The time has come, and we are at the “season premiere” of Raw tonight. There are plenty of new things that have come to Raw from a new stage to a new commentary time to pyro coming back. I’ll touch on the stage here in the intro and say I do kind of dig it. It will take some getting used to, but I do enjoy that it reminds me of the half-pipe from the mega ramp that you see in the X-Games. It does give a unique vibe to Raw, so I appreciate that. With that out of the way, let us jump right in and talk about Raw.
Rey Mysterio In-Ring
Rey Mysterio came out with an awesome jacket that featured his match with Eddie Guerrero from Halloween Havoc where he dressed up as the character the Phantom. I like that his mask was a clear inspiration of that as well. Rey came out and did his usual schtick of saying how his son was able to talk him out of retirement. The camera then showed that Dominick was sitting ringside for this, so I knew something had to be up. Brock Lesnar’s music hit and he came down to the ring with Paul Heyman. Heyman grabbed the mic and before he could get his words out, Rey snatched the mic from him. Before Rey could speak, Lesnar went on the attack and would beat him down. It looked like Dominick may go to help his dad, but he stayed in his seat. Lesnar wasn’t having any of that and true to his “don’t care about your kids” attitude, he proceeded to beat down Dominick as well. I have to say that Dom took the beating from Lesnar very well and sold for him just as well. We may crap on Lesnar a ton, but he beats down people like very few can nowadays.
Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss
I was looking forward to this match and it looked good but there was one huge problem with it. The commentary team did nothing for this match and damn near ignored it in favor of Becky Lynch who came down to join them. The commentary team is there to sell us on what we are seeing and there was none of that there. I will get more to what I thought about the commentary team at the end of this review, so I’ll save my full thoughts on them for then. The match was decent enough, but man did it suffer from basically being “no sold” by the commentary team. Sasha would win and Becky would come down and the two would have a scuffle. Sasha would retreat and Becky got on the mic to say there will be nowhere to run at Hell in a Cell.
Seth Rollins Backstage
Simply put, Seth has become an L7 weenie and if you get that reference, I applaud you. Seth has become a total square and his promos have simply gone down the drain. They are so by the numbers now that they are so darn predictable. He talks about adversity and how he will overcome them. He needs some fire back because this version of Seth is becoming utterly boring on the mic.
RooDolph vs Heavy Machinery
I love Otis to pieces because he brings all of the energy for Heavy Machinery. I was surprised to see this match and I was not at all surprised by the result of it. I wish I could see RooDolph working but for me they just aren’t clicking as a team. Maybe it is the separate entrances or the fact that they are wrestling like singles wrestlers still and not a cohesive team. Either way, I hope the Viking Raiders, or someone takes the titles off of them before 2019 comes to a close. The match itself was fine enough and RooDolph would pick up the win and retain the titles. The Raw tag division needs a spark and I hope the Vikings are the ones to do it because RooDolph are certainly not the ones for the job.
SKIP! Well I guess I should elaborate some more on why I say this is a “SKIP!” segment and I will. Miz came out and all this segment was for was a way to stroke the egos of Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan. This set up a match in which they will captain teams in Saudi Arabia. I just can’t anymore with Hulk Hogan, and I hate having him on my tv. I wrote my piece about him about how I think he is a racist pile of garbage and I still stand by every word of it no matter how many times WWE trots him out there. It looked like this would lead to a match between Orton and Rollins, the captains of each team, but King Corbin came out and the two ganged up on Rollins. Rusev would surprisingly come out to make the save and the segment ended with them posing with Hogan on the stage. Like I said at the beginning, SKIP!
Nice enough promo from Rusev backstage and I liked how he used logic as to why he deserved that Universal Championship match against Seth for tonight. He said Seth owed him for saving his butt and we would soon find out that the match would be made official for the main event tonight. Also, Rusev does look a lot like Rick Rude now with that moustache and I was glad to see Paul Jameson point that out in the DD.
In comparison to their previous vignettes, this one felt a lot simpler to take in. The message from both men was simple, they are here to cause pain and violence upon everybody on the roster. I like this change in AOP because it is giving them a chance to develop more as characters and not just be mindless butt kicking machines. I think they could be used well on either brand and I wonder where they will land after the draft.
The Viking Raiders vs The OC
These two teams have some really good chemistry and I wonder what a 20-minute match between them would look like. It seemed pretty obvious that the Vikings would win because they are clearly being groomed for a long unbeaten streak. Sadly, that means that teams will have to eat the losses and the OC are their victims once again. The match itself was good and these matches do showcase why the OC are a great tag team. Ivar ended up picking up the win with a rather impressive splash from the top rope and I have to think that he and Erik are coming for those tag titles before the year is over.
Charly Caruso Backstage
Charly was backstage to provide some updates about Rey, Dominick and Brock Lesnar. She announced that Heyman would be addressing the actions of Lesnar and then Cesaro would come into the segment. He talked about how he wanted to be the one to take out Rey and Dom and Ricochet would come in to defend their honor. Ricochet would challenge him to a match and that was pretty much it. Pretty standard interruption segment that leads to a match.
Ricochet vs Cesaro
These two have had some good encounters in 2019 so we all were expecting something good here and it was that but just not as good as I thought. These two have the capability of putting on classics and this match was just pretty good. On the scale that these two live on, that is pretty average. I will say though that I am not feeling Cesaro’s gear and I kind of wish he would go back to his old trunks. Good but short match from these two that saw Ricochet pick up the win.
Firefly Fun House
This edition of Firefly Fun House was a rather interesting one in my eyes. Rambling Rabbit seemed to pass away again, and I just love how quick Bray was to move on from the tragedy. The puppets were all worried about what would happen to Seth inside Hell in a Cell with the Fiend and I love how dismissive Bray was of it. The way this is all building for the Fiend to enter Hell in a Cell has me eagerly awaiting the moment and I think it will be amazing. Bray has totally embraced his role as twisted Mr. Rogers with a dark side and it is amazing. I will say I was disappointed that Bray didn’t have a picture of Braun hanging up on the wall with his other victims.
AJ Styles vs Cedric Alexander
Much like the Cesaro/Mysterio match, this was good but not as good as their previous encounters. This match also suffered from being short and not as long as it probably should have been. I have enjoyed this feud because it has brought Cedric to the masses and he has started to get over because of it. The one problem I have about this match, and others share the sentiment, is that Cedric could have used this win a lot more than AJ. Besides the beginning of this rivalry, AJ has pretty much dominated it and it does make Cedric look weak. I don’t know if he is getting buried or not, but it would have been good for him to win the title here. Solid enough match but I really question the decision to put AJ over. I wouldn’t mind if they played hot potato with the US title for a bit as it would give it some new life and make this feud less one-sided.
Street Profits Backstage
As much as I have said I do not mind them doing this, I think I am reaching my breaking point with it. I still find them enjoyable in these backstage segments, but I feel like they are getting close to overstaying their welcome. They did what they always do and that is do a good job of hyping of Raw. I love when they turned their attention to NXT and their upcoming match with the Undisputed Era. That match will certainly be one to watch and I cannot wait for it.
Lacey Evans vs Natalya
I have no idea why we are having this match because there is no reason to having this match. This feud has absolutely no heat to it and it has gone on for far too long. The only thing I like about this feud is that it has brought Lacey Evans back and it gave us that awesome video that she posted online of her getting pulled over. This match had decent moments and Lacey would pick up the win. I hope this is the last of this feud and WWE won’t try to drag this out any longer.
Paul Heyman Backstage
Simply put, this was a masterclass in how you properly bring intensity to a promo. Heyman was magnificent here and, to her credit, Sarah Schreiber did a great job with her reactions to it. She was stuck speechless as Heyman went off as to why Lesnar did what he did at the start of Raw. This was another example as to why Heyman is one of the greatest of all-time on the mic and it was amazing to watch. It really did get me more hyped to see Lesnar versus Kofi on Friday and that is not just because I will be there in person.
Maria Kanellis Backstage
Maria is just complete and utter slime and I love every minute of it. I love how dismissive she was of Rusev being the father and I love how she brought up the problems he is apparently having with Lana. She walked off and then Sasha Banks came around to say a few things to Becky Lynch. Sasha is fully in her Boss mode and I love it because this is where she thrives. She is oozing confidence going into Hell in a Cell and that match should be something.
Seth Rollins vs Rusev
There is so much to unpack for the ending to Raw so I will just take it all in the order it happened. I was glad to see this match happening because I know these two could deliver. I love that the first commercial break had the Fiend saying “let me in” because that is perfect. There was some pretty solid back and forth action in this match and right when it looked like Rusev would be closing in on the win, Bobby Lashley would make his return. This is when things became all kinds of weird. Lashley was calling for someone to come out and then Rusev’s wife Lana would make her return. She and Lashley then started to really make out on the stage and Rusev just stood there dismayed at the whole thing. The lights then went down, and the Fiend would put Seth in the Mandible Claw to close out Raw. This was one of the oddest ways I have seen Raw close and I still have no idea how to feel about it. I am willing to see how this plays out because I have faith in Heyman to handle a crazy storyline like this.
This was the go-home for Hell in a Cell, and it did and didn’t feel like the go-home episode. At some points it felt like they were building to the pay-per-view and other times felt like it was just another Raw. I did have some high points in that the opening stuff was great and so was the Heyman promo. The lowest points had to be the whole Miz TV segment and the Lacey/Natalya match. There was plenty of stuff that was more of being in the middle this week though. I will say though that commentary struggled a lot during Raw and I really think it had to do with them finding their chemistry with one another. Vic struggled early but eventually found his footing and much to my surprise, Jerry was pretty good throughout the night. He did have cringe moments, but he was doing his best. Dio Maddin sadly struggled throughout the whole night and it had me wondering if this was too much for him. This does it for this week’s Sovereign Statement and make sure you join us on Sunday for Hell in a Cell as we will be here for another fun Dignified Discussion.