This week, WWE celebrates the premiere of TWO new seasons; one for Raw and one for Smackdown. With a new show opener and theme music called “Legendary” by Skillet, Raw got a beautiful set makeover, pyrotechnics and an updated logo.
The show promises to be a big one too, with three championship matches and the appearance of three WWE legends during the Miz TV segment. AJ Styles once again put his United States title on the line against Cedric Alexander. It was a pretty intense match and you can see how identical their in-ring styles are, but Styles managed to counter Alexander’s Lumbar Check with his Styles Clash finisher.
The card for the night also saw Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss where Becky Lynch sat at commentary, two grudge matches with Lacey Evans vs Natalya, and The Viking Raiders vs The O.C., a weird/random match setup between Ricochet and Cesaro that didn’t turn out badly though too short and kind of pointless in the grand scheme of things.
Given that this was a season premiere, I would have expected better women’s matches and by better, I mean different. The women’s matches keep seeing the same wrestlers doing the same things to each other and I’m getting bored. I still don’t know what we’re getting out of the feud between Evans and Natalya. At least that ending of Banks vs Bliss gave us a juicy soundbite from Lynch when Banks ran from her and she declared “You made it personal, I’m gonna make it painful!”
Lynch is really improving with her promo delivery and while on paper, those words sound cheesy, she made them sound like gold. The buildup for their match is honestly nothing special, just simple back and forth physical and verbal attacks. But Lynch is successfully giving this feud something extra to keep it interesting, forcing Banks to step up as well. Her promos haven’t been the best, especially when you’ve got someone like Lynch who keeps biting back hard. However, Banks’ final verbal jab on Raw this week finally sounded convincing to me as a challenger. The Hell in a Cell match this Sunday is going to be a good one, I’m sure.
Rey Mysterio opens Raw with emotional speech, Brock Lesnar attacks him and his son Dominick
One of the scheduled title matches was a very much anticipated battle between Seth Rollins and Rey Mysterio for the Universal title. Having had some rough few weeks, this was supposed to be Mysterio’s chance for redemption. It was nice to see his son Dominick sitting in the front row as he and the rest of the world listened to Mysterio talking confidently about his upcoming match with Rollins.
And then Brock Lesnar happened.
At first, Mysterio looked like he could stand his ground against the antics of Lesnar and his manager Paul Heyman. But as Heyman later said, Lesnar was in “fight mode” and without warning, took down Mysterio with the F5.
Lesnar didn’t stop there either. He came out of the ring and approached Dominick who’s visibly torn between running to help his father and keeping his distance from Lesnar. But that didn’t matter because Lesnar grabbed Dominick anyway and completely obliterated him, ramming his back into the ring steel post and all.
This isn’t the first time Dominick gets involved in the WWE ring and it seems like each time it gets worse for him (lol). It was hard to watch Lesnar attacking them both while Heyman and backstage staff shout at him to stop.
Such a simple segment but it was brilliant across all aspects.
- It continues to give Mysterio something to fight for and when he comes back to the ring, that fire will hopefully reignite another run of in-ring success.
- Lesnar is truly the beast that can’t be controlled and Heyman’s selling makes him look much scarier and more intimidating than before. Imagine your own manager and ally is afraid of you. Lesnar is looking really good ahead of his match with Kofi Kingston for the WWE championship on Smackdown this week. Plus, Lesnar’s actions were described by commentators as “criminal”.
- This spells big trouble for Kingston and gives a sense of uncertainty before the title match.
- Heyman putting the blame for Lesnar’s “criminal” actions on Vince McMahon is a big punch that seems like laying down the foundation of something bigger in the future. Could this be the beginning of a feud greater than just the WWE heavyweight title? This is intriguing.
- And of course, all this happening on Raw’s new season premiere is the perfect note to start. It gets people talking.
Watch the attacks in full here:
Raw Tag Team Championship Match
Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode vs Heavy Machinery
Heavy Machinery will no doubt have a great future here, considering their size and in-ring style typical in WWE. Every time they put on a match, I’m always entertained. They’re not just a couple of big guys suplexing their opponents around. Rather, they work well together and always take the opportunity to show off impressive double-team moves like the double delayed suplexes. It’s definitely a spectacle to watch.
Unlike the tag champions who still haven’t achieved a team identity. Ziggler and Roode are no doubt skilled in the ring but they’re just not a tag team. Not when you compare with an entire division of tag teams with established identities like Heavy Machinery, The O.C. and The Viking Raiders. As much as I really enjoy this match, it was very frustrating to see Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight pull off all these amazing double-team moves as a unit, only to fall victim to Ziggler somehow catching Tucker with the Zig Zag and continue to be inside the ring without getting ejected by the referee.
Watch how things all went downhill for Heavy Machinery:
Team Hogan vs Team Flair announced on Miz TV, Seth Rollins vs Rusev ends in chaos
I’m combining these two segments because they’re connected in many ways and of course the biggest things that happen on Raw this week.
So the much-hyped Miz TV finally came to reality as the WWE legends Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Hart and Ric Flair made their appearances on WWE Raw, much to the delight of the fans. To me, Hogan and Hart seemed more relaxed than Flair for some reason. I was initially confused by Flair’s demeanour like he wanted to fight Hogan because it felt off especially when Hogan kept praising him. As it turned out, there will be a 5-on-5 match at Crown Jewel on 31 October this year in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. And competitors will be divided into two teams, Team Hogan and Team Flair. It was an interesting announcement, given that Hogan and Flair had never faced each other in the ring. Since they’re not able to actually compete, this was the next best gesture.
As if that’s not exciting enough, Rollins and the returning Rusev joined Team Hogan with the current Universal champ as team captain while Randy Orton and the current King of the Ring, Baron Corbin, went to Team Flair with Orton as team captain. For the next few weeks till Crown Jewel, Rollins and Orton will be recruiting members.
Watch the full Miz TV segment:
But for now, Rollins has other more urgent things to do and the first one is to defend his Universal championship. With Mysterio out for the night, Rusev challenged Rollins for the title in the main event. It got quite unsettling when Orton and King Corbin stood on the stage watching the match.
The battle for the Universal championship was a physical one with neither competitors missing a beat to wear each other down. But alas, it’s not a significant WWE show without it breaking out in chaos. After a well-timed superkick to a flying Rollins, Rusev got the shock of his life as Bobby Lashley came out to basically make out with Rusev’s wife Lana on the stage. Rusev just stood there until the arena lights gradually turn off, a sign very well known for the appearance of “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt.
True enough, The Fiend appeared and had Rollins caught in the devastating Mandible Claw. Even though the attack was anticipated especially with them facing off at Hell in the Cell this week and Jerry “The King” Lawler mentioning that he could “feel” The Fiend’s presence, it never fails to feel spooked to see him. It’s even more terrifying when The Fiend growls as his victims gags from the hold.
Overall, it was a good show to kick off the new Raw season and a great way to have all the storylines culminate before the upcoming Hell in a Cell pay-per-view.
Watch the brutal shockers:
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