WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Sept. 5, 2016) from Kansas City, Missouri and it was all about setting up the top matches at the upcoming Clash of Champions pay-per-view (PPV) scheduled for later this month in Richmond, Virginia.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
The plot, it thickens
The only thing that got much of an audible reaction on this show was the hot fire opening segment that featured no trust, a lot of yelling, and very little resolution.
Just the way we like our stories around here.
Here's why this is good so far: Last week created nothing but questions and this week shouldn't have been about getting answers to those questions but rather, the proper people bothering to actually ask them. Thankfully, that's what they gave us. Mick Foley, the guy who still believes in Santa Clause because he just has such a big ol' heart, wants to think Stephanie McMahon isn't utterly full of shit but kind of knows she is. Steph, for her part, is just convincing enough as an actor to make you think she might not be full of shit but literally everything that's ever happened ever tells us the opposite. Seth Rollins is appropriately pissed and demanding answers on just how the hell she could have ever let this happen. And Kevin Owens is reluctantly giving a tip of the cap to Triple H while not really caring all that much about how it happened just that it did and he's the new champion of the universe.
Stephanie's attempted suspension of Rollins may or may not be a point worth revisiting, considering it was used as way for Foley to earn some babyface points by booking a match (and maybe works anyway because she just can't handle anyone not backing down to her authority). Either way, this sure looked like a turn for Rollins -- he was widely cheered as the hero who was wronged in all this -- while maintaining Foley's innocence, casting doubt on Stephanie, and leaving nothing but a cloud of mystery surrounding Triple H, who never showed his face at all.
We even got some great comedy when they got backstage and Chris Jericho wanted it known they couldn't treat his buddy Owens this way because "he's the longest reigning Universal champion in history."
That's just good stuff.
For his trouble, Jericho got a match with Rollins that he lost and featured plenty of great back-and-forth between the two. Owens, meanwhile, had to wrestle Sami Zayn in the main event, which was noteworthy for what it represented but not much else. The match was good, don't get me wrong, but the crowd was burned and didn't much care about something they knew wasn't going anywhere. Sure enough, Zayn was dispatched and quickly pushed aside once again (even this works, because it will fit nicely into a later story as needed).
Roman Reigns finally made his presence felt when he showed up just after Owens' victory. He didn't do anything, instead standing there while Jericho rushed out to assist his friend and, somehow, this led to Foley booking Reigns vs. Owens next week in a non-title match with the added stipulation that if Reigns wins, the Clash of Champions match booked earlier in the night pitting Owens vs. Rollins for the Universal title will become a triple threat.
That's a pet peeve of mine -- beating the champion to get a shot at the champion never feels right to me, but whatever -- but it's just minor enough not to matter. The main event stuff on this show was very good.
Not what you do
Well, this was stupid.
Sasha Banks is a great wrestler who has delivered plenty of great matches while participating in her fair share of entertaining angles to build to those matches. This was a bad way to get to a rematch that is, admittedly enough, necessary for the larger story it appears they're telling but not all that interesting at its face.
For starters, it was clear from the jump a swerve was coming. Banks is a 24-year-old woman who may have a history of injuries but certainly nothing that would make any viewer think she might actually have been showing up to surprise us with a retirement. We've seen it before, sure, but in wrestlers who had spent many years beating their bodies up and were old enough to make it believable.
When Mark Henry did this promo we bought it because his career has been winding down for what's felt like forever and he's at an age where it makes sense that he walks away. There was none of that here.
Furthermore, the so-called reality era hurt this segment because Banks couldn't manage to muster any actual tears when we've seen her cry many, many times in various other pro wrestling related situations. It felt contrived from the very moment they promoted her tweet on-screen.
That's without mentioning how cheesy it was. Sasha went to all that trouble to convince us she was emotionally devastated after going to the doctors and receiving bad news but the big swerve was the bad news was for Charlotte because she's exercising her rematch clause at Clash of Champions. Henry used his fake retirement as a way to work himself into a title match because he had never won the WWE championship in his career and he needed a shot at it. Banks had this match coming no matter what she did.
Again I say: This was stupid.
All the best to all the rest
Upgrades: Nia Jax and Braun Strowman have moved up from showing at Aldi for their jobbers to shopping at Wal-Mart. They even gave them stories! Alicia Fox got her friend a gig, then got pissed and accidentally hit Nia in the face. I literally fear for her safety at this point. Meanwhile, Sin Cara wanted to fight Strowman because he took off a luchador's mask last week and that's disrespectful to his culture. One thing I'll say about the brand split is it absolutely feels like more wrestlers are getting more stories, even when they're getting matches that go all of 90 seconds.
Fight forever: I'm now convinced there was some mix up in a production meeting and Vince McMahon believes the "fight forever" phrase was coined for Darren Young and Titus O'Neil and he feels obliged to honor it. Even with that being the case, Jinder Mahal managed to lose on Raw.
Old Day: The less said about this the better.
Bayley wins: It sure sounded like Bayley was over in front of a crowd that didn't seem to care all that much about a lot of what was offered on this night. She beat Charlotte, which gives her a big win over the women's champion and sets her up as the obvious next in line after Clash of Champions and creates natural conflict for her and Sasha Banks no matter the outcome. This also led to some great stuff backstage with Charlotte screaming at a pleading and remorseful Dana Brooke before slapping the taste out of her mouth.
Bo Train: We're back to being told to Bolieve, this time with a far more sadistic Bo Dallas. I'm not biting.
Sheamus-3, Cesaro-0: As expected, Sheamus went up 3-0 in the Best-of-7 series against Cesaro by again working the bad back. It may not be the most thrilling stuff now, but it's a good set up for the big comeback, assuming that's the plan. With Cesaro, it wouldn't be a shock if they went to London, Sheamus beat him in 8 seconds, and that was that. The better option is Cesaro gets crafty and finds a way around his weakness, the back injury, long enough to get him healed for the big battle when he manages to tie it up at 3-3 and they trade heavy leather in the deciding contest. That's the ideal, but that's also assuming whatever they do between now and then catches on.
Not so Shining Stars: Not only did they not give up on Primo and Epico just yet, they gave them a victory over Enzo & Big Cass. It seems clear now, if it didn't before, that the latter team are untouchable in the sense that they'll be over no matter the outcome of their matches so they can be beaten and used to help get other teams over. I'm not so sure it's going to work here, and the promo they gave us before the match with Enzo giving birth to a fake baby was the worst they've come up with since they made it the main roster, but I can at least see why they would go this direction.
Final thought: A lot of what happened on this show was set up for what will hopefully be a great payoff later. That means it wasn't all that exciting throughout much of the show.
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