5 Stars From Last Night’s #RAW
Raw was live last night from San Jose, California, and it was another really solid show. The best match of the night was the opener, and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper got to steal the show one more time with WWE’s 10 bell salute and excellent video tribute. John Cena was absent, Brock Lesnar was not and the Submission Sorority continues to roll. Let’s get to the 5 stars from last night’s Raw!
1. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
Piper got the spotlight one more time, and rightfully so. A 10 bell salute followed by a wonderful video tribute was a bittersweet way to start the show, but luckily for us Seth Rollins and Neville brought their grown man boots and tore the house down soon after this.
2. Seth Rollins & Neville
Whenever there is an exemplary match on Raw, I like to link the two guys together, because it’s impossible to separate the two competitors. This was the show opening match after a solid Seth Rollins promo with his hysterical new t-shirt, and it was part of Seth Rollins’ WWE Championship Open. After a brief El Torito tease (WWE was on its comedy game last night), Neville answered the challenge, and it’s probably the best he’s looked since his debut. While being a heel limits Rollins’ move set, Neville should just always be going balls to the wall. The people want to see him do insane shit, and nobody on the WWE roster is better at doing insane shit than Neville. The best part about matches with guys that are this skilled is that they also tell a story. Neville needs to prove he belongs on the main roster, so he pulls out all the stops right away. Reverse hurricanrana’s, TOP ROPE hurricanrana’s, cork screw dives off the top to the floor; Neville wrestled with a sense of urgency and had the champ beaten. Rollins was basically trying to survive. He bit off a little more than he could chew with his open challenge, and just needed to survive. At the same time, he is, at least in his own mind, the architect of The Shield. He’s smart, and he sees things that most wrestlers don’t. So when Neville hits the Red Arrow, he shifts his body a few inches closer to the ropes. Neville is a little over eager with his cover because he just hit the RED ARROW, a move no one has kicked out of, and he’s about to become the champion. He pulls Rollins’ legs up too far and they hook up in the ropes, causing the ref stop his count. He loses his cool and argues for just a second too long, and when he goes for another Red Arrow, Rollins moves out of the way, hit’s the Pedigree, and retains the title. Great, great stuff.
3. New Day
The New Day skip to the ring is tied with Rusev speaking as my new favorite thing on WWE TV. They tagged up with The Ascension to take on the Spanish People last night for an 8 man tag, and it was very good. Pretty much everyone on the WWE roster is a good-very good pro wrestler, so when they’re given some time, they know how to put on a fun, exciting match. The tag team division is trying it’s hardest to become relevant, and while I don’t know if a revolving door of contenders is the right approach, it’s clear that New Day needs to stay in the picture. Xavier Woods is a master on the outside of the ring, and Big E and Kofi are a really enjoyable team. They’re a perfect blend of power and speed, and Mr. Woods serves as the perfect X factor. The match itself was good, as every team but The Ascension got to look strong at different points in the match, and the right team won. Give me New Day and PTP forever.
It’d be easy to dismiss Charlotte’s spot in the Divas division as a product of her last name, but by doing that you’d be missing the point. She’s simultaneously one of the most skilled and athletic people (men or women) on the roster, and she just keeps better in the ring. She’s starting to understand the pacing and emotion of the match, and a Charlotte hot tag is as enjoyable as it gets right now. Watch her get the tag from Becky and just WRECK the Bella’s. Add in the fact that she’s a legit gymnast who can somehow improve the figure four, and you have the total package. Every Diva looked great in this match, and Becky Lynch throwing T-bone suplexes is always going to be wonderful, but it’s clear this is slowly becoming Charlotte’s division. The best part about her is that you don’t even have to tweak her character if you want to turn her heel. Her character is “I’m better than you. I know it, you know it and the crowd knows it.”. That’s interchangeable.
5. Paul Heyman (& Brock Lesnar)
My favorite thing about the Heyman/Lesnar pairing is how jacked up Lesnar gets listening to Heyman hype him up. Watch Lesnar after Heyman finishes his promo. He’s ready to run through a god damn wall. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got backstage and just started savagely beating people. I don’t know where WWE is going to go with the Lesnar/Taker match, but I do know that Paul Heyman is still wonderful on the microphone. I listened to an interview earlier this year where he said that this current WWE run is he and Brock’s favorite run, and they’re just having so much fun out there. Heyman’s idea of fun is standing in the middle of the ring and hyping up his beast, and that’s exactly what he does here. The best part is that he’s not lying. Brock did destroy the Undertaker at WM 30. Taker did have to leave in an ambulance, and did have to stay in the hospital. Everything else on this show is fake, sure, but Brock Lesnar hurting people is not fake. That’s what Paul Heyman makes you believe, and that’s why he’s the best talker in the business. This match at Summerslam needs to end with Brock murdering ‘Taker, but I can also see a Kane return costing him the match. Either way, for now, I’m going to enjoy the build up. The biggest party of the summer is almost here.