Monday, September 26, 2016

The Raw Exposé: The Raw is Wrestling Edition (9-26-2016)

By: Keila Cash 

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio. The fallout from Clash of Champions was the central theme of the show as only one out of the five titles exclusive to the red brand changed hands last night. Ronan Reigns is sporting US Championship Gold, but would it be a short-lived title reign? The WWE App alerted fans that Reigns would defend his title against Rusev in a championship rematch. Did The Samoan Badass retain his title or did The Bulgarian Brute come out on top? 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.

·         Raw is starting with a match and not a 20-minute promo?!? How refreshing!

·         WWE successfully milked the first 30 minutes of Raw by having Roman Reigns vs. Rusev for the United States Championship kick off the show.

·         Reigns vs. Rusev had a good match that was slow paced as Rusev targeted Reigns’ back for a large chunk of the bout. Things picked up down the stretch as both men traded punches and near falls. The Bulgarian Brute landed a few wicked kicks until Lana tried to interfere on her husband’s behalf. The referee and Reigns did not fall for her trap. The match spilled outside the ring as Reigns knocked Rusev over the barricade with a punch to the face. Both men continued to their fight amongst the crowd and the referee had no choice but to declare the match a double count out.

·         The brawl continued as Rusev and Reigns made their way back to ringside. Rusev gained the upper hand by tossing Reigns into the barricade several times. Reigns recovered and tried to nail Rusev with a flying Superman Punch, but Rusev countered with a steel chair to Reigns’ abdomen.

·         It appeared that Rusev had Reigns dead to rights in the ring, but Reigns nailed Rusev with a spear and sat in the dented chair raising the US Title high above his head.

·         The fans wanted more violence and booed Reigns for sitting in the chair that usually doubles as a weapon. He gave the people want they wanted and nailed Rusev in the back with the chair to close out the opening segment.

·         I find it ironic that some fans boo Reigns unmercifully because he sucks, but have no problem living vicariously through him when it comes to quenching their blood thirst for violence. It’s an interesting dynamic to say the least.

·         Overall, I thought this was a hot way to start the show. WWE is fully aware they are getting killed in the ratings unless the first hour of the show goes against the grain by giving fans a reason to stick with the broadcast during hours two and three instead of flipping the channel to watch Monday Night Football or the first Presidential Debate.

·         Reigns and Rusev did a nice job as they kept the crowd engaged throughout the US Title match. It was methodical in nature as it featured a lot of rest holds, but the action never dragged. One has to assume that both men will have another match at Hell in a Cell next month. Will it take place inside the demonic structure? We shall see.

·         I had a sneaky feeling that the “championship opportunity” for Cesaro and Sheamus would be for the Raw Tag Team Titles. It is completely insane, but it might work. They are both badasses who are capable of elevating the tag team division. Plus, both men won’t suffer unnecessary losses to Reigns or Kevin Owens. I think this is crazy enough to work and it will give this odd couple something meaningful to do. When the time comes for them to turn on each other, the eighth match in their never ending series will have extra meaning. Mick Foley is an evil bearded genius.

·         The New Day successfully defended their Tag Team Championship by defeating Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in a physical and bloody match. Kofi Kingston got busted open which added a little bit of crimson red to the festivities. I actually thought Gallows and Anderson were going to win because the 400th day of The New Day being Tag Team Champs seemed like a good time to pull the trigger on a title change. However, it wasn’t meant to be as The New Day survived The Club’s onslaught when Kingston nailed Anderson with Trouble in Paradise to pick up the win for his team.

·         I guess Anderson and Gallows are heading to the back of the line while Sheamus and Cesaro move up to number one contender status in the Tag Team Title picture.

·         Mick Foley just preached his ass off. He did more to put over the awesomeness of Cesaro and Sheamus in two minutes than the creative team has in two years. That’s saying a lot. It appeared both men were sold on Foley’s speech and will try to give their partnership a try. Fingers crossed!

·         Bayley is wrestling against enhancement talent? Okay…

·         Bayley made quick work of Anna Fields when she picked up the win with a Bayley-to-Belly. Fields showed fire, but she couldn’t hold a candle to The Hugger Extraordinaire.

·         Bayley is on a quest that will hopefully culminate in her winning the Raw Women’s Championship in the very near future. Let’s hope that she doesn’t take the Nia Jax approach and squash opponents with no sense of rhyme or reason.

·         Stephanie McMahon just read Foley the Riot Act for not doing his job as General Manager of Raw. She did a great job being bitchy and vicious, but I hate how she emasculates male and female talent in order to make herself look good. Foley is one infraction away from sitting on his couch if he doesn’t protect Rollins from himself if he interferes during Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel segment featuring Kevin Owens.

·         The second week of the Cruiserweight Division can be considered a success as Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander vs. Drew Gulak and Lince Dorado was a nice match that featured a fair balance of high flying and hard hitting kicks and chops. Plus, the presentation was much better as the ropes were changed from red to purple along with the graphics and lighting. It made the in-ring segment feel different from everything that took place on the show thus far. The fans warmed up to the match as all four men hit their spots effectively in order to get the desired reaction.

·         It would be nice to see their personalities fleshed out a bit more, but I thought this was a much better outing for the Cruiserweights this week.

·         Cesaro and Sheamus picked up the win against the “tantalizing” duo of Nick Cutler and Willis Williams. It wasn’t pretty as Cesaro and Sheamus tried to one-up each other, but Cesaro picked up the win for his team after Sheamus nailed Cutler and Williams with a pair of Brogue Kicks. The partnership is off to a shaky start, but I have faith that they will get through their growing pains. Hopefully…

·         Brian Kendrick had a great line as he told TJ Perkins that the Cruiserweight Championship was resurrected just for him. This is the type of character development the division needs in order for it to thrive. Kendrick displayed heelish tendencies throughout the Cruiserweight Classic and I’m glad he’s being more upfront about his intentions when it comes to winning the Cruiserweight Title.

·         Charlotte and Sasha Banks will face off for the Raw Women’s Championship next week as Raw emanates from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Charlotte cut a great promo as she explained why she is the face and moneymaker of the Women’s Division. She was cocky and oozed confidence. The Queen is hitting her stride on the mic and is generating good heat instead of go-away heat as a heel.

·         Sasha held her own on the mic as she spoke clearly and hit her points with ease. She slapped the taste out of Charlotte’s mouth and locked Dana Brooke in The Bank Statement. Charlotte broke the hold with a boot to the side of Sasha’s head, but The Boss quickly recovered by tossing Charlotte and Dana out of the ring.

·         This was a great way to showcase the women and make their match for the Women’s Title mean something heading into next week’s show. If they are given enough time to work a safe match, it could be something special.

·         TJ Perkins and Tony Nese had a nice match that was absolutely ruined by a small sect of fans who decided to chant for CM Punk and Randy Savage. I understand that the Cruiserweight Division is still fresh and brand spanking new, but there is no need for some fans to act like complete jerks by chanting random stuff to get themselves over.

·         Nonetheless, Nese and Perkins worked hard and I especially enjoy Nese’s work during the match. He is a big guy who is surprisingly agile for his size. Nese is Vince McMahon’s wet dream because he has the look and athletic ability to get over if he is given a personality that fires on all cylinders.

·         Perkins won the match via Kneebar submission and will face Brian Kendrick in a rematch for the Cruiserweight Title next week on Raw. It should be a good match if the fans are given a reason to care from an emotional standpoint.

·         The Bad News: Seth Rollins was hauled off by WWE Personnel and was unable to get his revenge on Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho.

·         The Good News: Enzo Amore and Big Cass came out with personalized microphones and traded a few verbal jabs with Y2KO. After a misunderstanding about lists, Santa Claus, and Jericho sitting on Big Cass’ lap, Enzo and Cass announced that they were set to face Owens and Jericho in a tag team match.

·         It was a fun segment and the feud between Enzo/Cass and Jericho/Owens has been renewed after the former lost to the latter at SummerSlam last month. Finn Bálor’s unfortunate injury threw things off course, but it makes sense for all four men to continue their feud because it is still open-ended.

·         Plus, it might give Rollins a chance to sneak attack Owens before the show goes off the air. Let’s call it a hunch.

·         Owens and Jericho go up 2-0 in their series against Enzo and Big Cass. It was a decent match which saw Enzo playing the babyface in peril for most of the bout. Big Cass made the hot tag and hit his big man power spots, but it wasn’t enough as Owens dropped Enzo with a Powerbomb to pick up the win. The show went off the air with Owens and Jericho celebrating their victory and friendship.

·         Sadly, Rollins didn’t cash his receipt on both men and will have to wait at least another week to get his payback. My crystal ball was defective on this night. Oh well…

·         Overall, I thought this was a solid episode of Raw. This was probably the third best show since the brand extension started a couple of months ago. The television carousel of Monday Night Football and the Presidential Debate light a fire under WWE’s ass as they delivered a three-hour show that had didn’t drag for the most part.

·         It was a wrestling heavy show, but the promos that took place backstage and in the ring worked with the exception of Stephanie McMahon chewing out Mick during the second hour of the broadcast. Otherwise, the talking segments had a sense of purpose and managed to build two championship matches next week.

·         WWE did a nice job promoting the Women and Cruiserweight Title matches a week in advance. The announcers hammered those marquee bouts home several times which should give hardcore viewers a reason to tune in next week. If the company continues this marketing strategy tomorrow night on SmackDown Live!, Raw might actually pop a decent rating next week. The red brand needs something to brag about and a hot show from LA might do the trick. We shall see how it all plays out.

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls! 

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