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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for October 23, 2017.
Kevin Owens Was Right
Before I attempt to talk about anything positive, I have to recap how the show ended. It’s the thing everyone will be talking about, because WWE decided to create a “moment” at the expense of an entire show of television characters, the kayfabe hierarchy of its company and months of storytelling. Not that they care. Or that most of you care, as the general vibe of this was “wow so cool.”
Kurt Angle starts off the show by announcing a bunch of Raw vs. Smackdown matches for Survivor Series. Shane McMahon shows up and gives him some awkward, passive-aggressive well-wishes, and that’s that. At the end of the night, Angle shows up to announce the members of Team Raw’s five-man Survivor Series squad and gets interrupted again by Shane. This time, Shane reveals that he’s brought most of the Smackdown roster with him, passed out a bunch of branded t-shirts, and has ordered them to walk through the backstage area and violently assault anyone they see.
Let’s … [sigh] fuck, let’s break this down as best we can.
Point #1: They aren’t fighting for anything. There are no stipulations or announced “prizes” or consequences for the Survivor Series matches. There isn’t even a Bragging Rights trophy. Raw people are wrestling Smackdown people because that’s the gimmick of the show, and that’s it. Shane McMahon’s response to this is to have like 30 guys “invade” the other show and attack everyone because … why, exactly? There’s no reason for this other than “brand superiority,” which doesn’t really work when you’re owned by the same people, trade wrestlers every few months, and even lend out wrestlers to each other on a semi-regular basis. So Shane’s like, “I am going to literally kill you” over a not-even-glorified exhibition.
If they start Smackdown off with Shane being like, “here’s why we did it, I found out that Vince McMahon and the WWE Board of Directors have voted unanimously to cancel one of the shows, eliminate one of the brands and fire everyone on the show that loses the most matches at Survivor Series,” then sure, maybe there’s a hook. If this was even Shane vs. Stephanie still and there was some kind of brother vs. sister McMahon pissing contest, sure, whatever, they’re psychopaths, it’s fine. But this is up-until-yesterday Super Babyface Shane McMahon leading the “land of opportunity” into a gang-style execution of a bunch of bystanders who weren’t doing anything. They weren’t even like, “Raw is great, Smackdown sucks!”
Hey Smackdown guys, what do you get for killing everyone on Raw? If Raw’s “under siege” do you get it if you beat up enough Raw stars? Or are you all fighting because of the announcement that you’re supposed to be fighting?
Point #2: This wasn’t even a heel act, it was an everyone act. So say the rub here is that Shane McMahon has decided to turn heel, or is at least the heel in this story if we’re gonna have memory loss and pretend life only exists in four-week bursts. If he’s leading a group of people who would believably attack a bunch of random bystanders on Raw, wouldn’t it make sense to stock his team with a bunch of heels? We had Rusev and Baron Corbin — guys who have, again, up until yesterday, hated Shane McMahon — but we also had The New Day and Becky Lynch in there. Basically Smackdown’s best and biggest good guys and role models showing up to carry tiki torches and suckerpunch Apollo Crews or whatever because Shane gave them a shirt and said to do it, because Tuesday is better than Monday. The people you’re supposed to cheer for are surprise attacking people in like 15-on-1 scenarios and leaning over and screaming in their faces. Gable’s like, breaking equipment.
Did the entire show turn heel? Are the Raw guys going to invade tomorrow and do the same thing — yes, obviously they are — and be exactly the same? Have we decided to get rid of character motivations and alignments completely for a month for the “cool” visual of a bunch of jerks in red shirts fighting a bunch of jerks in blue shirts? And furthermore,
Point #3: Does anybody give a shit about which show is better? The only people with “brand loyalty” are the people on the show wearing the shirts pretending to fight each other. Most of the babyfaces have no reason to violently attack their friends because their boss put them on a team and told them to do it. Why the hell is Chad Gable attacking a defenseless, injured Jason Jordan? It’s awful. And then most of the heels have been at odds with the babyface authority, and don’t have any reason to do Shane’s bidding. Literally none of the participation makes sense. And does anyone at home really care if Raw proves their better than Smackdown or vice versa? Don’t we just want the shows to be good? Most of these guys were on the other show the last time casual fans bothered to tune in.
Point #4: Kevin Owens was right. Shane McMahon is a psychopath, and now Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are the only free-thinking people on Smackdown. With Kevin gone for the time being for personal reasons it’s what, down to Sami? I hope Smackdown opens with Daniel Bryan just kicking the shit out of Shane for being a terrible person.
I think the worst part of all of this is that most people who watch wrestling just wanna see moments and indiscriminate punching and cool moves and don’t give a shit about like, any of the storytelling discussion or character alignments or anything that would actually make them care about characters or situations on anything but a surface, stimulus-response level. And that’s fine, but it’s also going to continue to alienate anyone who looks for a small amount of effort in this set of shows we desperately want to love and have mostly been enjoying for the past several weeks, and further divide us into “I’m disappointed in this” and “shut up you stupid fucking diaper baby.” It’s either “this is why none of this makes sense,” or “UH MAYBE THEY’RE SETTING UP BRAND VS. BRAND AND SHANE TOLD THEM TO BE ON THE SAME TEAM” like that does anything for anyone or achieves anything for any reason.
Anyway, I hope Raw’s team is Angle in his Shield gear, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and Asuka, and they invade Smackdown with machetes. GFY to everyone on Smackdown, at least until tomorrow night, when it’s GFY to everyone on either show. Why not get NXT to invade on dirt bikes like Mad Max cronies and junk that, too?
In other words,
It’s fine. It was cool and fighting’s cool and you’re all right.
Other Things That Don’t Make A Lot Of Sense
Did you think Emma got too much offense in Asuka’s debut at TLC, because Asuka’s supposed to be the new hotness and Emma’s been booked like a jobber for pretty much her entire Raw career? Well here’s the rematch, in front of a less excited Green Bay crowd that’s already seen the match once in the past 24 hours, with Emma getting in even more offense.
It was a fine match, but suffered a lot of the same problems as the TLC match, with the added bonus that we’d seen it once already and confirmed that nothing they did on that show is actually going to go anywhere. The only place it’s going is Asuka vs. Emma again.
The Raw women’s division was so good at TLC, and it’s such a shame to see them devolve again on Raw. Did different writers handle this show? Was somebody on vacation? Did the Survivor Series build just set everything to default?
The other women’s match on the show is a triple threat to decide who should be the captain of Raw’s women’s team at Survivor Series. Should it be Sasha Banks, the person who tapped Alicia Fox out two weeks in a row before beating her again on the TLC kickoff; Alicia Fox, the one who lost all of those matches I just mentioned; or Bayley, who hasn’t really done much of anything lately and wasn’t even on the TLC card? While 99% of you would say “things that have happened in the past should influence what happens in the present,” LOL, it’s Alicia Fox because she banged two people’s heads together at the end of a bad match built around how ridiculous she is.
Did you love watching the Demon Finn Bálor defeat one of the best wrestlers in the world at TLC in a hard fought match that tied in their intersecting histories in other companies and showcased what makes them irreplaceable superstars? Well enjoy watching Finn Bálor lose clean to Kane less than 24 hours later, because
Jason Jordan Got What He Deserved
Before Chad Gable decided to randomly try to end his career because he owns a specific shirt and Jason doesn’t, Jordan continued to bother Elias for no reason and got bashed in the goddamn shoulder with a guitar for his trouble. Elias is just trying to perform his music and tell the nice people in the various cities that their cities are terrible and he hates them, there’s no need to keep being weirdly threatening and wasting food at him.
Kalisto Has Pinned The Cruiserweight Champion!
Stop Being A Diaper Baby And Point Out Some Bests
Yes. People Aren’t Reading The Column To Read A Grown Man Complaint-Pissing Himself Because The Pretend Fighting For Babies Stopped Making Sense To Him
I Mean, Most Of Them Don’t
all right all right
Best: Drew Gulak Should Read All Of Enzo Amore’s Promos
Enzo Amore has officially lost his voice, so the Nefarious Cruiserweights® flank him while Drew Gulak, he of the never-ending PowerPoint presentation, reads Enzo’s introduction speech. His read of it is so white it makes me sound like James Brown. His read is so white that if you told him to go season some food, he’d dump a bag of flour onto a box of crackers. It’s wonderful.
The line about the Green Bay Packers was lame since Elias had already made a much better crack about Aaron Rodgers earlier in the night, but Elias’ segment didn’t have a bunch of Cruiserweights doing a choreographed dance routine:
How are YOU doing.
Best: Mickie X Alexa Is Still Pretty Good
Alexa Bliss shows up demanding the Raw crowd chant “you deserve it” to her, so Mickie shows up, knocks her out, and tells her she deserves it. Simple and to the point, and it works. Plus, I’m down to see them try to top the great work they did at TLC.
Best: The Pseudo-Shield Tag Was Good Until They Retconned It At The End
What sucks the most about this show is how well it started. It opened with Angle announcing a bunch of matches for the next pay-per-view — something they do far too infrequently that makes them feel like an actual functioning sports organization — and heels creeping on him to set up a six-man tag. Then we got a version of the match we should’ve gotten at TLC (The Shield vs. Bar Mizvah) with AJ Styles of all people subbing in for Roman.
It’s a hell of a lot of fun, too, because the Shield prestige six-man is like the best use of the best formula WWE has. For a while it was far and away the best part of any show it appeared on, and when the Shield broke up, two-on-two tag team wrestling became the thing WWE does best. So hey, now it’s good to have the six-man formula back, with the best guys to do it — Ambrose, Rollins, and The Sick Dog — once again setting the bar for the medium.
Note: I still think it’s better to set the bar than BE the bar, because being the bar doesn’t actually mean anything. You can be the bar and have someone set it very low, so it’s easy for everyone to reach. Setting the bar at a high level is way more prestigious. Yes, I’m very lonely, why do you ask
Best: Heyman Explains Jinder
It was a bad night for Jinder Mahal, the Smackdown heel champion who last week wanted to prove his dominance over Raw but for some reason did not participate in the big Smackdown attack on Raw to prove dominance. First Kurt Angle calls him “Jinder Ma-hail,” and then Paul Heyman gut-shots him with a promo that tells the truth: Heyman’s not going to put over Jinder before the match with Brock like he put over Brock’s other opponents, because it’s Jinder Mahal and LOL.
Join us on Tuesday when Jinder presumably makes a bunch of anti-Semitic jokes, tell us he made those jokes to prove what jerks we are, and then 45 Raw guys beat him up.
Best: Top 10 Comments For Whatever The Hell This Was
Drew Gulak is the whitest person ever. He makes Mike Pence look like Snoop Dogg.
And somewhere, Jojo is doing a sexy dance for Bray while singing “My mumps, my mumps, my lovely lady mump”, he’s a lucky man.
Asuka: *running up excitedly* hey guys I heard there was some kind of slaughter going on and I ran over as fast as I cou-
*looks around to see all the bodies strewn across the floor*
Awww come on! No one every invited me to anything….*walks off sadly*
REGAL: And the NXT team will be…
SHANE/ANGLE: Doesn’t matter.
REGAL: …booked like they are in NXT.
SHANE/ANGLE: OH JESUS GOD NO!
SDL tomorrow better start with.
*Camera closes in on Daniel’s face*
“JESUS CHRIST SHANE, WHAT THE FU-” *Intro song plays*
If they don’t book Asuka to be the last remaining from RAW vs all 5 SD women and have her murder them them all, then wtf are we even doing?
Ja Gi Kyung-Moon
Who else is disappointed that Carmella didn’t use this opportunity to cash in the money in the bank briefcase?
Wow this has been the best episode of The Walking Dead in years
Shane: I’ve got an army.
Kurt: We’ve got a Braun.
Angle: As a peace offering, please take these blankets from the Raw locker room.
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