I apologize in advance for those expecting the weekly Raw reaction from John Canton. John is “on assignment,” keeping him from responding to Raw. So I’m filling in this week. But don’t worry — John will be back for his Smackdown reaction on Wednesday.

In the meantime, I’ll try my best to follow the same format John has laid out for us for these reactions. Let’s start off with the biggest news from Monday’s show at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. (which had a great crowd), which was revealed before any of the night’s matches took place, then look at the main event.

Kurt Angle announced a Fatal 4-Way match at SummerSlam for the Universal Title

Following up on last week’s main event, in which Braun Strowman interfered at the end of a match between Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns, Raw general manager Kurt Angle began the show by trying to clear up just who would face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title at SummerSlam. The winner of Joe vs. Reigns was supposed to determine that, but Strowman jumped into the mix for those plans.

Since there was no winner last week, Angle had to come up with a solution for Lesnar’s SummerSlam opponent. As Angle began to explain himself, Strowman came out to the ring to demand that he get the Universal Title shot. Samoa Joe then came out to the ring to intimidate Angle and make his case for the title match. Naturally, that was followed by Reigns, who proceeded to mock Strowman and Joe for not winning anything in WWE to this point.

Just as the three wrestlers nearly came to blows, Angle stepped in and said he changed his mind yet again. Lesnar would face Samoa Joe… and Roman Reigns… and Braun Strowman in a Fatal 4-Way Match for the Universal Title (which John predicted last week). That should be a lot of fun, and having four participants should result in a longer match than if Lesnar had faced one of these guys individually.

Angle then left the three wrestlers in the ring to talk trash to one another, leading to Reigns finally punching Strowman. Joe joined in with both guys eventually throwing Strowman over the barricade. The two then went back into the ring to slug it out before Strowman came back in to beat them up. That prompted Angle to call for security, which resulted in Strowman tossing each of the event staffers out of the ring.

Then the other Raw wrestlers in attendance were called out to the ring to break up the fracas, much like what happened when Lesnar and Joe had their confrontation before Great Balls of Fire. Joe tried to lock in the Coquina Clutch on Strowman before Reigns knocked both guys down with a spear. He then cleared the other wrestlers out of the ring, but that left him open for a powerslam from Strowman,

That ended all of the chaos with Strowman essentially the last man standing. Quite a way to start the show, rather than four guys just jabbering at each other over SummerSlam.

Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins beat The Miztourage in a 2-on-3 handicap match

Ambrose and Rollins showed some of their old chemistry from their Shield days, which they needed in wrestling a man short against The Miz and his henchmen, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. But trust is still an issue between the former mates. In a segment earlier in the show, Ambrose needled Rollins by saying he had to watch out for four guys, not three.

After a fast start with some flashy double-team attacks, the Miztourage eventually asserted their advantage and worked over Rollins. Rollins put up an impressive fight, though, kicking out of what looked like a sure DDT finisher from The Miz. Ambrose eventually got the hot tag, mowing down Axel, Dallas and The Miz. But what was essentially a 1-on-3 match only lasted so long. The Miz tagged in without Ambrose realizing it and nailed a Skull-Crushing Finale. That looked like the end, but Rollins broke up the pin.

Dallas took a nasty shot with his head colliding with the middle rope, but apparently he was OK since there were no reports of him being hurt like Enzo Amore was a year ago. He and Axel ended up getting knocked down by suicide dives from Ambrose and Rollins. The action then returned to the ring, with The Miz nearly pinning Ambrose in a small package. But Rollins hit The Miz with a flying knee off the top rope, setting him up for Ambrose’s Dirty Deeds finisher (sold really well by The Miz)and the pinfall.

The two celebrated the victory with some high-fives and hugs, looking as if amends had been made to some extent. But Ambrose made it clear that Rollins hadn’t re-entered his circle of trust, leaving him hanging on a fist bump. Ouch. Everything’s not copacetic yet in Shield-land.

Could Ambrose and Rollins eventually make a run at the Raw Tag Team Titles? The broadcast did show Sheamus & Cesaro in the locker room watching the match. John has pointed out many times how there aren’t any notable face tag teams on the Raw side right now, other than The Hardy Boyz. That could help WWE get away from this unending Ambrose-Miz feud, unless the idea is to develop one between Miz and Rollins.

This Week’s Raw Matches

Here’s the rest of the card from an event-filled Monday night in Washington, D.C.

Elias Samson defeated Finn Balor, with help from Bray Wyatt

As John predicted last week, Bray Wyatt was sure to be a factor in the rematch between Finn Balor and Elias Samson. This was a no-disqualification match, following up on last week’s bout which ended when Samson hit Balor with his guitar. Balor sported some kinesio tape on his left shoulder, presumably as a result of the guitar hit. But that just gave Samson a target to work over during the match.

Though Balor started out aggressively, the two had a relatively even match, taking advantage of the no-disqualification rules to take shots at one another with a steel chair. Eventually, Balor wore Samson down and landed his signature Coup de Grace finisher. But that’s when the lights went out for Wyatt’s appearance. When the lights came back on, Wyatt was in the ring and nailed Balor with Sister Abigail. No disqualification, so Samson dragged himself over to cover Balor for the win.

Adding a layer of creepy, Wyatt then crab-walked to the knocked-out Balor to taunt him. These two are headed for a SummerSlam match.

Big Cass demolishes Enzo Amore

Prior to the match, Enzo said he had more passion than Cass, fueled by the support of the fans. But that didn’t matter once Cass entered the ring. Enzo tried to attack with drop-kicks, staying out of Cass’s grasp, but that didn’t last very long. Eventually, the big man’s size and power took over and he put the little guy out of his misery with a big boot to the face.

Cass continued to beat up Enzo after the pinfall, which brought Big Show out to the ring. Cass threatened to snap Enzo’s neck if Big Show stepped into the ring, but ultimately used the little guy as a distraction. Tossing Enzo at Big Show, Cass then attacked him, landing five big elbow drops to end the confrontation decisively. That may have been the quietest the crowd was all night.

Nia Jax wipes out Emma

This one was set up when Emma confronted Kurt Angle backstage to say it was time for her to be noticed, arguing that she started the Raw women’s revolution. And if she didn’t get her way, maybe she’d try to date Angle’s son, Jason Jordan. That hit a nerve and Angle matched Emma up against Nia Jax.

As you might expect, the bout was about as competitive as Enzo vs. Big Cass. Emma did land some drop-kicks, trying to stay away from Jax. But Jax shook those off and overpowered Emma, flattening her with an elbow drop and winning with an impressive somersault senton. No contest.

Bayley beats Sasha Banks

Winner faces Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Title at SummerSlam! Prior to the match, Bliss played mind games with Bayley and Sasha Banks, saying this match would destroy their friendship. Bayley cautioned Sasha not to let Bliss get in her head, to which she seemed to take offense. Objective accomplished by Miss Bliss?

The match was intriguing to start out with Bayley trying to go for the quick, clean pinfall with various roll-ups. Eventually, Sasha made it a little dirtier with slaps and kicks, reminding everyone of what was at stake (if the announce crew constantly mentioning that didn’t make it clear). Eventually, friendship got tossed aside and things got nastier with some slaps, punches, forearms and elbows.

It looked like Sasha would win the match when she pushed Bayley off the top rope, sending her face-first into the mat. That was followed up with a big splash and a near-win, but Bayley was able to kick out and flip over, hooking Sasha’s legs for the pinfall.

Any hard feelings? The result was surprising, as it seemed like the build-up was toward a Bliss-Banks match at SummerSlam. But maybe this is setting up a feud between Banks and Bayley down the line, especially if Bayley is able to win the Raw Women’s Title.

Jason Jordan defeats Curt Hawkins 

The crowd in D.C. didn’t seem too enthused in Jason Jordan throughout the night, but his Raw debut following the storyline revelation that he’s the biological son of Kurt Angle was rather impressive. Jordan showed some serious power with his technical wrestling skills, but Hawkins eventually brought out his mean streak. That led to Jordan unleashing a shoulder tackle in the corner and a belly-to-back neckbreaker that wiped Hawkins out.

The Revival beat Gallows & Anderson

The Revival were introduced and declared themselves as Raw’s top tag team after beating The Hardy Boyz and sending The New Day fleeing to Smackdown. That compelled Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson to come out of the locker room and challenge that assertion, leading to a match between the two tag teams.

It was fun to see the two heel teams go against each other, though the crowd seemed to favor Gallows & Anderson in this match-up. Both pairs also demonstrated what makes a good tag team, frequently tagging in and out to stay fresh and try to wear down the opponent. So there wasn’t the “hot tag” situation that we often see in tag matches. As a result, the action moved back-and-forth with each team trading the advantage.

Unfortunately, what was a good match ended up being interrupted by The Hardy Boyz coming down the ramp to put The Revival on notice. The crowd went nuts when the Hardys’ entrance music kicked in and that was fun, but those two teams deserved to finish their match, rather than The Revival taking advantage of the distraction to land the double-team Shatter Machine on Karl Anderson for the pinfall.

If there was any question who the Hardys were out there to mess with, they jumped The Revival after the match and landed Poetry in Motion and the Twist of Fate on Dash Wilder. Jeff Hardy would’ve followed up with a swanton bomb off the top rope, but Scott Dawson pulled Wilder out of the ring just in time. That adds some juice to this feud, likely building toward a SummerSlam confrontation. Gallows & Anderson again end up as the bridesmaids.

Other Key Items From Raw

Akira Tozawa demanded a rematch with Ariya Daivari, but Neville intervened

Akira Tozawa demanded another match with Ariya Daivari after losing to him on last week’s 205 Live (and Titus O’Neil stopping their previous bout to prevent Tozawa from suffering a serious shoulder injury). O’Neil said he was canceling the match for his own good, which enraged Tozawa and sent him out to the ring. That brought Neville out to the ring, saying he put Tozawa in this place after defeating him.

After Neville called him pathetic, Tozawa went on the attack, laying out Neville with a couple of kicks and a senton from the top rope. However, the impact caused more pain to Tozawa’s shoulder, leaving him vulnerable to Daivari coming out to the ring and attacking him. Daivari then clotheslined Neville, and it seems like a match between them is where this is going.

Looking Ahead To SummerSlam

We now know we’ll have that Fatal 4-Way Match with Brock Lesnar defending the Universal Title against Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe. Naomi will defend the Smackdown Women’s Title against Natalya, who won the title shot by winning the 5-Way elimination match at Battleground. And Bayley will face Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Title.

No other matches have been officially announced, but Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt and The Revival vs. The Hardy Boyz will likely be part of the card. Maybe Big Cass vs. Big Show as well?

John will be back on Wednesday with a review of Smackdown Live. Order will be restored!

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.

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