Heading into this week’s episode of Raw, it was obvious the show was going to be a turning point for the WWE’s summer plans. As the first live broadcast since Roman Reigns’ real life Wellness Policy suspension last week, many fans were curious to see how the company would address the situation and if the former champion would be dropped from the Battleground pay-per-view main event.
WWE wasted no time addressing the elephant in the room by addressing the Reigns situation in the show’s opening segment. Seth Rollins weaved reality into kayfabe, using the suspension as an excuse to demand Reigns be dropped from the triple threat involving the two of them and Dean Ambrose. Rollins did his best to play heel for the duration of the promo, but as is the norm regarding Reigns, the crowd against the supposed baby face and sided with Rollins. WWE slowly transitioned the segment away from Reigns by bringing out Ambrose, John Cena and AJ Styles. After several minutes of banter between the four, Stephanie McMahon emerged and booked Cena-Rollins and Styles-Ambrose for later in the show. She further decried that victories for either Cena or Styles would grant them a spot in the title match.
The first of the two matches to take place was Rollins-Cena. As should be expected from the two, the match was a high quality affair. The match ended with a Rollins victory after distraction from Styles and his Club allies, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. The latter match ended with a similar result, with Ambrose defeating Syles after Cena thwarted Club interference. The second match was solid, though not as good as the first. Part of that was due to the anti-climactic nature of the finish, as it was obvious that Styles wouldn’t be inserted into the title match since Cena wasn’t. Following the match, the Club and Rollins respectively beat down Cena and Ambrose ending the show with the heels triumphant. The whole angle, while entertaining at points, felt like the company was just spinning its wheels, especially since nothing changed by the end of the night.
- The Chris Jericho-hosted Highlight Reel segment involving Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn was easily the highlight of the show. The former played his part to perfection, while the latter two sold their hatred for each other in an outstanding promo exchange culminating in the two agreeing to a match at Battleground. I particularly enjoyed that the only physicality in the whole sequence was the enemies briefly uniting to double-super kick Jericho.
- While I’m still not crazy about the feud between New Day and The Wyatt Family, I am intrigued by the idea that Xavier Woods is being tempted by Bray Wyatt.
- Paige looks to have avoided any heat over whatever happened in Las Vegas last week, as she was put in the relatively high profile position of teaming with Sasha Banks against Charlotte and Dana Brooke.
- The mid-card is in desperate need of a shakeup, which will hopefully occur in next month’s draft.
- The Miz vs Kane angle was a colossal waste of time and the Intercontinental Championship.
The first Raw of the post Reigns-suspension era was a bit of a middling affair. Outside of the outstanding Zayn-Owens segment, there was really nothing memorable about the episode. Unfortunately, with next week being a holiday episode, I doubt we’ll see much improvement.