INSTANT REACTION – 8/8 Raw: First batch of PWTorch writers reviewing Monday’s Raw!

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8/8 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.

Brandon LeClair, PWTorch correspondent

(1) Return of the Multi-Segment Rematch. It was only a matter of time, I suppose. On a three-hour show that didn’t utilize Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, or Sami Zayn in-ring, there was bound to be a multi-segment match that served no purpose. Heck, one guy even had to pull double duty! Cesaro and Sheamus worked a hard-hitting, entertaining match as usual, but the bout suffered from the tired old re-match formula. Matches we’ve seen too many times, running far too long, with no real benefit to speak of for the winner. They attempted to pay off tonight’s victory for Cesaro with a title shot, but all that did was end up increasing the likelihood that we’re going to see yet another match between Sheamus and Cesaro.

(2) Still the Roman Reigns Show. Roman put on a passable performance on the microphone tonight. The minimized pressure of the mid-card seems to have allowed him to loosen up a bit, which in turn made him appear slightly more natural on the microphone. It helps, of course, that’s he’s got an excellent heel foil in Rusev. Unfortunately, though, the chaotic (and senseless) closing moments of Raw felt like a return to pre-draft Roman Reigns, with him necessarily closing out the show with the last laugh, despite already getting it an hour earlier. I don’t see this winning him any favoritism with the audience.

(3) Was Tonight a Preview of What’s to Come? We’re now sitting at three shows in a row with involvement from someone from the opposing brand. Last week’s interferences by Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar, respectively, made sense contextually and proved to be a key element in making their matchup at Summerslam seem interesting. Tonight, though, I have my doubts. What purpose did Daniel Bryan serve by showing up on Raw? Was this a segment WWE felt was truly necessary, or was it the beginning stages of Vince McMahon hitting the panic button and pulling in names from Smackdown to help bolster Raw’s ratings? I want to believe that isn’t the case, but I’ve learned that with WWE, the most obvious answer is often the correct one.

Dominic DeAngelo, PWPodcasts recapper

(1) “How Are You Doing?” The best thing going right now for Raw is the Jericho & Kevin Owens team-up against Enzo & Cass, and it’s due to the wonderful marriage of simplicity and sense of humor. Enzo & Cass are arguably the hottest babyfaces going right now and Jericho & Owens are their perfect foils, being funny and witty enough, but not enough to overshadow the “Realest Guys In The Room.” Tonight Jericho deadpanned and sterilized catchphrases to the Anaheim crowd while Owens stifled his retorts to only a few words, clearly showing that they aren’t afraid to “show ass” in classic heel form. “Cherish” is the word I use to describe this feud.

(2) “That ‘Enhanced’ Elephant Is STILL In The Room.” While tonight’s Orton & Lesnar video package was beautifully produced, I cannot for the life of me shake the letters “U”, “S”, “D”, or “A” out of my head. Didn’t Randy (and WWE) have the gumption to address the “enhancement” of The Beast a few weeks back at Battleground? And didn’t Lesnar (and WWE) have the lack of gumption last week to not address it? No amount of bleeped f-Bombs that Brock drops will obliterate an expected rebuttal to such a comment. Maybe from a business standpoint it’s smart for WWE not to bring it up again, but hey, they opened that Pandora box and it’s kind of up to the Lesnar character to F5 it back in order.

(3) “Steven Ain’t So Even!” All right, show of hands who thought Sheamus was gonna get his win back against Cesaro tonight? I’m assuming all hands are up. Conventional booking decided to pull a fast one on everybody and give Cesaro two consecutive wins against the same opponent. When was the last time this happened? More importantly, when was the last time anyone was potentially interested in Sheamus? Wow, this was more of a milestone than Ichiro’s 3,000th hit. (See Seth Rollins? I can be topical too!)

Ben Tucker, PWTorch “Instant Reaction” specialist

– Raw Rebound. This week largely felt like an alternate universe version of last week’s Raw. Enzo and Jericho open Raw, Seth Rollins talks way too long, similar placements for segments on the show and not enough of a frantic feeling that we’ve been seeing on previous Raws in the new era. The main exception revolved around the developing rivalries in the U.S. Title scene. Which leads to…

American-sized Boost. The U.S. Title took a big step towards being reestablished as a worthy title tonight considering all of the players gunning for it, particularly Roman Reigns. It surely won’t be a long-lasting experiment, using WWE’s own history for evidence, but it’s nice to see the title treated as the belt for upper mid-carders, not opening acts. Rusev’s faux-wedding segment effectively put heat on the couple and Roman’s interruption and subsequent promo at least put a different spin on a mid-card feud, no matter how hokey.

– Universal Title? Who Cares? For as fond as I am about Finn Balor, his upcoming match with Seth Rollins is starting to lose some momentum. The Universal Championship’s inaugural match is being treated more as a contest for a mid-card title. Understandably the majority of the match hype on Raw is dedicated to informing casual viewers about Balor, but at this point the contest has become more about being his showcase match than establishing a new world title. Just like the World Title in 2002, we’re being told to care about a title that’s being treated as a background character.

– Gallows and Anderson Shine. The two Club members really shined when finally being given an opportunity to reveal more of their humorous side tonight. Gallows and Anderson’s deadpan humor is a nice counter to New Day’s over the top mannerisms.

– JerichOwens Deliver. These two could become the best thrown together tag team in a long, long time. Their mic skills and characters mesh so well together. And Jericho is bringing…. IT!

More Three-Pack Takeaways from Raw to follow…

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