BROOKLYN, NY -- Anyone looking to decipher the rest of the SummerSlam card by looking at earlier results will find themselves sorely disappointed, with a night of drastic changes continuing as Sasha Banks defeated Alexa Bliss to become a four-time Raw women's champion.
In the fourth title change in as many championship matches thus far at SummerSlam, Banks' submission victory tied her with Charlotte Flair as the most decorated Raw women's champion since the title's inception. In the process, the seeds of a potential Banks versus Bayley showdown continued to sprout, if slowly, as Banks made good on Bayley's former title shot.
Bayley was dropped from this match a few weeks ago, and Banks won her way in just this past Monday. But Bayley was never far from anyone's mind. Just to make sure no one forgot her, Banks walked past her on her way to the ring and they hugged; Bayley offered a supportive, if wistful, glance as her friend walked away.
The Banks and Bliss rivalry had, to this point, been something of a start-and-stop conflict, but their early actions put to rest any doubt of how much hate they could emit toward one another. They swung into the corner, and took turns spinning each other around, taking their best shots along the way. Banks finally backed off from the corner, but the second that the ref backed Banks off, Bliss hit a running forearm to clear Banks out, send her to the ground and take control.
Banks quickly turned the tide with a drop toe hold, into a Banks statement attempt, but Bliss slid out of the ring and dodged the attack. The match would fall into a familiar, but entertaining pattern of Banks mounting some momentum, Bliss collecting herself and then regaining control of the situation.
Bliss rammed Banks' throat across the middle rope, then hit a flying cross body. Over the course of the match, dueling "Let's go, Banks, Let's go, Bliss" chants started, and then grew louder after each big spot.
A lot of big spots got countered, but Bliss got her first real run of momentum with a flying double knees to the gut followed by a backflip with another double knees. A couple of two-count near-falls followed, and Bliss slowed things down with a neck-wrenching maneuver on the ground.
Banks swung her way out of the sticky situation with an arm drag, roll-up and two count for the challenger. But each time Banks took control, Bliss found a way to stop Banks' momentum and deal enough damage to her arm that it started to wear Banks down.
She smashed Banks' face in the top turnbuckle twice, followed by several charges into the corner. Bliss also managed to drag Banks up to the top rope with her in a sleeper hold, only for Banks to elbow her way out and leave both women laying in the middle of the ring.
Neither Banks nor Bliss gave an inch. Banks hit three forearms, two clothesline and a dropkcick, into an Irish whip that used Bliss' arm to necktie her and drag her down to the mat. Bliss responded by twisting a neckbreaker around into facebuster on her knee.
Bliss seemed to set up Canadian destroyer, but Banks instead sent Bliss face-first into the turnbuckle. A running knee into the corner got another two count. A mad scramble ultimately led Banks into a back-stabber and a Banks Statement, only for Bliss to quickly get to the ropes and slide outside.
Banks went for her running double knees on the apron, but Bliss pulled another trick out of the bag by pulling the ring skirt away from the ring to trip her opponent. She slid Banks back into the ring, and then threw her out violently through the middle rope back to the outside. Banks barely got back in, and Bliss made her pay with a series of armbreakers and, ultimately Twisted Bliss.
Bliss finisher would only earn her a two-count, and a temper tantrum in the ring followed. With the crowd on its feet, Bliss got trapped out of nowhere in the Banks Statement, but she couldn't hold on the first time because of the damage to her arm. A roll-through got Banks into position, and despite the pain in her face, held on for dear life just long enough to earn the submission victory.
The future could take many different forks, but one thing seems clear -- Raw's women's division, whether it's weeks or months, will ultimately center around Banks vs. Bayley.