By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns Interrupted Stephanie McMahon
One by one, The Authority has been eliminated. From Big Show disappearing to Kane getting kicked out to Seth Rollins get injured to Triple H getting attacked, we're down to only Stephanie opening Raw by herself, which can sometimes be a good thing. She's untouchable when she's not emasculating whoever she's in the ring with and instead is on her A-game. That was the Stephanie we saw here and Reigns was better than he usually is. It was nice to see someone stand up to her for once, but shouldn't he have been concerned with his family (The Usos and Dean Ambrose) getting punished? From a storyline standpoint, hopefully he saw that coming otherwise it looks like he only cares about himself.
Kane def. Bray Wyatt by Disqualification
We haven't seen Kane since Survivor Series, yet he returned to Raw here and the commentators didn't make a big deal about it at all. Not that they needed to, but at least offer any explanation where he's been for the past month. The match went all of a minute before the rest of The Wyatt Family got involved and caused the match to be thrown out. The Dudley Boyz and Tommy Dreamer making the save afterward wasn't exactly an intriguing hook going into the commercial seeing as how many fans thought we saw the blow-off to that feud last week.
The Wyatt Family def. Kane, The Dudley Boyz and Tommy Dreamer
I could have sworn Dreamer said somewhere that last week was his final appearance on WWE TV, but plans can always change. I just don't understand what purpose this match served. There was no topping the eight-man Extreme Rules match from last week, so this match paled in comparison as a result. I was afraid the babyfaces would get their win back, and while I'm glad The Wyatt Family kept their momentum rolling, The Dudley Boyz didn't need to lose a third time, which is why I ask why the match was held to begin with.
Kevin Owens def. Dolph Ziggler
The set-up for this match was random as all hell, but I liked how their brawl on the stage tied back to their lingering issues from last week's Raw and SmackDown. This feels like a match I've seen countless times this year, but their encounters never get old. This was another quality match from the two and the fact they got as much time as they did was refreshing. Owens winning clean was a nice touch, but where was Dean Ambrose in all of this?
United States Champion Alberto Del Rio def. Jack Swagger (Non-title)
Honestly, I didn't mind the Chairs match between Del Rio and Swagger at TLC as I thought it exceeded expectations, but this was a relatively flat match. It didn't help that it took place on a sleeper of a show, either. Del Rio and Swagger typically work well together, but Swagger is beyond damaged goods at this point and the sole intention was to make Del Rio look strong going into his match with John Cena next week. Speaking of such, the announcement of Cena's return was extremely anticlimactic.
The Usos def. WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day in a 3-on-2 Handicap Match
Firstly, let's address the elephant in the room: It's an absolute travesty that The Usos won the Tag Team of the Year award over The New Day. I know it's a kayfabe award show based off fan voting (apparently), but what a joke. They contested a fun little match, but it's hard to get excited about Handicap matches, especially on such a dead show. They're obviously telling a story with The New Day losing going into their title defense on SuperSmackDown, but it was silly to have them lose when the odds were in their favor.
Rusev def. Neville
Anyone who watched Main Event last week (which I'm sure isn't many of you) would know that match wasn't much different from this encounter. Neville scored more offense this time around, but other than that, it was largely the same. Someone please remind me how Neville is the Breakout Star of the Year again when he lost to Rusev on this show? If nothing else, at least they have a direction for him at the moment in the form of a feud with The Miz, who performed well on commentary.
Becky Lynch def. Brie Bella
The match was fine for what it was, but I commend Lynch and Brie for making the most of an unfortunate situation (and by that I mean having their match take place so late on an uneventful show). Charlotte raised her Divas Championship up in the air several times after the match, but that was about it in terms of teasing tension between her and Lynch. After Charlotte cheated to help her win (and sometimes lose) in recent weeks, I expected more.
Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose def. Sheamus in a Steel Cage Match (Non-title)
When the match started at the top of the hour, you had to know it wasn't going to last long. Nevertheless, they put forth a good effort and had a passable cage match (although the stipulation was illogical since it disallowed the League of Nations from interfering as Stephanie would have wanted). I can't say I agreed with the vocal few fans that chanted "This is boring!" The show definitely dragged, but this was one of the better bouts of the night. I'd say that Sheamus should have won to get his heat back, but that was accomplished when the League of Nations attacked various Superstars throughout the night and at least Ambrose didn't win by a landslide.
There have been times over the years that I have looked forward to the Slammy Awards solely for the surprise returns, which is why Seth Rollins' return was the only highlight on this entire show. Other than that, these three hours were horrible. The Slammy Awards really need to become a WWE Network exclusive going forward because I highly doubt they're a ratings draw at this point and they've become one of the worst episodes of the year. Most of the winners not showing up to accept their awards made the concept even more meaningless. There were a few decent matches here and there, but on the whole, this was an awful edition of Raw. One step forward last week and two steps back this week from WWE.