't we going to see something similar at Summerslam? And you had the "babyface" win on Raw? Hasn't the model always been, the heel goes over on regular TV, to make people tune in and watch the babyface go over on Pay-Per-View? Even with the Network now, isn't the same model still viable?
These two hosses beat the holy living Christmas out of each other, on Raw, for no reason? And the match was so good, they'll have a tough time topping it on the PPV? And the babyface won, meaning the heel will probably receive no comeuppance at the PPV? And we got to see this match for free?
None of this makes any sense.
And speaking of getting things for free and speaking of things making no sense ...
It's The Great Demon King, Seth Rollins!
Remember how I said that Raw actually began with Seth Rollins standing outside the arena in a small grove of palm trees, waiting for a paint job to show up?
Yeah. This is that.
You see, because Vince McMahon doesn't understand the Finn Balor/Demon dynamic, or because he thinks we're stupid, or probably both, he has Seth Rollins portray a man who believes that The Demon King is an actual supernatural being that can show up out of thin air, like when you look in the mirror and say Biggie Smalls three times.
Seth Rollins (Vince) doesn't seem to understand that "The Demon King" is metaphorical motivation that Finn Balor employs when he has to wrestle a very important, very challenging match. And to personify that motivation, as well as to intimidate his opponents, Finn Balor paints himself to look scary. He does a fancy entrance, it's pretty cool.
The Demon King is not going to appear before you, no matter how hard you believe, or how loud you scream for him to show himself, because the Demon King is a paint job.
This is you. This is what you look like, Seth Rollins.
So because the Demon King doesn't come when he's called, because he's not a golden retriever, and also because, y'know, he's not real, Seth Rollins goes looking for him, walking around backstage and basically saying "Here kitty, kitty." He's not even being sarcastic, either. He's not being ironic. He's really looking for The Demon King. Which means he's either got the mind of a child, or he belongs in a mental institution. This guy was the face of your brand for most of 2015. Now he's been reduced to looking behind curtains for something that doesn't exist.
So Mick Foley suggests that Seth go down to the ring and call him out. Call out The Demon King. Who does not exist. I cannot emphasize this point enough.
Seth Rollins gets in the ring, calls out The Demon King, a fan gets in the ring, gets taken out by security, Rollins says "is that the Demon King?" because the real Seth Rollins isn't a four year old who believes monsters live under his bed and when he's improvising, he can't help but point out how stupid this all is.
Back on script though, when the lights go out, Rollins kayfabe pees himself.
When the lights come up full again, this happens:
So this is never explained. Does Rollins realize, when the lights come up, that it's just Finn Balor wearing a lot of body paint, that he's just a man, and there's nothing to be afraid of? Or did he never really believe that the Demon King might be hiding in Mick Foley's office, and all of that stupid hide and seek sh*t was just for show? Which is it?
This Fallout Video just makes it even more confusing.
Rollins wasn't expecting that. Wasn't expecting what? For Finn Balor to come out wearing facepaint and to do the same moves he does when he hasn't spent four hours in the makeup chair? Does he not have the network? Has he not scouted Finn at all since learning three weeks ago that he would be facing him at Summerslam? WHAT IS GOING ON CAPSLOCK!?!?!?
And why, God, why did they choose to show Balor come out as the demon, for the first time, on a meaningless Raw, not for an actual match, in Corpus Christi of all places?
And the NXT fans in attendance did pop for Demon Balor. They tried to get the rest of the crowd amped, but a lot of the audience was kind of like:
WHY WOULD YOU NOT WAIT UNTIL BROOKLYN? THAT SUMMERSLAM CROWD WOULD HAVE TORN THE BUILDING APART.
You could have had the whole thing go as planned, except when the lights go out, have "The Demon King" show up on the jumbotron, just a close up of his eyes. And we hear an otherworldly, horrifying voice say one word:
Then the lights come back up and Finn Balor is standing at the top of the ramp. Not "The Demon King." Balor. He comes down to the ring. They brawl. Just as Rollins is getting the upper hand, the lights go out again. When they come back up, Rollins is laid out in the middle of the ring, Balor is at the top of the ramp again, and the jumbotron Demon King reappears, "SUNDAY, SETH ROLLINS. I WILL TAKE YOUR SOUL."
Or something. Whatever. It's better than what they actually did, which was anti-climactically give away their best surprise on a random terrible episode of Raw.
The WWE keeps giving stuff away for free and I keep complaining.
This is weird.
Next up, the best segment on Raw in like, forever.
In the Belly of the Beast.
Heyman and Lesnar come out to do the standard promo. They are interrupted by Heath Slater, who informs them that he has been offered a contract on Raw if he can defeat Brock Lesnar one on one tonight.
Heyman strongly encourages Heath to reconsider, almost pitying him. Heath says he doesn't want to do this, he has to. He has responsibilities, obligation, children to feed. Heath is sincere, earnest, and passionate. He is a man at the end of his rope, who will do anything to provide for his family. Heath Slater is brilliant in this segment.
Paul Heyman says "I'm trying to save your ass right now.
Heath says "My ass can't be saved right now."
Brock grabs the mic.
THIS IS WHERE SH*T GETS REAL.
"I can appreciate that. You got guts, man. You got guts. You got responsibilities, right? You gotta put food on the table. You got mouths to feed. You got kids. I got kids, too, man. I feel you. Let's talk about your kids. ..."
Now I was fooled. I thought we were seeing a human side to The Beast Incarnate. I was wrong:
"I DON'T GIVE A SH*T ABOUT YOUR KIDS."
For real, I thought I was going to see Heath Slater get murdered.
That line might be the most perfect representation of Brock Lesnar that's ever been uttered.
The Beast does not care about your children. The Beast eats children.
Brock gives Heath a choice, he can leave under his own power, or he can get his ass beat. (I'm paraphrasing.)
Heath knows he's going to be killed, but he can't just walk away.
Heath gets destroyed, and Paul Heyman, now wearing Heath's shades that were dropped during the destruction, can give the promo that he was originally planning to, namely that Brock is the best, he is going to win, etc.
It's standard "Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Paul Heyman" stuff, but it's well delivered, and I am genuinely excited to see Brock Lesnar lazily attempt to suplex Randy Orton to death on Sunday. so good job, everybody.
Especially you, Heath Slater. You're doing the best work of your career, and I salute you.
And now, back to the Complaints Department.
Three of the best guys on Raw are not exactly being used to their full capabilities, and this upsets me.
First Guy Who Deserves Better: Kevin Owens.
Now you might be fooled into thinking that because Jeri-KO are so damn perfect together in this promo where they call Tom Phillips Ted, and Tim, and James, and Robert, and Steven, and Nathaniel and Brian (twice), that this is the best use of Kevin Owens.
It's not. It's AMAZING, because Jericho and Kevin Owens make it amazing, but that's not the point.
The point is that Owens is a main event level talent, and he's putting over two guys who are already over. He's not needed here. He's brilliant at everything. This isn't even a challenge.
Watch him make Big Cass look like a million bucks without even trying. I am legitimately excited for the PPV match, because it will be entertaining as hell, but it better be a one-off, because Kevin Owens is too good for this.
As a matter of fact, why isn't Kevin Owens in a Best of Seven series with Cesaro?
Which brings me to:
Second Guy Who Deserves Better: Cesaro.
He beat Sheamus twice in the last two weeks. Apparently he wasn't physically dominant enough, so Mick Foley has punished both him and us by starting a Best of Seven series between Cesaro and Sheamus which starts at Summerslam, because the last two weeks on Raw were just what?, Pre-Season Matches?
This short video is entitled "Cesaro Looks Forward to Settling the Score with Sheamus."
Well, Cesaro, that makes one of us.
But, unlike the next guy on our list, at least he has a match at Summerslam.
Third Guy Who Deserves Better: Sami Zayn.
Sami Zayn wrestles Sheamus because reasons, and Cesaro interferes to cost Sheamus the match. Sami Zayn celebrates like he wasn't one Brogue Kick from losing this thing.
Sami Zayn, as has been discussed in a lot of different places, including in this column, is without a place on the Summerslam Card.
This is inexcusable. Intolerable. He won the best match at the most recent PPV, not on the card at the next. When does that happen?
So here is my solution:
You know who else isn't on the Summerslam Card? This man:
I know what you're thinking, but bear with me.
Have Strowman come out to the ring, say that he has crushed everyone they've put in front of him, and he demands a match at Summerslam, RIGHT. NOW.
Heath Slater comes out. He does a promo, is great, gets in the ring. Gets crushed. Strowman gets on the mic again, and says, "No, I meant I wanted a challenge."
Sami's music hits. Sami says, "I'll be your challenge, big man." Now, I think Sami could get a decent match out of Strowman, maybe 7 minutes. At the end, Sami loses. He has to.
But this can begin a thing where he truly is "The Underdog from The Underground." Fighting Strowman, getting closer and closer to a win every time, when he finally does win, the crowd will go crazy for him.
And Strowman will have been built up into such a monster heel that it won't hurt him too bad when he finally does lose.
For real, they should do this.
It would be better than leaving Sami Zayn off the card at the second biggest show of the year.
The Further Adventures of G.O.N.A.D.
That's the Gallows Organization for Nether Area Diseases, in case you weren't following the fantasticness of The Club's promo.
The New Day quickly dispatches with the Dudley Boyz (and man, they keep having D-Von take the pin, and Bubba Ray stares at him with disgust at the end of the match, so my fantasies of Bully Ray in the WWE are almost coming true), and then they deliver a promo to two guys in fake lab coats in front of a green screen up on the jumbotron. But real intense like.
Later in the night Gallows & Anderson have their own match, again Golden Truth, and sadly it doesn't consist of them surgically removing R-Truth's testicles.
After the match, the New Day runs in for the beatdown, so you could be forgiven for thinking that they've turned over a new leaf, and they're ready to knock it off with the jokes and get serious.
Then you watch this Fallout video, and wonder why you bother trying to find a decent cohesive throughline:
I still love The New Day, but I hope Gallows & Anderson win the match on Sunday. The New Day is like the friend who makes you laugh, but you just wish that he would get his sh*t together, just once.
Hey guys, anybody know what Sasha's nickname is?
I love Sasha in the ring, but I want to see her please string 10 words together without 6 of them being "Boss." PLEASE.
She's on commentary, talking about how awesome she is, because that makes her a babyface. Good guys always talk about how awesome they are. Vince knows this, since he obviously thinks he's not only a good guy, but the greatest guy and I'm fairly certain he talks about how awesome he is, constantly. Ergo, let's have Sasha talk about the stuff that makes her so awesome, like how she's throwing a big party in NYC this week and Jay Z and Beyonce are going to be there. Corey Graves is invited. Byron Saxton isn't. By the way, Corey Graves is the heel commentator, and the babyface women's champion is inviting him to her party, the party that Jay Z and Beyonce are totally going to be at.
Man, I can't wait for Sasha to get turned heel so she can just be herself and I can stop being confused.
Charlotte makes short work of Alicia Fox and calls Sasha down to the ring. To fight, I guess? Sasha goes down there, because babyfaces are stupid, and she's blindsided by Dana Brooke.
This would normally make perfect sense, except we just saw this:
And I guess this means that Dana is trying to get back in Charlotte's good graces? Yes? Or the whole backstage segment was supposed to fool Sasha into thinking that Charlotte didn't want Dana's help anymore? But how could Charlotte be sure that Sasha would see that segment during a live show? If that was the case, why not have Dana wish Sasha "good luck on Sunday" or something, to really sell the story of Dana and Charlotte being on the outs? I'm overthinking this, aren't I?
My brain hurts.
Still, I really can't wait for Sasha-Charlotte one on one at Summerslam. It's going to be great, but the bar is set ridiculously high. I don't know how it's going to top the match they had on Raw three weeks ago. This has the potential to be either the very best or the most disappointing match on the card.
Ugh. I hate saying that. I hate thinking it. I hate even more that it's true.
And now for the rest of the show...
Three matches in the above playlist. Let's take this home.
Nia Jax vs A Rainbow Brite Character
I like the variation in Nia's squash matches. In this one, she faces a woman who is almost literally half her size. This week she faces a woman who bears a striking resemblance to that little guy at the end of She-Ra episodes:
She is interviewed by Saxton before the match, and says she was inspired by the diminutive gymnast Simone Biles. She's little but she's fierce, and if Simone Biles can do it, so can she.
I agree, if what Simone Biles did was to be OBLITERATED by Nia Jax.
I hope Nia starts doing this to Summer Rae and Alicia Fox after Summerslam, and they don't skip that step and just have her come out and powerbomb Sasha Banks after the title match or something.
Slow and steady wins the race on this one, I think.
The Prime Time Players Reunion lasted almost as long as their title reign.
I guess I need to start watching the Raw pre-show (kill me now), because they keep setting up matches on there.
It appears like Bob Backlund played peace-maker between the two former tag partners and agreed to be both of their managers? I'm not sure.
Regardless, Titus O'Neil has a low threshold for betrayal, because when Darren Young accidentally bumped into him and knocked him off the apron, his response was to immediately give him the Clash of the Titus and walk off.
This has pre-show match written all over it.
At least there's been more build-up than with Breezango vs The Usos from Battleground, so that's an improvement, I guess.
When did Jobber Mahal join ISIS?
Another brilliant gimmick idea from the team that brought you Muhammad Hassan. I'm sure this won't backfire horribly.
Neville beats him soundly (as he should) and now we wait patiently for the Cruiserweight Division to actually start on Raw.
I'll say this, if you're not going to make Neville your first Cruiserweight Champion, just release him now and be done with it.
Oh well, at least Neville doesn't have the honor of being the least important former NXT Champion.
Speaking of Bo Dallas, don't forget to read my Superstars Recap this weekend!