By Graham "GSM" Matthews
United States Champion Roman Reigns vs. Rusev Ended in Double Count-out
The match quality may not have been up to my standards (more on that momentarily), but I absolutely loved how they kicked off the night with in-ring action for a change and not a drawn-out talking segment as they usually do. It's such a simple thing, but it makes a major difference. That said, this bout bored me to tears. Their Clash of Champions match was good and their pre-SummerSlam match was great, but they just couldn't capture that same magic here for whatever reason. Giving them 25 minutes and then ending it on a double count-out seemed like a waste, but I assume it was done to set up a Hell in a Cell match between them. As I've said before, I'm content with that given the feud has lasted long enough to justify taking place inside the steel structure.
Raw General Manager Mick Foley Addressed Sheamus and Cesaro
I heard the idea thrown around of the Best of 7 Series between Sheamus and Cesaro ending inconclusively to set up a WWE Tag Team Championship match, and that was exactly what we got in this segment. I can't say I'm excited about that merely because Cesaro should be in singles competition and higher up on the card, but maybe it will be fun, so I'll reserve judgement until we see more from them. If they're as excellent of partners as they are opponents, they could be a surprisingly pleasant tandem.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day def. The Club
I guess New Day cheating to retain their titles at Clash of Champions granted The Club another shot at the straps, even though I think we can all agree that they didn't deserve it. I was almost going to let it slide if they won the titles here, but they didn't (again), so again I ask, why was the point? The match was as well-wrestled as their encounter at last night's pay-per-view and the belts did feel like they were in jeopardy at a various points down the stretch, but The Club's latest loss solidifies them as the biggest losers in WWE if they didn't already occupy that title.
Bayley def. Anna Fields
I enjoy these type squash matches because it allows a specific Superstar to showcase their skills without hurting the credibility of someone else on the roster. It is worth pointing out that SmackDown's women's division hasn't had to use any enhancement talent yet because all of their women are actually utilized. At any rate, the crowd was solidly behind Bayley and I like how she appears to be working her way back into title contention following her Clash of Champions defeat.
Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander def. Drew Gulak and Lince Dorado
I appreciated the video packages that aired for Gulak and Dorado during their respective entrances, but they were far too brief for the casual fan to get a feel for whether they should cheer them or boo them. The poorly defined characters will be a problem with the Cruiserweight division early on I believe, but if Alexander and Swann continue to steal the show the same way they did here, they will undoubtedly get over as fan favorites in no time. Additionally, the presentation of the Cruiserweights is unique from anything else on Raw, so I'm glad it stands out in a memorable way.
Cesaro and Sheamus def. Nick Cutler and Willie Williams
Less is more with these jobber matches, and you're pushing the limit when you're doing two in one night. I would have rather seen them squash The Shining Stars because, let's face it, would it have really mattered anyway? It looks like they're going for the same dynamic The Miz and Damien Mizdow had a few years ago where the crowd will cheer one and boo the other, so I just hope it won't have a short shelf life.
Sasha Banks Confronted Raw Women's Champion Charlotte
I'm aware I was down on the booking of the women going into Clash of Champions, but in retrospect, it made a ton of sense. Whether that was intentional or not from the get-go we'll never know, but it worked out perfectly with Banks and Charlotte trading the title back and forth and then clashing in a Triple Threat with Banks not getting pinned. My fingers are crossed for the first ever women's Hell in a Cell match in Boston next month, so I predict Dana Brooke will cause next week's title match to get thrown out to set up that aforementioned matchup so she can't interfere.
WWE Cruiserweight Champion T.J. Perkins def. Tony Nese (Non-title)
Never in a million years did I think I would see the day where two former TNA X-Division competitors would be competing against each other on Raw. This suffered from the same issue the first Cruiserweight match did in that the crowd had no reason to care about Nese and only popped for the big spots, but it was still a really fun match and a nice Raw debut for Perkins. Advertising his rematch with Brian Kendrick a week out was an awesome touch as well.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass Interrupted WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho on The Highlight Reel
Would it possible to replace Raw with a three hour The Highlight Reel every Monday night? That would be amazing. Owens and Jericho have such strong chemistry together on the mic that their segments never cease to entertain. Enzo and Cass fit in perfectly and their verbal exchange was enjoyable as well, effectively leading into the main event tag team match heading into the commercial break.
WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho def. Enzo Amore and Big Cass
As seen at SummerSlam, these two teams work well together, and although it a mostly formulaic tag team match, it was the small antics from the heels that kept me engaged, and Enzo and Cass were over with the live crowd. Sadly, the audience sat on their hands toward the end, and after such a long show, it's hard to blame them. I'm definitely disappointed Jericho appears to be done with Sami Zayn, but based off his heavy involvement in Sunday's main event, he will likely be a part of the Universal title match at Hell in a Cell. Regardless, I was shocked Rollins didn't come out again after the main event, but they must not have wanted him to get physical after all.
It was the usual marathon of a show, but I have to commend their efforts to promote two title matches before Raw went live and then another two title matches for next week's episode. There was plenty of fallout from Clash of Champions and progression of a several stories, so I'd be lying if I said this was a terrible edition of Raw. It wasn't fantastic by any means and the three hours definitely did drag, but they're trying a few different things, so I can't fault them for that.