Monday, September 26, 2016
On the Kickoff Show, Alicia Fox went one on one with Nia Jax. This went exactly the way you’d expect. Nia dominated, while Alicia got in some hope spots. The crowd doesn’t care about Alicia though, so their reactions for all of it wasn’t very strong. Alicia looked way sloppy at times. Nia got the win in 4:54 .
This feud has been pretty terrible and their match at SummerSlam sucked. However, they came out firing here. Anderson and Gallows took out Woods and Big E quickly, allowing them to isolate Kingston. It was a sound strategy for the heel team. The camera missed Gallows taking out Francheska, which got heat from the live crowd. They worked at a quick pace and the challengers really held serve. Woods nailed Anderson with the trombone, which allowed Kofi and Big E to hit their finish and retain. Easily their best work together so far, but it came off weird. The heels dominated, yet still couldn’t beat New Day and feel like a joke after all these months. Strange booking decision.
TJ Perkins now has a video game inspired theme and tron that feels straight out of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and I love it. They went overboard with the presentation, changing the ropes and lighting to purple and having the word “cruiserweight’ on the screens in the arena. The match itself was good, but never quite got to the level I was hoping for. Kendrick pulled out all of his wily, angry veteran stuff. He used the ring skirt to his advantage and was a bully at times. There were a few sloppy moments throughout as they’re clearly not used to working one another. Another reason I would have gone with Metalik/Perkins in a finals rematch here. TJ missed a 450 but escaped Kendrick’s submission and went for the knee bar. Kendrick escaped and tried his again, only for TJ to get out, hit the pop-up kick and win with the knee bar. A good match but I was really hoping for more. The final stretch was the best part by a lot.
After the match, Perkins and Kendrick shook hands and hugged, only for Kendrick to headbutt him.
I feel like this series has produced five (we didn’t see one) damn good matches, but the predictable 0-3 comeback to force a final match is too cliché for my taste. It looked like these guys saved their best for last. Sheamus stopped a hot Cesaro by going after the back that he’s worked on all series long. Cesaro decided to bust out wacky spots as he did a 619 after his uppercut train. They called back to previous matches before a really scary moment came when Cesaro landed on his head on a tope suicida. Cesaro was somehow okay and the match continued at an insane pace. This was on track to easily be the match of the night and the best on the Raw brand since the draft. Unfortunately, Cesaro clotheslined Sheamus into the crowd and the referee called for the match to stop due to their conditions. The only thing that makes up for this finish would be if Sheamus and Cesaro become a team and get a Tag Team Title shot out of this. Even so, it’s tough to stomach because they had two matches, THEN announced the best of seven and we didn’t get a conclusion. It seemed like we were going to get something truly special before the finish.
A PPV match between these two is something that I pretty much always wanted. Like a lot of stuff the Raw brand does though, the build to this has been lackluster. It felt like the company forgot they had these guys and decided to put them in a match because of the Kevin Owens connection. I’d also like it if Sami’s character could step away from the Owens connection for a while. Anyway, this was solid but again, didn’t quite live up to the potential. Neither guy seemed to be on their game and there were some blown spots, including Sami missing the moonsault off the guardrail and a badly done tornado DDT. I was surprised with the result because Sami could have used the win more here. Jericho won with the Codebreaker in a match that just never clicked like it should have, but still managed to be pretty good.
You know, this could have been a special match with the right build. Instead, it feels rushed and thrown together. Both faces went after Charlotte early, which led to the typical challengers fighting amongst themselves story. Dana got involved and Michael Cole mentioned that there are no disqualifications. So why wouldn’t she just never stop interfering? Damn logic. Charlotte removed Sasha’s rib tape and focused on the back. The women did some good spots but a few came off rough. Dana prevented Sasha from winning a few times. They did a convoluted finish where Charlotte hit Bayley into Sasha, who was awkwardly being held by Dana. With Sasha out, Charlotte hit Bayley with a big boot and retained. Charlotte’s reign of boredom and terror continues. The writers seem to have no clue what they have in Bayley. She feels like just another girl on the roster and the third wheel here. It’s so bad. If the WWE really thinks that the payoff to Charlotte’s reign should be Dana vs. Charlotte, they are poorly mistaken. Especially since they haven’t even made viewers feel sympathetic for Dana.
I still don’t understand why I’m supposed to cheer for Roman Reigns in this match. Rusev was showing the world how much he loved Lana and Reigns came out to ruin a nice moment and make bad jokes. Reigns is good in the ring, but his character is just so shitty. This match went exactly the way you’d expect. Reigns started hot before Rusev took over and worked his heat segment. It went a bit too long. Lana interfered and instead of disqualifying her, she got ejected. Reigns powered out of the Accolade and hit the Spear out of nowhere to win the title. Both men are capable of more, but the Reigns formula is getting tiresome. This does keep him out of the Universal Title picture but if they don’t do something about his character, it’s never going to work. A disappointment of a match.
Oh man. This was a wreck. Just for a comparison, the Backlash main event saw Styles and Ambrose have an awesome match with one moment of shenanigans at the end. This was going alright and then we got shenanigans. It was even worse because the story around this match is shitty, so the shenanigans involved are gonna be shitty. These two seem to be fighting more for Triple H’s affection than for the Universal Title. Triple H showed up to screw Rollins and disappeared, while Stephanie knows nothing and Foley is just there being a tool. Why should I care about the match when it is the Authority who dictates the champion (Rollins, Orton, Owens, Sheamus, etc.)? The crowd was quiet for most of this match, as if they were waiting for the run-ins. They barely popped for an announce table spot (which was lifted directly from the throwaway Wyatt/Kane match at Backlash). They did finally react to a Seth crotch chop and counting for a Seth pin after a ref bump. Jericho got involved but Seth mostly bested him. After an eternity, Stephanie finally brought out a new referee and Owens hit the Popup Powerbomb to retain. I wanted to like it because I’ve seen these two have awesome matches in the past. But this wasn’t a match. It was 20 minutes of killing time until we could get to the overbooking. A massive disappointment.
Overall: A middle of the pack show. A lot of the matches were solid, but the booking decisions baffled at times. While Backlash delivered on wise decisions, Raw got lost. Anderson & Gallows feel lost, the cruiserweight stuff is just kind of there right now and they’re clueless about Bayley. Zayn/Jericho, Rusev/Reigns, Sasha/Bayley/Charlotte and Owens/Rollins all heavily disappointed. Sheamus/Cesaro was MOTN but that got bogged down by a bad finish. There was potential here, but it never lived up to it.