Welcome to The Raw Reaction. You can always check out John’s full in-depth review here. Let’s see what happened when Raw rolled into Phoenix last night.
The “season premiere” kicks off with all-new opening video packages, music, stage, pyro, and graphics. After blowing the stage pyro we are welcomed by our new announce team of Vic Joseph, Dio Maddin and Jerry Lawler. They did a good job and should get a bit more comfortable as the weeks clock down.
Weak opening segment with a decent promo from Rey Mysterio and a pointless mugging by Brock Lesnar. It’s still a tad hard to suspend my disbelief to make it okay for Brock to attack a fan in Rey’s son Dominick. I get the whole he’s a trained wrestler bit, but that’s not what the WWE is selling. Could Rey interference cost Brock the WWE Title on Friday?
Our first match of the night was a terrible match between Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss. Becky showed up to do commentary but the actual match was pretty flat. Sasha picked up the win after kicking Alexa’s knee. Lame. At least the fight between Becky Lynch and Sasha built up their match Sunday.
Quick promo from Seth Rollins with the old WWE bait and switch Universal Title match, open challenge for later. Standard WWE booking and makes last week’s contender match pointless.
Tag Team Title match next with Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode taking on Heavy Machinery. Good match with some amazing things pulled off by Heavy Machinery. No title change tonight, but Heavy Machinery should be a little more visible in the tag title picture of whichever show they wind up on after the Draft.
Miz TV brings out Ric Flair and then Hulk Hogan. It’s a pretty pedestrian event here at first until they make the Crown Jewel announcement. It’s sorta baffling that they would do a 5 on 5 match with Team Captains just a few weeks before Survivor Series. At least Flair was honest wanting a Saudi payday; gotta pay that alimony somehow. Good choices for team captains and first members. Awesome posedown at the end. I’m sure Seth and Rusev were on cloud nine.
Nice quick promo from Rusev to set the tone for later tonight.
Viking Raiders and The O.C. rematch up next. Another impressive showing from both teams with the Raiders going over again. The Viking Raiders are making strides to be added to the post-Draft tag title conversation.
Disappointing match between Ricochet and Cesaro. These two have had far better matches in the past, but they just weren’t given the proper amount of time to work their magic as they have done before.
Another Firefly Fun House to sell the Hell in a Cell match between Seth and The Fiend. Braun Strowman was not up on the Wall of Friendship like all of the other victims of The Fiend. I’m not sure if that is significant or just the way the Fun House pre-tape was done.
The US Title match was solid. Cedric Alexander and AJ Styles did an amazing job again. This latest defeat should end the feud and maybe Cedric’s push. Cedric may be just another victim of WWE (Un)Creative’s inability to build new stars. Nice touch to be able to get the dueling chants going briefly.
Lacey Evans is up next against Natalya. The match was passible. Lacey channeled her inner Big Show for a weak Woman’s Right after the match. At least she didn’t try a Sharpshooter.
Seth Rollins and Rusev close us out tonight for the Universal Title. The match was good while it lasted. The ending fell flatter than a pancake. In the middle of the match, Lashley returns to make out with Lana for some reason. While Rusev was standing there like a statue, The Fiend attacked Rollins to close out the show.
Let’s look at tonight’s highs and lows.
The US and tag title matches were pretty solid tonight. Both had sufficient time allotted to them.
The Viking Raiders continue to impress against The O.C. and at least they didn’t fall victim to the dreaded 50/50 booking. Another match that was given sufficient time.
There is no need for Lana to be stepping out on Rusev with Lashley, given the current Maria who’s the daddy storyline running right now, unless they are dropping that. Last time they had Lana turn on Rusev, it failed miserably and I don’t have very high hopes for this being any better.
The two woman’s matches were not that great tonight and both had very weak endings.
Hell in a Cell is on Sunday and there’s only three matches announced and not much else built up to go on Sunday. This might be a disappointing PPV.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Hopefully, Dish Network and Fox can kiss and make up before Friday so I can watch Smackdown. If they don’t, I likely won’t have a Smackdown Reaction this week.