Do you think they realize that the fact that they constantly refer to it as “the prestigious Intercontinental Title” actually makes it feel less prestigious than if they hadn’t said anything at all because constantly using the same hype word makes something feel phony?
KURT ANGLE MAKES SOME ANNOUNCEMENTS-
1. He announces that “Braun Strowman will be out of action for up to six months.”
Yet another reason to hate Roman Reigns. He assaulted my favorite babyface and put him on the shelf for half a year!
2. He announces that there will be a five-way Extreme Rules Match at Extreme Rules to determine the #1 contender to the WWE Universal Title. He claims that a five-way Extreme Rules Match is a “first time ever” occurrence. I highly doubt that this is true, and if it is, it’s almost certainly only true by whatever technicality makes an “Extreme Rules Match” different from a “No Disqualifications Match” or a “No Holds Barred Match” or a “Street Fight.” And all of this because they decided it was necessary to claim that something was a “first time ever” occurrence when even if it technically was, it really wasn’t. We’ve all seen five dudes hitting each other with weapons before. There is nothing ground-breaking here, so pushing it as if it is makes WWE seem either disingenuous or stupid, neither of which are the impression of your promotion that you want to be giving off to the people you want to pay for your product.
The competitors in the match will be: Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, and Roman Reigns. Whoever is writing Kurt’s lines needs to be flogged. After announcing the five men he said “whoever wants to slay the beast must first be victorious at Extreme Rules.” Kurt comes off like he is completely going through the motions. He’s reciting his lines with the bare minimum about of any sort of emotion, but very loudly, as if he thinks that will make it come across as if he is enthusiastic when he clearly isn’t.
Michael Cole then one-upped Kurt by telling us that this match “could indeed change the course of the new era here in WWE.” “Change the course of the new era? IT’S JUST A WRESTLING MATCH! One that will result in a major opportunity, sure, but it’s still just a wrestling match. They’re not going back in time to kill Hitler or something like that.
Also, your “new era” is over a year old at this point.
Anyway, while he was introducing this Kurt stressed the importance of this title shot being “earned.” Then Roman Reigns came out and said that Kurt doesn’t need to book this match because he, Roman, already is the #1 contender. I wondered exactly what Roman’s logic here was, seeing as how he lost his last match cleanly. Roman revealed his reasoning for why he should be the #1 contender as follows: “This is my yard.” So yes: They did indeed have Roman respond to Kurt stressing the importance of earning title shots by coming out and saying “I shouldn’t have to earn a title shot. I should simply be named the #1 contender because I’m so great.” He then reminds us that he retired everyone’s favorite legend The Undertaker and viciously injured Braun Strowman. Somehow, in Roman’s delusional mind, this translates to him being able to defeat Brock Lesnar, who he has never defeated before. Please remember that this is the guy they’ve spent years trying to get over as the top babyface. I don’t think they could be screwing this up any worse if they made him a Nazi and had him try to rape Renee Young on a bed made of the corpses of puppies he had strangled with the shoulder-strap of a purse he stole from an old lady.
Balor then comes out and points out that he has beaten Roman. Then out comes Joe and blah blah blah the formula is followed, and I want it to end before the third guy has even started talking. (That being said, Joe’s promo was awesome and if Joe doesn’t take the belt from Brock at SummerSlam then WWE Creative is even stupider than I thought, and that would be quite the feat at this point.)
Rollins shows up and says “let’s fight” so he and Joe start fighting. Then everyone else starts fighting, too, because why not? Balor won the fight.
This was one of those segments where I really just HATE WWE’s way of doing things, and it’s something they do constantly. They just did it last month on Smackdown when Jinder won his title shot. If you want to stress that a title shot must be “earned” and you’ve got so much damn time before the title shot, why not make this a longer tournament rather than just one random match? Why not spend some time over this week and next week having guys win their way into the #1 contendership match before having it so that you’ve actually got something happening on your TV show that has real consequences as opposed to just announcing a match and then doing three weeks of stuff that doesn’t matter.
SETH, ROMAN, & BALOR ARGUE BACKSTAGE- they’re standing there, all talking over each other, arguing about who should face Brock, saying things like “you can’t handle him.” They were like children in grown men’s bodies. Then Kurt Angle showed up and he’s already well on his way to acquiring whatever post-retirement disease that Lita, Booker T, and HBK have all contracted that turns him into a marble-mouth. He tells them that “we do it in the ring. We don’t do our issues here. We let out our aggression in the ring,” except he had a lot of screw-ups and stuttering and misstatements in there, too. It was really terrible. Kurt then books Rollins vs. Bray and Roman vs. Balor. Here’s a thought: maybe you should book the f*cking show BEFORE it goes on the air.
JEFF HARDY (w/Matt Hardy) vs. SHEAMUS (w/Cesaro)- 5.25/10
WWE REALLY needs to learn how to book a feud without having a physical confrontation every week. This match-up already feels completely stale to me.
The match was good for the time it got aside from the execution of… whatever the hell it was that that was supposed to be with Matt Hardy on the apron. Then Jeff won, which seems very counter-intuitive but I actually like it as it keeps the story going that Cesaro and Sheamus have yet to beat the Hardy Boyz, either in tag matches or even in singles matches. It gives Cesaro and Sheamus reason to become more desperate and go to deeper depths of heel-dom. Also, doing the stunner as a counter looked very good. Hopefully this convinces Jeff to finally just give up on trying to do it out of the Twist of Fate.
SASHA BANKS vs. ALICIA FOX (w/Noam Dar)- 0.25/10
The storyline is that because Fox’s shoulder was clearly up during the pinfall last week, Noam Dar went to Kurt Angle and lobbied to get his girlfriend a rematch. That’s nice and all, but shouldn’t Kurt be eager to sign one without anyone having to lobby him for it?
Sasha blew Dar a kiss. That’s kind of duchy of her.
Holy sh*t Alicia Fox just beat Sasha Banks clean. Great heel celebration by Dar and Fox.
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH: Dean Ambrose(c) vs. The Miz (w/Maryse)- 7.75/10
This was a very exciting match with a finish that makes sense to advance the feud but was nonetheless disappointing due to its non-resolving nature. Corey Graves’ heel defense of Miz’s actions had me rolling with laughter. “Strong Style Inner-Thigh Grab” is definite going to be the new Saskatchewan Spinning Serve Hold.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS FINN BALOR- good
ALEXA BLISS! TIME!- what? I have to wait through a commercial? BOO!
ALEXA BLISS! PROMO- she was good, but that’s pretty weak by the usual Alexa Bliss! standards. Lots of general burying of the locals, which, as someone who lives thirty minutes away from Newark, I assure you is well-deserved. That building right there is always full of losers. Especially during hockey season.
They’re not going to drop this stupid “goddess” nickname, it seems. I don’t think it fits Alexa very well. It’s arrogant, but not in quite the right way. I think it would work a lot better for Charlotte.
Bayley comes out and interrupts her because Bayley is very rude. I did love Alexa’s reaction to this. She wasn’t even angry; just mildly annoyed, like Bayley wasn’t a threat or a rival so much as an annoyance that had to be dealt with. Like a six year old that walks into the room when you’re trying to watch Game of Thrones.
Bayley is invoking her rematch clause for Extreme Rules. I always pop for the “your ponytail is cutting off circulation to your brain” line. Alexa suggests that Bayley enjoys “extreme pogo-sticking,” which is ridiculous because we all know that the only extreme pogo-sticker in professional wrestling is Scott Steiner. Yes, Scott Steiner. See:
Oh. And also I guess maybe Mr. Pogo would count. I’m sure he hit someone with a stick at some point in his FMW run.
And yes, going to grab that Scott Steiner clip did send me tumbling down a forty-minute detour of the rabbit hole that is Scott Steiner clips on YouTube. And no, this will never, ever not be the funniest one:
Oh. Right. Alexa Bliss! and Bayley. Alexa cut an awesome promo on Bayley that provoked her to anger and Bayley attacked Alexa but Alexa gave her the old throat to the ropes, then pulled out a Kendo stick and gave Bayley one nasty shot to the upper back and Bayley sold it like a million bucks and that’s all they needed. EXCELLENT segment.
KURT ANGLE GETS A PHONE CALL- They found a way to bury Sami Zayn even when he’s not on the show.
MIZ COMPLAINS TO KURT ANGLE- Kurt books a rematch at Extreme Rules. Miz wants a match where the title can change hands on a DQ. Kurt says okay. Maryse yelled at him in French so Kurt responded with some French of his own. His command of French is worse than mine, and I got three straight years of Cs. It was all quite hilarious.
Then the f*cking Drifter drifted through. Corey Graves pointed out that “when you drift from state to state uninvited, that’s not called ‘drifting;’ that’s stalking.”
Aries is getting a Cruiserweight Title shot at Extreme Rules. Just like Miz earlier, Aries had a title match where he defeated the champion by DQ. While Miz was automatically granted another title shot with stipulations that prevent that from happening again. Aries, on the other hand, was made to win a #1 contendership match in order to get another title shot, and there are no such stipulations for his new title shot. They booked these segments BACK-TO-BACK and no one on Creative noticed this.
AUSTIN ARIES & JACK GALLAGHER vs. TJ PERKINS & NEVILLE- 5.75/10
Corey Graves compared Jack Gallagher to 1980’s AWA wrestler Mr. Electricity Steve Regal. I found this to be a very odd comparison to make. He reminds me a little bit more of William Regal, but I assume that’s not what Corey meant to say because we all know that Commissioner Regal’s first name is “William” and not “Steve.”
EDIT: I watched this with the sound off so apparently I missed the crowd being atrocious and playing with a beachball. F*ck them.
They is a guy with a sign that says “Push Hawkins.” Buddy, you might as well have just showed up with a big blank piece of a paper. There is another guy with a sign that says “professional hugger” which would mean he is getting paid to give hugs, which is basically one step away from prostitution.
BAYLEY GETS HER SHOULDER ICED- this was a great little segment to sell the injury. Then Kurt Angle came in and told Bayley that she could just have a regular match with Alexa at the PPV, but Bayley said that she wanted to get extreme so she could get her revenge on Alexa for all of the terrible things Alexa has said about her and her family. Kurt said okay, and then booked them in a Kendo Stick on a Pole Match.” What? I thought it was already an Extreme Rules Match, hence Alexa’s promo. Other matches on the show aren’t Extreme Rules by default so I figured that the fact that they were talking about it for this one meant that this match was, but apparently not. Instead were getting a Russo Special.
GOLDEN TRUTH BACKSTAGE- they are going to try their best to win tonight. This went on for way too long.
FINN BALOR vs. ROMAN REIGNS- 7.75/10
One-armed Roman Reigns beats healthy Finn Balor. At least the match was pretty damn great.
BRAY WYATT PROMO- Very good.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS SETH ROLLINS- great promo by Seth.
GOLDUST TURNS ON R-TRUTH FOR BEING A LOSER- Hooray! No more Golden Truth!
ENZO AMORE (w/Colin Cassady) vs. APOLLO CREWS (w/Titus O’Neil)-
I thought Titus was great here. I absolutely love this embarrassing uncle gimmick his got going on with Crews right now. I thought the whole switcharoo thing was dumb, though.
COLIN CASSADY (w/Enzo Amore) vs. TITUS O’NEIL (w/Apollo Crews)- DUD!
This was just a pointless squash.
NEVILLE & TJP BACKSTAGE- Neville enlists TJPs help to take out Aries’ knee on 205 Live tomorrow night. Again.
BRAY WYATT vs. SETH ROLLINS- 5.75/10
Really? Did they really just cut a f*cking graphic advertising the #1 contendership match in the middle of their Raw main event? Really?
The match was going fine until Joe ran in to attack Rollins. AGAIN. And why the hell would you make this the main event if it was going to have a DQ finish while Roman vs. Balor was going to have a clean finish?
Bray wound up standing tall at the end, delivering Sister Abiglails to both Joe and Seth.
A surprisingly good show from WWE, both in the ring and outside of it. This was definitely the easiest Raw to sit through in recent memory. Roman vs. Balor definitely should have been the main event, though. That feels like a MUCH bigger match than Rollins vs. Bray, and that’s not even figuring in the way they framed Balor vs. Roman as a big rematch, and that stupid DQ just rubbed that in.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1. Booker T- “Dean Ambrose can work at that pace all night. Let me tell you: The Miz is gonna have to have a whole lot left in the tank if he wants to last and weather the storm with this man right here, Dean Ambrose. They don’t call him ‘The Lunatic’ for nothing.”
So apparently they call him “The Lunatic” because of his… stamina and endurance?
2. In setting up a recap of the women’s title match at Payback (BRM-rated 17/10. Best match in wresting history. Go check it out), Michael Cole said that Bayley was “performing” in her home town for the first time.
No, Michael. She was “wrestling” or “competing.” She was not “performing” because “performing” is what actors do, and would imply that this is all fake, and that would break kayfabe, and breaking kayfabe during the TV show only makes it harder for the audience to lose themselves in the show.