RAW Ramblings – July 18th 2016
Dunkin Donuts Centre: Providence, RI
The go-home show for BattleGround and final RAW before the Draft was quite the newsworthy show, however they managed to not only make BattleGround seem like a completely insignificant event but also gave us a bleak look into the future once the brand split is in full effect.
Let’s start with the obvious: RAW is simply too long. This is not a new revelation, but if you thought three hours dragged with a full roster then what on earth is the show going to be like with 40% less talent to fill up the airtime? Take this show in particular. We got the usual 20 minute opening segment promos; at the top of the second hour we had another talking segment that went 15 minutes which led into a match that went a further 19 minutes. Then, the main event went nearly 24 minutes and the crowd, most of whom had been in the building for four hours at this point, were completely burned out and too tired to make any noise for what was supposed to be a big WWE title match. All of these segments/matches involved main eventers and guys who are supposedly “over,” yet once again the three hour format made it virtually impossible for the fans in the arena and viewers at home to stay invested for the entire show and the performers continue to not be over to the level they should be.
Next we have the issue of the brand split, which was a complete failure the last time they tried it in 2002 and led to the worst down period the company had seen since the dark ages of the mid-ninties. Maybe there are a few people naive enough to think WWE will learn from their mistakes and do things right this time, but the fact that they are doing exactly the same things that assisted the failure of the original brand split is a clear indication that they have in fact not learnt anything. First of all, this company has never ever been able to do a promotional war storyline correctly and the chances of them creating the cut-throat environment of the Monday Night War is virtually impossible. We saw what happened the last time SmackDown beat RAW in the ratings under Paul Heyman’s tenure as booker and it is ludicrous to expect Vince to just sit idly by and watch RAW become the number two show. They are also splitting the World title into two, just like last time, and each show will have its own World Champion, completely devaluing both belts. The US & IC titles will be brand exclusive too, so that’s more worthless belts for the depleted rosters to fight over. They are bringing back the Cruiserweight division as another RAW exclusive. Again, this company has never pushed the idea of a lighter weight-class properly and they couldn’t even give poor old SmackDown the new CW division to make that show feel special, because as noted RAW has to be number one. Then we have the utterly ridiculous notion of brand exclusive PPVs, although at least in the Network era WWE don’t really have to worry about tanking the buy-rates. Still, go back and watch some of the SmackDown exclusive PPVs from 2004 and tell me that separate PPVs is a good idea.
And with that in mind, let’s get onto this RAW show. Stephanie & Shane opened the show and exchanged some cringe-worthy banter before revealing the GM s for each show. Steph brought out Mick Foley as the new RAW GM and Shane introduced Daniel Bryan as the GM of SmackDown – Bryan got the biggest pop of anybody on the show by a mile. Foley & Bryan both cut promos; Foley kept forgetting his place and had to be fed lines by Stephanie. Bryan was tremendous and said he had beaten the Authority before and would do so again as the GM of SmackDown. Throughout the rest of the show, we got backstage skits of different wrestlers talking with Bryan & Foley to play up the Draft. The highlight was Jack Swagger, who looked like a jacked up Gilbert Lowe from Revenge of the Nerds.
So the main event was Dean Ambrose defending the WWE Championship against Seth Rollins, which they didn’t bother hyping all that much besides a few graphics and such so it was clear there was going to be some kind of screwy finish. Steph & Foley and Shane & Bryan were at ringside. Ambrose & Rollins had a decent match, however these two hated blood rivals started off exchanging Arm-Ringers. Fans didn’t really get into it until the near-falls and there was a completely unnecessary ref bump which led to the finish. Rollins delivered a Suplerplex and they did the old double-pin deal while the ref counted three. Stephanie & Foley applauded and Rollins celebrated like he won the title. Steph hugged Rollins and declared him the new WWE Champion; Shane & Bryan protested and the announcers played dumb, asking redundant things like, “Who won this thing?!” Show went off the air with Rollins celebrating and the babyfaces looking like idiots. – You would think this would lead to the creation of the second World title, however after RAW ended on TV they did a brief post-show on the Network, completely unannounced so nobody watching RAW had a clue that they needed to go to the Network. Basically, they announced that Ambrose was still the Champion and he laid out Rollins with the Dirty Deeds DDT. In all likelihood this will lead to the two World titles, but they made BattleGround on Sunday, with the big Shield Three-way, feel like a complete afterthought.
The prolonged segment at the top of the second hour saw John Cena come out and he introduced Enzo Amore & Big Cass. Enzo cut a great promo with all his catchphrases and Cena played the old man who didn’t understand the kids. Finally, the Club showed up; Anderson mentioned his hot Asian wife and said they would beat up Cena & Enzo & Cass. New Day were out next; Styles & The Club made fun of the for being scarred of the Wyatts. Xavier started talking about Pokemon Go – I wanted to throw my TV out of the window at this point. After all this nonsense and 15 minutes of talking, the Wyatts made their entrance and thankfully everybody shut up. Match was The Club & The Wyatts over Cena, Enzo, Big Cass & New Day in 19:05 when Styles pinned Enzo with the Styles Clash. It was decent but by the time all the talking was over I was not interested in seeing any of these men wrestle. – This set up the Club vs. Cena, Enzo & Cass and Wyatts vs. New Days trios matches for BattleGround.
Beneath the Remains: Sami Zayn & Cesaro beat Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho in 11:55; it was fine but these guys have had much better tags. Sami pinned Jericho. Darren Young w/Bob Backlund pinned Alberto Del Rio in 2:25 with a roll-up. Miz & Maryse were on commentary and Miz tried to interfere, however for once the babyface didn’t fall for it and Young got the win. Imagine reading that Darren Young beat Alberto Del Rio in 2:25 when Del Rio came back last year and beat John Cena clean. Baron Corbin squashed Sin Cara in 1:15 with the End of Days; Corbin beat him up afterwards and Kalisto ran down for the save. Corbin kicked his ass too and made them both look like chumps. Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch went to a DQ with Charlotte & Dana Brooke in 2:20 when Natalya attacked Becky; match sucked, Dana looked awful yet again. Rusev & Sheamus beat Zack Ryder & Dolph Ziggler in a nothing 4 minute match when Rusev submitted Ziggler with the Accolade. They also hyped Randy Orton vs. Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam and announced Orton for Chris Jercho’s Highlight Reel at BattleGround.