This was a great show if you like wrestling. Between Karl Anderson vs. Humberto Carrillo, Seth Rollins vs. Andrade, Buddy Murphy vs. Akira Tozawa, and Kevin Owens vs. Drew McIntyre, you certainly got your fill of really fun matches.
But if you’re a fan of cohesive stories, this show was...hit or miss. And I think discussing Triple H’s involvement on the show will help you to see what I mean.
He was out to see Kevin Owens this week, another huge name from NXT’s past. Owens had a match to end the second hour with Drew McIntyre, and like I said – the wrestling was nuts. These two are fantastic, and McIntyre is so much better when he’s removed from the Baron Corbin-like snooty-heel segments.
There was a problem from the get go, however: why are these two fighting? We’re a week from Survivor Series and two of Raw’s Survivor Series teammates are fighting each other without any rhyme or reason. Samoa Joe was even questioning the decision to have this match on commentary, and it’s the sort of thing that can be pretty easily fixed.
But then that issue was compounded by Triple H’s presence. I’ve hit on this with past reviews, but Triple H’s support of NXT is problematic in several ways. Firstly, he’s in charge of the entire company; it’s hard to ask us to forget that fact when he’s arbitrarily choosing a brand to support. Secondly, it gives NXT a managerial representative when Raw and SmackDown have none. Are “USA Network” and “FOX” supposed to be Raw and SmackDown’s respective managers, in this case? Is it supposed to be Rollins and Roman Reigns?
And finally...it’s hard to act like Triple H is supporting NXT when nearly the entire main roster at this point went through NXT. Last week, Triple H was trying to get Rollins on his side. This week, he went to Owens to tell Owens how he’s not loved and appreciated on the main two brands. And just as he seemed to be getting somewhere with that argument, the Undisputed Era swarmed the ring to attack Owens.
I guess the story here is that the Undisputed Era are beginning to actively disobey Triple H. The ramifications of that decision are to be determined. But with all of that said, I just don’t understand what I’m supposed to be excited for. What’s the payoff?
I guess the point is that Triple H is talking to former NXT members and the Undisputed Era is becoming a problem. That means that someone might betray their brand. But if that applies to everyone on the roster, it’s not a very fun story, is it? It’s not clever. It really took the steam off of the brawl at the end with all the brands as well as Triple H’s “the door is open on Wednesday” announcement.
Basically, they’ve made some mistakes with several stories and as an apology they handed us a coupon that says “someone will turn on Sunday!” Thanks?
Stop trying to make “Rah Rah” Rollins happen
Seth Rollins had a promo early in the show where he addressed the idea that he’s trying to be a leader and that people want him to fail. Considering how he’s had some...let’s call them “blunders” recently, I actually quite like the decision to work that into storyline. And when he’s putting on incredible matches with folks like Andrade, I can forgive a lot of the issues he’s had.
I’m simple, man. I just want to be entertained at the end of the day.
But here’s where the story to this match went wrong. The freaking Lucha House Party of all people assaulted Rollins, earning him the victory by disqualification. And due to the stipulation of the match, that allowed Rollins to remain the captain of Raw’s Survivor Series team.
Now, this is stupid for several reasons. Let’s go chronologically, shall we? Firstly, the LHP is stupid as hell for attacking Rollins; if they’d hit Andrade, it would have thrown a huge wrench in Raw’s team as well as removing a Grand Slam champion from the match. Sounds like a smart move to me.
Secondly, LHP walked up the entrance ramp and into the back without any issues whatsoever. This is supposed to be brand warfare, right? Thirdly – and most egregiously – Rollins helped Andrade fight off LHP, but didn’t call to have the match restarted. He never beat Andrade. This match had actual stakes, and Rollins was cool to just leave it there and scurry to the back with his captain-ship intact.
Not very leader-like, Rollins. If you’re actually a leader worthy of calling out the entire Raw locker room in the final segment, right that wrong. That’s really annoying, man. They did such a great job throwing me off the finish by having Zelina Vega booted to the back, only to end in a DQ. That’s a shame.
Charlotte and Becky Lynch def. The IIconics, get attacked by Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir, and Jessamyn Duke – I really liked the attack here. The three NXT women knocked Lynch and Charlotte down and walked away pretty quickly. Security kept Lynch and Charlotte from chasing after them, which is...questionable. Lynch seemed to feel the same way since she punched one of the security dudes.
Buddy Murphy def. Akira Tozawa – This rocked.
Murphy had knocked on Aleister Black’s door before the match, and Tozawa was trying to make a huge statement in his first match on Raw in...years at this point, right? Murphy took a ton of offense from Tozawa and his sell of a superkick might have been the best sell I’ve ever seen.
Afterwards, Black exited his room and the two stared each other down.
Humberto Carrillo def. Karl Anderson – I’m a huge fan of Karl Anderson, so I might have liked this match more than the average viewer. My favorite part of this was honestly Joe on commentary, confidently stating that Anderson was going to make a rally at any moment. “And here’s where Karl’s gonna take over...”
Except it never happened. Carrillo was able to keep the advantage all the way through and the Street Profits helped when The OC tried to cheat. It makes Carrillo look more capable when he’s defying the heel commentator’s predictions.
Rey Mysterio vs. Brock Lesnar is No Holds Barred – Seems like a bad idea to give a dude 120lbs lighter weapons to try to even the score, Brock. Ah well, what do I know.
The Randy Orton/Ricochet dynamic is still intriguing – Orton framed it as “I do everything to my benefit and teaming with Ricochet is to my benefit.” Could Orton’s opinion on what’s to his benefit change at the flip of a coin? Yep!
AOP destroy Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder – I liked all of this. Hawkins and Ryder earning a title shot on a house show is an easy plot device. As for the AOP finally destroying someone, FINALLY.
Bobby Lashley def. No Way Jose – Lana got a restraining order on Rusev. Lashley beat Jose in quick fashion and then the two kissed a bunch.
Erick Rowan def. Local Talent - ...Are we headed to a Rowan vs. R-Truth feud? That’s two weeks in a row they’ve run into each other. Rowan’s burlap-covered cage is still unsettling.
I know I was pretty critical at times with this review, but this was actually a fairly solid episode of Raw. The wrestling was really good this week, which helps to mask some of the storyline issues. I just wish they could clean up some of these stories.
Agree or disagree, Cageside?