By Jason Powell
Check out Monday’s Prowrestling.net Live replay with Will Pruett and I taking calls on WWE Survivor Series and NXT Takeover: WarGames at PWAudio.net.
WWE Raw Hits
Paige, Sonya Deville, and Mandy Rose: The live crowd erupted when Paige made the surprise appearance on the stage during the four-way match. It felt like a matter of when rather than if she would return given that she’d been training at the WWE Performance Center, but the true surprise was the debut of NXT wrestlers Deville and Rose from NXT. Their union with Paige feels a bit random, and a good case can certainly be made for other women in NXT being more main roster ready, but this all came off well. Paige was so condescending in how she spoke that I came away viewing her as a heel even though they took the equal opportunity approach by beating up babyfaces and heels. It’s good to see Paige back and one can only hope that she’s addressed her personal issues and has a bright future ahead of her in WWE.
The Miz vs. Roman Reigns for the Intercontinental Championship: It was a good night for Reigns in terms of the live crowd’s favorable reaction to him in a singles match. It’s worth noting that this is the same live crowd that chanted “Miz is awesome” earlier in the night, yet they were pro-Reigns throughout the match even without his usual babyface boosters Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. Reigns winning the secondary championship doesn’t do much for me, but we’ll see where it goes. For what it’s worth, Jake Barnett mentioned the idea of a six-man tag with The Shield vs. Sheamus, Cesaro, and The Miz for both the IC and Raw Tag Titles as a possibility. It’s an interesting scenario and I could see it happening, though I prefer the standard title match approach.
Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Jason Jordan, and Braun Strowman opening segment: The only negative is that they didn’t deliver what was advertised going into the show, as Triple H never addressed his actions at Survivor Series. However, the positives far outweighed that negative. Stephanie gloating about Raw’s Survivor Series win was kept to a minimum, Angle finally stood up for himself, and Hunter backed down from Strowman and even drew a “you’re a coward” chant from a lively crowd.
Braun Strowman vs. Jason Jordan: A brief match that appeared to feature Jordan feigning an injury to get out of facing Strowman. It’s interesting that Jordan has referred to Angle as “dad” twice and in both instances it seemed like he was trying to manipulate his storyline father into giving him something he wanted. Last week, Jordan was pleading to stay in the Survivor Series match. This week, Jordan was trying to get out of facing Strowman. All signs continue to point toward a heel turn for Jordan. Meanwhile, the Kane attack on Strowman was well done even if the feud isn’t very exciting.
Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor: A surprising clean win for Joe. Is this parity booking in that Balor will simply get his win back next week or are they setting up Joe for something bigger? Perhaps it’s time for WWE to orchestrate a trade to send Balor to Smackdown. He seems lost in the shuffle on the Raw brand that is dominated by big men. He’d be a much better fit on Smackdown where he could have strong programs with AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura just to name a couple.
Asuka vs. Dana Brooke: Asuka has graduated from beating enhancement wrestlers to beating the Raw brand’s traveling enhancement wrestler. It was a solid spotlight match for her despite the fact that Michael Cole seemed more excited about the lighthearted elements of her match than putting over her her vicious strikes and in-ring skills.
WWE Raw Misses
Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose: The match was Hit-worthy based on match quality. The Miss is simply because of the “been there, done that” feeling of yet another singles match involving one of the tag champions and one of their top challengers. It didn’t feel like anything was at stake and lone goal of this segment was to fill time.
Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander, Akira Tozawa, and Mustafa Ali vs. Tony Nese, Noam Dar, Ariya Daivari, and Drew Gulak: Insert the obligatory line about the hard working talent paying the price for creative’s uninspired approach to the brand. Enzo went from being a crowd pleasing babyface to being a heel they portray as being too obnoxious on the mic to suffer through.
Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Alicia Fox segment: Bliss delivered a quality promo and then the rest of the women had to regurgitate some of the most painful scripted lines of the night. Someone on creative seems to be obsessed with getting James calling Bliss “biscuit butt” over and it’s just not happening. It was good for a chuckle the first time she said it and now they are running it into the ground.