What’s good everybody, it’s your boi Andre aka Xavier here to kick another fresh addition of the RAW GET BACK at you. Can’t really say this week’s episode of RAW was all that good but it certainly wasn’t bad or horrible. Some things I liked and some other stuff I was really “meh” on so without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s show and dissect our favorite Monday night show together.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH ROMAN REIGNS (INTERRUPTED BY BO DALLAS, CURTIS AXEL & ELIAS)
Since winning the intercontinental championship last week, Roman has done a good job of putting over how important the win and the title has been to him and even subtly issued an “open challenge” for anybody who wants a crack at the title. Obviously, this idea was taken from the US Championship “open challenge” from John Cena a couple years ago but that quickly became one of the best things on “RAW” in 2015 and really went a long way to elevating that title while showcasing newer talent and also winning over critics of Cena. WWE is clearly looking to do the same thing with Roman here and while he won’t be able to win over all his critics and naysayers, it will certainly go a long way toward winning some fans over and changing the perception of Roman not being able to wrestle.
Roman was solid on the mic establishing the narrative that he was going to be a fighting champion and making it clear that anyone could get a title shot anywhere at any time. Multiple guys have already responded to Roman’s “open challenge” ranging from Cedric Alexander, Finn Balor, Jason Jordan and a few others. For the first time since late 2015, Roman appears to have a solid portion of the crowd behind him and even went out of his to acknowledge that in this segment. That clearly caught Roman off-guard a bit but he seemed genuinely appreciative of that tonight.
I enjoyed the brief exchanges here between Roman and Elias here to set up their IC title match for later in the evening. Good to see that Bo & Curtis will still be used in some capacity with Miz gone even if it was as Elias’ stooges for the evening.
SETH ROLLINS VS. CESARO
As I’ve stated in previous “RAW GET BACK”s, it really feels like “RAW” only has two tag-teams now. It’s hard not to feel that way considering that Ambrose/Rollins and The Bar are the only tag teams to feud over the titles over the past couple of months. This is one area of RAW that Vince really needs to address. More emphasis is going to have to be placed on the other tag-teams on “RAW” who are just kind of floating around aimlessly at the moment.
Despite the amount of tag-team and one-on-one matches we’ve seen between these two teams, the matches never fail to deliver. Seth and Cesaro did their thing here. Cesaro looked like a ring general inside the ring tonight as he usually does. I’ve been saying for the last few years now and I’ll repeat it: Cesaro, from a technical standpoint, is probably the best pure in-ring talent in the WWE and easily one of the most fluid workers on the roster with how effortlessly he pulls moves and submissions off with such ease.
Seth was great here too. He sold his ass off and bumped for Cesaro really well. If anything, this match also did a good job of putting over Seth’s resilience. Seth’s victory was expected considering his Shield brother, Ambrose, went over Sheamus last week.
Seth’s post-match interview started a bit shaky but considering Seth just had a lengthy match and really didn’t get a chance to catch his breath before getting a mic shoved in his face, he gets a pass from me. Seth eventually got the post-match in-ring interview back on track to invoke Dean and his tag-team title rematch while also putting over Roman and humoring the fans with a couple of jokes.
On a side note, I’m actually a fan of these post-match interviews. It gives the WWE more of sporty feel and seems to me that the talent is allowed to be themselves a bit more.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH KURT ANGLE, AKIRA TOZAWA, RICH SWANN, MUSTAFA ALI & CEDRIC ALEXANDER
Here, we have a classic situation where there’s no real direction or storyline involved in the Cruiserweight division, so we end up getting scenarios where Kurt Angle will just randomly tosses these guys in multi-man matches to determine the next #1 contender for the title. Here, we end up getting a fatal four-way match followed by another fatal four-way match next week with the two winners facing off to see who faces Enzo.
While it’s great that all these guys will get an opportunity to showcase their talent on “RAW”, it’s bad in the sense that creative won’t come up with angles for these guys for fans to get invested in or a reason to care about these guys so they can connect with them. It’s ironic that Kurt Angle subliminally reiterated those sentiments as well when he said “he let the Cruiserweight division run out of control with everything that’s happened with Triple H & Steph.”
TITUS O’NEIL VS. SAMOA JOE
Normally, a match like this wouldn’t get above a 2 rating but this turned out to be a little bit more competitive then I originally would have thought. In the early going, Titus stood toe-to-toe with Joe – even getting the better of him in some of their early exchanges. That intrigued me a little and left me wondering why this match was booked in that manner. Joe ended up picking the win here (as if that were ever in doubt) but this was a surprisingly decent match.
BAYLEY, SASHA BANKS & MICKIE JAMES VS. ABSOLUTION (PAIGE, MANDY ROSE & SONYA DEVILLE)
While we didn’t actually get a 6-woman tag match as advertised, we ended up getting a great follow up to Paige returning last week with her naming her recently established stable “Absolution”. The point of how ruthless and strategic Paige, Mandy & Deville was also reestablished this week when it was revealed that they jumped Bayley and Mickie James backstage leaving Sasha alone. That was straight up gangsta and I dig it.
Paige cut a good promo here explaining and justifying her recent actions while putting over how important she was/is to the woman’s revolution. A sign of a good heel is that they also try to justify their actions and Paige did that brilliantly here. Mandy and Deville were decent on the mic here too with the brief time they were given to speak, put over Paige, and explain why they were loyal followers of Paige in their first promos on the main roster.
With Absolution having a clear-cut agenda on what they wish to accomplish, they gave Sasha an ultimatum to either join them or get obliterated with the rest of the women. Sasha chose to fight and ended up getting laid out for her troubles.
I’m really intrigued by Paige’s next faction and even more intrigued to see how the rest of the woman on the roster try and deal with them. It’s making for some compelling TV right now.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH BRAY WYATT
It’s hard to get into Bray’s promos these days. Some of his promos get rather long winded and then there’s the issue of how poorly and inconsistently he’s been booked. While I get what Bray was trying to accomplish with this promo, it just fell flat. By the way, whatever happened to Sister Abigail, is that not a thing anymore? At this point Bray is just kind of there to fill time and that’s unfortunate because he’s really invested into the character and pours his heart into it.
MATT HARDY VS. BRAY WYATT
While Bray did pick up a rare win here he was just an afterthought. The real story here was Matt Hardy’s breakdown after this match. After nearly 8 months after his return it finally appears that we will be getting BROKEN Matt Hardy. This couldn’t come at a better time for Matt with Jeff still months away from returning and for the fact that Matt has been stuck in midcard purgatory for the last several months.
Rather or not the gimmick translates in the WWE long term the way it did in TNA/GFW remains to be seen but speaking for myself. I remember shortly after the Hardyz return many fans (including myself) clamored for a BROKEN Matt Hardy/Bray Wyatt feud. It appears we will finally be getting that.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH JASON JORDAN & KURT ANGLE
It’s finally dawned on me where Jordan’s character is headed. He’s going to become the cheesy, whiny, over the top, corny heel very similar to who Kurt Angle was in the early 2000s. I think he can totally pull it off too. I love that that Jordan’s knee injury is coming into question. It’s the perfect catalyst to display Jordan’s true colors as a coward.
AKIRA TOZAWA VS. ARIYA DAIVARI VS RICH SWANN VS NOAM DAR
These four guys really worked hard here in this match but without any type of connection with the fans. A good portion of these types of matches fail to generate any type of excitement from fans. It goes back to what I was saying earlier. Creative is going to have to start creating angles/storylines that can really add heat to these “205” feuds so fans can have a reason to get behind these guys because constantly throwing these guys in random multi-man matches isn’t going to generate the interest they’re wanting.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH ELIAS
Elias’ concert tonight was quite funny. He dedicated his song tonight to the Miz and even had Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel shine in and give their best Stevie Wonder/Little Walter impressions on the harmonica. However, I did notice that Axel removed his harmonica a bit early before his solo got done playing so that proved that they weren’t actually playing. Either way, this segment generated great heel heat and even brought out “We Want Roman” chants from a sizable portion of the audience. Elias has all the makings of a great heel and it’s segments like these that make it easier for me to make that claim. He was spot-on here.
ROMAN REIGNS (c) VS. ELIAS
If these are the caliber of matches we will be getting on a weekly basis out of this new Intercontinental Championship challenge then I’m in. This was old skool hard-hitting action and I enjoyed every second of it.
Tonight was Elias’ coming-out party. He showed tonight that he belongs in the ring with the main event guys and looked the part. He took it to Roman every step of the way and looked like a bonafide vet in there tonight. Even though he went under tonight, he comes out of this looking strong and most likely will see his stock rise because of this. Elias has all the tools to be a big time player. He brought his “A” game tonight.
As for Roman, this IC open challenge appears to be exactly what the doctor ordered. He looked good in there as well last night and hopefully going forward, he continues to produce high quality matches like these. It’ll go a long way in changing fan perception of him.
Judging from the post-match attack, it looks like Samoa Joe will be Roman’s next challenger in the open challenge. I loved the chemistry between the two in their previous matches so I’m looking forward to seeing it again if Roman/Joe is indeed the plan for next week.
ASUKA VS. DANA BROOKE (ABSOLUTION APPEAR POST MATCH)
This segment was a little tough to grade. Asuka beat Dana Brooke in 4 of 5 seconds so it’s damn near impossible to rate that so instead I’ll focus on what occurred after the match.
We got a very interesting exchange between Absolution and Asuka. It appeared Asuka was about to suffer the same fate that Mickie James, Bayley & Sasha Banks suffered earlier in the evening but instead Paige and company left her in the middle of the ring unarmed. It could be a strategic move on Absolution’s part to get in good graces with Asuka in the hopes of recruiting her by granting her some sort of immunity.
I love how the segment raises some questions. How will Asuka react to Absolution giving her a pass? Will she join Absolution? How will Sasha, Bayley & Mickie respond to being attacked? How will Alexa respond and will she have to play nice with the other woman to survive this onslaught? It’s great booking. Paige’s return has had a trickle-down effect on the rest of the woman’s division on “RAW” and will affect all of them one or another as they now must figure out a way to deal with Paige’s new dominate faction. If only we could get this type of writing with the Cruiserweights as well.
JASON JORDAN VS. KANE
The match itself was very so-so but the continued storytelling of Jason Jordan’s injuries knee is progressing along very nicely. Jordan literally spent most of the night saying how he would do the job that Strowman couldn’t do only to “reinjure” his knee once again after getting tossed around and over the top rope by Kane. After Jordan got counted out, he decided to climb back in the ring anyway which made no sense other than to set up Finn Balor to come out and make the save.
FINN BALOR VS. KANE
This was a decent “small man vs. monster” match up. Balor did a good job here of keeping Kane off-guard throughout this match which would lead to Kane utilizing a chair to beat the crap out of Finn getting himself disqualified in the process. The whole post-match beatdown on Kane was pretty “meh” and doesn’t do Balor any favors at all. While I don’t think Balor is completely buried because of this, it’s become quite clear that there really aren’t any plans whatsoever for Balor to get a crack at Brock at the Royal Rumble or the rematch for the title he never lost.
In the “RAW” “Dignified Discussion” thread, I got into a pretty in-depth discussion after suggesting that Balor should be moved to the Cruiserweight division to be better utilized better. Some people were for it and others against but I really think he could really use a change of scenery where he’d be given a stronger push. I believe it would be a great restart for him and a great addition to the Cruiserweight division. It’s certainly better than the “stop-and-start” booking he’s gotten since returning from his injury earlier this year.
Strowman coming out to save Finn from further assault from Kane to get his own revenge from last week was expected. Boy did Strowman do a number on Kane. After multiple shots to the throat via the chair, Kane may have to go back to using the voice box he used early on in his career. Seeing how Strowman and Kane’s last match ended in a no-contest, I assume we will see these two monsters lock up again soon.
Tonight’s episode of “RAW” was decent. I really enjoyed the Roman/Elias match a lot and think Elias is on his way to big things in this company as he really showed what he’s capable of tonight. Cesaro/Rollins was a lot of fun too. Jordan’s heel turn isn’t being rushed and that’s a good thing. Paige’s return continues to generate a lot of interest in the woman’s division and we may finally be getting “BROKEN” Matt Hardy after months of WWE trying to work out a deal with GFW.
Now only if we could get more better effort put into the Cruiserweight division and some since of direction for guys like Bray Wyatt and Finn Balor.
RAW’S CHAMPIONS/WEEKLY TOP 10
BROCK LESNAR (WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION) – Won’t be back on RAW until sometime next month.
ROMAN REIGNS (WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION) – Had a fantastic match with Elias today get his recently issued IC championship challenge off to a hot start.
ALEXA BLISS (RAW’S WOMAN’S CHAMPION) – The goddess didn’t really factor into this week’s episode. Let’s see how she responds to Absolution continuing their destruction next week.
ENZO AMORE (WWE CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION) – Pretty much a off night for Enzo as he awaits his next challenger
*THE BAR* SHEAMUS & CESARO (RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS) – Since winning the titles these guys are ok a losing streak and we’ll probably be dropping the strips to Seth and Dean next week. In other words this tag run feels like it’s on borrowed time.
RAW’S TOP 10
1. BRAUN STROWMAN (Last Week’s Ranking: 1) – Braun has dominating the top spot since I’ve been doing these recaps. Just goes to show how dominate his run has been post-No Mercy. Him and Kane have unfinished business.
2. SAMOA JOE (Last Week’s Ranking: 4) – Most likely the next opponent to step up Roman’s open challenge. Should be a good one
3. ASUKA (Last Week’s Ranking: 5) – Asuka continues to her impressive winning streak on the main roster. Looking forward her crossing paths with Paige again soon.
4. KANE (Last Week’s Ranking: 2) – Ended up on the receiving end of massive beatdown by the monster among men. Another match with Strowman seems imminent
5. SETH ROLLINS (Last Week’s Ranking: 7) – Picked up a solid win over Cesaro and held down the fort for he and his Shield brother. The chances are good he’s wearing tag gold by the end of next Monday.
6. DEAN AMBROSE (Last Week’s Ranking: 5) – See Seth Rollins
7. PAIGE (Last Week’s Ranking: Not Ranked) – SHE’S BACK and making a huge impact
8. ELIAS (Last Week’s Ranking: Not Ranked) – Elias walked with the big dog tonight and proved that belongs. I’m big on this guy right now
9. JASON JORDAN (Last Week’s Ranking: 10) – Continues to show signs of life in the charisma department.
10. BRAY WYATT (Last Week’s Ranking: Not Ranked) – The Eater Of Worlds appears to have broken Matt Hardy. Sister Abigail interacting with Broken Hardy could be interesting. It’s just what Bray needs to stay relevant.