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WWE Raw results, recap, reactions (Aug. 17, 2015): Identity crisis

WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Aug. 17, 2015) from Minneapolis, Minnesota with all the latest build to the upcoming SummerSlam pay-per-view (PPV) scheduled for this coming Sunday night in Brooklyn. That included Undertaker and Brock Lesnar meeting in the same ring once more.

Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.


All my life, who am I?

Undertaker is dealing with an identity crisis.

After a long and, by any measure, wildly successful career, Undertaker started winding down. He came around less, only bothering to get up long enough to defend his fabled undefeated streak at WrestleMania. It wasn't long before that's what he became. It's who he was.

Then, it was taken from him.

Brock Lesnar, this beast who has haunted "The Phenom" all throughout his legendary career, showed up at WrestleMania 30, beat Undertaker from pillar to post, concussed him, and pinned him 1-2-3 in the middle of the ring. Just like that, the very thing that defined him was gone.

How the hell do you confront that?

Think of how you viewed Undertaker the minute he lost that match. Suddenly, he didn't look so invincible; that supernatural aura that surrounded him throughout his career was gone. He just looked like a beaten old man whose time had passed him by.

Now imagine, then, being that beaten old man. When you look in the mirror, do you accept what you see as truth? Or do you reject it outright, thereby committing yourself to the arduous task of proving it wrong?

We see now what path Undertaker chose. He does not accept that his time has passed. He returned at WrestleMania 31 to beat a lesser man in Bray Wyatt. It gave him confidence. It restored some semblance of balance to his delicate psyche. Perhaps, at the time, that's all he had in mind. Perhaps, at the time, that was enough to live with the loss.

But that damn Paul Heyman just wouldn't shut up about it. The older you get, the longer it takes your body to heal itself. He wasn't yet scarred; no, that wound was still a scab, and the most gifted speaker around used his words as weapons to continuously rip that scab away, exposing the broken flesh to the open air and the painful realization that, yes, you are no longer undefeated at WrestleMania. Your streak is dead. Or, as Paul so eloquently put it, you may have sold your soul to the devil but your ass belongs to Brock Lesnar.

Again, a meeting with the mirror.



Balance, once more, is lost. Desperation turns honorable men despicable. There's no avoiding what it means to reject what seems so clear to the rest of us. So Undertaker waited for the right time and he made his move, costing Lesnar the WWE world heavyweight championship at Battleground and ensuring a match between the two.

That move being a swift kick to the nuts.

This led to a brawl at a later time, one no one got the better of it.

Then, just last night, he used another swift kick to the nuts.

The implication is clear: Undertaker has to get revenge on the man who took his streak -- his very identity -- and he is willing to do whatever it takes to do so. That he used such means indicates a clear awareness that he knows what it will take to defeat the monster he's facing, the monster who took everything away from him. And, in his vulnerable state, while struggling with the nature of the reality he's been running from ever since that fateful night in New Orleans in 2014, he justifies it as a means to an end. Or, rather, his desire to avoid the end.

How far will he go? What will that mean when the bell rings and it's time to go the full nine yards? How low will he stoop in his quest to regain his own sense of self? And will Brock ultimately be the man who forces him to accept the inevitable?

SummerSlam can't get here soon enough.


All the best to all the rest

John Cena owns: I was going to write a detailed bit on Cena's promo on Seth Rollins during their contract signing but decided to dedicate all that space to the Undertaker-Lesnar story. Also, what is there to add to how amazing that promo was? Cena set up a clear story for his match with Rollins, and an added layer of intrigue involving Triple H: He is dangerously close to breaking Ric Flair's record for world title reigns, and it's a problem The Authority does not want to confront. Don't be surprised if there are shenanigans in this match. That said, they've managed to get me behind Cena and wanting him to break Rollins' jaw just so he'll finally shut the hell up with his meandering promos. It's fitting he's a Triple H study because he's basically the same guy and it's unbearable.

Randy Orton & Cesaro vs. Sheamus & Kevin Owens: It's a WWE mantra on a go home show to take two singles matches set for the PPV that weekend and mix and match tag teams. It worked in this case, mostly because the crowds are really getting behind babyface Cesaro and he's rewarding them with his usual awesome wrestling that looks that much more awesome with WWE actually getting behind it. Plus, you get the standard RKO and big pop to go along with it. Super standard stuff here, but it was fun enough.

Dead man speaking: A dead dude claiming to be the reaper showed up in a room of smoke on Raw and no one made a big deal of this. That could be because he appeared to fall asleep at one point.

Roman Reigns vs. Luke Harper: Dean Ambrose on commentary was just what the booker ordered for a match that had no heat. That tends to happen when you work holds right from the opening bell. I'm starting to wonder if they're not pushing the brotherhood angle between Reigns and Ambrose so hard to create the impression a turn is coming at SummerSlam so the real swerve comes when it doesn't happen. At least it provides some badly needed intrigue. All they did here was give us a sloppy match with bad timing and execution while Bray Wyatt literally just sat in a chair looking mildly annoyed to even be there. Then, follow the buzzards, because formula.

Tamina vs. Becky Lynch: There wasn't all that much to this but it warms my mark heart to watch Becky winning matches on Raw.

Rusev vs. Mark Henry: I like that even within the story that Henry is a jobber putting Rusev over, they booked him to valiantly fight back in the Accolade. He failed, sure, but he's becoming Jack Swagger in that he's trying so hard to beat Rusev and he just can't do it. Never give up, Mark.

Dolph Ziggler returns: But how bout that pop tho? One thing you can always count on is fans supporting Ziggler disproportionate to his actual push. He's been the worst part of this entire angle with Lana, Rusev, and Summer Rae and he's getting the biggest pop. A return after weeks away guarantees as much, sure, but that crowd ate that up. All that said, he definitely tried to superkick Hot Summer. You all saw it. Unforgivable.

Ryback vs. The Miz: I've had my problems with Big Show on WWE television for the better part of the past 20 years but I would absolutely welcome him on the commentary team. Meanwhile, Miz is the only reason to care about any of this if you're not a small child into how colorful THE BIG GUY looks executing power moves. I did like that suplex into the Shell Shock finish.

Tag team action: With three hours of television, you would think WWE would have more time to tell actual stories for each one of its ongoing programs. Nope. Like my main man Sean mentioned on Twitter, it was more like "here's a match, enjoy it a little? It will mean something at the PPV, so pay for it." Hard to justify.

HOLY HELL: King Barrett reinvented his career. This couldn't possibly get better.

Nikki Bella vs. Sasha Banks: This is where I have a problem with calling this a Divas Revolution when you're giving away a Champion vs. Champion match for free on a Raw show without a title on the line in a bad time slot while one champion is rumored to be dealing with a back injury and the other champion gets a jobber entrance. What's more, Sasha is defending her NXT women's title at a live special this weekend and her championship was nowhere to be found. What?!? It's lazy. It's harmful to the stated goals. It makes no sense. Then we're getting these really weird WWE defenders saying "well, it was technically the main event since it was the last match of the night." No. The main event is whatever goes on last. That's it. The spot before the main event is arguably the worst spot possible in pro wrestling because it's often used as a cool down period. Putting this match in this spot on this night in this manner is a big step back.

There was some great on this show, and plenty of fluff that wasn't worth the time.

Grade: C+

That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?

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