The best go-home shows before a PPV tease all of the big matches, but feature enough wrasslin’ and storyline intrigue to keep the viewer entertained and eager in anticipation.
That’s exactly what this week’s Monday Night RAW did, thanks to a card brimming with quality matches, the return of Dolph Ziggler and a lack of filler, RAW was strong enough to keep your attention for the entire three hours.
While The Undertaker’s promo earlier in the show wasn’t his best, Paul Heyman’s segment with Brock Lesnar and The Deadman more than made up for it. Using the Low Blow again to his advantage, before finishing off Lesnar with a Chokeslam and a Tombstone Piledriver to end this week’s RAW, this version of The Undertaker isn’t scared to play dirty. And he might just have to in order to beat Lesnar at Summerslam. With plenty of drama in the mid-card, a bevy of depth in the Divas Division and John’s Cena’s ongoing feud with Seth Rollins, RAW has plenty of versatility.
Now only if the Tag Team Champions Darren Young and Titus O’Neil had some real competition, then RAW would be, at least on paper, the best it’s been in years.
Randy Orton and Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens and Sheamus: After Owens was reluctant to face off with Cesaro, Orton and Sheamus did the majority of the heavy lifting early on. For most of the match, Owens and Sheamus made an awesome tag team, using quick tags to keep their opponents at bay. However, Cesaro went on a tear, hitting a ton of European Uppercuts and once the action began to break down and Orton was tagged in, The Viper hit his second Rope DDT. With Cesaro and Owens fighting amongst themselves, the action got even more frenetic After Owens dodged the RKO, Orton nailed Sheamus with the move to get the win.
Roman Reigns vs. Luke Harper: While Reigns and Harper traded strikes, the jibber jabber between Dean Ambrose and (the silent) Bray Wyatt was much more interesting, early on. Harper then got the match going with Dropkicks and an awesome Tilt-a-Whirl Michinoku Driver. But, of course, Reigns fought back with Clotheslines and strikes in the corner. Reigns then hit the Cradle Belly-to-Back, but the stalemate continued after a Harper Super Kick. Just when it appeared that Reigns was going for the Superman Punch, Harper took the action to the outside and nearly won with a Tilt-a-Whirl Sideslip once the match got back in the ring. Harper then nearly got the win again with another Super Kick and a Sit-Out Powerbomb. Reigns, despite being in pain, then countered the Discus Lariat with a Superman Punch and then followed up with the Spear for the win.
Tamina Snuka w/NXT Champion Sasha Banks and Naomi vs. Becky Lynch w/Paige and Charlotte: Snuka set the tone early with a nice Tilt-a-Whirl Urinage Suplex, but then slowed down the match considerably with a submission on the ground that allowed Lynch to make a comeback. After some strikes in the corner and a Front Dropkick from the Top Rope, Lynch appeared in control, but Tamina went for the Spinning Urinage again. This time, Lynch was able to counter the move into the Dis-Armer for the submission win.
Rusev w/Summer Rae vs. Mark Henry: The World’s Strongest Man was in complete control in the early going, beating Rusev both in and out of the ring. After he slammed Henry’s head against the ring post a few times, however, Rusev quickly regained the advantage. Once back in the ring, Rusev hit the Yakuza Kick and finished off Henry with The Accolade. After the match, Lana, who was ringside, called out Summer Rae. After she slapped Rae to the floor, Lana called out Rusev. Before Rusev could lay a hand on Lana, the returning Dolph Ziggler took out Rusev with a DDT, while both Lana and Ziggler took out Rae and Rusev with Super Kicks.
Intercontinental Champion Ryback vs. The Miz: This was quick, but served a purpose. The Miz was up to his usual heel antics, but Ryback wasted no time with the Meathook Clothesline and a Vertical Suplex/Shellshocked variation for the win. After the match, Ryback called out the big show, who was ringside, but Show wasn’t in the mood to oblige.
WWE Tag Team Champions The Prime Time Players: Darren Young and Titus O’Neil and The Lucha Dragons: Sin Cara and Kalisto vs. Los Matadores w/ El Torito and The New Day: Big E. Langston and Kofi Kingston w/Xavier Woods: The only real filler segment as Kalisto got the win with the Frankensteiner following some miscommunication on the outside between Torito and The New Day.
NXT Champion Sasha Banks w/Tamina Snuka and Naomi vs. Divas Champion Nikki Bella w/Brie Bella and Alicia Fox: Not ironically, this was the main event. Overall, it was a more than solid match that continues to prove the Divas can work. Banks was in control early, mocking Bella every chance she had, going as far to do pushups after she planted Bella on the mat with her signature Stomp in the corner. Bella fought back with the Alabama Slam, but Banks nearly got the ring with the Regal Cutter. Although the crowd chanted “We Want Lesnar” at this point in the match, Bella hit an Electric Chair Drop to even things up. Just when Bella appeared to have the match sewn up with Banks set up for the Rack Attack, Naomi distracted the referee long enough for Banks to counter and hit the Banks Statement for the submission win.