Monday Night RAW was, once again, mostly uninspiring. As the go-home show for the SummerSlam pay-per-view, WWE needed to build things up properly for the scheduled matches at that event. But for the most part, there was little to get excited about with regard to these matches, and little to be excited about on RAW itself.

Why did WWE put Rusev vs. Roman Reigns on free TV?

Although it was a good match when it was all said and done, with Roman Reigns winning, the decision to have him fight United States Champion Rusev in a non-title match to main event RAW was a confusing one.

These two men, after all, are set to face off for the U.S. title at SummerSlam this Sunday. But to give Rusev credit, he did a great job with the opening promo, stating that “there will be no RAW” and that he will not be leaving the ring until Reigns apologizes for ruining his wedding celebration in the previous week’s episode. This brought out RAW general manager Mick Foley and commissioner Stephanie McMahon, but it was still strange for Rusev and Reigns (who was getting a lot of “USA!” cheers from the audience) to fight on free TV.

Arguably, there were better ways to move their feud forward in the last RAW before SummerSlam, though the Rusev promo did show how far he has come on the mic since debuting in WWE.

Midcard matches did little on RAW

Once again, midcard action was not something to write home about, may it be on SmackDown Live, or this time on RAW. The Prime Time Players vs. The Shining Stars was weird, as it saw Titus O’Neil and Darren Young seemingly put their differences behind them, only for the former to turn on the latter and solidify his back-to-heel status.

But it was more disconcerting to see the midcard SummerSlam matches get such poor buildup.

In tag team competition, The New Day and The Club defeated rather insignificant opponents (40-something tag teams The Dudley Boyz and The Golden Truth respectively). Whatever character development we saw from The New Day in their quick feud versus The Wyatt Family went out the window, as their humor continued to be more sophomoric and juvenile than usual, while The Club didn’t do much to make them look like credible challengers to the WWE Tag Team titles.

Also failing to inspire was the ongoing Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens feud, as their SummerSlam rivalry, despite the decent quality of the RAW matches surrounding it, still feels like it was thrown together at the last minute.

Once again, great main event segments save the day

Fortunately, main event action was the saving grace, preventing this week’s RAW from being totally forgettable. Seth Rollins and Finn Balor had another big confrontation in anticipation of their WWE Universal title match at SummerSlam, with Balor unveiling his “Demon King” persona for the first time on RAW.

Rollins was great as the skillful, yet insincere and cowardly heel, and his match against Balor for the new, and still-vacant Universal Championship should be one of SummerSlam’s big highlights.

We also got to witness another compelling promo from Paul Heyman, hyping up Brock Lesnar’s upcoming match against Randy Orton, only to be interrupted by Heath Slater, who continued his “free agent” shtick on RAW. In a rare speaking part, Lesnar told Slater that he has children too, but that he “doesn’t care for (his) children.” He then blasted Slater with a German suplex and an F-5 when he wouldn’t take the opportunity to walk out of the ring unharmed.

Quick results:

Sami Zayn d. Sheamus

The New Day d. The Dudley Boyz

Nia Jax d. Rachel Levy (local talent)

Big Cass d. Kevin Owens (DQ)

The Shining Stars d. The Prime Time Players

Neville d. Jinder Mahal

The Club d. The Golden Truth

Roman Reigns d. Rusev (non-title match)

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