The first episode of the ‘new, new era’ of Monday Night Raw set some high standards for WWE television going forward. We saw that the first edition of SmackDown Live really couldn’t live up to those high exceptions. What about the follow up episode of Raw?
This was going to be the first time we’ve seen Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and Roman Reigns since last week’s episode. Many, myself included, were excited to see where they went with all of this.
Overall, the show delivered. New feuds were introduced, old feuds were advanced in new ways (Balor/Rollins) and after three hours, most were anticipating what would happen next week, especially as we draw closer to SummerSlam later this month.
That being said, there were some segments that could have used the slightest tweak to make them better. So let’s not waste any time, and get right into rebooking this week’s edition of Raw.
Alright, so the idea of letting the women’s feud start off the show is a great one — they deserve it. Those two tore the house down last week and deserve to be one of the featured feuds on Raw television each and every week. Secondly, I think I’ve made it clear in these articles and on the podcast that I’m the biggest Enzo Amore fan in the world, and he killed it in this segment. Yet, it felt a little bit like the guys were coming out to save the girls, and it didn’t feel as though they were equals.
Then onto the match. Look, I get the purpose of the match, but having your recently crowned Women’s Champion lose her first television match since winning the belt really doesn’t instill confidence. Now the babyface isn’t supposed to have the upper-hand all the time, if at all, but it just felt that they could have held off with this result for at least a week.
Jericho could have gotten the win against Enzo, Cass could have made the save. Dana could have gotten involved after to help Charlotte beat down the champ. It could have flowed better, and kept the champ from getting pinned right away, that’s all.
New Day vs. The Club
When the WWE tweeted right before Raw that this match was going to take place, I was rather confused. Last week, The Club made their intentions known: they were coming after the New Day, and specifically, they were coming after the WWE World Tag Team Championships. So this week, the WWE set up a Club versus New Day tag team match, with the added stipulation that only two members of the New Day could be at ringside.
So Big E and Kofi Kingston were the two that would take on Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. So first of all, the WWE giving away this match, a non-title match just a couple weeks before these teams more than likely face off again at SummerSlam, feels like the old era creeping back in. Secondly, there was no easy choice as to who was going to win. If the New Day beat the Club, it diminishes the Club even further.
Let’s say the Club wins, now the champs look weak. Both options give away a finish that they can do just three weeks later. The WWE decided to give the New Day a rollup victory over the Club. Afterwards the Club laid a beatdown on the New Day once again, and left standing tall.
Why couldn’t The New Day fight another team, gain some momentum and a victory, and then have the Club jump them again? This would set the New Day off and bait them into giving a title shot to a team that hasn’t really earned it inside the ring.
Brock Lesnar’s return
The Beast Incarnate made his return to WWE television, the first time that we’ve seen him since WrestleMania 32. Lesnar, alongside Paul Heyman, was there to promote and hype the upcoming match with Randy Orton at SummerSlam, a cross-promotional battle. After throwing a barrage of words and insults at Orton, the Viper delivered an RKO outta nowhere, landing the first shot in this battle.
Raw superstars, along with referees, security and Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley came running out of the back to keep Orton from doing anything else, as he exited the arena via the crowd.
On its surface, there is nothing wrong with the actions in the segment. Hyping a big-time match, and the underdog lands the first blow. It’s a perfect start to the three-week build of this story. The issue? Orton showing up on Raw, when he’s a SmackDown Live superstar. Less than two weeks into the brand split, a superstar has invaded the other show. It sets a terrible precedent.
I get it. There’s no other way to do this, but what’s stopping from other superstars doing the same and causing just absolute cross-over anarchy, ruining what the brand split was intended to create.
Re-booking this is tough, but according to the draft Paul Heyman is not linked to Raw. He could ‘misstep’ and show up on SmackDown Live to call out Orton, and Orton could RKO him. Heyman, annoyed with himself at the mistake, goes to Stephanie and asks her to invite Orton to Raw, to finally have a face-to-face with the Beast, maybe the week of SummerSlam or the week before. They could have really milked this and set it up to succeed.