The first episode of Raw following the 30-day suspension of Roman Reigns is here. It will be interesting to see how WWE goes about Reigns missing a month of work on the road to Battleground after violating the wellness policy. Most stars have been written out of television with an injury or on-air story to explain the absence when suspended. Nothing of that nature occurred last week and you’d assume they have to address one of the biggest stars on the roster missing shows before a big title reign. How will this affect the Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose triple threat match for the WWE World Championship next month?
John Cena was beat down by A.J. Styles and The Club last week. The disadvantage of having to battle three men appears to be too much for even the superman of WWE. Tonight’s Raw may give us an insight into if Cena gets help to even the odds. Battleground will be the final PPV before the brand split and WWE is pulling out all the steps in making it a special occasion. The road to Battleground, the draft and the brand split is here. Every episode is important and tonight has to deliver a home run.
Seth Rollins opened the show referencing Roman Reigns getting suspended. WWE never discusses a wrestler violating the wellness policy on air. The suspension is usually announced online and never referenced on television. This wasn’t the case for Reigns and WWE booked Rollins to run him down for disappointing everyone. Reigns has been protected for his entire main roster tenure but it is officially over. Rollins and Stephanie McMahon both made note of Reigns being out for the next thirty days due to a bad decision on his part.
Sasha Banks is finally back and looked great tonight. The tag match with Paige against Charlotte and Dana Brooke led to confusion on the plan for Battlegrund. Will we get Charlotte vs. Sasha now or wait until Summerslam? The latter would be better considering WWE passed on Banks winning the title at WrestleMania 32. The next best thing is Summerslam in the same venue she had a Match of the Year classic with against Bayley last year.
The war between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn is scheduled to end for the time being at Battleground. Our best bet is the two being split in the draft and this becoming a huge match on the final PPV before the rosters are split. Both men take great pride in their performances and have given their all to this rivalry for the past seven years all over the world. Battleground marks the biggest matchup of the rivalry and they could deliver a classic.
Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel show set up the match and the segment was captivating. We were finally given a great insight on the main roster as to why they hate each other from the days of NXT and the independent wrestling circuit. The disdain shown in the emotion of their promos gave a glimpse of storytelling being executed to a tee.
An extremely important part of the brand split will be the respectability of the midcard titles. WWE needs to make the Intercontinental Championship and United States Championship mean something to put together two compelling shows from top to bottom. Rusev is a great choice for United States Champion but the feud against Titus O’Neil is just not helping. Titus is doing a solid job in the role but you can’t take him seriously after years of irrelevance. The presentation of Rusev as champion is huge in elevating him as a credible villain on one of the two shows soon.
The Miz is in a worse position. A two-month program and impressive matches against Cesaro, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn helped add respect to Miz’s name. The Intercontinental Championship was becoming cool again but all momentum suffered an instant death. Miz missed television for weeks to film The Marine 5, a film no one is excited about. His big return featured him facing a mystery opponent tonight.
WWE threw a bit of a swerve into the expectations for Battleground tonight. A.J. Styles and John Cena entered the WWE World Championship picture. Stephanie McMahon allowed them an entry into the title match at the PPV if they could top their opponents. Seth Rollins defeated Cena following the distraction of The Club and Dean Ambrose defeated Styles thanks to a distraction from Cena. It was predictable enough but any doubts of the likely double main event have been removed.
Rollins, Ambrose and Roman Reigns will face off in the dream triple threat match between Shield members for the WWE World Championship. Many fans want Reigns removed from the match due to his suspension but this is for the best. We may never get all three members on the same roster again with the brand split coming up. You never know if someone will suffer a decline or injury that changes their career. The match has to happen now before it’s too late.
Cena and Styles will also likely square off in the second part of the double main event. They had a great match at Money in the Bank and the second time is usually even better. The story is Cena needing help to overcome The Club as the trio stood tall over him to end the show. Someone will benefit greatly from aligning with Cena and that’s something to keep an eye on going forward. Raw was a mixed bag tonight but two spectacular main events being planned for Battleground is all you can ask for as we approach the draft in a few weeks.
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