New WWE Champion???
If you don't have time
to read any further, here's 5 talking points:
- The WWE Title is contested, as Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins went to a double pin finish. Rollins left with the belt, but only because Stephanie took it (and a mic) away from Lilian Garcia.
- Mick Foley is Stephanie's choice for GM of RAW.
- Daniel Bryan is Shane's choice for GM of SmackDown.
- The Cruiserweight Title is coming back, and will be exclusive to RAW, as they seek an unique component to flesh out their extra weekly hour.
- John Cena was delightful in his new role as the old, out-of-touch, crotchety geezer who had no idea what Enzo/Cass/New Day were doing.
Here's how tonight's RAW went down:
Shane and Steph announce their new GMs. Per the order of Vince, both Shane and Stephanie are required to announce their choice for GMs of RAW and SmackDown tonight (Shane and Steph will not be regular TV personalities, but their GMs will). Before the GM announcements, Steph slips in the revelation that the Cruiserweight Title is coming back, and it will be exclusive to RAW, helping to offset the fact that RAW is 3 hours to SD's 2.
Then, it's time for GM reveals: surprisingly, Steph picks an old foil of hers, Mick Foley to head up RAW. Shane, not surprisingly, chooses Daniel Bryan to lead SD.
There's very little at this point to outline the Shane/Mick partnership, but Bryan and Shane do a lengthy promo about SD being hte underdog that's about to win big.
Sami Zayn and Cesaro beat Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens. Tasty little match, with Zayn playing the face in peril through a commercial break, only to get a hot tag to Cesaro. Cesaro's heat sequence lasted a good 3-4 minutes, but short circutied when Owens broke up a Swing on Jericho. But Cesaro took the chance to re-tag a now-fresh Zayn, and after a chaotic brawl, Zayn snook up with a quick roll-up on the still-legal Jericho for the pin.
Good 10-12 minute affair, and in a lot of ways, Cesaro was the star for his extended heat sequence, even though Zayn got the glory in the end, as it serves Sunday's Zayn/Owens match.
Darren Young beats Alberto del Rio. Two months ago, and this is a standard "we're all adults here, so let's not pretend this is something it isn't." But today, Bob Backlund is in Young's corner, and IC Champ Miz is on commentary, and this turns into an invert-o-squash in which Alberto has things well in hand, then Young makes a comeback, then Miz interferes, but it backfires, and Young wins on a cheap roll-up (after shoving ADR into Miz). Young remains on track to face Miz for the IC Title on Sunday.
The Club & the Wyatts beat the New Day and Cena/Enzo/Cass in a 12-man -tag match. Before the match, Cena does some talking,a nd introduces Enzo and Cass. Enzo and Cass do some talking, but Cena becomes disoriented and confused, because he is an old man who does not speak their language. [Note: in reality, this is tongue in cheek, as Cena has been dinged on his lingo for years, and now, Enzo and Cass are out-posering him on a weekly basis. Still: funny to see Cena play the perplexed grandpa.]
The Club crash the party, liking the chance to Beat Up John Cena (tm), and also, to beat up all those other guys (also, Karl Anderson's mentions of his "hot Asian wife" are both hilarious AND tantalizing; Doc Gallows' use of "-ski" as a suffix needs to die in a fire). Then the New Day show up, and also do some patter that John Cena pretends to not get. But ultimately, we've got a 12-man tag match, here, so let's see how it goes down...
Super disjointed and spotty is how it goes down, as they run through all 12 guys, and set up a spot for Cass and Strowman to slobberknocker each other, and when it ends inconclusively, they cut to an ad break. Then, upon returning, Cena actually plays the face in peril for quite a bit. Hot tag to Kofi, then frequent tags all around, as it breaks down into a Pier Twelver.
The good guys seems to win it, with Cass dominating the Club.... but when Cass tags in Enzo, intending to hit the Rocket Launcher, another mini-brawl breaks out. When all is said and done, Enzo is legal, and so is AJ Styles. Styles Clash ends it. Solid 15 minute match, but in a way, it still had the stench of "hey, 12 made guys over here, what do we do with them?" and wasn't really memorable or impactful.
Baron Corbin beat Sin Cara. It is announced that the Lucha Dragons are entering the Draft as singles wrestlers. So of course, Corbin squashes the hell out of Sin Cara, and Kalisto makes the save. Corbin also destroys him. Despite the fact that Corbin, increasingly, has no real redeeming values.
Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks get a DQ win over Charlotte and Dana Brooke. Match is only a couple minutes old when Natalya runs out and blindsides Becky for the insta-DQ. The Bekcy/Nattie feud is actually pretty fun on a pure "I hate you" level... in the meantime, Charlotte and Dana are still winners of the numbers game over Sasha until she reveals her "mystery partner" (i.e. probably Bayley from NXT, after the draft; otherwise, maybe Naomi).
Rusev and Sheamus beat Zack Ryder and Dolph Ziggler. Tag match that expands on the Rusev/Ryder US Title feud.... in this case, Ryder gets the crap kicked out of him as our Face in Peril. Hot tag to Ziggler. Nice flurry. Then, Rusev CRUSH, and we're through.
Interludes: a video package reveals Randy Orton is still gonna be on the Highlight Reel on Sunday's Battleground PPV to discuss Brock Lesnar. But noticeably: Brock Lesnar is no longer advertised for tomorrow's SD. And also, we catch a backstage glimpse of Mick Foley and Daniel Bryan talking, and while it starts humoursly enough, it gets serious fast when they start talking about their mutual too-early retirements, and how maybe they never competed inside the ring, but they are competing against each other now. All of a sudden, the tension and friction between Foley and Bryan seems pretty real.
WWE Champ Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins ends with a Double Pin, but Rollins leaves with the belt. Really good match, spanning 2 commercial breaks, and well worht the effort to track it down on the youtubes. Shane/Bryan and Steph/Mick were also at ringside, making this a de facto "Who Will be the #1 Pick in the Draft?" Match, in addition to a title match.
End game (after the 2nd ad break) was just crazy, with tons of compelling near falls, and eventually, it spilled outside, and began the threaten the announce tables. But in good time, it got back into the ring, and a superplex attempt by Rollins failed, because Ambrose shoved him off, and Rollins collided with the ref. This led to a wonky grapple, in which a still woozy ref SORT OF saw a roll-up by Rollins, and counted it, but at the same time, Ambrose twisted to make sure Rollins' shoulders were down, too.
Despite the clear-cut double pin, the ref didn't put his foot down, and Stephanie stole both the title belt and a microphone away from Lilian Garcia to declare that Rollins was the new champion. The heels departed quickly to celebrate on the stage, while Ambrose/Shane/Bryan stayed in the ring, and sold frustration and annoyance. Who's the champ? Tune in tomorrow! Or don't, because this is all leading to a title split, so each brand can have it's own World Title. You heard it hear first!!!
Overall thoughts: Strong show. Plenty of good in-ring action (opening tag, mid-show 12-man, main event title match), to go with nice storyline hooks (apparent title change, seeing D-Bry back on TV). Not the kind of show you can do every week, but this was a RAW where WWE said "Hey, we have to go big, just so we don't let RAW get overshadowed by SD." And guess what? RAW held it's own, quite nicely.
OO's Editorial Decision is to grade tonight's RAW as an A-minus. Really good. A few flaws around the edges, but it got the important stuff right.