Notes In Observance – WWE Raw 7/25/16: Banking On The Future
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.
Banking On The Future
– With the WWE Brand Split officially in play now, we were curious to see what changes would come about to the flagship brand and it was apparent early on that they were serious about this thing. Right from the opening video that highlighted WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose’s successful defense at WWE Battleground, we saw big visual changes – a new theme, show montage, Corey Graves replacing JBL on the announce team, which had its table relocated again near the stage a la NXT and the old draft days in 2002-2003. We were okay with this.
– The opening in-ring segment with the whole roster on the stage and Commissioner Stephanie McMahon/General Manager Mick Foley in the ring set the show’s tone from the get-go, as the Pittsburgh crowd was eager to get it started. The main problem (no World Title) was immediately addressed as after Steph ridiculed Roman Reigns for losing the main event the previous night, Foley announced that two fatal four-way matches would occur where the winners would fight one another in the main event and that person would go on to SummerSlam and face Seth Rollins for this new Title, deemed the WWE Universal Championship, there. Without further ado, we were introduced to the eight competitors – Sami Zayn, Sheamus, Chris Jericho, Cesaro, Reigns, WWE United States Champion Rusev, Kevin Owens and… (from behind the curtain) Finn Balor. Big pop for Balor as you’d expect. We also got the announcement that WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte would defend her belt against Sasha Banks. Nice stuff and we also found that the first fatal four-way would happen now. Obviously a newsworthy segment on numerous levels. This answered our questions out of Battleground right away and made us think maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad night overall.
– The first fatal four-way between Cesaro, Rusev, Owens and Balor was a sweet start to the night, where we saw various things play out from a Rusev/Owens alliance to Cesaro’s uppercut prowess and of course, Balor’s signature offense. Everybody bounced off each other’s energies to make this one exciting. The crowd was also heavily into this and it could’ve gone either way. The exchange between Cesaro and Rusev towards the end was well-done. Obviously, with this as Balor’s first main roster appearance, it made the most sense to have him go over and the crowd was hot for it all the way. Thriller of a match.
– The Nia Jax-Britt Baker match was an obvious set-up for Jax’s main roster debut, as it was an old-school “amusement park” squash match to establish Jax as a beast. She hasn’t come leaps and bounds since her NXT days, but things like this will always work upon first glance.
– The backstage segment with The Golden Truth and Banks gave us some GT-related hijinks in the form of Pokemon Go! and cheesy pick-up lines before it set forth some serious hype for the Women’s Championship match, as Banks laid out a good promo that showed fearlessness under pressure as she was eager to “expose Charlotte and beat her.”
– The fatal four-way match between Jericho, Zayn, Sheamus and Reigns to determine who’d fight Balor in the main event was another good one, though not to the level of the opener, but still entertaining. The crowd was heavily against Reigns, which played into the dynamic often. Early on, the story was logical, with the three opponents targeting Reigns together, before Reigns showcased his power. Zayn also got to fly around and do some cool stuff. The action was constant and the near-falls played into everybody’s strengths. With the everlasting theme of vindication against Rollins on Reigns’ part, it only made sense for him to win here as he pinned Jericho to set up the Balor-Reigns main event, also a first. Nobody liked it, but we had to expect it.
– The in-ring segment with WWE World Tag Team Champions The New Day and Luke Gallows/Karl Anderson was effective in that we got to see the ruthless Gallows/Anderson “crash the party” as ND celebrated their 337th day as Tag Champs, the longest reign in WWE history. Not sure if “Sonny Boy” was a plant, but it did set the calm before the vicious attack by Gallows/Anderson. Also liked the easy heat by the heels, simply received with snot onto a t-shirt that was thrown at poor “Sonny.” Boom, we have a new tag team program.
– The Neville-Curtis Axel match served as Neville’s return introduction to fans, as he quickly took down “Mr. Irrelevant” Axel (named such for being picked dead last in the draft) and it was mostly anticlimactic, but just enough to get by. At the least, Axel will start to get the “Social Outcast” stink off him.
– The backstage segment with Darren Young, Bob Backlund and GT followed up on Young’s Intercontinental Championship pursuit, as he was still steamed that someone would put their hands on his life coach. Backlund “motivated” Young that he needed to win a Title that was now on a different show than him. Right. Oh, and GT was still searching Pokemon. Nothing new here.
– Not a bad idea to air a hype video for Balor, to further familiarize casual fans with his NXT “legend status” per se. It also helped hype the main event.
– The backstage promo from Charlotte/Dana Brooke gave us last-minute hype to the Women’s Championship match on a fast approach, as the Champ expressed that she wasn’t scared because unlike the previous night where she had a partner, she’d be all alone in the ring with her. She also laid on a pressure-related insult on thick. Nice stuff.
– The WWE Women’s Championship match between Champion Charlotte and Banks proved to be the night’s most memorable occurrence by night’s end, but an insanely great effort on both ladies’ ends. There was a story of aggression from Banks, as she added extra force on her submission holds, while Charlotte heeled it up with constant insults. Banks channeled Eddie Guerrero in a spot where she got Brooke ejected as she pretended she was hit with the belt as she tossed the belt to her for a cool pop. There was then a scary spot where Banks nearly mirrored Lita as she crashed and burned on her neck on a suicide dive landing to the outside. The crowd truly bought into Charlotte after her fearless top rope moonsault to the outside on Banks, which got them on their feet. The action continued as they traded slaps and kept the fans engaged, as they weaved their way to a great finish where Banks made Charlotte tap out on a second attempt at the Bank Statement for the belt to officially change hands in a pure shocker. This was undoubtedly Banks’ career moment, as she seemed genuinely touched with her post-match promo, as she promised to show why she was “The Boss” and give it her all every night in the ring. The crowd strongly chanted, “Yes!” and “You deserve it!” as you’d imagine. Just all-around goodness.
– The Braun Strowman-James Ellsworth match involved Strowman’s “repackage” of sorts, as he showed off a new ponytail hairstyle and theme music. On the other end was the terrified-yet-hopeful Ellsworth, who rocked an Offspring tattoo and bleach blonde hair, as he tried to convince himself he had a fighting chance, only to forever live in internet infamy. For anybody that got a kick out of old-school squash matches, this was the way to do it. The reverse chokeslam finisher might take some getting used to, but it served its point.
– Just like we saw a Balor hype video earlier, we were given one for Reigns, to build the other side to the big main event. Again, it was a story of retribution for Reigns.
– More backstage shenanigans from GT saw them mistake the Pittsburgh Penguin logo for a Pokemon. Sigh.
– The Enzo Amore/Big Cass-Shining Stars match gave us an easy Enzo/Cass squash victory, played up on by the talking segment that preceded it. Enzo continued his envelope-pushing banter on “Raw” things before SS interrupted and put over Puerto Rico to a priceless facial expression from Enzo. The match wasn’t anything special (GT hit the ring to search more Pokemon, which led to the finish) as the big boot ended SS’ hopes. That was really a thing.
– The backstage segment between Balor and Reigns established mostly sportsmanship as both men wished each other luck, as Balor put over his Irish heritage as “inventing luck” and Reigns mentioned he was Samoan. Yup. fierce words.
– The Balor-Reigns main event to decide who’d fight Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam was actually pretty good in retrospect. They played it up as if Balor hung in there with Reigns, but would fall just short and when it looked to go that way, Balor overcame the late offensive array from Reigns and hit a Coup de Grace that the crowd nearly went nuts for. Yup, a clean victory over Reigns to lead to a SummerSlam Title match against Rollins was an easy way to give Balor a noteworthy win out of the gate and put him over big. On the other side, they also built some intrigue to Reigns’ story, as he teased some disrespect, only to say in a promo that he respected Balor and couldn’t wait to get another crack at him. So in short, WWE actually showed us they were willing to change for the future and thus, change for the better. Balor and Banks were instant stars after this show. The key would be to see the follow-up, but we have next week’s Raw for that.
- Winner Competes In Main Event – Fatal Four-Way – Finn Balor def. Rusev, Cesaro and Kevin Owens via pinfall
- Nia Jax def. Brit Baker via pinfall
- Winner Faces Finn Balor In Main Event – Fatal Four-Way – Roman Reigns def. Sami Zayn, Chris Jericho and Sheamus via pinfall
- Neville def. Curtis Axel via pinfall
- WWE Women’s Championship – Sasha Banks def. Charlotte (Champion) (w/Dana Brooke) via submission to become new Champion
- Braun Strowman def. James Ellsworth via pinfall
- Enzo Amore/Big Cass def. The Shining Stars via pinfall
- Winner Fights Seth Rollins For The WWE Universal Championship At SummerSlam – Finn Balor def. Roman Reigns via pinfall
Posted on September 3, 2016, in WWE and tagged Big Cass, Bob Backlund, Braun Strowman, Britt Baker, Byron Saxton, Cesaro, Charlotte, Chris Jericho, Corey Graves, Curtis Axel, Dana Brooke, Darren Young, Enzo Amore, Finn Balor, James Ellsworth, Karl Anderson, Kevin Owens, Luke Gallows, Michael Cole, Mick Foley, Neville, Nia Jax, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, Sheamus, Sonny Boy, Stephanie McMahon, The Golden Truth, The New Day, The Shining Stars. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.