(Yes, the whole thing is pre-taped because they’re in London so it wouldn’t have aired in the US if nothing happened, but what about for the people live in the building?)
Anyway, Ambrose gets a phone call from Kurt Angle. Stuff was said. Then Dean obnoxiously called to a member of the production crew by shouting “HEY! Headset!” Douchebag Dean then demanded that his music be played because he had a big announcement to make.
DOUCHEBAG DEAN MAKES HIS ANNOUNCEMENT- His announcement is (predictably) that Kurt Angle can’t make it tonight so he has named Dean the General Manager for tonight. A few things:
1. It has been over a month since Foley was fired. Why has no one hired someone to take Foley’s place as the #2 guy so that there is a designated person- not to mention a person who will not face any conflicts of interest if given power the way one of the wrestlers would- already in place to take over the show in Kurt’s absence?
2. I’m pretty sure that Kurt’s dog didn’t have a medical emergency in the parking lot of the arena, so Kurt clearly knew that he wouldn’t be here well in advance, so why did he wait until Raw was already starting to call Dean to ask him to be in charge?
3. Why does Kurt even have to hand over power to anyone? He has the internet, doesn’t he? Why can’t he run the show remotely? Can’t WWE just stream the show to him wherever he is right now and then Kurt can use the internet to communicate his decisions to everyone? Like, imagine if they set up this laptop by the announcers’ table that delivered some sort of audio notification whenever it received an e-mail and then Michael Cole would just read Kurt’s instructions to everyone out loud? That could work, right?
4. Now that I think about it, why are there even decisions to make on the fly? Why hasn’t Kurt already booked a card well in advance of the start of the show? All he should have to do is instruct security to break up all fights and put the Senior Referee in charge of all officiating and then just let the show happen. Most promotions don’t even HAVE authority figures who make decisions in the middle of the show.
5. Why go through the whole stupid phone call bit at all? Why not just save yourselves the air-time, logic issues, and the effort put into writing that phone call bit by just starting the show by having JoJo announce that Kurt Angle couldn’t be here tonight but he has assigned Dean Ambrose to be the Acting General Manager?
Dean tells us that “on my show it’s not about talking, it’s about action. On my show we won’t just stand out here and babble away and-“ Irony.
Miz’s music thankfully interrupted Dean’s ramblings, and Miz and Maryse came out to announce that Steph had called Miz to say that she didn’t want Dean running the show on his own so she wants them to run it together. So points 3 and 4 from above can now be applied to Steph as well. In fact, why isn’t Steph back running Raw yet? Is it really taking her over a month to recover from a f*cking table bump? And if she still has some sort of power then shouldn’t authority over the show default to her if Kurt is unavailable?
Geez. If they keep digging themselves into plot holes at this rate they’ll wind up in plot-China by the end of the show (Yes, I know that they’re in London, but the joke wouldn’t have worked nearly as well if I said “they’ll wind up in the plot-Antipode Islands,”).
But yeah. We’re about to get three straight hours of bickering general managers that will probably manage to be even more annoying than Steph and Foley. With Steph and Foley the annoyance was more of a “get on with it already!” thing because we all knew exactly how the angle was going to end the moment it started but they insisted on giving us eight months of that storyline being heavily featured on the show without moving forward in any way whatsoever. It’s the sort of thing that wouldn’t have been nearly as bad if it had only lasted a month or if they had had monthly flare-ups rather than weekly ones. What we’ll get with Dean and Miz tonight will almost certainly be just plain obnoxious, unfunny crap over and over and over again with Dean being a huge asshole for absolutely no reason and getting the better of things at every turn.
Anyway, they say some things to build up their title match at the PPV which I had completely forgotten about even though Miz won a #1 contendership match in the main event of last week’s show. Stuff happened, and then Braun Strowman’s music hit. I swear to G-d if he says that he got a phone call from Vince and Vince made him the real GM tonight I will go on a rant about how this makes absolutely no sense and then spend the rest of the night glued to the TV screen to see exactly what sort of carnage would occur with Braun Strowman as the GM. I mean… can you imagine what sort of awesome insanity Braun Strowman would order? I’m envisioning him booking the entire roster in a sort of elimination Falls Count Anywhere match, like a non-lethal version of Battle Royale. Then, about fifty minutes later when Braun has emerged victorious he grabs a mic and simply says “I win.” Then he starts dragging the broken bodies of the rest of the roster back to the ring three or four at a time before declaring “Now we start again” and this continues on and on until the end of the show. That would be SOOOOOOOO AWESOME!
Sh*t. That reminds me that I still need to watch that train match from DDT. Knowing that I have to finish this show before watching that is going to make this show seem even longer.
Braun’s arm is in a sling as a result of his torn rotator cuff from Payback. That would at least give the rest of the roster a fighting chance.
Braun says that he doesn’t care who is in charge: he is going to get what he wants. He tells them to call Steph and Kurt and let them know that “when my arm is healed, I’m going to end Roman Reigns,” and after that he wants Brock Lesnar. The crowd went nuts for that last part. Braun started to cut a promo on Brock when someone lost an arcade game or something over the loudspeaker and then Kalisto came out. His new music and new costume are both terrible. He looks like someone showed Vince a picture of Drago and Vince immediately ordered the seamsters and seamstresses to make Kalisto’s outfit look “cooler” but without giving them any sort of guidance whatsoever. He reminds us of what happened last week and says he’s not done with Braun yet and he’s done talking and he wants to fight Braun tonight and asks Dean Ambrose to give him a match. Three things here:
1. It has been at least five minutes since Dean told us that if he was in charge of the show there would be just action and no talking.
2. If Kalisto wants to fight Braun, why doesn’t he just go down there right now and fight him.
3. You could answer point #2 by saying that it’s kind of heelish to pick a fight with an injured man, but that’s exactly what Kalisto is doing by asking for a match against him.
Braun responded by laughing his confident, scary Braun Strowman laugh and then said “you beat me on a technicality, little man. I crushed you like an empty beer can.” Braun Strowman is the best. Then Braun said that he would do it all again when his arm was healed, but he could beat Kalisto with just one arm so Dean books the match. Braun turns to him and says that he is injured, but Dean said Braun had said he could beat Kalisto with just one arm so they’re having the match. So yeah. Kurt Angle put Dean Ambrose in charge of the Raw and the first decision Dean made was to force a man with a torn rotator cuff to wrestle.
Miz buried Kalisto and then made fun of Dean so Dean booked him against Balor for right after this commercial break, so at least we’re getting Bray Wyatt out of the way early. That being said, why is everyone treating Dean’s word as law when Steph decreed that Miz should have equal input?
FINN BALOR vs. THE MIZ (w/Maryse)- 4.5/10
Michael Cole said “fans” instead of “members of the WWE Universe.” If Fred Yehi were here, he would undoubtedly point at Cole and declare that “He’s in BIG TROUBLE!”
Anyway, we saw Miz and Maryse conversing so you knew they had some sort of diabolical plan and it actually paid off in a very creative way. Maryse distracted the ref and while the ref’s back was turned Miz shoved Balor into him. Miz then rolled to the outside, grabbed a mic and said that, as Acting General Manager, he couldn’t allow a wrestler to put his hands on an official and thus ordered that Finn Balor be disqualified. I absolutely loved this finish simply because of how it made use of the tools at hand in this unique situation (i.e. Miz as GM while also forced into a match he didn’t want to be in) fashion a finish that feels like it could have only happened in this situation. Rising star Balor doesn’t have to lose, #1 contender Miz doesn’t have to lose, and MIz gets to leave with a lot of heat.
Then Dean Ambrose showed up and killed the whole thing by ordering that the match be restarted as a No DQs match and that Maryse be barred from ringside. Balor brought Miz back to the ring, hit the Slingblade, the big dropkick in the corner and then the Coup de Grace for the win, beating the #1 contender for no reason.
ALEXA BLISS & NIA JAX BACKSTAGE- excellent!
Nia comes up to Alexa and asks her if she really meant all of those nice things Alexa said about her last week while she was insulting all of the other women, and Nia sounded so sincere that I could not help but think what I’m certain was the same thought that ran through Alexa’s mind which was “oh my G-d I can’t believe Nia is THAT DUMB.” Alexa sees an exploitable opportunity and assures Nia that she really did mean all of those nice things and definitely wasn’t doing it just to make sure Nia wouldn’t get angry at her… and then the jaws of Nia’s trap sprung shut and her tone became much harsher as she told Alexa (paraphrasing) “Good. Then if you think I’m so great you’ll have no problem giving me the first title shot after you’re finished with Bayley.” Alexa then began to desperately search for a way out, eventually telling Nia that she would love to give Nia a title shot but Kurt Angle is the one who makes those decisions, not her, and Kurt’s not here tonight, but when he gets back she’ll definitely ask him to give Nia the first post-Bayley title shot. Alexa once again thought she had dodged this monstrous bullet but then Nia said “alright. Until you do, it looks like you just got yourself a new best friend” and she slaps Alexa on the back and says “let’s go” and walks away… and as Nia walked away Alexa’s expression went from one of worry to resignation to thoughtfulness and then, finally, to a smile as she realized that just because Nia knows what she’s up to doesn’t mean she can’t still exploit her for the time being. After all, if your plan is good there is no reason to abandon it.
ALEXA BLISS! (w/Nia Jax) vs. MICKIE JAMES (w/Bayley)- 4.75/10
I guess Mickie must have been watching the previous segment because she brought Bayley out her to be her back-up. I really liked the idea of booking Mickie as Alexa’s opponent here. As Corey Graves said, “Alexa got what she needed from Mickie and discarded her.” And that’s exactly what Alexa is planning on doing to Nia... only this time the woman Alexa is using knows exactly what Alexa is up to… and Alexa knows that, too. Alexa has basically bought herself a few more weeks to come up with a plan to deal with Nia, all while Nia follows her around like a human sword of Damocles.
Alexa worked the arm. Nia distracted Mickie a bit but got taken out by a crossbody from Bayley. Then Alexa picked Mickie after a punch.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Alexa punched Mickie some more. Bayley chased her to the back. Then Nia beat up Mickie.
ANNOYING BACKSTAGE GM STUFF- both of them were extremely annoying. Dean kept emphasizing how his show would have “less talking” and yet here I am watching two assholes talk when I could be watching a wrestling match. The end result of this was Miz booking Ambrose vs. Wyatt.
CHARLY INTERVIEWS SAMOA JOE- Good promo by Joe. Rollins then escalated their feud by jumping Joe from behind as revenge for last week and they brawled away.
KALISTO vs. BRAUN STROWMAN (w/o one arm)- no rating, bad segment
Braun reiterated that he didn’t want the match. He also called Roman Reigns a “pathetic coward.” Braun went to leave but the ref ordered the bell rung anyone, so Braun just knocked Kalisto out with one boot to the head. Then Roman Reigns (who had his shoulder all taped up) came out and beat up a one-armed man, but he couldn’t even do that without using a weapon. What a loser.
Speaking of losers, there’s a guy in the front row in a Pacitti Club shirt. What kind of loser wears a Pacitti Club shirt? The whole point of the gimmick is that it’s an uncreative loser shamelessly ripping off a much cooler stable!
GOLDUST GIVES R-TRUTH A PEP-TALK- pretty good.
#1 CONTENDERSHIP TAG TEAM TURMOIL MATCH: Colin Cassady & Enzo Amore vs. Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Golden Truth- 6.5/10
The heels Sheamus & Cesaro valiantly fought through all of the other teams to earn a title shot. Meanwhile, Golden Truth, who have been set up as the big babyfaces going into this match, got the cushy final entrance spot… and they still got their butts kicked.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Sheamus & Cesaro attack Golden Truth
SAMOA JOE vs. SETH ROLLINS- 7.25/10
To what I’m sure is Vince’s great delight, “LET’S GO ROLLINS!” in a British accents sounds a lot like “LET’S GO ROMAN!”
I actually liked the idea behind this DQ (props to Joe for explaining it with his angry yelling) and loved the execution of it, but it was kind of frustrating to see such a great match end in a DQ. This would have been more palatable if it had gone ten instead of fifteen.
KURT ANGLE (yes, KURT ANGLE) BOOKS THE AMBROSE VS. MIZ IC TITLE MATCH FOR NEXT WEEK- so Kurt can communicate enough to book matches for next week but not for tonight?
NEVILLE & TJP STUFF- fine
Neville tells TJP he’ll give him a shot at the Cruiserweight Title if he beats Jack Gallagher tonight.
TJ PERKINS vs. JACK GALLAGHER- 2/10
Neville was on commentary for this match. Cole immediately asked him if he would keep his promise to TJP if he won, to which Neville responded by asking “do I look like the kind of character who would break a promise?” EXCELLENT.
TJP won via roll-up with a handful of tights. He then attacked Gallagher after the match but Austin Aries (in a knee brace after last week’s attack by TJP) made the save.
SASHA BANKS vs. ALICIA FOX- 1.25/10
Sasha got the win after a Meteora even though Fox’s shoulder was clearly up.
DEAN AMBROSE vs. BRAY WYATT- 6/10
Michael Cole described Dean Ambrose by saying “he’s a lunatic fringe.” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?
Miz & Maryse were on commentary. Miz predictably cost Dean the match, then beat him up afterwards (that’s at least the fourth post-match attack angle tonight) and cut a promo saying he would win the IC Title next week. I assume that Wyatt and Balor’s wins over the champ and #1 contender respectively were done to set up a four-way on the PPV, but I can definitely see a title change happening next week.
Tonight’s show was kind of weird, especially with the finishes, which were almost all either dirty finisher or (in the case of the women’s matches) moves that the woman in question doesn’t really use as a finisher. As a show to build up a PPV, I thought this show was pretty bad, as only the Joe vs. Rollins feud had anything that made me look forward to the PPV, though I really like the Nia-Alexa set-up as build for a month or two down the road. As the show went on a lot of the matches felt extremely rushed, which definitely hurt the show. But on the bright side, NO BRAY WYATT PROMO TONIGHT!