|Segment||Consider This Alternative|
|In-ring with Mickie James, Dana Brooke, Emma, Nia Jax, Alicia Fox, Sasha Banks & Bayley; Alexa Bliss to the ring for a championship coronation; Bayley attacks Bliss setting up an 8 women’s tag match||I never like putting the entire women’s division in the ring together. I think opening with Alexa Bliss in the ring alone would have been a more effective way to start the show. Maybe have her beside a celebratory cake and position the “Bayley Buddies” ringside. Alexa could turn off the air machine deflating the buddies, blow out the candles on her cake, and effectively begin the reign of Little Miss Bliss on RAW. Bayley could then run-in and assault her, setting up an exciting title re-match to kick off the show.|
|Bayley, James, Brooke & Banks vs. Bliss, Jax, Fox & Emma; Bliss pins Bayley for the win||This was predictable mixed women’s tag match BS. Nothing intriguing or interesting here.
For months there were hints of a Sasha heel turn. That doesn’t look to be happening. We have a feud between Bliss & Bayley at the top of the division, and a smaller feud between Emma and Dana Brooke on the undercard. But that’s it; 2 very surface match-ups without much of a hook aside from Bliss’ ability to cut a scathing promo.
What if in this match, Bayley’s team gets the win by Bliss inadvertently hitting Nia Jax; it could be a spot where after your typical tag match breakdown, Alexa is in the ring and leaps off the top rope to hit Bayley with a high cross body. Bayley ducks out of the way and instead, Bliss connects with Jax. Bayley rolls up Bliss for the win, and now you have increased tension between the 2 top heels in Nia and Alexa. If that ever escalated, I think a Nia Jax face turn to feud with Bliss could be entertaining. The sheer size difference between the two would an interesting visual; I wonder if the fans would actually cheer for Goliath in this match-up?
|Enzo (with Big Cass) vs. Gallows (with Anderson); Gallows wins via pinfall; Backstage with Neville and TJ Perkins||There isn’t a lot to say about this segment. The match wasn’t very compelling. Maybe we are slowly building towards a split between Enzo & Big Cass? Cass perhaps getting sick of Enzo’s promos and inability to carry his own weight in their partnership? But I doubt that; with New Day moving over to SmackDown, I think RAW will need their comedy act for the immediate future. This match was just filler, as was the bit between Neville and TJP. Though I like Neville inciting Perkins to make his mark by taking out Aries in their upcoming match. The next logical match in the cruiserweight championship field would be a triple threat for the title at the next PPV between the top 3 competitors.|
|Seth Rollins to the ring, then Finn Balor, then Dean Ambrose, then The Miz & Maryse; Ambrose poses the idea for a #1 contenders triple threat match to set up a challenger for the Intercontinental Title||Entertaining scene in the ring. This was about Seth Rollins & Finn Balor both staking their claim to compete for the Universal Title. It’s unfortunate that Brock Lesnar didn’t answer their respective challenges in person.
The Universal Title is so undervalued right now. It should be a fixture on TV every week. If Lesnar can’t manage that schedule, he shouldn’t have the belt. I know there are plans in the works for Brock to potentially face Braun Strowman and eventually take on Roman Reigns; but why not find a way to creatively insert Rollins and Balor into the equation?
Maybe it isn’t Lesnar who comes out, but instead Heyman. The advocate insists that his client is indeed a fighting champion, but out of well due respect to The Beast, a true #1 contender must be established. This storyline could begin with a singles match between Rollins and Balor that ends in a no contest (interference from Samoa Joe, Bray Wyatt, maybe even Braun Strowman). What we get is not a singles match for the #1 contender, but instead a singles tournament involving 5 or 6 superstars. This would give WWE the chance to reset the stage and realign feuds while keeping Lesnar a part of the weekly storyline leading up to his eventual title defense.
|Tony Nese, Brian Kendrick & Noam Dar vs. Rich Swann, Akira Tozawa & Jack Gallagher; Gallagher pins Kendrick for the win||One thing the RAW women’s division has done correctly is give some screen time to Dana Brooke and Emma and establish a secondary feud for the audience to get behind. When they falter is anytime they put the whole division in the ring together.
For the cruiserweights, the freshest face is Tozawa, so I would have preferred to see him in a singles match with Brian Kendrick. Let these two go back and forth over the next few weeks; Kendrick can handle the mic work and Tozawa’s antics in the ring can rile up the crowd. A good undercard rivalry is necessary to give the division a sense of depth.
|In-ring promo with Sheamus & Cesaro; interrupted by The Hardy Boyz; Charly interviewing The Miz & Maryse backstage; interrupted by Ambrose||Not much to analyze here; we established the Sheamus & Cesaro heel turn, which probably comes more out of necessity to the entire division since The Revival is currently on the shelf with injury. It’s a little weird given that the duo had recently been getting over as a face tandem, but it beats the weekly handshakes with The Hardyz.
I think The Hardyz should have begun this segment in the ring and called out Sheamus & Cesaro instead. The champs just don’t feel like they are truly at the top right now. I think it’s due in part to the confusion of their character; Matt shows shades of “Broken” but then the announce team contributes to the nostalgia act persona by continually referring to them as Team X-Treme. A good in-ring promo showing their anger towards Sheamus & Cesaro could be a valuable stepping stone in building Matt & Jeff back up into something formidable.
Let a different team answer their challenge – maybe The Golden Truth? And then have Sheamus & Cesaro interfere in the match and give their feud some real heat.
|Heath Slater (with Rhyno) vs. Apollo Crews (with Titus O’Neill); Crews wins via pinfall||I actually enjoyed the subtle heel turn we got from Crews and the alignment with the Titus Brand. It might be all that we need from him to get him over with the crowd. Perhaps an attack from Rhyno following the match would have been better than the photobomb? Something to set up the second hurdle for Apollo to overcome next week. But they seem to at least have some direction for him now.|
|Kurt Angle in-ring promo commenting on the Payback aftermath between Reigns and Strowman; Bray Wyatt interrupts||I think saving Bray Wyatt for interference in the final match of the show would have been a better alternative to having him confront Angle. We are still in the wake of the Superstar Shake Up and Bray is a huge acquisition. Why would the GM be against him? Wouldn’t Angle want to see Bray succeed? Keep these two apart for now – they should only interact if Bray gets involved in a title picture. Other than that, just let him be Bray and create some chaos.|
|Backstage with Dean Ambrose interviewing Seth Rollins; Austin Aries vs. TJ Perkins; Aries wins by submission; Perkins takes out Aries’ knee afterwards; backstage Ambrose interviewing Finn Balor; The Drifter walks through||If we want to bring Perkins into the title fold as a top heel, let’s do it as a top heel. Good match that calls for a DQ finish.
Aries could be on a run after the suicide dive through the ropes. They wind up in the timekeeper’s area and Perkins takes a chair to Aries’ knee. He continues after the bell and stands tall in the ring.
Neville then comes to the ring to congratulate his protege. This is where it gets interesting – Neville lays out Perkins with the championship to remind him who the “King of the Cruiserweights” really is. Now the triple threat is in the works for the next PPV.
|Backstage with Kurt Angle & The Golden Truth; Finn Balor vs. The Miz (with Maryse) vs. Seth Rollins; Samoa Joe ambushes Seth Rollins followed by Bray Wyatt ambushing Finn Balor; The Miz pins Balor to become the new #1 contender for the Intercontinental Championship||Angle answers The Golden Truth’s plea to be given a tag team title shot by entering them in a tag team turmoil match to determine a #1 contender on next week’s RAW. I’m pretty sure that spot still belongs to Sheamus & Cesaro despite their loss at Payback. Why not just have them assault The Golden Truth backstage in the midst of this interview to further cement their heel turn?
The triple threat match was probably better executed than any match on the Payback PPV card. And The Miz is the obvious choice to come out on top in this scenario.
Let’s talk about an idea completely alternative though. What stole the show was the involvement of Joe and Bray – take them out of the equation. Maybe just use Joe to distract Rollins, and then have Balor come out the victor with a pin against The Miz. Instead of the lights going out, and Bray appearing, Dean comes ringside for one final interview of the night. “Mean Dean” conducts an interview oddly enough for the new #1 contender to his own belt, but one should know you just can’t trust The Lunatic Fringe. Dean levels Balor with the microphone, picks him up and delivers the Dirty Deeds onto the title. We get the long awaited Ambrose heel turn, and instead of the re-hashed feud between he and The Miz, it turns into he and The Demon. It’s unexpected, but original and exciting.