We kick RAW off tonight with a flashback to the early 2000’s as we have Stone Cold Steve Austin, Brock Lesnar, and The Undertaker in the ring, with Paul Heyman as a masterful magician on the microphone. Austin made nice to the crowd, hyping up the show. Undertaker comes out, crowd erupts. Brock and Heyman come out, crowd erupts again. We get a teased fight, but yes folks, it is being saved for Sunday.
This is why you give WWE $9.99.
Our first contest of the night features The New Day, apparently convincing us all they are Unicorns. They are magical. Magical I say. They defeat the team of The Dudley Boyz and John Cena. Good match, with Xavier Woods rolling up D-Von for the win. However, the faces are not happy with the result, and the trio put Woods through a table off the top rope.
Apparently Chris Jericho posted a photo with wrestlers wearing a new t-shirt designed for Luke Harper. He deleted it off Twitter. Because that works.
We find out Randy Orton is injured, being blamed on the Wyatts. So Dean Ambrose is going one-on-two against Luke Harper and Braun Strowman tonight.
Alicia Fox and Nikki Bella defeat Sasha Banks and Naomi. Meh match. Banks should have been given more ring time. Just shows how WWE drops the ball.
We find out Corporate Kane has been suspended. Guess Demon Kane is showing up tonight.
Shawn Michaels hits the ring to the crowd delight, apparently stealing a kid’s pizza because he forgot to his the concession stand before his segment. Cuts a promo hyping up Hell in the Cell with the two HIAC matches. Seth Rollins angrily interrupts, claiming he should be talking about the WWE Champion. Rollins then says he is the “new” HBK, and is now the new Showstopper of WWE. Michaels ridicules him for trying to be someone else.
For a moment, I thought perhaps HBK would introduce the real “Michaels 2.0” in one Dolph Ziggler, but instead HBK informs Rollins he has a match with Ryback.
Could you imagine if Ziggler had come out instead? I would have lost it, and the live crowd, and the internet would have gone bat-shit mad crazy.
Rollins beats Ryback clean.
Our next match is a doozy! On one side is Sheamus, Rusev, and King Wade Barrett. The other is Neville, Cesaro, and Dolph Ziggler. This one didn’t matter who won or lost, we got a nice go-round featuring a number of talented wrestlers. Rusev is in such a hole right now, he should be thankful to have a decent spot on the show. Barrett picks up the win with an assist by Sheamus. Neville does his usual shtick in and out of the ring. It was an entertaining match.
Backstage, Ric Flair chats it up with Shawn Michaels.
This night is full of crazy. Flair is in the ring, and he brings out Roman Reigns. Not sure, but Flair might have blundered giving away the main event. In any case, Reigns comes down, and inevitably the Wyatt Family does too. However, we see the return of Erick Rowan! Bray and Reigns have a little sit down in the middle of the ring, which of course goes as civilly as any interaction with a mother-in-law, and this one breaks down fairly quickly. Dean Ambrose rushes down to make the save.
Once again, back to square one. Shield vs. The Wyatt Family. It is a formula which works, but WWE is starting to use it as a go-to one too many times. The novelty will wear off. But I can’t help but think something is missing…
… Backstage, Seth Rollins is with Triple H and Stephanie, wondering if a 2-on-3 Handicap match is a good idea. Speaking of good ideas, here comes Shawn Michaels! He suggests Rollins enters on the side of Ambrose and Reigns. Triple H does not want to go for it, claiming he wants to protect his champ. After some verbal manipulation, Rollins volunteers to take the spot.
We now have a full-on Shield reunion against the Wyatt Family for tonight’s main event. This will be good.
Charlotte defeats Brie Bella for the fifth week in a row. Yawn. Backstage, Renee Young grills Paige about assaulting Natalya. Paige doesn’t respond, but instead verbally rips into Young. More yawn.
Mark Henry is out first, he looks happy… to have a job. Enter Kevin Owens. Well, another loss for Henry. But an impressive loss. Henry showed some anger during this one, until Owens just busted out the Pop Up Powerbomb for a very solid win. We knew Henry would lose, he just lost, impressively. Ryback comes out, Owens runs. Except Henry tosses Owens back in and eats a Powerbomb from Ryback. Interesting. Impressively interesting.
Our main event sees a conclusion in a DQ, as all hell breaks loose and Ambrose breaks out the Kendo stick, throwing caution clear out the window. Great match, even though Rollins was a jerk towards his teammates, the match earned the live “This is Awesome” chant from the crowd. Erick Rowan looked good back in the ring, certainly stepping up his game. I was very impressed. As expected, Rollins pulled the typical heel move by ditching his partners mid-match. Reigns got a hot tag, but was caught in Strowman’s Death Clutch. This is when Ambrose went ECW and blasted him with the cane, although it had no effect. Strowman is a beast. He fits the role so well. He has this strange squishy little face and bushy beard. He is a brute. I don’t think he has ever been knocked off his feet, until Reigns took the role of ACME anvil and flew on top of everyone.
Solid show, could have been better. The Undertaker/Brock Lesnar hype at the beginning was good, but it should have had some sort of payoff to close the show. It was missing the big push for the pay-per-view, as the show featured mostly people who are not even on the card.
If this wasn’t a “go-home” show, I would have said tonight’s RAW was perfect, but because it is the RAW before a PPV, I expected more.