(Almost) Live Reactions to WWE RAW

This is the first time I’ve said this in like, eight or more months, but I’m more looking forward to RAW than SmackDown this week. No, I wasn’t thrilled with the result of the main event on Sunday. Anyways, let’s look past that, because we’ve got an extreme PPV to build to on Mondays. How would this show go? Who would gain some momentum before the fatal-five-way main event? There’s only one way to know for sure, so you’d best read on to find out.

Opening Segment

Bray Wyatt was the first man through the curtain tonight. He spoke about “The Beast”, and how he and he alone could slay slay the beast. He talked smack about all his upcoming opponents. Roman Reigns was the one to answer the call. They jawed back and forth about who had the capability to conquer Brock Lesnar. Kurt Angle made an immediate match between the two.

It felt like a bit of an off night for Wyatt. He lost his voice once or twice, and I couldn’t tell if it was intentional or not. The content was good, but his delivery was not his usual self. I suppose you can decide for yourself weather that’s a good or bad thing.

Bray Wyatt vs Roman Reigns

The two powerhouses begin by running into each other, with Reigns’ iffy shoulder meaning The Eater of Worlds got the better of it. Wyatt owned the match briefly, and looked for Sister Abigail, but Roman countered and sent Wyatt crashing outside with a big boot. They brawled outside for a minute before heading back between the ropes, where Bray hit an uranage. Samoa Joe marched to the ring, allied with Wyatt and caused the DQ, locking Roman into a Coquina Clutch. The heels beat down on Roman, but Joe turned o him and applied the same chokehold to Wyatt. Seth Rollins made his way to the ring, and all four men brawled. A little later in the night, Angle made a tag team match between the faces and heels for the main event.

Result: Roman Reigns wins by DQ

The match was nothing special, but it’s at least a semi-interesting way to set up the main event. As far as these weekly openers go, a short promo followed up quickly by a short match that has something to do with what happens later in the night isn’t too bad.

Akira Tozawa vs Ariya Daivari

Tozawa begins things strong right away with a fast series of strikes that had him firmly in control. Daivari fought back with a huge clothesline that swung the momentum into his favor. Tozawa hit a snap back suplex to set up for a Top Rope Senton for the win.

Result: Akira Tozawa wins by pinfall

Eh. The match wasn’t anything to write home about, but at least made Tozawa strong before his blow-off match with Brian Kendrick that will take place in a street fight tomorrow night.

Elias Samson vs Dean Ambrose

Before the match even started, Samson gave us all a taste of his guitar playing, which the crowd was not really a fan of. Samson started the match strong, cutting off and having answers for everything the IC Champ tried to get done. His focus methodically shifted Ambrose’s head to his shoulder. Ambrose caught Samson off guard with a neckbreaker and a series of clotheslines. He whiffed on his attempt at a top-rope elbow drop. The Miz, who was sat on commentary, ran to the ring and attacked Samson for the DQ finish. Enraged, Ambrose chased after The Miz, but Samson caught the IC Champ with the Roll of the Dice to end the segment standing tall.

Result: Elias Samson wins by DQ

Intriguing all around. Samson came off as quite a threat, taking the IC Champ to his limits. That was followed up with (on the surface) some development for the Miz/Ambrose rivalry. Looking even a level deeper, however, those with a long memory will recall that Samson has always showed up in Miz’s segments, and they seemed semi on the same page here. Is there something going on there? I actually don’t know, which is pleasant.

Paul Heyman Puts Over Finn Balor

Before a scheduled match, Paul Heyman made a surprise appearance and put over Finn Balor in a big way, saying he was most intrigued by the prospect of Finn Balor vs Brock Lesnar, out of all the possible contenders for The Beast, and that he believed Balor to be the most talented in-ring performer in the WWE today. Balor was a bit hesitant to accept these compliments, and took a shot at Lesnar for not being present on the show.

Heyman’s always great, and seeing him heap praise upon the Irish Superstar made Balor feel like a big deal ahead of the No. 1 Contender’s match, and he’s probably the one who needs it the most, having just recently come back from injury.

Finn Balor vs Karl Anderson

No, I guess Bullet Club isn’t 4-4-4-4-4 Life, eh? What a shame. And that’s reeeeal.

Balor had trouble figuring out Anderson at the beginning of the match. Anderson ground down The Real Shooter with a headlock that Balor failed to escape from. Balor was in trouble, and failed to mount a comeback. He countered out and finally found his moment: He teed off with forearms and kicks, even taking out Luke Gallows at ringside.  He hit the Coup De Grace for the win.

Result: Finn Balor wins by pinfall

This was about as simple as a match gets, but that’s not to say it was bad. The former partners had good chemistry and made an entertaining scrap. Anderson looked alright, and Balor proved that he was deserving of the pre-match promo with Heyman. Good stuff.

Sasha Banks vs Alicia Fox

Banks attempted to start strong, nearly locking in a Banks Statement right away. Fox snatched a headlock and slowed the pace, taking control of the match. Banks fought out and hit the her Corner Double Knee Strike for the win. Banks and Fox’s boyfriend Noam Dar yelled at each other after the results were read, which culminated with a slap to Dar. Off the distraction, Fox hit a Scissors Kick to leave Banks writhing in pain to close out the segment.

Result: Sasha Banks wins by pinfall

I’ve got no idea what they’re doing with any of this, and my patience is wearing thin. Trading wins and losses in three minute matches isn’t doing anything for either of these two, especially Banks, who is arguably the best female wrestler in the world today. I don’t mind that these two are feuding, but this hasn’t been done well thus far.

Kalisto vs Apollo Crews

Both men traded momentum and athletic maneuvers for the duration, with neither establishing a truly notable advantage. Titus O’Neil, who was at ringside in support of his protégé, caused just enough of a distraction to allow Kalisto to hit the Salida Del Sol for the win. A frustrated Crews endured some verbal abuse from O’Neil after the match.

Result: Kalisto wins by pinfall

Maybe I’m just in a good mood, but I don’t really have much to critique about this. The match was fun enough for what it was, the post match shouting match between Crews and O’Neil did a fine job of giving a bit of advancement to their ongoing story, and Kalisto picked up a win. No complaints.

Matt Hardy vs Sheamus

Stakes were high as the winner of this match would decide the stipulation for the Tag Title Match at Extreme Rules. Sheamus’ power offense was too much for Hardy early. Hardy tried to fire back with his big moves, but didn’t manage. Jeff Hardy caused a bit of a distraction, and Matt took advantage with a tornado DDT. Sheamus had counters ready for both the side effect and the Twist of Fate. Both men’s respective tag partners kept each other busy outside, and Hardy’s second attempt at the Twist of Fate found more success. 1, 2, 3. The Hardy Boys elected for a cage match come Extreme Rules.

Result: Matt Hardy wins by pinfall

It’s very interesting how they keep doing these singles matches between the two teams, and how the results are very one sided. If the heels don’t win the titles, they’re going to have negative wind in their sales going forward.

Austin Aries vs Tony Nese

Cruiserweight Champ Neville sat at ringside for this match. Austin couldn’t keep his eye on the ball, which continually allowed Nese to take advantage. Aries focused and put Nese away with the Last Chancery. After Aries left the ring, Neville took out his frustrations on Nese by trapping him in the Rings of Saturn. Aries looked on, rather unimpressed.

Result: Austin Aries wins by submission

Champ and Challenger will face off in a submission match come Extreme Rules, and as such both men got to show off their respective submission finishers tonight. Aries and Nese had a fun little scrap as well. A mild thumbs up.

Alexa Bliss vs Mickie James

Bliss began strong, running all over her brief mentor. James fought back with a neckbreaker and a series of strikes, capping things off with a big boot that had the champ just clinging on. A rather botched ending sequence reached a climax when Bliss hit a Snap DDT for the win. After the match, Bliss whacked at James with a kendo stick. Bayley ran to make the save, wielding a stick of her own, but Bliss fled before anything could happen.

Result: Alexa Bliss wins by pinfall

That was not great. Sloppy action ended with a really ugly finish. The post match stuff was fine, but nothing spectacular. Let’s all just forget that this happened.

Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins vs Bray Wyatt and Samoa Joe

Rollins found himself in trouble early at the hands of the heels. He made the tag to Reigns, who overpowered his opponents rapidly. Working cohesively, Joe and Wyatt managed to isolate Reins and deal damage. Rollins dove about, wiping out his opposition with a suicide dive. As things broke down between all four, Joe dodged a Reigns punch, and he instead blasted Rollins with it. Team face argued amongst themselves, and Joe capitalized with a Coquina Clutch to Rollins, causing him to pass out. Backstage after the match, Kurt Angle made some matches for next week: Rollins vs Reigns, and Joe vs Wyatt vs Balor in a triple threat.

Result: Samoa Joe and Bray Wyatt win by technical submission

Not exactly a creative bit of booking, but it was a serviceable main event match and I rather liked the ending. Having the good guys be the ones who couldn’t get along was a nice subversion of my expectations. Both matches announced for next week have plenty of potential, and give me a reason to tune in other than “because it’s my job”, and I’m always very appreciative of when WWE goes out of their way to do that for me.

And that was RAW. Not a great show, to be honest. I quite liked the stuff surrounding Elias Samson, somewhat oddly enough, more than anything else that happened tonight. But those are my thoughts. I’d love to hear what yours were. You can let me know either in the comments below, or you can come tell me on twitter @ejdupras_VVV. If you enjoy these articles (and I know you do), subscribe to the site (for free) to make sure you never miss one. Check back in tomorrow night, where I’ll be giving my thoughts on SmackDown Live. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you then!

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