WWE's Raw brand is currently building to a huge main event of Brock Lesnar vs Braun Strowman for the Universal title at the No Mercy PPV, but this week's Raw played host to its own colossal battle of the titans. For the third time, the seemingly indestructible Strowman went to war with fellow giant The Big Show, this time inside the confines of a steel cage. Naturally, this received the main event slot on the show.
While some wrestling fans lament how slow matches between two behemoths can be, in the case of Strowman and Show, the two performers have shown tremendous in-ring chemistry, and tonight's match was no different. The two monsters beat each other from pillar to post, with Show even flying off the top rope with a ring-shaking elbow drop. In the end, Strowman triumphed, after first superplexing Show off the top, then crushing him with a running powerslam. Adding insult to injury, Strowman then tossed Show through the cage itself, in an enormous feat of strength. Watch closely Brock, as that could well be in your future.
Back near the opening of the broadcast, a different kind of confrontation took place, in the form of a verbal sparring match between top stars John Cena and Roman Reigns. Cena and Reigns engaged in quite the war of words on last week's show, and things got even more heated this time out. Cena continues to outclass Reigns on the mic, but both men are very talented in-ring performers, and will likely have a terrific match at No Mercy. Interestingly, the younger Reigns ended the segment by challenging Cena to a fight, only to see the veteran Cena back down.
Reigns' case has been an interesting one, as WWE clearly sees him as the man they want to carry the company going forward, a position once owned by Cena. The live crowds regularly boo Reigns despite his storyline status as a good guy, though, which has led to some rather embarrassing situations in which the supposed conquering Reigns wins and ends a PPV to a chorus of boos. Cena almost seems to be playing the role of disgruntled fan here, as many of his insults toward Reigns line up with fan complaints. That's kind of funny really, since Cena used to be the one many fans saw as an undeserving corporate golden boy.
Outside of his segment with Reigns, Cena began the show by having a great match with newcomer to the Raw brand Jason Jordan. For all the bad wrap Cena gets about not putting over young talent, that match sure made Jordan look like a million bucks.
Another big match on the show was Jeff Hardy challenging The Miz for the Intercontinental title, following Jeff winning a battle royal to earn the privilege last week. The two had a fun back-and-forth contest, with Hardy ultimately missing his Swanton Bomb finisher, and Miz capitalizing with the Skull-Crushing Finale.
The Raw women's division still seems to largely be spinning its wheels, with the same match combinations being repeated ad nauseam. Sadly, that's really just a side effect of last year's brand split, as each show only has around seven female performers on the roster at this point. Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and co. are all talented, but the booking is doing them no favors. After tonight's tag match, No Mercy now features a fatal 4-way match for the Raw Women's title between champion Bliss, Banks, Nia Jax, and the criminally underused Emma.
Not much really advanced on the tag team scene, although both champions Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, and No Mercy challengers Cesaro and Sheamus picked up victories in separate tag matches. The match between the two teams at SummerSlam was great, so one expects thing will turn out similarly at No Mercy.
On the cruiserweight side, Enzo Amore continued to ingratiate himself with the babyfaces and annoy the heels. He's also clearly on a collision course with champion Neville. To that end, a 5-way match was announced for tomorrow's 205 Live featuring Amore, Tony Nese, Cedrick Alexander, Brian Kendrick, and Gran Metalik, with the winner getting a title shot at No Mercy. It's quite strange that the most recent champion, Akira Tozawa, isn't even part of the match. One would think being a former champ would at least earn him that much.
Last but not least, Finn Balor exchanged some dark words with Bray Wyatt, with the "Eater of Worlds" challenging Balor to a match at No Mercy in which the latter's demonic alter ego doesn't make an appearance. This is obviously due to "The Demon" beating Wyatt at SummerSlam, but what Wyatt seems to be forgetting is that he just beat a demon-less Balor on the Raw episode prior to SummerSlam. Well, nobody ever said insane cult leaders had great memories.
We hope you enjoyed our first recap of WWE Raw. Let us know what you think in the comment section.
WWE Monday Night Raw continues next Monday @8pm on USA.