WWE RAW Review (7/31/17): Beast Of Burden
Happy Tuesday, everybody. WWE invaded Pittsburgh, PA last night for the final Raw of July, and I’m here to provide you with a beautifully crafted, written word review.
Average Nobodies note: make sure to follow us on Twitter – @averagenobodies and like us on Facebook – Facebook.com/AverageNobodies. We love talking pro wrestling, so you can comment on this post or reach out to us on social media if you want to join the discussion. You can also find all of our wrestling content by clicking the ‘wrestling’ tab under the banner on our home page.
And now, the July 31st, 2017 edition of WWE RAW.
It’s no secret that Brock Lesnar wants to fight in the UFC again, and after Jon Jones called him out after his victory at UFC 214, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before Lesnar is back in the octagon. After proud Pittsburghonian (?) Kurt Angle came out to welcome the crowd to Raw and announce a couple of matches for the night, he was rudely interrupted by the Universal champion and his advocate Paul Heyman.
Heyman & Lesnar are not pleased that the title match at Summerslam is a Fatal 4 Way, and it’s tough to blame them. Even someone as overpowering as Brock has to see that match as a disadvantage, because he can lose his title without ever being pinned or submitted. The biggest news of the segment (and the entire show) is that IF Lesnar loses his title at Summerslam, he and Heyman will be leaving the WWE. Brock’s contract isn’t up until April 2018 and he can’t fight in the UFC until he re-enters the drug testing pool, but it certainly looks like his current WWE run is coming to an end. If that’s the case, who takes the title at Summerslam? Hint: he’s a big dog and this is his yard.
The Club is Broken
This was a really odd match for me. The Hardy’s absolutely dominated the entire thing and picked up a clean win, which is strange when you only have four tag teams in your division. This would’ve been perfect spot for a jobber team composed of local talent, because I understand the need to get the Hardy’s back on track, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of one of your other four teams. The highlight of the match for me, outside of the fun albeit quick post match brawl, was Graves throwing a Ricky Bobby reference at Booker T. Just because you say with all due respect doesn’t mean you can say whatever you feel like, Book. It almost defies logic how bad Booker T is at commentating. He’s as bad at commentating as he is good at actual wrestling.
The match itself was eh, but the post match brawl was at least a little exciting. The Hardy’s came out on top, and I’m into the Hardy’s/Revival as the 1b storyline in the tag division. Just get The Club as far away from them as possible.
We didn’t get any Neville this week, but we did get a preview of what the Cruiserweight division SHOULD be. My biggest complaint with the presentation of the Raw version of the cruiserweights is that they wrestle the same style of match as everyone else on the roster. It’s the one division where you can get away with minimal psychology and storytelling because the guys are insanely athletic and talented, yet they have them wrestle matches like they’re 400 pound monsters.
The six man tag was fun, but all I could think of was why aren’t Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann in a #1 contender’s match for Neville’s title? They were far and away the most exciting part of the match, and are consistently the best part of every match they’re in. As fun as it is watching Titus O’Neil and Tozawa argue about whether Titus should throw in the towel for every Tozawa is in, I’d much rather be watching Swann & Alexander duke it out.
An Actual Heel vs. Face Feud
If WWE is going to push Jason Jordan as a face, then there is no better wrestler on the roster to pair him with than The Miz. He’s one of the rare guys on the roster who doesn’t care about being cool and he’s a heat magnet on the microphone, which he proved again last night. Miz tried to get Jordon to join the Miz-Tourage but Jordan declined, so Miz decided he would run down Jordan’s father Kurt Angle.
Miz is great at blurring pro wrestling storylines and reality in his promos, and he brought up some real life points on Angle, including the very real fact that he threw away the best years of his career because of his personal problems. Jordan doesn’t mind getting ridiculed, but he’s not going to stand for Miz talking trash about his dad, especially in his dad’s hometown, so he suplexes Miz into Axel & Bo Dallas and smartly slides out of the ring to avoid the 3 on 1 beat down. When WWE switches guys up it always feels so refreshing because we’re so used to seeing the same two guys fight each other (I’m looking your way, Ambrose & Miz) and that’s how I felt watching this segment. Plus, Jordan is a game changer in the ring, so if you can put him up against Miz who excels at making guys look like stars, it’s a perfect combo.
I do have two negatives for this segment: 1. Bo Dallas is starting to dress normal again. If he loses the one black glove I’ll be inconsolable. 2. Jason Jordan’s theme song is TERRIBLE. It sounds like Kurt Angle’s theme song if it was remixed to be played at a funeral. Give me a song that gets me hyped to watch Jason Jordan suplex people out of their shoes.
Lovers & Friends
Earlier in the night Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins had a backstage interaction centered around them ‘getting back together’, and this storyline is starting to sound like a lovers quarrel instead of the resurrection of 2/3 of one of the greatest factions ever. Lovers quarrel aside, I enjoyed the Rollins/Sheamus match, even if it felt like it ended just as things were picking up. The match was obviously secondary to the post match attack, which simultaneously reminded us how dangerous and vicious the tag champs can be and inserted Ambrose & Rollins into the tag team scene.
I’m OK with Rollins beating Sheamus too, because Rollins is a guy used to fighting 1 on 1 while Sheamus should be used to relying on his partner in matches. We haven’t seen The Bar in action in almost a month, so I’m glad they were featured last night. Rollins & Ambrose vs. The Bar in the title scene while the Hardy’s & Revival fight in a secondary feud is as good as the tag division has been in a long time.
Prophet vs. Demon
Welp, looks like I’m talking myself into a Bray Wyatt feud again. I’ve never been as down on Wyatt as a lot of people are, because he’s such a good character that he can break out of his funk at any minute. The biggest issue is the way his feuds end, as he usually has the upper hand throughout the build, sounds dangerous and intimidating during his promos and then loses all his momentum when he loses the blow off match.
That could certainly happen here with Finn Balor, but I’d have to be a real piece of shit to not get excited for Bray Wyatt vs. The Demon Finn Balor. Wyatt is still a little too wordy with his promos, especially for someone with a history of not being able to back it up, but if they keep it simple storytelling wise and avoid anything resembling the house of horrors or bugs projected on the ring mat, this could be a special feud. Remind me I said this when Wyatt loses clean as a whistle at Summerslam.
When it was announced last week that Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns & Samoa Joe would be facing each other in a triple threat match, I automatically assumed that would be the main event for tonight’s show. For some reason it wasn’t, and this is the second straight Raw with a peculiar main event. Last week’s show ended with Rollins/Ambrose vs. Miz & the Miz-Tourage, while Bayley vs. Sasha Banks for the #1 contendership was slotted in the middle of the show. This week’s show ends with another Big Cass/Big Show fight, while the triple threat got thrown into the middle of the show.
The match is very physical and a good preview for the Fatal 4 Way at Summerslam, and it’s exciting to picture the triple threat last night, only longer, with the title on the line and with Brock Lesnar included. The star of the match was Reigns, and if this was the final Raw before Summerslam I’d be a little nervous that Reigns was going to win the title with minimal effort. Since we still have two Raw’s to go, I’d like to see Strowman and Joe get the same treatment going forward, so each man in the match enters with a legitimate chance to win.
Elias, No Known Last Name
Vince McMahon’s fascination with wrestlers only having one name continued last night, as Elias Samson is now known as Elias. He did the same thing with Big E Langston (now Big E), Antonio Cesaro (now Cesaro) & Adrian Neville (now Neville) and it makes me wonder what other wrestlers had two names before they even debuted. Was Sheamus originally Peter Sheamus? The world may never know.
Elias, who is actually from Pittsburgh, wrote and performed a nice little song about how horrible the city is before he’s interrupted by Kalisto, and I sincerely want to know how long Elias would play if he was uninterrupted. Would it be hours? Days? Similar to Peter Sheamus, we may never know. What we do know is that Elias continues to impress, and that crossroads-esque finisher looked brutal last night. Elias’s journey from my least favorite NXT wrestler to one of the best parts of Raw continues to befuddle me.
Bayley vs. Nia Jax, Part 20
The Women’s division got the short end of the stick last night, as they got only one segment, and it was a match that ended on a count-out. Bayley took on Nia Jax for what seems like the 20th time, and Nia dominated pretty much the entire way. There was an awkward spot where Bayley landed on her shoulder, and Bayley is either better at selling than I thought or she legitimately hurt her shoulder. I’m leaning towards the latter because the match after that spot was really clunky and sloppy, and ended in a count-out win for Bayley after Alexa Bliss came down to interfere. The interference made no sense, because Nia was dominating the entire match, but ‘making no sense’ and ‘women’s division’ go together like peanut butter & jelly.
Battle of the Bigs
The main event saw Big Cass take on Big Show with Enzo Amore at ringside, and if you’re wondering what Big Cass is going to do after he’s done fighting Enzo & Show, you may never find out because it seems like this feud is going to last forever. The match is the same thing we’ve seen for the past month, with Show & Cass trading blows and knock downs. Enzo eventually interferes and gets his head kicked off, as does Big Show. Big Show recovers to knock out Cass, and we got 50/50 booking within the same segment, which is usually something the WWE reserves for a multi week feud. Why this was the main event, we may never know.
The show peaked at the triple threat match, and is another shining example that Raw would be a million times better as a two hour show.