Last night’s edition of Raw was simply booked. I’ve said this many times, keeping it simple is good. They properly booked the matches and feuds for Elimination Chamber and it didn’t feel cluttered. While they kept the formula simple, we were lucky enough to be given a huge surprise.
I thought it was awesome to see Stephanie back on the show. When she takes a small hiatus her presence becomes more refreshing. This segment was good way to setup the upcoming story lines. It felt like they gave us the rundown of the show, and sometimes that’s not a bad way to open Raw. Even Sheamus’ interruption felt fresh because we never see him interact with the Authority. I do believe they could have done without the many replays. Ryback’s promo was very smooth, and probably one of the better promos he’s cut. The big guy and the celtic warrior seems like a natural fit, just because of their gimmicks. Overall, this segment was well done and felt new compared to what we’re used to.
Sheamus vs Ryback
I hope this isn’t the last time these two meet, they have potential to have a good feud. The match itself wasn’t the most exciting match but I think they did a good job at warming the crowd up for the show. Since the match was moving slow the commercial was terribly placed. I thought the spot of the match was Ryback’s powerbomb, it looked sharp, and well timed. The announce table spot was unpredictable. I’m glad they gave the fans a clean finish as I was expecting this to end in a DQ. Overall, decent contest to open the show.
Neville vs King Barrett
Neville cut a generic promo but it suited him. A wrestler like him doesn’t need to say anything complicated on the mic, so keeping it simple works. I would have preferred to watch Neville wrestle Bo Dallas because these matches against Barrett are becoming stale. Dallas on commentary was funny to listen to, especially when he called Booker “Mr.T”. The work rate between these two has been great but I was having a hard time getting excited for this match. I’m not sure if Neville botched that springboard attempt but he pulled it off well because of his knee being attacked earlier. While I wasn’t interested in the match I did like Bo Dallas post match attack. At least we know Neville’s next program.
Before Rusev began speaking I honestly thought we were going to see a face turn. My initial feeling was obviously wrong. I thought Rusev was great at carrying this promo. This was a testament to how he’s vastly improved since his debut. I absolutely loved the interaction between Lana and the Bulgarian Brute. It’s fun to watch Rusev “crush’ opponents, but this type of story line is fresh for his character.
Dean Ambrose vs Bray Wyatt
These two haven’t feuded since January but for some reason this matchup felt fresh. That goes to show what some time apart can do. I was also glad they mentioned their feud from the winter. This contest truly picked up when Wyatt countered Ambrose’s suicide dive and gave him a vertical suplex on the outside. There weren’t many big spots after that but the two men found a way to make this feel intense. I was impressed with Wyatt’s timing on his counter of Ambrose’s larriot, it takes true talent to execute timing like that. The eater of world’s would have stole the show if he landed his flying senton from the top role, but for Ambrose’s sake maybe it’s good that he didn’t. The only smart way to end this match was through a distraction finish. This way neither men look weak afterwards.
The New Day vs Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
Since these two teams know how to put on a great match, I don’t mind watching them consistently wrestle. Also, we probably won’t see these teams compete against each other for a while. To this point, this turned out to be the worse match between them. It wasn’t bad, it was just shorter than I expected. I guess they cut down the match time to allow the tag team division brawl. The post match brawl definitely made up for the lack of match.
John Cena vs Kevin Owens
So I was expecting Ziggler to accept this challenge, but I would have never guessed that Owens would make an appearance. My jaw hit the ground. We witnessed two generations of wrestlers standing side by side, this was history. Their promo was intense and it kept me on the edge of my seat. Cena was obviously going to eat him alive on the mic and he did. While Cena was an assassin with his words, I’m glad they left Owens standing tall after delivering a pop-up powerbomb. Needless to say, I marked out hard.
Dolph Ziggler vs Stardust
I liked how the commentators sold Ziggler’s injury. Ziggler himself even did his best to sell it during the match. I expected this contest to last slightly longer, but I think it was a good way to get Dolph back on track. Also, he won my heart over with his hockey comments. I plan on reserving my comments on Lana’s new alliance with Ziggler. It was extremely odd. The entire segment felt weird, especially with Rusev be out done by Dolph.
Fandango & Zack Ryder vs Eric Rowan & Luke Harper
I was shocked this match lasted longer than a minute. Why weren’t the Harper & Rowan involved with the tag division brawl? I thought they would have been used better there.
Nikki Bella vs Naomi
Unless this is their last encounter, wouldn’t this match be best saved for Elimination Chamber? Technically this was the main event for Raw. It won’t be recognized as so, but it’s a subtle way of giving the Divas a chance. I wish they had just let these two wrestle without interference. The beat down on Nikki could have easily been done after a clean finish .It was great to see Paige back in the picture, she’ll make the title scene more interesting.
Seth Rollins Architect of a Dream
This segment was a good way to showcase Rollins and put him over. Since Seth has become champion he’s never had a celebration. I wonder if Kane put that video package together himself. The montage of Rollins’ journey to the top was excessive and too long. Anybody watching this knows how he won the title and defended it successfully. I couldn’t stop laughing at the Joey Mercury moment because they played on it much more than normal. The continuing feud between Ambrose and Rollins has always entertained me, although I don’t think Dean had a valid reason for requesting a title shot. Instead of holding Rollins hostage I think he could have just won a title shot earlier in the show. This way his efforts in getting a title shot would have gotten a better reaction. Unlike Sunday night, Seth was able to end this show with a smoothly executed pedigree. I thought that was an awesome way to end the show.
This particular episode of Raw was very heavy on in ring work .They kept the promos and backstage segments to a minimal. With that being said, oddly enough the best moment on Raw was the segment including Kevin Owens and John Cena. Overall, I give this show a 7.6/10.