5 Stars From Monday’s #RAW
The road to Battleground is in full swing, and Monday’s Raw from Indiana setup a few matches that we’ll see on the card. We already knew about Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but now a IC and US title match will also be on the show. John Cena spoke French, Summer Rae may be aligning with Rusev and Zack Ryder lost again. Let’s get to the five stars from last night’s Raw!
1. Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar started and ended Raw, and that is always a good thing. Most Raw’s start off with long winded promo’s, but when it’s Paul Heyman talking, you know you’re in for a solid 15 minutes. Heyman, as he always does, hyped up the Battleground match while making Brock Lesnar seem like the baddest dude in the world. You may think that’s an easy task, especially with a guy like Brock Lesnar standing there looking like a hungry monster, but Heyman does it so eloquently it’s a joy to watch. Lesnar/Rollins has a chance to be the best pay per view main event this year if it’s done correctly, and we got a little taste of it at the end of Raw. Lesnar suplexed Rollins three times, and if Rollins isn’t the best seller of a German suplex than I would like to know who is. He bounces off the mat and flips over at the same time, making a German suplex look like legitimately the most ferocious move in the world. I’m kind of torn on the end of Raw, where Mercury, Kane and Rollins beat up Lesnar (Noble would have joined them if Lesnar hadn’t speared him into the barricade, legitimately breaking three of his ribs). It doesn’t necessarily hurt to make Lesnar look human, and if you want the fans to believe in a competitive match at Battleground, you have to do this. If Lesnar just kills everyone leading up to Battleground but then has a back and forth type of match with Rollins, it wouldn’t’ make sense. But if Lesnar can be taken out when the numbers aren’t in his favor, or he has a bum leg going into the match, it makes it that much more interesting. The flip side to this is that we’re talking about Brock Lesnar. He’s the most believable wrestler in WWE history. He has no gimmick, he just walks out with that intense stare and then brutalizes whoever happens to be in front of him. We still have 3 Raw’s before Battleground, so I’ll wait and see what they do with Lesnar before casting too much judgment.
2. Prime Time Players
Hey, look how easy it is to build up a tag team! The Prime Time Players (surprisingly) won the Tag Team belts at MITB, and are now on a little bit of a roll. The New Day are still great, as shown by their backstage food sharing during the PTP’s match and their ringside hijinks during Kofi/Neville. But the PTP have taken the place of Cesaro/Kidd (sadness) and when they’re given some time in the ring put on a solid match. Besides Kane being a prominent figure on every Raw and pay per view, my biggest complaint with the WWE is making their champions look weak in non title matches. If you’re building to a tag team title match, there are two things you shouldn’t do: 1. have the two teams wrestle BEFORE the tag title match. No matter who wins, it doesn’t make sense. Why would we want to see the same match again? 2. Make sure the champions look good heading into the title match. If the PTP are fighting New Day for the titles and they lose to the Ascension, why would I want to watch them fight New Day? The champions mean you are the best in that division, and should be booked that way unless someone else usurps you as the best. I love the PTP build, and both Darren and Titus look great in the ring. The entertainment was always there, and it looks like their wrestling skill is following suit.
3. Roman Reigns
Another Raw, another really solid Roman Reigns singles match. He’s dropped the long, fairy tale promos and stuck to punching people in the mouth and flying through the air like a god damn gazelle. He’s like a lesser Brock Lesnar: when you see someone like Roman Reigns walk out, you don’t want to see him talk, you want to see him beat the crap out of someone. As luck would have it, it just so happens that Roman is great at beating the crap out of people, and he and Sheamus really laid into each other in this match. That apron dropkick followed up by the leaping clothesline on the table was awesome, and I was hoping for a clean finish, but we can’t always get what we want. I love Wyatt, and I love that he’s this creepy wall writer, but I do wish they saved this for after the match. WWE ends too many matches with distraction finishes, or guys who just leave the ring and run to the back to confront the guy on the big screen. Save this for after the match so at least we have a winner who has some in ring momentum. As far as Wyatt goes, his biggest problem is that he has no one to play off of. Dean Ambrose, John Cena, Roman Reigns; these are all people, not characters. If you want him to be the new Undertaker, create some new Kane and Mankind’s that he can play off of.
This was as good as a Ryback/Mark Henry match is going to be, but once again, the champion won and looks great heading into a title match, so no complaints from me. I also love that Ryback took out Big show backstage AFTER Show initiated the confrontation. Ryback was the good guy giving an interview after a win and Big Show was the bad guy being an asshole and trying to start something. Wrestling is fun when the characters know and accept their roles, and Ryback should be able to toss around Big Show. He’s got arms the size of small cars. Now let’s get Miz back in here and have ourselves a nice little triple threat feud.
5. Seth Rollins
This goes with my Lesnar blurb above, but Rollins getting the best of the beast and possibly injuring him can only accentuate their title match at Background. As much as I loved seeing Lesnar murder Cena at last year’s Summerslam, Rollins is too good and too athletic for that to happen. That’s not saying Lesnar couldn’t do it, but I’d rather see a match where both guys get in their shots. If Lesnar is at 100%, that just can’t happen. If Rollins comes out on Monday and brags about how he hurt Lesnar and does general asshole-ish things, how bad are you going to be rooting for Lesnar to rip him apart? I already want Lesnar to get revenge for WM 31, but Rollins can really get under your skin, so I expect him to be at his weasel-ish beast in the coming weeks. When Lesnar finally gets his hands on him, it will all be worth it.