THE SPECIALISTS TUCKER'S LIVE INSTANT REACTION - Raw 8/3: The Road to Summerslam continues to get more interesting, but why?
Aug 4, 2015 - 1:23:10 PM
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Live Instant Reaction - WWE Raw 8/3
By Ben Tucker, PWTorch TV specialist
Overall Score - 8.0
Summerslam continues to be built slowly as Monday delivered an entertaining Raw that only slightly relied on hot-shot booking. This week, WWE gave away a WWE Title match on free television and Brock Lesnar returning to TV before leveling off with a solid but forgettable six-man tag team main event. The consistent entertainment provided by the show was in part due to boosting the importance of the mid-card. Whereas this time last year such a Raw would have been labeled forgettable, tonight's show was largely carried by mid-card feuds with characters we largely care about.
John Cena's involvement with the likes of Cesaeo has made his feud with Kevin Owens feel like it's on a different level. Previous run-ins with Neville made his play at the WWE Championship feel more plausible. Raw was the perfect example of WWE done right: a forest teeming with animals of different shapes and sizes, offering a little bit of something for everyone.
The highlight of Raw was Paul Heyman easily delivering the promo of the year. People who are good speakers make you wonder how they can speak so well. The greatest speakers are so adept at their craft that it looks easy. Heyman's work seemed so simple while being incredibly effective. He labeled Lesnar-Taker as being too big for WrestleMania and I believed him. No one in wrestling over the past twenty-plus years has been able to sell as well as Paul Heyman. He doesn't get himself over. He doesn't go on wild tangents. He doesn't do mock-shoots. He lays down the facts and delivers gems. Incredible.
The other obvious high point of the evening was the opening WWE Championship match, which delivered some of the best nearfalls ever seen on WWE television. Neville's near-win is great; it elevates him to an extent (with proper follow-up), further legitimizing his feud with Stardust. Rollins, meanwhile, continues his run as a shady champion while getting a legitimate win. How much longer Rollins can remain on top remains to be seen, as his in-ring style seems to be slowing a bit as the life of a champion is catching up to him. That said, what aired tonight was a great example of interweaving characters from different storylines and delivering unexpected events.
The rest of the show was largely entertaining, with two solid Divas matches (one of which was marred by the horrible characterization of the Bella Twins), an okay thrown-out-there tag match, a fun main event, and an entertaining Miz TV segment that continued to develop Cesaro into a character that feels like a star despite not winning most of his matches as of late. The important thing about Raw was that no segment outstayed its welcome and the pace was quick without feeling frenetic. It's hard to have a three-hour show, but this week's Raw did about the best it could.
With two Raws before Summerslam, WWE has not announced any matches outside of Lesnar-Taker, but has at least set many of them already up for the big show. Tonight's Raw continued to lay that foundation while delivering the "anything can happen" feel that the program made its name off of over 20 years ago. Ratings for this Raw will be interesting - how important to viewership is Lesnar? Spontaneous WWE Title matches? Current champion Seth Rollins? And most importantly, a lack of John Cena? Raw delivered plenty of hits, but numbers will decide if this format is embraced or the show reverts back to old habits.
Questions? Comments? Reactions? Find me on Twitter @BTuckerTorch, where I talk about wrestling and... stuff!
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