OPENING SEGMENT- bad
They don’t even have an actual name for the rig Braun pulled down. Cole simply told us it was a “piece of the backstage set,” which makes the whole thing feel even more contrived.
Braun came out and cut a bad promo that I’m 100% certain he would never have cut if he weren’t being given a script. Then Kurt Angle came out, flanked by a bunch of security guards and scolded Braun for his actions last week. Specifically, Kurt was upset that Braun “did $1,000” in damage and that he “could have permanently maimed” Brock and Kane.
Remember six months ago when Roman Reigns flat out TRIED TO MURDER Braun, doing much more than $1,000 in damages, and Kurt did jack sh*t about it? And at least when Braun pulled that thing down on Brock and Kane he was trying to ensure tha the won a fight by making sure they stayed down and trying to gain an advantage in an upcoming match. When Roman tried to murder Braun, he did so simply because he was upset that he just lost a match. When Roman tried to kill Braun, he got rewarded with a title shot. Now Kurt comes out here and doesn’t just take Braun’s title shot away, but, also his job. Yes, that’s right: Braun just got fired. I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a double-standard here.
Then Braun walked off and didn’t break anything or anyone. What the f*ck
After Cole plugged two matches (Asuka vs. Nia and Roman vs. Bo & Axel), we then cut to Braun, walking to the exit, when he suddenly realized that he’s Braun f*cking Strowman so if Kurt wants him to leave then “make me leave.” Then we cut to commercial. Then we came back from the commercial and Braun is walking towards the exit only, for the same thing to happen, except that this time a security told Braun “you have to leave” so Braun massacred all of them. At least the announcers are doing a decent job of acting panicked.
SHEAMUS & CESARO v. TITUS WORLDWIDE (w/Dana Brooke)-
We can now confirm that Titus has so much charisma it is, in fact, contagious. It’s the only way to explain Dana Brooke suddenly having an iota of it. During this match Michael Cole told us that Braun was going on a rampage throughout the locker room, and despite liking all of these guys, all I could think was “I want to see Braun destroying people so much more than I want to see this.”
The match was fine. They did a spot that played off of last week’s finish for a false finish, then kept going… and then, when the heels looked like they were about to get the clean win, Jason Jordan showed up to distract them, allowing Titus Worldwide to again win by roll-up. This sort of finish is a wonderful example of the way WWE’s limited mindset hurts the product.
While Titus Worldwide are almost certainly being added to the tag title match at the PPV, they are almost certainly being added to take the fall as an excuse to keep the Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Rollins & Jordan feud going into the next PPV, where it will blow off and guys will go in whatever their WrestleMania direction will be (and I’m getting a little suspicious that it will wind up being Jordan vs. Rollins or Rollins vs. Kurt rather than Jordan vs. Kurt). Because their end-goal of the inclusion of Titus Worldwide is simply to keep the Jordan & Rollins vs. Sheamus & Cesaro feud going for an extra month, WWE simply views the build to this three-way match at the Rumble was Rollins & Jordan vs. Cesaro & Sheamus rather than as a three-way, and in the world of WWE Creative, that means two things.
The first is that such a point must be hammered home to us as bluntly as possible on every show. This means that they must confront each other on TV in some way every week, and thus we get this distraction finish, even though all Jason Jordan has done here is caused the heels to lose an otherwise meaningless match (if you are going to argue that this win over the #1 contenders means Titus Worldwide should be added to the tag title match, I’d argue that last week’s totally clean win over them means that they should have already earned their way in). The second thing it means is that Titus and Crews are pretty much viewed as expendable, and thus rather than really try to build them up for this one month, Creative is happy to all but undo last week’s victory by doing this finish here where they are about to face sure defeat and only win due to an outside distraction. A better booking team would have taken this opportunity to build up Titus Worldwide to make this portion of the feud feel different from what we’ve been getting for the past month (and what we will continue to get for the next month and a half, I’m sure). Heck, the idea that Titus & Crews have Sheamus & Cesaro’s number but haven’t proven themselves against Rollins & Jordan would actually make WWE’s favorite catchphrase for Triple Threat matches (that the champs can lose their belts without being pinned) actually feel like an important part of the story going in, rather than just something the announcers are contractually required to say every three minutes.
Anyway, Rollins is angry at Jason Jordan for doing this, even though babyfaces distract heels all the time, and, as I said above, this win shouldn’t contribute to Titus Worldwide being added to the title match because the same standards that would use this win to add them to the match should have already added them to the match after last week’s clean win over the #1 contenders. What this really is is just something for Rollins to get angry at Jason Jordan about because the script demands that he do so.
BRAUN STROWMAN IS ON A RAMPAGE BACKSTAGE- dull
He goes into Kurt’s office, which has a visible door this week because that will allow Braun to look cool by kicking it open. The office seems MUCH smaller than usual, and is devoid of most of the usual stupid WWE accoutrements (read as: set pieces), but, for some reason, there is a random curtain along what is either just a wall, or it is diving Kurt’s office in half so that the other half can be used for some other purpose.
Kurt isn’t in there, so Braun throws some furniture and breaks some stuff. Then he leaves, without even checking behind the curtain. Where was Kurt during all of this?
RAW 25TH ANNIVERSARY COMMERCIAL- this one is centered around the returning female stars, almost of whom were from the completely and totally T&A era (hooray for the Divas’/Women’s R/Evolution!), and none of whom are really anyone I’d be excited to see back. Torrie Wilson was a top star in the T&A sense and Kelly Kelly was her replacement in that department. McCool was decent in the ring, but no one I really need to see again. Jacqueline wore out her welcome with years of bad matches in TNA. The Bellas… are fine. Nikki will at least add a new face to the Smackdown Women’s Division, but that just means that she shouldn’t be allowed on Raw. If you want me to get excited, you need to give me Trish or Lita (though I’d probably pop for Bull Nakano or a Jumping Bomb Angel or Molly Holly), and if you can’t advertise that then don’t advertise T&A city.
MIXED MATCH CHALLENGE COMMERCIAL/PROMOS- I’ll go on record now as predicting that Banks & Balor win because:
1. They’re very popular babyfaces
2. They’re representing the Special Olympics, a charity that WWE has both worked with for a long time and which the timing of this thing makes WWE well-placed to get attention for donating to.
BRAUN RUNS RAMPANT IN CATERING- idiotic.
He overturned some tables. Then he chokeslammed Hawkins through one, which still had a lot of metal stuff on it, which I’m certain Hawkins hit his head on. Then Braun grabbed a piece of chocolate cake from a guy who was paralyzed with fear, ate it, and walked away. You know. For a laugh. Because when you’re trying to push how scary and deadly serious this situation is, the best thing to do is to make people laugh at it. Morons.
TONY NESE (w/Enzo Amore) vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER (w/Goldust)- 4.75/10
Before the match, Enzo cut a decent promo on Cedric to build up to their title match at the Royal Rumble. Then Cedric and Goldust came out… and Goldust did most of the talking for Cedric. All Cedric got to do was cut a bad version of Enzo’s usual promo. This made Cedric look like a total undercard jamoke.
They did the promo part of this right before pitching to a commercial break, so you’d think that when we got back from the commercial we’d go to the ring for the match, but instead we went to Braun running around making a mess backstage. When we got back to the ring they had already started the match, and while this does bury the wrestlers a bit by having them be less important than Braun doing pretty much nothing, but I guess I’m happier about them doing that then them all but breaking kayfabe by having these guys wait to start their match until this Braun thing (that they couldn’t possibly have known about) ended. It would have been better to just no do this Braun thing at all.
The match was fine. Nese showed more character than Usual. Cedric got the clean win en route to his title shot.
The announcers are talking about how terrible Braun’s actions last week were. I don’t remember them doing any such thing when Roman Reigns tried to murder Braun.
KURT & SOME PEOPLE IN KURT’S DESTROYED OFFICE- terrible.
You know… I could have sworn the office looked a lot less damaged when Braun left than it does now.
Kurt says he has “never been in this situation before,” though I’m certain that’s not true because I have memories of Kurt as GM of Smackdown when an angry Big Show was rampaging around, and even throwing Kurt off of a very high place, breaking Kurt’s leg.
Kurt says that he now has no choice but to “call the cops and tell them to order in the SWAT team.” I don’t think that’s what SWAT teams are for, Kurt. Even worse, we then had a referee run in and tell Kurt to come quickly because Braun was headed for the TV production trucks. Kurt responded to this by saying “oh no! Those are worth twelve million dollars!” Um… how about maybe showing some concern for the innocent people inside them?
BRAUN STROWMAN TERRORIZES THE PRODUCTION CREW-
We are immediately reminded by Corey Graves that the equipment is worth “twelve million dollars.” Braun did nothing other than demand that people tell him what various buttons did and how he could shut the show down. They didn’t tell him so the dangerous out of control “Monster Among Men” Braun Strowman… threw some papers and sports jacket. He demanded that everyone leave the truck. They went into a different room. Then Braun just left. Shockingly, even though no one was manning the truck, the show had no technical problems whatsoever. The people all went back to work… and then the ground started to shake. Why? Because Braun “disengaged the tractor.” Then he got out of the cab and started to try to flip it. Kurt yelled at him so Braun left… then came right back and flipped the tractor. They added a camera shot from the top of the tractor as it was turning, which totally killed this (even though it was already on life support, as I will explain in a moment) by acting as a big, glowing neon sign saying “this is all fake and pre-planned.” Then Braun walked off again and kicked some stuff.
They want us to believe that Braun is out of control, and that he could do massive damage to property and hurt people and ruin the show. And yet, when faced with a major chance to do all three of those things in this segment, Braun did NOTHING. He’s Braun freakin’ Strowman! If he wants to ruin the show and these skinny little geeks won’t tell him how, I’d expect him to be putting their heads through monitors and ripping control panels up with his bare hands and throwing chairs into important equipment… but Braun didn’t do sh*t!
What was te big thing he did in this segment? He flipped over the cab. The most replaceable thing there is. Hell… he was even nice enough to disengage the cab from the trailer before trying to flip the cab. You’d think that if he really wanted to damage the show he’d at least get into the cab and drive the production truck far away from the arena, but he didn’t even do that. He just flipped a big thing. Is it impressive? Yes… but we’ve seen him do it before. This is the lamest rampage in history. The only people Braun has hurt at security guards and wrestlers. At least when Brock got angry, he got to take out Michael Cole, who never gets touched. WWE wanted this to be something special, but they didn’t want to risk their precious equipment, so it just became a generic rampage of knocking over stuff. I did the same thing when the Rangers were eliminated from the playoffs last year. This is the sort of thing that if you’re not going to go all in on, you shouldn’t do it at all, but WWE is so confident that we’ll find their fancy camera shots cool and that we’ll believe their announcers who destroy their own credibility on a regular basis that they can get away with doing a half-assed job at this.
BRAUN’S NON-RAMPAGE CONTINUES- dumb
Oh. Look. One of their monitors is messed up. Oh. Wait. No. That’s just one of the million LED boards that they have that is always set on “blurry red” because, in WWE’s mind, the more LED boards you have, the more hi-tech you seem and thus the better you are, even if most of those LED boards don’t actually do anything productive.
Braun goes over the announcers’ desk and wouldn’t you know it he grabs Michael Cole. He grabbed him by the waist of his pants, and I was worried we were going to have a repeat of the Heidenreich incident, but Kurt and his people arrived in time to put a stop to that and Braun let Cole go. Kurt then told Braun that he called off the cops and Steph just called and said that Braun was rehired and is back in the title match. So, kids, the lesson of today’s show is that if you throw a big enough temper tantrum, you’ll get what you want. This is why we don’t negotiate with terrorists. Because now anytime that someone- and especially someone like Braun or Brock or Kane or Big Show is unhappy with something, they can just go on a rampage and know that the end result will be them getting their way.
Braun starts to walk off but then turns around and decides to grab Cole anyway and toss him into the security guards. Cole didn’t even touch the ground, but they expected me to believe that he was too badly hurt to continue the show (but if Cole is injured then Braun is going to have a lot to answer for when Michael Cole’s nephew Adam gets called up to the main roster. And no. I will never stop pimping that angle because it’s total genius!).
ANOTHER COMMERCIAL FOR THE ANNIVERSARY SHOW- they advertise an impressive array of returning names including Taker, Flair, HBK, Triple H, the New Age Outlaws, JR, King, Hall, Nash, Bischoff, the APA, and, of course, Austin… and at this point I don’t think I really want to watch the show. I’ve seen WWE do their own nostalgia act a million times already- way more than enough times to know that they won’t use these legends of the past in any way that will allow them to enhance the storylines of the current product- so I’m honestly contemplating skipping next week’s show.
When we got back from commercial, Cole was replaced by Tom Phillips, the lead announced on SMACKDOWN. You know Smackdown, right? That show the Raw guys all hate and are supposed to think is inferior? These are supposed to be separate shows, and yet Smackdown’s Tom Phillips just happened to be in the building the night that Raw’s lead announcer got taken out.
And do you remember what happened the last time a Smackdown guy randomly appeared on Raw? It was Shane leading his dumb invasion and WWE wanted me to think that Kurt was a fool for not taking Shane’s presence as a warning sign that an invasion was coming. Well that was less than three months ago, and now here is Smackdown’s lead announcer randomly at Raw… and no one is in any way suspicious of this fact. F*ck this company.
NIA JAX vs. ASUKA- 5.75/10
They did a good job with everything until the end, when Nia’s seconds big fall was just… horrifically ugly. I also really don’t like the booking here. I get why they did it, but this seems a lot more like a match that should have been held off on through some manner of shenanigans. Maybe you have Nia jump Asuka before the match and beat her up and have the match never get started but Nia will go around claiming it as a victory. Then you hold Asuka out until the Rumble where she last eliminates Nia to win. Then you have Nia claiming that Asuka can’t beat her in a normal match and Asuka puts her WrestleMania title shot on the line against Asuka the February PPV which Asuka wins despite Bliss trying to help Nia, and then go on to win the belt from Alexa at WrestleMania. This finish here is really odd because it makes us feel sympathy for a totally unsympathetic heel. Alexa Bliss! was among those who came out to help Nia to the back.
KURT ANGLE & JASON JORDAN IN KURT’S OFFICE- whatever.
Kurt is sorting through pieces of a table or something and trying to look at them as if they are meaningful to him even though he probably never even saw them before today. Then Jason Jordan walked up to Kurt and thanked him for everything he has done for him. Fine. Whatever.
Jason claims that he has been right there behind Kurt all night in case Braun was going to hurt him. Kurt said that he didn’t notice. Jason Jordan then got Rollins booked against Balor tonight. Cool match. You’d think that’s something the f*cking GM would be able to come up with on his own, but apparently not.
Oh. Wow. They’re actually admitting that Cole is merely shaken up and not physically hurt.
MLK DAY VIDEO PACKAGE- good for what it was, which is something that feels out of place on a wrestling show. That being said, the way they do these MLK video packages every year is a million times better and more genuine then the way they do the Black/Women/Hispanic Heritage Month profiles. This feels like something they actually care about rather than something they’re doing just to get credit for celebrating minorities.
ALEXA BLISS!, NIA JAX, & ENZO AMORE BACKSTAGE- fine for what it was.
Alexa was trying to be interested in Nia but it was clear she was only interested in helping herself. Enzo showed and was actually interested in how Nia was doing. Alexa tried to get him to go away but Nia sent Alexa away instead.
THE REVIVAL vs. TWO JOBBERS- squash
Neither team got entrances. I don’t think the jobbers even got names. The only time they were even referenced was Phillips calling Dawson out for a cheap shot on “one of his opponents.”
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS THE REVIVAL- mixed feelings
Dawson says that they are “students of the game” and therefore spend all of their time learning wrestling, as opposed to everyone else who wastes time playing video games and checking social media. That makes The Revival Babyfaces in my book. Charly then asks them “if you guys are such students of the game, which old-school legends are you most excited to meet next week?” Charly suggests that they might like to meet the New Age Outlaws, HBK, or Austin. Dash tells her that they don’t count as “old-school” and that “beer bashes” and “crotch chops” “are the reason that our business has become a mockery.” “We’re not sports entertainers. We are professional wrestlers.” Cool, I guess, but what’s the kayfabe difference?
Dawson then basically broke kayfabe by saying “we’re not a creation of the WWE boardroom; we are as real as it gets,” and that WWE “won’t let them succeed” because they won’t change their ways like WWE wants. This makes me excited about The Revival, but I really hate worked shoots like this that break kayfabe.
UP NEXT: THE DRIFTER SINGS A NEW SONG- they really advertised that.
THE DRIFTER SINGS- this was just an excuse to waste time to introduce The Miz, with Elias flat-out saying that Miz paid him money to do so.
MIZ PROMO- passable build to next week’s title match.
HANDICAP MATCH: Roman Reigns vs. The Miz-tourage (w/The Miz)- 4/10
This just went on WAY too long.
SASHA BANKS (w/Mickie James & Bayley) vs. SONYA DEVILLE (w/Mandy Rose & Paige)- 1.25/10
Sonya Deville pins Sasha in an attempt to establish her as a real threat even though there is no room to push her right now. Water continues to be tread, even though the principal heel in Femolition, Paige, will never be cleared to wrestle in WWE again.
JASON JORDAN & SETH ROLLINS BACKSTAGE-
Rollins is angry that Jason Jordan spoke for him. He’s not wrong, but it doesn’t explain why he was angry at him before for distracting Sheamus & Cesaro.
MATT HARDY vs. HEATH SLATER (w/Rhyno)- 1/10
This felt like a pointless match between two undercard losers, which is exactly what it was.
GOLDBERG IS GOING INTO THE WWE HALL OF FAME- don’t care.
SETH ROLLINS (w/Jason Jordan) vs. FINN BALOR (w/Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson)- 7.75/10
They were having an awesome match with Seth working the neck and Balor working the knees… until Sheamus & Cesaro came out and instead of going after the guys they’re feuding with they randomly started fighting with The Club. This allowed Jason Jordan to trip Balor up, leading to Rollins hitting the Blackout (I guess he’s allowed to use that move again) for the win. And because this wasn’t a muddy enough finish, we also got a spot where the referee might have actually counted three on Rollins earlier and the match kept going for some reason.
A long, boring, dull episode of Raw that felt like it dragged on FOREVER. The payoff of the awesome match (with a sh*t finish, just to make it worse) at the end was nowhere near worth sitting next to the rest of the show to get it.
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