In a lovely change of pace, Stephanie McMahon opened the show to run down Kurt Angle for allowing the New Day to invade Raw last week and for missing out on roping John Cena onto the men’s Survivor Series team, as though he could really do anything about either of those things. Anyway, Angle bitches out and takes all of Stephanie’s abuse until the Shield interrupt to put Steph in her place…kind of. They praise Angle and accept the New Day’s challenge for Survivor Series, which should be a largely one-sided affair but, then, the New Day can’t look too weak, can they?
The battle for the final place on the women’s Survivor Series team ended exactly as it should, with Bayley outlasting Dana Brooke and Mickie James to take her rightful place on the team. The only issue I have here is that Bayley was completely ignored last week but, now, she’s on the team at the last moment. It’s not really as though she’s been fighting for her spot on the team all month so it’s difficult to imagine a lot of team unity or what her motivations are except for wanting to be on pay-per-view.
This was predictably followed by the obligatory cruiserweight tag team match; the WWE mixes things up a bit, though, by sticking to a two=on-two format as Enzo Amore and Drew Gulak defeated Akira Tozawa and Kalisto. So…I guess Kalisto’s issues with Titus Worldwide are all forgotten now? Also, is Tozawa even a part of that any more? Finally, to sound like a massive hypocrite, doesn’t it such that the cruiserweights aren’t getting a Survivor Series match, or even been included in a Survivor Series match, at Survivor Series? The message is pretty clear: women are important, men are important, Shane McMahon is important but cruiserweights are not important.
Bray Wyatt made his triumphant return to Raw by taking on Jason Jordan. And if you’re thinking that there was any follow-up on what was admittedly a poor decision to have Bray cross-dress as Sister Abigail then you are wrong, my friend! Also, nothing has changed since he left as he lost the match via the most devastating finishing move since the Atomic Leg Drop, the roll-up, but it’s okay because he kick the crap out of Jordan afterwards (to rapturous applause, which must have been a hell of a kick in the balls for Jordan and whoever is in his corner backstage) and injures his leg so badly that he ends up limping to the back. If Jordan was going to get hurt, and judging by what happens later in the night, then why did Bray have to lose the damn match?
Paul Heyman then popped out with hoppy-bunny-boy Brock Lesnar to hype up Lesnar’s match against AJ Styles; unlike his previous rant where he ran down Jinder Mahal as a challenge, Heyman actually praises Styles and gives him far more credibility than he did to Jinder. I mean, he still said Lesnar would win, but obviously he would say that. This was followed by an ill-advised six-man tag team match between Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins and the Miz, Sheamus, and Cesaro. As great as this match was, neither team needed to lose heading into Survivor Series but, instead, we get the Mix being Speared out of his boots, hit with the Triple Powerbomb, and pinned like a chump, which is so much worse because he’s the Intercontinental Champion and, as I’ve said many times, should not be the go-to patsy in any situation. This totally should have devolved into a brawl and been called off; instead, Miz, Sheamus, and Cesaro get to be losers before their matches at Survivor Series.
Kurt Angle came out again (man, he sure does come out a lot on Raw) to talk about Jordan’s injury. Although Jordan begs his “Dad” to let him compete, looking like a whiney little cry-baby in the process, his position on the men’s Survivor Series team is officially revoked when Triple H makes his big return, lays him out with the Pedigree, and names himself as Jordan’s replacement. So it’s Angle, Triple H, Cena, and Shane McMahon in the Survivor Series main event of 2017; what a time to be alive!
Finn Balor and Samoa Joe, despite far from being friends or on the same page, were still more than enough to hand yet another defeat to Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. I enjoy seeing Balor and Joe as a no-nonsense team that get the job done despite hating each other but it says a lot when a career tag team like the Club can’t beat a thrown-together team with issues, even if it is a veritable super team like Balor and Joe. The WWE try to end the show on a big high by having Braun Strowman and Kane go at it; unlike the six-man tag team match, this was a complete brawl with no bell being rung and which quickly descended into step-slamming and chair shots. While far from the top-notch brawls between Strowman and Reigns or the Big Show, and nothing like Strowman’s massive Powerslam through the cage wall to Show a while back, it was still pretty impressive to see Strowman Powerslam Kane literally through the ring mat. This seemed pretty decisive though so I’m not sure what this means for the remainder of their feud; maybe Big Show will come back and team up with Kane against Strowman?
Shane McMahon opened the show in the locker room, where he tried to motivate his Superstars. Then Daniel Bryan came to the ring to basically do the same thing only he also brings down AJ Styles, praises him as the WWE Champion, and impersonates Paul Heyman to help put over their match at Survivor Series; I was disappointed that Styles didn’t get to talk for himself, as he doesn’t need an advocate (though neither does Lesnar, to be fair) but Bryan’s energy and enthusiasm made this a pretty entertaining segment.
The odd decision to suddenly push Sin Cara continued with a United States Championship match between him and the champion, Baron Corbin. Luckily, this not only made up for their previous encounters by actually being quite good, but common sense prevailed and Corbin got the win after an out-of-nowhere End of Days. It would’ve been absolutely criminal for Cara to have won and gone on to face the Miz, especially after Miz has, in between getting stomped on, built up some decent hyper for his match against Corbin. While Corbin hasn’t exactly retaliated that much, at least he’s been in matches where he generally looks somewhat dominant.
The Survivor Series card receives a major shake-up, though, when Charlotte Flair randomly beat Natalya to become the new SmackDown! Live Women’s Champion; afterwards, Ric Flair returned for a big tearful hug. Apparently, this was done to capitalise on Flair’s recent publicity; while I don’t doubt that Charlotte vs. Alexa Bliss is arguably a better marquee match-up than Natalya/Bliss, it’s still quite the slap in the face to do this title switch so close to the pay-per-view. I guess Natalya and Jinder Mahal will just watch from home on Sunday like the rest of us losers.
Jimmy Uso gained a modicum of revenge for the injury suffered last week by taking on, and defeating, Chad Gable in a solid match that, surprisingly, saw Gable work a lot of heel heat by going for the leg throughout; could this mean we’ll see Gable turn heel and rejoin with a freshly heel Jordan after Survivor Series?
After, the New Day took on Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens and, just as Zayn was no doubt being primed for yet another loss, the Shield arrived to kick the snot out of the New Day. Although reinforcements arrived, Raw superstars crawled out of the woodwork to gain the upper hand and this was reinforced when Strowman appeared under Angle’s direction and took out everybody! The Shield then landed two Triple Powerbombs to Shane and, in between, Angle talked trash to him and hit the Angle Slam. While it was very jarring that Raw didn’t really retaliate to SmackDown! Live’s invasion a few weeks back, I have to say that waiting until the last minute really helped to build some major hype leading into Survivor Series. It’s still weird to see heels and faces working side-by-side, especially as guys keep jumping back and forth all the time, but this was an effective end of the show nonetheless.
Just a quick thing before I start; how much does it suck to be Jinder Mahal? Not only did he lose the WWE Championship weeks before the event, he doesn’t even make it on to the Survivor Series team because we have to have Shane in there. Look, I get it, Jinder has a lot of controversy surrounding him but, if he carried the belt, then he was the bets on the roster so leaving him off the show is a massive misstep, in my view.
Kickoff Match: WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Enzo Amore (c) vs. Kalisto
Yay, the one match that showcases the cruiserweight division and it’s on the Goddamn pre-show! I’ll say this for Enzo, he’s brought eyes back on to the cruiserweight division either through his backstage controversy or his mic skills, and yet it’s still not enough for the division to be held anywhere near as close to the heart as the women’s division (as much as that is still floundering around). I would have pegged Kalisto to win this if he hadn’t already won, and lost, the title over the last few weeks; instead, I guess it’ll be a successful defence for Enzo Amore if for no other reason than there’s no other notable heels on the 205 Live roster to fill the void.
The New Day vs. The Shield
I guess you could call this a dream match but, if you’ve followed my blog at all, you’ll know that I don’t have a lot of love for the New Day and am sick of their act. The reunion of the Shield is a breath of fresh air for all three men and they seem to be a stronger unit for it; plus, the WWE seems dead-set on pushing Roman back towards the WrestleMania main event to dethrone Lesnar so I’m pretty certain that the Shield will win this.
Sheamus and Cesaro vs. The Usos
Tag Team Champions collide! Similar to the New Day, I’m also quite sick of the Usos and am continually holding out hope that Breezango get to take the belts off of them after they finish up with the Bludgeon Brothers. I feel bad for the Club, also, as I would have loved to see them make it onto the card in some fashion but, undoubtedly, Sheamus and Cesaro are doing a great job carrying Raw’s fledgling tag team division while we wait for the Revival and the Hardy Boyz to heal up and, as they get the push over the Club, it’s no surprise that they’re holding the belts again and getting this match. I’m guessing that the WWE will do a 50/50 between Raw and SmackDown! Live to be decided in the main event so, as I picked the Shield before, I’ll go with the Usos winning.
Alexa Bliss vs. Charlotte Flair
As I said, I’m not too thrilled for Natalya about this; sure, it was probably just a thank-you title run after years of service but she deserved to make it to the pay-per-view for this match. Considering Charlotte was going to be in the Survivor Series match, she doesn’t necessarily need to be in this match and her star power would have helped pique my interest in the Survivor Series contest. Instead, given what I just said about the 50/50 booking I expect from this show, I am betting on the always-cute Alexa Bliss to win (maybe Carmella will also cash-in after the match, or even during to cost Charlotte the win?).
The Miz vs. Baron Corbin
Heel vs. heel, champion vs. champion; honestly, it’s a tie between which brand match has the least amount of hype between this match, Bliss/Charlotte, and even AJ/Lesnar given how last-minute the build up to those latter two have been. The build for this match has been more prominent but not by much; relegated mostly to Twitter, we’ve instead seen Miz get beaten up and pinned every week and Corbin struggle to get past Sin Cara. I’m not exactly the Miz’s biggest fan but his heel work has been phenomenal lately and he deserves more than to be everyone’s whipping boy; however, I’m a massive fan of Corbin’s, which ironically lines up with my 50/50 predication, as I see Baron Corbin coming out on top.
Survivor Series Match: Alica Fox, Nia Jax, Sasha Banks, Asuka, and Bayley vs. Becky Lynch, Carmella, Tamina, Naomi, and Unknown
You would think that the final slot of the SmackDown! Live women’s team would be automatically filled by Natalya but, apparently, not? I guess we’ll find out on the show but I assume it will be Paige, which I would absolutely love, though I heard that she was supposed to be coming back to Raw so who knows? Maybe Rhonda Rousey? Ugh, well, anyway, let’s keep it going and go with the Raw team, Alica Fox and co, to win here.
Survivor Series Match: Kurt Angle, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, and Triple H vs. Shane McMahon, Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode, and John Cena
Christ, this match! As I said, I realised this week that Shane being in this match means that the former, long-running WWE Champion Jinder Mahal is completely off the card, which is a bit of a crime. I still think we might see Natalya, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Jinder Mahal, and Jason Jordan play some kind of role in the pay-per-view and cost one team or the other the match but it’s difficult to predict that aspect. I just hope that, this time, Shane doesn’t get knocked silly and kick out of someone’s finisher like he did last time and that he’s eliminated quickly and early because, seriously, fuck Shane McMahon. If you remember back in the original brand split when the WWE did those Bragging Rights pay-per-views, I swear it was always SmackDown! That came out on top in a sly way of giving what is otherwise clearly their B-show some credibility; that, and the tenuous nature of the Raw team, alongside my 50/50 prediction, mean that I am almost 100% sure that SmackDown! Live will win this one.
Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles
So, if I am actually right, we should be tied six-to-six by the time this match starts, meaning that brand supremacy will be decided by how much of a fuck Lesnar decides to give. Will he bring his A-game to put on a decent, competitive match between the two former WWE and IWGP Champions or will he simply throw Suplex after Suplex, power out of everything, no-sell the Phenomenal Forearm, and pin AJ after a single F5? Given his reputation lately, I doubt it’ll be much more than that; maybe it’ll go longer than the Lesnar/Goldberg series but I will be surprised if it’s anything more than AJ Styles (the WWE Champion, I might add!) bouncing round like a pinball for Lesnar and, despite a valiant effort, fall to Brock Lesnar to give Raw the ultimate edge over SmackDown! Live.