When needing to turn things around in a sports related business, it’s often best to rely on the talent and allow them to do what they do best. It’s been a long time since the WWE has done that, choosing to tell a majority of their stories through scripted dialogue exchanges and skits, but things have been slowly turning.
In what can only be a considered a copying of brands, Raw followed NXT’s style and based it’s show on three matches that lasted for nearly half of the three hour show. Will it last? Who knows, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy the ride while we can.
- Ric Flair. It may be the nostalgia talking, but it’s always great to see Ric Flair, or any Legend. Even in his 70s, he still has the charisma and insanity that made him famous on his mic work. He remains an excellent example of what can be achieved if talent’s allowed to find what works for them and given creative license with it. “I knew your mother,” was a perfect classic-type of Ric Flair shot at a fan (or WWE employee) that apparently gestured or said something to him.
- Drew McIntyre’s return. It’s always good to see a superstar return from an injury, and Drew McIntyre’s no exception. It’s been two months since we last saw him compete, and seeing him added to Ric Flair’s team and facing off against Ricochet again was a great welcome back.
- Drew McIntyre and Ricochet. This arguably the best match of the night and a great way to start the show. It welcomed back a mainstay and got the fans on their feet and cheering or booing throughout.
- Rusev gets payback. Okay, this angle is bad, so Rusev showing up at the restaurant to attack Bobby Lashley was a great thing to see. Maybe now we can get some action in this rivalry? Maybe even a match or two? Come on, WWE creative, we’re not asking for a lot here.
- Sin Cara and Andrade. This was more of a showcase for Andrade than anything as he’s an enormous talent. While this match displayed both men’s abilities, the fact we’ve seen Sin Cara lose so much over the years really didn’t give us much hope of an upset, no matter how hard the commentators tried to see it. Still, this was a really good match for the entertainment value and worth watching again if this is the first you’ve seen of Sin Cara. Both superstars have a boatload of talent, it just depends on the booking or storylines to help bring it out.
- Street Profits Debut. There was no doubt the Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) would win their debut match. That’s just how it works, but how they did it was even more impressive. They came out as major players and headlined the WWE’s flagship show. That alone would be impressive if they hadn’t brought the fans with them. They energized the fanbase like few others have been capable of anymore. It was even more impressive considering how flat the fans were since the opening match. The only downside is reintroducing a Kevin Owens-AJ Styles feud. Thankfully, that was only in the last minute.
Paul Heyman has done a great job spearheading changes on Raw, whether for better or worse. He and WWE creative have crafted some fun matches and storylines while trying others (Rusev and Bobby Lashley’s) aren’t as fun. He’s trying to change the culture around the product that’s been fed and allowed to grow over the last few years. The WWE has been complacent and we’ve been conditioned not to expect much, but that’s about to change with the shifting of talent.