Welcome to the most must-see Vulture Hound weekly review in history; welcome to… The Raw Review

Last Tuesday it became apparent that Elliot Dyson will now be reviewing Smackdown Live on a weekly basis. Not only is he living in my shadow but he is now reviewing the weaker of the two shows. Good luck listening to JBL every week!

Following on from all the anticlimactic drama of Battleground we gathered in excitement for the first edition of the new look Raw. After the all new opening titles the brand new stage was set and we were greeted by commissioner Steph and her puppet Mick Foley. I’d like to think Foley can remember a time he was more than just Noelle’s father and can offer more in the long run than stumbling his lines. Yet with his decisions being overlooked by the scrutinous wife of Triple H I don’t think it will be too long until we see the Game himself return to take over as Raw General Manager. Until then I’m quite content with Steph calling Roman Reigns “a loser” for no longer being their number 1 guy. Maybe some more abuse will finally make him snap and give them no choice to make him a heel. Bo Dallas certainly seemed to enjoy it…

I guess people just don't Bo-lieve in Roman
I guess people just don’t Bo-lieve in Roman

The whole roster gathered on the stage for the announcement of two Fatal Four Way matches. These match ups would determine which two competitors would face each other to become the number 1 contender to challenge Seth Rollins for the bizarrely named WWE Universal Title at SummerSlam – so universal that it’s available exclusively to Monday Night Raw. The first of these matches saw Finn Balor make his much anticipated debut by beating Cesaro, Rusev and a highly impressive Kevin Owens. The latter dominated for most of the match, which for me, was very smart when it comes to making Owens still look like one of the best stars on the roster without having to give him a title shot. As for Rusev, I don’t think he should have even been in the match. I get that he’s currently been dominating so that would qualify him to challenge for the new title but as the current US Champion it would be better for him to be in matches where he is going to look like the most brutal in the ring. In this match he was mostly the whipping boy for the other three stars. That being said, the Accolade was only broken up by the other men and no one is yet to break the hold since his reign began as US Champion. The only man who came out of this worse than before was Cesaro who must be left wondering what he has to do to win a title – drop 20-30 pounds and become a Cruiserweight? It’s possible.

One of the best debuts since your mum met your dad
One of the best debuts since your mum met your dad

Nia Jax was next to make her Raw debut against Britt Baker. Nope, me neither. It was a very short lived match that only served the purpose to make Jax look powerful. Then again, El Torito would look powerful against Britt Baker. I literally have no idea who she is. So it didn’t make Jax’s first appearance on the flagship show look anyway impressive. Where’s Tamina? Jax power lifting her would have been an impressive debut!

The second and final Fatal Four Way of the night saw Roman Reigns annoy us once more by beating Sheamus, Sami Zayn and Chris Jericho. Much like my parents say about me watching wrestling at the age of 22, I wasn’t angry that he won, I was just disappointed. We all want to see Reigns turn heel and losing in that Fatal Four Way would have been the ideal opportunity for him to drop off the radar and start working on the lesser talent as a heel. Despite this we were still given the same old road to redemption. Yawn. The up side to Reigns being this unstoppable force is getting to see all his opponents hit him with their finishers.

The New Day came out to celebrate their 337th day as Tag Team champions and gave back to the fans by inviting one crowd member to become an honorary member of unicorn trio. “Sonny Boy” was selected and found himself in the ring doing his best impression of Big E’s wiggle. However, the party was cut short when Anderson and Gallows ambushed the New Day and, in true heel fashion, blew their noses on the New Days jackets before handing them over to poor old Sonny Boy.

Sonny Boy rocks
Sonny Boy rocks

Curtis Axel cemented his place as ‘Mr Irrelevant’ by losing to the returning Neville. No surprises really but it was great to see Neville land the Red Arrow once again. Here’s hoping he’ll be Cruiserweight Champion when it finally reaches Raw.

Perhaps the biggest shock of the night was Charlotte defending the Women’s Championship for the first time since Extreme Rules where she beat Natalya in a submissions match due to a dodgy distraction from Dana Brooke dressed as Ric Flair. It was then even more of a surprise to see Sasha win the match to become the new Women’s Champion. The manner in which she won must have been a childhood dream come true. Paying homage to her hero, Eddie Guerrero, Sasha faked being attacked by Dana Brooke who was then ejected. Sasha would then go on to beat Charlotte with back-stabber rolled into the Bank Statement. It was ironically fitting that it came full circle that Dana was the one to help Charlotte win her title and then ultimately loose it. Maybe the WWE do have long term planning?

Viva La Sasha
Viva La Sasha

In true Nia Jax fashion Braun Strowman beat a jobber with a Reverse Chokeslam and left us all wondering, with new entrance music, what about the Wyatt Family?

Now, I love Enzo and Cass, and I love Golden Truth but when you allow the Golden Truth to interrupt a match because they were playing Pokemon Go it really does make you wonder why they’re even bothering with the Shining Stars. This is the second time they’ve debuted and both times they have been truly disappointing. I understand Truth and Goldust are only there for comedy value these days but don’t use them for cheap laughs by ruining Primo’s career for a second time in the company. It’s quite sad. I’d love to see the Shining Stars become a legitimate threat in the tag division but if you can’t win a match because you’re more interested in R-Truth trying to catch a Pidgey then you don’t deserve to beat Enzo and Cass.

Having had a little rant earlier about Roman Reigns you could just imagine my Cheshire Cat grin when Finn Balor climbed to the top rope and landed with the Coup De Grace. It was a fantastic moment that Balor truly deserves after being the face of NXT for the last two years. It’s going to be a dream match at SummerSlam when Rollins and Balor go head to head for the WWE Universal Championship and we can all count our blessings that Roman Reigns seems to be out of the title picture (for now). Who knows what will happen over the next few weeks?.. Anderson and Gallows could beat New Day at SummerSlam to become the new Tag Team champions and then later on unite with Finn Balor, with his Universal Championship, to become the dominant faction on Raw. There’s so many options to consider that WWE simply cannot mess up this new look Raw.

The Raw Angle:

Now that I don’t have to put up with JBL anymore thanks to the lord and saviour, Vincent Kennedy McMahon, I’m going to change this last section to a sort of things I’d like to see section. Every week, instead of picking out quotes from that stupid hat-wearing-fake-cowboy, I will write about a potential angle that I would love to see the WWE go with.

Trojan Horse Strowman

We witnessed Braun Strowman appear without the Wyatt Family on Raw for the first time since his debut back in August last year. Sporting a new look it seems as though he is going to have a run as a singles competitor. Wouldn’t it be interesting if Rusev’s next title defence was against Strowman with the giant sized power lifter winning the title at SummerSlam? Then maybe the following night on Raw, a now established Balor Club celebrate holding titles when they decide to announce their newest member to The Club – Braun Strowman. The Club continue to look dominant for weeks, supporting each other, defending their titles with Strowman by their side. Then eventually, one night, at Royal Rumble, Strowman takes out the rest of The Club to help Bray Wyatt win the Royal Rumble thus aligning himself once more with the Wyatt Family.

By Bradley Tiernan

"Wrestling is better than the things you like" - John Oliver