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Raw Redux (July 25th, 2016): New Era begins… Boss Style

New logo, new stage, new music, a new debut and a NEW WWE Women’s Champion! Tonight’s RAW had a make a statement that things are changing in the WWE and one woman made that a Bank Statement. So let’s get to the good bit:

RAW kicks off with Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and General Manager Mick Foley bringing out the RAW roster to the entrance stage. During this segment, Stephanie announces the new WWE Universal Championship for RAW and Mick announces that as Charlotte tapped out at Battleground, she’ll be facing Sasha Banks for the WWE Women’s Championship tonight!

Before the title match, we have a little treat first – the debut of Nia Jax! In a quick squash match, Nia Jax dominates local competitor Britt Baker. From ‘buckle to ‘buckle, Jax throws around Baker and finishes her off with two huge leg drops for the easy victory. The Force of Greatness is here on RAW guys and she’s ready!

Backstage we see Sasha Banks psyching up for her Championship match, in a quick interview she states that ever since the Women’s Revolution, “[she’s] been living a 10 year old’s dream”. “The WWE Universe better get ready, because that WWE Women’s Championship is about to have a new swag to it and tonight it’s about to get lit!” – ah WWE scriptwriters, you guys are so up to date with the lingo…

Now we see Charlotte and Dana Brooke catching up with Tom Phillips backstage. She states that she’s been leading the women’s division and has evolved the division into what it is today, stating that tonight “Sasha will bow down to the Queen… and she can Bank on that!”.

So after all that hype, it’s match time. Jojo leads the traditional ring announcements and for the first time since joining the main roster we see Sasha vs. Charlotte one on one for the WWE Women’s Championship – seems like something that would have been out of the question a couple years back!

Highlights of the match include Sasha paying homage to her idol Eddie Guerrero, by throwing the title belt at Dana Brooke to get her ejected from ringside, a suicide dive with Sasha scorpioning herself much like Lita did in her Women’s Championship match many moons ago and a moonsault out of the ring by Charlotte! The finish comes with a frustrated Charlotte shouting ‘YOU WILL NEVER BEAT ME… EVER!’ as she charges at Banks, who counters it into a Banks Statement in the centre of the ring for the submission victory!

The crowd roars, a defeated Charlotte limps to the back as Byron Saxton catches up with an emotional Sasha in the middle of the ring – ‘YOU DESERVE IT!” chants bellow across the arena as she says, “I did it!… It’s the era of The Boss, it’s the era of Change, it’s the era of women’s wrestling!”.

There are more segments backstage post-RAW with an emotional Sasha Banks: in one video she shows off a unique souvenir from her match and in the other, she FaceTimes her long time friend and Battleground tag partner Bayley!

Thoughts: If you didn’t enjoy last night’s RAW, then I’d like to question why you’re still watching. The WWE is pushing this era of change and it’s actually happening, right before our eyes! In this single episode, we had a unique debut, two pre-match interviews AND a 16+ minute women’s match – if you told any women’s wrestling fans then that we would ever see this maybe four years ago, we would think you were winding us up.

We all knew Sasha was going to win the title, but I don’t think anyone expected it tonight – and it was a damn good decision as the Sasha/Charlotte feud was getting boring already. Sure this means we’ll get a rematch (hopefully with a stipulation!), but this now speeds up the time to jazz up the rest of the roster and develop Sasha as one of the strongest character in the entire company.

Speaking of strong character, tonight saw the RAW debut of Nia Jax – now for me, I’ll be brutally honest and say I’m generally not a fan. Her moveset is very basic, she’s still very green and she needs to learn more mannerisms to bring out this dominant character (cc: Awesome Kong). However, I enjoyed this squash – she seemed to be stiffer and hit harder (poor Britt did look like she was bleeding legitimately too), but these are qualities that make a proper ‘Monster’ – squashing your leg on someone… not so much. So we’ll see how she develops if they continue having her squash people – have her really break these girls, kayfabe injuries, barricades, powermoves? Come on Nia, I know you have it in you, so now it’s really time to shine!

Going back to the actual Championship match, I think that while we all love Sasha, we need to commend Charlotte. She’s improved leaps and bounds since their first encounter at NXT Takeover: R-Evolution: her character, moveset and ring awareness helped bring that match to life. Seeing her slightly break character with her smile as she looked at Sasha celebrating in the ring showed that she’s living out her dream with everyone too.

The match itself was interesting for me as throughout NXT, Charlotte was always the face, with Banks as the heel. Seeing the dynamic switch helped to refresh the match, as it is something we have seen several times before, but this time it seemed more believable. Sasha is noticeably shorter than Charlotte, she’s got a scrappier moveset and it played nicely when she would be on the offence. The homage to the late Eddie Guerrero was a perfect tribute and a creative way to get Dana out of the picture and the suicide dive (while it did scare the hell out of me) was giving me those Lita feels that would make any women’s wrestling fan jump at the edge of their seat.

I don’t think that this was their strongest encounter together and there were some sloppy parts, but their rematch still has loads to live up to. I understand that the new WWE Universal Championship hype was the important part of the show, but this match was still main event quality. As mentioned before, I’d enjoy a stipulation match of some sort to freshen things up between them, but if not then hmm… what about that main event slot at Summerslam? What do you say Vince?!

However, amongst all the emotion and excitement, the WWE have done a nice job in covering up the fact that Bayley’s appearance at Battleground was just a one off despite her insane reaction. You haven’t got away with it just yet!

How do you feel about Sasha’s win and Nia’s debut? Is this really a time for change? Should we have waited for Summerslam? Let us know your views on this week’s RAW and predictions for next week’s episode in the comments below!

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