It gives me the greatest pleasure to introduce the newest incarnation of our Raw blog: “Eye to Eye”. Our own Sovereign Sam had the idea because he could tell how much fun I was having writing “Raw” in his absence. How charitable of him, right? I certainly thought so. We ran it by our Queen and she totally went for it!
With “Eye to Eye”, Sam and I will both be grading and writing about each match. Will we disagree? Count on it! In truth, we disagree pretty rarely but when we do, it’s fun. What we’re aiming for is a little more “bang for your buck”. If you’re going to take the time to read our content, we want it to be as good as it can be. As much fun as Sam’s blog was to begin with, we’re hoping this will be even more fun.
Anyway, let’s get it, shall we?
In-ring segment – Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton, The Miz, & John Morrison
Oh, how I love listening to Drew on the mic. The man simply knows who he is and it is always on full display when he gets on the mic. Charisma for days and he knows how to work it so well. Drew spoke a bit on what he is thankful for and in other hands this would have come off as cheesy but not in his hands. He knows exactly how to pace himself and this was great. He would end up being interrupted by Randy Orton after he spoke about how he would regain the WWE Championship and beat Roman Reigns at Survivor Series. Randy would come on the tron and point out that he has been fined and suspended more than any other superstar. I would say the contest is between him and Jeff Hardy but that is a whole other discussion. He still feels like he is the best and McIntyre would reemphasize that he will take the title back. Good stuff from both men but it would get a bit better when the Miz and John Morrison came out. Miz continued to tease cashing in and I actually dug Morrison being his somewhat meathead self. I know I am a bit in the minority over him but I like how he plays the fool. Miz also took shots at Bray Wyatt and we will see how that plays out a bit more later. Good stuff from everyone here and a really solid opening segment.
This was so nail! This is a tale of two stars that have become all we hoped they’d be. Drew has gone from being a job guy to being THE guy. He told a great story here like he always does. As I’ve said numerous times, Orton is at the top of his game lately. He’s showing us everything we wanted from him the whole time. He menaced well from the Tron. The feud between them has been so much fun and I’m okay if it never ends. They are that compelling for me.
Miz came out and he was fun too. I was speaking on Twitter with indie standout Leonard Literacy and we both agree that Miz is totally underrated in every respect. The man has never been out for injury and he’s great on the mic. Miz did a great job here. He’s every bit the threat the problem for Drew that Randy is. Morrison, on the other hand, was as he always is: dead weight. He’s totally insignificant. He’s just Miz’s lackey. I like the Miz wrinkle in all of this. Excellent segment that even Morrison couldn’t kill.
Backstage segment – Lana, Shayna Baszler, & Nia Jax
I know I have missed many of the times when Lana was put through a table by Nia but I get the gist of it. They don’t like Lana and so they are making her pay because they don’t think she is a real talent. This is doing wonder for me in the Lana department because I am totally on her side because she is just her best but nobody wants to see that.
Poor Lana. They’re clearly trying to make her a big time face and I can go there. Nia is a really solid bully and Shayna is too. They’re helping to make this whole thing work. Lana has no friends and she’s really selling it. They all did quite well here. I’m interested. Can’t wait till Lana wins for her team on Sunday.
Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, & Lana vs. Asuka, Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke
I know Botch complained that Asuka isn’t doing anything but she is still doing more than the women’s champ in that other company that doesn’t care about the division, so there is that. This actually ended up being a fun match and I liked that commentary were quick to point out how Shayna and Nia were taking out their teammates and that may not be the best strategy. Fun back and forth and I liked how they kept the story going about how Nia and Shayna do not like Lana. Of course, Lana would end up making a bonehead play by tagging herself in and that would cost them the match. Nia would put Lana through another table and I truly want Lana to be the sole survivor at Survivor Series for team Raw.
I love that Nia & Shayna came out to Shayna’s music. It’s far superior to Nia’s. I don’t dislike Nia’s but Shayna’s is just so menacing. CFO$ totally nailed that one. This was a fun match with Lana continuing to be bullied. Mandy was so much fun but she’s been far less fun with charisma vacuum, Dana dragging her down. Shayna was so vicious in NXT and she seems to be finding that again here. She took out both Dana & Mandy with the arm stomp that I always cringe at. Word is that Mandy is legitimately injured and she’ll need to be off TV for a while (thanks for the reminder, Asukalanchian!). Lana just can’t catch a break. ‘Course, this time she was to blame. Nia’s reaction to all of it was fun. Still, she ended this match like she always does – going through a table. Nia trolled really well before putting her through it though. Sike…LOL! I haven’t heard that since the 90s.
Asuka is due to face Sasha Banks at SS. They haven’t been doing too much to tell that story and I wish they would. She was tossed into this tag match because…reasons. She’s not being used well at all lately but she is getting on TV so I guess that’s enough. Her reign has yet to be very memorable so far. Still, this really was fun – especially the end. Nia is a really solid bully.
Backstage segment – Braun Strowman, Keith Lee, Riddle, Sheamus, AJ Styles, & Jordan Omogbehin
This was going to get a slightly lower grade from me but the ending of it is what bumped it up. I love Captain AJ because he is such a goof and I am all for it. It brings back memories of when he and the Club, oh what could have been, kept talking about beating up John Cena. AJ is just trying his best to rally the team for some unity but they just aren’t having any of it. It is a riot and I love that Riddle keeps pushing the nicknames that are hilarious. I love that we finally heard from AJ’s associate too and that is what pushed this over the edge for me in the best of ways. The comedic timing was perfect and I loved how AJ was puzzled but then had all types of questions after finding out his associate could indeed speak English. I hope we find out his name next because AJ’s reaction to that could be hilarious.
I love the lack of chemistry between this entire team. AJ is just great as the beleaguered “captain” – despite what AJ says. This is bringing comedy chops out of all of them and they all have them to some degree. We’d never know it without stuff like this. Sheamus, in particular, is a riot with stuff like this. “What is this, Baby Gap”…LOL! Braun killed me with that one. “Almas”. What?
Jordan finally spoke! LOL!!! “Because you never asked”. Dead…again! Now that Jordan has spoken, things should become even more fun between AJ and him. He badly needs a snappy name. I think it may be “Associate” but I can’t tell yet.
Backstage segment – Dana Brooke & Reckoning
This is when we found out that Mandy Rose would most likely be out for Survivor Series and Dana was Dana. I know she tries hard but there always seems to be something missing with her. I can never put my finger on it but something is missing from the equation. Reckoning, aka Mia Yim, would come in and lay out Dana before being chased away by referees. Looks like these two will not make it to Survivor Series.
It took forever but we finally got something from Dana – fleeting though it was. She looked really worried and emotional here. Her speaking was sufficiently stilted too. I couldn’t even detect that Reckoning was coming because Dana didn’t exhibit a single “tell”. She did really well here. Reckoning menaced really well too. Very short but solid segment.
Firefly Fun House – Bray Wyatt & Alexa Bliss
Oh, how I have missed seeing the Fun House. I love the inclusion of Alexa and she adds so much to this. Side note, congrats to Alexa for her engagement over the weekend. Back to this and it was gold as usual. The Fun House rarely misses and this was plenty of all the goody goodness we have come to expect from Bray and now Alexa. They have great chemistry and you can imagine they are friends behind the scenes which adds to this. They spoke about the Miz and I liked the montage of Bray getting ready for their match that he had little time to prepare for. Great stuff all around and I love this pairing.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about someone else being in the FFH with Bray. I’m honestly still not entirely sure. Alexa isn’t to blame for my inability to decide either. She’s doing all she can. Both of them are so expressive so she really does look like she belongs. The way Bray bounces from silly to serious is just a thing of beauty. The concept is slowly winning me over and they both did well here.
Bray’s preparation was a riot. Very Karate Kid-esque. Poor Ramblin’ Rabbit. Poor all of them. They all take such abuse from Bray. Alexa’s laugh when the Ramblin’ one took the dart was high-larious.
Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander (w/ MVP & Bobby Lashley) vs. New Day (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston)
A tag match getting this much love from me? You bet your butt this match is getting that love from me. This was an amazing match all the way around and I even loved the pre-match promos as well. MVP did what he does best and that is hype up his guys. The New Day came out and I loved their Jerk Business line as it was clear the inspiration was from the famous “jerk store” line from Seinfeld. Big E is a Seinfeld fan too so I would imagine he got the reference too if he was watching. Now the match itself was all kinds of good. Great work from both teams and we all know how great the New Day are. I will say though it is a bit of a trip seeing Woods and Kofi as a team still because I have become so used to seeing them with Big E in their tag matches. Either way, this was an awesome match and all four men put in the work here. Cedric and Shelton have some great chemistry as well and they had us believing that the Hurt Business may topple the New Day. That wouldn’t be the case though as the New Day were able to survive and retain their titles. This was my match of the night and it showed all those haters out there that WWE does indeed know how to put on great tag team matches. It isn’t just an elite exclusive.
This opened with a promo from MVP with cameo by Shelton Benjamin. MVP tells a great story as usual. Poor Shelton. He’s never gotten it together on the mic. “…Those clowns, the Street Profits”. A bit of a tongue twister for a South Carolina man and it got him.
The really interesting thing is that once Xavier & Kofi got out there, MVP wasn’t good anymore. It’s like Xavier & Kofi are kryptonite for him or something. He just can’t feel their rhythm. They are quicker than he is and he just couldn’t get on. He tried but he trampled on them twice and it was just bad. There was zero chemistry. “The Jerk Business”. Apparently, that was a Seinfeld thing. I didn’t watch Seinfeld like that so I missed it. Oh well.
Okay, the match. Incredible amounts of fun! I knew it could be good but I wasn’t expecting all of this. It got time to be great so it was. All of them are just incredible athletes and everyone in Dignified Discussion really enjoyed this match. I did too. I honestly didn’t care who won. I’d have been fine with either team facing Street Profits at SS. Cedric, in particular, showed OUT here. He’s just so crispy with whatever he does. That dive outside the ring was really novel. I loved the Angle Slam from Shelton too. MVP reacted really well out there while the match was going on
Backstage segment – Sheamus & Drew McIntyre
The chemistry between these two is so clear and it is also clear that they are heading for a program in the near future. Both men have history dating back to their time overseas when they were getting started so there is plenty of fruit to pick for a program. Sheamus shared some memories and then he would present Drew with something from his past. It was some old gear of his that he found and then he would present him with a Claymore. A Claymore is a huge sword by the way and Drew’s size makes it look rather normal. Nice segment here and you can see the program between these two on the horizon.
The feels. If Drew wants a future in acting, he’s got it. He really sold how moved he was by what was in that chest. Even more so with the sword. Sheamus did too. Nice bit of storytelling there. I have a feeling Sheamus is going to turn on Drew and when he does, it’ll be a whole lot of fun. In truth, they have a lot of history together in Irish Whip Wrestling so when we finally get it, the feud between them will be fire!
Team Raw vs Retribution (AJ Styles on commentary)
I didn’t really know what to expect from this match but it did such a good job in telling the story of how Team Raw simply cannot get along. I liked Mustafa Ali’s promo backstage as well prior to the match about how he will watch Raw destroy themselves and that AJ will not be able to do a thing about it. Good stuff from Ali but then again, Ali has pretty much always been a great guy on the mic. Solid work from all the men here and I did wonder if they would go the predictable route of having Team Raw come together against a common enemy. I liked that it wasn’t the case because Retribution needs all the momentum in the world considering how rough of a start, they were off to. Good back and forth in the match and Ali would end up picking up the sneaky win as Team Raw continued their lack of chemistry. AJ is trying so hard to get the team together but it just isn’t happening so far.
Mustafa’s promo felt a little scripted (I mean…I know it is but this felt like it; I wanted more fire) and it sounded like the other stuff he’s been saying lately. I will say that Retribution seems to finally have it’s vision together after far too much “throwing it together”
The match had no apologies to make. I’m actually surprised they won but this was more about the fact that Team Raw can’t get along. That was the story really being told here but Retribution badly needed a win so I’m glad they got it.
Backstage segment – Nikki Cross & Jeff Hardy
Nikki was looking for Alexa and she was interviewed about it. Nikki seems determined to bring Alexa Bliss back because she feels like she is being manipulated by the Fiend. You cannot blame her since that is her bestie and she wants what is best for her. It does feel like it is building up to something and I am really curious as to what. Nikki would leave and we would then see Jeff Hardy pulling down some flyers.
Nikki’s been left behind for the most part. She sounded sufficiently determined to free Alexa from the clutches of The Fiend. We’ll see if it holds.
Backstage segment – Jeff Hardy and Elias
Wow! We got that rare fire from Jeff here and he sold this really well. Elias was no slouch in this segment but this was clearly all about Jeff to me. Jeff showed some passion and aggression here that we usually don’t see because he isn’t as gifted as his brother on the mic. That being said, Jeff does have the capability to put it together and when he does, it usually is darn good. I loved how he got in Elias’ face about the flyers and reiterated that he was not the one that hit him with the car and that he needs to leave it alone or else. You could see the look on Elias’ face that he probably won’t and we will see how Jeff makes him pay for that.
I can’t believe I’m agreeing with Sam…but I am. Jeff finally didn’t phone one in! He was really fiery here and I liked it. Elias played off of it well too. Could this feud actually turn out to be fun? Maybe?
The Miz (w/ John Morrison) vs Bray Wyatt (w/ Alexa Bliss)
I just loved how the Miz tried to weasel his way out of this match. It was almost as if he forgot what Bray is capable of and realized the error he committed earlier in the night. I also liked how Morrison would chime in with his random things as well. Alexa would come out on behalf of Bray and I loved that remix of her theme. I mean her theme is pretty much a remix of her face theme in NXT so why not remix a remix. I loved how she simply said no to the Miz and how Nikki Cross came out. Nikki is trying to get through to Alexa but it is not working. Alexa would slap her and a little skirmish would ensue. I loved how Alexa calmed down as soon as Bray’s music hit too. Little things like that and how Bray looked at Nikki is what is making this story work.
The match itself was plenty of fun and these two pretty much picked up where they left off in their previous encounter from last year. Solid back and forth but the moment of the match had to go to Alexa. Morrison got involved one too many times and Alexa would just jump him and the two would go over the barricade. That was quite the visual and the Miz thought he would be able to take advantage of it. That was not the case as he would walk right into a Sister Abigail and Bray would win. He and Alexa celebrated but the Fiend is always watching as his ominous music and tron played as the two headed up the ramp.
Poor Morrison. He’s just such complete dead weight. Good thing he didn’t hurt much of anything here. I love that Alexa attacked him when he wouldn’t keep to himself. Bray is so much fun when he works as Bray. Love that he began with “I forgive you”. Sister Abigail is still the best finisher in WWE. The playing of the music at the end was just great. The Fiend is always nigh…
Backstage segment – Adam Pearce & Asuka
Dre was calling for Naomi and Charlotte Flair to be Mandy and Dana’s replacement but boy was he off. It ended up being Lacey Evans and Peyton Royce and I honestly feel bad that I forgot about them. Sure, I was on a break but I still forgot that they were on Raw. Both ladies are extremely talented and should be in a bit better spot than last minute replacements. Pearce did his job and this segment rolled right into Asuka being interviewed. She did her usual thing and said that nobody was ready for her. If anything, this was probably the weakest segment of the night which is saying something.
To be real, the last thing I wanted was Dana Brooke on the Survivor Series team. Glad it won’t happen. Word is that with Mandy needing to recover, they didn’t want Dana on her own. Good choice. Asuka is a whole fool and I love it. This was all find for what it was.
Backstage segment – Randy Orton
This was short and to the point. Orton doesn’t want any distractions and warns Charly about becoming one prior to his match. Charly gets the hint and leaves him alone. You don’t want to mess with this version of Orton at all.
Short but sweet. Orton has NO time tonight. Charly was verbally victimized and she moved along. I always enjoy this version of Orton.
Backstage segment – Angel Garza
I am puzzled about this Garza stuff he has going on. He is talking about women and roses and I just wonder where it is going. His delivery is great because he has all the charisma in the world but I just wonder what the endgame is for this.
Please forgive me but I’m beginning not to care about this. I’m still holding out some hope but he’s doing the same thing over and over again. The story isn’t moving forward one iota. It’s getting tired. He’s not good enough on the mic to keep pulling this off the same way each week.
Backstage segment – Shayna Baszler, Nia Jax, Lacey Evans, Peyton Royce
Shayna and Nia are confident going into Survivor Series. Though they did question the other about injuring members on Raw’s team. Peyton Royce and Lacey Evans would come in and I will fully admit that most of this grade goes to them. Peyton just has that personality that suits comedic timing but she can get serious when need be. Lacey is great on the mic as well and both ladies were my favorite part of this. The part where Lacey put her sunglasses on as Peyton pulled her away was just perfect.
I’m beginning to like Peyton & Lacey together – even if their pairing makes ZERO sense. Lacey is so full of herself and Peyton is a riot. Nia especially is an award-winning troll. This is going to be fun. I can almost guarantee it.
Drew McIntyre vs Randy Orton
This match got plenty of time and they made the most of every minute. Drew came out in the gear that Sheamus found for him and even stuck the Claymore in the entrance ramp for good measure. I did like how Randy was impressed by Drew’s gear when he took off his kilt because you can see him nodding and saying something to Drew and Drew replying to him. The match was a bit slower paced at first but that is typical in an Orton match. The match’s pace wasn’t bad though as Orton tried to flee with the title but Adam Pearce came out to say that the match would not end that way and it would be contended under no count out and no disqualification. Each man would end up taking turns punishing the other on the announce table and that was nice to see. Orton would end up setting up a table but would end up being the one sent through it. His back would end up being cut up from it too and we saw blood on his back. The match kept going and Drew would end up hitting Orton with the Claymore to regain the title. We are getting Roman versus Drew at Survivor Series and I am all for that one.
I would be okay if this feud went on and on. This match is a prime reason why. I like that Orton tried to weasel out and Pearce wouldn’t let him. I have to believe that they might have let Orton keep the belt until they saw the interaction between Roman and Drew last Friday night. You could just feel the electricity from it and it’s only right that they’ll be facing each other on Sunday. I can’t wait to see it.
Overall, this was quite a solid show from start to finish. Nothing really to complain about here and they had some really great matches. Both title matches were the clear stars of the night and both delivered. I preferred the tag title match over the main event myself. The build for Survivor Series is always a tricky one because WWE tends to have a problem with weaving the brand versus brand stuff with rivalries that are on each brand. All in all, really good go-home episode for Survivor Series from Raw here.
I can’t believe how solid this episode of “Raw” was! We rarely get one this good. Nothing was totally awful. That’s a major achievement. The ratings shot up nicely so they were rewarded for putting on a great show. As usual, the rivalry between Raw & Smackdown is totally unbelievable as a story but most of the matches should be fun. We had a blast in DD and with a show like this, it’s no mystery why. See you all next week for another “Eye to Eye”!