Monday Night Raw aired live from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California. It was the followup episode to a Hell in a Cell pay-per-view that left several questions unanswered.
Who would face WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins? What was the Wyatt Family’s motive for attacking The Undertaker? What can we expect from new United State champion Alberto Del Rio’s return and alliance with Zeb Colter? What’s next for Roman Reigns?
All this and more was addressed on this week’s episode. Here are the top-five superstars following the post-HIAC edition of Raw.
Reddit post of the night: Occasionally, I like to lurk the Squared Circle reddit page to see what other fans are thinking. Usually it’s smarminess, but in a good way.
There’s usually some pretty clever stuff on there, like this guy:
This is the most wide-eyed, optimistic thing I’ve ever read a wrestling fan write on the internet and for that I think it deserves acknowledgement. Anyway, on to our list.
5. Dolph Ziggler: Hey, Dolph Ziggler was in Raw’s main event! And guess what, he was a big reason why the crowd chanted “this is awesome” in approval. Say what you will about how Ziggler is booked, but there’s no denying that WWE is aware of his value. He’s one of the best sellers in wrestling history and is still over enough to provide interest. Sure, I wish there was more reason to believe he’d actually have a chance of winning Monday’s match, but let’s be honest, we all knew how that was going to turn out.
4. Kevin Owens: Kevin Owens’ match at HIAC against Ryback was short — likely because of time constraints — which only made him look stronger. As expected, Owens provided this gem of a backstage segment where he pointed out Rich Brennan’s resemblance to Milhouse Van Houten from The Simpsons and wasted Renee Young’s time.
During Raw, he advanced to the main event in the No. 1 Contender tournament before taking the pinfall. So sure, he’s was on the losing end of the match, but he remains one of Raw’s top rising stars.
3. Alberto Del Rio: Albert El Patron — I mean, Del Rio — made his return during John Cena’s U.S. Open Challenge at HIAC, and won. Clean. That’s right, Del Rio defeated John Cena clean — a feat that’s happened, what, five times this past decade? He also aligned himself with Zeb Colter, former — kayfabe — bigot patriot who now wants to create a unified “MexAmerica.” Cool. Whatever brings both guys back to WWE programming is fine by me. Either way, Del Rio looked incredibly strong in his return, including the main event match. It’s still a mystery who he’ll face but there’s no denying his immediate return to the upper card.
2. Seth Rollins: Ah yes, the Raw after a pay-per-view. The one night when Seth Rollins is less than 24 hours from a victory — or so it seems. It’s cool, when history remembers Rollins’ first title reign, no one will remember how it included him losing just about every match on Raw. Instead, we’ll look back on a streak that is currently at 252 days and counting. Plus, we get another Shield main event match at Survivor Series. Those are always fun.
1. Roman Reigns: What was the most obvious scenario for the No. 1 contender finish? If you answered anything other than “make Roman look strong,” you’re unfamiliar with WWE. Reigns has been labeled as the “next John Cena” and has plenty of potential, even some still untapped. But fan backlash may have been the reason to put his “WrestleMania moment” on hold and inevitably force him to spend several months on the upper-midcard. Still, it’s obvious Reigns — along with Rollins — is the future of WWE and is in line for another major push.