The final stop on the road to Clash of Champions took place with this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. Kevin Owens hopes to successfully defend his WWE Universal Championship this Sunday against Seth Rollins in a highly anticipated match. Both men are among the best overall wrestling performers in the world today and this will be their first match on WWE television. The variables involved with Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley all play a role in the feud with many layers around it. Hopefully WWE used this final episode of Raw before the PPV to add more momentum to the big title match.
Roman Reigns and Rusev are back at it after Rusev returned last week to prevent Reigns from getting a WWE Universal Championship match. Sasha Banks and Charlotte have a big rematch taking place at Clash of Champions with Bayley and Dana Brooke looming in the background. Rumors have circulated of Paige returning here. Sheamus and Cesaro are continuing their best of seven series. The cruiserweights get their first chance to shine on national television with TJ Perkins coming aboard as the new champ. WWE has quite a few fascinating things in play this week and we’ll break down the top moments with five huge takeaways from Raw.
5 Cruiserweights overcome odd introduction
The introduction of the cruiserweight division left a lot to be desired. Mick Foley came to the ring and cut a long-winded promo losing his train of thought on a few occasions. To make matters worse, Foley used cue cards to introduce Cedric Alexander, Rich Swann, Gran Metalik and The Brian Kendrick for their fatal four way match. You can’t fault Foley for not being able to memorize all of this information but WWE needed to get someone else out there to do it. Stephanie McMahon, Corey Graves or literally anyone else could have been more effective.
All four men delivered a very entertaining match to help make up for the flaws in their first impression. The crowd wasn’t super familiar with the stars of the Cruiserweight Classic but they did a good job getting over. Swann and Alexander carried the early portion of the match. Metalik displayed his aerial greatness. Kendrick came in at the end to win via submission. All things considered, the first match of the new division went well. Kendrick will face TJ Perkins for the Cruiserweight Championship in an exciting matchup at Clash of Champions.
4 Cesaro and Sheamus add intensity to series
We can all admit to being a bit burned out from the best of seven series featuring Cesaro and Sheamus. Both men are talented. Cesaro is arguably the best in-ring performer in the company. Sheamus has his weaknesses, but the guy leaves it all in the ring. The problem is none of their matches have been treated with importance. It is hard to take it seriously when they are basically Raw filler meant to eat a segment during the three-hour broadcasts.
This week’s match added much needed excitement to the series. Sheamus and Cesaro wrestled like they were on a big PPV competing for a title. You could feel the urgency of two warriors battling as if their lives were on the line with each move. Cesaro picked up the victory to even the series at 3-3 with the seventh and deciding match taking place at Clash of Champions. Hopefully the momentum carries over to the PPV as the winner desperately needs to have a strong performance and get a big push going forward.
3 Three is greater than two
The controversial finish of last week’s number one contender’s match saw Sasha Banks defeat Bayley (and Dana Brooke) to win a title shot rematch against Charlotte at Clash of Champions. Banks’ shoulders were also down during the double pin making it a bit confusing to figure it all out. WWE corrected the wrong by changing the PPV match into a triple threat match including Bayley. The top three women on Raw will battle it out on Sunday in a match with great potential.
The Raw match saw Charlotte (and Dana Brooke) defeat Sasha and Bayley. Charlotte looked strong heading into the PPV which usually isn’t a great sign for a champion’s likelihood of retaining. There are a few interesting aspects to the match. Banks and Bayley have outstanding chemistry. With Bayley on Raw as the loveable face, Banks could easily slide back into that heel role she is most comfortable with. Quite frankly, anyone could feasibly win this match and the story can go anywhere. What more can you ask for?
2 Seth Rollins adds freshness to Raw
The opening match on Raw showcased Seth Rollins in a clear face role. Rollins worked against Rusev and the two had a very good match. The bout ended in a double count out, but the most memorable moment featured Rollins jumping off of the commentary table onto Rusev in a cool visual. There has been confusion regarding the character of Rollins over the past few weeks. Rollins later had a heated backstage exchange with Stephanie McMahon. They went back and forth with Rollins being set up as the enemy of Stephanie, as well as her husband Triple H.
In the most shocking Rollins moment of the night, the new face made his way to the ring following the main event to save Roman Reigns from the beat down of Owens and Rusev. Rollins and Reigns have been enemies on television for the better part of two years. The fact that Rollins joined his former foe to take on mutual enemies gave an insight into how WWE wants fans to react. Rollins jumped off the top of the cage to take out Owens and Rusev in a tremendous closing segment.
1 Clash of Champions has huge potential
This week’s episode of Raw had its fair share of flaws, but it did a great job setting the table for an exciting PPV on Sunday. Clash of Champions has one of the most exciting PPV main events in a while with the singles bout of Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens facing off. You have to believe WWE will give them the time to put out an absolute classic. Rusev and Roman Reigns have quite a bit to prove following the Summerslam debacle and it will be interesting to see how they set up the future of the United States Championship.
The women’s match gives us three of the top stars in the company today battling for the title. Storylines involving Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte (and Dana Brooke) could provide an interesting finish. The end of the Cesaro and Sheamus series could be huge if Cesaro gets the win coming back in the series from down 0-3. Sami Zayn could potentially have a star making night against Chris Jericho. This is what WWE intended with the brand split. The possibility is there, but now they have to go make it happen.