Monday Night RAW in Greenville, South Carolina: A Tale of Two Main Events

The Memorial Day episode of Monday Night RAW was a tale of two main events —

A hard fought, well-told three way between Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt and Samoa Joe

and

They worked hard, but we’ve seen this a million times before match between Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.

These two main events defined this holiday edition of RAW. Some stuff was the same old stuff we’ve seen a million times before, and the other was hard fought, not always perfect, but entertaining stuff.

Here’s what worked:

  • Samoa Joe vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Balor: Hot take — this is the best main roster match Finn Balor has had. My biggest problem with Balor is that he’s a little too smooth, a little too calculated in the ring. He hits his sequences, and they look like that — sequences. However, tonight he battled. He showed incredible fire, resilience, and passion. I think the post-injury gloves came off, and Balor was all able to ball out. His chemistry in the ring with Joe and Bray was undeniable, and they told a simple story in the ring. Bray and Joe would team up to beat down Balor, they’d turn on each other once he was down, and then Finn would fight back. Simple. Effective. This match was fun as hell, and outside of the requisite massive Hardy Boyz pop, the crowd was red hot for this.
  • Corey Graves and Kurt Angle: The commentator is involved in not one, but two angles tonight. The first involved Kurt Angle, where Graves broke some rather troubling yet vague news to the RAW GM. We have literally no clue what this was about, and it was something that’ll have fans guessing for weeks to come. And that’s good storytelling. They didn’t give us too much, but we’re hooked. We want to know what’s going on.
  • Top Guys Return: The Revival had a cup of coffee on RAW before Dash Wilder’s injury. However, it was a damn good cup of coffee. Having them return, and deny accusations of attacking Enzo was a nice way to remind fans that these guys are destined for big things.
  • Corey Graves and Big Cass: When Graves insinuated Big Cass may have been in on the Enzo Amore assault most passed it off as a typical heel commentator thing to say. When Cass came out and confronted Corey, that was a cool moment. We haven’t seen too many moments like this — announcers being confronted by wrestlers — since the nWo days, so this was different. It also planted the seed of…maybe Big Cass did attack Enzo. Nice storytelling here.
  • The Drifter’s Build: I’ve never been an Elias Samson guy, but give credit where it’s due — the build has been effective, and smartly booked. He destroys a guy this week, was involved in a big angle last week, and his song quality has improved. Not bad at all.
  • Goldust/R-Truth Promos: The turn was terrible, but this promo was awesome. Truth hasn’t cut a serious promo in years, and Goldust is back in top promo form.

    What Didn’t Work/What Didn’t Stand Out

  • Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns: I’m not being a typical internet nerd when I say this but, this match put me to sleep, literally. WWE tends to do this, they hype a big match for a RAW main event…that we’ve seen a million times before. See in years past: John Cena vs. Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt, Miz vs. Dean Ambrose, etc. It’s not that these two don’t break their asses in the ring, because they totally do, but we’ve seen this match way too often to get invested.
  • This is Your Life, Bayley: Wow, a heel doing a segment making fun of the babyface’s past? Where have I seen this before? Yup, this happens every few years, and it only gets lets effective. Bliss tried to make it work, but we’ve seen it too many times before.
  • Hardys/Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus, Cesaro & The Miz: They used a long MizTV segment to build to your typical these six will meet at the PPV match, so let’s have ’em tag segment. The match was totally fine, but just nothing really stood out. The ending was predictable as all hell.
  • Titus O’Neill vs. Kalisto: I love the whole Titus Brand gimmick. I do not love Titus O’Neill in the ring. He just never seems to put it all together in the ring. He’s got the look, the mic skills, the charisma…but he just can’t have a match without a series of botches. Same goes for Kalisto. Just a bad, short match.
  • Austin Aries/Jack Gallagher vs. Neville/TJP: Strong match, but we’ve seen it nearly every week for how many weeks? Mix it up. You’ve got other 205 Live guys out there.
  • Noam Dar vs. Rich Swann: The focus was all about the endless Sasha vs. Alicia feud. It was so much so that they missed Rich Swann hitting an incredible twisting Phoenix Splash for the win. Do the cruisers even matter?
Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites