Raw Recap: August 1, 2016
Aired on August 1, 2016

After Paul Heyman celebrated the “politically incorrect” form of entertainment Brock Lesnar will bring to his SummerSlam bout with Randy Orton in three weeks, SmackDown Live Superstar Randy Orton stormed the ring and laid out The Beast Incarnate with a well-timed RKO! What repercussions await The Viper following this attack?

Finn Bálor has arrived, and all he has to do is get past Seth Rollins to become the first WWE Universal Champion. Rollins, of course, isn’t buying the hype, and he laid out a case for his own superiority under the caveats that he was the first of the two to achieve all of Bálor’s signature accomplishments. Bálor countered that he’s beaten no shortage of competitors who referred to themselves as “The Man,” and he was the only of the two of them to earn the Universal Title Match at SummerSlam, as Rollins was handed his own spot. That riled Rollins, but his attempts to sucker-punch the Irishman landed him a boot to the gut and a Pele Kick to the dome.

Know this about Seth Freaking Rollins: He will not be humiliated twice in one night. After landing on the wrong end of a tussle with Finn Bálor, The Architect saved face in a one-on-one bout against Sami Zayn later in the night, though The Underdog from the Underground proved a tougher opponent than Rollins might have liked.

Riding off the confidence of having beaten Kevin Owens at WWE Battleground, Zayn rallied from nearly every big move Rollins threw his way. He seemingly had the bout won after he gritted his way to a late-game Blue Thunder Bomb, tightrope DDT and plancha to the outside. But The Architect’s last-second dodge of a Helluva Kick offered all the opening he needed, as Zayn bounced off the turnbuckle straight into the waiting embrace of a Pedigree. It marked a big win for Rollins on his road to SummerSlam, but it was probably closer than he hoped.

Sheamus and Cesaro have been two unexpected question marks since the beginning of the New Era, and they’re not happy about it. That explains why they got in Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley’s face about it, but the surprise came in the Raw showrunners’ reaction. The Hardcore Legend first offered explanations for their current predicaments — he thinks Sheamus hit a plateau following his Money in the Bank cash-in, and Cesaro fell in the draft due to his injury history. But then he offered them the chance to impress him in a one-on-one bout, with a twist: Whichever was the most impressive would receive a championship match down the line.

Extra incentive is all well and good, of course, and it got the desire effect. The King of Swing and Celtic Warrior’s bout of one-upmanship swung (get it?) in Cesaro’s favor when he spun his way out of a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and applied the Neutralizer for the win. Though the two Superstars ended up brawling so frantically that it took a cavalcade of referees to separate them.

Ever since Raw and SmackDown Live were split into two separate fiefdoms, it was only a matter of time before one Superstar was brazen enough to cross enemy lines. That being said, it’s unlikely anybody expected it to happen two weeks in, and even fewer people could have expected it to be at the expense of Brock Lesnar. Making his grand return, The Beast Incarnate was basking in his own glory while Paul Heyman offered a soaring proclamation of Lesnar’s superiority, capped off by the declaration that Randy Orton would never and could never hit an RKO outta nowhere on his client.

Moments later, of course, Randy Orton hit an RKO outta nowhere on his client. The Apex Predator hopped the barricade, stormed the ring and planted The Beast with his signature maneuver before fleeing through the crowd while Lesnar stewed in the ring and Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley attempted to restore order. And why wouldn’t Lesnar be mad? Suplex City — and Monday Night Raw — just got annexed into Viperville.

In other action... Charlotte & Chris Jericho def. WWE Women’s Champion Sasha Banks & Enzo Amore... Braun Strowman def. Evan Anderholm... The Shining Stars def. The Golden Truth... U.S. Champion Rusev def. Mark Henry... Titus O'Neil def. Darren Young... Nia Jax def. Ariel Monroe... WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day def. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson... and Jinder Mahal def. Heath Slater to earn a Raw contract.

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