Did some sort of directive come down from management saying that everyone on the panel has to look absolutely ridiculous tonight?
COLIN CASSADY & ENZO AMORE vs. LUKE GALLOWS & KARL ANDERSON - 4.5/10
MIZ TV WITH SPECIAL GUEST FINN BALOR - great stuff!
Right before this Raw-branded PPV was about to start they aired a commercial for Talking Smack that did nothing but bury Raw and its titles.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH IN WHICH IF JERICHO WINS HE WILL GO TO SMACKDOWN:
Kevin Owens(c) vs. Chris Jericho - 7/10
Did anyone else think that Jericho going after Owens' hand out of frustration felt kind of heelish? I liked the finish, but it seems like they kind of have to build to a match with a rather odd stipulation like "rope breaks only count if you can get your palm onto the rope" or something like that. Don't get me wrong: I don't dislike it. I just think it's quite the deviation from the standard WWE playbook because it's so basic that they would probably never think of it.
WWE CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Neville(c) vs. Austin Aries - 7.25/10
These had a great match, but it was totally killed by the finish. This finish is a very good angle... but this is a PPV. It is not the time for angles. This finish is the thing you do on TV to set up the PPV match where we get a clean finish.
WWE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Hardy Boyz(c) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro - 7/10
A very fun tag team match followed by an excellent post-match heel turn. They did a great job of going just far enough that you were convinced that the heel turn wasn't going to happen before going ahead and doing it.
BRAUN STROWMAN PROMO - great.
WWE WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Bayley(c) vs. Alexa Bliss! - 7/10
Great babyface vs. heel stuff here, with probably the two best female characters in the entire WWE to make that work. Alexa worked the head for a while to set up for her DDT. Bayley's comeback was excellent and they had a lot of great little twists and turns along the way before Alexa won with the DDT.
Oh! That reminds me: I need to add the +10 "Alexa Bliss! wins the title" modifier to this match. New rating is 17/10, making it the new greatest match in the history of professional wrestling. Also, now having three matches at well over 10/10, Alexa Bliss! has hereby officially become the greatest in-ring performer in the history of this illustrious industry. It's more like Mitsuhar-who? Misawa at this point, am I right?
HOUSE OF HORRORS MATCH:
Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton - DUD!
JoJo tells us that "the following No Holds Barred match will begin in the House of Horrors and will end in the ring with a pinfall, submission, or forfeiture." Okay, so that's something, at least. It didn't stop the fans from immediately booing, though. We start with Randy Orton riding in the back of a limo in the middle of a very dark night, which is odd because this is supposedly happening in San Jose, where it isn't even 7:00 pm yet, here in the middle of Spring, so it should be bright as day. If this is live, then who is proving the soundtrack? Is there an orchestra standing just off-screen? And who is filming this (especially the inside scenes)?
The limo comes to a halt and the door opens on its own because Wyatt magic. Randy then sees a house that seems to be bathed in purple Undertaker light. But alas, this is not Undertaker light. It's Wyatt light, which is like a fifth-rate rip-off Undertaker light.
Oh look. Light flashes on and off in a window and Bray Wyatt seems to be there but then disappears. Snore. Then a tractor drives by with no one driving it. Again: snore. Randy goes up to a window and sees Bray walking around. Then he tries to open the door but it won't open. Then it just does. There is a big scythe right next to the door, but of course Randy just leaves it there.
Randy enters the house and then spooky Wyatt things happen with the lights and such and then the door closes by itself and then Bray attacks Randy from behind and we FINALLY get down to the action. The fighting that we get here is actually pretty good. It feels raw and violent. Then Bray runs away and Randy treks through the house with spooky things occasionally happening or being found, including a room full of mutilated baby dolls hanging from the ceiling. Dumbass Randy is distracted by the dolls so he pulls one down... and immediately gets what he deserves via another assault from behind by Bray Wyatt.
Randy eventually tries to gouge Bray's eyes out or something. They both go through what is clearly a very shoddily constructed wall, then they're rolling around on the ground selling like you'd expect someone would do for psychic attack in a TV show. Bray once again runs away and Randy walks around aimlessly, trying to find him. Figuring that messing with the stuff in the house is what made Bray appear last time, Randy now starts throwing dishes and tipping over the table. Either that or his I.E.D. is flaring up again. Actually, based on his yelling, it's probably the latter.
Now we're on to the next spooky room with more dolls and giant wooden... thing. Now the kitchen, where there is more lighting and some "we're here" graffiti and yet another Wyatt attack from behind, although this time Randy appears to have heard Bray coming and gets out of the way.
OH MY G-D STOP SHAKING THE F*KCING CAMERA! I understand that you want it to be spooky and magical, but how about making it so I can actually SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Now they're down and selling again and breathing hard. Bray is laughing. Randy tries to pull him up but Bray kicks him in the nuts, then dumps a refrigerator on him. Bray once again runs away, which makes no sense because he has the advantage now.
Bray leaves the house. More "spooky" camera effects happen. Bray shouts "FOLLOW THE BUZZARDS!" and starts laughing and crawling away. Now the lighting on the house is red. Bray gets into the limo and orders the driver to take him to the arena. Two questions here:
1. Why doesn't he just use his magical powers to teleport there?
2. More importantly, what good does it do him to be in the arena if Randy isn't there for him to beat?
The limo drives off and Bray starts to sing "He's Got The Whole In His Hand." Then we got the Wyatt screen effect and we're back to the commentators. Only Corey Graves can actually manage to look like he's concerned about what he just saw. The fans are all booing because THIS F*CKING SUCKED. It was a whole bunch of supposedly spooky video effects happening in between Randy wandering around a house and getting attacked behind by Bray in some of the rooms. That's it. There was no creativity on display here at all.
Then we got a "finish" that doesn't make any sense according to the rules because, as I said above, Bray can't win the match without Orton there in the arena. That, of course, begs a further and more basic question: what was the point of any of this stuff at the house happening at all? They fought at this house just so that they could come back to the arena to finish the fight? Why not just have the fight in one place? These rules make Bray in particular look like an idiot, as he gains no advantage from them, and whatever advantage he would gain by knowing the layout of the house would almost certainly be negated by the time Randy makes it back to the arena- although now that Bray has taken the limo, I'm not really sure how Randy is going to be able to do that before the PPV goes off the air.
And then, of course, we have the issue of the non-finish in order to start the match later. It's good to see that they haven't learned their lesson from the last time they tried this in that match where Harper and Ambrose drove away in the middle of their Falls Count Anywhere match.
This whole segment was microcosm of everything that is wrong with the way WWE uses Bray Wyatt. They are so focused on impressing us with superficial crap and smokescreens and fancy effects that don't put any time into trying to give things any depth, so all that was left was boring, empty repetitive bullsh*t that happened for absolutely no reason other than for the sake of having some sort of spooky thing happen.
SETH ROLLINS vs. SAMOA JOE - 7.25/10
An exciting match that told a good story of Joe working over Seth's knee to slow him down before going for the Coquina Clutch. The finish did a good job of making it feel like Seth deserved to win but like Joe really wasn't "beaten" so he retains his dangerousness.
If ticket for next year's WrestleMania aren't on sale yet then why are they playing a commercial hyping the show up?
BRAY WYATT ARRIVES AT THE ARENA - It's already after ten o'clock. If it took Bray twenty minutes to get here by car, how the hell is Orton going to get here before the end of the show? He leans on "Neil's Workbox" for a while, then heads for the ring. We cut to the announcers, and Cole says that "without Randy Orton trapped under a refrigerator in the House of Horrors, you have to believe that a forfeiture is coming." HOW?! According to what JoJo announced, he has to be in the ring to forfeit the match!
HOUSE OF HORRORS MATCH: PART 2 - DUD! (the first ever DOUBLE DUD!)
So Bray comes out to the ring and Randy Orton is just magically back at the arena, behind Bray, holding a chair, and showing no signs of having had a refrigerator slammed on him twenty minutes ago despite both what the announcers have been playing up and the fact that Bray is still freakin' selling, and Bray was the guy who WON that brawl.
Randy hits Bray with the chair and oh now there's the selling. Randy beats the sh*t out of Bray but gets attacked by the Bollywood Boyz then beats Bray up some more but then Jinder Mahal shows up with the WWE World Heavyweight Title belt that everyone forgot that he stole from Randy on Smackdown and hits Randy in the back of the head. Then Bray hits Sister Abigail and beats him. So yeah. This whole thing was just a set-up so they could get some heat on Jobber Mahal for title match against Randy in four weeks. In order to do so they decided it would be best to have Jinder cost Randy a match that no one cared about against a guy who is actually owed a title shot (this match actually was originally announced as a title shot, I believe, and they also specifically never said it wasn't one in the build because they're too cowardly to either tell the truth and live the consequences of their own "fly by the seat of your pants" booking or too stupid to just let Randy win here and not do this angle which involves a million Smackdown guys showing up on a Raw PPV). To make matters worse, having Randy beat the crap out of Bray and the Bolllywood Boyz and having Jinder being the deciding factor makes it 100% clear that everything that happened in that house DIDN'T MATTER ONE BIT.
And while I'm so damn angry I have to note that when Jinder showed up with the title belt Michael Cole angrily shouted that Jinder "didn't earn that!" exactly like JBL did on Smackdown, which has just cemented in my head the fact that we're going to have to hear that phrase shouted multiple times every week from now until Backlash because, as Vinny V said a few weeks ago, WWE is "public relations company run amok" rather than a wrestling promotion and that is the phrase they have chosen for this feud, just like "sibling rivalry" for Orton vs. Harper, "the Ultimate Thrillride" for WrestleMania, "fantasy warfare just got real!" for Brock vs. Goldberg, and a million other phrases which aren't popping into my mind right now because I'm so damn annoyed. We live in an age where we are going to get a million different little "Divas Revolution"s every month from now until the moment that either Vince grows a functioning brain (which, G-d willing, will happen very soon) or social media dies (which, G-d willing, will also happen very soon) so that they don't think they have to keep coming up with dumb sh*t to turn into a hashtag.
ROMAN REIGNS vs. BRAUN STROWMAN - 7.5/10
Roman is all taped up. The match was relatively short for a main event, but action-packed, hard-hitting, and pretty intense. Braun got the win, then beat Roman up some more with the ring steps. Roman was coughing up blood. This was actually really well done. A very good angle. Unfortunately, it was backed by a track of fans chanting "YOU DESERVE IT!" at Roman.
This was a solid - not great, but solid - show from WWE, with one big stinking turn in the middle. Unfortunately for WWE, that one turd is the match they spent the most time building and is among the most different matches they've ever done, so that is what people are always going to remember about this show.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES
1. Booker T- "Chris Jericho put Canada on the map for so many years."
Because there had never been another great Canadian professional wrestler before Chris Jericho came along.
2. Corey Graves referred to the Hardys as "pioneers of tag team wrestling here in WWE."
Yes. The Hardys were definitely one of the first tag teams in the history of the promotion.