By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Wyatt Family Brawled with Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton
If WWE was well-aware that Sting was in no shape to show up, why bother advertising him for the start of Raw even if there was a chance he could appear? There wasn't a single mention of him during this segment. That aside, I loved how we had someone not from The Authority open the show for once. It felt fresh and the brawl between the two trios was hot, setting the stage for another six-man tag team match. Orton was a pleasant surprise and logical as well given the Wyatts took him out of action two weeks back. Hopefully WWE continues to switch up their formula in the future when it comes to how they start their shows.
Neville and The Lucha Dragons def. Stardust and The Ascension
While I enjoyed their encounter on the Night of Champions Kickoff show, this match wasn't nearly as good. They put forth a commendable effort, but the match was hindered by one too many botches (Sin Cara's looked especially bad). It doesn't help that this feud doesn't seem to be over anything and the babyface got their win back after only a night. Expect to see the rubber match as soon as SmackDown on Thursday.
Ryback def. Bo Dallas
I've been hoping to see Dallas return to Raw after recently debuting a new aggressive attitude on Main Event and Superstars, but he was back to being an enhancement talent here. Sigh. It was a quick squash for Ryback as it should have been that allowed him to make up for the loss from the night prior. Perhaps the highlight of the match was Kevin Owens on commentary. He never ceases to crack me up with the way he talks down to the other announcers.
Paige Crashed Divas Champion Charlotte's Celebration; Charlotte def. Brie Bella
Charlotte's celebration started out just fine with her and Ric Flair balling their eyes out. It was a touching moment, but we were all waiting for something to happen and it was the best time to turn Paige heel. Her promo was awesome, but not because she (truthfully) trashed the rest of the division. Rather, she's so great in the heel role and she plays the part to perfection, so there wasn't anyone better to cut this promo than her. The subsequent match between Charlotte and Brie was decent, but Charlotte not selling the knee injury when locking in the Figure Eight was bothersome.
Sheamus def. Mark Henry
Anything that isn't a loss can only help Sheamus at this point, but is he damaged beyond repair? As I've said time and time again, he's much more bearable as a heel than as a babyface, but virtually no one wants to see him cash in Money in the Bank successfully. After losing so many matches in recent months, it's hard for viewers to take him seriously, but hey, he could have lost here, so it could have been worse.
Rusev and WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day def. Dolph Ziggler and The Dudley Boyz
Although the match itself was entertaining, the best part about it once again was The New Day's antics throughout. Xavier Woods playing Rusev's entrance theme on the trombone was hysterical. The Dudleys didn't do much as Ziggler took most of the abuse and the pin, but it was a nice preview of the WWE Tag Team Championship rematch that will take place at the MSG special next weekend. The heels scoring the win was also a nice surprise.
Naomi def. Natayla
First and foremost, it's great to see Natalya back on Raw after a long absence. She should have been a part of this "Divas Revolution" from the start, but better late than never, I guess. They contested a well-wrestled match, and even though I was initially disappointed to see Natayla lose, I'm holding out hope they're telling a story with her coming up short. She's been underutilized for far too long and it's about damn time WWE started showcasing her talents on television.
Big Show def. Cesaro
What a colossal waste of time this was. I hated it on SmackDown last week and I hated even more here. Yes, I realize that they're trying to build Big Show up for his match against Brock Lesnar next weekend, but did it really have to be Cesaro taking the loss here? That's what guys like Adam Rose and Fandango are for! Despite the guy's surging popularity, they continue to relegate him to the role of a jobber. Worse yet, no one in their right mind legitimately sees Show as a threat to Lesnar. Mind you, this is the same guy who got destroyed by Lesnar in under two minutes at the Royal Rumble last year. Just saying.
United States Champion John Cena def. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins
It was good they didn't wait until Hell in a Cell to give Rollins his rematch for United States Championship as I don't think I could have taken another five weeks of back-and-forth promos between the two. This was another quality match from them, but not nearly as good as their pay-per-view outings and I'm ready for both of them to move on to working with fresh faces. As much as I enjoyed the in-ring action, the clean finish was mind-boggling to me. Essentially, they sent the message the U.S. Champion is superior to the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. The stuff that happened afterward with Kane was campy as all hell. I would have settled for him costing Rollins the title because at least then Rollins would have a reason to want to face Kane at the next event.
This was definitely a mixed bag of a show, but for a post-pay-per-view episode, it was slightly underwhelming. The opening segment was a refreshing change of pace and Paige's heel turn was noteworthy, but everything else consisted of squashes, rematches and matches we've already seen countless times before. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited for Hell in a Cell and the potential it has to be great, but this wasn't the best way to kick off the build to it, nor was this the follow-up to Night of Champions I was expecting. Where the hell was Sting? Announcing him as being there beforehand was pretty pointless. On the bright side, they did a very good job of promoting the MSG special next weekend, something they didn't do for the last special that took place in Japan.