By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Raw emanated from the Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA. I am a proud ATLien who is not ashamed to admit that the hometown crowd tends to lack energy at times. Some fans think they are watching the opera or ballet which kills the overall vibe of the show. However, Raw was a pretty damn good show last week and that positive energy could easily translate in Atlanta to keep the hot streak going. Or did it flame out like an ember erasing all the goodwill the red brand’s creative team built? The answer to this pressing question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.
· What the hell is growing on Chris Jericho’s face?
· It was refreshing to see Sasha Banks and Charlotte kick off Raw. They threw a few verbal barbs at each other that made the crowd ooh and ah, but things got weird when Jericho and Enzo Amore got involved. Enzo is always golden on the microphone and tonight was no different. Jericho was pompous and annoying as usual. I just felt that the segment went too long until Mick Foley came out to book a mixed tag team match between Charlotte and Jericho vs. Enzo and Banks. Besides that minor hiccup, I thought it was a good way to start the show.
· Quick Tip to Sasha Banks: I love her to pieces, but she needs to improve on enunciating her words. Banks has a slight case of mush mouth where certain phrases are jumbled which messes up the cadence in her promos. It will leave a crowd deader than dead if she keeps this up in a live setting. I am guilty of having a slight stutter when it comes to talking too fast. Nerves is the usual culprit, but it can be corrected with practice. Maybe Enzo can give her some tips so she can be a complete boss in the verbalization department as well.
· I am not a huge fan of seeing a newly crowned champion pinned so quickly during his or her title reign, but Banks gets the out due to Dana Brooke interfering on Charlotte’s behalf. Banks and Charlotte traded a couple of rollups which kept the match alive until Banks lost her focus and slapped Jericho which allowed Charlotte to nail Sasha with a kick to the leg from behind followed by Natural Selection to pick up the win. The match was decent while it lasted, but everyone was holding back a bit which is understandable.
· Big Cass came out to save Enzo from Jericho which plays into a storyline that took place between the two of them a few months ago. Cass was supposed to face Jericho on an episode of Raw, but it never happened. Therefore, logic was used to play into their quasi feud which is a miracle. If not, it’s pure happenstance. Either way, I am glad that small detail was acknowledged.
· Dear, sweet Evan...At least he can take comfort in the fact that he made $1,000 in one minute by getting destroyed at the hands of Braun Stroman. It’s noble and idiotic at the same time.
· Stroman and his ponytail...No comment.
· Mark Henry is fighting his demotion until the bitter end. I admire his passion. He is totally going to fail in his quest to win the United States Championship from Rusev, but it’s the effort that counts. Right? Right?!?
· The Shining Stars win and no one cares. Literally.
· This Pokémon Go gag involving the Golden Truth is getting on my nerves now. I know they are playing it for laughs, but I am not seeing the humor in it at all. They are a joke tag team who will continue being perceived as such until they take themselves more seriously. This sophomoric crap is not going to carry over into the tag team title scene if the creative team vaults them into that position in the immediate future. I like both men as individuals, but their talent is being wasted by doing silly stuff like this.
· Seth Rollins gets instant heel brownie points by saying that the Atlanta Braves suck. He’s not lying. No amount of tomahawking is going to change that. For now, at least.
· Finn Balor and Seth Rollins had a nice promo exchange to kick off the second hour of the show. Balor held his own on the mic while Rollins was at his wormy best. When Balor vows to kick someone’s ass, he sounds so proper and classy. Rollins got a quick demonstration of that when Balor countered his sneak attack with a series of kicks followed by a Pele Kick to shoo Rollins away.
· I am looking forward to seeing Rollins later tonight as he faces Sami Zayn. If they are given enough time, that match should be great.
· The Redemption of Roman Reigns is in full effect. Reigns is temporarily out of the main event scene, but that doesn’t mean he’s shut out of the upper card as he embarks on a feud against Rusev. If WWE wants Reigns to get unanimous cheers, this is the way to do it. If both men can cut loose, they should have one hell of a fight. A down and dirty brawl at SummerSlam can definitely help both guys. If fans still want to boo Reigns, so be it. I am going to enjoy myself nonetheless. I am sucker for smash mouth wrestling. Plus, the United States Championship needs some much needed shine. It’s a win-win.
· Titus O’Neil is a shady Florida Gator by questioning Darren Young’s greatness. He has a valid point, though...
· Titus, Titus, Titus. He pulled Young’s tights to pick up the tainted win. I am shocked. If they are trying to re-create the Young-O’Neil feud from a few years ago, I hope it is not a giant pile of suck this time around.
· Mick Foley using draft board strategy to explain why Cesaro and Sheamus were drafted so low a couple of weeks ago made complete sense. Cesaro’s bum shoulder would be a major cause for concern when it comes to positioning him as a top tier talent if he’s susceptible to injury. Sheamus has been stale for quite some time and he needs to find something to get him back on track. Therefore, Foley booked them in a match against each other with the winner receiving a title shot in the near future. That seems fair enough. And it makes SENSE. WWE using logic twice in one night is a little jarring.
· Thanks for coming, Ariel Monroe! Nia Jax claims another victim. Short and sweet.
· The sexual double entendre of the banana and the ball shaped nectarines by The New Day was positively filthy, yet nutritious at the same time.
· The New Day might have won the match, but Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows won the war by kicking their asses. Big E. got nailed with two Boots of Doom. Xavier Woods tried to make the save, but he got his head kicked off as well. Figuratively, of course.
· To add insult to injury, The Club pulled Big E’s legs and rammed his family jewels into the ring post to end the segment. Anderson and Gallows sent a message that they are after the tag team titles. The New Day can’t joke their way out of this one. It’s time for the two- time tag team champs to take their opponents seriously for a change.
· Cesaro is in line for a title shot by defeating Sheamus in an entertaining match. They were slotted in the 10:00 p.m. lull period of death, but Cesaro and Sheamus managed to wake the crowd up down the stretch. Here’s hoping that Cesaro can build on this win. More importantly, let’s hope that the Celtic Warrior can find a meaningful sense of direction as well. He’s been swimming in mid-card hell for a few years now. It’s mainly due to injuries, but Sheamus has not been able to recapture what made him special in 2011 and 2012. He needs to find that fire and set it ablaze for the world to see. He has it in him. Some semblance of creative direction wouldn’t hurt him either.
· It looks like Heath Slater is trying to reform 3MB by recruiting Jinder Mahal.
· So much for the reformation of 2MB. Mahal’s Employment > Mahal’s Friendship with Slater. It’s basic mathematics.
· Y2J and Kevin Owens teaming up to take on Big Cass and Enzo sounds like a summertime treat. The buildup leading up to their presumed match at SummerSlam should be fun.
· I would personally like to thank Sami Zayn and Seth Rollins for waking up the sleepy Atlanta crowd. Their match kicked into second gear after the commercial break. Zayn had a couple of hope spots, but the outcome was never really in question. Rollins picked up the win with a pedigree to build momentum towards SummerSlam. Simple, but effective.
· Oh my damn...Randy Orton hit Brock Lesnar with an RKO out of nowhere.
· Paul Heyman was great as he talked about how Lesnar was going to beat Orton’s ass at SummerSlam and drag him to Suplex City in the process. I figured that he was laying it on a bit too thick as Orton had an answer for The Beast right away. It was a great moment that sent fans into an absolute frenzy inside Philips Arena. Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley came out to diffuse the situation, but Orton already ran into the crowd to soak in the moment shirtless as Raw went off the air.
· This was a hot way to end the show and one can only assume that Lesnar will be paying a visit to SmackDown Live! in the very near future to cash in his receipt on Orton with an F5. Let the games begin, ladies and gentleman!
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was decent at best. There were a few moments that captured the crowd’s attention, but the biggest area of concern is the lower mid-card scene. The crowd was dead for a few segments because some wrestlers are cold as ice. They need to be revamped in order for fans to invest in the action unfolding in the ring. Otherwise, I thought the show didn’t fall off the rails for the most part. WWE scored big check marks with Rollins-Balor, Reigns-Rusev, and Lesnar-Orton. These feuds have been doused with some hot sauce which will only get even hotter in the weeks to come. The secondary titles have been spotlighted in a meaningful way as well. This is shaping up to be a stacked SummerSlam card and WWE is playing with house money if they don’t screw things up. Raw is not going to be a blockbuster show every week. If they mix in enough good segments to placate fans, the boring stuff will be negated. They need a long-term fix to ensure that these three hour shows won’t drag, but I get the feeling that the Cruiserweight Division will fill that void in due time. Fingers crossed!
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!