By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. After last week’s stellar main event between Sasha Banks and Charlotte, what did WWE have in store for us tonight? How did The Boss celebrate her second reign as Raw Women’s Champion? Did Dana Brooke get her ass kicked after disobeying Charlotte’s orders? Most importantly, did we see a regression after last week’s progression regarding the presentation of the women on the flagship show? The answers to these questions can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado,let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.
· Rusev is so great. The end.
· Raw got off to a fun start with Sasha Banks cutting a sincere promo about winning the Raw Women’s Championship for a second time. She talked about being inspired by the late, great Eddie Guerrero and wanting to main event Raw like Trish Stratus and Lita. Sasha achieved her dreams and encouraged little girls to follow in her footsteps and do the exact same thing when they grow up.
· The Boss proceeded to challenge Charlotte to a rematch for the Women’s Title inside Hell in a Cell at the eponymous PPV in a few weeks.
· As Charlotte made her way to the ring, she was interrupted by Rusev and Lana.
· Rusev drew instant heel heat as he ran down both women for being inferior to him. Charlotte snatched the microphone from his hand and told him that no one interrupts The Queen. She accepted Sasha’s challenge as Rusev snatched the microphone from her hand and continued to go on his rant.
· Lana decided to get involved by trying to push the women’s movement back 100 years by stating that Sasha and Charlotte didn’t know their place. The ladies pushed Lana on her ass and double dropkicked Rusev out of the ring for good measure.
· Rusev and Lana were livid, but Roman Reigns came out to make sure they didn’t cause any more trouble as the opening segment came to an end.
· The opener didn’t drag and everyone played their parts well. Rusev is a great heel that can get under your skin, but make you laugh at the same time because he is so funny. He was the highlight of the segment.
· The top story is Sasha and Charlotte agreeing to face off for the Women’s Championship inside HIAC. The fans were very receptive to the idea and popped huge when Charlotte accepted Sasha’s challenge. It should be a great match with historical implications to boot. Both ladies have earned this opportunity and are laying the groundwork for others to follow in the years to come. Overall, this was a hot way to start the show.
· Kofi Kingston and Cesaro had a decent match, but it ended on a strange note when Kingston slipped off the top rope. Either his leg gave out or he botched the spot. In any event, Sheamus decided to cut his broadcast on Facebook Live short when he stole Francesca II and pushed Woods onto the floor. Big E. returned the favor by laying out Sheamus while Cesaro looked on from the ring.
· The distraction allowed Kingston to roll up Cesaro for the win. Big E. carried Kingston over his shoulder with Woods in tow while Sheamus and Cesaro continued to butt heads in the ring.
· I hope that Kingston wasn’t seriously injured. His slipup killed the flow of the match and ended things on a ho-hum note.
· As for Cesaro and Sheamus, let the bickering continue. Let’s hope they reach common ground before their Tag Team Title Match against The New Day at HIAC.
· Bayley made quick work of Cami Fields when she pinned her with the Bayley to Belly. The match was fine minus the minor hiccup when Bayley and Ms. Fields botched the sunset flip spot in the corner. Outside of that mistake, this was another good win for Bayley.
· Her hometown celebration ended on a sour note when Dana Brooke attacked Bayley from behind. I did like how the inflatable men instantly deflated when Bayley went down. That was depressing, yet poetic at the same time.
· I guess Dana Brooke is Bayley’s next short-term feud. It should be okay if Dana holds her own in the ring.
· Sin Cara is joining the Cruiserweight Division? Good for him. It gives him something meaningful to do.
· The tag team match featuring Lince Dorado and Sin Cara vs. Tony Nese and Drew Gulak was solid. Nese and Gulak were the de facto heels while Dorado and Sin Cara were the high flying babyfaces. This was really a showcase for the face team as the crowd warmed up to their flashy moves as the match went on. Sin Cara looked sharp for a change while Dorado executed a beautiful shooting star press onto Gulak for the win. All four men maximized their minutes, but it would nice to see WWE develop their personalities which will enable fans to fully invest in the action taking place in the ring instead of popping for the high spots. Other than that, this was a nice presentation for the Cruiserweights to wrap up the first hour of the show.
· In the State of the Hell in a Cell PPV Address, Mick Foley announced that there will be three HIAC matches taking place at the PPV later this month. Reigns vs. Rusev for the United States Championship was already confirmed while Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte and Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens was added to the card tonight.
· Owens did not want to put his career in jeopardy and end up like Mick Foley. Chris Jericho agreed with his best friend and put Foley on The List once again.
· Stephanie McMahon raised the stakes when she added a stipulation to the previously announced Rollins vs. Jericho match set for later tonight. If Jericho defeated Rollins, he would be added to the WWE Universal Championship match inside HIAC to make things a Triple Threat affair.
· It should be noted that Jericho was thrilled about the announcement while Owens sold a look of concern on his face. I think their bromance just hit a speedbump.
· Also, Stephanie McMahon was actually likable for a change. No one was emasculated in order to prop up her character. Whew!
· I would like to thank Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows for sparing us from seeing Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas.
· Anderson and Gallows attacked Enzo and Cass from behind and laid out Enzo with the Boot of Doom while Cass got taken down with The Magic Killer.
· I guess The Club is sending a message that playtime is over. As I mentioned last week, where was this fire two months ago? Better late than never, I suppose.
· Axel and Dallas are still in the ring. Oh joy! *Insert Sarcasm Here*
· Sami Zayn and Neville are joining forces. Perhaps they will form a new tag team. It’s better than them twiddling their thumbs backstage.
· Zayn and Neville picked up the quick and decisive win against Axel and Dallas when Zayn nailed Axel with the Helluva Kick followed by Neville hitting the Red Arrow on Axel to cap things off.
· Zayn and Neville gelled well as a team and I’m glad Michael Cole mentioned that they were tag team partners on the independent circuit several years ago. That little nugget of information was useful as it plants the seeds for what’s to come if their partnership becomes permanent.
· I think The Titus Brand needs a revamp because he’s on a losing streak. O’Neil was distracted by Goldust stomping his foot on the steel steps as he cheered on his tag team partner. The distraction allowed R-Truth to roll up O’Neil for the win. The match was decent at best.
· TJ Perkins tried to talk some sense into Brian Kendrick as he talked about their travels on the road and reminiscing about the greatness that is Nintendo 64. Perkins thought he made a breakthrough, but Kendrick showed his true colors when he tried to attack Perkins from behind, but TJP beat him to the punch in the literal sense as he laid Kendrick out. This was a nice way to forward their Cruiserweight Championship feud.
· Steven and Clay Splash look like the bizzaro versions Sheamus and Tyler Breeze. The strange ode to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson was cute, though.
· Braun Strowman made quick work of The Splash Brothers. I guess more competition means Strowman destroying two men at once.
· After the match was over, Strowman made it clear to Foley that he wanted real competition. If he didn’t get it, there would be hell to pay. After this week’s swerve, will Strowman finally wrestle someone who can actually hang in the ring with him and vice versa? We shall see.
· The mixed tag team match featuring Sasha Banks and Roman Reigns vs. Charlotte and Rusev was good as everybody got a chance to shine. However, the spotlight belonged to Sasha and Charlotte as they brought things home down the stretch.
· Sasha locked Charlotte in the Bank Statement while Reigns played defense when he jumped over Sasha to nail Rusev with a wicked Spear. It was a great visual that was timed perfectly.
· Sasha made Charlotte tap out and the championship celebration began as Sasha and Reigns clanked their titles together in a moment of solidarity.
· The crowd was hot for the finish which ended the segment on a high note. Kudos to everyone for a job well done.
· Paul Heyman challenged Goldberg to face Brock Lesnar in a one-on-one match. Heyman encouraged Goldberg to come out of the fantasy world of WWE 2K17 and face Lesnar like a man. Heyman had a great line when he said that Goldberg would be next if he took a trip to Suplex City. That drew some oohs and ahs from the crowd as the segment came to a close.
· Heyman has already coined the tagline The Myth vs. The Beast and one can presume that this match is going down at Survivor Series. Goldberg vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania XX sucked, but they can always deliver a make-good in 2016 if they are motivated to get the job done in the ring. Regardless of the outcome, it will be a spectacle unlike anything we have seen before.
· TJ Perkins vs. Ariya Daivari had a good match during the third hour lull period of death. Daivari looked impressive in his Raw debut as he displayed nice heel tendencies that managed to draw a little heat. TJP benefited from performing in front a receptive crowd since WWE is still on the West Coast tour of California. After a few close near falls, TJP made Daivari tap out to the kneebar.
· Brian Kendrick did a nice job on commentary as he explained his motives as of late when it comes to attacking TJP. Kendrick admitted that time wasn’t on his side and made the decision to attack Perkins after their Cruiserweight Championship match at Clash of Champions in order to stay in the title picture. Kendrick didn’t have the luxury to climb his way back to the top because he is getting old. He is the bitter old wrestler who is willing to take shortcuts in order to get what he wants. It’s a smart strategy.
· It appears that Goldberg is booking a flight to Denver to respond to Paul Heyman’s challenge next week on Raw. That is a blockbuster announcement. Here’s hoping that WWE hypes the hell out of Goldberg making his first appearance on WWE television in over twelve years. It’s time to kick the Public Relations machine into overdrive.
· Seth Rollins defeated Chris Jericho via a rollup to ensure that his match against Kevin Owens inside Hell in a Cell remains a one-on-one affair. The main event was very good as Jericho targeted Rollins’ injured ribs throughout the match.
· Kevin Owens decided to watch the bout from ringside and got involved down the stretch. At one point, Owens kicked Rollins in the face which allowed Jericho to get a near fall.
· Moments later, Rollins got a measure of revenge when he laid out Owens with a Suicide Dive.
· Rollins nailed Jericho with a flying knee which went wonky in midflight. Rollins tried to hit Jericho with the Frog Splash, but Y2J rolled out of the way in the nick of time. Jericho countered with the Lionsault, but Rollins kicked out at two.
· The finishing sequence was good as Rollins caught Jericho as he jumped from the top rope and had him in position for the Pedigree. Jericho countered and tried to lock in the Walls of Jericho once again. Rollins wiggled out of the hold and rolled Jericho up for the win.
· Rollins didn’t get the chance to celebrate as Owens attack him from behind. Rollins got the upper hand and tried to hit Owens with the Pedigree, but Jericho broke things up.
· Jericho and Rollins went at it for a bit as Owens snuck out of the ring. Rollins got back on offense and laid out Jericho with the Pedigree as Owens looked on from the ramp as Raw went off the air.
· For the second week in a row, Owens left Jericho high and dry. I am sure that Jericho is starting to sense a pattern here and one can only imagine what the fallout will be next week.
· The main event started off slow, but things picked up nicely during the last 8 minutes of the match. The fans were invested in the action as the reaction was split down the middle for both men. It was an entertaining match that squashed Stephanie McMahon’s hopes that Jericho would help Owens retain the title at HIAC. I guess it’s time for her to go to Plans B-Z. Rollins is on a mission to destroy the machine. We shall see what he has in store for Owens next week.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was solid. The first 90 minutes zipped by, but things started to drag as the show went on. However, the broadcast had a sense of purpose because the red brand is trying to freshen up the tag team division by adding Sami Zayn and Neville to the mix. I think both men can bring some much-needed energy to the division if they are given quality opponents to work with. If Sheamus and Cesaro get their act together, we might have a tag team renaissance on our hands. I have used that phrase in the past, but it could come to fruition if WWE is gung-ho about making it stick this time around.
· The major headline coming out of tonight’s broadcast is the return of Goldberg next week. Denver is going to be rocking and it should be quite the moment when Goldberg makes his signature entrance. If executed properly, it should be great. Here’s hoping that the rest of the show lives up to the hype because Hell in a Cell is a little under three weeks away. 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!