By Jason Powell
Check out my full audio review of WWE Raw for free in the All Access Daily Podcast at PWAudio.net.
WWE Raw Hits
The Shield reunite: Creative told a really good story when they reunited Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. There wasn’t much of a story when it came to bring Roman Reigns back into the fold, but it still worked like a charm. The live crowd was hotter for their return than anything else on WWE television in a long time. It will be interesting to see if this reunion leads to Reigns being cheered once he goes back to working singles matches or if it will be more of the same when he’s not teaming with Ambrose and Rollins. Regardless, the live crowd was hot for everything the trio did and I love that Indianapolis played host to the debut of the Shield, their split, and their reunion.
Braun Strowman vs. Matt Hardy: Hardy received more offense than most of Strowman’s opponents, but the finish was never in doubt. The post match angle with The Shield was well done even though it did seem odd to see three babyfaces beating up one heel. I’m also not as crazy about the involvement of The Miz in the TLC main event. I enjoy Miz’s work, but the heel team of Strowman, Sheamus, and Cesaro actually feels like a bigger challenge despite the fact they would lose their numbers advantage. Miz feels like the weak link of the team, and his involvement is depriving the TLC show of an Intercontinental Title match. And considering that the WWE Universal Champion is not booked for TLC and the Raw Tag Champions are in the TLC match, the event could use an IC Title match.
Enzo Amore vs. Kalisto in a lumberjack match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: The cruiserweights were bombing to the point that the live crowd was much quieter than usual during Enzo’s pre-match schtick. The fans didn’t seem to care about Kalisto given the silence that his first appearance on the show was met with. Everything changed when Kalisto suplexed Enzo from the top rope and onto the lumberjacks at ringside. This grabbed the crowd’s attention and they had the fans the rest of the way. I still believe that putting the cruiserweights in the final segment on Raw turns away more viewers from the third hour of Raw than it brings to 205 Live, but there’s no denying that the title change was well received.
Sasha Banks vs. Bayley vs. Emma vs. Alicia Fox vs. Dana Brooke in a five-way elimination match: A minor Hit for a decent elimination match. There was some serious miscommunication with the broadcast team. Michael Cole didn’t even know this was an elimination match until the first elimination took place. I don’t know if he’s to blame or if no one bothered to tell him. Either way, I like the call to save Banks and Bayley for future matches with Asuka, and Emma stands out as the best option of the other three women to face Asuka at TLC.
Jason Jordan vs. Karl Anderson: A minor Hit for a decent match and Jordan getting a better reaction than usual, presumably because he went to college in Indiana. There’s still no indication that creative made any long term plans for Jordan once they made him Kurt Angle’s storyline son.
WWE Raw Misses
Bray Wyatt and Sister Abigail: The worst of sports entertainment. I could live with this if Wyatt was in Norman Bates mode and had a personality disorder, but apparently they actually want viewers to believe that Wyatt is possessed in that Abigail can speak through him. Finn Balor was the guy who called Wyatt on his mind games, but now he suddenly buys in because Wyatt had the type of video and sound production normally reserved for Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures?
Elias vs. Apollo Crews: How many times does Elias have to beat Crews before he gets to move on to something else? Elias has clicked on the main roster much better than he ever did in NXT, but it doesn’t seem like creative knows where to go with him.
Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher vs. Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali: The match was fine. The problem continues to be the lack of creative attention the cruiserweights not named Enzo Amore, Neville, and Kalisto get on the Raw side. This is the first time that Raw viewers saw Gallagher work as a heel and it felt awkward since his turn was never chronicled on Raw.