There was a big celebration for Kevin Owens as the new Universal Champion on Raw. It wasn’t all fun and games, though, as he had to deal with an angry Seth Rollins and a serious Roman Reigns as well.
The Labor Day edition of Raw was the last 2016 episode of the show that won’t have to face NFL competition on Monday nights. Next week, there’s a NFL doubleheader (go Rams) on ESPN Monday night and then every week after, there’s a game as well. It’s not something new for WWE since they have aired Raw on Mondays for 23 years, but it is new in the sense that they just did this brand split in July and now have to try to retain their audience with only half the roster at their disposal.
This week’s show started off with Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and General Manager Mick Foley bickering backstage “earlier today” about Triple H getting involved last week. Stephanie was adamant that she had no idea why her husband Triple H did it while Foley admitted that he believed her, but if she was lying then she’s a bad person.
Owens had a big in-ring celebration with Stephanie and Mick there to congratulate him. There was a red carpet in the ring, there was a lot of pyro, there were balloons and streamers out there too. It was a big celebration until Seth Rollins showed up. He got right in Stephanie’s face, complained about getting screwed out of the Universal Title and wanted answers. She didn’t really have any answers.
Rollins was so mad at Stephanie that she wanted to suspend him indefinitely, which was pretty ridiculous. It’s a way to make Rollins a more sympathetic figure. Foley stopped it by saying that’s not a way to treat a guy that was screwed out of a title. Foley set up the predictable main event for Clash of Champions on Sept. 25: Owens defending the Universal Title vs. Rollins. Shortly after that, they set up two matches on Raw: Rollins vs. Chris Jericho and Owens vs. long time rival Sami Zayn.
The main event saw Owens take on Zayn. It was a familiar match because they have wrestled so many times in the last eight months, but it’s always a good match. Zayn was on a roll, looking like he might knock off Owens in this non-title matchup until landing on his injured right ankle. The ankle injury is just part of the storyline and he’s not legit hurt. Owens ended up capitalizing on it because Zayn was unable to hit his Helluva Kick finish (due to the ankle injury), so Owens nailed a superkick and then a Powerbomb for the win.
After the match, Roman Reigns showed up after sitting in the back for three hours. He was the recipient of a Triple H Pedigree one week earlier and it took him that long to get out there for revenge? Apparently so. Anyway, Foley showed up to announce the main event for next week’s Raw: Reigns vs. Owens non-title. If Reigns wins, then he gets to be a part of the Clash of Champions main event by making it a triple threat match: Owens vs. Rollins vs. Reigns. If Owens wins, then there’s no title shot for Reigns.
I like that they announced a big main event match for next week’s Raw. With the NFL back, they need to promote things in advance more often than they currently do. I would prefer they keep it as a singles match at Clash of Champions, but with Rusev likely away for the rest of the month (more on that later), WWE may have Reigns win next week because there aren’t a lot of options for him to feud with on the Raw brand. If he loses to Owens, then he’d likely face Chris Jericho in a singles match although they just did the match a couple of weeks ago as Raw’s main event.
It was interesting that there was no Triple H on Raw at all. All week long, most fans were thinking that we would get some kind of promo or explanation from Triple H about how he helped Kevin Owens win the Universal Title last week. Instead, they really didn’t follow up on it except to have Stephanie and Mick say they had nothing to do it.
My guess is that they will have Triple H show up at Clash of Champions, cost Rollins (and maybe Reigns) the match against Owens for the Universal Title once again, and then have Triple H do the promo explaining why he is out to screw over Rollins. Then they could do Rollins vs. Triple H at Hell in a Cell in October. It would make sense, right? I think so.
The main storylines surrounding the Universal Title were pretty good this week. It definitely left me wanting to see more of where this angle is going with Owens and Triple H, so it was effective in that sense.
This Week’s Raw Matches
There were three pretty good matches this week. The rest was mostly forgettable. Here are notes on the matches.
Bayley defeated Charlotte
This was a non-title match. Any time there’s a non-title match for a midcard title, there’s a good chance that the champion is losing. They got about 13 minutes, which is a positive for a women’s match. Sometimes, they get much less than that. Anyway, the finish saw Charlotte lose because she bumped into her “friend” Dana Brooke on the apron and Bayley won with a Bayley to Belly suplex for the win. Did this mean that Bayley gets a title match at Clash of Champions? Apparently not. Great match by the ladies.
Bo Dallas defeated Kyle Roberts
New look for Dallas since he wrestled in a singlet instead of just trunks. He won in about one minute with a spinning neckbreaker. Good to see Dallas used better, although it’s a bit of a surprise since he was kicked off a plane for being too drunk a couple of weeks ago. It doesn’t mean he’s getting a push, but at least a win is good for him.
Seth Rollins defeated Chris Jericho
Rollins worked a bit of a different style this week as a face wrestler. He did a few different moves too. Jericho’s a pure heel that will always get cheers for the opponent, which is similar to what he did with Roman Reigns a couple of weeks ago on Raw. It was great when Rollins locked his hands for the Pedigree, the crowd went wild for it and when Rollins hit it, there was a huge cheer. Rollins is definitely in the face role now.
If you’re wondering, no Turnbuckle Powerbomb from Rollins for the second week in a row. It looks like he is no longer doing that move after that move caused a serious injury to Finn Balor at SummerSlam.
Sheamus defeated Cesaro to lead the Best of 7 Series 3-0
This was a bit of a surprise because I thought Cesaro would get a win to make it 2-1 in the series. Nope. Sheamus worked on the storyline back injury of Cesaro with several moves to the back including four backbreakers and a cool move where he dropped Cesaro back-first into his knees. Then Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick to win after five minutes.
Their fourth match takes place this Wednesday at a live event in London, England. I assume they’ll show highlights of it on WWE.com, YouTube and Facebook as well. It should be a win for Cesaro.
The Shining Stars defeated Enzo Amore & Big Cass
The match was a big surprise because Enzo & Cass are on a much higher level than The Shining Stars. For whatever reason, WWE felt the need to put Primo & Epico over here with a fluke rollup. Perhaps it will lead to a Clash of Champions match with Enzo & Cass getting the win back. I just don’t see The Shining Stars as a team with a lot of credibility. Most fans don’t care about their matches.
Nia Jax defeated Ann Esposito
It was an easy win for Jax like all of her Raw matches so far. Later in the show, she got into an argument with Alicia Fox, who is a friend of Esposito, so it looks like Jax’s first Raw feud will be with Fox. At least there’s some progress for Jax.
Darren Young defeated Jinder Mahal
Just a match to put young over Mahal, who isn’t going to win many matches on Raw. Young had a post match altercation with rival Titus O’Neil with Young getting the upper hand thanks to his aggressiveness. The Young/O’Neil feud has been pretty bad and apparently it’s continuing, which is a bad idea.
Braun Strowman defeated Sin Cara by countout
Strowman has been beating unsigned jobbers since the brand split, so this was the first match against a contracted talent. They went for a countout finish instead of a pinfall likely because they are going to do the match again. After the match, Strowman hit him with a clothesline to the back. Strowman continues to look like a beast.
Kevin Owens defeated Sami Zayn
This was mentioned earlier. I liked the match quite a bit, but their Battleground match in July was a lot better. Good to see a champion win a non-title match.
Three Other Key Items From Raw
1. Sasha Banks did a promo teasing a retirement from a back injury. People on Twitter feared for the worse because of all the sad things that have happened in wrestling in the last few years. Banks tweeted about some “bad news” coming on Raw and WWE promoted it many times throughout the night prior to her promo in the third hour.
It was all a ruse, however, as Dana Brooke came out to try to humiliate Banks. It didn’t work because Banks nailed her with a backstabber and then a Bank Statement submission move. It showed that Banks is back in action, much to the delight of the crowd.
Did I think Banks was retiring? Not really. She’s a young woman with a bright future and there were no reports of the back injury being so serious that she might have to retire. I’m just glad she’s going to be back in the ring soon and is scheduled to face Charlotte for the Women’s Title at Clash of Champions.
2. Bad comedy reared its ugly head again as Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson tried to make fun of The New Day with “The Old Day” trio that were supposed to be three wrestlers that were The New Day from the future. This was an atrocious segment that was one of the worst segments on Raw this year.
Why is WWE booking Gallows & Anderson to be comedy heels when they should be portrayed as badass heels that are there to beat people up? It’s not working at all. This segment didn’t help G&A or The New Day. Did WWE think this was a good idea as a way to build up their Tag Title match at Clash of Champions? It failed miserably.
This is an example of WWE overthinking things. What they should do are the simple things like having one of the teams getting a win, the other team attacking post-match and that builds up a feud in a more believable way. Instead, we get this garbage.
Whoever thought of this segment shouldn’t be allowed to write comedy segments. Also, if Vince McMahon approved the segment like we are to assume that he does every segment, then he needs a reality check on what works in wrestling comedy and what doesn’t. This one failed.
3. WWE aired a video package about Connor’s Cure for Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. A lot of the performers wore Connor’s Cure pins on their jackets as well. I know that Connor’s Cure is a company that WWE started and it’s a way of promoting something that benefits them, but it’s a worthwhile cause too. The video that aired on Raw was very touching. It makes me sad to see what happened to Connor, as well as learning about what other kids are going through. I just wanted to share this video to give WWE kudos for raising awareness for Pediatric Cancer.
Looking Ahead To Clash Of Champions
The next Raw pay-per-view is Clash of Champions on Sept. 25.
WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
WWE Raw Women’s Championship: Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks
WWE Raw Tag Team Championship: The New Day vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
That’s it for now. There may not be a US Title match on the show since Rusev noted that he’s on a 23-day honeymoon with his wife Lana.
— Rusev MACHKA (@RusevBUL) September 6, 2016
That could be a lie, because heels always lie. But for now, I guess we can assume it’s true.
It was a weird show this week. Raw remains a show full of hits in terms of what the talent can do in the ring. But often times, it is hurt by poor booking decisions that do more harm than good. The third hour was so bad up until the main event. It’s a reminder that Raw continues to be hurt by the fact that it’s too long.
This coming Sunday there’s a Smackdown brand pay-per-view called Backlash with AJ Styles challenging Dean Ambrose for the WWE Title. I’ll have a preview up on Friday.