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.
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.
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