WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from August 18
Just 24 hours after a historical, eventful SummerSlam, World Wrestling Entertainment rolled into the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas for Monday Night Raw.
The company presented a show full of fresh faces, limiting those with major exposure at SummerSlam to tag matches or promos. Competitors such as the Usos, Sheamus, Rob Van Dam, RybAxel, Natalya, Goldust and Stardust all received some television exposure as WWE recovered from a monumental WWE Network extravaganza.
Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins stole the show with a match worthy of pay-per-view, but it was the Big Red Corporate Monster Demon (or whatever they are calling him this week) Kane who had the final say on the outcome of the bout, aiding Rollins in a heinous assault of the Lunatic Fringe.
Paul Heyman delivered the inaugural address for WWE World Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, daring any other Superstar on the roster to step up and try to wrest the title away from the sport's most dangerous and dominant star.
Mark Henry looks to be the next real American to challenge Rusev, thanks to his interruption of the Bulgarian Brute and Lana's celebratory promo, AJ turned the tables on Paige and proved that she can get crazier than anyone when the time calls for it and Nikki Bella explains her actions from SummerSlam, where she betrayed her sister and helped Stephanie McMahon to victory.
As the wrestling world turns its attention to Night of Champions, WWE focused on some underutilized talent and highlighted its top feuds at the same time during an exceptional night of programming.
Here now are the grades, highlights and quotes from the August 18 episode of Raw.
Stephanie McMahon, Nikki and Brie Bella Promo
"Flight of the Valkyries" played and the arena erupted, expecting to see Daniel Bryan. Instead, Stephanie McMahon entered the arena, mocking Bryan's "Yes!" chants, much to the dismay of the fans in Las Vegas.
Stephanie revealed that The Authority would be presenting Lesnar with a new WWE World Heavyweight Championship, then feigned sincerity while wishing John Cena a speedy recovery. She ran down the events of SummerSlam, capping it off by referring to Brie Bella as the biggest loser of the night.
The principal owner of WWE introduced Nikki Bella, who made her way to the ring to explain her actions from Sunday night.
Nikki cited Brie's competitiveness and selfishness as the reason for her betrayal, then knocked Bryan.
Brie appeared to a much better reaction than she got at SummerSlam. She tried reasoning with her sister, but a slap ended that attempt. She left the ring in tears as a loud "you sold out" chant filled the arena.
Highlights and Quotes
"I have to thank you all for chanting my name when I just came out. I just love hearing it. 'Steph! Steph! Steph!'"—Stephanie.
"The Authority always wins."—Stephanie.
"I would like to thank Triple H for being my rock, for always being by my side and for always being faithful, unlike Daniel Bryan."—Stephanie.
"From the minute we came to WWE, it was supposed to be The Bella Twins vs. the world, and you know what, it's never been that way."—Nikki.
"Ever since we've been kids, it's always been about Brie."—Nikki.
"I could say I lost a sister, but I never really had one."—Nikki.
"Now, without that burden of Brie around my neck, I am free. Free!"—Nikki.
"You have destroyed our family."—Brie.
Setting aside the fact that neither Brie nor Nikki is terribly effective on the microphone, the explanation for Nikki's actions was mediocre at best. If she thought Brie was that selfish for as long as she claims, why did she wait until SummerSlam to turn on her?
Still, it was a decent enough segment that the fans in Las Vegas were into it. Brie was suddenly sympathetic, which was a problem entering Sunday's show, while Nikki came across as an overbearing and selfish egotist.
Stephanie was outstanding here as she continued to tighten her grasp on the title of best heel in wrestling. Without her holding the thing together, this segment easily could have been one of the worst promos in recent history.
Mark Henry and the Big Show vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan
Just three days after knocking off the Wyatt Family in tag team action on SmackDown, Big Show and Mark Henry attempted to make it 2-0 against the former No. 1 contenders to the tag titles on Raw.
Erick Rowan, clearly still fuming following Friday's loss, took the action to Henry right from the bell, but the World's Strongest Man turned the tide and flattened his opponent with a big clothesline. Harper tagged into the match and caught a boot to the face as Henry and Show dominated the early action. A chop to the chest made things that much worse for Harper.
Show unleashed with a series of hard rights about the body of his opponent, but a back elbow to the face by Harper slowed momentum. A clothesline sent Harper over the top rope and to the arena floor as we headed to break.
The World's Largest Athlete palmed Harper by the head and pulled him onto the apron but wound up throat-first on the rope. A big boot to the face sent him to the arena floor and turned the tide in the heel's favor.
Show played the babyface in peril as the crowd attempted to will him back into the bout. A huge bodyslam by Rowan impressed the crowd and commentators alike as the Wyatt Family continued to control the contest.
Henry received the hot tag and took Rowan down with a series of clotheslines. Harper, who had taken Show down outside, caught Henry with a big boot, leading to a near-fall. Show landed a knockout punch to Harper, and Henry finished with the World's Strongest Slam.
Big Show and Mark Henry win, via pinfall, when Henry pinned Rowan.
Highlights and Quotes
"Bray Wyatt calls these his fireflies; these cell phones lit up in every arena these guys walk into."—JBL.
"It's like getting headbutted by a Volkswagen."—JBL on a Big Show headbutt.
"That's what we used to call country strong."—JBL on Rowan's strength.
These two teams have incredible chemistry with one another, as evidenced by their two matches on SmackDown and Raw.
Show and Henry make for such an effective big-man team, while Harper and Rowan are so much better than their size would indicate. Harper is the most talented big man on the roster, and it showed when he mixes it up against the two former world champions standing across the ring from him.
The Usos, current WWE Tag Team champions, are a team that excels because of the energy and speed they bring to their matches. Show and Henry would make for some compelling challengers, thanks to their style, which would counteract the strength of the twin brothers.
That JBL specifically mentioned the Usos while hyping Show and Henry's win indicates that match may be occurring sooner than later.
Natalya vs. Paige
One night after regaining the Divas Championship from AJ Lee, Paige was faced with stiff competition in the form of Natalya.
The third-generation Diva outwrestled Paige early ,but the champion proved her in-ring prowess before catching Natalya with a kick to the back of the head, drawing boos from the fans.
Suddenly, "Light It Up" played, and AJ skipped her way to the ring, attempting to distract Paige from the task at hand. She succeeded as Natalya scored a rollup victory.
AJ repeated what Paige said earlier, then threatened to "shake Paige's hand," but the Divas champion bailed out of the ring before any physical confrontation could ensue.
Natalya wins, via pinfall, with a rollup.
Highlights and Quotes
"I just want to say, despite everything, I respect AJ, and I love AJ. In fact tonight, I'm going to dedicate this match to my little AJ."—Paige.
"I dedicate my life to you, Paige. And I need to get in that ring and shake your hand right now."—AJ.
"Don't try to out-crazy crazy."—JBL.
It was another solid segment featuring the women of WWE.
Paige and Natalya showed signs of what could be a great match between them, while AJ's appearance ensures that the rivalry between her and the new Divas champion will continue for the foreseeable future. And that is a good thing.
The match at SummerSlam was vastly superior to their Battleground effort, and if they can continue to build chemistry, fans could be in for something very special as Paige and AJ work with each other in the weeks and months to come.
The Authority made its way to the ring to present Lesnar with the new WWE World Heavyweight Championship following the Beast Incarnate's dominant, history-making victory over John Cena at SummerSlam.
Triple H and Stephanie revealed the new WWE title before introducing Lesnar to a chorus of boos. The Authority, Lesnar and Heyman took several photos as the boos grew louder and louder with every passing moment. An audible "Lesnar" chant broke out before fading back into boos.
The resident power couple took their leave as Heyman addressed the WWE Universe.
Heyman gave Cena credit for his toughness and even said he would gladly make Cena a Heyman Guy if the opportunity ever presented itself. He touted Lesnar's greatness, reminded fans of Undertaker's streak and career dying at the hands of Lesnar, and then he threatened anyone willing to step up to Lesnar.
Highlights and Quotes
"Never before has there been a championship match as one-sided as the one last night at SummerSlam."—Michael Cole.
"All these people here can't be winners so they relate to those who are. They're bandwagon jumpers."—JBL on the smattering of Lesnar chants.
"John Cena can't be here because John Cena can't physically appear, and that's all thanks to my client Brock Lesnar!"—Heyman.
"I have been in this industry, in some form or fashion, since I was 14 years old, and I have never seen a Superstar take an ass-kicking the likes of which John Cena took from my client, Brock Lesnar."—Heyman.
"When John Cena says 'never give up,' he means never give up."—Heyman.
"If they wrote the history of WWE right before Brock Lesnar pinned John Cena last night, John Cena would go down in history as the single greatest fighting champion of all time. Unfortunately, my client Brock Lesnar does not agree with these opinions."—Heyman.
"I Brock Lesnar's credo, he who dies with the most street cred still dies!"—Heyman.
This was easily one of the greatest promos of 2014, delivered by the master of the microphone, Paul Heyman. The passion with which he addressed Lesnar's win makes it so incredibly easy to not only despise him but also understand the belief that he has in his client.
One of the better aspects of the entire 15-minute promo was Heyman's willingness to give Cena credit and respect for his guts and willingness to continue fighting, despite being physically overwhelmed from the get-go.
Heyman laying down the gauntlet and threatening anyone who dared challenge Lesnar was a nice touch, and it set up a scenario in which someone eventually does step to Lesnar.
It was sheer brilliance from Heyman here as he continues to be one of the best talkers of his, or any, generation.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz
After kicking off the SummerSlam pay-per-view with a tremendously hard-fought match, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz once again squared off for the prestigious Intercontinental Championship.
Ziggler and The Miz traded headlocks early, with Ziggler gaining the upper hand.
Playing up the knee injury suffered last night at SummerSlam, Ziggler tweaked his knee, opening him up for a targeted attack at the hands of the challenger as we headed to break.
The Miz continued to work over the knee as we returned from commercial, but Ziggler fought out and delivered a sunset flip for a two-count. Unfortunately for the champion, the knee continued to hamper the him.
A superkick attempt was blocked by The Miz, who applied the Figure Four leg lock and nearly forced a tapout from The Showoff. Ziggler made it to the ropes, however, forcing the break and keeping him alive in the match for the time being.
Moments later, The Miz scored the win via count-out as Ziggler was left lying at ringside.
After the match, an irate Miz bounced Ziggler's face off the announce table, then sent him back-first into the ring apron. Back inside the ring, though, the champion delivered the Zig Zag to the delight of the fans.
The Miz wins via count-out.
Highlights and Quotes
"You did this!"—Ziggler to the fans on his way to the ring, acknowledging their continued support and the effect it had on his title victory at SummerSlam.
"But he's still an A-lister."—JBL trying to make up for The Miz's title loss at SummerSlam.
"He should be given an Academy Award for that performance."—JBL on Ziggler "faking" his knee injury.
It was a very solid match between Ziggler and The Miz, who appear unable to have a bad one.
Miz targeting the left knee of his opponent was a nice play on the events from SummerSlam and put Ziggler's title in very real jeopardy. The count-out finish keeps the rivalry alive, something that will ultimately benefit the Intercontinental Championship.
Jack Swagger vs. Cesaro
Jack Swagger vowed to pick himself up like any good American as he squared off with former tag team partner Cesaro.
Cesaro wisely targeted the ribs of his opponent. Swagger attempted a comeback, but Cesaro locked in an abdominal stretch. The former world champion hip-tossed his way out of the hold, but The Swiss Superman again caught him with a shot to the ribs and went back to work on the injury.
Cesaro fought out of a suplex attempt, delivered a knee to the midsection and suplexed him rib-first into the top rope. He charged at Swagger with a big boot but found himself trapped in the Patriot Lock. He made his way to the ropes, caught Swagger with a thumb to the eye and finished him with the Neutralizer for the win.
After the match, Bo Dallas appeared to give some inspiration to Swagger.
Cesaro wins, via pinfall, following the Neutralizer.
Highlights and Quotes
"Swagger is not even close to 100 percent it doesn't look like."—JBL.
"Wouldn't you be all out of whack if you let your entire country down?"—JBL.
"318 million...that's how many Americans were let down at SummerSlam when you lost that Flag match to Rusev. And look at you now, losing again. You lost your manager Zeb Colter; you've lost your self-respect. You lost your dignity. But you can get it all back. You just have to Bo-Lieve!"—Dallas.
The constant complaining by JBL about being disappointed by Swagger's loss was incredibly obnoxious and hurt the overall presentation of the match, which was mediocre at best.
The involvement of Bo Dallas after the contest opens up Swagger for a feud with the inspirational Superstar. With nothing else for either to do at this point, there are far worse ways to utilize their talents than booking them against each other.
And Cesaro won, so there's that.
Roman Reigns, Rob Van Dam and Sheamus vs. Randy Orton and RybAxel
The issues between Roman Reigns and Randy Orton are well-documented, but Rob Van Dam and Sheamus have problems with RybAxel dating back to last week's Main Event, where both teams unsuccessfully challenged the Usos for the tag titles.
Sheamus and Curtis Axel started the match, but Orton quickly tagged in. Sheamus survived a targeted attack by The Viper and tagged in Van Dam, who delivered Rolling Thunder as we headed to break.
Back from commercial, Sheamus fought Axel off, delivering a series of forearms to the chest and then doing the same to Ryback. Strong teamwork from Orton, Axel and Ryback led to Sheamus spilling to the arena floor and the heels taking control with a vicious side suplex onto the barricade at the timekeeper's position.
A huge "Feed Me More" chant broke out as the hometown crowd applauded the Big Guy Ryback. He exploded into the match, delivering 10 shoulder blocks to the midsection of the United States champion. A big vertical suplex continued Ryback's dominance over Sheamus.
White Noise to Orton allowed Sheamus to inch toward his corner and make the hot tag to Reigns, who immediately delivered a Samoan Drop to Axel and a big shot to Ryback.
The leaping boot to the face and a Superman Punch left Axel prone for the Spear, but Orton caught Reigns with a backbreaker. Van Dam tagged in and unleashed his fury on Axel. An RKO to Sheamus and a Spear to Orton occurred as the match broke down.
The Five Star Frog Splash to Axel won the match for the babyfaces.
Reigns, Van Dam and Sheamus win, via pinfall, when Van Dam pinned Axel.
Highlights and Quotes
"Orton wouldn't be above trying that again tonight in this match."—Jerry Lawler on Orton's attempted punt of Reigns at SummerSlam.
It was a great Six-Man Tag Team match that continued to highlight the feud between Reigns and Orton but also shined the spotlight on Ryback and Curtis Axel, who may be the most underrated tag team in all of professional wrestling.
The crowd greeted Ryback with a response befitting a returning hero, and he responded with the most inspired performance since his flirt with the main event two years ago.
The finish was super-hot, and Van Dam pinning Axel was a nice departure from Reigns flattening someone with a Spear and winning.
Overall, it was an outstanding match, the best of the evening thus far.
The Usos vs. Goldust and Stardust
After a disappointing loss to Heath Slater and Titus O'Neil on last week's show, Goldust and Stardust had an opportunity to get back to their winning ways against the Usos.
Jey Uso and Goldust started the match, with Jey getting the best of the face-painted veteran early.
Stardust tagged in and found himself isolated from his partner and at the mercy of the tag champions, who continued to show great teamwork against their opposition.
The crowd erupted with alternating chants as Jey trapped Stardust in a rear chinlock. Stardust fought to his feet and out of the hold but was suplexed, leading to a near-fall for the tag champs.
A sunset flip from out of nowhere won the match for Stardust and Goldust, potentially earning them a future title shot.
Goldust and Stardust win, via pinfall, when Stardust pinned Jey Uso.
Highlights and Quotes
"They're a bunch of weirdos. Who would want to hang out with people like them? I don't like them."—JBL on Goldust and Stardust.
"The Dust Brusters...it's like a combination of the dust brothers and the dust busters."—JBL.
It was a solid tag match that the above-average Las Vegas crowd was far more into than expected.
Stardust was the babyface in peril but also scored the win before making the hot tag, something that was unexpected and led to a surprise finish.
With so many tag teams throwing their hats into title contention, it appears as though WWE Creative is focusing its attention back on the art form.
And that is never a bad thing.
Rusev and Lana Promo
Just one night after standing tall, the Russian national anthem playing over the PA system, Rusev and Lana entered the arena to a chorus of boos.
Lana talked up Rusev's win from earlier in the night before Mark Henry made his way to the ring, much to the delight of the Las Vegas fans.
Henry discussed his Olympic appearances and became the latest to stand up for the United States.
Rusev sucker-punched Henry, who responded by blocking a superkick and delivering the World's Strongest Slam. A huge "USA" chant filled the arena and a big splash ended Rusev's bad night.
Highlights and Quotes
"I hope Mark Henry is as twerked off as I am."—JBL, grossly misusing twerk.
"I never had problem with anyone and representing their country's flags...except for the way you two jackasses do it."—Henry.
"I'm gonna give you a personal, guided tour into the Hall of Pain."—Henry.
Despite winning a big tag match earlier in the night and potentially earning a tag title opportunity, Mark Henry confronting Rusev seems to indicate that the two behemoths will be engaging in a rivalry in the coming weeks.
Monday night's segment was an outstanding way to introduce the rivalry to the fans and immediately establish Henry as the biggest threat the Bulgarian Brute has encountered thus far.
Falls Count Anywhere: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
Jerry Lawler revealed that the main event would be a Falls Count Anywhere match.
Rollins pounded away at Ambrose early before action spilled outside the ring and up onto the stage. A thrust to the throat by Ambrose led to a series of reversals before Ambrose delivered a suplex on the hard steel.
Ambrose pulled a number of chairs and a kendo stick from underneath the squared circle, then blasted Rollins with a chair shot to the ribs and a slam onto the same chair. An elbow drop from the middle rope with the assistance of said chair led to a near-fall in Ambrose's favor.
Rollins sent Ambrose face-first into a steel chair, giving him a moment to recover as we headed to break.
During the break, Rollins used the kendo stick on a diving Ambrose and continued his weapon-assisted assault.
A tornado DDT by Ambrose nearly won the Lunatic Fringe the match as he fought back from the punishment he had endured moments earlier. An attempt at Dirty Deeds was met with a back kick to the midsection and a Curb Stomp try. Ambrose avoided it and a double cross body block attempt left the Superstars on their backs.
Rollins tried to use the kendo stick to fight his way out of a slingshot but failed. A few cane shots by Ambrose and a Tommy Dreamer-inspired Russian leg sweep nearly won it for him.
Ambrose threw several chairs into the squared circle and set Rollins on the top rope. He teased a superplex attempt onto the heap of chairs, but Rollins blocked.
A running powerbomb by Rollins onto the chairs earned Rollins a near-fall but appeared to do as much damage to the former architect of The Shield as it did to Ambrose. Kane appeared at ringside as the match entered the home stretch.
Rollins grabbed a table from underneath the ring and set it up inside. Ambrose met Rollins on the top rope and delivered a big superplex through the table, much to the delight of a very vocal Las Vegas crowd.
Kane popped up on the apron and Ambrose knocked him off, sending Rollins out to meet him. Ambrose dove through the ropes and onto his rivals. A huge clothesline turned Rollins inside out, and Dirty Deeds appeared to be the end, but Kane pulled Ambrose out of the ring. A drop toehold into the steps subdued Kane, and a leap onto Rollins in the crowd popped the fans again.
Feeding off of the crowd, Ambrose set Rollins up for Dirty Deeds on the announce table, but Kane interfered, catching the unstable star with a chokeslam onto the table that allowed Rollins to deliver the Curb Stomp.
Kane revealed cinder blocks, which Rollins proceeded to deliver another Curb Stomp to Ambrose on.
Seth Rollins wins via referee decision.
Highlights and Quotes
"What's said on Facebook stays on Twitter right, Michael?"—JBL.
"You can't count out either one of them. It's Falls Count Anywhere."—JBL correcting Cole, who quickly forgot the stipulation.
Ambrose and Rollins delivered a match better than any on the SummerSlam card a night earlier, and while the finish may not have been one that was worthy of the action that preceded it, it does allow for the feud to continue. More importantly, it makes Rollins and Kane look like the most vile and dastardly villains on the roster, two men more concerned with ending Ambrose than beating him.
The match itself was wild and chaotic, and it perfectly suited both the styles of the competitors and the heated rivalry that necessitated it.
It was an absolutely amazing way to end a great episode of Raw.