The fall is usually a down period for WWE booking as the company cuts its losses in the face of Monday Night Football, presenting bare bones booking anchored by gimmick PPVs to provide some kind of enticement. In a welcome change, this year WWE has been trying to keep its viewers by pulling out the heavy hitters, like Roman Reigns vs. John Cena and Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon inside Hell in a Cell. Despite a No Mercy event that failed to live up to its lofty expectations, the Raw brand is moving full steam ahead to Tables, Ladders and Chairs dangling another dream scenario in front of the audience: The Shield reunion.

Believe in The…Bar?

Fulfilling his idiotic promise of taking on Braun Strowman immediately after chiding his tag team partner for doing the exact same thing, Seth Rollins took on the Monster Among Men in a similarly losing effort. After the decent little match that opened up Raw, Strowman laid the hurt on Rollins, prompting Dean Ambrose to come to the aid of his partner and get knocked out for his efforts. Former tag team champions Cesaro and Sheamus, who still have a bone to pick with Ambrose and Rollins, came out to pick the bones. This would not be the last time we saw Cesaro and Sheamus. Furthering the Shield storyline is a good use of Braun as he is apparently between feuds, though it does make two top tier talents in Ambrose and Rollins seem laughably weak to not be able to take on Braun 2v1.

The lone wolf of the Hounds of Justice is the Big Dog Roman Reigns — phew, that was a lot of dog references — who as a result of last week’s beatdown at the hands of the Miztourage was granted an Intercontinental Championship match against The Miz tonight. Between The Shield being a major talking point of Miz TV and the farcical fist bump following beating the piss out of Roman, last week’s Miztourage altercation very heavily foreshadowed a Shield reunion. That continued this week, as Miz and his Miztourage brilliantly parodied The Shield’s famed entrance through the crowd.

Before the match could even begin, Roman took his frustrations out on Dallas and Axel with a pair of Superman punches and chasing them down with a steel chair. Once the match finally did start, Reigns and Miz predictably had a solid match — a match that was interrupted by Cesaro and Sheamus. The Bar, hours after decimating an already laid out Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, took it to the third former member of The Shield, even going so far to aid The Miz in a Shield-patented triple powerbomb. For the second week in a row, The Miz comes out of Raw looking incredibly strong against Roman Reigns — a sentence I never thought I would write in my life.

It appears that it will be the team of The Miz, Cesaro and Sheamus to face off against The Shield, making for a far more formidable threat than the Miztourage could ever hope to be. This storyline has been surprisingly interesting and entertaining, and while the end result of The Shield reuniting is predictable, the path we’re taking to get there has been anything but.

Raw closed out on a backstage shot of Ambrose and Rollins meeting with a battered Reigns. The pacing of this angle has been pretty spot on — I’m certainly psyched to see what happens next.

She’d Never Lie to Me

Bray Wyatt has always had great potential as a character, but it’s easy to have given up on him in recent months. A Wyatt feud has become the most predictable, uneventful story on the show — Wyatt chooses a victim, cuts cryptic promos about revealing your true self and whatever else, and then he loses. His recent matchups with Finn Balor have done little to think anything would change, but this week actually managed to make it interesting. Wyatt ended up cutting one of his better promos in recent memory, maybe of his career, proclaiming the possible arrival of Sister Abigail herself in the flesh. The intriguing promo capped off with in legitimately chilling fashion, with Bray Wyatt somehow using the world’s most haunting Snapchat filter on himself.

Will we actually see a physical Sister Abigail? Will it be somebody we know, possibly even a returning Paige? In one promo, Wyatt is now a character with an actual story to tell. The same can’t really be said for Finn Balor, who has really yet to find his footing on the main roster thus far. He’s solid in the ring and the fans love him, but his promos are just not very entertaining. He’s getting the job done selling this angle from his end, but just barely.

The Rest of the Card

  • If you’re gonna do an Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James feud, this is the way to do it. Mickie is being built back up as a credible challenger, something she hasn’t really been since she re-debuted in WWE’s NXT brand against Asuka. The build to James vs. Bliss has been better than expected; hopefully the matchup — which was made official tonight — also delivers.
  • Elis had another match, this time against Titus. He won. Whatever.
  • In a show filled with surprises, let’s not forget that Gallows and Anderson convincingly won a match! Against two guys WWE is pretty high on, no less! It’s unclear where they go from here, if anywhere, but the Good Brothers killing magic on my screen is always a welcome sight.
  • Bayley and Sasha Banks defeated Emma and Alicia Fox after a Bayley-to-Belly, but the real story in this matchup was Emma deserting her hand-picked tag partner. Actually, the real story is they managed to make Emma’s bad new theme even worse, which is impressive.
  • Enzo Amore (kind of) main evented Raw for the second week in a row, cutting a standard Enzo promo on the entire Cruiserweight division — that is until Kurt Angle announced 205 Live‘s newest signee…Kalisto. Yes, Kalisto going over on Enzo Amore was the closing in-ring segment in an episode of Raw. Kalisto belongs in the Cruiserweight division, and it’s refreshing to see WWE invest this heavily in 205 Live especially in the face of rumors the show is to be canceled, but it just feels strange that these segments are closing out the show.

The Verdict

This week’s episode of Raw was surprising in a number of ways, most of them good. Though some segments felt inconsequential, you’re rarely going to find an entire episode of Raw without any. The main stories took intriguing steps forward, and The Shield’s inevitable reunion is being immaculately paced.

WWE Monday Night Raw: October 2, 2017
Is it good?
A well-paced show that was surprising in a number of ways. Hopefully the big moments being built towards pay off.
The Shield reunion story is being paced perfectly
The Miz looks stronger than ever two weeks in a row
Bray cut maybe the most interesting promo of his career
A lot of the mid card dragged
The renewed focus on the Cruiserweight division is welcome, but does it really need to close out Raw?
8.5
Great