This Week in WWE – Raw (8/15/2016)

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This week on Raw (8/15/2016), it’s the last Raw before SummerSlam. We’ll talk about the potential of Nia Jax, the important fixture that Rusev has become, the segment between Brock and Heath Slater, and so much more!

Rusev

I’ll be the first one to say that I don’t like Rusev’s character a whole lot. I feel like the foreign pride thing has been over-used in the history of wrestling. With that said, Rusev himself has made me a fan with his last few weeks of work. Rusev has been given a lot of time to talk and wrestle since the brand split and has taken advantage of it. Lana adds a human element to his brute character and there’s a lot of potential for different storylines there. I feel like Rusev is one of the best heels WWE has had in a long time as far as powerhouse characters are concerned. Most of these monster heels fade away months after their debut, but he has managed to reinvent himself enough to remain relevant and enjoyable. It’s very important for WWE to have a variety of characters and Rusev fits the bill as far as diversity is concerned. He’s been carrying Raw as the top champion for the last month as its top champion and has proven very credible in that role. I wouldn’t rule out a run as Universal Champion later on this year or next year.

The Dudley Boyz

The thought behind bringing back The Dudley Boyz was that they were to help elevate talent and various teams in the tag-team division. I feel like Monday’s throw away match didn’t really do much to help that. In fairness, they’ve already helped make many teams look strong though. Are we going to see these two split up? We’ve seen that before in both TNA and WWE and it produced mixed results. The best use of Bubba and D-von would be as a tag-team, that’s where they made their names and that’s where they can help this roster. The fact that D-von keeps costing The Dudleys matches is pretty concerning in my view though. Time will tell where all this is leading, it just doesn’t look good.

Nia Jax

She grows on me every week. Nia is similar to Beth Phoenix in my view. She is a dominant female and I could see her having a huge undefeated run on Raw leading to the championship. I’d love to see her demolish every single woman only to have Bayley come up to Raw to battle her. It would be one of the ultimate underdog stories in WWE and I think fans could get behind it. Whatever is in store for Nia, it will be big and it she will be heading towards the title.

Heath Slater/Brock Lesnar

I wrote about Heath Slater last week and how he keeps getting better. This guy is finally getting his due, he’s on every show in prominent roles. Who would have thought Heath would come out and interrupt Brock Lesnar?! It seems to me that WWE is trying to get fans behind Slater so that when he finally does earn a contract it will be one of the highlights of the year. Not everyone gets to share the ring with Brock, Heath is in elite company.

Brock was equally as good during this segment on the mic. Brock talked about Heath and how he needed to put food on the table for his kids. Brock said he also has kids so he understands. Brock then said that he, “doesn’t give a s**t about your kids”. Brock can turn the mood in one sentence or one motion, it’s one of the most incredible things to watch in wrestling. He is easily the character with the most mystique. The thing with Brock is, that character is Brock, it’s not a show. Slater gets destroyed, Brock asserts his dominance. This was a perfect segment for both characters. It was a great example of simple storytelling being the best course of action, as it usually is.

The Primetime Players/The Shining Stars

Yes, you read that right, The Primetime Players tagged together last night until Darren accidentally knocked Titus off the apron and Titus hit him with the Clash of the Titus. I don’t know where their feud is going, but I’d almost rather see them as a team than adversaries. The PTPs never accomplished everything they could as a team and I’d love to see them feud with the other promising tag-teams on Raw. That being said, I also believe both have huge potential as singles stars. I really think they need to either be paired together for a longer period of time, or completely be away from each other. Every time, they start to gain traction as singles stars, they somehow get grouped together again. Neither man can be a successful singles star without actually standing on his own away from the other guy. Darren and Titus need that unless they’re going to team again.

Primo and Epico have something going here. If they can keep winning with no actual effort, they can become one of the more unique heel teams. How annoying would it be to have The Shining Stars steal say a number one contender’s match, or steal a match for the tag titles? There’s a good storyline here and I hope they continue it, it’s one way to make these guys relevant again after some bad gimmicks.

Neville

Neville is possibly one of the most talented wrestlers on the roster and I really wish they’d do something with him. He had a quick win against Jinder Mahal who looked decent in his return. I’d love to see Neville battle Rusev for the United States title. It would be great to see a high-flyer like Neville go up against a strong competitor like Rusev. I think they could have an incredible feud if it was given the proper time. I’d also like to see Neville get some time to talk, no one who hasn’t watched NXT knows much about the Superstar and it’s time that changes. He was destined for great things coming out of NXT and then got injured and is just making his way back up the card. The time for a big feud is now.

Sami Zayn

Why is Sami currently doing nothing of note? Sure, he had a win against Sheamus, but he’s just kind of there. After the amazing match with Kevin Owens at Battleground, you’d think the sky was the limit for Sami. I guess not. I really question how you can not have anything for one of your best performers to do. I really wish he would have gotten drafted to SmackDown, I think Sami is going to be lost in the shuffle on Raw. Although, with the way WWE works, he could get a Universal Title shot next Monday.

Quick Notes/Conclusion

The whole “ringpostitus” thing is pretty bold for a PG company. I don’t think attacking another man’s genitals should be as promoted as it has been in this New Day/Anderson & Gallows feud. I’m happy to see a bit of fire under The New Day though, their act was becoming a bit old and it needed a shake-up.

The teased dissension between Dana Brooke and Charlotte ended up as a ruse to attack Sasha after Charlotte’s match. Charlotte locked in the Figure 8 and “weakened” Sasha’s leg. I’m sure we’ll see the effects of that attack at SummerSlam. Did we really need an injury angle though? I love Sasha, but I’m almost pulling for Charlotte to regain the title. Sasha attempting to reclaim what Charlotte stole from her could be a great continuation to last another couple months. I think this feud is all but over at SummerSlam though with Sasha retaining.

Sheamus and Cesaro are having a best of 7 starting at SummerSlam. Haven’t we already had like 3 or 4 matches between them? When you have nothing for them, just keep putting them against each other I guess.

The Demon King made his appearance on Raw, but a fan probably scared Seth more than that when he tried to storm the ring. Security got him but it definitely shook Rollins for a moment. Good job by WWE to give fans a glimpse of Finn’s alter-ego before SummerSlam, some people have never seen it before.

The Raw before SummerSlam definitely had it’s ups and downs, but overall, it made me more excited for the second most important special event of the year. Sasha and Charlotte may just steal the show, but the same can be said about Balor vs. Rollins. Raw has some good match-ups going and the landscape will be a lot different next Monday night.

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