8/29 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.
Dominic DeAngelo, PWPodcasts recapper
(1) The Champ Is KO, But More of The Same? It’s wonderful to see Kevin Owens as “The Guy” or “The Man,” or whatever generic term they’ll want to use this time around (“The Dude”?), but WWE is still doing the “Authority chooses the champ'” bit? It’s just like WWE to have something totally radical happen and then the parents show up to cheese up the party with bad dad jokes. That being said, if anyone can make this stale act have flavor, it’s everybody’s favorite Prizefighter. The stare-down between Mick Foley and Triple H sure was intriguing, along with Stephanie apparently having zilch to do with it. As I type that sentence, however, I’m still having that feeling of more Authority figure dread. Besides the obvious, who else cares about the McMahon family drama? All the yays in the world for KO, but I’ll be dipping my feet into this pool only with one big toe.
(2) Seth & Roman Reunion? Okay, both Rollins and Reigns are pedigreed by Papa H, what’s this mean for them? Does Roman drop back to patriotically home-wrecking the U.S. Champ or will we see an alliance of two former Shield members? The latter seems like the most effective way of getting Reigns over, which still very much looks like what the prerogative is. As apprehensive as I am as jumping into the deep end of the KO-Authority kinship, I’m more than willing to wade through the shallow end of this outcome.
(3) Babyfaces Playing Taps. What’s with all the heel submission wins tonight? Jericho bad-ass Liontames Neville into giving up, then we have Sheamus tugging on the Swiss Superman’s cape? Honestly, Jericho could muscle a loss against a guy like Neville, who looks good with a beard, but not with the Mighty Mouse theme still fresh in my ears. All this heel smarminess and babyface quitting really muddies the waters as who I’m supposed to cheer for, but I guess that’s very much like the sun rising and falling around these parts.
Chris Wooten, PWTorch reader
(1) When Life Gives You Lemons… WWE found themselves in a predicament last week after the news of Finn Balor’s injury. While the reaction of making a Fatal Four-Way match for the Universal Title may not have been the best one, you have to give them credit for execution. While the opening segment gave the talent a chance to showcase some mic skill, the vignettes that followed throughout the night helped to develop character, and gave us many reasons to either cheer or boo them. All of this leading to the climactic main event; topping it off with a very well-crafted match and a new champion that most were happy to see win – Kevin Owens. Not to mention the jaw-dropping way it happened with the return of Triple H. That’s how you make the best of a bad situation.
(2) More Than A New Day. Smackdown’s Tag Team Championship unveiling last week made me take a hard look at Raw’s tag team division this week, hoping to see a little more than just comedy. Unfortunately, that’s all there is to the Tag division on Raw. It’s undeniable how “over” the New Day are and have been for the past year, but where are the challengers? Where are these teams hungry for a chance to be the best tag team in the business? Smackdown didn’t even have titles for their tag teams until a week ago, but the way they’ve presented the division has given the impression that the new titles are prestigious and are coveted by those teams. You just don’t see that on Raw.
Best of Seven. This week’s Raw featured the second match in the Best of Seven series between Cesaro and Sheamus. It was a good, physical match, as it always is. While Sheamus has unfortunately grown stale over the past few years, this series with Cesaro gives him a boost. They can always go out there and put on an entertaining brawl, and Cesaro’s agility helps to add some flavor as well. It’s just a good matchup, and by making this series feel important by having a future title opportunity on the line, it puts both men on a “main-event” level.
Ben Tucker, PWTorch Instant Reaction specialist
Main Event Shuffle. It’s amazing how the entire main event scene can go from being on the verge of stagnating to thriving over the course of one match. Big Cass is now established as an upper mid-carder, Reigns is screwed again, Rollins is primed for an epic face run, and Kevin Owens is cemented as the new corporate champion, all with Triple H being reintroduced to the show to serve as an occasional main-eventer when needed. The next several months of programming already have a bevy of potential main events at their disposal: Owens-Rollins, Owens-Reigns, Owens-Zayn, Triple H-Rollins, even Owens-Cass, the list goes on. Monday nights finally have a convincing group of wrestlers at the top of the card that will develop even further with the winner of the Cesaro-Sheamus series entered into the fray.
Owens Breaks the Glass Ceiling. I doubt many people would’ve looked at Kevin Steen in 2014 and guess that he was going to become the top heel in WWE in under two years. Sure enough, he has surpassed all expectations and cemented himself as a star player tonight with great performances on the mic and in the ring during the fantastic main event. I’m excited to see his work as the new Authority pick. While it’s a tired concept, Owens is a unique enough character that I can see him settling into the role nicely and developing a unique niche.
Big Cass Goes Big. Enzo’s big friend stood out well in the fatal four-way main event. He’s not close to ready to close the show on a consistent basis, and the jury’s out on if he could ever do that, but I can see him closing the occasional B-level PPV. The big thing to note is how much Enzo’s been relegated to a managerial role the past couple weeks. The duo works best when they treat each other as equals.
New Bay. I adore the camaraderie between Bayley and the New Day. They both have pretty specific characters that can fall flat in the wrong scenario, but they play off each other perfectly.
Balor Retcon? Did anyone else notice Stephanie McMahon label the main event’s winner as the “first” Universal Champion? Don’t make Finn cry again, guys.