Kurt Angle is out, again, to make his excuses for the invasion by (some of) the SmackDown! Live roster only to be interrupted by Stephanie McMahon, who marches out, throwing her weight around as usual, and cuts Kurt’s balls off completely (as is her style). She forces Kurt to be the captain of the Raw men’s Survivor Series match and, of course, Kurt will be fired if Raw loses. Sucks to be Kurt but, at least, Stephanie wasn’t chewing out full-time active members of the roster; still, I can’t really say that it’s nice to see her cackling bitch-ass back on television.
Nia Jax was back on television, getting a win over Bayley (not quite as positive) and earning herself a place on the Raw women’s Survivor Series team.
The night of returns continued with Samoa Joe making short work of Apollo Crews; it was hardly the dominant squash match that it probably should have been to re-establish Joe but, after the match, Joe did choke out Titus O’Neil so there is that. Like I said last week when Kane threw fresh dirt on the formally blossoming career of Finn Balor, there are plenty of other goons around to get their asses handed to them and, in this case, Apollo and Titus played their part in welcoming back Samoa Joe.
Next up, after insulting Angle earlier in the show, The Miz is finally forced to defend the Intercontinental Championship…against Matt Hardy. What has he done, exactly, to earn the title shot? Well, either way, it didn’t matter much as Miz successfully defended the championship in a pretty decent match. Matt was used similarly to Jeff Hardy a few weeks back where he randomly became the number one contender and allowed Miz to get a decent win over a seasoned veteran. It seems like the WWE has really allowed the buzz surrounding the Hardy Boyz and their potential turn to the Broken side cool quite considerably since their big return at WrestleMania, so it’s not doubt the perfect time to pull that trigger and have them flounder in meaningless matches against likes of Titus Worldwide or be fed to Kane/Braun Strowman/Joe/Lesnar…
For anyone giving a damn about Emma’s latest push, you can forget it because she was unceremoniously randomly let go by the WWE this week. Therefore, Asuka tapped out some random, unknown local jobber. Meanwhile, backstage, Daniel Bryan arrives to try and keep the peace between the two brands, only for Kurt to trap him into a confrontation with Kane, who beats him up with the lights off.
Finn Balor took a big step towards rebuilding his credibility and momentum against Cesaro, putting on exactly the kind of classic, back-and-forth match you’d expect from these two, and getting a hard-fought win…only for Kane to come out and hit him with a Tombstone Piledriver on the stage. Kane then walks over his cold corpse and transitions directly into a match against Seth Rollins. Remember when these two had all those issue back in the never-ending days of the Authority? Yeah, well, you can forget it because Sheamus and Cesaro stuck their oars into the proceedings and led to Rollins getting pinned after a Chokeslam. AND THEN Dean Ambrose came out to help even the odds, only to get the shit kicked out of him by Kane, Cesaro, and Sheamus , ending with Kane Tombstoning Ambrose and Rollins to firmly establish himself as the top dog of Raw.
Okay, again, I get it; you want to build Kane up as a monster threat to go head-to-head with Braun Strowman but…it’s Kane! Who’s been around for twenty years as a dominant threat; he’s so over and so established that he can legitimately claim to be the number one contender and, while people would be annoyed, it’s believable because of his career. You do not have to have him trample all over some of the WWE’s biggest and rising stars. Again, right, imagine it’s twenty years from now; will we be talking about Finn, Ambrose, and Rollins in the same way that we do Kane? It will probably all be worth it to have Strowman dethrone him as the resident monster but it would be so much better to have him attack everyone indiscriminately, jobbers, or just constantly brawl with Strowman in increasingly crazy situations.
Guess who else made a triumphant return this week? Heath Slater and Rhyno. Not only that, they also won a match….by beating Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson! This…did the Raw writers suddenly all have strokes or something this week? What the hell! You have Kane literally kill the Raw Tag Team Champions and the former first-ever Universal Champion but Heath Slater and Rhyno can beat the Club, once one of the hottest tag teams in the entire world? There are literally balls all over the floor this week!
Kalisto defeated Drew Gulak in just over a minute then got beaten up by Enzo Amore. Yay, cruiserweights! Then Alexa Bliss defended the Raw Women’s Championship against Mickie James, which wasn’t much to write home about and did very little to get the crowd interested; I want to blame Mickie, as Alexa is so cute, but really the entire Raw women’s division is on life support lately.
Raw ended with Braun Strowman returning to action after being dumped out of a garbage truck and destroying the Miz, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas. Just so you don’t think I’m biased about Kane’s poor choice in victims, I also disagree with the Miz being anyone’s punching bag. His Miz-tourage, sure, that’s what they’re there for, but I fear that this segment may lead to Strowman beating the hell out of Miz next week, possibly even beating him in a match, and Miz really, desperately needs to be getting back on track as the outspoken, slimy heel Intercontinental Champion; but he’ll probably just lose the belt in some overblown multi-man match at WrestleMania.
It’s all about the build-up to Survivor Series on SmackDown! Live as Shane McMahon comes out to brag about how he’s taking the fight to Raw to prove that they’re the inferior brand; he then does exactly what I didn’t want to see and announces himself as the captain of the men’s Survivor Series match. Well, that’s just dandy; I swear, people complain about Stephanie and her undermining wrestlers all over the place and never getting any comeuppance but Shane is just as bad by taking all these big main event spots away from full-time, active wrestlers.
Bobby Roode then actually earns himself a spot on the men’s Survivor Series team in a surprisingly good two-out-of-three-falls match with Dolph Ziggler, easily their best match so far. It probably helps that this particularly format hasn’t been done to death by the WWE, and that the match was filled with some decent spots, like Roode landing a sunset flip after a catapult into the corner and constantly trying for the glorious DDT before, finally, hitting it and, hopefully, moving past this feud and towards something bigger and better.
The ill-thought-out feud between Sin Cara and Baron Corbin continued, with Sin Cara growing a backbone and getting all pissed off with Corbin constantly goes for his mask; Cara brawls with Corbin over the announce table, causes the match to run to a double-count out, and throws a chair at Corbin to scare him away. Apparently, this sudden push is all because Sin Cara signed a new deal with the WWE and they’re, finally, trying to push him as the Latin-American lucha star they’ve desperately needed since losing Rey Mysterio; however, big picture here! Baron Corbin is set to face the Miz at Survivor Series so this isn’t exactly a great look for him here to be chase doff by career jobber Sin Cara; at least Miz went face-to-face with Braun Strowman and has his cronies to take the heat for him.
Following up on last week, AJ Styles pinned Samir Singh with the Styles Clash in about thirty seconds and was then attacked and laid out by Jinder Mahal and two Khallases. This was a great way of putting some heat into Mahal’s upcoming match against Brock Lesnar and, as I called for during Shinsuke Nakamura’s title shot, a good way of extending the feud without Mahal losing or getting punked out; honestly, Mahal needs all the heat and credibility he can get to help bolster his title reign and keep him afloat for what will, no doubt, be his execution at Survivor Series.
Rusev then defeated Big E after Rusev’s little lackey, the WWE’s next big heel, Aiden English, caused a bit of a distraction at ringside at caused him to lose the Rusev’s Superkick. This was a surprisingly nice little clash between the two big men and the New Day, Rusev, and English; if Rusev and English are going to be a regular team, this clash of styles and Rusev’s comedic timing could make for a decent little distraction from the New Day hogging the championship scene.
Our main event was a match between Shinsuke Nakamura and Kevin Owens for a spot on the men’s Survivor Series team. Finally, Shinsuke is back on a roll having decent matches and flexing all of his unique skills against a complementary opponent. Sami Zayn attempted to interfere but Nakamura’s running buddy, Randy Orton, took him out of the equation, allowing Nakamura to hit the Kinshasa and earn himself a spot on the team. I’m a bit disappointed to see Owens and Zayn not make it to the Survivor Series team but, no doubt, they’ll get involved somehow or have a little payback; this was all about Shinsuke finally getting the chance to shine after his lacklustre matches with Jinder Mahal.