Tonight’s Raw started pretty strong with Alexa Bliss verbally owning the Women’s Division, but the next two hours were a slow crawl. Dean Ambrose was the star of the proceedings, and I wondered where the F Braun Strowman was all night. Not the best way to come off of WWE Payback, but the bookend segments kept the Raw storylines moving.
Raw opened with the Women’s Division in the ring awaiting Alexa Bliss. It’s pretty impressive how long Alexa’s promo went, and it didn’t drag for a second. It helped having a bunch of targets to pick on, but she didn’t skip a beat. No wonder she’s the first SD AND Raw Women’s Champion. The fact that it ended in a brawl just adds to how strong of a Raw open it was.
Bayley, Dana Brooke, Sasha Banks, Mickie James vs Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, Emma, and Alicia Fox
8-person tag match was a great way to make me stop caring about what was going on in the opening segment. They just came back from commercial with a match with too many combatants to really get into. We already have a lady stable on SD Live!, so why force all the heel women to team-up on Raw? Not a fan.
The match definitely picked up after the commercial break mid-match, but it was really just a Nia Jax highlight reel.
Luke Gallows w/Karl Anderson vs Enzo Amore w/Cass
Even the punches that Enzo throws that are supposed to look sloppy come off better than whatever Shane McMahon throws. Well, maybe not his wind-up pitch punch. This match is the usual fare with Enzo trying to get a few roll-ups, but not coming through.
Neville and T.J. Perkins have one of the more interesting dynamics on all of Raw right now.
A corny Seth Rollins promo became a fun showdown with he and Finn, which was interrupted by Dean Ambrose. The Miz showing up kind of made everyone else seem a level below on the mic, and Ambrose booking a Triple Threat between everyone except himself was lame. I mean, he said he was a “FIGHTING CHAMPION”, and he’s the only one NOT fighting.
The Brian Kendrick, Tony Nese, Noam Dar vs Rich Swann, Jack Gallagher, Akira Tozawa
Another house show-worthy match with too many people in it, who really have no business teaming up. The real teamwork came from the ring crew who purple’d them ropes right up. All three dudes kicking umbrellas around in their entrance made me question whether or not I should be watching this show. THAT bad.
It’s kind of sad that Brian Kendrick is the only one of these guys who has found a way to translate his personal style to the WWE. The rest of them have become generic create-a-wrestlers since the Cruiserweight Classic has ended. TOZAWA and Swann went flying out of the ring towards the end of the match, but the camera didn’t show jack, a staple of WWE programming. So frustrating how they ruin high-impact moments with terrible production choices.
Cesaro and Sheamus wear black jackets now… they’re baddies. They look like they’re going to help Roger Waters perform THE WALL. Outside of the matching jackets, and the Hardyz showing up to run Sheasaro off, there wasn’t much to this promo.
Ambrose interrupts Miz backstage, and throws it to “Gene and Bobby”, so at least we get a Heenan reference.
Heath Slater w/Rhyno versus Apollo Crews w/Titus O’Neill
I guess they’re at least trying to give Apollo some character, but whatever happened to the fun times we were having with Heath and Rhyno? They’re just kind of like R-Truth/Goldust now… useless. The best part of this whole deal was Rhyno photo-bombing the post-match picture that Titus took with Apollo.
Austin Aries versus T.J. Perkins
They called him “TJP” on the ring announce, so I guess he’s not T.J. Perkins anymore. Erkins is going to the land of Langston/Antonio/Etc. Miniboss TJP is a different beast than the guy who won the Cruiserweight Title, and it’s a fun watch. These two got the house going, and that’s not easy for the purple rope segments. They did a good job of making me think TJP could overcome Aries with the leg work, but the ending reversal into the LAST CHANCERY was money. TJP’s getting some vengeance worked well, too.
Ambrose forcing Finn Balor to eat a donut was almost as funny as ANOTHER random appearance from THE DRIFTER. I don’t know why, but I just can’t get enough of this dude jamming some guitar OUTTA NOWHERE!
Goldust begging for a match from Kurt Angle was somehow the worst part of Raw, and there were some low points this episode. His voice was just grating as he whispered his demands.
#1 Contender’s Match for the I.C. Title: Finn Balor v Seth Rollins v Miz w/Maryse
A lot of different kinds of dropkicks in this match, for whatever that’s worth. These dudes all took turns getting their stuff in. Best match of the night, by far, but it had the most on the line, and the best people in it. It was another case of everyone in the match having the same colors on again, though, which still annoys me.
Miz getting the win was no shock, but I was expecting Braun to run-in, and not Bray/Joe, so they surprised me there. Good main event, but the rest of the show dragged so much, it was hard to be into the bout.
Top 3 Stars of Raw
- * Dean Ambrose: Found a way to shine in segments with all of the top guys from Raw. Dean is at his best when he’s able to mix the laughs in with the madness.
- ** Sheamus/Cesaro’s New Jackets: The Jackets were what truly stood out from the new heel Sheasaro.
- *** Alexa Bliss: Gave me hope that Raw wouldn’t suck tonight, even though it pretty much did.