A few of the biggest names in WWE looked strong in their final appearances before SummerSlam 2016 on Sunday. Both Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns stood tall on the go-home edition of “Monday Night Raw.”
Lesnar didn’t face off with Randy Orton, whom he’ll be facing at SummerSlam, but was drafted to “SmackDown.” Instead, the former UFC champion had a confrontation with Heath Slater, who wasn’t drafted by either show. Their encounter included two supplexes and an F5, with Lesnar kicking Slater out of the ring before Paul Heyman finished telling the audience that his client would defeat Orton.
Slater interrupted Heyman’s promo, though Lesnar did get on the mic. After Slater lobbied for a chance to face Lesnar in a match and earn a roster spot on Raw so he could take care of his children, the Beast put the WWE censor to work.
“I don’t give a s*** about your kids,” Lesnar said.
Orton will likely look strong on Tuesday’s episode of SmackDown, though Lesnar is the favorite in their match. Lesnar hasn’t wrestled since beating Dean Ambrose at WrestleMania 32, and he hasn’t lost clean since he was pinned by Triple H at WrestleMania 29 in 2013.
In some ways, the match between Lesnar and Orton is the biggest on the SummerSlam card. It’s a match more than 15 years in the making, since both wrestlers came up together in WWE but never had a major feud against one another. Orton is returning for his first pay-per-view match in nearly a year, and Lesnar is fighting for the first time since defeating Mark Hunt in his UFC return.
But it’s the build towards the United States Championship match between Roman Reigns and Rusev that has closed out Raw in each of the last two weeks. Both episodes have ended with Reigns delivering a Spear to the current champion.
Just six days before SummerSlam, WWE gave away the U.S. Title match for free, though the belt wasn’t on the line. Reigns pinned Rusev to end the show, likely indicating that the former Shield member won’t be able to take the belt from Rusev on Sunday.
Reigns has never held the U.S. Title, but he did win the WWE Championship three times between November and April. He remains a babyface, despite the uneven receptions that he gets from live audiences.
For Lesnar and Reigns, SummerSlam will be the site of both wrestlers’ first singles matches on PPV since testing positive for banned substances. Reigns was suspended for 30 days for a WWE wellness policy violation, and he was pinned in a triple threat match at WWE Battleground upon his return. Lesnar didn’t fail a WWE drug test, but he failed two tests leading up to his fight at UFC 200.
There’s been speculation that Reigns has been moved from the WWE Title picture to the U.S. Title picture because of his recent violation. If Lesnar comes up short against Orton, similar speculation regarding his transgressions will likely follow.