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Roundtable: Reacting to Raw’s big surprises

(Photo courtesy of WWE.com)
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All criticisms of the title’s name aside, WWE’s decision to bring in a second championship exclusive to Raw was __________.

Daniel DeMarco: Crap. WWE making the same mistakes which ultimately made the first attempt at a brand split a waste. How hard is it for WWE to understand that when there are two titles, neither are world titles anymore? They basically become upgraded Intercontinental and U.S. titles at that point. And WWE really is not trying that hard to impress by giving one of the Battleground losers an automatic place in the finals of the new title tournament. In an unusual move, WWE has managed to make the Raw title inferior to the SmackDown title from the very moment of announcement — who ever thought SmackDown could have more credibility than Raw?

Jason Hall:  “The only option.” Sure, the name is awful, but a second world title is a necessity. Each brand now has a top star and — even though Raw’s roster seems much more loaded with talent — the shows are even. It also provided instant credibility for Finn Balór, although defeating Roman Reigns clean would’ve done that anyway.

Travis Wakeman: Who is criticizing the name? I happen to LOVE the name, though I have a very personal reason for why that is, which I won’t waste anyone’s time with here. The decision to bring in another championship was no surprise, especially after Dean Ambrose retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Battleground. Raw is a three-hour show and you’re going to have three hours of television without a major champion? It didn’t make any sense to me. However, I loved every bit of it, from the name, to the back-to-back fatal four ways, to the main event. Terrific booking.

Riley Kontek: Obvious and necessary. Sure the name leaves a lot to be desired, but going back to the days of the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship needed to be avoided. Instead, we got a new title that will be the marquee attraction on the new-look Raw. And not only that, but they have the two best guys on the roster competing for the inaugural belt.

Joseph Nardone: Obvious.

There was no way that Monday Night Raw was going to function without a version of a heavyweight title. Might I also add that the WWE did a smart thing by not using an old title or title name to bring it back. Between the combination of the new name (which will take some getting used to), the two Fatal 4-Way matches and the main event match to determine the No. 1 contender, it helped make it all that much easier to swallow.

Does any part of you wish Sasha Banks had gotten her big moment on SummerSlam and not Raw? 

DD: Not a single part of me. It was awesome to witness such a pivotal title change on Raw when nowadays WWE so seldom makes those moves. And, it was not even the main event of the show. Good ol’ Jim Ross replied to a tweet during Raw’s telecast which addressed the same concern. His response was that a Raw television audience is significantly bigger than a WWE Network audience, and you would want as many people to see that moment as possible. Perfectly logical to me. Just made a special episode of Raw that much more special.

JH: Maybe a small part, but that just makes me think WWE has something planned for SummerSlam. Either way, it was better than the typical “Charlotte cheats and retains” ending we’ve seen all year, so that’s a plus. But being that it was a special edition of Raw, the moment seemed fitting. Hopefully she’ll have plenty of chances to retain at big pay-per-views anyway.

TW: Not really. Obviously, that would have been a bigger stage, but it’s what most people expected. To give Sasha the belt on Raw, it really helped drive home the “new era” feel and statement that WWE tried to get across all night. I think we all knew Sasha was going to be the one to take the belt from Charlotte, so why delay the inevitable? Now you can open up your options and give fans something else for SummerSlam, or do a rematch with a two out of three falls stipulation. Would anyone complain about that?

RK: I think having it on the new version of Raw on national TV was awesome. Having it happen at SummerSlam would have been awesome, but SummerSlam is going to have so many other important matches, I feel it would have gotten lost in the shuffle. By having it happen on Raw, a wider audience was able to witness the culmination of Sasha Banks. And the match was great too, which should help women’s wrestling in WWE moving forward.

JN: Not at all. I think we get sucked up in the idea of where moments should happen too often. Great moments are great moments, no matter when or where they take place.

Anyone complaining about it happening on Raw, which is a big deal, and not SummerSlam wouldn’t turn down a raise that happened on a Tuesday instead of a Friday, would they?

Outside of WrestleMania, every other occasion is a chance for each talent to create their own moment. Sasha did that on Monday, and good for her.

So, how surprised were you Finn Balor got the win?

DD: Count me as one of the speechless ones watching. Boy oh boy, WWE is pushing Balor quickly, ladies and gentlemen. Rumors of Reigns’ status in the promotion noticeably lowering aside, WWE just had a new call-up from NXT pin the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion clean, earning a spot in what may likely be SummerSlam’s main event. I expected Balor to be treated well, and to make it to the semi-finals where he would put on a good showing, but ultimately succumb in order to continue the Rollins-Reigns feud. No, no, no… instead it looks like WWE is feeling Balor’s new roster spot and running with it. While I would have been perfectly fine with Reigns beating Balor, it is great to know Balor is getting all that momentum so quickly.

JH: Very, but less than I would’ve been before Roman’s suspension. Seeing Reigns lose clean last night showed that WWE isn’t favoring him like they were before. He’s mortal now, which is good. The opposite was part of the problem. But the fact that Balór received possibly the fastest push of any main roster callup is surprising, while it’s somewhat not. He carried NXT as the brand’s top babyface through it’s most talented era of existence. Balór was the guy and was retained while several less relevant acts were called up, perhaps too quickly. So yes, it is surprising, but if it was going to happen with anyone, it was most likely with Balór.

TW: I wasn’t surprised he won. They couldn’t do Rollins vs. Reigns again. No one wanted to see that. I was, however, surprised that he won without some fluky finish. To see Balor get a clean win over Reigns is something very few guys have accomplished. It’s like when you see John Cena beaten cleanly. It rarely happens. However, it also shows the fact that WWE is firmly behind Balor and it’s clear he could become the biggest name in the company at some point. This was a great show and having this is a finish was the perfect way to end it. Plus, Balor vs. Rollins is going to tear the house down in Brooklyn. Again, who isn’t going to be excited about that?

RK:  I honestly wasn’t surprised. They couldn’t give Reigns the win after just failing a drug test. The minute he got the main event with Balor, I knew Balor would be victorious. To reward Reigns with a SummerSlam title shot would be a slap in the face of all the boys in the locker room that abide by the rules. What I will really be surprised about is if Balor wins the WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam against Seth Rollins, who I think should be holding the title.

JN: Only partially. Triple H loves the guy, Vince McMahon has supposedly grown tired of Roman Reigns, and the endgame is likely to have Seth Rollins win the new title anyway. If the latter is the case, then this was (and is) a great way to introduce Finn Balor to the main roster.

To be honest, my surprise odds meter (fictional, but fully functioning) went down as the show progressed. When Balor won his fatal-four way match, it was like “OK. He has a chance.” Then when Reigns won his, it was like “OMG! Balor is going to SummerSlam.”

Roundtable: Reacting to Raw’s big surprises

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