On Sunday night at Hell In A Cell, Brock Lesnar and Undertaker had an awesome, brutal cell match and Seth Rollins defended the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Kane. Plus, The Wyatt Family abducted The Undertaker, the New Day retained the Tag Team titles against the Dudleyz, and ALBERTO DEL RIO returned to win the United States Championship from a very lethargic John Cena. Onward to Raw!
(All photos credit: WWE.com)
The show opens with a promo from The Authority, which doesn't need recapping here because once you've seen one you've seen them all. The important part is that Roman Reigns interrupts and squares up to Seth Rollins. The Authority announce that the eight non-main event winners from Hell In A Cell will be put into a tournament to determine the new Number 1 Contender, with four one on one matches setting up a Fatal 4-Way main event between the winners. While it's painfully obvious that Reigns will be winning the tournament, it's a refreshing change to have The Authority setting things up which make sense. The only complaint about the whole thing would really be that it would've been amazing if Lesnar was included, but that is a very small complaint.
The New Day are still amazing
This goes without saying, but New Day are glorious. Highlights from last night: Big E saying Roman Reigns' "style is not on fleek", Kofi Kingston saying we should "call [him] Harry Potter because [he's] about to get in that ring and make some MAGIC" before shouting Avada Kedavra a bunch of times, and them putting up Unicorn Horns for Xavier Woods again. The New Day are the best.
Kofi Kingston and Roman Reigns make magic
This was the best singles match in a long time from either of these guys. Roman Reigns has come on leaps and bounds since he won the Royal Rumble, and Kofi Kingston is at his best when wrestling someone bigger and more powerful than him. Big E was excellent at ringside too, which is great news with Xavier Woods off TV. A particularly great moment was Roman rolling Kofi up with a Schoolboy pin, deadlifting him up, and dropping into a sit-out powerbomb very similar to Sami Zayn's Blue Thunder Bomb. It was an excellent sequence, and really shows how good Reigns has become. After a competitive back and forth match, Reigns ducked a Trouble In Paradise and hit a Spear for the win.
Great wrestling continues
The quality of the wrestling on this show really can't be overstated, it was almost all incredible. That really shouldn't come as a surprise in the case of Cesaro - Kevin Owens, as they are both amazing wrestlers. The match would've been nice if it was longer, but then nobody would complain even if Cesaro and Owens were having a two hour iron man match. Owens goes over clean, delivering a huge superkick to Cesaro and hitting the Pop-up Powerbomb for the win. Given that the winner was never going to win the Fatal 4-Way, it would've been nice to see Cesaro win this one, as he really needs to get some momentum going, however secondary champions winning non-title matches is unfortunately a rare luxury in modern times, so it's nice to see that even with Cena dropping the United States title, the secondary titles are still being treated well.
Paige finally, properly, turns heel
The will she or won't she of Paige's heel turn has been infuriating, but it seems like now there's no going back after she laid out both Becky Lynch and Charlotte with a Rampaige each, before locking Charlotte in the Scorpion Cross-Lock (Paige Tap Out is a horrible name for a finisher). The match that led to this was Team PCB - Team Bella, because when fans want Sasha Banks, she doesn't get to be on the show at all. The match was honestly quite bland, but it was necessary to get to where things needed to be: Paige turning heel. Hopefully now we can get Paige to take the title off Charlotte, and feud with Sasha Banks because Paige - Sasha is just an awesome prospect.
Zeb Colter has a prematch interview with Renee Young (who he's still calling Rayleen) and announced that Mexico and America should form one country called Mexamerica. IN SAN DIEGO. Masterful heel work from Zeb, as usual. Del Rio would go on to call Neville "a selfish immigrant" which is great heeling too. The match between Del Rio and Neville was stellar, as Del Rio works great with smaller guys due to his Lucha experience. This is honestly the best part of Del Rio being rehired, the fact that he has so many fresh and exciting matches. Imagine the excellence that could be put on display by a Del Rio - Kalisto match, or Del Rio - Sami Zayn. The finish is awesome too, with Del Rio having watched tapes and being ready for the Red Arrow. When Neville goes up for it, Del Rio trips him, puts him in the tree of woe, and delivers a double foot stomp off the top to the strung up Neville. It's a great bit of intelligent wrestling, and Del Rio gets a good strong win.
The Black Hole of Raw
We're just about to move into that part, usually in the middle hour, where the quality seems to really drop. Raw being upped to three hours seemed like such a good idea back around Raw 1000 when things were good, but it really seems like they struggle to come up with three hours' worth of programming a week. While it may not be as simple as WWE just deciding to cut back down to two hours, they really should consider trying to shorten Raw in order to avoid some of the ratings killer segments.
The European Union
Fantasy booking time! Sheamus, King Barrett and Rusev partnered together to beat The Dudleyz and Ryback and it was pretty awful. So instead of focusing on that, here's an idea: a stable of European wrestlers who feel they're being mistreated. Sheamus, Rusev, Barrett, Cesaro, maybe Neville... That'd be an awesome team, and they have the perfect name sitting right there: The European Union. Anyway, the match: it was just needless. It felt like filler. The finish was awful: Bubba sends DVon (and Ryback!) to get the tables, and while that's happening Barrett rolls him up for the win. But why would they get tables? It wasn't a No DQ match. Fair enough, it's the Dudleyz' schtick but do it AFTER the match. They never used to straight-up forget that a match was going on. Are they addicted to tables now? Is that the problem? Is that why they're back after so long, they spent all their money on tables and need to pay the bills (and buy more tables)? That would be a weird storyline that should 100% be included going forward.
Nah Nah, Hey Hey, Goodbye
Bray Wyatt cut a promo about taking Undertaker away at Hell In A Cell, and it was a typical Wyatt promo. The interesting part came after that, when the Demon Kane interrupted and suddenly the rest of the Family teleported in, beat him up, and carried him away as they did with the Undertaker. Presumably this is to set up a Survivor Series match, given the fact Undertaker is very prominent in the advertising for Survivor Series. There are lots of questions about the future of these angles, and that's a good thing.
Tyler Breeze makes his raw debut, coming to sit at ringside for Dolph Ziggler - Big E. He has a VIP section with a velvet rope, wine and cheese, and a security guard. Tyler Breeze, you guys. Love him now, because WWE will ruin him.
The match going on is the worst of the four tournament matches, and that's a compliment to the other three, not an insult. Dolph and Big E have great chemistry and as usual, Dolph took a huge beating here. He went on to rally and dodge a spear in the corner before hitting a Zig Zag for the win. It really didn't seem fair that Ziggler had to go straight from his first match to the Fatal 4-Way, but Dolph Ziggler is never treated fairly so it's not entirely surprising.
A great match to end a great Raw
Dolph Ziggler - Roman Reigns - Kevin Owens - Alberto Del Rio. That's a match with a lot of talent, and certainly deserving of being a number 1 contenders match. The match itself is great. One of the best main events Raw has seen this year, and while the end result is entirely predictable, the journey to the ending is excellent. The finish itself is awesome too, Owens goes to hit the pop-up powerbomb on Reigns, who counters it with a Superman Punch in mid air and then a spear for the win.
And that's the show!
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