Tonight’s WWE Raw was fine. After the mess that was last week’s offering, WWE had to improve the direction of their flagship show. While I’m not sure if this will bring audiences back by the millions – it at least showed that WWE are willing to offer something new. How new? Let’s take a look at what tonight’s edition of Monday Night Raw offered up.
Reigns Challenges Sets His Summerslam Challenge
Roman Reigns talks about his yard like it’s a real Championship in WWE all the time – but tonight he used it to claim a Championship match. I’m not sure if Undertaker ever invoked that kind of thing, but I would have thought that Roman Reigns can’t just come out to the ring and announce himself the number one contender? It’s part of his character’s problem right now, he’s so arrogant that I suspect he’ll never win over hardcore haters.
Outside of that logic gap, this was a solid segment – if for no other reason than it made Joe look big league. He didn’t back down from Reigns – and the fans seemed to take him seriously. Could have done without the silly Reigns fightback – Joe really needs to look strong before taking on Lesnar, but I guess that’s the price of protecting Roman at this point.
Matt & Jeff Hardy vs. Luke Gallows & Anderson
The match itself had no major faults. The story was of the Hardy’s fighting back from defeat to capture the win. The sad thing here is that Gallows and Anderson don’t look like major threats right now. They feel like bit-part players in a division that seems to be overlooking them. I’m not sure why WWE haven’t been able to make it work, but this match was a good sign of where things have gone so wrong.
As for the Hardy’s, at least WWE hasn’t lost focus with them. I do worry there’s a tipping point coming for the pair though, who will likely have to break up or turn heel at some stage in order to remain fresh. The fans are still on board, but for how long?
Finn Balor vs. Bo Dallas
Imagine if you were told the week before Wrestlemania 33 that Finn Balor would be struggling heading into the summer period. Sadly it seems WWE don’t have anything for their top face to do right now. Keeping him away from Lesnar only seems to be pushing him into these bizarre mid-card matches; that he really should be above.
I was a huge fan of Bo Dallas’s new look though. The guy looks great; like a hermit. He really seems to have an edge – and with the events of later in the night playing out as they did, Bo seems to be heading in a positive direction now.
Rollins Talks About His Videogame Cover
If nothing else, Rollins is really coming along as a face. His promo work has improved massively, as fans in attendance follow his every word now. He’s found a nice spot on the Monday Night Raw roster – and if he continues to improve in this manner, I can see him easily being one of the first men to challenge Reigns when he becomes Champion.
Sadly the same can’t be said for Bray Wyatt. It’s a constant theme in these reviews, but Wyatt just doesn’t do anything for me at this point. Like a loud fart, he makes a grand entrance but ends up just stinking up the joint. I’m not sure who’s winning this feud, but part of me hopes that Wyatt gets some kind of momentum out of it. Of the two Superstars – he’s easily the one in most need of momentum right now.
Akira Tozawa vs. TJP.
The decision to put Akira with Titus O’Neil is seemingly working wonders. It covers Akira’s lack of English skills, and also is helping to draw eyes onto the Cruiserweight division. I like how Titus is calling out Neville on his hypocrisy – and the match itself wasn’t all that bad.
For sure, potential. But can WWE make fans really want to see Akira capture the Cruiserweight Championship?
Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns
Don’t believe the crowd, this was actually a really good match. Reigns and Joe work well together, putting on a very rough but engaging affair (This match actually reminded me a lot of Reign’s Wrestlemania 31 match against Lesnar).
The big reveal was that Braun Strowman was back, his distraction enough for Joe to get his submission finisher in. An important win for Joe. The return of Braun is also huge for Raw, which has been begging for someone to come along and stand up to Reigns in a meaningful way.
Miz Apologizes to Maryse – It All Goes To Heck
A fun segment that mirrored the celebration from a few weeks back. This time Miz had two bears and a grandfather clock that wasn’t destroyed. Sadly it didn’t take long for Ambrose to arrive and cause chaos – but his success was short-lived. As he celebrated, the bears attacked. Turns out we have a new stable on Raw – featuring Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas.
It’s a good move for WWE. Miz has a track record of getting guys over (See Sandow) and I reckon that this will only serve to help them get some much-needed heat. Ambrose sadly doesn’t seem to be getting much from this feud at this stage. He’s not even considered part of Raw’s main event scene at this point; a sign perhaps that things aren’t going all that well for the former WWE Champion.
Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews
Short tag match that did nothing for anyone involved. Say hello to the filler segment of this weeks Monday Night Raw.
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
It’s really confusing what WWE are trying to do with the women on Monday Night Raw right now. The match started, but was very quickly ejected when the rest of the division came out. There was a hint of an alliance between Alexa Bliss, Emma and Nia – but the segment didn’t get nearly long enough to explore it.
I worry that WWE realize they’re in a rut right now with the Raw women, and are trying to get to Summerslam in a holding pattern. It means lots of segments with no focus – and lots of women who lack direction. Poor Mickie James is doing naff all on Monday Night Raw right now – she deserves better. They all do really, but that’s the sad reality of the Raw women’s division right now.
Big Cass Turns on Enzo
Well this was surprising. Rumors suggested we’d get something like this eventually, but I’m amazed they pulled the trigger when the Raw tag team division is so in need of body’s right now. Big Cass surprised with his strong promo work here, delivering a believable reason for why someone would get bored with Enzo’s big mouth sooner or later.
It makes me curious what the long-term goal is for the two. Big Cass obviously has the potential to go far on Monday Night Raw – but Enzo is another case entirely. He’s not a strong in-ring worker. Fans like him for his mouth – which puts him in an awkward position. I do think this is for the best in the long-term; but Enzo really, really needs something to happen for him if he’s to get out of this with a strong WWE career.
What a difference a week makes. This Monday Night Raw wasn’t perfect – but it at least had the good grace to be watchable (for the most part).
The big ending was a shocker for fans, who arguably wanted to see Enzo and Cass become Raw Tag Team Champions at some stage. It’s a big piece of news for fans, and will likely mean huge things for Big Cass down the line.
Reigns and Joe was easily match of the night though. A solid effort from both men, with Joe getting the much-needed win. Will it be enough for Joe to win the WWE Universal Championship from Lesnar? I think not, but at the very least – WWE is keeping him strong.
All around, a solid show. Much better than previous weeks.