They found five pro-Roman signs to show in quick succession. I guess that’s why they started the show off with Roman: So they could spend the dark matches looking for those signs. There was also a sign that a grown man was holding that said “Stupid Strowman” on it with pictures of Roman and Braun. What a dork.
Roman has a new t-shirt that now. It’s really stupid (black background with a white silhouette I guess going for the Superman punch and some blue action lines around him, and says “it’s my yard” on the back), but we’ve got to make new merch G-d dammit.
Roman says that he “can’t be beaten one-on-one.” Oh really? Because I have distinct memories of you losing cleanly to several different wrestlers on the current Raw roster, with no outside interference whatsoever. This Roman Reigns character is both a liar and an arrogant douchebag. Why am I supposed to like him again?
He continues by insisting that “it’s the truth,” and telling me to “ask Bray Wyatt.” How about if I ask Braun Strowman or Seth Rollins, asshole? “Ask Finn Balor,” you say? Okay. I sent him a text and he sent me back the following video:
“Ask Seth Rollins?” He’s probably busy right now, so how about if I ask WWE’s own YouTube page instead?
Guess who lost cleanly, one-on-one? It wasn’t Rollins.
Roman then said to ask Braun Strowman. I already covered Braun’s victory above so I won’t link you to another video, but I will take issue with Roman bragging about having “put Braun Strowman out of commission, because THAT’S EXACTLY THE SORT OF THING A HEEL WOULD SAY.
Seriously. Whose idea was this promo and why was this person not flogged? (Oh. Right. It’s probably Vince’s.)
Roman then brags about main eventing three straight WrestleManias and retiring The Undertaker. Then he disrespected Samoa Joe and declared himself the #1 contender “because this is my yard, and I make the rules,” which sounds exactly like something biker-era Undertaker would have said in 2002 WHEN HE WAS A HEEL.
Thankfully, Samoa Joe came out to put this obnoxious piece of sh*t in his place. He points out that of all of the people Roman has beaten, he hasn’t yet beaten Joe. It would have been nice if Joe had actually noted that he has beaten Roman (and Roman could then point out that he needed a distraction to do so).
Roman says that he never thought he would agree with Paul Heyman, which is kind of funny, as I seem to recall Heyman cutting a promo where he said that Roman could beat many of history’s greatest wrestlers. Roman says that, like Heyman said last week, to him, Samoa Joe “will always be ‘just Joe.’” And we know how terrible of a thing that is to say to someone. After all, it’s a proven fact that guys named Joe tend to be arrogant douchebags. Isn’t that right, Roman?
Joe headbutts Roman and Roman takes a bump and rolls all the way out of the ring, so I guess we know who the real Samoan is here, and it’s obviously not the guy who sold a headbutt. Joe throws Roman into a bunch of barricades, then tosses him into the ring and goes for the Coquina Clutch but Roman fights it off and hits the Superman punch, which sends Joe out to the floor, so Roman wins the brawl, even though Joe is the #1 contender to the Universal Title.
This segment was terrible. Roman really truly came off like the biggest, most obnoxious, gaping asshole you’ve ever seen, and then having him disrespect Joe for and then get the best of him in a brawl even though Joe is the #1 contender was extremely frustrating. If I had one wish right now I would wish that all of Roman’s hair would fall out and never grow back so Vince would stop pushing him so hard. When all is said and done, the opportunity cost of Vince’s monomaniacal obsession with making Roman Reigns the top babyface will be staggering. Between ill will created with the fans, the damage done to the Joes, Ambroses, Wyatts, and Rusevs of the world in the name of making Roman look unbeatable, and the time that could have been spent thinking up ways to elevate the Cesaros and Big E.'s of the world to the high level they need to be at for the sake of the long-term future of the company, the amount of money Vince is pissing away because of his obsession with the idea of a babyface Roman is borderline criminal negligence.
When we get back from commercial we learn that we will be getting Joe vs. Roman later tonight. Since we all know that they won’t let Joe win here because doing so would hurt Roman- not just with a loss but also by making him look stupid after his arrogant promo earlier, this means that either they will damage Joe further by having him job to Roman, or, more likely, they’re just going to give us a frustrating non-finish. Either way, I’m not looking forward to a match that I otherwise should be.
THE HARDY BOYZ vs. LUKE GALLOWS & KARL ANDERSON- 6.75/10
The match was exactly what you’d expect. The Hardys won clean. After the match Cole said “you have to wonder what the tag team champions think about this.” Why, Michael? The presumptive top contenders won a random match. So what? What is so interesting about any of this that I would think Sheamus and Cesaro would have anything particularly interesting to say about it?
GOLDUST PROMO- very good. Even better is that this feud will apparently move forward next week!
ELIAS SAMPSON TRIES TO PLAY A SONG- I actually found the “I need to tune my guitar” bit to be an entertaining changeup to his usual routine. Sampson did eventually tune his guitar and was ready to play his song by Finn Balor came out to make the save. Sampson backed down without and physical altercation. I guess he knew it was time for Balor’s match.
FINN BALOR vs. BO DALLAS- 2.75/10
Bo’s hair situation has become utterly frightful. He looks like what you would get if Chris Hero impregnated Bull Dempsey and then you forced their offspring to do some exercise (but not too much).
Bo jumped Balor and beat him up for a while but Finn made his comeback and beat Bo up even worse. The announcers spent a lot of time talking about “aggression” and Balor having a “mean streak.”
Corey Graves got called away via headset, presumably to meet with Kurt Angle.
WWE 2K18 COMMERCIAL- idiotic. Seth Rollins breaks into the “WWE Archives” and destroys the famous artifacts of the most legendary superstars, them burns down the building. This all happened in live action, meaning that they showed us absolutely nothing of the actual video game they want us to buy… so basically they’re just selling this on the name “WWE 2K18.” If that’s all they’re selling the game on then they just could have left a picture of the cover up on the screen and not wasted countless thousands of dollars on making this commercial full of special effects and explosions. Say what you will about the WCW mini-movies, but at least they were actually designed to make you wanted to see Sting beat up the various heels at the PPV.
Apparently the reason for Seth destroying things representing the various famous wrestlers is because the tagline for the game is “be like no one,” which Booker T claims is something “Seth Rollins has been doing his whole career.” You know… that’s why he spent over a year as Triple H’s handpicked guy who used Triple H’s finisher.
They make a big deal about Seth being on the cover video game, but who really gives a sh*t?
KURT ANGLE & COREY GRAVES BACKSTAGE-
Graves got a secret text, and so did Kurt. Enzo and Cass show up. Kurt then says one of the last things I thought I’d hear anyone say on WWE TV when he asks Enzo “why would you send a Tweet like that to Connor McGregor?”
Big Cass is annoyed that Kurt wants to talk about a freakin’ Tweet when they’ve been getting jumped from behind every show. Enzo is sure that The Revival are the culprits while Cass is certain that it’s Big Show, although he did mention his previous suspicion of Enzo. Kurt assures them that we will know who did it by the end of the night. How the hell could Kurt possibly be able to guarantee that? Unless, of course, the crazy “Kurt Angle did it and this is the dirty secret Graves knows” theory is actually true! I would mark out SOOOOO hard for that.
SETH ROLLINS PROMO- no one cares about your stupid video game cover. The fans chant “YOU DESERVE IT!” at Seth for being picked to have his picture on the cover of a video game. This is SOOOOO stupid. If felt like a bigger accomplishment when Torrie Wilson got chosen to be the featured centerfold in Playboy. At least that was a sort of outside confirmation that, of the many willing hot women in the world, the powers that be at Playboy decided that Torrie was absolute hottest and thus she was getting the prestigious spot. This is just WWE saying that it’s Seth’s turn to be on the cover of the video game because he’s one of the people we want to push and he hasn’t been on one yet.
Seth is somehow still talking. Can someone please just come out here and interrupt him already? Yes, I know this means that I’m going to have to suffer through a Bray Wyatt promo, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will have to suffer through those anyway so I’d rather he hurry up and cut his right now so that he will at least be interrupting something equally bad.
Bray does indeed interrupt. Boring talking happens. Bray comes out to the ring, walking down the aisle like a normal person rather than using his magic like usual. Seth dives him. That was it. Michael Cole would later to declare this to be “taking their rivalry to the next level.”
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS FINN BALOR- he gets jumped from behind by The Drifter. Devon Dudley randomly shows up to make the save.
TJ PERKINS vs. AKIRA TOZAWA- 4.25/10
Yes Akira Tozawa. He’s got a first name now. Corey Graves talks him up big. Booker T merely says that he likes when Tozawa shouts “HAA!” because he finds it “exciting.” Michael Cole summed up my feelings perfectly by saying “you would.” You could almost hear Cole’s eyes rolling at Booker’s stupidity.
Titus O’Neil showed up to do the “proper” ring introductions even though JoJo had already done them. To be fair, he was quite great.
They had a nice little match. Unfortunately we missed a chunk of it because apparently it was more important to watch Neville walk out to the announcer’s table and the cut a promo into the headset.
TITUS O’NEIL PROMO- he says a bunch of stuff, including claiming that he and Tozawa are getting a tag title shot… which reminds me: it has been almost a full week now since we got a non-finish in last week’s tag title match, so why hasn’t Kurt announced a rematch yet?
Titus claims that if Tozawa signs with the Titus Brand he will become the next Cruiserweight Champion. He and Neville then traded promos.
KURT ANGLE TALKS OT THE REVIVAL WITHOUT SOUND BACKSTAGE- hmm…
R-TRUTH PROMO- very good.
DREW MCINTYRE IN THE LOCKER ROOM- Whoops. Sorry. That’s Bo. He’s moping about his loss tonight. Huh. I figured Bo had learned how to handle a loss by now, seeing as how he has got to have the worst record of anyone on the roster by quite a margin.
Curtis Axel shows up to both try to cheer Bo up and to remind the viewing audience that he actually exists. Miz shows up and buries Bo’s old gimmick in the process of giving them a pep talk. Miz is trying to recruit them into his “entourage.” Why would he want these losers?
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS SAMOA JOE- Joe does in fact bring up his past victory over Roman. Then Joe cut a great promo on Roman while also plugging his title shot against Lesnar.
ROMAN REIGNS vs. SAMOA JOE- 7/10
These guys were having a pretty great match until the most utterly ridiculous finish happened. Roman was setting up for a spear but then the TitanTron put up a video of an ambulance backing into the arena parking lot. The back doors opened and Braun Strowman emerged with a triumphant roar. Braun made his way into the arena, and then we cut back to the ring where this distraction allowed Joe to lock Roman in the Coquina Clutch for the victory.
How did they know who would be in the ambulance? Why did they decide to put it up on the TitanTron? And WHY was Braun riding to the arena in the back of an ambulance? Does Creative realize that they don’t get to ride home in an ambulance (and that assumes that Braun has been in the hospital the past month and a half. And to further complicate matters, the ambulance had an Indiana license plate but the surgery took place in Alabama- which I know because of an article on WWE’s own website)? Why couldn’t Braun just do a f*cking run-in after a ref bump and eliminate every single logic issue this grand production of silliness created? This whole thing was just so preposterous that I burst out laughing.
BRAUN STROWMAN ATTACKS ROMAN REIGNS- well… all he did was give him a reverse chokeslam. Then he challenged Roman to an Ambulance Match at Great Balls of Fire. First a Dumpster Match and now an Ambulance Match? I’d love for Braun to develop this side gimmick where he is the one guy who find himself in these obscure gimmick matches that we see, like, once or twice a decade. Coal Miner’s Glove Match, Canadian Rules, Punjabi Prison, Boiler Room Brawl, Capture The Flag Match, Cuffed in the Cage, Inferno Match… come to think of it, how are we not getting an Inferno Match at Great Balls of Fire? It’s thematic to the point of maybe almost justifying such an idiotic name for a PPV.
We are informed that Kurt has made the Ambulane Match official. Still no word on the tag title situation, though. What does Kurt even do all day that he hasn’t had time to deal with this yet?
MIZ TV WITH SPECIAL GUEST MARYSE- We are currently about two hours and fifteen minutes into the show and the only three women to appear or even be MENTIONED so far have been JoJo, Charly, and now Maryse, none of whom are wrestlers. Long live the Divas Revolution!
There is a big, gigantic present in the ring and two dancing bears, one with a sign that says “I’m sorry” and the other with a sign that says “Please forgive me.” The present was the grandfather clock that Miz himself repaired (“all those nights you made me sleep on the couch I was actually working in the garage”). Miz apologizes to Maryse and reaffirms his love for her. Miz was SOOOO amazing here. I now want Miz and Maryse to be babyfaces. That’s how great this was. I was hoping against hope that some trade had been made and Mike and Maria would now be on Raw and they would show up and talk about how their relationship was much more loving and then we’d get the best feud ever between the two best on-screen couples of the past decade.
Instead we got Douchebag Dean interrupting the happy couple’s touching reunion. What a f*cking asshole. Dean gets into the ring and charges at Miz pulls Maryse in front of him like they normally would during a match but Maryse’s champagne splashes on her and she gets upset. Then Miz charges at Dean but Dean moves and Miz knocks over the grandfather clock. Maryse gets even more upset. Miz tries to apologize but she slaps him and storms off. Dean then goes after Miz but Miz avoids Dirty Deeds and the bears jump Ambrose and beat him down, revealing themselves to be Axel and Bo, because apparently what WWE thought I really needed right now was a reunion of the Main Event & Superstars Mafia. They hold Douchebag Dean up so Miz can hit him with a Skull-Crushing Finale. And Douchebag Dean deserved every single bit of what he got. I hope he and his asshole friend Roman go away and don’t ever come back.
KURT ANGLE TALKS TO BIG SHOW BACKSTAGE WITHOUT SOUND- again: hmm…
SHEAMUS & CESARO vs. THE TITUS BRAND (Apollo Crews & Titus O’Neil)- 0.5/10
WAY too short. Also, it only now occurs to me that Cesarmus’ finisher is basically New Day’s Midnight Hour rotated ninety degrees.
SAMOA JOE VS. BROCK LESNAR VIDEO PACKAGE- awesome.
Hey look! A female competitor! And there’s only fifteen minutes left in the show.
SASHA BANKS vs. NIA JAX- no rating, meh segment.
Alexa Bliss! came out to do commentary. About thirty seconds after we got back from the commercial that this match started during, Emma came out to yell at and shove Alexa for walking out on her during last week’s tag match. Alexa ran down to the ring to hide behind Nia. Emma followed her in. Alexa was all cocky and confident while hiding behind Nia but then Nia just grabbed Alexa by the hair and pulled her back in front. That was pretty funny.
Emma went to kick Alexa but Alexa moved out of the way and the kick instead hit Nia, causing a DQ. Nia attacked Emma, then Sasha jumped on Nia from behind, but Alexa shockingly came over to help Nia rather than slipping away. Alexa and Emma had a stare-down with the fallen Sasha in between them… and only then did it register to me that Sasha was the only babyface in the ring. Alexa and Emma exchanged a look, then they both started stomping away on Sasha. Mickie James and Dana Brooke came out to make the save but Nia took them out. She went for a leg drop on Sasha but Sasha managed to roll out of the way, leaving us will all six women down… and the Bayley’s music hit and Bayley came out and took out Alexa and Emma. She looked more vicious than normal to me, but the announcers just played up how she was being herself. Nia started to beat up Bayley but Dana and Mickie made the save. Sasha joined in, too and all four babyfaces managed to clear the ring of Nia Jax.
I thought this started out fine- not good, but certainly fine. It was water-treading, yes, but at least it was water-treading that stemmed from last week’s events rather than repeating them. If I were booking this I would have had Alexa slip away rather than help Nia (especially after the way Nia just threw her to the wolves- or wolf in this case, I guess). Once again we would have Nia standing tall and having been the one to do all the work, although it is Alexa who escapes from all of it completely unscathed. This would have been a fine place to end the segment, and I like the way that it would make Emma feel a bit more like a babyface, like she did in the beginning of this segment. Everything that happened after Alexa got involved here felt drawn out and unnecessary, so that the segment should have ended there.
I also really disliked Bayley’s insertion into things here. Wherever this abomination of a storyline is taking Bayley, having her just come back this week and be her usual self and all of a sudden be an effective wrestler again does not feel like a logical follow-up to what we have seen over the past few weeks. I think some sort of non-physical segment would have worked well for her this week, like a backstage interview or another video package or sit-down interview. The story of Bayley regaining her confidence is one that could be very effective and would be very different from anything we’ve seen from WWE for a long time, but it’s the sort of story that WWE Creative would have no idea how to effectively tell (and I’d really go the whole way with it. Like announce that her return to action will be on an episode of Main Event, and have her spend a few weeks there wrestling jobbers before she even has a match on Raw again. Only video packages for Bayley on Raw for a good month or two).
They’re advertising a Table For Three with Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, and Maryse, possibly in an attempt to determine once and for all how many people there are out there who will watch absolutely anything with a WWE logo in corner.
KURT ANGLE REVEALS WHO HAS BEEN ATTACKING ENZO & CASS-
The culprit is…
Sorry. Couldn’t resist.
Wow. Three video clips in one review. This is going to suck when the YouTube police take these clips down.
Kurt bring out Enzo & Cass, who cut a promo saying that they will take their revenge on whoever did it. Then he brings out The Revival. Then he brings out Big Show. Enzo and/or Cass are about to be on the wrong end of a very unfortunate gang beating.
Kurt asks Big Show if he did it, and Big Show is indignant, saying that Enzo & Cass are soft so he wouldn’t need to attack them from behind. This was a little weird because you’d think that they had had his exact conversation earlier tonight when we saw them with no sound. Big Show walks away, and wants to quit Raw. Cass is convinced that Big Show’s retreat here is just thinly veiled cowardice.
Kurt then turns to The Revival. Scott Dawson insists that they’re innocent, and Kurt says that he talked to a bunch of people backstage and The Revival have “very solid alibis.” Then Corey Graves stands up and says he might be able to be of some assistance, and I’m getting all giddy because this is actually going to happen!
Graves says that he did some digging and Cass’ claim that he had a lump the size of a baseball on his head after his attack couldn’t be verified by WWE’s medical team. Cass claimed it was the EMTs who first treated him who told him about this. Plausible enough.
Graves then brings up the fact that Cass compete last week without being cleared by WWE medical staff. Graves says he knows what happened to Cass last week. He’s got security camera footage. Um… shouldn’t security camera footage have been the first thing they checked?
Anyway, Cass faked last week’s attack! He was behind the attacks on Enzo. This wasn’t poorly done at all, but that Kurt scenario did such an amazing job of tying up every single loose end in such a beautifully unexpected and yet also completely logical way that anything else just seems cliché and disappointing to me?
Cass cuts a promo on how annoying Enzo is. He was awesome here (aside from the one or two slightly awkward repetitions and his insistence on adding in the phrase “in the WWE” in places where it wasn’t necessary). So was Enzo. He was in total shock and was crying. BOOT TO THE FACE! And Enzo goes down. This was a pretty great segment except for the one big plot hole of why it took them so long to look at the security camera footage.
This was a pretty bad episode of Raw, although the ending was pretty good. More than anything, it highlighted their glaring inability to understand how to book a babyface. Until these idiots get a clue, we’ll be stuck being told we’re supposed to cheer for Ass-hat Roman and Douchebag Dean.
P.S. If someone has a better, more alliterative adjective for Roman please let me know.