By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns: I guess the idea is to get Seth Rollins over as a babyface by having him perform cross body blocks from high places. First, Rollins dove off the broadcast table onto Rusev on the floor, and then he dove off the top of the cage onto Rusev and Owens after this match. The finish of the match was pretty cool. It looked like Owens would need to stall in order for Reigns to reach the floor before Owens exited the cage door, but Reigns dropped to the floor quickly and made it work. The problem with the post match angle is that it left me looking forward to Raw more than the pay-per-view. They didn’t make me care about Owens vs. Rollins, they left me curious to see what’s next for the former members of The Shield now that Rollins saved his longtime enemy.
Brian Kendrick vs. Cedric Alexander vs. Rich Swann vs. Gran Metalik: I had a lot of issues with the cruiserweight introduction, but I did enjoy the actual four-way match thanks to the effort of the wrestlers. Most of the live crowd didn’t seem to know much about these guys, but the wrestlers won them over with their hard work. I like the idea of Kendrick winning the match in that he’s the most familiar name for the casual viewers. So either TJ Perkins gets to beat a known name on Sunday or WWE moves the title to the only guy with notable WWE history. I hope Alexander being pinned is part of a bigger plan to establish him as a guy who has all the tools and just can’t win the big one. If they take this approach then the payoff of him finally winning the big one could be really good.
Stephanie McMahon: WWE made me stop caring about why Triple H helped Kevin Owens win the title by failing to follow up and then turning it into a question of whether Stephanie knew what he was doing. And while I really don’t care if Stephanie knew, I did appreciate the way her character was written on Raw this week. Her frustration with Mick Foley booking Kevin Owens in a cage match six days before his title defense at Clash of Champions could be looked at as a sign that she is trying to protect Owens or simply that she is trying to do right by the brand and the championship.
Cesaro vs. Sheamus: The format worked against this match in that it felt obvious that Cesaro was going to win to set up the seventh match at Clash of Champions. The near falls just didn’t mean as much as they would have in a regular match. Nevertheless, the wrestlers did a good job of getting the live crowd engaged, and now Cesaro goes into the deciding match with momentum. It will be interesting to see if either guy really gains something from this series or if they go back into no man’s land with creative not really having anything planned for the winner beyond the “championship opportunity” that was promised by Mick Foley.
Sami Zayn, Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Big E, and Kofi Kingston vs. Chris Jericho, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Primo, and Epico: The setup for the match screamed time filling ten-man tag. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise when the match was kept brief rather than being slotted to overstay it’s welcome. WWE did a lot of damage to Anderson and Gallows with those horrible skits and the Old Day segment. I cringe when they have a mic in their hands. How about just having them kick ass and not say anything for at least a month.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: Raw failed as a go-home show. I can look at the Clash of Champions lineup and get excited by several matches, but WWE failed miserably to deliver strong final hype for the major matches. For instance, it’s easy to look at the lineup and get excited by the Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins match, but the storyline build to the match was so poor that it doesn’t even feel like the strong main event that it surely will be.
Cruiserweight Division presentation: How do you have a four-way match to determine the No. 1 contender for the championship, yet not even bother to introduce the Raw viewers to the new WWE Cruiserweight Champion? TJ Perkins appeared on the pre-show, so he was in the building, yet for some reason they left him off the show. The overall introduction was flawed from the start with a rare case of Mick Foley stumbling over his words. The introduction of the talent was generic, and the fans who didn’t watch the Cruiserweight Classic had no reason to be excited about any of the participants unless they happened to like Brian Kendrick back in the day. WWE needs to establish the personalities and focus on singles matches. I understand they were trying to establish the number one contender in this match, but the last thing I want the cruiserweight division to feature is a bunch of random spot fest matches. WWE did a great job with the Cruiserweight Classic and I would hate to see the cruiserweight division become WWE’s version of the sorry TNA X Division.
Charlotte and Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks and Bayley: Even as a firm believer that Bayley should be positioned as a lovable underdog figure rather than an established star early in her Raw run, I have no idea why WWE had Charlotte pin her in this match. Why make one of the challengers look vulnerable and make the champion look strong heading into the Triple Threat match? By the way, the logic of last week’s double pin was completely flawed. If Sasha and Bayley were pinned in a Triple Threat, wouldn’t that mean Dana Brooke was the rightful winner of the match? It’s amazing how many times WWE has changed the Clash of Champions women’s championship match. The Triple Threat should be really good, but the build has been bizarre.
Bo Dallas vs. Gary Graham: WWE seems to be serious about doing more with Dallas. He has more of an edge and there’s not a bunch of hokey comedy or commentary when he wrestles. So why is he rhyming and carrying a campaign sign?