The go-home show before a pay-per-view is supposed to be the final tease before the big show. However, on RAW, instead of a tease, viewers got a major part of the PPV a week early.
This happened with two major storylines weaved through the show. Throughout the show, Seth Rollins was shown looking around the area for “The Demon King”. Not Finn Balor, whose name I don't think was used a single time during the night, but “The Demon King.”
Finally, Rollins went out to the ring, where he gave The Demon King (and if you think I'm using The Demon King a lot, you didn't watch RAW) one last chance to come out and confront him, before he went home. And so Balor's demon entrance started, and out he came. And yes, he was basically in full Demon regalia. Which was great, and got a great pop.
Why exactly did this happen? In addition to the match being for the Universal Championship, a major draw to the match was getting to see Balor rocking the Demon look for the first time on the main roster. So why was this done? You could make an argument that people needed to see The Demon, because they didn't know what to expect Sunday. Some would say that if you didn't watch NXT, just saying "The Demon King" wouldn't really explain how cool his getup at SummerSlam would be.
However, it's possible that they could do it without actually having him come up in the full getup, and that they'd save it for SummerSlam. That would be the typical thing to do. Tease, without give away the full thing.
However, that wasn't the worst case of getting something on the pay-per-view for free. Rusev, understandably, was angry after Roman Reigns ruined his and Lana's celebration last week. He was so incensed that he wanted a match with Reigns Monday night to try to defend his wife's honor. And they had it. And it was good. The main event of the night lasted more than 20 minutes, and ended with Roman Reigns cleanly pinning Rusev.
We have a long match on RAW, that was quite good -- pay-per-view worthy, even. So what do these guys do at SummerSlam now? If they were going to add a major stipulation to the match, they would have had the match in the middle of the night, and announce that it was No DQ, or a cage match, later in the night. But they didn't do that. Instead, it seems like they'll simply have a similar match at SummerSlam, with the only difference being that this would be for the title. This could indicate that the ending will be indecisive at Summerslam, but then presumably they'd continue fighting, and then again, why have this match on RAW?
A pay-per-view is supposed to feel bigger than the weekly shows. To do that, we're going to have to see something really special on SummerSlam. Hopefully we will.
The Rest of RAW:
-Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman came out. Instead of a long diatribe directed towards Randy Orton, Heath Slater interrupted them. Slater, continuing to get more desperate as the weeks go on, challenged Lesnar to a fight. In fact, he demanded a fight with Lesnar to try to earn his contract. He showed how desperate he was, both in his actions and his words, talking once again about his kids. Lesnar responded by saying that he doesn't give a damn about his kids, and then tossed Slater around the ring. This was a great segment on both sides, allowing Lesnar to talk a little bit, and letting Slater's storyline (which, by the way, has been given more screen time than almost anything else in WWE post-draft) continue.
-The New Day and the Club continued their back-and-forth. First, The New Day beat the Dudleys, but The Club showed up on the screen to continue their doctors bit from last week. Later, The Club beat the Golden Truth. After the match, Kofi and Xavier came out to attack, and tried to take them out, but Gallows and Anderson escaped.
-Sami Zayn beat Sheamus after Cesaro came out and distracted Sheamus. After the match, Mick Foley said that Sheamus and Cesaro would have a best-of-seven series. While these matches are sure to be good, at some point they'll need to find a reason why these two are fighting each other so much. Even if it's as simple as the winner gets a shot at the US title, that's better than having them fight for no reason.
-Big Cass beat Kevin Owens by DQ. A segment with Jericho and Owens preceded the match, which of course was gold. While I'm pretty sure this Jericho/Owens pairing is going to be short-lived (and quite frankly it should be based on how these characters are portrayed), I wish it could go on for months.
-Charlotte beat Alicia Fox. Sasha Banks was on commentary, and she made her way down to the ring after the match. She was blindsided by Dana Brooke, and Charlotte and Dana beat down Sasha in a fairly brutal attack. It was some basic, but extremely well-done heel work by Charlotte that drew a lot of heat before their match on Sunday.
-The Prime Time Players reunited briefly, only to lose to the Shining Stars after there was some miscommunication. I guess we're going to see Titus and Darren face off on the Summerslam preshow.
-Neville beat Jinder Mahal.
-Nia Jax squashed a jobber.
Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section here, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also hear my podcast, Jobbing Out, at https://soundcloud.com/jobbingout