The last Raw before SummerSlam gave the WWE audience exactly what we want heading into an upcoming pay-per-view -- something to look forward to in almost every match.
John Cena and Daniel Bryan continued their compelling back and forth on the microphone, with Bryan talking about being a "wrestler" and Cena being a "phony," while Cena, passionately, said Bryan wasn't in the same league as his past opponents such as Shawn Michaels, The Rock and Triple H. Daniel Bryan called this "just another SummerSlam" for Cena but said this is the biggest match of his life (and in reality, it likely is).
Bryan wouldn't slap Cena in the face, a custom in Japanese wrestling, because he didn't think Cena is worthy. Cena slapped Bryan instead. As I have mentioned in the past, this logical point/counterpoint is the most compelling way to build an intriguing rivalry and match. Because of this, I'm looking forward to this match the most at SummerSlam. (Cena jokingly saying that Miz TV is usually a train wreck was a nice touch to start this segment.)
Earlier on Raw, Triple H made himself the guest referee of this matchup. (I was on the fence about the decision to have a guest referee at all in this match, however with Triple H involved you know something major will happen.) I will give my complete SummerSlam predictions later this week on this site.
Paul Heyman did the lion's share of the talking in the main event on Raw, with no fight taking place. Instead, Punk appeared from behind and attacked Lesnar with a camera and delivered a GTS to Curtis Axel. Raw ended with CM Punk standing tall, and Paul Heyman cowering away, which means that the WWE Universe is left hoping that Punk gets to beat up Heyman at SummerSlam.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian got a shot in the arm when a montage of Christian's career was played, almost teasing retirement. It wasn't obvious, much more subtle, but definitely worth the conversation. This little wrinkle makes this match.
Damien Sandow lost to Randy Orton, due to Cody Rhodes distracting him. I was sold on this match weeks ago, and though this interaction seems to have been on neutral the last couple of weeks, this is still an interesting match that can be one of the highlights of SummerSlam. Cody Rhodes is a top good guy waiting to shine and Damien Sandow is pretty much a lock as a future world champion.
Kane and Bray Wyatt have the visual benefit of a ring of fire in their match at SummerSlam, which will make for some awesome pictures on Instagram. On Raw, they didn't touch, which is all the better.
A SummerSlam pre-show match was made between RVD and Dean Ambrose for the U.S. title. I love this match for several reasons: First, RVD won a battle royale, which meant we saw another fantastic Kofi Kingston elimination dodge (remember the ones from Royal Rumbles gone by?). Second, RVD is a fantastic opponent choice to make the U.S. title matter, and he and Ambrose will likely have a terrific match that will set the tone and make people want to watch the match on the WWE App and other platforms where the pre-show is available.
I'm happy Natalya is getting a match at SummerSlam -- let's be honest, she deserves it. "Total Divas" has been a godsend for the Divas division, as suddenly it has mattered again. I'm curious if this will become a tag match involving Maria Menounos, only because of their recent Twitter interaction. Perhaps, as alluded to on Twitter, Nikki Bella isn't cleared to compete.
Dolph Ziggler/Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston/AJ isn't top priority for me at SummerSlam, but that doesn't mean something surprising won't happen. AJ/Langston lost to Natalya/Khali.
The Big Show returned, siding with Mark Henry and will answer the Shield's open challenge from Raw and vie for tag-team gold (copper) at SummerSlam.
As you can see, it was an eventful evening. Just the way we like it. Lots to talk about and lots to look forward to come Sunday.
What else you need to know
** Shawn Michaels and Booker T were announced as analysts for the pre-show, which I'm all for, because legends in any sport are typically a good fit for color commentators, and we won't sit there thinking "why aren't they in a match?" like we would with current WWE superstars in the same role (unless they are injured).
** Wade Barrett beat Daniel Bryan with Brad Maddox as guest referee. I liked this, because Barrett gets a much-needed win off a fast count by Maddox, which makes him more hated. Bryan losing doesn't hurt him as he's red hot right now and his dialogue with John Cena was money.
** Vince McMahon wore an interesting suit. That is all.
** In case you missed it, the single player campaign for WWE 2K14 was announced on Monday.
Follow Arda on Twitter @arda_ocal for updates all weekend as he will be in Los Angeles for SummerSlam covering WWE 2K events, Axxess and live tweeting SummerSlam.
And check back here Thursday for Arda's full SummerSlam predictions.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun