Live from Baltimore, Maryland this is the Raw Deal for episode #1275. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.

The opening video package focused on the Smackdown invasion of Raw from last week. In case you missed it, there was no return attack on Smackdown last week. The video took about four minutes, which means it was longer than the usual opening video package.

There was a live shot of the crowd in Baltimore with announcer Michael Cole talking about how there’s tight security.

Kurt Angle, the Raw General Manager, was in the ring while the Raw roster (most of them) was standing on the stage. Some were in ring gear and others were not.

Angle said normally he’s there with a smile on his face, but he wanted to apologize to the talent. Angle faced the talent to say that he put them in harm’s way, but he promises them he will never do it again. Angle was interrupted by a returning Stephanie McMahon, who is the Commissioner on Raw.

Analysis: She hasn’t been on WWE TV since WrestleMania aside from the Smackdown about one month ago when she checked on her father Vince McMahon following Kevin Owens assaulting Vince.

There was a good reaction for Stephanie making her way down to the ring. Stephanie welcomed the fans to Monday Night Raw, which drew a pop. She wanted them to admit that they missed her.

Stephanie said that on January 22, they will celebrate Raw’s 25th anniversary and she claimed it is longer than any other show in television history (not true). It’s their “longest running episodic television show in history” thing they like to say, but she didn’t say that part.

Stephanie said when Vince McMahon made Kurt the GM of Raw, she was supportive in that decision and thought that he’s done a hell of a job. She said even with Kurt having an illegitimate son, the roster dealing with a virus and Braun Strowman being put in a garbage truck, Angle has handled it all. She mentioned Angle teaming with The Shield and fans chanted “you still got it” for him.

Stephanie told Kurt there was no excuse for what happened last week. She said that people think Shane is a good guy, but Shane is shallow, conniving and manipulative. Steph claimed that Shane losing at Hell in a Cell led to him coming to pick on her show. She ripped on Shane for coming through the crowd and embarrassed them on Raw last week. Stephanie said there’s only one person to blame about what happened last week and she blamed Angle. Stephanie said there were three I’s for Angle, but a fourth I needed to be added and that’s incompetence. Stephanie told Angle if he’s still got it then he’ll be the team captain of Monday Night Raw at Survivor Series. Stephanie told Kurt she expects victory, results and total annihilation and if he doesn’t then he can expect her to get a new General Manager of Raw.

Stephanie walked away while Kurt was left to ponder what she said and the talent on stage just stood there.

Analysis: That was a great heel promo from Stephanie. I find her character her to be useful in a setting like that because it’s been over half a year since we’ve seen her. When she was on TV every week I thought she was on too much. Being a heel is important, yet she never seemed to put anybody over in terms of giving them the advantage in promos and she was booked too strong. If she returns to TV regularly now, hopefully she is humbled a bit more. Also, we learned that Angle’s team has to win for him to stay on as Raw GM or else he’ll be removed. I thought Raw was going to win anyway since Smackdown won last year and this stipulation for Angle makes it seem like more of a sure thing.

Coming up on Raw: Seth Rollins vs. Kane, Finn Balor vs. Cesaro and Bayley is up against Alicia Fox up next.

(Commercial)

This week on Smackdown: Nakamura vs. Owens and Roode vs. Ziggler. Should be wins for Nakamura and Roode with both of them on Smackdown’s team at Survivor Series.

In the parking lot, Stephanie McMahon was about to get into her limo. Kurt Angle was there to try to talk to her. Steph said she meant everything she said and if he doesn’t believe her, he can ask Mick Foley. That’s a note to say that Foley was the former Raw GM that was fired prior to WrestleMania this year.

The Miz showed up in a limo with Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas (welcome back from being sick). Miz asked what he missed. Angle told him Stephanie McMahon was there. Angle told Miz he was selfish and a coward because he wasn’t there to help Raw last week. Angle told Miz he’ll find out his opponent when he gets in the ring and if he got there earlier he would have told him. Miz complained about it, but Angle told him to go.

Analysis: I like that Angle finally has a reason to change his behavior because he’s the smiling GM the whole time he’s been there. That’s why Stephanie was useful with that promo since it will help Angle’s character evolve a bit.

Bayley made her entrance. She gets almost no reaction now after how poorly she has been booked. Ring announcer Jojo is back. She’s the girlfriend of Bray Wyatt that missed a couple of weeks due to sickness, so maybe she was sick too.

Alicia Fox did her crazy voice while wearing a captain’s hat since she is the captain of the women’s team at Survivor Series. Fox said she’s too busy as team captain, so Fox said she had an opponent for Bayley and it’s Nia Jax, who has missed nearly a month.

Analysis: Being a captain at Survivor Series can give you the ability to change Raw matches? That’s weird. This is WWE, though. They don’t explain little things like that.

The announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T welcomed us to the show while plugging the new season of Total Divas. There are nine WWE women on the show. Poor Daniel Bryan being a part of that.

Nia Jax vs. Bayley

Jax dumped Bayley out of the ring early on. Jax followed her out there, sent her back in and Bayley hit a dropkick to keep Jax out of the ring as they went to break one minute into the match.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Jax had Bayley in a headlock. Jax splashed Bayley in the corner. When Jax took way too long to do a corner splash, Bayley dumped Jax to the floor. Bayley took down Jax with a cross body block off the apron onto Jax on the floor. Jax rolled Bayley back in the ring. Bayley hit a kick to the face while Jax was against the ropes and a neckbreaker using the ropes for a two count. Back to their feet, Bayley slapped on a guillotine choke on Jax, which Jax powered out of by tossing Bayley across the ring. Jax hit a running shoulder tackle and then a running leg drop for the win after eight minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Nia Jax

Analysis: * Boring match that they’ve done too many times. It was fine for the time given. That’s how most Jax matches go where she controls for most of it, the face shows some life and then Jax cuts off the comeback leading to the win. Jax doesn’t lose in singles matches very often. I’m not surprised by the outcome at all. Congrats to Jax for winning with the leg drop because Jaxamania is running wild, brother…or sister.

Post match, Fox did a promo: “Nia. This is your captain and you are my first pick for Team Raw.” Jax seemed happy with it.

Analysis: There were a lot of rumors for why Jax was off for the last few weeks. I don’t think it was a disciplinary reason or her being upset about anything. I just think WWE was okay with her being gone since she wasn’t part of a match at TLC.

Samoa Joe made his return with Fox and Jax standing there on the ramp, but he didn’t even look at them. This was Joe’s return after being out of action for two months and fans chanted “Joe, Joe, Joe” for him. Cole said it was a night of returns and that Joe is back for the first time since SummerSlam and he’s looking for a fight.

Analysis: Joe had a knee injury that required a minor surgery and he had a minor nose surgery too. Good timing for him to come back.

(Commercial)

Joe did a promo saying that judging by that reaction, some of you may have missed him. Fans cheered. Joe said he thought it was amusing because he didn’t miss any of them. Joe wondered how many of them actually cared about him being out of action and said that nobody cared about him, so he cares about none of them. Joe talked about how he will use their disrespect as fuel. Joe said that when he beats the hell out of his opponent, he will be pretending that it is each and every one of the fans.

Apollo Crews entered to lose…err…have a match and he had Titus O’Neil in a suit with him. Cole explained it by saying that Crews wanted this match to prove himself with Cole saying Crews asked for this match even though the Joe return was booked like a surprise.

Samoa Joe vs. Apollo Crews

Joe worked over Crews with forearms and chops. Shoulder tackle by Joe. Crews came back with a sweet dropkick for two. Suplex attempt by Crews didn’t work, so he kicked Joe in the gut. Joe hit a powerslam for two. Joe sent Crews in the corner with a splash followed by a jumping kick to the head. Crews nailed two enziguri kicks to the head. Joe fought out of the spinout sitout powerbomb that Crews does and Joe took him down with a uranage slam. Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch submission for the submission win after four minutes.

Winner by submission: Samoa Joe

Analysis: *1/2 Easy win to put over the returning Joe to show that he is back to full health after missing two months. Crews didn’t get much offense in although his comebacks were okay. The crowd just didn’t believe in them at all.

Post match, O’Neil went in the ring to try to confront Joe. O’Neil turned his back to Joe like a dumbass, so Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch submission on O’Neil. Some fans chanted “Joe” for his song after the match even though he insulted them before the match.

Analysis: Why are babyfaces booked to be such idiots sometimes? To put over the heels. Sometimes I answer my own questions.

The announcers talked about Raw’s 25th anniversary on January 22, 2018 by showing images of media outlets covering the story. Cole noted he’s been in WWE for 20 of those years. Groan. The show takes place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Manhattan Center (home of first Raw in 1993) will also have matches. Also advertised are Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker (Cole said “rumored” for some reason even though he was advertised) and Kevin Nash. I assume more names will be added in the next three months. Here’s our news story on it.

The Miz defends the Intercontinental Title up next.

(Commercial)

The Miz walked out with the Intercontinental Championship. He was joined by Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas in suits. Miz faces Smackdown’s United States Champion Baron Corbin at Survivor Series if they are both champions going into Survivor Series on November 19.

Matt Hardy made his entrance as the surprise opponent for The Miz with Matt doing the “delete” hand gesture. Cole noted that Hardy has been a Tag Team Champion and US Champion, but never the IC Champion. Nice ovation for Matt.

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (w/Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas) vs. Matt Hardy

Matt got two nearfalls to start the match with Miz kicking out at two both times. Matt followed up with a backslide for two followed by a fist drop that got a two count. Miz grabbed the tights of Matt and sent him to the floor. Miz got back in the ring to avoid the attack as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Hardy was still in control working over Miz in the corner. Miz tripped up Hardy on the top rope leading to Matt getting crotched up there and Miz hit a neckbreaker out of the corner for a two count. Rough landing there for Matt. Miz hit his backbreaker/neckbreaker combo that looked terrible for some reason. No height on it at all. Dallas got in a cheap shot while Miz distracted the ref. Miz with a slingshot move that sent Matt throat first into the middle ropes. Running knee by Miz while Matt was on the apron got a two count as Matt got the ropes with his hand. Miz hit a running dropkick followed by the corner clothesline. Miz jumped off the top, Matt caught him and Miz missed another corner attack. Matt did his comeback by sending Miz into the three turnbuckles several times, corner clothesline and a running bulldog got two for Hardy. Elbow off the middle ropes by Matt two times in a row for a two count. Miz avoided the Twist of Fate, so Matt hit the Side Effect for a two count. Crowd bought that as a nearfall even though he never wins with it. Hardy went up top for a moonsault and he connected with it perfectly for a two count with Miz getting his right shoulder up right before the three count. That was timed well by Miz and crowd bought that as well. Miz drove Matt back first into the turnbuckle. Miz hit his weak looking kicks to the chest and the last one didn’t work like usual as Matt hit a Twist of Fate. Miz rolled under the bottom rope. Matt was too tired to cover. Miz recovered, drove Matt’s throat into the top rope and Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the pinfall after 13 minutes of action.

Winner by pinfall: The Miz

Analysis: ***1/4 That was a very good, competitive match between two veterans that worked in some great nearfall spots into the match that the crowd bought into very well. As I noted in the review, the moves Hardy was getting the nearfall with were not moves that Matt won matches with, but the crowd bought into them perfectly. I also loved how Miz kept kicking out at the very last moment to put over just how close it was for Matt to win the match. It was a clean win for Miz too, which is fine with me because it puts him over as a credible champion. Hitting a neckbreaker using the ropes isn’t blatant cheating to me. Putting on competitive title matches on television is a good way of building up a champion, so I’m all for it.

Post match, Miz celebrated with Dallas and Axel. He better hope Dallas still isn’t sick.

A replay aired of the Kurt Angle promo that was interrupted by Stephanie McMahon earlier in the show.

Angle was shown in his office texting. Alexa Bliss, the Raw Women’s Champion, showed up to congratulate him for being the captain of Raw’s men’s team. Bliss said that she didn’t think Stephanie would fire him, but she had ideas to help him make Raw better. Bliss talked about how they should cut dead weight and could easily replace Mickie James with somebody from the Mae Young Classic. Angle likes the idea of bringing in new talent, but not at the expense of Mickie James. Angle told Bliss that last week she didn’t fight against Smackdown while Mickie did, so tonight in the main event, Bliss will put the Raw Women’s Title up against Mickie James. Bliss left angrily.

Analysis: That should be fun. Since WWE just fired Emma and Summer Rae on Sunday, I assume the “cutting dead weight” line was a wink towards that.

Later on Raw is Rollins vs. Kane. Asuka is up next.

(Commercial)

Asuka made her entrance. Graves was excited and called her one of the most dangerous people on the planet. That’s a little much since it took her ten minutes to beat Emma at TLC, but I get what they are trying to do.

Asuka vs. Stacie Cullen

Asuka hit a spinning back fist followed by kicks to the head. Asuka hit knees to the chest and a kick to the back of the head. Asuka sent Cullen into the turnbuckle. Cullen got in a shot to the face for some brief offense. Asuka yelled at her in Japanese, slapped her in the face hard and hit a spin kick. Asuka slapped on the Asuka Lock submission and Cullen tapped out after two minutes.

Winner by submission: Asuka

Analysis: 1/2* It was a squash match victory for Asuka as expected. Some of those strikes looked stiff, but that’s how Asuka does it. It’s what makes her appealing as well because her style different from the other women on the roster. This is how Asuka should have won in TLC instead of winning in ten minutes. It’s not that hard to book people strong.

Angle was back in his office texting on his phone (that’s the usual for him). Angle looked to the side, he grabbed a walkie talkie in a panic and started yelling “Alert everyone! They’re here!” When the camera panned over, we saw that it was Smackdown’s General Manager Daniel Bryan. Angle asked: “What the hell are you doing here?” Fans chanted “yes” repeatedly for it as the show went to break.

Analysis: This show loves odd commercial breaks and that’s one of them right there. Cliffhanger? I guess.

(Commercial)

A commercial aired for Total Divas starting on Wednesday on E Network.

Daniel Bryan and Kurt Angle were arguing about what happened last week. Bryan said that Shane doesn’t know that he’s doing this. Angle was stressed out noting he got his ass chewed out by Stephanie McMahon. Bryan told Angle he didn’t agree with what Shane did. Angle told Bryan to give this message to Shane: he’s going to bring his gold medals, he’s going to bring the Raw roster and he’s going to take out Smackdown.

Analysis: Another way Shane could have got that message is if he watched this show. Just saying.

The announcers talked about it with Graves praising Bryan for trying to talk with Angle with Booker saying that Bryan had no right to be there.

A video package aired about Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman accepting Jinder Mahal’s challenge for Survivor Series from last week’s Raw. It also showed Jinder Mahal’s rebuttal on Smackdown saying that he has earned everything he has in WWE.

A graphic reminded us that Lesnar faces Mahal at Survivor Series.

Analysis: No Lesnar on the show, so they just wanted to remind people he’s a part of Survivor Series.

Daniel Bryan was in the office of Angle on the phone. He said his conversation with Kurt didn’t go well with the assumption being that he was talking to wife Brie although that wasn’t said. The lights went off in the office. Bryan was left standing there in the dark aside from his cell phone light and the show went to break there.

(Commercial)

Bryan was in the office talking on the phone saying he thought he could reason with Angle, but then the lights are off and the door is locked in the room. Bryan said this whole experience was frustrating. Bryan said he wanted to call the person back because something was wrong. Kane showed up in the room, grabbed Bryan around the throat and Bryan groaned with a loud crash, so the idea is that Kane gave Bryan a Chokeslam. The announcers spoke about it with Booker saying Bryan got what he deserved.

Analysis: That’s a storyline bump by Bryan, which is his first one in about two years since he had to retire due to a concussion. Bryan didn’t really bump since the lights were off, so WWE came up with a creative way to make it look like Bryan was attacked.

Finn Balor made his entrance for his match against Cesaro.

Finn Balor vs. Cesaro (w/Sheamus)

Balor took down Cesaro with a headlock. Cesaro came back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Cesaro beat on Balor with some uppercuts in the corner. Balor came back with punches. Balor sent Cesaro to the floor and hit a running kick to the face of Cesaro. Balor sent Cesaro into the ring, he was slow to capitalize, Sheamus held Balor’s leg (ref didn’t see) and Cesaro knocked Balor off the apron. The show went to break there.

(Commercial)

Back from break, it looked like Cesaro was in control until Balor hit an overhead kick to knock him down. Balor with a running dropkick. Knee to the face by Cesaro, but Balor kicked him in the head when Cesaro was seated on the top rope. Sheamus distracted Balor, so Cesaro hit an uppercut to knock Balor down. Cesaro sent Balor’s neck across the top rope. Balor did his superplex spot while Balor was on the apron, which always looks great and that got a two count. Cesaro slapped on the Sharpshooter submission. Balor fought out of it, so Cesaro slapped on a Crossface briefly, but Balor got out of it and Balor hit a double foot stomp to the chest of Cesaro. Balor with the Slingblade followed by the dropkick that sent Cesaro into the turnbuckle. Balor went up top, Sheamus on the apron, Balor kicked him and a back body drop on Cesaro sent him to the floor. Balor with a dive over the top to take out Cesaro and Sheamus on the floor. Back in the ring, Balor jumped off the top rope with a double foot stomp to the back of the head of Cesaro for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Finn Balor

Analysis: **3/4 Pretty good match. I had high expectations considering the talent involved here, yet it was a little disappointing. The reason for that is because there just weren’t a lot of nearfalls or moments where you thought the match might end. Cesaro did slap on the Sharpshooter, but it’s not like people thought Balor was going to lose to that. The finish wasn’t Balor’s finishing move although it was very similar. Last week, Balor looked like a loser in getting beat by Kane, so it was obvious it would be a win for him.

Balor was on the ramp celebrating the win when Kane’s music started up. Balor tried to fight him off, but Kane hit him with a boot to the face. Kane hit a Tombstone Piledriver on Balor on the stage. Kane marched down to the ring for a match while Balor was being checked on by officials.

Analysis: Second week in a row with Balor looking like a loser against Kane. It would be nice if there’s a pay off to it, but I don’t think there will be. This was about building up Kane as a monster heel leading to his match against Strowman whenever that happens.

Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, the Raw Tag Team Champions, entered to The Shield’s music by walking in through the crowd.

(Commercial)

The bell rang as they returned from break.

Kane vs. Seth Rollins (w/Dean Ambrose)

The duo of Sheamus and Cesaro were watching this match from ringside. Rollins hit a dropkick on Kane early, but Kane slowed him down with a punch. Kane hit a clothesline. Uppercut punch by Kane. Two running corner attacks by Kane followed by the sidewalk slam for a two count. Kane slapped on a chinlock. Rollins hit a kick to the head followed by the Blockbuster off the ropes for a two count. Rollins hit a suicide dive that sent Kane into the barricade. Rollins went back in the ring and did another suicide dive, but Kane wasn’t hurt by it since he went back in the ring first. Rollins hit two springboard clotheslines. Sheamus and Cesaro attacked Ambrose on the floor, so Rollins hit a slingshot dive over the top to take them out. Back in the ring, Rollins went for a springboard attack and Kane hit a Chokeslam to pin him after six minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Kane

Analysis: *1/2 Basic match to put over Kane. Crowd was dead for most of it. It wasn’t a completely clean win since the Sheamus/Cesaro distraction set up the finish, but Rollins was made to look like a loser that can’t even last ten minutes with Kane. Same way Balor was booked like a loser as well. Rollins went from being a PPV main eventer that was a WWE Champion to a guy losing in six minute matches on TV.

Post match, Kane wanted to attack Rollins again, but Ambrose was there to drop Kane with Dirty Deeds. Cesaro and Sheamus went into the ring to help Kane, so Kane recovered and hit a Tombstone Piledriver. Way to no sell Dean’s finisher. Rollins tried to cover up Ambrose, which led to Kane picking him up and hitting a Tombstone Piledriver on Rollins as well. Kane left on his own.

Analysis: Kane looks dominant again. Like I said earlier, this is all about Kane and setting him up as a monster for his match against Braun Strowman. The worst part of that was Kane no selling Ambrose’s finisher. I know that Kane no selling stuff is something he’s done many times in his career. It’s 2017, Kane is nearly 50 years and is being booked like it is 1998 again. Nice progress with the booking, WWE.

In a backstage scene, Daniel Bryan was shown being taken away on a stretcher.

A replay aired of the Angle/Stephanie segment from earlier in the show. That means it aired once and has been replayed twice now.

Later: Bliss vs. James.

There was a shot of The Miz, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas in suits. Miz said let the celebration begin. They went into the dressing room and there was a garbage bag in there. Axel said it was just a bunch of garbage. Miz said “he’s here” and Bo asked who, so Miz said it’s Braun Strowman. Bo and Curtis tried to tell him not to worry, but Miz was worried.

Analysis: Nice tease to keep the viewers interested to see when Strowman might return.

There was a shot of some ringside workers putting together some Halloween related items at ringside.

(Commercial)

The Miz went up to Kane backstage and told him he loved the way he took care of Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Finn Balor. Miz mentioned putting Strowman into the garbage truck, so Kane said it was Cesaro, Sheamus, Miz and him that did it. Miz said he saw a garbage bag in his room, so asked Kane if he thought Strowman was back. Kane said if he is then he knows where to find him. Miz said they were a team, Kane laughed and told Miz he was on his own. Miz looked worried.

Analysis: Another tease about Strowman’s return.

Highlights were shown from TLC eight days earlier with Strowman getting put in the garbage truck by his teammates.

Hallows Eve Trick Or Street Fight: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno

Gallows and Anderson are dressed as Tex Ferguson and Chad 2 Badd from Southpaw Regional Wrestling. Slater was dressed as Santa Claus while Rhyno was Mrs. Claus for some reason. Rhyno even had makeup on his face.

I’m going to cut back on the detailed recap for this comedy match. Pumpkins were all around ringside, so the pumpkins ended up on the head of Gallows & Anderson and Slater gave them the noggin knocker. Gallows sent pumpkin guts into the face of Rhyno. Anderson missed a corner attack that saw him land on a skeleton in the corner. Rhyno delivered a pie to the face of Gallows. Cole sarcastically said: “This is tremendous.” Gallows and Anderson set up a table, Slater beat them up with a candy corn kendo stick and Gallows made the comeback. Gallows and Anderson put pumpkins on their head, Rhyno recovered and hit a spinebuster on Anderson through the table while Gallows couldn’t see what happened. It went five minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Heath Slater & Rhyno

Analysis: 1/4* Bad comedy with bad commentary as well. I’ll give them a quarter star for the finishing spot. Let’s just move on.

Elias was shown walking backstage.

(Commercial)

The Miz was backstage with Sheamus and Cesaro complaining about Strowman. Sheamus said that here’s no way Braun could have covered what happened at TLC in just one week. Cesaro said that somebody is probably just messing with him. Miz said it’s nice to be a part of a strong team. Sheamus and Cesaro laughed with Sheamus telling Miz he is on his own. Miz made a call (to Axel, most likely) telling him to get Bo, pack their bags and they are leaving now.

Analysis: The return of Strowman continued to build to show that Miz only had his Miztourage buddies on his side.

Elias was in the ring doing one of his songs. Elias ripped on Joe Flacco to get some local heat from the Baltimore crowd. Jordan sang about beating up Jason Jordan last week with the guitar as highlights were shown of what happened. Crowd booed loudly until Jordan’s music hit to interrupt.

Jason Jordan went down to the ring and avoided a guitar attack. Jordan hit an overhead belly to belly suplex, so Elias left the ring. Jordan was left alone with the guitar. Jordan stomped on the guitar to break it.

Analysis: Elias had the advantage with the guitar attack last week and this week it was Jordan getting revenge for it.

The Miz, Axel and Dallas were trying to leave, but GM Angle showed up to tell Miz that they had to stay until the end of the show because they arrived earlier. Angle said “or else” as a threat, so Miz and friends went back to where they came from.

Bliss vs. James still to come.

(Commercial)

Enzo Amore, the Cruiserweight Champion, made his entrance. His buddy Drew Gulak was in the ring talking about intensity, integrity and intelligence saying that some people may think he was describing himself or Enzo, but it belongs to Kurt Angle. Gulak noted that Stephanie said earlier that they should add a fourth “I” incompetence. Enzo complained about Angle handing out title shots. Gulak did the “spell it out for you” bit where he spelled it as “S-O-F-T” and the crowd booed. Enzo was frustrated about it even though he’s a heel now.

Analysis: Thank you Gulak for finally spelling it right. You are a beacon of light in a world of darkness.

Kalisto vs. Drew Gulak (w/Enzo Amore)

Kalisto hit a corkscrew attack off the ropes followed by a kick to the head. Snap hurricanrana by Kalisto. Kalisto hit the Salida del Sol for the pinfall win in less than one minute.

Winner by pinfall: Kalisto

Analysis: 1/4* Easy win for Kalisto that felt rushed. It was done to build Kalisto back up after losing the Cruiserweight Title back to Enzo.

Post match, Enzo went in the ring and hit the Jordunzo finishing move to knock Kalisto down. Enzo held up his title to celebrate.

Analysis: That means the feud is going to continue. I’m not sure if the crowd cares. I don’t.

Bliss vs. James up next.

(Commercial)

This week on 205 Live it’s a four way with Mustafa Ali, Gran Metalik, Tony Nese and Ariya Daivari.

The Miz was in the locker room with Axel and Dallas. Miz told Axel to call the driver to get the limo running because when the show is over, they are out of there.

Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss made her entrance. They don’t get the in-ring intros that championship matches usually get. The challenger Mickie James made her entrance. A replay aired from last week with Mickie hitting a sweet looking DDT on Bliss last week.

The winner of this match faces Smackdown Women’s Champion Natalya at Survivor Series.

Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James

Running kick to the head by James for a two count. James hit a sweet headscissors takedown followed by a dropkick that sent Bliss out of the ring as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

Bliss was in control as they returned from break with Bliss slapping on a chinlock for too long. James broke free with elbows and a forearm to the jaw but Bliss tripped her up with a STO slam for a two count. James made a comeback with kicks followed by a running forearm and a neckbreaker for a two count. Some fans were bored so they chanted “CM Punk” while others booed. What does he have to do with anything? Bliss sent Mickie face first into the mat. Flapjack by James looked good. James up top, so Bliss slammed her off in the Flair bump spot. Bliss went up top, took too long and Mickie kicked her so that Bliss landed on the floor. James hit a Thesz Press seated senton attack off the top for a two count. Bliss tried to run away, but James brought her back in and hit a kick to the face. Mickie got three pinfall attempts for two count. When Mickie got back to her feet, Bliss hit a punch to the face (or a forearm/elbow) and pinned her. Really? Yes. Really. The match went 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Alexa Bliss

Analysis: *3/4 The effort was there, but they seemed off a few times and I thought their TLC match was better. I hated that finish. Alexa Bliss can’t even throw a good look worked punch, yet now we are to believe she has the Power of the Punch to win matches? Bad way to end the match. It’s hard to buy into Bliss as a credible ring performer when she has average matches all the time. I thought there might be a title change because it was put in the main event spot, but clearly WWE loves Bliss as champion and that’s going to continue. It’s okay to see Bliss having a decent title reign since that title has featured so many title changes. The concerning thing is that faces like Bayley, Banks and now James have all lost clean to Bliss enough times that they look like losers too much.

The Miz and buddies were shown trying to leave. Bliss was shown celebrating in the ring.

The Miz, Axel and Dallas were in the parking lot as their limo driver put their stuff in the back of the trunk. They got in the limo as we got Limo Cam to show them sitting in the car. They were blocked by a garbage truck that backed its way in front of the limo. When the garbage truck opened, Braun Strowman emerged through a pile of trash. The fans went wild as Strowman did his yell. Miz, Axel and Dallas ran out of the limo and Strowman chased after them. Bliss was still celebrating in the ring.

Analysis: That means that Strowman was put into a garbage truck at TLC in Minneapolis that was a different color than the garbage truck that he emerged from here in Baltimore eight days later. Does logic apply in WWE? No. Let’s just play dumb and try to enjoy the upcoming attack, I guess.

The men were back in the arena with Dallas shown getting thrown to the ground. I assume Bliss left at that point, but it wasn’t shown. Strowman stared down Miz and Strowman sent him into the video wall. Strowman cleared off the announce table and teased putting Miz through the table, but Axel and Dallas attacked Strowman from behind again. Strowman knocked them down easily. Strowman tossed Miz into the ring. Running corner splash from Strowman on Miz, boot to the face of Dallas, clothesline on Axel and Axel saved Miz from a slam. Strowman picked up Axel and hit a Running Powerslam. Loud yell by Strowman led to cheers. Strowman hit another Running Powerslam on Axel. The fans wanted one more, so Strowman hit Axel with a third Running Powerslam in the ring. That was a fourth Running Powerslam by Strowman on Axel. Miz and Dallas ran to the back. Fans chanted “table” leading to Strowman carrying Axel over to the announce table by the stage.

Strowman had Axel on his shoulders by the ramp. Strowman ran over to the announce table and drove Axel through it with a Running Powerslam. Strowman celebrated what he did as the crowd cheered. Strowman walked away as the show ended.

Analysis: That was a fun destruction by Strowman and the best part of this show if you can ignore the absurdity of a guy emerging from a garbage truck in a different city. It was exactly what it needed to be with Strowman showing his dominance. Now that Strowman is clearly in the face role, using him as a monster face to get revenge against a cheap heel like The Miz is what the crowd wants to see. If that was Roman Reigns in that spot the fans wouldn’t have gotten behind him the way they did with Strowman. I also liked how this was done with Strowman destroying Axel. Next week it will probably be Dallas and then in the future it should be Miz. After that it can be Kane, Sheamus and Cesaro too. A slow destruction of the guys that took out Strowman at TLC is the right way to book this.

The Raw men’s Survivor Series team wasn’t announced other than Kurt Angle, but numerous online reports say the team is Angle, Strowman, Roman Reigns, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe. That makes sense. The Smackdown team is expected to be Shane McMahon, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton and Bobby Roode. That means everybody in the match is a face except Joe. It should all be official next week.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Braun Strowman
  2. The Miz
  3. Matt Hardy

 

The Scoreboard

4.5 out of 10

Last week: 5.5

2017 Average: 5.81

Average since brand split starting July 25/16: 5.84 (Smackdown is 6.61)

Last 5 Weeks: 5.5, 6.5, 5.5, 4.5, 5

2017 High: 8 (April 3)

2017 Low: 4 (Jan. 9, Feb. 27 & June 12)

 

Final Thoughts

I give it a 4.5 out of 10.

I thought it was a poor show that had two pretty good matches on it (Miz/Hardy and Balor/Cesaro) while the ending with Strowman’s return was built up very well all night long with a fun payoff when the show was over. Some of the other stuff throughout the night was boring and really didn’t excite me at all.

In terms of promos, I liked Stephanie McMahon showing up to yell at Angle and put some pressure on him to do a better job. Her character annoys me as a regular, but in that situation it worked.

The angle with Daniel Bryan getting attacked by Kane in a darkened room is silly. It’s one of those things where we have to play dumb (again) while wondering why the room is dark when a guy is in there holding a camera that has a light on it. Wrestlers only act like a camera is on them when they are in the interview area and the rest of the time they are supposed to pretend it’s not there. The “WWE Universe” is weird.

I don’t know who decided to do a ridiculous amount of backstage segments this week along with the darkened room, the limo cam and the parking lot scene. It just felt like way more out of the ring content than what this show needs.

The next WWE PPV is Survivor Series on Sunday, November 19. Here’s what we know.

Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. WWE Champion Jinder Mahal

Raw’s 5 men (Kurt Angle is the captain of the team) vs. Smackdown’s 5 men (Randy Orton is only official name announced)

Intercontinental Champion The Miz vs. United States Champion Baron Corbin

Raw Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose vs. Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Usos

Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss vs. Smackdown Women’s Champion Natalya

Raw’s 5 women (Alicia Fox is the captain with Nia Jax) vs. Smackdown’s 5 women (Becky Lynch is the captain with Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Tamina and Carmella)

It’s a four hour show with just those six matches announced thus far.

That’s all for this week. See ya next time for the Smackdown review.

Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs.

You can contact me using any of the methods below. Thanks for reading.

John Canton

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport

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