WWE RAW Review (9/18/17): The Final Stop Before No Mercy
We’re less than a week away from No Mercy this Sunday, and WWE invaded San Jose, California (the home of Sharks & Bayley) for their go home episode of Raw. No Mercy has a stacked card, and last night’s show either added matches to the pay per view or furthered along storylines for matches that were already scheduled. In other words, this was your standard go home episode before a pay per view.
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The Raw Review for September 18, 2017.
Raw opened with the Miz and his -Tourage (minus the expecting Maryse. Congratulations again to Mr. and Mrs. Mizanin!) complaining about the lack of opportunity for him to defend his IC title. Miz can be a dick at times but for the most part he comes out and speaks the truth. The IC title used to be a stepping stone to whoever was next for a main event spot, but up until last night, it wasn’t going to be defended for a second straight pay per view. It’s one thing to not have an IC title match at No Mercy, but I was shocked that Summerslam didn’t feature Miz defending his title. Counting the pre show, WWE had 6 hours and couldn’t figure out a way to have Miz defend the title? It’s inexcusable, and luckily his constant bickering led to Kurt Angle moseying out and making a #1 contender’s match as the main event.
Miz & Angle have a back and forth about who will go down in history as the greatest father of all time, which brought out Jason Jordan to protect his beloved dad. I really hope this leads to Angle teaming up with Jordan to take on the Miz-Tourage at some point, and while it’d be cool to have Angle fight Rollins, Balor, Reigns or someone of that ilk, it’d be odd to have him get in a ring and not be paired up with his “son” at some point. Jordan defends his father by asking that the Fatal Four Way #1 contender’s match get switched to a Six Pack Challenge so Jordan can beat up Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel, and it looks like Jordan already has the dumb WWE baby face persona down to a science.
The main event was the aforementioned Six Pack Challenge, and it was a pretty fun match. Jordan and Elias got the spotlights, while the Hardy’s, Dallas and Axel rounded out the rest of the six pack. Jordan picked up the win, which was the obvious and right call, and I’m excited to see what kind of chemistry he and Miz have. I doubt this will be the only encounter between the two, and I can see Jordan heading into No Mercy with a ton of confidence but not much of a game plan, Axel and Dallas interfering and Kurt Angle inserting himself into the feud going forward.
What the Raw Women’s division lacks in depth it makes up for in talent, but last night was a good example of there being no clear character alignments. Alexa Bliss took on Nia Jax. Alexa knows she has no shot at beating Nia one on one, so she tries to bolt, but Sasha Banks stops her and Alexa gets pinned by Nia. I never understood making your champion look as weak as humanly possible heading into a pay per view title defense, but WWE does it so often that it’s not even worth diving into. My biggest issue with this segment was after the match. Nia takes out Sasha and Alexa, which brings out the returning Bayley in her hometown. Nia is the one who injured her shoulder and put her on the shelf, and the crowd is ready for Bayley to get revenge. Instead of that happening, Bayley, Alexa and Nia team up to knock Nia out of the ring, then Bayley and Sasha team up to take out Alexa. Why wouldn’t Alexa just split instead of teaming up with Sasha and Bayley? If Sasha and Bayley are the conquering heroes, why are they beating up 5 foot nothing Alexa Bliss two on one? Where was Emma? Why is Michael Cole referring to Emma as the ‘young upstart’? If you can find three things about this segment that make sense, I’ll give you $1 million.
The Hype Train
John Cena and Brock Lesnar weren’t around this week, so the hype for the two main matches at No Mercy were done via hype videos, pre taped interviews and another good Roman Reigns promo. The good thing about that is WWE is better than anybody at those videos and interviews, so they were all great. WWE hasn’t uploaded the hype videos to their YouTube page so I can’t embed them, but once they do you should check them out. My favorite thing about both Cena/Reigns and Strowman/Lesnar is that WWE is utilizing their own history to tell the stories. They showed footage of Cena debuting in OVW as The Prototype and Reigns debuting in NXT looking like a million bucks. Cena has the experience advantage over Reigns, but both guys are highly decorated and have taken a very similar career path. They started with the US title, both won Royal Rumbles and both won the WWE title in the main event of WrestleMania. They’re also both simultaneously loved and hated by the same audiences, so it’s almost like watching a guy wrestling in front of a mirror.
You could say the same thing about Lesnar and Strowman. Strowman is not as experienced or decorated as Lesnar, but if there’s one guy on the current roster who epitomizes The Next Big Thing, it’s Braun Strowman. Braun has consistently gotten the upper hand on Lesnar every time they’ve been in the ring together, and I hope that means Brock will have to resort to something other than suplexes to eventually take him down. Also, this GIF:
As of this writing the tag team championship match at No Mercy is Ambrose & Rollins defending against The Bar, but I have to imagine The Club get added before Sunday. With The Hardy’s fighting for singles titles and The Revival still on the shelf, the Raw tag team division is literally only three teams (Rhyno & Heath Slater are apparently in witness protection). If they end up making it a triple threat at No Mercy, this was a good preview of what to expect. This match was a lot of fun with some good false finishes, especially the one with The Club hitting the Magic Killer and almost picking up the victory. All three teams looked good at different points in the match which is all you can really ask for, and since The Bar picked up the win, we also got this wonderful Cesaro celebration GIF:
Curt Hawkins now calls himself the History Machine, and his loss to Apollo Crews last night has his current losing streak up to 115 in a row. I’m not even sure how to make a joke out of that.
The Bray Wyatt/Finn Balor rivalry that’s been heavily based on face paint motored along this week. Goldust, as a man and sans face paint, asked Kurt Angle, another man, for a rematch against Bray Wyatt, who is also a man. Angle agreed, and Goldust wrestled as Dustin Rhodes, without face paint yet still in his full Goldust attire. Wyatt won easily, because of course he did, which summoned Finn Balor, fellow man. Balor actually had a pretty good promo where he talked about The Demon being a creation of Finn Balor The Man, so Wyatt shouldn’t be so keen to wrestle The Man who created The Demon. I’m sure this match will be good from a wrestling standpoint at No Mercy, and I’m also sure Bray Wyatt will either lose or win via spooky shenanigans.
RIP Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan
Bobby Heenan passed away over the weekend after a long battle with cancer, and WWE put a great video together of all his best moments. Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon are still my favorite commentary team of all time. ‘The Brain’ will be missed.
Braun Strowman was only live on Raw for a few minutes, but once again he was the best part of the show. The Enzo entrance sing a long is getting staler and staler by the week, and the San Jose crowd was barely into it last night. After Enzo was done telling everyone his name, Braun Strowman roared out and absolutely destroyed him. The full video is above, but by far the best part of the segment is this GIF:
Braun Strowman, the greatest ever.
Neville vs. Gran Metalik
While Neville vs. Gran Metalik isn’t going to be on any match of the year lists, it was a shortened version of what the Cruiserweight division should be on Raw. WWE has put together this exciting roster of insanely athletic guys yet they never let them show off on Raw. Last night Metalik got some exciting spots, but Neville ultimately put him away because he’s the champion and should be winning those matches. Side note: how stupid does having Tozawa beat Neville the Raw before Summerslam look in hindsight? That’s the only blip on the resume for Neville’s Cruiserweight run, and it makes less and less sense every day.
That’s it for this week’s show. Join us next week when we find out if the WWE is Reigns of Cena’s yard and if Los Angeles can survive Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman beating the crap out of each other.