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WWE Raw results, recap, reactions (Sept. 4, 2017): The Art of War

What a strange feud this is turning out to be.

John Cena showed up on Monday Night Raw with the express purpose of calling out this Roman Reigns fella he's heard so much about, seemingly to take him on to see if he's really got what it takes to be the big dog in the yard.

Everything that has followed has been about as lopsided as gets.

First, the two exchanged verbal blows in an encounter that left Reigns stammering at points, forgetting his lines, and resorting to profanity to run his opponent down. To be fair, there aren't many wrestlers in the world who can hang with Cena in an open mic situation but this was like shining a light on Roman's greatest weakness using the biggest star of the past decade's greatest strength.

It was odd, to say the least.

The follow up, then, is even more baffling.

Cena wins a match against Jason Jordan, a back-and-forth encounter where the young up-and-comer actually appeared to be poised to win. He lost, of course, because of course he would. That's when Reigns showed up, for the sole purpose of asking Cena why it took him so long to beat a rookie, that either he was deliberately evil -- allowing Jordan to think he had a chance before crushing his soul -- or just not as good as he says he is, therefore proving Reigns right that he's a "fake ass little bitch."

Cena, a pro, immediately regains control of the situation by cracking a few jokes at Roman's expense, reminding everyone that he sucked last week, and launching into the perfect rebuttal: That he didn't win quickly isn't a sign of weakness, it's strategy. He allows opponents to expose weakness and he exploits it. It is essentially what Floyd Mayweather did to Conor McGregor. There was never a single moment he wasn't in complete control of that fight. That it looked different in the opening rounds, when McGregor was scoring with punches, was the simple act of Floyd implementing his strategy. It proved correct when Conor quickly fatigued in the middle rounds and Floyd finished him off in the 10th.

Cena quite literally told Reigns what he was doing.

Roman responded by calling him out, challenging him to fight, and taking Cena's relaxed refusal to do so as a victory, even while Cena was calmly leaning against the ropes laughing as Reigns walked away.

The only way this would have worked for Reigns is if he opened with the challenge. That way Cena never would have been allowed to make clear that his actions are strategic. He's not a coward, or a "fake ass little bitch" for refusing to engage -- he's a tactician. And he played Roman perfectly.

Every part of this feud has made Cena look every bit like the brightest shining star and Reigns look like he just isn't at that level.

That's fine, too ... unless, of course, they're going for the opposite. In that case, this is utterly baffling.

The good news, at least, is this hasn't taken any real interest away from the actual match. There are two weeks left where Roman can recover and at least make it look like he's playing in the same league as Cena.

All the rest

Women's division: It's unfortunate that we're back to the entirety of the women's division only getting storylines focused around the title and nothing else but at least it gave us an interesting tag team match with stakes and four unique personalities who all play off each other well. Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax interacting is too much fun and Emma's Internet troll come to life character is so unbearable I want everyone on the roster to beat her up a million times over. So I suppose they've worked me good there! And that's great!

Tag team division: They've gradually lost my interest with the back-and-forth between Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins and Cesaro & Sheamus. The wrestling is still solid, and that will always make it worthwhile in some ways, but they're lacking any meaningful story now that Ambrose & Rollins have reunited and they need to work through the tag title rematch.

The Miz def. Jeff Hardy: This felt like a larger set up so the Hardys can feud with the entirety of The Miztourage, which can be a lot of fun if the Instagram promos -- which included Miz singing Pantera at one point -- are any indication. That Miz and Hardy had a fun match for the Intercontinental title in 2017 is wild.

Demons: They finally made the Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt story interesting! Wyatt's beef is that Balor didn't beat him at SummerSlam, a demon did, and if he had any pride as a man he would forgo the face paint and fight his own battles. Finn agreed to the challenge and that adds both a layer of intrigue to the upcoming match at No Mercy and Balor's character more generally. What if he loses? That's suddenly a legitimately interesting question.

CAGED BEEF: I loved everything about Braun Strowman beating Big Show in a steel cage match main event. Something about working with Strowman seems to both inspire and bring out the best in Show, an old veteran who still has a few tricks up his sleeve and I'll be damned if he isn't out there getting the new big man over in every way he can. When we look back on this time later we'll remember that Show had a lot to do with helping Strowman develop into the real main event player he's become. It's been awesome to watch.

This was a good show!

Grade: B+

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