9/18 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Six-Pack Challenge for an Intercontinental Title shot at No Mercy, Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax in a non-title match, Roman Reigns promo on John Cena

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from San Jose, California at SAP Center

[Q1] A graphic was shown in memory of the late Bobby Heenan… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T were on commentary. Cole welcomed viewers to the show…

Raw general manager Kurt Angle made his entrance and led the fans in chanting “you suck” along with his entrance theme. Ring announcer JoJo introduced Angle. Cole referred to No Mercy as the biggest pay-per-view of Angle’s career. Angle said they have two matches at No Mercy that are WrestleMania worthy in John Cena vs. Roman Reigns, and Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman for the WWE Universal Championship.

The Miz’s entrance theme interrupted Angle. Miz headed to the ring along with Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. Maryse was not with the group. Cole noted that the couple are expecting a baby. The Miz complained that it was the second event in a row without him scheduled to defend the Intercontinental Title.

Angle announced Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Elias vs. Jason Jordan in a four-way for Raw with the winner getting an IC Title shot at No Mercy. Miz took issue with Jordan being Angle’s son and getting the opportunity while Axel and Dallas were excluded. Miz asked if they could move on if Jordan plays catch with him and buys him a World’s Greatest Dad mug.

Angle said he hopes fatherhood will change Miz, who said Angle walked out on his responsibility and is now making everyone pay for his mistake. Miz said he will be there from day one for his child. He said he’ll be a better father than Angle and is a better champion than he ever was. Miz accused Angle of trying to make up for missing 28 years of Jordan’s life. Miz said you can always count on Angle to be a deadbeat.

Jason Jordan’s entrance music played while Angle glared at Miz. Jordan headed to the ring in his ring gear and took the mic out of Miz’s hand. “Say one more word about Kurt and I’m going to knock those pretty little teeth down your throat,” Jordan said. Jordan suggested that Angle put Dallas and Axel in the match so that Miz couldn’t make any excuses when he beats him for the title. Angle added them to the match, making it a six pack challenge. Miz told Jordan that he’s even more incompetent than his father. Jordan attacked Miz. Axel and Dallas tried to help out, but Jordan cleared them from the ring…

Cole hyped Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman being “on the hot seat” and predicting what will happen during their match on Sunday. Graves hyped that Roman Reigns would deliver his final message to John Cena prior to their match. Split screen shots showed Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax. Cole said their match was up next… [C]

Powell’s POV: It looks like they pre-taped an interview with Lesnar last week, as he was not advertised as appearing in San Jose for this event. They also mentioned that Reigns will deliver final words heading to the match with Cena. The reason they left out Cena is that he is also not expected to appear due to working the live event in China last night. Here’s hoping they have more in mind for Bobby Heenan than the graphic at the beginning of the show.

[Q2] Backstage, Angle told an intense Jordan to focus on his opportunity. Jordan said Miz has been talking about him for weeks and he’s not the only one. He said he hears the whispers and sees the looks when he walks through the hallways. Jordan said it will stop when they see what he does to Miz. Angle asked if he was going to beat up everyone if they don’t stop. Jordan said he didn’t ask for this. Angle gave him a pep talk about winning the match and going on to challenge Miz on Sunday…

Powell’s POV: A nice segment. Jordan did a good job of expressing his frustration, which works in terms of giving him more of an edge as a babyface or as the setup for a potential heel turn. This is much better than the super nice guy approach that they have been taking with Jordan.

1. Smackdown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax in a non-title match. The bell rang and Jax went right at Bliss, who ducked through the ropes. Bliss ran from her and rolled to ringside. Jax held up Bliss by the arm. Bliss tried to leave the ring and head to the back, but Sasha Banks’s music stopped her. Bliss turned and ran back toward the ring (why?) and ran into Jax at ringside. [C]

Banks was at ringside as the match continued with Jax tossing Bliss across the ring. Bliss dodged a charging Jax, who hit the corner. Bliss took offensive control briefly and dove off the top rope. Jax caught her and performed a Samoa drop for the win…

Nia Jax pinned Alexa Bliss in 6:40 in a non-title match.

After the match, Banks attacked Jax from behind. Jax took several punches before flinging Banks to the mat. Bayley’s music played and she made her entrance. Jax motioned for Bayley to enter the ring. Bayley entered the ring and joined Bliss and Banks in charging Jax and knocking her to the match. Jax rolled to the floor. Banks and Bayley hugged and raised arms. Bliss got between them and tried to join in the arm raising, but Banks and Bayley weren’t having it. Banks kicked her twice and then Bayley hit her finisher on Bliss…

The broadcast team hyped WWE Network and both No Mercy and Hell in a Cell as part of the 30-day free trial. The broadcast team hyped the six-pack challenge match for later in the show, the Reigns promo, and “a look at one of the most intense rivalries” between Lesnar and Strowman for after the break…

Powell’s POV: Bayley returning was a nice surprise and it was wise to have her come back in her home market to guarantee a strong reaction. It will be interesting to see what they do with Emma on this show. Will they make a late attempt to make her look good by having her win a match or will they have her lose again to drive home that her character is the weak link in the match?

[Q3] [C] Coming out of the break, a batch of tweets from Vince McMahon, Ric Flair, Chris Jericho, Jerry Lawler, and Daniel Bryan were shown… The broadcast team sat at their desk and Cole noted that the tributes to Heenan will continue throughout the evening….

Powell’s POV: Excellent. It’s great to see WWE intends to do more than the basic show opening graphic. Others have deserved more as well, but I’m happy to see they are going the extra mile for The Brain. They could have dedicated all three hours of Raw to Heenan tonight and I would have been glued to the television.

A video package aired on the Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman match. It featured Paul Heyman speaking about Lesnar’s domination back in 2002. There was also footage of Strowman’s recent destruction of Lesnar… Cole hyped sit-down interviews with both men for later in the show…

Sheamus and Cesaro made their entrance for a match against Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows… [C] An ad for Smackdown focussed on the followup to the Kevin Owens and Vince McMahon angle and how Shane McMahon will react, plus the AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin match for the U.S. Title…

[Q4] Sheamus and Cesaro delivered an in-ring promo. Sheamus spoke about how nostalgia is everywhere these days. Sheamus said he and Cesaro live in the present and destroy nostalgia like the Hardy Boyz. Cesaro questioned what could go wrong now that Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are reunited. He said it will go very wrong when they get their hands on them.

The crowd gave Sheamus the “what?” treatment, so Cesaro repeated his line about Ambrose and Rollins using each other for their own selfish needs a couple of times. He said the truth is that Rollins and Ambrose can’t stand one another. Sheamus said their friendship is fragile and about to crack.

Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose made their entrance. Rollins said they look like the Taxi Driver and Braveheart had ugly babies. Rollins said that he and Ambrose are brothers no matter what. Ambrose said brothers fight sometimes, but a real brother would never let his brother leave the house dressed like Sheamus and Cesaro.

Anderson and Gallows made their entrance and said Sheamus and Cesaro were not good brothers because they walked out on them last week. They added that Ambrose and Rollins took advantage of their disadvantage, so they’re not good brothers either. Gallows called them nerds. Rollins acted nervous and said they shouldn’t have said that. Ambrose acted intense and said no one calls him a nerd. The three teams fought. Ambrose and Rollins quickly cleared the ring… [C]

Powell’s POV: While there was nothing particularly memorable about the Sheamus and Cesaro promo, it was one of their better delivered promos. Meanwhile, the Anderson and Gallows “good brother” routine has never really been explained in WWE and therefore it never seems to click with live crowds. I did get a kick out of Gallows saying “yep” or “nope” after Anderson’s lines.

An Asuka teaser video aired and listed her as coming soon…

2. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in a Triple Threat. Cole said Angle made the match during the break and offered a quick explanation of Triple Threat tag match rules.

[Q5] There was a good near fall after Anderson and Gallows hit their Magic Killer finisher on Rollins, but it was broken up by Ambrose heading into a break. [C] Cesaro performed multiple clotheslines only to be catapulted over the top rope by Rollins. Ambrose and Rollins performed back to back suicide dives on all four opponents. Fans chanted “this is awesome.”

[Q6] Sheamus tagged himself in. Rollins dove onto Gallows and Cesaro. Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on Anderson. Sheamus tossed Ambrose from the ring and stole the pin on Anderson…

Sheamus and Cesaro beat Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson and Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins in 18:40.

Powell’s POV: A good match that ate up a lot of television time, which seemed to be the primary goal. I was looking forward to the tag title match at No Mercy going into the match, and I can’t say the Triple Threat moved me either way despite everyone involved working hard.

Backstage, The Miz spoke with Axel and Dallas about the six pack challenge and continued to say he’s ten times the father than Angle is. Dallas said he used to give inspirational speeches and this should be more about them.

Dallas said his pedigree has been well known since before Jordan was even there. Axel said his father is the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time. Axel told Miz that when he wins, he won’t take it easy on Miz on Sunday. Dallas said he can’t wait to steal the show with Miz at No Mercy. Miz said their goal is to prove that Jordan doesn’t deserve the spotlight…

Graves hyped the six pack challenge for later in the show. Cole hyped the sit-down interviews with Lesnar and Strowman. Graves hyped a look back at the Reigns and Cena feud… [C]

A flashback video focussed on Edge winning the Money in the Bank at WrestleMania 25… The broadcast team set up a video package on John Cena and Roman Reigns with Cole pointing out how their careers have paralleled… The video focussed on how both men won titles, the Royal Rumble, and defeated icons. It shifted to their verbal exchanges…

[Q7] [C] Backstage, Kurt Angle was on the phone when he noticed that Goldust was standing in his office with his back to him. Angle ended the call and asked if he could help him. Goldust turned around and revealed that he wasn’t wearing makeup. Goldust asked for a second chance against Bray Wyatt. Angle said he didn’t know if he could help him.

Goldust said he wasn’t asking as Goldust, he was asking as the man behind the paint, Dustin Rhodes. He said they have known each other for 20 years and Angle knew his father. He said he was asking as a man and a friend to show Wyatt that he’s not a pawn in his twisted game with Finn Balor. Angle was hesitant, but he agreed to it. Rhodes finished by saying that Wyatt will never forget the name of Dustin Rhodes…

Curt Hawkins stood in the ring with a mic and said he is normally there to make stars, but he’s come to a difficult decision. He said the Hawkins star factory is officially closed. He dubbed himself the Hawkins history machine. He said his 114 match losing streak was about to come to an end. He said he was healthy for the first time in a long time, and his opponent will be nothing more than a footnote in history and the answer to a trivia question…

3. Apollo Crews (w/Titus O’Neil) vs. Curt Hawkins. Crews threw a nice dropkick and tried to follow up with a standing moonsault, but Hawkins put his knees up. Hawkins got a two count off a kick. He got a second near fall off a belly to belly suplex. Hawkins also rolled up Crews and held the tights, but only for a two count. crews came back with his sit-out powerbomb for the win. A graphic noted that Hawkins was on a 115 match losing streak…

Apollo Crews beat Curt Hawkins in 2:15.

Cole hyped the sit-down interviews with Lesnar and Strowman for after the break…

Powell’s POV: I like the Hawkins losing streak gimmick. His promo made me care more about the match than his previous schtick ever did, and they can have some fun with this as it continues and perhaps eventually leading up to him getting a big win.

[Q8] [C] The broadcast team briefly noted that it’s pediatric awareness month. Cole interviewed Strowman and Lesnar and Heyman, who appeared on the big screen. Cole could be heard asking the questions in the arena. Cole asked Lesnar about being an underdog. Heyman said Lesnar was also an underdog going into his WrestleMania match with Undertaker. Heyman said Lesnar won that match and he would do the same on Sunday. Cole asked how confident Strowman is. Strowman said his actions speak for themselves and boasted that he’s the only man capable of putting Lesnar down for good.

Cole asked Lesnar about how he prepares for Strowman. Heyman interrupted. He spoke about Strowman standing up after taking a German suplex. Heyman said that doesn’t meant that Lesnar can survive Suplex City. Strowman said he’s going to stomp it to the ground. Heyman said Strowman woke up The Beast and now Lesnar knows that it will take more than one suplex. Heyman said it will be Suplex City all night long. Strowman said the ball is in his court.

Cole brought up the parallels between the careers of Lesnar and Strowman. Heyman took exception to the challenger being asked so many questions. He said Lesnar is the newsmaker. Heyman went on a rant until Lesnar held his hand up. Lesnar looked into the camera and thanked Strowman for backing him into the corner and challenging him. He said that’s when he’s at his best. Lesnar said he would see him Sunday, then added, “Suplex City, bitch”… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good exchange. Heyman delivered his lines of praise for Strowman, but it felt like Braun should have had the last word here. It would have been cool if they had come up with a line for him that topped “Suplex City, bitch” to close. Even so, they have done a terrific job of establishing Strowman as a huge threat to Lesnar and the match feels must see.

Roman Reigns made his entrance to the usual boos. Once in the ring, he listened to the fans boo before speaking.

[Q9] Reigns said he would boo this too. He said Cena might be the best talker ever. “The guy can run this too and the guy can spin it, but sometimes the guy says stupid shit (censored).” Reigns took exception to Cena calling him a wannabe Cena. “Do I walk, talk, or look like Cena?” Reigns asked if he looks like a jacked up white guy with a giant head and a military crew cut. “If I did, I wouldn’t have a career here,” he said. “You don’t believe me, ask, uh, ask Alex Riley about that.”

Reigns said he lets his action talk for him and that’s why when he says something it means something. Reigns said he called Cena a fake ass little bitch because he is. He also called him the biggest hypocrite to ever step foot in a WWE ring. He said that if you don’t believe him, Cena will tell you himself.

Footage aired from February 2012 of Cena badmouthing The Rock for going Hollywood. Reigns smirked at the promo and then asked the crowd if they should bring out Cena. “I’m afraid that’s not going to be loud enough because John’s not here,” said Reigns. He claimed that everything Cena said in the promo was a lie and that’s why the result will be the same on Sunday as it was at that WrestleMania only it will be a different Samoan beating him. Reigns played on Cena’s closing line by saying that he would see San Jose next time for sure before adding, “And, John, I’ll see you Sunday, movie star.” Reigns dropped the mic just as Cena did in his promo…

Powell’s POV: A very good promo. Reigns has terrific heel charisma and it’s just a shame that WWE hasn’t pulled the trigger on it rather than playing this odd game of acting like they are a step ahead of the fans. The fact that Reigns was scripted to mock Cena for missing this show while not acknowledging that he was absent because he worked a WWE event in China the night before only makes him more of a heel to those who know the story. By the way, it would be a cool touch if Cena showed up on Smackdown tomorrow night since his character is a free agent and it would be a wise move to give No Mercy strong hype on the Tuesday night show as well.

The broadcast team hyped the six-pack challenge… Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Matt and Jeff Hardy and asked what will happen if the match comes down to the two of them. Matt said the two of them have been fighting since the day he stepped out of the crib. He said all of their innovative offense was tried on each other first. Jeff said he’s going to seize the moment at No Mercy. Matt told him he has to make it there first. Jeff said may the best Hardy win. Matt said he will…

Bray Wyatt made his entrance for the match with Dustin Rhodes… [C] An Asuka teaser video aired… Still shots aired of The Demon persona of Finn Balor beating Bray Wyatt at SummerSlam… Dustin Rhodes made his entrance to the Goldust theme wearing the Goldust outfit minus face paint. JoJo introduced him as Dustin Rhodes…

4. Bray Wyatt vs. Dustin Rhodes. Cole narrated footage of Wyatt wiping the paint off the face of Goldust last week before Finn Balor made the save.

[Q10] Rhodes controlled the offense early and tossed Wyatt over the ring steps. Rhodes ran up the steps and bulldogged Wyatt on the floor. Rhodes through punches to the back of Wyatt’s head. Wyatt came back with a headbutt and they returned to the ring. Rhodes set up Wyatt in the corner and delivered a tame looking version of Shattered Dreams by kicking the thigh of Wyatt, then following up with a kick on the other thigh. Wyatt came right back with Sister Abigail for the win…

Bray Wyatt pinned Dustin Rhodes in 2:30.

Powell’s POV: The lesson here is aim for the balls, not the inner thigh.

After the match, Finn Balor appeared on the big screen and spoke about a little boy who read books about gods and monsters and desperately wanted to be greater than what was given to him. He said the boy became a man and learned how to control the rage by manifesting it into something like the gods and monsters from the books. Balor said the man created a Demon. “I want to ask you a very important question, Bray,” Wyatt said. “If the Demon is a creation of the man, which one is more dangerous?” Balor said Wyatt will find out at No Mercy…

Enzo Amore was shown shaking hands with random people backstage… Another batch of Bobby Heenan tweets were shown. This time they came from Triple H, Goldberg, Christian, Jim Ross, Mick Foley, Stephanie McMahon, and Peter Rosenberg…

Cole said Heenan sat at the announce desk in 1993 during the first year of Raw. He said that one one of those nights, he sat next to Gorilla Monsoon and called it a reunion of the greatest commentary team in WWE history. Graves recalled the night that Monsoon threw Heenan and his belongings out of the building. Booker said Heenan called a lot of his matches. He said Heenan was probably the best commentator to call any of his matches. Booker got all Michael Irvin touchy with Cole and laughed at his own joke.

Cole set up a Heenan video package that showed footage from his WWF run both in the ring, at ringside, in skits, etc. There was footage of Heenan and Monsoon in some classic skits, and then included more skits and some footage of Heenan and Vince McMahon. There was footage of Hulk Hogan chasing Heenan on a motorcycle. Cole said WWE offers its thoughts and prayers to Heenan’s family and said he will never be replaced…

Powell’s POV: I’m happy the company took the time to do something special for Heenan. However, I can’t believe they continue to get his age wrong. I was wondering if they knew something we did not in terms of his public birthdate being inaccurate. However, a mainstream reporter friend spoke with his daughter, who clarified that Heenan was 72 years old when he passed, not 73 as WWE said again tonight. Again, though, the important thing is they went the extra mile on this show in terms of spotlighting his life in the company.

Enzo Amore came out and delivered some mic work on the ramp. Braun Strowman came out and bulldozed him before dragging him to the ring and then tossing him through the ropes and inside the ring.

[Q11] Fans chanted “thank you, Strowman” as Strowman picked up Amore and chokeslammed him. Strowman picked him up again and power slammed him.

Strowman left the ring and crossed paths with Neville, who made sure to keep his distance and looked at Strowman in awe before heading to the ring. Neville went to the top rope and performed the Red Arrow on Enzo. Neville called for the mic. He mocked Enzo’s dance and asked, “How you doin'” before laughing maniacally…

Powell’s POV: Bonus points to Graves for labeling Strowman’s attack on Enzo as a “vulgar display of power”, which is the name of a great Pantera album. Apparently, Enzo and Neville will be the only cruiserweights we see on Raw this week.

The broadcast team recapped Strowman’s attack on Enzo. Graves said he may need to have the smile surgically removed from his face…

Backstage, Charly Caruso approached Enzo, who was lying on a trainer’s table with ice on him. Enzo spoke about how he is still going to beat Neville at the pay-per-view…

5. WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville vs. Gran Metalik in a non-title match. Neville had Metalik down at ringside and started to tear his mask apart. Metalik fought him off and worked the match with most of one side of his face showing. Metalik performed a nice springboard dive onto Neville on the floor. Neville caught Metalik with a boot as he came off the top rope, then applied the Rings of Saturn for the win…

Neville beat Gran Metalik in 3:20 in a non-title match.

Powell’s POV: Well, so much for my previous thought on the cruiserweights being limited to Neville and Enzo this week. Metalik is a guy who fans were excited to see in the cruiserweight division. I’m not sure why WWE hasn’t done more with him. Given the sad state of the division, I’m not sure what they have to lose even if they are not high on him for some reason.

The broadcast team hyped the six-pack challenge for the main event, then set up a Hispanic Heritage Month video on… Jennifer Lopez?!?…

[Q12] [C] Graves hyped Neville and Enzo going face to face on 205 Live…

Elias did his usual schtick in the ring. In a shocking twist, he doesn’t like San Jose either. He threatened to have a kid and his mother kicked out of San Jose for looking at him wrong. He sang a song about Jason Jordan being a failure just like everyone in San Jose. The Hardyz music interrupted him and then the rest of the ring entrances took place. Jordan let out a dorky sounding wooo as he made his way down the ramp….

6. Elias vs. Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Bo Dallas vs. Jason Jordan vs. Curtis Axel in a Six-Pack Challenge for a shot at the Intercontinental Title at No Mercy. Miz was at ringside for Dallas and Jordan. Cole noted that all six men are in the ring at the same time and the first person to get a pin or submission would win. Jeff rolled up Matt for a one count early. They jawed at one another heading into the break. [C]

Axel and Dallas set up for a double superplex on Jordan, which turned into the Hardys underneath and a tower of doom spot. Matt rolled up Jeff, who didn’t even stay down for a one count. Matt performed a Twist of Fate and went for a cover on Jeff, but it was broken up. Jordan performed a great belly to belly suplex on Dallas, then performed another on Axel.

[Overrun] Jordan took the straps down and performed back to back Northern Lights Suplexes on Axel, but Dallas broke up the pin and tossed Jordan to the floor. Miz ran Jordan into the barricade. Graves questioned if Miz feels the most threatened by Jordan. Elias performed his Drift Away finisher on Matt, but Jeff broke up the pin. Jeff performed a Swanton on Axel and had him pinned, but Miz broke it up. Jordan performed a neckbreaker on Axel and pinned him…

Jason Jordan defeated Elias, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel in a Six-Pack Challenge 11:30 to earn an Intercontinental Title shot at No Mercy.

After the match, The Miz entered the ring and had a staredown with Jordan. Miz applauded Jordan and teased leaving, then tried to take a cheap shot at Jordan, who ducked. Jordan performed a belly to belly and a neckbreaker on Miz before Dallas and Axel attacked him. Miz had the duo pick up Jordan and then he put him back down with a Skull Crushing Finale.

Miz took the mic and said that he will still be the champion after No Mercy, Angle will still be a terrible father, and Jordan will still be a bastard. Miz held up the Intercontinental Championship to close the show…

Powell’s POV: A nice television main event in terms of taking a random six-way and making it meaningful with the Intercontinental Title shot being on the line. Jordan winning fell pretty flat with the live crowd again, but it wasn’t like they were rushing for the exits or anything. The bastard insult is so dated, but the live crowd reacted to it. Maybe they’re all big on Game of Thrones. Anyway, WWE produced a decent go-home show despite not having Brock Lesnar or John Cena in the building. Join me for live coverage of ROH Death Before Dishonor on Friday, and WWE No Mercy on Sunday night. Dot Net Members will hear exclusive audio reviews of both shows.


The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Will Pruett on the Roman Reigns whodunnit angle, WWE heading into SummerSlam, AEW's October 2 premiere on TNT, the New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Climax Tournament through Day 11, and more (77:45)...


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