Monday, September 25, 2017
Our Kickoff match went the way you’d expect. Apollo brought his energy to start the match before Elias slowed the pace to his liking. Elias is a fine wrestler, but he really gets by on his character. Apollo is kind of the opposite. Anyway, Crews got a short rally going and hit the standing SSP. After getting hit with an enziguri, Elias delivered his signature neckbreaker to win at 8:36. This wasn’t bad, it just felt like almost every other Kickoff match in recent memory. It was easily forgettable, but inoffensive.
There is a ton of potential in Jason Jordan, which we saw against John Cena and Roman Reigns. It’s just that the gimmick of being Kurt’s son isn’t working. The Miz played the role of a champion doing everything in his power to keep hold of his title, while Jordan was the young upstart giving his all. Jordan busted out an array of suplexes and sent back some of Miz’s best shots. The main issue with this was that the crowd was very pro-Miz, which made some of Jordan’s stuff not click as well as they probably wanted. Eventually, the Miztourage proved to be too much. Jordan sent them back, only to get nailed with the Skull Crushing Finale at 10:13. I enjoyed this and found it to be a good match. The fan reaction was certainly strange. They told the right story and produced the best match they probably could’ve in front of this crowd. Jordan cut a weak promo after the match that could lead to a potential heel turn.
They billed this as “Man vs. Man.” I mean, isn’t that how most matches go? Anyway, Finn busted out new colored gear, only to get attacked by Bray before the match. Officials attempted to bring Finn to the back, but he was goaded into returning when Bray called him a coward. Riveting. The match itself proved to be pretty good. Finn had to fight through the rib damage done before the bell. He sold the hell out of it, which added to things. Bray’s offense didn’t do enough to completely focus on it, which disappointed me. Finn managed to avoid Sister Abigail and picked up the win after hitting Coup de Grace in 11:32. I preferred their SummerSlam match, though this was fine. Finn’s selling helped a ton and it was good for the spot on the card it was in. Hopefully, Finn is done with Bray and moves onto something more interesting. I’m way over Bray and would be okay if he left for a long time.
At SummerSlam, these teams had quite the banger. This told a different story, as the champions weren’t able to surprise Cesaro and Sheamus. The challengers bullied the champs in the best possible way. I love Sheamus and Cesaro as a hoss team. Cesaro took a sick shot to the face on the ring post, knocking teeth loose and busting his mouth open. He’s a tough dude who finished the match. Rollins got a hot tag and was awesome in that role. His offense is perfect for it. The match was doing very well and then we got the tease of the SummerSlam finish. Cesaro blocked Seth’s super rana, allowing Sheamus to plant Dean with White Noise. Cesaro then super Ricola Bombed Seth onto Dean, giving us one of the best near falls in recent memory. A miscommunication saw Sheamus kick Cesaro off the apron, before getting hit with the ripcord knee and Dirty Deeds, ending this in 15:55. This ruled and was about as good as the SummerSlam match, while managing to be different. Tons of action, a hot crowd, excellent callbacks and the added element of Cesaro’s injury. I’m all in on a TLC match at the next Raw PPV.
I guess the WWE was sad they haven’t thrown together in a multi-woman PPV match since July. It’s their go-to. The heels got cheered, with Sasha and Bayley continuing to get mixed to negative reactions. Similar to the WrestleMania Fatal Four Way, Nia Jax and her power were the focal point. She dominated in one on one situations, so everyone had to team up on her. For example, Nia delivered a pretty great double Samoan drop. She also took a particularly nasty bump on a powerbomb off the apron, that saw all four women work together. Bayley and Sasha kept breaking up each other’s pins, despite being best friends. I’d assume that’ll lead to tension on Raw, but they’ve missed the boat on that story several times over. Nia returned from that powerbomb to run wild, but Alexa avoided her and beat Bayley with a DDT at 9:41. Why pin Bayley? I’m not some massive Bayley fan, but she just made her return and looked like a joke before the injury. As much as I love Sasha and Emma, them eating the pin made more sense. The match was fun, with lots of moving parts and a good pace. The crowd was invested and the story mostly made sense. Miles better than the Raw Women’s Title match at Mania.
I was so excited for this. There was almost a guaranteed hot crowd and both men deliver in between the ropes. Cena got one of the most overwhelmingly positive reactions in about a decade. That turned into “you both suck” chants, which was a damn shame. Cena teased walked away early, but Reigns brought him back and dominated. They seemed to lay this out so Cena looked similar to Undertaker at WrestleMania. I don’t think that story works here, because he’s not on his last legs like Taker. Cena hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. Anyway, Reigns was in control and got “boring” chants as he slapped on a chinlock. Luckily, the crowd got better following that. Cena got his second win and delivered the AA for a near fall. He also hit the super AA, but Reigns kicked out. AJ Styles and I believe Kevin Owens have done that recently. Cena then set up the two announce tables for an AA through it, perfectly in position for Reigns to counter into a spear through the table. Reigns landed horribly on his neck and the spot looked cool, it just had a lazy set-up. It’s not like Cena hasn’t seen people kick out of that move before. Why would he logically resort to this in a match with rules? Anyway, back inside, Cena hit two more AAs, but Reigns continued to kick out. Reigns came back with a Superman punch and Spear to win in 22:09. Ho-hum. I understood the story they told, but I don’t think it came off well and the match was dull for a good chunk. It picked up late, but even that wasn’t new territory. I’ve been over the “let’s kick out of a ton of finishers” stuff for a while. Reigns’ win felt very anti-climactic, like the rest of the match. This was supposed to feel special, yet it ended up being just another match that will be easy to forget.
Post-match, John Cena raised Roman’s hand in victory to a chorus of boos like Royal Rumble 2015. He then got “Thank you Cena” chants as he left and it seemed like he wouldn’t be back for a while.
Enzo came out looking like Beetlejuice. Outfit and hair and everything. He’s been booked as the worst wrestler in his division (he is), with the rest of the division treating him like a joke. Neville has been the savior of the cruiserweights, and never should’ve dropped the title for that week in August. Anyway, Neville mostly squashed him here. Enzo was always the guy with the gift of gab, who took the heat segments in his tag matches. He basically has no offensive game. After Neville missed a middle rope Phoenix Splash, Enzo grabbed the title for a distraction. He then kicked Neville in nuts and won the title in 10:36. That was shit. Bad booking and a bad match. They never put the Tag Titles on Enzo and Cass (like they should’ve), but they cut Neville’s legs off to give Enzo a singles run.
Like Reigns/Cena, I really wanted to enjoy this. I was pumped, especially because Brock/Joe and the Fatal Four Way at SummerSlam were the best Brock matches in about two years. This got off to the right start, with Strowman tossing Lesnar around like nothing. Brock hit a German, but Braun popped up instantly and chokeslammed him. What a moment. Then, Brock managed to turn the tide and the crowd kind of died. He had Braun in the Kimura for an extended time, which would’ve been fine, but Braun was literally right next to the ropes. He could’ve just reached out, but didn’t. Braun delivered a few powerslams, but Brock wouldn’t stay down. Brock hit a series of German suplexes and won after one F5 in 8:51. I’m cool with the match going less than ten minutes, because that was the best route to go. But it was just so flat. If there was any match to have someone survive multiple kickouts, this was it. Like Joe, Braun was built up as a guy who had Brock’s number, then just lost in ho-hum fashion in the end. It’s most likely an attempt to make Roman seem more impressive when he survives multiple F5s at Mania. A flat match that disappointed heavily. A better option would’ve been Brock desperately reaching into his bag of tricks, maybe even doing stuff we haven’t seen in a while, to overcome Braun.
Overall: This show reminded me of WrestleMania. It started out very good, with the first half featuring some quality matches. Then, it ended on a whimper. It was like, the anti-NJPW show, which tends to end hot. I thought Miz/Jordan and Bray/Finn were both solid matches, while the Women’s Title exceeded my expectations. The Tag Team Title match stole the show again. Raw and Smackdown are killing it with that lately. Unfortunately, the last three matches stopped this show’s momentum. Enzo/Neville was a joke, while Reigns/Cena and Brock/Braun were huge disappointments. Despite the flat ending, this was one of the better Raw PPVs since the split last year.