With MITB being two weeks away, I was fully expecting this to be a flat episode of Raw. To my surprise, it wasn’t. In fact, it was full of substance.
This opening was unique to say the least. Not only was the ladder concept odd, but the show just opened up half way through Dean Ambrose’s entrance. Regardless of how bizarre the set up was, I loved how this turned into a ladder round table with the MITB contestants. Owens and Jericho were the highlight of this, hands down. Once Jericho said “I’m from Winnipeg, you idiot” this show could have ended and I’d fall asleep a happy man.
The absurdity of this segment only grew with Teddy Long making his way out. I don’t think he made any sense in what he had to say. In fact, he could barely get across the message of him wanting to run for Smackdown. However, it was only fitting, because I found it to be hilarious. Everything about this felt fresh, and that’s why it was so enjoyable.
Chris Jericho vs Cesaro
One thing I love about this year’s MITB ladder match is the amount of importance it’s receiving. As long as they’re not wrestling six man tag matches in the main event, this program feels like a true focal point. It also helps that each performer has been booked strongly.
With this being a fresher match up, I thought it was perfect for as the first match. Not only was the in ring pacing great, but so was the announce team. They went through the match, while still giving the breakdown of this year’s MITB ladder match.
In terms of the in the ring work, I thought Jericho’s heel style meshed perfectly with Cesaro’s move set. There’s a difference when Cesaro delivers his moves to a despicable heel than another babyface. I think it elicits more of a reaction from the crowd. At no point did this drag, because the length was just right. Also, the finish was excellent as it was done clean.
Rusev vs Jack Swagger
I really didn’t care to see this match, just like I didn’t care for it on Smackdown. While the match was boring for the most part, I loved the double clothesline spot outside of the ring. Michael Cole said there is now “two Amercians after Rusev’s title”. What does that mean? Are both Titus and Swagger after the US title?
John Cena/AJ Styles Promo
Cena still knows how to make the most of any crowd. He was excellent in bringing out energy from this audience. The back and forth between Styles and Cena felt real. Their words were heavy, and probably hit home for most wrestling fans. Cena especially stole the show in this segment with his insults towards AJ. It’s not easy to go head to head with John, but AJ did well. If all promos between these two are going to be this passionate, I wouldn’t mind if these two feuded until August.
Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs The Vaudevillians
Initially, I wasn’t too excited for this match. Nothing against the workers, but the Cena-AJ promo was just difficult to follow up. With that being said, I’m glad this match went the way it did. Replicating the injury angle was a great idea, and I loved what it did for Cass. Watching Cass destroy the Vaudevillians did a lot for him and his team. That just added another dimension to them.
Sami Zayn vs Alberto Del Rio
Similar to Jericho vs Cesaro, this match felt extremely fresh. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Alberto and Sami in a one on one singles match.
Del Rio looked brilliant in this contest. His offense just seemed so crisp and smooth. Of course, that shows how well Zayn could sell. Was it just me or did this match end very quickly? Not only did it feel quick, but it was rather one sided. Initially that was a shock to me, but I liked that it ended clean and definitively. Plus, Del Rio needed a win to remind the fans why he’s so strong.
Roman Reigns/Seth Rollins Video Packages
These were simply amazing. Most of us know how they started together in the Shield, but it’s nice to be reminded of how it all went down. Hearing each characters thoughts on the situation allowed for more emotion to created. Most importantly, the video packages gave this feud that “big fight/game” feeling.
Dean Ambrose vs Kevin Owens
Out of all the MITB singles matches on this show, this was the one I was least looking forward to. Right away, both Ambrose and Owens changed my train of thought, as they didn’t hold back. From start to finish, this was extremely high paced. At this point of the show, it was needed. Usually singles matches in the last hour die a painful death, but not this one. The wrestlers knew what the fans wanted to see.
The highlight of the match was Owens grabbing the headset to address Saxton. That spot alone had me laughing throughout most of the match. Lately Owens has been taking a lot of clean pins, so I thought he should have came out victorious in this match. Either way, I’m happy this followed the pattern of the other matches by ending clean. At least the final visual made KO look good.
Charlotte/Dana Brooke/Natalya/Dana Brooke Promo
Charlotte was on point with her insults in this promo. She garnered reactions, while delivering some clever words. I’m glad neither of these women wrestled a match, because the promo itself was good enough to further this tag feud. Both Brooke and Flair deserve a lot of credit for brawling in their high heels. That didn’t easy whatsoever.
R-Truth vs Tyler Breeze
Those Breeze-Fandango backstage promos were hilarious. As a comedic match, this worked very well. Even Teddy Long’s promo was well placed.
I’m curious to know whether Long will remain as a character on WWE TV, or if this was just a one off night. Either way, his presence made this show much more interesting.
The Club vs The New Day
I didn’t expect for this match to start off as strong as it did. The immediate brawl made this plain six man a lot more entertaining. Woods looked like an absolute star in the pre match brawl. That was probably the best he’s ever looked on WWE television. I believe that allowed the hatred to become much stronger between both groups.
The highlight of this match occurred early on, and that was the Pele kick/big boot combo from the club to Big E. It didn’t even seem like anybody wanted to win this match. Instead, they just wanted to beat each other down. However, having the Club win was the right decision, they need to look strong. Cena was bound to run in, but it was essential that his interaction with Styles was kept to a minimum. Thankfully it was, because that only adds to the excitement of their inventible match.
This turned out to be a simple and easy episode to follow. Nothing was overbooked, and all story lines were presented in an important manner. The low point of the show was Rusev vs Swagger, while the high point was the Cena/Styles promo. Overall, I give this show an 8/10.