On the first Monday Night RAW in the post-Seth Rollins era, there was little in the way of storyline advancement or captivating television. There were some highlights, including Triple H’s recruitment attempt of Roman Reigns to kick of the show, Cesaro vs. Sheamus’ WWE championship tournament match and the return of The Brothers of Destruction.
However, with four matches ending with school boy roll-ups, it’s hard to get emotionally invested. Also, bringing back legends may elicit a momentary pop, it’s just a momentary masking of WWE’s real issue — character development. Rollins’ injury has left WWE scrambling and this episode of RAW was living proof.
Roman Reigns vs. The Big Show (WWE Title Tournament Match): After turning away Triple H’s offer to be a part of The Authority, Reigns squared off against Big Show for the 10th time on WWE television, literally. Slow paced match with Big Show dominating the first half. Reigns took control with his signature drive-by kicks, eventually picking up the victory with a spear. Reigns advanced in the tournament.
Kevin Owens vs. Titus O’Neil (WWE Title Tournament Match): Pre-match promo by Owens, talking about bringing a change to WWE. Owens works over O’Neil, keeping him grounded throughout the brief match. Owens caught O’Neil with his signature pop-up powerbomb for the victory. Owens advances in the WWE title tournament.
Becky Lynch vs. Paige: In Paige’s home country of England, Lynch picked up the victory with a roll-up. After the match, Paige assaults Lynch, putting Lynch in the P.T.O. on the announce table. Charlotte comes to Lynch’s aid to a mix of boos and woos.
Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz (WWE Title Tournament Match): In a battle of Ohio natives, Ziggler and Miz had a solid, competitive match. With the England crowd firmly in his corner, Ziggler picked up the victory with a superkick, advancing in the WWE title tournament.
Natalya vs. Naomi w/Sasha Banks and Tamina: Loud “We Want Sasha!” chants break out before the match begins. Sasha Banks obliges and gets involved early, throwing Natalya against the ring post. But Natalya is able to prevail, winning with a roll-up, which appears to be the finisher of choice on the evening.
Sheamus w/King Barrett vs. Cesaro (WWE Title Tournament Match): Easily the match of the night. Sheamus and Cesaro started the match with a lot grappling on the mat before turning it into an athletic slugfest. With an abundance of Cesaro Section signs, the “Swiss Superman” brought the fight until Sheamus’ suplex took both him and Cesaro out of the ring, hurting Cesaro’s right arm in the process. Cesaro’s arm hindered him throughout the remainder of the match, but a distraction for Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney – who slapped King Barrett – allowed Cesaro to pin Sheamus and advance to the next round.
Dean Ambrose vs. Tyler Breeze (WWE Title Tournament Match): Solid in-ring debut on Monday Night RAW for Breeze. While Ambrose was able to land a lot of his signature moves in the beginning, Breeze showed a lot of aggression, ramming Ambrose’s body from pillar-to-post. But Ambrose catches Breeze with a roll-up fo the victory. Shocker.
The New Day (Big E, Xavier Woods, and Kofi Kingston) vs.The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso) and Neville: All three members of the New Day question being excluded from the WWE title tournament before the match. The Usos and Neville tried using an aerial attack to neutralize the collective unit of the New Day. But thanks to a Kingston and Big E distraction, Woods was able to capitalize on a prone Neville and pin him with the assistance of the ropes.