Tonight’s RAW aimed to combat Monday Night Football and right the course after last week’s abysmal ratings disaster with a Clash of Champions-altering main event. Elsewhere, Sheamus and Cesaro continued their increasingly pleasurable Best of Seven series and the women’s division was highlighted heavily. But nobody had more screen time than Mick Foley who made matches, argued with the talent backstage, and tried to wrangle an irate Seth Rollins. I break the seemingly never-ending show down segment by segment below.
It’s worth noting that Paige is still in the show’s opening montage. We could sure use her right now.
The show starts with Foley in the ring. At least Steph isn’t with him. He mentions the night’s main event between Reigns and Owens. The crowd still hates Reigns. He then starts talking about Backlash for some reason and eventually brings out Charlotte who is accompanied by Dana Brooke sans clipboard. We have a collection of moments from last week that all depict Dana Brooke as a total geek. This leads to a boring conversation until Sasha comes out to a great ovation. She gets to the ring and stands there in silence for a minute before Bayley arrives to a good reaction but not as big as Sasha’s. Bayley and Banks make their cases for being the true No. 1 contender for several minutes until Foley makes a great match between the two for tonight. But then Brooke slaps Charlotte and inexplicably gets added to the match to make it a Triple Threat. Damn.
Match 1: Women’s Championship No. 1 Contender’s Match: Sasha Banks vs. Bayley vs. Dana Brooke
Charlotte was on commentary for this match, and was actually quite good. Throughout the first segment we have Dana Brooke on offense. When Bayley and Sasha finally knock her out of the ring, we go to a commercial break. Fuck. You. WWE. By the time we get back from commercials, Dana has Bayley in a hold. They go through a couple of good spots including the typical Triple Threat powerbomb/superplex spot. At the match’s climax, Banks puts Brooke in the Bank Statement where it looks like she’s going to get the win by submission, but Bayley knocks her off and hits Brooke with the Bayley-to-Belly. She has Brooke in the pin until Sasha rolls up Bayley for the win.
Winner: Sasha Banks
Good opening match, but it would’ve been much better without Dana Brooke who had done nothing to earn the opportunity to be there. If she wasn’t in the match to get pinned or tap out, what the fuck was the point of having her there?
My Rating: ***
Dana Brooke gets accosted by Charlotte backstage again before grabbing her bags as they leave the arena.
Primo and Epico sell a Puerto Rican timeshare to R-Truth. R-Truth is all for it until Goldust takes him away. Then Big Cass and Enzo show up. Enzo challenges one of them, who responds in Spanish. Enzo vows to start with Rosetta Stone.
Tom Phillips interviews Kevin Owens, who gets a great ovation. He says Reigns should never be in the ring with him. The crowd agrees. Jericho then shows up and announces that Sami Zayn will be his guest on the Highlight Reel. Jericho is acting completely over the top and uses crazy facials.
We return to the ring where we are told that after the impending commercial break, we’re going to get a match featuring Bo Dallas. Are they trying to get people to change the channel? Hello football.
Match 2: Bo Dallas vs. Brandon Scott
Bo Dallas recites some stupid poetry before the bell rings. Of all the people to build up in this company, Bo Dallas would be one of my last choices. Scott gets a “Let’s go jobber” chant from the crowd. Welcome to the 2016 fanbase, WWE. Bo Dallas wins with a swinging neckbreaker.
Winner: Bo Dallas
Even Braun Strowman and Nia Jax’s squash matches are more entertaining than this. And this was all we got before heading back to commercials. That won’t make the Hulu version.
My Rating: DUD
Jericho arrives for the Highlight Reel. Corey Graves says Jericho is a better journalist than Anderson Cooper. Coming from my journalistic background I find this to be absolutely true. Jericho makes what may be the most entertaining introduction in Highlight Reel history as Sami Zayn makes his way to the ring. Graves compares Sami to Seth Rogen. I’ll never unsee that now. Jericho can work a crowd like no other. Jericho blames Sami for his negative relationship with Kevin Owens, who Jericho claims is a great, honorable man. Zayn calls Jericho a stupid idiot for trusting Kevin Owens, which the crowd loves. Jericho is about to say he’s giving the fans the gift of Jericho but Zayn cuts him off and tells him that gift sucks. I laughed. Zayn namedrops inspirations like Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero. He fails to mention Chris Benoit, of course, and then calls Jericho Kevin Owens’ bitch. Crowd pops big for that. Jericho attacks Zayn leaving him lying in the ring. This should be an excellent match at Clash of Champions, which will likely be a much better show than Backlash. Good segment.
Match 3: Cesaro vs. Sheamus
It’s funny that Cesaro’s original entrance music was originally Dean Malenko’s when he had the 007 gimmick. But now that Cesaro has that gimmick, he has to come out to this ridiculous noise. On the other hand, Sheamus got a major upgrade to his entrance when he turned heel. “Championship opportunity” is the most unintentionally hilarious phrase in WWE today.
Match begins with Sheamus being very cocky. Rather amusing. Cesaro is going for his big moves early including the Neutralizer and Sharpshooter, but Sheamus rolls out of the ring. Cesaro jumps off the apron to do a Mysterio-esque seated senton on Sheamus. Cesaro is a beast. Lots of awesome near falls as Sheamus continues to target the lower back of Cesaro. Cesaro cheats to win by rolling up Sheamus with a foot on the rope.
This match was easily the best of the Best of Seven thus far and among the best contests I’ve ever seen between these two. Lots of good psychology as Sheamus targeted Cesaro’s injured back. But he couldn’t put it away. Cesaro squeaks out a victory keeping it kayfabe believable that he could lose the next match.
My Rating: ***1/2
Backstage we have Foley and Seth Rollins. Rollins isn’t happy that Roman is getting the opportunity. Good segment here as Foley fires up before Rollins calls him a fool for sticking beside Stephanie (can’t argue with him there).
We return from commercial to Alicia Fox on the way to the ring off of her star-making performance last week. AND THEY SHOWED IT AGAIN!!! Incredible. Then Tom Phillips interviews Nia Jax backstage who continues to deliver some of the most wooden promos I’ve ever heard.
Match 4: Alicia Fox vs. Nia Jax
As much as I’m not a fan of Nia Jax, I must admit that I do rather like her music. This is the first time I’ve seen an Alicia Fox match in I don’t know how long. The actions spills outside, Jax slings Fox around a bit by the hair, and then spears her through a clearly gimmicked section of the barricade. Michael Cole calls Alicia Fox one of the most accomplished women’s wrestlers over the last few years in WWE. I don’t know what show he’s been watching, but it clearly isn’t Monday Night RAW. Superstars, maybe?
Refs call off the match after the barricade spot. So I guess this is a no contest ending? Who cares, really?
My Rating: DUD
It’ll be too bad when Nia starts facing the top women on the roster, because the match quality will nose dive significantly. Bayley knows how to work with her, though.
We get a promo from The New Day. They tease making us watch last week’s horrendous Old Day segment, but then don’t and bury the segment. I popped. Other than that, this segment was nothing but a time-waster.
Match 5: Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows vs. Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston
This feud sucks. And it’s a shame because Gallows and Anderson should be great, but they’ve been beaten like a drum and given this horrible Vince McMahon comedy gimmick. Absolutely awful. Frankly, I was more interested in Nia Jax vs. Alicia Fox than this match which literally means absolutely subzero nothing since Gallows and Anderson have already been named the No. 1 Contender’s for New Day’s titles. They’ll be getting a “championship opportunity,” if you will. This match was long and the show was starting to drag at this point. Finally Gallows and Anderson hit Xavier Woods with The Magic Killer for the win.
Winners: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
My Rating: *1/2
Tom Phillips interviews Reigns backstage. Crowd boos as soon as they see him.
Commentators plug next week’s arrival of the cruiserweights. Thank God for that.
Jinder Mahal is on the way to the ring to total silence from the crowd. JoJo says he’s the man that comes in peace. Whatever. They show a picture of the crowd. Apparently there’s one man that’s a fan of this guy. Jinder Mahal cuts a promo in some other language. Que the “what” chants. Then Jack Swagger comes out. I’m for Jinder.
Match 6: Jack Swagger vs. Jinder Mahal
It’s crazy to think that Swagger was once the World Heavyweight Champion. And what a terrible reign it was. Crowd starts a USA chant, which is probably my least favorite chant ever. After a couple of boring minutes, Jinder Mahal hits Swagger with a vanilla neckbreaker for the win.
Winner: Jinder Mahal
I can’t believe Mahal won that match.
My Rating: DUD
Tom Phillips drops a hint that Swagger’s contract is expiring soon. Can’t say we’d be missing much if he left.
Match 7: Enzo Amore vs. Epico
Enzo does a cross body to the outside on Epico. Cole calls him ‘zo, which is unbelievably lame. But Epico gets the win after pinning Enzo while Primo held onto his legs preventing the kickout.
My Rating: 1/2*
Backstage we have a conversation between Rollins and Kevin Owens. Holy shit Owens was excellent. I’m still low key over-the-moon that he’s the top guy on RAW.
Match of the Night: Main Event: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens.
Reigns arrives to boos, but with less gusto than earlier in the night. The crowd is exhausted from this third hour. Owens goes for a pin early and tells the ref it should’ve been a three count when Reigns easily kicked out at one. A match filled with headlocks after a long show gets interrupted by a Rollins attack on Kevin Owens leading to a DQ. That wasn’t going to get over with the Twitter crowd, but Foley restarted the match after yelling at Rollins. Reigns and Owen battle back into the ring. Reigns hits him with those multiple clotheslines in the corner. I hate those. Owens hits Reigns with that awesome twisting superplex for a near fall, then nails him with a frog splash for another. They’ve successfully worked the crowd into this match. Reigns hits Owens with a Superman Punch for yet another false finish. Crowd is going crazy and chanting “This is awesome.” Reigns hits some more signature spots before Rusev runs down and eats a Superman Punch. Owens capitalizes with a Pop-up Powerbomb for the finish to tonight’s match of the night.
Winner: Kevin Owens
That was the finish that a lot of people expected and is the right choice. Rusev has unfinished business with Reigns, and Rollins and Owens don’t need Reigns for their match, especially considering how many multi-man matches we’ve seen lately.
My Rating: ****
After the match, Rusev beats down Reigns and puts him in The Accolade as the crowd chants their approval. Michael Cole very stupidly says “Rusev crush” as we go off the air.
Overall this wasn’t a bad show, but, as always, the third hour dragged horribly. But that’s the case every week and it isn’t changing anytime soon. What did you think? Let me know in the comment section below.