RAW Thoughts

The BOlieving DeadWe’re in the wrestling hot-bed (and one of my favourite cities in the entire world) of Chicago, Illinois as WWE tries to (a) improve their ratings against baseball playoffs AND Monday night football and (b) get people interested in the upcoming PPV, Hell in a Cell. You gotta wonder what kind of show WWE will give us tonight, so let’s find out!!

Corporate Kane– We learn right out of the gate in a backstage segment that Stephanie and Triple H will be “late”, so Corporate Kane is in charge of the entire show tonight. He proceeds to create a lumberjack match between himself and Seth Rollins…which should obviously only go to try making Kane a legitimate threat for the WWE World Heavyweight title even though everybody and their dog knows he’s not going to win.

– Instead of yet another in-ring diatribe, we’re kicking off the show with Dean Ambrose hitting the ring to tell the world that he’s looking for a fight. In a bit of a surprise, out comes Randy Orton

Orton proceeds to tell Ambrose that a new match has been made for Hell in a Cell: Braun Strowman and Luke Harper will take on Ambrose and Orton.

Both men want the other to “follow my lead” and both agree that they cannot be trusted. As they continue their conversation, they are interrupted by…

New Day

THE NEW DAY!!

They can’t believe that Orton and Ambrose are talking about the Wyatt’s instead of them, as they destroyed the Dudleyz, Dolph Ziggler, and John Cena last week. They proceed to provide a super-entertaining promo (even making Orton smile at one point) before being interrupted by Corporate Kane, who makes a match between New Day and Ambrose & Orton.

Orton vs KingstonThe first few minutes saw the babyfaces dominate, not only before the break but afterwards, as well. I thought that Orton and Ambrose did well with subtly showing a bit of competitiveness, trying to one-up each other in the ring. That subtlety then turned into a very apparent competition, with both men inside of the ring talking to each other. Not arguing, exactly, but conversing sternly.

We came back from another commercial and the heels finally had the advantage. You gotta love New Day…they went from being hated for sucking so hard, to being absolutely loved for being so entertaining, to being hated again for being dominant heels. It’s been a very impressive transition. Orton vs Kingston 2

Ambrose & Orton vs New DayOnce the hot tag was made, the crowd really came alive as the babyfaces were running wild all over the place. The end came, however, when Orton was about to deliver an RKO to Kingston, but he was pushed into Ambrose (who fell out of the ring) and was rolled up for the pin.

Ambrose and Orton showed resent and frustration with each other, but nothing else materialized from it.

– Apparently, Nikki Bella is about to take on Naomi. I’m sorry, but if this is the Divas Revolution that WWE wants to give me, I’m NOT interested.

What’s weird is that they promoted the incredible main event from NXT TakeOver: Respect between Bayley and Sasha Banks, who is also on Team B.A.D. with Naomi. Ummm…if you’re going to promote Banks, why are you having Naomi wrestling?? Bayley vs Banks

Naomi vs Nikki 2You want to know the difference between NXT women and the Divas? The NXT matches look like a match that two men would have. They’re absolutely incredible and just happen to have women in the roles. These matches look like women wrestling. I can’t really describe it any other way. There’s just a very apparent difference in the booking of the matches.

Banks takes out BellaBrie Bella grabs the microphone and tries to start a “We want Sasha” chant. Banks takes her out but somehow this distracted Naomi to the point that Nikki pinned her. I guess we now know why they’re pushing Banks with Naomi doing the wrestling: they’re trying to turn Banks and split her from Team B.A.D., which is a good idea because that team sucks the life out of everything they’re close to.

Seriously…look at this picture taken from last night’s WWE Instagram account. Out of the three of them, who oozes star power?

Team B.A.D.

Up next…

John Cena US open challenge– It’s now officially time for the John Cena U.S. Title Open Challenge. While the crowd is heavily divided, I can’t complain with this gimmick. I’m really loving the match-ups and Cena has never worked harder in the ring to put on a good show. In addition, the U.S. title has been elevated to a point it hasn’t been at in a very long time. So…the only question is who will answer the challenge this week?

Dolph Ziggler‘s music hits and out comes the man who (apparently, on Total Divas) wants to have kids with Nikki Bella (i.e. Cena’s girlfriend). The announcers, though, hint about his current relationship with Lana.

Holy shit…Cena even grabbed the microphone to address the situation as the Chicago crowd was going crazy. I’ve never seen anything like that before. And really…out of all the places to propose, you do it during a John Cena match on RAW?? All kinds, I guess…

The match itself was good in the beginning. I mean, I’ve seen both in better matches, but the highlight came near the end. The second half of the match had the crowd eating out of the palms of their hands. For me, though, once Cena kicked out of a SECOND ROPE DDT, I knew that Ziggler wasn’t going to win.

THEN John Cena kicked out of the Zig Zag. Sigh.

Cena then hit the AA out of nowhere and got the clean pinfall.

Cena vs Ziggler 1Listen, I don’t have a problem with Cena kicking out of one finishing move per match. All of the main event guys do that from time to time and it really helps pop the crowd. But at this point, Cena kicks out of moves that should KILL guys. To have him kick out of everything doesn’t help him; it actually hurts the business. I mean, a normal DDT is the finisher of Dean Ambrose. Why does his work when a second-rope DDT fails? It just doesn’t make sense to me. It reminds me of how ECW was gradually killing the business back in the late 90’s because nobody would take a pinfall unless they were pretty much dead. The business scaled back a bit and the results have been really good. But Cena\s dominance in this fashion just cannot continue. I don’t mind him winning, but it’s the moves that he kicks out of that bothers the shit out of me.

– The Dudley Boyz make their way to the ring to beat up The Ascension. I guess this whole “Cosmic Wasteland” gimmick with Stardust has already been forgotten and their potential push is already dead…is it? Anyway, it didn’t take long for the Dudleyz to make short work of the Road Warrior wanna-be’s. Yawn.

Neville is teaming with Cesaro to take on Sheamus and King Barrett. I’m intrigued by the match-up as it’s fresh and different. I’m looking forward to this one.

I gotta say, I was impressed with the offense that both Cesaro and Neville got in early. I thought they could end up being a pretty great team. Unfortunately, Neville got hit by the Bull Hammer from out of nowhere and the match was over before it really got started.

Goddammit…why are they continuing to bury fan favourites Cesaro & Neville??

Reigns vs Strowman– I don’t know if I see a clean finish here, but I think this is a big test for both men. Can Roman Reigns carry somebody green to a passable match? And can Braun Strowman make his offense look good enough to have a one-on-one match-up with somebody?

Reigns on the micReigns grabbed the mic and proceeded to recap the entire feud between him and Bray Wyatt. The longer this went, the worse it got for Reigns. The crowd hit him with a “WHAT?” chant right out of the gate. The crowd then hit him with a “BORING!” chant. Reigns, to his credit, addressed each chant and actually shut them down. But man…Reigns needs to be short and sweet. That’s his gimmick…that’s his character. He doesn’t need to deliver a promo like this. Goldberg never did: in…out…done.

Reigns vs Strowman 2Y’know, while this was far from the greatest match of all time, I think both men did exactly what they needed to do. Strowman played his part extremely well, selling when he needed to and hitting big power moves at opportune times. Reigns did a great job at selling when he needed to and hitting big-time offense when HE needed to, making things as believable as possible. In the end, Reigns won by count-out after things spilled to the outside.

Rusev vs Ryback 1– We’re all set for Rusev vs. Ryback. Ugh…poor Rusev. I mean, the guy should be in a main event storyline and continuing his dominance. He’s extremely talented in every aspect, but for some reason WWE has dropped the ball with him.

Anyway, they actually acknowledged the TMZ story that Rusev and Lana are now engaged…which I didn’t see coming. What’s even stranger is that Summer Rae still accompanied Rusev to the ring. Really?

No…what’s even stranger was that Ryback got a CLEAN PINFALL VICTORY over Rusev. Jesus…I’m at a loss for words. I don’t get it. Not even a screwjob. Christ on a cracker. Don’t even get me started on the fact that the crowd was flat (AGAIN) for his win. He just isn’t the super-over babyface that Vince wants him to be. Goddamn… Ryback vs Rusev 1

Once the match was over, Summer Rae called out Rusev for the TMZ story, called him names, and slapped him in the face. So I guess she’s back to being a babyface but what does this mean for Lana? I sure hope that WWE has some decent storylines in store for the duo because I want these two back together causing hell like they were a year ago.

Kevin Owens vs KalistoKevin Owens is continuing his weird feud with the Lucha Dragons, as he is ready to take on Kalisto. If you want to see an example of just how incredibly talented Owens is inside of the ring, all you have to do is watch the big man sell some of the little man’s moves.

The match was one of the more entertaining of the entire night. In the end, Owens absolutely killed Kalisto with a brutal powerbomb. Great stuff.

Team NBC– Divas champion Charlotte & Becky Lynch (#swoon) are in the ring and ready to take on Brie Bella & Alicia Fox. Paige is at ringside on commentary, Nikki is in the corner of Team Bella, and Natalya is in the corner of Charlotte and Lynch.  The match didn’t last very long, but it did the job of putting over storylines after a clusterfuck ending. Nikki Bella tried to interfere, Natalya came to help, Paige took out Natalya, Nikki interfered with Charlotte, and Brie ended up getting the pinfall. Just a booking mess from beginning to end.

– So Corporate Kane told Seth Rollins that he was not going to be facing him in a match, per Triple H. He did say that he would find a suitable replacement, though. My guess? “Demon Kane” because, technically, it’s not “Corporate Kane”.

Lumberjack Match– As expected, out came “Demon Kane” to take on Rollins. Sigh.

Kane intimidatesThe match wasn’t really much of anything at all. Kane was dominating the entire match…and intimidating people along the way. It’s pretty much what they have to do in order to generate interest in Kane as a legitimate challenger for Rollins.

At one point, Big Show confronted Kane on the outside and was met with a punch for his efforts. Show then hit him with the Knockout Punch and walked to the back in disgust. Yet ANOTHER turn for Show? Sigh. Big Show punches out Kane

Kane sits upIn the end, the New Day pulled Kane out of the ring and the lumberjacks all went at it on the outside. Then New Day got the heels to start attacking Kane on the inside of the ring, being the ring leaders. The babyface lumberjacks then took out the heels and we were, again, left with Kane and Rollins.

Kane hit a Tombstone piledriver for the clean pinfall and, I’m sure, WWE now believes that is enough to convince people that Kane could possibly win the WWE World Heavyweight championship at Hell in a Cell. I think WWE is insulting their fans’ intelligence, but what can you do? Tombstone**********

So the show wasn’t too bad. I’d dare say it was better than last week’s RAW. But what are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or via social media and let me know!

TWITTER – @_ZAH_

FACEBOOK – The World According To ZAH

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