It’s a new day for The New Day, The Man – just about – remains The Man and the Beast is back after a night of extremity and new rulers in Philadelphia.
In the home of ECW there were plenty of references to the days of Extreme Championship Wrestling, from the Van Daminator from Becky Lynch to Lacey Evans to the brutality-filled match between Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley, which even drew a few ‘E-C-Dub’ chants for old times’ sake.
And then at the end of it, the godfather of that company and the man recently tasked with returning Raw to its own former glories, Paul Heyman, stood tall with the top prize in the company, the Universal championship which today is back around the waist of Brock Lesnar.
Again, the former UFC heavyweight champion provided the most controversial talking point at a WWE pay-per-view event, exactly as he did at Money In The Bank two months ago.
On that occasion, Lesnar climbed the ladder to retrieve the briefcase despite not even being in the match; on Sunday night he again was not on the bill to appear but did so anyway, cashing in the contract and giving Seth Rollins a decisive F5 before pinning him for the title change.
Rollins by that point was a physical and emotional wreck. He had put everything into the mixed tag main event (notably in a top-rope frogsplash to a table on the outside, a spot in which pain is impossible to avoid) and spent all of his psychological strength in destroying Corbin after he had hit Lynch with an End of Days (intergender violence providing yet another ECW-style moment).
The title change is unlikely to signal the end of the program between the two, with a big SummerSlam rematch the most obvious next step to build towards.
For Corbin, the future looks less clear; in hitting his finisher on Lynch and audibly swearing at Rollins he arguably took his heel work to a new height, and it would be a shame if WWE was unable to capitalise on that.
His run with Rollins is surely now over and the same can also be said for the feud between Evans and Lynch. At no point has Evans been able to get the better of Lynch, who has been booked consistently strongly on pay-per-views and will now move on to her next challenger. There has been talk of a return for Ronda Rousey…
On the SmackDown side, Kofi Kingston continues to conquer all before him in a run which has seen him portrayed as one of the most dominant champions of modern times.
Live WWE Late Night Raw
July 16, 2019, 1:00am
Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass
He beat Samoa Joe with a Trouble in Paradise that seemed to come out of nowhere, ending a strange match with a sudden jolt.
The yin to Kofi’s yang is of course the fact that Joe continues to fail to take that final step and become a world champion. His supporters are many in the world of WWE fandom but there will come a point where they begin to give up on him.
The added element of uncertainty at the top end of the SmackDown singles division concerns Daniel Bryan. Having been relieved of the blue brand’s tag titles, he spoke of his “failure” to elevate the championship and how it had brought him down to mediocrity.
“Daniel Bryan has to go somewhere he has never been before,” he said in a backstage interview. “I know exactly what it is I have to do.”
That may not mean a return run at Kingston but it does mean there is an elite-level performer in WWE seeking a new challenge.
In the SmackDown women’s division the same can also be said of Bayley, who proved herself to be one of the best ring generals in the business today with an excellent display against both Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. She carried the match for long periods to such an extent that the comparisons with Bret Hart will now grow even more frequent. She too, will need a new challenge.
And then there’s The Undertaker.
The Dead Man looked very much alive and well in a performance which captured the imagination of the fans in Extreme Rules’ opening match and will be many spectators’ pick as the match of the night.
At 54 years of age – and with almost as many surgeries on his battered body – he is never going to be the athlete he was during his late-1990s peak but he proved that, when given competent (and, let’s be honest, much younger) hands to work with, he can still contribute very good matches.