Just one week before their big drat, this week’s Raw found WWE in damage control mode. Last week’s Fourth of July episode was the lowest rated installment in the series’ history. While some of that could be blamed on the holiday, the company’s substandard product as of late certainly didn’t help. In an attempt to right the ship, the company went to their standard “in case of emergency, break glass” plan of McMahon-centric programming, by announcing over the weekend that Vince McMahon himself would be returning for the episode. Further, the patriarch would be announcing which of his children would “run” Raw and Smackdown when they become separate brands after the draft.
As one would expect, the McMahon drama was hyped throughout the three-hour program before taking the show-closing main event slot. The nearly 25-minute segment was little more than an extended promo featuring Vince, Shane and Stephanie. At its conclusion, Vince announced that Shane would be in charge of Smackdown while Stephanie got Raw, and that each of them would be required to announce a general manager to work underneath them. This whole segment was a train wreck. For starters, the McMahon trio rambled through the same tired talking points that they’re characters have espoused since February. The reveal of which shows Shane and Stephanie would appear on has been telegraphed for months. Furthermore, the idea of each show having a McMahon and a general manager, essentially doubling the number of on-screen authority figures, is very disheartening for those of us who hoped the brand extension would lead to less storylines driven by authority figures.
The second biggest development to come out on this week’s Raw revolved around the WWE Championship. With Roman Reigns still serving his wellness policy suspension, the onus once again fell to champion Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins to hype their upcoming triple-threat match at Battleground. However, the two would set up much more than that during an electric promo on this week’s show. After another masterclass in smarmy heel mannerisms from Rollins as he relentlessly mocked Reigns, he and Ambrose engaged in a war of words that culminated in a championship match between the two being set up for next week’s pre-draft episode. This is a very interesting booking development, as its timing (the night before the draft and six days before Battleground) suggest that the finish of the match could be the catalyst for the championship being split in two, with a champion for each show.
- Perhaps the most controversial moment of tonight’s Raw revolved around the pre-taped New Day vs Wyatt Family altercation that occurred at the latter’s “compound.” The action itself was passable, however the controversy comes from the fact that the entire sequence was very similar to the “Final Deletion” storyline that TNA Wrestling ran last week involving Matt and Jeff Hardy. Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of either, but considering that the Hardy angle did big ratings for TNA, I can see why some would turn up an eyebrow at WWE’s actions.
- I’m not sure why Darren Young won the Intercontinental Championship #1 contendership battle royale, and I don’t believe a match between he and the Miz at Battleground will be anything to write home about.
- While Rusev vs Zack Ryder for the United States Championship probably won’t be much better, it does fit with the underdog story WWE has told with the latter this year.
- The John Cena/Enzo & Big Cass vs The Club storyline only got basic story maintenance this week, though honestly that’s all that was needed.
- Sasha Banks vs Dana Brooke was adequate for what it was.
WWE attempted to course correct Raw after last week’s low ratings. However, the show they presented this week was mostly mediocre, with only the Rollins/Ambrose segment standing out.