It’s time for Monday Night Raw. Fans were promised a #1 contender’s match between Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe so we’ll finally have a clue as to what they’re doing at SummerSlam. Oh, and Kurt Angle is finally going to come clean about his big secret. We’re excited, so let’s jump right in.

Opening Segment

Dean Ambrose’s music hit and people went crazy for The Lunatic Fringe. Dean came to the ring with a steel chair in hand and he looked just as unhinged as ever.

Dean addressed the crowd and introduced the crowd to his chair he called “Steely Dan”… that’s clever. Ambrose told Miz to bring himself and his boys out to the ring and he sat in his chair while he waited but nobody came. Dean told Miz to bring his publicist, or anyone else he knows including the cast of “that terrible Christmas movie you were in”… does that include Paige?

Dean said he was going to bust his Hollywood bubble so fast he would be back on The Real World when he wakes up.

Cue Seth Rollins’ music.

Rollins asked Dean why he’s picking a fight he can’t win on his own. He pointed out the fact that Dean told him last week to stay out of his business but last week’s Raw concluded with Ambrose helping him out after all.

Dean said he just goes wherever his mood takes him and last time he just happened to be in the mood to hit Miztourage with a chair 176 times last week. Rollins said he’s only out there because Miz involved him last week.

Then Seth asked Dean if he was going to stand in his way or beside him. He called Dean his brother and that seemed to set Ambrose off. Dean said his brothers were in the Shield but those days are over. He said his brother stabbed him in the back and Seth screamed in his face “that was over three years ago! I’m sorry!” Then he repeated “I’m sorry” once more. Dean was still listening.

Seth replayed some of the highlights of his rivalry with Dean and said that was all in the past. Rollins asked Dean what he needed to move on and he took some time to think. Then Dean said he saw his lips moving but he didn’t hear anything. Rollins said if he doesn’t trust his words let his actions do the talking.

Then Seth told Dean to hit him in the back with a chair as many time as he needed to in order to get over the break up of the Shield. Seth stood there with his arms extended like Crossfit Jesus and Ambrose considered whacking him with a chair. But in the end he just tossed it out of the ring.

Then as Dean and Seth looked like they were about to have a bromance moment, The Miz’s music hit and the Miztourage hit the stage alongside him. Maryse was nowhere to be seen though.

Miz said the situation was touching and almost like a country song as he tried to draw heat from the Nashville crowd. Miz started talking about how he keeps beating Dean and said he doesn’t have what it takes to do it on his own.

As the Miztourage walked to the ring Miz stood at the entrance talking trash. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel surrounded the ring and prepared to jump in. Both of Miz’s henchmen grabbed steel chairs while Miz grabbed the one Dean threw down.

As a faint “Roman” chant started Dean and Seth started to take on Miz and his buddies. It didn’t last long though as Miztourage used their chairs against them and beat them down pretty badly. Dean took a bump into the steps on the outside and Miz hit Rollins with a Skull Crushing Finale onto a steel chair.

Axel hit Dean one more time with a chair as they exited the ring and Miz’s music hit as they raised their chairs in victory. So are we looking at a 3 vs 2 handicap chairs match at SummerSlam? Who knows at this point.

Backstage Segment

Miz was interviewed backstage but didn’t have time to answer any questions. Him and the Miztourage left very quickly.

Bayley vs Alexa Bliss (Non-Title Match)

Alexa added a little wink to her in-ring pose. That was adorable.

Bliss taunted Bayley with a slap across the face but Bayley drove her into the corner and started stomping on her. They traded some move and Bayley took her down with some punches to the face.

Then Nia Jax decided to come to the ring in order to get a closer look at the action.

Alexa kept Bayley down with a submission hold and transferred it into an arm submission. Bliss kept making Bayley look pretty weak while she worked on Bayley’s left arm by stomping away at her.

Then Bayley caught a kick from Bliss and sent her face-first into the mat. She tossed Alexa to the apron and hung her up in the ropes with a jaw-jacker. Bayley lifted Bliss into the corner and slammed her face into the top turnbuckle.

Then Bayley tried to pick Bliss up but her arm was still hurt. She didn’t sell it well, but at least she didn’t pick her up. Bayley hit a top rope move and sold her arm like it was hurt. She hit a suplex and a top rope elbow. Then Alexa rolled outside and Bayley went to follow her.

Nia Jax stood in Bayley’s way and Bliss attacked her from the side like a velociraptor. Suddenly Sasha Banks ran down and jumped Nia Jax. She dropkicked Nia into the ring post and this distraction gave Bayley the chance to hit a Bayley To Belly for the win.

It’s good to see Bayley is back to winning.

They went to the announce table and Corey Graves was looking at his phone again. So you know what that means… he got up and had to leave as Michael Cole introduced a highlight video from ESPN’s ESPYS Award Ceremony.

Backstage Segment

Kurt Angle was pacing backstage as Corey Graves stood there looking on. Angle said he was having second thoughts and he loves the WWE Universe but he doesn’t know if he wants it televised. Graves said we live in a golden age of social media and it needs to get out. Corey said Kurt needs to go out there and tell his truth.

Angle said Graves is correct and this is something people need to hear from him. “Thank you. Your friendship means so much to me” Kurt said and Corey Graves left the room. Way to make it weird, Kurt.

Titus O’Neil was backstage with Apollo Crews and Tozawa. Titus hyped Akira Tozawa and got him ready to take on Neville by saying “when the going gets rough… we get rougher… or something like that.” Suddenly Daivari walked up to them and said they are behaving like children.

Daivari got in Tozawa’s face and told him they’ll finish what they started last week.

The Brian Kendrick and Drew Gulak vs Jack Gallagher and Mustafa Ali

Kendrick and Gallagher are feuding and we can only hope it ends in an “umbrella on a pole match.” Gentleman Jack school Gulak with some mat wrestling but Gulak got out and started throwing some punishment around the ring.

Jack Gallagher is a very pale man. I’d love to see him standing next to Sheamus just so we can compare them.

Mustafa Ali got the tag and hit Kendrick with his awesome Inverted 450 Splash for the win. It was a very short match and Ali just had the one spot.

Backstage Segment

They showed Enzo Amore backstage and he was walking around not wearing a stitch of Certified G merchandise. It is an odd look for him.

Enzo Amore Is Still Alive

The Smack Talker Skywalker came out and he looked ready to go. The crowd was still plenty hot for him and said every word of his catchphrases. Seriously, he might be annoying but Enzo is fire on the mic.

It’s interesting to note Enzo was in boots and not wearing Jordans. He was in street clothes but still looked like a Certifed G. He hyped the crowd hardcore and said he speaks on the mic knowing the repercussions of every one of his actions. If he said it, he owns it.

He said he found the same holds true in this business as it does in life. You’re gonna win some and lose some but you gotta fight for what you believe in.

Enzo brought up Big Cass so this rivalry might have some more legs to it, but what else does Enzo have to do? Enzo said he let Cass throw him onto their opponents for years because he wanted to win (actually it was because Vince McMahon liked watching him play ragdoll).

Enzo said Big Cass being 7-foot-tall never helped them win any championships. Enzo said when Cass threw him out of the ring at Great Balls Of Fire he wasn’t throwing him out of his life because that’s impossible. He gets knocked down 9 times but gets up 10… he’s like that Chumbawumba song only catchier.

They played a highlight from last week when Big Show schooled Big Cass in the middle of the ring. Then Enzo said Big Cass “bounced a check.” Enzo said Cass had one foot and 100 pounds on him but it wasn’t that way with Big Show. When the going got tough Big Cass folded like a lawn chair and he’s like a big comfy couch.

Just when Big Cass was going to call Cass SAWFT, Cass came out to his awful new music.

Big Cass said if it wasn’t for Corey Graves none of this would have happened. “Casshole” chants broke out and Big Cass said Enzo didn’t learn his lesson at Great Balls Of Fire so he’s going to beat some sense into him.

Then Big Cass came to the ring to fight him. Suddenly Enzo rolled out of the ring and said he loved a fight but he’s smarter than the average bear. Then Enzo jumped over the barricade and stood in the crowd. He asked someone for a chair and grabbed a fan wearing one of his Enzo wigs.

Then he said he was going to watch this and have three words for him afterward: “how you doin?”

Insert Big Show here.

Big Cass didn’t even let Show get in the ring. He kneed him off the apron and came out to continue the beating. But Big Show just tossed him around the outside of the ring and smashed Cass against the barricade three times.

Cass fought back with some punches and Big Show sold them well. Suddenly Big Show blocked a punch and sent Colin Cassady into the ring apron. He bodyslammed Big Cass on the outside of the ring as “how you doin'” chants broke out. Big Show choked out Big Cass and chopped his chest.

Cass and Show stood on the apron and Big Cass drove Show into the ring post two times and tossed him in the ring. Big Cass kicked Show in the ribs and hit him with some mounted punches. “Casshole” chants broke out as Enzo looked on.

Big Cass kicked Show in the ribs again and Cassady stood above him measuring the big man for another kick. The bridge of Big Show’s nose was busted open by this point and Enzo ran in to get a big boot to the face from Cass.

Big Cass left up the entrance ramp as Big Show and Enzo remained beaten in the ring. A trickle of blood rolled down Show’s nose as he looked on intensely.

Backstage Segment

Roman Reigns was interviewed about his match against Joe tonight. Roman said his win against the Undertaker is in the past. He said he’s going to beat Samoa Joe tonight and go on to SummerSlam to become the next Universal Champion because he’s the Big Dog.

Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose were backstage and they started bickering a little bit. Kurt Angle came up and booked a match for next week for Seth and Dean vs all three members of the Miztourage. So if that’s the planned match for SummerSlam, then the Biggest Party Of The Summer is coming early this year.

Finn Balor vs Elias Samson

I wanna walk with Elias. I wonder why they stopped calling him The Drifter anymore, probably for the same reason Shinsuke Nakamura isn’t The King Of Strong Style anymore… you know. Because of reasons.

Elias has done more on the main roster than he ever got to wrestle in NXT. It really is quite impressive. He hit Balor with a nice slam across the ring and continued it up with some abuse in the corner.

Samson went outside and drove Finn’s face into the ring apron. He choked Balor against the middle rope and shot him off the ropes for a clothesline.

Samson locked in a full nelson until Finn started to Hulk up. Balor hit an overhead kick and followed it up with a couple takedowns. Balor hit a dropkick to Samson’s face and got a nice chop in the corner.

Balor got trapped in a move like Samson was going to hit an electric chair drop, but Elias turned Finn around and hit a nice looking powerbomb for a two count.

Elias hit a backbreaker and got another two count. Seriously, you might hate him but Elias Samson is way better than most would like to admit.

Samson left the ring and Finn hit the dropkick through the ropes and a kick from the apron. Balor dropkicked Elias into the barricade and looked furious. Then he turned around just in time for Elias Samson to smash him over the head with his guitar. The blow busted Finn open hard way as the back of his head was split open bad.

That cut on the back of Finn’s head looked bad.

Suddenly Bray Wyatt appeared on the screen and said Finn didn’t expect that. Balor had to stand there bleeding from the back of his head while Bray talked on.

Bray said his soul is thirsty and he feels the need to satisfy his soul. Bray said he felt the need to punish Finn and he’s the eye of the storm. Bray carried on with a metaphor-filled promo on Finn as he just laughed his way to a commercial break.

Backstage Segment

Kurt was on his phone (big surprise) and he said he’s anxious but ready to do this. Sasha and Bayley came up and asked him to settle a disagreement they were having. They both think they deserve a shot at the Raw Women’s Champion.

Angle booked a match next week with Sasha vs Bayley where the winner will face Alexa at SummerSlam. Nia Jax isn’t going to get involved in that match at all.

The Revival were backstage and the Top Guys explained why they attacked the Hardy Boyz last week. Thier reason: “why would we not?” They said they attacked the Hardys because they’re the Hardys. Good reason.

Wilder said after this week not only will they know who The Revival are, but they will show them the respect the deserve.

Akira Tozawa vs Ariya Davairi

Daivari got the upper hand early on and applied some mechanics to Tozawa until Akira took control. Tozawa hit a nice snap suplex and started hyping himself up. He grabbed his shoulder and headed to the top rope.

Davairi foiled Tozawa’s finisher and hit him with an impactful shoulder move and drove a knee into Tozawa’s shoulder in the corner. Tozawa was really selling his hurt shoulder. The announce team put over both Superstars as Titus O’Neil jumped on the apron.

Titus waved off the match and threw in the towel without actually throwing in a towel. Corey Graves said Titus was “protecting his investment.”

Davairi got on the mic and spouted something off in Arabic. Titus and Tozawa argued up the ramp and Akira said he was done with Titus.

Kurt Angle Finally Comes Clean

I love these segments in WWE. They’ve hyped a segment for months and now was the time to reveal it. It could be an amazing moment in WWE history or it could always be another Gobbledy Gooker.

Kurt Angle’s music hit and it was time for the reckoning hour. “You suck” chants rolled toward Angle as he bowed to the crowd. He walked to the ring with a grin on his face and looked prepared for something big in his blue suit jacket and baby blue button up shirt. The blue is important because that’s the color of water. It’s time to wash Kurt clean.

Kurt said it’s time to deal with his consequences. He said one of the actions of his past changed his life. He said he was afraid it hurt his family that they are 100% supportive of this. WWE is also supportive of this announcement too.

Then he said when he was in college he had an illegitimate child and it happened to be a boy. He said he was unaware of the baby boy as people started to boo the segment. He said this baby boy was adopted by a baby boy who made him very proud. Then Kurt Angle started telling his son’s story and of course, he became a WWE Superstar.

Insert eye roll here. Then Kurt Angle introduced the newest member of Raw… Jason Jordan! The family resemblance is kind of uncanny. Kurt Angle’s face welled up with tears and you could tell those acting classes he took before filming Sharknado 2 really paid off.

Let’s just think about this… they embraced in the middle of the ring and hugged it out. Kurt kissed Jordan on the neck while they hugged and then he raised his arms in celebration. After that, they hugged again…and that was that.

Booker T made a comment about how this could be a conflict of interests and that was an interesting piece of verbiage that they fed to him.

The Hardy Boyz vs The Revival

When the Hardy Boyz come down I mark out and when the Top Guys come out I just have to applaud which makes typing a challenge.

The Hardys jumped The Revival early-on and they powdered out. They recollected themselves and started the match. The Revival started it out with a quick tag that left Dawson to deal with Matt. The Hardys stomped Dash and he held his face in pain. It’s hard to tell if they’re hurt or working at this point because they’re so good.

The Hardys cut the ring in half and kept Scott Dawson from his corner. It was a nice change of pace from their usual match when they’re playing the part of the aggressor. The Club was shown backstage watching on a monitor in their full entrance gear like they were ready to get the call at any moment.

Matt kept taking the pain to Dawson and smashed his head against every turnbuckle on the way down as “delete” chants came out from the crowd. He hit the bulldog and got a two count.

Jeff got the tag and they hit Dawson with a double team legdrop/splash move. Wilder came in and they hit him with an amazing and innovative double team move that sent him out of the ring. The Hardys are just amazing and they seem to keep getting better.

Wilder eventually got the tag and the upper-hand on Matt. Dawson got the tag just in time for them to pull off a double team move on his knee. They hung Matt up in a tree of woe and hammered at his legs. When Matt fell to the canvas he kept selling his injuries.

They shot to The Club backstage just in time to see them give each other a “too sweet.”

Dawson locked a submission hold on Matt Hardy as Booker T hyped the Hardys as a legendary and nostalgic tag team. Wilder got the tag and kept working on Matt’s legs. Dawson got the tag as Corey Graves noted The Revival not only cut the ring in half, they cut it in quarters.

Dawson slapped on another leg submission as Matt tried to fight back to the best of his ability. He kicked Dawson off a couple of times and got a backslide pin for a two count. Wilder got the tag and took Matt down before he could get to Jeff.

The work continued on Matt’s leg. The Revival kept changing out and didn’t give Matt a chance to get to his feet until Hardy was able to send Scott Dawson out of the ring. Wilder got the tag and ran around Matt for a backdrop and Jeff got the tag.

Jeff hit the inverted atomic drop and dropkick to the face of Dash Wilder. Jeff kicked Dash in the face and hit a second rope splash. Dawson got the tag and Hardy sent Wilder out of the ring. He rolled Scott up for a two count, hit a Twist Of Fate, but the pin was broken up.

Then the Hardys hit the Whisper In The Wind and Jeff climbed up for the Senton Bomb. Wilder jumped up and knocked Jeff down and The Revival scored a pinfall on Jeff Hardy. It looks like The Hardy Boys are going to stay on their losing streak for now.

Backstage Segment

Samoa Joe was interviewed about Roman Reigns and he said he had no qualms about stepping into the Big Dog’s yard. He gave Roman credit for being a world-class athlete with a wrecking ball for a right hand. But Joe exists in the real world. He said he’s far more than an obstacle on Roman’s way to getting to Lesnar. Joe looked ready for battle.

Tozawa was backstage with an icepack on his shoulder. He said he never quits, but Titus forced him to. O’Neil said he knows Tozawa is mad at him and he’s cool with that. He said he wasn’t thinking about tonight, he was thinking about next year and that’s why he stopped the match.

Then Akira said he wanted a match against Daivari on 205 Live tomorrow night.

A No-DQ match is set for next week with Finn Balor and Elias Samson.

Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe (#1 Contender Match For Universal Title)

Roman Reigns came down to prove the WWE ring is his yard because he’s the Big Dog. Samoa Joe was intense and looked like he couldn’t wait to choke out a fellow Samoan.

Joe kept trying to take Roman down with shoulder tackles but he wouldn’t budge. Then Roman ran around him and took Joe out of the ring with a right hand. Roman wouldn’t let Joe get back in the ring and just kept knocking him down with more right hands.

Roman kept control of the match on the inside until Joe reversed a shot to the turnbuckle and followed up with an enziguri to the back of Roman’s head for a two count.

Joe beat Roman down as children screamed for their hero. “Let’s go Roman/Roman sucks” chants filled the arena as Reigns rolled Joe up for a desperate two count.

Joe knocked him down with an elbow for a two count of his own. Joe locked in a submission hold while he wrenched on Roman’s head and neck as Reigns started to fade.

Roman fought to get back to his feet and Joe hit a suplex for another two count. After that, Joe went back to wrenching at Roman’s head and neck.

Roman fought out of that hold and hit a couple strikes and a clothesline. Roman hit a flying clothesline for a two count after blocking a uranage slam.

Reigns started laying in clotheslines in the corner and hit a running kick to Joe. As the crowd started to cheer for Roman, he cocked his fist and Samoa Joe rolled out of the ring. Roman ran around for a drive-by but was taken out with a clothesline. Then Roman returned the favor with a clothesline of his own to leave both men on the mat outside of the ring.

Joe tried his best to keep Roman Reigns down but the Big Dog got back to his feet. Roman hit a couple headbutts and reversed a Samoan Drop into one of his own.

Joe hit a running senton for a two count and these guys looked tired. Joe tried to set up for another uranage slam but Roman reversed out of it for a Superman Punch. 1-2-kick out!

Just as Roman was getting to his feet “ROOOOOOAR!” it’s time for Braun Strowman!

“How the hell is Strowman here??!! How’s he walking??!!” Michael Cole screamed.

Braun pulled Joe out of the ring and Reigns attacked him on the apron as he got in. He hit Braun over and over and then Braun tossed Reigns into the ring. The ref never ended the match though. The bell never rang. Suddenly Joe ran up to Strowman and they started hammering on each other.

Braun knocked Joe down and got in the ring. He stopped Roman’s attack and tossed him to the corner. Braun hit a big splash and beat Roman down. He tossed Joe in the turnbuckle too and hit a splash.

Joe locked in a Coquina Clutch and Roman ran into Braun’s foot. Strowman tried to fight it off, but Joe wouldn’t let go and Braun wouldn’t go down. Roman hit Braun with a Superman Punch while he was in Joe’s Coquina Clutch and he finally went down.

Roman went for another Superman Punch but Braun caught him and slammed him down. Strowman slammed Joe down too and gave Roman another one to grow on.

As Braun was leaving the ring he stopped and turned around to pick Roman back up. Security flocked to the ring and started to get in but they all changed their minds with Strowman looked at them.

Braun picked Roman up over his shoulder and hit another massive slam. Strowman posed over Roman and finally left the ring. But the bell never rung that I heard so technically this #1 contender’s match never officially ended.

Joe and Roman were left in the ring rolling around in pain. Referees flooded the ring as Michael Cole asked: “how do you stop Braun Strowman?”

“You don’t” Booker T replied solemnly.

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Aaron Varble hasn’t just been writing for more than a decade in various formats including sketch comedy, stand up, television, radio, and other various projects; nor is he just another professional wrestling fan with a master's degree in journalism and Tourette’s syndrome. He's always looking to explore the why not with the why and the how come along with the how. Follow on Twitter @TheVarble