If you haven’t been paying attention, WWE is clearly aware that their audience is becoming disengaged with their product, and the company is taking big steps in order to help stem that tide.
First, WWE brought back Undertaker last week and are booking him in a high-profile match with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam in a few weeks. Last night, WWE seemed to finally understand its fan base wants more matches. Not just more wrestling, but more fresh matches. More matches we haven’t seen, and not the same old recycled contests.
There were a few things different about this week’s Raw. First, Michael Cole actually ran down advertised matches at the top of the show. That was refreshing. WWE touted the “First Time Ever” concept a lot, which tells me they understand the thirst of their audience.
Also, the Divas were given ample time on this show. Both top-of-the-hour segments, at 9 and 10 p.m., featured Divas matches. When WWE says this is a Divas’ revolution, it might be time to actually believe them, because they’re giving Sasha Banks, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch some solid air time, as well as doing a good job incorporating their current roster…at least the ones who can wrestle.
Sasha beat Paige in a very good 14-minute match. Paige is over enough to take the loss and by beating her, it helps Sasha Banks arrive.
Later in the night, in the main event, John Cena defended his U.S. Title against WWE Champion Seth Rollins. At first glance, I wasn’t a fan. Giving away the main event of a pay-per-view just weeks before it was going to happen felt like a panic move for WWE, in an effort to deliver one-night ratings. It felt like they were hot-shotting.
But it was excellent in execution. The booking made perfect sense and while I didn’t necessarily like the idea at the beginning, I enjoyed the match and I thought it’s leading to them doing some good work at SummerSlam.
There is now the obvious opening that Cena defeated Rollins. Can he do it again for the World Title? That’s the angle WWE should play here. At the same time, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Authority getting tired of Rollins, especially now that they might, theoretically, need to do more work in order to make sure Rollins retains at SummerSlam. It would make sense if they added some sort of gimmick to the SummerSlam match, even though realistically I don’t think it’s needed.
It’s also possible that WWE tries to get more than one match out of Rollins-Cena, which would be smart for business.
Throw in Cena’s gruesome broken nose, after Rollins tried to execute a knee to his face, and it really added to the drama. It goes to show, again, that blood in moderation works. It’s a simulated fight, after all.
1. Big Show def. Dean Ambrose
2. Neville def. Fandango
3. Sasha Banks def. Paige
4. The Lucha Dragons def. Los Matadores
5. Becky Lynch def. Charlotte
6. Randy Orton def. Kevin Owens by DQ through Sheamus’ interference
7. John Cena def. Seth Rollins to retain the U.S. Title
1. It was strange to book the SummerSlam main event for free, on Raw, just a few weeks before the event. But it actually came across well, especially with Cena’s unexpected broken nose really adding to the drama of the match.
2. Big Show’s win over Dean Ambrose was really well done. It made Ambrose look like a resilient babyface that just would not quit. At the same time, it helped get Big Show over as a monster who is unrelenting.
3. Bray Wyatt delivered an awesome promo in one of the show’s non-wrestling segments, explaining why Luke Harper came back to the Wyatt Family. Wyatt basically said he let his pets go off on their own, but they returned back to their master. It was creepy and cult-ish, which is Wyatt’s wheelhouse for promos.
4. Owens-Orton was the only match I’d call a disappointment, in that it failed to live up to what was probably too-lofty expectations. Orton just seems milk toast and could use a reboot of some kind as a character. He’s at a point where a total change obviously isn’t needed, but some kind of nuanced change id probably needed.
5. WWE announced that SummerSlam is moving to four hours, because three hours of Raw just isn’t enough, I guess.
A very good show, overall. The focus more on the wrestling aspect of the program I thought made for a better show, and helped fill the three hours better.