There’s no hiding that this was one of the most bizarre episodes of Raw that’s been aired this year. I think this show was feeling the effects of not having John Cena present. Love or hate him, he brings a lot to the table and makes everything much more compelling. It also doesn’t help when the WWE doesn’t book much for the other large feuds.
After a few minutes, this promo began to drag. It didn’t seem like Rollins had enough material to work with, although the fake Cena on the tron gave me a chuckle. In all honesty, part of me wanted to hear Cena (the real Cena) say he can’t participate in the match at Summerslam, because I’m curious to see how they’d book Seth. Nothing really came of this until Orton, Cesaro, and Owens came out, that’s when this promo took a complete 180. I feel those three should have made their way out much sooner, because even Rollins sounded much better when interacting with them. Did Seth refer to the others as “jerk offs”? I was quite shocked he would use a term like that on PG television, but it sounded natural for his character. Regardless of how this promo started, it ended strong by giving us two solid matches to look forward to. It was smart to completely take the focus off Rollins vs Cena, and make it only about the championship.
Team Bella vs Team BAD
Naomi had a lot to prove in this particular match, especially after that blunder on Smackdown. I thought it was noticeable how she kept her style much more simple. Having team PCB on commentary wasn’t the smartest idea, because they didn’t add much. They came across as annoying and unlikeable. This contest showed that Sasha has organically gotten over with the crowd, simply by the reaction she received. I’m aware they’ve been positioning Charlotte to look superior, but neither Flair nor Lynch can compare to Banks’ charisma. I’m not one to enjoy most of Brie Bella’s work, but I legitimately appreciated her energy on the hot tag, and it was the spot of the match. I knew that was too good to be true, because her roll up pin on Tamina looked awful.
The post match brawl was entertaining, but they missed a great chance to announce their Summerslam match. It would have been much better than announcing it later in the show with not much context but a video package.
The New Day vs Los Matadores
Yesterday I finally got the chance to listen to Chris Jericho’s podcast with the New Day. If anybody out there needs something interesting to listen to, check this out. It’ll make any fan appreciate these men so much more. Usually I couldn’t care less for the Matadores, but they stood out just as much as the New Day in this contest. Both teams worked at a smooth and simple pace. While the match was fun to watch, the best part was how the New Day began to dance after their win.
If somebody can make a GIF of Big E dancing in the ring or during the post match interview, that would be amazing. He didn’t even need to talk, his moves just said it all.
Randy Orton vs Cesaro vs Kevin Owens
The only going through my head in this contest was who would take the pin. I also noticed how Orton was strategically placed in this match in order to remain relevant, and it worked. At no point did he ruin the chemistry between Cesaro and Owens. The first spot of the match was Orton’s combo on the barricade, because it looked amazing and garnered a great reaction. After seeing the chemistry Orton had with Cesaro and Owens, I’d love to see him feud with both of them before the year ends. The second and best spot of the match was Owens’ flying senton outside of the ring. Cesaro taught me in this match that executing a sharpshooter isn’t the easiest thing to do, because his just looked awful. Although, he made up for it by giving it his all afterwards. He continues to show his superior wrestling ability by executing back to back acrobatic moves. That finish was done perfectly, and I couldn’t think of any other way for them to book it. Orton is still at top of the food chain (in a kayfabe sense) it was displayed beautifully here. Neither man looked weak, but it made Orton look much smarter.
Dean Ambrose vs Luke Harper
Reigns-Wyatt was interesting, but since last week it’s really become dull. I didn’t mind the plain feud at first, but I’m starting to notice it would be much better with a catalyst. I kept on believing they’d follow the route of adding a third member to the Wyatts and bring Sting in for Roman & Dean. This dullness translated very well into this match, as it was the most boring part of the show. The most entertaining part was the crowd shouting “sit down Byron” when Saxton stood up. I didn’t expect this match to end clean, especially with the outside drama. Some fans may feel mad with Ambrose being pinned clean, but I think it was a smart way to elevate Harper. He’s undoubtedly the weak link in this feud, and he needs some credibility.
Miz TV – Daniel Bryan
The line of the night goes to the Miz, for his insult towards Stephen Amell. Also, having Miz paired with Bryan was perfect in order to generate a loud pop and create a ton of heat. For the most part, this segment was filler until Ryback made his return. I was surprised, because I thought he’d be out longer. Overall, I applaud the WWE on how they booked this segment. By getting both Bryan and Ryback in the ring, on the same side, they kept the crowd pumped.
Rusev vs Mark Henry
I don’t understand Mark Henry, why did he need the American flag when Rusev is hardly anti-American? Also, why did this match end in a DQ? Summer and Lana’s fight had nothing to do with Rusev and Henry. The only noteworthy part was Rusev and his flag, that was just priceless.
Neville vs King Barrett
So after having Barrett beat jobbers and cutting good promos, he cleanly jobs out in a minute to Neville. This type of booking made no sense! Why didn’t Stardust just interfere early on and then attack Stephen Amell? They completely fumbled this contest.
The match was terribly done, but the whole angle with Stephen Amell was done very well. I didn’t think they could make this feud interesting, but they truly caught my attention. The segment with Hunter in the back was just as good. Call me a mark, but I’m amped for that match at Summerslam.
Seth Rollins vs Randy Orton
The only thing that scared me about this, was the possibility of Sheamus appearing. I’m aware he’s currently concussed, but he was at the show. This was in the back of my mind, and at the same time this match was moving too slow. It also didn’t help that there were two commercials breaks close to each other. I could tell early on they would need the use of near falls to make this exciting. Regardless of the pace, this was a testament to how well Orton can wrestle. It’s not easy for anybody to steal the show at the start of the show and still put on a decent match in the main event. The spot of the match, and show, was the highlight reel RKO from Orton and to Rollins’ credit, he set himself up for that perfectly. That weird feeling I had at the start had to be true, but I think they could have done much more with it. It would have been perfect for the ref to ring the bell once Orton gave Sheamus the RKO. Then Randy could have had Seth cover Sheamus and right away, Orton-Sheamus is much more compelling for Summerslam.
I feel torn on this particular episode of Raw. There were moments that I enjoyed, and there were moments that made no sense. For the most part, none of the major story lines moved forward and there was nothing to look forward to for Smackdown or the go home Raw, other than Taker-Lesnar appearing next week. The low point of the show was the Rusev-Henry match, while the high point was the triple threat match/everything about the New Day. Grading this show was tough, but with the amount of pointless segments, this show receives a 5.9/10.