By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels Debated About John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar at Night of Champions
The panel brought star power, sure, but nothing they said felt worthwhile at all. If anything, it was a glorified Raw pre-show panel with each of the Legends taking a certain stance. Why not make it feel more organic? With that said, I like the approach of this panel in that it made the rematch between Cena vs. Lesnar feel that much more meaningful with the Legends talking about it. I'm glad Cena refrained from making jokes (for the most part), but his promo was nothing we haven't heard before. His appearance was total unnecessary and the fact he didn't sell the attack from Lesnar whatsoever, looking completely unaffected from the SummerSlam encounter, was simply inexcusable.
Rusev def. Jack Swagger
Once again, Rusev and Swagger had a very good match with the crowd largely behind Swagger, but the finish was anticlimactic and unoriginal. I'm not at all saying Swagger should have won, but if the end result was going to be the same as it was at SummerSlam, then what was the point? It made Rusev look strong and Swagger didn't tap out (again), but Rusev's attack on Swagger dragged on for far too long and Rusev's feud with Mark Henry was oddly not furthered at all.
Cesaro def. Rob Van Dam in a No. 1 Contender's Match for the United States Championship
Their SummerSlam match aside, Cesaro and RVD have never had the best in-ring chemistry, so why they keep getting paired together is beyond me. This wasn't a terrible match, but the fans were hardly into anything they did. The stipulation was a nice touch, though, and I can't even remember the last time a No. 1 Contender's match for the United States Championship was held. Cesaro winning was never in doubt, but it was a good way of establishing him as the next challenger to the star-spangled prize.
Divas Champion Paige def. Natayla (Non-title)
I mentioned twice last week how disappointed I was with the clashes between Paige and Natalya, so to avoid sounding like a broken record, I won't go on another tangent about that here. It was their best bout (on the main roster) to date, even if that's not saying much. This should've been a title match from the get-go seeing how Natalya already owns two victories over Paige, but at least they gave Paige her win back and didn't forget about it (Eva Marie comes to mind). The post-match interaction between Paige and AJ Lee was mildly intriguing. Have they gone from being "fri-enemies" to secret lovers? Probably not, and I wish they'd have a more traditional feud that fans can invest in.
Roman Reigns Interrupted Seth Rollins' Eulogy For Dean Ambrose
Rollins has never been the strongest mic workers and while this was a passable promo by him, it should've been a bit shorter. That way, it would've had more of an impact and he could've gotten his point across quicker. Things didn't get interesting until Reigns interrupted the segment, signaling that Rollins' next feud with seemingly be with him for the foreseeable future. To think it took Reigns three months to finally exact revenge on Rollins for turning on him is comical.
Goldust and Stardust def. WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos by Count-out
I haven't been a fan of the Stardust shtick since the start, but their heel turn instantly made me ten times more intrigued by them. No, that doesn't mean I'm jumping on the bandwagon, but Stardust and Goldust have been floundering for months as babyfaces, so as heels, they're finally doing something of note and they can have a great series of matches with The Usos. Granted, I'd much rather have Stardust go back to being Cody Rhodes, but it's always possible this will lead to Stardust/Cody turning face on his brother down the line. I guess this is an indicator that Goldust will be sticking around for the near future after all.
Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler def. Damien Miz-dow (Damien Sandow)
The match was forgettable and although Sandow's constant characters gimmick has run its course in my opinion, this was one of his funniest impersonations yet. The "body double" for Miz was perfect given his current character and from the back Sandow could pass as a Miz look-a-like. I've liked how this Intercontinental Championship feud has unfolded over the last month and I anticipate their rumored rematch at Night of Champions.
Nikki Bella Attacked Brie Bella
There was a lot wrong with this segment and it'll be difficult to point it all out, but I'll do my best. First off, Brie is a horrendous actor, not that that's news to anyone. Nikki isn't much better, but at least her delivery was spot-on and she came across as very despicable during her promo. It garnered good heat, but some of her lines were just too much. Holding hands in the womb? Really? This feud is not off to the best start and I'm fearful not even a match between them can salvage this.
Roman Reigns def. Seth Rollins and Kane in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match by Disqualification
I didn't mind the match, but it could have easily been saved for next week or at the very least Friday's SmackDown. This new feud between Reigns and Rollins was overexposed on this show, but not the point where it's ruined. The match lasted only a few minutes and was therefore inconsequential. I still think it's too soon for these two to be feuding because both needing to be winning big matches, but we'll see how this plays out in coming weeks.
Los Matadores def. Slater Gator
You know you're desperate to kill time when you call upon Los Matadores and Slater Gator to have a match. Seriously, this was absolute garbage. What's worse is that the Los Matadores win ruined any purpose this match could have served. Did Slater's winning streak really come to an end at the hands of this joke tag team? I can't say enough bad things about this bout, it's ridiculous.
Bo Dallas def. Kofi Kingston
It was a basic enhancement match for Dallas and we've seen Dallas and Kingston collide before, but they didn't click in this contest. The camera crew had been missing key angles all night long, but when they finally get it right, they catch Dallas botching his finisher. It didn't come across well on TV, but at least Swagger's post-match attack on Dallas showed that officials aren't giving up on him (or Dallas) just yet.
John Cena def. Bray Wyatt by Disqualification
I understand why Cena decimated Wyatt after he himself had the same thing done to him at SummerSlam, but did Wyatt really have to be the one to take the beating? May I remind you that this was one of the headlining matches at WrestleMania 30 this past year, so to give it away on free TV without much meaning and to have it last only a few minutes is absolutely asinine. I'd rather see Wyatt protected via disqualification than lose via pinfall, but this match shouldn't have happened to begin with.
John Cena, Big Show and Mark Henry def. The Wyatt Family
Man, where to begin? I wasn't thrilled with the pairing of Show and Henry in the first place, but to have them wrestle in the main event of Raw in 2014 was the most mind-boggling thing WWE has done in quite some time. I watched the match in fast forward on DVR and don't regret it one bit seeing how the entire match consisted of the big men essentially walking around the ring and nothing more. Not only did the babyface trio win, but The Wyatt Family was all but buried when Cena destroyed each member of the group afterward. It's not even like it benefited Cena since he was back to smiling and being his happy-go-lucky self moments later when he greeted the children at ringside. He could have easily lost and/or shown more depth to his character by almost going off the edge. Taking out each member of The Wyatt Family doesn't do anyone any favors, especially eight days removed from Jericho putting Wyatt over clean at SummerSlam.
Perhaps I'm over-exaggerating here, but I wholeheartedly believe that this was one of, if not the single worst episode of Raw this year. There was hardly anything redeeming about it. The heel turn from Stardust and Goldust will get (some) people talking, but everything else was either inconsequential, terribly executed or painfully pointless. Nothing, with the exception of the great Brock Lesnar video package, got me excited about Night of Champions and instead had me worried that the hot streak of entertaining WWE programming is now over as the summer ends and falls begins. Hopefully this was only a one-night only type deal and not a regular occurrence going forward.