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WWE Monday Night Raw Review: August 31, 2015

Pro Wrestling

WWE Monday Night Raw Review: August 31, 2015

Coming off of a surprisingly hot episode last week and a rare series of segment announcements over the weekend—including Sting opening the show and the first-ever Divas Beat the Clock Challenge—this week’s Raw was poised for greatness as WWE hoped to capitalize on its surge of forward momentum.

Unfortunately, not only did it fail to live up to the hype, it was largely baffling, logically inconsistent and advanced nearly nothing.

The Insufferable Icon

I really don’t understand what their goal is with Sting. First he comes back for a WrestleMania feud with Triple H, which he loses after Triple H utilizes his buddies and a sledgehammer shot to the face. Sting somehow respects this and shakes H’s hand. Then he disappears for months until he appears out of nowhere to challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Triple H’s protege, Seth Rollins. And in his promo last night selling that match, he spends the vast majority of it telling us how amazing Triple H is.

Can anyone find the logic in this? I get the intention—to a point. The commentators and Stephanie mentioned a few times throughout the night that Sting was just trying to get into Seth’s head. What I don’t get is how Sting acting like Triple H is some sort of a god accomplishes that. Have Sting talk about the guys he’s beaten. He’s beaten Ric Flair, who was Triple H’s mentor. He’s better than the mentor of Seth’s mentor, ergo he’s leagues above Rollins. Talk about the era Sting cut his teeth in—the most talent-laden era in pro wrestling history. Talk about anything having to do with goddamn Sting. Anything in that vein would have made sense. Instead, we got Sting slobbing Hunter’s metaphorical knob for 15 minutes. The McMahons just can’t let WCW off the hook, can they?

That’s not even to mention the line of reasoning that got us to this match: Sting debuts last November and plays a major role in ending the Authority’s reign (a reign that was simply restarted a month later with next to no explanation, but I digress). He antagonizes Triple H to the point where the COO agrees to a match with Sting at WrestleMania. Triple H wins after heavy shenanigans; Sting shakes Triple H’s hand. Sting then disappears for six months, and comes back last week to upstage the Authority once again, where it’s implied he stole a statue of Seth Rollins and attacked the champion in front of the Authority. This somehow qualifies Sting to become the #1 contender, even though by all accounts the Authority should absolutely abhor and probably even fire Sting. Then, Sting spends an evening talking about how awesome Triple H is. The man whose entire WWE character is based around thwarting Triple H’s nefarious plans, puts over Triple H for no reason other than the extremely thin premise that pro wrestling so often defaults to: mind games! WoOOOoOoOo! Spooky!

Gah. This was insufferable on almost every level, and devalues the fact that motherfucking Sting is fighting for a World Championship in the WWE in 2015. That alone is enough to sell the match. Keep it simple, stupid.

Beat the Point Challenge

I’d say WWE’s handling of the Diva Revolution thus far has been mind-bogglingly bad, but then again it’s WWE trying to write compelling storylines for females so I really don’t know what I expected. I guess I expected some of the obvious, simple formula that NXT exploits to make their women’s division one of the main attractions of the brand make its way to the main roster, since, y’know, they’re the same company and all. But WWE continued to show their ineptitude last night, where Team PCB each competed separately in three matches in a Beat the Clock challenge. So in the midst of a ‘revolution’ where one of the biggest things purported to change is the length of matches for the females, the method for determining the number one contender was a series of matches where the entire premise is to get through them as quickly as possible.

Then there’s the strange decision to have Sasha Banks, easily the most popular female wrestler on the main roster, compete in the final match, wherein it would be impossible for her to have a match longer than 100 seconds because of how the challenge shook out. Outside of PCB, Sasha is the only female wrestler most fans really care about, and she not only was used only as a challenge for Paige to overcome on her quest to become #1 contender, she was given by definition the shortest match of the evening. It would all be mind-blowing if it wasn’t so typical.

The whole triple triad angle here needs to end, and fast. They have four very talented women, but three of them are on the same team and thus never compete against one another. That leaves Paige, Charlotte and Becky with one decent potential match each: against Sasha Banks. But since the storyline revolves around dethroning the Bellas, they’re usually stuck in lackluster matches against Divas who just aren’t terribly good, which devalues them in the eyes of the fans and brings them down to the level of ‘just another Diva,’ negating the entire point of the Diva Revolution.

Then to top it all off, Michael Cole pondered aloud if Charlotte would be able to take the Divas Championship before Nikki Bella becomes the longest reigning Divas Champion of all time, despite the fact that their match takes place five days after the milestone. Yep. That about sums it up.

The Rest of the Card

  • And those were the NOTEWORTHY parts of this episode. Ugh.
  • They dedicated a LOT of time to the Ziggler/Rusev/Lana/Summer angle. Like, four or five segments worth. It was entertaining in that “haha, man wrestling can be hokey” kinda way. Actually, f--k it, this was the most entertaining part of Raw last night. It’s unknown what happened in Ziggler’s locker room after Summer snuck in, but at least something happened to progress this angle past “you stole my girlfriend.” It has me intrigued—it’s goofy, but it’s pretty much the only angle with an actual story right now and involves some talented people, so enjoy it for what it is while you can.
  • Ambrose and Reigns faced the Wyatts again in another pointless segment that advanced nothing.
  • Ryback faced Big Show again in another pointless segment that advanced nothing.
  • Cesaro faced Kevin Owens in another pointless segment that advanced nothing, but at least it was Kevin Owens and Cesaro, so it was a good, fun match.
  • Dudley Boyz vs. New Day has gold written all over it, but I will never understand the decision to build up wrestlers as contenders by having them face the team they are contending for. Create some tension. Make people want to see the match you’re building to. Don’t give away three variants of it before the PPV. And would it kill us to go one week without the Prime Time Players on commentary for the tag team match?!

This was a seriously disappointing Raw, with few entertaining segments and even fewer instances of sound logic. Three hours have never felt so long. After the high of last week’s incredible show, this was a sucker punch back to reality.

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