Finally Some Reasons To Be Excited For WWE Raw by Ron Pasceri

Typically on the weekend of a WWE PPV my entire weekend revolves around the fact that I have something very specific to do from 8:00pm until 11:00pm on Sunday night. That means having a column written, having laundry done, being prepared for the start of a new work week, basically my weekend ends when the show starts. On those weekends I find I usually don’t do much else but make sure I’m ready to be in front of my TV when the event goes live. I may talk to friends about what to expect to happen on the show, whether a title change or a heel turn is imminent, but the whole weekend is focused on WWE. This was not one of those weekends.

I had a ticket to the 116th Army-Navy game on Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. I was part of a Philadelphia sports talk radio show prior the the Eagles-Bills game on Sunday morning as well as a ticket to that game. This led to a bit of drinking and a lot of distraction from the world of wrestling. Considering I will also be attending Raw tonight in Philadelphia, it was weird that WWE was so far from my radar. I don’t know if it was because my mind was focused on these other tasks at hand or if it was because I’ve been feeling really let down by WWE and the product they’ve been giving us recently, but I knew I wasn’t as excited as I should be.

During the 2nd quarter of the Army-Navy game, the Army band played John Cena’s entrance music. Normally my thought would be how cool it was that the world of pro wrestling had infiltrated a legitimate sporting event, but I didn’t. Throughout the game, Navy had these little vignettes play where their goat mascot would RKO an Army cadet. Again, while they made me laugh, I didn’t enjoy their inclusion as much as I normally would have. I’m not as young as I used to be, obviously, none of us is as young as we used to be, but you know what I mean. So after two consecutive days of being out in the elements, consuming adult beverages, yelling and screaming and making the nightmarish trek into and out of Lincoln Financial Field I was almost dreading the idea of being out until midnight or later on Monday.

I was hoping TLC would help get me energized for Raw. As a Sasha Banks fan I was excited to see her perform on a PPV in her hometown of Boston. BUT I was immediately put off not just by the fact that she was relegated to the pre-show, but that after the huge pop she got, it was lost to a New Day-esque promo that she shouldn’t even be doing. She’s The Boss, she’s not a clown or a comedian. I was annoyed even further by the commercial that interrupted the match and further still by Michael Cole calling half of her offense the “Bank Statement” when it clearly wasn’t. She got another win, which I was happy about, but I still feel like she isn’t being used to her potential. For a company that needs new stars, why hold someone back when they’re hot? I did like that as a heel, her team helped her cheat to win, but I also think Sasha Banks is the least likely female character to want to be part of a team, but logic does’t seem to matter much.

I decided to watch the rest of the show and try to look for reasons to be excited for Raw, which I feared would prove difficult. I expected big things from the Triple Threat Tag Match and the three teams delivered in a big way. The New Day were their typical amazing selves, The Usos took some huge bumps and hit some great spots and Kalisto, in my opinion, stole the show. The Salida Del Sol off the top of the ladder was one of my favorite spots in a while. The New Day retaining was expected but I appreciated it nonetheless. I look forward to seeing our world famous two-time champs tonight. The Rusev-Ryback and Del Rio-Swagger matches made me begin to sour on the show a bit, sorry New Day. I started to come around again with the fact that The Wyatt Family actually went over and that Dean Ambrose finally secured the Intercontinental Champion. The women’s match was a bit disappointing because I’m tired of the women having no clear babyface or heel roles and as much as I love Ric Flair, I’d like to see Charlotte get to be her own thing. Then came the main event of the evening.

I admittedly am not a huge fan of Roman Reigns and I don’t really care much for Sheamus either, but I was hoping somehow this match could leave me on a high. The announcing was awful and I wish I had counted how many times Michael Cole said “Oh no!” during this contest. It was definitely too many. The match was good, both men really put their bodies on the line and delivered a real war. It was clear the League of Nations was going to interfere in the match, but I found it really odd that Wade Barrett didn’t come out. If they are a group why would only two of the three get involved? I actually was worried they’d have Reigns just run through the whole stable at one point. Luckily, Sheamus came out on top which I feel helps legitimize the League of Nations as a force to be reckoned with. Then came Roman’s vicious attack on anyone who was within a chair’s length of him, including Triple H.

In that sequence Reigns came across as exactly what he’s needed to be all along. A nasty, vicious, hungry killer who will annihilate anyone who gets in his way, not just talk about it or make corny jokes about his opponents. He clearly has snapped because he can’t secure the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which makes the title seem more important. When Roman ran back down the ramp a second time and speared Triple H on the floor, it was the most excited I’ve been for his character since The Shield broke up. It also made me feel like tonight’s Raw is a must-see. It may be a little more Authority-centirc than we’d like, but there should be real consequences for Roman to face and he may have finally gotten over in the fans’ eyes. If he gets cheered in Philadelphia, we will know for sure that his time has finally come.

It also appears as if Roman will begin a feud with Triple H, which would take him temporarily out of the title picture. This development means that the League of Nations will have a new adversary to play with. It’s an opportunity to build a legitimately threatening stable of villains that would be difficult to overcome, giving a possible rub to the next champion. I may be getting a bit ahead of myself, and it may not make much sense because he’s such a great heel, but is it possible Kevin Owens dropping the Intercontinental Championshp is a sign that he’s ready to fight for a bigger prize? Is it at all possible that Bray Wyatt could finally become the “character babyface” that Jim Ross feels he’s destined to be, armed with a dangerous family that can even the odds? Probably neither one, but I enjoy the idea of both.

All in all, I left TLC much more excited for Raw tonight and for some of the storylines going forward. I am not holding out hope that a corner has been turned, but if even just a few parts can move into place, it will make Monday’s a lot more fun. As far as my hopes for tonight’s show more than anything I’d like to see Sasha get the time to do something meaningful. I would like to see the League of Nations continue to build into something formidable and dominant. I want to see The New Day do whatever they want to do. I would like to see Zeb Colter silently zoom away from someone on his scooter. I’m hoping the newly crowned IC Champ Dean Ambrose gets an opportunity to address the crowd and I’m really, really hoping that Roman Reigns continues to unleash his anger in a physical manner, making his enemies pay for what he’s been through and taking us as fans for a wild ride with him.

I have a feeling that a show I initially expected to be lackluster will build on the momentum of last night and give us our first push toward the Royal Rumble. There is a chance WWE can get some of us fully on board with their direction which would be a nice change. I’m willing to buy in like Seth Rollins as long as I’ve heard “tater-tots” for the last time. Let me know what you thought of TLC last night and what you’d like to see on Raw tonight in the comments.