This week’s RAW was, as is the norm now, filled with a multitude of moments both good and bad. The main event scene is stronger than ever with a plethora of individuals with legitimate claims to get their hands on the new Universal Champion, Kevin Owens. Unfortunately, the worst feud of the decade between Titus O’Neil and Darren Young continues and Gallows and Anderson manage to have a segment worse than last week’s Stephanie/Heyman promo. Here’s my rundown of the night, segment by segment.
The show started with a recap of last week’s fantastic main event. Michael Cole kept putting HHH’s swerve over as the most shocking moment in RAW history. It wasn’t.
Next we had Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon backstage for the first of what felt like a million times. Foley cut a great promo about seeing Stephanie for the first time after he went off the Hell in a Cell in 1998. He wanted her to tell him she knew nothing about last week’s swerve. She claims to be innocent. We know better.
We go to the ring with Foley and McMahon after the show intro with balloons and confetti flying everywhere to celebrate Kevin Owens’ title victory last week. What follows is the standard, long opening promo from the champ before Rollins comes out. He’s pissed and gives a good performance as a tweener. No boos. Stephanie almost suspends him for attacking Owens, but Foley says he isn’t suspended and makes the title match between Owens and Rollins at Clash of Champions. That should be a fantastic match. Although this opener was long, there was a lot of ground to cover and it didn’t feel like they were out there just wasting time like it normally does. Overall, good start to the show.
We go backstage after the commercials to Foley and Steph again. Steph is pissed at Foley for overstepping his bounds but then defends him when Owens and Jericho appear. Jericho is, as usual, fantastic and correctly reports that Kevin Owens is the longest reigning Universal Champion in history. Foley makes matches for both men for later tonight: Jericho vs. Rollins and Owens vs. Sami Zayn. Good choices.
Finally we get to the first match:
Match 1: Charlotte vs. Bayley
Before the match, Charlotte gives Dana Brooke a clipboard so she can take notes about how to be a winner. She’s going to need a lot more than that. Bayley gets a good ovation for her entrance from a crowd that was not yet worn out by the plethora of squash matches and bad segments to come. Charlotte’s facial expressions were fantastic except for when she was cracking up at Bayley when she was getting her head smashed repeatedly into the top turnbuckle. Like her or not, she has been built well as a champion. In fact, I daresay WWE has never booked a woman in history more strongly other than, I guess, The Fabulous Moolah. But the champ does lose here after Dana Brooke fucks everything up. Again.
Winner: Bayley, who has been great since getting called up.
My Rating: ***
We are told by Michael Cole that later on Sasha Banks will be delivering bad news. Corey Graves responds by saying “I’ve got a feeling it’s not good news.” Yeah, we got that message.
It’s announced that Gran Metalik, Jack Gallagher and Akira Tozawa will be joining the RAW Cruiserweight division. This is excellent news, as all three of those men have been fantastic in the Cruiserweight Classic, which Gran Metalik still has the chance to win. In fact, I consider him the favorite to do so, especially if WWE have not secured Kota Ibushi for the Cruiserweight Division.
Backstage, Charlotte berates Dana for being a fuckup and slaps her around. If they’re trying to get sympathy for Dana, it is failing miserably.
Match 2: Bo Dallas vs. Kyle Roberts
The first of many squash matches tonight sees Bo Dallas shockingly destroy his opponent. Weird.
Winner: Bo Dallas
My Rating: DUD
We go backstage to a bromance-heavy conversation between Jericho and Owens. Jericho clearly just wants a shot at the Universal Title. I’d be fine with that.
Match of the Night: Match 3: Chris Jericho vs. Seth Rollins
Very good match. Rolling stuck in the Walls of Jericho but refusing to tap was a great moment that further solidifies his face turn. Both men were great as always. Jericho continues to impress in his latest lengthy run.
Winner: Seth Rollins
My Rating: ***1/2
During the plug for the main event, Cole calls Sami Zayn “the underdog of the underground.” This is totally lame.
Match 4: Sheamus vs. Cesaro
Cesaro continues to reiterate that this is all for a “championship opportunity.” Many were concerned when this best of seven series was announced, but I was confident the matches would be good. So far I have been correct, though this was easily the worst of the three thus far. It was short, but good while it lasted as Sheamus targeted the heavily taped back of Cesaro. Eventually Cesaro is going to be wearing Rock Tape across his entire body. Sheamus nailed him with a nasty backbreaker from the old Celtic Cross position and then Brogue kicked him for the win.
My Rating: **1/2
We return to see The Shining Stars in the ring. They have a terrible gimmick. Enzo Amore and Big Cass arrives and everybody (including me) assumes this will just be another squash match.
Match 5: Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Primo and Epico
Enzo comes to the ring looking like a leopard-skinned Shinsuke Nakamura. He and Cass have a lengthy promo that ends with Amore giving birth to nothing. Some people in the crowd love it, but many of the older members are not amused. I figured this match wouldn’t go as long as the promo, but The Shining Stars got the heat on Enzo. As bad as their gimmick is, Primo and Epico are good in the ring. At one point one of them goes for a corner dropkick on Enzo and hangs himself up in the turnbuckle. Impressive. Then, amazingly, one of The Shining Stars rolls up Enzo for the win!
Winners: Primo and Epico
There will certainly be many who complain about this outcome, but the truth is, RAW needs more legitimate tag teams as their division is currently even weaker than Smackdown’s (especially considering how buried Gallows and Anderson have become\). Primo and Epico can help fill that role. It’s just too bad their gimmick is so amazingly bad.
My Rating: *1/2
We have a backstage interview with Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens that is just fantastic. They could easily carry a multi-PPV feud over the Universal Title.
Match 6: Nia Jax vs. Ann Esposito
Another week, another Nia Jax squash match, the second squash of the night. Alicia Fox endorses this week’s jobber, which is a terrible way to get her over. At one point, Jax throws Esposito into the turnbuckle with a sickening thud. She ragdolled her and then won with yet another different move after she almost killed her opponent last week. it’s funny how her finisher keeps changing as WWE continues to look for moves Jax can perform safely. My advice: Just go back to the leg drop.
Winner: Nia Jax
My Rating: DUD
Anderson and Gallows take the ring for what was easily the night’s worst segment, and that includes what happened later in the infamous Titus O’Neil/Darren Young feud. They bring out some “old dudes,” who are actually regular guys in wigs, that are supposed to be The New Day in the future (or “Old Day”). After what seemed like an eternity, the real New Day finally came out and beat up the “Old Day.” This was an amazingly bad segment that was even worse than last week’s Stephanie/Paul Heyman diatribe. It’s a shame because we know Gallows and Anderson can be great.
Match 7: Darren Young vs. Jinder Mahal
Titus O’Neil is, regrettably, on commentary for this nothing match. Every time Darren bounces off the ropes, he does so with the second rope for some reason. It looks really awkward and stupid. I’m with Bryan Alvarez, this Darren Young/Titus O’Neil program is the worst feud of the decade. In fact, it might be the worst I’ve ever seen. I was pulling for Mahal. It didn’t happen.
Winner: Darren Young
My Rating: DUD, which is probably generous.
We have a trainwreck of a backstage segment with Alicia Fox and Nia Jax. Jax sounds like she’s reciting lines, probably because that’s exactly what she’s doing. At one point, Alicia Fox accidentally nails her in the face with some sort of object from a nearby table. Her reaction is priceless as she vehemently apologizes as Jax looks stunned, then they both realize they’re on live TV and go back to hating each other. This was bad, but it was the funny kind of bad, so I was fine with it, especially after the last two incredibly atrocious segments.
Match 8: Braun Strowman vs. Sin Cara
Just what we need on a show that is quickly dying a death: Braun Strowman. Sin Cara is facing him this week because Strowman disrespected the luchadore last week by removing his mask, which pissed off Sin Cara even though it was an American wrestler and not a Mexican one. I guess if you wear a mask, the loyalty crosses borders.
I understand the concept of having squash matches, but there were far too many on this show. This one was easily the worst, though, as Strowman didn’t even win clean in the ring; he won by countout. Pretty sure that completely defeats the purpose of a squash match. In the eyes of the casual fan: Strowman can’t even beat Sin Cara clean. What does that make him? A loser.
Winner by Countout: Braun Strowman
My Rating: DUD
Next we have the dreaded Sasha Banks announcement. The crowd is scared shitless as she takes the mic and lists off a host of former Women’s champions, none of whom are as good as she is. She looks absolutely stunning as she holds back tears while simultaneously finding time to bury the old Divas title which got quite the ovation on Twitter. She’s about to hit us with the bad news when… Dana Brooke appears. This immediately lets the crowd and Twitter know that this is a work. Dana comes to the ring where she is immediately decimated by Sasha who then tells her to tell Charlotte to be ready for a rematch at Clash of Champions. Sasha Banks should be nominated for an Oscar as Twitter immediately began comparing this to the infamous Mark Henry angle in 2013. I was reminded more of the Flair angle from 2007.
Fun Fact: After Sid Vicious bitched on Twitter about this being a discombobulated segment and I called him out for being a total hypocrite which included hitting him with the hashtag #We’reLivePal he blocked me on Twitter. Or at least he said he was going to, but at the time of this writing has failed to do so. Technology is hard. In honor of this, here is a list of WWE’s Top 10 worst promos, of which Sid takes top honors.
Main Event: Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
The crowd wasn’t nearly as hot for this as they should’ve been, but it’s hard to blame them after what was an atrocious hour of RAW. This show desperately needs to be cut back to two hours. However, the match was great, though it was dampened by the crowd and commercial break. The way Zayn, who has been the unsung hero of Monday Night RAW since the brand split, bounces off the ropes is fascinating. He sold his ankle from his match with Rollins a couple of weeks ago, but still managed to hit a nasty looking butterfly suplex on Owens outside the ring on the thinly padded concrete. Even so, Owens was able to hit him with a powerbomb (though not of the Pop-up variety) for the win.
Winner: Kevin Owens
My Rating: ***1/2
After the match, Reigns arrives for his first appearance on the show to a chorus of boos. Understandable, since it appeared he was going to beat up a man after a grueling match rather than when he was fresh. Jericho comes down to defend Owens, but then Foley arrives to make next week’s main event: Owens vs Reigns and if Reigns wins, he’s added to the title match at Clash of Champions. Should be a great match. Reigns spears Jericho for no reason to end the show.
Overall, RAW was good, but it could’ve been great if it didn’t have to fill three hours. But the same goes for every week so until they change the length (if that ever happens), look for Smackdown to continue to be superior.