First off I like to apologize for being off the grid these last few days. I’ve been a bit under the weather really since last Wednesday and it just got worse until finally kicking my ass all weekend. I’ll get more into that on tomorrow’s Daily Spotlight but thankfully I started feeling a bit better just in time for a great Raw (and an awesome Home Run Derby, which I’ll also get into tomorrow morning). As for Monday Night Raw, it emanated live from Atlanta, Georgia and was the final stop of the road to WWE Battleground. Without any further ado, let’s get right into some of the highlights of the show…
1) Divas Get Their Chance- Tonight’s Raw didn’t only see one call up from NXT but rather saw three call ups as Charlotte, Becky Lynch and NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks all made there Raw debut tonight. The segment was probably the greatest womens segment since Paige debuted and beat AJ Lee for the women’s title the night after Wrestlemania 30. This was really a relaunch for the women’s division in WWE as Stephanie McMahon showed up to introduce the three ladies from NXT. What made the segment even more special was that the crowd absolutely exploded with “This Is Awesome” chants and showered the ladies with praise. It was really a telling sign as to how far NXT has come that the NXT women were instantly reconized and admired for their athleticism and past accomplishments. If you only have time to check out one segment from this week’s Raw, its this segment right here.
2) The U.S. Title Open Challenge- What else is new? These segments are great every week and it is nice to see that each week more and more people continue to come out and challenge John Cena. The U.S. Title has become the most prized possession in WWE & it’s great to see how John Cena has brough prestige back to that belt. Cesaro continued his streak of having the best match on Raw as he and Rusev (and for a little while Kevin Owens) had a great, nearly , 24 minute match. It was great to see that Rusev is back showing his aggressive side and it was nice to see him, not only, getting a big win over Cesaro but also to see him getting a DQ victory over Cena. Kevin Owens costing Rusev the match ,after taking himself out of the three way, added some heat on Owens. Owens is obviously respected and, by a certain percentage of the audience, adored. The problem with that is that he’s being counted on to be a top heel in the company so by having him taking himself out of matches and then also costing the fans the opportunities to see clean finishes, (with Cesaro and now Rusev) the crowd may be more inclined to boo him. WWE has done a good job over these past few weeks of adding Cesaro and Rusev to the Cena and Owens story. They’ve used a hot feud like Cena-Owens to create new contenders for the US title in Cesaro and Rusev and giving both of those guys a rub in the process. Good stuff all around.
3) The Champ Stands Alone…Confidently?!?– This week Brock Lesnar continued his destruction of the Authority by taking out Kane after previously taking out J & J Security. This set up the showdown between Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins well in that now, theoretically, Rollins is all alone to face Lesnar. In the process, however, I felt that Rollins cut his best promo to date in that he claimed not to be afraid of Brock Lesnar while also rediculing Kane. He also, correctly, pointed out that while Lesnar had gotten better of all of his past challengers, he never did get the better of Rollins. I felt the end of Raw did a good job in setting the stage for the Battleground main event and a number of possibilities moving forward. If Seth Rollins proves he doesn’t need anyone and defeats Brock Lesnar retain the championship, he’s a made man. If Brock Lesnar wins back the championship and Triple H doesn’t come out to help Rollins or fails to help when he does, this starts issues between Rollins and Triple H. Lastly, it’ll be interesting to see where Kane goes from here after being verbally undressed and humiliated by Rollins to end the show.
4) Stardust Returns- While I was surprised to see Stardust return as a heel (presumably to continue his program with Stephen Amell), it was great to see Stardust back on Raw for the first time since the untimely death of Dusty Rhodes. I thought Stardust cut a great promo to hype his return prior to his match with Neville and seemed incredibly passionate. It was nice to see him get such a warm reaction from the crowd and it’ll be interesting to see just how long WWE will be able to keep Stardust a heel.
Overall, I think Raw was a really good show, perhaps the best since the Raw the night after Wrestlemania. The show did a good job in building towards Sunday’s Battleground and even beyond. It’s interesting to note that with only Smackdown remaining before the Battleground show, Dean Ambrose (who’s main evented the past two pay per views), Cesaro, Rusev and the Divas are not on the Battleground show. I’m sure some will be added but since Battleground is, likely, part of the larger Summerslam picture, it’s ok not to have everyone on every pay per view.
That’s going to do it for me but I’d love to hear your thoughts on tonight’s Raw. Until then keep your eyes pealed for a new Daily Spotlight in the morning, updated Tough Enough power rankings prior to tomorrow’s show and a whole lot more right here on thedailyspotlight.com!