What’s good everybody? It’s your boi, Dre (also known as Xavier) back to dissect another edition of Monday Night Raw.
I must say that this week’s ending of RAW left quite the impression on me. A million thoughts were running through my mind and I had to brainstorm for a little bit to figure out how I wanted to present my RAW thoughts (mainly the ending) on paper. The ending of RAW, though, wasn’t the only thins that caught my eye this week so without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s episode.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH KURT ANGLE (INTERRUPTED BY MIZ, THE BAR & CURTIS AXEL)
I just can’t get enough of the back and forth exchanges between Kurt Angle and The Miz. They just play off of each other so well. Given how closely together these two have been booked, it makes me wonder if Angle will eventually make his one-on-one in-ring return against The Miz. With Miz being one of the safer workers on the roster and with Angle’s prior neck issues, it seems like a logical booking decision for Angle’s health and from a booking/creative standpoint.
Angle essentially came out to announce some of the RAW vs SD matches that would be taking place at Survivor Series before the Miz and company came out to surround Angle. As predicted, Rollins and Ambrose would come to the rescue with Angle then proceeding to set up a six-man tag match.
Now with Angle wrestling last night, I definitely wasn’t expecting to see him wrestle Angle so replacing him with AJ Styles as Ambrose & Rollins’ 3rd partner made a ton of sense seeing how he stepped up to bat for RAW the night before. This opening segment was a solid set-up for the opening six man tag match.
AJ STYLES & THE SHIELD (DEAN AMBROSE & SETH ROLLINS) VS THE MIZ & THE BAR (SHEAMUS & CESARO)
As I watched this match, I must admit that I immediately thought about how great it would be to one day see AJ Styles vs Seth Rollins, but I’m sure we’ll get that someday down the line.
As for the match itself, it was what I would expect from these 6 guys so you knew it was gonna be good. It was just an all-around good and fast-paced tag match.
I continue to enjoy the matches that Ambrose/Rollins and Sheamus/Cesaro put forth against each other every week land liked the inclusion of Miz and AJ here. Speaking on AJ, I just gotta say that he’s definitely the MVP of the week for flying all the way across South America on such short notice to fill in for Bray Wyatt last night and then delivering a really strong performance in his match with Finn. It was good to see AJ pick up the win tonight for his team as a small reward for stepping up to the plate this weekend.
POST MATCH ATTACK AND IN RING INTERVIEW WITH KANE
I like the way Kane has been presented since he returned last week. Him walking down to the ring to deliver choke slams to Ambrose, Rollins and Styles was a definitely a nice throwback moment to the days when Kane was truly booked as a dominate force.
With Roman being sidelined with a viral infection, creative had to think quickly on there feet with the direction they took with Kane so booking him in a program and having him focus his attack on Strowman makes sense. While the feud itself isn’t built on anything all that complex, it’s still effective. Kane’s character should definitely feel some type of way about Strowman being dubbed as the new monster of the WWE.
I’m actually glad Strowman didn’t make an appearance this week to confront Kane because after what appeared to be him getting stuffed and smashed into the back of garbage truck, he should be off TV for at least a couple weeks to sell the attack he took from Kane, Miz and The Bar. What I’m really curious to know is if Strowman will return as a face when he eventually confronts Kane or if he even appears again before Survivor Series. I ask because this year’s Survivor Series matches seem to all be built completely around RAW vs SD so it’s possible that we may see Strowman/Kane given away for free similar to the Strowman/Big Show matches.
FINN BALOR VS KANE
This was a interesting match to book. On one hand, Balor as fresh off a huge win over AJ last night but on the other hand Kane, is fresh off his return from last week and appears to be headed into a feud with Strowman after sidelining him last night so something had to give here.
I’ll probably get some flack here but I think creative made the right call in putting Kane over Balor and, truthfully, I don’t think the loss here will hurt Balor. Kane is fresh off a return here and if he’s gonna be presented as the once-feared big red machine again then he couldn’t afford to lose in this spot. If Kane took a loss to Balor here, there would be no reason to believe he’d be credible enough to feud with Strowman.
The match itself was solid, despite Balor losing, he got a decent amount of offense in this one before eventually getting over powered.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH KURT ANGLE & SHANE MCMAHON
This was a good set up for things to come later in the show. Angle pretty much downplaying and underestimating the entire Smackdown roster with Shane rubbing it in Angle’s face that Smackdown best Raw last year. It was a nice exchange between two old foes (Anyone else remember Angle/Shane at KOTR ’01?)
ASUKA VS EMMA
I was pretty surprised by the amount of offense Emma was allowed to get in tonight and last night for that matter. Not that I’m upset by it, but I figured Vince/HHH would want Asuka looking invincible her first couple of months on the main roster unless that’s just one more thing that HHH and Vince are bumping heads over these days. Anyway, I felt tonight’s rematch wasn’t as strong as the match that the ladies delivered last night but I can say that I’m truly happy Asuka is on RAW and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to write about her as I cover RAW.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH ALEXA BLISS
This segment makes it very clear why WWE is so high up on Alexa Bliss and understandably so. She knows how to work and engage a crowd and she understands the importance of what it takes to be a fundamentally sound heel.
Alexa owned and completely went in on the fans this week calling them out for what she perceived as lack of respect for her hard-earned win over Mickie James last week while they eagerly would give out praise to the AJ/Finn match with “THIS IS AWESOME” chants before the match even started. Granted, that match did deliver, but there was still a lot of truth to what Bliss said. The “THIS IS AWESOME” chants are completely overdone at this point. I loved how she called the fans sheep who overuse and go along with the typical chants. It definitely struck a nerve with the crowd tonight and they absolutely let Bliss have it when she tried getting them to chant for her. It was great heel work at its finest by Bliss on the mic here.
BOTCH brought up a great point during this segment. When Mickie came out to interrupt Bliss to deliver the DDT, he pointed out that Mickie should have got the crowd to chant “YOU DESERVE IT” as Bliss laid unconscious to bring Bliss’ promo full circle. Like Botch said, it was definitely a missed opportunity but fortunately it didn’t take away at all from the promo.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT WITH KURT ANGLE, SASHA BANKS, BAYLEY & ALICIA FOX
This is gonna sound insane by Alicia Fox is really starting to grow on me. I got a kick out of Fox interrupting Sasha & Bayley’s convo with Kurt to throw a fit. Come to think of it, Alicia Fox’s gimmick is the black chick who grew up in the valley and she’s nailing it right now.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH ELIAS
I gave this segment a solid 4.5 just off the epic jab Elias delivered to Aaron Rogers. That’s one way to piss of the entire city of Green Bay. That immediately brought me back to that Rock Concert in 2003 that the Rock delivered in Sacramento where he said “I’ll be sure to come back when the Lakers beat the Kings in May”. Elias literally got that same type of heat last night from fans even having the entire arena changing “LET’S GO PACK”. Taking shots at the city’s hometown teams is one of the oldest heel tricks in the book but works like a charm every time.
JASON JORDAN VS ELIAS
I think I’ve finally figured out why Booker always rips on JJ on commentary. It’s because JJ is the product of the affair Angle had with his wife Sharmell on Smackdown back in the day and for years Booker was paying for a kid that wasn’t even his. Okay, okay I kid but in all seriousness though what’s the deal with the double-turn that typically happens with Graves and Booker whenever JJ is in the ring?
I find it challenging to invested into these JJ/Elias matches because 1.) the chemistry isn’t really there 2.) neither guy has a lot of experience and 3.) neither guy is nowhere near established enough to really elevate the other and because of those 3 things fans aren’t really into this feud either. Jordan and Elias exchanging wins doesn’t do much for either guy here. I’d prefer if these guys were in separate feuds against more established guys.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH BROCK LESNAR AND PAUL HEYMAN
Heyman was gold here. He literally talked down Mahal like he was some sort of scrub unworthy of even mentioning Brock’s name. In Heyman’s mind, there are levels to this stuff and for him, Mahal isn’t on Brock’s level. It’s a sentiment shared by many fans who view Mahal as nothing more then a jobber still undeserving of wearing the strap.
Heyman even pointed out some of Brock’s prior opponents and listed off how he would typically put them over on the mic before then saying that there was basically nothing worth putting over about Mahal because of the manner in which he’s won all of his title defenses. My take is if that they’re gonna go with Brock/Mahal at SS then tonight, Heyman did a wonderful job of setting the tone for the way this feud should and probably will be presented going forward.
Did anyone else think that Heyman slightly referenced the Jericho/Lesnar backstage confrontation from Summerslam last year when he referred to the RAW locker room being upset in the manner in which he beat Orton?
BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW WITH KALISTO
This definitely went a lot better then most of Kalisto’s promos. This was basically a segment to set up the 5 on 5 Cruiserweight match that was to come later.
BAYLEY VS SASHA BANKS VS ALICIA FOX
As I stated earlier, Alicia is really starting to grow on me. Bayley and Sasha are definitely the more decorated wrestlers but Alicia was the true star of this particular match. She took some solid bumps early as Sasha and Bayley looked to eliminate her from the equation early but bounced back and more then held her own. I was fully expecting Fox to tap out to Sasha again but was pleasantly surprised when she was able to reverse Sasha not just once but twice to eventually pick up the win.
Fox’s character acting in this match was fantastic and hilarious. One of the things I really enjoy as a wrestling fan is seeing a performer take a gimmick and get fully entrenched in it and that’s exactly what we got from Fox here. Her whiney voice, her spoiled brat tantrums that she threw when things weren’t going her way during the match, and her acting completely psychotic as she went to the outside to ring the timekeepers bell for no apparent reason were great. Fox looks like she’s genuinely enjoying portraying the character right now.
I’m looking forward to seeing Fox’s antics over the coming weeks as she tries to lead the RAW women against the SD women at Survivor Series. That should be very entertaining. As a side point, Alicia executes a Northern Lights Suplex beautifully.
TEAM LUCHA (KALISTO, CEDRIC ALEXANDER, RICH SWANN, GRAN METALIK & MUSTAFI ALI) VS THE ZO TRAIN (ENZO AMORE, TONY NEESE, DREW GULAK, NOAM DAR & ARIYA DAIVARI
Did anyone else enjoy Drew Gulak on the mic as much as I did? Gulak delivering Enzo’s lines in the whitest white guy way possible had me in tears; he nailed it. I’m really happy to see that some of the cruiserweights outside of Enzo are starting to show a bit more personality. It really does go a long way for the division.
I enjoyed this 10-man tag match as much as I enjoyed Gulak’s promo. The guys involved all did a great job of showcasing some of what got them over in the CWC and that definitely resonated with the live crowd. What really impressed me the most during this match was Alexander’s athleticism. The guy is a freak of nature and at this point, I have no problem in saying that he’s the most athletic guy in the WWE right now.
Hopefully, we get to see this match again at Survivor Series in a elimination format. Even if it’s placed on the pre-show, I really think they could deliver a fantastic match if given 20 or so minutes.
IN RING SEGMENT WITH KURT ANGLE & SHANE MCMAHON (SMACKDOWN INVADES RAW)
Now, for those wondering about the title of this particular RAW GETBACK and why I named it that, I will give you quick explanation. Bomb First was the title of a Tupac song about where he took it upon himself to throw verbal assaults at his unsuspecting rivals/peers before they had the opportunity to do so first. That’s exactly what we got here with SD catching RAW completely off guard.
Watching this immediately reminded me of the build for Survivor Series 2005 when it was RAW who actually struck first by invading SD and taking advantage of the fact that SD wasn’t expecting it, but also taking advantage of the fact that most of SD’s main eventers were either not in the building or too injured to help fight off an invasion.
There were so many little things here that made this whole thing come together so perfectly. Shane marching the SD roster down to surround the ring, Kurt Angle’s confused and shocked Bruce Willis expression, the Smackdown roster marching down the ramp to following Angle to the back like a angry lynch mob with pitch forks and torches, Titus & Crews just getting absolutely destroyed just because they were there, Chad Gable making it a point to be the first to attack his former tag partner Jason Jordan, the RAW women trying to form a wall of resistance in a act of courageousness and the SD men stepping back to allow the SD women to take them out, Dean and Seth doing everything in there power to stand their ground but also get crushed in the process were all great moments in this whole siege.
However my favorite moment here was when the SD roster finally caught up with Angle, grabbed him, and made him watch helplessly as they just wreaked havoc – that was some real gangsta mess right there. Angle’s expression as Shane and his roster left like he just crapped his pants was the perfect camera shot to end on as well.
Last year’s RAW vs SD-themed Survivor Series seemed based more on brand pride and bragging rights, but this years RAW/SD feud already feels more personal, almost like a turf war based on deep-seated hatred like the Montagues vs the Capulets or the Bloods vs the Crips and that’s a good thing.
I can’t say enough how amazing the ending to this RAW was. It’s endings of RAW like these that remind me why I’m such a avid wrestling fan in the first place. Aside from the ending, there was also some other really good stuff throughout this show that made this week’s show really good. What I found overwhelmingly entertaining was Alicia Fox and Drew Gulak. I enjoyed the multi-man tag matches, Bliss taking a complete crap on fans, and Heyman running down Mahal on the mic. While things may not reflect in the ratings, RAW has been worth watching for the most part for the past few months or so. My excitement level for this year’s Survivor Series is through the roof. It’ll be interesting to see how Angle decides to clap back at Smackdown.
RAW’S CHAMPIONS/WEEKLY TOP 10
BROCK LESNAR (WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION) – The Beast is back with the intention of making Mahal his latest victim but don’t expect Brock to be fighting for RAW’S honor. He’s just here to Eat, Sleep & Conquer.
THE MIZ (WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION) – He came out on the losing end at TLC despite having the odds stacked in his favor and on Monday but he’s still the champ and will be crossing paths with US champ Baron Corbin in the coming weeks.
ALEXA BLISS (WWE RAW’S WOMAN CHAMPION) – She retained her title in a rather good match over Mickie on Sunday but likely still has some unfinished business with Mickie on RAW before she fully moves on to focus on Natalya
ENZO AMORE (WWE CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION) – Its no surprise to see Enzo back with the strap. I fully expect him to hold the title for awhile this time around
DEAN AMBROSE & SETH ROLLINS (RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS) – They successfully survived the 3 on 5 handicap match at TLC but were two of many casualties to the Smackdown seize. There feud with the Usos for tag team supremacy will be great and I fully expect there match with to be a MOTY.
RAW’S TOP 10
1. BRAUN STROWMAN (last week’s ranking: 1) – Strowman was off TV to sell the injuries he sustained from Kane at TLC but he still maintains the top spot as he’s still got an impressive string of wins since losing to Brock at No Mercy. I’m looking forward to seeing how he responds to Kane.
2. ROMAN REIGNS (last week’s ranking: 2) – Unfortunately for the big dawg a viral infection has kept him off TV this week and maybe for the next few weeks to come. I suspect he’ll be one of 5 RAW’S representatives at Survivor Series.
3. KANE (last week’s ranking: 4) – Kane has made quite the impact since returning last week. Destroying Braun Strowman and picking up a win over Balor are big enough deals to put him in the top 3. He’ll probably surpass Roman by next week’s end.
4. FINN BALOR (last week’s ranking: 6) – The Demon defeated AJ Styles in what will surely go down as a MOTY candidate for sure. Unfortunately a chance meeting with Kane had him on the losing end on RAW. I’m assuming he’ll resume things with Bray Wyatt when he returns.
5. MICKIE JAMES (last week’s ranking: 3) – She came up just short on her quest to capture her 7th women’s title but look for Mickie to get a rematch on RAW soon
6. SASHA BANKS (last week’s ranking: 9) – The boss has a mini streak of 1 on 1 victories enough to place her at 6. She’ll help represent the RAW women at Survivor Series but not as team captain
7. KALISTO (last week’s ranking: cruiserweight champion) – As I expected he’s Cruiserweight title run was short lived.
8. ALICIA FOX (last week’s ranking: not ranked) – Her shtick is growing on me and her ring work has improved. Her being captain of Team RAW should provide some really funny moments over the next month
9. CESARO (last week’s ranking: 7) – The Bar hasn’t picked up any significant wins in awhile and won’t be winning tag gold anytime soon it looks. There’s a really strong possibility that they may get lost in the shuffle a bit WWE builds to Survivor Series.
10. SHEAMUS (last week’s ranking: 😎 – See Cesaro)