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WWE: Monday Night Raw 7/25/2016 Recap

WWE: Monday Night RAW was LIVE from The Consul Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA on 7/25/2016.

Raw starts out with a new look, logo and music. The commentator’s table is on the stage and it’s Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and Corey Graves. Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley start out by having the entire roster come to the ring to ring in the new era. Steph trashes Reigns losing last night, and calls him a loser. Roman ate the pinfall last night, leaving Ambrose and the world title on Smackdown. She then says the Universe demands a champ on Raw and they’re gonna get it. They’re going to have two fatal four way matches and the winner’s will face each other and the winner of that match will face Seth Rollins at Summerslam for the newly named WWE Universal Title.

The eight men who will be in the matches are: Sami Zayn, Sheamus, Chris Jericho, Cesaro, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor.

Crowd going bananas for Finn Balor. Cesaro with a fine reaction as well. Reigns booed out of the building.

Charlotte is called forward and they put her over, but then call out the obvious that Charlotte lost to Sasha Banks, and she’ll defend the women’s title tonight against SASHA BANKS! Wow, what a treat for Pittsburgh fans!

Fatal Fourway Qualifying Match (Number One):
Cesaro vs. Rusev vs. Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor

Balor and Owens really get after it to start things off. KO mocks the 2Sweet and then lands a cannonball splash. Balor takes him out with a dropkick and Cesaro ends up in control before the first commercial break after KO and Balor take each other out and Cesaro nails the bowling pin splash on Rusev. After the return, Balor and Cesaro with stereo double suplexes on KO and Rusev. Heels take control again as Cesaro is worked over by Rusev. Rusev then suplexes Balor and KO follows suit. Deadlift release german suplex by Rusev on Balor and the heels are one upping each other. KO and Rusev hit somersault sentons on Cesaro as Balor gets back into it. Rusev turns on KO finally and he nails him with a side suplex after KO grounded Balor. Cesaro fires off the comeback by conducting the uppercut train on everyone. Big swing on KO broken up by Rusev. Rusev and Cesaro dumped outside as Finn nails a low dropkick on KO and he hits a somersault splash on everyone on the outside. Balor and Cesaro mix it up, Balor eventually hits “1916” on Cesaro, but Cesaro with a kickout at two. After another commercial, we come back to a beautiful double suplex/powerbomb spot executed by Rusev with aide from his opponents. Rusev runs into an Owens boot. KO nails the spinout neckbreaker on Balor. KO with a bullfrog splash on Balor, but Rusev breaks it up. KO hits a popup powerbomb on Balor, but Cesaro breaks it up with a double stomp. Cesaro tries for the big swing, but he eats a big kick from Rusev. Rusev sets up KO for the accolade, but Cesaro with a delayed brainbuster on Rusev. Cesaro nails Rusev with a clothesline after escaping the accolade. Cesaro finally gets the big swing on Rusev. The sharpshooter is then applied, but KO breaks it up and nails cannonball splashes. Balor with a slingblade on KO and he nails the Coup De Gras on Rusev! Main event time for the former NXT champ! What an incredible match!

Winner: Finn Balor

We are told that we’ll see a New Day celebration later tonight, but up next, the RAW debut of Nia Jax!

Singles Match:
Nia Jax vs. Britt Baker

The return of the squash match. Welcome back old friend. Baker left in the tree of woe before being crushed by the amazing Jax. Legdrop and then she pulls Baker up for a headbutt and then a second legdrop. Three count and it’s academic.

Winner: Nia Jax

Sasha Banks is backstage as The Golden Truth show up with Pokemon Go hi-jinx. Tom Phillips comes in for an interview segment and Sasha says tonight, she makes her dream come true. She says tonight the women’s title gets some new swag and it’s about to get lit. After the break, we’ll have the second fatal fourway qualifying match!

Fatal Fourway Qualifying Match (Number Two):
Sami Zayn vs. Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns vs. Chris Jericho

-Entrances are made and Reigns is booed heavily yet again. Jericho is out and we can all drink it in maaaaan! During the break, it was also revealed that Brock Lesnar makes his return next week on RAW! The match begins and all the men gang up on Reigns while Zayn watches. He eventually joins in on the beating. Roman is destroyed on the outside as Y2J directs traffic. Sheamus and Jericho then surround Zayn. Zayn fights valiantly, but Sheamus wears him down and drops him with a clothesline. Sami fights back with a headscissors takedown and then he dumps Jericho. Reigns comes in and spikes Zayn for a two count. The crowd is merciless with Reigns tonight. Snap suplex on Zayn by Roman for another two count. Sami fights back and dumps Roman before Sheamus catches him in the back with a shot and ten clubbing blows on the apron. Sheamus knocked off the apron as a booming “Roman sucks” chant breaks out. Beautiful spot to follow as Reigns takes to the air on the wings of eagles with a suicide dive over the top rope onto all three of his opponents. After a commercial break, the action continues until Jericho turns on Sheamus. A running knee by Sheamus takes down Jericho. Zayn back in charge for a minute as Reigns eventually comes back in to dominate the match. A true wow moment follows as Zayn nails the blue thunder bomb on Reigns. That was awesome. Reigns is back with a wow moment of his own as he nails a crisp Niagra driver for a two count. Jericho eventually takes charge as he locks Zayn in the Walls of Jericho. Sheamus breaks it up with a Brogue kick and he takes out Jericho. He is about to hit white noise on Zayn, but Reigns is in with a superman punch. Reigns tries for a spear, but he eats a codebreaker for two. Jericho eventually falls victim to a spear and Reigns wins.

Winner: Roman Reigns

They are either going to disappoint the entire WWE Universe by putting Reigns in the summerslam title match as a face, or we’ll get a heel turn from him tonight against Finn or Finn aligns with the Club. Dare we dream of a world where Finn simply goes over clean though? Finn and Rollins would be a fantastic match.

The New Day is out after a break to celebrate becoming the longest reigning tag team champions of the modern era, besting the record held by Brian Kendrick and Paul London. They come out to a great pop after the break with “337” balloons. Graves is raining down the insults on Saxton right now and it’s great. The New Day talk about Booty O’s being a legit cereal now. You can order it from FYE. Wow, I didn’t know that place was even still a thing. They follow it up with a tremendous video package with some pop music. They follow it up with many sexual references. Kofi’s is the best. They are gonna pick a member of the crowd to be an honorary New Day member. Some fan named “Sonny Boy” bombs a segment. Crowd isn’t having it. The New Day try to have fun with it, and shockingly the crowd chants “Sonny Boy”. They’ve turned in his favor. The fan escapes as Gallows and Anderson ruin the affair with a surprise attack. They nail the Magic Killer on Big E. and make a statement as it relates to a future tag team championship match. Xavier Woods gets thrown into the steel steps and they confront “Sonny Boy” outside the ring. The throw shirts at him and then “2Sweet” as we head towards the break. We are told that Neville makes his return next!

Singles Match:
Neville vs. Curtis Axel

Now known as “Mr. Irrelevant”, the former staple of the Social Outcasts, and now apparently Raw’s “punter” if you will, fell victim to a Red Arrow in short order. Neville came back sporting a ‘stache and beard and looked like he hasn’t lost a step following the ankle injury he suffered during the match with Chris Jericho not so long ago. Neville certainly will have to figure heavily into the Raw plans for the Cruiserweight division that is set to take off shortly and this was a way to get him rolling with a crucial victory upon his return.

Winner: Neville

After a break, we get a motivational speech from Coach Bob Backlund as he consoles Darren Young, who didn’t walk away with the IC Title during his conflict with the Miz last night at Battleground. Young is looking to get back on the right path and Backlund is looking to steer the ship in that direction. We then got a terrific promo from Charlotte, along with Dana Brooke, as she looks to continue her winning ways and lengthy title reign as she defends against Sasha Banks up next!

Women’s Title Match:
Charlotte (c) w/ Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks

I can sit here and break this down for you on behalf of the Scrum Sports, but do yourself a favor folks, go watch this one. What an absolutely tremendous piece of art this was. These two women tore the roof off the Consul Energy Center. There were a multitude of near falls and several great sports, including one spot where Sasha performed a suicide dive that looked like she hurt herself, but was merely executed to perfection on her chase for the championship. Sasha pulled a page out of the book of the late, great Eddie Guerrero as Dana Brooke tried to get involved. Sasha tossed the title to Dana and played possum in the ring as the ref saw Dana with the “smoking gun” and she tossed her from ringside. The action continued as Sasha got the Banks statement applied, but Charlotte got her foot under the bottom rope. After the break, she tells Sasha “you will never beat me”, and then Sasha hits the backstabber and floats back into the Banks statement and Charlotte had no choice but to tap out. Ladies and Gentlemen, fans of the new era, we have a new women’s champion, and I for one will take my hat off to both women who absolutely tore the roof off the joint in Pittsburgh tonight. Michael Cole put this over big time and it was very cool to hear that he legitimately enjoyed this match, you could hear it in his voice. Sasha had a dream, and to be punny, she had made it! Byron Saxton, who actually has been a lot more vocal tonight on commentary, got into the ring with Banks and allowed her to thank the fans and talk about a new era in women’s wrestling with her as the centerpiece. What a treat tonight has been thus far.

Winner: Sasha Banks via submission (New WWE Women’s Champion)

Singles Match:
Braun Strowman vs. James Ellesworth

Byron Saxton is standing in the ring with this jabronie before the action begins as we hear “BRAUN!” and new rock music plays and the Wyatt family member comes out sporting a new look. He has shaved the sides of his head and his hair is tied in a pony tail. Ellesworth is none too pleased about facing Strowman, but he was just excited to compete on Raw. Dude is about 150 lbs. soaking wet and this is going to be absolute destruction and it’s just that. We get another squash match as Strowman nails a big kick, a corner splash and a reverse chokeslam for the win. Strowman, once he gets it right in the ring, could be a major player. Lame finish, a guy like that just needs some form of a powerbomb variation. He had that backbreaker variation of the side slam a while back and that was heinous, he could use that again. Either way, dominant victory for Strowman and a theme song similar to that of the now “future endeavored” Bull Dempsey.

Winner: Braun Strowman

After the break, the crowd goes bananas as Enzo Amore and Big Cass make their way out onto the ramp and cut a promo as only they can. Enzo Amore is absolutely sensational on the mic and with great respect, so is Big Cass. They always have fun and tonight, we got Enzo quoting the late, great ODB with “Oh Baby, I like it Raw!” which should make Scrum Sports writer Gene Selassie mark out as much as I did for the ODB reference. Cass hits some “how you doin” notes with things he likes Raw and shortly thereafter, the faces are interrupted by two hibiscus carrying fans of La Isla Del Encanto, back on the Raw for the first time in ages. The Shining Stars make themselves known and we head into a tag team bout.

Tag Team Match:
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. The Shining Stars

Enzo gets the offense moving early, but Primo and Epico are able to work him down. I can’t really say this was a technical masterpiece after what we’ve seen thus far already, but eventually Big Cass comes in after the hot tag after Epico sends Enzo to the floor. Members of the Golden Truth, who have been playing Pokemon Go all night, stumble through the ring, distracting Epico long enough for him to eat a huge boot to the mug from Big Cass and that’s enough for the three count. I know The Shining Stars are all about promoting Puerto Rico, but tonight they got to promote the fine lighting of the Consul Energy Center as they had ample opportunity to stare up at it. How U Doin?

Winners: Enzo Amore and Big Cass

After a break, we get a promo that tells us next week on Raw, we’ll have the return of the Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar! That should be quite the moment to say the least. Surely he and Heyman will have a lot to say. We are headed to the ring for the main event and backstage, we see Finn Balor and Roman Reigns run into one another. Reigns says good luck to Finn and Finn laughs. Finn says he’s Irish and he doesn’t need luck. Roman fires back and says he’s Samoan and that’s that. I chuckled with both those lines. They head to the ring.

WWE Universal Title Qualifying Match Final (Winner faces Seth Rollins at Summerslam):
Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns

Fully expected Reigns and Rollins to do the dance “at the summerfest”, if I can quote fellow cigar lover Jeremy Piven, but WWE didn’t just throw a curve-ball, they gave us the opportunity to bear witness to what many would consider another “dream” match. But before we comment on that, let’s talk about the main event. Roman ate the pinfall last night, and while there are very vocal critics of Reigns, and after the suspension, rightfully so, to quote “you can’t wrestle” at this guy is still absurd to me. Reigns is a power wrestler and that’s what he’s meant to be. Reigns hit two of the damnedest moves in this match I’ve ever seen. He hoisted the much lighter Balor up for a razor’s edge and drove him down into a last ride tigerbomb, a move that is often referred to as a Niagra Bomb, and it brought me up out of my chair. Reigns also employed the usual double arm lock powerbomb that he does and Finn sold it like a deadman. There were near falls a plenty in this match and it looked like both men were going to come away with it at times. Reigns hit a number of superman punches and Balor went for the “1916” as well. Ultimately, Roman’s frustration saw him fall victim to the sling blade, a delayed corner dropkick and to put the cherry on the sundae, the Coup De Grace. Cover, three count, and Finn Balor not only makes his Raw debut, but “The Demon” makes his way into the main event at Summerslam where he’ll compete against Seth Rollins in what should be a sensational matchup. What an absolutely fantastic Raw and after the match, Byron Saxton caught up with Roman, who said he respects Finn, but that if he beats Rollins for the belt, he’ll see him again soon. Happy bday Finn!

Winner: Finn Balor

That’s all she wrote for tonight folks, what a night!

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