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.
My generation of wrestling fans usually pick Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross as their favorite broadcast team, but whenever that conversation comes up, I’ll always lean towards Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon. Heenan, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 73, was a jack of all trades wrestling personality and talent that excelled at everything he did in or around a wrestling ring. His career spanned the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, starting as an in ring performer, but ‘The Brain’ will always be known as one of the greatest managers and color commentators of all time. Heenan always delivered, and he was one of the most entertaining personality’s in the history of wrestling. Thanks for the memories ‘Brain’, and thanks for entertaining us humanoids for so many years.
Asuka was, unquestionably, the most dominating superstar in NXT history. She’s also had one of the most successful two year runs in WWE history, and she heads to Raw with an undefeated streak dating back to October 7, 2015 and a never-to-be-broken record of 523 days as NXT Women’s champion. Every other big name superstar that was called up to either Raw or Smackdown went out on their back: Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Charlotte, Bayley, Sasha Banks; but that was not the case with Asuka. She suffered a legitimate injury during her title defense against Ember Moon at TakeOver Brooklyn III, and relinquished the title a few weeks ago on NXT.
While it may be wrestling tradition to put the next man or women over before you head elsewhere, there was nothing traditional about Asuka. She changed the entire dynamic of NXT, and reinvented what it meant to be a dominant champion. While her in ring work was superb, her entire aura was what drew you towards her. She would dance to the ring with her mask on (which I unashamedly own) and almost lull you to sleep with her calmness. Then she would get in the ring and kick your ass or choke you out. There will never be another superstar like Asuka in NXT, but I’m glad that we’ll get to see the next chapter very soon on Raw.
For now, enjoy this pitch perfect promo that signifies the impending doom that every women’s wrestler on the Raw roster must feel right now.
Talk about a punch to the feelings bone. I feel like Michael Scott during the ‘Grief Counseling’ episode of The Office, except much happier. Whether you love or hate John Cena the wrestler, it’s become abundantly clear that John Cena the person is a pretty great guy. While my generation might not be the target audience for Cena and his message, it’s clear that his Never Give Up catchphrase has a positive effect on a lot of people. If you didn’t tear up when Tyler started telling his story then you have no soul.
Summerslam is only 10 days away, and things are heating up as we inch closer towards WWE’s Biggest Party of the Summer. While the match card hasn’t been finalized yet, there are 10 bouts already on the show, so let’s take a look at the confirmed matches and speculate on what else could be added.
Make sure to check back on the site next Friday for our official preview & predictions post for both Summerslam and TakeOver Brooklyn III.
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
I’m not as well versed on Smackdown feuds as I am with Raw, but WWE aren’t exactly the Coen Brothers when it comes to telling stories so I’m pretty sure I can figure things out. 2017 has been a frustrating year for Rusev. He missed WrestleMania due to a shoulder injury, got separated from Lana and when he finally debuted on Smackdown, he got thrown into a USA themed feud with John Cena that he obviously lost.
You’d think that’d be enough awfulness for one year, but now he’s slotted against Randy Orton, the man with less momentum than a nailed down piece of wood. Orton started the year off strong with a Royal Rumble win and a World title win at WrestleMania, but everything post Mania has been awful. He was in the House of Horrors match & has lost to Jinder Mahal three pay per views in a row. Even though he inexplicably got a clean non title win over Mahal on Tuesday, he’s still tanking.
In a perfect world, this would be a spot to give Rusev a win at a major pay per view over someone with name value, but we do not live in a perfect world. RKO out of somewhere will win it for Orton.
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
If you’ve been following the story of Bray Wyatt, you know all his storylines have three acts. Act 1. Start a feud by teleporting in and costing someone a match. Act 2. build up that feud with teleportation/spooky dark room promos. Act 3. Lose the match at a pay per view. We’re all the way though act 1 and almost through act 2, so the only thing left for Wyatt to do is lose to Balor at Summerslam. I really hope I’m wrong, but Balor hasn’t done much since returning from injury, and he wasn’t even on the GBOF card. Wyatt beat Rollins at that show, which was nice, but his track record causes me to believe he’s going to lose to Balor at the more important PPV.
This one could go either way, but I’m leaning towards Balor.
Big Cass vs. Big Show (Enzo Amore will be suspended in a shark cage above the ring)
Dear lord please let this be the blow off match. The Enzo & Cass feud has been going in circles for what feels like forever, and adding Big Show into the mix hasn’t exactly been refreshing. I’ve read a few articles that think this has been a long con between Enzo & Cass and they’ll turn on the Big Show, but that’d be a hell of a lot of work for a mediocre result. I wouldn’t mind Enzo/Cass teaming back up as heels to add some depth to the tag division, but there’s no way WWE is doing that. Enzo in a shark cage means there’s a 1,000% chance he’s dropping something into the ring that’s meant for Big Show, but will end up Big Cass’s hands when the referee is knocked out or sleeping or trying to hang himself from boredom.
Big Cass by default.
John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
With Cena presumably fading into the Hollywood sunset this fall, this should be a spotlight win for Baron Corbin. I know this argument comes up every time Cena fights a younger guy in a big match, but John literally gains nothing with a win here, while Corbin could gain so much. He already has the MITB briefcase, and assuming Nakamura wins the title (which I’ll get to later) giving Corbin a win over Cena would make him that much more dangerous as he chases Nak.
It doesn’t even need to be a clean win. Have him kick Cena in the dick, set him on fire, whatever. WWE baby faces will never be as popular as they want them to be unless they have a legitimate heel to oppose them. If Corbin beats Cena at Summerslam, he’ll be on his way to being a true threat to whoever is holding the title.
Baron Corbin, NO RAGRETS
Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (C) vs. Akira Tozawa
In my Raw review’s I’ve said that I’d be interested in pretty much anyone else challenging Neville for the Cruiserweight title. I don’t understand the appeal of having guys like Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander, Gran Metalik & Mustafa Ali waste away on 205 Live & Main Event while Tozawa is given a title shot. At the least this should be a multi man match, but since it’s one on one, all I want is for Neville to rip Tozawa’s arm off and beat Titus O’Neil with it.
Neville should win convincingly.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: New Day (C) vs. The Uso’s
New Day & The Uso’s have been having a very under the radar feud on Smackdown, and this is one of the matches I’m most excited for. As solid as Xavier Woods was at Battleground, the best wrestling version of New Day is always Big E & Kofi, so I’m glad to see they’ll be defending the straps. The Uso’s picked up a decisive win on Tuesday over Sami Zayn & Tye Dillinger, and New Day also showed some much needed aggression in their post match attack. You get the sense that these two teams really dislike each other, which is an element that’s missing from a lot of modern day feuds. If they’re given as much time as they were at Battleground, this could turn into a classic.
This is a toss up for me, but if I HAD to choose, I’m going Uso’s.
Smackdown Women’s Championship Match: Naomi (C) vs. Natalya
It’s refreshing to see the Women’s title defended in a one on one match at a major pay per view. I understand the mindset of wanting to get as much people on the card as possible, but the title feels more important when there’s a standout challenger. It’s also nice to see Natalya given a title match at a major pay per view, and as the senior member of the Women’s division I think she and Naomi are going to put on a hell of a match. Summerslam is slated for 4 hours (plus a 2 hour pre show) so there’s no reason to not give each match the time it needs to tell a story. Similar to Mahal/Nakamura, the result of this match may not matter as Carmella should be lurking in the background with her MITB briefcase.
Naomi retains after a hard fought match, and Carmella capitalizes and cashes in.
WWE United States Championship Match: AJ Styles (C) vs. Kevin Owens (Shane McMahon as special guest referee)
Whenever you put AJ Styles and Kevin Owens together they have a chance to do something special, so my only request for this match is to let them do what they do best, which is wrestle and tell a story. I know that’s a lot to ask when Shane McMahon is the special guest referee, but this is a different Shane O Mac than the one we saw ref matches in the late 90s & early 2000s.
The general consensus is that this will lead to KO vs. Shane somewhere down the line (since we’ve already seen Shane vs. AJ) but again, all I want is for these two to wrestle their asses off. Leave the shenanigans for another day. This match doesn’t need AJ getting his foot stuck in the announce table or a confusing ending based on shoulder placement. You have two of the best wrestlers in the world in a title match at your second biggest pay per view. Let them work their magic.
I’m very into workhorse mid card champion AJ Styles, so I’m going with AJ.
WWE Championship Match: Jinder Mahal (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This is the match I’m most nervous about. While it’s great to see a fresh face as champion, Jinder Mahal’s title reign hasn’t been great. While a lot of that has to do with him only fighting Randy Orton, you also have to remember who Jinder Mahal was before this run. He was the third best member in 3MB during his former run and his most noteworthy moment during his last run on Raw was hitting Finn Balor too hard in the head. Just because he’s champion doesn’t mean he’s magically going to turn into AJ Styles in the ring.
Nakamura has also had some growing pains since debuting on the main roster. He’s had subpar matches with Ziggler, KO & Corbin, all of whom are capable of much more, especially against Nak. If Nakamura can’t have good to great matches with those three, is he capable of doing it with Jinder Mahal? Are we in for another bad match with Singh Brother interference? I always skew positive when it comes to pro wrestling, but this match doesn’t have a lot going for it.
Nakamura should win this match. Even if you have the Singh Brothers interfere, Nakamura is clearly the star of this match, and he should be able to overcome the odds and Kinshasa Jinder to win the belt. While Corbin could always cash in his MITB briefcase post match, don’t forget about John Cena. I can picture a scenario where Corbin beats Cena, and then Cena stops a possible cash in on new champion Nakamura, someone who Cena has already shown has earned his respect.
Fatal 4 Way Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe
The biggest compliment I can give this match is that no result would surprise me. If Lesnar wins and retains the title somehow, it would make sense because he’s Brock Lesnar. If Samoa Joe or Strowman win, you’re giving them their first major title win at your second biggest pay per view. If Rollins & Ambrose win the tag titles earlier in the night and help Reigns win the Universal title in the main event I’ll probably lose consciousness.
The biggest stipulation is the announcement that if Lesnar loses, he’ll leave WWE. It’s no secret that he wants back in the UFC, and it’s tough to train for that and appear for WWE at the same time. As awesome as Brock is, he’s always better in small doses, and he doesn’t need the title. He can show up and murder everyone every 6 months or so until he’s 60. If his heart is set on returning to the UFC, let him do it and then welcome him back with open arms if he wants to return.
My heart is set on Samoa Joe winning here, so that’s who I’m going with. Lesnar leaves temporarily, Strowman & Reigns become de facto number one contenders and Joe gets a title he almost over deserves.
There are already 10 confirmed matches, but that will immediately change to 12 after Monday’s Raw. Alexa Bliss will defend her Women’s title against the winner of Sasha Banks/Nia Jax & I’d expect Rollins & Ambrose vs. Cesaro & Sheamus for the Raw tag belts to be announced as well. Goldust teased ‘an unveiling’ last Monday, so he should be on the card in some capacity. Miz vs. Jason Jordan? Hardy’s vs. The Club? Fashion Files? The sky is the limit for a 6 hour wrestling show, so make sure to check back next week for our official preview post.
While this seemed like an inevitability, you never want to see someone get injured, especially before a big title match at a major pay per view. Unfortunately that’s exactly what happened to Bayley last week, as she separated her shoulder in her match against Nia Jax and will not be able to compete against Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s title at Summerslam. The good news (for WWE) is that there are still two Raw’s before Summerslam, so we’ll get two triple threat matches tonight, with the winners facing each other for a shot at Bliss’s title at Summerslam. It’s going to be weird seeing six women competing on one Raw, since the only women we’ve seen lately are Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss, Bayley or Sasha Banks (I’m not counting that Emma/Nia squash). I have to imagine Sasha and Nia advance tonight to face each other next week, but I wouldn’t be mad if Emma squeaks out a win tonight either.
Make sure to check back on the site tomorrow morning, as we’ll have a full review of tonight’s Raw from Toronto!
During her match with Nia Jax on the July 31 edition of Raw, Bayley suffered an injury to her right shoulder.
The former Raw Women’s Champion was evaluated by medical personnel, but the official diagnosis was inconclusive due to the amount of swelling involved. Bayley has been told to rest the shoulder until next week, at which point doctors are hopeful that the swelling will have sufficiently gone down so that she may be reevaluated and a firm verdict can be reached.
“Everything just tensed up around it,” Bayley told WWE.com shortly after her match on Monday night. “I’ve never had an injury like this before, so I can’t really know what it is. I guess we’re gonna see.”
Dr. Chris Amann told WWE.com, “We’ve determined the injury is shoulder-related, and she will be going under further diagnostic testing later this week to determine the extent of the injury and also establish a timetable for recovery.” – WWE
If you scroll to the 45 second mark in the above video, you can see Nia attempt to throw Bayley out of the ring. Bayley stopped short and landed awkwardly on her shoulder, and I wrote in my Raw review that Bayley either got really good at selling or she was legitimately hurt, and that my money would be on the latter. Turns out it was the latter, although the extent of the injury is unknown. Summerslam is still two and a half weeks away, so if the injury isn’t serious she could still face Alexa Bliss for the Women’s title. If it is serious, Nia Jax or Sasha Banks would be the likely secondary options.
During the build to the pay per view and throughout last night’s 3 hour show, I’ve probably heard Great Balls Of Fire 100 times. That is too many times. In the hopes that I never hear it again, I’m sending it off as our latest Music Monday entry. Also, if you thought that the comments section would be normal for a song with ‘balls’ in it, you would be very, very wrong: