Alexa’s coronation and eight-women tag match: The show starts with all the women gathered in the ring with a little podium. Alexa’s music hits, and she comes down with her newly-won RAW Women’s Title. She insults half the women’s roster as part of her coronation before Bayley can’t take anymore and pummels her. This turns into a eight-women tag match, which usually is awful, cheap booking, but this worked really well. The match was given a good amount of time, and the women performed well throughout in a psychologically sound match that found Alexa gaining the pin on Bayley after a DDT like last night. This was a good way to start RAW and highlight the women’s roster, especially the new champion, Alexa, who has a great opportunity to blow up in the near future.
#1 Contender to the IC Title: Seth Rollins comes out and cuts a babyface promo and says that he wants a shot at Brock Lesnar and the Universal Title. Finn Balor comes out though and says that the line starts behind him since he never officially lost the title. Dean Ambrose comes out next. He says that Lesnar will wrestle when he wants, “which isn’t very often,” but he’s a fighting champion. He wants the IC Title to be “the title” on RAW. The Miz comes out and says he’s the one that gave relevance to the Intercontinental Title. Ambrose has an idea and calls Kurt Angle. A match is set for later in the show between Rollins, Balor, and Miz to see how is the #1 contender for the IC Title. This was a good segment. Rollins and Balor both showed aspirations; Ambrose sold himself as a champion and placed a lot of focus on the title itself, which is nice; The Miz did his usual selfish schtick which always works.
Apollo Crews represents the Titus Brand: Apollo Crews picks up a win over Heath Slater to continue the Titus Brand storyline. This was a fun short match, and it’s nice to see some talents that don’t normally get air time have a short match. This is where wrestlers need to get over is in the ring, not in skits, so this is a step in the right direction.
Austin Aries wins the battle, but not the war: Austin Aries wrestle TJ Perkins who kept going after the knee of Aries throughout the match. Aries won with The Last Chancery, making Perkins tap out. However, after the match, Perkins attacked the leg again and locked Aries in the kneebar. This was a well-executed match given the time and told a story. It also helps tell the larger story of Aries and Neville as Aries will now have a knee injury presumably going into his next rematch for the title.
The Miz becomes #1 contender to the Intercontinental Championship: This was an excellent match from start to finish, and the crowd knew it. It was well-booked, told a believable story, and was action-packed. Both Rollins and Balor looked as if they were worthy contenders, but interference from Samoa Joe took out Rollins and then when it looked like Finn was going to hit the Coup De Grace, Bray pushed him off the top rope and hit the Sister Abigail on him, allowing a beaten-down Miz to crawl over and get the pin to become the top contender to Ambrose’s title. This match felt like something from the late ’90s in terms of its unpredictability and intensity.
Bray Wyatt’s weekly nonsense promo: Bray interrupted Kurt Angle’s injury update on Roman and Braun. He blathered about Randy Orton being stuck in the House of Horrors (not true) and is reborn now (for about the eighth time). He wants to know if Angle is with him or against him, and Angle reminds him this is his show. Bray laughs for too long and tells him, “It may be your show but it’s my world.” Simply put, Bray Wyatt has been exposed in recent months. His promos and character are stale and inconsequential. It’s such a shame because it could be so good, but it just isn’t right now. Hopefully, this feud with Balor will help rehabilitate him some.
The Club gets their win back over Enzo and Cass: Gallows pinned Enzo to revenge Enzo and Cass’s victory last night. This was both expected and still disappointing. These teams need to not touch for years at this point as it’s approaching Orton/Sheamus levels of a feud that is overdone. They’ve both been 50/50’d to the point of absurdity, and it’s weakened both teams.
Cruiserweight Six-Man Match: The cruiserweights received a little more time than usual this week, but by having a six-man match, no one really got to shine. Gallagher got the pin on THE Brian Kendrick after the running dropkick. Before the match, when Jack Gallagher handed Akira Tozawa and Rich Swann umbrellas, Michael Cole said, “This is what 205 Live is all about.” This says a lot about what WWE thinks about the cruiserweights. If they really think that this is what 205 Live is about, then this division will never get over.
Sheamus and Cesaro/Hardys promo: Sheamus and Cesaro explain that they are sick of the Hardys and how they set the bar in the tag team division. The Hardys comes out, not “broken,” and after a few words, go after Sheamus and Cesaro who flee the ring. This was a disappointment after so much teasing about Matt possibly being broken. It is also disappointing that Sheamus and Cesaro immediately turn into chickenshit heels, which WWE loves to make every heel character. This was a necessary but ultimately pointless segment.
The Final Analysis: Overall, this was a strong showing for RAW. It was well-paced with some of the less-exciting angles spread out over the course of the show. There was plenty of excitement and plenty of actual wrestling, including a great main event. It also helps that the backstage segments in between matches have improved considerably from Angle interacting with Golden Truth to Ambrose’s “interviews” backstage. The championships even felt important tonight. If RAW could do this every week, the three hours would be less painful.