For some odd reason, the WWE decided to promote this episode as the "season premiere" even though they never have an off-season. I've seen them do this before but it's more subtle. Anyway, we open with the Steel Cage and it looks like Chris Jericho will face Bray Wyatt here. This feud has been a disappointment for sure, but they FINALLY had the big match. Battleground was weak, SummerSlam was solid and this was the match I had been waiting for. Jericho even busted out a dive from the top of the cage. He's 43! Bray Wyatt was able to win a very good cage match that did more for him than his cage win over John Cena. Great way to start the show.
Bray Wyatt attacks Chris Jericho's knee after the match for some reason before we cut to The Authority in the back. They talk about being the Authority and Randy Orton threatens to do something to Roman Reigns that will be similar to Seth Rollins killing Dean Ambrose. Yea, sure you will. Dolph Ziggler comes out and my goodness, the Intercontinental Title is getting promo time! He plays off of the Fappening scandal where celebrity nude photos got leaked and says he has some of the Miz. It's a relatively entertaining segment because when The Miz and Damien Sandow come out, Mizdow is outstanding. He is perfect. He tries to attack and fails so Miz decides against it.
After having Paige and AJ Lee's rivalry intertwined with the awful Bella storyline last week, it's time to weave them into the Total Divas stuff. Rosa Mendes and Natalya are in the ring together and they will face the team of PaiJay Lee. I just coined that. Rosa continues to be the worst and doesn't tag in at all, leading to AJ making her tap out like nothing. AJ did tag in aggressively and the two best Divas on the roster argue after the match. AJ kisses the Divas Title, which upsets Paige, who makes out with it using a bit more tongue. AJ skips off and I have to wonder, WHY ARE THEY TRYING TO RUIN THIS WITH NIKKI BELLA?!
Chris Jericho is being looked at by the doctors and Randy Orton arrives to beat him up. Why? I've seen this match before and I just want some fresh stuff with Jericho. Can he have a legit feud with Seth Rollins? Turn heel and help Roman Reigns? Even feud with Brock Lesnar. Orton gives no reason for this except that "It's the Season Premiere". Seriously? Ugh. Anyway, Paul Heyman is out to promote Brock Lesnar/John Cena next like only he can. He absolutely owns this segment and puts over both Cena and Lesnar. Normally I would hate this because it's the same old John Cena pre-PPV stuff. "Don't you just want to turn heel John?" Then John contemplates and decides that "I FEAR NOTHING AND REGRET LESS". It's his usual emotional promo, but Heyman makes it work and is the single reason to watch this.
Ooh, here's an interesting match. The United States Champion Sheamus taking on Mr. Money in the Bank Seth Rollins. I'm sure that we've seen this before during the Shield's original heel run but it still feels fresh unlike many other matches we see. Sadly, this wasn't as good as I hoped but I think there's potential for a big match down the line with these two. Of course, this has to end with Sheamus being distracted by Cesaro, leading to a win by Seth. We also get the official announcement of Rusev vs. Mark Henry at Night of Champions. Lana comes out and sings the American National Anthem and changes the lyric to support Rusev. Not bad.
You want to know the best way to sell the WWE Network? It's not constantly telling us that it's just $9.99. It's putting the NXT guys on Raw and OHMYGOD, we get a tag team preview of the NXT Title Fatal Four Way for TakeOver. Sami Zayn (El Generico is on Raw, I can't believe how awesome this is) teamed with Adrian Neville to face Tyler Breeze and Tyson Kidd. Guess what they did with their time on Raw? KILLED IT! If it wasn't for Bray/Jericho, this would easily be the match of the night. TakeOver is probably going to be another great NXT Special and this was a lot of damn fun. Neville gets the pin with the Red Arrow and the fans were in awe. They should watch more NXT. You all should.
It's time for the segment I've been waiting for. The Jerry Springer/Bella Twins segment. I expect this to be an absolute train wreck. Springer shows up with a bodyguard that's not Steve Wilkos, so I'm already losing interest. Brie is out first and Jerry questions why she would apologize for hitting her sister. Brie overdoes impactful words again and says "WOMB" louder than she should. God, her voice is disastrous. Nikki shows up, we get Total Divas clips and then the family is here! The Bella mom, dad and brother are all here. It's a Total Divas reunion. Where's Natalya's side man Jaret? Everything breaks down and a brawl ensues with JJ getting slapping. Springer ends up doing a stretcher job and this was not as bad as I thought, but still pretty poor.
A few quick hits here are next. Goldust and Stardust defeat Los Matadores in a short match and are attacked by the Usos after. The Usos get a bit of revenge and I still expect their match at Night of Champions to be a show stealer. We get an actual tribute video for Joan Rivers which was a nice touch. Then, Adam Rose defeats my new favorite Total Divas side character, Titus O'Neil. The bunny comes in after the match and hits a frog splash, which should have been called a bunny splash or something. Lastly, we get a Brock Lesnar video package.
Time for the main event, as Randy Orton met Roman Reigns in a rematch of their SummerSlam contest. Just like their SummerSlam match, this was rather boring. Roman Reigns is not ready to put on main event caliber matches. It's ruled a no contest when Seth Rollins, Kane and some stagehands show up. They lower the steel cage, which has a spike of sorts on it and it NEARLY IMPALES AND KILLS SETH ROLLINS. No lie, I was scared. He ends up hitting a splash from the top similar to Jericho's and continues to be awesome. The Authority leaves Roman Reigns lying and it's good to see some vulnerability from him. He eats a Curb Stomp on the chair and the show ends.
Overall, this was a solid episode of Raw. Better than recent weeks actually. The NXT Tag Team match instantly makes this a classic for me and the opening cage match was really good. The main event was boring and the Bella segment was rough, but I enjoyed the Paige/AJ stuff and the Cena/Heyman segment. You have to take the good with the bad on Raw at this point and this earns an above average 6.5/10.