By Jason Powell
Check out my free audio review of WWE Raw from last night, a “2 For 20” Raw review with Jake Barnett and I coming later today, and Prowrestling.net Live with Will Pruett and I hosting on Monday at 3CT/4ET at PWAudio.net.
WWE Raw Hits
Triple H, Kurt Angle, and Jason Jordan: The surprise announcement of Triple H replacing Jordan in the Survivor Series elimination makes an already loaded match feel even bigger. It’s not as big as the ridiculously giddy Michael Cole made it out to be once the son-in-law was added. That type of over the top reaction should be reserved for things like man landing on Neptune or Hollywood getting through a day without a new sex scandal. Anyway, Jordan pleading with his father (while hilariously including the tired company line about Survivor Series being the one time each year when Raw and Smackdown wrestlers compete against one another) was well done, especially if the plan is to turn him heel on Sunday.
The Shield, Kurt Angle, and Stephanie McMahon opening: Yes, Stephanie continued last week’s emasculation of Angle. And while I hate that Angle had to stand there and take it, at least Steph’s character had some valid points about Jordan’s involvement in the elimination match. The Shield interrupting helped get the show off to a strong start and having them stand up to Stephanie more than most wrestlers are allowed to was solid.
Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus, Cesaro, and The Miz: As much as The Shield’s early entrance helped the opening segment, it didn’t do them any favors when it came to this match. Naturally, the crowd wasn’t as hot for their second entrance of the night and thus there was a bit of a lull early in their first televised reunion match. The match gets a Hit for quality, but I came away feeling like the company would have been better off having The Shield plow through The Miz, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas in a third of the time it took them to win this match.
Mickie James vs. Bayley vs. Dana Brooke for a spot on Team Raw at Survivor Series: The highlight of the match was Brooke unexpectedly punching Asuka, which led to Asuka chasing her and eventually taking her out with a kick. Bayley earning the final spot on Team Raw was uneventful compared to the rumored return that never came to fruition, but she was the logical choice of the three women in the match.
Finn Balor and Samoa Joe vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson: A minor Hit for an interesting dynamic with rivals turned temporary teammates Balor and Joe trying to coexist. The match felt longer than it needed to be. Did it go long because company officials viewed this as a potential internet dream match due to the participants? In fairness, it should have felt that way, but the company has done so much damage to Gallows and Anderson that it just felt like a needlessly long, time filling match.
Overall show: The goal of Raw was to sell viewers on the the Survivor Series event. Their work was already done for this viewer in that it felt like a must see show the moment they put the WWE Championship on AJ Styles to set up a true dream match with Brock Lesnar. Still, WWE made the men’s elimination match feel bigger by replacing Jason Jordan with Triple H. They also added The Shield vs. New Day in a battle of WWE’s top trios. Survivor Series is typically the least exciting of WWE’s traditional Big Four events. This year is an exception in that this feels like a loaded show. I’m all in for the main event and the men’s elimination match because of who is involved, not because of the forced Raw vs. Smackdown annual rivalry.
WWE Raw Misses
Braun Strowman vs. Kane: I never got past the opening moment when Strowman and Kane stared and jawed at one another in the middle of the ring while the referee just stood there. There was no storyline reason why the referee didn’t call for the bell to start the match. While the ref was just following his marching orders, surely there was a better way to have Kane and Strowman brawl before the bell if the company didn’t want them to have an actual match. The big question I have is why this segment closed the show when it didn’t appear to play into anything Survivor Series related. Were they simply trying to keep viewers watching in the third hour or will it actually play into something on Sunday such as Kane playing some part in Strowman’s elimination from the Survivor Series match?
Enzo Amore and Drew Gulak vs. Kalisto and Akira Tozawa: The Enzo and Gulak comedy bits are good for a chuckle, but the division is still in a lousy place despite the recent additions of Enzo and Kalisto. The 205 Live plug actually encouraged viewers to watch for Kalisto’s birthday celebration. The sad thing is that the birthday party is a better hook for this show than any match involving the severely damaged “other guys” in the cruiserweight division.
Join us for live coverage of NXT Takeover: WarGames on Saturday and WWE Survivor Series on Sunday night.