RAW Deal: Your new Universal Champion
On a night where Texans were expecting to see the show they paid for end with either Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns resuming last year’s status quo and winning the Universal Championship, fans got one hell of a steal: they witnessed the making of history when Kevin Owens won it.
It’s not just some fanservice victory for the smart marks in the audience—well, it is, but it was done in such a tasteful way that everyone would applaud. Triple H finally returned to mainstream WWE television, resuming the role he left behind after WrestleMania 32. Where it seemed like he was about to help his golden boy Rollins steal the title back again, he did what he was supposed to do right around last year’s Survivor Series: he turned on Rollins.
And he didn’t just turn on Rollins; he helped Owens win, and in the process, crowned him as the new golden boy. If not of the Authority, of Triple H’s own legacy. In doing so, he also finally married the two dissonant, contradictory images of himself he consistently puts out on WWE TV—kayfabe evil boss on Monday Night RAW who puts down hard workers, and approving patriarch on NXT who dotes on deserving prodigies.
But RAW’s main event was not just about Triple H. It was also about finally answering the question brought about by last month’s brand split—is it going to force the evolution of the product, to give us great moments when the time calls for it, and not the other way around? The answer is yes, this is how we do things now. RAW is no longer going to wait forever, for a build-up that may or may not be botched, to give deserving guys like Finn Balor and Kevin Owens their moment when they deserve it. Granted, Balor had to get injured in order for Owens to have his moment, but under the New Era, it would have come sooner rather than later.
This was the aim of the original brand split: to cut the deep roster in half so that more stars would have opportunities to shine. Yes, it’s a prerequisite that bigger stars would need to anchor each show, but with good, bold writing and direction, it would be easy to create new young lions, wrestlers the fans want to watch, who could believably hang at the top. I didn’t think that we’d get here so soon, and my only hope is that we sustain this momentum all the way moving forward.
Predicting WWE in Manila
The biggest short-term implication of Owens’s Universal Championship win is that it directly affects the card we’ll be getting on next Friday’s WWE live event at the Mall of Asia Arena. Barring any scheduled title defenses on this weekend’s slate of WWE house shows, Manila will be the Owens’s first title defense against Sami Zayn and Seth Rollins.
That’s sure to be a barnburner of a match, and although house show cards are totally easy to predict (huge title changes are really rare), I still want to have fun and talk about each match we’re going to get.
Sami Zayn vs. Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens in a Triple Threat Match for the WWE Universal Championship
When Owens won the title on RAW, I originally wanted the scheduled Zayn vs. Owens match to be for the title. After Zayn’s seemingly-decisive win at Battleground, there was little reason for us to watch a local rehash of the match beyond the fact that they’ll always put out a good one; now that there could be a title on the line, I want to see it again. While adding Rollins to the match doesn’t make it terrible (and makes sense given the events on RAW) it feels like he’s a third wheel to the magic that is Zayn/Owens.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Roman Reigns vs. Chris Jericho
This was originally supposed to be Chris Jericho vs. Finn Balor (and Rollins was supposed to face Reigns in a non-title match) but this is still a match I’d watch. I’m not sure where Reigns stands right now; the feud with Rusev is clearly over after his involvement in the Universal title scene, and whether he’ll stand with Rollins in a feud against Triple H and Kevin Owens remains to be seen. He’s gonna have to look strong at the moment, though.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte
Not sure if this is for the Women’s Championship, but I’d expect it to be. It’s interesting as Sasha Banks is still listed for this tour even though she was pulled out from all events for the next month following SummerSlam, so either she has to go because this Asia tour is special, or she’ll find out at the last minute whether she can make the trip. If it’s a non-title match, I predict Banks gets the feel-good win; if it’s a title match, Charlotte obviously retains.
Winner: Sasha/Charlotte (depends on the stipulation)
John Cena vs. Big Show
One hashtag: #LOLCENAWINS.
Winner: John Cena
The Shining Stars vs. The Club vs. The New Day in a Triple Threat Tag Match for the WWE Tag Team Championships
If a title was going to change hands on a house show, this would be the best time and the best match in which to pull the trigger. Any time you have more than two competitors facing off, you increase the likelihood of a title change, and with the New Day holding the titles for too long, I certainly wouldn’t mind a Club win here. It’s likely not gonna happen, though.
Winner: The New Day
Braun Strowman vs. Goldust
You know that thing Strowman does every week on RAW since the brand split? It’s gonna happen here, but Goldust is going to put up more of a fight. It’s a shame that R-Truth couldn’t make it.
Winner: Braun Strowman
Neville vs. Bo Dallas (with Curtis Axel)
Who’s going to pay for a live WWE show to see Neville lose to Bo Dallas, though?
It’s not going to be a PPV-level card as it’s just a house show, but do remember to have fun! WWE doesn’t come by too often, so we should all aim to give them a reason for them to return.
Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to those questions – especially that last one – are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, featuring Mellow 94.7 DJ and PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer and Wrestling God Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person and former voice of PWR Raf Camus! This week, Stan and Ro talk to Martivo, the first openly gay wrestler of the Philippine Wrestling Revolution! (http://thesgppodcast.buzzsprout.com/25341/417869-ep-129-martivo-a-k-a-the-pak-ganern-episode) – Rappler.com