WWE RAW Review
August 9, 2016
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
Well that certainly didn’t take long. I figured it would be at least a month before we got an episode of RAW that was just plain terrible, but it only took three weeks. After last week’s episode, which Adam Martin described as “lackluster,” I hoped they would come back with an offering that had some punch to it. This isn’t just a random time of the year. This is the buildup to the second biggest show of the year so there should be some concerted effort to have as good of a show as possible every week. Maybe this was the best they could do, but I was hoping they would up their game for at least a bit instead of going back to the “same old, same old.” That said, it wasn’t all bad. There were some good moments on this show, so let’s talk about it.
Success with Roman Reigns… Finally!
This is about as surprising as it gets. After two solid years of trying everything they could think of to get Roman Reigns over as the top guy in the company with limited to no real success whatsoever, they’ve finally found a formula that has worked in back to back weeks. How did they do it? Instead of giving him an awful, convoluted storyline against The Authority and exposing him with atrociously long talking segments, they’ve gone back to one of the simplest storylines in professional wrestling: xenophobia. It almost always works and for the last two weeks, it has. Rusev and Lana are just perfect in these roles. They’re both such great foils. Rusev in particular has really mastered the over the top mannerisms of a classic heel tough guy. It’s really just a lot of fun to watch.
Last night, they were out to brag about their wedding. They had everything from Rusev wearing a vest with no shirt underneath to them walking down the aisle to “Canon in D” to the cake in the ring, which right away signals shenanigans. They went on for a bit showing their wedding photos and insulting the Anaheim crowd. Did this part of the segment go a little too long? Sure, but what else is new? That’s the curse of the three-hour show. Even when a segment is really good, it’s always blatantly obvious that it would have been even better if they could’ve shaved even five minutes off it. Still, even though it started to drag, it made Roman Reigns’ pop coming out that much bigger. Reigns was good here. He got a big reaction coming out until the crowd remembered that they’ve sworn a blood oath to hate him and then started booing him. Reigns wanted to be Rusev’s best man and make a speech, but Rusev declined. That led to Reigns challenging him to a match, which was also declined. Reigns then insisted on the speech and got some really good zingers in on Rusev and his new bride. It worked really well, particularly the line about Lana being a mail order bride. Finally they came to blows and Lana wound up with a face full of cake. It was a simple, but glorious angle. As I espoused a few times while recapping Smackdown Live last Tuesday, simple works.
Mediocre build for Seth Rollins and Finn Bálor at SummerSlam
There has been way too much talking and not enough action in the build for Rollins/Bálor match for the newly created (and poorly named) WWE Universal Championship. Other than the first week where Bálor won that mini-tournament to get the shot against Rollins, there has been nothing exciting about this. Last week, they were both in the ring and Rollins basically browbeat Bálor until getting kicked in the face. This week… more talking. Rollins laid an egg in the ring with a promo segment that went way too long. Rollins spent half the time making jokes before trying to get serious, but the damage was done. It went way too long. Later in the night, they had Bálor in a pre-taped promo talking about his namesakes before promising to have The Demon on RAW next week.
Simply put, this just isn’t good. They should be doing with Finn Bálor what they’re doing with Braun Strowman. Ok, maybe not exactly that, but he should be having some showcase matches so they can start conditioning the crowd to his big spots. It’s true that there is a niche part of the audience that watched him on NXT and on the independent scene so they know all about him, but the rest of the viewing audience (even those with WWE Network subscriptions that don’t watch NXT every week) really aren’t familiar with him, even though admittedly I believe the mix of hardcore and casual fans has been skewed more to the hardcore side these past few years. They need to be establishing his big spots right now while also building up the title match. He should be having competitive matches every week against a credible name on the roster. Instead, they’ve had him just stand there like everyone else on the roster and wait his turn to speak while being verbally attacked. Can it be saved with The Demon thing next week? Sure, but this program so far has left kind of a bad taste in my mouth.
Oh yeah, Daniel Bryan was on RAW… any reason why?
Ok, so three weeks in on this brand extension and other than the first week, there has been brand crossover every week since. Last week, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar invaded both shows. This week we have Daniel Bryan on RAW. For the life of me, thinking back on the segment last night, I really don’t see what the point was of having him on the show. I get that they’re trying to establish a rivalry between RAW and Smackdown Live, but there has to be better ways to do it than this. At the end of the day, what they tried to do was so unremarkable that I struggled to remember what it was that they did. Foley basically called him to RAW to get angry at him for making fun of the WWE Universal Championship’s name on “Talking Smack,” a show I bet barely anyone in the crowd watched to begin with.
Somehow it led to Rusev coming out and threatening Daniel Bryan, which brought out Cesaro, who had wrestled and defeated Sheamus earlier in the night for the second straight week. Foley, after some goading from Bryan, booked Cesaro and Rusev in a match for the United States Championship to start right now. The only problem was this match started at 11:01 PM EST, so they were already in overrun territory, which means the match had to be rushed. They still got nearly ten minutes, but I was just stunned at the poor time management. To top it all off, this had all the makings of a title switch, which was something this show really could have used to inject some excitement and make you feel good about sitting through it for three hours, but instead Sheamus cost Cesaro the match, so we’ll be getting a third match in less than a month with these two. Both matches were really good, but three times is a little much. Reigns speared Rusev on the floor to cap off the show.
It’s always a really smart idea to kick the show off with Enzo and Big Cass. The crowd loves them and it definitely works. It’s not a good idea to put Enzo in a match against Chris Jericho that goes too long. They just didn’t mesh well together at all. Still, Enzo’s promo leading up to this was great as usual.
I’m really enjoying the Braun Strowman squash matches. I know a lot of people think that squash matches have no place in 2016, but to me it’s better than watching Golden Truth vs. Shining Stars on an infinite loop.
I totally forgot Puff Daddy was on the show until I just saw the mini-segment in my recap. Um, yeah.
Darren Young and Titus O’Neil seem like they’re going to have a never-ending feud that does nothing for either guy. The best part of the rivalry? Mr. Bob Backlund.
It’s getting really sad to watch The Dudley Boyz perform in the ring. Both guys are way past their prime and seem to just be collecting a paycheck to me. Neville’s return has been the definition of lackluster and Sin Cara… well, what is there to say about him? That gimmick is so dead. I can’t believe they’re still going with it. I was hoping he’d turn on Neville so at least there was a point to that. Sin Cara and Kalisto just broke up. The last thing he needs is a new tag team.
They did a really nice job with the video hyping up the Brock Lesnar/Randy Orton match at SummerSlam. Lesnar was really awesome with some of the lines he delivered about Orton.
God – what is the obsession with putting Dana Brooke in the ring every week? Also, what is their obsession with having babyfaces suggest really stupid things? Sasha Banks volunteered the idea of a handicap match at SummerSlam rather than just saying Dana should be banned from ringside. How does that make any sense? Foley then booked a match where if Sasha lost, it would be a handicap match and is she won, Dana was banned. This just wasn’t good. It was a collection of awkward moves and mistimed spots. Dana is so not ready it’s not even funny. You got to love the announcers talking about how she improves every week. What show are they watching?
I got a real kick out of the Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows segment poking fun at Big E’s testicles being injured on last week’s RAW. It was probably one of the best segments on the show. The follow-up match with Gallows and Kofi Kingston was what it was.
If this were simply two-hours long containing the Reigns/Rusev/Lana segment and the US Title main event, this would have been a decent to good show. As usual, three-hours proves to be just way too much and it really was a chore to get through last night’s offering. I can only imagine how terrible things are going to get as we fast approach the fall and winter seasons when the show annually takes a nosedive. They need to really pick it up next week.
Bump of the Night: Cesaro’s suicide dive on Sheamus!
Match of the Night: Cesaro vs. Sheamus **
Final Rating: **
Well those are my thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know by commenting or using one of the other two options to get in contact with me.
Please check out my live recap of RAW every Monday at 8 PM EST.
Thanks for reading!
Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE Monday Night RAW for Wrestleview.com.