WWE RAW Review
August 2, 2016
By: Adam Martin of Wrestleview.com
With the WWE Draft now in full motion (at least in regards to WWE television), Monday was another opportunity for WWE to continue what they are dubbing the “New Era” for RAW.
While I’m fully aware you can’t have the same level of matches week in and week out, I was left with a staggering reminder of what had been frustrating me with WWE’s TV product.
Outside of a solid ending to the closing segment with Brock Lesnar and a pretty good match between Seth Rollins and Sami Zayn, WWE put forth a rather lackluster effort for the second week of this so called “New Era.”
RKO out of no where on The Beast of the Brocktagon
I for one was certainly interested to see the presentation of Brock Lesnar in his first WWE appearance since WrestleMania 32. Even though Brock has been off WWE television for nearly four months, he remained in the spotlight making his return to the world of MMA at UFC 200 back in July with a successful win over ranked UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt.
The spotlight continued for Lesnar post-UFC 200 and not in a good way. Lesnar was flagged twice by USADA for both out-of-competition and in-competition drug test failures for the anti-estrogen agent hydroxy-clomiphene, a drug commonly used when getting off a steroid cycle. WWE revealed Lesnar would not be suspended by the company classifying him as a part-time performer to which the “talent wellness program does not apply.”
It’s not exactly the best press for WWE even if the actual talent wellness bylines states as such for part-time performers like Lesnar. A wellness program that was introduced within the company back in 2006 following the sudden death of Eddie Guerrero (an enlarged heart due to anabolic steroid abuse) had good intentions to make a genuine effort to clean up the locker room. Evidently the good will that WWE projected a decade ago may not truly be the case when it comes to special attractions like Brock Lesnar.
Regardless of Lesnar’s out of the ring practices, we have a match to build with Randy Orton in a few weeks at SummerSlam and I actually would like to praise WWE on putting together on hell of a segment and build throughout the entire three hour show. Paul Heyman at this point is a pretty vital component to the presentation of Lesnar and his near over-the-top shouting in the general direction of Randy Orton lead to a very exciting climax with Orton showing up to execute an RKO out of no where moment. The commentators letting the sound of the ringside area take over was well done and more so with Stephanie McMahon being heard audibly blaming Shane McMahon on this stunt. It creates a possible response for Smackdown Live on Tuesday night and in the weeks leading up to SummerSlam. WWE planted a great seed last Tuesday night with Orton’s RKO vs. Lesnar’s Suplex City. I hope to see more of it in the coming weeks.
Rollins and Zayn show off the new roster potential
It was refreshing to see Sami Zayn in the ring with someone other than Kevin Owens (not that I’m down on the series of matches Zayn and Owens had). Seth Rollins had a great exchange with Finn Balor earlier in the night to hype the match at SummerSlam to crown the first ever WWE Universal Champion. Zayn is just a really well executed underdog character in WWE and could prove to be an essential part of the roster in the years to come. Zayn is managing to put together a string of really good matches in recent months and is proving he can work with just about anyone.
Enzo Amore as a solo act
We got a small taste on Monday night of what a solo Enzo Amore act could look like and it looks promising. You can tell WWE was paying attention to the reaction he got at Battleground and used tonight as another testing ground having him mix it up with Chris Jericho, Charlotte and Sasha Banks. Speaking of Banks, she seemed very nervous on the microphone in front of the Atlanta crowd. Hopefully that improves. Charlotte can be over do the facial expressions at times, but worked good here. Chris Jericho is clearly having a lot of fun with his character right now.
* These Braun Strowman squash matches have been really well done the last two weeks.
* Corey Graves snuck in a fun line referring to The Shining Stars as a legitimate tag team over Golden Truth.
* I like the potential of a “one last run” Mark Henry. It’s too bad if that is all we get.
* Roman Reigns working with Rusev has potential. Don’t forget John Cena wanted and defended that same title.
* Not sure what to make of Darren Young and Bob Backlund. It doesn’t seem to have an end game right now.
* Nia Jax is going to need some more character development soon. Squash match format works for now.
* Great call to put The New Day with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson right now.
* Cesaro and Sheamus need some direction, badly.
* Jinder Mahal is back. Given the market of available talent, that one is a head scratcher.
Outside of a really good ending, this was a pretty lackluster follow up to the big “New Era” debut last week. You can tell they are trying new things with production and making a genuine effort to switch up the style of the TV presentation, but you have to make things interesting. WWE has the talent. It just seems like we are back to having a major direction issue with creative. Maybe more emerges for the better post-SummerSlam. Or maybe my expectations were too high.
Let me know what you thought of RAW in the comments below.