After a lackluster episode of Monday Night Raw last week, Shane McMahon’s presence was felt this week as more changes were made to the company’s stale routine. The biggest change being a tag team tournament to determine the number one contenders for The New Day’s tag team titles. The tournament is a sure way to reinvigorate the tag team division just in time for Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows’ premiere on to the main roster, and is sure to deliver some really interesting matches in the future. And with a lot of focus on the intercontinental championship, the title has a chance to be elevated once again as the top midcard championship to have for future WWE champions. Overall, this episode of Raw set the stage for the change within the company that fans have wanted for years, and has set the stage to make new big stars out of the talent that have been ignored on the roster before.
What I liked
Despite running the show last week, it basically remained the same for the most part. Little changes, such as AJ Styles becoming number one contender for the WWE title, were few and far in between. The show was essentially the same as it was with the authority in charge. But Shane embraced the spotlight this week, and we were treated to seeing him actually involved in the show this time. From throwing Kevin Owens out of the building, to putting together incredible matches, Shane McMahon made his presence felt this time around as boss for the night. Although the show is still being run by Vince, having a new face on screen in the authority spot is refreshing. Especially since it allows WWE to test the waters with a few changes in their booking technique. It all gives off a refreshing feeling to a stale product that was desperately needed for years. Hopefully, Shane will stick around longer. Because his involvement with the show has become the best part of it so far.
The show was full of great moments like The Bullet Club finally making their debut, an incredible match between Kevin Owens and Cesaro, AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn, Enzo and Cass giving The Dudley Boys a verbal assault, and even a great women’s match between Charlotte and Natalya. The entire three hours of the show was filled with great in ring action, and some of the best backstage story moving segments Raw has had in a long time. The Miz segment was a reminder of how effective of a heel he actually is, Bray Wyatt played up his new face status perfectly without betraying his character, and Roman Reigns was once again used effectively without the feeling of the show revolving entirely around him. The show absolutely delivered this week with enough engaging matches, storylines, and future setups to please any wrestling fan and remind us that WWE isn’t done for just yet. There’s still life in the old company, and it was on display last night.
What I disliked
In all honesty, there were only a few things about the show to truly dislike. One was Roman Reigns’ promo. Repeating what I guess will be his new catchphrase moving forward, it just seemed awkward to hear it for the second time. Claiming that he’s “Not a good guy, not a bad guy, but The guy” seems like something a superstar would say as a one off thing instead of something worth repeating again. I fact, the entire segment with Reigns and the League of Nations, aside from Alberto Del Rio, felt a little off. Reigns didn’t seem as comfortable with a mic, and Sheamus and Rusev added nothing to make the segment work better. But Bray Wyatt saved the segment with an impromptu appearance. And while the segment didn’t work well, the match that followed later in the night was fine for what it was.
Another thing that seemed off was Dr. Phil’s appearance on the show. I could have done with less of captain obvious with a PHD pointing out issues with Charlotte and Rick Flair’s relationship. And this thing WWE has going on with Goldust and R-Truth has to come to an end. It’s not interesting. It’s time to move on from it.
Aside from a few small complaints, this episode of Monday Night Raw actually delivered in freshness in a way that WWE hasn’t done in a long time. It was an acknowledgement that they not only hear their audience, but are trying to deliver a better product for us. The key word is Try. Because in the end, that was all fans asked for. We’ve faithfully watched their television shows every week dedicating three hours of our time to them, we’ve forked over money to subscribe to their network that we only usually watch once a month despite their content, and we’ve purchased our tickets to their shows knowing full well that we will be ignored and probably edited out of the show if they see fit to do so. The least WWE could give us is to actually try. And this episode of Monday Night Raw showed that they still have enough respect for their fans to do so.