Monday’s edition of Raw was one of the most interesting in quite some time. Raw aired on a tape delay in the United States because Raw was live in Manchester, England earlier in the day. After last week’s injury to Seth Rollins, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship has been vacated, and WWE began a tournament that will crown a new champion at Survivor Series in less than two weeks.
Monday was about getting the ball rolling on the tournament, developing the next chapter of Bray Wyatt’s evolution and coping with the loss of the best wrestler WWE had to offer until a few days ago. The WWE roster’s depth has been exposed, but this week’s edition of Raw was one of the best in recent memory.
There were quality matches, development of characters and enough openness to allow other stars to shine. There were a lot of good moments to choose from, but here are the five best moments of this week’s edition of Monday Night Raw:
5. Roman Reigns Turns Down Triple H’s Offer
Triple H did the right thing by acknowledging a great champion in Seth Rollins right off the bat. It truly is a shame that Rollins will not be able to lose the title appropriately. Every great champion deserves that. The Game made that point very clear, and Rollins will return as a great face by next spring/summer.
This opening segment could mean one of two things in the long run. For Roman Reigns, this could have been a great prelude to a heel turn for him. WWE did something very similar in 1998 with The Rock. Before Survivor Series 98. Rock was feuding with Vince McMahon and it built to his turn after Vince screwed over Mankind.
They could be doing the same thing for Roman. A turn would most likely be against Dean Ambrose, his “best friend”. That would solidify Reigns and Ambrose as the top rivalry for the WWE Championship. Or, it’ll lead to Triple H offering it to someone else now that Reigns has turned down the offer. That would give a huge heel heat for someone like Ambrose to turn heel and align with The Authority. Either way, Reigns is expected to be at the top of the card for the immediate future.
4. Kevin Owens Makes a Statement
Kevin Owens made a big statement on Monday. I fully expect him to be in the final four of this tournament. Unfortunately, that most likely means the Intercontinental Championship won’t be defended and will be put on hold for the next few weeks. That’s not a big deal because Rollins is gone. That opens up a big opportunity for another heel to climb the ladder and solidify themselves as a top heel in the company. This run is what Owens needs. He’s going to be red-hot after Survivor Series.
The match with Titus O’ Neil was good, but it was the promo before that made Owens’ intentions crystal clear. He’s a force to be reckoned with, and he will get prestige for the IC title in the tournament. You can feel his presence grow when he’s allowed to speak. It’s something else when a heel backs up his words because it makes him a threat to anyone.
He’s most likely going to the final four to lose to Dean Ambrose. That’s great. Few are going to have a problem with that. That win over Owens is going to give Ambrose so much momentum going against Reigns. Owens is going to give Ambrose a big boost, and this is the run that’s going to make him a great IC Champion.
3. Becky Lynch vs. Paige
First and foremost, thank goodness Becky Lynch actually got some time in the ring and even a win against Paige. I’ve made my point about Lynch‘s ability and her poor booking since her debut, but this was a good example of how to book her properly.
Lynch gets a win in a good match against a great opponent. Then, she gets beaten down by Paige, which makes Paige look heelish and brutal. That builds genuine sympathy for her, and she’s beaten the No. 1 contender. She could build off it if WWE lets her.
There are less than two weeks left before Survivor Series, when are Charlotte and Paige going to interact with one another? Ever since Paige’s heel turn and attack on Lynch and Charlotte, there has been no interaction between them.
This feud doesn’t feel personal. They’re dancing around each other. The fans know that both can wrestle, that they’re both from wrestling families and have a broken friendship. There’s a lot of story and character there not to have them cut promos against each other or have any ring time together.
Good for Becky though. She deserved the spotlight Monday.
2. Dean Ambrose vs. Tyler Breeze
The official Raw in-ring debut of Tyler Breeze was very good. Booking Breeze into the first round with Ambrose was questionable because he had to lose. That’s fine, but it doesn’t make sense for him to lose with Dolph Ziggler moving on to the next round.
Sure, Breeze could easily interfere and cost Ziggler the match but there were better ways to book this. The first round should have been Breeze vs. Ziggler and Ambrose vs. Miz. Then we get Ambrose vs. Breeze in the second round and Ambrose vs. Owens in the semifinals. Everyone wins in that scenario, but now Breeze lost in the first round with no development of the Ziggler feud.
For Ambrose, this was great. Breeze did look like a tough man to defeat, and Ambrose gutted it out. We’re going to get Ambrose vs. Ziggler, which is cool. Ambrose got a quality win on television. He’s most likely set to do the same thing against Ziggler next week and then Owens. Ambrose is probably the guy to take on Reigns in the finals. There is so much speculation about a heel turn for him or a major face turn as Reigns becomes the heel.
The fans would rejoice around Ambrose. Frankly, it’s a better story.
1. Kane and Undertaker Return
Bray Wyatt has been masterful. It’s astonishing what’s he’s been able to do over the last few months with only a few matches and consistency on the microphone. He’s not only carrying three other talents, but he has also elevated Reigns and has brought The Brothers of Destruction back from the dead.
Monday’s return for Undertaker and Kane was simple and very effective. Wyatt has been all-powerful because he “absorbed” their dark powers. Now, The Brothers of Destruction return to take him down. They showed that two of them could be just as powerful as four Wyatts. The build for this feud to get to Survivor Series took a major step.
All this talent just gets to feast on the atmosphere and aura created by the great history of two veterans, the best heel in the company, and a great story of power. For my money, this is going to be the best match at Survivor Series.