Last night the first episode of the new RAW aired and the show was on point. It had much less talk and much more wrestling. It seems like the WWE’s taking notes from NXT’s success. First episode –so far, so good! Let’s talk RAW!
Giving out opportunities in this manner made the whole match card last night feel like a tournament. There was something special in the air.
It was obvious that with that line-up, the final would be between Roman Reigns and Finn Balor. Yet, the atmosphere of the show itself made even the announcement of the participants exciting.
The WWE Universal Championship? That’s one terrible name, if you ask me. Then again, I can see why the WWE didn’t want to go back to World Heavyweight title. The name is associated with a second rate status.
Finn Balor def. Rusev, Cesaro & Kevin Owens
The show couldn’t have started better. The match was given enough time to develop and the wrestling was impeccable.
The one man that stood out for me was, once again, Rusev. He was involved in all turning points of the match. He was either creating them, or saving the match, or even, in the end, losing it.
Having Finn Balor pin the best man in the ring was a huge sign of trust. Good things are in store for Balor.
Nia Jax def. Grit Baker
This was Nia’s introduction to the main roster audience. She had to show off her monster heel potential, so she needed to make an example out of her opponent. That’s why the WWE didn’t give her a recognizable opponent. It would have been too much of a blow to the other person.
Nia is a game changer. The WWE simply doesn’t have another woman like her. It will be interesting to shake things up a bit with a larger competitor.
Roman Reigns def. Sami Zayn, Sheamus & Chris Jericho
I personally preferred the first Fatal-4-Way but this one was good, as well. Zayn was the man here. He finally got proper Ole Ole Ole chants. The Blue Thunder Bomb on Reigns got the biggest pop of the match.
Jericho, trying to pull of the spear on Reigns was hilarious. Roman, actually hitting it, was realistic and yet not that exciting. His connection with the fans has been damaged so badly that I’m starting to wonder if it can ever be repaired.
OK, so the New Day are ignoring completely the Wyatt Family feud. Xavier Woods’ fall to Bray Wyatt is going to be looked over, so the New Day will stay together. That’s one good news. The other is that Bootyo’s are finally a thing in real life. I wonder what took them so long. This thing will sell.
The Sunny Boy segment wasn’t that funny. It missed the mark. Yet, Gallows and Anderson fixed everything. The way they destroyed the New Day tells us that these two are finally turning into what they should have been from the very beginning. Their potential as true, brutal heels is too big to be wasted on comedy sketches.
Neville def. Axel
This match wasn’t that exciting. Neville still feels somewhere close to the lower part of the midcard. He doesn’t have the same level of prestige as he did on NXT. The Red Arrows is as beautiful as always though.
I’m not sold on Neville’s new look. He looks as if he forgot to shave. Then again, I guess I’ll just get used to it. If I got used to Sheamus’ mohawk, I can get used to anything.
As for Axel’s Mr Irrelevant gimmick, I don’t know whether it’s funny or just so true that it’s sad.
Sasha Banks def. Charlotte
That was one brilliant women’s match. I had the feeling I was watching NXT TakeOver when it actually was only a regular RAW. That’s a huge achievement for the brand. If this is the quality the New Era is going to give us, I’m all in.
Sasha was very emotional when she won. The YOU DESERVE IT chants were absolutely appropriate. Charlotte had a lengthy reign, establishing herself as the top heel of the division. Passing the torch on to Sasha at such a crucial moment, makes Sasha the top face of the same division.
Braun Strowman def. James Elsworth
Braun Strowman is getting over the break-up with the Wyatts with a new haircut. I like it. I almost didn’t recognize Strowman at first.
He got a more drastic version of the Nia Jax treatment. Basically, he was booked to squash an unknown opponent to show dominance. That just can’t fail.
Reestablishing Strowman as a monster heel is a good thought. However, in the long-term future, I can only see him becoming the next Khali.
Enzo & Cass def. The Shining Stars
Enzo and Cass are popular and entertaining, that’s not new. I thought that putting the Shining Stars against such an attention-grabbing team is a good thing, as long as Primo and Epico don’t lose too quickly. After all, the Shining Stars haven’t had almost any exposure, due to their stupid gimmick and this would give them some.
R-Truth and his Pokemon Go cost Primo and Epico the match. This will probably start a ridiculous lower card feud. This will be the comedy relief of the show.
Enzo and Cass can do better. Hopefully, they’ll get more exciting matches not far down the line. They barely got the opportunity to wrestle here.
Finn Balor def. Roman Reigns
Great ending to a great show! It was mind-boggling to see Roman Reigns still, trying to be a face here. As soon as Balor’s entrance music hit, I found myself eagerly awaiting the moment when Finn would outwrestle Roman in a truly humbling way.
I wasn’t disappointed. Balor had counters for all of Reigns’ big moves. That Spring Blade counter to the Spear was outstanding. Finn came on top in the end, setting up a dream match – Rollins vs. Balor at a PPV for a brand new title. This will be one for the ages!
I felt bad for Roman Reigns though. He was unbeatable and then he suddenly was booked to lose two huge matches in two consecutive nights. He might have fallen out of favor with the important people in the company, after all.
What are your impressions from RAW? Share your thoughts in the comment section, on FB or Twitter!