Once again, I apologize to those expecting the weekly Raw reaction from John Canton. With Raw and Smackdown in Toronto this week, John decided to catch those shows live. Writing them up afterward would be a tough turnaround, so John is “on assignment” this week and I’m filling in.
But we’ll be following the same format John uses for his reviews. Sometimes, the talking segments at the beginning of the show can be a drag, but we got some excitement up front at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, along with a packed show that made up for kind of a lackluster main event.
Brock Lesnar wipes out everyone on Miz TV
Raw began with a Miz TV segment, in which The Miz wanted a rematch of sorts with Jason Jordan, who broke up last week’s show by taking out everybody with a belly to belly suplex. The Miz called for Jordan, but Kurt Angle came out to say that Jordan wouldn’t be on the show because he had a match later in the evening with the Miztourage’s Curtis Axel. Angle had another guest for The Miz instead.
Brock Lesnar and his advocate, Paul Heyman, then came out to the ring. The Miz, starting off with a pretty good Heyman imitation, taunted Lesnar, saying he was essentially guaranteed to lose his Universal Title at SummerSlam with the Fatal 4-Way Match that had been set up. Furthermore, Lesnar being caught in such a situation was a result of Heyman’s poor management. And if Lesnar was going to leave WWE upon losing, as Heyman threatened (and with rumblings of Lesnar returning to UFC getting louder), good riddance.
Heyman then had his turn with the mic, asking The Miz the somewhat awkward question of whether or not he and Maryse ever engage in role play. But that led to Heyman setting up some role play in the ring with The Miz and his Miztourage playing the roles of Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman, Lesnar’s opponents at SummerSlam.
How would that match end up? Lesnar provided a preview by taking all three guys to Suplex City, flinging them around the ring like dolls with German suplexes. He then followed up by flattening each of them out with an F5.
Braun Strowman beat Roman Reigns in a Last Man Standing Match
Strowman and Reigns continued their intense feud with a “Last Man Standing” match, in which the winner is decided when one competitor is knocked down and can’t get back to his feet by the count of 10. As a no-disqualification match, there were some impressive moments with Strowman tossing the steel staircase into the ring and Reigns smashing him several times with it.
The thing with the “Last Man Standing” is that it leads to several instances where there’s no action and we’re waiting to see if the referee can complete a 10-count. Maybe it’s not that different than if both wrestlers were laying on the mat, beaten and exhausted, or if someone was taking a breather outside the ring. But there was a lot of downtime, even if Strowman and Reigns provided plenty of big moments, notably a dropkick by the hulking Strowman, several Superman punches from Reigns, and Reigns slamming Strowman through a table with a Samoan Drop.
At one point, the action went into the crowd with both wrestlers making their way toward the announce table and entrance ramp. Look who Braun Strowman passed by and was caught by the cameras: Yes, that was John Canton!
Goodnight Toronto from Braun, the Raw Deal shirt and me. pic.twitter.com/znUoWHYq21
— John Canton (@johnreport) August 8, 2017
John emailed in a brief account of being live on the scene:
“You may have noticed me on camera near the end of the main event in my Raw Deal shirt. They filmed part of the brawl right in front of us. The security guys were clearing the area and there was so many of them. They just go “stay where you guys are” so that we didn’t step in the aisle at all. I puffed my chest out to promote the Raw Deal and then did a point to it. That was pretty fun. It’s funny how it works out because I was row 5 in the 12th seat, which is the last one in the aisle and that’s exactly where they came by. If it wasn’t a Last Man Standing match, then I wouldn’t have been on.”
Eventually, Reigns nailed Strowman with a Spear, running the full length of the ramp for the hit. That looked like the decisive blow, as Reigns got to his feet by the count of eight. That’s when Samoa Joe reached out of the stands and locked the Coquina Clutch on Reigns. Why the referee didn’t just keep counting while Strowman was down is kind of puzzling because he was down for 10 (and much more), while Reigns was on his feet.
But all the attention was on Joe making Reigns pass out with his signature hold. Since the match was no-disqualification, the referee couldn’t stop the match. Joe was allowed to interfere and knock Reigns out with the Coquina Clutch. Naturally, Reigns couldn’t get back to his feet after passing out. The referee counted down both Reigns and Strowman, but Strowman sprung up at the count of eight, ensuring that he won the match.
It was an exciting ending to a match that probably went on just a bit too long, but Samoa Joe interfering felt kind of cheap after Reigns and Strowman had been beating the hell out of each other. Yet it’s more build up for the Fatal 4-Way involving these three and Lesnar at SummerSlam, which should be a lot of fun.
This Week’s Raw Matches
Here’s the rest of the card from Monday night in Toronto.
Sheamus defeated Seth Rollins
For the second week in a row, Rollins faced Sheamus, building toward a Raw Tag Team Title showdown with Rollins and Dean Ambrose versus champions Sheamus and Cesaro. Rollins won last week, but was attacked by the champs afterward, leading to Ambrose coming out to help Rollins. Ambrose then lectured Rollins about taking on Sheamus and Cesaro without any help, and said he wouldn’t help him in such a situation again.
Rollins looked as if he might get another win over Sheamus, but when he went to the top rope, he was distracted by Cesaro on the ring apron. Rollins then leaped at Cesaro and missed, leaving him in position to be rolled up by Sheamus for the pinfall. Following the pin, Rollins dove out of the ring at Cesaro, but that left him open to get double-teamed by the tag team champs. This time, Ambrose did not come out of the locker room to help Rollins.
Jason Jordan beat… Jean-Pierre Goulet?
Kurt Angle’s (storyline) son is getting that midcard push, but audiences still don’t seem to be responding to Jordan yet. Matches like this won’t help. Jordan was set to wrestle Curtis Axel, but Axel was knocked out of commission by Brock Lesnar during Miz TV. In a brief backstage segment, a trainer said he couldn’t clear Axel for competition so Angle began looking for anyone to face Jordan. Goulet happened to be standing nearby. Hey, you’re in, kid! Yeah, that lasted two minutes.
Maybe Goulet was a nod to the Canadian audience, but if the idea is to be building up a SummerSlam match between Jordan and The Miz for the Intercontinental Title, this was a poor attempt. Maybe we should blame Brock Lesnar.
Sasha Banks wins a triple threat match over Alicia Fox and Emma
With Bayley unable to compete at SummerSlam, Alexa Bliss needs a new challenger for the Raw Women’s Title. So WWE set up a pair of triple-threat matches and the winners of those bouts will face each other for a title shot next week.
Banks gained the advantage early on, but the match turned when Emma slammed Banks against the ring apron. Fox then took control of the match over Emma until Banks came back in the ring with a sharp knee to Emma’s face. Banks then began to work on Fox until Emma recovered, threw Banks out of the ring, and nearly got a pinfall on Fox. After breaking up another pin attempt, Banks gained the advantage back, nailing a backbreaker on Fox and getting her in the Banks Statement submission hold.
Emma broke that up and looked like she might get a cheap roll-up pin, but Banks kicked out and wrapped Emma up in the Banks Statement. With her neck being bent pretty far back, Emma tapped out to give Banks the win.
Gallows and Anderson defeated Big Show and Enzo Amore
This started out with Enzo coming out to the ring to tout Big Show and their new partnership. Big Show talked about laying out Big Cass with his KO punch last week before Gallows and Anderson interrupted to challenge Show and Enzo to a match. After Big Show cleared Gallows and Anderson out of the ring, the two reset and worked over Enzo hard once he entered the match.
Then Big Cass came down the ramp, distracting Big Show and leaving him open for a kick from Gallows. With Big Show out of the picture, Gallows and Anderson easily dispatched Enzo (though he briefly fought back) for the win. Big Cass then attacked Big Show outside the ring. Enzo intervened, leading to Cass chasing him around ringside. That gave Big Show time to recover and plant another KO punch on Cass’s chin.
Later on, Cass confronted Kurt Angle to complain about Enzo’s constant interference, saying he wanted Enzo banned from Barclays Center for SummerSlam. Angle didn’t agree to that, but did comply with the idea to keep Enzo locked up at ringside. Actually, he’ll be locked in a shark cage suspended above the ring. What that accomplishes other than the spectacle is questionable, but at least it keeps Enzo out of the way during the Big Cass-Big Show match.
Dean Ambrose beats Cesaro
Along with Seth Rollins facing Sheamus, Dean Ambrose was matched up against Cesaro to further build toward a likely Raw Tag Team Title match at SummerSlam. The two had a rather even match, with the action going back and forth as each wrestler took turns gaining the upper hand. The highlight may have been Ambrose and Cesaro trading blows on the top turnbuckle, with Cesaro balanced on top of the ring post, before Ambrose slammed Cesaro back into the ring with a superplex.
Cesaro regained the advantage, working over Ambrose’s back with various backbreaker slams, suplexes and submission holds. He also connected on two forearm uppercuts that looked like finishing blows, but Ambrose kicked out of both pins and managed to fight back. Just before attempting his Dirty Deeds finisher, Ambrose was distracted by Sheamus on the apron and pulled into a single leg crab submission hold before getting to the bottom rope to break the hold.
After hitting Cesaro with a flying elbow outside the ring, Ambrose then went to the top rope to attempt a finishing move. Sheamus then went to the apron to distract Ambrose, just like Cesaro had done to Seth Rollins earlier. Ambrose leaped at Sheamus and missed, and Cesaro tried to push him against the ropes for a roll-up. But Ambrose spun out of the hold and rolled up Cesaro for the pinfall.
Sheamus quickly jumped into the ring to attack Ambrose. Just before the tag team champs could double-team Ambrose, Rollins ran out to the ring to help his former (current?) partner. Rollins looked at Ambrose as if to say, “See? I helped you.” Ambrose finally accepted this reluctant partnership and held out his fist for a fist bump, but Rollins walked away and left him hanging. The crowd groaned, deprived of a big moment. So dramatic!
Akira Tozawa defeated Ariya Daivari
This match was preceded by a backstage segment in which Neville tried to mess with Tazawa’s head, saying he could blow his chance at a Cruiserweight Championship shot by losing to Daivari. Daivari dominated early, attacking Tazawa’s previously injured shoulder. Tazawa fought back with a flying scissors hold and a suicide dive outside the ring.
Daivari tried to work on that shoulder again, but Tazawa nailed him with a German suplex and followed that up with a Senton Bomb from the top rope that resulted in a pinfall. Not terribly exciting, and the crowd didn’t seem interested, other than that finishing move.
Nia Jax beats Dana Brooke and Mickie James in triple threat match
This triple threat match wasn’t nearly as competitive as the one earlier in the show. Neither James nor Brooke managed much of a challenge against Jax, who always seems unbeatable. James looked like she might finish off Brooke after Jax hit her shoulder on the ring post, but that didn’t last long.
Jax recovered, shoulder-blocked James out of the ring and then flattened Brooke with a clothesline. James nearly got a cheap pin, leaping over Jax from the top rope to try and pin Brooke, who had just been slammed to the mat. Jax threw James out of the ring and Brooke futilely tried to punch Jax down. But Jax threw Brooke to the mat and crushed her with a leg drop for the win.
So it’s Sasha Banks versus Nia Jax on next week’s Raw, with the winner facing Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Title at SummerSlam. On commentary, Bliss insisted that she and Jax were friends, but Jax seems like she’s more interested in winning the belt. How does anyone ever beat her?
Other Key Items From Raw
Bayley responded to missing SummerSlam because of separated shoulder
Earlier on Monday, WWE announced that Bayley suffered a separated shoulder while being thrown to the mat during her match against Nia Jax last week. As a result, she won’t be able to wrestle Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Title at SummerSlam. Bayley was interviewed in the ring by Charly Caruso and was about as disappointed and somber as you might expect.
It wasn’t a very engaging interview, and maybe that’s why some of the Toronto crowd was booing Bayley? Were they booing her for being injured (and legitimately so, it appears)? Do they just not like her? That seemed surprisingly mean (Bayley was certainly surprised), especially while Bayley was thanking those tweeted their support.
Finn Balor gains the advantage over Bray Wyatt in a promo
Balor entered the ring to address the crowd and tell Bray Wyatt that he’s ready to finish whatever fight he wants to start. Wyatt then appeared, but much like last week’s confrontation, Balor laid out Wyatt with a kick to the head and a Sling Blade. Balor was ready to hit Wyatt with a dropkick, but the lights went out and he disappeared, finally taunting him with a message on the video screen. Later on in the show, a Balor-Wyatt match was confirmed for SummerSlam, something that’s been building for weeks.
Looking Ahead to WWE SummerSlam
WWE Has Released A New Promo For Nakamura vs Mahal For The WWE Championship At #SummerSlam pic.twitter.com/XHFsXF2TYi
— SW (@SliceWrestling) August 8, 2017
The SummerSlam pay-per-view event is set for August 20 in Brooklyn, New York. This is the card so far.
WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe
WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
United States Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens (with Shane McMahon as the referee)
Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Sasha Banks or Nia Jax
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Naomi vs. Natalya
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
Big Cass vs. Big Show (with Enzo Amore suspended above the ring in a shark cage)
Cruiserweight Championship: Neville (c) vs. Akira Tozawa
Other matches that haven’t been confirmed, but look likely are The Miz vs. Jason Jordan for the Intercontinental Title, Sheamus/Cesaro vs. Ambrose/Rollins for the Raw Tag Team Championship, John Cena vs. Baron Corbin and The New Day vs. The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Team Title.
I’m filling in for John again on Wednesday’s Smackdown review. Hope to see you back here!