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8/1 WWE Raw Instant Reaction – Three-Pack Edition
In the spirit of PWTorch contributor Ben Tucker’s “Instant Reaction” series, we present the top three takeaways from Monday’s Raw from PWTorch staff, contributors, and correspondents.
Ben Tucker, PWTorch “Instant Reaction” specialist
JerichOwens Takes Over: Of all of the developments on Raw this week, I’m most excited to see Kevin Owens teaming up with Chris Jericho, setting up one heck of a dynamic as they seem primed to take on Enzo and Cass at Summerslam. Three of the four are studs on the microphone and the Owens-Jericho dynamic has been a highlight of any show it’s been featured on. Jericho’s banter with Enzo on Raw tonight was a little too cutesy, but in due time I think these guys are set to have some all-time great exchanges.
Roman Returns to the Mid-card: Finally, over 15 months late, Roman Reigns enters the feud he should have ended at WrestleMania 31, fighting the foreign menace Rusev. It’s a welcome change to see Roman take a step back from the main event scene, and having his highly protected character involved with mid-carders helps to boost the entire roster and the prestige of the U.S. Championship. On top of that, some of Reigns’s most compelling matches have been against hoss type wrestlers. I’m very excited to see what Rusev and Reigns can do together in the ring, and how Roman continues to develop as his direction has moved away from the WWE Intergalactic Supreme Championship Laser Sword of the Universe.
Balor Brings It: I’m happy to see Finn Balor transitioning nicely to the main roster. He’s shown solid fire and has held his own with Seth Rollins but hasn’t been asked to do too much yet personality-wise. I’m just hoping that he stops doing that bizarre jacket flip so many times during his entrance. If it’s that uncomfortable then just take it off dude.
Dean Ambrose’s Replacement: Just a small note, it’s interesting to see how the roster has shaken out in the second week post-draft. Enzo and Cass are firmly in the New Day tier of being able to work with upper mid-carders, while Sami Zayn has replaced Dean Ambrose as the semi-main event level babyface that can eat a pin when a heel needs to look strong. I’m betting Zayn will take to this position even better than Ambrose, as his underdog demeanor can mesh nicely with the slot. Whether he overstays his welcome in that slot and becomes this generation’s Dolph Ziggler is another question.
Michael Moore, PWTorch Collectibles specialist
(1) Raw is still Raw. Many people failed to recognize last week’s show for what it was: a hotshot show. It was undeniably an exciting show, but there is no way WWE could keep up that kind of pace. There were things to like about this show, but mostly it felt like any old Raw from the last couple years: bad comedy segments with R-Truth and Goldust, 50-50 booking with Sasha Banks losing one week after winning the title, authority figures emasculating wrestlers, and long, boring segments wearing out the crowd. There are some new faces and nice cosmetic changes, but the stale format remains the same.
(2) Roman Reigns doesn’t get booed out of the building. Roman got a pretty positive reaction when he interrupted the Bulgarian Bore. WWE is trying to undo two years worth of damage to both Reigns and Rusev. Their strategy seems to be recycling TV from the summer of 2014: Rusev is back to squashing the same guys he was two years ago as the evil Bulgarian/Russian sympathizer. The crowd seems to be much more receptive to Reigns when he isn’t forced into the main event. Had WWE taken this route in 2014 and 2015 – instead of feeding Rusev to John Cena and forcing Reigns into the world title picture – the WWE landscape might look a lot different today.
(3) No Randy Orton music. This was a nice touch. Too often WWE is guilty of low IQ production: theme music preceding a run-in, cameras lingering on Stephanie texting, etc. Orton is not a Raw wrestler, so it would’ve made no sense to have his music cued up. Orton standing in the crowd as refs and security pursued him was a great visual.
Brandon LeClair, PWTorch correspondent
(1) The Shine is (Mostly) Worn Off. I saw a lot of Raw’s old formulaic tricks rear their ugly heads tonight, and that’s concerning. A long promo segment to start the show, followed by a multi-segment match booked on the fly by the authority figure, some really concerning 50/50 booking along the way, and more filler that I fear may only get worse as the weeks progress. Tonight, we got our first look at Raw’s lack of depth, which was hidden incredibly well last week. The show still had its positives, and while a comedown of sorts was all but guaranteed this week, things felt a little too old-hat for my liking.
(2)The Roman Reigns Experiment, Continued. Something might be wrong when you can’t get your babyface cheered against one of the only true heels in the company, coming off an anti-American promo. I applaud the acknowledgment that Reigns just wasn’t working out in the main event, but it seems they addressed the wrong problem. It’s not that Roman necessarily needs to be moved down, he needs to be flipped. The “Rise of Roman Reigns” story is a repeat, and people don’t want to see it. Kudos to Rusev and Lana for showing up 48 hours removed from their wedding, too.
(3) Breaking the Rules (Already.) I’ll admit, I was prepared to complain about the inevitable Randy Orton run-in tonight, but, it worked! If there’s going to be interference among brands, this is exactly how to do it. Referees and security flood ringside, Steph and Foley throw a fit, and, a key component – Randy Orton’s music doesn’t play. This portion of the segment worked perfectly, and it netted Orton one of the biggest reactions he’s received in many years. Bravo!
Tyler Sabo, PWTorch correspondent
(1) Roman Reigns “Downgraded.” At the #1 for me is that it seems like Roman Reigns has been “downgraded” since his Wellness violation. He is no longer in that #1 spot, and is now challenging Rusev for the United States Championship. I guess we’ll have to wait to see if Roman actually goes over or if it’s just another one of Rusev’s wins against almost everybody.
(2) Braun Strowman. He reminds me of Ryback. If you want a guy to look tough, don’t have him going against jobbers instead of putting your actual talent in the ring, especially someone who is told to say “I’m doing it for the money.” It turns the whole “Braun Strowman is this unstoppable beast” into a comedy moment.
(3) Heath Slater. With Jinder Mahal getting on the Raw roster, it leaves me questioning where Heath Slater will end up, if he ends up in WWE at all in the end of this. It almost seems like WWE has no idea where to put him so they are putting him in these ridiculous skits for the meantime. Either that, or I am horribly wrong and they have something very good in the works.
More Three-Pack Takeaways from Raw to follow…