The Raw brand had a lot to prove with this show. From the perspective of hardcore fans, Raw’s already falling to Smackdown in terms of quality, and it there’s a ton of room for improvement. This show seemed like a step in the right direction, but we won’t know until tonight’s Raw.
New Day vs The Club
It’s been a while since I’ve truly enjoyed a New Day promo, and this one made me laugh. At the end of the day, they’re still naturally funny. Also, I’m glad the Club didn’t interrupt them with a promo of their own. Their simple entrance and attack on the New Day allowed for them to look like true contenders.
From the get go, the Club was able to show the fans what makes them special. They may be funny outside of the ring, but they also carry a strong presence through their wrestling style. I’m shocked it’s taken the WWE so long to let Gallows & Anderson to look this dominant. Both teams managed to put forth a great match, but it all went down the drain once the finish came out. This was the WWE’s chance to give Raw a fresh breath of air with new champions, but they chose not to take that direction. The staleness of the New Day was evident through the fans reaction of them going for the pin.
TJ Perkins vs Brian Kendrick
I actually watched this PPV with a set of casual fans, and only one of them knew who TJP was, and that’s because he watched the CWC finals with me. The fans quiet reaction was also an indication of how the WWE messed up by not introducing Perkins on Raw. The action wasn’t terrible, but it felt extremely cold. As much as I wanted to get into the match, I had little to no reason to care about it. The two still deserve some credit, as they found a way to get the crowd excited towards the end.
It was smart that they executed a post match attack from Kendrick, as this division will need something for Raw. Brian came across as an easy person to hate, while Perkins was clearly the more likeable of the two.
Sheamus vs Cesaro
This match started off much slower than their past few encounters, but it made sense since they were both trying to wrestle a calculated style. I loved how they didn’t take risks early on, because it showed us how they wanted to play it safe. The same can be seen in most game seven settings in sports like basketball and hockey.
At one point in the match, Cesaro utilized the 619, and it wasn’t the most pretty move, but it looked quite painful. After that moment, the pace just escalated to another level, and they never slowed down. While they turned up the speed, the action remained smooth and fluid. Did anybody else’s jaw drop when Cesaro attempted the suicide dive and landed on his head? I genuinely thought he had hurt himself, and the multiple replays they showed made it look worse than it actually was.
Earlier in the week, I had read a post on Reddit that discussed the idea of this match ending in a draw, which will propel both of them into a tag match for the tag titles. I didn’t think much of it, but I never thought that half of that theory turn out to be true on this show. If it’s executed properly on Raw, we may have another interesting story for Monday.
Chris Jericho vs Sami Zayn
Jericho continues to deliver in all aspects of his on screen performance. He didn’t even have to cut a promo before the match, but instead he directed hateful words towards the fans and Sami during the match. They didn’t wrestle a fast pace, but they used their time in the ring to tell the story of their young feud.
There’s not many matches these days that can go at a slow pace, and still keep my attention. It wasn’t until the end that they picked up the speed, but it fit the narrative. That type of pacing allowed for Sami to showcase how strong of an underdog he is. While I predicted Sami to emerge as the victor, I didn’t mind seeing Jericho pick up the win. If they’re continuing this feud, it only makes sense to let Y2J win at least one match.
My only complaint about this contest was that it went longer than I thought it would. If they had cut it down by a few minutes, it would have come across as more entertaining.
Charlotte vs Bayley vs Sasha Banks
Michael Cole had mentioned how Charlotte won the Diva’s title at this PPV last year, and for a moment I thought she had actually been champion for a full year. Well, I forgot Sasha had won it and held on to it for two weeks, but I guess that just goes to show how memorable her short reign was.
There was no way these three could disappoint in terms of work rate, as they have a ton of history and chemistry. Along with that, all three were equally showcased during this match and held a strong presence. Since they all came up together at the same time in NXT, it was great to see how equal they were in terms of offence. The announce team did an excellent job at discussing that during the match.
Most of the time in triple threat matches, we hardly ever see the wrestlers (including heels) break the rules, but that wasn’t the case here. In terms of logic, it only made sense for Dana to interfere multiple times. Overall, this contest as whole made sense, and so did the finish. As a fan, I can say this was satisfying to watch.
Roman Reigns vs Rusev
Oddly enough, this match had the most build up than any other. That actually gave the announce team much more to work with when discussing the feud.
In terms of pacing, this match wasn’t as strong as I thought it would be. It consisted of Rusev beating down on Reigns, and after a while it became somewhat boring. What more is there to analyze if the action is kept one sided. All I can say about that portion was that Rusev looked quite strong, and Roman sold it well. The match didn’t become interesting until Roman managed to turn the momentum, because that’s when the back and forth became stronger.
Once Lana was removed from the match, I just had a sense that the title was going to switch hands on this show. I’m not sure if this was a good idea, since Roman never cared about the US title to begin with.
Seth Rollins vs Kevin Owens
For a match that had a terrible build up, the video package was absolutely amazing. It had made this program feel like a grudge feud. Once again, the one thing the WWE always knows how to do right is the use of video packages.
Unlike the previous match on this show, this one had a strong back and forth which allowed for both competitors to showcase their abilities. Along with that, we also got a chance to see how great their chemistry was. There was no denying that these two know how to put on a show, and I’m sure much of that is attributed to them knowing each other for years. They surely let the match flow in a organic way.
Unlike many of the other matches on this show, the crowd was heavily invested in this match. After a what felt like a long PPV, Rollins and Owens knew how to keep this arena alive. There weren’t many insane spots, but these they didn’t need one to make this contest entertaining. In the grand scheme of things, while the work rate was impressive, KO’s crotch chops were the highlight of this match. That taunt alone made me mark out.
With Jericho being as great as he’s been, his presence in this match was most welcomed. As KO’s best friend, I thought he played a crucial role, while not taking away too much from the bout. Apart from all the action, the biggest take away from this was Stephanie’s involvement. She didn’t do much but bring out another ref, but the look on her face said it all. That mischievous smirk was a simple indication that she has chosen to side with Triple H.
This was one show that became better as it went on. It started off extremely weak, and in that moment I thought this show would fall completely flat. While there were some strong matches, there wasn’t a strong development in the mid card, and I think that’ll be evident on the next episode of Raw. The low point was the tag title bout, while the high point was the main event. Overall, I give this PPV a 5.7/10.