Go-home episodes of Raw before a major PPV can go one of two ways: a recap-heavy show tying up loose ends, or a near-PPV-quality program.
Monday, we got the latter, as Raw featured a title change, a huge reunion, a main event pull-apart brawl, and a PPV match delivered early to set up a bigger rematch. It really was a solid episode of Raw that should make the red brand’s half of SummerSlam a must-see.
We saw Finn Balor fall short in his quest to topple Bray Wyatt, only to warn the Eater of Worlds that he was breaking out the body paint on Sunday. We saw Akira Tozawa take Neville to the limit in his battle to dethrone the King of the Cruiserweights. We saw two-thirds of the Shield reunite after weeks of teasing a rekindling. And we saw a new #1 contender for the Raw Women’s Championship named in her hometown.
And of course, we saw Brock Lesnar, Samoa Joe, Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman remind fans that their four-way match for the WWE Universal Championship could be crazy.
SummerSlam is fast becoming the WrestleMania of the summer, and if that means that storylines and match quality are top-notch, then fans will be all for it. (If it means we’re getting a 20-minute concert in the middle of the event, not so much.) Monday’s episode of Raw definitely set the table nicely.
So what got the job done and what fell short? Let’s get to it…
WWE has its reasons for pushing Nia Jax as a top-level heel despite her greenness and apparent sloppiness, which has resulted in women getting injured in her matches.
But despite the company’s love for Nia and periodic pushes as a monster, they still seem to be unable to book her properly. She’s lost more televised matches than she’s won this year. And some of her losses where she’s taken the fall are lacking.
The best example has to be the two times Sasha Banks has tapped Nia out this summer, including Monday. There’s no reason for Jax to tap out. Why would you have your monster tap out? Why not have her pass out, ala Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIII? That should have happened, at least once.
It really is a minor quibble, but Monday’s match might have benefited from Sasha locking in the Banks Statement and holding onto it until Nia passed out, rather than Jax – billed as an unstoppable monster – tapped out to the Boss for the second time in less than two months.