We start Raw with a recap of the title match we had last week, with the 5:15 timer, and how Roman keeps getting screwed by the numbers game, thanks to the Euroboys. When we open, the Euroboys are already in the ring, and we’re talking about TLC, because the WWE loves to shill their own product. The camera angles are really weird for a moment, until someone sorts that out. Sheamus says he can’t look stupid when he’s the champ, in response to the chants, and says he spent all day thinking up what he was going to say, but then changes his tune and says all we really need to know about him and Roman Reigns is the 5:15 on his t-shirt. It’s true, most men aren’t proud about lasting only a short time, and Roman’s probably a little embarrassed it ended up on merch. The USA chants start, of course, and it’s pretty hard to hear people boo Mexico, even if they are in South Carolina. We know you can’t point to Bulgaria on a map, and everyone hates England, and the only thing about Ireland the US likes is the beer. But Mexico? Those boos really shouldn’t be encouraged.
Sheamus tries to continue his promo through boos and chants, and does his best, but the Wyatts come out to interrupt, Bray Wyatt saying that he just lets them all breathe in his world. Then the Dudley Boyz come out with Tommy Dreamer, and Bray has just seen ‘Hamilton’ and wants to quote it at them. Rhyno then comes out to join the Dudleys – and they’re interrupted by Ro’s Bros coming down through the audience. Is there… is there room in the ring for sixteen men?
Apparently, yes, a 16-man elimination tag team fatal fourway match. I’m very glad that I decided to stop calling matches completely today, because this would have been… complex. There’s nice double team move from Rusev and Del Rio, Rusev helping out his buddy who also draws most of the USA chants these days. Rhyno looks good in the ring, big and heavy, until Strowman comes in and just throws the big man around. The Usos try and get Rusev off the top rope at one point, and Strowman comes in and lifts everyone, even managing to take out Tommy Dreamer, who appears to have borrowed Dusty Rhodes’ pants for the evening, which looks incredibly cool, even if does take a long time to set up. Dreamer manages to get a Dreamer Drop on Rowan to get the Wyatts gone.
Apparently we’re now calling the Dudleys, Rhyno and Dreamer ‘Team ECW’ (although they’re announced as ‘Team Extreme’), but commentary still don’t have a good name for Ro’s Bros. Obviously, it breaks out into a huge brawl in the middle of the ring, with Roman facing off against Rhyno as they’re the two left in the ring, but Sheamus and Rusev break it up before we see anything exciting, sadly. Sheamus gets the pin to Bubba Ray following a brogue kick, to eliminate Team Extreme, leaving us with the match we were pretty sure we’d see tonight; Ro’s Bros vs the Euroboys.
Commentary make a note of it being Dean’s birthday, which is nice of them, as he gets to beat the hell out of Rusev. Ambrose gets called ‘a different piece of toast’ which… isn’t a saying? I don’t understand, but why not. Roman finally gets into the ring when he’s tired of watching the Euroboys beat the hell out of his cousin, but is quickly shooed out again like a naughty, hot-headed puppy. Eventually he gets a go in against Del Rio, but once he’s out of the ring, Dean wanders in to take everyone else off the apron, apparently just for the hell of it. Well, it is his birthday. Sheamus has a little fun, mocking the punch to the ring Roman does, which means he runs into a spear, giving Ro’s Bros the win.
We see Charlotte and Ric Flair backstage, preparing to be on Miz TV later in the night. Oh good. Two men who don’t wrestle anymore, talking to a woman who does.
Backstage, Renee Young talks to Sheamus about whether tonight’s result is what will happen at TLC, and Sheamus says he’s going to break Roman’s face in the most imaginative ways possible, and that he’s going to teach Roman a lesson.
Stardust is… upset? About the new Star Wars? Possibly? Either way, he’s back in the dark room WWE keep all their underutilised superstars in, with 3d glasses on, talking about how he’s going to take down the big American hero, Jack Swagger. Titus O’Neill is lost again, and has found his way into Stardust’s closet of spangles, telling Stardust he needs to ‘get some’, by which he apparently means ‘me time’. Titus, those mean the same thing. He clarifies that Stardust should read a good book (How about Ryan Nemeth’s Hardbody, that’s pretty good) and a strong bottle of wine. Titus does a little classic misdirection, and vanishes, making Stardust hiss like the lonely little kitty he is.
Dolph Ziggler up next, and I’m still not sure on this new thing where he wears pants instead of trunks, and is followed out by Tyler Breeze, who has skinned a whole race of small purple and green aliens for his gilet and pants. I’d wear his pants. Dolph should wear his pants. Tyler and Summer settle themselves at ringside, in the VIP section of course, to watch Ziggler face off against Kevin Owens. Not quite sure why Ziggler cares what Kevin Owens thinks, as they’re not sharing a girl, nor are they having selfie wars, so this is a little random. Dean’s hanging around backstage with popcorn, because it’s his birthday, he deserves something nice. This is actually a pretty interesting match, because Dolph could sell burlap to Tyler Breeze, and KO’s trash talk is always amusing. We get a weird shot through a ladder, and one guy just chanting for Ziggler, but no one else in the audience seems to care. It’s a shame, the match feels like it’s just thrown together for no real reason, commentary saying that it’s because of what KO has said about him being the best IC champion ever, but we’ve had no on-screen evidence of that, really.
Some of the mat wrestling, showing both of their pedigrees, is very good, but the match feels sluggish, perhaps because of the small crowd reaction, until Dolph starts getting some height with his dropkicks and they take it outside the ring. Tyler and Summer seem to be enjoying it, at least, and KO tells the show-off to show him something. A beautiful clothesline from KO takes Dolph down for what looks like the win, but Dolph’s got too much spirit to give up that easily, and keeps fighting the pins. Ziggler dodges a great running senton from KO, but a lot of this match has been a slugfest, and that doesn’t seem to excite the crowd. A throw into the ring post leaves Ziggler at Breeze’s feet, clutching his shoulder, and it looks like a count out victory, but Dolph slides back in at the last moment, hit straight away by a running senton from KO for something which, again, looks like the win, but isn’t. The false finishes are testing the patience of the crowd, too, who boo as KO doesn’t get the pin.
Dolph is powering through the pain, and manages a spectacular DDT on the outside of the ring, which gets some renewed interest from the crowd, he also hits the famouser, but again, doesn’t get the pin, and the crowd are pretty conflicted about that. Every single kick out is getting boos at this point, because the crowd think the match is running too long, and it’s just not exciting. Finally, Owens gets the pop up powerbomb, but instead of his music, it’s Ambrose’s music playing, and out he ambles to the top of the ramp, still with his drink and popcorn. He stands in the ring with it, letting Owens shout at him, then flings both popcorn and soda into KO’s face, and ambles back out of the ring.
What I’m confused about is… why does Dean care? Is this literally just to get Dean chasing some title or other, as he’s clearly not going to get a look in on the heavyweight title until Roman gets it for longer than 5mins 15 secs? Why do Dean and KO have beef? They seem like they’d get along quite well, really – I know Kevin was rude on commentary the other week, but that’s Kevin, he doesn’t really have any other way of being. Plus, Dean already played piggy in the middle with the IC title earlier this year, which just served to make the belt look stupid and pointless. It’s hard to see what they want to do with this.
Apparently Braun Strowman has a dream, that he’ll show Tommy Dreamer what it truly means to be extreme? Martin Luther Strowman Jr.? I don’t understand America, sometimes.
Team Bad walk out, which is always lovely, the girls together and unified, and then we spot Neville and Miz hanging out together in the locker room. Miz says he really thinks that he can make Neville the next Daniel Bryan, a man who is no longer on television anymore due to a lot of injuries. BUT he is still super over with the crowd, and he gets a cheer every time his wife does his moves, so, sure. Miz then wheels out Donny Deutsch, who, as an Englishwoman, I had to look up. He says he’s going to get Neville on his show, which is ‘the best’ but Miz takes a little offense at this. Neville is left holding business cards, flinging Miz’s card away at the end.
Team Bad remind us of their unity, and Tamina talks! Which is important, and I love, and it makes me really happy to see these three still playing as a team that lets all of them be their best, unlike PCB, where the girls became homogenised and blended into one.
Team Bella, or what’s left of it, are against Sasha and Naomi, which is always a good show. The Boss is out in full force, screaming and leaping out of the way of Alicia Fox before we really get into it. Alicia gets two beautiful tilt-a-whirl backbreakers on Naomi before we degenerate into cheap shots a little, Brie and Alicia looking a little less lost without Nikki for once. Considering how long the Dolph/KO match went on, and how bored the crowd were, this is almost offensively short in comparison. Naomi gets the rear view for the win, on Brie Bella, after Team BAD play the number’s game and use their unity to pull things apart. – Tamina distracts the ref so that Sasha can pull on Brie’s foot and distract her from seeing Naomi’s moving coming. The New Day come out to see Team Bad, and the girls are ready for a fight, thinking it might come down to that, but the boys hand over unicorn horns, and the six of them have a little dance in the ring together. If we were really being honest here, we’d say it’s six previously under-utilised wrestlers of colour banding together to fight their own way to the top, and be noticed, without waiting for Grandpa Vince to give them a chance – but it’s also just nice to see Naomi and Big E having a jiggle together, and to see that unity extends beyond just the girls.
The Usos are on commentary for a tag team match. The New Day say they handed out baby names to Kim and Kanye, AND made a big tax deductible donation to the League of nations. They then prove they have no need for ladders by giving us some almost Brechtian theatre in the ring, where Big E is a tree, Kofi is a kitten, and Xavier is all three members of the New Day, which is… terrifyingly good. We’re reminded that, at TLC, New Day have to face the Usos and the Lucha Dragons, and can lose the titles without even being pinned. The crowd seem pretty into the Lucha Dragons, who can keep a chant going fairly well, and there are the usual aerial stunts from Kalisto. Unfortunately, he also walks into the unicorn stampede, which looks painful. In the end, the Usos step in to steal the trombone and leave Xavier crying in the middle of the ring, and the distraction lets the dragons pin Kofi for the win.
Renee Young is interviewing Roman Reigns backstage, and he’s a little amused at the idea of Sheamus teaching him a lesson, because he’ll be the one teaching Sheamus what it feels like to be former champ at TLC.
Charlotte and Ric Flair are guests on Miz TV, so at least one relevant person will be in the ring. Miz announces the two of them like the best thing Charlotte ever did was be born to Ric Flair. She then reintroduces her dad, who says he’s proud of her, but… are we not all tired of seeing Charlotte as an extension of her father? Her heel turn appears to be moving faster, with Miz riling her up until she lost it, whereupon Paige comes out and takes it upon herself to slap Ric Flair. Well, we’re all tired of seeing him, Paige, but he is an old man. Confusing segment, it’s difficult to see where they want this to go, and it truly is leaving Becky Lynch and Natalya as the only face Divas left on the roster. Seems WWE’s ‘women just hate each other’ doesn’t work as a motivation – who knew?
We are boing spoilt tonight: two matches with Rusev in them! Golly, WWE, are those ratings not falling fast enough for you, or something? In a promo, Lana says she forgives Ryback for knocking the steps into her leg last week, which caused Rusev to abandon the match and lose via count-out, as he was busy checking on his lady.
Ryback spends a lot of time on the outside of the ring, talking to Lana, moving his back around, and only getting in as the count reaches eight. Ryback waits for Rusev to come to him, and when he does, Rusev eventually just rolls out and back out of the ring again. Ryback comes over the top rope like an ungainly buffalo leaping, which is… something to see, and is just knocking a very slow Rusev around for a while. Rusev keeps leaving the ring, and eventually we get a comic moment of Ryback chasing Rusev around the ring. Lana gets in the way, deliberately, and Ryback knocks her down by mistake, as she’s limping around saying he broke her ankle. Distracted, Ryback takes a header into the ring post courtesy of Rusev, and then gets stuck in the accolade as Lana makes a miraculous recovery and laughs at Ryback’s misfortune. There’s a lot of making out after Ryback fades out, and I can’t even bring myself to be angry, because frankly, they were split for ages in kayfabe, and it was ridiculous. Seeing them be happy and in love is frankly rather lovely. If a bit much.
For some reason, we don’t get to see the start of the Stardust vs. Swagger match, probably because they both walked out and went ‘so we’re fighting… why?’ and then just decided to go for it. Basically this is a plot point for Del Rio, and they needed someone to fight Swagger, so they thought they’d bring out Stardust, because otherwise he just sits in that dark closet they keep him in and hisses lunacy through the keyhole. His new BFF Titus O’Neill is on commentary, I guess because he was already wearing the suit and is more intelligent than Cole, so why not.
It’s a lacklustre match, a patriot lock early from Swagger, and the minute that’s broken, out comes Del Rio and Zeb Colter. Stardust fights back against Swagger as Colter and Del Rio park up in front of Titus at commentary. Titus says he wants Stardust to drop the gimmick and go back to being Cody, because that’s who he is and should be – I don’t know if the rest of us agree with you, Titus. Swagger gets another patriot lock in, and as Stardust taps out, Del Rio hits Swagger from behind with a chair. Del Rio then takes it out on Stardust with the chair, too, then heads back to Swagger, who had been playing possum, and also has a chair. The two clash chairs, Del Rio stepping backwards and tumbling over Colter’s chair, and then he runs from the ring. Swagger rages at Colter, who gives him no reaction, and just wheels himself off, leaving Stardust under the ref’s care, and a baffled looking Swagger.
Ah, The Rosebush. Miz is using his “Hollywood klout” to make Neville the lead in a new cast of Dumbo, and Tommy Dreamer can’t tell baby oil from orange hair dye. God, Adam Rose has incredible facial expressions and it breaks my heart to see them waste him like this. At least he isn’t in whichever dark basement Vince is keeping Curtis Axel and Damien Sandow, though.
Del Rio and Colter are backstage, with Del Rio furious that he tripped and people laughed at him. Del Rio drops Colter, saying he doesn’t need him. He… threatens Colter with a chair? And then throws it after him? I’m a little confused as to why we need to see a wrestler in his prime screaming at a disabled man on a mobility scooter, but okay, Del Rio is free of Colter now, which means he’s alone, aside from the Euroboys. Not sure what this means for the US title, but then, Cena’s due back soon, so who knows?
Wyatt action next, and Bray seems to have picked up a new ugly vest on his travels, which is nice. They’re up against Team Extreme, and I… don’t care? I’m tired of seeing the Wyatts get crushed by old talent, tired of seeing people go through tables, and tired of seeing the same damn promo every week. The Wyatts are trying, but at this point, it’s like they’re punching at fog, whatever they do, there’s always someone else to beat them, and someone else to threaten. This is supposed to be Strowman against Dreamer, again, for no reason. Strowman isn’t fast to start with, and Dreamer is stilted and looks out of it, so it doesn’t take long for Strowman to stick him in a bear hug and take him down until he’s out of it.
Roman Reigns enters a ring strewn with tables, ladders, and… you guessed it, chairs, in case the audience had forgotten what those looked like in the last three hours. He calls Sheamus down to the ring, as he ambles around touching things and talking about the Shield, and how he’s fought his way up from the bottom rung of the ladder, to the top. He climbs the ladder to illustrate this, and manages to look very uncomfortable up there as he, again, calls Sheamus to come out. The crowd doesn’t care, and they’ve let Roman talk for just long enough that he sounds awkward instead of certain. Good job.
Sheamus finally makes his appearance at the top of the ramp, and waffles on about how he’s not scared of Roman, and how sequels are in – because he hasn’t got the memo yet that sequels are terrible things – and so the PPV will end with the same finish as the last did. He’s probably not wrong, but only because the creative team’s name is an oxymoron. Roman’s upset that Sheamus doesn’t want to come down and fight him in the ring, so he brings out some of the worst lines creative have ever given anyone, including saying Sheamus doesn’t have potatoes, he’s smuggling tater tots. The look on his face as he says it is so uncomfortable it makes me cringe. This incenses Sheamus enough for him to run down to the ring and stop just before entering, because it’s not Roman’s time for a match. The crowd start chanting ‘tater tots’, but Sheamus says no, running in without thinking is Roman’s weakness, not his. He gets Roman to take the chair out of the ring, then the table, and Roman even clears the ladder for him by graciously throwing it at Sheamus’ head. So now he’s got no reason not to come into the ring – unless he’s scared of the big dog inside.
Sheamus is finally goaded into taking off the belt, and heading into the ring, a brawl where Roman gets him out of the ring early, and then throws him into the barricades and tries to slam him into the announce table. Sheamus takes him for a tour of the barricades, and then takes the brawl into the crowd, Roman getting the upper hand and driving trash cans into Sheamus, until they make their way back to the base of the ramp. The two go wild with the items, leading to a pretty cool spot where Sheamus sidesteps a spear and Roman goes flying over the announce table, then come back to spear Sheamus through one of the tables propped up against the ring. That’s how we end it, Sheamus out for the count, and the crowd chanting for Roman. Well, there’s a turn up for the books. Maybe because it was the only interesting thing that happened all night.
To summarise: Raw this week was a poorly planned, badly organised farce of a show, and wasn’t even a good attempt to shill the network ahead of TLC. The matches lacked any real story or background, and it seemed like everything was thrown together at the last minute. Creative are seriously struggling now, with so many people out injured, and it’s showing. They need to work on better storylines, fast, or people are going to be dropping like flies.