By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the SAP Center in San Jose, California. It’s the go-home show for No Mercy which takes place this Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. With the red brand returning from a recent tour of Australia, did a classic case of jetlag set in six days before the PPV? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.
· Raw started off with Kurt Angle trying to make an announcement until The Miz and his Miztourage interrupted him. Miz was miffed that he was left off another PPV. Angle planned to remedy the situation by booking The Hardy Boyz, Elias, and Jason Jordan in a Fatal Four Way match with the winner going on to face Miz for the Intercontinental Championship at No Mercy.
· Miz complained that Jordan didn’t deserve a shot at the IC Title and accused Angle of trying to make up for lost time with his son by giving him title opportunities on a whim. Miz suggested that Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel deserved a spot in the match instead. He called Angle and deadbeat which caused Jordan to come out to defend his father.
· Jordan warned Miz not to say another word about his dad. To eliminate the suggestion of nepotism, Jordan wanted Angle to add Dallas and Axel to the match. Angle agreed and turned the Fatal Four Way into a Six Pack Challenge.
· Miz scoffed at Jordan for making such a dumb decision and accused of him being incompetent like his father. Jordan attacked Miz as the Miztourage jumped into action. Jordan fought them off as the opening segment came to an end.
· This was a fine way to start the show. The Miz was back to being a true heel after ripping Enzo Amore on the mic last week which made him an accidental babyface.
· Jason Jordan did a solid job during his brief promo and shined a bit more during an emotional backstage conversation with Kurt Angle. It was the first time that their father-son relationship was showcased in a believable way. Angle always manages to turn chicken shit into chicken salad. If Jordan continues to show layers to his character, there might be hope for him yet to get over as a star.
· Nia Jax defeated Alexa Bliss with a Samoan Drop in a pretty one-sided match. Bliss tried to bail out of the match until Sasha Banks forced her to get back in the ring. Bliss briefly gained the upper hand when Jax slammed her shoulder against the ring post. She nailed her with a stiff punch before grounding her with a pair of dropkicks.
· Bliss went to the top rope only for Jax to catch her in midflight which led to the finish moments later.
· Jax didn’t get a chance to celebrate because Banks jumped her from behind. Jax slammed Banks down onto the canvas and was about to finish her off when Bayley came out to make the save.
· In a surreal moment, Bliss, Bayley, and Banks attacked Jax which left them as the last women standing.
· Banks and Bayley celebrated in the ring while Bliss became the dreaded third wheel.
· Both ladies were not having it as Banks kneed her in the face before Bayley laid her out with the Bayley-to-Belly as the segment came to an end with the besties standing tall.
· Bayley making a surprise return in her hometown was cool. She received a nice ovation, but I’m afraid too much damage has been done to her character in order to salvage her push as a babyface.
· The Hugger Extraordinaire needs a character overhaul in order to stand out in the Women’s Division. With Asuka making her debut in the coming weeks, being a cookie cutter babyface that’s been booked like shit is a recipe for disaster. Here’s hoping the creative team can right the ship because there is still value in Bayley if they book her properly.
· Sheamus and Cesaro defeated Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins & Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows when Sheamus stole the pin from Ambrose after the Lunatic Fringe nailed Anderson with Dirty Deeds. This was a sneaky way for The Bar to gain the upper hand heading into their Raw Tag Team Championship against Ambrose and Rollins at No Mercy on Sunday.
· The Triple Threat Tag Team Match was very entertaining as all three teams showed up and showed out. The crowd was lukewarm at first, but Rollins and Ambrose hooked them down the stretch when they did double stereo suicide dives from opposite sides of the ring. Rollins especially worked well with Cesaro as they did some innovative moves that popped the fans as well.
· Anderson and Gallows were slotted in the match to eat the loss, but they had a nice showing as well. Despite being mishandled due to piss poor booking, Gallows is getting his “Nerd” catchphrase over. I still don’t like a grown man calling other grown men nerds, but I can’t knock the hustle if The Good Brothers are getting cheered. If only they were presented better on television to balance things out. Maybe one day…
· Dustin Rhodes is in the building and he wants to face Bray Wyatt man-to-man. Kurt Angle granted his request and the match was set for later tonight. This was a nice change of pace for the Wrestler Formerly Known as Goldust. At least for tonight.
· Curt Hawkins’ losing streak continues as Apollo Crews pinned him with a Spinning Sit-Out Powerbomb in a decent match. Hawkins has lost 115 matches in a row. At least he’s still able to draw a check on the regular.
· The split screen interview between Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman was very good. Paul Heyman spoke on Lesnar’s behalf as he painted the narrative that Strowman might be bigger and stronger than The Beast, but he has proven nothing until he beats Lesnar for the Universal Championship at No Mercy. Heyman ran down Lesnar’s impressive resume and was about to go all-in when his client interrupted him.
· Lesnar wanted to thank Strowman for pushing him into a corner heading into Sunday’s PPV. He loved a good challenge because it made him a better competitor. He closed out the interview by saying, “Suplex City, bitch” as Strowman no sold Lesnar’s comment.
· Lesnar vs. Strowman for the Universal Championship should be a pure spectacle. Will Suplex City still be in business afterward? We shall find out soon enough.
· The Fatal Four Way Match for the Raw Women’s Championship has been changed to a Fatal Five Way featuring Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Emma, and Bayley. What an interesting turn of events…
· Roman Reigns cut his final promo on John Cena by name dropping Alex Riley as a guy that looked like Cena who ended up on the future endeavors list a few years ago. The Riley-Cena drama is well-documented online among hardcore fans, but we still don’t know what the hell happened all those years ago. Reigns’ comment was cute, but it was a little too insider for casual fans who are not in the know about the inner workings of WWE.
· Reigns tossed to a clip of Cena cutting a scathing promo on The Rock about leaving WWE for the bright lights of Hollywood leading up to their match at WrestleMania XXVIII five years ago. Reigns used this as evidence of Cena being a hypocrite who ended up doing the exact same thing. The Big Dog warned Cena that he would suffer another loss from a Samoan at No Mercy as the segment came to an end.
· Reigns promo was fine, but it wasn’t anything particularly special. WWE was smart to keep things short and sweet by allowing Cena to do the heavy lifting via archival footage. The Reigns-Cena feud peaked after their stellar verbal confrontation on August 28th. Since then, it’s been a series of diminishing returns, but their match should be very good if they work hard and tell a compelling story in the ring.
· Bray Wyatt defeated Dustin Rhodes with Sister Abigail in a decent match. Rhodes was in control for the most part, but the outcome was never in doubt.
· After the match was over, Finn Bálor appeared on the Titantron and told Wyatt a story about him embracing his demon side due to his fascination with Gods, Monsters, and Mythology. Since the demon was a creation of man, who’s more dangerous? That’s a very good question that almost made me care about their match at No Mercy. However, my interest level remains at a 3. The soon this feud ends, the better.
· As I mentioned last week, I had a feeling that Enzo Amore lost all credibility as a WWE Superstar after The Miz destroyed him on the mic last week. Enzo received an okay pop, but things quickly went south when he vowed to defeat Neville to become the new Cruiserweight Champion at No Mercy. The fans booed him for making such a bold prediction.
· Things got worse for Mr. Amore when Braun Strowman body checked him on the entrance ramp before dragging his limp body down to the ring.
· Strowman chucked Enzo in the ring before dropping him with a Chokeslam followed by a Running Powerslam. The fans chanted “Thank You, Strowman!” which is another sign that Enzo’s stock has fallen in recent weeks.
· Neville came out to pick the bones by hitting the Red Arrow on Enzo to add insult to injury. Neville grabbed the mic and mocked Enzo’s dance and “How You Doin?” catchphrase as the segment came to an end.
· Enzo Amore is a chump and nothing more at this point. What a fall from grace…
· Once again, the WWE production team outdid themselves by putting together a fantastic video package chronicling the life and times of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Heenan is the greatest manager in wrestling history. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Heenan paved the way for so many managers and announcers over the years. Having a bombastic personality with a wicked sense of humor made The Brain an originator who can never be duplicated.
· Many have tried, but it’s all about carving a niche for oneself in order to stand out. Heenan provided the blueprint for the likes of Jimmy Hart, Jim Cornette, Paul Heyman, and Jerry Lawler to be ballsy, loud, and hilarious on the mic. Corey Graves is poised to join that illustrious class someday and he owes Heenan a solid for embracing the snarky way of life. May The Brain rest in peace.
· Neville made Gran Metalik tap out to the Rings of Saturn in a solid match. Unfortunately, they were slotted in the 10:30 Lull Period of Death which has spelled doom for many wrestlers over the past five years. The in-ring action was good while it lasted, though.
· Jason Jordan defeated Curtis Axel with a neck breaker and will go on to face The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship at No Mercy this Sunday.
· Jeff Hardy had the match won he laid out Axel with the Swanton Bomb until The Miz broke up the pin. The distraction allowed Jordan to regroup after getting jumped by Miz midway through the match. The crowd wasn’t thrilled with the finish because they were pulling for Jeff, but the post-match antics made sense in the grand scheme of things.
· Miz tried to sucker punch Jordan, but Jordan dropped him with a pair of Belly-to-Belly Suplexes. The Miztourage double-teamed Jordan which allowed Miz to nail him with the Skull Crushing Finale.
· Miz grabbed the mic and told Jordan that he would still be champion after their IC Title match on Sunday. Kurt Angle would still be a terrible father while Jordan would still be a bastard. And with that, Raw went off the air with Miz and his crew standing tall as the crowd gave them a tepid reaction.
· This was an okay way to end the show. The Six Pack Challenge had a few bright spots, but it was light on star power with the exception of The Hardy Boyz. The outcome was never in doubt, but Jordan is not quite ready for the spotlight despite the progress he made during his interactions with Kurt Angle earlier tonight.
· Miz is the perfect person to make Jordan look sympathetic, but he can only do so much if the fans don’t buy Jordan being Angle’ long lost son. Here’s hoping WWE puts the pieces together because this far-fetched storyline is hanging on by a thread at the moment.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw was decent at best. WWE did a nice job hyping the No Mercy PPV by pushing Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship and John Cena vs. Roman Reigns like the double main event of WrestleMania. The former feels hotter than the latter due to its presentation, but I expect both matches to deliver the goods from a wrestling standpoint on Sunday.
· The rest of the show was fine, but the in-ring action was so-so with the exception of the Triple Threat Tag Team Match and Six-Pack Challenge that closed out the show. Considering the fact that the Raw crew just got back from a grueling tour of Australia, this was a better than average show because jetlag tends to set in which could’ve made tonight’s broadcast tough to watch.
· No Mercy should be a very good PPV on Sunday. The key matches have been promoted well which should keep the Los Angeles crowd hyped throughout the show. Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Bálor and Neville vs. Enzo Amore for the Cruiserweight Championship look weak on paper, but they should be fine for the most part.
· However, the double main event will tell the true story when it comes to B PPVs being more than a stopgap between the Big Four. Here’s hoping WWE leaves the fans satisfied and wanting more come Sunday. Fingers crossed!
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!