WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Sept. 28, 2015) from Buffalo, New York with all the latest build to the upcoming Hell in a Cell pay-per-view (PPV) next month in Los Angeles. But, really, much of this show was about promoting a live special on the Network this Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
It's back! Oh...
WWE actually managed to make John Cena's US title open challenge feel sacred with the so-called smarks, enough so that his defeating Seth Rollins to win that title back was celebrated if only for the return of it.
It got over for being everything we aren't used to seeing from WWE on Raw. They largely avoided the usual booking traps they consistently fall into, like bad disqualification finishes. It was (almost) always a guy who wanted to win a title that meant something against a formidable champion who has worked his ass off to make said title mean something.
Most importantly, it wasn't used as a set-up for a six-man tag, itself a promotional tool for a match at a live special (that isn't much more than a glorified house show) days later.
That's what we got last night, however, with Xavier Woods answering the call and it leading to a run in from Big E and Kofi Kingston so The Dudley Boyz could then run in and set up an impromptu tag match. This was done, of course, to help sell the upcoming tag title match at the live special at Madison Square Garden this coming Saturday night.
All of that would normally be fine. Standard for WWE on a Raw show in September even. Hell, it's great to think that New Day will continue coming after that US title as hinted at by Woods on Twitter.
But, again, that's set up and wholly unsatisfying considering what the US title open challenge is supposed to be. If this weren't the return of it, adding that extra hype to it because of that fact, it wouldn't be worth mentioning. But it was.
Really looking forward to Big E vs. Cena, though.
One step forward, one back
Like so much else about this show, I couldn't decide if I enjoyed this segment. It would seem WWE is now pushing that the Divas Revolution is blowing up because there's turmoil within it.
Or something like that?
The reality is they're scared to death to give the women more than one segment on this show, so they're cramming everything into one segment and it's a convoluted clustermuck that comes off much worse than it is.
- Becky Lynch handled Miz about as well as we could have hoped for, calling out his sexism and misogyny before taking his mic and daring him to do something about it
- Nikki Bella's heeling because she's actually sticking to the fact that she's a heel and making outrageous claims
- Paige is a million times better as a heel because she can let her inner high school emo shit talker prosper
- Natalya is a true babyface to oppose her
- Charlotte's promo, both in her awkward delivery and the content, namely that she's talking about women empowering each other in a pro wrestling ring where they're fighting over a belt (or should be)
- Paige making ridiculous worked shoot style remarks about Brie and Nikki dating Daniel Bryan and John Cena because it has absolutely nothing to do with any story at all
- The fact that it's difficult to actually figure out just what story they're telling here
- That they kinda sorta reunited Team PCB and acted shocked when Paige walked out on them, then acted even more shocked when she attacked Natalya
There's a lot of potential for greatness here, they're just trying to do too much with too little time. If they bothered to devote multiple segments to the women like they do the men, they could put together a lot of really fun pro wrestling.
Hell, it might be even better than the Raw we're getting now.
So bad it's good?
I'm baffled by the booking in this Seth Rollins-Kane feud, so let's try to run this back to make some sense of it with a general overview.
Someone made an anonymous complaint about Kane so "Ashley from HR" is brought in to evaluate the situation. Kane plays it cool while Rollins loses his head in increasing desperation to prove that Kane is not the level-headed Director of Operations (DOO) he claims to be, but rather a demon from hell who has become surprisingly good at hiding that fact.
Ultimately, Ashley from HR finds Kane "of sound mind" and "able to continue his duties as DOO." Rollins, meanwhile, is a narcissist and deeply paranoid. This, of course, leads to a physical confrontation between the two where Rollins injures Kane's leg and he does a stretcher job.
Once he gets put in the ambulance and it starts to drive away, however, it suddenly stops, goes red inside, fills with smoke, and THE DEMON KANE steps out. He's hobbled by a limp but suddently stomps his foot and is healed of all injuries. He proceeds to the ring to run Rollins off before posing with the WWE world heavyweight title.
I'm not sure writing it out gets across how ridiculous it all was. It was so bad it may have actually been good.
Here's the problem, though, beyond everything else: Who the hell are you supposed to cheer for here and why are we supposed to care? Kane fooled poor gullible Ashley from HR and has proven himself to be a straight up violent psychopath who may actually have demonic powers from hell. Rollins, meanwhile, is everything Ashley from HR said he is and probably much worse.
So, again, how are we supposed to have a dog in this fight? "I sure hope the demonic psycho beats up that narcissist at the big show!"
There came a point where, as stated, it was so bad it was good, where you couldn't help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. But that doesn't make money and nothing about this sells a match or demands we come back for more next week.
All the best to all the rest
Tension: So they book Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt for the main event and the former is stupid confident because that's his schtick while Dean Ambrose, good friend that he is, plays the voice of reason (you'll have to forget about the lunatic stuff, of course) and tries to talk some sense into him before offering support anyway. This is good! Then, Reigns reminds him they have a friend via mutual enemies in Randy Orton and Ambrose is none too keen on it because of how they were burned by Chris Jericho at Night of Champions. This is really good! Orton shows up to kick the tension up a notch and we're left wondering just what the hell will happen in the match later. Maybe the best backstage segment with all of these guys in years as far as advancing a story and actually building to a match. The tension between Ambrose and Orton was played really well.
Big Show vs. Mark Henry: I quite liked the honesty that came through in Show's booking the past couple weeks. They're building to a live house show on the Network and a match against Brock Lesnar. So have him beat a couple big strong guys and push that maybe this means he'll be able to beat the biggest, strongest guy. Oh, sure, Cesaro and Henry are nowhere near credible enough to make this worthwhile but, again, they aren't building to a WrestleMania match, they're building to a house show that happens to be airing on the Network. Add a video package later in the night, and this was about as good as it gets for a match like this.
Wyatt Family vs. Prime Time Players: I really liked both the layout and flow of this match. Titus O'Neil and Darren Young were presented as legitimate players in a tag team division they were champions of not long ago while Luke Harper did most of the work (and he's always solid) and Bigass McStrongman maintained his status as the unbeatable monster. A fun, stiff, big man match.
Stardust vs. Neville: I would hail the return of King Barrett if they gave us any reason to. They haven't, so I don't.
Randy Orton vs. Bo Dallas: A good old fashioned "heel runs down local sports team, babyface squashes him shortly after" match. You're never going to be blown away by segments like this but it's definitely worth the time for WWE to get its stars clean TV wins like this.
Kevin Owens vs. Rusev: This ended with these two not really having a match and working together to beat up Ryback before Dolph Ziggler ran in to superkick Rusev and run Owens off. Bad. All bad.
Heyman: By the time they got to this promo, the live crowd was hardly active -- not that they were a lively bunch for much of the night anyway -- and the show they were treated to wasn't exactly a barnburner. Heyman did his part to sell the match by putting Show over as an actual threat to Lesnar. I'm not sure they earned any eyes that weren't already going to be on the match anyway, but they did what they could with it.
Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt: Didn't hate the match they were having before the disqualification finish, and didn't even hate the finish considering how they booked it, but it came at the wrong time on a widely reviled episode of Raw. The post-match brawling was great fun and actually at one point felt like, booking over the past year aside, these are two titans WWE should be able to rely on down the road in a much bigger feud over the WWE world heavyweight title. The fade to black with both dead after multiple big spots was great.
This was a weird show. They did a lot right but a lot really, really wrong too. Some of it was so wrong it was right, though. I guess I'll just come down in the middle.
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. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?