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The new face of Raw will be decided Sunday, Aug. 21, at SummerSlam, when Finn Bálor and Seth Rollins compete to become the inaugural WWE Universal Champion.
The historic matchup — Bálor’s debut on WWE pay-per-view — was made official on July 25, the same night that Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon revealed plans to introduce the Universal Title. According to Raw management, the newly sanctioned championship will eventually outstrip SmackDown Live’s WWE Championship in importance.
Rollins, who was selected No. 1 overall in the WWE Brand Extension Draft, was entered into contention by Stephanie. The announcement came less than 24 hours after The Architect failed to win the WWE Championship from Dean Ambrose at WWE Battleground, though it was Roman Reigns — the other participant in the championship Triple Threat Match — that lost the deciding fall, not Rollins.
Former NXT Champion Bálor, meanwhile, fought his way into contention by beating four of Raw’s best in one evening. Making his debut on WWE’s flagship show, the enigmatic Irishman triumphed in a Fatal 4-Way against Kevin Owens, Cesaro and U.S. Champion Rusev, then defeated Roman Reigns hours later to officially secure a position in the WWE Universal Title Match.
Will Rollins — the first NXT Champion in history, not to mention the Superstar whose first WWE World Heavyweight Title reign was ended by an injury, not a defeat — reassert himself as the backbone of Raw? Or will it be The Demon — the longest-reigning NXT Champion in history, whose arrival in WWE was long-awaited and, some argue, long overdue — who makes history in Brooklyn?