Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and Samoa joe Brawled
Coming out of Joe's amazing encounter with Paul Heyman on last week's Raw, the one thing I wanted to see from Lesnar upon his return to Raw this week was a hot brawl between him and Joe to kick off the night, and that's exactly what we got here. Heyman's promo targeting Joe was perfect as he was obviously attempting to lure out Joe and it led to a fantastic face-off that forced the entire Raw roster to break them up. As I said last week, this feud is already off to a stellar start.
Elias Samson def. Dean Ambrose
The Ambrose vs. Miz feud as has been beyond played out at this point, but I do like how they've added the extra wrinkle with Samson's involvement over the past month. The match itself was decent, and although Samson isn't incredibly exciting to watch in the ring, he's passable enough when he's up against someone the fans care about, like Ambrose. The finish was well done with Miz's distraction allowing Samson to score the pinfall victory and kept his undefeated streak intact.
Cedric Alexander def. Noam Dar
I thought WWE was turning a new leaf with its Cruiserweight division when that cool little video package aired promoting Alexander, but then we were treated to a terrible backstage segment with Alexander, Dar and Alicia Fox and followed by an annoying match, no matter how short it was. Whose idea was it to make Fox audible on Dar's phone? They should be fired. Please, please let this be the end of the angle with Alexander and Dar, but then again, I said the same thing on 205 Live last Tuesday, so time will tell.
Bray Wyatt Addressed Seth Rollins
Yes, it's a fresh feud, but I can't say I'm too enthralled with the idea of a Rollins vs. Wyatt feud. The matches might be solid, but it's so hard to care about Wyatt these days when he fails to back up anything he says. Hell, Rollins even said it himself: Wyatt has thin skin! He targeted Rollins in his match with Samoa Joe because he badmouthed him in a backstage promo. That's a weak reason to go after someone. This segment accomplished nothing in my eyes other than establish Rollins vs. Wyatt as the next rivalry heading into Great Balls of Fire.
Apollo Crews def. Kalisto
It's one thing to do the same match every week if there's a story there, but Kalisto is feuding with the Titus Brand for seemingly no reason. He trades wins with Crews and Titus O'Neil every week and I honestly couldn't care less. This was a fun match while it lasted, but what I liked about their encounter on the Extreme Rules Kickoff show was that they were actually given time. This, on the other hand, suffered from a lack of time, and felt like they tried to cram everything they wanted to do in a two minute match.
Sasha Banks, Mickie James and Dana Brooke def. Raw Women's Champion Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax and Emma
I strongly dislike when all the women are shoehorned into one segment like they were before this bout. Bliss' promo wasn't on par with her usual mic work and no one else did anything to stand out in their respective promos. There aren't any individual stories in the division at the moment, but thankfully, it looks like we could be headed for a Bliss vs. Banks feud, and I'm on board for that. As for the match, it was your average multi-woman match with Bliss walking out on her partners to generate heat.
Corey Graves Interviewed Bayley
I hoped this setting would give Bayley the type of character development she has desperately needed and has been lacking for a while now, but instead, she was playing innocent as usual and talking about how much she loves everyone despite her latest loss. Sure, that worked in NXT and even when she initially arrived on the main roster, but she needs to become more aggressive and adapt to her current environment. The hug at the end of the interview to Graves was also cringeworthy. This writing team is killing Bayley.
Heath Slater and Rhyno def. Intercontinental Champion The Miz and The Bear
This brought back bad, bad memories of when The Bunny was a regular on Raw with Adam Rose. Please don't let this be a running gag with Ambrose and Miz, a program that has overstayed its welcome as noted. I was happy with what they did to further the feud earlier in the evening, but this was a waste of time and personally I didn't find any of it entertaining. I felt like my intelligence was insulted when the bear shrunk an entire foot and we were expected to think that it was the same person in the suit and not Ambrose. This was Raw at its worst in my opinion. I guess Slater gets a title shot now?
WWE Cruiserweight champion Neville vs. Rich Swann Went to a No Contest (Non-title)
I found it funny that of the two Cruiserweight segments on this show, neither of them were really matches at all. The first one lasted all of a few seconds, and this bout never got started. Swann probably would have been squashed anyway, but how is this supposed to convince fans to tune into 205 Live on Tuesday nights? On the bright side, I'm looking forward to Neville vs. Akira Tozawa over the title, but why would Tozawa simultaneously be busy with the Titus Brand nonsense?
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows def. Enzo Amore and Big Cass
WWE was essentially asking viewers to change the channel when they advertised this match for after the commercial break. Seriously, wasn't this same match supposed to happen last week and every week before that? I realize this was meant to be more of an angle than a match with the focus being on Cass being too "beat up" to continue, but it's extremely predictable at this point that Cass is the culprit behind these ambushes.
Raw Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Sheamus vs. The Hardy Boyz in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match Ended in a Draw
My biggest criticism of 2-out-of-3 Falls matches in WWE is that the first two falls are always so rushed, and this matchup was no exception because it started so close to the top of the hour. That was slightly disappointing, and it should have received more time as the main event of Raw, but it was a well-worked match otherwise. The crowd bought into the nearfalls down the stretch and the in-ring action was enjoyable, but the double count-out finish during the final fall was lame, if only because you thought it would be restarted. I would have been fine with that elsewhere on the show, but it was a disappointing way to go off the air.
I know WWE wanted to get their most must-see attraction (the Lesnar and Joe confrontation) out of the way early ahead of the big basketball game starting in the second hour, but they basically threw in the towel for the remainder of the episode. The main event was easily the most entertaining thing on this entire edition of Raw aside from Lesnar and Joe, and even that ended in anticlimactic fashion. Everything else was rather dull and lacked importance and/or intensity. It seems Joe vs. Lesnar will be the driving force behind Great Balls of Fire because no other angles are intriguing to me right now.