SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
RONDA LEADS OFF…
Recap: The show opened with Ronda Rousey coming to the ring to a huge fan reaction. She began by announcing the passing of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, and sending well wishes to Natalya. She gave a sincere-sounding speech about fathers being pillars of strength in crazy world.
She then announced that Ember Moon would be Alexa Bliss’ opponent tonight. Alexa came down the ramp with Alicia Fox by her side. She mocked Ronda’s “mean face.” She said that she was the only person on the roster not protected by GM Kurt Angle. She said that after speaking with Constable Baron Corbin, she had decided to hire her own personal security, who came down the ramp with her.
Once Alexa reached the ring with her security, she shoved Bliss into Rousey on the outside. Rousey reacted by entering the ring and single-handedly taking out Alexa’s entire security team as well as Alicia. The show then went to commercial.
After the break, the match was in progress. Ember Moon was on track to win with the Eclipse, but Alicia interfered and the match ended in DQ.
Evaluation: I honestly still don’t get Ronda Rousey’s popularity, but I’m clearly in the minority. The crowd loves her. To me, her reactions to things (other than her sincere well wishes to Natalya) always come across as bizarre and off-putting. The fans obviously disagree.
Ronda taking out Alexa’s entire male security team was ridiculous. I’m not opposed to intergender combat of the type we’ve seen in past seasons of Lucha Underground and on the indies, but the difference is that in those confrontations the blows go both ways. Ronda obliterated an entire group of much larger people that weren’t able to even lay a hand on her. It looked absurd. I understand that WWE can’t have a realistic male-female confrontation as independent promotions have done, as WWE has to worry about Twitter “activists” complaining to advertisers. But if you’re not going to do such confrontations realistically, then they shouldn’t be done at all (itself a perfectly reasonable decision).
Forecast: Based on Ronda’s fan reactions, the smart move seems to be to give her the title on Sunday.
HEYMAN DECEIVES ROMAN…
Recap: Early in the show, Renee Young recapped her interview with Paul Heyman from last week. The extended online version of the ending was shown, where Paul Heyman ends on the word “unless” after claiming Brock Lesnar couldn’t be stopped.
At the top of the third hour, Roman Reigns came to the ring. He said that he aimed to “leave this place better than he found it,” which he could not do so long as Brock Lesnar was around. He threatened to send Brock Lesnar so deep into UFC that he’d be up Dana White’s ass. Roman was interrupted by Paul Heyman. He said that the “unless” from last week was unless he informed Roman of all of Brock’s dirty secrets.
Roman was skeptical, and said he didn’t need Paul’s help. Roman said he was groomed for his position from a very young age. He said his father taught him to swim with sharks, and to especially be careful with drowning sharks like Paul Heyman.
Roman’s skepticism waned, however, when Heyman recounted a lesson that Roman Reigns’ father taught Heyman when he first started in the wrestling business. He repeated this lesson to Roman in Samoan, which gave Roman pause. Heyman then handed Roman a proposed form of contract, and told Reigns he didn’t need to decide until Sunday. The crowd desperately wanted Roman to sign with Paul.
Before he left, however, Heyman took advantage of Reigns’ guard being down and sprayed him with pepper spray, blinding him. Brock Lesnar then came to the ring to beat down Roman. He put Roman out with the guillotine. Brock then appeared to leave, but returned to punctuate the exchange with an F5.
Evaluation: It appears last week’s strong reaction for Roman was an aberration. The fans booed Roman tonight, and chanted “one more time” after Brock’s F5. The fans also desperately wanted Roman to turn heel and join Paul Heyman.
The angle was well done overall, but it appears impossible to overcome the fans’ distaste form Roman’s push. The biggest misstep in the segment was Roman stating he had been “groomed” for his position. This was tone deaf considering fans’ criticism of his push.
Forecast: The Brooklyn crowd will reject the title match. Roman will win.
DEAN AMBROSE RETURNS…
Recap: In various segments throughout the night, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre reminded Kurt Angle that if Seth Rollins didn’t make it to the arena in time for tonight’s contract signing, Sunday’s Intercontinental Title match was off. Seth was returning from a promotional trip in China.
At one point, when reviewing the contract, Dolph objected to Seth being granted a corner man. Kurt Angle informed him that if he removed Seth’s corner, he would remove Drew McIntyre from ringside as well. Dolph agreed to leave the provision in.
In the main event, Kurt Angle held the contract signing in the ring. Dolph signed, and just when it appeared Seth wouldn’t make it, he appeared.
Seth informed Dolph that he had been backstage for a while, and just wanted to make sure Dolph signed before he revealed his corner man for Sunday, Dean Ambrose.
Evaluation: This gives the fans something to look forward to with regard to the SummerSlam match. It was a nice touch.
Forecast: A ringside altercation between Ambrose and McIntyre could set up a program between the two going forward.
I hope the Young Bucks were watching tonight’s Raw Tag Team title match and that it dissuaded them from taking a big money WWE offer in January….
Watching three hours of mediocre (at best) Raw after watching so many amazing New Japan G1 shows this past month is almost painful….
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW 8/6: Roman Turns the Corner, Seth Can’t Beat the Odds, Rousey Debuts