WWE RAW Review (10/23/17): Under Siege
Whenever I hear Under Siege, this image immediately pops into my head:
Last night’s Raw was live from Green Bay, Wisconsin and featured fallout from Sunday’s TLC pay per view. If you haven’t watched it yet, I’d recommend watching the women’s title match, Styles vs. Balor and the main event. I’ve read some complaints online that the main event went a little too long, but I really enjoyed it, especially considering it was a last minute audible when Reigns was unable to perform due to illness. Plus, Kurt Angle wrestled again, and he looked good! It’s impossible not to be happy about that.
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And now, the Raw Review for October 23, 2017.
A lot of this episode either directly or indirectly set up matches for Survivor Series, and it started with the opening segment. After a great video package that showed the entire main event (minus the trash compactor murder), Kurt Angle came out to announce the setup for Survivor Series. This year’s show will feature four champion vs. champion matches plus a men’s and women’s sole survivor match. That brought out Miz, Axel, Cesaro and Sheamus to rightfully run down Angle for sticking his nose in their business.
I loved Kurt wrestling as much as anyone else, but when GM’s make the choice to get in the ring, you can’t blame guys like Miz and his crew for wanting to take them out. Rollins and Ambrose came from the crowd to make the save, because once you wear the vest, you’re a brother for life (until Seth Rollins hits you in the back with a chair).
Miz pointed out that the numbers game was still in their favor, so Kurt Angle decided to make a 3 on 3 tag match for RIGHT NOW, but instead of Kurt subbing in for The Shield again, he brought out the goddamn MVP of the WWE, AJ Styles. It goes without saying that Styles is the best wrestler in the WWE right now, but what he did over the past three days is pretty insane. He was in Santiago, Chile Saturday night for a Smackdown live event, then flew to TLC in Minnesota and put on one of the best one on one matches of the year with Finn Balor. He stuck around last night and picked up the win against Miz, Sheamus and Cesaro, and then popped back up in the main event, which I’ll talk about later.
The 3 on 3 tag match was a lot of fun, and more fast paced than I thought it would be considering what all six guys went through last night. The Angle promo and this match took up the first 35+ minutes, and WWE is really relying on it’s top guys to carry the load while guys like Reigns and Wyatt are sick.
Demon v. Demon
Kane returned last week during the Strowman/Reigns steel cage match to help Braun win and joined Team Miz-Bar-Monster at TLC. Kane and Strowman butted heads at TLC and ended up brawling, which led to Kane murdering Braun via trash compactor. The good news: this sets up Braun vs. Kane, most likely at Survivor Series, which will give Braun another win over a legendary monster in the WWE. The bad news: Kane will have to look strong heading into that match until Braun reappears, and WWE apparently thinks it’s necessary to have Kane pin Finn Balor clean instead of beating someone like Curt Hawkins or Apollo Crews. The sentence ‘Kane pinned Finn Balor clean’ should not be written in 2017, and it certainly should not be written the night after Finn had his best main roster match in a win against AJ Styles. I don’t expect Braun vs. Kane to be in the same ballpark as Braun vs. Big Show, but it should still be another spotlight win for the big man.
Emma isn’t ready for Asuka
Asuka vs. Emma wasn’t bad at TLC, but I wish they employed a different strategy for her debut match. They did the same thing with Nakamura and Ziggler, and while competently wrestled matches can be fun, the whole point of wrestlers like Asuka and Nakamura is to differentiate them from everyone else. They’re never going to be the ones cutting long winded promos, so the noticeable differences between them and everyone else needs to happen in the ring. I also think this would’ve worked better if Emma’s only storyline this year hadn’t been about hashtags. She also won the spot in the match because she rolled up Sasha Banks out of the Banks Statement, so it’s not like she was going into TLC with a ton of momentum.
The rematch was a little better, and it’s clear Asuka and Emma have good chemistry dating back to their NXT days. I did like the finishing sequence, as the Asuka Lock is never more dangerous than when Asuka figures out creative ways to apply it. Now let’s make sure Asuka moves onto literally anyone else.
I love Corey Graves, but when he’s sandwiched between the awfulness of Michael Cole and Booker T, his likeability and insight are drowned out by those two buffoons. Booker T has a weird hard on for Jason Jordan, and between his impossible to decipher points and Cole egging him on, it makes it impossible to watch a Jason Jordan match. At they’re best the commentators are there to put over the wrestlers and the match and at they’re worst they should be background noise. They should never, ever put themselves over the match, especially when it’s someone like Jordan who is trying to find his character. It doesn’t help that the match was a throwaway, as Samson hit Jason Jordan with his guitar a couple minutes in to cause the DQ. Not great, guys.
You Deserve It
Alexa Bliss was once again wonderfully smug on the microphone last night, and she did bring up a good point. Wrestling audiences are conditioned to spotlight people like Mickie James or Kurt Angle with praise and chants but overlook people like Bliss who are there week in and week out putting in the work as a champion. Mickie James had been non existent in the Raw women’s division before this feud, and while her and Bliss’s match at TLC was great, Alexa deserves as much credit as Mickie for that. I’m not sure how this feud will shake out with Alexa taking on Natalya at Survivor Series, but I hope they have at least one more match in their future.
Paul Heyman, Trash Talker
I really loved Heyman and Lesnar’s answer to Jinder Mahal’s Survivor Series challenge, because it played out exactly how it should have. Paul Heyman is the master at hyping up Brock Lesnar’s opponent while also making The Beast look superior, because he understands that the better Lesnar’s opponent looks, the better off Brock will be when he beats him. He didn’t trash talk Goldberg or Samoa Joe or Braun Strowman because they were all worthy opponents of Lesnar, and when Lesnar beat them, he looked dominant instead of being the guy who beat somebody who shouldn’t have been across the ring from him in the first place. Which brings me to Jinder Mahal, who should not be across the ring from Lesnar in the first place. Heyman knows it. Lesnar knows it. I know it. If their match at Survivor Series ends with anything other than Lesnar beating the life out of Mahal with one of his own appendages then they’re doing it wrong.
Crazy as a Fox
The aforementioned women’s Raw vs. Smackdown match will take place at Survivor Series, so Kurt Angle put Alicia Fox, Bayley and Sasha Banks in a triple threat match to determine the captain of the team. The match was OK, but I did enjoy Alicia Fox winning because her character is so much fun. She’s crazy you see, and even kisses the ref after she wins. Making Alicia the captain also hopefully puts in motion the long overdue Bayley/Sasha feud that needed to happen months ago. Bayley and Sasha should never be best friends on screen again.
My favorite part of the whole show was Drew Gulak doing Enzo’s entire entrance shtick because Enzo lost his voice. His delivery of ‘how are you doing’ was fantastic, and it’s the most I’ve liked Drew Gulak ever. The 10 man tag match that followed was also a lot of fun, mainly because it included some consistent high flying. If you have guys like Ali, Metalik, Swann and Alexander on your roster, you need to let them fly. They did that here and it was great, even with the ‘Kalisto has pinned the cruiserweight champion’ talking point.
Shane McMahon showed up earlier in the night to make playful jabs at Kurt Angle, but when he confronted him in the main event, there was nothing playful about it. If you take character alignments out of the picture, this closing segment was great. I’m not going to get bogged down in heels vs. faces and complain that certain guys shouldn’t be working together, because this segment accomplished what it needed to: it makes you want to watch tonight’s Smackdown, the following week’s of Raw/Smackdown and Survivor Series. Plus, it didn’t go too over the top. It’s not like Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens were out there doing Shane’s bidding, or The Uso’s were helping New Day because of Smackdown pride. If the TakeOver the night before Survivor Series is War Games, then the Raw vs. Smackdown feud should have a war or chaos like atmosphere as well. This segment accomplished that, and I can’t wait to see how Angle and Raw respond.