Welcome to the weekly Uncooked Raw Reaction for August 1st, where I'll take you through everything that happened on Monday Night in order of self-proclaimed importance.
Last week's Raw might have been the best Raw ever.
This one ... was almost definitely not.
It wasn't bad, by any means, it just wasn't last week. But let's be honest, we never thought we were going to get last week's level of Raw every week. Right? I mean, right?
Okay, show of hands, who thought we were getting last week's Raw every week from now on?
Well, we weren't. Ever. It wasn't going to happen.
And if tonight's offering was an example of a solid, above-average episode of Raw, I think we're in good shape moving forward.
Under-Promise and Over-Deliver, that's what I always say.
We begin at the end.
Hot Damn, did I love this.
Paul Heyman comes out and does what he does better than anyone else in the business, namely putting over his own guy by putting over the other guy.
Remember all that stuff he did with Roman Reigns before Mania 31?
"You're a badass Samoan and I'd probably take you in a fight over any man in the locker room, but you're not facing a man, you're facing a Beast, you're facing a Conqueror, you're facing the 1 in 21-1, you're facing Buh-ROCK LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLESSSSNARRRRR!!!! etc etc."
He made Reigns seem formidable while building up his own client. You wanted to see that match even more because of how Heyman sold it.
This was no different. He said that Randy Orton can never be counted out because he has the great equalizer, the RKO. But Heyman says Randy Orton will never hit Lesnar with the RKO, because Orton isn't MAN enough.
Right then, this happens:
I suppose I should have expected this. If every RKO comes out of nowhere, don't they eventually have to start coming out of somewhere? Like, at this point, if we're not expecting it, it's definitely going to happen, right? So if stuff like this happens, we can't be surprised anymore.
But I was.
I was. I admit it. I was fooled by the WWE's line of bullsh*t that "superstars will be exclusive to Raw or Smackdown." But of course, they won't.
Remember that time during the Monday Night Wars when DX showed up with in a military jeep with a damn Howitzer cannon outside of a Nitro taping?
Okay. Now imagine they're not invading an actual rival company, but a kayfabe rival brand. They won't be stopped by security, unless it's written in the script. Imagine Orton, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, and AJ Styles leading a team of Smackdown commandos across enemy lines during the buildup to Survivor Series.
This little experiment, with Orton interrupting a Heyman promo to RKO his Summerslam opponent in what will be the first major cross-brand PPV match, this is just the beginning.
And I can't wait.
This is just some good clean fun.
Well, actually, there were a lot of sex jokes so I don't know exactly how "clean" the fun was, but it was certainly fun.
First, Sasha looks absolutely fantastic with that Women's Title Belt on her shoulder, and as I found out from Mick Foley's Facebook Post, a lot of the locker room echoes the sentiment.
Second, Charlotte should never stop being a heel. She comes down to the ring wearing a robe from the Ming the Merciless collection:
And while she's still a little uncomfortable on the mic, she's definitely getting better. Her line about how it's one thing to go home with the Prom King, it's another to get him to put a ring on your finger was pretty great, even if it only existed to enable Sasha to hit back with "Your daddy's Ric Flair, if it wasn't for a one-night stand, you probably wouldn't be here." Because Ric Flair was a serial philanderer, get it? He cheated on his wives. A LOT. Get it? And apparently one of those skanks got pregnant and left the baby with Ric to raise it? You know what, it breaks down upon examination, but still, solid burn.
Then Jericho, who is doing his best work in the company in YEARS, comes down to back up Charlotte because heels of a feather flock together I guess.
Enzo Amore comes out, solo, not to back up Sasha, no, but to hit on her. He says he'd like to "make a Certified G deposit in her Sasha Bank." Yeah, it's that skeevy. But it's okay, though, because she's into it.
Pictured: Big Cass & Enzo after the show.
Then Charlotte gets into the act with a great line, a burn so deep and true it could broil a man's heart. Whoever scripted this for her deserves a raise:
"Go for it, sister. Although, from what I've heard, when it comes to Enzo's love life, there's only one word to describe him."
So anyway, then Chris Jericho picks a word fight with Enzo which is just a stupid decision. Enzo is astronomically over. He gets a pop from iPhone based humor and a joke with a premise that's basically "Jericho you look like Bon Jovi and Bon Jovi does DirecTV commercials now howyoudoin". And the crowd goes wild.
Mick Foley comes out and makes an intergender tag match and I think I must have been hit on the head and waking up in the middle of an episode of Lucha Underground.
Don't get too excited, the women only fight the women during the match, but what I wouldn't give to see Sasha slap the Banks Statement on Chris Jericho.
Instead Enzo gets taken out of the action and Sasha gets distracted, first by Dana (who has materialized at ringside out of thin air), then by Jericho, and Charlotte is able to hit Natural Selection for the win.
Afterward, Enzo is checking on Sasha and gets hit by a Jericho Codebreaker. Finally, Big Cass makes an appearance to chase off Jericho. Dude, where were you? Taking a dump? Watching Spelling Bee videos on YouTube? What took you so long?
I should mention that during this whole match, Kevin Owens is on commentary, just going IN on fools. It makes no sense for him to be doing commentary until later, when during a promo, Jericho maintains that he's got backup for his fight with Enzo & Cass. When pressed by Todd Tim Tom Phillips, who is your backup?, Jericho (eventually) gives the name "Jimmen Marvenlooter." The camera pans over to KO, who says "That's a made up name, that person doesn't exist," like a disappointed father. He then says "I'll be your backup" or whatever, and now it's all but confirmed: Enzo & Cass vs Jeri-KO at Summerslam, and that's going to be a promo battle worth watching twice.
Okay so here's something I didn't love. Finn Balor had two fantastic matches last week on his debut Raw. He outworked three great workers in the Fatal 4 Way, and outlasted Roman Reigns–a man who had previously outlasted AJ freaking STYLES ... TWICE–to secure the chance to meet Seth Rollins for the WWE
Intergalactic Cosmic Universal title at Summerslam.
This week on Raw, what does he do for an encore? He has an in-ring interview with Michael Cole, which quickly becomes an in-ring interview with Seth Rollins. Seth Rollins compares FInn to Hollywood reboot, like the new Ghostbusters movie. Seth says he is Bill Murray and Finn is Melissa McCarthy.
(It's about ethics in Gaming Journalism.)
Finn says some things to Seth Rollins, then hits him with the "overhead kick" because yes, Michael Cole, that's totally what it's called. Not a Pele Kick. Nope. Definitely not that.
I hate you Michael Cole. Kevin Owens is right to make fun of you.
So anyway, that's it. No match at all, no nothing. Finn Balor, PRINCE FREAKING DEVITT, is getting a Main Event push on Raw, and I fear if the ratings go down, Vince is going to blame him and by October he'll be wrestling Neville on the Hell in a Cell Pre-Show. (Which would be a phenomenal match, but totally not the point)
And if they keep doing this with Finn into the fall, the collective sound of people reaching for their remotes and switching to Monday Night Football will be heard from SPACE.
I'm worried, y'all.
(Note: Seth Rollins has a match with Sami Zayn later in the night, but we'll tackle that in a bit.)
First, poor Mark Henry. First, they're sending him to Rio as The Official WWE Ambassador to The Olympic Games, because that's totally not a made up thing. I mean, that's a ten hour flight. I'm a big dude, but I'm not Mark Henry big, and airplane seats are THE WORST. So I hope they popped for first class for the ticket, because DAMN. Then he's probably going to get Zika, and the water's not safe to drink, and the police are on strike. Sounds like a lovely time.
So there's that, then Stephanie tells him TO HIS FACE that she thought he'd operate more in a mentorship capacity on Raw. That's gotta sting. So Mark says he wants to re-open the Hall of Pain, which has been shuttered and boarded up for like five years. Foley gives Henry a shot at the US Title, and for a second, in this wild and wacky, unpredictable New Era, I actually thought they were going to put the title on Henry to add to the publicity of the totally-not-made-up Ambassadorship thing. I mean, he could carry the United States Championship belt around the motherfreaking OLYMPICS. It's too perfect, they're definitely going to do this, I thought.
But nope. I forgot that this is Mark Henry, and Rusev is Rusev. I did find it kind of disappointing that Rusev was able to lock in the Accolade on such a huge dude. I thought this was the perfect time to give him a secondary finisher, but then I remembered that like four guys on the whole roster are allowed to have secondary finishers. (Remember that point when we're discussing Sami Zayn in a few.)
So yeah, Rusev beats Mark Henry, and launches into an Anti-American tirade, and about 10 seconds into it, I was wondering who they were going to have come out and challenge him to the title.
Cesaro? No. Kevin Owens? Definitely not. Titus O'Neil? No, they did that already.
And then ...
BAH GAWD, THAT'S ROMAN REIGNS'S MUSIC!!!!
First of all, shout outs to Dumbfounded Mets Fan Guy and Aviator Shades Indoors Guy. You make that picture even better, and I love you for being you.
Second of all, I am so down for this feud, you guys. Dropping Reigns to the midcard, building him up naturally, the way they should have done in the first place, that is going to be so good for him. Having Reigns in the US Title picture elevates the title, and elevates Rusev, particularly if Rusev picks up the win at Summerslam. Either way, I hope their rivalry continues through the fall. These are two talented big dudes, let them stiff the Christmas out of each other for a few months.
So this match is like a "Who's More Disgruntled Challenge" brought about by each man's reaction to their place in the draft order. Each guy had a interview on the Network's Draft Special that, at times, ventured into "shooty" territory, and Steph and Mick both noticed. I like that they're acknowledging this on Raw, and I like the next thing even more. Foley says that he thought of Cesaro as a Top Five Pick, but then he saw the medical report on Cesaro's shoulder, the same report that both Steph and Shane saw, and Cesaro was deemed to big a risk to go that high in the draft. That's a kayfabe explanation that I'm willing to accept.
Now, for the match, Foley says that whoever wins gets a future title shot. Not sure if that's The US Title or The Universal Title (god I hate that name), so we'll just have to see.
The match is decent, but the finish is HOT FIRE.
For real, that was so smooth and so slick, it was like a dolphin coated in KY Jelly. And no, I don't know why the dolphin is coated in KY Jelly, it just is. Maybe that's its thing. Who are you to judge?
So I guess we get to see Cesaro in a championship match soon. Cool with me.
Also, after the match, these two guys had a pull-apart brawl, so maybe this is a real rivalry brewing. Also cool with me.
I approve. You may continue with your booking plans.
Okay. So. Sami Zayn.
First of all, you NEED to let this guy win a match with the Blue Thunder Bomb. Every time he hits it, for a split second, I get excited because it might be the finish of the match, and by the time the ref's hand is finished counting "One," I come back to my senses and I remember that he never pins anyone with the Blue Thunder Bomb. He couldn't pin James Ellsworth with a Blue Thunder Bomb. But why not? It's objectively a bad-ass maneuver:
That thing should be his actual finisher, to be honest. But even if not, you need to let him finish a match with it, just so we all don't get so desensitized by it that we start to view it as a glorified back suplex. Zayn is good enough and important enough that he deserves a secondary finisher.
Which brings me to my second point:
Sami Zayn turned in one of the greatest performances of the year in one of the greatest matches of the year ... THREE TIMES SINCE APRIL. And I'm not even counting his involvement in the Wrestlemania IC Ladder Match, or the Fatal 4-Way IC match at Extreme Rules, or The MITB Ladder Match. Nope, just counting one on one matches, on his resume, just since April: vs Shinsuke Nakamura at Takeover Dallas, vs Kevin Owens at Payback, and vs Kevin Owens again at Battleground.
He a factory that just makes great matches. And what's his reward? At Summerslam, arguably the 2nd Biggest Platform in WWE, he currently has nothing to do.
Kevin Owens is backing up Chris Jericho against Enzo & Cass.
Reigns and Rusev are facing off for the US Title.
Cesaro and Sheamus are locked in mortal combat (not to be confused with Mortal Kombat, which would admittedly be way cooler).
Who is left for Sami to work? Big Show? Bo Dallas?
They need to find a program for him immediately, something befitting a performer who has been so consistently excellent over the past five months.
But they're not treating him as such. According to last night, he's an enhancement talent for top flight heels. He's Dolph Ziggler from 2015. And that's not cool, bro.
He should be Dolph Ziggler from right now. Give Sami a title shot. He deserves it.
(clap clap, clap-clap-clap)
Okay last one before the lightning round.
I love the idea of super jokey New Day against zero-f*cks-to-give Gallows & Anderson. Especially when they do stuff to Big E that forces WWE.com to publish injury updates about the status of his junk.
I almost want E's deal to be damaged, just so I can see how he would retaliate. I mean, it'll probably involve butthole-themed cereal somehow, but the fun is in the not knowing.
And now for the rest of the show...
Six videos in the above playlist, let's take it home.
Titus O'Neil vs Darren Young
I can't explain it, but I am so on board for this feud. I hope this gets a slot on the Summerslam pre-show. Titus appears to have turned heel at some point, and heel Titus is a monster in the ring. He's tossing Darren Young around like a rag doll. Then he wins with a roll-up and a fistful of tights. So heelish. This is made even better by the fact that these two used to be The PrimeTime Players, who were the most recent Tag Champs not named the New Day. They had an amicable split, which means we never got to see a Tag Team Break-Up feud, which means we missed out on THIS. I cannot explain this. I am so excited. What is wrong with me?
Then Titus gets into a screaming match with Backlund backstage, and Darren Young flies in to the rescue. "DON'T YOU EVER TALK TO MY LIFE COACH LIKE THAT!!!"
I hope this is the beginning of a respectfully told May-December gay romance story where Darren Young stands up for the love of his life, like George McFly decking Biff Tannen outside The Enchantment Under The Sea dance.
It probably isn't that, but that's what I want.
Nia Jax vs A Local Competitor
Can't wait to see Nia do this to the Summer Rae's of the roster. Have her go after Paige or Alicia Fox for a while, and don't just drop her into a feud with Sasha after Summerslam. My fear is that she'll be pushed too much too soon, and the fans will turn on her, and that would suck.
Braun Strowman vs A Local Competitor Not Named James Ellsworth
I miss the chinless wonder, but the new guy has a great answer when Saxton asks him why he'd agree to this match. "I'm getting paid $1000, and if I win, I get $5000."
Ryback is sitting at home on his couch, going "SEE! I TOLD YOU!"
Anyway, the match: BRAUN SMASH.
Here is my thought. They're putting this guy over too much to have him sit out Summerslam. And they just happen to have another guy with nothing to do.
Yup. It's the IWC's worst nightmare. I think they're going to have Sami Zayn job to Braun Strowman.
I sure as hell wouldn't put it past them.
Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal
This better pay off for poor Heath Slater. He's getting some quality time on the mic, which is where he can really shine, and I hope he comes out of this better than he went into it.
Mahal, meanwhile, decide to show up to Raw wearing two pieces of a three piece blue leisure suit and got a contract out of it.
Relax though, all you Mahal haters, he's just going to be on Superstars, jobbing to Neville and Sin Cara. You'd rather they bring up Tye Dillinger, and bury him in that role? The brand needs a heel enhancement talent, and that's what they got in Jinder Mahal.
Golden Truth vs The Shining Stars
nope. nope. nope nope nope. nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope.
Unless this Poké-miscommunication leads to the break up of the worst tag team in WWE history...
Then I will fondly remember this segment as the best day of my life.
That's it for this week's Uncooked Raw Reaction. Sound off in the comments below and tell me how wrong I am about everything.
No really, I like it.
Until next time, I've been Alex Pawlowski,
and this is me thinking about Sami Zayn
jobbing to Big Ass McStrongman.