Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Weekly Wrasslin' Wroundup (Raw)

Two Great tastes that go great together!
After last week's downer of a show, this week's Raw was pretty solid, arranged entirely around the four-way for the Universal Championship, about which more later, but ultimately, how things work out will depend on what the ending meant, and where it's leading.

Our four competitors are in the ring, trading insults and banter. Roman Reigns stays quiet through the whole thing until it's time for him to start the the interview brawl, which Roman wins because Roman. We do learn that it's an elimination rules match, which means it'll probably be the last half hour of the show.

Next up, Jericho wrestles Jericho because Jericho interfered in the Neville-Owens match last week. Which I'm glad they reminded me about, because I'd forgotten. Jericho works the match as about the most classic old-school heel ever and still somehow gets Y2J chants. Neville's ankle injury really set him back with crowds. We've got until Sept. 19 for the debut of the Cruiserweight Division where hopefully he'll get a chance to shine. But here he loses, tapping to the most convincing Walls/Liontamers he's put on anyone in a while.

Bayley gets some backstage time with The New Day, which is some fun chemistry, and sets up a mixed tag match with Gallows, Anderson, and Dana Brooke. We can't watch that right away, though, because Nia Jax has to squash another local talent. Oh and we also have to wait for Anderson and Gallows to try to be funny again. Now, after the Dudley thing, they're in the retiring wrestlers business. It's worse than the ball jokes.

And we have to wait for Sami Zayn to get a win back after last week, and it's Jinder Mahal who does the honors, even though Sami is still selling the ankle from last week and having a lot of heart. This is not a story the crowd gives a whole lot of shits about. Luckily, it's over fairly quick. Keep in mind that Sami Zayn will, in all likelihood, be part of two of the five best WWE matches this year.

Finally, we get the mixed tag match, with Charlotte at ringside, which would normally mean shenanigans, but with the announcer table up on the entrance ramp, that doesn't happen. Instead, we get a fun, slightly goofy match that gives New Day and Bayley wins two weeks in a row over The Clerb and Dana.

After.a Big Cass profile for the four-way, it's Cesaro-Sheamus 2/7. It could be argued that Cesaro is bringing the best out of Sheamus, but if so, Sheamus' best is still mediocre and predictable. We get a new finish for the second match, with Cesaro getting back bodydropped into the new LED ringpost, setting up Sheamus to win via Cloverleaf submission. With Sheamus up 2-0, I now expect Cesaro to have to win four in a row and come from behind.

The video package for the late Mr. Fuji is nicely put together, as those things usually are. It's a sad commentary when you're surprised a pro wrestler makes it to 82.

Kevin Owens gets his package before the latest Braun Strohman squash. Yawn. But then they run a Cruiserweight promo introducing specific wrestlers, and the first ones are Tommasso Ciampa, Cedric Alexander, and Tommasso Ciampa! That's awesome.

Less awesome is a talky bit where Stephanie McMahon discusses the Orton-Lesnar Summerslam match with Paul Heyman. The crowd goes "CM Punk Chant" on the segment, which is never a good sign. Heyman starts paying Lesnar's $500 fine in singles, which is a fun bit, but then it gets weird, with Heyman alternatingly antagonizing and sucking up to Stephanie. I don't know what that was or why that was.

Oh, hey, the Titus O'Neil / Darren Young thing is still going on. They have a bathroom break match before the main event. Darren Young wins with a rollup, Titus gets the post-match beatdown, and none of this is going anywhere.

So, um, we have a new Universal Champion. I don't know what to think about that match or what it means, because as of right now, the story dynamics are weird. Cass was eliminated first and early, because it was an honor just to be nominated. Reigns, Rollins, and Owens had a solid, well-paced match for a while... and then HHH came out, Peidgreed Reigns on the outside, dragged Rollins over Reigns to eliminate Reigns, then swerved and Pedigreed Rollins, giving Owens the win and the Universal Championship.

So here's what you have. You have a heel, HHH, getting a face reaction for a surprise return, first causing an ostensible face that everyone boos to be eliminated, and then a heel who was his former ally to be eliminated, to give the victory to yet another heel, who gets a "YOU DESERVE IT" chant from the crowd for being handed the belt by a heel authority figure, all seemingly to the surprise of Stephanie, another heel authority figure. In other words, WHAT THE FUCK? Presumably this will all be explained next week, and I'll reserve judgment until then and I know whether we have Indignant Face Seth Rollins vs. The Authority What Betrayed Him, or do we have Renegade HHH and a Face Kevin Owens against an estranged, angry Steph and Rollins. Or some other permutation.

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