One of the most common criticisms you’ll hear about “Monday Night Raw” is that despite being three hours long, almost nothing ever happens. You can say that a lot and I agree with it very often, but that wasn’t the case in the last five minutes of this week’s episode. In the last bit of the show, at least four major events took place and each one of them could have long term consequences for the show. We’ll look at each one of them in chronological order.
First of all, and the key to the whole night, was the return of Triple H, who jumped over the barricade and made his first appearance since “Wrestlemania XXXII”. Everyone knew he was going to be back at some point and that’s where the rest of the night’s events get going. I know this one doesn’t seem like much but, whether you like him or not, Triple H is a major deal. Whether it’s in the ring or just as a power figure, Triple H being back means things are starting to change and that started immediately.
In his first action after returning, Triple H laid out Reigns with a Pedigree on the floor, threw him inside and let Rollins pin him for an elimination to get the match down to two participants. This makes sense as Reigns beat Triple H and speared Triple H’s wife Stephanie McMahon back at “Wrestlemania XXXII”, nearly five months ago. It makes sense that Triple H would want to get his hands on Reigns again, if nothing else for what happened to his wife.
Unfortunately that match really wasn’t very good. Lasting a ridiculous (at the end of a show that broke six hours by this point) twenty seven minutes, Reigns finally speared Triple H to get the WWE World Title back. The match suffered from the same problem that so many Triple H matches have over the years: Triple H tries to make them into these epic showdowns and they collapse under their own weight. The match did a horrible amount of damage to Reigns and his run with the title was heavily damaged as a result. It’s fair to argue that his time as champion was done as soon as it started.
Now it’s about five months later and we’re supposed to want to see these two fight again? It certainly seems that way at least and I can’t imagine a lot of people are interested. Yes Triple H should want revenge but it’s very difficult to get around the fact that they don’t work well together. Reigns can have a very good match with almost anyone and Triple H can have a very good match with almost anyone but their only match against each other was a disaster. Maybe the rematch will be an improvement (not that it would be that difficult) but I don’t know where the demand would come from.
On top of that, what exactly is in this for Reigns? Are they already dropping his feud against Rusev? There was almost no mention of it on Monday (to be fair Reigns had something major going on at the time) and it looks like he’ll be going after Triple H again, this time for revenge. Reigns having a major feud is fine but I’m not sure how wise it is to put him right back into a major feud after just a few weeks of teasing him being in the upper midcard for a welcome change. Reigns vs. Triple H isn’t a horrible idea (at least not a guaranteed horrible idea) but this might not be the right time for it to happen.
So anyway, with Reigns eliminated, we were down to Rollins vs. Owens for the title, only to have Triple H turn on Rollins less than a minute later and lay him out with a Pedigree. This makes things interesting in an entirely new way as Triple H had just seemingly handed Rollins a big assist towards the title by taking care of someone that both of them couldn’t stand, only to screw Rollins over almost immediately.
Over the last year or so it was fairly clear that we would be seeing Rollins vs. Triple H sooner or later. You can say it’s due to Rollins using the Pedigree, the theory that people are going to fight just because they’re associated together on TV or because Rollins has the potential to be an amazing face at some point but it wasn’t hard to guess that this match was going to happen at some point.
In theory Rollins will turn face to feud with Triple H but I’m not sure that’s the right idea. Rollins is really starting to get the hang of this heel character, especially with talking about how he’s benefiting from Finn Balor’s injury. If they wanted to turn Rollins face, you would think the perfect time would have been straight after his injury when there was the really cool documentary about his rehab and the fans went nuts as he returned. For some reason though we got another heel run and now the potential for a face run in the near future.
That brings up yet another question: who does Triple H face first? Both Rollins and Reigns have legitimate reasons to face him but now they might have to fight each other first for the right to face Triple H. Doing both of the angles at once was exciting in the moment but it creates problems going forward and that’s going to leave someone out in the cold without much to do.
With all that out of the way, something has been overlooked: OWENS IS THE NEW UNIVERSAL CHAMPION! For over a year now, Owens has seemingly been ready to break through the glass ceiling and become a World Champion and now it’s actually happened. Owens debuted on the main roster less than eighteen months ago and in the WWE as a whole less than two years ago and he just won the World Title.
The win opens up several doors with challengers all around. Owens could defend against Chris Jericho (current partner who didn’t get into the title match), Sami Zayn (longtime rival who beat Owens in their most recent big match), Reigns (screwed over in the title match) and Rollins (same as Reigns).
It’s a fresh start for the title (well as fresh as you can get with a title that has been around less than two weeks) and a new direction for the roster as a whole (which has only been around for about a month and a half). Rollins and Reigns weren’t working on top from a ratings perspective and while there’s no guarantee that Owens is going to be the saving grace, it can’t hurt to try something fresh.
All of this happened in the span of five minutes. In five minutes we had a return, a rivalry rekindled, the (possible) seeds planted for a turn and a new World Champion. It’s very rare to see that much happen in any stretch of time but seeing it happen to close up a single show makes it feel like things are changing. That’s something WWE really needs right now and they played it almost as well as they could have, given all of the things they packed in. I want to see where it’s going and that’s how you want things to end so well done WWE.