SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
THE WORST UNIVERSAL CHAMPION OF ALL TIME…
Recap: The show began with Roman Reigns in the ring. He admitted that after going to battle with him, he respected Bobby Lashley. He reiterated that he does not respect Brock Lesnar. He tore into Lesnar for not respecting the business, and for not showing up to work in WWE while having time to challenge Daniel Cormier in UFC. Reigns said that he would never allow Brock Lesnar to get up in his face the way he did with Cormier.
Reigns was then interrupted by Paul Heyman. Heyman informed the crowd that Lesnar was in the back, but would only come out to the ring when and if he felt like it tonight. Heyman said that Lesnar would win both the UFC and WWE titles. Reigns claimed he would make Lesnar his bitch at SummerSlam.
Later backstage, Brock Lesnar was shown reading a magazine. Paul Heyman asked if he had heard what Roman said about him. Lesnar acted is if it were preposterous that he would be watching the show. Heyman attempted to show him what Reigns had said on his phone, but Lesnar responded by smashing the phone and indicating he didn’t care.
In another backstage segment, Kurt Angle confronted Paul Heyman and informed him that because Heyman’s contract was with WWE, he’d be fired if Brock Lesnar did not appear in the ring tonight.
Heyman later reappeared in Lesnar’s locker room, trying to convince him to go out to the ring. He tried to convince Brock that an appearance would drive t-shirt sales and put money in his pocket. Lesnar was annoyed and told Heyman to bring him a steak.
After a mysterious phone call from Stephanie, Kurt Angle went into Roman’s locker room. He informed Roman that as per Stephanie, since Brock Lesnar was present, Roman was to leave the arena. Roman expressed disappointment at Kurt, saying that while he knew the pressures that were on Kurt, he also knew that Kurt wasn’t a yes-man. Baron Corbin then called the police in to escort Roman out of the building. Before leaving, Roman punched a smirking Corbin in the face.
Heyman later tried to persuade Brock to come to the ring one more time. Heyman leveled with Brock, telling him that he’d be fired if Brock didn’t appear. He asked Brock to go to the ring as a friend. Brock then grabbed Heyman by the collar, telling him they weren’t friends.
At the end of the third hour, Paul Heyman came to the ring to inform Kurt Angle and Baron Corbin that Brock Lesnar would not be appearing. Kurt ranted that Brock was the worse Universal Champion of all time, as he does not defend hit title, go the extra mile for the fans, or do charity work. Heyman agreed with Kurt, but pled that he had tried his best to reform Brock in the image of Olympic champion Kurt Angle, and that Kurt should not punish him for Brock’s actions. Kurt was unsympathetic and fired Heyman, who grovelled on the ground.
Brock Lesnar then came down the ramp while Paul Heyman looked relieved. Brock got into Kurt Angle and Baron Corbin’s faces. He hit an F5 on Angle as Corbin escaped the ring. Heyman looked thrilled, until Lesnar choked him to the ground.
Evaluation: Making another man leave to get you a steak is the single most alpha move a man can make. I’ve personally used it in a variety of contexts, and it never fails. This made me like Lesnar.
Roman’s lines were better tonight. By being sympathetic to Kurt Angle instead of acting like a jerk as he has done in the past, he came across as more of a face.
The crowd hated Brock Lesnar so much that they chanted “we want Roman” all through the closing segment. Even earlier in the night, Roman got close to a 50/50 reaction, which for him is a huge victory.
Forecast: When Roman Reigns wins the title at SummerSlam, if tonight is any indication, he may not get the universally awful reaction we have all been expecting.
RONDA ROUSEY RETURNS…
Recap: In the second match of the night, Alicia Fox faced Natalya. Alexa Bliss and Ronda Rousey were at ringside. Late in the match Alicia went after Ronda outside, which distracted the referee long enough for Alexa to hit Natalya with a cheap shot, leading to Alicia pinning Natalya for the win.
After the match, Ronda went after Alexa, almost catching her in an armbar before Alicia made the save. Ronda hit the Samoan Drop on Alicia, and then caught Alexa again. Before she could to any damage, however, Alicia recovered and threw Ronda in the barricade, allowing Alexa and Alicia to escape.
Later backstage, Ronda told Kurt that she couldn’t wait until SummerSlam for a match. Kurt appeased her by setting a match between her and Alicia Fox for next week.
Evaluation: This was fine. Ronda’s work looked good. She has sort of a weird personality and look that I don’t really get, but I’m in the minority as this entire segment seemed to work with the fans.
Forecast: Ronda will win the title at SummerSlam. I can’t imagine her not being champion going into the Evolution PPV, as otherwise WWE would be leaving a ton of positive PR on the table.
AOP LOOKS WEAK…
Recap: Akam faced Apollo Crews in a singles match. In a short match, Crews won cleanly with a rollup.
Evalaution: This was absolutely awful. AOP’s gimmick is that they are two unstoppable monsters. Having them debut on the roster with a competitive feud against a joke team like Titus Worldwide was bad enough, and was made worse tonight with a clean win by Apollo over Akam.
Putting AOP in a squash match with Titus Worldwide is fine; having AOP in an extended competitive feud with Titus Worldwide is not. This is another example of WWE destroying what makes NXT stars so successful as soon as they get to the main roster.
Forecast: I expect AOP to defeat Titus Worldwide in a preshow match at SummerSlam. Going forward, I expect AOP to be used poorly and to be permanently damaged.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW 7/23: Women’s Evolution PPV Announced, Briefcase Up For Grabs, Reigns is Number One Contender