By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Dean Ambrose Hosted 'The Ambrose Asylum' with Shane McMahon, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Chris Jericho
Is 'The Ambrose Asylum' officially a thing now? I thought last week was merely a one-off, but if this was any indication, it might be here to stay. I honestly don't know how to feel about that despite how much I like Ambrose because I feel he gets too cute for his own good with his comedy sometimes. That aside, this was an effective way of furthering the Jericho/Ambrose and Owens/Zayn feuds and setting up their respective matches for Payback. The announcement came off as slightly anticlimactic, but Shane McMahon making the announcement was at least better than the commentators doing it. It also served as a solid lead-in to the subsequent match between Jericho and Zayn.
Chris Jericho def. Sami Zayn
I was fine with this being a rematch from SmackDown, but it should have been said that Zayn wanted the rematch or something along those lines so it didn't feel like a retread. Nevertheless, they contested another excellent match and I love the dynamic they have together with Jericho as the full-of-himself heel and Zayn as the underdog babyface. I don't know how much longer Jericho is around for, but this would be a fantastic feud for down the line. I have no problem with Jericho going over as he elicited heat for having to cheat for win and Zayn never loses anything in defeat.
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady def. The Dudley Boyz in a No. 1 Contender's Tag Team Tournament Semifinal Match
I've never given Enzo and Cass credit for being great in-ring workers, but this was the most fun match I've seen from them other than their outings with The Revival in NXT. Most of that can be contributed to The Dudley Boyz for carrying them through the contest, but Enzo and Cass held their own very nicely and it made for an enjoyable encounter. I was surprised to see Enzo and Cass win cleanly, but here's hoping the feud is not yet over. I figure The Dudley Boyz screw them over in the finals of the tournament so we'll get a rematch at Payback.
AJ Styles Confronted WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns
Reigns isn't generating the right type of heat by saying that "I'm not a good guy..." line over and over. It's just beyond annoying at this point. If they're going the tweener/heel route with him, then fine, but otherwise, he's shooting himself in the foot by repeating the line that was clever the first time he said it but now it's been done to death. He and Styles had a strong back-and-forth on the mic, but I would have been disappointed if it was left at that because we haven't seen these two do anything else yet. That was until Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows attacked Reigns and piqued my interest in the program. I'm looking forward to seeing who they're ultimately aligned with.
Baron Corbin def. Fandango
Corbin was in his comfort zone in NXT when he was beating opponents in the matter of a minute, so I was glad this squash match wasn't drawn out as long as his match with Dolph Ziggler was a few weeks ago. Speaking of whom, he was all right on commentary and he deserves major props for selling the hell out of that End of Days on the floor. As long as he doesn't beat Corbin at Payback and cut his momentum short for no reason, I'm content.
Cesaro Interrupted Intercontinental Champion The Miz and Maryse on 'Miz TV'
I might have been generous by praising the opening segment, but this segment didn't feel as natural. Cesaro struggles on the microphone, and although he did decent for himself here, the movie material he and Miz were given to work with was lousy. Thankfully, Miz and Maryse continue to shine as a duo and fans want to see Cesaro take the title from Miz come Payback. Plus, I'll never complain about an IC title-level feud receiving promo time.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day and Cesaro def. Intercontinental Champion The Miz and League of Nations
If this wasn't WWE's way of killing time, I don't know what other purpose it was supposed to serve. Miz and Cesaro already interacted in the previous segment, so this match wasn't nearly as necessary. All eight guys worked well together and produced a nice match, but it was virtually meaningless. I assume Bray Wyatt is off the UK tour due to the injury he suffered last week since I assume The Wyatt Family would have teamed with Cesaro if he was healthy.
Natalya, Becky Lynch, Paige and Sasha Banks def. WWE Women's Champion Charlotte, Summer Rae and Team B.A.D.
I had a feeling last week Bret Hart would appear in the corner of Natalya for the title rematch at the pay-per-view. Yes, we saw something similar at NXT TakeOver two years ago, but it's a different story this time around. It wouldn't have made sense if an extra wrinkle wasn't added because what would have been stopping Ric Flair from interfering again? The match was well-wrestled, but my only gripe with it was that Charlotte tapped way too quickly to the Sharpshooter. Hopefully they have her explain it away on SmackDown by saying her title wasn't on the line and therefore she could afford the submission loss. Oh, and where the hell was Emma? On a side note, Banks was a total afterthought in this match, and she didn't score as big of a reaction as I thought she would when she made her entrance.
The Vaudevillians def. The Usos in a No. 1 Contender's Tag Team Tournament Semifinal Match
This was the real test because if England didn't respond favorably to The Vaudevillians, that would show me they aren't going to get over with this gimmick. Maybe I'm wrong and they'll get over organically over time, but the crowd sat on their hands for their shtick here. The Vaudevillians putting The Usos away as quickly as they did was shocking, but the commentators offered a logical explanation by citing their injuries from last week as the reason they lost.
Apollo Crews def. Heath Slater
Officials didn't do Crews any favors by holding his match in the death slot for the second straight week. On the bright side, I was glad they added the stipulation that Crews would have to join The Social Outcasts if he lost, making this more than just a standard squash match. No, there was never any doubt he would win, but it was at least an improvement. Crews eyeing Owens as he made his entrance was interesting. Was that supposed to tease a future feud between them once Owens and Zayn are finished?
Dean Ambrose def. Kevin Owens
Ambrose and Owens have always had very good chemistry together and this was another above-average from them, but coming at the end of a draining three hour show, the crowd was ready for the night to be over. They made the most of what they were allotted given the circumstances, and if nothing else, it was refreshing to see them in the main event of Raw for a chance as opposed to the usual suspects. This is merely nitpicking, but Owens shouldn't be pinned cleanly as often as he is.
I usually enjoy episodes of Raw in England due to the electric atmosphere, but it's hard to blame the crowd for being quiet for a majority of the night because there was little to be amped about. After two exceptional episodes, this show brought us back to reality. I'm still highly anticipating Payback and think it has the potential to be an exceptional event, but this show didn't do anything to boost or hinder my excitement for it. Maybe next week's live go-home show will continue the strong momentum WWE had going for the past two weeks.
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