WWE Raw Recap: July 16, 2018
S26 episode 29 Aired on July 16, 2018

After winning their respective Triple Threat Matches tonight on Raw, Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley will square off in a rematch of their WWE Extreme Rules confrontation, and the winner will challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam. Can The Big Dog punch his ticket to a showdown with The Beast, or will Lashley go 2-0 against The Guy en route to The Biggest Event of the Summer?

BUFFALO — Last night, Kurt Angle offered Brock Lesnar an ultimatum: Come to Raw, agree on a time and place for his next Universal Title challenge, or be stripped of the championship. The Beast didn’t obey Angle’s command to the letter — a flustered Paul Heyman emerged instead to insist Lesnar’s ultimate goal was to win the UFC Heavyweight Title while representing WWE as Universal Champion — but the message was nonetheless received. Thanks to Angle’s “hard bargain,” Lesnar will defend his title at SummerSlam, and while the challenger has yet to be determined, a familiar face is back in the running.

That would be Roman Reigns, the self-proclaimed “uncrowned Universal Champion” who won the first of two Triple Threats to advance him to a win-and-you’re-in match next week. In Reigns’ battle were Finn Bálor, who wanted to reclaim the title he never lost, and Drew McIntyre, who was looking to launch “Phase Two” of his master plan after helping Dolph Ziggler retain the Intercontinental Title. (The other three potential contenders — Bobby Lashley, Elias and Seth Rollins — were placed in the second Triple Threat).

For his part, Reigns said he wanted a fight at the beginning of the show. He certainly got one, as the match was, for the most part, a showcase for McIntyre’s newfound ruthlessness. Much of McIntyre's efforts were focused on Finn, but when The Scottish Terminator turned his attention to Reigns in the closing match, the Claymore intended for The Big Dog ended up rocking Finn instead. Reigns Superman Punched McIntyre out of the ring, flattened the punch-drunk Bálor with a Spear, and that was that.

Ronda Rousey came a fingertip away from finally getting her hands on Alexa Bliss last night, and now, The Baddest Woman on the Planet finally has a time and a place for when she’ll get to fight her for real — provided she serves a little extra time first.

Rowdy Ronda made her presence known during Bliss’ snarky victory lap in the wake of her WWE Extreme Rules victory over Nia Jax, emerging through the audience despite having two days left on her 30-day suspension. This time, Rousey caught Bliss as she attempted to flee, and it was only the arrival of Kurt Angle that prevented her from snapping The Goddess’ arm in the armbar.

Given that Rousey had violated her suspension, Angle had no choice but to extend her sentence by another week. (“Constable” Baron Corbin pushed for more, and when he threatened to protest to Stephanie McMahon, Angle stole The Lone Wolf’s phone to lead him on a wild goose chase). But Angle offered a carrot in addition to the stick: A match against Bliss at SummerSlam for the Raw Women’s Championship. All Rousey has to do is toe the line. Whether that's too much to ask of her, of course, remains to be seen.

Bobby Lashley claimed he returned to WWE to make a play for the Universal Championship. He’s now one step closer to that goal, having defeated Elias and Seth Rollins in the night’s second Triple Threat, earning himself a second date with Roman Reigns where a SummerSlam title match with The Beast hangs in the balance.

That said, Elias certainly did his best to steal Lashley’s thunder, as The Living Truth dished out knees to anything with a pulse to gain an early lead. Elias stayed steady in the eye of the storm even as the chaos of the Triple Threat began to build and Rollins kicked into overdrive in response, targeting both his opponents at once. But thanks to a last-second breakup of the Stomp by Lashley, the fight rolled on, and the former ECW Champion scored the win with a Spear to Elias after the guitarist hauled Rollins out of the ring. One more win, and Lashley has Brock Lesnar. Two more, and he has the Universal Title.

In other action … Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler def. Bobby Roode … Mojo Rawley def. Tyler Breeze … Alicia Fox & Dana Brooke def. Bayley & Sasha Banks via Disqualification … Raw Tag Team Champions The B-Team def. The Ascension … and The Authors of Pain def. Titus Worldwide … Sarah Logan def. Ember Moon.

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