by James Toal
Who would’ve thought it, a PPV named after a song from the 50’s actually turned out to be pretty decent overall? Definitely not me for one. Did it have the ability to bring out the best that WWE has to offer? Let’s take a look…
KICK OFF SHOW MATCH: NEVILLE (Winner) VS AKIRA TOZAWA – CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
It’s a shame that this match was put onto the pre-show, Neville always manages to perform to the best to his ability, especially in recent months. Plus, with the added benefit of a hard working Tozawa, this had the makings of an entertaining fight. What may have ultimately ruined the match was the finish with Neville hitting Tozawa right in the little cruiserweights via the top rope, a kick to the gut and boom Neville retained. Normally I’m okay with what heels do to win the match as it makes sense for their character. But this one just felt kind of lame as an ending. In the past, Neville had manhandled the referee to get himself disqualified showing how low he’ll sink in order to keep his belt. This just felt out of character in a way and felt disappointing as an outcome. Hopefully, this is a speed bump and Neville’s title reign continues to be enthralling.
MATCH 1: BRAY WYATT (Winner) VS SETH ROLLINS
I would repeat the word disappointing once again for this match, but that would imply that I had any expectations going into it. What felt like a rushed match just to have something on the PPV came along and finished quickly enough for it to not really amount to anything. That’s not to say that Seth and Bray didn’t perform well, just that the booking for it was quite weak and really something that could’ve been on the pre-show. One notable moment, however, was when Bray actually won. Normally I would’ve been excited and happy for the win “finally making Bray back up his own overly cryptic words” would pop into my head. This all died once you’ve been scorn too many times Bray’s apparent “pushes” so to me this all feels like this will lead to nothing.
MATCH 2: ENZO VS BIG CASS (Winner)
Finally, the PPV started to get better as we had the big confrontation between two former friends and tag partners. The booking going into this match was just excellent. Yes, we’ve had tag teams split up and face each other in the past, it’s a tale as old as wrestling’s birth. Enzo & Cass’s relationship dating back to their NXT days did pack a huge punch when Cass turned on his supposed friend and seeing Enzo pleading for his friend to come back, but getting tossed aside was really effective to make you care about the outcome of the match.
There was the safe assumption that Cass was going to take the win, he can’t lose his first match against Enzo if we really want to take him seriously. So we saw the underdog get obliterated and treated like dirt. Cass took the win and I’m impressed with what I’m seeing from his heel side so far, he seems to have better facial expressions and you want to see Enzo get some offence in on him. Letting this feud build over time will work in its favour as we’ll keep watching to see when Enzo can actually fight back and claim redemption.
MATCH 3: THE HARDY BOYZ VS SHEAMUS & CESARO (Winner) – 30 MIN IRON MAN MATCH – RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS
Well, the heels are at it again as they managed to steal the victory in the last few seconds of the match. I was looking forward to this match as I had the thought in the back of my head, is this going to be the birth of the new Broken Matt? We may have gotten that as Matt acquired a cut above his right eye and blood poured over one-half of his face. But, the main focus of this match was how close the match became towards the last five minutes.Sheamus and Cesaro dominated throughout a large majority of the first half, but as time went on, the Hardy’s crawled there way back to equal scores and the crowd was electrified hoping they would regain their gold. Fate didn’t shine on them as they sadly ran out of time and it looks like this might be the last time we see these two teams face each other, for now. Overall, a really fun match that fuels for heat towards the retaining tag team champs.
Sheamus and Cesaro dominated throughout a large majority of the first half, but as time went on, the Hardy’s crawled there way back to equal scores and the crowd was electrified hoping they would regain their gold. Fate didn’t shine on them as they sadly ran out of time and it looks like this might be the last time we see these two teams face each other, for now. Overall, a really fun match that fuels for heat towards the retaining tag team champs.
MATCH 4: SASHA BANKS VS ALEXA BLISS (Winner) – RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
It’s a shame that this was the only Women’s match on the card, but for what we did get was pretty entertaining. Sasha and Alexa put on a decent match that presented their characters perfectly. Sasha came across as frustrated with Alexa’s heel tactics, whereas Alexa embraced her dark side. She took advantage of her double jointed elbow to fake an injury, only to sucker punch Sasha to catch her off guard.
What astounded me the most was the moment when Alexa retained her championship via letting herself be counted out, and the crowd actually cheered. They cheered a count out?! This happens so rarely when the audience in attendance embraces the character dirty motivations. This has to be a testament to Alexa’s character work because people cannot get enough of her. This wasn’t the end, as the fight went to the ramp and ended when Sasha hit a double knee stomp onto Alexa from the commentary table. This won’t be the last we see of these two fight and I can’t wait to see more of what they have to offer.
MATCH 5: DEAN AMBROSE VS THE MIZ (Winner) – INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Much like the Bray vs Seth match earlier in the night, this one came as quickly as it appeared. I’ll admit I’m sick to death of this feud and would much prefer these two to move onto different things instead of retreading the same ground. Dean and Miz were fine, it was a perfectly serviceable match which was hindered by feeling repetitive and not really bringing anything new to the table. Just let this be the last we see of these two together, they’re genuinely good wrestlers that need to thrive in new situations and right now it all feels like filler.
MATCH 6: ROMAN REIGNS VS BRAUN STROWMAN (Winner) – AMBULANCE MATCH
The question that’s going to make people tune into RAW this week. Has Roman Reigns turned heel? I honestly can’t even say, the number of opportunities for him to turn heel has been astronomical and we’ve not seen anything come of them. Just the same ol’Roman being an inbetweener and not committing to a role. Right now though, there’s a strong possibility it could actually happen. But, like I said, it’s hard to say. The match, however, was downright amazing, the tension built higher and higher as the conflict progressed. Chairs, to steel steps, to destroying LED’s, the match felt way more extreme than anything that happened at Extreme Rules.
A hard hitting, nail biting, and jaw dropping experience that leads us to wonder what the hell is going to happen next. Is Braun a good guy now? How can we hate a guy who just went through a hellish experience like that? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
MAIN EVENT: SAMOA JOE VS BROCK LESNAR (Winner) – UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Oh boy. The term “big fight feel” gets thrown around a lot in modern wrestling. But nothing felt more like a huge momentous battle than the assassin Samoa Joe taking on the beast Brock Lesnar. Before the match had even begun, Joe set the bar high by taking down Brock when his back was turned and slamming him through the commentary table at ringside. If there’s another way to get your attention, then I don’t want to hear it. This is how you make your presence known to the company and to any haters out there.
Even though the match was only around six minutes, it was the perfect amount of time to show everything that was intended. Making Samoa Joe look like a badass, show Brock is cocky enough to pull out the win, and have both men come out looking like the strongest dudes in the company. By gawd, they did one hell of a job. Joe managed to dominate and control Brock throughout the match when Brock did fight back, he looked like a monster. Each strike had so much force behind it and at several points resembled a shoot wrestling match with takedowns and strong grapples. In the end, Samoa Joe succumbed to the F5 and Brock retained his Universal Championship.
Overall, there were a few slumps throughout the night. But when the PPV wanted to hit you with something special, it let you know and you couldn’t look away. If I had to select a match of the night, I’d have to say that the main event absolutely killed it and ended it on a high note. But the match between Roman and Braun comes at a close second and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. To think, this all happened on a name the wrestling internet community mocked and it turned out to be one of the best PPV’s that RAW has produced in recent months.