The show opens with a “Last week on Raw” graphic that recapped ALL of the important events of last week’s show (rather than just what we needed to know for the opening segment). Excellent.
OPENING SEGMENT- Big pop for Sasha in her first appearance since winning the belt. Byron lets us know that a rematch for Summer Slam was announced over the weekend. Good. It’s always best to make it look like the kayfabe company exist when the show isn’t on the air. Sasha starts to cut a babyface promo but gets interrupted by Charlotte. It was only at this point that it hit me that they’re finally doing it right: They’re using the women in prime timeslot just like they would with the men, in the exact same way they would with the men, and they’re not screaming it at the top of their lungs to make sure you can’t possibly not notice.
Banter back and forth. Charlotte calls Sasha a fluke, but using a clever metaphor about a “one night stand.” Sasha then replied “you’re the daughter of Ric Flair. If it wasn’t for a one night stand, you probably wouldn’t be here.” That’s well over the line of what I expected to hear.
Now Jericho is coming out, saying “quiet” over and over again, to ruin this segment. He is apparently upset that Sasha was being mean to Charlotte. Why? Have they ever even interacted before? This was going perfectly fine and then for some reason they felt the need to send Jericho out to talk for Charlotte.
Jericho tries to get cheap heat by saying that Charlotte has done more than her father, because in WWE’s mind, Charlotte will never be anything but Ric Flair’s daughter. Jericho cuts his promo while Sasha just stands there. Then Enzo Amore comes out for some more completely forced interaction. Wow. This went off the rails quick.
Enzo makes a pass at Sasha. This, too, was a lot farther over the line than I expected. Jericho and Charlotte just stood there for a while. Charlotte finally piped up, saying “when it comes to Enzo and his love life, there’s only one word to describe him.” That was a great line.
Jericho was much worse. They repeated the “you’d better watch it.” “Watch what?” “It,” failure of a joke from Smackdown a few weeks ago.
Mick Foley comes out after an almost-clever set-up by Enzo and Jericho. Cheap plugs for Holy Foley are abound. He books a mixed tag. I have no desire to see this match at all. Unfortunately, we’re getting it right now.
This was one of those segments that really worries me. Starting things off with the women the way they did felt fresh and new, but then it spiraled down into the usual WWE forced set up, with guys coming out (or not coming out, as was the case with Colin and Dana) solely because the end point of the segment requires their presence, ending with the authority figure coming out to book a match. It went from something that felt fresh to something that felt like the same old WWE… and that’s exactly what I’m afraid will happen with the product as a whole.
MIXED TAG TEAM MATCH: Sasha Banks & Enzo Amore vs. Chris Jericho & Charlotte- 6/10
And now, for no reason at all, Kevin Owens is out to do commentary. Apparently he’s upset that Enzo interrupted him in an interview on the WWE Network two weeks ago. I’m not saying Kevin Owens wouldn’t be upset by this, but I don’t think he would wait this long to voice his displeasure.
Owens claimed to have used Sasha’s double knee-drop in the corner on the indies in 2005. And he actually did say “independents.” Byron was incredulous, so Owens buried him for not watching indy wrestling. On Monday Night Raw!
The match was okay, but the finish (a series of things distracting Sasha, allowing Charlotte to hit Natural Selection for the pinfall) was definitely the right finish, as Charlotte can now claim that this proves that Sasha’s win was a fluke.
BRAUN STROWMAN SQUASH- This was the same thing as last week, with the jobber (Corey Hollis using a different name) being interviewed by Byron before the match. Despite his fear, he was able to answer Byron’s question of why he would ever want to face Braun Strowman, and he did so in the last way I ever expected to hear in WWE: by talking about his pay, including saying that he would get a lot more money if he won… and using actual numbers! ($1,000 for the match, $5,000 if he won). Hollis bumped around for Strowman. Strowman won with the reverse chokeslam, which is nowhere near as cool as a regular chokeslam.
STEPH, FOLEY, & MARK HENRY BACKSTAGE- Steph & Foley wasted time for a while. Then Mark showed up to let everyone know that he is WWE’s ambassador to the Summer Olympics. Mark wants to be an active wrestler but Steph and Foley think he should be a “mentor” instead. Mark says they’re wrong. He wants one more run, so Foley books him in a US Title match. Mark vows to bring the title back to the US.
GOLDUST & TRUTH BACKSTAGE- Truth is addicted to Pokemon Go.
I live in the New York market, so we here by me got to see a commercial for the Raw the night after SummerSlam, which also takes place in Brooklyn. Keeping in mind that this is RAW (and they had the new logo all over the place) they were advertising, Rollins, Jericho & AJ vs. Reigns, Ambrose, & Cena. Yeah, yeah, yeah “card subject to change” and all that, but at this is now an issue of completely breaking kayfabe. Just one week into the “new era” and they’ve got a commercial up telling me that the defining rule of this new era- the brand split- doesn’t matter anymore. BAD. Would it really have been so f*cking hard to just make a new commercial that only featured guys who are actually on Raw?
THE SHINING STARS vs. R-TRUTH & GOLDUST- no rating. Mediocre segment (I didn’t like it, but it certainly did its job well).
Cole does his job adequately, reminding us of what we saw in the backstage segment before we went to commercial, saying that it seems that “R-Truth is still obsessed with Pokemon Go.” Byron then did what Byron usually does, which is say something pointless and obnoxious, wondering if Truth was attempting to catch a Snorlax. Corey Graves then did what Corey Graves does, which is absolutely savage Byron, saying “I wish you were one of those people would go play Pokemon Go off a cliff.”
Cole reminded us that the Shining Stars lost a match to Enzo & Cass last week because R-Truth wandered into the ring while playing Pokemon Go, thus distracting them. Cole said that this was their “first loss” on Raw… so are these guys not supposed to be Epico & Primo? I figured they were just Epico & Primo again. If they were going to be new characters, you’d figure they’d at least give them some new names, never mind a new look. I mean… they’re putting over Puerto Rico and they look just like Primo & Epico. What else were we supposed to think?
Wait… now Corey Graves is calling them “Primo and Epico’ and talking about their hall of fame family. I’m confused.
Truth is standing on the apron holding up his gigantic cellphone. You’d think the referee would take this foreign object away from him, but apparently not. The Shining Stars get the heat on Goldust. He goes for the hot tag but Truth is distracted with the game so they lose. Why the f*ck does Goldust put up with this guy?
MICHAEL COLE INTERVIEWS FINN BALOR- Finn didn’t even get two sentences in before Rollins came out to interrupt him.
SETH ROLLINS & FINN BALOR SEGMENT- AWESOME!
Both guys were funny, both guys got serious, and both guys cut awesome promos. Rollins tried to jump Balor but Finn saw it coming and sent Rollins scampering. Also, we learned that we’re getting Rollins vs. Zayn later tonight.
All of that being said… this “WWE Universal Title” name needs to go. It’s impossible to take seriously for a two reasons. Firstly, it sounds like “WWE Universe” which is the very epitome of ridiculous WWE bullsh*t terms. Secondly, it sounds like it’s a championship being co-promoted by WWE and Universal Studios.
Also, later tonight, we’re getting Gallows & Anderson vs. two members of New Day, and Gallows & Anderson have requested that the third is barred from ringside.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH: Rusev(c) (w/Lana) vs. Mark Henry- 4/10
Lana is in a wedding dress again. She now says Rusev is her husband. I could have sworn she said fiancé last week. I guess they got married over the weekend. She is introducing Rusev. Wow. Bennett and Maria started that gimmick in January. It’s now August 1st… and Miz & Maryse, Matt & Reby, and Rusev & Lana have all stolen it, plus Allie and Maria do it (and also Hunter and Steph did it at Mania).
Corey Graves confirms for us that Rusev and Lana did, in fact, get married over the weekend. He told us it was in Malibu, which was a huge disappointment to me. I had pictured them getting married in the frozen tundra of Siberia. Malibu is like the exact opposite of that.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- fine
Rusev cuts a promo on the USA, the US Olympic team and the IOC. Also, he said no American would beat him the title. Then Roman Reigns came out and got in Rusev’s face. This was this week’s attempt to get people to cheer Roman, and it worked better than it usually does. Rusev sucker-punched Roman, but Roman fought back. By this point the crowd was down to 60-40 against Roman.
NIA JAX VIDEO PACKAGE- they’re pushing her hard.
COMMERCIAL FOR NEW WWE/SCOOBY DOO MOVIE- I’M SO PSYCHED FOR THIS!
TITUS O’NEIL vs. DARREN YOUNG (w/Bob Backlund)- 4/10
They showed us a segment from earlier in the day in which Titus was a huge dick to Darren, asking (paraphrasing) “was Darren Young ever really great in the first place?” So is Titus a heel now?
Apparently he is, because he cheated to win here.
FOLEY, STEPH, & SHEAMUS BACKSTAGE- Sheamus shows up and complains because Mark Henry was handed a title match. Cesaro shows up and bothers Sheamus. They kind of followed up on both guys saying that they didn’t like being on Raw. Foley also said a bunch of stuff about Cesaro’s shoulder injury that didn’t seem to jive with everything we’ve seen and/or been told over the past few months. The end result of this was a #1 contendership match.
BOB BACKLUND YELLS AT TITUS O’NEIL- Titus yelled, back, threatening “you’d better calm down or I’ll knock your old ass out.” That was great. Then Darren attacked Titus, protecting his mentor.
NIA JAX vs. ARIEL MONROE- great squash
BYRON SAXTON INTERVIEWS NIA JAX- she beats Ariel Monroe up some more
TOM PHILLIPS INTERVIEWS SAMI ZAYN- good
NEW DAY PROMO- annoying waste of time. Woods complains that because of Gallows & Anderson asking for the non-wrestling member of New Day to be banned from ringside, he now can’t perform in front of his family. Why is their fault? Steph and Foley had to approve it, and Woods was the one who lost their stupid excuse for a dick joke of a game. And if this it means so much to him to wrestle here in Atlanta, why not just ask Steph and Foley to book him in a separate match?
XAVIER WOODS IS BANNED FROM RINGSIDE: New Day (Big E. & Kofi Kingston) vs. THE CLUB- DUD!
Anderson & Gallows lose when Big E. rolls up Anderson because he and Gallows were too busy 2 Sweeting each other. This made Gallows and Anderson look like complete and total idiots. They beat up New Day (including Woods, who came out to make the save) after the match, but it doesn’t matter because they still lost and were made to look like idiots in the process.
Heel Corey Graves said that attacking someone after the match is crossing the line, because Corey Graves knows that being an effective heel announcer means not making yourself into a walking book of cliché activities.
WINNER GETS A FUTURE SHOT AT THE US TITLE: Sheamus vs. Cesaro- 6.75/10
Cesaro won. Yay.
So we go to a commercial in a perfectly normal way… and when we come back we found out they brawled at ringside during the commercial break. Cool.
Now they are being separated on the ramp… and Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal have jumped the barricade and Heath is cutting a promo. Oh come on. Jinder doesn’t even work for the company. Foley comes out to deal with this situation. He books them in a match against each other, with the winner getting a contract. They’re two guys who have spent their entire careers as jobbers. Why would you want either one of them on your roster?
WINNER GETS A RAW CONTRACT: Jinder Mahal vs. Heath Slater- no rating.
Heath doesn’t want to fight and tells Foley as such, but Jinder kicks him in the head from behind and pins him to win the contract.
TOM PHILLIPS INTERVIEWS CHRIS JERICHO- Jericho is apparently bringing in a partner to help him against Cass. Or not. It’s just a stupid joke to make Jericho look like an idiot. Owens shows up and volunteers to have Jericho’s back instead.
SETH ROLLINS vs. SAMI ZAYN- 7.5/10
The story of the match was Zayn’s attempts to avoid the Pedigree. He was able to block or counter it at least three or four times before Rollins finally hit it for the win.
PAUL HEYMAN (& BROCK LESNAR) PROMO- awesome segment.
Heyman cuts an awesome promo… and right on cue, Randy Orton swooped in from out of nowhere, grabbed Brock from behind and dropped him with an RKO. Security came out and Randy ran into the crowd. Steph’s reaction definitely made you feel that Orton showing up on her show will be addressed on Smackdown, so that’s good. It’s best to set up the consequences for this sort of thing early on.
A very disappointing Raw. The show very much felt like it was back to the old Raw, with matches mostly being booked on the fly, extremely questionable booking (New Day vs. The Club), bad comedy, and however exactly you would categorize my dislike of the opening segment (I’m not sure there is a good one or two word term for it). Hopefully Smackdown is better.
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