Baltimore was treated to one hell of a show this week.
The Fourth “I”: Incompetence
After last week’s debacle, you knew we’d get something drastic on Raw. It doesn’t get much more drastic than Stephanie frickin’ McMahon.
Kurt began to apologize for allowing himself to be duped so badly. He put his roster at risk and –
And then Stephanie.
She came down and was her usual brilliant self. We haven’t seen her for a while but it makes sense that the Commissioner of Raw would return after SmackDown’s abused his power to invade Raw. Stephanie claimed to have respect for Kurt but that it was all ruined in one moment of incompetence. He’ll have only one chance to redeem himself in her eyes: He’s to captain the Raw Men’s Survivor Series team and inflict “total annihilation”.
Kurt was great for the rest of the night. He was rattled, he was guarded, and he was intense. I really enjoyed how he snapped at Miz for showing up late and put him in a championship match. And then he yells at Miz for trying to duck out early. It’s the sort of thing you can empathize with Angle for but it also gives Miz more ammunition.
I’m a big fan of what they’re doing here. Especially when you consider what happened later in the show.
Two Men thrown to the Wolves
Can we all applaud WWE for doing suspense wonderfully tonight? The reveal of Bryan and then the cut to commercial was incredible.
The fact that Daniel’s defying Shane in such a blatant way is fantastic. He knows that this will get back to Shane – he’s on TV, for Pete’s sake – but he simply doesn’t care. Shane didn’t talk to him before his actions last week so Daniel’s giving him a taste of his own medicine.
And with Stephanie threatening Angle…there’s this incredible undercurrent of storytelling going on of two men struggling to withstand this vortex of McMahon egos and hyper-competitiveness. Bryan tried to apologize and find comradery with Angle over their shared plight, but Angle’s too guarded after last week. And after Kane’s actions, who knows where Bryan stands.
And there’s so much intrigue too! Who was Daniel on the phone with? Brie? Who could he be conspiring against Shane with? What will he do in response?!
The Kane Conundrum
I’ve had an entire week to think about this Kane thing, so let’s go over a few things.
In the past 2 weeks, Kane’s taken out some huge names. Strowman, Balor, Rollins, Ambrose, Angle – and even Daniel Bryan this week. All of this is in an effort to build him up as a worthy, monstrous opponent for Braun Strowman.
In my estimation, it’s fruitless to try to present Kane the way you present Strowman. Who buys Kane – who’s not nearly as spry as he once was – as a physical match for Strowman? That’s not gonna cut it and it’s precisely why the Balor thing came off so horribly. If you want to sell this match, you need to reveal Kane’s sadistic streak.
Remember when Kane was electrocuting a man’s testicles? Good times. That’s precisely what I’m talking about. He’s supposed to be a psychopathic, raving, murderous demon spawn! Let him do vile things that make him look terrifying!
And tonight was good! He Chokeslammed a man with brain damage. Good start! He followed up by hitting Tombstones on the 3 biggest babyfaces currently on the show. That’s much better. They didn’t worry so much about protecting him in the match with Rollins as making sure he ended with a brutal statement.
WWE learned from their mistake.
Best of the Rest
Alexa Bliss def. Mickie James
There’s always imbeciles out there. If you’re chanting “CM Punk” in 2017 at a WWE show, you’re ridiculous. And I’d say you should feel ashamed but you’re clearly incapable of that emotion at this point.
This match was a bit disappointing to me. I have loved this feud, but this match didn’t feel like it had the energy it deserved. Everyone was waiting for Strowman.
Alexa telling the ref to “ask her – she’s old!” was stellar though.
Samoa Joe Returns
Samoa Joe used the word henceforth. And he sounded like the most badass man to ever walk the Earth. Joe, you keep being scarily awesome, sir.
This man’s a killer, y’all. He pleaded Titus off, faked getting out of the ring, and then gave an ill-intentioned smirk before sauntering up behind him. Two Coquina Clutches and some nasty words to the audience and Joe’s back in full force.
Nia Joins Alicia’s Team
Nia lived up to Steph’s command at the beginning of the show by dominating Bayley in her return. I loved the call to their NXT Championship match. Corey Graves called it out, too. Nia found a way past the move that once beat her and secured herself the first spot on the Alicia Fox-captained Survivor Series team.
(Also, Alicia is crazy and fantastic.)
Intercontinental Championship Match – The Miz def. Matt Hardy
Fun match. How the hell does Matt still do a moonsault? This match was a tribute to how deep the roster is right now. Neither Miz nor Hardy are the most athletic or technical wrestler in the locker room and they still put on fantastic matches. Love Miz rolling away after taking a finisher. Shows his championship caliber even when appearing vulnerability.
I really enjoyed Corey Graves claiming Miz made the dropkick in the corner famous, too.
Cole: “Wasn’t that -?”
Graves: “The Goat? Nope!”
That’s just great stuff.
BRAUN’S NOT FINISHED WITH YOU
Hooooo boy. The show wasn’t over for Miz though. Someone dumped some garbage in his locker room and he freaked. And then Kane, Cesaro and Sheamus bailed on him. There’s no honor amongst thieves, is there?
And then Braun returned like this was a damn slasher movie. HE TOOK A RUNNING LEAP OFF A LIMO!!!
(Do you SEE what I mean with the Kane thing? HOW DOES KANE COMPETE WITH THAT?! I need a “Powerslam for Reps” shirt after Graves said it on commentary.)
Balor def. Cesaro
They did a disservice to both Balor and Kane with that match, in my estimation. The solution? Getting back to the things that make Balor look awesome: Matches with extremely skilled technical wrestlers.
This match was essentially on cruise control. Neither guy did anything crazy but they were both low-key spectacular. I loved Cesaro bringing back the Superplex and was equally as happy to see Balor grabbing Cesaro’s boot to keep him from locking in the Sharpshooter. Balor went over running a greatest hits medley of his coolest moves. Sounds good to me!
Trick or Street Fight
This was insane. And I…think I liked it? Candy Corn Kendo Sticks, pumpkin heads, Rhyno in bloomers flashing Ferguson…
You know what? I’m in! Chad2Badd! Tex Ferguson! DADDY WAS A FALL DOWN MAN!
Gulak and ‘Zo
Gulak listed off Angle’s three I’s and mentioned that they might also describe Enzo. In response, Enzo rapidly thrusted his pelvis. And then he spelled “soft” correctly.
I’m still laughing.
This show was awesome. I’m a firm believer that if you get the storytelling right, the rest falls into place. Tonight’s show surely did.
Happy Halloween! What did you think of the show?