- The New Day def. Randy Orton and Roman Reigns via Pinfall
What a fun way to start the show off! New Day is killing it as a heel group. It seems like they are finally having fun with their gimmick. And it was fun to see Randy Orton nodding his head and enjoying New Day’s theme song when it hit the arena. New Day dominated the match for the most part, but Orton received the biggest pop of the match. The ending gave New Day a win without hurting either Reigns or Orton. And it seems like WWE is using The New Day as tag team champs a lot better than they did Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. They might actually bring prestige back to the titles if handled right.
- Tyson Kidd and Cesaro def. The Ascension via Pinfall
Although The Ascension lost another match, they actually looked better in the ring than they have in recent weeks. It seems like they are still in jobber territory though. But at least Tyson Kidd and Cesaro scored a needed win after the recent luck they’ve had.
- Dean Ambrose def. Seth Rollins via Pinfall
What a hell of a match! Especially considering that it took place on Raw, but brought the intensity of a high stakes pay per view main event. From the vicious clothesline from Ambrose, to the devastating power bomb on to the outside rail from Rollins, this match was a reminder that WWE has an amazing roster despite their creative team. Ambrose getting the win and adding himself to the match at Payback was just icing on the cake for him after finally getting a pinfall win over Seth Rollins.
- Rusev def. Fandango via Pinfall
Basically, another squash match for Rusev.
- Stardust def. R-Truth via Count Out
The match was a little boring, and had a goofy ending. I’m not sure where this feud is going, but it’s definitely not interesting to watch.
- John Cena def. Sami Zayn via Pinfall
Another great match for the night, and a huge pop for Sami Zayn. I didn’t like the way the match ended, but it seems like Cena’s matches have suffered from rushed endings since the beginning of his open challenge gimmick. But John Cena giving Zayn props at the end and allowing him to take in the crowd reaction was pretty cool of him. And if all of that wasn’t enough, we received a special guest appearance from the Hitman himself.
- King Barrett and Sheamus def. Dolph Ziggler and Neville via Pinfall
The match wasn’t as long as it could have been, and moved pretty fast, but it kept the momentum that was built throughout the night and delivered a decent match for the time allowed.
- Randy Orton vs Roman Reigns simply ends
Not a bad match, but the ending took all of the steam out of it. It just ends with both superstars being attacked before Dean Ambrose got involved. But it didn’t kill the vibe of the night at least.
The show suffered from bad story telling involving The Authority. Both Kane and Seth Rollins have contradicted themselves and their relationship for the last few weeks. After Kane intentionally set up a triple threat match for Rollins at Payback, he contradicted himself by making Orton and Reigns take on The New Day as if they were being punished for being in the triple threat he actually put them in. Later, he’d give Dean Ambrose an opportunity to join the match at Payback as a way to screw Rollins over again, only to make Orton and Reigns fight each other in in order to orchestrate an attack on both men. Whose side is Kane on? And why does Seth Rollins still trust him? Even Michael Cole got a laugh out of how ridiculous this storyline is when Rollins was on commentary for the main event.
Another moment of bad writing, or lack of writing, was when the Bellas were attacked before Nikki’s match could start. It seems like WWE still doesn’t understand that women are people as well. And people have motivations and ambitions. So a heel group being attacked doesn’t turn them in to a face group. It just makes the crowd not care at all. If Brie and Nikki Bella are suppose to be a face team now, then WWE need to actually write them as a face group and give them a reason for the turn. People love to hate the Bellas and consider them as a huge part of what is wrong with the Divas division. Fans need a reason to care about them, or WWE will continue to receive the same dead reaction from fans every time the Bellas face other heels.
But those issues with the episode are just lingering problems from episode to episode. So I can’t fault this particular episode for being haunted by past failures. As it stands on its own, it’s one of the best episodes of Monday Night Raw in a long time. The Authority didn’t start the show off with a long promo, the promo we did receive at the beginning of the show was actually entertaining, the majority of the matches were actually good, and the show managed to remain exciting and engaging throughout its entire three hour span.
I’m actually excited to see how things play out on the way to the pay per view. Hopefully, Raw can maintain this level of excellence leading in to it. Because I’m tired of writing negative reviews about the product. So as a reviewer, It actually feels good to enjoy Raw instead of feeling like its an obligation for a change.