By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Roman Reigns Interrupted WWE World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus and The Authority
Another Authority opening to Raw? What a surprise. On the bright side, Sheamus fared well in his first promo as champion, but I still can't shake the feeling that the guy is a glorified loser. It's going to take a lot more than a good promo for fans' perception of him to change. Reigns played his part well, but this segment made more excited for Reigns vs. Triple H down the line than Reigns vs. Sheamus at the TLC pay-per-view. Rusev's return was a pleasant surprise and I'm glad he seems to be finally moving away from being a comedy character.
The Wyatt Family def. The Dudley Boyz
This is a match I've been waiting to see since it was first teased on Twitter over the summer. I really wanted it to be the beginning of a long program between the two teams (and it still can be), but it looked more like a win for The Wyatt Family to help them bounce back from their loss at Survivor Series. If they won't be feuding with The Dudley Boyz, then I don't have the slightest idea what's next for the faction.
Sasha Banks def. Becky Lynch
It's about time Banks scored some meaningful airtime on Raw. Remember when she and Lynch contested one of the best matches of the year at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable back in May? This wasn't even close to being on the same level as that contest because it was randomly thrown on Raw, but it was a good match while it lasted. I also appreciated how Lynch was beaten only after Banks did everything she could to cheat to win, thus protecting her in defeat. Unless they move forward with the Charlotte vs. Paige feud, which they might, Banks getting a title shot in her hometown of Boston at TLC seems to be the most logical route to take.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day Celebrated the One Year Anniversary of Their WWE Debut
I'm fully convinced this segment was designed turned The New Day babyface. I mean, how could you not cheer them after they talked about how trash country music is? I kid, I kid! I don't know how much heat they generated from the promo, but it was hilarious as hell. After their win at the pay-per-view, The Usos and The Lucha Dragons entering the WWE Tag Team Championship picture makes sense. It'd be awesome if the three-way feud culminated in a Triple Threat tag team Ladder match at TLC. I can dream, right?
Neville def. Mark Henry
I couldn't tell you the last time Henry was on TV much less win a match. That said, how does anyone take him as a legitimate threat anymore? There was a distinct difference in size between him and Neville, but I never thought for a second that Neville would lose, which is why the commentators calling it an "upset" victory was comical. I don't know how much good a feud with The Miz will do for Neville, but it's better than being directionless.
Goldust and The Prime Time Players def. The Cosmic Wasteland
It's good to see Goldust back in action after all these months and looking better than ever. He's apparently rekindling his rivalry with Stardust, and although Stardust doesn't mean much at the moment, it's a nice undercard feud for the time being. It was a fun tag match from an in-ring standpoint and the post-match dance celebration from the babyfaces got a chuckle out of me. For what it's worth, the commentators played up O'Neil being a player (no pun intended) with a ton of potential more than usual.
Jack Swagger Interrupted United States Champion Alberto Del Rio and Zeb Colter
I'm sorry, but this MexAmerica shtick isn't doing anything for me. I like Del Rio. I like Colter. I couldn't care less about their partnership thus far. It's simply not generating any real heat, maybe because it's been done to death in wrestling over the years. They took a break from the Del Rio vs. Swagger feud for a few weeks, but now that the WWE title tournament is over with, it's back on. It's a fine first feud for Del Rio as champ, but his second WWE run has been uninteresting to me up to this point.
Divas Champion Charlotte vs. Paige Ended in a Double Count-out
This was almost an exact repeat from Survivor Series. They produced a pretty good match that the crowd was dead for. I'm all for spotlighting the women more (and I liked how it took place at the top of the hour), but the silence speaks volumes, and I'm sure the non-finish didn't help matters. If nothing else, it was nice Charlotte was more aggressive in this match than she was the night prior where she acted as if Paige's remarks last week never happened.
Ryback Attacked Heath Slater
Well, this was a waste of time. Then again, I think that's exactly what it was intended to do: kill time. I guess it was successful in doing just that, but not in a very intriguing way. Slater getting the crap beat out of him never gets old, but this segment accomplished nothing. Perhaps it wouldn't have been as bad had it not happened on a show that was already dragging and dead.
Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler def. Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens and Tyler Breeze
All four competitors put forth a decent effort and delivered an enjoyable matchup. It looks like Ambrose and Owens are on a collision course for the Intercontinental Championship and a Ladder match between them at the pay-per-view could be killer. The only gripe I had with this match was Breeze getting pinned clean. That's not to say Owens should have been beaten instead, but why not have them get disqualified or have the faces take the loss?
Roman Reigns def. Rusev by Disqualification
Although Reigns and Rusev deserve credit for having a solid match, it was far from the type of bout that could have saved this dull show. It was merely the cherry on top of a very unexciting night, so I guess it was fitting in that sense. It was just hard to take Rusev seriously after he's spent the last several months involved with undercard comedy and losing to Dolph Ziggler and various others. On the bright side, I like the idea of the trio of Sheamus, Rusev and King Barrett aligning with The Authority, so we'll see where they go with it.
I've come to the conclusion that post-Survivor Series editions of Raw are always guaranteed to be beyond boring. It's been the case for the past few years and this episode was no exception. I don't think there was a single segment or match that I can recommend going out of your way to watch. After a mediocre Survivor Series, this Raw did nothing to give viewers the idea that the next few weeks will be any better. As someone who will be in Boston for TLC, I really hope they can pull together a nice card in spite of the lousy build-up.