Excuse the lateness with the review, unfortunately at first I did miss the beginning of Raw and I had to catch up on it. Here it is though … the big episode before Payback.
WWE acknowledged the passing of Joanie ‘Chyna’ Laurer, and later in the show they played a lovely video package paying tribute. I am glad they did this.
Shane McMahon opens up Raw, he’s in charge yet again but he quickly stopped by his sister Stephanie who comes out. Of course she has words for Shane and then announces that at Payback Vince will announce who is going to be in charge of Raw going forward. Is it just me or is there a chance they are setting up Shane vs. Triple H? Anyway Shane says since he is in charge, Stephanie can’t be there and he calls security. Stephanie does not go lightly, slapping a security guard.
AJ Styles vs. Sheamus
Looks like the League Of Nations will be disbanded pretty soon, and the team never really took off the way it should. An interesting match up between these two, and Sheamus actually felt like he gave a damn. This was given a good amount of time, with some good back and forth action. I liked seeing the evolution of Styles, as he adapts more and more every week and continues to deliver. Sheamus needs more matches like this, where he can shine. They need to redo him badly, he’s a great character that has suffered some terrible booking. The match ends with the big forearm, and I like that AJ continues to win matches with different moves. He looks strong going into Payback from this match.
After the match Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows show up on the ramp and applaud his effort. Backstage Reigns is seen watching, the Usos come in and offer their support.
New Day Promo
Out come the New Day and I like that Xavier is wearing an Up Up Down Down t-shirt. The guys brag about setting up the Tag Team Tournament, and they then get interrupted by The Vaudevillains, they aren’t out long before the place loses it and Enzo and Cass come out. They trade insults, and Enzo is on fire. Xavier makes a point that it doesn’t matter who wins at Payback because The New Day will remain champions. I really liked this segment, it actually got the crowd going and Enzo is a huge highlight. Looking forward to a future feud with either team against the New Day.
The Usos vs. Anderson and Gallows
The big Raw debut is here for Anderson and Gallows, unfortunately it is against The Usos. They are so insanely boring right now, the crowd was booing them a lot and it really is time for a change. This was quite a good match, unfortunately the crowd for the most part of the entire show were quite dead. This was a good old school tag team match, with Anderson and Gallows working the injuries they gave the Usos. They dominated most of the match but it wasn’t a squash at all, it was given time to grow. They naturally get the win with their finisher Magic Killer. After the match they beat down the Usos and Reigns comes out for the save. No issues from me on this but I didn’t want to see Anderson and Gallows look weak.
Backstage Renee is with Styles, Anderson and Gallows show up, they talk about having his back because the Usos and Reigns cannot be trusted. Styles is reluctant but agrees and they have their bonding moment.
Sami Zayn vs. Rusev with Lana
Yes you can really tell the League is breaking up as Rusev is back out with Lana. This was an interesting match, it wasn’t fast paced but these two delivered a pretty good match. It was a change of pace for both guys, and it shows a) that Sami Zayn is a big star and that b) Rusev deserves to be higher up because he’s got it. There was decent chemistry in the match for these guys, and it wasn’t about Sami getting beat up, he had as much offense as Rusev and he looked really strong against a bigger opponent. The end came when Rusev called for the Accolade but Sami stopped it and got the win via roll up. Rusev doesn’t look weak and Sami has a win going into Payback.
Post match an angry Lana throws her shoes at Sami (“Who throws a shoe, honestly?”), he’s distracted enough to get hit from behind by Owens.
Renee Young is backstage with Apollo Crews, he gets interrupted by Stardust. This was hard to watch, Apollo can’t cut a promo and it was just awkward. What are they doing with him? He got called up too soon I think, more time in NXT was really needed.
Apollo Crews vs. Stardust
Pretty much the same match we have seen already, except it wasn’t entirely a squash match. Crews gets the win and I wonder why I should care about him at this point.
Dean Ambrose Promo
Dean Ambrose means business tonight, no Asylum. He disses on Jericho and it makes perfect sense, Ambrose knows how to cut a successful promo and get his point across. He makes a note and says that he fights every week and earns respect, Jericho then comes out and continues his heel winning ways. Jericho calls Ambrose an idiot and wants him to kiss his boots, but then says no they cost too much. Ambrose calls him out on those ugly boots and it was done really well. The segment ends with fighting outside the ring, and Ambrose winds up getting the Walls Of Jericho on the announce table. Can this feud continue after Payback? I am loving it.
Natalya vs. Emma
This unfortunately was a match that I wanted to see, but it didn’t have much time. I think their entrances lasted longer than the match, which is disappointing. Great to see Emma in a singles match on Raw, and Charlotte with Ric was on commentary at ring side. The crowd were chanting ‘We Want Sasha’ and Emma yelled back at them. As much as I love Sasha, I know she will get her time and it was a bit disrespectful to Emma and Nattie, who were trying their best. Heel Emma is wonderful, and we need more of her on TV. Nattie gets the win with the Sharpshooter and Charlotte looks worried. Some good momentum but it needed to be longer.
Damien Sandow vs. Baron Corbin
I almost had a heart attack seeing Damien Sandow on Raw, but it was short lived as Ziggler attacked Corbin during his entrance.
The Miz Promo
The Miz is in the ring with his Goddess wife Maryse, and pretty much that is where my attention goes. The Miz talks about the importance of the IC Title, and I liked that he did. The Miz has actually been doing some of his best work recently. The Miz insults Cesaro and the Cesaro section, Cesaro then comes out and I love his James Bond style entrance. Too bad that suit didn’t get ripped off, but oh well. Cesaro has improved a lot on the mic and he delivered some good come backs, and really matches The Miz. The Miz tries to attack Cesaro but is met with an upper cut, he goes for the Swing but Maryse stops it. Cesaro picks up the title, and I badly want him to win it.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Roman Reigns
This match was okay, both of the guys didn’t seem fully into it and I found that a bit disappointing. Del Rio is much stronger in the ring than Reigns, it is a shame that his character hasn’t had much development since returning. There were some good back and forth moves, and Del Rio did get the upper hand a few times. Reigns gets in the Superman punch, but gets distracted by Anderson and Gallows. Del Rio tries to take advantage but doesn’t get the pin fall. Reigns then spears for the win.
Post match beat down, Styles hits the ring and tries to call off the boys. But Reigns hits him, the boys then try to get Reigns again. Out of nowhere Styles gets up and hits the fore arm to end the show.
Can’t complain about the build up for Styles vs. Reigns, it has been really solid. I like that we do not know where Styles really stands with Gallows and Anderson and what their agenda is.
Overall not a bad Raw, but I expected more for the go home show. The card for Payback has shaped up to be a really interesting one and I can’t wait for the show.