Monday, October 31, 2016

The Raw Exposé: The Happy Rawlloween Edition (10-31-2016)

By: Keila Cash 

Hello everyone and welcome to the Halloween Edition of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut. Last night’s Hell in a Cell PPV made history as Sasha Banks and Charlotte main evented the show. It was a match that left fans with mixed emotions because it ended on a very flat note. Charlotte became a three-time Raw Women’s Champion while Banks has lost the title at two non-consecutive PPVs in less than three months.

Also, Kevin Owens successfully defended his WWE Universal Championship against Seth Rollins thanks to a huge assist from Chris Jericho. How did Owens celebrate his victory? Did Rollins get revenge on the Canadian Brothers from another mother?

Finally, Goldberg makes his second appearance on Raw as he responds to Paul Heyman’s hot mess of a promo from last week. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.

·        Paul Heyman made up for last week’s performance by trolling Goldberg and the fans into thinking that Brock Lesnar was coming down to the ring for a fight.

·        Goldberg was about to destroy Heyman when Rusev came out to question Goldberg’s in-ring stamina.

·        Rusev sucker punched Goldberg only for him to get taken out with a series of knees followed by the Jackhammer. The takedown wasn’t smooth, but the finishing sequence was clean for the most part.

·        Goldberg nailed Heyman with a Spear which will probably piss off Brock Lesnar to the nth degree. Goldberg posed on the turnbuckle as the opening segment came to an end.

·        This was a hot way to start the show. The crowd loved Goldberg while Heyman and Rusev did a nice getting under his skin to get easy cheap heat. Goldberg held his own from a physicality standpoint minus his minor hiccup when it came to kneeing Rusev in the gut.

·        This is not a true reflection of what Goldberg can do in an actual match. He was sweating like Shane McMahon saying a prayer at the top of Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania. Let’s hope his conditioning is up to par come Survivor Series because Brock Lesnar holds nothing back when it comes to working stiff.

·        Quick Side Note: Goldberg’s son didn’t look too sad when Heyman said that his father was going to be conquered by The Beast. I guess wrestling is not real to Mini Goldberg. Oh well…

·        The Trick or Street Fight featuring Enzo Amore and Luke Gallows was an entertaining match that can’t be judged on technicality or style points. No pumpkin was spared as they were smashed throughout the bout.

·        During the closing moments of the match, Enzo pied Karl Anderson in the face with a Pumpkin Pie. Big Cass decided to get involved by nailing Anderson with a Big Boot which caused Anderson to crash into the Halloween Table at ringside.

·        Cass proceeded to place a pumpkin over Gallows’ head, but the pumpkin was being less than cooperative. Nonetheless, Enzo dropped Gallows with the DD-G to pick up the win. It was harmless fun that popped the crowd. Anderson and Gallows have no business looking like a couple of idiots, but they have been down this road too many times for me to get upset anymore. It is what it is. Sad, but true.

·        Brian Kendrick finally got some on-air mic time as he told TJ Perkins that nice guys always finish last. Kendrick played Perkins like a fiddle as he feigned a knee injury which allowed him to win the Cruiserweight Championship last night at Hell in a Cell. Kendrick needed to firmly establish himself as a heel because the backstage segments can only do so much to make fans hate him during his matches.

·        Kendrick vs. Perkins for the Cruiserweight Title was fine while lasted. The key story of the match was Kendrick taking the easy way out by refusing to get in the ring before the count of ten. This sent TJP into a tizzy as he attacked Kendrick after the match was over. He put Kendrick in the Kneebar which was immediately broken up by WWE officials.

·        TJP showed good fire as the pissed off former champion who was suckered in by his former friend. He needed an edge to his character which should breathe life into the Cruiserweight Division. It will give fans a reason to care about the wrestlers on an emotional level. This was a positive step in the right direction.

·        Roman Reigns had a nice moment on the microphone as he called Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho SpongeBob Squarepants and Patrick. Jericho standing like Patrick was great as Reigns delivered another great zinger when he said that he wanted to dress like a stupid idiot for Halloween, but he couldn’t find any Jericho costumes. The humor was spot on which is rare when it comes to WWE comedy.

·        Jericho called out Reigns and challenged him to a match for the United States Championship despite hating the United States and living in Canada. He reneged on his challenge by claiming that Reigns was still banged up from his match against Rusev inside Hell in a Cell. Reigns admitted that he wasn’t at 100%, but would take great pleasure in shutting Jericho up.

·        Mick Foley made the match official for later tonight as Jericho sold a look of concern on his face as he jotted something down on his List.

·        The segment featuring Foley, Owens, Jericho, and Reigns was good. Owens did a nice job reveling in his title victory from last night as he proclaimed that his HIAC match against Rollins was the true main event.

·        Foley admonished Owens for taking the easy way out and borrowed Triple H’s shovel for a millisecond by saying that no one would remember Owens’ cell match twenty years from now on the WWE Network. That was a burn.

·        Jericho provided comedic relief by saying that people should lock in on the Key of Jericho as Foley tried his best not to laugh. Overall, this segment did a nice job putting over the Raw vs. SmackDown singles match at Survivor as Foley planted a small seed of doubt between Owens and Jericho when he revealed that Stephanie McMahon didn’t want Y2J on the team. That might play into their breakup down the road, but it was downplayed for the most part. It was subtle but effective. Nice mic work from everyone involved.

·        Braun Strowman is now a part of Team Raw at Survivor Series as he eliminated Sami Zayn during the battle royal. The match was okay, but it was hampered by commercials. Things got better down the stretch as Zayn tried to pull off the miracle, but he fell a bit short.

·        It’s a damn shame that Zayn is sitting on the bench for another PPV. This is getting ridiculous. Can he get traded to SmackDown? Pretty please!

·        The Three Faces of The Godfather. The New Day are geniuses.

·        Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado, and Rich Swann vs. Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari, and Tony Nese was solid. The crowd was very quiet minus the hot spots. However, Swann is developing a cult following as he was the most over person in the match. Swann picked up the win for his team when he nailed Nese with a wicked kick to the face. WWE has taken small steps to establish the wrestlers’ personalities, but more work needs to be done because the crowd will only cheer for high spots instead of investing in the action from bell to bell. An emotional connection needs to be forged between the wrestlers and fans. Until that happens, the lukewarm response will continue which is a shame because the guys are working really hard to put on a show.

·        I have to give props to Charlotte for having complete command of her character. She is a heel that is fully fleshed out and knows how to turn a “What?” chant in her favor. If this was six months ago, The Queen would have been rattled. Charlotte is brimming with confidence and I thought she did a great job being the arrogant heel champion as she talked down to Bayley.

·        It appears that Sasha Banks is selling her injuries from Hell in a Cell. After losing the championship twice in three months, one has to assume that The Boss is turning heel sooner or later. She can’t win the Raw Women’s Championship for the third time only to cough it up three weeks later. When she wins the gold next time, it has to stick for a least a few months.

·        Nia Jax destroyed Bayley in a decent match. Bayley slamming Jax’s head into the top turnbuckle was a little sloppy as Jax was using her forearm to protect her head. Outside of that, Bayley did a nice job trying to wear Jax down. However, it was to no avail as Jax laid her out with a Samoan Drop to pick up the win.

·        Sheamus and Cesaro defeated The Shining Stars when Cesaro nailed Primo with a European Uppercut in midair as Sheamus made Epico tape out to the Cloverleaf. This was a maintenance match as the Swiss-Irish Connection tried to regroup after losing to The New Day via DQ at Hell in a Cell.  Simple, but effective.

·        Roman Reigns retained the United States Championship against Chris Jericho, but it wasn’t a clear-cut victory. Reigns and Jericho had a very good match as they traded big spots and near falls throughout the bout. Kevin Owens interfered on several occasions as he slammed Reigns’ head into the ring post. However, Reigns regained his composure and got back on the attack.

·        The biggest near fall of the night came when Reigns dropped Jericho with a powerbomb only for Y2J to kick out at two and three-quarters. Reigns got back on offense and nailed Jericho with the Spear. He had the match well in hand until Owens broke up the pin. The referee called for the bell and disqualified Jericho due to Owens’ interference.

·        Jericho and Owens attacked Reigns as they laid him out with the Popup Codebreaker. Before they could do any more damage, Rollins made the save.

·        Rollins took out Owens with a pair of suicide dives through the ropes and onto the floor. Rollins got his hands on Jericho and tried to nail him with a Pedigree, but Owens pulled his best friend out of the ring as they scurried backstage. Raw went off the air with Rollins and Reigns staring each other down in a show of respect as the fans clamored for a mini-Shield reunion.

·        This moment would’ve meant more if Rollins didn’t save Reigns last month during his steel cage match against Owens. Rollins laid out Owens with a cross body from the top of the cage and the announcer didn’t bother to mention that Rollins saved Reigns from certain doom.

·        It appears that Reigns and Rollins are going to join forces to fight the greater good. I don’t expect them to become best friends like Jericho and Owens, but it will be nice to see Reigns and Rollins team up with the fans solidly behind the Samoan Badass for a change. If this is WWE’s latest attempt to get Reigns over, it’s not a sucky idea. If the company is going to die on the hill pushing Reigns, at least they are going out in a blaze of glory.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was inoffensive. The company embraced the Halloween spirit by not going overboard for the most part. The R-Truth-Goldust segment was a complete waste of time, but the rest of the show didn’t devolve into campiness. However, all the news isn’t good on the red brand front. The broadcast felt like a slog to get through at times. A lot of the matches felt inconsequential and the crowd was dead at certain points as well. The Trick or Street Fight was the highlight of the show from an in-ring standpoint until the main event. That’s not exactly a compliment, but the fans ate it up.

·        Next week’s show will be live to tape from Glasgow. With one more live broadcast to hype Survivor Series, WWE must make the best of their television time next week by hyping the November Classic to the hilt. I expect a heavy reliance on video packages to promote Goldberg vs. Lesnar because their only face-to-face confrontation will take place on the go-home show on November 14th. Therefore, the company is no position to be pussyfooting around. If they want the 30th Anniversary of Survivor Series to mean something, WWE needs to get their act together. Fast.

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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