The Barclays center was white hot for Lesnar’s opening spot, and this time, Lesnar himself looked just as excited.
Heyman’s opening spiel was a bit long-winded, but popped the crowd with a nice reminder that Brock pinned Roman Reigns. He got another loud reaction when he mentioned his client being the best in WWE and UFC.
Braun Strowman interrupts
Strowman comes down for a standoff, standing his usual few inches taller than the smiling champ.
Strowman went for a chokeslam that Lesnar escaped. Strowman caught Lesnar with a big boot and followed it up with two huge powerslams. He held up the Universal Championship to loud cheers and his music playing him out.
WWE looks to be following up Strowman’s strong showing at SummerSlam with the eventual meeting between these two. A one-on-one between the two behemoths should be a monstrous affair and the crowd seems ready to accept Strowman as the new champ.
Cass vs Enzo in a Brooklyn (cheap pop) Street Fight
Cass’ entrance was met with loud boos. After the lame SummerSlam match, the crowd might be booing how bad Cass’ singles run has been rather than his actions as a heel.
Enzo cut a promo at the entrance ramp about Cass and him meeting in Brooklyn, breaking bread, being brothers, etc. He then went to the back and brought a shopping cart full of weapons.
Cass ran from the ring and slid Enzo down the ramp like he had ‘the glow’.
In the ring, Cass threw the chair to Enzo, inviting him to use it, but nailed him with a boot before Amore could get a swing off.
Cass dominated the majority of the match with a fairly boring offense. Enzo made it work with his committed selling. He rag-dolls around, crawls towards the chair, and completely sells the story of an underdog desperately needing an advantage to compete.
Cass on the other hand tried selling his knee giving out and the crowd audibly laughed. A medical staff came out, Cass seemed noticeably irritated, and the match was stopped with Cass unable to continue.
Enzo wins as Cass cannot continue
Hard to tell if this was a work or shoot, and that kind of speculation is a great thing. Good to see they might have plans for Enzo though it still feels like keeping them together was the better plan.
Emma and Dana Brooks backstage
Emma complains about npt getting the right opportunities and how she should be champion. She says that tonight she’ll beat Nia Jax since she’s ‘not the sharpest tool in the shed’ as Jax comes up behind her.
Nia Jax vs Emma
Jax dominates Emma, who manages to get in a poorly timed leg-thingy before losing in a few minutes.
Nia Jax wins by pinfall
Jax gets a squash to continue her dominant streak and Emma is the casualty. Good booking.
Elias vs R-Truth
Elias sang a song about R-Truth and Brooklyn but the vocals/guitar mix was terrible, making it hard to understand. I’m not sure the lyrics were worth hearing so no big loss.
R-Truth interrupted the song but was beaten in a match shorter than Jax’s squash.
Booker T’s mic was too far from his face for most of the match, but after Cole informed him, it was wayyyyy too close as he yelled about technical guys figuring it out. Booker T discovers new ways to be awful on commentary.
Elias wins a squash
Kurt Angle Promo
Angle promises a surprise. For the first time in over a year on RAW, we get…
John Cena the free agent
I like Cena but god he can be such a dork, like a dad over-staying his welcome with the teenagers hanging out.
The more he works the dorky gimmick though, I realize how effective it is at pleasing the kids while pissing off the older smarks. Cena is the face of the modern face/heel generation gap.
He invites out the wrestler he’s wanted to meet in the ring…
Reigns gets a ton of boos and you can hear the older portion of the crowd feeling conflicted on who to cheer for. This seems like a terrible pairing as they both please and anger the same crowds. Sort of a Hogan/Warrior dynamic.
Reigns talks about Cena running his mouth on twitter and wondering if he’ll run his mouth in ‘his yard’.
The crowd chants ‘UNDER-TAKER’.
Cena says he didn’t come here to talk and they both drop their mics as Cena disrobes his dorky shirt.
Miz’s opening line is “so this is what a sold-out Barscays looks like. I wouldn’t know’ alluding to the empty arena during his kick-off match.
Cena calls him on mis-pronouncing Barclays.
Miz asks how many moments do these two get, and the crowd applauds. Miz is great.
The crowd cheers again when Miz calls the duo undeserving.
He asks the crowd if RAW needs John Cena and they yell no.
Cena tries to walk out but Miz stops him.
The crowd is firmly on MIz’s side, enjoying his passionate speech and booing the heck out of Cena/Reigns.
Cena suggests a tag match between Miz and a lackey vs Cena and Reigns
Samoa Joe interrupts
Joe says a match won’t happen without him.
He’s sick of Reigns talking about his yard and challenges him.
He starts talking to Cena, but throws a punch instead.
A brawl erupts and I get the feeling we’re going to see a tag-match involving the big four.
Cena and Reigns stand tall as the crowd chants ‘you both suck’.
I was worried about a Reigns/Cena feud as they’re too similar to get a strong crowd investment. Slowly adding Miz and Joe to the mix kept it fresh and a Joe/Cena or Joe/Reigns feud would be a lot more interesting.
Cedric Alexander, Rich Swann, Mustafa Ali & Gran Metalik
Noam Dar, Ariya Daivari, Tony Nese & Drew Gulak
The crowd tuned out for most of this match, chanting boring and cheering the most for the wave they started.
The ending was high impact and the crowd popped for a few of Alexander’s finishing moves.
Alexander gets the pinfall for his team.
Getting rid of the rope change helped, but without storyline context, the matches are flat.
Neville is great on the mic and his seamless transition to heel has been very impressive. Titus O’Neil and Akira Tozawa let him know they want their rematch on 205 Live.
Kurt Angle and Jason Jordan backstage
Jordan says he doesn’t want preferential treatment, but he wants to face Finn Balor tonight. Angle says he can make it happen.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose promo
Seth must have been up all night wathcing Jericho promos on youtube as he keeps ending sentences with ‘babyyyyy!’
The Hardys interrupt
Hardys vs Seth and Dean
This is a big problem with WWE writing. They give away interesting matchups on tv but don’t bother milking the potential confrontation. People wouldn’t buy the Mayweather/MacGregor fight on PPV if they saw a version of it on free tv. Building the potential match between these two pairs could have been a good month or more of interesting storylines and a hotly anticipated PPV confrontation. Instead we’ll probably get weeks of matches between combinations of the four with each team trading off wins for 50/50 booking.
The match was good and went long enough to provide plenty of memorable spots. The champs ended up retaining. Again, this great match should have gotten the proper buildup and given an upcoming PPV a fantastic moment to build towards.
Rollins/Ambrose retain with a pinfall win
Sasha Banks promo
I don’t think Vince likes the traditional Heel/Face dynamic as Banks promo felt very much like an arrogant heel. The Brooklyn crowd helped the confusion by booing Banks and cheering Bliss.
Bliss says Banks has never successfully defended the RAW Women’s Title.
Banks invites her to the re-match tonight.
Bliss says she won’t give the Brooklyn ‘fanboys’ the enjoyment of seeing her celebration.
Jason Jordan vs Finn Balor
Jordan comes out to zero reaction.
A lengthy and entertaining match (again with zero build) appears to be booked to give Jordan a high-profile opponent to prove himself against in a loss. Jordan alternates between always smiling and cocky talent. The son storyline could work if he keeps abusing his father’s power and screws Angle in the end.
The crowd played with a beach ball halfway through, cheering like crazy for the plastic child’s toy, throwing the rhythm of the match off.
Finn Balor gets the win
Miz and Samoa Joe vs Cena and Reigns
More crowd shenanigans with the wave and beachball. Cena acknowledges it however, even playing along with the wave until Miz takes advantage.
The big story here was Reigns accidentally nailing Cena with a Superman punch after Joe ducked out of the way. The match was solid but was hampered by the distracted crowd.
Cena and Reigns stood tall but uneasy as Cena didn’t appear ready to completely forgive the accidental punch.
Cena and Reigns win the meaningless match
The RAW crowds after big PPVs can be difficult to keep focused. A three-hour RAW doesn’t help the problem. This show hardly dragged and the distracted moments were rare, but unfortunately occurred during the biggest moments. For such a smart crowd, they sure picked idiotic times to hijack the show. Did they really pay all that money to play a crappy game of beach ball while Finn Balor, Samoe Joe, Cena, and Reigns were in the ring?
Overall a solid show hampered by he crowd. RAW has improved so much over the past few months that I couldn’t help but start reviewing them alongside Smackdown.
WWE’s biggest problem is giving away matches on tv and neglecting any kind of build or storytelling. The tease can often be better than the final product and I hope they remember that one day.
Let me know what you thought of the show.