I was due to be entertained with the influx of how many talented, charismatic stars are on the RAW roster, but thumbs in the middle though.
Have to give the best match to the PPV opener: Sheamus and Cesaro vs. The New Day (c):
Not the first we've seen this match but a hot open and a match that didn't feature a screwy finish. The title change was gonna garner some sort of reaction and it did just that, an almost pop even with Sheamus involved in the pin. Everyone played their role, down to Xavier. Cesaro shines to the casual eye with his seamless high flying and strength and is beloved by the hardcore fan all the same. Well deserved.
Next best, the women. I thought as a standalone match it had a nice layout, and a concrete finish, albeit in overtime. Can't seem to get over the flip-flopping booking though going in and the crowd didn't necessarily do this match any favors. I just liked Charlotte scoring the first pin 20 minutes in then ultimately the last two in close quarters in regulation/OT. Charlotte's expressions and intensity were on point as well as Michael Cole's call late in the match. The blood also helped the match and finish. Hard one to pull off.
Next, the main. Good result with Owens retaining. A DQ main event though is why I didn't have this higher though. I think Owens is a master of feeding off the moment and was great here with his intensity and overall in-match performance. He and Styles are responsible for my faith in Roman Reigns matches, that guy CAN go it's just putting the title on him out of nowhere would be shortsighted. A friend in a group chat of mine suggested the US should have been on the line here and Owens should have won it only to relinquish it to Jericho to prove his loyalty. A goofy thought; but in the context of this already goofy friendship-dynamic gave me a laugh.
Next I'll go the Cruisers. Swann getting this title spotlight has been nice and the 3 work hard, almost that women's spot on the main roster fighting to grab the crowds reaction. The Neville appearance and turn was one of my favorite moments of the night as it came off good and was well received by the Pittsburgh crowd (watching it).
Jericho / Rollins was fine. This run of Jericho has been the surprise of the year and he's in the spot that fits when he's wrestling. Rollins I find it hard to take serous when he's not in a World/Universal Championship feud as he's that damn good.
Zayn / Braun second to last. This feud is hard to pull off and Zayn I feel is chronically underpresented at the moment but still maintains likability no matter where on the card. Braun in a 10 minute match was a struggle, but he tries. The stalling was hard to get through and the Foley cameo was pretty useless although I think the I was already underwhelmed going in by Foley/Zayn's RAW mic exchanges. And I love both guys.
Worst was the preshow waste. Love all 4 talent involved, just the finish was flat and the match was short and nothing. Rusev is a gem, though and plays the game no matter where on the card. Great expressions and a nice pop from me when he tried to skip the guardrail and run off right before the count out. Just a tired/been there done that affair feud that's better off in 2002.
Thought the crowd was okay. Match order was fine but nothing too standout.
- Kevin Anderson | Salt Lake City
Seemed like a 3 hour raw with title matches, none of the matches really made me sit on the edge of my seat like some other pay per views have this year. Most of the matches were just a snooze-fest until the end result.
The opening tag match had the most energy, especially with Cesaro doing what he does best. The crowd seemed to just die after Sami vs. Strowman and it made the cruiserweight match extremely awkward. After that I had lost pretty much all my investment in the pay per view.
No mid-card title match because the guy with the mid-card belt was in the main event. The US title just seems to be spiraling downhill with Reigns, as it just seemed irrelevant that night. Reigns isn't keeping the belt at that level that Cena had it at with his most recent reign, but then again it never really compared to that after Del Rio's win last year.
The Cruiserweight match had to be the worst match of the night, which is unfortunate because Rich Swann is so enjoyable but the crowd was really so far out of it. Neville's return hopefully spices up the Cruiserweight division because now with 205 Live it almost seems like Cruiserweights being on Raw is pointless. They should stick to just 205 Live and maybe 205 Live gets a special event once every month or so.
Full of weak builds and just flop matches. This seems to exemplify everyone's concerns of the brand split with repeat matches due to thinner rosters and also the pay per views every few weeks issue, but there was a few decent moments out of it. Getting to see Cesaro with a belt, Neville returning, Sami looking like an underdog who can take a bruising like usual while still making Strowman look quite strong and they both looked good.
- Marshall Denis
Thumbs Down. One of the more terrible PPVs in recent memory.
Best match- None
Worst match- Cass vs Enzo
The ladies iron man match was extremely disappointing. Sloppy work by both and even worse psychology. It had a few decent moments (the trip off the apron into the stairs). Charlotte slouching around the ring most of the match was distracting. The Shield stuff means nothing and has been thrown off the wall enough it renders meaningless till Roman turns on Rollins.
- James Brown
Best Match: Charlotte vs Sasha Banks
Worst Match: Sami Zahn vs Braun Strowman
I'd say it sucks to be Sami Zahn but really they've blown his character even since they finished the feud with Kevin Owens. And honestly if Finn Balor hadn't gotten hurt, they would have botched the booking of Kevin Owens as well, since the entire Chris Jericho partnership happened organically without inteference from the booking.
I don't think they'll ever trust Sasha Banks with a long title reign simply because she's been injured repeatedly and works a haphazard style. Pretty much the only thing they can pull out now is a heel turn once Bayley wins the title. But that just means flipping Charlotte as well next year and perpetuating this feud even further. Charlotte is the standard bearer for the women in the company now.
Many kudos for Kevin Owens. Without him, RAW would be floundering. He does strong matches, is great on promos, and doesn't give away emotional tells (like Randy Orton) when he's been told he's losing prior to coming to the ring. WWE has to make the call on whether Reigns or Rollins will get the top spot at WM. But there's probably the most potential keeping the belt on Owens and doing a double turn with Reigns.
- Jeff Cohen | Flushing, NY
Thumbs in the Middle
Best Match: New Day vs. Sheamus and Cesaro
Worst Match: Big Cass vs. Rusev
Ten years from now, I won't remember much of anything from this show, but I'll definitely remember Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys jumping into an oversized Salvation Army red kettle after he scored a touchdown in the Tampa Bay/Dallas NFL game on NBC. It was spontaneous fun, the type of thing so greatly lacking in modern-day WWE.
Also, nothing on this show IMO was as good as the Lio Rush vs. Tony Nese match on Friday night's House of Hardcore 22 show in Philadelphia on FloSlam.
I found it strange that the referee in the Sasha/Charlotte match didn't put on gloves after Sasha started bleeding profusely.
- Lou Pickney
Best Match: Tag Team Championship
Worst Match: Rusev vs. Big Cass
The pre-show match was lame. Quick and pointless with a count out. Pick one of these guys and give them a push. Rusev really should be pushed still. They need top heels and he is good. Cass can get a shot down the line. I don't think he's the guy to go to right now.
Main show started off great with an exciting Tag Title match. Just love Cesaro's work here and as of late he has been on fire. While I am entertained by his work with Sheamus as a team, but he deserves a singles push near or at the top. Good match and I liked the creative finish.
Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman has been a good storyline, but the match itself didn't do anything for me. Zayn needs to be in with good workers. Not fighting monsters.
Rollins vs. Jericho was very good. Good action and Rollins had to win. Too bad the crowd sucked for most of the show.
Cruiserweight Title didn't seem to click. Swann and Kendrick had some rough spots in the match and no one seemed interested. I like the division, but it worked much better in front of the NXT crowd. They should have left it there. Finally Neville gets to do something. It's about time. Turn the guy heel and the crowd thanks him. WWE doesn't know what the fans want that's for sure. At least he'll get to do something. I'm sure he will take the title before long.
Banks vs. Charlotte was good. I guess Banks is out of the title picture for the foreseeable future. Not sure why they traded the title back and forth so much, but again crowd killed it.
Main event was another good match minus the DQ, but for storyline purposes it makes sense. Jericho and Owens friendship continues, but I'm sure it won't last. They have to break up and meet at WrestleMania. That seems like the best bet for them. Maybe Jericho wins the Rumble and gets a shot at Owens.
Here's hoping to a great Royal Rumble which has always been my favorite, but has been lacking the last number of years compared to the past.
- Robb Block
Was there live.
Thumbs in the middle
Best match: new day vs cesaro and sheamus
Was surprisingly the best match to me
Worst match: cruiserweight triple threat Why have cruiserweights if they are going to wrestle the same style?
- A.J. Tedesco