Raw Recap: August 22, 2016
Aired on August 22, 2016

The Demon King has abdicated the throne.

Less than 24 hours after defeating Seth Rollins to become the first-ever WWE Universal Champion, Finn Bálor was forced to relinquish the title to Raw General Manager Mick Foley and Commissioner Stephanie McMahon, having suffered a right shoulder injury at The Architect’s hands during their historic clash. Unfortunately, Rollins cut Bálor’s hope for a clean exit short and wasted no time in attempting to cobble together a case for him to inherit the now-vacant championship.

The Architect certainly had company in that regard. Sami Zayn, Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens were quick to name themselves as worthy of a title opportunity, as did Roman Reigns and, surprisingly, Enzo Amore & Big Cass. Foley provided the solution, sanctioning four qualifying bouts for a match next week to determine a new Universal Champion. First up? Rollins and Zayn, and The Architect kicked things off in underhanded fashion, cheap-shotting Zayn while he was busy staring down Owens.

Give Seth Rollins this much: He does not let disappointment keep him down for long. The Architect stayed firmly in the running for the WWE Universal Championship by denying one of his would-be usurpers, Sami Zayn, in a singles match. The win landed Rollins a spot in a Fatal 4-Way for the title next week on Raw.

It was, ironically, a landing that cost Zayn the match — specifically, a bad one off a springboard that tweaked his ankle and gave Rollins an opening. Even a one-legged Zayn was surprisingly difficult pickings for The Architect (a sit-out, sunset flip powerbomb nearly ended the match), though having the Helluva Kick taken from him proved to be a handicap Zayn couldn’t surpass. A Pedigree spelled the end of a bout that was much closer than Rollins is likely willing to admit.

Everyone knows Kevin Owens thinks he’s the baddest cat in the room on any given day. He might soon be the baddest cat in the universe. The Prizefighter is headed to next week’s Fatal 4-Way Match for the WWE Universal Championship, having left Neville in his wake in the second of Raw’s qualifying matches for next week’s marquee clash.

He owes Chris Jericho a big hug for lending a hand, though. The Man That Gravity Forgot was running roughshod over KO in the early openings until “Jeri” came to “KO’s” aid, allowing Owens to land a barbaric clothesline on his foe. Jericho interfered again when Neville set up for the Red Arrow, and this time it helped Owens secure the win, as he tripped his opponent up on the turnbuckle and quickly administered a spinning torture rack neckbreaker to earn the win.

This right here? This is Big Cass, and he … he beat Rusev? For what it’s worth, upending The Super Athlete is something that certainly can’t be taught, and the Queens-born 7-footer did just that, earning a major upset over the U.S. Champion to place himself in the running for the WWE Universal Title.

To be fair to The Bulgarian Brute, he started the bout behind the eight ball, as the beating he took from Roman Reigns at SummerSlam left him with bruised ribs and less-than-full mobility. But Cass delivered an impressive performance all the same, one that kicked into high gear when Rusev kicked Enzo Amore in the head on the outside. From there, Big Cass was off to the races, hammering away on Rusev’s torso and forcing the U.S. Champion to throw up his hands and leave rather than take any more punishment.

It would appear that Chris Jericho is not gonna get itIt, of course, is referring to the WWE Universal Championship. Roman Reigns might just get it, however, having given it to Jericho in Raw’s main event to earn a spot in next week’s historic Fatal 4-Way WWE Universal Championship Match. Reigns took quite a beating before he was able to give one back, including a thumb to the eye that kept the former WWE World Champion on his heels for a good portion of the match.

With Jericho in the driver’s seat, Reigns had to work twice as hard to dig himself out of the proverbial hole. He encountered another obstacle when Kevin Owens came to Jericho’s aid and started throwing superkicks in Reigns’ direction. Unfortunately, miscommunication and a late rally from Reigns earned Owens a Superman Punch, at which point Jericho got it — or in this case, a Spear.

In other action... WWE Tag Team Champion Big E def. Karl Anderson... Titus O’Neil called out Darren Young... Bayley def. Dana Brooke... Braun Strowman def. Johnny Knockout... and The Shining Stars confronted The Dudley Boyz.

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