Classy touch at the beginning of the show, paying tribute and respect to the victims of the Paris attacks.
We begin with the Undertaker and Kane come out to the ring, full entrance, the gong, the druids chanting, chills up my spine… Oh yeah, this was nice. They discuss how Bray Wyatt is in over his head, telling him and the audience about playing with fire and the supernatural. The promo is interrupted by the Wyatt Family. It turns super creepy, as Bray then appears to command the thunder and lightning inside the arena, and turn the druids into Wyatt Family sheep, who then assault, but are defeated by the Brothers of Destruction.
This was an interesting way to kick off the show. We have the Brothers of Destruction, Taker and Kane appearing to be at full power, undaunted, yet Bray Wyatt still appears to have “harnessed their power” and sits as the New Face of Fear. This isn’t 1996 anymore, and one would think a gimmick featuring really fancy arena sound-effects would not sell, but when you toss in Undertaker and Kane, it just works, and you just go with it. This can be a fun feud, and I start to wonder if this feud will end or only continue at Survivor Series.
Our first match features Adrian Neville and Kevin Owens challenging for the semi-final spot in the WWE Championship tournament. It pains me when gimmicks and clichés are driven into the ground, such as JBL referring to K.O. as a “Prize Fighter” at every opportunity. We get it, Owens runs when the match doesn’t suit his interest. Floyd Mayweather he isn’t.
Besides JBL’s nonsense, we get a bona-fide match of the year candidate. Neville and Owens put on what probably could be best described as a slightly shorter NXT main event. The counters were fast and unfathomable. A few nice spots with Neville hitting a snapping German Suplex, a twisting 450 off the second rope, and even hitting Owens with a reverse Frankensteiner. Owens hitting a standing senton and a fantastic superkick. Neville nearly hit the Red Arrow, but landed on his feet when Owens moved. Neville popped up for something, we will never know because Owens transformed it into a Pop Up Powerbomb.
Tyler Breeze defeated R-Truth in a less-than-memorable match.
Moving onto a second candidate for match of the year, Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose gave us a ten-minute instant classic. Sure, I could joke this was Mick Foley vs. Shawn Michaels, but nah. These guys have their own niche, their own styles, and their own ring presence. Ambrose and Ziggler put on a chain of multiple counters, reversals, and probably the most amazing set of moves. Ambrose counters a superkick into a Dirty Deeds which is countered back by Ziggler with a sleeper which is reversed into another sleeper. What a chain. Ambrose hits a huge Slingshot Clothesline which gives JBL an orgasm. Ziggler hits a superkick which Cole marks out for. Saxton is happy to still be on commentary. Following multiple counters, Ambrose twists one into a the Dirty Deeds for the clean win. Great match.
Shame to see Ziggler once again scripted to come up short, I feel as though he is constantly pushed up, only to fail. This one has Reigns vs. Ambrose written all over it.
Next up is an entertaining segment with The New Day and a match with Ryback and The Usos. Decent match, still amazed to see how over Ryback is. New Day pulls an early 90’s heel move by constantly preventing a hot tag, and whenever Ryback gets a tag, the New Day is sure to prevent the ref from seeing it. Ryback gets ticked off and gets his team DQ when he charges the ring and demolishes everyone. Decent match.
In a match which could have been a match of the week candidate, Roman Reigns predictably defeated Cesaro in a really good match. My only gripe, besides the predictability of it, is the obvious, Cesaro carried the match. He had all the big spots, the big reversals, the “oh-so-close pinfalls” and the really well done high impact moves. Reigns looked the way WWE wants him to look: Strong. He kicked out of everything, he no sold some of Cesaro’s big moves, hit his superman punches, and of course, the spear. One nice spot, Reigns missing his drive-by sliding kick, and Cesaro countering into the Cesaro Swing.
We knew Cesaro was not going to win, but at least he came out looking the strongest out of match.
Then The Ascension came out, and the fans went to the concession booth. The Dudleys came out, and wished they were headed to the concession stand too. The Dudleys take it with a 3D.
Up next, in our final match of the night, we have Alberto del Rio going up against Kalisto. Very impressive recap win on SmackDown over Ryback. I feel Kalisto can be this era’s Rey Mysterio, you know, when he was fun to watch and not a spot-machine. Kalisto put up a good fight, but tonight would not be another upset victory, despite the dozen times Cole wanted us to think it would be. Del Rio takes it with his MexAmerica Double Stomp off the top.
Throughout the evening, Triple H was seen backstage giving support and encouragement to anyone not Roman Reigns or Dean Ambrose. Gee, making this obvious, aren’t we?
This leaves us with the contract signing between Charlotte and Paige tonight. I just do not understand why all matches have official signings. Can we have one RAW where it is nothing but contracts being signed? That would be AWESOME.
In any event, this contact signing is all about the explanation of friendship and the drama that the main roster forces us to endure. Then Charlotte gets all teary-eyed and brings up her brother who “passed away” and how that was the driving force behind her to win the Divas Title. Sorry, but why does every promo she gives have crying in it? This turns into a whole “Why Paige Why” bit and how a champion is a role model for little girls everywhere… Sorry, but this is just tanking for me. The only entertaining part is when Paige mocks Flair and calls him out to drop elbows on his suit jacket. Segment turns ugly when Paige then says “I guess baby brother just didn’t have it in him…” Which cues the obligatory brawl. I dunno, this seemed a bit forced and long. I think the segment went longer than it was supposed to, Michael Cole kept trying to keep the ladies on point.
Very odd way to end RAW. I think RAW should have ended stronger, with the Brothers of Destruction and Wyatt Family segment.
Overall, a solid wrestling show. Good go home show for Survivor Series.