This week’s episode of Raw is built around the non-title match between WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns. While the Universal Championship is not on the line, a title shot at the upcoming Clash of Champions PPV is. Owens is already scheduled to defend the title against Seth Rollins on the PPV following Triple H’s shocking actions turning on Rollins to help Owens win the belt. Reigns was also screwed over by Triple H’s actions in the match and thus gets added into the title picture. The title match becomes a triple threat match if Reigns can defeat the champion tonight.
A couple of other stories heading into Raw feature the women of the show. Sasha Banks is getting her rematch for the Raw Women’s Championship at Clash of Champions when she faces off against Charlotte. The looming sunshine of Bayley also appears to be in the mix for a title shot after she pinned Charlotte last week. It will be interesting to see what Bayley does this week considering Banks is back for her feud with Charlotte.
Clash of the Champions is less than two weeks away and WWE needs a noteworthy show to add momentum to the first Raw PPV in the brand split. We’ll find out how they did with the five biggest takeaways from the show.
5. Women’s division shines
One of the more shocking turn of events in the brand split has been Smackdown putting out a better women’s division than Raw. Sasha Banks, Bayley and Charlotte all reside on Raw, but Smackdown has spotlighted all six of their women in more effective manners. Tonight was a step in the right direction for Raw. Banks, Bayley and Dana Brooke all stood out as interesting challengers to Charlotte and Mick Foley put them in a triple threat match for the title shot against Charlotte as Clash of Champions.
Banks won an entertaining match to retain her spot in the match against Charlotte in a few weeks. More importantly, it set up quite a bit of stories going forward. Charlotte vs. Banks continues for another PPV. Brooke is starting to gain sympathy as Charlotte’s lackey and won the fans over for a short time period by slapping Charlotte in the face. There was tension between Banks and Bayley due to Banks not being fond of Bayley wanting a title shot. Everyone has multiple stories going forward and that’s needed for the direction of the division.
4. Zayn vs. Jericho
Chris Jericho and Sami Zayn were two of the better talents without anything going for them in recent weeks. The elevation of Kevin Owens as WWE Universal Champion has left Jericho to return to singles action and he has a new feud. Zayn was the guest on The Highlight Reel this week leading to Jericho running him down. The two exchanged verbal blows about Owens until Zayn got personal calling Jericho a shell of his former self.
Jericho responded by taking a cheap shot at Zayn and hitting the Codebreaker. This was an exciting and successful segment to create interest in another match for Clash of Champions. Jericho was in rare form as the arrogant heel talking down to Zayn. The fans rallied behind Zayn as he showed passion in his retorts and verbally got the better of Jericho by actually calling him “Kevin Owens’ bitch.” WWE desperately needs guys to pick up the slack with limited rosters heading into PPVs. Jericho and Zayn are bound for compelling television with their match officially announced for Clash of Champions.
3. Cruiserweights are coming at the best time
The cruiserweight division will be exclusive to Raw and is scheduled to debut next week. Wednesday will feature the semi-finals and finals of the Cruiserweight Classic. Kota Ibushi, TJ Perkins, Gran Metalik and Zack Sabre Jr. will compete for the trophy and bragging rights as the style of wrestling with the smaller and faster workers getting the chance to shine on Raw. Tonight’s episode spotlighted many weaknesses that could be solved with the new division of talented wrestlers coming next week.
Jinder Mahal and Jack Swagger squared off in a painfully pointless match. The Shining Stars were selling timeshares backstage before continuing a feud with Big Cass and Enzo Amore. Bo Dallas had another squash match victory. There’s so much filler with the show needing to fill three hours of time. Instead of three or four irrelevant segments per show, the cruiserweights will contribute to one or two of those segments with exciting matches. Raw needs the variety more than ever, and it’s coming at the best time possible.
2. Rusev ruins Reigns’ night
Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens had a spectacular match with great action to main event Raw. It looked like Reigns would once again pull off the big win to make the Clash of Champions Universal Championship match a triple threat match. Rusev made a shocking return to change those plans by costing Reigns the match via distraction. This gave Owens the opportunity to hit the Pop-Up Powerbomb and pull off the big win pinning Reigns.
Rumors circulated that Rusev and Lana would be off television on their honeymoon for a few more weeks. With most of us expecting Rusev to miss Clash of Champions, the shock of him costing Reigns the match added an interesting ending to Raw. Owens celebrated the win and Rusev continued his attack on Reigns. Raw ended with Rusev standing tall after beating down Reigns.
Another big PPV match between the two was desperately needed following the Summerslam debacle. Reigns needs more time away from the Universal Championship picture and Rusev gets to add a noteworthy match to his United States Championship reign.
1. Kevin Owens delivers impressive performance as champ
The shocking decision to put the Universal Championship on Kevin Owens left the wrestling world wondering how his title reign would be treated. Would WWE give him a strong reign with television time and the booking to shine or would he be restricted? Tonight’s outing showed Owens will get a fair opportunity to show his worth in the top heel spot on Raw. A backstage promo featured Owens talk down to Seth Rollins and made you feel sympathy for the former biggest jerk on the roster by being an even bigger jerk.
Owens’ in-ring work backed up the talk with a stellar match against Roman Reigns. The two stars had great chemistry and delivered a PPV worthy main event. Reigns is already an established top star and Owens proved he could hold his own against “the guy.” Owens had another big moment by actually pinning Reigns to score the victory.
Obviously, Rusev’s interference keeps Roman strong but the idea of Owens pinning Reigns at all just a few months ago seemed to be farfetched. Owens delivered with his in-ring moves and backstage talk to add momentum to the title reign. A highly anticipated match with Rollins is the next step in the main event of Clash of Champions.