Last night’s Raw was a split of good and mediocre. The great thing about this was that nothing was awful, and it means Raw is improving. It was a refreshing episode from production point of view. The entire show took place in the ring, and with 1-2 backstage segments. While this could be a disaster for a 3 hour show, the in ring work and hot crowd made it enjoyable.
Brock’s contract must be something of beauty for the WWE, because he was just in Japan during the weekend and was present in Chicago for last night’s Raw. Paul Heyman manages to keep me hooked, even when the content of his promos stay the same. The timing of this segment was also perfect, because this didn’t need to go over 12 minutes. Part of me believed that somebody would interrupt them, but it was best to leave that payoff for later in the show.
Big Show vs Ryback
This would be better off as the second match on the show. If last week’s Smackdown taught us anything, it’s that an opening match can add to the audience’s early excitement. I was looking to the Miz to keep this somewhat entertaining, and he delivered. Ryback did a decent job at making me care for this slow match with his burst of energy. Also, this wasn’t the type of contest that needed a commercial break. A combination of a hot crowd, awesome mic work from Miz, and Ryback doing his best to make each move look good, made this watchable.
Paige vs Brie Bella
It’s been a few weeks since Paige has wrestled the Bellas on Raw or Smackdown, so I didn’t mind this matchup. The only reason I wasn’t looking forward to this contest was because of the garbage divas match we saw at Beast in the East. These two definitely did their best, and that effort was evident. The spot of this match was Brie accidentally hitting her sister with a knee, it added some much needed drama. This match alone was fun to watch, but the feud is still stale. The WWE just has me thinking that some type NXT reinforcement will come for Paige by next week or Battleground.
Roman Reigns vs Sheamus
Two weeks ago, these men showed to have some solid chemistry so I was amped to see them go at it once again. At no point did it slow down at the start, and because of that my eyes were glued to the TV. I didn’t feel this warranted a “CM Punk” chant from the crowd, as the two competitors were working well. At one point it looked as if Sheamus was having a hard time locking in the Texas cloverleaf, but it was smart of Roman to just kick him in the face. I’m not sure if that was the planned spot, but if it wasn’t, Reigns saved Sheamus from looking bad. I was truly enjoying this bout, and I knew the inevitable DQ was coming. This time, the distraction didn’t make Roman look as dumb as when he last wrestled Sheamus. The decoy was a good way to distract Roman and make it look like Bray was getting to him. Orton’s return to attack Sheamus didn’t sit well with me, but I slightly marked out when his music hit.
This entire program has been horrendous, but somehow Rusev is making it work for him. His recent promos have been effective for his character, and have kept this feud with Ziggler/Lana on life support. The best moment of this feud occurred last night, and it was the beat down of Dolph. This is a sign that Rusev will be good to wrestle in the near future, and put an end to this terrible story. Also, from viewer’s perspective, I was happy that the Bulgarian Brute got some revenge. Overall, I highly enjoyed this segment.
Bo Dallas vs Dean Ambrose
Bo’s promo on Ziggler was quite fitting, but it would have been more suiting for him to cut one on Ambrose. At least that way this match would carry some sort of drama. Nothing special about this particular match, but it was a good way to keep the lunatic fringe relevant. Having him look strong was a smart way to keep the Chicago crowd hot.
King Barrett vs R-Truth
Since going 2-0 in his last 2 singles matches, Barrett’s on the best run he’s had in recent memory. This was his true test though. I really wanted to know if he could overcome R-Truth. At the same time I was also disappointed that they couldn’t book any other match for either Barrett or Truth. Once this match went to commercial break, I lost most of my interest. The only thing that kept me hooked was the possibility of Barrett picking up a win. The bull hammer was hands down the spot of the match, the timing and selling was perfect. Overall, stale match, but great result.
Seth Rollins Promo
For a moment I thought Rollins was carrying a stake, and took “slaying the beast” literally. At first, Seth’s promo didn’t carry much substance, but luckily he knew how make this a captivating segment. When Byron said that Brock was “seeing red” I had a feeling that he was foreshadowing to the destruction of J&J’s red Caddy. While this angle was predictable from the moment that car was shown, every second of Brock destroying it was entertaining. Just about every part of this segment was well done, including Rollins cowering out of the arena. We were also given the spot of the show, with Mercury taking a suplex onto the windshield.
The New Day vs The Lucha Dragons
This match was just tons of fun. Their high intensity was definitely needed, so that this crowd wouldn’t die off. The spot of the match was Kalisto’s dropkick to Xavier Woods. Xavier getting back on his feet was essential to this contest, his cheerleading added a lot. Sin Cara looked brilliant after the hot tag, and in my opinion, he was the stand out. While I was trying to enjoy the Sin Cara hot tag, I was also trying to enjoy the comedy show being put on by Titus on commentary. Overall, this was a definition of a fun and enjoyable match.
John Cena vs Cesaro
In the past few weeks the Rollins-Lesnar program has closed the show, so I found it refreshing for Cena-Owens to fill in this slot. Cena’s smug comment was a great way to open his promo. Cesaro’s insertion into this program was done smoothly, and I can easily get behind a triple threat feud. The WWE must have been listening, because this matchup deserved a main event spot on the card. The only thing wrong with this match were the two separate commercial breaks, at that point I felt I missed 30% of the contest. Fortunately, the two were doing a good enough job to keep me hooked. The DDT counter wasn’t amazingly executed, but the reversal was creative. Cesaro again proved to be a stand out and someone that deserves to be on the top of the card. His ability to sell and execute moves is perfect. I couldn’t even decide on the spot of the match, because Cesaro gave us quite a few. The upper cut didn’t look like it connected with Cena’s face, but it looked like he made heavy contact with Cena’s chest. For the most part, it looked painful. The only botched move was the springboard stunner, because it didn’t look like Cesaro was meant to counter it. Part of me knew Cena would retain, but another part of me believed that Cesaro might be given a massive push. I didn’t think this was as good as their encounter last week, but it was close. Overall it was an excellent way to close the show.
This show was basically 3 hours of straight wrestling, with 3 in ring promos. There were only 1-2 backstage segments, but other than that, everything happened in the ring. Usually this would be a terrible formula for a WWE Raw, but they pulled it off. Each hour had a good match, and every in ring promo was outstanding. Although with the good comes the bad as 4 of the 7 seven matches weren’t anything special. The low point of the show was Big Show vs Ryback while the high point was Cena vs Cesaro. Overall I give this show 7.5/10.