By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. This has been a whirlwind weekend in professional wrestling. We had NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II living up to the hype on Saturday night followed by a super-sized SummerSlam PPV which featured Randy Orton getting busted open the hard way by Brock Lesnar’s sharp elbow and the new WWE Universal Championship generating more heel heat than Roman Reigns on a good night. It was a crazy show that was filled with ups and downs. Sadly, we would experience more downs as Finn Bálor suffered a shoulder injury during his Universal Title match against Seth Rollins last night. WWE broke the news that Bálor would have to relinquish his title which put a damper on things before Raw went on the air. One would have to assume that a tournament of some kind would be used to determine a new champion. Did the company manage to adapt and deliver a good show despite Bálor’s injury or would this depressing news carry over into the rest of the broadcast? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw in no particular order.
· Even with Finn Bálor wearing a damn sling, he still oozes charisma.
· If Seth Rollins was looking for a way to get legitimate heel heat, he finally succeeded by sneaking his way into the WWE Universal Title picture.
· And here comes the parade of Superstars vying for a chance to become the next champ.
· And here comes the raucous boos for Roman Reigns. Reigns holding the red kryptonite championship would totally suit him.
· After Sami Zayn, Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, Enzo & Big Cass, and Roman Reigns made their way to the ring, Mick Foley announced that there would be a serious of matches taking place tonight which will culminate next week with the crowning of a new WWE Universal Champion. Zayn vs. Rollins would kick things off, but Rollins attacked Zayn from behind as the show went to commercial break.
· Considering the circumstances, a two week tourney to determine a new champion is the smart thing to do. It will fill time and the matches should be competitive. It removes the sting of Bálor giving up the title due to injury. Slightly...
· Corey Graves stating that Rollins is so good that he didn’t even have to touch Zayn to hurt him was pretty damn hilarious. Here’s hope that Zayn is selling his right ankle for dramatic effect only. We don’t need another wrestler on the injury list.
· Zayn tried his best, but he came up a little bit short as Rollins defeated him with a Pedigree. The match was very good and I loved how Zayn’s injured ankle played a role in his downfall. Zayn dropping Rollins with a power bomb from the top rope and getting the near fall was the highlight of the match. Zayn is such a believable babyface because you can feel his passion and determination with every move. However, the outcome was never in doubt as Rollins continues his quest towards becoming the new WWE Universal Champion.
· Neville delivering German Suplexes to Kevin Owens never gets older.
· Neville and Owens had a nice match which featured Chris Jericho stirring up trouble at ringside. Neville had a good showing in the ring as he had Owens on the ropes a couple of times, but Owens got the win with an Argentine Neckbreaker to secure his spot in the Fatal Four Way Match.
· The winners of Rusev vs. Big Cass and Roman Reigns vs. Chris Jericho will also move on to the Fatal Four Way match next week. Expect some shenanigans from these bouts later tonight.
· Big E. is serving up a big bowl of Booty-Os to fans as he and the rest of The New Day make their way to the ring. I can taste the positivity from here.
· Big E. successfully made his in-ring return by defeating Karl Anderson. The action was solid as Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods neutralized Luke Gallows at ringside. I will say that Anderson did a great job scouting Big E.’s dive through the ring ropes. He spared us from seeing E. defying gravity and facing certain doom. I think that’s a decent consolation prize despite eating the loss.
· The Dudley Boyz are calling it quits? This is a full circle moment as Bubba Ray and D-Von made their surprise return in Brooklyn last year. The irony is not lost on me. Plus, I can smell a swerve a mile away.
· Titus O’Neal is butchering his promo something fierce.
· This O’Neal segment is dying a slow and agonizing death.
· Bob Backlund almost saved this segment when he locked O’Neal in the Crossface Chickenwing. Emphasis on the word almost. This was hard to watch.
· Well, that was unexpected. Rusev decided to give up his chance to vie for the WWE Universal Championship by getting counted out and giving Big Cass the win. The match was solid while it lasted and it makes sense that Big Cass remains strong in the win-loss column and is slotted in a high profile spot next week. The odds of him winning the championship is slim at best, but he will get some much needed main event experience.
· As for Rusev, I have a feeling that we haven’t seen the last of the United States Champion. Spoiler Alert in full effect.
· It’s Bayley!!! Welcome to Raw!!!
· That was a wonderful surprise and I am glad to see Bayley’s official debut on the main roster. ¾ of the Four Horsewomen have been reunited and that makes me a very happy camper. It’s about damn time.
· Nice win for Bayley as she finished Dana Brooke with the Bayley-to-Belly Suplex. It was a decent match and here’s hoping that Bayley can forge a connection with causal fans who are not familiar with her hugging ways. She is a special talent who should be handled with the utmost care. Fortunately, Triple H is there to guide her through the process and help Vince McMahon see the light on this potential goldmine.
· We now have an official date for the Cruiserweights arrival on Raw. They will debut on September 19th and it appears that Rich Swann, Noam Dar, The Brian Kendrick, and TJ Perkins will be the cornerstones of the division. It’s a solid lineup with TJP being the key acquisition in my opinion. WWE would be wise to show in-depth profiles on the wrestlers each week leading up to their debut. It will give fans a reason to care about their backstories and fully invest in their matches once the division is firmly established.
· Johnny Knockout. Hell of a name. And he likes big, sweaty men. Okay then...
· Braun Stroman claims another victim. He destroyed Johnny Knockout so quick he did it twice. It was a serviceable ass whopping.
· The Shining Stars are interrupting the Dudley Boyz’ farewell? That is not a smart idea.
· That was one hell of a sendoff for The Dudley Boyz. Gallows and Anderson took out Bubba Ray and put D-Von through a table with The Magic Killer. I guess the Dudleys have been written off television. I thought that Bubba was going to turn on D-Von because he has been giving him dirty looks after a series of losses over the past couple of weeks. This was the perfect time to do a heel turn, but I guess the creative team had other plans in mind. If this allows Gallows and Anderson to be taken seriously for a change, I am all for it. The testicle comedy bit has run its course.
· Chris Jericho vs. Roman Reigns was a match that was bizarre for so many reasons. The match was good, but the fans flipped the script by chanting for Jericho and booing Reigns. It was quite the atmosphere. If Jericho wasn’t in the match to balance things out, this could have been a disaster. Kevin Owens tried to return the favor by coming out to help his best friend and he almost succeeded as he kicked Reigns in the face behind the referee’s back which allowed Y2J to nail him with the Codebreaker. Jericho waited a bit too long to make the cover which allowed Reigns to kick out at two. Jericho slapped Reigns across the head a few times which fired Reigns up. A few expletives were bleeped and the match ended when Reigns dropped Jericho with a Spear to pick up the win.
· Reigns actually reveled in the boos and proceeded to celebrate as Raw went off the air.
· The Fatal Four Way is now set as Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Big Cass, and Roman Reigns vie for the WWE Universal Championship. It should be a great match and I am on the fence about who will win. There are a couple of safe picks that would maintain the status quo, but my gutsy pick is currently involved in a feud with Enzo and Big Cass and that must continue for another month or so. Reigns is in a similar situation with Rusev and Big Cass has unfinished business with my unnamed choice. If we complete the process of elimination, Rollins is walking out the championship next week. Perhaps WWE will shock us all and go with Kevin Owens to steer the ship to the Promised Land. We shall find out soon enough.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw was subpar at best. The first hour was strong with Rollins vs. Zayn and Owens vs. Neville delivering the goods in the ring. The second hour fall off a cliff with the horrible Titus O’Neil/Bob Backlund/Darren Young segment, but rebounded nicely with the main roster debut of Bayley and Jericho vs. Reigns during the final hour of the show. If we trim the fat, this would have been a good two hour broadcast. Unfortunately, this is not SmackDown Live! and I don’t expect things to change anytime soon unless WWE answers the clue phone and get rid of that pesky third hour. The money is too good for them to give it up, but that might change if the ratings continue to sag. It’s not going to get any better as the football season is just around the corner.
· I will say that WWE made the best of this situation as they had to book on the fly due to Bálor’s injury. It sucks, but the show must go on. Get well soon, Demon King! *sniff*
On that note, this wraps up another installment of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will back tomorrow night with a brand new edition of the SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!