By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Colin Cassady Interrupted Chris Jericho on 'The Highlight Reel'
Well, this was a refreshing change of pace. How often is it that Jericho kicks off Raw, along with a fresh face like Big Cass? Jericho putting himself over as the cocky, condescending heel that he is never gets old, and Cassady was the last person I expected to interrupt. But I liked it, a lot. He still seems nervous when delivering his lines, and it doesn't help that his promos come across scripted as all hell, but he finds his groove when he's involved in a verbal exchange with a talented talker such as Jericho. This set up their main event match very nicely and needless to say was a significant improvement over the McMahons opening the evening.
Baron Corbin def. Dolph Ziggler
It was weird for them to hold the rematch from the pay-per-view without hyping it at all in advance, but that aside, this was much better than their Payback match. I don't know why, but the energy and effort was there this time around and Ziggler sold like a champ for Corbin's offense at the end. I could have done without Ziggler getting the better of Corbin as much as he did, but hey, at least he won unlike at Payback.
R-Truth def. Fandango
How the hell was Golden Truth vs. Goldango the only thing advertised for this week's SmackDown? It's concerning alone that WWE isn't aware how awful of an angle this is, but for them to hype it in advance thinking it will draw viewers is just asinine. The match was about as throwaway as you'd expect, and thankfully it didn't overstay its welcome and only lasted a few minutes. With no end game in sight, I fear how long this will continue to get as much television time as it is.
Paige def. WWE Women's Champion Charlotte (Non-title)
I couldn't tell you the last time Paige was involved in a meaningful match on Raw, which is a shame. She really has been underutilized in recent months, but it's hard to complain because, well, we all whined about her constantly being featured in the title picture last year and the year before. They had a good match, but the focus was mainly on Natalya on commentary, Ric Flair coming down to ringside and eventually Shane McMahon. But it was booked in a way that was logical and gave viewers the sense that Charlotte is in trouble at Extreme Rules when she won't have her father in her corner, so I was fine with Paige winning here.
Sami Zayn def. Intercontinental Champion The Miz (Non-title)
Seeing as how we saw this same match on SmackDown a few short days ago, I don't blame for the crowd being dead for the first half of the match, but they picked up the pace nicely after the commercial break. Zayn's win was predictable, but the ending outcome was worth it for the Fatal 4-Way we're going to get at Extreme Rules and the crowd came alive for the finish.
Sin Cara def. Rusev
I assumed we were in for a squash similar to what we got from Rusev and Zack Ryder last week on SmackDown, but it was slightly more competitive than it should have been. I was hopeful that Rusev was going back to being the dominant monster he was a year ago before, especially after his showings last week, but his loss to Sin Cara (whether it was via distraction roll-up or not) was a step backward. Why the hell would they have him suffer a defeat to someone who has never been relevant?
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns and The Usos def. AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in an Elimination Tag Team Match
This was the third time we had seen this match in the matter of a week. WWE really knows how to kill a cool match, don't they? Yes, the added elimination stipulation made it slightly more enjoyable, but all it did was make Gallows and Anderson look weaker than they were going in. It's unfortunate they're basically Styles' lackeys at this point, and they have the potential to be a dominant duo if they're booked as such. The post-match chaos, on the other hand, was exciting as usual and has me looking forward their pending championship clash.
Kevin Owens def. Zack Ryder
I appreciated how this made more than just an ordinary match with Ryder acknowledging how he deserves to be in the Fatal 4-Way at Extreme Rules as much Owens does. The live crowd didn't seem to buy into him as a threat to Owens, but given how he almost won last week's No. 1 Contender's Battle Royal, he had a fighting chance and I love how he's being cast in the ultimate underdog role. Additionally, Owens' little mannerisms (i.e. doing the fist bump, etc) enhanced my enjoyment of the match as always.
The Dudley Boyz def. WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day (Non-title)
These two teams have plenty of history from last fall and I'd like to see them rekindle their rivalry with the roles reversed this time. They contested a solid match that largely served as a backdrop to The Vaudevillians' attack at ringside. I don't think The Dudley Boyz winning means they're getting added to the tag title match at Extreme Rules (though it would make sense storyline-wise if they were), but it's a nice win for them that they desperately needed.
Chris Jericho vs. Colin Cassady Went to a No Contest
WWE did a commendable job of hyping this match up the right way throughout the night, but the bait-and-switch approach was questionable. I enjoyed Dean Ambrose's attack on Jericho and him ripping up the super expensive light-up jacket was hilarious, but Big Cass seemed overshadowed in all the commotion. It will be interesting to see if he will be as prominently featured in the future or if this was merely meant to be a one-off for him (or possibly a way of testing the waters with him to see how he fared).
The three hours definitely dragged as they tend to do more often than not, but by and large, I was left satisfied by this edition of Raw. There was a new match added to the Extreme Rules card, several feuds were well-furthered, and we also witnessed the main roster debut of Dana Brooke, which completely came of nowhere but I'm looking forward to seeing how it pans out. The program's change in formula made it above-average for this viewer and I hope they can deliver a strong go-home show next week.