Monday Night Raw = Watchable
After what has seemed like a long time, Monday Night Raw delivers with an episode that keeps you entertained throughout all three hours. It’s not easy to keep someone’s attention for a full three hours, but this Raw had storyline development along with great in-ring action. This is a perfect mix we usually don’t see week in and week out. If you have this episode DVRed I suggest giving it a watch. If not, or you just don’t have the time, welcome to the Crash Course Wrestling Column. Let’s get to it.
The show opens with Kurt Angle. He is about to announce an Intercontinental Championship match when he is interrupted by his own son, Jason Jordan. Teach that kid so god damn manners Kurt. They seem to be going a different direction with the Jason Jordan character as an entitled spoiled brat who tries to swim with the big dogs. Roman comes out and says he doesn’t deserve a shot and Roman says he wants to face Samoa Joe. Joe comes out and says he accepts, but Jason Jordan whines that he should get the opportunity. While Roman is smack talking Joe, Jordan hits Reigns with a belly to belly suplex. Roman is fired up and puts his title on the line against Jason Jordan in the opening match.
Roman Reigns vs. Jason Jordan for the Intercontinental Championship is on when we come back from break. This match was fantastic with Jason Jordan shining in the ring. There are a lot of hard hitting moves here, such as, suplexes into bridges, powerslams, and of course Superman Punches. This match lasts across three commercial breaks and in the end Roman hits the Spear to retain his championship.
This brings us to our 9 o’clock spot where Paige (alongside Absolution) takes on Sasha Banks (alongside Bayley and Mickie James). I am surprised this wasn’t saved for a Pay-Per-View, but it is a great match nonetheless. There was a spot in this match where both women were on the top rope. Paige went for a sunset flip on Sasha and Sasha took a nasty bump on her shoulder. The other women of Absolution and Bayley and Mickie James went at it on the outside of the ring. This caused a distraction leading to the Rampage on Sasha and Paige picking up the pinfall victory. This was not the last we saw of absolution tonight.
Asuka took on Alicia Fox later in the night. This wasn’t a great match between two, but Asuka picked up the victory. However, it wasn’t about the match, it was more about the post-match segment. Absolution surrounds Asuka in the ring for the second week in a row. Just like last week, Absolution does not attack Asuka. Asuka leaves the ring peacefully leaving Alicia Fox by herself. Paige comes in the ring with a mic and says she likes Alicia Fox, but her new friends don’t. Absolution beats down on Alicia Fox.
In Cruiserweight Division news, Rich Swann won a Fatal Four Way match last week to secure a spot in a mini WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. Another Fatal Four Way match involving Drew Gulak, Mustafa Ali, Cedric Alexander, and Tony Nese took place this week to determine who would face Rich Swann next week to become #1 Contender for the Cruiserweight Championship. Like many, I want to the Cruiserweight Division succeed. However, WWE very rarely gives the live crowd and the viewers at home a reason to care. This leads to flat matches and a bored crowd. That being said, this match was electric with the crowd on the edge of their seat. These four guys pulled out all the stops with death-defying dives and spanish flies from the top rope. Not only was there a “this is awesome” chant, but also a “holy shit” chant. You don’t see that often in Cruiserweight matches on Raw. At the end of the match, Cedric Alexander was going Lumbar Check crazy and hit one on Mustafa Ali. Gulak came from the outside and kneed Cedric in the back of the head and picking up the scraps for the pinfall victory. Next week we will see Rich Swann vs. Drew Gulak for the #1 Contendership to the WWE Crusierweight Championship.
The last hour of Raw is usually slow and painful leading into the main event, but tonight’s last hour was DELLIGHTTTFULLLL. We get Bray Wyatt on the screen rambling about demons and monsters, all the while, Matt Hardy in cutting into the video feed spewing his broken commentary. This segment was really cool and unique and my words can’t do justice to it. A segment that you just have to watch.
The main event was Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose for the Raw Tag Team Championships. If you remember, Cesaro & Sheamus won the Raw Tag Titles when the New Day invaded Raw. These two teams have had so many matches, but they have all been very good. This one was no exception. These teams pull out all the stops, but keep all their teeth in tact, which is good. Sheamus gets his team Disqualified in order to keep the championships. However, Kurt Angle comes out and restarts the match as No Disqualification. The match restarts and Samoa Joe comes out to attack Rollins and Ambrose. This in turn prompts Roman Reigns to save his fellow Shield members. This chaos allows Sheamus to hit a Brogue kick on Ambrose and score the pinfall before Roman can get back to the ring to the save the match. Cesaro and Sheamus retain their titles. Now that is how you work two awesome storylines into one main event segment.
Everything seemed to fire on cylinders tonight both with the superstars and the Los Angeles crowd tonight. There are some things to look forward to next week as well. As mentioned earlier, we have Rich Swann vs. Drew Gulak to determine the #1 Contender for the WWE Crusierweight Championship. A part of me hopes it is Drew Gulak so we can see Enzo take on a fellow member of the Zo’ Train. However that is a win-win situation regardless. In addition, we have Kane vs. Braun Strowman in a “Match Among Monsters”. There could be a stipulation involved here before next week. Let’s see how the blue brand sizes up to this show.
Smackdown Live = Skippable
Monday Nigth Raw gave Smackdown Live a run for their money this week as far as show quality goes. Smackdown Live fired back with a pretty standard show that helped build toward Clash of Champions which is two weeks away. The show starts off with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn explaining how, although Sami was banned from ringside last week in the match with Orton, they didn’t violate any rules. Zayn says he attacked Orton on the ramp and NOT at ringside. Shane comes out and announces that at Clash of Champions we will see Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. Randy Orton and a partner of his choosing. Shane also announces that the main event tonight will be Sami Zayn vs. Randy Orton with Kevin Owens handcuffed to the ring rope.
The first in-ring action of the night saw The New Day take on Aiden English and Rusev, a new favorite tag team by many. Rusev shows off his new merch that simply states “Happy Rusev Day”. You may be thinking, “why buy a shirt you can only wear one day a year?”. Well you are in luck because EVERY DAY IS RUSEV DAY! A good match between both teams with Rusev and Aiden English scoring the victory. In addition to that, Aiden English was the one that picked up the pinfall. It is then announced that at Clash of Champions we will see The Usos vs. The New Day vs. Gable & Benjamin vs. Rusev & Adien English in a Fatal Four Way for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships.
At Clash of Champions we will see Baron Corbin defend his United States Championship against both Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode in a Triple Threat Match. Tonight, the 9 o’clock spot presented us with Baron Corbin vs. Bobby Roode with Dolph Ziggler on commentary. If you know how wrestling works, you probably could guess that Dolph Ziggler interferes causing a disqualification finish.
Unfortunately, there was no Fashion Files tonight thus adding fuel to speculation that The Ascension actually died in the Saw trap last week. Lets hope we get graced with a Fashion Police segment next week. Also throughout the night, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are trying to get Daniel Bryan to reverse Shane’s decision earlier about the handcuffs, but to no avail. Finally, in tid bit news, Charlotte vs. Natalya for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at Clash of Champions will now be a Lumberjack Match.
In the main event spot we see Kevin Owens getting handcuffed to the ring rope. Randy Orton vs. Sami Zayn begins and it is a solid main event as far as in-ring action goes. At one point Sami gets bolt cutters and hands them to Owens who cuts himself free. Despite this extra man advantage, Orton ducks a Helluva Kick and gets rolled up. Randy Orton scores the pinfall victory only to be beat down by Sami and Kevin after the bell rings. Shinsuke Nakamura’s music hits and makes the save on Orton. The announcers tell us that Shinske will be Orton’s partner at Clash of Champions. Things get kind of weird from here. We cut to the back where Shane announces he will be the guest referee of that match and if Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens lose, they are fired. Daniel Bryan just nods his head to these two massive claims as Smackdown Live goes off the air.