This Week in WWE – Raw (7-25-16)

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With a new era beginning this week in WWE, it’s time to revive an old series here on FYIG with This Week in WWE. The new format for this series will probably have multiple articles per week for Raw, Smackdown, NXT, and special events/ppvs. I’ll include analysis and my take on where WWE may be going with specific storylines. Let’s take a look at this week’s Raw (7-25-16) with a WWE Women’s Championship Match and the announcement of a brand new title!

Stephanie and Mick announce the WWE Universal Championship

Raw Commisioner Stephanie McMahon and Raw GM Mick Foley start off the show talking about how Roman Reigns lost the title for them. They go on to say that Raw is without a champion for the first time in 1209 shows. I’m almost certain that’s not factually true considering that their have been vacated world titles and the original brand extension, but this is WWE history where things change as they see fit. This sets up two Fatal Four Way matches to determine who will face off at the end of the show for the #1 Contender to the WWE Universal Championship. Yeah, Universal Championship. I don’t hate it, but it makes it feel a lot more prestigious than the WWE Championship.

Roman Reigns and Finn Balor ended up facing off for the #1 contender spot and low and behold, Finn Balor came up with the victory on his first night on Raw. There is definitely a paradigm shift in WWE right now. Balor has more than proven he is ready and he;s been thrust right to the top. Maybe this is a way to see what they have in the talented Irishman? It’s also seemingly another step down for Roman after his recent suspension. He’ll bounce back, but WWE is certainly knocking him down a few pegs. There’s no better time to turn him full-blown heel and just start destroying everything in his path. In any event, it will be Seth Rollins (who was announced as a contender earlier in the night) vs. Finn Balor at SummerSlam.

Squash Matches

It’s been a long time since WWE has used squash matches effectively and they used two tonight with Nia Jax debuting against Brit Baker and Braun Strowman vs. James Ellsworth. I like squash matches for competitors like this because they don’t take up a lot of TV time and they solidify those talents as Superstars you don’t mess with. When time comes for them to face a bigger named Superstar, they look unstoppable. It’s Wrestling 101, but it’s a welcome change. There were two other matches on the card that were almost squashes as well with Neville defeating Curtis Axel and Enzo and Cass defeating The Shining Stars. Speaking of Axel, when are they going to do something good with this third-generation star. This guy is as good as anyone in the ring and on the mic and yet he wallows at the bottom of the card all the time. Hopefully this is a fresh start for the one they now dub, “Mr. Irrelevant”. The same thing can be said about Primo and Epico. I’ve never seen a team repackaged so many times and simply not connect with the crowd at all. Something has to give here. Maybe they would be better suited for the new Cruiserweight Division that is coming to Raw? I do feel that having 4 quick matches in one 3 hour show was unnecessary, but hopefully that was just a one-time thing.

Anderson and Gallows Destroy The New Day

I was really afraid for Karl and Luke when they were drafted to Raw and AJ Styles was drafted to SmackDown. I felt like this tag team would get lost in the shuffle and be relegated to jobbers in short order. I was thankfully wrong as Anderson and Gallows attacked The New Day during their celebration for their reign as tag team champions and left them all laid out. This was a powerful statement and I could definitely see those tag titles changing hands at SummerSlam. I think it’s time for that to happen and I think this is the team to do it.

Sasha Banks is the WWE Women’s Champion!

There have been some rather long title reigns in WWE lately, one such reign has been the Divas/Women’s Championship reign of Charlotte. I’ll go on record as saying I’m a huge fan of Charlotte. She really does seem like the female version of her father, Ric Flair, and that is never a bad thing. Charlotte cheated and took every advantage during her reign and it was entertaining to see her keep the title at any cost necessary. First she had Ric, then she had Dana Brooke to keep on top. Sasha Banks had the answer for all that on this night though as Dana Brooke was ejected from ringside. This was easily the match of the night for me. Charlotte has come so close to losing so many times that it didn’t seem possible for Sasha to pull one out, but she did with the Banks Statement. Watching Sasha hold that title and look down at it with tears in her eyes tells you how much much it means to be a WWE Superstar. The matches may be pre-determined but holding any of those titles means you are the best at what you do. As someone who watched Sasha Banks from NXT on, it was incredible to see that journey culminate in a run with the WWE Women’s Championship. I’m hoping she has a long reign, it’s definitely much-deserved. It’ll be interesting to see if Charlotte gets her rematch at SummerSlam or before that and it there will be another contender stepping into the mix.

Conclusion

The first Raw of the new era started off with a bit of bang and a bit of fizzle, but as new characters get introduced and old ones receive more of a push, I’m sure the show will continue to get better. I’m excited for the next few months and to see how everything unfolds!

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