By Jason Powell
Check out my return to Jim Ross’s “The Ross Report” podcast once the show drops tonight at 8 CT/9 ET at Podcastone.com/The-Ross-Report.
WWE Raw Hits
Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins opening segment: A good opening segment with the crowd digging the new underdog champion. Reigns was more heelish than ever as he told the fans he didn’t care what they think and then following up by telling them to drink their beers and shut up. I really liked Ambrose telling Roman that he would have cashed in on him if he had retained the title. Rollins made his entrance at just the right point so that he could shut down Roman’s claim at deserving the first title shot. The dynamic between the three men is solid even though the Reigns character becomes more confusing by the day.
Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins: A good main event with an understandable finish. Sure, it’s disappointing in the moment that the match ended in a double count-out, but it was a perfectly logical way to set up the Triple Threat at Battleground. The illogical parts were Roman working as an all out babyface despite his heelish tendencies in the opening segment, and the explanation that Rollins returning to the ring at nine restarted the ref’s count while Reigns was still on the floor. Michael Cole had to jump in and explain that logic, which doesn’t hold up considering that we’ve seen wrestlers beat the count at nine and win matches by count-outs. That said, this was still an entertaining match down the stretch and the post-match with Ambrose standing tall capped off a good first night for the new champion.
John Cena and AJ Styles: A minor Hit for a segment that left me with mixed feelings. Cena vs. Styles at Money in the Bank felt like a showdown match of two great wrestlers. The vibe changed last night with Cena playing the role of the wronged top star as Styles played the part of the pest heel who was content to win the match with outside interference. I prefer Styles being positioned as an in-ring force who is a threat to Cena even without help of his allies. Ultimately, though, the segment gets a Hit because the dynamic worked in that Cena got more cheers than usual, and Styles was loudly booed by the end of the segment.
Rusev and Titus O’Neil: I had zero interest in seeing a rematch coming out of Money in the Bank. And while I can’t say that I’m suddenly invested in this feud, Titus showed good fire and breathed some life into the program.
Sasha Banks and Charlotte: It was good to see Sasha finally make her return to Raw. I wish WWE had taken all this time to establish her character because we’d care a lot more about her inevitable title match against Charlotte. Still, it’s a match that I’m looking forward to.
Becky Lynch: Sasha made her big return and Lynch was laid out by Natalya in a backstage segment. Nevertheless, Lynch continues to shine as a babyface. Her character hasn’t turned repeatedly like most of the women in the division, and she comes across as a far more likable character than The Boss. Don’t get me wrong, Sasha is great at what she does and her narcissistic persona is actually a nice contrast, but Lynch is the best and perhaps only traditional babyface in the division.
Big Jonny’s Shoes: I told you he wouldn’t like them, Eddie.
WWE Raw Misses
The Wyatt Family and New Day: The live crowd went crazy for the return of Bray Wyatt. It might be the best reaction Wyatt has received for something that didn’t involve a match with The Shield. Unfortunately, WWE officials didn’t seem to see this coming, as they appear to have him slotted as a heel. The last time we saw Wyatt he was teaming with Reigns and appeared to be on the verge of a babyface run. Now it appears that the Wyatts are going to be feuding with New Day over the tag titles. WWE has to be careful with this feud. The last thing the Wyatt Family needs is to become punchlines for an endless barrage of New Day jokes and skits. Conversely, the feud could work if the idea is for the Wyatts to be so vicious that it brings out the serious side of New Day. By the way, Xavier Woods acting like he was in a trance left me fearful that we’re about to see some big time hocus pocus nonsense.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens: The actual match was certainly a Hit. The problem is that I don’t get the feeling that WWE decision makers realize what they have in this program. This is a match that should have been advertised a week or out at the very least advertised as this week’s Smackdown main event. I have no doubt that fans would have been even more excited about the match if the wrestlers had been given promo time and a solid dose of hype. Instead, Zayn vs. Owens was just thrown there as the first match of the night. It’s not that the match didn’t work, it’s just that there was potential to do a lot more with it. I also wasn’t a fan of Zayn going over, as I would have preferred to see Owens escape with repeated wins so that it felt like a big moment when Zayn finally defeated him.