Brock Lesnar returned at last Sunday’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view in Philadelphia to cash in his Money In The Bank Briefcase and defeat Seth Rollins, who had just been victorious with partner Becky Lynch over Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans in front of a large crowd at the Wells Fargo Center, to regain the Universal championship and establish himself as one of the main event performers for SummerSlam.
For better or worse, the following night on Raw saw Rollins win a 10-man battle royal to become the number one contender for the belt he lost to Lesnar, setting up a rematch at SS that seems to have limited enthusiasm. Perhaps it feels too much like a “been there, done that “ kind of thing. There seems to be a sentiment out there among some that Braun Strowman, who defeated Bobby Lashley in a Last Man Standing bout at Extreme Rules, would have been a better choice as the new contender at SS. Others feel Lashley against Lesnar would carry more intrigue due to their backgrounds in mixed martial arts fighting, but for now it is apparently going to be Lesnar defending against Rollins again in a Mania rematch.
A seemingly renewed Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Finn Balor, who is expected to take some time off after SummerSlam, to capture the Intercontinental title in a rematch from their non-title affair on Raw the Monday before that was actually a better match because it was given a more appropriate amount of time for the talents of the two guys. Drew Gulak retained the cruiserweight championship with a win over Tony Neese and the Revival was able to hold onto their tag straps with a victory in a real solid tag effort over the Usos. Bayley managed to keep the Smackdown women’s crown in a handicap match over Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross.
Aleister Black upended Cesaro in a very well-wrestled tussle and AJ Styles, with some help from his old friends from the Club, defeated Ricochet to grab the United States championship. Big E and Xavier Woods teamed to capture the Smackdown tag team titles by defeating Daniel Bryan and Rowan and Heavy Machinery. Kevin Owens took quick care of Dolph Ziggler with a stunner and cut a babyface promo on Shane McMahon. Samoa Joe failed to unseat Kofi Kingston as WWE champion in their encounter. Roman Reigns and Undertaker teamed to beat Drew McIntyre and Shane McMahon in another good endeavor with Undertaker looking quicker and crisper than in recent appearances. All in all, Extreme Rules was a long, but very eventful show with a number of title changes and a pretty lively crowd reacting enthusiastically for most of the big spots when they occurred-no small task for a card that ran over four hours.
Besides the battle royal to determine the top contender for Lesnar at SS, Samoa Joe defeated Finn Balor in a little over a minute at Raw. Miz and Ziggler appeared to start a program with less than congenial exchanges on the microphone. R-Truth beat Drake Maverick in his hotel room to regain the 24/7 comedy belt. Smackdown saw Joe, Orton and Elias defeat the New Day in a six-man tag. Shane and Owens continued their spat with other wrestlers taking sides. Ali came out to challenge Nakamura as more of the SummerSlam card began to build.
Tomorrow night’s Raw will be the big reunion show with lots of former stars scheduled to appear on the extravaganza. Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, Diesel, Mick Foley, Ron Simmons, Booker T, Jerry Lawler, Ted DiBiase, Pat Patterson, Kurt Angle, X-Pac, Christian, D-Von Dudley, Rikishi, Sgt. Slaughter and Jimmy Hart are among those named for cameo appearances. It will be an easy ratings winner to have all of those stars assemble on Monday night, but they might be better off advertising that a big name from the past will be returning every Monday night and spreading out some of the nostalgia. They should at least run a major angle for SummerSlam involving current roster wrestlers with bigger than normal numbers guaranteed to be watching.
Braun Strowman has apparently signed a four-year contract extension that will keep him with WWE and away from AEW. Mickie James is reportedly recovering from successful ACL surgery. Former NWA champion Harley Race is currently hospitalized and said to be battling lung cancer according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.