Tuesday, 19 September 2017

RAW #1269 Review - Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

On 18th September 2017, WWE aired the 1269th episode of Monday Night RAW, live on the USA Network from the SAP Center in San Jose, California. The show features a triple threat tag team match pitting Tag Team Champions Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins against Sheamus & Cesaro and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, a six pack challenge with Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Jason Jordan and Elias battling it out for a shot at The Miz's Intercontinental Championship and Michael Cole interviewing Universal Champion Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) and his #1 contender Braun Strowman at the same time, as well as General Manager Kurt Angle, Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Dustin Rhodes and Sasha Banks on the show. But was it any good? Let's take a look, eh? 

General Manager Kurt Angle, Intercontinental Champion The Miz, The Miztourage, Jason Jordan 

After I praised the booking of Jason Jordan since SummerSlam last week, WWE decided to make me look a fool, as they relapsed into pushing the idea that he was Kurt Angle's son hard in the opening segment. After The Miz interrupted a run of the mill promo from Angle to complain about not defending his Intercontinental strap at No Mercy on Sunday, we learned that Angle had planned a Fatal Fourway bout to crown a challenger later on between Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Jordan and Elias. What a treat. This set Miz off about Jordan not being worthy of a chance, which lets be honest, makes a lot of sense since Jordan hadn't won a singles match since defeated a local competitor at the start of August. They did an awkward bit where Angle took a swing at Miz's future child, which made the General Manager look like a real doofus and just meant Miz had more opportunity to take the piss out of the whole sorry situation. Somehow when Jordan came out, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel ended up getting added to the #1 Contenders match, before there was a bit of a brawl and the Miztourage escaped. As we've seen in his matches with Finn Balor, John Cena and Roman Reigns over the last few weeks, Jason Jordan has bucket loads of potential, but this storyline is not helping him at all. 

  • Backstage - Kurt Angle, Jason Jordan - Angle gives Jordan some advice about not blowing up when people say something about Kurt, before a little pep talk ahead of the Six Pack Challenge later on.

Singles Match
Nia Jax def. Women's Champion Alexa Bliss 

A pretty simple bout, Bliss constantly ducked to the outside, Jax over powered her at every turn, Bliss tried to leave, Sasha Banks turned up to stop her and Bliss jumped straight into a Samoan drop to leave her with one singles victory since Extreme Rules in June. Nothing wrong with the match in particular, but again it was a case of the women getting shafted on their TV times, three minutes of action aired is a joke. Post-match, we did get the return of Bayley, who turned up to help Bliss and Banks fight off Jax in a really confused piece of booking (Emma was supposedly still in Australia after the recent tour), then Banks and Bayley teamed up to beat up the Women's Champion. I have no idea what's going on with the Women on RAW at the moment. 

  • Commentary Desk - Corey Graves, Michael Cole, Booker T - The trio push the WWE Network with a run down of the cards for No Mercy and Hell in a Cell 
  • Promo - Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman at No Mercy - A long ass video looking at the feud, beginining by looking at the similarities between the two before launching into clips of Strowman's domination. A well crafted package as usual from WWE.

Sheamus & Cesaro, Tag Team Champions Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

Whilst the women are having their time squeezed, it seems like it's a bloody good time to be in a Tag Team on RAW, because we got a five minute promo, followed up by a fifteen minute (TV) match. The talking segment was a pretty clunky way of leading into the match, which had initially been announced as Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Gallows & Anderson, but just as we saw last week, once Ambrose and Rollins inserted themselves into the situation, plans changed. I enjoyed parts of the Sheamus and Cesaro promo, when Cesaro began playing with the crowds "What?" chants, it's always cool to see a heel play into what the crowd is doing and remind them that it's a really stupid thing to do. However, most of the promo covered similar ground as last week, talking nostalgia acts and Ambrose and Rollins not being a real team. This was followed by a weak effort from the Tag Team Champions that referenced Brave Heart (1995) and Taxi Driver (1976) just to prove they weren't a nostalgia act, despite neither being alive when the latter was released. Gallows and Anderson said something about being good brothers and nerds and there was a little entertainment heading into the three way brawl...but not a classic moment for anyone.

Triple Threat Tag Team Match 
Sheamus & Cesaro def. Tag Team Champions Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

A solid three way tag, that went a little bit long, for my tastes. There was a lot to enjoy here, with the two heel teams spending most of the match working over Ambrose and Rollins, with both doing some good Lunatic and Kingslayer in peril work as Gallows, Anderson, Sheamus and Cesaro did their bruising heel act nicely. They worked in a couple of nice hope spots for both Shield boys, including Rollins making the tag, only for the ref to be distracted by Sheamus. At times it felt like Gallows & Anderson were third wheeling it, as whilst creative has worked little issues for them with both teams, the match basically boiled down to The Good Brothers helping out Sheamus and Cesaro to wear down their opponents at No Mercy. They got a decent near fall off a Magic Killer on Rollins, with Ambrose making the save and Gallows had a bruising sequence with Sheamus to kick things off, but beyond that there wasn't much too their involvement in this match, beyond the finish. Considering, the match went over 15, there was certainly room to mix things up a little. 

So the finish saw Sheamus tag himself in as Ambrose went for a Lunatic Lariat and then take advantage after the lunatic fringe had hit Dirty Deeds on Anderson to give his team some momentum heading into Sunday. The finishing section in general was a lot of fun, coming more of less straight off an Ambrose hot tag, that including an excellent criss-cross suicide dive spot from the tag team champions as things broke down further. I thought the finish was a cute way of giving Sheamus & Cesaro a little drive before the PPV and showed that the team had the potential to, at least, out smart their opponents and make the most of opportunities. It was one of the few times that the three way concept was really embraced during the match, with the gimmick of having one team on the outside really hurting it, in terms of making it feel any different from a regular two v two match. The structure was the same, the two heel teams were mostly interchangeable and there was an overall lack of creativity on display. Perhaps having a six man scramble later on the show effected it, I don't know. Chop off five minutes and you'd have had a good match here. 

  • Backstage - The Miz, The Miztourage - Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas put forth their cases for winning the Six Pack challenge later on, as The Miz reminds them that Jason Jordan doesn't deserve their spotlight.
  • Promo - John Cena vs. Roman Reigns at No Mercy - A very similar feel to the Lesnar v Strowman one from earlier, two similar stories etc. Some clips from their rivalry, but looks like that's all we're getting tonight...
  • Backstage - Kurt Angle, Dustin Rhodes - After being beaten by Bray Wyatt last week, Goldust returns as Dustin Rhodes, asking Angle for a rematch to prove to Wyatt that he won't be a pawn in his feud with Finn Balor. 

Singles Match
Apollo Crews def. Curt Hawkins 

Curt Hawkins got some mic time and claimed that he would be putting an end to his losing streak tonight, bless him. That didn't happen as he fell to a Crews spin out powerbomb, that gave the Titus Brand associate a win in his first singles match on RAW in a month and a half. 

Titan Tron
Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, Braun Strowman

I thought this took a while to get going, going over some previous material and sort of trundling along towards the PPV, using the momentum they'd created over the last few weeks and months and just keeping that fire burning until the mammoth collision goes down in Los Angeles. Strowman sitting nice and close to the camera, getting his big beardy face right into the camera and oozing confidence as Paul Heyman reminded us about Lesnar being an underdog, but also being an underdog when he defeated the Undertaker at WrestleMania. All good stuff. Then Heyman cut off a question from Michael Cole, asking why all of the questions were being sent in Strowman's direction and things got interesting. Not perhaps for what Heyman said, but more for the fact that The Advocate was almost immediately interrupted by Lesnar, who himself got himself as close to camera as he could and spoke directly to Braun, in that weirdly charismatic and deeply terrifying way that only Brock Lesnar can. "I'll see you Sunday" closed the Beast, before turning away to leave. He then returned for the exclamation point "Suplex city bitches". These boys best go to war on Sunday, because if they do it's going to be magnificent. 

  • Commentary Desk - Corey Graves, Michael Cole, Booker T - It's revealed that Bayley has been added to the Women's Championship match at No Mercy 

Roman Reigns 

With John Cena away this week for some reason, it was left to Roman Reigns to push their match on Sunday and you know what, I think he did a pretty good job. We got some more swearing from the Samoan, we got a reference to shit wrestler Alex Riley, we got a clip of John Cena from February 2012. What more do you want, people? Of course, this was a clip of Cena taking the piss out of The Rock for being a part timer and not being there to push their match. Turn about is fair play and Roman levelled the same accusations at Cena, before copying the closing line of his future opponents promo with "I'll see you Sunday, movie star".  I mean, the segment was clearly heavily produced and thought through, but Roman carried it well, held the crowd throughout and kept me interested in what he had to say. It was also a nice change of pace from the back and forth worked shoots they've done over the last three weeks. Most importantly, Roman made me want to see their match on Sunday, just that little bit more. 

  • Backstage - Renee Young, The Hardy Boyz - The obvious question about the upcoming six man scramble bout, with Matt and Jeff concluding by saying "Let the best Hardy win", after a couple of "Broken" teases.

Singles Match
Bray Wyatt def. Dustin Rhodes 

Another short match, but unfortunately this one wasn't a patch on last week's effort with Goldust, there was perhaps more intensity, but certain parts looked awkward and the finish of Wyatt taking a duo of Shattered Dreams, before popping up to hit Sister Abigail made me groan, even if the Eater of Worlds kind of sold his inner thigh. A post-match promo on the screen from Finn Balor, however was rather effective, with the Irishman essentially telling the origin story of the Demon, before positing "if the Demon is a creation of the man, which one is more dangerous?". 

  • Vignette - Bobby Heenan - A lovely look back at the career of Bobby "The Brain" Heenan who died earlier in the day, covering his managerial and commentary exploits in the WWE. 

Singles Match
Cruiserweight Champion Neville def. Gran Metalik 

Enzo Amore came out to talk for some reason, then got beaten half to death by Braun Strowman for some reason, followed up by Neville coming out and hitting a Red Arrow on his #1 Contender for at least, some reason. This was followed by Neville's match with Metalik, that for a sub-four minute encounter was brilliant stuff, that had me wondering why this was the former Mascara Dorada's first singles match on RAW and why he hadn't won a singles match on TV at all since February. Neville ripping a MASSIVE hole in Metalik's match gave the match some real fire in it's closing stages, before a missed moonsault proved to be the downfall of the luchadore, leading to Neville getting the submission victory with the Rings of Saturn. 

  • In-Ring - Elias - Poor Elias only gets one bar of his tune about his opponents and San Jose being shit, before he's interrupted for the next match. 

Six Pack Challenge for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship 
Jason Jordan def. Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Elias

A mildly entertaining six pack challenge to close of the show, even if it didn't feel anywhere close to being a "main event". There was a lot of moving parts in the match, as we got to see the Hardy Boyz scrap with each other, Jason Jordan attempt to get one up on Miztourage, lots of interference from The Miz and also Elias was there. To be fair to Elias he did a cool jump up to the top rope, but that was about it for the Drifter, until he had the worst sequence of the match with Matt Hardy. I'll always pop for a tower of doom spot and there was solid effort here (mostly because it didn't involved Elias), before Jordan provided the highlight of the bout with a series of lovely, lovely suplexes to both members of the Miztourage. There was no distinct flow or direction to the contest, meaning the finish felt a little bit disjointed when Jeff nailed one of the worst looking Swanton Bombs he's ever done on Axel, with The Miz making sure his pal didn't take the loss, before Axel recovered to hit Axehole on Jeff and left himself wide open for a belly-to-back suplex lifted and dropped into an elevated neckbreaker from Jordan for the three count. There was way too much going on and at the same not much at all going on in this match, as a bunch of guys with no clear course scrambled about in the closing match of RAW. That resulted in the one guy they wanted to push as a capable babyface getting a sort of cheap win, in a six way, by pinning a guy who wasn't originally in the match and only after the man he's supposed to be feuding with stopped someone else from winning the match. Shambolic, illogical booking. 

  • In-Ring - Jason Jordan, The Miz, The Miztourage - After Jordan nails a couple of belly-to-belly suplexes on Miz, The Miztourage make the save and send Jordan into a Skull Crushing Finale, before Miz calls his #1 contender "a bastard". 

ATPW Scale Rating - 3.74/10 

Yeah, this wasn't a good three hours of wrestling television. The Brock Lesnar/Braun Strowman interview and the Roman Reigns promo (and to some extent the three way tag team main event) manage to stop the rating falling any lower. So much of the booking of the undercard lately has been illogical and with only a short segment for Strowman and Lesnar and no John Cena, it became even more obvious this week. Jason Jordan seems to be being set up to fail and the six man scramble was not on the right level to close a show with, the tag team storyline struggled to carry over twenty minutes of television despite big stars being involved, the Women's division has gone to hell in a handcart, who the fuck knows what the Cruiserweights are up to and then there's the Balor v Wyatt feud taking a weird turn up Dustin Rhodes alley and what on earth is going on with Curt Hawkins. There's so much potential that is being let down by creative focusing on the top two stories and suddenly having to scramble when some of those stars happen not to be there that week! 

Review by James Marston 

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