Before getting starting, I’m happy to announce that I’ve begun a new weekly exclusive for ProWrestlingDotBiz. I’ll be writing a weekly Best Moments of Raw piece, starting yesterday. It’s a quick highlight of the most enjoyable parts of the show, so bookmark the page so you can catch it every week.
Unlike the Best Moments of Raw piece I just plugged, this is a more exhaustive review of the entire show. I run through just about all of the segments and offer my thoughts on everything. Raw was broadcast from London this week, which means the red police boxes and British style cars will be at the top of the ramp.
Ambrose Asylum Opener
The crowd is hot from the beginning. Putting Shane McMahon, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, and Sami Zayn into Dean Ambrose’s talk show segment is an pleasant overload of superstars to cheer for. Owens and Jericho wisely talked smack about Zayn to get the heat on them, possibly the only thing they could’ve done to get boos.
Shane officially set up the Owens vs. Zayn as well as the Jericho vs. Ambrose matches for Payback, as well as as Jericho vs. Zayn and Ambrose vs. Owens for tonight. This whole segment gave me a happy first impression for the show.
Chris Jericho def. Sami Zayn
This wasn’t a bad match between these two but I liked their encounter on SmackDown better. Jericho won via eye poke because he’s the villain. I like heel Jericho, but I’ll like him better if he puts over Dean Ambrose at Payback. Sami lost because of the cheating, which works for me. It’s hard to give guys loses so close to a Pay-Per-View but this keeps him from looking like a loser.
Enzo Amore & Big Cass def. The Dudley Boyz
I was expecting that Enzo & Cass would win here but I was surprised at how clean it was. It shouldn’t be so surprising because Bubba and D-Von have been putting over tag teams left and right over the past year but it still seems odd to watch them lay down in the middle of the ring. Enzo had a funny line about A cup breasts prior to the match because he and Cass are real, like it or not.
Roman Promo And Bullet Club Attack
The Roman/AJ promo was good. I can’t stand the “I’m not a good guy, I’m not a bad guy, I’m THE guy” line, but maybe he’s repeating it over and over again for the purpose of getting under the skin of people like me. If so, that’s clever. Both he and Styles were complementary of each other and everything looked like a calm affair until…
Anderson & Gallows ambushed Reigns from behind. I’m not familiar with their moves but they did this double team thing in which Roman was kicked in the head while in a Death Valley Driver-ish setup. It looked pretty effective. Styles looked on from the top of the ramp like he was taken aback from the assault. Is he in on it or is he innocent of this?
Baron Corbin def. Fandango
This was short but that works for what Baron is supposed to be. Fandango looks like a chump but it establishes the rookie’s dominance. Dolph Ziggler and the winner of the 2016 Andre the Giant Battle Royal threw down post-match and The Showoff ate an End of Days on the floor. Dolph can make Baron look really good and that’s a safe way to introduce him to the main roster. I like all of this.
Cesaro really wasn’t the guest here, he just came out to interrupt. Miz quoted Liam Neeson and Cesaro quoted Roddy Piper. I like both of these guys and thought this was entertaining, even though they fumbled a few lines. This all set up the big 8-man match that followed…
New Day & Cesaro def. League of Nations & The Miz (w/Maryse)
I remember the usual funny stuff from New Day and a few strong rally moments from Cesaro, including a couple of running uppercuts on the outside against the barricade. Cesaro did a pretty cool reversal on Sheamus into his Neutralizer, which was the final move before the pinfall. This was good and it keeps the New Day vs. LON and Miz vs. Cesaro rivalries going but the match wasn’t gangbusters or anything.
Natalya Has A Surprise For Payback
Mauro is backstage interviewing Charlotte and her dad until Natalya shows up. She announces that her uncle will be in her corner at Payback to balance the Ric Flair factor. Bret’s been pretty critical of the product lately, which is interesting but a non-factor in this.
Natalya, Paige, Becky Lynch, & Sasha Banks def. Charlotte & Friends
Okay, I got a little tired of switching tabs trying to remember all of the ladies in this and simply put the “& Friends” tag on the heel team. The big takeaway here is that Natalya made Charlotte tap out via Sharpshooter. This makes her look strong before their Payback match and creates a cool visual for uncle Bret to come back to, but Nattie is losing on that card. There’s no doubt about that.
The Vaudevillians def. The Usos
I expected Enzo & Cass to go far in this tag team tournament but not The Vaudevillians. I was worried that they’d get lost in the shuffle but WWE has decided to give them a showcase instead. They’re getting wins here and will have a match at the Payback Pay-Per-View. This is proving ground for all four of these guys and I hope they go all out with this opportunity. Good for Aiden & Simon, they’re super talented and simply need the opportunity.
Apollo Crews def. Heath Slater
This was an odd blend of characters. The real life suspension of Adam Rose for taking too many Flintstone vitamins or something has left a void in my favorite band of vagabonds and they were hoping for the recent NXT callup to fill it. I want to be positive but the promo to set this up was off – maybe it’s the campy stipulation that if Apollo lost then he’d have to join the group. The match wasn’t too exciting but at least Crews got the win here.
Dean Ambrose def. Kevin Owens
This was a little slow feeling in the beginning but I think I’d blame the crowd for that. It was a long show that kept getting less exciting, so they needed a few minutes to get brought back into it. There were cool moves like Owens’ Frog Splash to the floor and a Fisherman Buster out of the corner. Owens sort of defeated himself by going for a Frog Splash in the ring, but Ambrose lifted his knees to block it. Ambrose won shortly after this. I like that they tried to protect Owens in the loss here.
Post-match, Jericho came out to give a Codebreaker to Ambrose to close out the show.
The show had some strong highlights and I like the direction of many of the feuds. The only real knock on it was the there weren’t really any strong matches. The main event was the best match but I’d rate it 3.5 stars at best. Other than the opening match with Jericho & Zayn, there weren’t any matches that felt strong.
Looking forward to Payback, there’s Styles vs. Reigns, Jericho vs. Ambrose, Zayn vs, Owens, Charlotte vs. Natalya, and The Vaudevillians vs. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady. That’s a strong lineup with several fresh matches. I’m optimistic that it could be a good show.
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