With one last chance to make an impact on their larger audience, the WWE followed through with a well-balanced episode of Raw. This edition was able to showcase every feud, and at the same time leave some open ends for the fans to be excited about on Sunday.
Well I was right about the cage being live in attendance, but I wasn’t anticipating them to use it during the opening segment of Raw. I felt bad for the people attending the show last night because they couldn’t see the Viper without that fencing getting in the way. Orton cut a solid promo during, he kept everything simple and had it set up properly for Rollins to make his way out. I found it odd part of Seth’s theme music was cut out, I’m curious to know if they’re making this his main theme moving forward. What I enjoyed about Seth’s promo in particular is that he was able to speak at multiple paces, and it flowed well. Normally he’s speaking in a smug and spoiled way, but he changed everything for last night. Once Orton threatened to RKO every person in the back I got excited about the many backstage promos where he’d run out of nowhere to RKO other wrestlers and crew members.
Dean Ambrose vs Luke Harper
This match could have easily been saved for Sunday. We don’t normally see Harper speak on the mic, but he did a decent job with the few lines he was given. The two opened the contest going all out in terms of hits and devastating moves. Since they’re moving at such a fast and hard hitting pace, it just made it more of a shame they didn’t wait until Extreme Rules. Overall this was an awesome way to get the fans into the show, because it’s not often we get this much action in an opening match.
The Lucha Dragons vs The New Day
These past few weeks I have been enjoying the New Day. At the same time, I love how the Lucha Dragons have been booked since making the move on to the main roster. I was clearly torn. Big E was able to keep up with Kalisto’s speed, and their two styles worked well together early in the match. Once Kofi and Sin Cara got in the ring, the match turned into a typical tag match, where they have the fans waiting for a hot tag. I was very impressed by the moonsault spot from the dragons, it was easily the spot of the match. I didn’t expect this match to end the way it did, but it added some unpredictability to this contest. We eventually learned Orton wasn’t joking about giving everybody a RKO, because the New Day was absolutely destroyed by the viper. After his match last week, you might think he has something against the tag division.
Fandango vs Curtis Axel
It’s official, Fandango is a babyface. There would be no better way to show this than by having him square off with Curtis Axel. They even let him pick up the quick win, which can mean we might be seeing more importance on this character.
This promo had less to do with Tough Enough, and more to do with Kane’s drama with Seth Rollins. Many fans have been down on Kane as of late, but I’m finding his side story with Seth rather entertaining. The heated argument between the two felt personal and real, both men were on point. By making Kane the “guardian of the gate” the match at Extreme Rules has officially become more interesting.
Naomi vs Brie Bella
Well it sounds like Paige will in fact be taking a break from WWE, meaning we might see Naomi take her spot. Nothing made me more excited than seeing Nikki get on commentary, and I’m not being sarcastic. Last time we saw Naomi in the ring against the Bellas, she botched quite a few moves, but in this outing she proved to look much more fluid. Booker T made an outrageous statement in this match by claiming she might be the greatest diva of all time. I have absolutely no idea what was going through his mind. It became odd because towards the end I felt Brie was wrestling as babyface, she even got a slight babyface pop before her missile drop kick. The contest itself wasn’t bad, and it left me thinking how they’ll book this angle.
Heath Slater/ Randy Orton
This segment lasted no longer than a minute, but was probably the funniest thing I’ve seen on WWE television within the past year or so. I won’t ever forget Slater’s reaction to seeing Orton before eating a RKO (as opposed to his salad).
Roman Reigns vs Bo Dallas
Roman cut the perfect promo, short, to the point, and suiting for him. I didn’t think Bo Dallas would make his way out, but he made sure he made the most of his promo. There was no way Dallas was going to be standing for long, considering how serious Roman looked. Normally it’s tough to add humor to a serious promo and play it off well, but Reings’ addition of “bo-lieve, that” was definitely humorous.
Sheamus vs Zack Ryder
My heart broke for Ryder when I found out he was facing Sheamus. The only thing this segment/match accomplished was building Sheamus more as a monster heel. They could have given him a stronger segment, I just wasn’t feeling the direction they took him tonight.
John Cena vs Kane
After Cena cut an emotional promo, we were swerved rather heavily, with Kane answering his open challenge. John did a solid job at selling Kane’s signature moves and beat down outside the ring. Much like the first match of the night, I felt this one was all about impact moves and a hard hitting pace. That pace only lasted for the opening of the match, as it slowed down quite a bit. The match was decent, but it was easily the worst open challenge we’ve seen thus far. They should have just put in someone that could work a proper match with Cena, and keep the open challenge more about quality than story line progression. His post interview beat down backstage was well planned out, and looked vicious, but it only convinces me more that Cena comes out on top this Sunday.
Damien Mizdow vs The Miz
This stipulation was absolutely ridiculous and reeked of early 2000 WCW booking, but even then it should have been set for Extreme Rules. The structure of this match was no different from their previous encounters, but it really made Mizdow look a lot stronger. I wouldn’t put past the WWE to actually give Mizdow the rights to the Miz brand, but for simplicity’s sake, having the Miz win was the smart decision. To be honest, I was surprised with Summer’s turn on Mizdow, but she makes a better valet for the A-lister. The segment ended perfectly with a RKO. They were spaced out so properly, they came out of nowhere every time.
Bray Wyatt Promo
So he’s obviously talking to Ryback or Mark Henry, especially with his mention of lifting weights. I just wish he was more clear, that way we’re eagerly await for his in ring confrontation with his new opponent.
Ryabck vs Adam Rose
I noticed this particular show included many more squash matches than normal. This one was easily the most entertaining, because the crowd was behind Ryback, and it looked like he was having fun. Also he gave us an awesome spot by shell shocking the banana and the hotdog at the same time. Before the match ended, I kept thinking we’d get some sort of Wyatt interference.
Dolph Ziggler vs Seth Rollins
It doesn’t mean much, but Rollins’ music ended at the right time. Within the past 4 and a half months, these two have competed enough for me to know they wouldn’t disappoint. When Ziggler was catapulted into the turnbuckle, he sold it very well, and it looked much more effective than it really is. For the most part this match moved a more restful pace, but I really wished they kept it going fast for tonight. The only thing I could think of during this match was what move Seth was going to use, mainly because of the reports stating WWE was going to ban the curb stomp. While I was thinking about this, I thought Ziggler almost murdered Rollins with a superkick. Once the champ did execute his modified DDT-esque finisher, I was not impressed. I wish he’d just use the Phoenix Splash. They still have time to figure that out, so I won’t dwell on it too much. After Rollins bragged about his win, he decided to lock himself into a cage to take arguably the most beautiful RKO we’ve seen since Wrestlemania. I really loved the ending, it was a great way to send the fans home happy with adding that extra drama.
For large feuds heading into the PPV, this show was well booked and left me excited for what they have planned out. I do think they had a few too many squash matches, that just made the show feel longer than it should have. It ended up being a fun night, and I’m happy they touched up on everything heading into Smackdown and Sunday. Overall I give this edition of Raw a 7.6/10.