OPENING SEGMENT- decent
The Drifter sang. He was entertaining. Rollins came out and grabbed a chair from under the ring to match the guitar that Elias was holding threateningly. They had a stand-off for a while before finally swinging their weapons. Rollins won, knocks the guitar out of The Drifter’s hand. Seth bore down on The Drifter with the chair but Jinder Mahal came out of the crowd and attacked him from behind. Rollins got double-teamed for a moment or two before Roman Reigns came out to make the save. Roman was cheered on his entrance, but when the music stopped and he was actually throwing his punches, it was the usual 80% booing. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence and there is nothing fishy going on with that. Maybe those people who were only cheering for his entrance don’t actually like Roman but rather just like his theme song?
Teddy Long then came out and booked a tag team match. Sorry, I meant Kurt Angle, not Teddy Long. But can you really blame me? They’re both bald and sound painfully scripted in their GM roles. Anyway, that match will be next. This segment was pretty standard wrestling fare. It’s like a usual WWE segment but without the horrible dialogue, so that was an improvement on the norm, but it didn’t stand out in any way, either.
SETH ROLLINS & ROMAN REIGNS vs. “THE DRIFTER” ELIAS SAMSON & JINDER MAHAL (w/Sunil Singh)- 5.75/10
They’ve been saying since Rollins came out that last week’s guitar attack injured his neck, and the heels worked that over in this match. And I REALLY hope Seth was selling when he was grabbing his neck in pain after he overshot that dive and his head went into the barricade like a lawn dart. I’m going to assume it was because he was willing to take a DDT onto a chair and then Elias’ Drift Away neckbreaker for the finish, but that looked REALLY scary.
Speaking of that finish, there was no way the referee didn’t see that Elias DDTed Seth right onto a chair, so it really should have been a DQ… and even if that wasn’t the planned finish here, there was no reason not to go with it because:
1. It doesn’t matter who wins this tag match
2. You still get the same damage on Seth’s neck to advance your storyline
3. If it does happen to be absolutely imperative to your plans for the build to this match that The Drifter pin Seth before the PPV, you can still do it next week on the go-home show… or this week on Main Event and show the footage on Raw. Or even just bring a camera to a house show (although if it were me booking I’d have just gone with the DQ here and had Seth be injured next week and cut a promo vowing revenge on The Drifter)
4. And, obviously, we’d like to make our referees look at least somewhat credible. This isn’t New Japan.
Otunga claims that “there is nobody else who has pushed Brock to his limit like Reigns has, and night in, night out.” The problem with the way they have been booking Brock since the Orton match, though, is that it doesn’t really feel to me like Brock is ever pushed to his limit because his matches go so short. Even if we ignore Brock’s first WWE run, I’ve felt a lot more like Brock was taken to his limit in his matches with Hunter, Cena, Punk, and Taker than anything he’s done since then (aside from maybe the Strowman matches).
Otunga would later go on to have an argument with Corey Graves about Sunil Singh’s alliance with Jinder and Otunga disapproving of their tactics. In it, Otunga attempted to be a babyface and yet also put Jinder over by saying the following:
“Jinder had a great 2017. Rededicated himself physically; mentally. I don’t think he needs any help!”
Doesn’t need any help? The evidence is crystal clear that he does! His first big win came the first time The Singh Brothers interfered on his behalf, and they continued to do so in pretty much every single one of his victories (and certainly in every single victory he had against someone who wasn’t a bottom of the card dork).
This whole thing illustrates something that has really been getting on my nerves lately about wrestling announcing and booking (and particularly in WWE and ROH). This isn’t a new problem (especially not in WWE), but it’s at the forefront of my mind so you’re getting a few paragraphs on it.
My immediate reaction to the Otunga quote cited above was to shout “DUDE! You can’t have it both ways!” and I think that is the root of the problem here. If you’re going to have a guy cheat to get every win, you can’t then try to tell me that he is a credible threat who doesn’t need help and expect me to believe it (and we are supposed to believe the babyface announcers, and Otunga has been all babyface so far). If you want me to believe that someone is a credible threat then you need to book him/her as such! Whenever I hear a commentator describe a wrestler as a “great competitor,” it’s like a kiss of death because it means that the booker has given that wrestler no actual specifics to hang his or her hat on.
The reason this bugs me so much is because it makes it feel like the company doesn’t have a high opinion of its viewers. It belies a laziness that says “I don’t have to put any actual work in to make this wrestler feel important. All I have to do is tell the marks that he/she is important and they’ll believe me because they’re just stupid marks.”
Yes, wrestling announcers always exaggerate and their job is to promote the talent and the matches and to make everyone look as good as possible, but the difference is that in cases like this it doesn’t feel like the promotion is lying to me to set up the story elements but rather that the promotion is lying to me within kayfabe. It doesn’t feel like David Otunga the real person is telling me an untruth that he is required to tell as part of his role as David Otunga the character, but rather that David Otunga the character is flat-out lying to me.
The problem with that is that wrestling is built on manipulation, and thus actions like this where it feels like the promotion is kayfabe lying to me create the inherent mental connection to that fact, making it harder to suspend my disbelief and not just take anything the announcers say seriously, but also to not feel as though I am being talked down like “just a mark who will believe whatever we tell them to.” I heard a story (I think it was on the Bruce Prichard RF Video shoot interview) about Paul Boesch telling wrestlers off for referring to fans as “marks,” saying “they’re not marks. They’re customers.” The attitude that this mentality projects is on the wrong side of that line. It makes me feel like they think I’m a mark to be manipulated, not a customer to be valued and whose patronage must be earned.
Someone in the crowd has a sign that says “Eat, sleep, burn it down, repeat.” I think this person might be a serial arsonist.
CURT HAWKINS SEGMENT- This was introduced with a shot of a bunch of tacos on a ringside table, at which point Michael Cole said “Tacos at ringside. Curt Hawkins is in the ring and he’s going to explain.” I took this as my cue to skip this segment.
Then I found out what happened and had to go back and watch it! Hawkins is apparently now 0-199. He vowed to break his losing streak tonight, and said that everyone in the arena could have tacos if he did. He then wrestled a jobber and was about to win when Baron Corbin came out and attacked the jobber, causing Hawkins to lose by DQ.
Then Corbin went to eat a taco. Hawkins tried to attack him but Corbin hit him in the face with the taco, then beat him up, then overturned the entire table full of tacos on top of him. I laughed my ass off at this because Curt Hawkins is the biggest loser in the history of losers. I mean… he’s lost two hundred straight matches. He hasn’t won a match in over a year and a half, including house shows and dark matches! And if you take out house shows and dark matches, he literally has not won a single match since returning to the company! How the hell is he still employed?!
The reason, of course, is that WWE thinks this losing streak gimmick is a fun idea… which is why it is baffling to me that they’re not doing anything with it. If the guy is approaching 0-172, how the hell do you not contact Goldberg to set up Goldberg being the surprise opponent who gives him loss #173? Then, with that comparison fresh in everyone’s mind, you have his next opponent be Kevin Nash… and have him lose to Nash, too. After a while, why not have him bring in Barry Horowitz to be his manager. Then you do a backstage segment where Barry teaches him the secret of the three-quarter nelson. Then you spend his next few matches with him trying to get the move but everyone always avoids it and he loses. Then you stick him in the ring with someone who is equally a loser like Curtis Axel and have him finally get it… only for Axel to roll right through the pin and lift him up and hit him with a move and pin him. Then, the next week you stick him in there with Bo, who is an even bigger loser, and he finally gets the three-quarter nelson and Bo just kicks out then gets up and hits his finisher and beats Hawkins. Then Hawkins would get frustrated and attack Horowitz for leading him astray with his stupid three-quarter nelson that clearly doesn’t work and that leads to a match between the two of them where Horowitz beats Hawkins with the three-quarter nelson.
The result of him attacking Horowitz makes him a heel, though, so now he can try to cheat to win… and each week you come up with a new way for it to backfire. He gets caught and DQed, he tries to throw powder at the babyface but the babyface kicks his hand and the powder gets into his own eyes, the Kurt Angle-style chairshot where you miss the opponent, the chair hits the ropes, and you knock yourself out. I could book this sh*t for DAYS… and yet WWE hasn’t done sh*t with it!
Apparently Nattie vs. Nia is up after this commercial break, so they gave us one of those things they love to do where they show us the upcoming wrestler getting ready for the match while the announcers o a voice over. Because Nattie is Ronda Rousey’s Official Main Roster Friend, they of course had Ronda in here, too, and because she’s Ronda Rousey, they decided that she, being a legit shooter, should be helping Nattie get ready for her match. This consisted of Ronda Rousey showing Nattie correct punching form… because apparently Nattie Neidhart, a fifteen-year veteran of professional wrestling, needed Ronda Rousey to come along to teach her how to throw a punch (and it’s not like Ronda is known for her punches, either.
KURT ANGLE & BARON CORBIN BACKSTAGE- bad
When we got back from the commercial we saw Kurt Angle doing what he usually does, just standing around
It turns out the real reason that Corbin is here is because he felt Kurt wasn’t giving enough opportunities, so he went to WWE HQ to complain to Steph… who responded by giving Corbin a letter to read to Kurt, announcing that because Kurt has been making bad decisions, she is now “instituting a system of checks and balances.” This new system entails… appointing Baron Corbin as the “constable of Monday Night Raw.” What does being the constable entail, you ask? It means that Corbin is to be considered Steph’s “personal representative.” So basically the real issue is that Steph thinks Kurt is doing a bad job, but she’s too lazy to actually show up to do her own job which would be to supervise him, so she’s having Corbin do it instead. Also, Steph seems to lack understand of the concept of “a system of checks and balances” because there is no balance here. It’s just a check on Kurt, with no counterweight for him to ensure that she isn’t abusing her authority over him.
And, of course, this means that we’re getting the single worst of the WWE go-to “guaranteed to produce insufferable television” angles, bickering authority figures.
NATALYA vs. NIA JAX- no rating, TERRIBLE segment
When Ronda’s music hit (they had her come out to do commentary and gave her her own entrance before the other two) I was legitimate afraid they having Ronda come out as Nattie’s second and yet had Nattie coming out to Ronda’s music. It turns out I have A LOT to say about Ronda’s commentary, so I’m going to give that it’s own heading. As for the match itself…
This started off as exactly what I expected it to be based on the situation: Nattie and Nia doing your typical “big monster heel vs. small babyface match.” It helps sell one of the big talking points of the title match (that Ronda has never faced someone so much larger than her), and gives Nia a dominant win over someone Ronda is close to… and more importantly, helps to subtly shift Nia over more to the heel side of things because I think Nattie is someone the fans have a lot of respect and a lot of fondness for, whereas Nia certainly doesn’t have Nattie’s level of respect, and probably has nowhere close that level of fondness.
Then things just went off the rails. I’ve checked around just to be sure about this, and everything I’ve seen has said that that Nattie’s injury is a work, which is what I figured based on the fact that they stayed with it so long and that Ronda and Nia did have a bit of an unfriendly interaction (with certain other people on the roster I might have thought they were improving on the spot, but certainly not with these two), but I wanted to double-check just be sure that this wasn’t a shoot before I buried it.
What happened was that Nattie started to make her comeback and was doing her thing where she steps on the other woman’s back then hits the ropes for a dropkick but she hurt her knee as she hit the ropes. Nia got up and immediately hit her with the Samoa Drop and pinned her. Problem #1: this finish undermines the idea they’ve been trying to build up. How does it illustrate to me that smaller person Ronda will have a lot of trouble beating larger person Nia if small Nattie was actually WINNING against large Nia and seemingly only lost because she hurt her knee while running the ropes?
Then we had the aftermath, which Nia looking very concerned while the ref checked on Nattie and Nattie sold her ass off. Problem #2: this makes Nia look like more of a babyface, when last week’s segment seemed singularly designed to turn her heel. Even worse, when Ronda got up to go check on Nattie was well, she was a total asshole to Nia. This whole angle already has Ronda rather close to being a hypocrite for taking this title shot, and her weak mic skills have created some likability problems for her, (plus you have the more traditionalist crowd like me who remember that assaulted Steph and BROKE HER ARM FOR NO REASON the night after Mania, so she’s not connecting as a babyface that way, either), and there will always be a backlash against her for coming in and immediately being portrayed as the be-all, end-all of the division to the detriment of people like Bayley, Sasha, Mickie, Alexa, Ember, etc., who feel much more like hometown stars as opposed to a female version of Brock just coming in and all of a sudden it’s ALL about her… so basically, having this interaction occur in such a way that Ronda looked like a jerk did not help matters at all, which is problem #3.
This whole thing very much came across as WWE overthinking things. They really tried to make this look like a shoot (to the point where I don’t think we even saw the dreaded referee’s X specifically because they overused that on worked injuries so everyone now assumes it’s a work whenever they see the X)… and yet, of course, they failed at that because the situation they wanted to set up required to stick with the (non-)action in the ring, which is the exact opposite of the way WWE would behave if this actually was a shoot. Now… if we assume that “Nattie wins MITB and turns on Ronda” rumors are true, then any way in which this might be used to set that up (Steph recruiting Nattie off-screen while Nattie is injured or something) could just as well be done with the injury happening in some other manner so that doesn’t justify this, either. In fact, I would argue that it would be better to have Nia actually be the one to injury Nattie in that case so that you could kill four birds with one stone by 1) having Nia get the clean win here, using the story of this match to illustrate that challenge that Ronda will face when she challenges Nia 2) make Nia a full heel by having her attack and injure Nattie after the match 3) make Ronda look like more of a babyface by both chasing Nia off here and by cutting a promo next week vowing to not only win the title but also to avenge Nattie, and 4) Nattie being injured sets up for her turn however you want to do that.
RONDA’S COMMENTARY- Ronda’s commentary was not good at all. She had good answers to one or two questions, but a lot of other times she either just didn’t have answers (she responded to a question about how she would fare in an environment that allows you to use headbutts or other things that are legal in WWE but not in UFC by basically saying “I don’t know. I guess I’ll just have to get used to it”) did the total opposite of pro wrestling 101 by blowing off the hype and praise the announcers tried to heap on her. She fumbled around a bit and honestly didn’t seem interested in doing commentary at all, giving one line answers to each question and not really volunteering any other thoughts. Basically, she was a terrible commentator.
And yet somehow I liked it. WWE commentary is painfully scripted and buzzword-heavy, and 99% of the time that they have a wrestler do guest commentary it’s usually even worse because of all of the bickering, and even with the few wrestlers who I enjoy having on guest commentary (basically just Dragon, Alexa, Gulak, Carmella, and Owens), the match can often get completely forgotten. And here is Ronda, doing basically none of that. She gave answers that, while not the best answers to build up a match, felt very honest and totally unrehearsed and like the sort of person a real person might say if they were caught off guard by the questions. Her brevity made her feel like a stark contrast to the usual blow-hards we get; like she was actually here to answer one or two questions and watch the wrestling match in front of her rather than being there to cut a promo.
Also, Ronda being on commentary led to the following wonderfully unintended series of events:
First, Corey Graves asked Nia to respond to a comment that Nia Jax had apparently made saying that she wants to challenge Ronda now, early in her career because being so inexperienced will make Ronda “ripe for the picking” for Nia to make her name off of. I don’t know how WWE was expecting Ronda to respond to this, but I’m absolutely certain they were not expecting her to say “’Ripe for the picking’ is something only my husband calls me.” As Ronda was saying this, Nattie took the traditional WWE pre-commercial tumble to the outside, and so Michael Cole immediately followed Ronda’s line up by saying “we’ll get to that in one moment, as this match-up continues live on Raw.” So yes… apparently once this commercial break is up, the commentators will be discussing how often Ronda Rousey and Travis Browne make whoopee.
And lo and behold, when we got back after the commercial, Ronda repeated the line! So either they really liked it, or she really liked it. I really hope this line wasn’t written for her. It’s not a bad line in and of itself, but if it’s the sort of thing they think is a good response for their new female action hero, then it really doesn’t speak well to their mindset. It’s the sort of thing that doesn’t sound terrible simply because I can totally see that being a response Ronda herself thinks is clever, but if it’s not coming from her, it’s not pretty cringe-worthy for multiple reasons.
RENEE YOUNG INTERVIEWS BOBBY ROODE- decent.
He cut a fine promo saying he was excited to win MITB so that he could win the Universal Title. He then cut a decent promo to build up his match with Braun Strowman. And apparently that match is next.
BRAUN STROWMAN vs. BOBBY ROODE- no rating, bad segment.
Braun dominated with his size for a bit until Roode started to chop down the proverbial tree. Then he set up a ladder bridge and tried to trick Braun into chasing after him and running into it but his plan was thwarted when Braun just stopped running. I laughed my ass off. Then Braun gave the ladder a double axe handle, chopping it in half. Did this look impressive? Yes. Does it matter that the ladder was almost certainly gimmicked? No. But I still wouldn’t have done thus unless you’re going to have more gimmicked ladders at the PPV, because now how are you going to explain Braun not just destroying any ladder that comes near him in the MITB match?
Braun then tossed Roode into some barricade, tossed back into the ring, hit his finisher and won. This made Roode look like a complete and total loser.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS KEVIN OWENS- excellent!
He cut a great promo saying he would win MITB and an awesome promo to build up his match with Finn Balor later.
NATTIE, RONDA, & NIA BACKSTAGE- HORRENDOUS!
Nattie and Ronda are in the trainer’s room. Nattie trying to walk with crutches and is still having trouble because she’s in so much pain. Nia Jax then showed up and apologized to Nattie for hurting her. What did Nia do? I watched the footage several times. Nattie just twisted her knee while running. And even if you want to claim that Nattie got hurt because she came off of Nia at an angle that caused her to stumble and twist her knee or something like that, it still wouldn’t be Nia’s fault because Nattie was in the act of STEPPING ON NIA. It was Nattie’s foot that forced Nia’s torso down and thus Nattie who is responsible for any angle that Nia’s back might have been at that would have caused Nattie to twist her knee coming off of her.
Nia then asks Nattie if she will “be able to compete at Money in the Bank,” which would have been a problem if it wasn’t such a WWE phrase. Because if Nia were to say something like “will you be able to go at Money in the Bank” which sounds more like how a professional athlete actually talks then we wouldn’t be able to say the word “compete” and we MUST say “compete” every time because we want to make sure that everyone knows that even though everything we do is a work, our WWE Superstars are real athletes and “competing” is what athletes do and thus we have to say the word “compete” at every opportunity (but G-d forbid we actually say the name of the thing in which our wrestlers- whoops, sorry, I meant Superstars- are supposedly competing in).
Ronda then entered full high school bitch mode, angrily asking Nia “haven’t you done enough already!?” Nia responds by telling Ronda that “we were having a match. And you should know: this isn’t ballet.” Because of course we had to find the single most cliché thing for Nia to say.
Then it somehow got EVEN WORSE, as Nia decided that the best way to counter over-dramatic high school Ronda Rousey was with an over-dramatic high school line of her own, insisting that Nattie was “just as much my friend as she is yours” (which Nia’s voice made sound even more like D-level high school Nickelodeon drama). Then again, maybe it did make sense for Nia to have to inform Ronda of this fact, because I sure didn’t know they were friends. I’m not even sure they’re interacted before. But either way, there is no excuse for grown adults to be talking like this.
Ronda tells Nia “I think it would be better if you just leave” and gets her angry face on, but Nia responds by saying “I don’t want to leave my friend. I would never leave her side!” (Again… have we even seen these two interact before?!) Nattie, who has been trying to get them to stop arguing, finally shouts to get their attention and tells them that she knows that Nia didn’t mean to hurt her. She then says that she needs a minute to herself and walks off, while the other two women stare after her, sadly.
RENEE YOUNG INTERVIEWS MATT HARDY & BRAY WYATT IN THE RING-
Apparently up next will be the #1 contendership tag team battle royale, and Renee wants to know how it feels to know that they are going get to watch everyone fight over the right to face them. Bray Wyatt cut a promo that I actually understood for once. He said that no matter who won the battle royale, they would retain the titles. Matt Hardy then said his standard stupid crap about being woken… meaning that neither of them actually answered Renee’s question.
Then Matt turned to Renee and asked her if she considered herself woken… but before saying “woken,” he moved towards her while clacking his teeth together and leaning down, to the point where she had to first lean backwards and then take a step or two back to avoid having Matt enter into her personal space. Matt ostensibly did this so that he could look her in the eyes, but it looked a lot more to me like he was positioning himself to snatch a quick glance at her cleavage. Renee looked highly uncomfortable, then put an uneasy smile on her face and said “yeah. I guess so,” presumably hoping that if she said she liked his wacky cult stuff that this creep would leave her alone.
Matt declared this to be “WONDERFUL!” and he and Bray threw their arms up in joy. I really hope Matt’s warped mind doesn’t think that Renee has just consented to be the meat in a weirdo sandwich. Matt then declared this news to be a “deserving of a standing woken O.” I’m really hoping that the finish of the PPV title match is Dean Ambrose running in and costing Matt & Bray the tag titles for coming on to his wife. In fact, I’m going to pretend that that is the only reason why we won’t have to interrupt this battle royale to cut to the back to see Seth and Roman beating the sh*t out of these two for creeping on their best buddy’s gal.
#1 CONTENDERSHIP TAG TEAM BATTLE ROYALE- DUD!
They rang the bell before JoJo had the chance to announce the rules, resulted in her telling us about “the following match” even though that match had already started. Then again, normal procedure would have had her doing that before any of the entrants came in.
The first person eliminated from this match was… Dolph Ziggler. He was eliminated by Tyler Breeze. This has to lead to McIntyre dumping his worthless ass, right?
No. Apparently Drew is going to take his anger out on everyone else. Dolph got back in and beat people up, too, and between the two of them, they beat up everyone. So basically WWE just told us that this is the most badass team in the division, and they won’t be the ones getting the tag title shot. Instead our #1 contenders will be Bo & Axel, who won when Slater accidentally knocked his own partner off the apron to the floor when he was setting up to hit Bo with a powerslam and didn’t realize Rhyno was behind him when he swung around. Wow. That really gets me excited for this title match. Between these two bits of stupidity, plus it being the usual dull short battle royale between jobbers that no one could ever care about, this is an easy dud.
BOBBY LASHLEY CALLS OUT SAMI ZAYN- bad
Zayn is in the crowd and won’t get into the ring to face Lashley. Instead, he’s going to show us that Lashley posts stupid inspirational quotes on Instagram. He then claimed that he posed as a fan and DMed Lashley and that Lashley sent him a copy-and-pasted letter linking him to Lashley’s official fanclub where he could buy Lashley merch. This was boring, made Lashley look like a dork, and didn’t do anything to make me hate Sami because he’s not wrong that Lashley is a total dork for posting generic empty inspirational quotes on social media. Also making Lashley look like a dork was that logo-less white and gray baseball cap he was wearing. Who let him go on TV with that on?
Zayn then claimed that everything about Lashley is a lie, and claims that Lashley didn’t really serve in the army. I can totally understand why Lashley and others would be outraged about this and I would usually be one of them… but after everything that has happened so far in this feud, I honestly cannot bring myself to care.,
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS JINDER MAHAL (& SUNIL SINGH)- Jinder cut a good promo on Roman. Or at least it was good until that last bit about how Jinder could “smell a storm coming” or something like that.
Charly then immediately pitched us over to where Renee Young was standing by with Roman Reigns, who apparently has a rebuttal. Then we cut to Roman and Renee, and they’re standing in a random hallway by a locker room. Jinder finished talking three seconds ago. What TV were they watching this on? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to have Jinder’s interview in the hallway and do Roman’s on their fancy interview set with the TV hanging in the corner where the wrestlers usually watch their matches?
ROMAN REIGNS PROMO- he asks what Jinder has done lately. Well… he won the US Title. What titles have you won recently, Roman?
Roman says that Jinder “expects to be handed everything.” At this point Jinder’s voice interrupted and we cut back to him. Are they Skyping each other for this interview? Jinder is outraged and says that Roman would never say that to his face. We hear Roman tell Jinder to shut up and now we’re back to Roman, who says he will prove Jinder wrong by finding him and coming to say this to his face. This whole thing was corny, crappy overthought, overdone production.
Roman then heads off asking two dudes who are just sitting around “where is the Raw set-up?” Not “where is the other interview area?” or “where is Jinder?” He asks them where the “Raw set-up” is, making this whole thing feel even more goofy and staged. Amusingly, Roman was headed in the wrong direction and has to turn around.
We followed Roman down two hallways until he count Jinder, once again exposing that their interview set is just that: a set. That big goofy monitor on a stand with the Raw logo and the big hanging WWE logo look even more goofy from this angle. If you’re going to have an interview set, go do what the real sports do and get that backdrop of a light color of wallpaper and put a pattern of alternating Raw and WWE logos on it. The thing they have now looks like a low-budget high school play where they can’t afford really good set pieces so they just hand up a big sign that says “STORE” in the background to let you know they’re supposed to be at the store now.
Roman and Jinder had a brawl. Roman was winning handily when the referees and Adam Pearce came to break it up. Michael Cole insisted that Jinder “keeps pushing and pushing Roman Reigns,” as if Jinder was saying horrible, terrible, provocative things about Roman, but I didn’t hear Jinder say anything out of the ordinary.
ALEXA’S MUSIC! FINALLY WE’LL GET SOMETHING GOOD ON THIS AWFUL SHOW!
SHUT THE F*CK UP OTUNGA! STOP TALKING ABOUT ROMAN AND JINDER! No one cares about that anyway. And Alexa is about to make her entrance, so why the f*ck is the camera still on the announcers, Dunn?
ALEXA BLISS!, SASHA BANKS, & EMBER MOON vs. THE RIOTT SQUAD- 5.5/10
Ember and Ruby started off with some good action. Then Ember grabbed Ruby in an arm wringer and went to her corner where Alexa apparently stole a tag that was meant for Sasha (though I’m not really sure how Alexa was supposed to know that, so saying she did something wrong doesn’t seem fair). Alexa continued to work on Ruby’s arm, then went to do a spot in the corner and injured her knee on the landing. The fact that her partners had these big scowls on their faces when Alexa tagged out to Sasha then headed up the ramp gives away the fact that this was a work, and presumably that Alexa is faking it to get out this match so that she doesn’t get hurt and so that two of her MITB opponents will now have to face a three-on-two beat-down… but Ember and Sasha had no way of knowing that at the time, so them scowling at this poor injured woman just makes them jerks!
Remember the American Wolves’ “Alarm Clock” double team? Well the Riott Squad just did a version that ended with Sarah Logan nailing Ember Moon with a HEADBUTT on the way down. The heels worked Ember’s head over a bit until she was able to make the hot tag to Sasha, who ran wild on the Riott Squad but then Sasha, too got cut off for the double heat.
Sasha made her comeback and we got the big double-down… and only then did Bayley decide to run out and hop on the apron, which she can do because apparently she is allowed to just replace the injured Alexa. The totally fresh Bayley then tagged in, hit Sarah Logan with her finisher, and pinned her. What a cheap move!
KURT ANGLE & BARON CORBIN BACKSTAGE- Well… it seems that Baron Corbin agrees with me, as he asks Kurt “are you really going to stand for this?” Kurt replies by telling Corbin “it’s none of your business,” to which Corbin replies that it actually is his business now. Corbin ordered Kurt to tell Ember, Sasha, and Bayley that their win doesn’t count. So basically, total heel Baron Corbin is now forcing the babyface authority figure to actually do his job and apply the rules.
THE FEMALE BABYFACES BACKSTAGE- bad
They’re so happy about their win. Ember says that “it’s all because of Bayley. She saved us.” Sasha is forced to admit that this is true (although she should have asked Bayley why she waited so long to come out) and those two are friends again, meaning all of this bullsh*t has been for nothing. Kurt Angle then shows up and tells them that Bayley wasn’t actually in the match and thus The Riott Squad win by DQ. Sasha walks away from Bayley, so maybe they’re not friends again, but either way, this feud has already been so ruined that I don’t care anymore.
We were then treated to a few seconds of no audio while Corbin admonished the idiot referee, which the referee totally deserves for not knowing that G-d damn rules!
Next week we’re getting a “face to face” between Nia and Ronda… which I’m pretty sure we’ve gotten for each other the past three weeks (including tonight) so how is this any different?
Also for next week they have announced two four-ways; one with the Raw men in the MITB match and one with the Raw women in the MITB match. I did like that with both Nattie and Alexa they had a big question mark by their faces and let us know that it was entirely kayfabe possible that they wouldn’t be ready by next week. That reminds me, though… we haven’t actually seen any evidence that Alexa was faking her injury, so this just makes Ember and Sasha look like bigger jerks.
KEVIN OWENS vs. FINN BALOR- 6.75/10
They kept claiming that this was this match was “the first time these two have faced off in the WWE,” but even if we exclude NXT, I’m virtually certain this is untrue, as I have vivid memories of Balor pinning Owens in Balor’s first match back from injury.
They had a very good match that ended in a disappointing manner when Owens got DQed for not breaking in the corner. They kept pushing that the referees were all on edge because of Corbin (although that would have been a lot more effective if they had shown us Corbin, like, screaming at the ref or something stronger than just the soundless talking-to we saw) and that is a great storyline excuse to do a DQ in a match like this one where you don’t want to beat either guy… but do it somewhere other than the main event.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- terrible
Owens kept beating Balor down afterwards. He teased a Bullfrog Splash off of a ladder but kept pausing and deciding to go down a step until Balor finally recovered and threw him off. Balor then climbed to the top of the ladder and hit Owens with the Coup de Grace. This made Owens look dumb, and killed any heat Owens had gotten for his post-match beat-down. Then Balor climbed back up and pulled the prop MITB briefcase down because… um… because someone backstage thought it would be a cool idea. That’s the only reason I can come up with.
Yet another TERRIBLE episode of Raw. Having watched this on Tuesday, I can at least take comfort in knowing that the show did a horrendous rating.