Last week’s episode of Raw was a pleasant surprise. Sure, it didn’t do a particularly great job of building up Survivor Series, which should certainly be one of the show’s goals, but taken as a self-contained episode of a television show, it was paced in a way you don’t often see in WWE. The show centered around the continued dominance of Kane, the old guard of wrestling monsters, and the reemergence of Braun Strowman, the new blood. The whole show felt like a horror movie, leading up to the grand finale of Braun Strowman getting his revenge on the weaselly Miz and getting us one step closer to the inevitable Braun vs. Kane showdown.
This week’s show, though, was still tasked with answering several lingering questions. Will Roman Reigns be well in time for Survivor Series? Will Finn Balor have to go back to that dreadful angle with Bray Wyatt? Is Raw still "under siege" from its blue brother?
Raw picked up where it left off last week, with Miz and Braun. Well, Braun didn’t make an appearance at the top of the show, which saw Kurt Angle joining Miz TV to, among other things, announce that Braun Strowman asked for and would receive a match against Miz on tonight’s Raw. The Miz cut another absolutely stellar promo on Kurt and on Braun, proving once again that he’s one of WWE’s truly elite mic men. Angle, whose mic work since returning to WWE has been pretty spotty, kept up better than usual, despite saying that SmackDown Live General Manager Shane had an "inferior complex."
The match itself between the two probably went about the way you’d expect: Braun Strowman beat the holy hell out of The Miz. Normally I’d disagree with punking out your Intercontinental Champion like this, but Braun is presented as a league above his peers. He’s on Brock Lesnar’s level, as he should be. His utter dominance is a huge part of what makes him so entertaining.
Kane made his way to the ring for the showdown between the two monsters that has been built toward for weeks, and Braun bested the Big Red Monster, powering out of a chokeslam and putting Kane away. With Braun on the Raw Survivor Series team, it’s hard to say where this angle goes from here. It’ll likely be placed on hold until after Survivor Series. If you asked me a year ago I’d be sure I would never say this sentence in my life, but here it is: I’m very much enjoying the Braun Strowman/Kane feud.
Bring Your Son to Work Day
Evidently, Roman Reigns will not be completely recovered from the illness that kept him off television since before TLC until after Survivor Series. As he was expected to be revealed as the final member of Team Raw for the traditional Survivor Series match, his absence forces WWE’s hand to find a last minute replacement. That replacement came in the form of Jason Jordan, the team captain’s kayfabe son.
Jason Jordan has potential as a wrestler. He’s fantastic in the ring, has a great look and his promos are…well, he can work on his promos. Given the right material he could easily thrive. Unfortunately, that’s not what they’re giving him. Elias is an excellent old school heel who gets consistent heat, but exactly none of that heat has transferred to Jordan in their weeks-long feud, which was fallen completely flat. The two squared off in yet another match, which saw Jordan interrupt Elias’s song. Yet again. To no reaction whatsoever. Yet again.
After the lackluster gimmick match, General Manager Kurt Angle called his illegitimate son into his room to tell him that he’d be the fifth and final member of Team Raw’s Survivor Series match, to which Jordan reacted like an eight year old boy whose dad finally came to one of his basketball games. "YES! My dad is the BEST!", Jordan presumably said after he fist bumped and jumped up and down with excitement.
Ultimately, his inclusion in the traditional Survivor Series match will be fine. He’ll be largely irrelevant to the outcome of it, and if we’re lucky we’ll get some kind of meaningful moment between father and son. But his last-minute inclusion that likely won’t amount to anything is a microcosm of his push since he was revealed as Angle’s son: potentially successful, but thrown together so haphazardly and short-sightedly that it actually ends up having a negative effect.
By Any Means Necessary
— WWE (@WWE) November 7, 2017
The show’s main event was a match we’ve seen a lot of lately: Raw Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus and Cesaro. It’s hard to complain, though, as these two teams have consistently excellent matches. The Bar lobbied for the match earlier in the night, and Angle acquiesced, but only after noting that this was their final chance at The Shield’s Tag Team Championships.
As expected, the two teams had a great back and forth match. What wasn’t expected was the match being interrupted by an invading New Day, who cut a promo at the top of the stairs in the audience, prompting Kurt Angle to round up the Raw roster in anticipation of another possible attack from Team Blue. New Day was apparently acting on their own though, and their message was distracting enough to allow Sheamus to hit a Brogue Kick on Seth Rollins amidst all the chaos to regain the tag team championships, The Bar’s third reign.
During the show I was a bit surprised this match took top billing over Braun Strowman vs. The Miz, but I’m glad it did. A great match with a surprising ending that has implications for the pay-per-view and makes you want to tune in next week to experience the fallout — it checked all the boxes of a solid Raw main event.
The Rest of the Card
- Asuka had the standard Asuka squash match. It’s a fine use of her to showcase what she’s capable of to fans who may not be familiar, but as someone who just wants to see the Empress of Tomorrow wreck some fools in high-profile matches, it’s easy to get disenfranchised.
- Can we just have Finn Balor and Samoa Joe wrestle each other every week? These two are some of the best the sport has to offer, and watching them go at it is a pure joy. The double count out finish is deflating, but this is free TV. These two have managed to make their short rivalry feel like a blood feud, and it clicks far better than anything either of them have done recently. It’s too bad we won’t get a PPV match between the two until at least December.
- After being forced to tap out to the Bank Statement, women’s Raw Survivor Series team captain Alicia Fox officially added Sasha Banks to the team following some strangely worded pleading. The story is that Bayley was also victorious tonight, but was not asked to join the team. Will this cause some jealousy, perhaps driving a wedge between Sasha and Bayley?
- Debuting WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne on Monday Night Raw from Manchester, UK is a no-brainer, and he was used very effectively tonight. Interrupting an Enzo Amore speech that was so long and dreadful that the entire commentary team ended up talking over it to trash it, the Bruiserweight defeated the Cruiserweight Champion in short order. It’s about time that Pete Dunne (and really, the UK roster in general) gets a platform to shine; here’s hoping there are big things in store for him. The match was quick, but this was one of the highlights of the night, made even more special by the hot home
Tonight’s episode of Raw provided multiple pleasant surprises and some great matches. The wrestling-heavy show featured entertaining matchups such as Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe and The Shield vs. The Bar, the latter of which delivered a shocking ending. The main roster debut of WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne was a very welcome surprise as well. Sure, some of what we got could be eye-rolling at times (Jordan being added to the Survivor Series team), but with some exceptions, WWE has been doing a good job making Raw a pretty entertaining three hours of television lately.