Monday, August 8, 2016

The Raw Exposé: The Roman Reigns is The Best Man from Hell Edition (8-8-2016)

By: Keila Cash 

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. SummerSlam is two weeks away and we have already witnessed the inter-promotional feud between Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton spill over into the other’s respective show. RKOs and F5s were dished out in rapid succession. What kind of madness can we expect to raise the stakes even higher? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.

·         The opening segment of Raw featured Enzo Amore and Big Cass dropping references to Sublime’s “Santeria,” Mike Trout, The Anaheim Angels (Who are now representing Los Angeles), Science projects involving Bunsen Burners, Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, AC/DC, and Sesame Street. Enzo always makes the nonsensical seem understandable in a weird way.

·         Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens came out to do some trashing talking which involved a lot of empty threats and deflections when it came to both men challenging Big Cass to a match.  Eventually, Jericho decided to take on Enzo because he thinks Enzo is an easy beat. Enzo agreed and the match officially got underway after the commercial break.

·         This was a fun way to start the show. The verbal jousting between all four men was very good and the crowd laughed at some of the one-liners which really made the segment a success. Plus, it didn’t drag for over 20 minutes. It was quick and to the point. No complaints.

·         Jericho and Enzo had a solid match that featured nice back and forth action. Enzo had a nearfall with a cross body press from the top rope, but Jericho managed to kick out at two and a half. Owens grabbed Enzo’s ankle which caused the distraction Jericho needed to nail him with a Codebreaker moments later. Big Cass got in the ring and dropped Jericho with a big boot which caused to the referee to ring the bell and award the tainted victory to Y2J via disqualification.

·         After the match was over, Big Cass and Enzo challenged Owens and Jericho to a match at SummerSlam. Owens accepted and promised an ass kicking as a homecoming gift for the native New Yorkers. Their match should be a lot of fun. One more week of quality promos from both teams should put their feud over the top leading up to the biggest party of the summer.

·         Poor Jorel Nelson…He is scared to death. Literally. He had nothing to say. At least Nelson got a formal ring introduction with generic theme music to boot.

·         Braun Stroman claims another victim. Short and painless.

·         Darren Young pulled Titus O’Neil’s tights to pick up the cheap win. I guess turnabout is fair play.

·         Seth Rollins cut a good, but slightly long in the tooth promo about how he is not intimidated by Finn Bálor and vows to beat him at SummerSlam to become the new WWE Universal Champion. Rollins is not an ordinary man and he was offended by Balor’s ignorance and arrogance when The Demon accused him of having the title shot handed to him instead of earning his shot. Rollins defied medical science by coming back in record time from his knee injury. He continues to act like a brave babyface who comes off as a complete jerk to balance things out. It’s a weird dynamic that is not completely working because fans want to cheer him, but the booking of his character is leaving most fans cold instead of giving him the heat he needs to get over as a believable heel. Therefore, the bulk of his promos don’t light the world on fire because he’s too damn likable to be completely hated. Hopefully, he can strike the right chord and completely click as a heel that people are openly rooting against instead of it being the other way around.

·         Cesaro and Sheamus had another good match that was even better than the one from last week which was slotted in the 10:00 p.m. Lull Period of Death. There were a few near falls that made me audibly gasp because I thought that this match would be bogged down by 50/50 booking. However, that was not the case as Sheamus bumped into the referee and had Cesaro pinned for a three count, but the ref was holding the side of his head in pain. Sheamus tried get the ref’s attention which allowed Cesaro to cradle him for the win. Let’s hope that The Swiss Superman did enough to earn a title shot in the very near future.

·         UFC WWE Countdown: Brock Lesnar vs. Orton was so damn good. That is how you hype a PPV match. Using footage from their days in Ohio Valley Wrestling was a nice touch. Lesnar does his best shit talking during sit down interviews and Heyman adding in his two cents makes everything that much better. I am expecting one more confrontation between The Beast and The Viper next week if the meeting involving Mick Foley and Daniel Bryan goes south later tonight.

·         Neville deserves a gold medal for waking up the crowd with his showmanship and athletic prowess. The Red Arrow remains a thing of beauty. The tag team match between Neville and Sin Cara vs. The Dudley Boys was serviceable. It was nothing special outside of Neville doing his thing in the ring.

·         I can safely say that Roman Reigns saved the reenactment of Rusev and Lana’s wedding. Reigns was loose during his promo and had FUN. He cracked few jokes and relished being the Best Man from Hell. I knew those beautiful cakes wouldn’t survive as Lana was knocked face first into the center cake. It was a glorious sight and a great way to end the segment. I guess Rusev has no choice but to accept Reigns’ challenge for his United States Championship at SummerSlam. It is the American thing to do even though he’s from Bulgaria.

·         Charlotte will go into SummerSlam without Dana Brooke as her insurance policy to help her regain the Women’s Championship from Sasha Banks. I think that’s fair. The rematch should be great if they are given enough time to shine in the ring.

·         The pre-taped response from Finn Bálor was pretty good. I will say that WWE could have zeroed in on Balor’s career instead of going the mystical route when it comes to the origin of his name. It gave me Game of Thrones vibes, but I needed a bit more context in order for me to truly invest in the Bálor-Rollins feud. The match should be good, but I like solid storytelling to put an exclamation point on things when it comes to hype and excitement.

·         It appears that Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows are on a ball hunting expedition. They already took care of Big E’s and they are looking forward to collecting Kofi Kingston’s for further examination. Creepy. The testicle puns were not lost on me. It was very ballsy of The Club to do a public service announcement discussing how Ringpostitis is plaguing the tag team scene in WWE. It was so informative.

·         The Club continues to look impressive as Gallows defeated Kofi Kingston in short order.

·         Xavier Woods just saved Kingston’s nether regions from suffering a severe case of Ringpostitis. The world can breathe a sigh of relief.

·         Rusev vs. Cesaro for the United States Championship was a nice impromptu match that featured hard hitting action and a nice nod to continuity from earlier in the show. Cesaro was seconds away from winning the U.S. Title when he had Rusev locked in the Sharp Shooter. Sheamus came out to interfere only for Cesaro to knock him down from the ring apron. This allowed Rusev to capitalize with a Superkick, but Cesaro was able to kick out at two. Cesaro managed to hit the Gotch Neutralizer on Rusev, but he accidently bumped heads with the referee which prevented him from winning the championship when he had the chance. Sheamus interfered once again as he kicked Cesaro in the face which allowed Rusev to poke him in the eye and drop him with a second Superkick to retain the U.S. Title.

·         WWE did a good job of teasing a title change, but it wasn’t meant to be. Sheamus continues to be a pest who is trying to put the screws to Cesaro and it worked. Since Cesaro is up 2-0 in the series, I fully expect to see them face off against each other again at SummerSlam to finish this feud once and for all. If Cesaro can make it a clean sweep, Sheamus will be left completely demoralized. That might be a good thing as his character needs a revamp.

·         As for Rusev, he was greeted with a Spear from Roman Reigns as Raw went off the air. Reigns and Rusev should have one hell of a fight at SummerSlam for the U.S. Championship. Rusev is facing a legit opponent and Reigns needs to tap into his inner Samoan Badass. This could be quite the slobber knocker. Plus, the U.S. Title will be elevated in a meaningful way for the first time since John Cena held the belt last year. As I said last week, it’s a win-win situation.

·         Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw was decent. The in-ring action was so-so, but WWE is doing a nice job fleshing out the SummerSlam card. It’s stacked from top to bottom and it should be a great PPV.

·         Cesaro wins Star of the Night honors for being involved in two good matches that helped carry the show. Sheamus and Rusev also deserve credit because they brought it in the ring as well.

·         The lower mid-card scene remains shallow and I will keep repeating this fact until something changes. The three hour format exposes this weakness and it’s not going to get any better until the Cruiserweight Division is established on Raw. The waiting game continues.

·         Raw will have their first crack at producing a quality go-home show for SummerSlam next week as the show emanates from Corpus Christi, Texas. Brock Lesnar will be there with Paul Heyman advocating on his behalf. Will Randy Orton hit Lesnar with another RKO from out of nowhere? We shall see…

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 a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls! 

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