The art of professional wrestling is one of the most socially active mediums of entertainment across the world. Millions watch men and women grapple for championships, financial success, accolades, celebrity status, and supposed immortality within the squared circle. The Hype Train provides a glancing review of WWE’s flagship show, Monday Night RAW, evaluating the show itself, and then commenting on the good, the bad, and everything else in-between. All aboard.
RAW Review: 05/09/2016
As our first ever review of RAW on The Hype Train, we think it’s imperative to keep our views as simple and reflective as possible. You can read a lot of notes on the show at the bottom of this article, but there’s only one place we wish to dig our claws into regarding the meat of RAW. Our main issue is with character/persona management within WWE, and especially at RAW.
Did we enjoy the show on Monday? Not particularly, but in and around the mammoth 3 hours of broadcast content, a few gems emerged that made us think it wasn’t a total waste of time and talent. With the brand split forcing a lot of established main event talent onto SmackDown Live, RAW has had to reinvent itself by promoting a lot of less established talent (the likes of Owens and Zayn) that hasn’t been on the top ticket for WW’s promotion the past year. RAW’s complicated challenge was of course derailed by Finn Balor’s shoulder injury, forcing the creative team to re-jig the structure of the show. RAW is in the midst of a bigger transition, so it’s expected that speed bumps are there to be hurdled.
Balor’s and Banks’s injuries at SummerSlam.
The arrival of the Cruiserweight division.
Establishing the relationship between the General Manager (Foley), the Commissioner (Stephanie) and the roster.
The unveiling and backlash of the Universal Championship’s name and design.
What is RAW doing to change the tide in its favour, because from our viewing, the red brand has struggled to find a home for most of its on-screen talent, and more importantly, for their placement to stick with the audience. Sami Zayn is the best example, even citing on RAW that he felt directionless. Zayn’s not the only one. Where is the feud with Titus O’Neil and Darren Young really going? What’s Roman Reigns really done on RAW except for interrupt a Champion (any Champ for that matter), just hoping that his presence alone will be enough to warrant a title opportunity. Where do Braun and Nia go when they squash enough local wrestling talent before they have to make the step up (only to be downed at some point – that’s a certainty)? There’s a certain chaos attached to RAW as wrestlers jostle up and down the totem pole of relevance, and we wouldn’t complain if we were left satisfied with a viewing of RAW.
This week, RAW was a tale of two halves. In football how often do you see a team dominate the first half, only to disappoint and slip up in the second half? RAW followed this sporting formula this week, opening strong with Kevin Owens’s Universal Championship celebration. Seth Rollins intervened, using his new found face turn to his advantage as the duo, eventually announced to compete against each other at the Clash of Champions, struck an immediate chemistry that on paper set the show up nicely.
The half way point of RAW introduced the squash matches with Nia Jax, Braun Strowman, a terrible Gallows/Anderson segment, and one equally as bad from Titus O'Neil and Darren Young. The length of the show didn't work in RAW's favour as by the end of the show, we were wishing for it to be over already. Enjoyable elements quickly faded as the show wore on, with WWE parading a lot of talent without giving them a lot to do, or much reason to fight, other than the convienence of being on Monday Night RAW. A month ago, we weren't saying this about RAW. The post-draft editions initially trumped SmackDown, but the blue brand is not only more manageable to digest, but it has created an investment that we are struggling to adopt with RAW.
The jigsaw is going to take another few months to figure out, but the signs are there for a promising future. Owens, Rollins, Zayn, Charlotte, and the Cruiserweight division are a great basis to build upon, but the WWE's patience to just let these places fall in line is harming the short term nature and enjoyment of RAW, with its latest edition a shining example of both promise and frustration.
Who’s on RAW’s Hype Train?
Kevin Owens: Right champion at the right time given the circumstances of Balor’s shoulder injury at SummerSlam.
Braun Strowman: Another win under the belt, and this time against a WWE competitor in Sin Cara. Momentum is building in the right direction.
Seth Rollins: Despite a big-match losing streak since his injury, and injuring others in his path, Seth’s been the top guy for a while, and it shows.
Charlotte: Restoring Flair’s daughter as RAW’s Women’s Champion was a great move, regardless of Sasha’s recent injury. She’s been performing at a higher level than Banks for a lot longer, and on the mic, is a lot better delivering a promo.
Chris Jericho: Constantly adapting in the WWE, Jericho was close to stealing the Star Man accolade from The Architect this week. A victory over Rollins would have sealed that.
RAW Results: 05/09/2016
Bayley defeated Charlotte
Bo Dallas defeated Kyle Roberts
Seth Rollins defeated Chris Jericho
Sheamus defeated Cesaro
The Shining Stars defeated Enzo and Cass
Nia Jax defeated Ann Esposito
Darren Young defeated Jinder Mahal
Braun Strowman defeated Sin Cara via count-out
Kevin Owens defeated Sami Zayn.
Upcoming Pay-Per-View: Clash of Champions (Sunday 25th September 2016)
Kevin Owens defends the Universal Championship against Seth Rollins, with Roman Reigns to enter the match if he beats Owens on the 12/09/2016 edition of RAW.
The New Day will defend RAW’s Tag Team Championship’s against The Club’s Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.
Charlotte will defend the RAW’s Women’s Championship against Sasha Banks.
Braun Strowman’s decimation of every local jobber has been quite entertaining. The build of the big guy is going in the right direction, and they took another leap by having the (former?) Wyatt member beat Sin Car by count-out. They are building a sense of versatility with Braun, and as long as it continues in this new path leading up to the Rumble and Wrestlemania, they could have a big draw on their hands – especially one that Vince McMahon can get behind.
Chris Jericho was once again brilliant on RAW. When calling Kevin Owens the longest reigning Universal Champion of all time, it drew one of the biggest pops of the night, even though the reign is currently only 7 days old. It’s also good to see that WWE are continuing with the bromance between Owens and Y2J.
Rollins vs. Jericho was very enjoyable, and probably match of the night in our eyes. It set a good pace to the first half of the show and helped established the cheers for Rollins.
Sami Zayn’s backstage promo about feeling ‘directionless’ was very well done, and a definite plus in selling the main event. Kevin Owens’s inclusion in the segment only added to the fire.
Enzo and Cass coming out to confront The Shining Stars and the promo that followed was a big down, but losing to a team that’s been undefeated since the draft, was very good. The duo have been booked very strong as of late, and long may it continue, but until WWE’s creative team will push them to the moon, it’s right they face some upheaval.
RAW rightfully steered away from the countless references and highlight packages of Finn Balor and his one day reign as the inaugural Universal Champion. By beginning their build away from Finn, and onto Owens, it was a positive.
To begin with, the live audience was very quiet for this edition of RAW. Then again, it was always going to be hard to buy into so many squash matches and awkward segments devised most likely by Vince McMahon.
A week after allowing Titus O’Neil to cut an in-ring promo (a terrible one at that) they let him sit behind the commentary desk to run his mouth on Darren Young. We like Titus’s look, but this whole feud with Young is just silly.
That tag team segment featuring the ‘Old Day’ was just terrible. Gallows and Anderson are legitimate bad-asses, and this is not a fair reflection of their talent.
Sasha Banks wasted a good 5 minutes of our time with a promo that literally went nowhere. The fake retirement angle was awash with masses of references about how women’s wrestling has changed over the years, without the point of a potential retirement really taking shape. To make matters worse, Dana Brooke’s arrival didn’t add anything to the segment and we were glad when it cut to commercial.
Sin Cara has descended into the rank of local jobber talent. Mistico was right to get out when he had the chance.
Roman Reigns was once again shoe horned into RAW, once again a triangle trying to fit into a circle. Forcing the 3 time WWE World Champion down our throats is becoming a new norm – just like the years we had of Cena destroying the careers of good up and comers and established talent.
Saxton’s commentary was virtually non-existent this week.
No Lana? We’ll have to make do with Maryse as the weekly male eye candy.
Everything else in-between…
By the time the main event between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn came around, we felt kind of tired and wanted it to end. The match itself was very good, the usual high standard set by both men, but the match probably deserved more time in order to sell a better story. Instead we got Roman Reigns shadowing the moment, which completely took away the appeal of why the fight between Owens and Zayn was even happening.
Mick Foley kept referring to the upcoming Clash of Champions PPV (a RAW exclusive event) as Clash of the Champions. We prefer the latter, but has been advertised as the former.
Bo Dallas has come back with a sinister smile and ruthless in-ring persona and is being rewarded following a spell of public intoxication whilst on the plane. Bo was recently mocked on Holy Foley by Mick himself as having the worst physique in the WWE locker-room. It was refreshing to see Bo get a new lease of life, but they could have at least named the local wrestler he competed against (we only learnt this upon writing this review).
Where does Sami Zayn go from here? The Underdog from the Underground has been hovering around the main event scene for a while, but is being overlooked by the likes of Rollins and Reigns on every occasion.
Everybody expected Triple H to show up for the event. We’re glad it never happened. It should be all about Kevin Owens, and aside from Stephanie trying to claim some of Kevin’s heat, it was all about the new Universal Champion.
3 squash matches (Dallas, Jax, Strowman). There’s only a limit to one’s patience.
Brock Lesner nor Paul Heyman were not mentioned once (from our memory) on RAW, despite an on-going feud with Shane McMahon following SummerSlam and Brock’s TKO victory over Randy Orton.
We nearly forgot about Sheamus and Cesaro, but a 3-0 lead in a best of 7 series could make the next 3 matches in the series very predictable if they are setting up the final match of the series to be at Clash of Champions (and we weren't wrong...)
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The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015 specialising in the Fantasy Premier League (#FPL), and professional Wrestling, providing beautiful graphics and weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb ranking tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review movies, television, live music, festivals, and any relevant topic in the public eye.
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