(Almost) Live Reactions to WWE RAW
Finally… This weird semi-joint brand era has ended, and we can move forward. Good thing, too, because we’ve got a whole host of issues to sort through. Does RAW have a world champion or a #1 contender to that belt? Does RAW have an IC champion or a #1 contender to that belt? Would any of that get resolved? There’s only one way to know for sure, and that’s to read on to find out.
The ring opened with all non-champion members of the women’s division stood in the ring. New champ Alexa Bliss joined them right away. She announced herself as a goddess and talked up her accomplishments. She talked down to the rest of the division, basking in the boos of the crowd. Alexa eventually turned her attention to former champion Bayley‘s family, mocking them for being sad when their kin lost. Bayley grew upset and charged the champ. The whole field brawled. After we had come back from a commercial break, a match between all of them had started.
Alexa’s great, isn’t she? Great acting, great promo work, great in the ring, and she’s only 25, meaning she likely still has a long career ahead of her. She’s wonderful, and I couldn’t be happier that she’s the champ.
8 Woman Tag
Bayley, Sasha Banks, Mickie James and Dana Brooke took on Emma, Nia Jax, Alicia Fox and Alexa Bliss. Mickie James got the better of Emma. Emma made the tag to Fox, who didn’t fare well against the combined efforts of team face. Nia Jax tagged in and flattened Banks with a clothesline. Team heel worked together to grind Banks down. Finally, Bayley got her hands on Bliss, and made the new champ pay for her comments that opened up the show. Jax broke up a pin attempt, and the whole thing broke down into a brawl. Amid the chaos and confusion, Bliss raked Bayley’s eyes, hit a DDT and got the win.
Emma, Nia Jax, Alicia Fox and Alexa Bliss win by pinfall
A decent opening contest to tonight’s proceedings. Throwing the whole division into a big tag match is rather lazy booking, so that’s unfortunate. But, it was fun, and it gave everybody something to do, which is fine.
Enzo Amore vs Luke Gallows
While Enzo and Big Cass where doing their pre-match promo, they got jumped by The Good Brothers. When the match began, Gallows hit a big boot straight away. The big man hit an uppercut that sends ‘Zo to the canvas, then a big clothesline. Gallows started working the arm of Enzo, slamming him onto it and grounding the smaller competitor with a hammerlock. Enzo tried to fire back with strikes but didn’t get far, Gallows again going to a hammerlock. Enzo managed to fire off a turnbuckle bulldog to regain some momentum but got caught celebrating. Enzo moved to the top rope to look for a Tornado DDT but was distracted by Karl Anderson. Off the distraction, Gallows hit a Fireman’s Carry Flapjack for the win.
Result: Luke Gallows wins by pinfall
I looked it up just now, Gallows has been using that move as a finisher for a really long time, way longer than I would have guessed. Anyhow, being two tag specialists, these two put on a decent enough match. I wouldn’t have minded Gallows being a bit more dominant over Amore, but alas.
Seth Rollins Says Some Words
The man known as the Architect made his way to the ring to address what was next for him, having conquered both Samoa Joe and Triple H at back-to-back PPVs. He thanked the fans for their support over the last few rocky months. He said that being now mostly bereft of personal beefs, he had a new opponent in mind: The Beast, Brock Lesnar. the crowd was behind that idea. Cue Finn Balor. He compared their successes, winning critical matches while injured, Rollins with his knee and Balor with his arm. Finn said that he was still owed a rematch from his one day as champ, so Seth would have to get in line if he wanted a shot at Lesnar. Enter Dean Ambrose, who said that since Brock was never on the show, they should really be focusing on the IC title. Enter The Miz, who said that he should be first in line for a crack at Ambrose. They all bickered, and eventually the main event was set up for the night: A triple threat with the IC Title’s number one contender status on the line.
Huh? Since Balor and Rollins both wanted to go after the world title, I’m not sure why they would settle for a hypothetical mid-card title shot. However, since it was Dean asking for this match rather than either of them, I guess that excuses it a bit. It’ll probably be a really good match at the end of the night, though, so let’s all look forward to that, even if the logic is a little iffy.
Six Man Cruiserweight Tag
Tony Nese, Brian Kendrick and Noam Dar took on Rich Swann, Akira Tozawa, and Jack Gallagher. Kendrick and Tozawa began the match, wherein Tozawa hit some early offense. However, he was quickly overcome by the sheer power and size of Nese. Tags were made left and right, and all six threw hands and crashed into one another. Team face flipped Nese into the other members of team heel. Once the action moved back inside, the heels trounced Tozawa, taking turns to land thudding blows to the Japanese tough. Nese locked Tozawa in a torture rack. Tozawa countered with a snap back suplex and made it to Swann. Swann exploded into Kendrick, hitting a rolling thunder. A tag to Gallagher, who knocked out both Kendrick and Nese with headbutts. Tozawa and Swann kept Dar and Nese busy on the outside while Gallagher hit the Gentleman’s Dropkick for the win.
Result: Jack Gallagher, Akira Tozawa and Rich Swann win by pinfall
A nice little match. The Cruiserweights are always fun when they’re given more than thirty seconds to do a match. Fun stuff from all involved, and I’d quite like to see more than one active cruiserweight storyline at a time going forward.
Sheamus and Cesaro Do a Promo
The European competitors made their way to the ring and talked about how liberating it felt to give in to their urges and turn heel last night. Sheamus talked about how he was angry at The Hardy Boys for stealing their moment at WrestleMania. They were upset with the fans and concluded by saying that “We don’t set the bar, we are the bar”, which is not the greatest catchphrase ever. Enter Matt and Jeff Hardy. Matt said that in response to the heel’s actions, it was only fair to DELETE. They ran to the ring, and the heels retreated up the ramp.
Eh. I’d definitely like to give them a few more weeks to figure out their heel mannerisms before I really pass judgement on Sheamus and Cesaro. Their motives make sense, as much as you can really ask for in the pro wrestling business, so that’s good. I’m less sure about their “Point thumbs at each other’s thumbs” hang gesture, and “we are the bar” is rather unwieldy for a catchphrase. Let’s wait and see how it goes.
Heath Slater vs Apollo Crews
Slater was little match for Crews’ athleticism early. Slater used some veteran craft to hit the occasional move, sending Crews flying through the ropes and onto the floor outside. Crews bounced back quickly, hitting an enzugiri. Crews set up for and then hit the Spin-Out Sit-Out Powerbomb. Crews celebrated with Titus O’Neil, and Crews was more receptive to Titus than he had been before.
Result: Apollo Crews wins by pinfall
Good to see both of these guys actually doing something on RAW, whereas they had more or less vanished into the abyss on SDL. The match was fine for what it was, with what it was being a short match between two lower card guys with no build. Despite all that, Slater is uber entertaining, Crews is an incredible athlete, and I’m glad to see him and Titus in a storyline.
Kurt Angle Meets Bray Wyatt
Angle made his way to the ring to address the damage caused to both superstars in last night’s main event. He said that both men were injured for the time being, but weren’t done with one another by any stretch of the imagination. He was cut off by Bray Wyatt. The Eater of Worlds sauntered to the ring to officially introduce himself to his new boss. They shook hands to a surprisingly big pop from the crowd. Bray told Angle not to worry, Bray came not to RAW as a destroyer, but a savior. Bray told the audience that he could fix us all of our ailments, and that there was evil all around. Bray told Angle that they’d have no problems as long as Angle stayed out of his way. Angle said only that RAW was his show, which drew a hearty laugh from Wyatt. He claimed that RAW may be Angle’s show, but that it is Bray’s world.
I’m being entirely serious when I say that Bray is one of the best all-around talents on the roster today. Cuts a great promo, has really good acting skills, and puts on tremendous matches when he’s given the opportunity. He’s super over, too. Despite the shit-show last night, he got a solid reception here tonight. The whole crowd take out their phones and light his way to the ring every time he enters, too. I really wish WWE could see what I do in him because he’s pure money if they put themselves behind him. I hope to see him as a major part of RAW moving forward.
Austin Aires vs TJ Perkins
Perkins needs a new entrance. You can’t be a heel with that music, man.
A Double started strong, repeatedly tossing Perkins into the turnbuckles. Perkins fired back with a shoulder thrust. A disappointed Aires hit a bell-clap to ring the ears of Perkins. Aires continued the assault with a rope-assisted neckbreaker. Perkins regained his composure and viscously attacked the knee of Aires. With Aires unable to bear weight on his knee, the match moved to the ground, where TJP fired off a series of submission holds. Back on the feet, Austin was unable to get anything going, his knee all but evaporated. Aires pooled all his adrenalin and just sorta fell into a suicide dive that sent Perkins sprawling. Aires fired off his signature offensive maneuvers, and had Perkins hurting. Aires countered an attempt at the Detonation Kick into a Last Chancery for the win. Right after the match, Perkins hit a chop block and locked in the TJP Clutch, which had Aires screeching in pain.
Result: Austin Aires wins by submission
A very solid match between two of the best workers in the division. Again, I’d like to see Perkins more fully embrace his heel gimmick, but that’s really my only critique of this. I do hope Aires sells that knee for another week or two, given how committed he was to making the pain look legit here.
Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor vs The Miz
Main event time and a future shot at the most illusive IC champ in history is on the line.
The Miz began the match by rolling to the outside, adamant to not join the match in the early goings. Balor and Rollins traded roll-ups and grappling exchanges, never getting too heated. Balor and Rollins eventually got tired of his tactics, and forced the heel into the match. Miz tried to negotiate an alliance, but neither man was receptive to it, and they kicked him around. Balor and Rollins traded kicks before once again turning their combined attention to The Miz. Miz pushed Rollins off the top rope, sending him falling 12+ feet to the floor. Balor dropkicked Miz a few times, before Rollins jumped back in and nearly killed himself with a botched flying cross-body that had him land directly on his face. Miz tried to take advantage with a roll-up, but Rollins was out at two. Miz hit the YES! kicks to both his opponents, but Balor dropkicked Rollins while Rollins delivered a DDT to Miz, leaving only Balor standing. Balor cleared the ring, then teed off on both opponents at ringside. Back inside, Balor hit 1916 to Rollins, which Miz broke up at 2.9. Balor nailed a sling blade and set up for a running dropkick, but Miz interfered with a low blow. Leaving just Miz and Rollins, Miz hit a DDT and began working the leg of Rollins. He applied the Figure 4, but Balor broke it up, his nether regions still hurting. Rollins super kicked the Irishman for a two count. Rollins ascended the top rope and fired off a double blockbuster. He climbed the turnbuckle again, and delivered a frog splash to Balor, which again didn’t work. Rollins superplexed The Miz, but the match continued. Suicide dives from Rollins took out both other men, and seemed to have the match more or less in hand. Who should appear but Samoa Joe, who smashed Rollins into the arena floor with an Uranage. Back inside, Balor set up for a Coup De Grace, but was himself interrupted by Bray Wyatt. Wyatt drilled the Demon King with a Sister Abigail. The Miz picked the bones and won the match.
Result: The Miz wins by pinfall
And that was RAW. I thought the show was good throughout, but there were only a few moments that I thought were really good. Really, really liked the main event, for example. However, being good throughout is roughly as much as you can ask from an episode of RAW. The cruiserweights really surprised me this week, with both cruiserweight segments being quite fun.
But, those are my thoughts. What are yours? Leave them in the comments below, or come tell me on Twitter @ejdupras_VVV. Subscribe to the site if you want to get notified of all our new articles, including this series, so you never have to miss one. If you liked it, I’d humbly ask you to share this article around on your social media so we can grow our community. I hope you’ll all join me tomorrow when we’ll be taking a look at a bit of SmackDown Live. See ya then!