10/30 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Samoa Joe, Stephanie McMahon, Nia Jax, and Bo Dallas return, Kurt Angle forces The Miz to defend the IC Title

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Baltimore, Maryland at Royal Farms Arena

[Q1] Raw opened with a recap of last week’s Survivor Series announcement and the Smackdown invasion… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T were on commentary…

Kurt Angle stood on the ring while the roster of Raw wrestlers stood on the stage for his address regarding the Smackdown “under siege” invasion. Angle said Shane McMahon took what he thought was friendly competition too far. Angle apologized to the Raw crew. He said he allowed his friendship with Shane to blind him and they paid the price for it. Angle said it was a slap in the face and he put them in harms way and it won’t happen again. Angle was about to make a promise when he was interrupted.

Stephanie McMahon’s music played and she walked past the wrestlers and headed to the ring. After getting a flat reaction, Stephanie delivered the big “welcome to Raw” line and got a rise out of the crowd. She told them to admit that they missed her just a little bit. Crickets. Stephanie hyped the 25th Anniversary edition of Raw for January.

Stephanie said Angle has been doing a hell of a job. She mentioned the Braun Strowman incidents and Angle’s paternity situation with Jason Jordan. She brought up Angle’s return to the ring, which drew a “you’ve still got it” chant. However, when it came to Smackdown invading Raw, Steph said it takes 20 years to build a reputation and only 20 seconds to lose it.

Angle tried to explain himself, but Stephanie cut him off and said she didn’t want to hear any excuses. She said everyone thinks Shane is a great guy, but he is manipulative and conniving. She said Shane lost his Hell in a Cell match and thinks that if he attacks her show it will make him bigger and a winner. She said said Angle is responsible for letting Shane make a mockery of what her father built over 25 years.

Angle once again tried to speak, but Stephanie cut him off and announced that he will be the team captain for Team Raw at Survivor Series. “I expect results,” she said. “I expect victory. I expect total annihilation.” She said that if she doesn’t get what she wants then Angle can expect her to find a new general manager. Stephanie dropped the mic and left the ring…

Cole hyped Seth Rollins vs. Kane for later in the show, and Graves hyped Finn Balor vs. Cesaro, and Cole hyped Bayley vs. Alicia Fox… [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens, and Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler in a best of three falls match…

Powell’s POV: The Stephanie return did not lead to the big reaction that one might expect a returning McMahon to receive. And she’s right back to cutting the usual emasculating promos that grew so tiresome during her last run (and the run before that and the run before that). It’s only night one, but here’s hoping that they shake things up with her character because while she plays her role well, the act is tired. Meanwhile, Angle captaining Team Raw is a nice hook and one can only assume that Shane will end up serving as the captain of Team Smackdown.

Backstage, Angle tried to apologize again, but Stephanie cut him off. She said that she meant every word she said and if Angle doesn’t believe her then he can ask Mick Foley. Stephanie left the building. Another car arrived. The Miz, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas exited the car. Miz boasted that he was fashionably late.

Angle informed Miz that he was the captain of Team Raw. Miz complained that Angle was being rewarded for being a bad general manager. Angle told him to shut up. Angle said Miz was nowhere to be found when Smackdown invaded and he doesn’t want anyone like that on Team Raw. Angle informed Miz that he would find out who his opponent is once he’s in the ring…

Powell’s POV: Obviously, it’s good to see Bo Dallas back on television after his absence due to illness. In case you missed it, Roman Reigns was pulled from the advertising for this show. Meanwhile, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Miz drop the Intercontinental Title before Survivor Series to avoid the heel vs. heel match with Baron Corbin that is currently slotted for Survivor Series. Even if WWE doesn’t book a title change, it’s smart to go with an IC Title match since fans will think there’s a better chance than usual for a title change.

Bayley made her entrance for her match. Alicia Fox came out and said she was too busy being captain to have the match. However, she said she had a suitable replacement. Nia Jax made her entrance… The broadcast team checked in from their desk and hyped the Total Divas season premiere for Wednesday night…

1. Nia Jax vs. Bayley. Ring announcer JoJo is also back after missing time. They cut to break during the opening minute of the match. [C] Fox watched the match from the stage while wearing a boat captain hat. Cole said Fox will pick her teammates for Survivor Series. Late in the match, Jax did a summersault on Bayley and then performed a legdrop for the win.

Nia Jax beat Bayley in 6:45.

[Q3] After the match, Fox said Jax was her first pick for Team Raw. As Jax was heading up the ramp, Samoa Joe’s music played. Joe came out and walked past Fox and Jax while heading to the ring. Cole said it was a night of returns and looked like Joe was ready for a fight… [C]

Powell’s POV: Fox continues to play her mentally unstable character in an over the top manner. I’m happy to see the company is doing something with her, but her cartoonish act is a turnoff. That said, it’s been a strong start with Stephanie, Jax, and Joe returning.

Joe stood in the ring in his ring gear and said it seemed like some of the fans missed him based on their response. He said he finds it amusing because he hasn’t missed any of the fans. Joe said none of the fans reached out to say they care and therefore he doesn’t care about them. He said he would use their disrespect as fuel while beating the hell out of his opponent and pretending that person is a fan…

Powell’s POV: Joe did a nice job of turning the crowd against him. At some point, though, WWE officials need to ask themselves whether it’s worth slotting so many of the true fan favorites as heels.

2. Samoa Joe vs. Apollo Crews (w/Titus O’Neil). Cole said Crews demanded this match with the goal of proving himself because he wants to be on Team Raw at Survivor Series. Crews caught Joe with a dropkick, who came back and threw his gum at Crews. Apollo caught Joe with a couple of enzuigiris, but Joe came back with a uranage and the Coquina Clutch for the submission win…

Samoa Joe defeated Apollo Crews in 3:35.

After the match, Titus entered the ring and removed his jacket. Joe acted like he was going to leave the ring, but then put Titus in the Coquina Clutch after he had turned his back. There was a “Joe” chant afterward…

Cole hyped the Raw 25 Years episode on January 22. Cole noted that wrestlers from Raw and Smackdown will appear. Cole also said Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels will appear, and added that “it is rumored” that Undertaker will appear (he is advertised). Cole hyped tickets going on sale for both of the venues that the anniversary special will be held in…

Powell’s POV: So much for Apollo’s Survivor Series dream. If nothing else, I like that they took the time to say his character was upset about being among the first attacked by the Smackdown crew last week. Meanwhile, it’s odd that they are stating on television that the Smackdown crew will be at the anniversary show given the current storyline between the brands.

[Q4] Graves hyped The Miz defending the IC Title against an opponent of Angle’s choosing… [C] The Miz made his entrance while the broadcast team hyped that the IC Champion will face U.S. Champion Baron Corbin at Survivor Series…

3. The Miz (w/Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas) vs. Matt Hardy for the Intercontinental Championship. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. They cut to break less than two minutes into the match. [C] Miz dominated the bulk offense coming out of the break.

[Q5] Matt battled back and slammed Miz’s head into the turnbuckles and then performed a clothesline and a bulldog for a two count. Matt performed a couple of elbows off the ropes for a two count. Matt set up for the Twist of Fate, but Miz avoided it and tried to counter into his own finisher. Matt broke free and hit a Side Effect for a two count.

Matt caught Miz with a kick in the corner and followed up with a moonsault for another good near fall. Miz ran Hardy into the corner and delivered a series of Daniel Bryan style kicks. Matt came back with the Twist of Fate, but Miz rolled onto the apron. Miz ended up clotheslining Hardy on the top rope and then hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the win…

The Miz defeated Matt Hardy in 13:00 to retain the Intercontinental Title.

Powell’s POV: A nice television title match that had the crowd up for the potential title change, yet ended up giving Miz a dose of in-ring credibility for winning the match without help from his minions. Well done.

The broadcast team recapped the opening segment with Stephanie McMahon snatching Kurt Angle’s balls…

Backstage, Alexa Bliss told Angle that she could help him. Bliss suggested he cut dead weight like Mickie James and bring someone from the Mae Young Classic to replace her. Angle ended up booking Bliss vs. James for the Raw Women’s Championship as the Raw main event…

Graves hyped Rollins vs. Kane, then Cole set up an Asuka teaser video and hyped her match as coming up after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: My take on creative going with the Bliss vs. James match for the Raw Women’s Championship is similar to the IC Title situation. With the Raw Women’s Champion set to face Smackdown Women’s Champion Natalya at Survivor Series, there’s a decent chance we’ll see a title change. And even if they don’t put the title on James, it’s smart booking in that fans will buy into the possibility of the title change more than usual due to the circumstances. That said, my guess is James gets the strap tonight.

[Q6] 4. Asuka vs. Stacie Cullen. It was all Asuka, who connected with repeated strikes and eventually put away Cullen with the Asuka Lock…

Asuka defeated Stacie Cullen in 1:40.

Backstage, Angle was texting on his phone when he freaked out and yelled into a walkie talkie, “They’re here, they’re here.” The camera pulled back to show Daniel Bryan standing in Angle’s office. Angle asked Bryan what the hell he was doing… [C]

Powell’s POV: Now that’s more like it. I still have no idea why they debuted Asuka with that back and forth match on Raw last week when a squash match is match is far more effective. Meanwhile, that’s a nice hook for a commercial break. For those who missed Smackdown, Bryan was down on Shane McMahon for leading the invasion last week, so it will be interesting to hear what his character has to say to Angle. For that matter, it will be interesting to see how Shane reacts on Tuesday.

Backstage, Angle questioned if Bryan was there to finish the job that Shane started. Bryan assured Angle that was not his intention. He said he took a risk by showing up at Raw when people would like to tear him apart. Bryan said he took a risk because Shane didn’t even know he was there. Angle said the Raw roster would chew him alive, so he was going to keep him in the office. Angle told Bryan to deliver the message that he’s bringing his gold medals and the Raw roster and they are going to take out Smackdown. Angle capped it off needlessly with his catchphrase…

The broadcast team set up a video package on Brock Lesnar and Jinder Mahal. Cole hyped Lesnar vs. Mahal for Survivor Series…

Backstage, Bryan was on the phone telling someone that it didn’t go well. The lights went out and Bryan ended his call. Bryan sat alone in the dark with only his cellphone light as they cut to break…

[Q7] [C] Bryan was back on the phone telling someone that he thought he could reason with Angle. Bryan said the lights are out and the door is locked. Bryan asked the person if he could call back. “Something is wrong,” Bryan said. Kane grabbed Bryan by the throat…

Powell’s POV: It would be nice if they would just tell viewers that cameras are positioned in the offices of the authority figures, which would make moments like this easier to stomach. Yes, some viewers accept this silliness, but it’s a turnoff for others that could be easily rectified.

The broadcast team spoke about the incident. Booker said Bryan got what he deserved…

5. Finn Balor vs. Cesaro (w/Sheamus). Balor dumped Cesaro to the floor and then caught him with a kick through the ropes and then a running kick from the apron. Balor went to get back in the ring, but Sheamus grabbed his leg long enough for Cesaro to knock him off the apron. [C]

Cesaro lifted Balor from the apron while standing on the middle ropes and then superplexed him for a two count at 9:40. Cesaro applied the Sharpshooter, but released the hold and countered into a crossface. Balor broke free and double stomped Cesaro. Balor connected with a slingblade and a running dropkick.

[Q8] Balor went up top for his finisher, but Sheamus climbed on the apron. Blaor got down and kicked Sheamus off the apron. Cesaro went after Balor, who backdropped him to ringside. Balor performed a flip dive onto both men. Back inside the ring, Balor performed the double stomp to the back of Cesaro’s neck for the win…

Finn Balor beat Cesaro in 11:50.

Powell’s POV: A nice match and a needed bounce back win for Balor after his bizarre loss to Kane last week. That said, it feels like Sheamus and Cesaro are losing too often. They are a terrific tag team and the company would be wise to position them as a badass team rather than as guys who lose more than they win in singles competition.

As Balor was leaving, Kane’s music played and he came out and attacked Balor on the stage. Kane put Balor down with a Tombstone piledriver on the stage. Trainers ran out and checked on Balor while Kane headed to the ring. The Shield music hit. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose made their entrance through the crowd while Cole reminded viewers that Roman Reigns was absent without going into details. Cole hyped Rollins vs. Kane for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Kane attacking Balor actually gives me some hope that Balor is going to get revenge at some point. I could be off on this, but perhaps there was a good storyline reason for Balor losing last week beyond just reestablishing Kane as a monster. Meanwhile, why do they continue to be so vague about Roman’s absence? Oh, and I guess the attack by Kane is what Bryan gets for helping a politician.

6. Kane vs. Seth Rollins (w/Dean Ambrose). Sheamus and Cesaro remained at ringside. Kane dominated the early offense while Cole claimed that Kane chokeslammed Bryan in Angle’s office earlier in the show. Rollins came back with a Blockbuster, but Kane kicked out and rolled to ringside. Rollins performed a suicide dive. Rollins went for another suicide dive, but this one was clunky with Kane putting his hands up and Rollins landing awkwardly.

[Q9] Rollins performed a springboard clothesline on Kane. Either Kane no-sold it or there was miscommunication. Cesaro and Sheamus attacked Ambrose at ringside. Rollins dove over the top rope onto the heels. He went for a springboard move on Kane, who caught him and chokeslammed him for the win…

Kane pinned Seth Rollins in 5:15.

After the match, Kane tried to pick up Rollins for a move, but Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on Kane, who sat up shortly thereafter. Sheamus and Cesaro attacked Ambrose. Kane gave Ambrose a Tombstone piledriver. Rollins covered Ambrose to protect him, but Kane picked him up and gave him a Tombstone as well…

Powell’s POV: A clunky match at times, but they put some heat on the heels. Will this lead to Kane, Cesaro, and Sheamus vs. Rollins, Ambrose, and Balor?

Backstage, Bryan was strapped in on a gurney while producers D-Von Dudley and Jamie Noble watched… The broadcast team spoke about the angle. Graves said he thought Bryan was truly there for the greater good. Booker T said Raw wrestlers had to stand their ground… A recap of Stephanie McMahon removing Angle’s balls with a dull butter knife aired… Cole hyped Bliss vs. James for the Raw Women’s Championship as the show’s main event…

Backstage, The Miz told Dallas and Axel that it was time to celebrate after he successfully defended his title. They entered their locker room and noticed a smell. They just happened to be standing around a trash bag that they didn’t seem to notice initially. Ugh. Axel went through the trash. Miz said Braun Strowman was in the building. Axel said Strowman was never coming back, then asked if Miz was worried. Dallas told Miz that they have his back and nothing will happen to him. “Now I am a little worried,” Miz said…

The production crew was shown setting up pumpkins, skeletons, and other Halloween themed gimmicks for a Trick or Street Fight with Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson… [C]

Powell’s POV: Braun “The Dumpster” Strowman? Keep that trash bag open and pile all of the Halloween gimmicks inside of it before the end of the break.

The Miz found Kane in the hallway and sucked up to him. Miz asked if Kane remembered throwing Strowman in the back of the garbage truck. Kane pointed out that Miz, Cesaro, and Sheamus helped throw Strowman in the truck. Miz quesitoned if Strowman is back. Kane said he doesn’t know, but if he is then Strowman knows where to find him. Miz said he knew they were on the same team. Kane said Miz is on his own…

Powell’s POV: Braun Knows What You Did Last Summer.

[Q10] The broadcast team set up still shots from WWE TLC of the main event and focussed on Strowman being placed in the back of the garbage truck…

7. Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in a Trick or Street Fight. Slater dressed as Santa, while Rhyno was Mrs. Claus. Gallows was Tex “Don’t Call Me Sex” Ferguson, and Anderson was Chad 2 Badd (Southpaw Regional Wrestling characters). Pumpkins and the pumpkin guts were used as weapons. Anderson crotched himself in the corner in front of a skeleton.

Slater used kendo sticks that were taped up like candy corn. Gallows caught him with a kick to the face and then hit him with repeated kendo stick shots. Booker may have doomed the Astros by saying, “We’re winning!” In the end, Anderson put a pumpkin on his head while standing on the top rope. He leapt off the rope and into the arms of Rhyno, who slammed him through a table and pinned him while Gallows struggled with a pumpkin on his own head…

Heath Slater and Rhyno beat Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in a Trick or Street Fight in 5:05.

A shot aired of Elias walking backstage… [C]

Powell’s POV: Even the broadcast team acted embarrassed by the Trick or Street Fight. I guess the only thing that matters is whether the audience of one found this funny.

Backstage, a frantic Miz told Sheamus and Cesaro about the garbage bag and Kane’s reaction. They told him that Strowman could not have recovered in one week and someone was probably messing with him. Miz said it was nice to be part of a strong team. They laughed and told him he was on his own. Once they left, Miz called Axel and told him to pack their bags because they were leaving…

[Q11] Elias sat on a stool with a guitar in hand. He said Jason Jordan wouldn’t be interrupting this performance after what he did to him last week. He said the only guy in worse shape than Jordan is Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens quarterback). Elias played “The Ballad of Jason Jordan” while highlights aired of Elias destroying Jordan’s arm with the guitar last week.

Jason Jordan made his entrance and charged the ring. Elias swung and missed with the guitar. Jordan ended up suplexing Elias, who then fled the ring. Jordan picked up the guitar, placed it in the corner, and then stomped it. Jordan tossed what was left of the guitar to ringside in front of Elias…

The Miz, Axel, and Dallas walked through the hallway. Angle stopped them and scolded Miz for arriving late and leaving early. Angle ordered them to stay until the end of the show “or else”… Graves hyped the Raw Women’s Championship for the main event… [C] An ad for NXT hyped the Sanity vs. Authors of Pain for the NXT Tag Titles for Wednesday’s NXT television show…

WWE Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Amore made his entrance. He had his voice back and delivered his entrance routine. Enzo passed the mic to Drew Gulak, who was waiting in the ring. Gulak brought up the Three I’s and said the fourth his for incompetence. Gulak said there is only one word to describe Kalisto – “S-O-F-T soft.” The crowd booed and Enzo talked to him off-mic. Kalisto made his entrance to a flat reaction…

8. Kalisto vs. Drew Gulak (w/Enzo Amore). Graves said he enjoyed Gulak and looked forward to calling his matches until Enzo got into his brain. Kalisto performed a nice huracanrana and followed up with the Salida Del Sol for the win. After the match, Enzo struck kicked Kalisto and put him down with the Jordanzo (Eat Defeat)…

Kalisto defeated Drew Gulak in 0:55.

Cole hyped the Raw Women’s Championship match for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Man, the third hour of this show has been painful thus far.

[Q12] Graves hyped Mustafa Ali vs. Gran Metalik vs. Tony Nese vs. Ariya Daivari in a Fright Night fatal four-way “for cruiserweight supremacy” on 205 Live… Backstage, Miz told his cronies that they were leaving the moment the show ended… Ring entrances for the main event took place…

9. Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James for the Raw Women’s Championship. Highlights aired of James getting the better of Bliss in an angle on last week’s show. Cole noted that James could tie Trish Stratus’s record for most women’s championship wins with a title win. James controlled the opening minute. Bliss took a breather at ringside heading into the break. [C] Mickie hit a flurry of offense that concluded with a neckbreaker for a two count.

[Overrun] Bliss came back and went to the top rope, but James knocked her down to ringside. Back inside the ring, Bliss scored a few rapid fire near falls. Bliss came back with a big punch and pinned her clean…

Alexa Bliss pinned Mickie James in 12:15 to retain the Raw Women’s Championship.

The Miz, Dallas, and Axel were shown walking quickly through the backstage area. They cut back to the ring and recapped the finish of the match. They went backstage again where Miz and company had their bagged loaded into the trunk of their car by the driver, who then opened the door for them. There just happened to be a camera inside the car. The driver hit the brakes.

A shot outside the car showed a garbage truck backing up toward the car. The back end of the truck opened while Miz and company were shown scrambling inside their car. The truck dumped trash onto the ground and Strowman emerged from it and let out his primal scream. The crowd cheered even though this looked super cheesey. Strowman chased after the heels, then they cut to the ring where Bliss continued to celebrate her win. Cole said we may never see Miz and Miztourage again.

The Miz, Dallas, and Axel ran onto the stage. Strowman followed and walked toward Miz. Dallas and Axel attacked Strowman from behind, but he fought them off quickly. Strowman took Miz over to the broadcast table. Axel and Dallas attacked him from behind, but he fought them off quickly and tossed both men down the entrance ramp. Miz tried to crawl away, but Strowman caught him and tossed him down the ramp as well.

Strowman walked down the ramp and threw Miz inside the ring. Axel tried to help, but Strowman elbowed him off the apron. Strowman beat up all three men inside the ring. Axel saved Miz from taking a powerslam. Strowman gave Axel the move instead and then let out another scream.

The fans chanted “one more time.” Strowman obliged with another running power slam on Axel. Strowman picked up Axel and performed the move a third time. Miz was shown looking terrified on the ramp before Strowman picked up Axel and performed the move again. Strowman picked up Axel dumped him to ringside while Miz and Dallas ran away. The fans chanted for a table. Strowman picked up Axel and carried him to the stage and then slammed him through the broadcast table to close the show…

Powell’s POV: This certainly looked like the beginning of Strowman’s run as a babyface and it was well received by the live crowd. I like that Miz was able to escape the big power moves if only for one night. The women’s title match was flat. That said, Smackdown would be wise to deliver U.S. Title and Women’s Championship matches in the weeks ahead due to play into the suspicion of at least one title change before Survivor Series. Overall, it was a night of a lot of returns and the first two hours of the show was entertaining. The third hour was pretty rough until Strowman’s destruction of Axel at the end. I will have more to say about this show in my All Access Daily Podcast available late tonight/early Tuesday morning. Thanks for watching along with me.


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