Once in a while the stars align for the WWE, and they can perfectly book most of their performers. This was that night, as 90% of the show kept me hooked to the TV. Obviously like every wrestling show, it still had flaws, but in this case they were minuscule in comparison to everything else that happened. Most good shows have one big highlight, this one had about 4 major highlights. If you haven’t watched Raw yet, I highly recommend you put it first on your to do list.
Another smart booking move by the WWE to insert Lesnar and Heyman in the opening segment. Having them open the show always gets me excited for the night. I thought Paul made great argument on why his client would beat Rollins this Sunday. The mark in me is obviously cheering for Seth, but hearing Heyman hype the beast worried me for the champion’s chances. Both Heyman and Rollins delivered with their promos, but the best moment was hearing Rollins get tongue tied. What made this great was his simple recovery and reaction to the crowd. This promo truly became intense the second Brock grabbed the mic and got a massive crowd reaction by uttering less than 10 words. Once all was said and done, I thought this was a superb segment. It undoubtedly set the bar high for the rest of the show.
Ryback & Randy Orton vs Big Show & Sheamus
After such a strong segment I wasn’t very happy to watch this next. Ryback and Miz (on commentary) have been the only standouts, and I was looking to them to keep me entertained in this match. The pre match recaps and the commentators did their best to make Orton-Sheamus sound like an interesting feud, but it fell flat and was forced. Most of the match felt dull, but as I had wished, Ryback had followed through. His wrestling was on point in terms of intensity. There wasn’t anything wrong with Orton’s and Sheamus’ work rate, it was just a matter of keeping me interested. For a match that dragged on, I was a fan of the finish. You can never go wrong with a clean pin.
Dean Ambrose vs Bray Wyatt
The WWE has recycled this match quite a bit, but their chemistry is great, so I don’t them locking horns. Before the pre match events transpired, I kept asking myself why they put this match in the first hour of the show. An appearance from Roman answered any question I had .The Wyatt-Reigns brawl was a great way to avoid this contest, and while it was short, I found it entertaining.
Nikki Bella Promo
Hate or love Nikki, this was a well done promo. The substance of her simple promo actually furthered her program and character intentions. To be honest, I popped for Stephanie when her music hit, but her opening remarks towards Bella were unnecessary. There was no need for her to make Nikki look like a complete idiot. Other than this, I absolutely loved the rest of the segment. I can’t remember the last time I marked out over a divas segment, this was truly something special. I always figured the debut of the NXT Divas would be awesome, but not this awesome .Their brawl was also amazing, as this was the first time in years, if not decades, there was this much intensity in the women’s division. The image of Charlotte, Becky, and Sasha locking in their submissions at the same time will forever be engrained in my head. Even splitting them up into teams seems like a brilliant idea .Just about everything went perfect, and the WWE should be proud of their divas.
The New Day vs The Prime Time Players & Mark Henry
After watching that divas segment, my mood was sky high. My favorite tag team has been quiet as of late, but they managed to cut a solid promo to open their match. Mark Henry was a good surprise tag team partner, and the New Day sold their fear of him well. In order for these men to keep up the excitement of the previous segment, they had to make sure this contest was chaotic. They delivered on the chaos, which kept the energy level high. Also, Henry needed that win, as he was starting to look weak.
King Barrett vs R-Truth
I didn’t mind so much last week, but this week I couldn’t care less. I had no interest in seeing who would win or lose. Why can’t they both just move on?
Rusev vs Kevin Owens vs Cesaro
I was wary about an Owens-Rusev interaction, but the two sounded decent together. Either way, I was just happy to see Rusev back in the upper mid card. There was no doubt this triple threat was going to be full of amazing work rate. For the most part, all three worked an explosive pace and kept me hooked. The spot of the match was Cesaro’s counter on Owens’ swanton, which lead to the former NXT champion taking a superkick from Rusev. While Owens and Rusev were great, Cesaro was the stand out. In his third week in the US title picture, the Swiss Superman once again proved that he can hang with anybody in the ring. Towards the tail end of this contest, I realized these 3 pumped the US title with even more credibility. They gave everything to face Cena, and it just proved how badly they wanted his title. Even when Owens walked out, this bout just continued to deliver. I was at the point where I didn’t want either man to lose. It was wise for this to be booked cleanly, and I was more than satisfied. This was Cesaro’s second loss in a row, and somehow he left this match looking stronger than ever.
John Cena vs Rusev
I’m glad they went through with this match, because those were the terms of the triple threat match. In the heat of all this chaos, Rusev was looking like a babyface because of his no quit attitude. The spot of this short match was Rusev’s counter. It wasn’t anything of finesse, but it was a sign of Rusev looking strong. Having Owens interfere was the only logical decision, and I didn’t protest that part of the booking. This was great way to end the US title program for the night.
Neville vs Stardust
I truly believed Stardust would have received a larger pop. Stardust didn’t look like he missed a single beat in the ring, and he’s been gone for quite sometime. There wasn’t anything special, but it was a smart way to get Stardust back on TV. I was initially worried about either man taking a clean pin, but using a cheap roll up was the best way to finish this match.
This was a strong way to close a strong show. I thought Rollins found a way to reiterate his point about not being scared by Brock, and it didn’t sound repetitive. They could have booked Seth to stand as from Lesnar as possible, but instead he looked better by standing his ground. Listening to Heyman remind the crowd of how slimy Rollins is never gets old, but it sounded better in this segment .The funniest part of this entire exchange was how quickly Rollins retreated when Lesnar initially flipped the table. I actually burst into laughter the moment the camera zoomed into Kane’s nervous face as he was sweating. Once the comedy was over, this segment finished perfectly. I wasn’t interested in seeing a one sided beat down, and it was better that they both got their shots in. After the dust settled, I thought Seth went on to cut the promo of the night, and one of the best promos of his career. His emotion was through the roof and it translated well on screen.
I didn’t know what to expect out of last night’s show, because in the past few weeks Raw has been above average, at best. All I can say is that I was impressed by this episode, and might go as far as saying it was one of the top 3 Raws of the year. Excluding 2 matches, this show was near perfect. Every star that needed to look good, did look good. Rollins, Lesnar, Cena, Owens, Cesaro, Rusev, Reigns, Wyatt, and the Divas all made this show great. It goes to show us that if all wrestlers are booked right, the results can be grand. The low point of this show was tied between the opening tag match and Barret vs Truth, while the high point was the Divas segment. Overall, I give this show a solid 8/10.