As if WWE didn’t have enough bad things going for them recently, it seemed this week even the calendar was working against them as Monday was the Fourth of July. As has been discussed here in the past, holiday editions of Raw are generally booked to be throwaway episodes featuring little story development. However, heading into America’s Birthday many felt the company could ill-afford to put on that kind of episode with the heavily promoted WWE Draft a few weeks away.
While WWE did dip into the holiday episode well at one point (more on that later), they also advanced two of their biggest current stories. The most surprising development came at the top of the third hour as some surprising new faces were added to the John Cena–The Club feud. The segment began with Cena cutting a Fourth of July promo before being interrupted by Club members AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. The trio mocked Cena for having no backup against them, then proceeded to attack the former champion. Their assault went on until Cena was saved by Enzo Amore & Big Cass. After the face trip cleared the heels from the ring, Cena raised Cass and Enzo’s arms to the crowd, accepting their help. Later on in the show, it was announced that the trios would square off in a 6-man tag match at Battleground. This was a welcome storyline development all the way around in my opinion. Giving Cena allies against The Club brings a new dynamic to that ongoing rivalry, and having said allies be Enzo and Cass elevates their already immensely over characters by associating them with the WWE’s biggest star.
While it didn’t develop nearly as much as the Cena-Club issue, the WWE Championship feud continued its march to Battleground. With triple-threat match participant Roman Reigns still suspended for real, the onus fell onto champion Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins to carry the angle forward. Each of them performed their role admirably, competing in and winning respective singles matches with Intercontinental Champion Miz and Dolph Ziggler. After the second of those matches, the two ended up in a brawl that saw Ambrose stand tall over Rollins. While these segments certainly weren’t all that original, they worked well. The matches were good, and Rollins and Ambrose did a commendable job keeping their angle hot even without Reigns.
- Like I said above, WWE did fall into one of their classic holiday episode traps. A group of numerous mid-careers engaged in a food fight, which lead to a 16-man tag team main event between team of American wrestlers vs those from other countries. The match itself was nothing special, and while using lower-card wrestlers like Zack Ryder and Big Show this way is fine having upper mid-carders like Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Chris Jericho involved benefited no one.
- The New Day vs Wyatt Family feud took another interesting turn with the latter challenging the former to meet them at their “swamp” compound. If nothing else, this should lead to interesting pre-taped segments.
- The reintroduction of Sasha Banks has already made the Women’s Championship scene much more interesting.
- All due respect to Titus O’Neil, but I really hope his loss to United States Champion Rusev sees him written out of the title picture.
The July 4 edition of Raw was a lot more than a typical holiday episode. While there was still some pointless filler, there was also storyline development for several of the company’s biggest stories. With the Draft coming up an episode like this was sorely needed.