After one of the worst months for RAW in history, the men and women who make up the roster must pull out all the stops to take their brand out of the painful rut they’re in. A lack of interest plagues every match of the night; hell, I don’t even know what all of the matches are going into the show. I guess I’ll take it as it comes.
Match 1: Hell in a Cell United States Championship Match: Roman Reigns vs. Rusev
It seems like we’ve seen this match twenty times, though I guess the real number is somewhere closer to three. Why WWE must insist on doing the same matches over and over again, I’ll never understand. My guess: pure laziness. Putting a Cell around this feud doesn’t add anything to it; it just detracts from the legacy of the match type.
The match starts with the typical, plodding pace that we’re used to from these two. The crowd hates Roman Reigns as usual. Like it or not, this man will be booed his entire career. There is no life in this feud or this match. The crowd really wants some tables. Roman Reigns beat the shit out of Rusev with a kendo stick. As always, Rusev’s facials are awesome. Rusev returned the favor, but it didn’t seem as epic with that ridiculous flat jacket Reigns wears. Is there a more impractical move in WWE than the Superman Punch? Rusev puts Reigns in The Accolade, a move with which he’s never had success in this rivalry. Unsurprisingly, Reigns escapes. Rusev hits Reigns with some of the most gentle chain shots I’ve ever seen. Byron Saxton is doing a poor job of suspending disbelief. Rusev puts Reigns in The Accolade on the steel steps (inside the ring) using a chain across the mouth. He still escaped. Crowd boos. Reigns spears Rusev off the steps for the win.
Winner: Roman Reigns
That wasn’t the best match, but it was the best in this rivalry. Please God let it be over now. Still, even though the crowd hates Reigns, there is no doubt he and Rusev have elevated the title significantly since it was held by Alberto Del Rio and Kalisto.
My Rating: ***
Backstage, Owens gives a snarky promo as is typical. Tom Phillips is terrible as is the Universal Title.
Bayley is on her way to the ring. Last time I saw her she was beaten by Dana Brooke rather unceremoniously.
Match 2: Dana Brooke vs. Bayley
I guess it’s Bayley’s turn to win now in this 50-50 booking company. I’ve heard that Vince seen Dana Brooke as a future babyface. With that voice of hers, I’ll just have to sincerely hope that isn’t the case. Inexplicably as I’m watching this match, my WWE Network feed comes to an abrupt halt, so I miss a notable amount of the match. When I return, Bayley hits her patented elbow in the corner. Bayley is selling her shoulder from something on RAW. She hits the Bayley-to-Belly and gits the win.
I didn’t see really any of the match, so I’ll refrain from rating it. Bottom line: the right person won. Let’s hope we don’t have to see this match four more times in the weeks ahead, but I won’t hold my breath. Byron Saxton is horrible at his job.
We return to Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon already saying it’s one of the greatest nights in RAW history. What a stretch that is. Jericho thankfully comes in and saves the segment. Crowd is going crazy for him.
Michael Cole plugs a new Network show called, get this, RAW Talk. That may be the least-impressive name I’ve ever heard.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass are on the way to the ring for their throwaway match with Anderson and Gallows.
Match 3: Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
The duo do their typical one-liners that have gotten pretty stale for me, but the crowd is eating it up. The line about having Andy tattooed on the bottom of Big Cass’ boot was pretty good.
Match starts with Cass and Amore dominating Gallows and Anderson. Amore takes a pretty nasty spill after a clothesline from Luke Gallows. This seems like a boring match on RAW. Big Cass absolutely destroys both Gallows and Anderson, but then Amore tags in, who eats a huge superkick from Gallows for the loss.
Winners: Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
There was very little in this match to sink into. It didn’t last long, and in the long run, really doesn’t matter.
My Rating: *1/2
The next match is Owens vs. Rollins which means the women are going to be the real main event (since nobody buys that “three main events” crap). That is indeed historic.
Match 4: Universal Championship Hell in a Cell Match: Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens
WWE have no idea how to book a babyface. Rollins has been made to look like a sophomoric idiot the past few weeks using such cringe-worthy phrases as “sparkle crotch.” Hopefully everybody can forget about that nonsense and enjoy what should be an excellent match.
The champion enters the ring first. Not a fan of that. This may well be the end of Owens’ reign as champion as Vince is probably ready to put the belts on the guys he considers to be the “real stars.” That, or HHH could get involved and further set up that eventual match. But wouldn’t it be refreshing to see a main event-caliber match end without such shenanigans? I think so.
Naturally this match is awesome, though the commentary seems particularly bad in this one. Owens dominates the early portion of the match, but Rollins comes back with a brutal suplex on the side of the ring. Kevin Owens destroys the ref with a fire extinguisher. As he’s being tended to, Jericho runs down and locks himself in the cell. Crowd goes crazy for him. Rollins knocks him into the cell and then gets nailed with a brutal Kevin Owens-variation of the powerbomb. Near fall. Rollins gets back into it with the knee off the top rope. He goes for the pedigree on Owens but is interrupted by Jericho, who eats the Pedigree himself. Rollins and Owens almost botch a powerbomb spot, but they salvage it and Rollins launches Owens through two tables to the outside of the ring. Crowd loved it. Rollins gets Owens into the ring, hits him with a Frog Splash, and goes for the pin, but Jericho stops the ref’s count. Rollins attacks him. Crowd is loving this. Rollins gets back into the ring and eats a Pop-up Powerbomb, but manages to get a shoulder up before the three. Jericho and Owens gang up on Rollins. Owens nails him with a steel chair multiple times. But then Rollins gets the chair and wears out his adversaries. Owens gets the upper hand again and DDTs Rollins on the chair. He absolutely planted him. Finally, Owens sets up two chairs in the seated position and powerbombs Rollins through them for the win.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Very good match. I wasn’t blown away, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a Rollins victory, but Owens’ reign continues. Surely he’ll move on to a different opponent in the future.
My Rating: ****
Match 5: Cruiserweight Championship Match: TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick
The ropes are purple which means it’s Cruiserweight time. This division has suffered from some horrendous backstage segments and matches with a lack of any sort of direction that fail to stand out from other matches outside the division. There are a lot of things to criticize about how things have been handled with this division, but Brian Kendrick has been easily the least offensive. I think it would be for the betterment of the division if he comes out with the victory here.
Brian Kendrick gets the advantage and creatively ties TJ Perkins’ wrist to the bottom rope before suplexing him right into the mat. Kendrick reverses an attempted Mysterio-esque DDT into an awesome Regal-Plex. He appears to go for a Burning Hammer, but it is reversed. Kendrick puts Perkins into the “Captain’s Hook,” but Perkins reverses it into a pin. Multiple times in the process of watching this match, the WWE Network gives out and I’m forced to restart it. Kendrick clearly fakes a knee injury, but Perkins buys it hook, line and sinker. Nothing like making your babyface champions look like idiots. We get a light CM Punk chant. Kendrick puts Perkins in the Captain’s Hook for the submission victory.
Winner: Brian Kendrick
And with that, TJ Perkins has been absolutely buried. This is the right outcome, but, wow, did they make Perkins look like a total geek in the process.
My Rating: **
We are subjected to an incredibly terrible commercial about The WWE Network… which, I might add, we’re already watching. I swear this company is the dumbest in history.
Match 6: RAW Tag Team Championship Match: Big E and Xavier Woods vs. Cesaro and Sheamus
Good match here; better than it had any right to be. Cesaro is an absolute machine and if he and Sheamus become Tag Team Champions, they could be great. It wasn’t to be here, though, as a chaotic finish saw a DQ ending. It was disappointing, but it didn’t come as a surprise; it’s clear that WWE wants The New Day to beat Demolition’s record.
Winners: Cesaro and Sheamus
My Rating: ***
Match of the Night: Main Event: Match 7: RAW Women’s Championship Hell in a Cell Match: Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte
This was an extremely good match. Going in I thought that Sasha Banks would retain her title successfully in a match that would be good, but inferior to the Universal Championship Match from earlier in the night. I was wrong on both counts. Charlotte attacked Sasha Banks before the cell was fully down and promptly powerbombed her into the Spanish announce table before the match even began. We were taken through an EMT-laden premature ending tease ala King of the Ring ’98, but obviously Sasha Banks went back into the cell so the match could begin. What followed were a multitude of scary bumps and risks taken which has become the norm in these Women’s matches, but what was absent was the presence of screw-ups and botches. Other than Sasha Banks vs. Bayley in Brooklyn and NXT Takeover: Respect, this was the best women’s match I’ve ever seen. Both women hit their moves with ferocity and finesse, but it was their facial expressions, which showed off a startling range of emotions, that told the real story and made the match a classic. There were moments of pause in between the plethora of spots that slowed things down a tad when it wasn’t necessary, but that’s not the story to take away from this match. The bottom line: these two women were given the spotlight and the time necessary to hit the big one, and they knocked it out of the park. Excellent job from both women to put a hell of a positive light on the show.
My Rating: ****1/2