This week’s Raw took place in Los Angeles with Charlotte defending the Women’s Title against Sasha Banks in the main event match. It’s very rare to see a women’s match in a Raw main event, but these two women deserved the opportunity and they proved it with their performance on Monday night.
I thought WWE did a great job of building up the match all night long. Each woman talked about the match earlier in the show with Banks getting support from her ally Bayley. Charlotte did more of a traditional interview, bragging about how good she is and how much better she is compared to Banks.
There was also a great video package that set up the match with clips of them working together in NXT as allies, then later as rivals and onto the main roster as rivals. Charlotte has been a champion on the main roster for over a year, if you combined the multiple reigns she has had. Banks took the title from her on the July 25 edition of Raw (first Raw of the brand split), but then dropped it back to Charlotte less than a month alter at SummerSlam because WWE thought Banks had a serious back injury.
Since Banks came back to action earlier than expected, WWE felt like they could trust her enough to put the title back on her. That’s what we got here.
Before talking about the match, an important story point is that Dana Brooke got into a verbal altercation with Bayley backstage. Brooke taunted her, but Bayley tossed her into some sort of compartment backstage. Brooke grabbed her knee, so the story was Brooke wasn’t able to help Charlotte cheat to win like she did at Clash of Champions. It should lead to Charlotte delivering a tongue lashing in Brooke’s direction next week.
This match had a similar feel to that match from the July 25 episode of Raw. I felt like they were doing a title change because if they weren’t, then why put them in the main event?
One of the highlights of the match was a twisting moonsault that Charlotte did off the top rope onto Banks on the floor. We have seen Charlotte do the moonsault off the top, which is very impressive on its own. Adding a twist to it makes it more dangerous, yet she pulled it off. The only complaint I have about it is that she was off the mark a bit because she only grazed Banks with her left arm. Perhaps it was Banks that should have been in a better spot. It’s a very minor gripe, believe me.
— WWE (@WWE) October 4, 2016
Banks worked underneath for much of the match, which means she was on the comeback for a lot of it. (See what I did there?) That’s because Banks is the smaller of the two women and it makes a lot of sense to have Charlotte on offense for most of the mat. There were some good near-falls where Charlotte was shocked when she didn’t win with a boot to the face (same move that beat Bayley at Clash of Champions) or the Natural Selection. Then Charlotte kept yelling at her to stay down.
Banks kept on fighting and was able to apply the Bank Statement submission. At first, Charlotte fought it off as she even turned it into a pinfall attempt. Banks was relentless, though. She put on the submission hold again and Charlotte was forced to tap out.
It’s worth nothing that Charlotte is 12-0 in pay-per-view title defenses, yet this is the second time she has lost the Women’s Title to Banks. Both of those losses took place on Raw.
— Im a Seahorse (@SashaBanksWWE) October 4, 2016
I’m not sure what’s next for Banks and Charlotte, but I have an idea. With Hell in a Cell looming as the next pay-per-view on Oct. 30, I think it’s time to make history again with the first-ever women’s match inside Hell in a Cell. It would be a good way to wrap up the rivalry with Banks beating Charlotte to end the feud for now.
Kudos to WWE for giving these two talented women the main event spot on Raw this week. They showed that they are definitely worthy. I feel like that at some point in the next year or two they might headline a pay-per-view event as well.
This Week’s Raw Matches
Here’s a rundown of this week’s matches.
Brian Kendrick defeated T.J. Perkins in a non-title match
Both guys are from California, with Perkins from Los Angeles, which is where Raw took place. The crowd was into this match more than most cruiserweight matches. Perkins came close to winning a few times with near-falls and a near-submission, but Kendrick found a way to break free. He gouged the face of Perkins, then put on the Captain’s Hook submission and won the match after nine minutes.
I write all the time about how much I hate it when WWE books champions to lose non-title matches. It’s the first loss for Perkins, so maybe it doesn’t hurt him much, but I think it’s unnecessary. Anyway, it should lead to another title match between them soon. I doubt Perkins loses the title to Kendrick.
Braun Strowman defeated Chase Silver
It was a typical squash match like we see all the time. After the match, Strowman yelled about how he wants to face some real competition. Congrats to him for being as bored of his squash matches as we are.
Sami Zayn defeated Titus O’Neil
It’s nice to see Zayn on the show after he wasn’t used at all last week. WWE tried to put over some new “Titus Brand” for O’Neil and then had him lose a match in three minutes.
Did you notice that WWE completely dropped the O’Neil feud with Darren Young without any resolution? That’s fine with me, because it was awful. I won’t forget it when it comes to Worst Feud of the Year voting.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson defeated Golden Truth
Easy win for Gallows & Anderson after they lost to New Day several times. Once again, it’s basic storytelling where you build up challengers (or former challengers) by beating people that are barely on the show.
The New Day’s Big E & Xavier Woods defeated Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens
This was a long tag match that went 17 minutes. There was a long stretch where Big E was worked over by the heels and then Woods was. Seth Rollins interrupted. He was a factor when Jericho was ready to make Woods submit. It ended up leading to Big E and Woods hitting a double team move called The Midnight Hour for the win. It was a rare win for champions in a non-title match. It’s refreshing to see that.
Actors Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson were on the show to interact with Jericho and Owens. They had a good backstage segment with some funny lines from all of them. Then they did commentary on this tag match. I thought their announcing work was fine, because they knew a bit about they were talking about. Sometimes celebrities embarrass themselves, but Ashton and Danny handled themselves well.
When the match was over, Rollins dropped Jericho with a Pedigree while Owens had already left. Two weeks ago at Clash of Champions, Jericho cost Rollins the Universal Title, so that was sweet revenge for Rollins.
Tony Nese defeated Rich Swann
Nese was impressive in a loss last week, so WWE brought him back again. He won clean over Swann, who has built up a pretty good connection with the audience already because he’s very charismatic. Nese acted like a bit of an egotistical heel, so it looks like he may get a decent push as a future challenger to Perkins’ title.
Sheamus & Cesaro defeated Lowell White & Mark Carradine
Easy win for Sheamus and Cesaro just like last week with Sheamus and Cesaro arguing a lot. Cool move by Cesaro jumping off Sheamus’ back to hit a DDT onto one of the guys in the corner. Sheamus finished off one of them with a Brogue Kick for the clean win in two minutes.
Sasha Banks defeated Charlotte to win the Raw Women’s Championship
This was covered earlier. It was a different ending to Raw, but also something that WWE should be proud of because they really have used their women superstars better over the last two years.
Three Other Key Items From Raw
1. Roman Reigns and Rusev set up their next big match
Roman Reigns started off the show with a promo talking about his issues with Rusev. That led to Rusev’s wife Lana interrupting and they exchanged insults. Rusev showed up to brawl with Reigns. It looked like Rusev was going to leave with the title, but Reigns nailed him with a Superman Punch on the stage. Reigns challenged him to a US Title rematch at Hell in a Cell in a Hell in a Cell match.
The segment worked in terms of furthering the story. I’m getting sick of their matches, but at least you can say a four-month feud like this deserves to end in a HIAC setting.
2. Rollins is ready for what’s next
Seth Rollins is still dealing with a rib injury from Clash of Champions. He wasn’t in a match on Raw and there is still no word on when he might return, although it should be soon.
There was a sitdown interview with Rollins conducted by Michael Cole. Rollins did a good job of talking about how Kevin Owens was handed the Universal Title and then had to cheat to retain the title at Clash of Champions. He said when he won the WWE Title at WrestleMania 31 he did it on his own, although really if you look back on that, he won the Money in the Bank briefcase thanks to Kane. I guess it doesn’t matter that much.
Rollins also got into a backstage verbal altercation with Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon. They made sure to talk about Triple H a lot with Rollins saying that Hunter’s first mistake was marrying her and his second mistake was picking Owens as his guy. Actually, Triple H marrying Stephanie was the smartest thing he ever did because look at where he is now.
I still think WWE can do more to make Rollins come off as a more likable good guy, but they are on the right track.
3. Owens and Jericho continue to shine as “best friends”
I really liked the promo at the top of hour two with Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho in the ring as they were interrupted by The New Day. It’s pretty clear that Jericho is the one pushing the whole “best friends” idea with Owens while Owens is mostly just using Jericho. They teased the idea of Jericho challenging Owens for the Universal Title at one point as both guys stared at the title, but then Owens went with Jericho’s idea about them going after New Day.
There’s a slow burn to the whole Owens/Jericho friendship falling apart. Even though I’m against doing another triple threat match, since No Mercy has a triple threat main event, they might do Owens vs. Rollins vs. Jericho at Hell in a Cell. It would be Stephanie’s way of makings things difficult for Rollins. Then they can have Owens pin Jericho to further their problems while also protecting Rollins for a future match with Owens.
If I’m right on all that, it just shows that WWE booking is predictable and follows a familiar pattern all the time. I do like the performers, though, so they will make it work.
Looking Ahead To Hell in a Cell
The next Raw brand pay-per-view is Hell in a Cell on Oct. 30 in Boston.
The only match announced so far is Roman Reigns defending the US Title against Rusev in a Hell in a Cell match.
The next Smackdown pay-per-view is No Mercy, which is this Sunday against the second presidential debate and Sunday Night Football. I’ll have a preview up later in the week.
Raw got back on the right track this week by simply focusing on the in-ring product more than anything else. There were a couple of long promo segments, but I thought both of them were good. The highlights of the show included the Women’s Title main event match, as well as the great work of Jericho and Owens all night long.
When Raw is a bad show, it’s very frustrating because there’s so much talent on the roster. Then we get weeks like this where we are reminded of how good things can be if they keep things simple with the booking, limit the amount of time authority figures get and let the performers have meaningful matches.
Congratulations to Sasha Banks and Charlotte on main-eventing Raw. It’s a great rivalry that continues to grow. The “Women’s Revolution” in WWE is very strong right now and one of the best things about the company.