WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Sept. 23, 2013) from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois, featuring all the latest build to the upcoming Battleground pay-per-view (PPV) on Oct. 6 in Buffalo, New York.
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions. Remember, these were written as the show moved along with real time reactions to everything that occurred hour-by-hour.
- Why are we back to using Triple H's "The Game" theme song? "The King of Kings" fits so well with his current persona. Although the lyric "it's all about the game" does fit everything about the dude and the current storyline direction. Still, I don't like this decision and hope it doesn't stick.
- My brother Bill while watching Raw with me when Stephanie McMahon said Zack Ryder could be the face of the WWE: "Get the fuck out of here." I love it.
- I like the sort of reverse psychology with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon trying to turn Daniel Bryan's allies against him using the prospect of winning the WWE championship and becoming the new face of the company, even though there wasn't a single guy on that stage who is ever going to reach that status. The guy who ever had the best chance in his career was Rob Van Dam, and he got busted for pot and pills shortly after winning the belt back in 2006 before being jobbed out and released not long after. So, yeah, that group of 10 (wasn't it 11 originally?) is almost laughable in that way. Still, the tactic is great and the idea of booking all of them in an elimination tag match against The Shield was even better.
- Small tease of dissension with The Shield and the evil overlords was a nice touch, if only because I enjoy natural reactions like "uh, boss, the fuck are you doing booking us in an 11-on-3 match?" Also enjoyed Roman Reigns telling Seth Rollins "whatever, I'll spear all of them."
- When running through the show and building the script, I would love to know how the powers that be came to decide to put the world heavyweight championship in the second segment after the open. Maybe they had a really great reason for it, but despite the fact that it was a decent enough match, the crowd in Chicago was doing "Ole!" chants during it. Can we just unify the major titles already? The Big Gold Belt can't be a big enough draw at house shows to keep it around, can it?
- I spoke too soon, at least on the match quality. That was really good. Kofi is actually on a minor run of solid outings where his bullshit offense doesn't look like such bullshit.
- Ah, The Miz getting beat up in front of his family last week. Great memory. Even better? Triple H telling us Chicago really wants to see Miz TV tonight and the "Windy City" responding by booing loudly. That's just oustanding.
- Multiple things to be happy about with the Wyatt Family and Prime Time Players segment/match. For starters, it was nice hearing that pop for the Wyatt entrance because, really, how can you resist? It's just such a good open and entrance, heels or not. Second, I'm beyond happy that Chicago barked with Titus O'Neil. Always been a fan of his, and always liked that particular gimmick of his. Third, I like that WWE pulled the trigger on Wyatt beating up Darren Young. He really hasn't gotten any special treatment whatsoever, but he also hasn't been killed since coming out. In fact, it's been a total non-issue, exactly as it always should have been. Lastly, the quick cut to black to end the segment, even while Michael Cole was talking, was a nice touch.
- Pissed off Miz is monotone, apparently. God, he sucks. Every time he has a great match -- like the one with Randy Orton a few weeks back -- or a great angle -- like the one with Orton last week -- he has a performance like this. Oh, okay, here's Stephanie to verbally eviscerate him. "You know you're not a major player, Miz, and there's nothing worse than a superstar who peaks too early. But I will say this, you do have value. You're what we call a utility player. When we need someone to do a radio show early in the morning, we call The Miz." Oh my god, I love Stephanie. She just destroyed this guy. I don't even know how he can ever come back from this. She spit nothing but reality, and it was glorious. I'm sure everyone will complain that Miz was buried here, but you know what? Good. Fuck Miz. He's awful.
- Oh thank god, Big Show is knocking people out on orders without bawling his eyes out. It helps that he was ordered to kill Miz. Killing Miz is ALWAYS best for business.
- Notice how much better the wrestling seems to be with all this emotion jam packed into every single segment on the show. This evil overlord angle with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon has seeped into everything everyone does and while you could argue that's a bad thing in some respects, you could argue just as much that it's been super effective for making usually meaningless Raw matches extremely entertaining. Rob Van Dam challenging Randy Orton in a straight singles match with absolutely nothing on the line felt like a big deal, and the two worked their asses off to make it special. They did just that, too. As far as booking, this is one of those times when everyone looks good based on the characters they've cultivated. We didn't need a clean finish here. Van Dam nearly winning the match before being killed dead and Orton getting disqualified worked perfect for establishing both guys strong with where they exist right now within the WWE heirarchy. I loved this.
- Orton terrifyingly hitting on Brie Bella? That's delicious.
- Remember when Triple H said in Vince McMahon's DVD that he would never put his wedding to Stephanie on TV? He waited until his DVD and promptly put clips of it on TV last night. I won't bring up their failed first marriage, when Trips slipped her a Mickey and married her in a Vegas drive through while she was passed out and then apparently date raped her later in the night, something he bragged to everyone about while being treated like the conquering hero. Man, the Attitude Era sure was crazy, you guys.
- Fandango won a match. Not only that, he beat Santino Marella, who was on an absolute roll since coming back a couple weeks ago. I'm pretty sure this means Fandango will be Intercontinental champion within the next month. ...... Right?
- WWE has now shown, in real time, the two biggest angles from the Night of Champions PPV that happened just eight days ago on free TV. I just thought it was worth noting that.
- That CM Punk promo was super fun, seeing as I'm a Chicago guy. There's something really special about a star this big having a relationship like this to a city and being a part of his getting treated like a king in said city. It's just fun, and it feels good. His promo was top notch, too, playing up the Blackhawks come from behind thrilling victories on their way to the Stanley Cup. He'll do the same against Ryback and Heyman and all that good stuff. The brawl with Ryback and Curtis Axel after was also really good. And I didn't even mention Heyman and his usual outstanding work on the microphone. Just an "A+" segment.
- From that to the Divas. That's a hell of a drop. Why do the AJ segment with Stephanie backstage just for a three minute match that lasted less time than the ring entrances?
- I appreciate Dean Ambrose's mic skills. I even appreciate Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns when they get the chance to speak. But, and maybe this is just me, I think I would rather they just be silent mercenaries. They're hired muscle, what the hell do I care what they have to say?
- OH SHIT, THE RHODES FAMILY!
- Really, though, that attack from Cody and Goldust was entirely unexpected. Like, no one saw it coming and it was one of the few real surprises you'll get in the modern pro wrestling age. And with everything that's gone on, it was impossible not to cheer them on. We're talking one of those moments where the inner mark takes over and you find yourself thinking "shit yeah, get 'em!"
- One thing, though: Does Goldust always have to wear the facepaint? The dude is wearing all black to attempt a sneak attack at an arena with over 10,000 people in it and he's wearing gold facepaint.
- Still, that was awesome.
- The little things are super important in pro wrestling, even if you don't realize it or conciously think about it. To that end, it was nice that RVD was booked to go out first in the big 11-on-3 handicap match, seeing as he took such an ass whooping from Orton earlier in the night. Ditto for the next couple eliminations, done, obviously, to even the odds. I don't know what to say for Justin Gabriel, though.
- Man, Titus O'Neil vs. Roman Reigns felt like a big thing during this match before they locked up. That's a real thing, you guys. Damn near a HOSS FIGHT. I love pro wrestling right now.
- I was legitimately worried they were going to let Zack Ryder hit Reigns with a Broski Boot. Then, death by way of one beautiful Spear and it's back to catering.
- Holy hell, this is fun. All of Bryan's trademark spots are ridiculously over, and the way they booked Reigns to go out was great because he took multiple guys out beforehand and had to get worked over by the rightful WWE champion, and a finisher from a totally fresh guy. Good on everyone involved for playing up how big of a deal this was, too, seeing as Reigns had never eaten a pin before now.
- More kudos for Dolph Ziggler pinning Ambrose, seeing as the two are booked for a match on SmackDown.
- I do not believe the Rollins head stomp is a legitimate finisher that will ever really get over, but it does look great.
- I don't understand not calling for a disqualification when Rollins was ganged up on by the babyfaces. Then again, this is so much fun I don't give a shit. I did like how Bryan was booked as the clear leader, given the respect of being the top guy whose direction will be followed, though.
- And, of course, the chaotic finish sealed the deal. This was yet another amazing effort from everyone involved. I could watch Rollins sell the flying knee from Bryan every week for at least six months.
I can't believe I'm doing this, but I have next to no complaints, and the shit that I wasn't necessarily happy about didn't really upset the apple cart one bit.
Triple H in power really is best for business. Pro wrestling is legitimately fun again.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. Did you like it as much as I did?