The WWE puts on 52 Raw’s a year, which makes it virtually impossible to have a great show every week. People have bad days, weeks, even months; with that said, the WWE does get stuck in a creative rut from time to time, but this week’s show from Montreal was not one of those times. WWE’s production team is unmatched, and when they combine that with great wrestling, it’s one of the most entertaining things in the world to watch. We saw the emergence of New Day, the Raw debut of a local wrestling hero and Tamina Snuka might have actually killed a Bella Twin. Let’s get to the 5 stars!
1. New Day
The only time I don’t mind Raw opening with a talking segment is when someone I’m not expecting comes out to join the conversation. If you’re watching Raw and it’s 8:05pm, there’s a 99% chance you’re going to see Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Kane, HHH or Seth Rollins talking in the ring. It’s not the most exciting way to start a show, and a lot of time it takes the crowd out of it before they even get a chance to get invested. Well this week, New Day came out to break up Randy Orton and Roman Reigns pissing contest and it was AWESOME. New Day are a mix between the Nation of Domination and Bo Dallas at the height of his ‘Bo-lieve’ movement. They’re so condescending, and inserting them into random backstage segments where they’re celebrating HOURS after they beat Reigns and Orton was so good. Big E and Xavier Woods are both money on the microphone, and while I’d rather see Kofi and Big E in the ring over Woods, they all looked good last night. I don’t know what triggered the WWE to move New Day into this position, but I’m so glad they did.
If you watched the first hour of Raw, you saw the tiny glimmers of hope for the tag team division in New Day and Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. The Ascension still aren’t going anywhere, but Cesaro got to deliver 100 European uppercuts in a row so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy. Cesaro and Kidd are one of the only tag teams that look like a team, and it’s not just the tag team moves either. All their movements inside and outside the ring are in sync, and they genuinely look like they’re enjoying each other’s company out there. I also love that the swing into the dropkick was the move that got them the victory in the match. Tag Team finishing moves are always the best.
3. Dean Ambrose
This is the Dean Ambrose that needs to stay and never leave us again. Goofy hot dog cart Dean Ambrose needs to die and never be seen from again. The match between Rollins and Ambrose will be a top 5 Raw match by the end of the year, and it was one of the most enjoyable non pay per view matches in a very long time. Rollins and Ambrose work beautifully together, and the crowd ate up every single minute of it. These guys were rolling inside and outside the ring, and the Ambrose dive between the top and middle rope and the Rollins power bomb into the barricade were awesome. The Shield was the best thing going in the WWE for a long time, and there’s a reason for that: all three guys brought something to the table that made the audience connect with them. Rollins and Reigns have found that special connection as singles stars, and I hope this is the start of that same thing for Ambrose. Also, I don’t know if anyone noticed, but technically The Shield will be main eventing Payback.
4. Sami Zayn
Potential shoulder injury aside, this was amazing. John Cena comes out and tells the crowd he never quits for the first time ever, and issues another open challenge for his US title. Bret Hart’s music hits and thankfully there are no steel chairs in sight. Heath Slater tries his best to finally challenge Cena for the US title but Bret Hart bops him on the head with a microphone and introduces the actual man who’s going to challenge Cena for the US title, and it’s Sami mother f’n Zayn. The match was great, which isn’t surprising since Cena’s been incredible in the ring since winning the US title and I’m pretty sure Zayn is incapable of having a bad match. Anyone worried Sami’s move set wouldn’t make the leap with him to the main roster can breathe a sight of relief, because they were all on display Monday night, including his always insane dive through the bottom and middle rope swinging DDT. Zayn didn’t win, obviously, but giving him that moment in his hometown against THE guy was really great.
5. King Barrett
This Raw was so good that there were a lot more than five stars. Orton, Reigns and even Tamina Snuka had a solid show. But Bad News Barrett is now King Barrett, and he’s winning matches clean, so he’s on the list. The WWE is full of guys who can start a mid card renaissance, and I think Barrett is one of the guys who can lead the charge. He’s great on the microphone, he’s got a great look and he’s very good in the ring. Pairing him with or against guys like Sheamus, Ziggler, Neville and a returning Daniel Bryan can only result in great storylines and even better matches. It’s also impossible not to root for a guy who comes to the ring wearing a crown and carrying a scepter. If Barrett goes Macho Man on somebody and smashes them in the head with the scepter I’ll be the happiest little boy in the world.