The biggest question about tonight’s episode, the first one to follow a Raw-branded pay-per-view (PPV) is - will anyone be watching?
While WWE shoots in Cincinnati, they’ll face their usual Fall competition in the form of a hot regional rivalry between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football. But they’ll also be head-to-head with a predicted ratings juggernaught when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump take the stage on Long Island.
Did Clash of Champions create enough intrigue to hang with those heavyweights?
I don’t know if this will be the top story on WWE.com’s preview (my deadline was before theirs was released), but based on the fact he opened and closed last week’s episode, was the only person to capture a title from an existing champ in Indianapolis and received a special shout-out from the company’s strategic partner ESPN... I’m guessing new United States champ Roman Reigns is officially a big deal again.
While I imagine Rusev has an official rematch clause we’ll get to at some point, he and Roman have been feuding for a couple months now. Reigns’ Clash win felt more like the end of a program than a step along the way.
This new phase as the Big Dog’s career as king of the mid-card will be praised by some and bemoaned by others. For the detractors who are willing to look at it with a critical eye, the issue isn’t “Roman sucks”, it’s that WWE seems content with letting him be John Cena 2.0. That means good matches tainted by predictable finishes, and dueling fan reaction reinforced by very little character development.
Will they take some risks with “The Guy”, or be content to move the needle with a combination of audience hate and love? How they proceed with his new championship run should give us some indication.
The Title Scene
A top title is both a kayfabe and shoot accomplishment, so unless a belt like the WWE Universal title is around Vince Russo’s waist, we shouldn’t dismiss it entirely. But it’s hard not to be a little cynical about Kevin Owens reign. He won the belt thanks to Triple H and retained it with booking that would make Russo himself proud. With it looking more and more like Seth Rollins will be pushed as a conquering hero soon, how will KO stand out for the greater WWE Universe? With the Architect feud destined to continue and still no answers from Hunter, KO and best friend Chris Jericho (himself familiar with being marginalized while wearing the top belt) have their work cut out for them.
As Kofi Kingston said last night - bad news, negative Nancys. The New Day are going to continue to break records as Tag Team champs. They’re not breaking up. And when their run ends, it doesn’t look like it will be Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows who do it.
There’s some chaos swirling around Women’s titleholder Charlotte, but at last night’s show, it all worked in her favor. Her bullying of Dana Brooke resulted in beneficial interference for once, and Sasha Banks and Bayley’s competitive natures overwhelmed their friendship. With her latest genetically superior performance, the Nature Girl successfully defended her belt - and will resume looking for reasons not to defend, just like dear old dad.
Main roster fans met Cruiserweight champ TJ Perkins for the first time at Clash, and they were reminded of what a $#!+ Brian Kendrick can be when he used a post-match hug as an opening to attack after Perkins beat him. Expect more from them, and hopefully some more crowd-pleasing action from the rest of the division, in Cincy.
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- After seven-plus matches over two months, things still aren’t settled between Cesaro and Sheamus after their winner-take-all match seven ended in a no contest. Provided neither man is legitimately hurt (which would be kind of a miracle), we should learn what Plan B is for settling their issues and determining who gets General Manager Mick Foley’s “championship opportunity” tonight.
- It took a little more work than usual, but Nia Jax’s undefeated streak continues after once again taking care of Alicia Fox.
- Before he came to his friend’s aid in the main event, Y2J continued Sami Zayn’s run of crappy luck since beating KO at Battleground. The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla also still has beef with Foley... and a list of stupid idiots.
- Several of whom didn’t even get on the PPV card, like the monster Braun Strowman, the motor-mouthed tag team of Enzo Amore & Big Cass (or their vacation property schilling rivals, the Shining Stars), Jinder Mahal, Neville and probably some other folks I’m forgetting because, hey, they’re never on television.
- Rumors point to folks like Luke Harper, Emma and Paige returning to TV soon. Will that happen on a Monday night? This particular Monday night?
It’s the fallout show from Clash of Champions!
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?