RAW Thoughts

SheamusWe are in Memphis and ready for the “season premiere” of RAW (and it’s my birthday, no less!). With less than a week to go until Night of Champions, I’m anticipating an exciting night of sports entertainment. Let’s go!!!

Triple H & StephanieThe Authority (i.e. Triple H & Stephanie) kick off festivities by making their way to the ring. They do a little in-ring promo about Night of Champions and the title match taking place later between WWE Divas champion Nikki Bella and her challenger, Charlotte. Triple H then noted that Sting would make his in-ring RAW debut against Big Show.

Stephanie then introduces The New Day, who make their way down to the ring. Apparently, New Day wants Triple H to join Stephanie in “feeling the positivity”…which is just a little bizarre when you think about it.

And apparently, Triple H is also a fan of The New Day as he does his best Mr. McMahon impression.

Vince dances

New Day vs PTPThe New Day is ready to kick off the in-ring festivities by defending their tag team titles against the Prime Time Players. The match itself was okay, but the crowd was pretty apathetic towards the babyface team. I know WWE has really tried to get them over but the crowd just doesn’t care. Hell…the crowd is more into Xavier Woods’ trombone than they are into the PTP’s.

In the end, the champs retained and there was a staredown between them and the Dudley Boyz. I’m looking forward to this match-up.

– Backstage, Seth Rollins is talking with Triple H and Stephanie when they tell him to relax and focus on Night of Champions. In the meantime, they set-up a match between John Cena and Sheamus.

Charlotte (with her father, Ric Flair) is backstage talking with Renee Young. They are putting a TON of hype into this match-up and, in particular, on Charlotte. If she doesn’t win, then what in the hell is all of this for? Personally, I think WWE is going to have Bella win via screwjob somehow so there is a rematch at Night of Champions where Charlotte wins the title. But man…they’re really hyping up Charlotte here (and deservedly so!!). I’m really hoping she wins, but I guess that’s the whole point of this segment…which was fun and has me anticipating a possible title change tonight.

Paige vs Sasha 1Paige (with Becky Lynch) is getting ready to take on Sasha Banks (with Naomi & Tamina). I’m not sure what they’re trying to do with these two, but there needs to be more storyline reasons for them having a feud. If you can give us a reason to care, THEN we’ll care in addition to enjoy the match. As it stands, this should be a really good match if booked properly.

Thankfully, I was right. The match…while rather short…was a pretty damn good match in spite of the lack of crowd heat. At one point, there was a NASTY German suplex on Banks by Paige where I thought Banks could possibly be seriously hurt.

In the end, Paige made a mistake on the outside which cost her. Banks threw her back into the ring, clamped on the Bank Statement, and made the 2-time former Divas champion tap out…again.

– Now it’s time for the “season premiere” of Miz TV. The Miz welcomes the entire Wyatt Family to his show. After being told that he wasn’t safe…

…Miz stammered about not being the partner of Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns at “Hell in a Cell“.

StaredownBefore long, Reigns and Ambrose make their way to the ring to tell Bray Wyatt that they’ve found a third partner and that they’ll win on Sunday. There’s a brief staredown before the segment ends with nothing else taking place.

John Cena vs Sheamus is up next. I’m not hating on this match-up…if they bring out their “working boots”, then this could be a lot of fun to watch.

Sheamus vs John CenaUnfortunately, I was wrong and most of this match was slow and plodding. Having said that, the live crowd seemed to be into it…so I guess I can’t really crap on the match that much. Just like Hogan matches back in the 80’s, if you don’t have to do much to get over with the crowd, then don’t do much.

The last two minutes were fun and the crowd popped for Cena’s inevitable win. You don’t have to like it because this match wasn’t directed towards you.

Ryback sucks– Ugh…Ryback is in the ring and begging for cheap pops. He even tried to do an Elvis impression. WOW…that was horrifically bad. Thankfully, the music of Kevin Owens (y’know…and Owens, too) interrupted him. Ryback attempted to have some kind of “war of words” with Owens, but was decimated by the quick-witted Frenchman who actually has English as a SECOND language.

I mean, Ryback can memorize all the words he wants, but it comes across as disingenuous and stiff. Owens, though, is a man who is extremely smart and was able to ad-lib all of the ridiculous one-offs that Ryback mumbled through.

Kevin Owens vs RybackBasically, they set-up Night of Champions when Owens will get a chance at Ryback’s Intercontinental title. Hopefully, WWE realizes that much like the Prime Time Players failed experiment, the failed Ryback experiment needs to come to a close and they would be EXTREMELY SMART to have Owens become the next IC champ. The guy is just “money”.

The Cosmic WastelandStardust comes out with The Ascension, who are now collectively known as The Cosmic Wasteland. I’m glad they put these guys together, because they need a spark and could be very good for each others careers. Plus, the idea of 3-person factions is not only a great way to use under-utilized talent, putting them in 6-man tags usually results in pretty good matches.

Neville & Lucha DragonsMr. Rhodes is ready to battle Neville, who comes out with the Lucha Dragons. They all have settles to score…so while the live crowd may not be too into the story, those of us at home are at least given reasons to be involved. I like that it’s not just a “throwaway” match.

I gotta say…the more I watch Neville, the more impressed I am. I mean, I’ve been watching matches of Pac for years now, but he just passed that magical “10 year mark” where a great wrestler is firing on all cylinders (something discussed by Steve Austin on his podcast recently). Neville is so damn crisp and fluid that it can sometimes be easy to take what he does for granted. Don’t make that mistake…Neville is one of the best in-ring competitors in the entire world and, I’d dare say, probably the best high-flyer.

For whatever reason, this match was over BEFORE it started. I don’t even think it was a match. I don’t even know WHAT was going on…but I’ll assume it just set up a match for Sunday. Weird.

– Next up was a promo package of Nikki Bella…where she bragged about becoming the longest-reigning Divas champion in history. If she wasn’t painted as a heel before (because of the terrible writing of the Divas division

“You all BEGGED for a Divas Revolution, and I gave you one. I started a revolution and cemented a legacy.” – Nikki Bella

Nikki Bella<begin rant>Y’know…I dislike Nikki Bella so much because (a) she ISN’T that talented in the ring, (b) she DOES get by primarily on her looks, and (c) she DOES get pushed because of who she sleeps with. And lets face it, if it weren’t for the falling out of CM Punk and AJ Lee from the company, Bella wouldn’t have kept the title this long. She’s not “over” and the fact that she’s barely defended the title at all over the past few months makes WWE pushing her as an “incredible champion” (as said by Michael Cole tonight) or a “fighting champion” (as said by JBL tonight) all the more laughable. They try and try to re-write history and make you forget the actuality of the situation, but most fans can see through the bullshit. She might be beautiful, but Nikki Bella is a fucking joke. </rant over>

Charlotte vs Nikki BellaAlright…now it’s time for the Nikki Bella vs Charlotte title match. They’ve really built-up this match…so let’s hope the crowd gives the heat this match deserves.

Charlotte vs Nikki Bella 1I’ll give credit where it’s due. This was probably one of Bella’s best matches, as she attacked one body part and that was the story of the match. Charlotte is just so impressive, too…she’s only getting better by the week.

Charlotte vs Nikki Bella 2Out of nowhere, though, Team Bella got involved in the match and the referee was distracted. The next thing you know, Charlotte is pinning Brie Bella and, out of nowhere, wins the Divas title. Ric Flair makes his way down to the ring as the music plays, the crowd (kinda) pops, and Team PCB is super excited. WRONG BELLA

As the Bellas were trying to tell the referee that the wrong Bella was pinned (Brie even took the tissue paper out of her sports bra…ugh), out came Stephanie McMahon and the vintage “Dusty finish”. She explained that the wrong Bella was pinned and Charlotte should have won by disqualification…but that the title stays with the champion, Nikki Bella.

Wrong  BellaThe entire ending came out of nowhere and was a clusterfuck. I’m not surprised by the result; just surprised by how rushed it seemed to take place. There was so much hype for this match, yet they never really built to a finish…which is sad because the majority of the match was pretty decent. I’m not complaining about the “shitty finish” or how the divas were “screwed” somehow…just that they didn’t really build properly to the finish. Charlotte had only begun her comeback, yet Team Bella jumped in to interfere. I dunno…I just thought there should have been more build and more back and forth.

See the end and judge for yourself.

UghGive Charlotte all of the credit in the world because she gave more real emotion into her losing than I’ve ever seen. It looked legitimately like she lost a match…and I respect that. In respect to Nikki Bella, her record comes across the exact same way her entire reign was…as a joke.

Rusev (with Summer Rae) is ready to take on Cesaro. Will they get enough time to put on a great match? I guess we’ll see.

Small packageWhat the fuck?? I mean, I get it in terms of storyline advancement…it makes total sense. But this was a guy who destroyed John Cena and was undefeated for months and months. All of a sudden, a distraction by Dolph Ziggler and a small package ends up pinning the guy???

** shaking my head**

Sting vs Big Show– It’s now time for the main event! Because they know each other very well, putting Sting in the ring against Big Show is probably a good idea. My only concern is making Sting look as strong as possible going into his match against Seth Rollins for the WWE title. If he doesn’t come off as being a legitimate star to the WWE Universe, then what’s the point?

Having Sting wrestling in a t-shirt probably isn’t the best idea.

Sting 1

Neither is having WWE employees tweet out this…

Anyway, Sting started off the match by dominating Show.

In fact, Sting was absolutely destroying Show for two solid minutes before hitting the Stinger Splash, which brought Seth Rollins out to the ring to interfere and cause the DQ finish.

As Show and Rollins began to double-team Sting, out came John Cena for the save. As such, Triple H made this a tag team match as we went to commercial.

Scorpion Death LockThe entire match was basically John Cena selling for 5-10 minutes and Sting making the hot tag, hitting the Stinger Splash, the Scorpion Death Drop, and then making Rollins tap out to the Scorpion Death Lock.

So in the end, they put over Sting BIG time. Sting looked like a superstar out there, regardless of how he didn’t actually dress like a  superstar.

**********

All in all, this wasn’t the best episode of RAW ever, but it wasn’t terrible by any stretch. It was pretty decent and I’ve got no complaints. They really pushed storylines and set-up matches for Night of Champions. Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do?

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