Not every night can be perfectly executed, and there was plenty on this Labor Day edition that left folks scratching their heads. We are, however, guaranteed a can't-miss classic collision at Clash of Champions between Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins. Even if that weren’t the case, I may have contrived it just to affect such an alliterative turn of phrase. Anyhow, among the wheels set in motion coming off KO's big win and Triple H's return last week were Nia Jax and Bruan Strowman getting some modest competition; struggling support players getting a second chance; and numerous references to gas, farts and body parts. Sometimes, ya gotta party like it's 1999. So before Alicia Fox starts launching catering accouterment my way, here are the five key insights (in addition to the usual accompaniment of Twitter-friendly sidebar fodder) I took away from the September 5, 2016 edition of Raw.
5. Just Like Kevin
Ironically, it was hard not to stand and cheer, "Thank you Kevin" after he called out the fans for their canned, condescending, "You deserve it" chants. Kevin Steen deserves recognition for having climbed his way to WWE. But Kevin Owens is first making his mark in the company, and whether in or out of character, KO is on the money to lecture fans for hijacking his moment and making it about them. Inside baseball aside, his opening promo was another great heel moment in a growing highlight reel that exemplifies his total in-ring awareness. It's also illustrative of why there's no better bad guy right now to headline Raw as its Universal Champion.
4. Bo Dependent
First of all, regarding the alleged incident in which Bo Dallas was kicked off a flight for drunkenly crooning a popular tune from The Lion King, maybe he's just a big Yoenis Cespedes fan. Secondly, who cares? This night was all about believing, specifically Mick Foley's crisis of faith over whether he can trust Stephanie McMahon. So why not feature the inspirational re-introduction of Dallas, who still wants opponents like jobber Kyle Roberts to "Bo-Lieve," except now he's going to beat them down till they call Bray Wyatt's baby bro their daddy. Let's look past his new finisher feeling awfully similar to ex-WWE mid-carder Cody Rhodes' coup de gras. This post-draft landscape's all about outcasts getting in on the action, and to invoke John Cena's storied finisher, perhaps all Dallas needed was an attitude adjustment.
3. Viva Shining Stars!
What a brutal pre-match promo from Enzo and Cass, but what a surprising and exciting win for Shining Stars. Poor Primo and Epico's umpteenth tag gimmick was on life support, but through the grace of some benevolent booker, producer or writer, it was revived with a 1-2-3 over Mr. Amore and his seven-foot friend. Right now, Enzo and Cass are so hot that – despite being main-roster rookies and nowhere near as experienced wrestling together as Primo and Epic – they're in a position to put fledgling duos over without losing too much, well, shine. And the unexpected outcome made a potential Labor Day dud far less painful to watch.
2. What's New Day Is Old Again
The funny thing about Gallows and Anderson having briefly specialized in harming men's testicles is that, ever since arriving in WWE, they've more or less been creatively neutered. Hard to speculate on whether Finn Bálor’s injury derailed some big-picture plans for these two, let alone if they've consequently been asked to double down on the comedy. And I've said my peace several times about the ongoing struggle to pair New Day with complementary foils. None of that excuses what might have been the most unwatchable, ill-conceived boondoggle of a segment in some time. When all else fails, especially a reliance on dick jokes and bad actors in old-man wigs, at least initiate some physical contact between the two teams, and not just New Day and their lame-duck dopplegangers. That wasn't just booty – it made all involved look like an ass.
1. Three's a Crowd
My gut tells me the announcement of next week's Roman Reigns v. Kevin Owens main event is just bait to ensure big ratings, but will ultimately unravel when Rusev returns from second-wedding bliss and thwarts his Reigns' attempt to make KO v. Seth Rollins a triple threat. Then again, my gut also tells me that was a run-on sentence. Lo, I think we can all agree that tired stipulation would water down a perfectly buy-in-worthy mano a mano title showdown at Clash of Champions between the Universal belt holder and his Architect foe. Meanwhile, come Monday, it will be interesting to see if Owens’ mark-takedown tangent will in any way keep the crowd from rooting their faces off in his favor.
Below the Belt:
- Re: "girl with the shy smile," there goes Nicholas Sparks' next title.
- No one's a "Holy Foley" mark, Chris.
- Corey Graves has a feeling Sasha Bank's bad news is "not good news." He's intuitive.
- Still don’t care about Charlotte and Dana Brooke's psychodrama
- Yikes. That Bo Dallas singlet not leaving much to the imagination.
- A+ to both Jericho and Seth Rollins for a great match.
- Sheamus' 3-0 lead pretty much guarantees Cesaro's series win, right?
- Hey, Enzo and Cass got catchphrases!
- Not sure Sami Zayn admitting to KO envy's a great look.
- One day, we'll look back and good-naturedly reminisce about Nia Jax's weird intergalactic ring attire.
- Settle down, Alicia.
- Braun Strowman's countout win kinda made him look weak.
- Was Sasha Banks' Instagram crack meant for Eva Marie?
- Move of the Night: I don't know what the hell that inverse leg-scissor piledriver Charlotte executed was, but it sure was innovative.
- Line of the Night: Charlotte's two for two, no matter how scripted her "Sesame Street kid" Bayley dis might have been.
- Sign of the Night: I don't know that I saw a worthy one, did you?
- In Case You Fast-Forwarded Through Commercials: Was this custom-made to air during Raw? Sarsgaard was an odd choice. Actually, most babies sleep very erratically. And hard to tell if Domino's is excluding or including salad lovers.
- Noticeable In Their Absence: Triple H, Rusev, Golden Truth