After two weeks of fantastic shows, this week’s show wasn’t particularly special, but wasn’t bad either.
More on who shined and who didn’t in this week’s rankings:
Fandango seems to get rolled out for Raw every year in the U.K and this time around, it was his job to take a quick loss to Baron Corbin. Unfortunately there’s not much more to add for the dancing superstar as his predicament doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.
- The Social Outcasts
The Social Outcasts have completed taking turns losing to Apollo Crews as Heath Slater was defeated by the roster’s newest superstar this week on Raw. Unfortunately, they stable was hurt further with Adam Rose suspended for violating the wellness policy. This leaves the Outcasts in a strange position, but presents an opportunity to throw Damien Sandow into the group and improve it drastically. Keep Rose off TV for a few months and give him a chance in the Leo Kruger persona he used early in NXT.
- The League of Nations
The League of Nations took a loss in an eight man tag team match against The New Day and Cesaro with Sheamus taking the clean pin to the Swiss Superman. The injury to Bray Wyatt leaves the stable in a rather awkward position without a feud and given the lack of top heels on the roster, it might be time to just let them go their separate ways.
- The Usos
The Usos took a clean loss to The Vaudevillains in the semi-finals of the tag team tournament. Jimmy and Jey were once the kings of pumping the crowd up, but this was by far the flattest match of the night with the crowd not caring from the first minute. It seems like The Usos are taking a back seat in this tag division at the moment and they need to come up with some fresh stuff to get back to the top.
- The Dudley Boyz
The Dudley’s also took a clean loss to Enzo and Cass in the tag tournament semi-finals in a relatively quick match. It was strange to see The Dudley’s beaten so comprehensively considering these two teams have only just started feuding. They should always have lost, but it was still a strange decision to have it be so decisive. They should cost Enzo and Cass the match at Payback. That’s the best ending for the match.
- Naomi, Tamina, Summer Rae and Charlotte
It was good to see a crowd quite invested in a women’s match as even a year ago, an eight woman tag team match would’ve been the ‘toilet break’ segment of the night. The match made sense in that the desired result was to have Natalya get some momentum by submitting Charlotte without it being a one-on-one match, but it may have come at the expense of the other six women. Focusing on the heels, Naomi, Tamina and Summer are all non-factors in the women’s division at the moment and the decision to not have Emma in the match was very strange given they’ve teased her feud with Becky Lynch and her recent wins over the likes of Paige. As for Charlotte, a match against Natalya in an exact replica of NXT Takeover is a great idea in that it gives her a chance to get a clean win and some credibility as champion.
- Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews came to the main roster too early and at the wrong time. It’s as simple as that. There’s simply no spot for him on the main roster right now and plenty of other babyfaces who have and deserve the spotlight right now. Crews also seriously lacks character. His matches all start to blend together after a while and he needed more time in NXT to develop a persona and an ability to connect with the crowd. Since he’s come to the main roster without it, it’s hard to see anything for him short term.
- Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler
Baron Corbin got a squash win over Fandango and laid out Dolph Ziggler to finish Raw with quite a bit of momentum. This segment was short and to the point and achieved what it needed to achieve. While Baron Corbin versus Dolph Ziggler isn’t necessarily a match people will be paying to see, it’s a necessary match to make Corbin look good. Side note, did they really take the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy all the way to London just so Corbin could pose with it? That seems like a lot of effort for something so minor. If only they paid that much attention to plot holes in their storylines – more on that later.
- The Miz
Maryse has been the best thing to happen to Miz since the Money in the Bank briefcase. This segment with Cesaro, while nothing special, did everything it needed to and was reasonably entertaining. The Miz doesn’t get enough credit for being the performer that he is. While his reign as champion should be short, Maryse being back in the fold makes his money-maker character that much better.
- The Vaudevillains
The Vaudevillains have unfortunately come up the main roster at the same time as Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady, who they could never out-shine as well as the Bullet Club, who are international stars. This leaves them as very much an afterthought despite the fact they will probably be the ones to win this tournament. Long term, it’s hard to see them being much more than a glorified version of The Ascension as there’s nothing about their characters that’ll see them move merchandise or get much of a reaction from the crowd.
- Paige, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Natalya
This was the biggest flaw with Raw tonight. Why on Earth are Becky Lynch and Paige on the same team? It makes sense to have the European ladies featured on Raw, but to have Paige and Becky, who only months ago were bitter enemies on the same babyface team just makes no sense. Considering Becky has been teased in a feud with Emma, it would’ve been smarter to leave her off entirely and have Alicia Fox take the spot in the team. Having Becky and Paige there together hurts the credibility of this women’s division, but so does Sasha Banks being put in the backseat. Natalya and Charlotte will put on an amazing match at Payback, but Sasha was red-hot at WrestleMania and they completely missed the chance to crown her and make her the most popular women’s wrestler of all time. Now they’re compounding that mistake by not giving her the title match at Payback.
- Sami Zayn
The WWE’s decision to have Jericho win here was a very strange one. A clean victory for Sami Zayn over Chris Jericho would’ve done wonders for him going into Payback and with Jericho taking out Ambrose at the end of Raw, Jericho wouldn’t have lost anything by letting Sami win. Instead, we get the stock-standard heel tactics victory and neither man gains anything. Zayn and Owens will, hopefully, be feuding for months if they do this right so don’t expect a decisive result at Payback. It’s great to see Zayn being showcased in the main-events of SmackDown and the opening segments of Raw as it shows how highly he’s rated.
- Kevin Owens
Owens has now taken three losses in a row and while it doesn’t necessarily hurt his stature given he’s basically the top heel in the company right now, it doesn’t change the fact that he and Sami are both going into Payback with losses under their belts. Their feud should be the best thing on WWE television for months, but they have to be careful not to push it aside or make them look too weak as they need to both come out of this feud with plenty of momentum.
- Chris Jericho
Jericho’s feud with Ambrose needs more than what it currently has if it’s going to survive passed one pay-per-view. So far, it basically revolves around Ambrose being given a talk show which is next to nothing. These two have the potential to put on a highly personal and entertaining feud, but they need to be given the material to do so. It’s good to see Jericho is still working matches on Raw and SmackDown because now we can say we got to see Jericho versus Sami Zayn or Dean Ambrose or any other fresh match up that might take place.
- The New Day
The Booty O’s cereal box was the highest selling piece of merchandise from the WrestleMania superstore and the t-shirt by itself was the second highest selling. On top of their reaction from Raw, it’s fair to say The New Day members are in a wonderful place right now and they deserve their success. It’s interesting to see the number one contenders match taking place at the pay-per-view which more or less means the event will not include The New Day. At the same time, stretching it out isn’t a bad thing as there are fresh contenders for the titles, but they need time to be built up. The Vaudevillains should not be the on’es to take the titles from The New Day and Enzo and Cass aren’t ready to be thrust to the top just yet.
Cesaro is getting main-event level reactions and pairing him with The New Day certainly helps his cause. Cesaro pinned Sheamus clean for the victory tonight on Raw and considering he did the same to Owens last week, the Swiss Superman is on a roll. Cesaro should be given a lengthy reign as Intercontinental Champion and he would be best utilized if he held his own open challenge each week on Raw similar to Cena’s. That guarantees us a good segment every week and keeps Cesaro strong while showcasing him at what he does best, which is wrestling.
- Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose came out of WrestleMania without much to his name, but the two month build to WrestleMania showed just how versatile he is and how good he can be in the top positions on the card. That was true again on Raw as the Lunatic Fringe bookended the show and was entertaining from start to finish. His mockery of WWE talk shows is brilliant (especially his fake potted plant) and his match with Owens was great despite the crowd quietening down. Unfortunately, when you have a long match on Raw that doesn’t have anything at stake, the crowd tends to tune out. Especially 165 minutes into the show. Outside of that, it was another strong week for Ambrose.
- Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
Anderson and Gallows made quite the impact attacking The Usos last week and now Roman this week. No team has looked this good in their debut weeks since The Shield and the WWE seem to be thrusting them straight into the main-event picture. Their involvement leaves so many possibilities open for Payback and makes the main-event a must watch match. Whatever happens, Roman Reigns will not be dropping his title at Payback. They won’t have him lose the title so quickly, meaning whatever happens has to be built around that.
- Roman Reigns and AJ Styles
Reigns, outside of his first line, cut the best promo of his career on Raw this week. He was focused, driven, sold the match and most importantly was believable! Finally, Roman has a character that matches the person we see on screen. He’s (sigh) not a good guy or a bad guy and he could care less whether you like him or not. Finally he’s not pandering to the masses, he’s embracing their opinions. Styles came off as the babyface underdog of the story and the crowd seems to grow stronger in his favour each week. Now, if only he had won at WrestleMania to really nail him down as a legitimate contender… Anyway, everything about their performances tonight was spot on, especially backstage with Styles coming across very genuine in not having anything to do with the Bullet Club attacking Roman and Roman not believing him, which is a fair response! Roman also bringing up that they attacked his cousins was a great line to use and really creates a lot of intrigue about what will happen next week on Raw and at Payback. Honestly, the Bullet Club should not be on Raw next week, they’ve done their damage and it shouldn’t be revealed who they’re siding with until Payback. The best way to do that is to have them simply not be on Raw next week.
- Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady
The match itself was nothing special, but these two are becoming a phenomenon very quickly. Despite an NXT friendly crowd, it’s clear these two are quickly gathering the voice of casual fans and they’re set to become massive parts of the tag division. The inevitable feud between them and The New Day will be mouth-wateringly good. For the time being, The Dudley Boyz should cost them their match at Payback in order to keep their feud going and to keep them away from The New Day a little bit longer.