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WOMEN’S EVOLUTION PPV ANNOUNCED…
Recap: The show led off with Vince McMahon calling Stephanie McMahon and Triple-H to the ring. The entire locker room was on the ramp. Triple-H thanked everyone in the locker room for their dedication to the company. He then asked the women to step forward on the stage.
Triple-H proceeded to run down all of the women’s accomplishments. Stephanie continued by thanking the fans for their #GiveDivasAChance hashtag which spurred more opportunities for women in WWE. She then proceeded to announce an all women’s pay per view for the end of October. It will include defenses for the Raw, SmackDown, and NXT Women’s Titles, as well as the finals of the Mae Young Classic.
Later in the evening, Bayley and Sasha Banks were interviewed, looking happy as clams. The two acknowledged that despite their differences, they are great friends because they share the same dream. The two then defeated local talent in a squash tag match.
Evaluation: The pay per view is a a cool idea. It was also a really nice touch for Triple-H to thank the fans for being the driver behind giving the women a larger role on television. The Divas Era was awful, and presenting the women as fighters is an improvement. Unfortunately, as one would expect, the virtue signalling was laid on really thick tonight. I can’t really blame WWE for that, since it’s a larger societal problem. This segment was simply a product of that unfortunate larger fad.
Forecast: I mentioned last week that I expected Sasha and Bayley to be involved in a quest for the inaugural Women’s Tag Team Titles. Their segment tonight bolstered that belief, and I would expect the finals of a women’s tag tournament to take place at the October pay per view.
BRIEFCASE UP FOR GRABS…
Recap: At the top of the second hour, Braun Strowman was in the ring with his MITB briefcase. He reiterated that it didn’t matter whether Roman Reigns or Bobby Lashley faced Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, as no matter what he’d eventually come for the Universal Title.
Kevin Owens then came to the stage. He reminded Braun that his attempt to make friends was sincere and said it was driven by his son, who hoped that if his dad and Braun became friends, he could one day be a tag champion with Braun. Owens said Strowman had taken everything from him.
Baron Corbin then appeared, indicating that Stephanie had empowered him to resolve the situation. He said Braun needed to control his temper better, and then invited Jinder Mahal to the ring to teach Braun some meditation techniques.
Jinder began to teach Braun his mantra. Braun interrupted and said he had his own mantra: “Get These Hands.” Braun then destroyed Jinder and Sunil Singh.
Later backstage, Kevin Owens and Baron Corbin approached Stephanie McMahon and Kurt Angle. Owens proposed resolving the situation with another match at SummerSlam, with the stipulation that if Braun lost (even by disqualification or count out), Owens would take the MITB briefcase. Kurt Angle hated the idea but Stephanie approved it, motioning for Kurt to open her limo door for her before she drove away.
Evaluation: The briefcase is not a title; it’s a tool to get a title. As such, I always hate matches where it has to be “defended.” It’s inherently silly and cheapens the actual Money in the Bank match when someone has an opportunity to obtain the briefcase later. Unfortunately this isn’t the first time the briefcase has been defended in this way.
My other problem with this segment was that Kevin Owens (supposedly the heel) again came across as very sympathetic. Throughout this entire feud, Owens has done nothing remotely underhanded to Braun, yet Braun has repeatedly savaged him nonetheless. Owens’ invoking of his son tonight added to my sympathy for his character.
Forecast: If WWE is truly still committed to Roman Reigns as before, I can definitely see a scenario where Owens takes the briefcase from Braun. If Roman wins the title while Braun has the briefcase, crowds will immediately be clamoring for Braun to cash in and end Roman’s title reign. Having the briefcase on a heel may blunt that effect to some degree. If WWE does go in that direction, I would expect Owens to take the briefcase by disqualification or count out.
ROMAN REIGNS IS NUMBER ONE CONTENDER…
Recap: In the main event, Roman Reigns defeated Bobby Lashley to become Number One Contender. He will face Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam for the Universal Title. After the match, Lashley shook Reigns’ hand.
Evaluation: It appears that the match at Extreme Rules had the Number One Contender stipulation removed to allow both Reigns and Lashley to get wins in this feud while keeping Reigns as Number One Contender.
The handshake after the match was clearly intended to give Reigns the rub from earning the begrudging respect of a man, who much like the fans, didn’t respect Reigns previously. It’s unlikely to work, but was worth a shot.
Forecast: Roman Reigns becomes Universal Champion at SummerSlam.
Allowing Titus Worldwide to stand up to Authors of Pain basically kills their gimmick…
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW 7/16: Reigns & Lashley One Step Closer to Number One Contender, Sasha & Bayley Reconcile