OPENING SEGMENT- not good
We start off with Dolph, Drew, & Braun coming out to the ring. Braun demands that we get a video package of the finish of last week’s main event and the post-match stuff. That was nice of him to make sure everyone got a refresher course right before his promo. Braun said, as expected, that he formed an alliance with Drew and Dolph to counter Seth & Dean’s efforts to aid Roman… which makes sense on one level, but wasn’t the whole point of Braun deciding he wants his title match at and in Hell in a Cell supposed be the thing that stops Seth & Dean from interfering? Braun even called HIAC “the place where no one gets in and no one gets out” (although we all know that’s clearly not true, as we’ve seen people get both in and out many times before, so I guess Braun hasn’t been watching any tapes in preparation for his first Hell in a Cell). If Braun thinks that Drew & Dolph are a perfectly adequate counter to Seth & Dean then why doesn’t he just cash in MITB and get his title shot right now?
Drew got to get a line in about how vicious they were, which worked fine and his delivery was the usual McIntyre greatness. Then Dolph got to talk… and of course he started off by declaring that they would be “the most dominant faction in WWE history.” Three cheers for the world’s most predictably and painfully clichéd comment, and double points for it coming from a man for whom that same description perfectly sums up his entire promo repertoire.
Dolph drones on about all of the grounds they will be more dominant than until The Shield’s music plays and they come out through the crowd. Baron Corbin sent people out to stop them from fighting. The Shield beat up the geeks and got into the ring but it quickly turned into a rather lame, convoluted, and repetitive pull-apart. It went through a commercial break, and when we came back from the commercial break, The Shield were being arrested and taken away in a police van.
This whole thing felt forced and convoluted. Why doesn’t Corbin want them to fight? Hell, why didn’t he book them in a six-man tag? If your answer is that he didn’t want to jeopardize the big title matches at Hell in a Cell then that doesn’t hold water because 1) we see people wrestle all the time when they have big title matches coming up, and 2) Dean and Drew aren’t booked yet so he could at least book those two in a singles match or something. It felt like Corbin sent everyone out to break it up because Creative didn’t want to do the big brawl right now and The Shield got arrested because Attitude Era.
Corbin’s whole thing has been to suck up to Steph, right? Well surely he knows that Stephanie will not be pleased when tomorrow’s headlines read “three WWE stars including Universal Champion and Intercontinental Champion arrested,” doesn’t he? And doesn’t he want to draw ratings for her? Wouldn’t a six-man tag coming off of last week’s shocking finish do that? Even the usual “heel being a heel because he’s a heel” reasoning fails here.
THE BELLA TWINS vs. THE RIOTT SQUAD (w/Ruby Riott)- 4/10
JoJo gave the Bellas a big, special introduction, which included referring to them as “the stars of Total Divas” and plugging the season premiere. The Riott Squad, by contrast, did not even get their entrance shown. They apparently came to the ring while we all watched The Shield get carted off by the cops. This was one of those deals where they did the entrances before a commercial, then wait the entire commercial to start the match, meaning that we literally got an entire segment of the show during which the only things we saw were a recap of the only actual segment on the show so far, The Shield getting arrested, and the Bellas’ entrance. Riveting TV, as you’d imagine.
Renee Young tried to tell me that Nikki and Brie have been “chomping at the bit to get back inside a WWE ring.” Really, Renee? Well then why didn’t they? We can give Brie a pass for maternity leave, I guess (although other women have been on the road with young children in the past), but what’s Nikki’s excuse? As far as any of us have been told, she has been continuously employed by WWE since last year’s WrestleMania and yet she just never wrestled aside from one random appearance in the women’s Royal Rumble. If you want me to believe that Nikki has wanted to wrestle so badly then you have to explain to me why she hasn’t been doing so.
They just casually plug Brie’s match at Hell in a Cell in the Bryans vs. Mizanins feud over on the Smackdown side of things, as if I’m not supposed to notice that she is allowed to be on both shows for no adequately explained reason. And the most frustrating part about that is that they actually do have a built-in explanation for that, which is that, as someone who was never drafted, Brie is technically a free agent and is thus allowed to appear on both shows, as has happened with others who have been described as “free agents” (Cena, Heath Slater) or who just went undrafted but haven’t been described as “free agents” (Hunter, Taker), but they won’t say that because either 1) they think I’m too dumb to notice that there is an issue, 2) they are too dumb to notice there is an issue, or 3) they know it’s there and just don’t give a sh*t. None of those three scenarios are acceptable to me as a fan. They need to respect their audience, respect their own product, and not be stupid. I really don’t think that’s too much to ask.
This match wasn’t terrible or anything but it definitely dragged (it went eleven and a half minutes), and Brie did not make a compelling babyface in peril at all. The Bellas, who we were constantly reminded have not teamed together in three years, managed to defeat the Riott Squad, who have been doing so consistently for over nine months now, even with the added problem of Ruby Riott trying to get involved illegally as well.
Then, after showing me all of that, WWE thought it would be a good idea to just now announce that at WWE Super Show-Down the Bellas will team with Ronda Rousey to face the Riott Squad in a six-woman tag. I JUST watched Nikki & Brie defeat the Riott Squad despite them being rusty and the Riott Squad not, even when the Riott Squad had a someone interfering on their behalf. Then there is the fact that Ronda Rousey is undefeated and has been built up like a monster while the Riott Squad have been midcarders at best for the majority of their tenure in WWE, either separately or as a unit. What is there that they think I would POSSIBLY find interesting about that match at this point?
No. The Bellas definitely had to win this match, because G-d forbid they show some ring rust and lose because of it so that the concept of ring rust actually becomes something that we fans learn to factor into our kayfabe predictions of match results, and so the Bellas have to go on an actual journey that can culminate in this big six-woman tag rather than them just starting all the way at the top and treading water until the big match. You couldn’t even have done a finish where Nikki is the babyface in peril and is getting beaten down and Brie just runs in to save her and gets DQed because she needs to retrain herself to control her emotions during matches, which would not only give the Bellas a story in this feud but also do some build to Brie’s mixed tag team match at Hell in a Cell? Really?
Oh look. It’s yet another Alexa and/or friend vs. Ronda and/or friend match with the others at ringside. Because we definitely haven’t been getting that every f*cking week for a month or more.
BARON CORBIN ASSURES STEPH THAT EVERYTHING IS FINE- Steph is on the phone, because why should she actually show up for work?
BARON CORBIN & FINN BALOR BACKSTAGE- terrible
Corbin assaulted Balor with a chair and abused the power of his office to screw Balor out of a match last week… so of course Balor shows up all happy and smiley to cheerfully ask Baron Corbin for a rematch. Corbin says no, so Finn insinuates that Corbin has a small penis. Corbin makes fun of Balor’s size (AGAIN, because that has to happen every single week), then books them against each other as the main event. Don’t get angry, guys! Just because the first eighteen of these haven’t been main event-quality doesn’t mean that the nineteenth won’t be either. I mean… it took close to four years to get Roman to 45-55 against, but G-d dammit it finally happened, so maybe this match will be at least decent at some point soon.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS CHAD GABLE & BOBBY ROODE- She asks them why have decided to form a tag team, which will apparently be debuting next. They gave painfully scripted, circle-jerk undercard babyface answers.
CHAD GABLE & BOBBY ROODE vs. THE ASCENSION- 4.5/10
No entrance for the Ascension. They did get to cut a promo, though, in Konnor called Roode a “flash in the pan who couldn’t make it in the singles division” and called Gable “a sawed-off duck butt.” At least that’s how I heard it, and the announcers weren’t sure, either, so that’s what I’m going with.
Anyway, after Konnor made the point that Roode & Gable have never teamed together before while he and Viktor have been teaming for years, the New Can-Am Express beat them in less than five minutes. It was a good almost five minutes while it lasted, though, with Roode as the babyface in peril and The Ascension actually looking dangerous for a bit.
THE DRIFTER SINGS & HAS A SEGMENT WITH ALEXA BLISS! (& FRIENDS)- good, but…
“If Christopher Columbus knew that his name would be associated with this city he would have turned his ship right around and went back to Europe” was one of his best lines yet. He started to bury Ohio State and put over the Michigan Wolverines, at which point he was interrupted by hometown hero Alexa Bliss! She acted like a complete and total babyface, and unlike usual when this happens with a heel in WWE, I was actually surprised when she turned on the people. In fairness to me, the reason I was suckered had a lot more to do with the fact that I could totally see WWE’s thought process being “last week’s segment with Trish seemed to work really well, so let’s push Evolution by turning Elias into a full-blown sexist and have the women all be feminist hero babyfaces by standing up to him every week,” rather than because Alexa’s performance was so convincing. Not that Alexa wasn’t great, but I’m a jaded wrestling fan and this is one of WWE’s very favorite tricks, so merely putting on a convincing performance isn’t enough to get me to bite on something like this.
After spending quite a while burying Columbus and its residents, Alexa turned her attention to Trish Stratus, asking “what kind of message is she sending to all of these young girls around the world? That it’s okay to go and slap people who are more talented and successful than you?”
Alexa vows to take care of Nattie, Ronda, and Trish. Then she butters up Elias (playing with her hair and doing the whole deal), before asking him to play that song he was about to play. That got an excellent reaction and Alexa was great with her delivery and facials and stuff, but I swear if they hook Alexa up with the f*cking Drifter I will punch a hole in my wall.
The Drifter was interrupted by Ronda’s music, meaning it was time for the women’s match. First, though… while the execution of this segment was good, I have to ask: what purpose did The Drifter’s presence even serve? What was the point of wasting time with him playing and then having Alexa come out and swerve everyone before cutting her promo? Just to do the swerve? At least last week Trish’s presence was a surprise and she got to remind everyone (or teach newer fans) how great she was and look tough by taking it to The Drifter. This week, though, The Drifter served no real purpose here, and his involvement in this segment was a large part of why this felt like a repetition of last week (Drifter sings, he is interrupted by hometown blonde to build up the Trish/Alexa match at Evolution, then gets interrupted by Ronda & Nattie to lead to an already-scheduled match), which is something that has been a HUGE problem in WWE this year, and thus is something they really should strive to avoid at all costs.
NATALYA (w/Ronda Rousey) vs. ALEXA BLISS! (w/Mickie James & Alicia Fox)- DUD!
So Alexa and Nattie lock up… and then we immediately cut to Ronda standing at ringside.
Michael Cole insisted that “they’ve had quite the rivalry, Alexa Bliss! and Natalya.” Really, Cole? When? I don’t even think they’ve had a feud that hasn’t been a side-component of Alexa vs. Ronda, which is a feud that is just two months old, and Nattie wasn’t even involved for the first chunk of it.
They went three minutes and ten seconds. So much for the Women’s Evolution. The match was 95% shine, with Nattie making the #1 contender to the Raw Women’s Title and the woman who is going to face the all-time legend of WWE’s women’s division look like a total idiot. At one point Alexa when for a Stratusfaction Bulldog but 1) none of the announcers picked up on it, and 2) Nattie countered it anyway. One dirty shot in the corner caused Nattie to collapse. Then Alexa distracted the referee while Mickie and Fox got in several seconds of offense on Nattie’s arm that looked horrendous. Alexa then hit Nattie with a DDT to put her down, but instead of going for a pin afterwards, Alexa locked in an armbar, and Nattie, having taken barely any damage to her arm before this, has no choice but to tap out. To add insult to injury, Michael Cole was instantly able to recognize the armbar as Ronda’s move and made a big deal out of it despite being unable to recognize Trish Stratus’ finisher. To add even further insult to injury, Stephanie McMahon with a lot more damage on her arm lasted longer in Ronda Rousey’s armbar than Natalya did in Alexa’s.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- bad
Alexa kept the armbar locked in for longer than necessary so Ronda came in to make the save. Alexa backed off but then tried to attack Ronda but Ronda saw it coming and punched her in the stomach. Fox ran in to save Alexa from an armbar but got rag-dolled around by her arm. Alexa then came in from behind and chop-blocked Ronda’s knee. Alexa then threw Ronda into the steps before rolling her back into the ring… and Ronda just made a comeback and punched Alexa in the stomach some more and Alexa ran away… so where is the heat?
Meanwhile, while all of this was happening, Mickie James just stood around and did nothing. If she’s too injured to get involved then don’t have her out here for a segment where her not getting involved makes no sense! Also while this was happening, Nattie just laid there, apparently in crippling pain from Alexa’s armbar. When you factor in that we’ve seen Nattie go a lot longer than three minutes and take a lot more than three moves without being in this much pain, the only logical kayfabe conclusion we can come to is that Alexa’s armbar actually is completely devastating.
If you want to talk about a Roman Reigns-type push, I see it a lot more in stuff like this where putting Ronda over isn’t enough and they are actually pushing Nattie down just to make Ronda look better by comparison than I do with Charlotte winning the title and Becky turning heel on her for it even though the fans wanted Becky to win.
Now the commentators are trying to push on me that “Rousey appears hurt” but she wasn’t selling a thing at the end.
BARON CORBIN MEETS WITH THE ANTI-SHIELD- They want a match tonight. Dolph almost managed to come off as cool in this segment. Drew & Dolph want a tag title shot. Corbin tells him that he can’t give them a title shot tonight because “we’ve already promoted The Revival for the tag team championships.” Yeah. Because they’ve never changed an advertised match on the night of the show before.
Drew & Dolph let everyone subtly know that they’re going to go beat up The Revival so Corbin will give them a title shot. Braun tells Corbin that he had “better find me some competition.” At this point… who even is there that we’d want to see Braun wrestle? No Seth, no Dean, no Roman, no Owens, Balor is already booked… Braun vs. Lashley? Is that the best we can hope for?
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS THE REVIVAL- They get assaulted from behind by Ziggler & McIntyre. At they actually made this assault look like something that would keep someone down for a while.
WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: The B-Team(c) vs. The Revival- yup. The Revival don’t come out and so Corbin changes the match to…
WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: The B-Team(c) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre- 4.5/10
Why did it take McIntyre & Ziggler more time to beat the comedy dorks who can only win by accident than it took Alexa Bliss! to beat Women’s Evolution Trailblazer™ and the only woman to ever graduate from the Hart Dungeon?
WHAT THE F*CK?! Did everyone else just see that, too, or am I hallucinating. I could have sworn I just saw Drake Maverick walking through a hallway backstage, with the Authors of Pain, and dressed like he was one of them. Is this like an Earth-2 thing or something? I just watched a wrestling show yesterday where six men dressed up as gigantic penises, followed by a man supposedly rising from the dead, then using the magnetic power of his penis to force his murderer to grab it so that he could use the muscles in his penis to throw this man… and that Drake Maverick walking around as a member of the Authors of Pain is still the weirdest thing I’ve seen all week.
JIMMY JAMES & KEITH THOMPSON vs. THE AUTHORS OF PAIN (w/Drake Maverick)- squash
Apparently Drake Maverick, the general manager of the show for Cruiserweights, became the manager for two of the biggest dudes on the roster off-screen. Also, the announcers and JoJo and the graphics people all seem to have magically forgotten that AOP stands for “Authors of Pain” and just called them “AOP” all of the time.
Maverick cut a promo in which he vowed to make the AOP the tag champs. So we’ve got dominant AOP, a Roode/Gable team, babyface Revival, and Drew & Dolph as the tag champs (plus Seth & Dean running around). Did Hunter take over the booking of the tag team division?
NATTIE, RONDA, & THE BELLAS BACKSTAGE- unbearable
Someone finally told Ronda to sell her ribs, so that was good. Nattie is also still selling her arm. The Bellas showed up and asked “are you guys okay” nearly simultaneously. That sort of sh*t is extremely annoying and the Bellas absolutely cannot do that if they are going to be babyfaces. Nattie kept repeating “I don’t feel like myself.” She walks off, and the Bellas each grab one of Ronda’s ovaries and start swinging from them. They’re both like so totally sure that Ronda will be the greatest women’s champion of all time. They also claim that Ronda coming to WWE “inspired” them to return to WWE, even though that goes against several things that have already been said tonight. But why let a little thing like logic get in the way of an opportunity to heap more praise on Ronda, no matter how phony it comes across.
Here’s an idea: just in case there is someone left who doesn’t get the Ronda Rousey is supposed to be the biggest star ever in women’s wrestling and she’s such an inspiration, how about you have the Bellas carry Ronda around on their shoulders everywhere she goes. They’re genetically identical so their shoulders will be the same height so it will be totally comfortable for Ronda and she won’t be lopsided or anything like that.
Just like last week, the Bellas came off like fangirls who were so pathetically desperate to hang around with big star Ronda Rousey. When they offered to help her with “anything at all” I was hoping Ronda would see how far she could take it and say “well... now that you mention it: Nikki, you and John aren’t together anymore, right? Well Travis and I are trying to start a family, but I also need to train really hard for my title defense against Alexa at Hell in a Cell, so it would be really helpful if you could come to our house during my ovulation period each month and be on call to fluff Travis for me so that I can squeeze a few extra minutes of training in.”
SHAWN MICHAELS & UNDERTAKER SEGMENT- Shawn rambled for a while, before saying “The Cerebral Assassin is going to cerebrally assassinate The Undertaker. Then Taker showed up, and the announcers were going way over the top nuts. They weren’t just excited and surprised to see Taker like the crowd was; they were in flat-out disbelief, as if there was some reason they thought we would never, ever see him again… even they’ve been spending weeks advertising him in a match, and he won the last two matches he wrestled in very handy and dominant fashion.
Taker cut a promo that started off really well, but then his point all turned out to be accusing Shawn of being of predicting that Triple H will win at Super Show-Down because Shawn is bitter about being forced to retire after losing to Taker at WrestleMania XXVI. They then had a long, emotional, and compelling exchange… that all seemed designed to build up an HBK vs. Undertaker rematch that will never happen.
BALOR & CORBIN BACKSTAGE- Corbin tells Balor that he has to face Braun instead tonight. He at least had an excuse for why he didn’t get around to telling Balor about this until now. Anyone remember earlier tonight when Corbin told us that he couldn’t change a previously advertised match?
The official storyline is that The Shield have been indicted for “inciting a riot, criminal damage, and disorderly conduct.” So THIS gets Roman indicted but f*cking ATTEMPTED MURDER doesn’t?
SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY vs. EMBER MOON & DANA BROOKE (w/Titus Worldwide)- 2/10
Titus and Apollo were bickering on the outside, which distracted Dana and allowed Sasha to recover and roll her up. The problem with this is that we really don’t have any evidence that Dana can win matches with or without them getting in her way, so we don’t actually have any reason to believe that she would have won this one, either. She says she’s done with both of them and walks off.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS BOBBY LASHLEY- Corbin gave Lashley a “performance review” in which he was ordered to attend a meditation session with Jinder in the ring tonight. Lashley gleefully makes it clear to us that he’s going to beat Jinder up. What the f*ck did Jinder do to deserve this? How about you be an adult and just play along for a few minutes (it can’t take that long because there is a little more than half an hour left in the show and they still need to have the main event), and then leave without assaulting an innocent person?
Props to Charly Caruso for at least looking worried about poor Jinder.
JINDER MAHAL TRIES TO HELP BOBBY LASHLEY MEDITATE- odd
Lashley was a dick to Jinder. Kevin eventually ran out of the crowd and attacked Lashley from behind. I should be angry about this, but Owens and Jinder are friends and Lashley made it pretty clear that he was going to attack Jinder at some point, so I’m finding it hard to get angry. Lashley made a comeback but Jinder got involved, allowing Owens to cut him off. The announcers are screaming about how Owens quit last week, and yet no security is coming out to stop this man who is not employed by WWE from assaulting a WWE employee in the middle of the ring. Owens eventually powerbombed Lashley onto the apron.
So yeah… last week Kevin Owens is so frustrated with things that he quits after losing an IC Title match to Seth Rollins… and this week he’s already back and randomly attacking Bobby Lashley?
Announced for next week is:
1. Hunter talking about his match with Taker
2. Foley talking about the Hunter vs. Taker match
3. Alexa Bliss! & Alicia Fox vs. Ronda Rousey & Ronda Rousey’s Friend Natalya.
The announcers told us that The Shield have been released on bail. It was only at this point that I noticed that Renee has been amazingly professional about the fact that her husband (and this has been all but acknowledged in kayfabe) has been arrested on what seem to be rather bullsh*t charges.
FINN BALOR vs. BRAUN STROWMAN (w/Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre)- 6.75/10
They did their best with the relatively short amount of time (for a main event) they were given. The match went 11:30, tying it with the Bellas vs. Riott Squad match for the longest match of the show. For a THREE-HOUR WRESTLING SHOW to only have three matches longer than ten minutes and not a single one longer than eleven and a half is completely unacceptable.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- stupid
The heels all beat Balor up
They had a big stare-down with The Shield on the ramp and the Anti-Shield in the ring. Then the Shield headed down to the ring but all of the other heels ran out from the back to attack them… led by Kevin Owens, who supposedly doesn’t even work here anymore. Also there were the Authors of Pain. So is Drake Maverick a heel now? Anyway, The Shield got completely obliterated by, like, twenty guys. Meanwhile, not a single babyface came out to help them.
This was a wacky, stupid, and confusing episode of Raw. And bad. Very, very bad.