(Almost) Live Reactions to WWE RAW

It’s that special time of the week yet again when RAW is on. Please keep in mind that “special” doesn’t inherently mean “good”. Or perhaps it does? Did it this week? There’s only one way to know for sure, so you’d best read on to find out.

Opening Segment

IC Champ Dean Ambrose was the first one out tonight, with a big announcement: He would be taking over the role of GM for this week, as Kurt Angle was dealing with personal issues. As he described how he would be running things, he was interrupted by The Miz, who was less than happy with Kurt’s choice of temporary replacement. He announced that Stephanie McMahon had named her own co-acting GM in the form of himself. They traded verbal barbs about their upcoming match at Extreme Rules. Ambrose offered a handshake, and who should show up but Braun Strowman, back already from his supposedly career-changing match but eight nights ago. He announced that he wasn’t finished with Roman Reigns, and when that business was concluded, he planned on c0ming for Brock Lesnar. As he spoke about The Beast, Kalisto entered and demanded a match with Strowman. Ambrose agreed, granting the request of “The world’s bravest tiny little man”. Miz was critical of Ambrose’s GM skills. He shrugged and improvised an opening contest between The Miz and Finn Balor.

Fun opening stuff. Ambrose’s more lighthearted unhinged persona works well in the role of a GM, and The Miz makes a good foil. One oft the better intros in recent memory.

Finn Balor vs The Miz

Miz began the match by rolling to the outside. Balor hit a back takedown and wrassled Miz into a cover. Back on their feet, Miz hit a back elbow, and Balor responded with a pair of dropkicks. An enzuigiri and a clothesline from Balor sent Miz forcibly to the outside. Balor dropkicked Miz into the barricade. Back inside, Balor teed off with some chops. Miz took control with a backbreaker/neckbreaker sequence, then knocked the Irishman down with a knee to the midsection. Balor stormed back with an overhead kick, and both men caught their breath. Once they were back up, Balor hit a series of kicks that had Miz reeling. During a scuffle, Miz tossed Balor into Maryse. Miz grabbed a mic and ordered the ref to DQ Balor as a result. The ref grudgingly conceded. Ambrose came out and restarted the match, banning Maryse from ringside. Balor hit a sling blade, then the Coup De Grace for the win.

Result: Finn Balor wins by pinfall

Not a bad match at all. Pretty much followed the formula, but there’s nothing wrong with that for a TV match. What this did a great job of doing was to further the story behind Ambrose and Miz, with both picking up some legit face and heel points, respectively.

Alexa Bliss (with Nia Jax) vs Mickie James (with Bayley)

Backstage, Nia Jax demanded a future title shot. Bliss wasn’t too enthusiastic about the idea, but said she would talk to Kurt Angle about it. Jax said she would ensure Bliss kept her title in the meantime.

The match began with a lock-up, which Bliss got the better of.  James responded with a thesz press and a falling neckbreaker. A flustered Bliss rolled outside, and was met with a baseball slide kick. Back inside, Bliss began targeting the arm of James, and found great success in doing so. Mickie tried to rally with a flapjack. Some distraction from the managers allowed Bliss to get the win. Bliss and Bayley ran off after one another, while Jax was left alone with James, which went about as well as you’d expect for James.

Result: Alexa Bliss wins by pinfall

I’m very intrigued by this alliance betwixt Jax and Bliss, I think this could be quite an interesting story if done well. The match was nothing special and I didn’t really get the finish, so that subtracts from the strength of the segment a bit.

Braun Strowman vs Kalisto

I rather like Kalisto’s new entrance and ring gear. Just wanted to say that real quick. Before the match, Strowman grabbed a mic and let us all know that he was less than thrilled with his circumstances, having to do a match with one arm in a sling.

Strowman knocked Kalisto down with a big boot right away, then stomped a mud hole into Kalisto’s chest in the corner. Roman Reigns made his triumphant return at that point, making his way to the ring to stare down Strowman. Roman entered the ring and delivered a trifecta of superman punches to Strowman, who rolled to the outside. Roman charged for a Spear, but ran right into a big boot to the shoulder that knocked him clear out of the air. Reigns used the ring posts to attack the injured arm of Strowman that had the big man worn down quickly. Roman obtained a chair, and brutalized the Monster Among Men, who fled the arena through the crowd.

Result: IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THE RESULT IS

Ok, I don’t have much to say about the segment, so instead I’m going to do a rant right here. Hey, do you hate Roman Reigns? Do you dislike his position on the card, and disagree with his push? Here’s what you need to do: Stop with the booing. If you’re at an event and he comes out, get out your phone and check your emails. If you’re watching at home and he shows up on your TV screen, change the channel for ten minutes. It is a negative reaction that he’s getting, but it’s still a reaction, and a big one at that. They’re not going to hear you until your silence is deafening. That’s how you actually work towards making the change that you want to see. For the record, I’m not a Roman fan, but I don’t hate him. But if you do fall into the latter category, what you’re doing isn’t the right way to affect the change you’re hoping for. Change your tactics, or else you’re just as bad as WWE, who refuse to try anything else with him despite the reaction. What’s the definition of insanity again?

Tag Team Turmoil

The #1 Contenders will be decided, and there are but five teams to get through.

Enzo Amore and Big Cass started things against Sheamus and Cesaro. The respective big men of both teams traded blows. Enzo tagged in and hit a frog splash, but quickly ate an Irish Curse Backbreaker that allowed Sheamus to make it to Cesaro. Enzo was unable to make it to Cass. Cesaro locked him into a Sharpshooter for the win. Next up were Heath Slater and Rhyno. The heels assaulted the team as they were on their way to the ring so that by the time this section of the match began, the faces had already taken plenty of damage. Sheamus and Cesaro beat up on Slater before hitting an aided Brogue Kick to eliminate the former SmackDown tag champs. Next up were Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Cesaro hit a vertical suplex to Gallows, and they hit double clotheslines on the big LG. He and Sheamus traded blows, which ended when Sheamus leapt right into a Gallows superkick. Sheamus hit a white noise for a two count. The Club set up for a Magic Killer, but it got broken up by Cesaro. Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick to Gallows for the win. Last up are Goldust and R-Truth. Goldust started strong, hitting a powerslam onto Sheamus. Cesaro made it in to the match and worked Goldust’s leg. Cesaro knocked R-Truth off the apron, then locked Goldust into a Sharpshooter, but it was broken up, Goldust finally made the hot tag to R-Truth, who had the exhausted Cesaro reeling with his agile offense. Cesaro avoided an oncoming R-Truth, nailed a roll-up, grabbed a handful of tights for extra leverage, and got the win. The heels beat up their final challengers after the bell. The Hardy Boyz decided to appear and bum rush their new challengers. Sheamus and Cesaro retreated before anything happened. Matt did actually say the word “Delete”, though, so I guess that’s interesting.

Result: Sheamus and Cesaro win

It’s quite the statement to have Sheamus and Cesaro run through the entire division like that, shows quite a lot of faith in the team. WWE also did well to tease a Golden Truth victory with a nice little pre-match vignette, but then not follow through on it. Overall, I quite liked this. I would like Sheamus and Cesaro to come up with a better tag finisher than whatever they’re not using right now, but there’s plenty of time for that.

Samoa Joe vs Seth Rollins

The match started at 100 mph, taking a brawl to the outside right away, with both men eating fists, taking chops, and being run into the barricades. Back inside, Joe’s punches had Rollins hurt, until he countered into a reverse STO into the turnbuckle. The match moved back outside with a leaping clothesline to Joe. The Samoan Destroyer whipped Rollins into the barricade hard. Inside yet again, Rollins ate some kicks to the chest before hitting a sling blade. Joe hit a stiff back elbow to knock The Kingslayer to the floor. They traded right hands and suplex attempts, wherein Joe got the advantage. Rollins recovered quickly and went to a blockbuster. Joe hit a kick to the knee of Rollins that sent him falling to the outside, clutching his old injury. Joe continued to work on the leg throughout a commercial break. Joe knocked Seth down with a knee before hitting a standing elbow drop for a two count. Joe went for a Coquina Clutch, Seth countered with a jawbreaker that sent Joe to the outside. Rollins hit consecutive suicide dives. Joe countered an on-coming Rollins with a powerslam for a near-fall. Joe smashed the grounded Rollins with a senton. Rollins countered a powerbomb into a falcon arrow for a two count. Joe again tried and again failed on a Coquina Clutch. They yanked the pad away from the turnbuckle, and Joe shoved Rollins into the exposed steel ring. The official warned Joe not to do so again, but Joe paid no heed. The ref disqualified Joe. He once again smashed Rollins’ face into the steel ring, then locked in a Coquina Clutch, draining the life out of Rollins. The ref was less than helpful in coming to Rollins’ aid.

Result: Seth Rollins wins by DQ

What an awesome match. I actually liked that one more than their Payback encounter. And I could probably complain about that. I could say that I would rather have really great PPVs than really great RAWs, and that I wished they had saved this for their next PPV match. But, I won’t say any of that. This was great, fast paced action that didn’t stick on the knee longer than was warranted and had a good finish that leaves yet more story to tell. Awesome stuff, and I’d prefer to see more like this on the show. This was a joy to watch.

TJP vs Jack Gallagher

With Cruiserweight champ Neville promising a title shot to new apprentice TJP is he won tonight, stakes were high. Jack nearly won the match with one move when he opened with a head-butt that earned him a tight two-count. TJP dropped Gallagher’s face into the steel steps at ringside, then hit a tope atomico on the way back in. TJP locked in a submission, but Jack worked his way out. Gallagher went for a roll-up, TJP reversed, grabbed the tights for leverage, and got the win. After the match, TJP hit a running chop block to Gallagher, then locked in a TJP clutch. He was forced to relinquish the hold when Austin Aries stormed the ring, clad in a knee cast, and broke things up.

Result: TJP wins by pinfall

No, they’ve been doing so good lately! WWE has been doing a great job giving the cruiserweights more time on RAW lately, but this was not that. Some good storyline advancement and yet more character progression from TJP went some way towards remedying that, and I’m glad to see Aries still selling the knee from last week.

Sasha Banks vs Alicia Fox

They traded slaps to begin the contest, both going nuts right away. Fox hit a northern lights suplex (Wow, she does that well) for a quick one-count. Banks had a tough time getting out of a chinlock, but eventually did. Sasha sent Fox into the corner with a ‘rana whip. Alicia reversed and placed Banks atop the turnbuckle. Banks flew into her opponent, knees first, and landed right into a cover for an iffy win, as Fox got a shoulder up, but the ref didn’t catch it.

Result: Sasha Banks wins by pinfall

I’m not sure what this was, who it was for, who benefitted, or essentially why this existed. Maybe they can clear that up for me next week, but for now, I wasn’t really a fan.

Bray Wyatt vs Dean Ambrose

Main event time! Bray tossed Ambrose about the ring to begin the match, taking advantage of the large weight disparity. Ambrose low-bridged and sent Wyatt outside, where he got a suicide dive. Wyatt suplexed Ambrose from the ropes to the outside, which looked quite nice. Back inside, Wyatt stomped on the various appendages of Ambrose, then charged into him hard. Ambrose fired back with strikes, Wyatt responded with a snap DDT. They worked a chinlock, and Ambrose got out with a stunner. Dean-O went for the lunatic lariat, but Wyatt had a stiff lariat waiting for Ambrose instead. The Eater of Worlds went for a top-rope senton, and missed. Ambrose went to the top rope and hit an elbow drop to Wyatt’s collarbone, who was stood outside. A double-down spot followed and The Miz made his way to ringside to distract Ambrose. Bray hit an uranage for a near fall. Wyatt set up for a superplex, but couldn’t hit it. Ambrose reversed, knocking Wyatt from the middle rope to the mat. Ambrose jumped directly into a throat-thrust, and countered with a lunatic lariat. Miz grabbed Dean’s championship belt and made like he was going to run off with it. The action moved outside as Ambrose chased after Miz. While the ref wasn’t looking, Miz nailed Ambrose in the back of the head with the championship. Wyatt rolled Wyatt back inside where The Man of 1,000 Truths hit the Sister Abigail for the win. After the match, Miz assaulted the beaten Ambrose, and cut a short promo about their title match scheduled for next week.

Result: Bray Wyatt wins by pinfall

And that was RAW. And you know what? What an great show. Several really good matches from Rollins vs Joe 2, to the Tag Team Turmoil match, to the main event, there were a bunch of high points to this show. If RAW were that good every week, I could forgive the three hour runtime.

But, those are my thoughts. What were yours? Were you as impressed with this show as I was? Let me know in the comments, or come tell me on twitter @ejdupras_VVV. If you enjoy this series and never want to miss an article, subscribe to the site to get notified daily about what gets produced here at PCPB. I hope you’ll all join me tomorrow night, when we’ll be taking a look at a bit of SmackDown Live. See ya then!

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