It's fitting that, on a show billed as a "Night of Firsts," WWE did something for the first time in a long while: put together two consecutive good Raws. Building on last week’s excellent Raw that was buoyed by the intense Undertaker/Brock Lesnar brawl, Monday’s episode kept the momentum going with something that, frankly, WWE should be doing more often: having fresh matchups. That was the gimmick behind the aforementioned “Night of Firsts,” which gave the show a kick in the ass by pairing up unlikely foes, even if some of the finishes were the same old shit.
Before the night of (pretty good) matches kicked off, however, we had the obligatory Authority to announce everything for twenty minutes. After (the very heel) Triple H and Stephanie McMahon got (extremely) face pops for booking the evening correctly and also stating that SummerSlam will be four hours long this year, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins took the mic yet again to claim he’s the greatest champion ever. You know where this is going: BRRRRRAPADOO. Yes, John Cena came out once more to insert himself in the main event picture, and I think Seth’s reaction to Cena’s music says it all:
But fear not; despite Cena’s demands for a WHC title match tonight, the Authority did not cave in and booked instead a United States title match for the main event of the show.
The middle of the show featured a barrage of matches ranging from “pretty damn good” to “Neville burying Fandango,” but more impressively is that none of the matches felt useless or repetitive.
Dean Ambrose took on the Big Show and flopped around like he was 2005 Shawn Michaels against...uh...well, this is awkward. The aforementioned Neville vs. Fandango ended quickly but was followed by a very Joker-esque promo by Stardust that seemingly continues his open challenge for Arrow’s Stephen Amell, who replied on Twitter. There were TWO Divas matches yet again (more on them in a second), as well as a tag team matchup that not only featured fun midcard action, but also included the secret weapon of any match: Titus O’Neil on commentary. Before the U.S. title main event, Kevin Owens took on Randy Orton while Sheamus looked on, which of course ended in a DQ and post-match brawl. Nothing spectacular, but if three hours of Raw are filled with this much wrestling and non-pointless story advancement, sign us up.
Speaking of story advancement, the #DivaRevolution rolled on this week with one adequate tag match and one dream match that delivered on almost every expectation. The tag match saw Becky Lynch and Charlotte take on Alicia Fox and Nikki Bella. Nothing crazy here, but the fluidity of action was leaps and bounds above normal Divas tag matches. The not-so-secret MVP was Becky Lynch, who got a spotlight on her and delivered by throwing Alicia Fox with a couple of beautiful suplexes before countering the super-effective Divas roll-up into her pun-filled armbar finisher, the DisArmHer.
In the other (superior) match, NXT Women’s Champion and certified Boss Sasha Banks took on Paige in a one-on-one contest that went the distance: 14 minutes worth of women’s wrestling on Raw, what a world. The back-and-forth contest saw Paige control the early bits before Sasha took command, with The Boss even stealing Paige’s taunt, because she is the best wrestler on the planet:
In the end, Sasha rolled on to another victory with her Banks Statement finisher, and it’s only a matter of time before she sets her sights on Nikki Bella’s title. Nikki vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha at SummerSlam, please.
Finally, Seth Rollins challenged for John Cena’s U.S. title match and, here’s something that’s not surprising at all, it was awesome. Part of that is because Cena is just on another level in the ring right now, and part of it is that Rollins is so damn good at everything. Despite all that, the thing everyone will remember is that, oh yeah, Rollins broke Cena’s goddamn nose:
Not to get all “love John Cena the person, hate John Cena the character” on you, but holy shit John Cena is a tough S.O.B. A broken nose would have, at least, stopped the match for any normal human, but Cena is made of some magical titanium and so this crazy bastard FINISHED THE MATCH AS PLANNED. Sure, Rollins may have tapped a bit quickly to Cena’s STF, but homeboy took a bunch of (rough) bumps with a nose that looked like an impressionist painting. Even the stench of “cenawinslol” couldn’t ruin the aura around the main event, post-knee-to-the-schnoz.