It feels like déjà vu because this week’s Raw ended with Sasha Banks winning the Raw Women’s Title from Charlotte for the third time in four months. In addition to that match, the Universal Champion Kevin Owens faced off with Roman Reigns with neither man’s title on the line.
The Charlotte title defense was set up when Banks challenged her for the title during last week’s show. Charlotte said let’s wait a week because Raw was in Charlotte, North Carolina this week, which is where Charlotte grew up. As most wrestling fans know, Charlotte is Flair country because that’s where her dad Ric Flair really made a name for herself.
Charlotte’s match with Banks started in the second hour of Raw. They brawled on the floor for much of it, so the referee ended it as a double count-out. Charlotte was happy about it while Banks was frustrated. That’s when Raw General Manager Mick Foley showed up to announce they would wrestle again later in the show in a Falls Count Anywhere match, which is rare for two women’s wrestlers.
The Falls Count Anywhere match was the main event of the show. Remember when it was a big deal when women would main event Raw? Back on Oct. 3 in Los Angeles, they made a big deal about that. Now it just feels like a regular thing after that show, plus the Hell in a Cell main event with these two women. That’s good progress that WWE should be applauded for.
What I liked about this match is that it felt like more of a fight than some of their other matches. Since it was Falls Count Anywhere, they went out to the floor where Banks got her hands on a kendo stick and nailed Charlotte with some wicked shots to the back that left a mark. It really helped to build up the intensity of the match with the crowd into everything they were doing.
— WWE (@WWE) November 29, 2016
A big spot took place as they fought up the ramp. They went over to the Raw announce table where Charlotte knocked down Banks. Charlotte stood on top of the table and hit a perfect moonsault that knocked down Banks. It was about the same height as jumping off the top rope, but with only the floor there, it was risky in terms of the landing. The crowd reacted to it as a big move because it was such a unique spot that only a talented athlete like Charlotte could pull off.
They went back to the ringside area as the fight continued. When it spilled into the crowd again, Banks gained the advantage thanks to some knee strikes. She trapped Charlotte in between a railing in one of the first few rows. That led to Banks applying the Bank Statement submission using the railing as an assist and Charlotte was forced to tap out.
The win meant that Banks is now a three-time Raw Women’s Champion. It was her third time winning the title on Raw in the last four months.
After the match was over, the legendary Ric Flair went to the ring to raise the hand of Banks as a way of putting her over in front of the crowd which loved him more than any other fanbase in the world. If you’ll recall, Charlotte ripped her dad a few months ago to write him off TV. It was a cheap way to get her a lot of heat and it worked. Having Flair “endorse” Banks is great for Banks too.
Here’s a recap of the Raw Women’s Title in the last four months:
** Sasha Banks won the title from Charlotte on the July 25 episode of Raw, which was the first Raw after the brand split.
** Charlotte won the title back at SummerSlam on Aug. 21.
** Banks won the title back on Raw in Los Angeles on Oct. 3 and they were in the main event of that show.
** Charlotte won it back at Hell in a Cell in Banks’ hometown of Boston on Oct. 30. That was also a Hell in a Cell match and the first time two women were the main event of a WWE PPV. That result was very surprising.
** Then we had this week’s Raw with Banks winning it again in Charlotte’s hometown of Charlotte.
Five title changes in four months. Can a title be that coveted and prestigious if you change the champion that many times? I’m not sure anymore. I just know the matches have been great.
The problem with this feud is that Raw lacks a freshness that it sorely needs. There are WWE fans that may have missed Raw just because they are bored with the show and only read a column like this one to get a recap of it. If they read the results of the show, all they would see is that Banks beat Charlotte for the title again. It feels like a repeat because we’ve seen it so many times before.
In terms of match quality, the feud is very good. It’s probably the best women’s feud in WWE history. I just don’t know if it’s strong enough to win over new fans or get back the fans that may have stopped watching. Believe me, I’m not a hater of this rivalry. I just want Raw to feel different.
You need a good opponent to see how far your limits go…to test yourself.
Iron sharpens iron. I'm coming back for my crown. #Raw
— Charlotte Flair (@MsCharlotteWWE) November 29, 2016
This has been one of the best feuds of the year. If it was me, I wouldn’t book so many title changes, though. They’ll probably have another match at Roadblock on Dec. 18 that could lead to a Charlotte win since she’s undefeated in PPV title matches. Why end that streak there? A title change is probably going to happen again although I’m not sure what they can do to make it different from this match and the Hell in a Cell match.
This Week’s Raw Matches
Braun Strowman defeated R-Truth
The match lasted less than one minute with a running powerslam by Strowman for the easy win.
Post-match, Sami Zayn tried to go after Strowman and was unsuccessful. Mick Foley had to show up to stop him. I think the story will be about Zayn wanting to prove he can beat a guy like Strowman and he keeps falling short.
Tony Nese defeated Cedric Alexander
Nese won after about three minutes, thanks to a distraction from his buddy Drew Gulak. Quick match that only went about three minutes. Alexander is starting a romance angle with Alicia Fox, who flirted with him last week on the pre-show and was shown watching on a monitor backstage on Raw this week. Alexander is an exciting face with a lot of potential.
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks ended in a double countout
They brawled outside the ring to set up the main event, which was already covered.
Enzo Amore defeated Rusev by disqualification
Prior to the match, Enzo made a sexual joke about Lana saying she was thinking of a certified G (Enzo) stuffing her “turkey,” in reference to Thanksgiving. When the match started, Rusev hit a clothesline and then a blatant kick to the groin to end the match in about twenty seconds.
My assumption is that Rusev will end up meeting Big Cass in a singles match at Roadblock to give them something to do. I think WWE has high hopes for Cass, so putting him in a singles match with Rusev will be a nice test to see how he does.
Rich Swann defeated Noam Dar
Swann won a four-minute match, thanks to an impressive spin kick that looked awesome. It was all about giving Swann some momentum. Dar is an OK worker with no gimmick at this point. At least Swann is an energetic face.
Swann faces Cruiserweight Champion Brian Kendrick for the title on the debut of 205 Live, which airs Tuesday night on WWE Network. I think Swann will win the title.
Roman Reigns defeated Kevin Owens to earn a Universal Title shot at Roadblock: End of the Line
The match was set up with the opening promo as Reigns commented on how Owens always needed Jericho’s help to win matches. Owens wanted to prove himself, so agreed to take him on with Reigns getting a title shot if he wins.
The result was obvious as soon as it was announced as a non-title match. Remember when Reigns feuded with Rusev for the US Title? Reigns beat him in a non-title match on Raw before he got a title shot. This match was pretty good with Owens on offense for a lot of it and Reigns making the big comeback for the win. Reigns did his usual spots leading to the predictable win.
This is one of those instances where I felt like a disqualification finish would have been better. It doesn’t make Owens look good to see him get pinned so easily. Have him use a weapon to get disqualified and it would still give Reigns a title shot.
I was surprised that this wasn’t the main event of the show, but I think WWE made the right decision by putting the women on last.
The New Day’s Xavier Woods & Big E defeated Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
They went about 10 minutes with the heels Gallows & Anderson getting a fair bit of offense. The faces got the win after Woods pinned Anderson while grabbing the tights. This happened after Anderson grabbed the tights, so while it was cheating by the face Woods, it was also in retaliation to the cheating attempt by the bad guys. I guess that means it’s acceptable cheating.
The New Day are about two weeks away from breaking Demolition’s longest WWE Tag Team Title reign in history, which is 478 days.
The main event was Banks vs. Charlotte, which I covered already.
Other Key Items From Raw
1. Seth Rollins gets revenge on Chris Jericho
Last week’s Raw ended with Chris Jericho attacking Seth Rollins to help Kevin Owens beat Rollins to retain the Universal Title.
This week, the broadcast opened with Jericho and Owens in the ring with Owens noting that Rollins wasn’t at the show. When a heel says that about a face, he’s usually lying and he was lying in this case.
Jericho got into an argument when Owens said that he didn’t need Jericho’s help to beat Reigns. Jericho ended up leaving. When he got to his car, Rollins was there to pay him back for costing him the Universal Title. It was a fight where Rollins had the advantage for most of it. The fight ended with Rollins giving Jericho a Pedigree on the top of a car.
Since this week’s Raw was a bad night for Owens and Jericho, I assume that they’ll patch things up next week. It could lead to a tag match with the “best friends” Owens and Jericho facing Reigns and Rollins on Raw in the near-future.
I also think that Jericho vs. Rollins will happen at Roadblock on Dec. 18, which is probably going to be a win for Rollins.
2. Paul Heyman cries while talking about Brock Lesnar’s loss at Survivor Series
The show also included an interview with Paul Heyman talking to Michael Cole about his client Brock Lesnar’s loss to Goldberg at Survivor Series. Heyman did a fantastic job in talking about how Lesnar wasn’t prepared for Goldberg. He pointed out that Lesnar suffered broken ribs on the first Spear by Goldberg and it was tough for him to come back from that.
To add to the story, Heyman even had tears in his eyes to put over how upset he was about the loss. He also had some stubble on his face, which wasn’t customary for him. That made him look distraught, which again adds to the story with Heyman selling the idea that Lesnar’s loss has really affected him in a negative way.
This was just a three-minute interview, but it worked so well. Heyman is a terrific actor. I think he’d be very successful as a legitimate television and movie actor as well. He’s a very talented performer.
3. Cesaro and Sheamus had a bar fight bonding experience
There was a scene in a Charlotte, NC area bar where the dysfunctional Sheamus & Cesaro tag team were having drinks. Sheamus was having a beer when Cesaro showed up. They reminisced about their near Tag Title win last week on Raw, how much fun they had at Survivor Series, and mentioned that they don’t have to team together anymore.
However, other people in the bar antagonized them with one guy even burping in Cesaro’s face. It led to Sheamus and Cesaro beating up the others in the bar. At the end of the scene, they toasted each other with Cesaro calling him “partner,” so it looks like they will continue to team.
This was one of those segments that was done to show that maybe the partners who don’t like each other realize they have something special if they work together. They’ll probably win the tag titles from New Day in a few weeks (after New Day breaks the record) or perhaps in early 2017 at some point.
As a side note, a woman in the bar was Tessa Blanchard, who is a good indie women’s wrestler that is Tully Blanchard’s daughter. She’s appeared on NXT a few times, but doesn’t have a WWE deal yet. I think she’ll get a deal within a year or two because she has a lot of talent.
Looking Ahead To Roadblock: End of the Line
The next Raw brand pay-per-view is called “Roadblock: End of the Line.” It takes place on Dec. 18 in Pittsburgh. Only one match has been announced so far:
WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns
I expect Rollins vs. Jericho to take place at that show as well. Perhaps there will be another Banks vs. Charlotte match as well.
This Sunday on WWE Network, there’s the TLC event presented by Smackdown Live. I’ll have a preview for that event later in the week and a review up next Monday.
It was a better show this week because they followed a simple formula of more wrestling and less talking. For the second week in a row, I enjoyed Raw quite a bit.
There are still some things that WWE does which I don’t like, such as having people lose in their hometown (Charlotte, Alexander & R-Truth are from Charlotte, NC) and Owens losing clean non-title bothers me. Those are just things that make me shrug my shoulders about WWE booking because they do it all the time.
I’ll be back later in the week for a preview of WWE TLC with AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose in a TLC match main event.