By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Kevin Owens Interrupted Shane McMahon
If WWE based all their decisions on "overwhelming social media support," Roman Reigns wouldn't be champion and John Cena would be heel. So, that was a stupid thing to say when it came to appointing Shane as the head of Raw for the second straight week. Don't get me wrong, it was better than The Authority taking charge again, but it rendered the WrestleMania stipulation meaningless. It made just as much (or little, I guess) sense as Owens not getting his entitled championship rematch. I enjoyed their interaction and it felt fresh, but there was absolutely zero logic behind it. At any rate, I appreciated Shane announcing several matches for the show as it gave viewers an incentive to stick around.
Cesaro def. Kevin Owens in a No. 1 Contender's Match For the Intercontinental Championship
These two had a stellar series of matches last summer and I was excited at the idea of them mixing it up again even if the ending outcome was hardly in doubt. They have excellent chemistry together and this was another awesome match from them with the final few minutes being especially entertaining. Cesaro winning clean was slightly surprising, but it was a hell of a way of furthering his hot momentum coming off his return and him vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship should be fun. By the way, there's just something about Cesaro coming out in the suit and glasses that screams "star."
The Dudley Boyz def. The Lucha Dragons in a No. 1 Contender's Tag Team Tournament Quarterfinal Match
Well, this was a disappointment, but the athletes involved shouldn't be blamed. Actually, no one is to blame because of poor circumstances. As soon as they came back from break, the medical staff was attending to Kalisto on the floor and he never returned to the ring, leading me to believe he might be legitimately hurt. Hopefully it isn't too bad of an injury because that would suck big time. As a result of that, the rest of the match was fairly awkward and the 3D to Sin Cara came off odd. At least they took attention off that mess of a match effectively afterward with a great promo from Enzo Amore. The promos between them and The Dudley Boyz should be a riot.
League of Nations Interrupted WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns
While I appreciate this new arrogant side of Reigns, I truly hope he won't be dropping the "I'm the guy" line in every one of his promos going forward. Just because it worked once doesn't mean he should shove it down our throats every week. Unless they're hinting at the imminent return of "The Man" Seth Rollins, but that's a long-shot. I groaned when League of Nations came out to interrupt because... why? Not even Reigns saw them as a threat, so why should the fans? The Wyatt Family clearing them from the ring did them no favors, but seeing Reigns and Bray Wyatt stand by side-and-side was an interesting sight, to say the least.
Natalya def. WWE Women's Champion Charlotte by Disqualification
I assumed Dr. Phil would play a factor in the finish somehow and prevent Ric Flair from interfering, but nope! He was simply there to put over the revamped women's division. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but it was pointless otherwise in regards to the actual match. Speaking of which, Charlotte and Natalya contesting another quality match came as no surprise, and I actually liked the the way the disqualification was handled because the fans thought Natalya had the match won. The rematch at Payback should be equally enjoyable.
The Usos def. The Social Outcasts in a No. 1 Contender's Tag Team Tournament Quarterfinal Match
Other than The Social Outcasts' always-hilarious antics, nothing about the match stood out. It was just a throwaway match in the tag team tournament, and it was strange to see The Usos win via a roll-up (why protect The Social Outcasts?). Of course, the debuts of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows afterward were what had everyone talking and it was a very cool moment. They looked dominant from the get-go with their attack on The Usos. I wonder whether they'll insert themselves in the tournament or if this was just their way of making an immediate impact.
AJ Styles def. Sami Zayn in a No. 1 Contender's Match For the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
I think everyone had their money on Owens reappearing after being escorted from the building earlier in the evening, but I loved how that didn't end up being the case and they were allowed to have a straightforward singles match without any shenanigans. As expected, they produced a very well-wrestled match that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. As WWE's ultimate underdog, Zayn lost nothing in defeat and Styles continues to ride high heading into his WWE World Heavyweight Championship match versus Reigns.
Dean Ambrose Confronted Chris Jericho on 'The Highlight Reel'
I had a feeling we were getting a Jericho vs. Ambrose feud after they briefly crossed paths last week on SmackDown and I'm glad this segment confirmed that. This was the rivalry I was hoping to get last fall/earlier this year and it has the potential to be phenomenal if done right. Ambrose's cute comedy won't be for everyone, but I got a kick out of this and Jericho was a nice foil. Jericho has been a strong heel since turning last month and having himself as a guest on his own show was well done.
Apollo Crews def. Adam Rose
If I were a WWE official, I wouldn't be losing my mind over Crews not garnering a major reaction during this match. Firstly, he faced Rose, who the live crowd already saw once at this point in the show. Secondly, it took place right before the main event, so they were obviously tired. It was another impressive outing from Crews and with the right creative direction he can go far. I just hope it isn't long before he engages in his first feud in WWE because squash matches can only do so much.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt def. League of Nations
Initially, I was disappointed this took the main event spot over Styles vs. Zayn, but I'm glad it did in retrospect. League of Nations do nothing for me, but watching Reigns and Wyatt work together was a blast, as was Wyatt's hot tag at the end. The live crowd ate it up, and as myself and many others have been saying for years, he can be a successful babyface if WWE builds him the right up and doesn't book him like garbage like they have for the past two years. The visual of him and Reigns going eye-to-eye was fantastic and I'd be all for a renewal of their rivalry with the roles reversed down the line.
Traditionally, we've gotten amazing editions of Raw the night after WrestleMania, and then the next week, WWE is back to their creative slump. That was far from the case with this show as we were treated to exceptional in-ring action, two notable debuts, and plenty of storyline progression. Even the Dr. Phil bits weren't as awful as I thought they would be. Hell, you could even make the argument this was better than last week's episode! In my opinion, there's plenty to be excited about right now in WWE heading into Payback and I have my fingers crossed they can keep this momentum going strong in the weeks ahead.