HALL OF FAMERS LEGENDS PANEL
Always a joy to see three legends like Shawn Michaels, The Hulkster, and Ric Flair in a WWE ring. You had to know going into this that Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels would be the naysayers when it came to whether John Cena could redeem himself come Night of Champions. Then of course, the immortal one Hulk Hogan, ever the advocate of the heroes chimes in with faith that John Cena will come out on top. After some back and forth Cena makes his way out to the ring to admit that he took an ass whooping at Summerslam, and to reveal that he isn’t necessarily going into NOC to beat Brock Lesnar, but simply to beat his ass. A good way to open Raw in my opinion, and decent building to further the feud. However, I would have liked to see Cena absent from Raw a bit longer to build the beating he took from Lesnar a bit better. That would have been drama.
JACK SWAGGER VS. RUSEV
I dig the drama going on in the saga between Swagger and Rusev, in Swagger not being able to conquer Rusev. It’s a great story beint told, and it makes Rusev look grwat, they are booking the Russian brilliantly. I mean Rusev is coming out and brutalizing Swagger everytime. I feel Zeb Coulter will be making a return to TV at some point or the announce team wouldn’t be talking about him, or this feud would be forgotten all together even. I was left a bit confused actually due to it looking last week like a feud between Rusev and Henry was beginning. I am glad that it doesn’t look like that’s the case, because given the lifes blood that this feud is based on, it needs a satisfying and heroic payoff at some point. But for now, they are going about everything perfectly.
CESARO VS. ROB VAN DAM: #1 CONTENDERS MATCH FOR US CHAMPIONSHIP
Cesaro needs a significant feud, and seeing as how the rest of the roster is spoken for at the moment a feud for the US championship is the best way to go. Cesaro and RVD have danced a few times before, and it’s always an entertaining match by two very gifted athletes. Cesaro’s booking as of late has saddened me a bit, around WM he was huge because fans appreciated his in ring prowess, then he alligned himself with Heyman and alienated that fan base, now the rub from being with Heyman isn’t even in the picture for Cesaro anymore. This is what I wouldn’t mind happening, Cesaro goes on to win the US championship and at some point comes to the aid of his old friend Jack Swagger turning face, then boom enters into a US Championship feud with Rusev. Fantasy booking over…for now.
PAIGE VS. NATALYA
Short but sweet. Some great submission work from both the ladies here, always great seeing the sharpshooter, makes me miss Bret. I am really digging Paige, great in the ring, great on the mic, and knows how to amp up the sex appeal in subtle ways. Anywho, the real story here is the continuation of the feud between Paige and AJ. The route they are taking with this feud reminds me of the Trish Stratus/Mickie James feud from back in the day. These women seem to be having a blast with it, loved the kiss on the hand and love the confusion on Paiges face, because AJ is now beating her at her own game. This is the Diva feud that I am glad is given some lengthy time, more on this Bella situation later.
EULOGY FOR DEAN AMBROSE
I hate to see Dean Ambrose go off to film a movie right now, while he seems to be one of the red hot fan favorites. But this way maybe he’ll be kept fresh and the pop he will get upon his return will be satisfying. Seth Rollins improves on the microphone week in and week out and I am a firm believer he will make a great heel champion one day. Love his ranting about how he created the Shield and Dean Ambrose, and that it is the fans fault for what Rollins did to Dean, great stuff. Rollins and Kane are then interrupted by other former Shield member Roman Reigns, the rumored Chosen One. I think this is a good way to go, as Reigns alrewdy proved himself against Orton. Rollins and Kane will be formidable competitiors for Reigns to stretch his legs with, and it might even inspire Roman to step up his in ring game. I was wondering is Reigns would be brought in to avenge Ambrose, and I am glad we are getting it. Should be a good feud.
THE USOS VS. GOLDUST & STARDUST
Maybe the best part of the night, a great tag team match that resulted in a twist to make this one of the freshest feuds in the tag team division in a long while. A lot of back a d forth, high flying moves that the USOs and Stardust are known for, one of wnich resulted in a kayfabe injury causing the USOs to be counted out and retain the tag titles. Now the tag titles are something the Rhodes Bros so much, it caused them to viciously attack the USOs after the match, thus turning heel. Which I love. With this leg injury suffered by one one of the USOs, I am banking that this will be the way to get the tag titles off of them at Night of Champions. A heel Goldust and Stardust is what this division needed. So kudos to WWE for pulling that particular trigger.
DOLPH ZIGGLER VS. DAMIEN MIZDOW
From a storyline progressing standpoint, this was a great match. Miz comes out and introduces Damien Mizdow as his stunt double, all in the name of preserving his money maker. Miz of course only wrestles at the big events. Damien comes out in Miz gear and the match is underway, and that is where it went down hill. Such a short match, Damien Sandow is a great competitor why not let these two go, so Ziggler can remind us all why we wanted him with a belt around his waist in the first place. Near the end of the match Damien locks Ziggler in the figure four which was cool to see, Ziggler counters and hits the zig zag for the win. So, like I said this made sense enough in the form of Miz keeping with who his character is right now, but I just wish I could have gotten a decent match out of it. This is not the way to bring prestige back to the IC title, especially when the flagship championship is MIA on Raw.
A BELLA FAMILY RECONCILIATION
So, I hope Stephanie McMahon’s part in this feud isn’t over, because quite frankly her presence is needed. A few positive points I would like to make here, I am glad that a feud between two women is given such prominence on the show, women presence is needed I feel. I would also like tomgive Nikkie Bella some props, because she was not too terrible on the mic and she put some admirable passion into that beat down. What I find lacking is Brie’s inability to show adequate emotion, and her lack of ability on the mic. And if Steph is backing away from this feud, it will take away a lot of the fans interest, the subtext behind all of this is Daniel Bryan, and since Nikki keeps on bringing up her hatred of Brie’s husband, I hope the Authority’s part to play in this hasn’t ended. Because more than a sivling rivalry between these two will be needed for the feud to be kept satisfactory.
ROMAN REIGNS VS. SETH ROLLINS & KANE
Was this match so short for the sake of saving some of the goods for a match at NOC? Sure hope so. The only notable occurences in this match, the only thing resembling drama came after Rollins caused a disqualification by nailing Reigns with the MITB briefcase. The assault continues, and Kane dismantles the time keepers table to reveal another set up of cinder blocks. So a repeat of history is attempted, but Roman Reigns gains the upper hand. After he neutralizes Kane, Reigns grabs a cinder block and attempts to hurl it at Rollins who is standing against a ringpost, it shatters when Rollins moves out of the way. A cool moment in a sbort lived match I must say, I am glad for that moment of attempted poetic justice keeping me interested in this feud. It threw the necesswry fuel on the fire, the look on Rollins fwce showed us that Reigns won’t be as easy to dispose of as Ambrose was, Roman needed that bit of acting.
Filler Matches: LOS MATODORES VS. SLATER GATOR?/KOFI KINGSTON VS. BO DALLAS
Was it cruel of me to describe the headline of these to matches as pointless filler? Don’t care, because that is exactly what they felt like. This first tag match could have been given to Ziggler/Sandow as more time. Heath Slater and Titus O’Neil? Talk about a ridiculous pairing that everybody knows isn’t going to go anywhere. And if you are going to even attempt to introduce a new tag team, at least give them a win over a team we haven’t seen in months. Don’t know what the point of this was, don’t want it to happen again.
I have been an advocate of Kofi Kingston for a long time, he really showed us something in his feud with Orton years ago and I hoped he was going places. We have been teased the possibility of that in a potential Nation of Dominstion type pairing with Big E, which could have also led to a character change for Kofi which he desperately needs. But nope, put him in a match with Bo Dallas, who rumor has it the company is giving up on. A short match, a match whose run time could have been given to the main event, but no dice.
JOHN CENA VS. BRAY WYATT/JOHN CENA, BIG SHOW & MARK HENRY VS. THE WYATT FAMILY
You want to add drama to a main event you’re building up? Show some hard times for your hero, they did it at Summerslam, why not continue it in the name of making a commodity like Bray Wyatt look good? But they need to make John Cena look formidable Paul…no! We have had over a decade of John Cena looking dominant, we should have made Brock Lesnar look even stronger than he did at Summerslam in the form of breaking Cenas’s spirit a bit. Causing a wound that Bray Wyatt would be able to come in and exploit. Instead, Cena came out and dominated a guy he didn’t need to show he could dominate again. So Rowan & Harper sensing defeat come in and attack Cena lewding to a six man tag that Big Show and Henry join…..oooooookay. Boom the Wyatt family is decimated, it would have worked wonders for this Raw for the final image we saw to be Cena conquered in the middle of the ring again. This isn’t the WWE giving up on Bray Wyatt is it? Because that would be tragic.
OVERALL RAW GRADE: D. Underwhelming matches, some faces I was enjoying seeing week in and week out were sorely missed, some bright spots, including an great feud building promo from Brock Lesnar. But overall, very lackluster Raw.