WWE Raw Commentary July 25th 2016

WWE Raw Commentary July 25th 2016

Last night at Battleground we saw Dean Ambrose retain the WWE Championship in a Triple Threat, thus bringing the WWE Title to Smackdown. BAYLEY HAPPENED and Sasha Banks made Charlotte tap out. Sami Zayn finally rid himself of his biggest demon in Kevin Owens. The Wyatt Family and John Cena, Enzo & Cass were successful in their respective six man tag matches and what ever the hell that was with Bob Backlund and the finish of the Intercontinental Championship match. We should probably just ignore that.

This brings us to this edition of Monday Night Raw, it really does feel like a fresh start, a new beginning of sorts. It’s the first episode of Raw in this post-draft WWE world and I for one, am extremely excited to see what is in store for tonight. After over two months of waiting to see how this is all going to pan out, will Raw be able to live up to the hype? Let’s find out. (*SPOILER* It really does)

Of course a fresh start for Raw means a brand new intro and I’m loving it. Using Shinedown’s ‘Enemies’ as it’s new theme song, it definitely starts Raw off with a shot of adrenaline. The new logo is horrid and leaves a lot to be desired, but I’m really digging this new theme song. Big thumbs up.

Kicking off Raw tonight we have the new commentary team of Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and Corey Graves welcoming us to the show and the commentary table is now situated away from ringside, back near the stage. Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon brings the entire Raw roster to the stage to announce that seeing as Smackdown now owns the WWE Championship, they have decided to create a new championship, the WWE Universal Championship.

To determine the first ever Universal Champion, there will be two Fatal-4-Way matches. The winner of those two will face each other in the main event and the winner of that match will face Seth Rollins at SummerSlam to crown the first champion. The participants are Sheamus, Chris Jericho, Sami Zayn, Cesaro, Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, Rusev and the debuting Finn Balor. Also announced is Charlotte defending her WWE Women’s Championship against Sasha Banks later tonight. What a show we have ahead of ourselves and for once, that is with no hint of sarcasm.

The first of our two Fatal-4-Way’s starts off the show with Rusev vs. Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor vs. Cesaro. Holy cow this match was fantastic, it went for about twenty minutes and the action never slowed down. Near falls and a steady stream of high impact moves provided the match with heightened drama, add the debuting Finn Balor factor with the importance of winning this match made the first hour of Raw must see TV.

Finn Balor managed to hit the coup de grâce on Rusev to score the win in his debut and will now be in the main event of Raw. It’s also Finn Balor’s birthday today, so happy birthday Finnie (I’m sure he doesn’t mind me calling him Finnie). The highlight video is only about four minutes long, but go watch the full match, it’s amazing.

We move our focus to the women’s division now as Nia Jax is making her Raw debut. Nia Jax is facing a local athlete, Britt Baker. This match is sheer dominance from Jax, who just has her way with Baker. Nia has it won when she lifts Baker up again, just to hit another leg drop to finally end it. Local athlete squash matches are back and I’m happy to see them again. Such a great way to build up the superstars without sacrificing the rest of your roster in the process.

Time for our second Fatal-4-Way now, with the remaining participants Roman Reigns, Sheamus, Chris Jericho and Sami Zayn all fighting for the right to face Finn Balor in the main event. This match was also very good, not as good as the first four way, but still very enjoyable. After clearing the ring, Roman Reigns gets the win with the spear on Jericho.

My only gripe with this match is the persistent overuse of the Superman Punch from Reigns. When the final comeback sequence for Reigns happened, he hit the punch at least six or seven times in the space of a minute. To make matters worse, it’s really irritating hearing Michael Cole scream “SUPERMAN PUNCH!” after every single one. Just a little variety would be lovely, that’s all I’m after. Reigns vs. Balor is now our main event for the evening.

The New Day are celebrating becoming the longest reigning WWE Tag Team Champions in history this week, so they’re having an in ring celebration. There’s balloons around the ring and New Day come out and talk about that their ‘Booty O’s’ cereal is now literally a breakfast cereal you can buy. It makes me angry knowing I won’t be able to get them here in Australia.

They start with a beautiful video package highlighting the last twelve months as champions and then go to select a member of the audience to become an honorary member of The New Day for tonight. They select a guy in a Booty O’s tee, they bring him into the ring and Big E. affectionately refers to him as ‘Sonny Boy’ and asks what his name is. He replies with ‘Sonny Boy’ and The New Day thinks he doesn’t understand the question.

They ask him again and he still says ‘Sonny Boy’. This goes on for SO LONG and nobody really gets why this is happening. They give up and just try to dance but Gallows & Anderson turn up and attack New Day from behind. There are so many better ways we could have ended this with the same result. Sonny Boy better not become for New Day what Sapphire was to Dusty Rhodes.

Curtis Axel was the last person on the roster to be drafted and is now being referred as ‘Mr. Irrelevant’. That is so mean, it sort of makes me want to root for Axel. But not tonight, because after four months away, Neville is making his return. I’ve missed Neville, he’s flippy and cool and I like him. Neville makes quick work of Axel with another picture perfect Red Arrow. A great comeback for Neville and I assume he will be the cornerstone of the upcoming cruiserweight division.

Big match feel right now with Sasha Banks challenging Charlotte for the WWE Women’s Championship. Dana Brooke is at ringside, but not for long as Sasha pulls out a trick from Eddie Guerrero’s playbook by pretending Dana was about to hit her with the belt and getting her ejected from ringside. With Dana gone, it’s officially one on one, who is the better woman? These two put on an absolute show tonight, a match with similar passion and intensity that Trish Stratus and Lita had back in 2004. Speaking of Lita, Sasha also does a good impression of her by almost killing herself with a dive to the outside.

With that ugly landing for Sasha, Charlotte’s picture perfect moonsault to the outside, counter after counter, this match was insane. After getting to the ropes and forcing a break from the Bank Statement, Charlotte looks Sasha right in the eyes and yells “You will never beat me!” before running right into another Bank Statement and tapping out. Sasha Banks is the NEW WWE Women’s Champion!

Sasha Champion.png

Sasha starts crying, Charlotte’s crying and hell, I’m crying! The journey of a ten year old girl who worked her entire life to achieve her dream has come full circle and damn it, that’s just the most heartwarming thing in the world. As her entrance music says, she had a dream and she made it. I can’t understate how perfect the past fifteen minutes were, an absolute highlight of the year in WWE. Congratulations Sasha.

Braun Strowman makes a fresh start with a new look and new entrance music and it’s unintentionally hilarious. It’s just him yelling “BRRRAUN!” and then generic music starts. It’s sort of fantastic. Strowman destroys this little guy with a reverse chokeslam and I’ll be honest, if he just destroys tiny people for a few months, I’ll be entertained. I’m kind of sick like that.

Enzo and Big Cass are coming off a big win over The Club at Battleground and The Shining Stars are coming off an escape from the green screen room. This is Primo and Epico’s first in ring appearance on Raw since the May 16th edition and I can’t see this going well for them. The finish comes when R-Truth stumbles into the ring playing Pokemon Go (he’s been going around backstage with Goldust all night playing it) and distracts Primo long enough to get kicked in the face and pinned by Cass.

I can’t hate on this because at least there was a pay off for The Golden Truth playing Pokemon Go all night, it lead to something and that sort of makes me happy. My prediction is that next week, The Shining Stars cut a promo (back in front of a green screen) talking about how great the Pokemon are in Puerto Rico.

Main event time, Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns with the winner facing Seth Rollins at SummerSlam to crown the first ever WWE Universal Champion. I can tell you that I never thought I would see this match this quickly into Balor’s main roster run. The match starts with Reigns throwing Balor almost into the bleachers, I forget that Balor is less than two hundred pounds and Reigns can do that, it looked cool as hell. These two have already wrestled full length, high quality matches tonight and they still managed to put on another great match, so credit where credit is due.

Balor reverses a spear with a sling blade, drop kick and follows it up with a coup de grâce. Finn Balor, in his first night on Raw has pinned Roman Reigns! This means that Raw’s main event at SummerSlam will be Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor to determine the first ever WWE Universal Champion. That sound you can hear is me emptying my bank account and telling WWE that they can take all of my money. Balor celebrates in the ring to close an incredible show.

Final Thoughts:

Wow! I genuinely don’t know where to start. What a roller-coaster of emotions this show was, from start to finish. This is the first time in so long that WWE made proper use of its entire three hours. I still have my hesitations about creating a new championship knowing that this is exactly how people like Jack Swagger became champion, but for now I’m going to stay cautiously optimistic and know that Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor is a brilliant way to start off that new title’s lineage.

Elsewhere on the show, almost everything else was strong. Squash matches for Neville, Nia Jax and even Braun Strowman made them look like stars. And I think I said all that I can say about that brilliant WWE Women’s Championship match. It was the personification of fantastic booking, the match was off the charts and I’m still sort of emotional about Sasha’s win. The only real negative of the show was the way New Day ended their segment and even then it’s not enough to bring the show down.

Both Fatal-4-Way’s were fantastic and well executed but what a debut for Finn Balor. After about nine months of waiting to see how Balor will make his main roster debut, it’s so great to see that it wasn’t a wasted opportunity. Finn is a mega-star now and this entire show has made me super excited to see what the future holds for Raw. Smackdown has an incredible amount to live up to tomorrow. Just quickly too, it’s amazing how much more I enjoyed this episode simply because JBL isn’t commentating it anymore.

Final Rating: 10/10 (Best episode of Raw in years.)


WWE Battleground 2016 Commentary

WWE Battleground 2016 Commentary

Five days removed from the historic WWE Draft and frankly it’s only confused matters more. Cruiserweights are on Raw, away from Daniel Bryan’s control. Women are stretched across both shows with the Women’s Championship only on Raw, as are the tag teams. I think you’ll notice a theme here where Raw pretty much has everything and Smackdown has bugger all. The only thing that Smackdown really does have (currently) is the WWE Championship.

Tonight at Battleground, it’s the last outing for many teams and storylines. The Club and Wyatt Family (in this incarnation) will be split up following the event. Rusev/Ryder, Miz/Young, New Day/Wyatts and Ambrose/Rollins are all rivalries that will be forced to a close after Battleground is done and dusted. So let’s get to it.

As always, I don’t really cover the Kick-off show but go watch Breezango defeat Roman Reigns’ cousins. It made me a very happy man and makes me think WWE are listening to my pleas.

Kicking off the show tonight was the tag match pitting Charlotte and Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks and a partner of her choosing. All week the rumours ran rampant of who Sasha’s partner would be. Nikki Bella has resumed training after her neck injury recently. Could it be one of the newest draft selections like Nia Jax? Maybe a one night return for a legend like Lita? But it wasn’t any of those women, it was the one and only BAYLEY! Finally the huggable one makes her first appearance on the main roster to an absolutely ridiculous, thunderous ovation that I don’t think I’ve ever heard for any woman ever. Safe to say, it was the right choice.

The match was quite good, but tonight wasn’t about the match itself. It was about providing Battleground with a huge, feel good moment to start off the show. Something that in the years to come we’ll think back to Battleground 2016 and remember it as the show where Bayley made her main roster debut. Sasha Banks gets the win for her team, forcing Charlotte to submit to the Bank Statement. Sasha has made the Women’s Champion tap out!

Sasha and Bayley hug after the match, while grown men and women try to pretend they weren’t at all misty eyed. You were and you know you were, it’s okay.

The first of our two six-man tag matches is next with The Wyatt Family vs. The New Day. This story started off so well and just went so strange in the middle. With Xavier being susceptible to Bray Wyatt’s powers, it added a different layer to any other rivalry The Wyatt Family have been in. Then the fight in the compound happened and it’s just best that we all forget that aspect of the rivalry. Xavier was able to face his fear and fight the entire Wyatt Family, but ultimately fell to Sister Abigail.

Definitely the right choice of winner here, New Day will still be together as Tag Champions and The Wyatt Family needed to look strong as they go their separate ways. It’s do or die for Bray on Smackdown now, he’s been floating in WWE for three years and has only come out on top about twenty five percent of the time. If he can’t be a major threat on his separate brand, then it might be it. Meanwhile, Braun Strowman is going to be a deer in the headlights alone on Raw. He’s inexperienced and awful in the ring, I can’t see this going well for him. New Day, keep doing what you’re doing.

Zack Ryder vs. Rusev for the United States Championship is next and this is only happening because Ryder scored the win in that awful Team USA vs. The World thing on the Fourth of July. Zack Ryder said in an interview that his father believes he can win the title tonight, his mother doesn’t think so though. Which is the most hilariously sad thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Zack Ryder’s mother should write inspirational posters.

Ryder had little to no momentum going into this match which makes it no surprise that Rusev retained the championship. Following the match, Ryder’s team mate in NXT and recent Smackdown draft pick Mojo Rawley, runs down to the ring to protect Zack. Mojo and Rusev stare down and Rusev walks away. This would be a good way to build up a match between the two, but they’re on different brands now so it’s sort of pointless. No-one cares about Mojo Rawley too, so that doesn’t help.

WWE said that this is their final encounter, but we all know that they will fight forever, Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn is up next. Even though the in-ring content of what Zayn and Owens have been doing the last month or so has been great, the story aspect has felt pretty stagnant. Even more bafflingly, if they had been promoting this as the final battle between the two, why did they keep them on the same show following the draft?

I don’t think I’m overstating this, but this may be my favourite match between these two and is another Match of the Year candidate. Everything from the messed up moonsault from Sami Zayn that legit terrified me, the stiff slaps from Kevin Owens and yelling “Why won’t you stay down!?” and of course that finishing sequence where Sami finds the killer instinct to deliver two straight Helluva Kicks to finally (and decisively) defeat Kevin Owens.

Wow, that was… That was amazing. Anyone got a cigarette?

Heading back to the women’s division now with Natalya vs. Becky Lynch. Sadly this was used as a cool down match to allow the audience to recover from the epic match that had just occurred. That being said the match was fine, it was a good showing from both women with Natalya scoring the win with a Sharpshooter. There’s not a lot to say here, Becky is scheduled to be the top face of the women’s division on Smackdown so I expect Becky to get her win back in the near future.

This is where things are going to get weird and considering Bob Backlund is involved, it’s hardly a surprise. Darren Young (w/ Bob Backlund) vs. The Miz (w/ Maryse) for the Instercontinental Championship. The match was pretty bland for the most part, which is unfortunate because this Young/Backlund partnership is so insane that it might just work but outings like this won’t help it. The finish to this match was so crazy I can barely comprehend it. Let’s see if I can get this right.

Maryse slaps Backlund, who totally oversells it and falls down. Maryse then sits on the floor and pretends that Backlund pushed her and gets Miz to go after Bob. Bob starts ripping off his shirt (he’s sixty six years old remember) but it gets caught because he forgets he’s wearing suspenders. So now it just looks like Miz has pushed over a crazed man in a half-naked straight jacket. Darren Young comes over and applies something similar to a Crossface Chicken-wing but not quite and the match gets thrown out.



I have no words.

Moving on to the next chapter of what is essentially all about John Cena vs. AJ Styles, but it’s The Club vs. John Cena, Enzo & Cass. Before we get to the match, Enzo cut what was probably the promo of his career. It’s unfathomable that one man can contain that much charisma, he’s an enigma. Enzo gives us all some good advice. “Never make eye contact with someone when eating a Banana”. It’s solid advice no matter who you are. You could see John Cena having the time of his life watching Enzo & Cass do their thing.

Cena gets the win for his team with an AA off the second rope to AJ Styles. This match was really good and the best part is that it didn’t damage anyone in the process. Enzo & Cass look like absolute stars just from the pre-match promo alone. It took a massive move to do away with Styles and it’s only a tag match loss anyway. The Club weren’t involved in the decision and John Cena is still John Cena. Big ups for this match.

Time to slow it way down before the main event. Chris Jericho is hosting another edition of The Highlight Reel with his special guest, the returning Randy Orton. I know Orton hasn’t been on TV in almost a year, but this segment went so long, like ridiculously long. This is well over fifteen minutes of just two men talking and Randy Orton is boring as hell at the best of times. Honestly, you can skip the first 12 minutes of this because it’s just filler.

Orton takes a shot at Lesnar’s drug test failures in UFC and Jericho is still at the top of his game in regards to his character work. Jericho’s teasing of Orton with when he’s going to strike with an RKO was definitely the highlight of the segment, you could see Orton biting his lip so he wouldn’t laugh. Randy eventually does hit an RKO on Jericho and celebrates. Long live this incarnation of Chris Jericho.

This main event is almost four years in the making. We all wanted this match, we just didn’t really want it at Battleground. But nevertheless this is the match we asked for and whether we get it now or 6 months from now, it’s all the same match. The Shield Triple Threat for the WWE Championship, Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns. For some reason all four authority figures are at ringside, they have no need to be there, but they are. Roman Reigns has served his suspension, he’s back and to no-ones surprise, Reigns didn’t exactly receive a heroes welcome home.

This match was essentially “The Shield’s Greatest Hits” as they recreated moves and important moments through their history such as their signature double team Powerbomb and Seth hitting Ambrose and Reigns with steel chairs. All with Michael Cole screaming “Shades of _____” to really hammer that point home until we’re blue in the face. That might sound overly critical, but I did really enjoy this match.

In the end it’s Dean Ambrose who hits Dirty Deeds on Reigns to score the win and retain the championship. The WWE Championship is staying on Smackdown so Shane McMahon, Daniel Bryan and the rest of the Smackdown locker room come to the ring to celebrate to bring Battleground to a close.

Final Thoughts:

Did The Shield Triple Threat live up to the hype? I think it did, it would have felt a little more important if it were on SummerSlam instead, but I think the mechanics of the match would have stayed the exact same anyway so it’s sort of a moot point. Dean Ambrose was definitely the correct choice to win as it finally validates his WWE Championship reign as not circumstantial, but truly earned and deserved. To be fair though, if Reigns had walked out as champion, the building may have been burned to the ground. Also another talking point is that it’s the second pay per view in a row with Roman Reigns pinned clean.

As for the rest of the show, the positives far out weigh the negatives. The Wyatt Family looking strong as they go their separate ways, Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens putting on a Match of the Year candidate, The Club vs. Cena, Enzo & Cass hit all the right points with Enzo looking like a total star, the main event delivered with the right result and of course, BAYLEY!

The only real negatives I can think of is WWE’s insistence on making Mojo Rawley and The Hype Bros a thing despite it never even working in NXT beforehand. Then of course there was the absolutely bizarre ending to an already disappointing Intercontinental Championship match. Overall, a very enjoyable show!

Final Rating: 8/10

WWE Draft Commentary

WWE Draft Commentary

The day has finally come! After two months of waiting and speculating, we find out exactly where the WWE Superstars will be ending up. There’s definitely an aura of excitement in the air so because this is a very different episode, I’ll be crafting this article a little differently. Instead of recapping the show itself, I’ll be going through every Draft pick made on the show, including the post show too. I say that, but now I have no idea how long this will be. Wish me luck.

Just quickly, here were the rules for the Draft.

  • Raw has the first overall pick

  • Since SmackDown Live is a two-hour show and Raw is three hours, for every two picks SmackDown Live receives, Raw will receive three picks

  • Tag Teams count as one pick unless a Commissioner/General Manager specifically only wants one member of the team

  • Six draft picks will be made off the NXT roster

So without further ado, let’s get to the the first WWE Draft since 2011.

Round 1 Draft Picks:

Raw: Seth Rollins, Charlotte & Finn Balor

Smackdown: Dean Ambrose & AJ Styles

I don’t think there was any doubt, regardless on whether he is champion or not, that Seth Rollins would be the first overall draft pick and it’s the right decision. Seth is unquestionably the top guy in WWE, his promos have never been better, his ring work is undeniable, he’s just the total package. Dean Ambrose, the current WWE Champion, was selected as Smackdown’s first pick which makes sense. Obviously if Ambrose were not WWE Champion, he probably wouldn’t have been picked until several more people down the line.

The current WWE Women’s Champion, Charlotte is picked second by Raw. Thus the Women’s Championship makes it’s home on Monday nights. This now begs the question of what will the women on Smackdown be doing seeing as there’s no championship for them? AJ Styles becomes the second pick for Smackdown and is Smackdown’s number one heel. I can already see a tonne of matches between Ambrose and Styles once AJ is finished with John Cena.

Which leads to the first shocker of the night, Finn Balor is the third pick for Raw. We’ve been waiting on the former NXT Champion’s call-up for months now and he’ll be making is main roster debut on Raw. The possibilities of what Balor will do when he gets here are endless, I can’t wait.

Round 2 Draft Picks:

Raw: Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar & The New Day

Smackdown: John Cena & Randy Orton

The recently suspended Roman Reigns is picked third by Raw and I can’t help but feel that Roman would’ve been picked first overall if he hadn’t been suspended. Reigns will return at Battleground this weekend and I can’t imagine that the fans in Washington DC will be welcoming him back with open arms. The proverbial face of WWE, John Cena is the third pick for Smackdown and he joins his current arch rival, AJ Styles on Tuesday nights. I was genuinely quite surprised that Cena wasn’t picked sooner. That’s not to say that he should have been selected sooner, but I’m just surprised that they didn’t. Good work, WWE.

Brock Lesnar is picked fifth by Raw and he might acctually show up occasionally, that is of course, if he’s not busy failing multiple drug tests. News broke shortly before Smackdown went to air tonight that Brock Lesnar also failed a drug test prior to UFC 200. Lesnar faces a possible two year ban from UFC, while WWE are just sort of, ignoring it. His opponent (as of now) at SummerSlam, Randy Orton is the fourth pick for Smackdown. Which is okay, I just don’t think WWE realises how much the fans don’t really care about Randy Orton anymore.

Final pick of the round is the current WWE Tag Team Champions, The New Day. All three members will be sticking together and making a permanent home on Raw with the championships. After two rounds of Draft picks, both shows have established their top guys moving forward.

Round 3 Draft Picks

Raw: Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks & Chris Jericho

Smackdown: Bray Wyatt & Becky Lynch

With the top of the card sorted, we move on to filling out the mid-card and starting off this round of draft picks for Raw is Sami Zayn. Sami may be the best pure male babyface in all of WWE, I hope we see him rise through the ranks on Monday nights. Bray Wyatt is picked up by Smackdown which means it will bring The Wyatt Family’s feud with The New Day to a close following their encounter at Battleground.

The women’s division gets some attention now as Sasha Banks is selected for Raw while Becky Lynch is heading to Smackdown. With Smackdown with no championship for the women, I do worry for all the women who are drafted to Smackdown. Unfortunately this will probably result in another championship being created, unless it’s decided later that the Women’s Champion can float between shows.

Chris Jericho is the final draft pick for round three and this is fine. Jericho is the most entertaining he’s been in at least six years, with his ridiculous caricature of himself making me laugh every time he’s on camera. I do hope we see a lot more of Jericho going forward on Raw.

Round 4 Draft Picks:

Raw: Rusev (w/ Lana), Kevin Owens, Enzo & Cass

Smackdown: The Miz (w/ Maryse) & Baron Corbin

Round four now and it’s all about the titles to start it off as the United States Champion, Rusev is selected for Raw. While the Intercontinental Champion, The Miz is chosen by Smackdown and they both will have Lana and Maryse automatically joining them respectively. Pretty standard picks here as both shows need a mid-card title and you knew one was going to be chosen right after the other.

The Kevin Owens Show has now found a home on Raw, which is quite a surprising outcome considering Sami Zayn is also on Raw. Most expected these two to be separated, but I guess WWE had other ideas. I’d like to think that as soon as they found out that they’d be on the same show, they ran up and did that rapid fire punching thing on each other that they do. Baron Corbin is selected for Smackdown and I mean, sure why not. All I ask is that they please stop forcing the “he’s going to be a future WWE Champion someday” tag line? It worked out so well for Kenny Dykstra didn’t it?

Enzo & Cass are still together and they will be on Raw. The first tag team since The New Day to be drafted and they’re still eligible to go for the tag titles.

Round 5 Draft Picks:

Raw: Gallows & Anderson, Big Show & Nia Jax

Smackdown: American Alpha & Dolph Ziggler

Another tag team selection, but it’s also our first break up of the night. Gallows & Anderson have been drafted to Raw, leaving AJ Styles alone on Smackdown. But with Finn Balor now on Raw too and the history Gallows & Anderson have with Balor from their days in Japan, could we see a new club? Ooh, intrigue! Smackdown make their first selection from the allowed NXT picks and they choose American Alpha. The crowd goes absolutely berserk for Jason Jordan and Chad Gable and I’ll be honest, so did I.

WWE do love to kill peoples buzz, so Raw selects Big Show to an audible groan from the audience. Big Show has what, 12 months left, tops? Any excitement left over from the American Alpha pick is definitely gone when Smackdown chooses Dolph Ziggler. Poor Ziggler, it’s not really his fault he hasn’t been relevant in over two years.

The final pick for round five is another from NXT. Raw selects Nia Jax to join their women’s division. I do like Nia Jax, she’s obviously very different to all the other women in the company and she absolutely should have been drafted at some stage. Whether she should have been a selection before Bayley is a whole other can of worms. Still though, happy to see Nia on Raw. She’s also The Rock’s cousin (but then again, who isn’t).

Round 6 Draft Picks:

Raw: Neville, Cesaro & Sheamus

Smackdown: Natalya & Alberto Del Rio

The final televised round of draft picks starts with Neville being drafted to Raw. Neville has been out of action since March with an ankle injury and is set to return any day now. Plus, Raw will now be starting a cruiserweight division which I would imagine is being centered around Neville. Smackdown meanwhile gives Becky Lynch someone to play with as they choose Natalya. Looks like this rivalry will be continuing on well past Battleground.

Finally, somebody selects Cesaro. Cesaro is heading to Raw and was selected 27th overall, which is all kinds of wrong. The fact that Big Show was chosen before Cesaro is probably the most baffling decision of the entire show thus far. What on earth were they thinking? Okay, I should move on but I’m still not happy about it. Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus are drafted to Smackdown and Raw respectively to the excitement of no-one. Because this isn’t 2011 anymore and no-one cares of either of these men.

That’s it for the televised picks. The rest of the draft was revealed on the WWE Network, following Smackdown.

Round 7 Draft Picks:

Raw: Golden Truth, Titus O’Neil & Paige

Smackdown: The Usos & Kane

Now it’s becoming painfully clear that following the televised draft picks, WWE just threw the rest of the names in a hat and drew them at random. However we’re meant to believe that the Commissioners and General Managers personally selected every one of these. This was a pretty nothing round. Only point of interest is that Paige is on Raw with the Women’s Championship, which is a positive thing.

Round 8 Draft Picks:

Raw: Darren Young (w/ Bob Backlund), Sin Cara & Jack Swagger

Smackdown: Kalisto, Naomi & The Ascension

This round was perplexing, not just because Smackdown managed to get an extra pick for some reason. Raw is starting a cruiserweight division, so Kalisto goes to Smackdown. Uhh, okay. Sure, that makes total sense. Naomi has been out with a torn ligament in her ankle since April, but when she returns it’ll be on Smackdown. Still no clue what they’re going to be doing with the women on Smackdown with no championship. Finally, for some reason someone picked Jack Swagger. No-one picks Jack Swagger for anything.

Round 9 Draft Picks:

Raw: The Dudley Boyz, Summer Rae & Mark Henry

Smackdown: Zack Ryder, Apollo Crews & Alexa Bliss

We’re so far deep into the WWE Draft that no-one is paying attention, nor cares, about the rules that were stated at the top because Smackdown somehow scored themselves another extra pick this round. Another draft from NXT with Alexa Bliss heading to Smackdown. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see Alexa Bliss being called up to the main roster. She debuted several years ago looking and acting like Tinkerbell, but she’s manage to transform into this horrible, evil woman who hates everyone who comes near her. A breath of fresh air in the women’s division. Outside of Bliss’ draft, not much to report on here. Mark Henry is still around believe it or not, so that sort of counts and news.

Round 10 Draft Picks:

Raw: Braun Strowman, Bo Dallas & The Shining Stars

Smackdown: Breezango, Eva Marie & The Vaudevillians

Okay fine, screw the rules, apparently Smackdown can now have equal picks as Raw. I hate being a stickler for the rules. The major story of this round is that Braun Strowman is drafted to Raw and now separated from Bray Wyatt. Braun’s on his own for the first time ever and I’m worried for him. Braun is absolute garbage in the ring, so I’m selfishly hoping that he gets put in the comedy role, becomes ‘Dancin’ Stowman’ and is quickly forgotten about.

Round 11 Draft Picks:

Raw: Alicia Fox, Dana Brooke & Curtis Axel

Smackdown: Erick Rowan, Mojo Rawley & Carmella

The final round of the draft and it’s surprisingly newsworthy. Erick Rowan will still be alongside Bray Wyatt on Smackdown and we got ourselves two picks from NXT. Bafflingly, of all the guys down in NXT, Mojo Rawley has been called up to the main roster. Mojo has been teaming with Zack Ryder in NXT as ‘The Hype Bros’ and now they’re both on the same brand. The team is NOT over with the crowd at all, this is a dumb move. In happier news though, ba-da-bing… Hottest chick in the ring, Carmella is now on Smackdown. Seeing as she’s still separated from her former teammates Enzo & Cass, this still allows Carmella the opportunity to stand out on her own.

Final Thoughts:

Wow, this is a lot to process. A total of fifty nine draft picks have been selected and this hasn’t included all of those who are on the long term injured list. Let’s talk about the things that they did right. Mainstays like John Cena, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar were picked after the younger guys (and girls) like Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and Charlotte. Five out of the six picks from NXT were nice surprises and I’m really struggling to think of any other positives here.

There’s just so many things that didn’t make sense. Why were Smackdown picking so many women when they know they don’t have a Women’s Championship? Why the hell was someone like Big Show picked BEFORE Cesaro? Did anyone really want The Shining Stars? Honestly Stephanie and Mick, look me in the eye and tell me that you really wanted The Shining Stars.

The rules behind the picks from the NXT roster just made both shows look stupid. You’re given the opportunity to pick any six people from NXT to put in your roster of around thirty, and neither show wanted the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, Bayley or Asuka? I’m not saying that those four should all leave NXT at the same time right now, but logically it doesn’t make any sense.

In order to truly pass judgment on the draft, we must wait and see what Battleground and the first episodes of each show entails. So with that being said, Battleground is this weekend and I’ll see you then.

WWE Raw Commentary July 18th 2016

WWE Raw Commentary July 18th 2016

We’re almost there! Just six days until Battleground and it’s the night before the WWE Draft and it sort of feels like Christmas Eve doesn’t it? The only difference is you genuinely don’t know if the presents are going to suck or not. The brand extension has been months in the making, in fact we found out that this was happening back on May 25th. We’ve been sitting around for almost two months waiting for this brand split to get here and the wait is almost over. But we have one last episode of Raw to get to before we get caught up in all this draft excitement.

Last week on Raw it was… Hey it was better than the Fourth of July special. Darren Young finally (FINALLY) made his re-debut by accidentally winning a Battle Royal and will now face The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship at Battleground. Seth Rollins sat down for an ‘interview’ with the still-suspended Roman Reigns and it was genius. Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship is set to be our main event for tonight. The less said about The New Day visiting The Wyatt Family’s compound the better. Finally, Shane and Stephanie were announced as Commissioners for Smackdown and Raw respectively and they must both name a General Manager for their shows tonight. It appears to be a big night coming up, so let’s get to the final edition of Raw before the brand extension.

Not wasting any time this week as Shane and Stephanie McMahon kick off the show to announce who they’ve chosen as their General Managers. After an uncomfortable amount of time discussing each others genitals (yes, that was discussed for some reason) Stephanie announces that after the Draft, Raw will be creating a Cruiserweight Division. Following on from that, Stephanie goes first and announces that the new General Manager of Raw will be… MICK FOLEY! The WWE Hall of Famer thanks the crowd and likens this new rivalry between Raw and Smackdown to the Monday Night Wars.

Shane congratulates Mick on his appointment and announces his pick for General Manager of Smackdown… DANIEL BRYAN! Bryan returns to an incredible pop, one that I haven’t heard in a long time. Daniel also thanks the fans and says that when his career was cut short back in February, he didn’t know if he could stand in the ring again. But Shane called him and he wanted to make the show about the superstars and not management. The segment ends with Shane and Bryan running around the ring to massive ‘YES’ chants.

Very smart way to start off Raw this week with big surprises and returns. We now have the team of Stephanie McMahon & Mick Foley running Raw and Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan running Smackdown. Very different dynamics from both teams could lead to some interesting television in the coming weeks.

Time for the first match of the night and it’s four of my absolute favourites in a tag match. Cesaro and Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens. This match didn’t really mean a lot, but it may be the last time we have this combination of four people on one show for a long time, so I’m happy just to watch. Sami Zayn scores a surprise pin fall over Jericho to get the win for his team. But a big highlight was Cesaro’s evil gesture before going on an uppercut rampage.

Cesaro Evil

Look at it, isn’t it brilliant?

Moving on now and it’s time to ‘Make Darren Young Wrestle Again’. After accidentally winning last weeks Battle Royal, it’s Darren Young’s first one on one match since this new gimmick of his started over three months ago. Despite interference from The Miz, Darren manages to pin Alberto Del Rio to keep the momentum going into his Intercontinental Championship match at Battleground. I would like to see Darren Young get a decisive win one of these days instead of accidentally winning all of them. Maybe Smackdown?

Okay, this segment went for like eighty four years so I’m going to try and condense it as much as possible. Before the 12-man tag team match pitting The New Day, John Cena, Enzo & Big Cass vs. The Club & The Wyatt Family, a war of words breaks out between all the trios. Enzo’s insults were much better than the last few weeks, The Club were surprisingly entertaining on the mic with their #BeatUpJohnCena shtick and Xavier Woods reveals he’s on level 21 on Pokemon Go which is extremely impressive. Props to Woods on that one. The fun and games end with The Wyatt Family’s arrival and we get to the match.

Twelve people is way too many for one match and this went over three segments, it was too much. Slow paced at the start, but the finishing sequence was great. Enzo accidentally clobbered Cena, which allowed AJ Styles to take advantage and get the win for his team. Two six man tag matches are coming up at Battleground, I’d imagine they’d be both better than this.

Oh, and an update. It’s been almost a year since Braun Strowman was plucked from obscurity in NXT to join The Wyatt Family and he’s still absolute garbage in the ring.

Earlier in the day, it was announced over social media that Kalisto and Sin Cara (known collectively as The Lucha Dragons) would be splitting up to pursue singles careers and nobody besides their parents gave a damn. So we move on to Sin Cara facing Baron Corbin and Corbin squashes Sin Cara in quick fashion and nobody cares. Corbin tires to attack Sin Cara more after the match until Kalisto appears, to which nobody cares. Baron Corbin then lays out Kalisto and still nobody cares. This has Battleground Kick-Off show written all over it.

To the Women’s Division now and coming up at Battleground there will be two matches. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya and Charlotte & Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks and a partner of her choosing. So this week Becky will be teaming with Sasha to take on the blonde duo. The match is thrown out when Natalya runs down to ringside to attack Becky, which allows Charlotte and Dana to double team Sasha. Who will Sasha pick as her partner at Battleground? Could we see someone return from injury? Maybe a legend returns for one night only? Perhaps an upstart from NXT? It could be anyone, but it’s going to be Bayley.

We started off with a tag team match, we just got through a marathon 12-man tag team match so screw it, one more tag match won’t hurt anybody! Zack Ryder & Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus & Rusev. I somehow wanted to find a way to have Rusev win and everybody else lose, even Sheamus. It’s announced that Zack Ryder will challenge Rusev for the United States Championship at Battleground despite not really doing a lot to earn it. Rusev makes Ziggler tap out to The Accolade. Now watch me as I totally forget that the US title match is on the card come Battleground.

Main event time! Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship in the first WWE Championship match on Raw since January. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have had a ridiculous number of matches on WWE television the last two years, so it’s easy to become numb to how good these two are together. The match goes for about half an hour with no interference until the referee is knocked loopy and a superplex lands into a pinning combination with both men’s shoulders down for the count.

Stephanie runs into the ring and says Seth Rollins is the new WWE Champion but Shane isn’t convinced. We go off the air in confusion, with no official result declared on this championship match. Looks like we’ll have to wait for some answers tomorrow on Smackdown.

No, wait. They just called it a draw and gave the title back to Ambrose after the show went off the air. That was dumb as all hell.

Final Thoughts:

Having the WWE Championship match end in confusion over who really won was a smart booking decision. Where it all fell apart was the way they just fixed the issue after the show was over. Why go to the effort of booking a finish like that when you’re not going to use it as drama going into the next show, let alone the pay per view on Sunday! Having the title declared vacant and the true champion decided in the Shield Triple Threat at Battleground would’ve been the best decision. That way the Draft would’ve had to happen with Shane and Stephanie not knowing who is going to be WWE Champion. But instead, they resolved it too soon.

Elsewhere the show was quite good. Mick Foley and Daniel Bryan being announced as the new General Managers for Raw and Smackdown respectively were great decisions and provided a couple of great moments for both men and seeds have been planted for friction between Stephanie and Mick Foley. Both of the Women’s Division’s rivalries are going in positive directions. There appears to be a lack of cohesive team work with John Cena, Enzo & Cass, which could cause issues with their match with The Club. Cesaro, Sami Zayn, Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens always provide great TV with each other and up until what happened after the show went off the air, Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins provided a great match with an intriguing finish.

The Draft is finally tomorrow and I’ll be breaking that down too. See you tomorrow!

Final Rating: 6.5/10

WWE Commentary July 11th 2016

WWE Commentary July 11th 2016

Less than two weeks until Battleground and we are just over one week away until the brand extension and boy did it take its sweet time getting here. In just eight days we will know all of the WWE Superstars’ new homes. Despite it being just around the corner, we don’t actually know much about how it’s going to work. Who will be running each show? How many pay per views are we going to have? How exactly will the draft work? Is anyone exempt? Can we please, for the love of god, get some answers this week?

Last week on Raw, it was the special Fourth of July edition and I would like to pretend that it never happened. But to summarise, America is still the best, Rusev did away with Titus O’Neil for good (hopefully), Enzo & Cass have aligned themselves with John Cena, New Day have accepted The Wyatt Family’s challenge to meet them in their compound and Zack Ryder won in the main event. It was a strange episode, but this week looks better as Vince McMahon is in the house tonight, so let’s get to it!

We start with a good old fashioned Battle Royal and the winner will be the number one contender for The Miz’s Intercontinental Championship at Battleground. From the outset, it looked more like a tag team Battle Royal when you saw the participants. The Vaudevillians, Ascension, Social Outcasts, Usos, Golden Truth and Dudley Boyz were all in it so you only had a handful of realistic winners to choose from and no it wasn’t Jack Swagger (It’s never Jack Swagger).

But it’s a shocker, Darren Young has escaped the split screen and managed to accidentally win the Battle Royal after Corbin and Crews fell out together. Bob Backlund who was at ringside is so excited that he runs into the ring and lifts Darren up like a newlywed. I think this is the first time they’ve been in the same room together, so they may have been excited for that too.

It’s the second to last week where I can say this, it’s time for a Smackdown rematch because for another eight days, Smackdown doesn’t matter. Zack Ryder won the main event of Raw last week and then defeated Sheamus on Smackdown, so it’s Zack Ryder vs. Sheamus once again. Backstage earlier, Ryder challenged Rusev to a U.S Title match but Sheamus attacked him from behind. Ryder needs to keep the momentum going this week…

So naturally, Sheamus beats him clean with a Brogue Kick. For the second time in four months, Ryder’s momentum has been completely derailed for no reason. Rusev appears after the match and locks in The Accolade and screams “I ACCEPT YOUR CHALLENGE”. Guess this will be an easy defense for Rusev, we just saw the challenger beaten decisively.

Moving on to tag team action as The Lucha Dragons face Breezango and Breezango continue to be a shining light in the tag division. On the Raw pre-show, Sin Cara threw a drink in Breeze’s face and his fur coat, Tyler screamed “THIS IS MONGOLIAN CHINCHILLA!” They are brilliant and you should love them as much as I do. Anyway, commentary don’t give a damn about this match as it’s only happening so they can talk about the draft and how tag teams like these are vulnerable to being split up. Breezango gets the win with a beautiful kick from Tyler to Kalisto and I’m smiling a lot right now.

I’m just going to leave this post match interview with Breezango here as to why I love Breezango so much. Also Tyler Breeze is Team Instinct on Pokemon Go, so I now have a deeper allegiance to him.

In WWE at the moment, we have many talk shows. The Highlight Reel, MizTV and The Ambrose Asylum but tonight we’re debuting a new one with “The Rollins Report”. Seth will be “interviewing” Roman Reigns about his suspension and it’s smarmy Seth Rollins at his absolute best. Clipping past interviews from Roman Reigns together like it’s Homer Simpson on an episode of ‘Rock Bottom’. Following the video Dean Ambrose appears.

Seth still wants his one on one match for the WWE Title and Dean Ambrose says he can have it, anytime and any place. But Seth says not tonight and he’ll see him next week. Later on in the night it’s confirmed that next week it will be Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship the night before the draft. I loved this segment, everything about it was fantastic. Dean Ambrose gave his best promo in an extremely long time and Seth campaigning for Reigns to be removed from Battleground has been entertaining every week. Sadly though, Roman is still in it and we won’t see him until Battleground. I hope he’s enjoying his rest.

Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro is up next and Sami Zayn is out at ringside for commentary for the match, or so we thought. Kevin Owens refuses to go out there until Sami is ejected from ringside, so Stephanie sends out some referees to remove Sami from commentary. As Sami is leaving he crosses paths with Owens. So naturally they fight like cats and dogs until they’re separated. Time for the match itself now!

I don’t think that Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens could ever disappoint and this is no exception. Kevin Owens gets the win with a neckbreaker and goes over to the commentary table and starts saying how he’s the best in the world at everything until Sami Zayn literally flies into shot and attacks KO. He sends Owens into the ring where Cesaro swings him a bunch. Lovely.

Moving on now to Heath Slater vs. Titus O’Neil and this match doesn’t matter as it’s more time for commentators to talk about the draft. Titus wins and no-one cares.

Do you remember Matt & Jeff Hardy? Those two brothers who jumped off ladders for WWE fifteen years ago and both have gone balls out insane these last 6 years? Well last week on TNA Impact Wrestling (where they now compete) they did a thing called ‘The Final Deletion’. It was stupid backyard wrestling with bad acting, horrible camera work and it was just awful. It’s the Sharknado of wrestling. For better or worse, it generated a lot of buzz on social media and WWE can’t let anyone upstage them at anything so now they’re doing… This.

Last week The New Day accepted the challenge from The Wyatts to go to their compound. This week we see what went down and the production of it is so shaky it’s hard to work out everything that’s happening. Just watch it so you’re as lost as I am. I just wish both companies would stop doing these things, I’m really not a fan of it. Stop making me hate wrestling you guys, it’s one of the only things I have in life!

On to the ongoing saga of John Cena vs. The Club. This week Cena’s new allies Enzo & Big Cass will be facing Gallows & Anderson. Since last week, the #BeatUpJohnCena took off and it’s sort of amazing. The match was going quite well but it gets thrown out once AJ Styles interferes on the outside, throwing Cass into the crowd. This leaves the three members of The Club circling Enzo until John Cena’s music hits. Cena was previously thought to be in LA where he was rehearsing to host The ESPYS. Cena, Enzo & Big Cass clear the ring.

Nice story progression here. There’s not a lot to fault as both teams were kept relatively strong going into their six-man tag encounter at Battleground. AJ Styles is really coming into his own as a top heel for WWE.

Finally after two and a half hours we’re getting to the women’s division. Sasha Banks vs. Dana Brooke this week as Sasha is looking to prove that she is indeed worthy to challenge for the Womens Championship. Thankfully in the two months that Dana has been on the main roster, she has improved and considering her prominent role on the show, she had no choice but to. Perfectly fine match with Sasha getting the win with the Banks Statement.

Charlotte tells Sasha that if she beats Dana again on Smackdown this week that maybe she might see Sasha as being a worthy contender. Charlotte’s promo was pretty good until the very end where they had a small exchange that sort of ended abruptly. It was weird but other than that, I’d give this a thumbs up. The only thing is Charlotte still needs to not SHOUT AT THE END OF HER SENTENCES. It’s super annoying. Volume control, girl.

Mr. McMahon makes his return for the first time since Payback where he put Shane and Stephanie both in charge of Raw and he’s here tonight to name the new Commissioner of Smackdown. All three McMahon’s are in the ring and Vince starts off by saying how disappointed he is in Shane and Stephanie. Vince says Stephanie was no longer the person she used to be, trying to act all nice and get along with her brother while Shane has lost the ruthless aggression he used to have. Both Shane and Stephanie plead their case to run Smackdown. Vince ultimately decides that Shane will run Smackdown and Stephanie will run Raw.

After their respective celebrations, Vince tells them that this time he really wants them to compete for real this time in every facet from television ratings, social media to merchandise sales and he doesn’t care if they break the law because one of them just might inherit the company in the future. Vince also adds that both shows will also need a General Manager too. Shane and Stephanie will each name their own GM’s next week and if they don’t, Vince will choose someone for them. Stephanie slaps Shane while Shane kisses Stephanie on the cheek. Let the games begin!

I was initially disappointed with the lackluster announcement that it would just be a McMahon on each side, but the fact that now there will be General Managers added to the fold means a new layer of unpredictability. Hopefully they are face authority figures because the standard heel authority dynamic has been in effect since AJ Lee was replaced by Vickie Guerrero at the end of 2012. Also the old school fan in me loves they’ve brought the ‘Commissioner’ title back.

Final Thoughts:

Hey, at least it was better than last week. I saw so many people on Twitter crapping on the show this week and honestly I think it was quite undeserved. I’m not saying it was great but it really wasn’t as bad as people were making it out to be. Let’s look at the positives of the show.

Darren Young made his re-debut in a surprising and entertaining fashion, Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro was fun to watch as always, we’re getting some answers as to how this brand extension is going to function, The Rollins Report segment was fantastic and we have a massive championship main event booked for next week. Plus most importantly, Breezango won.

Not a week to write home about, but let’s remember how bad last week was. Remember? Remember how bad it was? Good, now look at this week. Seems a bit better right? Bring on the draft and lets get this over with!

Final Rating: 6/10

WWE Raw Commentary July 4th 2016

WWE Raw Commentary July 4th 2016

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! It’s a special Fourth of July episode of Raw this week which means the overindulgent love of America is in full force. We have a sixteen-man elimination tag match pitting Team USA against Team World for no logical reason other than “meh, why not?” Plus a United States Championship match with Rusev defending against Titus O’Neil. If America can only lose one match tonight, please let it be Titus. But before we get into this week, let’s look back and remember what happened last week on Raw.

Last week on Raw in order to compensate for Roman Reigns’ real life suspension, AJ Styles and John Cena tried to earn their place into the WWE Championship match at Battleground but both cost each other their respective matches. New Day dressed up as The Wyatt’s, The Miz and Maryse returned from filming The Marine 5, as did the Social Outcasts who for some reason were also included in the movie. With it being a holiday and WWE expecting a record low viewership, I’m not expecting them to try tonight. But I’m more than happy to be proven wrong. Let’s get to the show!

Kicking off the show we’re taken back to footage shot earlier in the day with all the WWE Superstars celebrating the Fourth of July when The Vaudevillians and Miz & Maryse interrupt. A food fight of epic proportions breaks out and it’s fantastic. WWE do food fights so well as they had so many things going at once that I couldn’t keep track. But I did see Chris Jericho find a band-aid in his food and react in disgust. So we have that gem.

But just quickly, it was great to see The Shining Stars and Darren Young escape the green screen and allowed to associate with other superstars. Funnily enough they were on the same table, so they were obviously discussing their respective awful gimmicks.

Raw properly starts off with the United States Championship bout. Titus O’Neil comes out dressed as Uncle Sam and it’s nauseating. We go to commercial and come back to Titus wrestling in red and white striped pants, so it just looks like Titus is cosplaying tonight as Virgil. The match is mercifully short and Rusev retains off The Accolade. Titus’ run at the title appears to be over for good and Rusev taunts the USA after the match. God bless America.

The Social Outcasts come out for tag team action and they’re dressed as revolutionaries, because of course they are. Enzo & Big Cass interrupt and Enzo recites every U.S. President in order which is genuinely impressive. They defeat the Social Outcasts relatively quickly and Enzo puts on one of their wigs and runs around in circles like it just gave him an energy booster.

Moving on to the women’s division with Charlotte and Dana Brooke in the ring and Charlotte talks about everyone being jealous of her, but no-one as much as Sasha Banks. Cue Sasha Banks to come out and she says that since arriving on the main roster, Charlotte hasn’t beaten her. Sasha also mentions that while Charlotte is the champion, if it wasn’t for Ric Flair at WrestleMania she would be Womens Champion right now. Dana tries to attack Sasha, but she nails her with an elbow. Sasha locks in the Banks Statement on Charlotte to close the segment.

This story is very simple in premise and was well executed. Sasha delivered her promo so well even if at times it sounded like it was too scripted. While Charlotte seems to think that IF SHE SCREAMS LOUD ENOUGH that constitutes a good promo. I like Charlotte, I really do but she needs to learn volume control in order for people to really listen to what she’s saying and not immediately turn off. That was Vickie Guerrero’s schtick.

I’m going to lump these two matches together as they happened back to back and pretty much the same thing happened in each. Dean Ambrose defeated The Miz in a copy and paste job from last weeks Smackdown and Seth Rollins bested Dolph Ziggler in quite a good match. There’s not a lot to report on here other than WWE just doing the bare minimum to get by without Roman Reigns in this story. The matches were fine but seeing as they had zero stakes to them and went about 5 minutes too long each, I was zoning out by then end of them.

After Rollins’ victory he stood on the announce table and said that Roman Reigns shouldn’t be in the WWE Championship match at Battleground, which gets quite a supportive reaction from the crowd in Columbus, Ohio. The segment ends with Dean Ambrose hitting Seth with Dirty Deeds onto the announce table. It’s fine, there’s just not a lot of story here other than ‘Roman Reigns can’t be here, you know why, we just don’t want to keep saying the reason’.

We’re taken to a video package promoting Baron Corbin who appears to be too busy bullying the indie guys backstage to come out and have a match. It looks like WWE’s only plan for Corbin was ‘wrestle Dolph Ziggler for three months and we might think of something else later but no promises.’

The steady stream of former general managers returning keep coming and this week was definitely my favourite. EXCUSE ME!!! Vickie Guerrero is here! She’s here to also put her name into the conversation to be the new Smackdown general manager. She does a demonic cackle half way through and it’s deliciously evil. Security escorts her off the stage and while backstage, runs into her former client Dolph Ziggler, who says that he has never seen this woman before in his entire life. Vickie is taken off screen, screaming in the background.

For what it’s worth, I would love to see #VickieRunsSmackdownLive.

More tag team action now as The Golden Truth take on The Vaudevillians with Breezango at ringside. Inexplicably, Golden Truth get the win with their new finishing move ‘Solid Gold’. Meanwhile Breezango are being defeated by The Shining Stars on WWE Superstars and I openly weep for both teams.

This is by far the biggest shocker of the night, John Cena DID NOT cut a patriotic promo on the Fourth of July. I know, I’m at a loss for words too. He actually gets straight to the point and calls out The Club. AJ Styles, along with Gallows and Anderson, stand on top of the stage and says that no matter how hard Cena tries to bury him, The Club will always save him. They say that their favourite thing to do is to beat up John Cena. There’s a weird exchange where AJ asks Anderson what he would do on Labour Day and says something about having a hot Asian wife and then beating up John Cena. While Styles asks Gallows would do on Halloween and says he’ll dress up like a Bushwacker, lick the AJ’s face and then beat up John Cena. AJ wouldn’t like that, he’s been very firm in his stance on the gay community.

Anyway, The Club circle the ring and start beating on John Cena when Enzo & Cass come out to make the save for an undisclosed reason. Cena, Enzo & Cass clear the ring and it’s at that moment I realise that Enzo has a poo emoji on his butt. What a weird man.

It’s revealed later in the night that we’re not getting AJ Styles vs. John Cena for the second time at Battleground, instead we’re getting a six-man tag match. I guess it makes sense so they can save Styles and Cena for SummerSlam in August, but it’s just very much out of left field.

Back to the women’s division now as Becky Lynch is taking on Summer Rae in a match that should have happened last week, but Becky went nuts on Natalya. There’s a bit of a botched suplex and if they just called it a Brainbuster, it would’ve been fine. Becky scores the win with the Dis-Arm-Her while Natalya watches sideways on a TV backstage. Natalya and Becky will face off at Battleground.

Can we talk about Summer Rae though? She’s just the most overlooked gem from NXT. Her character work, facial expressions, everything is on point with her. I hope they can find more of a spot for her following the draft in two weeks.

Earlier in the night, The Wyatt Family invited The New Day to visit their compound. Basically acting like the worlds creepiest camp councilors. So The New Day come to the ring to antagonize The Wyatt’s even further until they pop up on the ‘tron. Bray says that New Day started this and he must end it, after telling them to find him. Kofi and Big E. accept their challenge until Xavier screams at them to listen. He doesn’t understand why they can’t see that they’re walking into a trap. Xavier says if they do this, he doesn’t think The New Day will be able to survive and he leaves the ring.

And the plot thickens. I think this may be the first ever rivalry in the three years of The Wyatt Family being around to be done to absolute perfection. The Wyatt Family have never appeared more intimidating and dangerous and for once, one of their opponents is taking them very seriously. I’m very intrigued to find out how their visit to the compound goes next week.

Before I get to the main event, throughout the night we were treated to more vignettes for The Shining Stars and Darren Young. The Shining Stars are dead in the water, the beautiful waters of Puerto Rico’s beaches they lie absolutely dead. Their vignettes keep appearing, but they haven’t had a match on Raw since the May 16th edition. Meanwhile Darren Young may never actually see a debut. His segments have been running for three months straight with no end in sight. I hope they change the slogan to “We’re going to make Darren Young wrestle again”.

It’s time for the main event. A sixteen-man elimination tag team match pitting Team USA vs. Team World. On Team USA you had the team of Big Show, Zack Ryder, Kane, The Dudley Boyz, Apollo Crews, Jack Swagger and Mark Henry making his first appearance since WrestleMania (he wasn’t missed, I thought he just retired). On Team World you had Chris Jericho, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, The Lucha Dragons, Sheamus, Del Rio and Cesaro. Team World obviously being comprised of all the relevant superstars in WWE.

Good god was this match a mess, it was bad. Very bad. Only highlight was Kevin Owens hitting a Pop-

Up Powerbomb on Mark Henry, that was impressive. But it fell apart when Kevin Owens hit his own partner (and mortal enemy) Sami Zayn with a chair, which for some reason disqualified Owens. Kane then hits KO with a chair which disqualifies Kane for some reason, despite Owens no longer being part of the match. Then after all of that Kane, while not in the match either, hit a Chokeslam on Sami who actually was still in the match, and no disqualification was made for the USA team. What the hell just happened!?

Zack Ryder ends up pinning Sheamus to get the win for Team USA to bring this dumpster fire of a match to a close. Happy Fourth of July everybody, please forget this Raw happened.

Final Thoughts:

Well, I was right wasn’t I? It was a holiday and WWE didn’t even try this week. That was by far the longest three hours I’ve had to sit through in a while. Let’s try and find some positives though. The New Day/Wyatt Family story is traveling along perfectly, the women’s division appears to be going in a positive direction, Vickie Guerrero was supremely entertaining and she can come back anytime she pleases and the food fight to start the show was fun. I can’t find any other positives outside of those few.

I’ve said it week in and week out, WWE are padding for time until July 19th and the Draft comes along and this week it was even more glaringly obvious. They were expecting a record low viewership this week and boy do they deserve it. Can July 19th please just happen already? For a Raw with very few positives, a dumpster fire of a main event and almost no memorable moments, this may be the worst Raw of 2016 thus far.

Final Rating: 2.5/10