Times They Are a Changin’

Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of a Sovereign Statement and this week’s Raw was definitely something different. Vince McMahon came onto the show to shake things up and without further ado, let us dive into Raw.


McMahon Shake Up

Vince McMahon kicked off the show by making his way down to the ring and we all wondered what he had to say. He talked about his vision and everything he has done for the WWE and then would go on to introduce the rest of the McMahon clan. Stephanie was the first to come out, followed by Triple H and then Shane McMahon made his way to the ring. They addressed all the issues that have been plaguing Raw and that change was coming to better the product. This was a very meta way to address the issues many of us have had with Raw and I rather enjoyed it. Baron Corbin came down to the ring and we had an ill-timed commercial break. When we came back from break, Baron Corbin pleaded his case to have some authority to the McMahon clan and he had nuclear heat from the fans. Corbin has done a great job in becoming a top heel and this really highlighted it. The McMahon family finally decided Corbin could get some power if he defeated someone who turned out to be a returning Kurt Angle with special guest referee Heath Slater.


Baron Corbin vs Kurt Angle

From a match standpoint, this was fine for what it was, but this was all about the story. This was all about Kurt getting revenge on Corbin for what he did to usurp power from him. Triple H came out during the match to state that he forgot to mention that it was a handicap match and Chad Gable, Bobby Roode and Apollo Crews all came down to join the match. Shane then came out to mention that it was a no DQ match and all the men grabbed chairs and had their turn in hitting Corbin with the chair. Angle would pick up the win and then put Corbin through a table after the match. Really good storytelling to kick off Raw.


Finn Balor vs Dolph Ziggler

It was no surprise to anybody that these two put on a very good match. Finn has been criminally underused and Dolph is the poster child for the start and stop push. This match-up felt refreshing and I wonder where we will go from here with these two. It looked like Dolph was going face, but he may be going for more of a tweener type of role now. I had wondered if Drew McIntyre would interfere in this match and he did make his way down to the ring. Dolph went to the outside and attacked Drew and then Finn would hit a Topé con Hilo onto McIntyre on the outside. The action was brought back into the ring and it looked like Finn was close to the win when McIntyre would come into the ring and attack both men. McIntyre gave each man a Claymore kick before he made his way to the back and Drew is clearly the top heel on Raw.


Dean Ambrose In-Ring

Dean has been so hit and miss so far during his heel run and I really cannot see why that is. Some weeks his promos are on point and other weeks they are a rambling mess. He came to the ring with his security detail and spoke about his match with Seth from TLC and how he took the Intercontinental title from him. This would all lead to Dean issuing an open challenge to someone in the back and that was answered by Prince Pretty himself, Tyler Breeze.


Moral Compass vs Prince Pretty

I rather enjoyed this match and I thought it was a good showing for Breeze. Breeze is so incredibly talented in the ring and on the mic and he is someone I hope gets a chance to really show it. This could have been a squash match and I am glad they didn’t go the route and let Tyler get in his offense. Of course, Dean would win the match after hitting Dirty Deeds and then Seth Rollin’s music would hit, and Dean would motion his security detail to get ready for Seth coming down the ramp. In a rather predictable move, Seth was disguised as one of the members of Dean’s security and he would attack Ambrose from behind. Dean’s security came into the ring to save Ambrose from Seth and Seth would take care of them as Dean retreated up the ramp.


Drake Maverick/AOP & Shane McMahon

I know some are not enjoying the pairing of Maverick with AOP, but I think they can right the ship with it and I believe this week they did a bit of that. The back and forth between Shane and Drake was perfect and Shane stating no more automatic rematches was interesting. He set up a fatal four-way match with AOP, the B-Team, the Revival and the Lucha House Party for later tonight and this was a fun segment.


NXT Call-Ups Vignette

This was a great video package that highlighted all six people who are getting call-ups from NXT. First, we had another stellar Lars Sullivan video which did more of the same it has been doing. Lacey Evans was the next person to have a video package and I feel like she may be getting called up a bit too early. Heavy Machinery were the next to be shown and I do hope they go to Raw because they can help bolster the Raw tag division that has been floundering for much of the year. Nikki Cross was the next one and I really want her to be on Smackdown Live, even though I write for Raw, because she is the missing link for SAnitY and she is what makes them what we saw them be in NXT. EC3 was the final one to get a video and, while his stint in NXT is short, he is someone that is main roster ready and he can fit on either Smackdown or Raw.


Lio Rush & Bobby Lashley In-Ring

Lio Rush has charisma for days and it made total sense to pair him with Lashley, but I feel like they have to move on from the Lashley butt pose because that has become very tiresome. It does have a Vince McMahon feel to it because that is right up his alley, but it isn’t generating the heat it did when he first did it. I did love how they were mocking Elias’ segments in the ring and had the smashed Fender from TLC. It was only a matter of time before Elias made his way out and JoJo announced Elias and he appeared from behind to smash a guitar across the back of Lashley. It looks like this rivalry isn’t done yet even though I am ready for it to be.


Sami Zayn Returning Soon

This was a pleasant surprise and one I was not expecting. WWE played a nice video package teasing the return of Sami Zayn and I must wonder when this will be. Obviously, he is coming sooner than later because they wouldn’t have made a video if his return wasn’t close to the Rumble. Maybe he will return during the Royal Rumble or the night after. Either way, I cannot wait for his return because he is very talented.


Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match

This was a fun fatal four-way match that saw the B-Team get dusted off for this along with the other teams. I am so glad that they did away with the nonsensical Lucha House Rules because they made absolutely no sense. There were a lot of fun spots and I was totally expecting AOP to come out the victors in this match or the Lucha House Party, but boy was I wrong. The Revival were able to hit a Shatter Machine to come out as number one contenders and I hope it isn’t a one off and they are able to do something with them. They were amazing in NXT and have yet to really have a good showing on the main roster and I hope this is a sign that they will be given a chance.


Seth Rollins Backstage

This was more of the same we have gotten from Seth during this program with Dean. He spoke about his match with Ambrose from TLC and he actually addressed how the fans weren’t into the match. He talked about his dedication to the wrestling business and you could feel the passion there. Corbin appeared and had some words for Seth, but Seth was having none of it and knocked down Corbin with a punch to continue his bad night.


Ronda Rousey In-Ring

This was not Ronda’s best promo and the fans let her know that they were behind Becky. I heard boos throughout this and I am beginning to wonder if the fans may be turning on her or if it was just a result of her costing Becky Lynch the title at TLC. After Ronda’s promo, she would issue an open challenge and for the first time, we actually got a shot at the Guerrilla Position with all the women wrestlers trying to answer the challenge. This led to Stephanie McMahon bringing all the ladies out and stating that there would be a gauntlet match and the winner will face Ronda for the women’s title next week.


Gauntlet Match 1 (Bayley vs Alicia Fox)

I was a bit surprised that this was the first match in the gauntlet but then again, I shouldn’t have been. This was a longer match than I anticipated, and it showed how far Fox has come with her wrestling skills. She is someone now that can be counted on for a good showing in the ring and this was another case of it. Bayley was excellent here as well and I do hope they are able to salvage her because there is so much potential for her to be a megastar. Bayley would pull out the victory in match 1 and move on to her next opponent.


Gauntlet Match 2 (Bayley vs Dana Brooke)

Dana Brooke is someone that has the athleticism of someone that could be great in the ring, but she has yet to really get the opportunity to show it. This was a solid match between the two and Bayley did a great job in selling the damage from her first match. Dana did a good job in taking advantage of the situation for a majority of the match, but Bayley was able to overcome the odds and move on to the next round of the gauntlet.


Kevin Owens Returning Soon

Yet another pleasant surprise as Kevin Owens gets his own video package hyping up his return. Now I have to wonder that it cannot be a coincidence that both he and Sami had video packages hyping up their return on the same night. Maybe they are both coming back together as a team around the Royal Rumble because that would make sense. Either way, I am looking forward to his return and wondering what type of response he will get from the crowd when he does. Same goes for Sami as well because people coming back from injury tend to get a face pop so I will be interested to see how WWE books it.


Gauntlet Match 3 (Bayley vs Mickie James)

Mickie James keeps showing how much of a veteran she is and put on a good match here with Bayley. Bayley once again did a great job in showing how much of a toll the previous matches have had on her but was still putting up a fight. Mickie never let up and kept the pressure on Bayley knowing that she had already gone through two matches. Bayley kept selling the knee and that would play a big part in this match as Mickie James was able to get the pin on Bayley and eliminate her from the gauntlet. This was a very good match and Bayley had a great showing in the gauntlet.


Gauntlet Match 4 (Mickie James vs Ember Moon)

Ember Moon is another person who has done not much of anything since being called up and it was nice to see her get a shot here in the gauntlet match. She came in with a ton of energy and took the fight right to Mickie James from the start. Both women had good chemistry with one another and were able to put on a good match here. Mickie ended up being no match for Ember Moon and Ember was able to hit the Eclipse on Mickie to pick up the win here and move on to the next round in the gauntlet.


Gauntlet Match 5 (Ember Moon vs Natalya)

This was a refreshing match up as I do not believe I have seen these two work a match against one another so far. There was a good contrast in styles between these two and I hope we get to see more matches between these two in the future. Natalya’s mat-based wrestling was a good contrast to the more high impact style of Ember. I had a tough time choosing who to root for during this match because either woman could do with the win here. At the end though Natalya was able to pick up the win with a roll up in a good but quick match.


Gauntlet Match 6 (Natalya vs Ruby Riott)

When it got to this point in the gauntlet, I was hoping we could avoid another match between these two but that wasn’t the case. Ruby and Natalya put on good matches with one another, but the problem is we have seen it so many times in different match types over the last couple of months that it is hard to really get into one of their matches anymore. There really isn’t much to say about this match that we haven’t seen from these two before as Natalya picked up the win with a roll up to move on to the final match of the gauntlet.


Final Gauntlet Match (Natalya vs Sasha Banks)

I must say that this was my favorite match of the gauntlet and one I’m glad they saved for the end. Both women are workhorses in the ring and this is a match we really haven’t seen much of so this was refreshing. Sasha came out strong and on fire taking it to Natalya from the start, so she could take advantage of Natalya having gone through two matches. We had another case of two women with good chemistry and they pulled out all the stops in the final match in this gauntlet. There were some very good near falls in this match and it looked like either Sasha or Natalya were close to picking up the win at various points. Natalya was able to dig deep just enough at the end of the match to lock in the Sharpshooter and make Sasha tap out to pick up the win and earn a match against Ronda Rousey next week. Ronda came out to congratulate Natalya on her win and they had a nice stare down to close Raw.


Final Statement

Vince McMahon promised us a shake up and I must say that this was indeed that. We got some refreshing matches and some good storytelling as well. The highlights had to be the opening with the whole McMahon family in the ring as well as Baron Corbin and that heat he was able to get from the crowd in Sacramento. Corbin’s match with Angle is another highlight as is most, if not all of Raw this week. This really was the best Raw I have seen in about a month or so and that was a sight for sore eyes. If I was to pick a low point, it might be Ronda’s promo because it just wasn’t anything special and the crowd was clearly not into it as well. Overall this was a really good Raw and I hope WWE is able to build off this momentum and give us good episodes of Raw in 2019. This is Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you all next time for another Sovereign Statement.