I actually volunteered for this show, because James is a bit busy editing stuff. I must be mad. We’re in Boston. Massachusetts. Hosts are Michael Cole, JBL and Byron Saxton. Video Control starts us out with a recap of the Kane-Seth Rollins deal from last week. The new split personality approach to Kane is beautiful, in a weird way, as Korporate Kane was getting to be a bit of a drag. Taking all his anger away and putting it into the Demon Kane allows Korporate Kane to be a far superior character. One that only sees positivity.
Promo Time: Paul Heyman & Brock Lesnar
Lesnar vanquished the ‘threat’ of the Big Show at MSG so he’s looking forward to Undertaker now at Hell in a Cell. Heyman points out that anyone who’s ever wronged the Undertaker, since his debut in 1990, has gotten their comeuppance but that won’t happen with Brock Lesnar. “This is a fight he (Undertaker) cannot win”. Heyman gets some more mileage out of the conquering of the streak, which is still the core of this feud. Taker wants a measure of revenge for that defeat. Getting a dodgy ‘submission’ win at SummerSlam hasn’t sated his appetite. Heyman criticises Taker’s tactics at SummerSlam, including the low blow. Heyman ups the ante by saying Hell in a Cell will be the final ever Lesnar-Undertaker match. Heyman thinks Lesnar will win. “That’s not a prediction, it’s a spoiler. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of my lord!” – Heyman turns the screws. And then Big Show ambles out here.
Jesus, man, you’re done. Get over it. Boston suggests he should just retire. Show offers Brock a handshake but Lesnar just laughs that off and walks past him. Show throws down a punk card by saying he hopes Taker beats Lesnar…again. So Lesnar takes Show to Suplex City…again! You just don’t learn, do ya? This was a decent use of the opening twenty minute chat. I have no problem with Heyman getting twenty minutes to plug stuff.
Video Control takes us backstage where Seth Rollins moans about losing Big Show as his tag team partner tonight and Steph refuses to call the match against the Dudley Boyz off. Why are the Authority suddenly acting like twats toward Rollins? Have they gotten bored of their new toy already?
Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose & Randy Orton vs. The Wyatt Family
When Roman and Bray ‘end’ their feud at Hell in a Cell, what happens to all these hangers on? Do they all just shake hands and walk away? One thing that I’ve taken from this whole feud is that I really like Roman Reigns…as a midcard guy. Maybe there’s hope for him yet. If he stops being given horrible promos and maybe drops some of the goofier aspects of his offence (Superman Punch, I’m looking at you) he could win me over as a main event. Sad to see Orton is still doing the Garvin Stomp. He really is the worst. The Wyatts run heat on Ambrose for a bit. It’s fairly uninspired stuff. Strowman isn’t getting any better. Orton is massively over off the hot tag and I’m seriously confused by WWE crowds. Orton’s arrival onscreen just screams “piss break” at me. Guess I’m in the minority. Harper does the best work for the heels. He’s seriously underrated. Bray can’t get Sister Abigail on Orton and Harper gets hit with a bunch of finishers while Ambrose has the gigantic man-baby distracted on the floor. Bray can’t be bothered to save his family member and Reigns gets the pin. This feud hasn’t done much for me. I’ve really struggled to get into it as it just seems to be circling around, doing nothing. Hopefully the Hell in a Cell match is the end of it all and both guys can do something else.
Final Rating: *1/2
Video Control gives us a shill for NXT Takeover Respect this Wednesday. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks in a 30 minute Ironman match, for the title, in the main event. Sold! They’ve done a far better job of building that up than anything on the main roster.
Neville vs. Sheamus
King Barrett joins commentary, thus guaranteeing a run-in during this. Sheamus is another guy I just don’t get. How on Earth is he the Money in the Bank winner? He’s got no upside at all and is coasting on his way to being released. As best as I can see. He does nothing for me at all. Sheamus runs his mouth for a while so Neville attacks him and Barrett takes exception. Sheamus hits the distracted Neville with a Brogue Kick and then stands around, like a colossal prick, to completely bury Neville before pinning for the win. Fuck you, Sheamus, you selfish asshole.
Final Rating: DUD
Promo Time: Korporate Kane
Kane points out Seth Rollins is short a tag team partner tonight, so he books himself to tag with Seth. The champ comes out to object and Kane runs through some cheery office poster slogans to motivate Seth. Kane is, once again, excellent in the role but the storyline gets a bit stupid here. As in, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley comes out, sticks her nose in where it doesn’t belong and makes a few weird booking decisions. Namely if Demon Kane doesn’t beat Seth Rollins then Korporate Kane is fired as Director of Operations. Ok, whatever. You’ve booked that and you’ll never stick to the stipulations or try and work around them somehow because that’s what you always do.
Paige vs. Natalya
Paige ruined her heel turn with an asinine promo at the MSG show. Natalya has been doing nothing for ages, thanks to Tyson Kidd’s horrific neck injury. Nattie looks solid enough, as she’s been working on house shows but there’s a feeling around the WWE offices that, at the stately age of 33, she’s getting a bit long in the tooth to be an active worker. Did they not watch the Fabulous Moolah? She retired when she died. And she was 105 years old at the time. Nattie gets the surprise win by making Paige tap to the Sharpshooter, which is really odd booking as the women’s division is basically Charlotte vs. Nikki vs. Paige. Why would you job any of those ladies randomly like this? It’s almost as if they don’t care about the division, in the slightest. At least it wasn’t another six-woman tag.
Final Rating: *3/4
Video Control takes us to the upbeat, and hungry, Ryback. He’s getting ready for his re-match with Kevin Owens and beat Owens on count out on Smackdown.
Kevin Owens vs. Sin Cara
This is not for Owens’ prestigious Intercontinental Championship because Sin Cara doesn’t deserve a title shot. Owens brings some sensational trash-talking here, yelling “lucha, lucha, lucha” at Sin Cara before claiming everything is a three-count to the referee even when Cara kicks out at one. Nobody can talk trash like Kevin Owens. Pop Up Powerbomb finishes in short order. I really enjoyed this. Total squash but Owens squashing people is great fun. His NXT title win over Sami Zayn was basically a squash. Kalisto comes in to check on Sin Cara and Owens gives him a shoeing but Ryback runs in for the save.
Final Rating: **
Video Control takes us backstage where the New Day try to get Steph clapping along to the gimmick only for her to emasculate all three of them and book them against the Dudley Boyz at Hell in a Cell. “I thought she liked us” – Kofi Kingston. Steph has no idea who she likes. When one her toys get a bit old she gets bored and looks for another one. The New Day were wonderful here, Steph was awful as usual. I don’t know why she feels the urge to go around emasculating people on every single show she’s on. Not even Vince did that. From there the WWE show their support to Susan G. Komen and breast cancer research. It’s honourable work.
The Dudley Boyz vs. Seth Rollins & Kane
Kane is the Korporate version, wearing a suit and a cast on his leg. He should come in handy then! It ends up more like a handicap match only with loads of stalling from Seth, as if he’s been watching old Memphis tapes and saw a contest where Jerry Lawler spent an entire match stalling. “This is bullcrap” yells Rollins as Kane can’t do anything with his bad wheel. The whole match is just killing time until Kane gets helped to the back to have his leg fixed. Following that Bubba talks a lot of trash (“come on champ, come on champ, come on champ”) and Rollins gets worked over. The Dudley Boyz grab a table, Seth dropkicks it into their faces and that’s a DQ apparently. In order to get to this pointless non-finish we ate up THIRTEEN minutes of TV time. Astonishingly wasteful.
The Demon Kane shows up after the match but the Dudley Boyz hit the 3D on him. With Kane lying around Seth takes a second eternity to set up a table and predictably Kane recovers to chokeslam him through it. Are we sure that Seth Rollins is WWE champion? Because he’s being treated like a midcard nobody. Where are J&J? Rollins guys haven’t been seen for three months. They used to take all the crappy bumps for him.
Final Rating: ½*
Video Control takes us to the earlier arrival of Team Bella. Nikki makes a point of wearing a Yankees hat to get the standard Boston heat. Team BAD also shows up and Sasha gets some love from the crowd for tossing the Yankees hat away. Sasha is a home-town girl.
Sasha Banks, Naomi & Tamina vs. Nikki Bella, Brie Bella & Alicia Fox
Another six-woman tag that nobody asked for. It’s all about Sasha. “I put the Boss in Bos(s)ton”. Nikki and Sasha have a little back and forth, which includes Banks saying “whoever wins at Hell in a Cell, they’re just keeping the belt warm for me”. They talk for way too long and then the world is forced to watch a match too. Can Sasha carry three opponents and her own tag team partners? To be fair to Naomi, she’s probably the second best wrestler out there. It would help if someone on the Bellas team was good too. Brie at least is over for her Daniel Bryan kicks. All it does is remind me that Daniel Bryan isn’t wrestling in this match. As with all of these Bella tags they work heat for ages, this time on Naomi. The match picks up when Sasha gets a hot tag and just destroys everyone. Poor Foxy gets picked off with the Bank Statement. At least they put the right woman over but the match was long. Very, very long. I’m begging the Bellas to learn a match that isn’t 90% heat.
Final Rating: *1/4
Video Control sees Charlotte big herself up. I’m really hoping this isn’t leading to a load of multiple person title matches as Paige, Sasha, Nikki and maybe Becky could all end up contending with Charlotte. Just line them up one at a time and see what works best.
Promo Time: Sweet Submissive Summer Rae
“I keep hearing these rumours that Summer is over”. That’s not true. You’re not over at all. She invites Rusev out here to put him over with a tribute video. It doesn’t show him repeatedly jobbing to John Cena so there’s no wrestling at all. Rusev is actually a very good character but he was a better character before the Cena program and the Lana split. “When this started I didn’t care about you at all” says Rusev, the old charmer. Summer breaks with tradition and proposes to Rusev. That’s not how they do it in Bulgaria, love! Rusev (“Ru-Ru”) responds positively but says only when he reclaims his missing waist-gold, which he needs to go with finger-gold. I’m not big on Summer but she’s doing decent work in this angle and Rusev owns all. I like the start of this angle as now Summer will be desperate to get Rusev gold to get married. Maybe a run of oddball partners in a run at the tag straps? I’d go for that. Thumbs up for doing something different. Sportz Entertaining.
John Cena’s US Championship Open Challenge
This is going on last. I find it odd that Cena is being positioned so strongly if it is true he’s going to take time off. Dolph Ziggler’s music kicks in and that’s the main event…but he’s a no-show because the New Day beat him up. They remind Cena he told them to get serious. “Is this serious enough for you?” New Day mention a lot of “Big” things before nominating Big E for the match.
WWE US Championship
John Cena (c) vs. Big E
I was never that keen on Big E but now his headlocks are great and I’m watching Table for Three on the Network because New Day are on it. That’s what we call a turnaround, folks. Big E manages to drop Cena on his head but it happens during the ad break so we only see it on a replay. Cena gives E a lot of the match, basically lying around and taking spots. Xavier Woods steals the show, as always, with his outstanding trombone work. Big E is perhaps still the most flawed of the three New Day members. His in-ring is perfect for tag team wrestling, where he can insert both spots and dominance before tagging out for someone else to do the legwork. Kofi and Xavier save E from the AA so they’re ejected and E walks into the AA for the loss. Match was ok but nowhere near the level of the better Cena challenges. After the match Dolph Ziggler runs in but accidentally superkicks Cena so the Dudley Boyz make the actual save only for the New Day to overwhelm them too. The New Day were working heel during this whole thing, definitely leaning towards being less fun and more dastardly. I would rather they stayed as oblivious heels rather than turn fully face so this is fine. Cena and Ziggler both do massive overselling after the match. Cena stays down for so long off Dolph’s superkick that Ziggler should probably be declared US champion.
Final Rating: **
THE RAW RECAP:
Most Entertaining: The New Day.
Least Entertaining: Stephanie McMahon, Big Show, Sheamus.
Quote of the Night: “Hell in a Cell is his (Undertaker) match? My ass! WrestleMania was the Undertaker’s event until he stepped into the ring with Brock Lesnar” – Paul Heyman.
Match of the Night: Kevin Owens vs. Sin Cara
Summary: A mixed show, certainly. While both New Day and Kevin Owens continued to look good, the booking of Seth Rollins and Neville, for example, was completely mystifying. I’m not sure I understand half of what happened on Raw. The opening tag was a placeholder as the Reigns-Wyatt feud comes to a head at Hell in a Cell. Neville being jobbed out to Sheamus was beyond stupid. Paige jobbing to Natalya made very little sense as Paige is in one of the main diva angles and Nattie is doing nothing. Imagine them jobbing out Big Show right before his match with Lesnar. It’s a double standard. The Kane angle was fine but it took ages to come to fruition. New Day aside the best work on the show was from talking segments; Paul Heyman and Rusev. The wrestling on Raw was really poor this week. I was especially disappointed by yet another six woman tag featuring the Bellas. Any chance of having a big women’s match on Raw that doesn’t involve any of the Bellas? That would be nice. Some minor character work for New Day on this show and an interesting turn in the Rusev-Summer angle but otherwise nothing much going on. A typical Autumnal Raw.