Raw Recap: August 29, 2016
S2016 episode 1214 Aired on August 29, 2016

We have a problem: The WWE Universal Championship is vacant, and all four Superstars set to duke it out in a Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match almost didn’t wait until the bout to start throwing hands. Gathered ostensibly under the pretense of a group Corey Graves interview, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Big Cass instead started chucking thinly veiled insults at each other (Cass got a particularly good burn in on Rollins), while Roman Reigns was conspicuous by his silence. Only when Rollins attempted to goad The Big Dog into chiming in did the former WWE World Champion respond. He punched Owens in the face, kicking off a massive brawl, which he also finished when he sent Rollins tumbling from the ring.

Apparently, attacking a referee and F-5ing Shane McMahon is only worth about $500 in penalties these days. So it’s understandable that Paul Heyman showed up to pay Brock Lesnar’s fine with a spring in his step over not having to shell out more. That said, “The One Behind the One in 23-1” may have overestimated how cavalier Stephanie McMahon would allow him to be following Lesnar’s attack of her brother.

When Heyman attempted to pay off The Beast’s punishment in singles and give a backhanded, roundabout apology, Stephanie got in his face. The promise of further punishment at her hand was enough to goad Heyman to cut to the chase and apologize, though the sinister smirk on his face after Stephanie left suggested Heyman might have more of a long game in mind than anyone realizes.

The WWE Universe knew it was only a matter of time before Triple H returned. That being said, it’s unlikely that anybody saw this coming, nevermind which of his onetime mentees reaped the benefits of The King of Kings’ return during the Fatal 4-Way WWE Universal Championship Elimination Match. It wasn’t Big Cass, whose Cinderella story came to an end early on after a Superman Punch from Roman Reigns, kick to the face from Seth Rollins and, finally, a Frog Splash from Kevin Owens knocked “Don Parmesan” out of the running.

It seemed, after a while, that Reigns had the bout in hand until Triple H stormed from the timekeeper’s area to throw a wrench in the whole thing. First, he Pedigreed Reigns — no surprise there — and fed him to Rollins. The Architect was all smiles, clearly believing The Game was gift-wrapping the win for his former protégé after Triple H brought a KO’d Owens into the ring to be finished off. Things quickly took a turn, however, when The Game laid Rollins out with a Pedigree of his own — big surprise there, especially to a gobsmacked Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley — and all but handed The Architect’s prone body to Owens on a platter. In other words: Seth Freaking Rollins? Out. Kevin Yanick Owens? WWE Universal Champion.

In other action... Chris Jericho def. Neville... Nia Jax def. Hyan... Sami Zayn def. Jinder Mahal... WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day & Bayley def. Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson & Dana Brooke... Sheamus def. Cesaro; leads the Best of Seven Series 2-0... Braun Strowman def. Americo... and Darren Young def. Titus O'Neil.