After weeks of feeling as though RAW was in a sort of holding pattern, Monday’s show was a big hit for the Red Brand. There was a lot to praise about RAW this week (and of course some low points) so let’s dive on in.
Kurt Angle Promo (ft. Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, Bray Wyatt, Finn Balor, and Roman Reigns): ★★★★
I know show opener promos aren’t popular but their expected at this point, so if you’re going to do them then do them well. This was about as good a way as any to announce Strowman’s extremely unfortunate injury and build up the next #1 Contender for the Universal Title. All 5 announced competitors for the Extreme Rules Fatal 5 Way are more than capable and each one presents an intriguing match-up to the Beast Incarnate. The brawl to cap off the segment was well done and it was a smart decision to have Finn Stand tall.
Jeff Hardy (w/ Matt Hardy) def. Sheamus (w/ Cesaro): ★★3/4
This was a better 1st time ever meeting than the previous singles encounters that these teams have been a part of. That is due to now having a defined dynamic, plus putting the bruising Sheamus against the consummate Babyface Jeff. Several moves stood out such as Sheamus’ new high knee and Jeff catching Sheamus coming off the top. My only complaint is that this still feels like a bit of a retread of what happened between these teams previously, only the pairings are slightly different.
Alicia Fox (w/ Noam Darr) def. Sasha Banks: ★★1/2
Well that was an unexpected outcome. Don’t get me wrong I’m glad there’s a secondary feud in the Women’s Division, I’m just not sure that this was the one to go with. The matches are okay and both women appear to deliver stiff blows to one another (such as Sasha’s knee or Foxy’s boot) but there isn’t anything to this feud so far. Until it gets some heat on it it’s going to be a very forgettable portion of the show.
Miz (w/ Maryse) def. Dean Ambrose (via DQ) (Intercontinental Title Match): ★★★★
Well this was a damn fine match. It had a frenetic pace from start to finish and both men played their roles excellently. Ambrose finds himself complacent at times and The Miz has never been the flashiest wrestler, but both men really dialed things up to make this bout feel like it meant something. Miz’s counter of Dean’s (awful) Lunatic Lariat into the Skull Crusching Finale was a really cool spot and the crowd definitely bought into the near fall. I’m sure people weren’t happy about the ending, but it plays well into Dean’s character and sets up a rematch down the line at Extreme Rules.
Alexa Bliss Promo (ft. Bayley): ★★★1/2
Alexa Bliss continues to show why she’s the best talker in the female division while simultaneously shutting down the increasingly annoying “WHAT?” chants from the audience. When Bayley came out I was nervous due to her dragging down promo segments (you can tell from her lack of pop that she’s beginning to lose the audience) but she handled herself well enough. I do however think that only one shot from the cane was underwhelming and the following backstage segment made Bayley seem whinier than someone to feel badly for. The Kendo Stick on a Pole match is an awful idea, but these women may just be talented enough to make it work.
Neville and TJP def. Austin Aries and Gentleman Jack Gallagher: ★★1/2
Look I’ not going to say this match lit the world on fire, but it was a perfectly acceptable TV match. The audience chanting for beach balls and CM Punk continues to be an obnoxious part of the shows, especially when perceived “IWC favorites” are in the ring. Why would WWE want to invest more in the division when the crowd won’t invest in it either?
Roman Reigns def. Finn Balor: ★★★★1/2
Holy Hell what a match from both men. Say what you want about Reigns, but his selling and mannerisms were on point tonight. Even when throwing an Irish whip Roman only utilized his good arm, which was a hell of a touch. Finn met him in the selling department by conveying the pain in his midsection being targeted by a much more aggressive Reigns. Both men had momentum at various points and Roman going over isn’t as much of a negative as some would make it out to be. In a tightly contested match that was as good as this it’s tough to find fault. Hopefully these Superstars engage in a real feud down the line, because their in-ring chemistry is off the charts.
Goldust ends the Golden Truth: ★★1/2
Well this was a good way to end a bad team. Despite the initial fun potential that these two had, the past year has proven to be fruitless for both. The turn (while somewhat telegraphed) was well done. Goldust’s movements were slow and deliberate, and R-Truth sold the attack with a betrayed look in his eye. The idea of a feud between the two isn’t exactly mouthwatering, but could lead to a final push for Goldust and the potential return of crazy R-Truth.
Big Cass (w/ Enzo Amore) def. Titus O’Neil (w/ Apollo Crews): ★★1/4
The match itself wasn’t anything memorable, but the pre-match promo by Titus O’Neil had me laughing. Despite that one horrible promo last year, Titus has always been very underrated on the mic and in the ring has damn good intensity. The issue between Apollo Crews and Enzo could be the start of a turn for Apollo which could help him develop some semblance of character to match his unique skill set.
Seth Rollins def. Bray Wyatt (DQ due to Samoa Joe): ★★★★
The match itself (a shocking 1st time ever encounter) was very good, and the post-match antics really boosted what had come before. Wyatt and Rollins could have a dynamic program down the road, as could Bray and Joe. The initial tease between them was great and Wyatt dropping both him and Seth at the end made for a powerful image to conclude the show on. Some people may not love another DQ finish, especially in the main event, but it helped further the build for Extreme rules while continuing to tell the individual stories that have been dominating our screens for several months.
- Both Wyatt and Rollins had good backstage promos to build their match for later in the night.
- TJP still sucks in any speaking capacity.
- I hope Neville and Aires gets a stipulation for their Cruiserweight Title match at Extreme Rules.
- The Drifter continues to be a highlight anytime he pops up.
Overall Grade: ★★★★
RAW featured phenomenal in-ring action and promo segments that furthered the build for Extreme Rules. With very few lulls and soaring highs RAW presented a show that felt fresh and energetic which is something that has been missing from the weekly program.