WWE RAW Review (8/28/17): Shooting From The Hip
Welcome back to Ryan’s Raw Review (I’ll figure out a name that doesn’t sound like Pee Wee’s Playhouse eventually) for what was an overall solid 3 hour wrestling show. We’re one week further removed from Summerslam and one week closer to No Mercy, which turns out is the best thing in the world because the No Mercy card is going to be stacked as hell. Let’s get to the review!
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There are few things in life I like more than a battle royal with consequence attached to it, so naturally I loved this entire opening. The quick Miz/Angle promo and the battle royal took up the first 30 minutes of Raw, and it beat the hell out of a normal Raw opening that usually features two or more people talking, brawling and then most likely fighting each other in the main event. The Miz wants to bring prestige back to the IC belt, and Kurt Angle agrees, so instead of just naming his son as the #1 contender (which I really thought was going to happen) he makes an over the top rope battle royal with the winner facing Miz for the IC title next week. That’s perfect. There really isn’t one guy who stands out above the rest in the mid card division, so why not give them all the same opportunity and see who rises to the top?
Balor, Elias or Jason Jordan would have made sense, but I liked the surprise of going with Jeff Hardy, especially since this is for a title shot next week and not at a pay per view. Taking the slower approach with Jordan is a smart move as well, because his character isn’t connecting yet, and the answer to that problem is not to strap a rocket to his ass and have him win all the titles. Let him earn a title shot and see how the crowd reacts to that. The only shitty part of the match was Bray Wyatt tossing out Finn Balor. Wyatt’s character is as stale as month old bread, plus Finn already beat him at Summerslam. Get ready for Bray to beat Finn on a random episode of Raw only for Finn to get the win back at No Mercy. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Three champions (spoiler for the main event) cut promos last night that were short but so on the nose that I wanted to make sure I mentioned them. Alexa Bliss was interviewed earlier in the night about her Women’s title match against Sasha Banks and she once again pointed out that Sasha Banks has never successfully defended the Women’s title, so why wouldn’t Alexa be going into that much with a boat load of confidence? It’s a tiny detail that could get lost in the build up to the match, but Alexa pointing it out and then delivering later in the night was wonderful.
The second instance is after Enzo Amore defeated Noam Dar. If you’re interested in reading a write up of that match I honestly don’t know what to tell you, but the only thing I wrote in my notes for that match was that WWE should give Enzo a finisher that he can’t fuck up as badly as he did last night. When your finisher requires you to put your foot on the other person’s face and pull their arm down to the mat, you should probably make sure your foot is on their face. Anyway, Neville cut a quick promo after the match (which isn’t on WWE’s YouTube yet) explaining that if Enzo is considered competition in the Cruiserweight division, then Neville is going to be champion forever. PREACH.
The final promo of the night was from The Miz, who was interviewed as he was leaving the building before the main event (apparently he hates women’s wrestling?). Miz rightfully points out that the point of his promo from earlier in the night was that he wants to bring prestige back to the IC title, and he doesn’t think that someone who wins one match should automatically get a shot at his title. As much as I love battle royals it’s tough to disagree with that point, although Jeff Hardy & Miz could sneak their way into our hearts next week.
Paul Heyman, Public Speaker Extraordinaire
Paul Heyman & Brock Lesnar were back again this week, and I could get used to the most important champion on the show showing up on a consistent basis. Last week Lesnar got eaten alive by destroyer of men Braun Strowman, and Heyman was out here this week doing the Lord’s work, putting over Strowman as Brock’s toughest opponent on the current roster. It’s such a simple technique & I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t use it.
If I’m fighting you, am I going to look stronger if you’re built up as this powerful entity or if you limp into the match with no momentum? It’s always option A, and WWE almost never builds up a match that way. I’ll get to The Bar/Rollins/Ambrose in a minute to show you what I mean. Heyman is predictably wonderful here, and Brock even gets on the microphone to formally invite Mr. Strowman to Suplex City™, bitch. It’s always nice to hear Brock actually speak, and while I favor him talking about making people vomit or piss themselves, I’ll take a Suplex City catchphrase when I can get it.
So. The Bar lost the tag belts to Ambrose & Rollins at Summerslam, and since there are only two other teams in the division we’re going to keep getting The Bar vs. Ambrose & Rollins until the end of time. It’s not the worst thing in the world because they’re four of the best guys on the roster, but if last night is any indication, the build to their matches are going to be super frustrating. Cesaro and Rollins squared off first and had a very good match, but once Sheamus got on the microphone after the match and announced he vs. Dean Ambrose, you knew exactly what was going to happen. Cesaro beat Rollins, so Ambrose HAD to beat Sheamus immediately after that to keep everyone even Stevens. The only thing worse than one team going into a title match with no momentum is both teams going in with no momentum. 50/50 bookings helps absolutely no one and it’s the dumbest thing WWE does on a consistent basis. The thought process behind it must be that both teams look evenly matched, but there are other ways to portray that besides having them constantly beat each other.
Emma and Mickie James had a backstage argument over internet hashtags, because it’s not possible for the Women’s division to have two storylines without one of them revolving around arguing over who started the Women’s Revolution. Emma beats Mickie in a quick, sloppy match, but if we’re looking for a silver lining, at least Emma won a match.
John Cena will take on Roman Reigns at No Mercy because apparently No Mercy is the most important pay per view of the year. Seriously, the current card is Strowman/Lesnar, Reigns/Cena and they planted seeds for Nia/Alexa after the main event. Those are all WrestleMania quality matches. Before the match comes the contract signing, and Reigns and Cena knocked this segment out of the park. There are going to be people that didn’t like this segment because it featured Reigns and Cena, but WWE doesn’t go to the reality well too often which is why segments like this always work for me. The basis of this promo is that Reigns doesn’t need to fight Cena, and he’s right.
He’s been in the main event of three straight WrestleMania’s, retired the Undertaker at last year’s Mania and is clearly on his way to being John Cena 2.0. Cena’s job is to get under Reign’s skin and convince him to sign the contract, and John Cena does that better than anybody. Cena called out Reigns for his weak promo skills (while it looked like Reigns was in the middle of forgetting his lines) and told Roman that the only reason Cena is still even a part timer is because Roman can’t do his job right. That has to cut deep, and has a whole lot of truth to it. Cena still sells merchandise and tickets, and when WWE needs a ratings boost, it’s not Roman Reigns they turn to, it’s John Cena. Reigns pulled out the burying talking point and they mentioned heel turns and breaking the fourth wall, and while that feeds into the internet chatter more than anything else, it felt real and like I was watching two guys who didn’t really like each other.
It’s the same reason why Rock/Cena worked so well, and why it was the most watched WrestleMania in history. Add in a dose of reality every once in awhile with two guys who can pull it off and you’ll get some magic. It’s just funny that WWE is using magic to promote No Mercy. I’m going to pretend The Club didn’t come out to ruin the moment and that this segment ended with Reigns and Cena trying to rip each other apart.
Elias continues to be a great character and his weekly song about the city WWE is in is always a highlight. Unfortunately he’s still not in a meaningful feud, and last night he beat up Heath Slater in an Elvis costume. They were in Memphis, get it? Hey WWE, Elias and Goldust aren’t doing anything. Maybe use your 25+ veteran and have him work with your new guy who has lots of potential instead of whatever else you’re doing.
The first four episodes of the Mae Young Classic premiered on the WWE Network after Raw (although they were available earlier in the day as well) so it made sense to put Alexa vs. Sasha as the main event, and the women delivered once again. Alexa & Sasha have great chemistry together, and I enjoyed the psychological aspect of the match with Sasha targeting Alexa’s arm and Alexa targeting Sasha’s back. The end result was the right call too, because you still have Nia Jax waiting in the wings, as Alexa promised her a title shot long ago. Alexa wins with her beautiful looking DDT, and Nia comes out to help Alexa celebrate. She hoisted Alexa up on her shoulder and walked around the ring with a smile, only to change expressions to stone face and drop Alexa on her back. It was a great moment, and Nia is long overdue for a title program. If this sets up Alexa vs. Nia at No Mercy, I’m all the way in.