OPENING SEGMENT-Raw comes on the air, and the first words out of my mouth are “oh dear G-d WHY?!”
We’ve got all eight Raw competitors in both MITB matches all in the ring, each standing most of the way up their own ladder, and each holding microphones. This is the sort of thing that shouldn’t surprise, but still somehow manages to find a way to do so.
Kurt Angle comes out and explains to us that this happening because MITB is this Sunday. No sh*t, Kurt. Kurt tries to make a big deal out of how “for the first time ever” both MITB matches will be co-branded. Who could possibly give a sh*t about that?
Kurt goes on to tell us all that “this match is the most grueling match in WWE history. This match will test you; mentally, physically, and emotionally. But it has its rewards, because the winner will be able to cash in any place, any time, for a championship match.” Who is Kurt even directing this at? The wrestlers obviously know already, as do most of the fans, and any fans who didn’t know before tonight’s show just had it explained to them by the announcers.
Kurt is interrupted by Constable Baron Corbin. Constable Corbin has shaved off his long stringy hair, hiding his trade-mark receding hairline. Also, he’s dressed fancy. He looks like such a loser. He reminded us all that he now represents Steph, and is “here to ensure that Raw runs smoothly.” So, naturally, the first thing he did was come out and interrupt a segment. Moron.
Kurt says that he ropes Raw wins both MITB matches. Corbin warns him that if they don’t “Stephanie will be deeply disappointed.” You know… because apparently they’re feuding again. And I love how Steph wants Kurt supervised but is too lazy to show up and do it herself. And they can’t even make Corbin a proper suck-up, either! He shouldn’t be calling her “Stephanie.” He should be calling her “Commissioner McMahon” or “Ms. McMahon,” every time, without fail.
This show is less than five minutes old and it is already approaching the point where words cannot express how much I despise it. New Japan could have Yano squash Omega for the belt tomorrow, have Iizuka do the same to Jericho, fire the entire Jr. Heavyweight Division, and change Okada’s gimmick from “the Rainmaker” to “the Goat Sodomizer,” and I would still vote for WWE for worst promotion. TNA could bring Vince Russo back as booker and put the world title on him, and I would still vote for WWE for worst promotion.
Okay… let’s see if Alexa Bliss! can save this segment for me:
She refers to Corbin as “Mr. Commissioner,” which isn’t his title, but at least she knows how to suck up correctly. She says that she still isn’t totally recovered from last week’s injury, but she will still fight valiantly to win the women’s MITB match for Raw.
Sasha pipes up to ask Alexa what, exactly, her injury is. Alexa claims that her shoulder is hurt, but hesitates, as if she can’t remember which body part is injured. Sasha says that it was Alexa’s knee that was hurting her last week, to which Alexa says “I can be hurt in more than one place, okay?” Sasha came off like a total bitch here because, as I noted last week, we never even got a hint that Alexa was faking her injury. Sasha just assumed she was doing so, with no evidence. Ember Moon then spoke up, and the women all proceeded to argue over who would win the match on Sunday. So basically it was your normal segment… but this time they were standing on ladders. This is so dumb.
It’s Kurt’s turn to talk again. He stumbles through telling us that Nattie has been cleared to compete after last week’s devastating injury… but asks her if she is really sure that she wants to. Nattie says that she does, and tells us all that she will win the match to “secure a championship match” against Ronda. Because that’s definitely how normal people talk. Sasha feels that she has to stick her two cents in and tell Nattie that she is going to win, not her. What an insecure little child.
Owens then starts speaking. He, too, knows how to suck up properly, complimenting Corbin on his haircut. The male wrestlers then got to say things that, while dumber than what the women were saying, were at least less generic and thus more interesting. The men then got their turn to argue like children, but they were all talking at the same time. This was done to set up Alexa shrieking very loudly to get everyone’s attention so she could tell them to calm down because “y’all are starting to sound like real housewives of WWE.” Uch.
The reason Alexa wanted them all to stop arguing so she could tell everyone that she thought Braun was going to win. They were partners in the Mixed Match Challenge, and apparently that is supposed to be relevant. Alexa and Braun then exchanged smiles.
Then Sasha had to pipe up and say that she thought her Mixed Match Challenge tag team partner Finn Balor would win. Balor returned the favor, then more arguing broke out. This is horrendous. It was now Braun’s turn to quiet everyone down by screaming. The he said that “this Sunday, someone is gonna GET THESE HANDS!” Then Braun’s music started playing, and the segment ended, with them all standing on the ladders.
I’ve seen a lot of terrible wrestling segments in my life, but this was a special one. Most of those segments have some element of a train wreck to them. Sometimes someone just can’t speak, or it’s pathetically corny, or there is something mind-numbingly stupid, or something just ludicrous, or what have you. This one was just… a really, really, really, really bad pro wrestling segment, and that’s really all there is to it.
FATAL FOUR-WAY: Alexa Bliss! vs. Sasha Banks vs. Natalya vs. Ember Moon- 7/10
We arrived back from the first commercial break just in time to catch Alexa’s entrance… which means that during the commercial break, these women all climbed down from their ladders, and then at least one of them had to walk backstage, just to do her entrance again. They couldn’t have put this match in a spot where this would have been avoided? Like, say, ANY OTHER SPOT ON THE SHOW? According to Cole, Alexa insisted on having her own entrance again. Excellent. She deserves it.
Sasha started to mock Alexa’s possibly real injuries. The then the action started, and they had one of those four-way stare-downs where they’re also trying to grab each other’s wrists… and Alexa proceeded to kick Nattie in the stomach, grab Sasha by the head and throw her across the thing, punch Ember right in the face, and then club away on Nattie’s back, and toss her out of the ring. So far, 10/10.
We then got some comedy with Alexa getting cut off and trying to beg away from all three women before Nattie tossed her into the barricade. Nattie’s knee is heavily taped. Her selling was very on-and-off.
We got a long Nattie vs. Sasha segment before Sasha “won” the segment and Nattie got send to the outside and was replaced by Ember. They did a spot or two before the camera missed Sasha diving onto Nattie… and it’s a good thing they missed it because it looked like Sasha was going to land WAY short. Ember then NAILED Sasha with a Heat Seeking Missile that Corey Graves correctly called by saying “Ember almost put The Boss through the wall.” I would not be surprised at all if Sasha was concussed by this. Ember rolled Sasha back into the ring, but then Alexa Bliss! came by with the dreaded Running Punch Right In The F*cking Face and laid Ember out.
Alexa worked over Nattie’s knee. Ember tried to run in but Alexa just punched her in the face again. I laughed. Alexa worked on the knee some more until Sasha came in and ran wild on Alexa. Ember came in, and we got some three-way stuff, including a spot where Alexa hit Ember with the Glitter Blizzard but the Sasha broke it up with a running Meteora. Then we cut to one of their split-screen commercial deals so we could get even more hype for the Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax match, as if the conversation every time anyone mentions Nattie or Nattie herself speaks hadn’t been drilling it into our heads already.
More stuff happened. Sasha got Alexa in the Banks Statement but Nattie broke it up with the same move she injured her knee on last week and injured it again… and yet was still doing a bunch of knee-intensive stuff. More stuff happened and it actually started to get really good, and then Nattie made Alexa tap, which was completely backwards. If the story going into MITB is going to be that Nattie’s knee is injured then why wouldn’t you have someone make Nattie tap with a knee submission? Ember would be preferable because she’s a babyface and would thus immediately let up on the hold, showing us how much of a liability Nattie’s knee is without damaging it further the way Alexa would.
OWENS & BALOR BACKSTAGE- meh
Owens tries to forge an alliance with Balor. Apparently his arm is injured after Balor hit him with a Coup de Grace off of a ladder. This wasn’t bad or anything, but it just felt like a waste of time because we all know that Balor isn’t going to ally himself with Owens.
DOLPH ZIGGLER & DREW MCINTYRE vs. TYLER BREEZE & FANDANGO- squash
ZIGGLER & MCINTYRE PROMO- good
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS ROMAN REIGNS- a great promo… although I have a feeling Roman is going to wind up looking kind of dumb when he doesn’t realize that this is obviously some sort of trap.
There was a Lucha Underground commercial. Also, Brock just passed someone else on the longest title reign list, but it doesn’t matter because he’s barely defended the belt and thus it doesn’t feel important in any way.
JINDER MAHAL PROMO- boring
ROMAN REIGNS vs. SUNIL SINGH (w/Jinder Mahal)- no rating, meh segment
Yeah… I’m pretty sure we all saw this coming. I’m not sure why Kurt is okay with it, though. He was advertising a supposedly big match in Jinder vs. Roman and now he’s just going to let the fans get screwed out of the match?
Predictably, Roman squashed Sunil, then got attacked from behind by Jinder and laid out with the Khallas.
THE B-TEAM vs. HEATH SLATER & RHYNO- 1/10
It’s a match between two teams of jobbers.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- bad
Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt took over the TitanTron to cut their usual bad promo. Bray then said they were here, and they teleported to the stage and then kept talking. Why couldn’t they just come out on stage or just stay on the TitanTron?
THE DRIFTER SINGS- good
The Drifter was in top form tonight. In terms of an actual promo on his opponent, this might have been his best song ever. Then he brought out a fancy, special guitar and vowed to play it next week as the IC Champion.
Rollins came out to pick a fight and won the fight… and yeah, you know where this is going. Rollins cut a promo on The Drifter, and then, for no reason, Rollins, smashed The Drifter’s fancy, custom made guitar. What a f*cking asshole! Well… I guess I’ll tune in to the PPV this Sunday to see The Drifter get his revenge.
KEVIN OWENS & BOBBY ROODE BACKSTAGE- same as the earlier Balor segment
RIOTT SQUAD BACKSTAGE- they’re just making a mess for no reason, like six-year-olds. Sarah Logan literally picked up a random box off of a table dumped everything in it onto the floor. Ruby grabbed a random backstage person’s tie with a pair of scissors.
BAYLEY vs. RUBY RIOTT (w/The Riott Squad)- 5/10
We got another one of those split-screen video package promos during this match. This one was for the MITB matches. Do they really think there is anyone out there who hasn’t been convinced that MITB is important based on all of the stuff they’ve said over the past few weeks that would be convinced to buy the show because of one quick video package?
The match was fine. Ruby won after the other two distracted Bayley. They then humiliated Bayley by writing an R on her chest in Ruby’s black lipstick. Speaking of things that start with R…
“ROWDY” RONDA ROUSEY & NATLAYA BACKSTAGE- bad
Ronda has her mean face on the whole time, even when hugging her friend. Nattie warns her to not take her eyes of off Nia because there is no telling what Nia will do. Wasn’t Nia a babyface and Nattie’s friend just last week?
RONDA ROUSEY & NIA JAX SEGMENT- fine
Coach is in the ring to MC this. They’ve got three swivel chairs in the ring. I like to think that they just took the announcers’ chairs and that Cole and Graves now have to stand for this entire segment. Nia says a bunch of stuff we’ve heard already (the rules are different in WWE and UFC), but this time with more specifics. In fact, it felt like someone bought Nia a copy of the UFC rulebook and told her to memorize the stuff that is illegal in UFC but not in WWE for her to recite during this promo. Then again, Nia listed “hair-pulling” as one of those things, and hair-pulling is also illegal in WWE, so maybe someone should get Nia copy of the WWE rulebook, too.
Nia said that she has had all of these things done to her, and that “they all hurt.” Included on this list of things that hurt was headbutts… so does the headbutt immunity not apply to Samoan females? Can we get tape of some Tamina matches to verify this?
Nia also said that these things like headbutts, hair-pulling, strikes to the spine, and 12-6 elbows “throw you off your game.” Ronda responded to this by saying “I don’t game plan. I improvise.” Says the woman who won almost all of her fights with the exact same move. As if to make it worse, Ronda then told Nia “I’m going to improvise your arm off.”
Nia points out that Ronda’s one match was “against a businesswoman who only competes part-time.” Which is exactly why it was ridiculous that that match went so long, and why it’s going to look even worse if Nia doesn’t last anywhere near as long as Steph did. Nia says she is going to take Ronda’s reputation and says Ronda is “just not ready.”
Ronda then got up and cut a big promo about all of the things people told her she “wasn’t ready” for. Also, she said “belt” not “championship.” Cue Vince screaming about how Ronda must be punished and changing the PPV finish to Nia squashing Ronda.
Nia got up and held the belt up, then tried to attack Ronda. Ronda blocked it and trapped the arm, but Nia floored her with a headbutt. Nia then started to toy with Ronda, who was able to pull her down into an armbar takedown, and after a tease of Nia powering out, she got Nia to tap.
In a vacuum this was a decent segment, but it was hard to get into simply because Nia’s promo was all stuff I had been hearing people say for her for weeks beforehand. Ronda’s promo was somewhere between fine and good and the action at the end was good… although if I was booking it I would have just had Nia walk out after the headbutt, leaving the questions of both whether Ronda can deal with things like headbutts and whether she can armbar someone as big as Nia unanswered until the PPV.
They showed us an ESPN article on Curt Hawkins which claimed that Hawkins’ losing streak “culminated” with last week’s loss. Someone needs to teach the fine people at ESPN what “culminated” means. The streak can’t have culminated yet if it isn’t over.
CURT HAWKINS vs. NO WAY JOSE (w/his conga line)- no rating, meh segment
Hawkins music played but he didn’t show up. The referee gave him a ten-count to show up or else forfeit. Turns out he was dressed as a member of the conga line and snuck in from behind and rolled Jose up but Jose kicked out, hit his finisher, and got the win.
ROODE & BALOR BACKSTAGE- They agreed to go along with Owens plan to work over Braun, but also to not trust him or each other.
SAMI ZAYN’S OBSTACLE COURSE- meh
This segment was based off of the following premise. Zayn said “the only way Bobby Lashley can prove to me that he was actually in the military is if he can complete this military-style obstacle course faster than me.” Yeah.
Sami Zayn claims to have finished the obstacle course in a minute and a half (after telling us that the Green Berets usually do it in two, and then pointing out to us that he did it with no warm-up and with an injured hand.
Lashley came out and cut a promo in which he told Sami “I’m going to be you in this obstacle course, then I’m going to beat your butt this weekend.” A promo straight out of the third grade.
Lashley did the obstacle course in about forty-two seconds, but someone in the production truck didn’t stop the timer. Zayn predictably attacked Lashley from behind immediately afterwards. This was boring, but at last we got some actual heat on the heel here on the go-home show.
OWENS, ROODE, & BALOR BACKSTAGE- now they’re not going to work with him. Then Braun showed up and dared them to team up on him. Then he roared in their faces.
FATAL FOUR-WAY MATCH: Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Roode vs. Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor- 7.75/10
Braun survived everyone teaming up against him, even after he got Bullfrog Splashed off of a ladder through the announcers’ table. The match was exciting for a while, but once Braun came back you knew he was winning, and the announcers’ commentary- and Cole’s in particular- started to really grate me by the middle of this match. I don’t know if he ever made it two sentences without mentioning Sunday’s PPV, and it was the same points over and over. Sunday’s match will also have ladders, and there will be Smackdown guys involved. Okay! Enough already! There’s going to be a f*cking MITB match at the PPV. We get it! It was like they had dropped all pretense of the announcers being there ostensibly to call a wrestling match and they were just giving us the barker channel.
This would be annoying enough on its own, but for a PPV like this, where 85% of WWE TV (and probably about 90% of Raw in particular) over the past month can be summed up as “there is going to be an MITB match at the PPV. It’s a life-changing opportunity,” you eventually hit the point where you don’t give a sh*t who wins anymore and just want MITB to be over with so something new can happen.
This was another bad episode of Raw. The two Fatal Four-Ways were great, but three competitive matches on a three-hour TV show is just not acceptable in my book, and the rest of the show was utter crap. Thank G-d I only need to hear people screaming at me about MITB for another one hour and thirty-two minutes before I’m done with it for an entire year.
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Hold #712: ARM BAR!
WWE in 2005
FIP in 2005
TNA Victory Road 2008
PWG All-Star Weekend V: Night 2
ECW Guilty As Charged 1999
WWE in 2005
FIP in 2005
TNA Victory Road 2008
PWG All-Star Weekend V: Night 2
ECW Guilty As Charged 1999
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