It was a jam-packed Raw (8/1/16) this week with a bunch of stuff taking place. We’ll talk about the Sasha/Charlotte feud, Brock/Orton, Mixed Tag Matches, and so much more right here!
Sasha Banks & Charlotte
It’s hard for me not to like the feud between Charlotte and Sasha Banks. These two are real-life friends and you can see it in their work together. It was much the same with Shawn Michaels and Triple H for their feud that stretched years. I could easily see this feud lasting just as long, but I don’t think they’ll do that with all the other female talent on the roster. The one area that could be improved in this is the promo work which is spotty at times. Sasha delivers her promos with a lot of conviction and emphasis, Charlotte still often times sounds like she is reading from a script. I also wish that Charlotte wouldn’t be portrayed as cowardly as she is because I think she would come off much better to her detractors than she does currently. Charlotte is supposed to be hated but I feel like a lot of people dislike her for the wrong reasons. It’s not to say the promos have been bad, just not quite as good as they could be. I’ve still enjoyed the Sasha/Charlotte program as much as any women’s feud in recent memory and I’m really looking forward to their SummerSlam encounter.
Mixed Tags/Intergender Matches
I was incredibly surprised to see a Mixed Tag Match to kick off Raw. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Mixed Tag Match and it is something that can really create some different scenarios and more compelling storylines. When you’re able to mix the women with the men, there are endless possibilities. I’ve been happy to see WWE trying some new things and re-visiting some tried and two ways of story-telling. WWE has been so stale for so many years that it’s refreshing to see them not sticking with the same old stuff. That’s not to say everything has been good, but seeing a Mixed Tag Match on Raw is definitely a step in the right direction.
Kevin Owens on Commentary
Kevin Owens is one of the most entertaining commentary people in WWE. He doesn’t care who he offends or what he says and he usually speaks the truth. There’s a reason he’s out there doing guest commentary nearly every week, he adds a common-sense dynamic to the commentary team that is sorely lacking.
Seth Rollins is so good with his promos. There is nobody I like listening to more as Seth always has something interesting to say. Seth can make anything sound natural and always comes up with good points that, even as a heel, you can’t argue with. WWE was not the same without Rollins and Balor vs. Rollins at SummerSlam is going to be a huge match for Raw. Seth was certainly worthy of the #1 overall pick.
I honestly don’t see much of a place for Mark Henry in the current WWE landscape except for special appearances here and there. There are many young stars like Braun Strowman that could fill Mark Henry’s position over time. Henry is still a great talent and one of the legitimate company men. When other’s left, Mark stayed. It’s been 20 years now and the clock is definitely running out on The World’s Strongest Man If they can keep him in a role similar to Kane, he may still be a good contributor on this fairly deep roster.
Gallows & Anderson
I had such high hopes for the introduction of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson when they came into WWE and formed The Club with AJ Styles. I liken The Club to 2014’s Evolution, it seemed like an avenue to get other people over more than to get themselves over. I felt like that was a mistake considering the buzz they came in with. That’s all changed in the last two weeks as Anderson and Gallows have come in and made the presence felt standing tall over The New Day two weeks in a row and taking out Big E this week. This is how this team should have looked all along and I don’t know why it took so long for creative to book them in this way, but we’re finally seeing what this team can do. I’d put my money on new tag team champions at SummerSlam and it’s probably the right time for that anyways.
The band was back together for a moment, the two-man band that is. Heath Slater brought Jinder Mahal back to Raw on Monday only to get his head kicked off by Jinder. Jinder gets a Raw contract and it remains to be seen what type of role Jinder will have. He was a rising-star before his release so I really like the upside of bringing a guy like this back.
Lesnar vs. Orton
This feud was strange as it was just announced, nothing happened to create it, it’s just there. With a feud like this, you need something to spark it. Paul Heyman talking is usually enough and would have been on this night. WWE decided to do one better though and had Randy come out and nail an RKO out of nowhere and then retreat through the crowd. This is definitely something that needed to happen for Randy to look viable as an opponent for Brock. One thing’s for sure, thing’s are going to get a lot more heated in the 3 weeks leading into SummerSlam. Hopefully this one isn’t a dud.
There was a ton of content in this week’s Raw. There were 2 more squash matches for Nia Jax and Braun Strowman, Cesaro vs. Sheamus, and Rollins vs. Zayn. The underlying theme is that everything is starting to serve a purpose and the writing team is doing a much better job at fleshing out realistic stories and giving everything background and substance. If this is the way Raw is going to be from now on, I’m excited for the months to come. Too many times in the past, fans have been left scratching their heads asking why a match was taking place. You don’t see much of that now, the storylines all make sense and they’re generally all pretty compelling. Raw isn’t quite perfect, but these past couple shows versus the last few months are night and day and that’s a good thing.