WWE RAW Review
September 20, 2016
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
After having to suffer through two weeks of really lackluster and lazy episodes of Monday Night RAW following, as my friend Adam Martin put it, “One of the best endings to a RAW in years,” WWE finally got back on track with a good showing. This was the go home show for Clash of Champions, and they delivered the interest in a big way. This was a packed show so let’s get to it.
Two good main event matches build interest toward Sunday
The show kicked off with Roman Reigns wanting to address the attack by Rusev, but Stephanie McMahon and then Mick Foley quickly interrupted him. This turned into a really key segment where they built up the main event nicely with the Steel Cage as well as keeping you hooked as Seth Rollins vs. Rusev was out first. They obviously can’t do Cage Matches every week to keep you hooked into watching during football season, but this was really well done. I also liked the continual teasing of an ulterior motive from Stephanie while Foley continues to play the naïve friend.
Rollins/Rusev was actually better than I thought it would be. Rollins is making the transition into being a babyface, a roll he hasn’t really played all that much in his WWE career except for a brief period of time when The Shield turned face in 2014, so I figured it’d be kind of forced when he made his babyface comeback. It wound up being a good match. It wasn’t great and, as I figured, they gave the cheap non-finish since both guys need their momentum heading into Clash of Champions. Still, even though it didn’t have a finish, it had a nice visual of Rollins coming off the commentary table platform with a cross-body on Rusev. That was pretty neat, but no one knew that a few hours later he’d repeat the spot from an even higher position.
The main event was a rematch from last week with Kevin Owens facing Roman Reigns, only this time it was a Steel Cage Match with nothing on the line but pride. This match wasn’t as good as last week, and that’s solely due to the constraints of the Cage Match. It’s hard to build up drama when there’s no blood allowed and it can end a million different ways including just walking through the door. WWE Cage Matches are always wonky in that way. Still, they did their best and their chemistry made it better than it probably should have been. The post-match was much better. After Reigns barely won by escaping the cage, Rusev attacked him and got him in the cage for the 2-on-1 beat down. This is when Rollins finally made the complete transition to babyface. Rollins had a good segment with Stephanie earlier in the night when he hinted about being The Authority’s worst nightmare that set the tone for this turn. Rollins made the big babyface save by climbing to the top of the cage and wiping out the two heels with a cross-body block. It was a great visual.
For Rollins, it’s just too bad they waited this long to turn him heel. They should have struck while the iron was hot when he returned to a huge reception back in May, but they squandered that. Rollins could be an absolutely superstar right now, but they were so gung-ho (and still are) about getting Reigns over as a face despite it not working that Rollins had to go back to being heel. Oh well. Better late than never I suppose.
The Cruiserweight Division kicks off
After a truly wonderful presentation of the Cruiserweight Classic on the WWE Network culminating with the crowning of T.J. Perkins as the new WWE Cruiserweight Champion, a title last held by Hornswoggle (seriously), it was time to debut the Cruiserweight Division on RAW. For as much as people have argued this should have been on Smackdown since that’s the show about giving opportunity and the fact that Daniel Bryan and Mauro Ranallo, both Smackdown guys, called the CWC, I have to admit that I’m happy they’re on RAW. If WWE creative treats it right, this division is another two segments minimum a night that can be filled rather than throwing out pointless matches with Jinder Mahal and Jack Swagger like last week. It fills up the depleted roster out and will help the three-hours pass by just a little quicker.
The debut got off to a shaky start. They had Mick Foley out there to do the big reveal, and he was shaky – and I’m being generous with that description. Foley was losing his place and seemed to start to clam up. Still he recovered and brought out the four competitors for the Fatal Four Way: Gran Metalik, Brian Kendrick, Cedric Alexander, and Rich Swann. Foley then announced this was a Fatal Four Way to determine the #1 Contender for the Cruiserweight Title at the PPV on Sunday.
That’s when things really started to pick up. All four men gave it their all. It was really spotty at times, but it was fun. All four guys established their moves and pulled the crowd that was kind of starting to wander, as they tend to during this show, back into it. The arena crowd has to get to know these new superstars, but once they do, this should wind up being one of the highlights on the show every week. I thought it was a good move to go with Brian Kendrick as the #1 Contender for T.J. Perkins at the PPV. This isn’t Kendrick’s first rodeo under the bright lights, so he’ll be able to help Perkins navigate the match and keep his wits about him while also giving him a good match. Other than the shaky start with Foley, this was a highly successful debut for the Cruiserweight Division.
* I hope now that Braun Strowman has decisively beaten Sin Cara, we can avoid a long series of matches between these two. What is the big picture with Strowman? I don’t see it yet.
* Glad they called attention to the botch of Bayley and Sasha Banks both having their shoulders down. It was embarrassing enough that none of the commentators called it last week. At least they rectified that and made it a triple threat. The tag tonight was pointless other than to establish Charlotte as a threat. I know I’ve said it before, but Dana Brooke doesn’t belong anywhere near a wrestling ring.
* I have no idea what they’re doing with Bo Dallas. It’s so hard to take him seriously. I hope WWE creative isn’t so green that they think they can make him into a serious heel.
* I think I said it last week, but I could watch Sheamus and Cesaro fight on every show. They put out another great match. I just wish they didn’t make it so predictable and evenly distributed the wins. Everyone knows it’s going to go to Match #7, so don’t make the results of the preceding three matches so predictable because everyone knows Cesaro is going to have to win. Still, this is a great series with creative finishes and hard-hitting action. That’s just a minor nitpick.
* I absolutely loved the segment Chris Jericho had backstage with Mick Foley. The List of Jericho segment was also very funny. Jericho is great as the cartoonish, stupid heel. Also glad that 10-man tag didn’t drag on too long.
This was a very good show this week. If you’re a wrestling fan that doesn’t watch football, you didn’t get punished because they figure not a lot of people are watching. WWE put out a stacked show tonight with a lot of PPV implications. If you’re a fan of wrestling, you’d be hard pressed to walk away from this episode disappointed.
Bump of the Night: Seth Rollins’ cross-body block off the cage!
Match of the Night: The Cruiserweight Fatal Four Way ** 1/2
Final Rating: *** 1/4
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.