I’ve decided to rejig the old format for these. As much as I enjoyed doing longform articles detailing damn near everything that happened during the three hours, I figured it was a Raw Recap, not a Raw Retelling. With that in mind, I’ve tweaked it a little to make for faster writing and easier reading.
Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar kicking off the show is always a treat. They were there to hype up Lesnar’s match at Hell in a Cell with The Undertaker in three weeks. What I find interesting is that it’s being billed as the third match in a trilogy. I still can’t get super excited for it, but their last match was enjoyable enough. Big Show, still sore after a Lesnar beating at Madison Square Garden, came out to ostensibly be the bigger man, but Lesnar shunned him. Big Show mouthed off and earned a one-way ticket to Suplex City, with Lesnar F-5ing him for good measure. A million times better than having the Authority come out.
Despite having seen so many versions of the same fight, I enjoyed the six man tag between “Diet Shield” (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and rotating third man- this time Randy Orton) against the dominant Wyatt Family. I like the fact that the Wyatts are a legitimate threat now. It was frustrating to sit through a decent Bray Wyatt promo knowing that his words meant precisely dick. Now Braun Strowman is in the picture, they’re backing up the unhinged promos. The match was pretty good. Strowman is still an inhuman monster who can’t be knocked down despite the best efforts of Ambrose and Reigns. Roman Reigns was especially impressive. Whilst the story has meandered and expanded to include Ambrose and the rest of the Wyatts, it’s smart that they’re bringing it back to where it started – personal beef between Bray and Roman.
Paige vs Natalya was an interesting one. We haven’t seen Natalya get a proper match in a while and this was a good one. The crowd were dead, but it was a solid fight. I was really surprised that Natalya made Paige tap out.
Shocking as it may be, Kevin Owens pissed off more people and he took on Sin Cara of the Lucha Dragons in singles action. It was a fun fight. Owens won comfortably and decided he wasn’t done and attacked the ringside Kalisto. Ryback thundered out to stop him and Owens escaped through the crowd, his Intercontinental title held aloft.
John Cena’s US Open Challenge closed the show. Cena laid down the challenge like he always does and waited for the challenger. Dolph Ziggler‘s music hit but nobody came out. Eventually, New Day appeared, dragging an unconscious Ziggler with them and dumping him on the ramp. They nominated Big E to take Cena on and the match got underway. Cena and Big E had a hell of a battle. Big E dominated, but we’ve all heard this song before. Cena takes a beating, springs up, hits the AA and wins. After Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston were banned from ringside, Big E looked to hit Cena with Woods’ trombone. Cena ducked and well, you know what happened. Cena retained, but New Day weren’t happy about it. They stomped Cena until the now conscious Dolph Ziggler stormed down for some retribution. However, Ziggler accidentally hit Cena with a superkick, taking him out of proceedings. Big E flattened Ziggler and the New Day stood tall. The Dudley Boyz ran down to stop them, but New Day overwhelmed them. The show ended with the ring filled with bodies and New Day leaving victorious. Proper vicious heel versions of the New Day is something I can get behind.
Sheamus took on Neville and steamrolled him in about 30 seconds thanks to a distraction from King Barrett. It seems like they’re trying to pull a Daniel Bryan with Neville as one of the biggest turning points in Bryan’s career was losing in 18 seconds to Sheamus at Wrestlemania 28. It’s rote as fuck by this point and the thing was that Daniel Bryan actually had a character. What is Neville’s character? He’s a plucky, short (in wrestling terms anyway) high flyer. What does he believe in? What motivates him? These questions could be asked of 90% of the roster and that’s one of their biggest problems full stop. I really hope they figure out what to do with Neville because he’s an incredible talent.
Seth Rollins and Kane went up against the Dudleys and for the longest time it was enjoyable. The whole split personality Kane angle is definitely goofy, but Kane makes it work. I liked Corporate Kane looking for an excuse to run backstage and change into the mask. I dug the fact that not even being handcuffed to the ropes can stop him from limping off to come back as “the Demon”. Creative’s inconsistency with the rules made another show-sucking appearance as the ref called for a DQ due to a table being brought into the match. It was a weak finish and I’m disappointed that Hell in a Cell looks to be the end to an entertaining gimmick for Kane. I thought the whole point was that Kane was hiding the Demon side well, even fooling an independent HR woman into thinking he’s the perfect employee. For Stephanie to come down and wreck all that by adding a stipulation to his Hell in a Cell match was dumb and slammed the door on a bit of gimmickry that was actually working.
Ryback had a weird pre-recorded promo that was just him saying the bland hero stuff he always says, but with better lighting and intercut with entrance video footage of him posing and roaring. It confused the living shit out of me.
Team BAD vs. Team Bella. I’m really trying hard to care about the Divas division. I feel lied to about the whole Divas revolution thing and I’m not seeing the change it was meant to bring. We still have factions, despite Paige breaking away from her team and it’s laziness on Creative’s part, pure and simple. The Bellas aren’t great on the mic and speak words like they’re Vulcans. It was good to see Sasha Banks get some hometown love though. I enjoyed the ending sequence too, but the wrestling isn’t on trial. It’s the entertainment part of “sports entertainment” that is and it ain’t doing well. I’m holding out hope that this Paige angle gets somewhere and the Divas division is paid the creative attention it deserves.
The storyline that just won’t fucking die returned with Chapter 4927 of the Rusev/Ziggler/Lana/Summer ordeal taking place. Summer came out to present a video package about how much she cares for Rusev and when the man himself came out, she proposed marriage. To be fair to both Rusev and Summer, they are trying their absolute best with this thing, but you can’t breathe life into a turd. Weirdly, I’ve seen people defend this as being like the golden Attitude Era, but I hated that shit back then too. Just fucking kill it before it lays eggs. I’ve been close to tearing my extraocular muscles from violently rolling my eyes too often for this to continue without injury.
Was tonight the night?
Erm, not really. WWE are pulling in some terrible ratings right now and Raws like this aren’t going to do them any favours. The problem is the writing more than anything. It’s schizophrenic as hell and how an episode can contain a fantastic moment like New Day dragging out Ziggler and something as terrible as the half baked Rusev storyline is beyond me. The average episode of Raw is a mixed bag and that needs to change.