WWE Raw on the USA Network – August 29, 2016
Live from Houston, Texas at the Toyota Center
RAW opened with a memorial graphic for Mr. Fuji, who died yesterday at the age of 82. They also showed a Fuji video package during the second hour of the show.
The show kicked off with Corey Graves standing in the ring as Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, Big Cass, and Seth Rollins sat in chairs set up in the ring. I enjoyed the opening segment quite a bit, which is usually a rarity.
I thought all involved did a good job of setting the stage for the night’s big main event, which we found out was going to be a “Fatal 4-Way Elimination” match. I’m not a fan of the elimination stipulation, but we’ll see how it goes.
One thing to note during the opening segment was the humor. This was a funny segment thanks largely to Kevin Owens, who is just all around fantastic, and Seth Rollins. Big Cass had some good stuff as well, both in funny lines and also in getting to talk about the match and his role in it.
The only one who didn’t say anything was Roman Reigns. Instead, he sucker punched Kevin Owens, got Big Cass out of the ring, and nailed Seth Rollins with a Superman Punch to stand victorious.
Match 1: Chris Jericho vs. Neville – Remember back when Neville broke his ankle doing a baseball slide? Yeah, that was in a match against Chris Jericho. Thankfully, that didn’t happen this time and these two put on a really solid outing. I’d like to see a full blown feud develop between these two, largely because I think Neville needs it. Would be a Jericho/Evan Bourne type thing, although hopefully actually paying off for Neville. Jericho won with a Liontamer (i.e. pulling back with the knee on Neville’s head).
Winner: Chris Jericho / *** ½
Match 2: Nia Jax vs. Hayn – Hayn is independent wrestler Hayne Young. This was your basic Nia Jax squash. The lovely Hayn of course got no offense and the match was over in a little over a minute. I like squash matches against local enhancement talent as much as anyone, but not so much when it’s only being done for the same two characters each week. These matches aren’t helping Nia Jax get over any. Would like to see more from Hayn though.
Winner: Nia Jax / ½*
Match 3: Sami Zayn vs. Jinder Mahal – I don’t get why they brought back Jinder Mahal to immediately make him a jobber once again. Sure he’s not a fantastic talent, but more could have been done with him to maybe make fans not just immediately know he’s going to lose. As is, Mahal is doing the job of the local enhancement talent, only he get’s to travel with the brand. Sami did sell his ankle injury from last week, but still was able to easily put away Mahal with the Helluva Kick fairly quickly. An overall pointless match.
Winner: Sami Zayn / **
Match 4: Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and Dana Brooke vs. Kofi Kingston, Big and Bayley – This match was set up backstage when Dana Brooke interrupted Bayley hanging out with The New Day. I like all involved in this match, and this one got a decent amount of time. When the men were in the ring, it was fairly back and forth with both teams getting to look good. Of course Bayley was able to best Dana Brooke for the majority of the times they were in the ring. At one point, Big E and Kofi did the Unicorn Stampede on Karl Anderson, and it ended with Bayley getting in on it as well which was kinda cool. Of course the match ended with Bayley getting a easy rollup victory on Dana Brooke. All told, an entertaining match and one that Charlotte was on commentary for.
Winners: The New Day & Bayley / ***
Match 5: Cesaro vs. Sheamus – This was the second match of the Best of Seven series. Sheamus went into the match with a 1-0 lead over Cesaro. I enjoy watching these two wrestle; I think they mesh fairly well. This one got about 11 minutes and had a pretty cool finish. Outside the ring, Cesaro came charging after Sheamus, but Sheamus managed to backdrop him into the new fancy LED ring post. Sheamus then rolled Cesaro back in the ring and locked in a Texas Cloverleaf, still one of my favorite submission moves, and due to the wicked backdrop into the post, Cesaro was forced to tap out. A noteworthy thing here, Corey Graves pointed out on commentary that it was smart for Cesaro to go ahead and tap because there were more matches in the series to come and no need to risk injury early. It’s a little thing, but it goes a long ways. A good TV match.
Winner: Sheamus / *** ½
Match 6: Braun Strowman vs. Americo – See what I said about Nia Jax? Yeah apply that here to Braun Strowman. I like Strowman, I think he could be a good big monster heel at some point. Nothing he does is super impressive right now though, and I feel like maybe taking the Ryback approach of giving him two or three opponents at once might go over a little better than the now tired weekly sub-one minute squash of some local talent who looks like a joke.
Winner: Braun Strowman / ½*
An entirely pointless in ring segment between Paul Heyman and Stephanie McMahon took place. Heyman paid Stephanie Brock’s $500 fine by using 500 $1 bills. Stephanie slapped the stack away, did her shtick about a storm coming and avenging her brother, and Heyman groveled and apologized to which Stephanie accepted. I’m not entirely sure how long the segment lasted, but it felt like 10 minutes and was a complete waste of time. I have no idea what was accomplished here or what the point was.
Match 7: Darren Young w/Bob Backlund vs. Titus O’Neil – The show is really dragging at this point. I don’t know of anyone who cares about Darren Young or now heel Titus O’Neil. Titus dominated the match and then got cocky. This led to Darren Young hitting a Crucifix for the pinfall in just about four minutes. Afterwards, Titus laid out both Backlund and Young.
Winner: Darren Young / * ½
Match 8: Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens vs. Big Cass in a Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match for the WWE Universal Championship – WWE did a good job of building to this match throughout the night. It started with the opening segment, and from there each individual had a video package talking about winning the championship while also showing how they got to the match. Simple and effective, and gave the show a building focus to the big main event.
Big Cass was the first one eliminated, but he had a good showing and his elimination came almost 13 minutes into the match. He was eliminated by Kevin Owens. Sadly for the Houston crowd, Big Cass was the most over guy in the match, with Kevin Owens a close second. Houston is definitely a “anyone but Roman” city it would seem.
The match became a very good triple threat match with Cass’ departure. Twice the crowd chanted “this is awesome,” which admittedly doesn’t take much, but it was pretty darn good with Rollins, Owens, and Reigns getting spots and lots of near falls.
Out of nowhere, Triple H appeared and nailed Roman Reigns with a Pedigree outside of the ring. He then rolled Reigns and Rollins into the ring and Rollins eliminated Reigns. Triple H then went and tossed Kevin Owens back in the ring while Seth looked on. Shockingly, Triple H turned around and hit Seth Rollins with the Pedigree while a stunned Kevin Owens looked on from the corner before quickly covering Rollins for the 1-2-3 to become the NEW Universal Champion. A still stunned Owens accepted the title from Triple H and then shook hands and celebrated with him. Owens got on his knees and stared at the title while the crowd chanted “you deserve it” to close out the show. Stephanie and Foley looked on from ringside with a shocked and displeased look on their faces.
Winner and NEW Universal Champion: Kevin Owens / ****
Overall Show: RAW was a bit of mess, but that’s largely the nature of a three hour beast. There was some good stuff here though. The opening was great, Chris Jericho was great backstage with Tom Philips, and the first match (Jericho/Neville) was good. The show then sea-sawed a bit before the main event, which was pretty great and had a shocking and memorable ending. Triple H is back, but where does he stand on the RAW power structure? It would appear that Kevin Owens is the new Triple H guy, and one has to imagine that Seth Rollins is now going to be a babyface. What happens next between Triple H, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins? Who’s going to get first crack at Kevin Owens? What do Stephanie and Foley think of all of this? I give WWE alot of credit, this is now two weeks in a row where they’ve made you want to tune in to next week’s show to see what happens. For a long time that never happened, so don’t take it for granted.
Overall, I enjoyed this show. There were a few good matches and a great main event, but also some dull but yet quick and painless squash matches. I can’t wait for next week, good job Red brand.