Raw came out of England this week, and for a third week in a row, Shane McMahon was the general manager and The Authority were inexplicably absent. Still, this was a pretty good show but it did start to struggle in the final hour, as Raw normally does. Raw has been very much watchable for the last few weeks though, as the show has had more of an emphasis on new stars and good wrestling as opposed to lengthy promos and repetitive recap segments.
The Ambrose Asylum: Hit
Any show that opens without Triple H or Stephanie still feels fresh to me. Dean Ambrose kicking things off with a bad comedy routine and his apparently new talk show is pretty good stuff and was a good way to set up the evening’s matches.
Chris Jericho vs. Sami Zayn: Hit
This was a really good opening match. I know a lot of people might be unhappy to see Jericho going over a rising star like Sami Zayn, but honestly, I don’t mind it. I think Jericho is a guy that should be winning these TV matches decisively and then putting over guys in the big pay-per-view matches when it counts – which is another reason why I really disliked him beating AJ Styles at Mania. But still. This match didn’t kill Sami Zayn and Jericho came out of it looking good, and it was a solid opener.
Enzo & Cass vs. The Dudley Boyz: Hit
The match wasn’t anything amazing, but Enzo & Cass have really hit the ground running with their call up, and they’re faring way better than any of the other recent call ups. That’s a pretty good testament to their mic work and Enzo’s ability to work a crowd. It will be interesting to see how audience’s will react if we end up getting Enzo & Cass going up against The New Day. I doubt that they’ll go in that direction given how popular both teams are as babyfaces though.
Anderson & Gallows attack Roman Reigns: Hit
I really like this direction they’re going in with Styles, Gallows and Anderson. The promo between Styles and Reigns was great and I’m really enjoying tweener Reigns. I’m interested to see what happens with the WWE’s version of the “Bullet Club”, whether this results in a heel turn for AJ Styles, or possibly could lead to Finn Balor’s main roster debut. It’s put an intriguing twist on the Payback main event.
Baron Corbin vs. Fandango: Hit
This is how they should have debuted Corbin last week. He got over in NXT over time by squashing jobbers in short order, not by having lengthy competitive matches that he doesn’t even win. They should keep him doing this sort of thing, destroying someone new every week to build up to the real match at the pay-per-view. And keep him far away from a microphone for now as well.
MizTV with Cesaro: Hit
Maybe this segment got annoying after Miz’s third attempt at a Liam Neeson impression, but I find the Miz and Maryse material to be funny, and Cesaro was great out there. I really, really hope they go all the way with this guy. He got one of the biggest reactions of the night, the people love him and he’s awesome in the ring. They need to not drop the ball with him again for the eighteenth time.
Cesaro & The New Day vs. The Miz & The League of Nations: Hit
Natalya, Becky Lynch, Paige & Sasha Banks vs. Team BAD, Summer Rae & Charlotte: Hit
It’s a bit ambitious to put two eight person tag matches back to back. But I thought the women got a decent reaction here and they put on a pretty good match. Natalya has come out of the last two weeks looking like a really strong contender and her title match with Charlotte should be another great one. The added stipulation of Bret in the corner is pretty neat as well and that should cancel out the Flair factor, so hopefully we’ll get a clean finish. I don’t expect Natalya to go over, but it should be another solid match.
The Vaudevillains vs. The Usos: Botch
I really want the Vaudevillains to succeed, especially with so many people expecting them to fail. They have a very cartoonish gimmick that doesn’t quite fit in with the other tag teams, but they managed to get over in NXT. The thing is, they’ve been debuted on the main roster completely cold, the casual audience doesn’t know what to make of them and no one knows how to react to them. They need vignettes and segments to build them up, instead they’re just sort of dead on arrival. And changing their entrance theme hasn’t helped either. With Enzo & Cass, they can just stick a mic in Enzo’s hand and they’ll get over. English and Gotch are both really talented, they just need a little more attention from creative to be able to get over. The crowd was dead for this match and I can’t blame them.
Apollo Crews vs. Heath Slater: Botch
Another win over the Outcasts for Apollo, but the crowd’s just not caring or clicking with him. I think running the sit down interviews with him is a good way to get him over with the audience, but his character definitely lacks something. He just feels very two dimensional at the moment. It’s not a heel turn or anything that he needs. He just needs something to make him stand out. His looks and athleticism will only get him so far. Maybe it’ll help more when he starts a more meaningful feud than what he has going on with the Social Outcasts.
Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens: Botch
This was actually a really good match. But the problem is that it felt meaningless and it came way too late in a long show, and it went way too long. This was a near 20-minute long main event between two guys who aren’t feuding and don’t really have anything to do with each other right now. They worked well, it was a good match, but the crowd was completely dead. I can’t help but feel that Ambrose’s booking at Wrestlemania has really hurt him in the eyes of the casual viewer, and doing funny talk show skits isn’t going to help him much. Despite the match being good, the fact that there were no stakes or long lasting repercussions from it (outside of the expected Jericho run in) made me wonder why I was watching it. It just felt like a flat main event to an otherwise fairly good episode of Raw.
All photos via WWE.com