Monday Night RAW Highlights: a new era

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By Victoria Tezangi. Catch her on Twitter @TezangiVictoria.

With a brand new roster and a new general manager, the WWE wanted us all to believe it was an new start in the company. A new era, even. But hardcore wrestling fans are critical and always find something to moan about or question and everyone, including myself, was wondering just how far the WWE were going to take this “new era”.

We all questioned whether or not there would be a new set and general change in the feel to the way things are done on Monday night RAW. The anticipation grew throughout the build up and with pictures surfacing, the internet revealing that there was in face a brand new Monday night RAW set I tweeted out several times that I was very excited for this weeks show. Something I very rarely get to say.

As the show kick started, we got to see a brand new opening with new titles and a new theme. Again, I mentioned last night that I did in fact really like the new theme and the titles. It fitted that brand new edgy feel to Monday night RAW and genuinely made it feel as though we were starting over again. The new set was something I also really liked. It is pretty much identical to a previous SummerSlam set but you won’t catch me complaining about this one. It looked great and the general new look of Monday night RAW was something that went down well.

I know it’s been mentioned a couple of times already but the whole new image did have an Attitude Era vibe, something I said a lot last night while watching. If there is one thing I don’t like it’s most probably the new logo. That may just take some getting used too.

Less Talking More Action

As we touched on in the intro to today’s post, it wasn’t just physically changes we witnessed on this week’s Monday night RAW. Promoting a brand New Era, Stephanie McMahon and general manager Mick Foley took to the ring to introduce the full Monday night RAW roster and would go on to announce several huge matches including a women’s championship match between Sasha Banks and Charlotte, two huge fatal four way matches were the two winners would main event the show this week with the winner of that then going on to face Seth Rollins for the brand new championship coming to Monday night RAW, the WWE Universal Championship.

This was another thing I liked. Foley explained why the name of the new championship was chosen and I don’t know about you but I’m very excited to see the design for the new title later in the Summer. Throughout the night the WWE kept promos and in ring segments at a minimum. Instead of seven hundred pointless promos and segments that left me falling asleep, WWE finally proved to be listening to us with the night being full of actual wrestling for the first time in a long time. We had a number of brilliant matches with every single one making sense and fitting into the show. Hopefully this new idea of less talking more action is something that sticks.

NXT Stars Make an Impact

Last Tuesday, during the WWE Draft, Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley announced that two brand new NXT superstars would be joining Monday night RAW. Finn Balor and Nia Jax would be drafted live on Smackdown and, as a fan of both these superstars, I was someone who was marking out like a mad person at stupid hours of the morning.

While most fans expected to see former NXT Champion Finn Balor arrive on the main roster scene Nia Jax came as a surprise to many viewers but, like I mentioned, on the night she was someone I really was hoping to see make the jump from developmental to the main roster.

There are plenty of people claiming that the jump was too soon for Nia and we have another case of an NXT star simply getting their call up far too early when they clearly are not ready. Personally, I have  to completely disagree. I honestly believe that Nia was one hundred and ten percent ready to make the jump from NXT to the main roster. We have seen her massively progress and improve over the past eight months or so and after doing so much in NXT and showing improvement as much as she did I honestly believe she has done all she can in NXT and her call up made perfect sense.

Last night, she competed in a squash match that showed her dominance well. You got not sense of nervousness from Jax last night. She looked extremely beautiful, dominate, and in control. In the future I would love to see Jax come face to face with someone like Paige but for now she has sent a huge message and looked good in the process. Finn Balor, of course, also made a huge impact. We will go into this in more detail a little later on but the former NXT Champion found himself picking up one of the biggest reactions of the night, competing in the opening match and main event of the night with the WWE establishing him as a top top star. His performance in the opening match left us all on our feet and the match itself was a stand out of the night.

Women Steal the show and a New Champion is Crowned

While Finn Balor and Roman Reigns may have been advertised as the main event of this week’s Monday night RAW, it became clear to us all what was the true main event of the night. At the start of the show it was announced that Charlotte would be defending her women’s championship against the boss, Sasha Banks live on Monday night RAW.

Anyone that has followed these two and their careers knows all too well that they are knowing for delivering some of the greatest women’s matches in NXT history and with this being their first one on one championship match on the main roster, I was excited hoping  that they would be given the time to deliver something to the standard that we witnessed during their time in NXT.

It’s safe to say these women did not disappoint. Hooked from the very start to the very end these two women completely stole the show putting on the match of the night without question. While the wrestling in this match truly was brilliant with outstanding high risk maneuvers and spots that had me on the edge of my seat clapping at my TV: the story telling is what sent this match from a ten to a one hundred.

These two women of course know each other very very well and that was clear with their fantastic in ring chemistry but these two took story telling in the women’s division to a whole new level proving the girls can do exactly what the men can do. With Sasha honouring Eddie throughout the match, Dana getting sent to the back, and the all round brilliant story being told was brilliant. Throughout the night Charlotte wanted to make it clear to Sasha that she couldn’t beat her but it was those final words that tipped the Boss over the edge with close call after close call it took one last banks statement for Sasha to force the champ to tap out crowning Sasha Banks the new WWE Women’s Champion. It was an emotional moment and with the crowd chanting Yes and you deserve it, Sasha was left pretty much in tears and the moment itself was something that will be highlighted as one of the best of the year and the true start of the era of women’s wrestling on the main roster.

Returns and New Looks

A quick little paragraph to announce that Neville made his return last night after taking several months out of action due to a broken ankle. Competing in singles competition against Curtis Axel, even this match made sense an with a sharp, harsh attitude from Neville he gave Axel a beating he won’t be forgetting any time soon and, as one of the sure faces of the new cruiserweight division, Neville made a return to remember.

We also got to see Braun Strowman work a brand new image. Rocking new hair and a new entrance theme that I loved, Strowman was as dominant as ever, quite literally killing a man on live television. It was a short squash match that showed Strowman to be extremely dominate and in control. I don’t know about you but I honestly loved the new look. Personally, I would have kept him off of TV for a couple of weeks up to a month for the obvious reasons but I love the new look and I’m very excited to see what the WWE have planned for him. Hopefully it’s a new big big push!

Finn Balor Is Going to SummerSlam

There is no doubt about it: one of the biggest stars of the night was of course Finn Balor. His debut on Monday night RAW saw him take control and make a huge huge impact. Not only did he compete in a brilliant opening match against Rusev, Cesaro, and Kevin Owens but he then went on to compete in the main event facing Roman Reigns for the first time.
Despite not being a Roman Reigns fan at all I was really excited for this match. It’s one we were all expecting to see happen at some point and so to get it on this first episode of the brand new era I was left very excited and for the first time in a long time I found myself staying up well past four am for a Monday night RAW and enjoying the main event massively. It was a great match.
It did have to follow up from that brilliant women’s championship match witch was always going to be difficult but Balor and Reigns put on a fantastic main event that genuinely had me on the edge of my seat yelling at my TV full of energy and excitement. Reigns took very early control of this match throwing Balor around the ring like he weighed nothing at all and that dominance really did stick throughout the match as he used that huge weight advantage to just that. But Balor’s brilliant move set put Reigns under pressure and the closing moments saw the former NXT Champion walk away with a huge victory as he heads to SummerSlam to face Seth Rollins. I was one of those people that really was pulling for Balor last night. It was hard to shake the idea off that the WWE would not be giving Reigns a clean loss again but they did: the surprise was great with a match and result that ended a fantastic show.

This week’s Monday night RAW really was brilliant! It had everything we had all been asking for for years. They kept segments and promos to a minimum making sure the night was all about the wrestling. I even liked the Golden Truth looking for Pokemon throughout the night! Everything just worked and this was without a doubt the best episode of Monday night RAW this year. Smackdown Live has a heck of a lot to live up to tonight! As always you can let me know what you thought of the show by leaving a comment below or by tweeting me at @TezangiVictoria.

Read Victoria’s full blog that contains her thoughts on all things WWE here. Starting this week, the RAW Highlights column will be aa weekly feature here.

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Bringing you the latest in Pro Wrestling Reviews, Opinions and Analysis.

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