Once a Shield brother, always a Shield brother. Sidelined since December, Dean Ambrose made a surprise return during Monday Night Raw while Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler were signing the contract for their Intercontinental Championship Match at SummerSlam. With The Lunatic Fringe in his corner at The Biggest Event of the Summer to counter the threat of Drew McIntyre, is The Kingslayer primed to unseat The Showoff?
In the wake of the passing of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Ronda Rousey opened Raw by taking to the ring and offering a eulogy for her friend Natalya’s father. “Our fathers are our pillars of strength in a hostile world,” said Rousey. “They are our reassurance that everything is going to be okay. But when that reassurance is ripped away, we have to face the fact that our fathers have been raising us to be the pillars of strength our families need when they’re gone.”
As a final message to her friend, Rousey added, “Stay strong, Natalya Neidhart. We all love you.” The WWE Universe did the rest, raining down chants of “Nattie!” as a tribute to The Queen of Harts and her family.
Paul Heyman’s not up for an Emmy, but maybe he should be. As bereft and bleary-eyed as Brock Lensar's advocate seemed last week after being manhandled by the Universal Champion, it turned out that he’d simply participated in an elaborate con designed to lull Roman Reigns into the falsest sense of security possible going into the Universal Title Match at SummerSlam.
It was a swindling so convincing The Big Dog wasn’t even able to sniff it out this week, when Heyman, still playing the part of a free-agent kingmaker, returned to seemingly offer Reigns his services as advocate, complete with inside info on Lesnar's gameplan for SummerSlam. Reigns was understandably suspicious, so Heyman repeated a lesson The Big Dog’s father imparted on them both (in the native Samoan, no less) before producing an agreement in principle that he asked The Big Dog to consider.
But Reigns never really got to take a look at the paper, as Heyman attacked the three-time WWE Champion with pepper spray he had concealed in his suit. That opened the door for Lesnar to emerge, unannounced, and annihilate the blinded Reigns with a barrage of knees to the chest, a suffocating guillotine that put the challenger to sleep and, when Reigns dared to stir, a furious F-5.
The problem hasn’t been that Seth Rollins can’t beat Dolph Ziggler so much as that he hasn’t had an answer for Drew McIntyre. But thanks to some shrewd negotiation and waiting until the opportune moment, The Kingslayer may have finally evened the odds against the Intercontinental Champion.
With Rollins supposedly waylaid by travel issues, Raw General Manager Kurt Angle was left to negotiate alone with the Intercontinental Champion and his heavy in advance of the planned Ziggler-Rollins contract signing for their SummerSlam match. It was all smooth sailing, save for one curious development: If Ziggler wanted to keep Drew McIntyre in his corner, he would have to agree to a contractual proviso that allowed The Kingslayer to have a second of his own.
With Roman Reigns laid up by Paul Heyman’s pepper spray and Tyler Breeze destroyed by Constable Baron Corbin (thus thwarting the prospective formation of “CrossFit Breeze-us” for a second week), Rollins seemed to be all alone. That cleared the runway for Ziggler to reveal why he’d been able to one-up Rollins all this time: The Architect fights for the WWE Universe, and Dolph gave up on them a long time ago. These days, he places his faith instead in McIntyre, who truly has his back no matter what. The Showoff signed the contract, and Angle seemed ready to call it a forfeit until Rollins finally made his entrance.
As it turns out, Rollins had been in the arena for a while; he just wanted to wait until Ziggler signed the deal so the champion couldn’t back out. And he had that proviso put in for a very specific reason, and the travel issues weren't exactly his. And he already had his backup: A buzz-cut, bulked-up, and frothing-mad Dean Ambrose, who returned from injury to join Rollins in a joint beatdown of Ziggler and McIntyre before The Kingslayer finally signed his contract. It appears Rollins finally has his answer, and Dolph Ziggler might just have a problem.
In other action … Ember Moon def. Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss via Disqualification … Constable Baron Corbin def. Tyler Breeze … Braun Strowman & Finn Bálor def. Kevin Owens & Jinder Mahal … An Elias-inspired local competitor attacked Bobby Lashley … Raw Tag Team Champions The B-Team def. "Woken" Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt and The Revival … Bobby Roode & Titus Worldwide def. Mojo Rawley & The Authors of Pain … and Ruby Riott def. Sasha Banks.