RAW has been far-from-excellent in the last couple of weeks, but hopefully the addition of Cruiserweights to the show after the close of their fantastic tournament will bring some more eyes, and quality, to the show. Other than that, WWE will need to work hard to put over their PPV this Sunday, though they’ve already succeeded in making it seem bigger than Backlash was. As always I’m here to call all of the action and offer my thoughts on the night’s proceedings.
Reigns starts the show. It makes sense storyline-wise since he was involved in the main story at the end of last week’s show, but it also probably won’t encourage people who are more interested in other things to stick around. I’d probably mute the TV if I wasn’t watching for this website. It’s a shame RAW can’t just start with a match like in the old days.
We’re quickly greeted by Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley. Remember when they said the show wouldn’t be about them? Lies. Foley announces Rollins vs. Rusev. That should be fine. He then announces Rusev vs. Reigns for the U.S. title at Clash of Champions. Meh. Foley goes on a soliloquy where he acknowledges the ever-present boos for Reigns. After some more rambling, Foley announces a rematch between Reigns and Kevin Owens. Owens’ music hits immediately. Owens says he already beat Reigns twice last week. Steph says it won’t be for the title, but Foley counters by making it a Steel Cage match. So we get Reigns in the opening segment and in the main event. Rollins’ music hits and he swaggers out to the stage to some cheers. This should be a pretty good opening match.
I know that Roman isn’t the most popular guy, but if he’s going to face Rusev again, I think he should win and become United States Champion. I like Rusev, but he hasn’t done much with the title and you know WWE is always going to have a prominent place on each show for Reigns.
We return to Foley arguing with Steph (who definitely isn’t working with HHH…) backstage. Then Rusev shows up and he’s pissed, also. Is there anybody pleased with Foley’s work as GM? Foley gets on the phone with Chris Jericho, but we return to the ring where Rollins is waiting.
Match 1: Seth Rollins vs. Rusev
This is a sidenote, but I really like the RAW stage setup. It’s a nice change of pace from what they had before, and everything seems huge.
Announcers are trying to put over that the loser here loses “momentum” going into Sunday. Reality check: this match means absolutely nothing. Action spills to the outside and Rusev smashes Rollins’ back into one of the posts, which are back to their normal size this week. Rusev continues to target the back of Rollins. Commercial break No. 2. I’m already tired.
We return to Rusev still in control, but Rollins breaks away and starts to pick up the pace. He’s selling his back, but still hits a big Falcon’s Arrow. Fight sprawls outside again, and the two men get counted out. Very lame.
Double Count-out DRAW.
Rollins dives off of the announce table onto Rusev. Cole says it was a first. It most certainly was not. You know how to get Rollins over as a face? Have him beat guys like Rusev. WWE failed to let that happen, and neither man gained anything.
My Rating: *1/2
Backstage Dana Brooke acknowledges the fact that last week’s Women’s match ended in a double pin. That answers Bryan Alvarez’s question. Foley makes the Women’s Title match at Clash of Champions a Triple Threat. Charlotte is “furious” and then gives Dana Brooke the lightest shove ever.
We return from commercials to see the steel cage. Announcers start hyping the Cruiserweights. They even get packages. Awesome. We see a brief package for both Cedric Alexander and Brian Kendrick, which for my money, are the two best guys WWE signed for the division, even better than TJ Perkins.
We return to Jericho and Owens backstage. They both agree that Foley is a stupid idiot. Jericho may be the best thing on RAW today. Braun Strowman, however, certainly is not. Maybe he can actually win in the ring this time.
Match 2: Braun Strowman vs. Sin Cara
Is Sin Cara still defending that jobber from three weeks ago? The crowd is absolutely silent. Sin Cara manages to execute a Suicide Dive without botching. But then he gets planted by Strowman and pinned.
Winner: Braun Strowman
If this is the payoff, what was the point of the count-out victory from two weeks ago?
My Rating: DUD
Backstage, Sasha Banks is stretching and looking sexy when Bayley shows up. She’s obviously very excited about getting the title match on Sunday. Both say they’ll win at the PPV.
Match 3: Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Charlotte and Dana Brooke
This match features pretty much the entire Women’s division on RAW. Paige’s return will help, but for now, there’s no doubt in my mind that the women’s division on Smackdown is stronger, if less star-studded. Even so, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Charlotte are all better than anyone on the blue brand. Charlotte’s outfit really works with the title.
No, Michael Cole, Dana was not impressive in last week’s match. She brought it down considerably. We get almost no action before we go to more commercials. And we still have two hours to go.
Back in the ring, Dana and Charlotte have isolated Bayley. Sasha tags in and gets isolated as well. Nothing about Dana’s offense looks believable. Bayley is the best worker in the match. Bayley finally gets a good hot tag, there’s a great spot where she’s going for the Bayley-to-Belly but Dana Brooke grabs Charlotte’s feet to prevent the move. In the end, Charlotte pins Bayley for the win.
Winners: Charlotte and Dana Brooke
Nothing special. Winning and losing this match again meant nothing.
My Rating: *1/2
Backstage, we have Rollins awkwardly staring at Stephanie McMahon’s office sign before he walks in and we go to more commercials.
When we returns we see some of the Memphis Grizzlies who couldn’t look more bored. Backstage, Stephanie buries Seth Rollins, otherwise known as the guy WWE is trying to make RAW’s top babyface.
We return to the arena to see Bo Dallas making his entrance. I can almost hear the remotes clicking across the country.
Match 4: Bo Dallas vs. Gary Graham
Another short squash. Nothing more to say.
Winner: Bo Dallas
My Rating: DUD
Match 5: Cesaro vs. Sheamus
Don’t forget that this whole thing is for a CHAMPIONSHIP OPPORTUNITY!!! …Yeah whatever. Action starts out quick. They had the match of the show last week, and could very well do the same tonight. At the very least, this should easily be the best thing on the show thus far. Great action in the early going, but once again it’s interrupted by commercials.
We return to one of Cesaro’s patented dropkicks to his opponent on the top turnbuckle. The action goes outside, which is where these matches have tended to excel. Cesaro seems like a wrestling god after everything we’ve been subjected to up to this point. Sheamus does White Noise on the side of the apron, which as we all know, is the hardest part of the ring. Announcers do a good job of pushing Cesaro’s bad back. Sheamus is vicious as he targets the back. Celtic Cross into the backbreaker is great. Then the Celtic Knot ups the ante. Sheamus tries the ol’ foot on the rope spot, but the ref sees him and stops the count. Great, fast-paced action. This is the best match of the series yet. Eventually, Cesaro hits the Neutralizer for the win.
Very good match. It injected a little bit of life into the show, and even this dead Memphis crowd got invested by the end. Cesaro is The Man, but Sheamus is also very good. Once again, the main event and even the Cruiserweights will have their work cut out to follow that.
My Rating: ***1/2
Backstage we have Chris Jericho and Mick Foley do some lame comedy involving Foley’s missing ear. Foley disses him and Jericho sets him up for another, as Jericho calls it, “cheap babyface pop.”
We return to Jericho in the ring to read his list of grievances. It appears to be significantly shorter than the list of his 1004 holds. Braceface in Row 12 is among the items on the list. Enzo Amore and Big Cass interrupt for some reason. These G’s may be certified, but they also haven’t gotten a win in at least a month. They do their typical stuff and the crowd is into it, but then The Shining Stars come out and suck the life right out of the segment. But The New Day arrives and fires up the crowd again. They admit the only reason they’re out here is because they have nothing better to do. Jericho continues to take notes. They say they’re going to beat Gallows and Anderson at the PPV, so of course they arrive on the scene. The ring is getting very crowded. I smell a 10-Man tag. Holla, holla, holla. Jericho says they’re all on the list of idiots on RAW before Zayn shows up and attacks him. Then everybody starts fighting. Why not?
Match 6: Chris Jericho, Primo, Epico, Gallows and Anderson vs. Sami Zayn, Big E, Kofi Kingston, Enzo Amore and Big Cass
Big E continually smacks either Primo or Epico on the ass to get the fans to clap for The New Day. Great. Heels get the heat on Kofi. Kofi manages to tag Big Cass, and the action starts to break down. Cass “kicks” either Primo or Epico in the face, but he was actually pretty off the mark. Action continues until Zayn kicks either Primo or Epico with the Helluva Kick and then Amore comes off the top for the win.
Winners: Sami Zayn, Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Kofi Kingston and Big E
Fun, but short match. Didn’t matter who won.
My Rating: *1/2
The cruiserweights are next which means Rich Swann, Gran Metalik, Brian Kendrick and Cedric Alexander are going to be on RAW. I’m marking out a bit, I must be honest.
We get an Eddie Guerrero package, probably to help put over the fact that Cruiserweights rule. Chyna is included, which is interesting.
Back in the ring, Foley botches a bunch of lines as he introduces the Cruiserweights. They changed the red lights to purple for this segment. Not sure that’s necessary.
Match of the Night: Match 7: Rich Swann vs. Gran Metalik vs. Cedric Alexander vs. Brian Kendrick
We go to commercials as soon as they’re all introduced. So either they’ll be standing around during the break, or we’ll miss the beginning of the match.
I guees they just stood around because the match starts as we return to the program. Kendrick leaves the ring immediately, of course. Everything Cedric Alexander does is phenomenal. Crowd was dead at the beginning of the match, but after Metalik does his second-rop senton over the top, the crowd is chanting “This is Awesome” for the first time of the night. Swan sells the hell out of Brian Kendrick’s offense outside the ring. Kendrick is vicious as always. We go to more commercials. As we return, Metalik starts his signature offense. Crowd seems a little more into it since we left. There are, like five people, chanting “Fight forever.” Cedric hits a crazy Enzuiguri on Swann. All of his strikes are excellent. Kendrick was going for sliced bread, Metalik counters, but then Kendrick counters the counter into a great Tornado DDT. Excellent spot. Swann hits a crazy roundhouse to the face of Cedric. There is a smattering of “Swann” chants. Kendrick puts Cedric in the Bully Choke which Cole calls “The Captain’s Hook.” Fuck. Cedric escapes, but he ends up back in the hold which gives Kendrick the submission victory.
Winner: Brian Kendrick
I wish it would’ve been Swan or Metalik that tapped, but Kendrick is a good choice for the winner to go against TJ Perkins. Great match, even if the crowd needs more time to get into these guys.
My Rating: ***1/2
We are told that Nia Jax will be facing Alicia Fox on the Clash of Champions kickoff show. That’ll be one to skip.
Main Event: Steel Cage Match: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
Immediately, Owens is going for the cage door ala Owen Hart. Reigns just looks at the guy holding the door when he has the opportunity. He superkicks Reigns for a near-fall and then we go back to commercials. Hoo boy. When we return both guys are climbing the side of the cage. Owens inevitably gets racked on the top rope. He sells it far less than AJ Styles. Reigns does his multiple clothesline spot in the corner. It looks terrible as always. Owens responds with a Cannonball, which is a much better move. Reigns reverses a Pop-up Powerbomb with a Superman Punch. Nothing Cole does is worse than when he ejaculates for that move. Reigns kicks out of a Pop-up Powerbomb. He hits a Superman Punch from the top rope as Kevin Owens tried to escape the cage. Reigns escapes out the cage as Owens escapes out the door. But Reigns’ feet hit the floor first.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Not that it matters who won this match, really, but having your champion lose to the guy who’s going for the United States title is not a great way to get him over. The match was good overall, but not quite as good as Sheamus vs. Cesaro or the Cruiserweights.
My Rating: ***
After the match, Rusev arrives and he and Owens lock Reigns in the cage to beat him up. Rusev has Reigns in The Accolade when Seth Rollins arrives to jump off the cage. The crowd eats it up and the show goes off the air.
Another long show, though it was the third hour that featured the best stuff instead of the worst as has been the case for the least few weeks. But there was still a lot of fat on the show that probably deterred many from making it to the good stuff.