By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and The Usos def. League of Nations, The Dudley Boyz & Tommy Dreamer & Rhyno, and The Wyatt Family in a Fatal 4-Way Elimination Tag Team Match
I prepared for the worst when the League of Nations were in the ring to open Raw, but I immediately became ten times more interested when The Wyatt Family interrupted. That could be one hell of a match at some point down the line (you know, after the League of Nations get some meaningful wins under their belt). Things got even more interesting with the return of Rhyno (which met my personal expectations) and Reigns' squad coming down. Has a 16-man Fatal 4-Way Elimination match ever been done before? Even if so, kudos to WWE for trying something, especially for the opening. It made for a very fun match and was exactly what WWE needed to switch up the tired Raw formula. My only gripe with it was Dreamer pinning Erick Rowan clean. I know Rowan is the weak link of the group and they wanted to give Dreamer an easy win, but that seemed a bit silly.
Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens def. Dolph Ziggler (Non-title)
With half the roster competing in the first match, WWE was forced to give the subsequent matches more time, so that worked out well. It wasn't the type of exciting match you'd expect from the two, but I liked how Owens was on offense for most of it, which made Ziggler's hope spots down the stretch mean more as a result. I was surprised Tyler Breeze didn't factor into the finish at all, but it was a nice change of pace. Ambrose throwing popcorn and soda in Owens' face afterward was the only hype their Intercontinental Championship match at TLC has received so far. I understand Owens was sick last week and couldn't promote the match, but they should have taken a more serious approach on this show.
Team B.A.D. def. Team Bella
Whatever happened to the story that tension was being teased within the ranks of Team B.A.D.? I was hopeful it would lead to Sasha Banks breaking out on her own finally, but now I'm not so sure. She just feels like another wrestler on the roster at this point, and it's a shame considering how hot she was (figuratively speaking) a few short months ago. The match wasn't much of note if only because the crowd didn't have any incentive to cheer for one team over the other (with the exception of Brie Bella using her husband's signature kicks). Team B.A.D. dancing with The New Day afterward was comical, though.
The Lucha Dragons def. WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day (Non-title)
With The Usos on commentary, you had to know shenanigans were going to ensue, but the match itself was fun while it lased. The New Day and The Lucha Dragons have always worked well together and this was a nice preview of what fans can expect in their chaotic Ladder match which has the potential to steal the show on Sunday. I'm usually against champions losing non-title matches, but it was a necessary boost for The Lucha Dragons going into the matchup.
The Miz Hosted 'Miz TV' with Divas Champion Charlotte and Ric Flair
As toxic as 'Miz TV' tends to be at times, it was encouraging to see the women get some mic time for once, but this segment was confusing as all hell. As I mentioned last week, I love the idea of Charlotte going heel with Ric Flair possibly serving as her manager, but a match with Paige won't further that turn any. Paige got a bigger pop than Charlotte did when she came out! That spoke volumes. And where was Becky Lynch? I figured 'Miz TV' would be used as a platform for Charlotte to explain her actions from last week, but apparently not. I understand they had a title match to hype, but there's no reason why it shouldn't have been a Triple Threat with Becky Lynch involved, too.
Ryback vs. Rusev Ended in a Double Count-out
I was excited to see this feud around this time one year ago. One year later? Not so much. I don't like Rusev, Alberto Del Rio and others being a part of the League of Nations and then being involved in other feuds that are completely unrelated. The crowd sat on their hands for this match and a feud with Ryback won't get Rusev back on the right track. They're both floundering at the moment and need to be feuding with more established stars.
Jack Swagger def. Stardust
It goes to show how little WWE thinks of these two when neither of these guys received an entrance and the match was joined in progress. Are Stardust and Titus O'Neil even feuding? They've been in a few segments together, but that's about it. I'm glad Swagger scored a rare win on Raw, but his feud with Del Rio is beyond dead. Speaking of Del Rio, his partnership with Zeb Colter was super short-lived, but at least they've finally gone their separate ways. They had zero chemistry and they were worse off because of the alliance. I like Colter, but maybe he can be paired with someone else who gels better with him.
Braun Strowman def. Tommy Dreamer
This match would have been so much more effective had they not already wrestled earlier in the evening. It's sad it's gotten to that point with WWE so low on star power at the moment. Dreamer lasted longer against Strowman than I thought he would, but then again, he just returned last week and they probably didn't want to job him out too quickly at the risk of fans looking at him like a loser before the pay-per-view match.
Roman Reigns and WWE World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus Brawled
They really should have left it at the opening match and given another angle the main event spotlight. Their promos did absolutely nothing for me and didn't make me the least bit excited about their pending TLC match. The brawl that followed wasn't much better, either. Usually a hot brawl can save a dragging show, but because this feud has flopped, the crowd barely reacted to it. But the million dollar question in all of this: where in the blue hell was the League of Nations?!
The show started out strong with the enjoyable 16-man tag team match and the Owens vs. Ziggler match was solid, but everything else did next to nothing to add to my anticipation for TLC. Granted, I'll be in attendance for the event, so I'm pumped the pay-per-view regardless, but for the casual viewer, I wouldn't blame them for missing out on it. The build has been absolutely awful and with several matches being added at the last minute, there aren't many reason for fans to care. I'm truly hoping WWE can pull something out of their asses because these last few weeks have been extremely underwhelming to say the least.
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