With the belt now off the often-absent Brock Lesnar, the Universal Championship can go back to being the centerpiece of great matches and exciting twists on Monday Night RAW. The night after Roman Reigns won the championship from the Beast Incarnate at SummerSlam, we saw:
- Finn Balor get a shot at the goal he’s been pursuing for years
- One of WWE’s most dominant and popular factions reunite.
- Braun Strowman show he still isn’t finished with the Big Dog.
Let’s break down what led us to that crazy main event for RAW’s top championship—and even crazier reunion—on August 20, 2018.
On RAW, Seth Rollins betrays the other two members of The Shield—Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose—to join The Authority. It’s the shocking end of possibly the most dominant faction in WWE history.
Brock Lesnar defends his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Roman Reigns. In what is dubbed “The Heist of the Century,” Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to make the match a triple threat, pinning Reigns to win the championship from Lesnar.
Finn Balor defeats Seth Rollins to become the first ever WWE Universal Champion. However, during the match, Balor injures his shoulder and is out of in-ring competition for months—having to vacate the title immediately.
Brock Lesnar defeats Goldberg to become the fourth Universal Champion.
Strowman starts attacking Reigns wherever and whenever he can. Though they eventually start feuding with other people, Braun’s roar of “I’m not finished with you!” continues to ring in fans’ minds.
Lesnar successfully defends his championship—as well as his and Paul Heyman’s continued presence in WWE—in a Fatal Four-Way against Reigns, Braun Strowman, and Samoa Joe.
The Shield reunites. Ambrose and Rollins had been working as a tag team, but it took the combined threats of The Miz, The Bar, and Braun Strowman for the Hounds of Justice to finally come together again.
Dean Ambrose injures his shoulder, requiring surgery and taking him out of in-ring competition for months. The Shield reunion seemed to be over.
In the first match on the official card, Seth Rollins wins the Intercontinental Championship. In the main event, Lesnar retains the Universal Championship against Reigns.
Lesnar again retains the Universal Championship against Reigns, this time in a steel cage match. The win, however, is controversial.
Braun Strowman wins the MITB ladder match, and becomes “Mr. Monster in the Bank.”
Dean Ambrose returns from injury to help out his old friend Seth Rollins against Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre.
In the seeming conclusion of a years-long rivalry, Reigns defeats Lesnar to become Universal Champion. During the match, Lesnar stops Braun Strowman from cashing in.
August 20, 2018
The night after SummerSlam, Reigns vows to be a fighting champion and immediately offers Balor a chance to regain the title he never lost in the main event. Backstage, Braun tells his sometimes-partner, sometimes-opponent Balor that he’s looking to cash in his contract tonight. Also during the show, Ambrose and Rollins show off their incredible teamwork when Rollins fends off McIntyre to stop him from interfering in Ambrose’s match with Ziggler.
The main event
Finn Balor and Roman Reigns have a banger of a match during which Strowman comes out, distracting the men in the ring. Reigns pins Balor, and Strowman immediately tries to cash in. But before the match can start, the Ambrose and Rollins, in full Shield gear, shockingly run out to help the Big Dog and beat down the Monster Among Men.
The end of RAW showed that the Universal Championship picture is so much different than it was even the week before. Will Balor keep hunting for the title? Will Strowman try to cash in during one of Roman’s matches again, and will the Shield again come together to stop him? And what will become of the looming threat of Brock Lesnar, who Paul Heyman says still wants a rematch sometime in the future? We can guess, but at this point, all we know is that anything could happen.