By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Authority Announced a No. 1 Contender's Tournament for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
I really liked the idea of holding a tournament of sorts to determine a new No. 1 contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The night after WrestleMania might have been the last time we had a No. 1 contender's match, which is crazy to think about. Another aspect of it that I liked was how the tournament consisted of all winners from Hell in a Cell, which is exactly the way it should be. It sounds silly, but how often had we had glorified losers get title shots for no reason? The only complaint I had was that Brock Lesnar's absence from the tournament wasn't explained, despite the fact graphics of his Hell in a Cell match with The Undertaker were replayed at least three times throughout the night. I didn't at all expect him to compete, but they simply could have said he was too hurt to take part instead of ignoring it.
Roman Reigns def. WWE Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston in a No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Qualifying Match
There wasn't any doubt regarding the outcome, but Reigns and Kingston worked a very good opening match. Above all else, it felt fresh and Kingston sold well for Reigns' offense. To my memory, this was the first singles match they've worked together, but they've had plenty of practice in tag team matches before, so that's where the solid in-ring chemistry stemmed from. Typically I'm not a fan of champs taking losses, but Kingston's a tag title holder and this was a singles match, so I didn't mind it as much.
Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens def. Cesaro in a No. 1 Contender's Fatal-4 Way Qualifying Match (Non-title)
Similar to Reigns and Kingston, Owens and Cesaro always work well together and it was fun to see them go one-on-one here. I realize many fans were up in arms about Cesaro not advancing, but Owens is the bigger priority at the moment. If anything, I would have switched around Ziggler and Cesaro and had the latter compete in the main event, but it wasn't a major deal. I have basically accepted that Cesaro isn't going to get his due any time soon, and it wasn't if as he "jobbed out" to Owens like he did to Big Show not too long ago. It was a highly competitive match with Cesaro looking strong in defeat after all the offense he scored against Owens.
Team Bella def. Team PCB
Another six-woman tag team match? Stop the pain, please! As I've always said, the match quality isn't the issue; this match actually wasn't half-bad. Rather, it's the idea that these faction wars still exist and how pointless they are. Paige's heel turn could be seen coming a mile away and I'm not sure why they bothered to go the route they did considering she technically turned a month ago, but at the very least, it was well-executed. Hopefully this means we can finally move forward with a Charlotte vs. Paige program over the Divas Championship. On a side note, what was the purpose of Team Bella winning? Nikki Bella is seemingly out of the title picture and they could have done the Paige turn regardless of who won.
United States Champion Alberto Del Rio def. Neville in a No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Qualifying Match (Non-title)
It was refreshing to see Del Rio against a fresh face and not one of his tired rivals (Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, etc). They need to keep that up going forward otherwise fans will lose interest in his return fast. It was hilarious that Neville lasted longer in the ring against Del Rio than John Cena did the night prior, and it's even funnier when you consider how much of a loser Neville has become. He proved that once again by coming up short in this bout, but the outcome was what it should have been and it was a good match while it lasted. If Del Rio relies more on his in-ring work than his mic abilities this run, he might have a chance of maintaining this momentum.
King Barrett, Sheamus and Rusev def. Ryback and The Dudley Boyz
I'm glad they're keeping with the trio of Barrett, Sheamus and Rusev despite their loss on the Hell in a Cell Kickoff show. It gives all three guys something to do, but we're going to need a face faction at some point to rival all the heel groups we currently have (Cosmic Wasteland, The New Day, The Authority, The Wyatt Family, etc). Ryback and The Dudley Boys gelled really well in this match and looked like they were having a ton of fun, which is what I love to see. Essentially, this was the "losers from Hell in a Cell" match that didn't mean much, but I enjoyed it for what it was.
The Wyatt Family Attacked Kane
Bray Wyatt didn't hint at much during his promo other than saying he was "feeding off Undertaker's soul," which was an interesting line. Will they be feuding with him, or are they kidnapping him? Speaking of such, no update was given on Undertaker's whereabouts, and no one bothered to question where Kane was going or try to help him. They must be unpopular in the back, huh? In all seriousness, a Brothers of Destruction reunion against The Wyatt Family has the potential to be fantastic if done right, so we'll see where this goes.
Dolph Ziggler def. WWE Tag Team Champion Big E in a No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Qualifying Match (Non-title)
Unless I missed something, it was odd the commentators didn't bring up the history between these two from 2013, but that would mean they would have to acknowledge AJ Lee as well and I can't imagine they would want to do that if they don't have to. I was pleasantly surprised by the length of this match and they more than made the most of it. Big E was on the offense for the majority of the matchup, so he wasn't made out to look like a shmuck when he lost even though Kingston was at ringside. I was slightly disappointed there wasn't much storyline progression with Ziggler and Tyler Breeze, but it was nice Breeze made an appearance at ringside along with Summer Rae.
Titus O'Neil Thanked the WWE Universe for Supporting Susan G. Komen
October's over already? Damn! That went by fast. As I mentioned earlier in the month, regardless of what you might think of the Susan G. Komen organization (and you definitely have a right to be critical or skeptical), it's a good cause by WWE. Allowing O'Neil to be the spokesperson was awesome as well. He's great with the charity work that he does and he was the next best candidate to lead this segment with Cena currently gone and Reigns in the back preparing for the main event. No, I don't think this means O'Neil will be pushed in the near future, but it was a wise choice.
Roman Reigns def. Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens, United States Champion Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler in a No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (Non-title)
Of course, I don't think anyone doubted for a second that Reigns was going to win this whole thing, especially after his promo exchange with The Authority earlier in the evening, but this was a hell of a match. It was so damn cool seeing four relatively fresh faces in the main event (Del Rio is old, yes, but he made his WWE debut only five years ago). Each of them had their time to shine and put forth an exceptional performance. I figured Ziggler was in there to eat the pinfall loss, so I was surprised it ended up being Owens, but that's merely nitpicking. Whether you like it or not, Reigns is the best possible choice to face Rollins right now and if it goes down at Survivor Series, it should be a terrific championship main event.
Without a doubt, this was the best edition of Raw WWE has produced since the night after SummerSlam. It wasn't perfect by any means, but I loved not only the ample amount of wrestling but also the spotlighting of young stars. Not to say WWE hasn't done that at all recently, but it was more evident than ever on this show and it made for a fun three hours. It dragged as always at times, but I walked away more excited about Survivor Series than I thought I would be. Fingers crossed they can keep up this strong build over the next several weeks.