Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon Confronted Raw General Manager Kurt Angle
The day I have feared would inevitably come, has finally come: the return of Stephanie McMahon to WWE TV. How many times have I said that there is absolutely no need for her to be a regular on Raw anymore? She was all smiles at first before dressing down Angle the same way she has with everyone else on the roster. That shtick grew tiresome years ago. On the bright side, Angle will be wrestling for Team Raw at Survivor Series, making me much more interested in that match for the pay-per-view than I was before.
Nia Jax def. Bayley
Jax's Raw return was rumored to be imminent, and this was a good spot for her to be brought back in with Survivor Series looming large. I appreciated Michael Cole mentioning that it was Jax who put Bayley on the shelf with an injury prior to SummerSlam, and although they've had a million matches in the past, this was successful in reestablishing Jax as a threat and getting her on Team Raw for the women. Meanwhile, Alicia Fox does nothing for me as the captain as I find her antics to be extremely obnoxious in a channel-changing way.
Samoa Joe def. Apollo Crews
Joe has been out of action with an injury for over two months, so it's great to have him on Raw again. Lord knows the program needs him. I loved how he teased turning face, only to turn the crowd against him with his promo. His mic work was excellent as usual and he was dominant in his subsequent match with Crews. Between his win over Crews and his dismantling of Titus O'Neil, Joe looked awesome here and the commentators put over how destructive came across.
Intercontinental Champion The Miz def. Matt Hardy
Hardy was the perfect opponent for Miz here because he won't be damaged by the loss, he's over with the audience, and the fans bought into some of the nearfalls because it was teased that Miz may not be champion by the time Survivor Series rolls around. Plus, it was an entertaining title match to boot where Miz won clean and picked up some credibility as a champion.
Asuka def. Stacie Cullen
This was exactly the type of performance I was hoping to see from Asuka at TLC or on last week's Raw. She should have been completely dominant in her first few matches on the main roster, not taking a bunch of offense from a woman who hadn't meant anything in months and would be released from the company days later. Asuka should remain unstoppable for a while because that's what worked for her in NXT.
Finn Balor def. Cesaro
You know these two could contest a classic if they were given the time to do so, but for a near-12 minute match, this was a very well-wrestled and enjoyable outing. Cesaro and Sheamus rarely win singles matches these days, so the outcome was never in doubt, but Balor desperately needed the victory here following his ridiculous loss to Kane last week. Granted, he was laid out by Kane again afterward, but I hope that means he'll be exacting revenge sooner rather than later.
Kane def. Raw Tag Team Champion Seth Rollins
Rollins was probably the best possible choice to put Kane in the ring with considering he's bound to get at least a decent match out of him at this stage of his career. Thankfully, this didn't last long and the pace was consistent throughout, but it did result in another Kane win to give him another momentum boost and build him up for Braun Strowman. Will Dean Ambrose be the next one fed to The Big Red Monster?
Heath Slater and Rhyno def. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in a Trick or Street Fight
When the announcers give up on a match halfway through, you know it's a waste of their time as much as it is ours. I'm a huge mark for Halloween and tend to get a kick out of the annual Trick or Street Fight matches, but this was a total train wreck and an embarrassment at that. If nothing else, WWE put guys in there that aren't important to any storylines at the moment, but it is a shame to see Anderson and Gallows continue to be underutilized.
Jason Jordan Attacked Elias
There was nothing out of the ordinary about Elias' performance other than how he taunted Jordan for hitting him over the head with his guitar last week. It didn't take long for Jordan to emerge and retaliate by forcing him to flee from the ring. It was a simple segment that furthered their feud, but it probably wasn't too smart to do this coming off that atrocious tag team match where the crowd was yearning for something that mattered.
Kalisto def. Drew Gulak
I'm not sure if I'm in the minority on this or not, but I've really grown to like Gulak's character. He's infinitely more fun to watch now than he was a few months ago, not to mention that he and Enzo Amore are polar opposites so I found their pre-match promo funny. The actual match was rather basic and fairly forgettable, but we now know that the Enzo vs. Kalisto rivalry is not yet over after all.
Raw Women's Champion Alexa Bliss def. Mickie James; Braun Strowman Attacked Miz and The Miztourage
I thought for sure that this match going on last meant we were getting a title change, which is exactly what WWE wanted us to think with Survivor Series coming up soon, so kudos to them for that. It was cool to see this match slotted in the main event spot, but it would have been even better if it was advertised one week in advance because the crowd largely sat on their hands for this. They put forth a nice effort, but it didn't stand out as special. On the bright side, Strowman returning afterward and laying waste to Curtis Axel was a thing of beauty. He'll be a breakout babyface for sure and the fans in attendance ate up his attack on The Miztourage to close the show.
With so many notable names returning, this was a newsworthy night to say the least. Unfortunately, Raw felt like it dropped off a cliff when the third hour got underway, but they did end the episode on a high note with Strowman's return. The Survivor Series card is clearer than it was one week ago, but they'll still need to sell me on a majority of the matches. I'm also not thrilled that Raw will center around Stephanie and Kane in the coming weeks, but there are a few elements of the show I try to focus on (The Shield, Miz, Strowman, Joe, etc) to keep me positive.
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