Following a wholly excellent PPV the night before, it was very interesting how WWE would roll with the momentum. What better way to open the show than with the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Dean Ambrose.
Its no secret that I’ve not been Dean’s biggest fan over the last month or so, but “The Dude” really stepped up to the plate in his first promo as champion, and I think he could really do well for himself in the near future. Of course, there’s no such thing as a one-man promo in WWE, and it was Roman Reigns who would interject. It would seem, purposely or not, that Roman is actually turning heel. On the contrary, the fans appear to be more behind Seth Rollins than ever. Eager to cash-in on the hype surrounding these guys, Shane McMahon decided that the main event shall be Reigns vs Rollins.
It was clear this was to be a good RAW when the opening match featured Sami Zayn against his nemesis Kevin Owens. Even the Spanish commentators were there to witness this one! As always, the former best friends put on an absolute classic match which was fast-paced and technically excellent. Sami would pick up the win – reversing a Pop-Up Powerbomb into a roll-up pin – but Owens wouldn’t take this laying down. The two would have to be separated by officials as they brawled at the top of the ramp and into the backstage area. I’m so glad that WWE have kept this rivalry alive as it could easily run for months if not years.
The latest in the long line of surprise appearances saw John Laurinaitis stake his claim to be GM of SmackDown. Thankfully, Shane was on hand to shut down Big Johnny to announce that he would be SmackDown’s General Manager. Thank God for that!
Keeping the show rolling along, we were treated to Enzo and Cass square off against The Vaudevillans. Both teams could easily have walked away with Tag team gold the previous night, and both were eager to stake their claim yet again. Following the format which Enzo and Cass have made their own, the match started out with Enzo being manhandled by Gotch and English. The introduction of Cass saw a quickened pace and the inevitable sequence leading to the Bada Boom Shakalaka for the pinfall victory. Hopefully we’ll see both teams back in the title picture soon.
A change in gears now, and AJ Styles took to the ring to discuss his match with John Cena at Money in the Bank. He called out Anderson and Gallows to publicly apologise for their role in the match. To their credit, they obliged him. Styles then wanted them to apologise to John Cena. Cena seems to be playing the role of a bitter man, constantly talking down to AJ. Styles’ slow turn to heel – despite being an obvious fan favourite – is beginning to pick up momentum, and I think that is the real reason behind this whole feud. The outcome of this segment: John Cena vs Karl Anderson.
When a match like this is announced, there is only ever going to be one winner. The really interesting thing is whether or not there would be an interference. Of course, as Cena was about to win with absolute ease, Styles and Gallows came down to the ring to teach Cena a lesson. Classic heel move. For the second night in a row, John Cena was left on the mat following a Magic Killer – this time followed by a Styles Clash. This is certainly the most heel team in the company at present.
The entrance of Baron Corbin made me optimistic. Optimistic that he is finally done with the ridiculous feud with Dolph Ziggler. The Lone Wolf went one-on-one with Zach Ryder, and dispatched him in easy fashion. I like how Corbin is allowed to have a match without antics or run-ins – just a simple match. Not every match needs a reason behind it, just good wrestling.
A title match is generally a rare thing on RAW. A title change: even more so. Charlotte put her Women’s title on the line against Paige, with Dana Brooke on the outside as ever. Paige earned this opportunity by beating the champion a week ago, and was not going to let this chance slip away. It was nice to see the women’s division get back down to high-class wrestling rather than the melodrama we’re used to. I say that, but it was still antics which led to Charlotte retaining her belt, something which is really diminishing the prestige of the belt. As the champion and her protege started beating down the challenger, the biggest pop of the night occurred when the music of the one and only Sasha Banks hit. She’s back and she is gunning for that belt!
Another huge return was to follow. Bray Wyatt, flanked by Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman, took to the ring with deafening chants of “Welcome Back”. As Bray took to the mic to make clear hit intentions, The New Day hijacked the segment. The contrast between the happy-go-lucky tag champs and the intense Wyatts is brilliant. Bray’s prophecy of the fall of The New Day may very well come true, and it may come at the hands of Bray himself. This could turn into one of the best feuds in the company.
Coming off of a successful, and dominant, title defense against Titus O’Neil, Rusev was back in action against the Celebrity Father of the Year. Titus showed focused aggression against the US Champion, leading to an all-out brawl. The event left Rusev fleeing whilst O’Neil stood triumphant in the ring.
The main event of the evening, announced at the outset of the show, saw Seth Rollins take on Roman Reigns for the number one contender spot at Battleground, with Dean Ambrose on commentary. A repeat of the previous night’s main event, the two men battled ferociously to earn their spot in the title picture. It feels a bit strange to have a straight-forward one-on-one bout to close out the show, but it’s a very nice change to the norm. This slober-knocker of a match saw absolute carnage, including a Spear onto the Spanish announce table, as well as both men being thrown over the barricade! Really, the only fair result is a draw, and that’s what we got: a double count-out. As a result, we will have a Triple Threat Match at Battleground. And, for good measure, Ambrose hit both men with Dirty Deeds to seal the deal.