WWE RAW Review
August 30, 2016
By: Adam Martin of Wrestleview.com
After a really good follow up to SummerSlam last week, WWE was able to keep the momentum going into the show on Monday night hyping a Fatal 4 Way elimination match featuring Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens and Big Cass to crown a new WWE Universal Champion after Finn Balor was forced to vacate due to injury.
It was pretty clear from the beginning that this was going to be a one-match show and I was actually completely okay with that. While the three hours is taxing, WWE did a really good job airing video packages looking at Rollins, Reigns, Owens and Cass individually and opened with a entertaining segment to get you intrigued for this big main event.
The outcome of that main event was going to be provide a big answer regarding the current direction of WWE and as things stand with the brand split. Would they throw a hail mary going with Cass, go a predictable route with Reigns, play it safe with Rollins or really take a chance and go for it with Owens in Houston?
What we got was one of the best endings to a RAW in years.
Triple H returns, Kevin Owens the new Universal Champion
Let me just start off by saying what a complete and utter disaster it would have been if they went with Roman Reigns winning this match on Monday night. While I have been enjoying the feud between Reigns and Rusev in recent weeks, getting a whiff of “main event scene” Reigns last week after what looked to be a cool down following Battleground was troublesome. I get they were in a bind with the Finn Balor injury and you can’t not use Reigns. However, the idea of running with him as champion again was frightening.
Seth Rollins, while a safe move, wouldn’t have been all that terrible. Outside of some heavy criticism following his match with Finn Balor at SummerSlam, Rollins has become one of the better talents to emerge on the WWE roster in the last few years and still manages to keep audience interest with his character work. I enjoyed the setup before the main event of Stephanie being proud of her number one draft pick and setting expectations very high for Rollins. That was a great move by WWE and another solid way to build the main event.
Big Cass just isn’t ready. While I give WWE credit for including him in this match, now is just not the time to make such a drastic move like that. You could argue the same about going with Balor as quickly as they did at SummerSlam in his WWE PPV debut, but it was pretty clear that Cass was placed in this match to keep the “what if” factor going. I thought he did an exceptional job on the microphone during the opening segment and showed some serious potential when it comes to high level matches in the main event on Monday night.
41% of our readers on Twitter predicted Kevin Owens would walk away as the new WWE Universal Champion before RAW went live on Monday night in Houston and I was inclined to agree. Going with Owens just felt right and it created one of the most exciting endings to a RAW in a very long time. Toss in the surprise return of Triple H in front of a shocked/upset Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon at ringside and you had the makings for one of the best endings for a WWE television show in eons. You know the television has been lackluster when endings like this stand out the way they do. The crowd in Houston was just off the charts great and WWE made an amazing call bringing back Triple H the way they did. It’s not often they completely knock it out of the park, but WWE deserves massive applause.
Sheamus and Cesaro beat the hell out of each other
Monday night also featured the second match between Sheamus and Cesaro for the current best of seven series. While both guys can be very underwhelming when it comes to promos, they more than make up for it inside the ring and put forth another solid match. The bump that Cesaro took on the outside against the steel ring post looked very dangerous and was the perfect setup for the cloverleaf submission finish. Excellent work from both guys. If you missed the bump, you can check it out below courtesy of a tweet from WWE.
Bayley brings hugs and smiles to RAW
I’m absolutely blown away at how the WWE audience was reacting to Bayley’s offense in just her second week on television. This is an act that is tailor made for WWE’s television presentation and it provided lots of entertainment with the New Day. I also really like the pairing of Dana Brooke with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Gallows and Anderson definitely have something with this new retirement angle and it sets up a callback to the Randy Orton “Legend Killer” days of bringing back old tag teams for them to mess with.
* Chris Jericho and Neville had a fun match.
* Nia Jax squashes continue. Would really like to see this wrapped up soon.
* You can tell the WWE audience is really getting behind Sami Zayn.
* Braun Strowman killed a luchadore in Texas.
* I want to like this Titus O’Neil/Darren Young stuff…but…meh.
If you missed the ending to RAW this week, seriously, go out of your way to see it. Between the hard work of Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Kevin Owen and Big Cass to the surprise return of Triple H, WWE more than delivered with a solid main event on Monday night. If the brand split post-SummerSlam was a sign of things to come, WWE is starting to look up.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know your RAW thoughts in the comments below.
Follow me on Twitter: @adamwrestleview