Advertised for tonight: Universal Champion Brock Lesnar returns to address Roman Reigns, Ronda Rousey returns following her suspension, Seth Rollins goes one on one with Drew McIntyre, and Finn Balor battles Constable Corbin!
Our Raw live blog kicks off at 8PM so check back tonight!
In memoriams for both Nikolai Volkoff and Brian Christopher.
Hey, Brock's here. He and Paul Heyman are backstage, and it's safe to assume that they're not excitedly chatting about the Evolution pay-per-view.
Roman's music hits and we've got our opening interview. Mostly boos, even when he gives Miami a shout out. After rehashing the same "Brock doesn't care" spiel from March and April (now with new Daniel Cormier flavor), Heyman interrupts, promises a Lesnar victory, as well as Lesnar beating Cormier. Reigns wants Lesnar to show himself, but Heyman says he'll only come out if and when he feels like it. Reigns vows to send Lesnar back to UFC not as "The Beast", but as "Roman Reigns' bitch". I have to admit, it'd be funny to hear Bruce Buffer announce him as that.
Finn Balor vs. Constable Corbin
We're treated to video of Lesnar reading a hunting magazine while poor Balor has to wait for his match to begin. Apparently, we're supposed to hate Brock because he doesn't watch Raw. Balor gets the upper hand in an early strike exchange, but is thrown through the ropes a few times, only drawing his ire. Missile dropkick sends Corbin to the floor, and Balor follows up with a running forearm smash. The two take turns avoiding getting smashed into the post, and we head to break after Corbin floors Balor with a clothesline on the apron. Corbin works a sorta-chinlock back from break. Maybe Brock doesn't watch the show because the post-commercial restholds are too predictable. Corbin gets the slide-under-and-back-in clothesline for 2, with a lot of fans surprisingly counting along. Corbin gets knocked outside with a dropkick, but a big right hand and a back suplex drop on the apron halt the momentum. Balor, however, counters a powerbomb by dropping down and getting a trip, before double-stomping Corbin's gut. Balor gets a flip dive to the floor as we hit yet another commercial. We come back to Corbin holding the same rest hold that he had applied after the *first* break. No wonder the crowd's booing. Balor counters a chokeslam into a front cradle for 2, then follows with a sling blade. Corbin counters a charge with a chokebreaker for 2. Corbin manages to avoid the Coup de Grace, and lands the Deep Six for 2. To the outside, Balor dropkicks Corbin into the barricade, and gets the corner dropkick back inside. Coup de Grace misses, and Corbin finishes with the End of Days. Fun last few minutes, but took a long time to get there. **1/2. Corbin attacks after the match, because the feud must continue, even though Corbin just won cleanly.
Angle confronts Heyman, demanding that Lesnar appear before the live crowd. He gives Heyman an ultimatum: get Brock to appear before the live crowd, or Heyman's fired.
Recap last week of Stephanie's invention of women's wrestling pay-per-views.
Alexa has a moment with Alicia Fox before Fox faces Natalya. Alicia is suitably nuts, as is the norm.
Natalya vs. Alicia Fox
It's a good thing that Jojo clarifies that this is a women's division match, because Natalya's music playing wasn't a particularly strong clue. Ronda and Alexa are in the respective corners, of course. Alicia makes the rope to avoid an early Sharpshooter, and Nattie gets tripped and trapped behind the apron skirt. I'm guessing Finlay agented this match. Alicia applies something that almost resembles an abdominal stretch, then adds a body scissors to at least make it look a little more plausible. Alicia gets her famed Northern Lights suplex for 2. Alicia manages to create a diversion with the referee and Ronda that allows Alexa to nail Nattie with a sucker punch, leading to Alicia to win with a running boot. Short but energetic. *1/2 Afterward, Ronda chases Alexa and tries for the armbar, but Alicia bails her out and they double team Ronda. Crowd's irritated, but in a good way.
Heyman tries to convince Brock to go to the ring. Brock sends Heyman to get him dinner instead. He hates going to work and he likes steak - he's the most relatable guy they have!
Rousey wants a fight, so Angle gives her Alicia next week in her first ever match on Raw. Crowd's mad because they don't get to see it live.
Elias segment, this time in the ring and not on stage. His kimono game has sadly diminished, however. He brags about beating Panic at the Disco, which should make him a hero to millions. He slags Lashley for interrupting him last week, then bashes Pitbull and The Rock to make sure that Miami hates him. C'mon, they've already got the most useless NFL coach today in Adam Gase (now that Ben McAdoo's unemployed), so cut the city some slack. Lashley arrives, and you know he's been insulted because he's smiling. Elias implores Lashley to sing with him, which the fans want to see. And indeed, they sing Rockin' Robin, which is morbidly funny...and then Elias jumps Lashley from behind. Lashley makes the comeback and sends Elias running.
KO and Corbin have a powwow. Apparently, Owens' son loves Corbin and looks up to him as a role model. That's good to know. Owens is worried that Braun might cash in on Lesnar before he has a chance to win it, to which Corbin, in a babyface-like move, says he can't do anything about that. This isn't what Owens wanted to hear, naturally.
Braun Strowman vs. Jinder Mahal
This was borne of Strowman acting all socio-maniacal during Jinder's attempt at soothing him last week. Strowman's the most over person on the show so far next to Ronda, based on crowd response. Mahal is unable to soothe Braun this week either, but that's when Owens shows up to steal the briefcase. Braun gives chase, takes out Sunil SIngh, and takes a countout loss while pursuing KO. Mahal runs off, and, uh, that's it.
Meanwhile, Angle has an unplesant phone convo with Steph. I assume she insisted on more Evolution plugs.
Rawley bullies the lower midcard, including former partner Ryder (who was seen hobnobbing with Major Bro Hawkins). Roode confronts Mojo, and the two end up having a scrap on the floor, which Adam Pearce and Nicholas' father break up.
Apollo Crews vs Akam
Dana Brooke's attire no longer humors the idea of her being a statistician by trade. No complaints, naturally. Crews makes the comeback from some early roughhousing, stunning Akam with a kick the head and a jumping crossbody. Step-up enzuigiri and standing moonsault get 2. Akam misses a charge, and gets rolled up for 2. Well, that was abrupt. Feud continues, clearly.
Seth Rollins vs Drew McIntyre
This has promise. Dolph's straightened hair makes him look like a skinny Ron White. And I just realized that Ziggler's record scratch is Cesaro's siren, because they both bleed into bagpipe metal. Each brand has its own Bar. McIntyre gets the early advantage after catching a Rollins suicide dive and running him into the rail. He follows with a slingshot around the ring's framing in a pretty nifty spot. Back from commercial, Rollins lands a pair of suicide dives, rebounding nicely from the throat crushing slingshot. He sends McIntyre's shoulder into the ring framing. Back inside, Rollins manages a Falcon Arrow after a very elaborate sequence of reversals, getting 2. Rollins tries the Curb Stomp, but runs into a spinebuster for 2. McIntyre tries going old school with the Future SHock, but Rollins escapes. McIntyre gets a second-rope White Noise for 2. Rollins counters the reverse-Alabama Slam into a victory roll, then gets the Stomp out of it, before Ziggler breaks up the pin for the DQ. Fun while it lasted **3/4. Rollins hits a suicide dive on Ziggler for good measure.
Angle informs Reigns that, per Stephanie, he has to leave the building or lose his title shot. "How much longer is this gonna go on for?" Reigns speaks for the people. Corbin laughs in Reigns' face as the cops escort him, so Reigns decks him.
The B-Team gets interview time with Charly Caruso, co-star of the awesome WWE Unreleased DVD. "The B in B-Team stands for dream!" sayeth Bo. They're not enamored with the way Wyatt and Hardy left them laying last week, so they demand they show themselves. Sure enough, the spooky screen transition takes place, and the B-Team act frightened. The Revival disrupt the proceedings, and it breaks down into a multi-team skirmish.
Deleters of Worlds vs. The Revival
The B-Team join the commentary desk, and they claim they haven't slept since winning the belts. Guess they're like Brock and they don't watch Raw either. The Revival double up on Matt as I lament that we never got a Revival-Hardyz match. I mean c'mon, that's Arn and Tully vs. Ricky and Robert in 2018! Dawson prevents a hot tag, but walks into a Side Effect. That leads to Wilder and Wyatt getting tagged, and Wyatt takes control. "CM Punk" and "Rusev Day" chants, because it's 10:30 at night. Dawson manages to pin Wyatt after the Shatter Machine. Just a match, really. *1/4. I look forward to the triple threat match on the SummerSlam pre-show.
Meanwhile, Ziggler and McIntyre jump Rollins backstage. Just a simple beatdown.
Riott Squad vs. Sasha Banks/Bayley
Apparently, Sasha and Bayley's new nickname is the Boss and Hug Connection. Hey, Cole said it, not me. Sasha and Ellsworth could've been the Boss Hog Connection, but that's a wasted opportunity. Sasha dropkicks Logan for 2 as Cole goes on about Logan's alleged Viking ancestry. After the break, Sasha's taking the beating from both opponents, but manages the hot tag to Bayley, who goes to town on Morgan. Bayley hits a top rope hurrachanrana, which Sasha follows with a flying meteora for 2, broken up by Logan. Backstabber/Belly to Bayley combo finishes. Decent, with a good finish *1/2. Not sure what's in store for them come SummerSlam, since they're not actually feuding with anyone.
Heyman makes one last plea to Lesnar, who finally admits that he's gonna be fired if Brock doesn't help him. Brock grabs Heyman by the labels, tells him that they're not friends, and orders him to go out and do his job. Really going into overdrive to portray Brock as a scumbag, clearly.
Angle and Corbin are out for the main event interview segment. Heyman gets called out, and he gives his self-intro, albeit sotto voce. Fans sing goodbye to Heyman pre-emptively, and Angle flips out on Heyman, calling Brock the worst Universal Champion of all time. Heyman tries to keep his job by sucking up to Angle, agreeing that Lesnar is the worst champion ever. And he tried to mold Lesnar in Angle's image. Ha. Angle's not buying that impassioned outburst, but Heyman continues assassinating Brock's character and sucking up . Angle fires him, while Heyman clings to Angle's leg. But this brings Brock out, as Heyman is now suddenly calm and happy again. Man's a showman. Lesnar F5's Angle, which sends Corbin stoically out of the ring. Then Lesnar turns on a defiant Heyman, squeezing his face and driving him to the canvas. Crowd chants "We want Roman", but the other half chants "No we don't". Mission...sort of accomplished?