We are just over a week away from the course of WWE changing with the brand split. The draft is scheduled to take place next Tuesday and we only have two episodes of Raw left to build it up. Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose are facing off in a triple threat match at Battleground for WWE Championship. Reigns is still serving a thirty-day suspension and won’t be on Raw but the WWE website is teasing Rollins revealing more secrets about the man who violated the wellness policy. The title program needs some juice added for such a dream match.
John Cena, Enzo Amore and Big Cass feuding with The Club is the other main angle on the show. The decision to go with a six-man tag team on the PPV instead of a singles Cena/Styles match is rather interesting to watch unfold. Another important facet on tonight’s show is Vince McMahon appearing to make a big announcement. We may finally get word on the official authority figure selections for Raw and Smackdown. The names running each show can give us an insight into what the direction of each program will be. Let’s take a glance through this week’s episode of Raw by looking at the top five takeaways of the show.
5. Darren Young is great again
The opening match of Raw featured a shocking moment of Darren Young winning a battle royal to become the #1 Contender for the Intercontinental Championship. Bob Backlund was at ringside giving his support to his new protégée. Young will challenge The Miz for the Intercontinental Title at Battleground in his hopes of becoming great again. Fans showered him with loving chants after the victory and you could see tears in his eyes.
This is a rare opportunity likely being given due to the needed depth of the brand split. Young has to hit a home run for this gimmick to have any legs. Backlund being a madman on the outside is always fun but Young has to prove he deserves a roster spot. The Miz has delivered outstanding heel performances over the past few months and is the right man for a new face to feud with. Young winning was surprising and that’s always important for a big episode of Raw. The lack of surprises has hurt the show over the last month.
4. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are “the guys”
With Roman Reigns gone for thirty days due to his suspension, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose have extra pressure added to sell the upcoming dream triple threat title match at Battleground. Both men earned their keep tonight with spectacular promos in a big segment. Rollins introduced “The Rollins Report” of him conducting an “interview” aka putting together past clips of Reigns answering his questions in humorous fashion. Ambrose interrupted him and the two engaged in a tremendous back and forth segment.
Ambrose showed a fire that he has lacked since winning the title. Instead of eye-rolling jokes, Ambrose showed a serious side and got across how much being the WWE Champion meant to him. Rollins played the perfect foe by demanding a singles title match before the triple threat. We are officially getting Rollins and Ambrose in a singles match next week on Raw just six days before Reigns enters the picture on the PPV. This could very well be a sign that Rollins and Ambrose will be on separate shows leading to them having one final singles match before the draft.
3. Broken Bray
The Wyatt Family challenged The New Day to fight them at the Wyatt compound. That may sound familiar if you’ve watched TNA’s hit segment “The Final Deletion.” Matt Hardy went all out with the shenanigans for his battle with brother Jeff Hardy to become a viral sensation. The creativity and unique approach made The Final Deletion a success. This could not capture the magic. It felt like WWE heard about the buzz from TNA’s rare positive fan reaction and cheaply imitated it.
The filming style was rather weak and they couldn’t decide if they wanted it to be campy or horror. Bray Wyatt is a promising character that has been booked horrendously and this continued here. While it did get the story across that New Day was forced to be a serious fight, the concept itself lacked the depth to pull it off effectively. Both teams will have to put on their working boots for a classic at the PPV to rescue the storyline from being remembered as the time WWE ripped off TNA.
2. John Cena is superhuman
John Cena has the honor of hosting the ESPY Awards on Wednesday night. The huge opportunity to show his personality to the mainstream sports world is one of the biggest moments in Cena’s career. No one expected Cena to appear tonight given the long work schedule of rehearsal time earlier Monday afternoon. Cena shocked the world by arriving in time to save Big Cass and Enzo Amore from a beat down via The Club.
A.J. Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows tried to use the numbers game to their advantage following a match but Cena saved the day as usual. The six-man tag team match at Battleground will be quite fun and everyone is getting elevated by working with Cena. During the match, fans engaged in the duel chants of “We want Cena” vs. “No, we don’t!” Cena is still the biggest star in the industry and the fan base acts accordingly. The surprise appearance provided a great moment for the show and added momentum to the program.
1. The Commissioners are named and it’s confusing
The most predictable swerve occurred with Vince McMahon naming both Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon the commissioners for Smackdown and Raw. Shane was selected to give Smackdown a new identity in hopes of revamping the brand to contend with Raw. Stephanie’s experience lands her the job as the commissioner of the flagship WWE show every Monday night. Both choices were quite obvious but there’s a curveball to change things up in the process.
Stephanie and Shane will have to choose general managers next week to run their respective brands. Those figures will likely be the ones making the draft picks on next week’s live Smackdown. The McMahon kids had to be involved so at least the door is open for unique surprises with the twist.
Some names that could make sense are Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and Paul Heyman. This writer’s personal picks for the choices are Daniel Bryan to work with Shane-O-Mac on Smackdown and Triple H to join his wife Stephanie on Raw. Both would make perfect sense for the cultures on each brand. The only thing certain is next week will be the most exciting time in recent memory for the landscape of WWE.