Twenty-four hours after a horribly disappointing and intelligence-insulting Payback PPV, WWE regrouped and put forward an episode of Raw devoid of two of its top stars: Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman.
But WWE did something surprisingly smart: It focused on solid in-ring action, with two cruiserweight matches, an eight-woman tag match and a blistering main event to carry the bulk of the program. Raw also featured an in-ring promo with the just-turned Cesaro & Sheamus that used a logical argument to actually explain a heel turn, rather than just telling the fans that they didn’t deserve an explanation.
We saw a new Raw Women’s Champion take her position at the top of the division. We saw several cruiserweights return to action. We saw a general manager tell wrestlers that they hadn’t won enough matches to warrant a title shot.
But we also saw interference mar a really good match. We saw a talented wrestler potentially stuck in the same vortex that plagued him previously. And we saw wrestlers remember that there is a Universal Championship… only to get distracted so the title and titleholder could disappear back into the shadows.
With that said, what ascended to the mountaintop, and what tumbled to the valley below? Let’s get to it…