What's good everybody, this is long time WNW reader Andre Holly II, most of you know me as Xavier. Recently I was fortunate enough to be recruited by fellow writer Big M, and with everyone in WNW's blessing, they're handing off Raw Is Blogged to me. Hopefully, I'll be able to do them proud.
Anyway, please feel free to share what you thought about my recap. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and insight with you guys and look forward to hearing your guys' thoughts as well.
OPENING SEGMENT: 9/10
Roman/Strowman and Lesnar/Joe have been the two most intense and best feuds in the WWE this past year. So seeing these two feuds being intertwined together just seems so perfect. Roman, Strowman & Joe all came off great in this segment. Strowman came off as this unstoppable force destroying anybody and anything set in his path. Roman is showing continued growth on the mic listing off his accomplishments while running down Strowman and Joe and Samoa Joe continues to be that guy full of intensity with a massive chip on his shoulder that reminds me so much of UFC fighter Daniel Cormier whenever he's in the same room with Jon Jones.
I've never been much of a fan of fatal four-way matches and can't recall any truly great fatal four way matches in the past but in truly exciting to see four legit heavyweights with massive egos collide in an all out violent war at Summerslam
FIN BALOR VS ELIAS SAMPSON (NO DQ MATCH): 7.5/10
Good back & forth between Balor and Sampson here, like last week both guys put forth another solid effort. I've been impressed thus far with Sampson's ability to draw heat for himself and working with Balor has highlighted a lot of his strengths in the ring.
Unfortunately for Sampson, it appears that right now he's Balor's TV feud for the time being as it appears Balor/Wyatt is where things are headed for Summerslam given the fact that Wyatt interfered midway through this match to attack Balor.
BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW WITH ENZO & BIG SHOW: 5.5/10
The dialogue here between Enzo and Big Show was pretty much what we've seen from them in the prior weeks; this all but confirmed that Big Show would show up to confront Cass.
BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW WITH ALEXA BLISS: 8.5/10
Alexa was excellent here. She's usually money on the mic, and here she was definitely on the money. Alexa did a good job here of trying to create distention between Sasha and Bayley when talking about their upcoming match while simultaneously being the self-absorbed, conceded popular girl in school type of heel; in other words all the things that make her character work so well.
NIA JAX VS EMMA: 6.5/10
While just a brief match to help keep Nia looking strong and to serve as Emma's punishment for interrupting Kurt Angle earlier, I must say that I was highly impressed with Nia here, that front flip onto Emma was a sight to see and so impressive for a woman of her size. Nia continues to evolve into a good either in front of our very eyes.
BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW WITH AKIRA TOZAWA: 7/10
Probably for the first time since the Cruiserweights became apart of RAW am I finally interested in a storyline involving them. The dynamic between Tozawa and Titus has been an interesting one, but I liked the interaction here. Tozawa determined to get his hands on Daivari despite being too hurt to compete. And Titus being the sincere manager who actually cares about the well being of his clients and will do anything to protect them even if that means protecting them from themselves (a departure from what we typically get from wrestling managers but a welcomed one).
Akira slapping Titus out of frustration over Titus canceling his scheduled match was a nice little twist (hopefully that's followed up on next week). Neville showing up to confront Tozawa when he was calling out Daivari was expected and Daivari appearing on attack Tozawa after he began fighting with Neville was to be expected as well, but overall this was s solid segment.
BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW WITH JASON JORDAN: 7/10
I don't know what the deal was here, but I don't get "Jamal from Empire" type vibes from Jason Jordan. Those who follow the show Empire will know exactly what I'm talking about. Jordan came off as the super optimistic/native/goofy and somewhat soft. It was actually quite funny. So far Jordan is selling this father/son angle pretty well. It'll be interesting to see how I'd character develops over the coming weeks.
BAYLEY VS SASHA BANKS: 8.5/10
Really good showing from the ladies here. Bayley and Sasha finally got the opportunity to show a broader audience what was so special about their rivalry down in NXT. This was just a really good all match and just goes to show what these young ladies are capable of when given the time. I was genuinely happy for Bayley when she picked up the win here. She's had a rough go of it the past couple of months, but it's nice to see that Vince/Creative haven't given up on her. Afterward, Bliss confronted Bayley holding the title up in the air. When this feud first kicked off I was really excited for this; it was the perfect contrast in characters; Bayley being the Pretty girl next door with Bliss being the popular self-centered/shallow popular girl.
The feud really should have written itself but because of some really bad segments and poorly booked matches the feud never really had a chance. Hopefully, this time around creative can get it right. Another thing to keep an eye out for is Sasha, she and Bayley didn't exactly exchange pleasantries after their match so we may finally get that Sasha heel turns shortly up the road that was rumored to a couple of months ago.
JASON JORDAN VS CURT HAWKINS: 6/10
Can't really give this match a higher score than a six seeing how it was only about a minute long but Jordan was fairly impressive here. He showed some aggression here which was the opposite of what he showed in his backstage interview, Jordan also had a nice move set to boot.
THE CLUB VS THE REVIVAL: 6.5/10
This match kind of sums up the lack of depth in the tag division right now. With The Hardyz being the only face tag team right now there really isn't a whole lot for The Revival and The Club to do right now, so we are bound to get heel vs. heel match ups like this, this was decent for what it was but nothing memorable really happened here.
The Revival picking up the win here made sense. The Hardyz showed up afterward which lead to a standard tag brawl. Honestly, though none of these teams have been all that interesting, the Hardyz could certainly use the gimmick change that everybody has been waiting for.
DEAN AMBROSE & SETH ROLLINS VS THE MIZ, BO DALLAS & CURTIS AXEL (HANDICAP MATCH): 9/10
This was a fantastic tag match. It had a real old school vibe to it. The heels working over and isolating one babyface and cutting off the ring is a tried before the face eventually manages to tag his partner for the hot tag is a tried and true formula, and it was worked to perfection in this match. Everybody played their roles well here, and the dynamic between Rollins and Ambrose right now has my undivided attention.
This is exactly what both Ambrose and Rollins needed right now to get back on track because for a while there they had no real clear cut direction. The fact that they went over here in a handicap match most like just means that there will be no Shield reunion on the horizon (at least not against the Mizfits) and I actually think that's for the better honestly. What's the point of reuniting the Shield for a stable that they beat clean with only two members? Save the reunion for a much bigger threat down the road.
Anyway, it's when WWE pays attention to the little things is when they're at their best like after this match for example, as Seth & Dean celebrated Seth went for a fist bump in an attempt to reconcile with Dean who he once considered his brother only to be left hanging. I love that creative is having Dean play up the fact that Seth turning on him three years earlier with dozens of chair shots is still on the back of his head, Dean isn't quite ready to forgive Seth and move past it just quite yet. This is what makes this whole thing so compelling. Moving forward I'd love to see Dean and Seth enter the tag division for a bit with this strained relationship still hanging over their heads, for starters it helps add depth to the tag division. Secondly, Ambrose/Dean chasing Cesaro and Sheamus for the belts would produce some really good matches and thirdly, it more then likely sets up a feud fly later this year or early next year between Dean and Rollins with Dean this time to be the guy who does the back stabbing.
RAW has produced some good shows over the course of the last two months and this week was no exception. The RAW writers have done a much better job post-shake up of utilizing their roster. They've managed to get Bayley back on track, for the time being, Titus of all people is one of the more unique characters on the show, Nia continues to be booked strong and continue to impress. The Cass & Jason Jordan pushes are underway, Bray Wyatt even has a small winning streak, And the dynamic between Dean & Seth has developed into one of the more interesting things in the WWE right now. Kudos to WWE for progressing angles and just for overall doing s better job of getting people to care about not only the main event but the guys further down the food chain.
RAW CHAMPIONS/RAW WEEKLY TOP 10
BROCK LESNAR (UNIVERSAL CHAMPION) - Brock was a no show this week, but I look forward to seeing how he reacts to having to defend his title in a fatal four way, my guess is that he runs interference in the triple threat match next week and delivers a few suplexes and F-5s
THE MIZ (INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION) - Miz continues to be the perfect fit for the IC title, him being the leader of his own stable is the icing on the cake. Having said that his stable losing a handicap match this week to Ambrose and Rollins I get the feeling that he and his Mizfits will be moving on to other things soon. Looks like next week he has a face to face set up with Jason Jordan which will surely involve our RAW GM Kurt Angle
ALEXA BLISS (RAW's WOMAN CHAMPION - Alexa wasn't in action this week, but she made her presence felt in a variety of ways. She'll have the chance to rewrite the wrongs of the first attempted feud with Bayley, I hope for the next.
NEVILLE (CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION) - Don't be surprised if we see Neville defend his title against Tozawa at Summerslam.
CESARO & SHEAMUS (RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS) - Cesaro and Sheamus took a backseat this week. With no real face tag teams on RAW besides the Hardyz, I think we'll either get some type of multi man tag match at Summerslam involving The Revival, The Hardyz and The Club or perhaps maybe a tag feud against Ambrose and Rollins looms, I'm s much bigger fan of the second option.
1. BRAUN STROWMAN - Strowman tops the list of my first official RAW rankings. He's looked like a million bucks since early this year, now holds two clean victories over RAW's flagship babyface (Roman) and continues to thrive as a monster on all levels. Watching him destroy multiple refs and wrestlers in the opening segment this week was a thing of beauty. With Lesnar working more dates post Summerslam I fully expect that he'll get a one on 1 March with the Beast at some point, Beast vs. Monster inside a Cell anybody?
2. SAMOA JOE - Joe has been clicking on all levels since the Brock feud even looking really strong in defeat at the hands of the best, he remains in the title picture as he should, and Luke Strowman also had two wins over RAW's top guy
3. ROMAN REIGNS - Reigns rounds out the top 3 for the week. He's been much more polished on the mic in recent weeks and continues to have produced some really good matches with the likes of Joe & Strowman (even almost killing Strowman), but he's been on the losing end most of those matches, so he finishes below them.
4. BRAY WYATT - Wyatt has his sights set on Fin and in recent weeks came out on a winning feud (for once) against a top face.
5. BAYLEY - Bayley looked all but buried just a few short weeks ago, but with a huge win over Sasha in what was a really good showing and being the new #1 contender for the Women's title she found herself in the top 5 this week.
6. DEAN AMBROSE - It's been a really subpar year for the Lunatic, but things seem to be headed back on track with this alliance with his former running mate in Rollins. I can definitely see a situation where he and Seth chase tag gold for a bit perhaps even winning the belts
7. SETH ROLLINS - See Dean Ambrose
8. JASON JORDAN - And so it begins, the first week of Jordan in singles action as a solo guy. Don't be surprised if he sets his sights on IC gold soon.
9. SASHA BANKS - Sasha came out on the losing end this week against Bayley, but with a solid showing, she gets into the top 10. I think she'll remain linked to the Bliss/Bayley program (perhaps a heel turn in the coming weeks?)
10. BIG CASS - Cass takes the last spot in the top 10. For some reason I'm getting Edge type vibes out of his new heel persona (maybe it's me) Well anyway, he got the upper hand on Big Show for the second time so expect him to lock up one on 1 with Show very soon.