Welcome to the most must-see Vulture Hound weekly review in history; welcome to… The Raw Review
It’s finally happened. No, the great lord Cthulhu hasn’t come to set us free from this mortal coil. It’s a bit better than that in fact. Raw has actually managed to put on a great show for the first time in what feels like an eternity spent with only your incessantly nagging mum for company. Last nights edition of the longest running-weekly-episodic-pre determined-sporting event since time began treated us to a major step forward in the Seth Rollins babyface turn; a Raw Women’s Title Match as the main event; and most important of all, the real High Priest of the Great Old Ones, Braun Strowman, called out Mick Foley to give him some real competition on next weeks Raw. Much like the song and slogan for Tony Blair’s Labour Party campaign in 1997, ‘Things can only get better’, for Monday Night Raw before ultimately grinding to a halt under a wave of political discourse following the ill-advised decision to have Big Shows retirement match at WrestleMania 33 against Shaquille O’Neal. Come with me as I take you through the highs and the very little lows of last nights Raw.
Getting the worst part out early the show opened with my least favourite US Champion of all time, Roman Reigns, and yes that includes Mr Wrestling. The Samoan boasted about being the United States Champions but not before the restricting Russian, Lana, strutted ringside to interrupt him. Lana attempted to convince Reigns to give Ruru another title shot when the man in question ambushed Reigns. The pair started to fight in the ring before spilling out of the ring like your Dad on his wedding night. After the men had finished their wrangling, Reigns agreed to a rematch with The Bulgarian Brute at Hell in a Cell. This one is starting to get interesting and I really do hope they can pad it out until “the big fight” at Hell in a Cell.
Technically the best match of the night followed the big men when Cruiserweight Champion, TJ Perkins, battled one on one with the captain of the high seas, Brian Kendrick. It was speed versus experience and the speed raced to the early advantage when Perkins hit Kendrick with an onslaught of high flying manoeuvres. The veteran was able to capitalise using his vast experience to demonstrate a rang of heel moves culminating with the Captains Hook which made the Cruiserweight Champ tap out. On the face of things it was an impressive match that was over before it became stale. Yet when you delve into it there’s the realisation that Perkins losing so early into his championship reign via submission could threaten to lower his status and levitate the older Kendrick. Not something I would complain about but ultimately it should be about putting over the younger stars of today.
Braun Strowman could potentially have had his last squash match after beating the unfortunately named Chase Silver. I say unfortunate, he probably chose to have a name like a pornstar. Go ahead, chase your dreams Mr Silver. Sadly, those dreams included beating Strowman and he was no match for the huge man-bear. After the match the Yeti exclaimed down the mic to call out Mic Foley to give him a better opponent next week. Who knows, he could soon find himself chasing his own dreams of devouring mid-card talent like the Golden Truth.
Remember when Darren Young and Titus O’Neil were feuding? It looks like that has become one in a long list of feuds over the years that has been discarded quicker than any of Rybacks merchandise. Titus was back, talking up his brand and even considered becoming his own brand before he went de hombre a hombre with Sami Zayn. As usual Titus demonstrated physical dominance early on but in classic fashion Zayn fought back, before finishing O’Neil off with the Helluva Kick. Now, I don’t know what the company has in stall for either of these two or even Darren Young for that matter but I sure hope there isn’t a Best of Seven Series waiting to happen.
Strangely, in a backstage segment, former Doctors of testicle related humour, Gallows and Anderson gave their word to end all of the hijinks in the tag team division. Ironic as it may be this would a step in the right direction if we’re going to see them on any level close to that of their dominant heel run with the Bullet Club in Japan. And yes, Golden Truth got their stupid prank arses handed to them in no time. At least the Club boys stuck to their promise. After all, if you’re going to get rid of any of the slapstick material from Raw then you are best to start erasing anything R Truth has ever done.
Earlier on in the show we saw a well packaged interview with Seth Rollins. He was smiling, happier and less of a whiny smark than usual. It’s evident that this is the turning point for Seth and we are finally getting the long awaited face turn. In response to this JerichOwens (or Y2KO as I prefer to call them) mocked Rollins and questioned his worth in respects to the title. The pair challenged the New Day to a match and the only downside is that we had to endure Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson talking over the top of our beloved product so they could plug some awful show they have made. Aside from the poorly booked guest commentary team the match itself was oozing with spots – including an over the top rope flip from Xavier Woods. Rollins also made his way out to distract both Owens and his best friend in the whole world, Chris Jericho. This resulted in the New Day picking up the win and poor Jericho suffering a Pedigree as big Kev ran away with his Universal Championship tucked between his legs.
The fastest paced match of the night was between Cruiserweights, Rich Swann and Tony Nese. Both men displayed an impressive array of wrestling styles which could see either one of them successfully challenge for the Cruiserweight Championship in the future. In the end it was the more powerful of the two, Tony Nese, that picked up the win after slamming Swann with a Pump-Handle Driver. The only thing that is letting the Cruiserweight Division down is the crowds lack of response to these incredibly entertaining matches. Big ol’ Vinnie Mac has clearly worked so hard over the years making wrestling more about what goes on backstage that the wider audience wouldn’t know real talent when hits them in the face; presumably from a suicide dive through the ropes. Only time will tell if bringing back the ‘Cruisers’ was the smart move.
SheaCesaro continued their controversial tag team run with a squash match against two people who’s names aren’t worth the word count. It’s an interest one, as a mismatch tag team is something we have seen before in Kane and Daniel Bryan as part of Team Hell No. They reached very successful levels of popularity so if this one is booked right Sheamus and Cesaro could potentially be the men to finally dethrone the New Day. Oh, they won their match by the way. I felt that was so obvious it almost should have gone without saying.
The nights main event saw a Sasha Banks take on Charlotte for the Raw Women’s Championship. It was a giant leap forward for the Women’s Division as both women put on an incredible match worthy of a PPV main event. Charlotte’s heel persona shone through as she persistently targeted the weak back of her opponent. Bank’s resilient nature was a great way to counteract as she repeatedly took beating after beating before writhing into a counter attack. The pair exchanged blows and then suddenly Sasha took her chance and locked Charlotte into The Bank Statement and forced her to tap making Sasha Banks the WWE Raw Women’s Champion as the end of an extraordinary night in Los Angeles.