WWE Raw returned last night (Sept. 12, 2016) from Baltimore, Maryland as they built to the Clash of Champions pay-per-view (PPV) in two weeks time.
To get a play-by-play of the results tonight, you can find them here.
There was a ton going on in the main event picture tonight.
Roman Reigns, who was screwed by Triple H out of a chance to win the Universal title had a scheduled match against Kevin Owens where if he won, he was added to the Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens Universal title match at Clash of Champions.
Meanwhile, Seth and Kevin really can’t stand each other. It got bad enough that Mick Foley ordered that Rollins could not interfere in tonight’s match. Kevin Owens continued to needle the Architect backstage, telling Rollins that he has never won on his own. He’s always had the Shield, Kane, J&J Security, Jon Stewart, and especially Triple H. But now, Trips is in Owens’ corner and Seth is truly on his own.
At SummerSlam, instead of having a United States title match against Rusev, Roman Reigns just beat the ever loving hell out of him.
Tonight, all of the above came into play.
Reigns and Owens had a hell of a match early on, but it looked like it would be a disappointing ending when Rollins, who apparently Owens got to, ran out and attacked the champ, resulting in a disqualification.
This brought out Mick Foley, furious that Seth Rollins ignored his earlier orders. He told Rollins to get in the back and he’d deal with him in a bit. But first, he restarted the match.
Roman and Kevin continued to beat the ever loving hell out of each other as part of a great match. When it looked like Roman may finally be in position to take the thing, Rusev ran out and caused just slight enough of a distraction for KO to hit the Pop Up Powerbomb for the 1-2-3. And like that, Roman was denied a title shot.
But Rusev was out for blood and he beat the crap out of a Roman who had just gone to battle with Kevin Owens.
All these intertwining pieces is much more exciting than just booking a title match and treading water until the match is scheduled to take place. Hell, we still don’t know if there’s going to be any punishment to Rollins that could affect the match, giving us reason to check in next week to find out.
All of this came together very nicely and it surely helps that Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns have some awesome in-ring chemistry.
Back to where we started
Last week, an odd fake retirement speech from Sasha Banks left the Women’s title picture in disarray. It looked like Sasha was getting the next title match (she pretty much said as much), but just earlier the same night, Bayley pinned Charlotte. In WWE land, that’s an automatic title shot.
Meanwhile, Dana Brooke continues to fail Charlotte and Charlotte continues to get more and more frustrated with her protege. Tonight, when Dana was pushed too far, she briefly snapped and slapped Charlotte, though soon regretted it.
Mick Foley decided that the best way to settle things is to wrestle. He booked Bayley, Sasha, and Dana in a match to determine the number one contender. While many probably figured Brooke was put in to take the pin, that’s not what happened. Instead, Sasha pinned Bayley.
Well, actually, it looked like a double pin. But it wasn’t addressed as such so it was probably unintentional.
Sasha pinning Bayley is fine. Bayley was never a character that won all the time. Having this loss to Sasha to be used at a later date could be good. But much of this story feels like they had one plan and then changed it when it turned out Sasha could wrestle sooner than expected. That’s understandable from the business aspect, but it sure makes the overall story feel a bit clunky.
Charlotte’s attitude towards Dana may have been the star of the segment. She clearly can’t stand having her around anymore but at the same time, knows she could still be of use. At the same time, Dana is willing to carry Charlotte’s bags because she knows she’ll flounder on her own. And it’s certainly not time to send Brooke out on her own. Brooke’s strength is character work and Charlotte continues to improve in that regard. Their relationship is quite enjoyable.
As the Sheamus/Cesaro best of seven chugs along, the Swiss Superman’s back is pretty worthless. The Irishman worked it over again tonight and Cesaro wasn’t able to perform any of his big moves due to the lumbar pain. He couldn’t pick up Sheamus for the Neutralizer. He couldn’t pick him up for the Cesaro Swing. He couldn’t even truly lock in the Sharpshooter.
So he did what he had to and rolled up Sheamus and used a foot on the rope for leverage. It’s not like a babyface to cheat, but it does put over how important this series is for both men.
These matches are beginning to all blend together as this rolls along, but Cesaro is selling the back more and more each match, which is psychology that can be appreciated.
All the Rest:
iPhone brutality: Tonight, Jericho wanted to have his best friend Kevin Owens on the Highlight Reel but General Manager Mick Foley put KO in a match instead. So Jericho had to settle for Sami Zayn, who he hates because Zayn is Owens’ enemy. After a fun back and forth, Y2J hit the Underdog from the Underground with his iPhone and a match between the two for Clash of Champions was later announced.
While there’s not much of a story to this, Chris Jericho has been absolutely fantastic as Kevin Owen’s best friend. (In that sense, it makes sense for him to go after KO’s enemy because he loves him so much.) It also gets both men on the Clash of Champions card where they’ll likely have a fun match.
Yeah, we know that segment sucked: New Day came out and blasted the Club for wasting 5 minutes and 37 seconds of everyone’s time with that horrible Old Day segment last week. This was funny stuff. Not much they can do but admit that was a terrible segment and try to transfer that heat from creative to the heels or at least have some laughs about it.
Then New Day lost in a rematch to the Club, where the Club played it a bit more serious. Running a match that we’ll see in two weeks is redundant. It’s possible they are telling the story that maybe it’ll be different with Big E, who wasn’t in the match, instead of Woods. But it really just felt like they ran it because there weren’t any other teams for them to work with before they meet in two weeks.
Shining bright: Last week, the Shining Stars used a handful of tights to defeat Enzo and Cass. This week, Primo held down Enzo’s leg so Epico could pin him to pick up a one on one victory.
I don’t mind this at all. Enzo and Cass are over no matter what. This gives them a chance to continue to perform in front of the fans as the Club and New Day battle over the titles. It also helps build Epico and Primo as a team that’s more legitimate for the Raw brand. Because I can’t honestly name another Raw tag team right now so they need to build one up.
All Hail Nia: Nia Jax moved on from local talent to Alicia Fox last week but the result was the same: Utter domination. She didn’t officially win the match because she speared Foxy through the barricade and the match ended in a no contest. But it was awesome nonetheless.
They continue to book Nia to look like a destroyer and she continues to look impressive doing so. It’ll be an awesome moment when she steps into the ring across from the Women’s champion.
Jinder Unhindered: After weeks of playing enhancement, Jinder Mahal came out preaching peace, though he was still a heel. After weeks of losing, he defeated Jack Swagger. Then backstage, Jack Swagger was interviewed about the fact that his Raw contract is coming up soon.
Even if Jinder and Jack are still going to be lower card talent, it’s still better to give them characters and stories for fans to perhaps attach to.
Believe in Bo: Bo’s new gimmick is an angry rhymer. No jumprope nunchuks necessary to win tonight.
The main event scene is really fun, and it’s nice to see lesser used talent get some stories even if small. But much of this show felt skippable and that’s not great for a three hour product.
What say you, Cagesiders?