Welcome to the most must-see Vulture Hound weekly review in history; welcome to… The Raw Review.
Right off the back of WWE Backlash, the first SmackDown Live pay-per-view of the post-brand split New Era, Raw rocks up to show who’s Daddy. But the “Flagship” falls a little short on this week’s episode. Live from Baltimore, Maryland, Raw presents a huge main event that could throw the hardcore fan base into disrepute. That’s right, he’s back.
The flagship of the New Era begins, yet another week in a row, with our General Manger Mick Foley in the centre of the ring. He congratulates Becky Lynch on her win, but insists that Raw offers the “premier” array of Women’s wrestling in the industry today.
To advance this discussion, Charlotte and Dana Brooke join Foley in the ring. Charlotte belittles her protégé Dana, for costing her the win in her match against Bayley last week. Sasha Banks looks to settle the score at ‘Clash of Champions’, but Bayley deservedly inserts herself into the mix. Adjudicator Foley is influenced by Brooke to pit Bayley, Sasha and Brooke herself in a number-one-contendership match for the title, and the future of Charlotte’s “friendship” and “mentorship” of Dana are in question, after the Champ cops an open-handed slap to the face.
As Charlotte joins the commentary table, Dana Brooke is immediately strong. Sasha’s taped ribs do not hinder her signature mobility. In a back-and-forth bout, tensions are high between the former “Plain Janes” and co-parts of the best match in NXT of 2015. With the second three-man Superplex in a women’s match in 24 hours, women’s wrestling is red-hot. Sasha peels Bayley from Dana and swiftly rolls her up for the pin. Although it looked a little like a double-pin? Never mind.
In a backstage segment, Dana resubmits to the will of Charlotte. For how much longer will Brooke tolerate her imperious mentor?
And here we are, sitting in on a holiday advisory session with the travel agents the Shining Stars and client R-Truth. Before “Little Jimmy” can properly make his return, Goldust pulls his naïve friend away, and Enzo and Cass enter the frame to address some unfinished business with Primo and Epico.
Tom Phillips stands awkwardly short against The Universal Champion Kevin Owens. Owens officially recognises the tutelage of Triple H, but don’t let this detract from his own drive. Jericho isn’t happy, as his talent Owens is pulled from the returning Highlight Reel. He will instead be joined by Sami Zayn, who Jericho sets out to reveal as a “Stupid Idi-IT”, never change Jericho. “Fillipe” puts on a brave face, as we head back to the action.
Bo Dallas drops some scathing rhymes about self-determination and dissatisfaction with the powers that be. The fans cheer for Brandon Scott, but it is in vain. A continuation from last week’s squash, Dallas is edging towards his former vitality, winning in a matter of minutes and in dominant fashion. Incredibly ironic given circumstances behind the scenes, but once again, there is reason to Bo-lieve.
Y2J rocks douchebag double-leather and his black scarf. “Jericho is a Journalist of the highest order,” claims Corey Graves, a blessing to the WWE announce team. “I don’t know how much lower you can get than Underground.” Please welcome, Sami Zayn.
Jericho calls out Zayn as the obstructer of Owens’ success, something Vince Russo might contradict. Zayn isn’t having any of Jericho’s jokes, and rejects the idea that Kevin Owens is the genuine friend Jericho identifies with. He brings historical context to the table, tales of the inspirational cruiserweights of the WWE, before relegating him to the status of “Kevin’s bitch.” Jericho attacks Zayn and scowls and smirks his way backstage. Zayn vs Jericho is later announced as a match at ‘Clash of Champions’.
The Best of Seven Series continues, and looks to go the distance, as Cesaro picks up another win. Great use of the online realm, to demonstrate Cesaro getting on the board at a London live show. Cesaro uses the ropes to secure the roll-up pin, and Sheamus is enraged. Two incredibly underrated athletes, gridlocked in the mid-card.
Mick Foley promotes his Network show ‘Holy Foley’ in the background, as Rollins seeks justice. He wants all distractions eliminated in the pursuit of the Title, and doubts Roman Reigns as an equal match to his cause. He tests Mick’s integrity as he supports Stephanie, and Mick is incredibly irritated. Or vulnerable. This new Seth is intriguing.
Nia Jax is finally humanised as we’re reminded of that cringe worthy backstage segment with Alicia Fox the week past. Tom Phillips finally looks a reasonable height next to Jax, who promises to “beat the crap” out of Fox. But Foxxy is rabid, and refuses to lie down easy. Jax is raw power. I can’t recall a time when a woman has speared another woman through the ringside barricade. Fox is attended to by medics. The crowd approves.
The New Day put a spin on the ‘shoey’, as Big E shares Booty-O’s from his ring boots with the audience. Don’t ask questions. Woods urges that entertainment belongs solely to the New Day, and I have to double-check that he hasn’t always held the mic like Sandow. He assures us that Gallows and Anderson’s Old Day segment has been destroyed forever, thank God.
In a SummerSlam rematch, Gallows and Anderson take on Kofi and Woods in a non-title tag match that is fairly solid. Xavier proves that he is criminally underutilised as a wrestler, but falls victim to the Magic Killer. Gallows and Anderson exhibit some veteran workmanship, but neither team presents as a real threat. In a tag team division that is saturated by corny gimmicks and shticks, it might be time for a kick up the booty-O.
Phillips is backstage with Roman, and gives a quick nod to ass-kickin’. Is it believable? Eh.
Jinder Mahal has trekked the Himalayas and stayed in the monasteries to find “Inner peace”. His absence since his peak in NXT, followed by a stint in Slater’s 3MB, is explained as a journey of realisation to the power of the “Shanti”. Cue Jack Swagger, the ultimate Patriot. On the day after 9/11, you can’t really argue with that mentality. But what is this? Jinder Mahal picks up the win with a swift drag and a 3 count. Namaste USA. Phillips reminds us backstage that Jack Swagger’s contract with WWE is soon to expire, to which Swagger responds with a heavy puffing and a blank stare. I’m tired too Jack, I’m tired too.
How You Doin’? Apparently Enzo isn’t fairing so well. One thing is certain – the WWE Universe remains slave to his gospel words. Epico holds Enzo in a vertical suplex for what feels like a third of RAW. Byron can’t help but draw attention to the “scrappy unpolished style” of Amore. Primo assists Epico, pinning Enzo’s ankles from the outside, allowing the Shining Stars their second win in consecutive weeks against Enzo and Cass.
Seems there wasn’t enough time for a Braun Strowman’s squash match. So instead, we’ll weave a brooding video package in with an advertisement for Devour Frozen Meals. “Devouring the Competition”. Marketing at its finest.
Seth Rollins is noble, yet piqued. He wishes Owens good luck, and hopes that their match set for Clash of Champions will be remain one-on-one. Rollins is far from jealous; instead he has grown tired of the ways of the Authority. Owens throws shade on Rollins as a slithering opportunist, reminding him that it wasn’t long ago that he himself was in Triple H’s pocket. Only now, their NXT father figure has supposedly “seen the light”, and realised Owens as the better investment of the two. Rollins looks forward to ripping into H’s new “golden Boy’, almost in spite of his former self. But Foley loves the spotlight tonight, laying down the law with a simmering Rollins.
Roman Reigns enters. Shoots smouldering glance round the rafters. Flips his permanently wet hair. Exudes power and resilience to a chorus of boos and the odd female shriek. It’s an omen of seemingly old times. “You’re the guy? That’s nice.” Owens snarky wit and guides the character of the match. Owens wants to, as Corey says, “silence the doubters”, as the Kevin Owens show rolls on.
But Rollins swerves us all, and that mischievous shrug momentarily returns to cause a DQ in the favour of Owens. Foley is irate, and calls the match be recommenced. Owens counters a Superplex into an amazing Fisherman’s Suplex from the middle rope, quickly followed by a Frog Splash. He mocks Reigns before a failed Cannonball attempt. After a Superman Punch, angst rages through the arena.
That is, until Rusev makes his return, causing the distraction and giving Owens the opportunity to finish with a Pop-Up Power bomb. Ya Boi Ru-Ru is back, baby, and he means business.
Michael Cole decides to close this week’s RAW with “Rusev crush”. I’ll forgive him, it’s great to see him back and in such dominant fashion. The Universal Title match remains as is at the conclusion of RAW, and Reigns drops back into the US title picture.
That was RAW this week, see you again next week!