WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Aug. 22, 2016) from Brooklyn, New York and it was all about figuring out what to do now that Finn Balor is too injured to reign as Universal champion after SummerSlam this past Sunday night. There was also a Brock Lesnar problem but nobody really seemed to care all that much about that.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
Them's the breaks
I'm going to turn you off right away, because you definitely don't agree with this take.
I did not like how they had Finn Balor vacate the Universal championship.
The Demon Sling
The Demon Sling
Look, I get it. You have to put the title over as a big deal while also getting across just how devastating it is that he's suffered and injury that is taking the sweet reward of all his hard work away from him. I get it.
But they treated this like he was being forced to retire. It wasn't that long ago that Daniel Bryan was in the ring with a broken heart struggling to find the right words because his dream was actually taken from him.
He's NEVER coming back.
Balor will be back in six months.
It's something like commentary using the same "tragedy voice" for an angle they would use for a death. You reserve moments like this for when reality hits too hard and you just have to deal with it. A simple injury is not reality hitting too hard. It's the cost of doing business.
It did give us the one thing we always seem to be missing in WWE...
I'm not entirely sure why WWE believes it should grant title opportunities to anyone whose music plays followed by enough loud barking in the general direction of the decision makers, but that's what we got.
Roman Reigns def. Chris Jericho: The main event that delivered in the way it needed to, with the right guy going over. There's more you can do with Reigns with a victory here, and he delivers every time he's asked to in a spot like this. We're clearly headed for Jericho vs. Kevin Owens, and that's just fine.
Big Cass def. Rusev: A weird match that didn't do a whole lot for anyone involved. They clearly didn't want to beat Rusev in any meaningful way but also wanted to get Cass over. The crowd response showed just how successful they were.
Kevin Owens def. Neville: They booked Neville to pull out some of his good stuff but there was never any real question who was going to win and that made it feel relatively pointless, especially when Jericho got involved.
Seth Rollins def. Sami Zayn: The match was good but Zayn did such a great job selling an ankle injury I spent too much time wondering if he was really hurt or if it was part of the story they were telling. It wasn't until Rollins started working it over that it became clear. Still, it was good.
That gives us Reigns vs. Cass vs. Owens vs. Rollins next week for the Universal championship. Sounds good to me!
It sure feels convenient that Sasha Banks just so happened to come down with a back injury that requires time off right when Bayley was coming in to take up for her against Charlotte and Dana Brooke. And she will apparently avoid surgery and be back sooner rather than later, just long enough to make a save after Bayley comes up short in her women's title match.
Or something like that.
Yes, it's great to see Bayley on the main roster, and yes, it looks like the crowd, burned out on wrestling as Brooklyn clearly was at this point, was into her in a big way. But questions linger, and while it looks like they have a course plotted that involves a Bayley vs. Sasha match at WrestleMania next year, you never know if they'll stay that course if it doesn't go well.
The idea of Bayley coming in and immediately winning a match and challenging for the title also seems a bit strange considering the character and what worked to get her over in NXT. That said, they do seem to have a direction and considering the players involved, they get the benefit of the doubt.
You can go hug yourself if you disagree.
All the best to all the rest
Staying or going: Did The Dudley Boyz retire or are they now in a feud with The Club? Do we care either way?
Johnny Knockout: "I love big sweaty men." That's what this man told Byron Saxton when he was asked why he would ever agree to a match with Braun Strowman. You know what's great about that? It's actual story progression? It implies these idiot wrestlers actually watch the show and fully understand what they're getting themselves into, and they're getting increasingly desperate to find people willing to get in there. They had to resort to someone getting off on it this time. Who will agree to it next week and what reason could they possibly have? Don't act like you're not dying to find out. I know I am!
Big E def. Karl Anderson: I had trouble getting into this, and am a bit shocked at how limp it was after they got to the big climax at SummerSlam.
Uh: Did Bob Backlund beat up Titus O'Neil at one point on this show? And then did O'Neil turn it around and beat up Bob Backlund? Did I dream all this?
Final thought: This was fine.
Random grade from Twitter:
@cagesideseats Originally, a C+. But - Bayley though. Let's give the 8/22 RAW a B- and a big thanks.— Jon Wright (@jwright8357) August 23, 2016