The Miz opens the show to run down Baron Corbin ahead of their Survivor Series match and complain about Braun Strowman kicking the crap out of him and his Miz-tourage last week. Kurt Angle pops out to try and set the record straight and, in answer to the Miz’s sharp tongue, books him into a match against Strowman later tonight. I find it weird that the Miz gets to talk so much shit, a lot of it based on truths, and yet has no meaningful feuds happening regarding the Intercontinental Championship, which is basically an afterthought at this point. Simply holding it doesn’t really make for a meaningful reign, no matter how long it lasts.
The spunk of Vince Russo blasts onto our screens once again for a Guitar on a Pole match between Elis and Jason Jordan. This was a showcase for Jordan, who got the bulk of the offense in and got the win after clocking Elias with the guitar (and, later in the show, make sit onto Angle’s Survivor Series team), but these two really don’t mesh that well together. Jordan’s big push has been extremely lacklustre, it’s got to be said, but I can’t decide if it’s because of him or the opponents he has had. Similarly, I had high hopes for Elias as a decent presence on Raw’s mid-card but he’s hardly wowing me with his matches lately. Maybe more screen time and exposure for both will help them to make more of an impression, but I’m sure they’ll get buried by, I dunno, Vader or something in a few weeks.
Asuka destroyed a local talent, which was enough for Alica Fox to add her to the women’s Survivor Series team. Good call, I guess, but is that based on Asuka’s less-than-stellar matches against Emma (remember her?), her destruction of local nobodies, or her reputation in Japan and NXT because it’s difficult to justify it if it’s the latter.
Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews then got choked out by Samoa Joe, continuing his path of destruction from last week. See, this is what I meant with Kane; destroy guys no one really cares about, not guys who actually have a career ahead of them. Speaking of which, Finn Balor came out to answer Joe’s challenge and rebuild the momentum and credibility he has lost in the last few weeks with an absolutely cracking match. There was so much awesome in this clash of titans that it ended in a double count-out brawl up the entrance ramp; their intensity is so much that Angle announces them as the newest members of the men’s Survivor Series team. Balor’s so happy that he takes a dive off the stage onto Joe and the security to continue the scuffle; great intensity from these two, and Balor really needed that after the way he was treated the last couple of weeks. Neither man needs to be losing at this point, so this was a good case of a count-out being done well; I just hope they can get a good showing in at Survivor Series as well.
Bayley and Sasha Banks defeated Nia Jax and Alicia Fox after Fox tapped out to the Banks Statement; afterwards, Alicia literally begged Sasha to join her Survivor Series team, completely ignoring Bayley…just like the WWE! I am starting to think that the big monster push for Nia Jax will never come; all she ever does is lose or be on the losing team, such a waste.
The Miz attempted to get Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas to sneak attack Braun Strowman before their match but to no avail, as Braun spent nearly five minutes tossing all three of them around and slamming the hell out of them…before Kane arrived to attack him. However, despite being taken aback by Kane’s trademark zombie sit-up, Braun eventually clotheslined him out of the ring and landed the Running Powerslam on Miz. Sure, it went to a disqualification finish, but it’s bad enough that Miz was getting mauled while holding one of the WWE’s most prestigious championships, he doesn’t need to be pinned like a jobber. Instead, we got exactly what we wanted; Braun kicked lots of asses, got the upper hand against Kane, and stood tall, with even the crowd roaring along with him. Now, just have Kane and Strowman constantly try to kill each other and keep the rest of the roster out of their line of fire and we’ll be on the road to something very entertaining.
Enzo Amore comes out to brag like an asshole and run down Kalisto. Although Kalisto takes a seat at ringside, Kurt Angle comes out to set Enzo up against the United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne. Obviously, Enzo overcame the odds to pick up a decisive win, having improved his in-ring ability and debuting a new finisher…oh, no, wait, of course not! Instead, Dunne smashed Enzo’s teeth down his throat, landed the Bitter End, and got the win. Given that the WWE is in the UK this week, and that they are planning to debut a UK show, this was the right call…however, Enzo is still the Cruiserweight Champion. People may hate him but, like the Miz, I’ll never be happy to see champions get punked out in matches; maybe this would have been better as a segment rather than an actual match, with the story being that Enzo talks smack and riles everyone up but steals the win when it counts?
The main event is another clash between Sheamus and Cesaro and Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins for the Raw Tag Team Championship; although these guys often put on great matches, it is getting a bit over-played by this point. Adding Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows into their feud to evoke the classic matches between the Dudley Boyz, Edge & Christian, and the Hardy Boyz would have really helped elevate and spice thing sup but, regardless, this was getting on for a classic, hard-hitting, back-and-forth match before the New Day appeared and completely took the focus off of the in-ring action. Freaking out, Angle gathers his troops to fend off the three men of questionable sexuality, only for Sheamus to land the Brogue Kick, regain the titles for his team, and secure themselves a match against the SmackDown! Live Tag Team Champions, the Usos, at Survivor Series. The WWE seem to really be pushing this “invasion” angle but they really could do a lot more with it; I guess they’re holding back as it’s still a bit up in the air if Roman Reigns will be fit and healthy for a Shield vs. New Day match at Survivor Series.
…talking of which, Shane McMahon opened the show…again…to further fan the flames for the Survivor Series matches. He praises the New Day, who dance with Shane (which didn’t look massively awkward or suck whatever credibility the New Day had away), only for Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens to break up the flamboyance to protest being kept off of the men’s Survivor Series match, leading to a match between Zayn and Kofi Kingston.
Although Owens, Big E, and Xavier Woods were at ringside, it didn’t really factor into the match at all, which was energetic and exciting and, strangely, resulted in Kofi getting the win. So…Sami, fed up of being under-appreciated as a face, adopts a new attitude and turns heel, aligning himself with his best friend (a notable ass-kicked), and then loses his first singles match since the turn. This is the same kind of thing that happened to Dolph Ziggler, if you remember (he got fed up of being a face and turned heel, only to lose continuously), and it really boggles the mind. I think I’ve said it before but, in the case of Zayn and Ziggler, you have two great substitutes for Daniel Bryan, a well-loved underdog who got hurt before his time, and yet the WWE prefers to cut their legs off before they really get a chance to take their new-found attitudes and apply it to winning matches and gaining momentum.
I feel like I’m treading over the same ground again as Randy Orton then made depressingly short work of Rusev, in a match that permanently removed Rusev from any chance of getting on to Shane’s Survivor Series team. Sure, it wasn’t the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it match they had before but Rusev really doesn’t need to be losing like this all the time; remember when he had that great undefeated streak and beating him was a big deal? I guess we have to forget about it now; I’m not even going to bother speculating that maybe it’s part of a bigger plan for Rusev, Owens, and Zayn to interfere at Survivor Series because, clearly, whatever chance Rusev had at being a big-time main even monster heel is just going to have to wait while Shane gets to jump around in the ring…again!
Because he ran down women, we get the first intergender match in ages (years? Decades? Whatever) when James Ellsworth got the snot beaten out of him by the always-incredible fiery red head, Becky Lynch; obviously, this is 2017 WWE so Ellsworth didn’t actually get any offense and, to make things worse, he got dumped by Carmella afterwards. I’ve heard that this could be the end of Ellsworth’s tenure in the WWE, and good riddance because he really outstayed his welcome once he got involved in the main event scene. Afterwards, Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin beat the Usos by count-out when Gable hit Jey Uso with a chop block and, in a startling piece of irony and continuity, appeared to have been too injured to continue. Whether he’s actually injured is up for debate but, at least, Gable and Benjamin are getting a decent innings until the possible heel turn by Jordan at Survivor Series.
In a surprising turn of events, Jinder Mahal defending the WWE Championship against AJ Styles in the main event, looking to take out the number one contender and ride the momentum towards his champion vs. champion match at Survivor Series against Brock Lesnar. AJ took Mahal to another level, elevating him beyond the usual plodding, uninspired matches he’s been having and really selling him as a dominating, physical threat. The Singhs interfered and appeared to have cost AJ the match after their presence allowed Mahal to land the Khallas; however, AJ got the rope break, fought off an Avalanche Khallas, and landed the Phenomenal Forearm to win back the championship and finally put an end to Mahal’s ill-advised title reign. Apparently, the belt switch came from an attempt to boost SmackDown! Live’s ratings and improve the hype for Survivor Series but we’re faced with a bit of a quandary here; sure, Mahal actually looked good in this match for a change, and I don’t think anyone was really looking forward to him facing Lesnar but, before, we were faced with the prospect of an less-than-thrilling champion get dominated by Lesnar and, now, it’s going to be one of the most exciting and engaging superstars on either roster getting dominated by Lesnar. In a perfect world, AJ and Lesnar is a dream match full of massive spots, high-octane action, and would be one of the most competitive matches you could ask for; however, while AJ is a much better in-ring prospect than Mahal, Lesnar has a tendency to half-ass everything and phone his performances in and, as a result, I can’t say that I’m too thrilled to see this new match-up either because I doubt it’ll go longer than ten minutes and feature anything more then Styles getting tossed around like a ragdoll.