TV Recap: Monday Night RAW, ‘Season Premiere’

Written by Tucker Leighty-Phillips

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It just wouldn’t be a Raw opening segment without The Authority, now would it? Triple H and Stephanie McMahon spent the opening segment discussing history – can Seth Rollins cement himself into history by defending two titles on the same night at Night of Champions? Can Nikki Bella make history by being defending her title and becoming the longest reigning Divas champion tonight? Can The Authority make history by starting the show with a promo that isn’t as half as long as a trip to the DMV or half as exciting?

Triple H, however, is able to capture the attention of the Memphis crowd by announcing that for the first time in WWE history, the legendary Sting will be performing on Monday Night Raw – and his opponent? The Big Show. Welp. Triple H then announces that they’re going to start the show with a tag title match, and The New Day enters to steal the show (as they’ve had a tendency of doing the past few weeks). The New Day quickly positioned themselves as the hard act to follow yet again, wilding out until Stephanie couldn’t resist the urge and joined in. Triple H’s look of disgust, reluctance, and concession as he joined in will truly be the historic moment of this edition of Raw.

The New Day retain the titles in a solid but mostly unmemorable match, the highlight being Xavier Woods playing his usual role of third champion/manager/notorious heckler. The New Day continue to be a shining beacon of charisma and entertainment week after week, and their tag title match with the Dudley Boys this Sunday has the potential to steal the show.

In one of the more intriguing segments of the night, The Miz hosted a new episode of MizTv featuring special guests The Wyatt Family, in a move that is totally characteristic of the strange backwoods cult stable. Bray did Bray things, laughing when laughing isn’t necessary, telling people he wants them to suffer, and fondly reminiscing of times he’s hurt people. Bray is starting to feel less like a villainous cult leader and more like this kid I went to middle school with who drew lots of busty anime girls during lunch. Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose crash the show to let Bray know that although the Wyatt Family have taken out two of their potential teammates for Night of Champions, they have found someone, and that someone is… not mentioned. This segment was kind of mind-boggling. It ended with the Wyatts staring down the former Shield brothers as the screen went black, a move that was awkward as the entire audience knew they were all standing in the ring together. However, on the subject of Roman not announcing their partner for Dean Ambrose – is this good booking or setting up for disappointment? For the sake of the story, it makes sense that Roman wouldn’t tell Bray, to avoid his new partner suffering the same fate as Randy Orton and his cousin Jimmy Uso. However, from a booking point of view – does this mean that it is someone particularly unremarkable? You’d think if it was a big name, WWE would plaster their name everywhere to promote Night of Champions and the network. It’ll be a surprise if it isn’t someone lackluster.

The booking of the so-called “Divas Revolution” has been lackluster, but I was excited to see Charlotte and Nikki go to battle. Popular opinion seems to be split on Nikki, but it’s hard to deny that her in-ring ability has vastly improved and she is capable of putting on a good match. Tonight’s match wasn’t revolutionary by any means, but both women held their own in the short showing. Twin magic came back to haunt Nikki, as Charlotte was able to pin Brie without the ref’s knowledge, and he counted the three and awarded Charlotte her first Divas championship. It was a solid, surprising move that gave cause for Nikki to have a rematch this Sunday. The result let Nikki tie AJ Lee’s record without surpassing it, and felt authentic and surprising. So naturally, the decision was reversed, allowing Nikki Bella to become the longest reigning women’s champion in WWE history to absolutely nobody’s surprise.

Rusev and Cesaro are two competitors that I really enjoy and I was anxious to see their match – but then I remembered it was a segment meant to further Rusev’s awful feud with Dolph Ziggler. I actually missed most of the match after realizing my cat had somehow trapped herself on the roof, and she caught me with a claw as I tried to pull her in the house. Unfortunately, I was back in time to see Ziggler’s awkward interaction with Summer Rae, furthering this awkward rivalry that has offset the “divas revolution” by setting women back a hundred years, and leaving us trying to figure out which of the overly-aggressive misogynists is the good guy. If only my cat would trap herself on the roof every time this story was shown on television.

As for the main event, the WWE did everything to give it a big fight feel, to the point where I was actually excited to see a singles match featuring The Big Show. Sting’s entrance was exhilarating. Lillian Garcia announced both competitors as they stood across from one another in the ring, to give it that championship match feel. Both men stretched, flexed, and prepared for the bell to ring, and then Seth Rollins soon ran in and broke it up. The impromptu tag team match between Cena/Sting and Rollins/Big Show was a pleasant surprise – it was a solid (albeit kind of pointless) match that let Sting finally secure his first win in WWE, a moment that was overshadowed by Michael Cole awkwardly mentioning that Sheamus might be at Night of Champions as the show went off the air. I can’t imagine why he’d mention that.

Other segments included Paige and Sasha brawling, Stardust and Neville having a less-than-heroic spat with their newly-recruited minions (no, not like the movie characters – knowing WWE, they won’t be hosting Raw for another couple of years), and Ryback trying to defend his favorite Oprah book club title from Kevin Owens. This “historic” season premiere of Raw did not feel like any of those words, and more like an embrace of the stranglehold that Monday Night Football continues to have on their hour slot.

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