Just a few days away from an expansive European tour, the WWE roster stopped at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The glitz and glamour of Hollywood felt like it was in full effect as this week’s Raw felt like a summer blockbuster sequel. It had great action, good storytelling and an overall good flow.

In a town that is known for reboots, sequels and rewrites of many different feature films, WWE definitely hit the reset button compared to last week’s episode. Sure, there were still plot holes you can drive a Mack truck through. Like why the hell would Vince cave-in to overwhelming social media pressure to give Shane control of Raw again? What the hell is up with Dr. Phil lurking in the shadows? Why is The Wyatt Family battling The League of Nations all of the sudden? And how are The New Day sponsoring the tournament that will crown the new challengers? But all that aside it was a great night of wrestling action.

From the opening match to the final segment there was more wrestling on this week’s episode that has been in weeks past. The kept the talking to a minimum and let the action tell the story for the most part. There were only two in ring talking segments which is refreshing. And if you’re trying to get over that Shane is in control he definitely wants to have a different feel to the show. This week’s episode definitely had that feel. You had an authority figure that didn’t feel incompetent. Everything felt much more vibrant and really more fluid. There was a lot more logic to this week’s show. That made for much more of an enjoyable product.

Kevin Owens versus Cesaro was the perfect way to start of the night. A great way to reestablish the Swiss Superman in the hierarchy of WWE.

With the World Title picture already established, I have no problems with The King of Swing hunting the IC title. I thought the interaction with himself, the Miz and his wife Maryse was great. I knew that the over-the-top French-Canadian would add something to the Miz character. And she did an over-the-top mouthpiece. This gives the feud a freshness that would have been otherwise. Fans should not say that Total Divas hasn’t done anything good for WWE. Because if it wasn’t for the reality show , Maryse would not be back.

I love the James Bond inspired entrance for Cesaro, but they need to go back to the original music with the Swiss rapper to really get the full effect

The other big story of the night was the beginning of the Tag Team Title Number One Contender Tournament . It’s no secret I have felt the tag team division has been rather stagnant in recent months. But now it seems you getting quite the influx of new blood on WWE television. Enzo and Cass, the Dudleys, The Vaudevillians, Goldust and R-Truth, The Social Outcasts, Lucha Dragons and now Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows are invigorating the possibilities for tag team feuds. Things are going to be a lot more fun that’s for sure. I will be really interesting to see how Anderson and Gallows are presented next week because they made quite the impact.

It will be interesting to see how Primo and Epico will fit into the mix once they re-debut. It’s almost like they’re Carlito light. With so much tag team focus I’m curious how WWE will not let them get lost in the shuffle because they could be the jewel of the Puerto Rican Isle but not the WWE creative team with all these new faces.

They now set up to strong tag team feuds between Enzo and Cass versus the Dudleys and Gallows and Anderson (who I’m going to call Bulletproof) versus the Usos. This definitely has great momentum in the tag team ranks that has been seen in the last decade

The Divas Division had a great showing with a solid match between Charlotte and Natalya. No Sasha Banks or Becky Lynch on camera. I thought it was good showcase more divas in the division. Not to mention the fact that some of the crew has already begun the journey to Italy for the European tour.

The finish of the Women’s Title Match definitely indicates that this will not be the end of this feud. With Ric Flair’s interference becoming all the more rampant and the referencing of legacy one can assume where this is heading. I’m guessing were going to have a revisit of NXT Takeover from a few years ago with Bret Hart and Ric Flair in opposite corners at WWE Payback in Chicago. Hell, I would even do a submission match and play up that it’s in the same arena where The Hitman battled a Texas Rattlesnake at Wrestlemania 13. I mean if you’re going to push the women’s division you gotta give them some great stipulations and seeing the counters these two women were doing back and forth. That can be a lot of fun.

The Dr. Phil segments while not the greatest thing for the women’s division, but they really were not that bad. I think WWE has realized how to use guest stars more effectively. I’m not really sure how many eyeballs will be watching for Phil McGraw and his words of wisdom but he definitely has an audience. And it was good that he sounded like at least he cared about what he was saying. I’m not sure if this will be a trend going forward or just in big markets but as long as the guest stars are like this I don’t have a problem with it.

Sami and AJ was no pun intended phenomenal. The two gave it their all and showed why they deserved to be on the main stage. Definitely a match of the year candidate. This shows that even a loss someone can get even more over. AJ gets a strong establishing victory In his road to Roman Reigns. Zayn got to showcase what he can do. I like the fact that WWE had someone removed from the building and they actually stayed gone. It establishes Shane as a more credible authority figure then the actual Authority. And now that The Underdog Of the Underground has gotten his fair chance. You you can now completely turn focus back to Kevin Owens which I imagine will be one hell of a match.

Apollo Crews had a squash match while Baron Corbin got a video package so at least they are trying to keep the new call ups from NXT in the audiences mind. Hopefully we will see some more concrete plans in the coming weeks.

Speaking of plans, it appears that Dean Ambrose is on a collision course with Chris Jericho after this week’s comedy segment between the two. Overall I like the back and forth between the two. It was actually funny and created a nice dynamic going forward. This also fortified Shane McMahon’s new philosophy. And I’m curious if WWE will play up the interactions in the past at Night of Champions between Ambrose and Jericho. Perhaps this is why Jericho defeated Styles at Wrestlemania to give a bigger rub to Ambrose? Even so, I think the Brock victory what it got a lot farther. But it is still will be a good match.

The most interesting thing on the night for me was WWE continuing to push Roman Reigns as a nonchalant in between on-screen character. This juxtaposed with The Wyatt Family looking like their the antihero made for an interesting closing segment.

Watching New Japan Invasion Attack this past weekend showed a similar situation with current IWGP Champion Naito. New Japan tried as they might to get the former Stardust Genius over with fans but he only reached a certain level. A few years ago a fan vote took Naito out of the main event spot at Wrestle Kingdom 8 in favor of Nakamura and Okada for the IC Title. The company would continue to try to push Naito as the next guy but it only reached a certain level. It was only until last year that Naito found himself by going to Mexico and turning heel. It was a slow turn a gradual turn. But it happened everything seem to click. Now he’s more over than ever.

Hopefully, WWE is doing something similar with Roman Reigns. The character definitely seems like he’s going in the direction. There are still some fans that are cheering them but there is a vocal group that are having this antihero side of him.

Strangely enough, though it seems WWE is once again testing the waters on Bray Wyatt and family being the antihero group against The League of Nations. And I say why not, Bray and company are not seen as threats or evil anymore. But they do have fans support and why not play on it.

One thing’s for sure, WWE’s got great building blocks going into the May 1 Payback pay-per-view. Chicago has always been a great city for the WWE and going down this path it could be one of the best shows of the year.

About The Author

Dan is host of Shooting from the Hip which you can hear every Sunday at 8pm EST, 7pm CST right here on PWpop.com.