With two weeks to go until Night of Champions, WWE pulled off a rather lacklustre episode of Raw in the run-up to their next big show. At the centre of the show was WWE Champion Seth Rollins, who was booked in two matches to prepare for his double duty on PPV. It’s the Raw Report…
Seth Rollins kicked off Raw, gloating about being “the man” in WWE. He was interrupted by Sting on the big screen, who was in a darkened room with Rollins’ commemorative statue. He urged the champion to come and confront him. At that moment, Sheamus’ music hit and Mr Money in the Bank made his way to the ring. He traded barbs with Rollins before teasing a possible cash-in at Night of Champions, which would force Rollins into his third match of the night.
This was an interesting opening promo, but one that went on a little long as usual. It’s nice to be reminded that Sheamus actually poses a danger to the champion and Sting’s trap was a fun one.
1. Paige vs. Sasha Banks
In a rematch from last week’s Beat the Clock challenge, it was a clash of former NXT Women’s Champions. Paige and Banks traded momentum in a highly competitive match, in which both women looked strong. A wheelbarrow suplex opened up Banks for an attempt at the PTO submission hold, but her Team BAD colleagues rushed in, distracting Paige long enough for her to fall victim to a small package.
This was a really fun match, albeit one hindered by a messy finish. It seemed as if Banks’ shoulders were also down when the referee counted the pinfall, which was something Paige pointed out later on Twitter and could fuel a rematch. The “Divas Revolution” is a long way from perfect, but matches like this on Raw are the right way to create organic change.
2. The Ascension vs. Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns
This was a brief contest designed to put shine on the babyface duo of Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose ahead of their clash with the Wyatt Family at Night of Champions. In that sense, it worked. They made short work of The Ascension, with Dean Ambrose pinning Viktor after Dirty Deeds. After the match, the Wyatts appeared on the big screen and promised that they would take out anyone who wanted to join Reigns and Ambrose for their six-man tag pay-per-view match.
It was good to see Reigns and Ambrose pick up a decisive win as a tandem, albeit in a throwaway bout. The Wyatts are finally acting like proper, threatening heels as well, which is a good thing. It was rather bizarre to see Stardust not accompanying his new minions for this match.
Ryback cut one of his usual nonsensical backstage promos, talking about eating negativity and stuff. Kevin Owens arrived and warned him not to “bite off more than you can chew”. It’s great to see Owens back in the picture for a title.
3. Ryback vs. Seth Rollins
In a champion vs. champion contest, Ryback and Seth Rollins worked a methodical match with a slow pace. The crowd were dead for the match, which was unsurprising given the deadening pace of the contest. A distraction from Sting allowed Ryback to roll up the WWE World Heavyweight Champion for the surprise pinfall win.
It was weird seeing Sting play for laughs and there’s obviously going to be no follow-up to Ryback pinning the champion. It’s frustrating to see segments like this lead to nothing.
Next up was a terrific backstage segment in which New Day were confronted by Edge and Christian, ahead of their appearance on the Stone Cold Podcast. The Dudley Boyz soon joined them and told New Day they would have to defend the Tag Team Championship next week on Raw. The winner will face the Dudleys for the belts at Night of Champions. This was an amazing segment, which packed Attitude Era electricity alongside the comic brilliance of the New Day.
4. Summer Rae addresses Dolph Ziggler controversy
For the second time tonight, we watch a TMZ-esque video package recapping the gossip mag tedium that occurred last week on Raw between Summer Rae, Dolph Ziggler and Lana. In the ring, Summer apologises to Rusev for what happened. Rusev forgives her, saying that she, like Lana, has become a victim of “the skinny American” Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler then arrives and talks trash for a while, before dropping Rusev with a superkick.
This feud seems to alternate between actually moving and treading water every few weeks. The absence of Lana through injury didn’t help this week, creating a segment that was desperately dull and achieved nothing.
We see Randy Orton chatting with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose before his match with Sheamus. Will he be their partner at Night of Champions?
5. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus
Sometimes, during a particularly tiresome episode of Raw, it feels as if time is slowing down. During this, which must be the millionth clash between these two men in the last few years, time was moving so slowly that it moved backwards. I think Bruno Sammartino was champion when the first bell rang. The match got far more time than it needed and ended with Orton pinning the Celtic Warrior after an RKO.
As Orton celebrated, the Wyatt Family appeared and beat down Orton. Braun Strowman choked the Viper out in the centre of the ring, clearly warning him against teaming with Reigns and Ambrose.
6. Dudley Boyz vs. Los Matadores
After a miscommunication between the bullfighters, the Dudleys won the match with the 3-D. Los Matadores seemed to turn on El Torito, but the Attitude Era icons came to the bull’s aid and delivered a powerbomb to one of Los Matadores through a table.
I don’t see much point to Los Matadores turning on their friend. It’s certainly not a feud that’s going to trouble WWE television very often.
7. Cesaro vs. The Miz
Cesaro out-wrestled The Miz for the majority of this match and had the A-lister down on the outside when Big Show appeared. Show chased Miz out of the arena, giving Cesaro the countout victory. Furious at not getting his hands on Miz, Show delivered a KO Punch to Cesaro and stormed off up the ramp.
Cesaro can’t catch a break at the moment. For some reason, WWE Creative never lets him win a match cleanly. It seems like he may transition into a feud with Show. Hopefully they’ll finally allow the Swiss Superman to shine.
8. Nikki Bella and Charlotte
Flanked by her sister Brie and Alicia Fox, the Divas Champion gloated in the ring about how she will commemorate breaking AJ Lee’s Divas Championship record next week with a “Bella-bration”. She was interrupted by number one contender Charlotte, who revealed that she had lobbied the Authority to have her title match on Raw next week, before the record is broken. A brawl broke out, culminating in Charlotte locking Nikki in the Figure Eight.
This was a nice segment to set up the title match next week. It’s great to see the title finally moving into the spotlight of this “Divas Revolution” and next week will certainly show how seriously WWE is taking the change in women’s wrestling.
9. John Cena and Prime Time Players vs. Seth Rollins and New Day
As you’d expect from the people involved, this was a wild tag team contest with plenty of high-flying action. The heels isolated Cena for a long time, but things kicked up a notch when the Prime Time Players finally came in. It was the babyface team who eventually won, when Cena pinned Kofi Kingston after an AA. The highlight of the whole thing was Xavier Woods with his now signature trombone at ringside. Woods is flourishing in the irritating manager role.
Sting appeared on the big screen once again, revealing that he had Rollins’ statue perched above a garbage truck. He pushed the statue into the truck, crushing it into pieces. Sting rode the truck out of the arena as Rollins threw a tantrum in the ring.
So that was Raw and one of the worst shows of the last few months. The in-ring action largely failed to deliver and the entire show felt lacking in major story developments. Next week is being billed as the “season premiere” episode and should pack a lot more in as we move on to Night of Champions.