By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Seth Rollins Crashed Kevin Owens' WWE Universal Championship Coronation
It's rare we see Owens in a tuxedo, but it was the right occasion for it, and I absolutely loved how he shut down the "You deserve it!" chants from the fans like the excellent heel he is. Rollins also played his role remarkably well, and I appreciate how he's still the same smarmy person he was before but now he's just getting cheered. They showed awesome chemistry together here and I look forward to what they'll bring to the table in the rest of their rivalry.
Bayley def. WWE Women's Champion Charlotte (Non-title)
I understand why they would have Bayley beat Charlotte (so she can earn a title match for Clash of Champions), but at the same time, I don't understand it. Weren't there other ways they could have accomplished that without giving away that money match? Bayley works best as an underdog, which she was here, but booking-wise, she has been anything but. I will be extremely disappointed if they give her the belt anytime soon because they are blowing off such a monumental moment way too early. On the bright side, she's very much over with the audience and she's been here for only a few weeks.
Bo Dallas def. Kyle Roberts
Let me get this straight: Bo Dallas was intoxicated on an airplane and was reportedly punished by management, yet the very next week, he's back on Raw for the first time since the Brand Split and wins? I won't question it, simply because I'm glad they're finally doing something with the guy, and it's cool that he's showing more of an aggressive side and the commentators are acknowledging it. I don't know where it's leading, but I'm interested to see where it goes.
Seth Rollins def. Chris Jericho
I was just thinking earlier today how weird it was that Rollins and Jericho have had very few matches against each other over the years, so this was a refreshing change of pace and they worked amazingly well together. Jericho tends to win more often than he loses these days, so this was a nice victory for Rollins and the crowd was definitely buying into him as a babyface. He's still using the Pedigree, though, and I expect that to play a major part in his program with Triple H when he resurfaces again.
Sheamus def. Cesaro in Match 3 of the Best of 7 Series; Sheamus Leads 3-0
Someone I was watching Raw with questioned why Cesaro wears so much tape and it actually looks goofy. I will agree with them on that, and I wish the commentators would do a better job of explaining why he wears it. This was a well-structured match with Sheamus targeting the injured back of Cesaro once again, leading him to a third straight victory. This reminds me of how Booker T went 3-0 versus Chris Benoit in their Best of 7 Series a decade ago and Benoit had to fight back in order to even the odds. Furthermore, doing the series on live events is a great touch and makes them feel more must-see.
The Shining Stars def. Enzo Amore and Big Cass
I truly expected this to be a one-and-done win for Enzo and Cass just to get them on television, but... yeah, it wasn't. The match wasn't anything of note, but The Shining Stars scored the shocking upset for whatever reason. Does this mean these two teams are feuding now? Ugh. No one could care less about The Shining Stars, and Enzo and Cass are too over to be involved with this meandering garbage.
Nia Jax def. Ann Esposito
No, this wasn't much different than any other Nia Jax match we have seen on the main roster up to this point, but bonus points to WWE for giving the girl a background this time by explaining she was a friend of Alicia Fox, who has been largely absent from Raw since the Brand Split. Their backstage altercation later on in the night wasn't well-acted whatsoever, but if it leads to a real program for Jax against an established star, I'm all for it.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day Interrupted The Club
I said a month ago that I wasn't into The Club's comedy, and unfortunately, it's only gotten worse. The sad thing is, they are actually entertaining and genuinely funny people, but the crap WWE writes for them is downright deplorable. The "Old Day" stuff was channel-changing material, and New Day chasing them out of the ring yet again did not make me want to see them capture the WWE Tag Team Championship at Clash of Champions at all. How are they even a threat at this point?
Darren Young def. Jinder Mahal
This match might have been more effective in furthering Young's momentum two months ago when fans were still willing to get behind his act. By now, it's dead in the water because of his atrocious feud with Titus O'Neil. Mahal is merely a body on the roster, and Young's win over him did nothing. If nothing else, at least Young finally got the upper hand this week and this wasn't a case of 50/50 booking per usual.
Braun Strowman def. Sin Cara
Similar to Nia Jax, it appears Strowman will finally be facing off against notable names going forward. Not to say I was sick of the squash matches (they were growing a bit tiresome I will admit), but it's nice he could presumably be on the verge of an actual program soon. I don't know if Sin Cara is the guy for the job, and the count-out finish was mind-boggling because why bother protecting Cara in 2016, but they'll likely stretch this out for as long as they can.
Sasha Banks Attacked Dana Brooke
I wasn't quite sure what to make of Banks' announcement when she made her entrance because of what I thought were legitimate tears she was shedding while she was speaking, but you had to know it was a work once Brooke came down to the ring. That said, Banks is an exceptional actor, and this was the most genuine emotion she has shown on the main roster since being called up. If she is going to remain babyface, we need more of this version of The Boss.
WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens def. Sami Zayn (Non-title)
Needless to say, the chemistry these two have is absolutely off the charts and they delivered another immensely enjoyable matchup in the main event of Raw. But why, may I ask, was this held without being advertised in advance? Yes, they said it was happening at the start of the show, but Zayn vs. Owens is a big enough match that it should have received a special treatment through video packages and promos, etc. Hell, their last match at Battleground was promoted as their final match ever! I do want to see more of this down the line, but not at this point and not without the right build. Anyway, I completely forgot about Roman Reigns until afterward, and I'm fine with him teasing going after the title at Clash of Champions if he can beat Owens next week. Rusev was on vacation this week after getting married to Lana (again), hence his absence, though I'm curious as to whether that rivalry is actually over or not.
I was really digging the first half of the show and the hour and a half honestly flew by, but then the show fell off a cliff in the second half with uninspiring squash matches, mind-boggling booking decisions, and awful comedy. There was still a solid amount of wrestling, however, so I can't completely hate on this edition of Raw. Above all else, while I'm happy they promoted a major match for next week's episode, I thank the Lord they didn't advertise it as the "season premiere" like they usually do, though I wouldn't put it past them to sneak in a mention or two of it next Monday.