By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to the Labor Day Edition of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. After last week’s swerve of all swerves, what did WWE have in store for us tonight? Did Triple H offer an explanation for his actions? Were Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley culpable in any way, shape, or form? Is Seth Rollins a babyface? Most importantly, did we all buy imaginary tickets to see The Kevin Owens Show? The answers to these burning questions can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.
· Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon had a deep heart-to-heart conversation about what happened last week. They both delivered nice performances and it seemed as if Stephanie was telling the truth. Either that or she’s a damn good actress. It’s all about the game and how you play it.
· Kevin Owens looks good in a suit. Very dapper.
· KO knows how to turn a crowd against him. He’s a true heel in every sense of the word.
· The opening segment can be summed up in one word. Volatile. It was a segment brimming with combustible elements as Owens proclaimed Raw as The Kevin Owens Show as he shunned the fans for getting themselves over by latching on to his success. He didn’t need their validation because he was great since the moment he stepped into the ring. Their praise was futile and he didn’t need their support in order to get over as a star.
· Seth Rollins lit into Stephanie regarding her involvement from last week’s main event. She continued to deny that she had any knowledge about Triple H turning on Rollins, but he wasn’t buying her explanation. Foley stood up for Stephanie, but Owens kept twisting the knife as he questioned Rollins’ passion and said that his blueprint for success has been a total failure since his return from injury a few months ago.
· Rollins punched Owens in the face which left the Universal Champion cowering at ringside. Stephanie was fed up with Rollins and told him that he was suspended indefinitely. Foley overturned her decision and stated that he had the power to book matches. Therefore, he booked Rollins vs. Owens at Clash of Champions with the Universal Title at stake.
· This was a good way to start the show. Everyone played their parts perfectly and it’s smart that WWE didn’t overplay their hand when it comes to who knew what regarding Triple H’s plan from last week. This is an issue that will continue to fester in the weeks and months to come. It should be interesting to see how it all plays out.
· Chris Jericho had a great line by saying that Kevin Owens is the longest reigning WWE Universal Champion of all time. Owens has been the champ for a grand total of seven days. That cracked me up.
· Rollins vs. Jericho and Owens vs. Zayn is set for later tonight. I approve.
· Bayley picked up a signature non-title win against Charlotte thanks to an inadvertent assist from Dana Brooke. Bayley and Charlotte had a nice match which featured Bayley selling her knee midway through the bout. Charlotte pounced on it immediately which allowed fans to rally behind their favorite Hugger. Bayley made a fiery comeback when she hit Charlotte with a Diving Corkscrew Elbow from the middle rope followed by a clothesline into the turnbuckle. Brooke interfered which allowed Charlotte to roll her up for a near fall. Bayley kicked out and her momentum threw Charlotte into Brooke by accident. The distraction allowed Bayley to drop Charlotte with the Bayley-to-Belly for the win.
· One has to assume that Bayley is in line for a shot at the Women’s Championship in the very near future. Also, it appears that Brooke is in the doghouse after Charlotte slapped the taste out of her mouth during a backstage segment following the match. Their Mentor-Protégé relationship has hit the skids. Maybe this will allow Brooke to go back to NXT and get more experience under her belt. I know. Wishful thinking.
· Bo Dallas just squashed a dude named Kyle Roberts in convincing fashion. I guess we should Bo-Lieve in Bo… I am not making that slogan up. Seriously…
· It appears that Gran Metalik, Akira Tozawa, and Jack Gallagher are also going to be a part of the Cruiserweight Division which debuts on Raw in two weeks. The pieces are coming together nicely.
· Rollins vs. Jericho was very good. The action was strong throughout as Rollins sent a definitive message to Triple H when he defeated Jericho with The Pedigree. I thought he would switch up his finisher after what transpired last week, but he decided to put a little hot sauce on the move as he pinned Y2J. Jericho has brought his A Game over the past couple weeks as he has turned in stellar performances against Neville and Rollins. Rollins might not be a full-on babyface yet, but he wrestled like one which was refreshing to see. He will wrestle with more freedom as he gets more comfortable getting cheered instead of booed. It should be an easy transition because Rollins is such a gifted performer who can switch tempos with ease. Overall, this match was a joy to watch. Kudos to both men for a job well done.
· Sheamus is up 3-0 in his Best of Seven Series against Cesaro. I did not expect that, but the Swiss Superman is really behind the 8-Ball as he has to win four matches in a row in order to complete the comeback. Cesaro’s back was still injured after Sheamus tossed him into the ring post last week. The Celtic Warrior wasted no time targeting Cesaro's back as he dropped him with a series of backbreakers which led to The Brogue Kick and subsequent victory. Their next match is scheduled for Wednesday at the 02 Arena in London, England. By this time next week, Cesaro will either be swept or down 3-1. Here’s hoping it’s the latter.
· For all the pregnant ladies out there, Enzo and Big Cass are certified Lamaze Coaches. Who knew? I guess you can’t teach that. Enzo giving birth to an imaginary baby was awesome. The man can make the silliest things laugh out loud funny for all the right reasons. I adore him.
· The Shining Stars just beat Enzo and Big Cass. The Shining Stars need all the help they can get in the heel heat department. Therefore, I am not too upset about Enzo eating the pin. Enzo and Big Cass will get their win back sooner rather than later.
· I am glad that Sami Zayn addressed the fact that he has been directionless since beating Owens at Battleground. He was honest as it’s something that has puzzled fans for well over a month. Owens couldn’t resist rubbing salt in the wound by saying that he even though Zayn got signed by WWE and won the NXT Championship first, he ultimately won the race by winning the Universal Title. Zayn countered by saying that he will win the big red belt someday and will do it on his own without Triple H handing it to him on a silver platter. That was a good parting shot as the backstage interview segment came to a close. Their match should be stellar later tonight.
· Ann Esposito put up a decent fight, but Nia Jax was too much for her. The squashing of female enhancement talent continues. However, Esposito is friends with Alicia Fox which may play into a future storyline. The announcers wouldn’t go out of their way to share that tidbit of information without any follow up.
· I will admit that the slowed down Old Day Theme music with the Old Day members gingerly making their way to the ring was a stroke of genius.
· Too bad the sophomoric jokes are killing this segment dead.
· I am not digging the build up of The New Day vs. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows at Clash of Champions for the Tag Team Championship. One would think that Anderson and Gallows would table the jokes and kick some ass for a change. They are much more effective in that role instead of being low-brow wannabe comedians. The New Day’s material is more hit than miss, but even they couldn’t save this turd of a segment.
· Darren Young defeated Jinder Mahal in a nondescript match.
· And the feud between Young and Titus O’Neil must continue…Oh joy! *Insert Sarcasm Here*
· The backstage segment featuring Nia Jax and Alicia Fox was…Something. The acting from both ladies was pretty bad and it appears Foxy is channeling her inner crazy once again. If this leads to her challenging Jax to a match, at least Jax will be facing an actual WWE female wrestler for a change instead of a jobber.
· Sin Cara is fighting for his Lucha Heritage after Braun Stroman removed Americo’s mask last week. He’s a brave man.
· Stroman picks up the count out win against Sin Cara. This was Stroman’s longest match since he’s been drafted to Raw. Destruction ensued. The end.
· After all that damn melodrama, Sasha Banks’ “bad news” was actually good news as she has been medically cleared to compete and will challenge Charlotte for the Women’s Championship at Clash of Champions. Dana Brooke tried to make an impact at Sasha’s expense, but tapped out to The Bank Statement for her troubles.
· Since Sasha is back in the championship fold, where does that leave Bayley? Hmm…
· Owens and Zayn had a very good match to cap off the Labor Day edition of Monday Night Raw. As always, they bring out the best in each other and tonight was no exception. Zayn’s injured ankle played a role in his downfall as he aggravated it after Owens broke up the springboard arm drag. Zayn rolled out of the ring and told the referee not to stop the match. Owens attacked Zayn, but Zayn countered with a Half and Half Suplex onto the floor. Zayn tried to set Owens up for the Helluva Kick, but his ankle gave out which allowed Owens to finish Zayn off with a Powerbomb to pick up the win.
· Their feud will never die and it’s one of the few rivalries where the matches are not repetitive in nature. Zayn and Owens know each other so well that they can switch things up on a whim which makes their bouts so dynamic. It’s remarkable to watch and it will not be surprising to see them face each other again for the Universal Title someday. To quote Bobby Roode’s theme song, it will be “GLORIOUS!”
· After the match was over, Roman Reigns made his way to the ring as the crowd showered him with boos. Reigns and Owens had a stare down, but Jericho came out before things got physical.
· Mick Foley came out and noted that Reigns had to an ax to grind with Owens as well. Therefore, he booked Reigns in a nontitle match against Owens next week on Raw. If Reigns wins, Owens will defend his title against Rollins and Reigns in a Triple Threat Match at Clash of Champions.
· Owens sold disgust as Jericho tried to sneak attack Reigns, but got nailed with a Spear as the show went off the air with Reigns and Owens having another stare off.
· Reigns has every right to challenge Owens for the Universal Title. The match should be good, but I expect a certain Bulgarian Brute to get involved and cost Reigns his shot at winning the Big Red Kryptonite belt. Let’s call it an educated guess.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was subpar at best. The first 90 minutes of the show got off to a hot start, but things fell off the rails until the main event. It was a show filled with squash matches featuring Bo Dallas of all people being the sqausher instead of the squashed for the first time in his career. I guess the creative team is trying to build him up for a change. We shall see how long that will last.
· The red brand is finally fleshing out their card for Clash of Champions. They have a couple a weeks to get it together, but it’s shaping up to be a good show minus the stupidity of The New Day vs. Gallows and Anderson. The match should be fine, but the feud sucks.
· Raw has their work cut out for them next week as they will be competing against Monday Night Football. Ratings are down for the year and it could get ugly if the broadcast starts to sink into the abyss. WWE was smart to advertise Reigns vs. Owens a week in advance to give people a reason to watch the show next week. Plus, The Cruiserweights are debuting on September 19th and that should give Raw a major boost in the excitement department as well. Let’s hope the high flyers can get over with the masses. 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 a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!