Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The SmackDown Files: The Let Go My Uggo Edition (10-31-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to the Halloween Edition of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia. Daniel Bryan found himself in the middle of Brand Wars 2017 as he tried to broker a peace deal with Kurt Angle last night on Raw. Angle didn’t bite as he gave Kane the ok to chokeslam Bryan straight to hell in the proverbial sense. How did Shane-O-Mac respond to Angle’s counterattack as the march towards Survivor Series continues? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.

·        Shane McMahon delivered an impassioned rah-rah speech about how SD Live was always viewed as the lesser brand in the WWE hierarchy. Despite going live and appointing Daniel Bryan as General Manager, the blue brand was still viewed as an inferior product. In order to change that perception, McMahon held a team meeting and formulated the perfect plan to invade Raw last week.

·        Kurt Angle retaliated by luring Daniel Bryan in a trap which resulted in Kane chokeslamming Bryan in Angle’s office while the lights were turned off. Shane vowed to make Raw pay by naming himself the team captain for the Men’s Traditional Interbrand 5-on-5 Survivor Series Elimination Match as the opening segment came to an end.

·        This was a fine way to start the show. Shane McMahon had the crowd in the palm of his hand during his promo. When the “Under Siege” hashtag gains traction amongst fans, WWE must be doing something right when it comes to the promotion of this year’s Survivor Series. I can’t knock the hustle when the company’s marketing strategy is clicking with the masses.

·        Bobby Roode defeated Dolph Ziggler with the Glorious DDT to secure a spot on Team SD Live at Survivor Series. The 2 out of 3 falls match between Roode and Ziggler was good. This was Roode’s best showing since his debut a couple of months ago. Ziggler stepped up his in-ring game which was nice to see as well. His gimmick still sucks, but I digress…

·        Sin Cara and Baron Corbin’s latest match ended via No Contest after Sin Cara tackled Corbin over the announce table and continued to kick his ass after the referee tried to restore order. Corbin disrespected Sin Cara when he attempted to rip his mask off several times during the match. One can only assume that both men will face off for the United States Championship next week as the show emanates from Manchester, England.

·        Speaking of Manchester, the city will also host a SmackDown Tag Team Championship match featuring The Usos vs. Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable. Gable’s rap had me cracking up once again. He is such a gem inside and outside the ring.

·        AJ Styles defeated Samir Singh with the Styles Clash, but the Phenomenal One didn’t get a chance to celebrate because Jinder Mahal attacked him from behind. Mahal and Sunil Singh put the boots to Styles as the fans showered them with boos.

·        Mahal slammed Styles back first against the ring post and added insult to injury by stretching Styles’ body like a Gumby humanoid.

·        Mahal finished him off with the Cobra Clutch Slam and delivered a second one for good measure as the segment came to an end.

·        Jinder Mahal’s promo on Brock Lesnar was pretty blah, but his attack on AJ Styles was very good. Mahal will get his comeuppance, but the WWE Champion should be perceived as a legit threat heading into his match against Lesnar at Survivor Series. I don’t believe Mahal has a snowball’s chance in hell of beating The Beast, but I give WWE credit for giving it the old college try nonetheless.

·        Rusev defeated Big E with a Superkick in a solid match. Aiden English provided the distraction down the stretch as he climbed on top of the announce table to serenade the crowd. Xavier Woods countered by playing a ditty on his trombone only for English to attack him from behind. Kofi Kingston made the save by chasing the balladeer in the ring.

·        Big E dropped English with the Big Ending, but the diversion allowed Rusev to pick up the tainted win moments later. The action was hard-hitting throughout, but it was hard to take the match seriously due to E’s Halloween costume and the antics taking place at ringside.

·        Shane McMahon booked Rusev vs. AJ Styles for next week with the winner earning the right to join Team SD Live at Survivor Series. Sounds good to me.

·        Stranger(er) Things was a total camp fest. Tye Dillinger saying that he was Ten instead of Eleven was clever, but rest of the spoof was pretty lame until Breezango and The Ascension got jumped in the dark. Was it The Bludgeon Brothers or another evil force lurking in the shadows? Hmm…

·        Shinsuke Nakamura is the fourth man to join Team SD Live at Survivor Series as he defeated Kevin Owens with the Kinshasa in a very good main event match. Owens and Nakamura woke up the Norfolk crowd and ended the night on a high note as they had maximized their minutes to the fullest.

·        The highlight of the match was Owens delivering a beautiful Swinging Fisherman Superplex to Nakamura from the top rope. It was a great spot that popped the crowd something fierce. Sami Zayn caused a little mischief down the stretch when KO ordered him to tear apart the announce table so they could finish off Nakamura.

·        Randy Orton threw a monkey wrench in their game plan when he dropped Zayn with a sick Belly-to-Back Suplex on the announce table which distracted Owens long enough for Nakamura to hit his finisher for the win.

·        SD Live went off the air with Nakamura celebrating in the ring while Owens cried out for his best friend who was taking a nap on the announce table.

·        This was a hot way to end the show. Nakamura and Owens delivered the goods in the ring while Orton ruined any chance at Owens being added to Team SD Live by screwing him over in epic fashion. I have a strange feeling that KO and Zayn are going to make Orton pay at Survivor Series which will leave Shane McMahon a sitting duck for Team Angle to maim and destroy at their own discretion. Shane rejecting their olive branch will come back to bite him in the ass in the worse possible way. You can take that prediction to the bank. Just make sure the check clears first. Just saying…

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was solid. The show was bookended by two strong matches as Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode blew off their feud with the Glorious One picking up the win to earn the third spot on Team SD Live while Shinsuke Nakamura secured slot #4 by defeating Kevin Owens thanks to an assist from Randy Orton. AJ Styles and Rusev will face off next week to determine who will round out the lineup at Survivor Series. The Men’s Traditional Interbrand 5-on-5 Elimination Match is shaping up to be a great one despite Brand Wars 2017 not being my cup of tea. If the in-ring action is top notch, I have no room to complain. For now…

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls! 

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Raw Exposé - The Braun Strowman Powerslams Curtis Axel To The Upside Down Edition (10-30-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. After SmackDown Live invaded Raw last week, how did Kurt Angle respond to Shane McMahon’s ambush attack? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode in no particular order.

·        Stephanie McMahon made a surprise appearance and blasted Kurt Angle for allowing Raw to get ambushed by Shane McMahon and the SD Live roster last week. Stephanie claimed that the flagship show was reduced to a mockery of its former self and blamed Kurt for allowing Shane to exploit their friendship to his advantage.

·        Stephanie praised Kurt for holding down the fort while dealing with several crises at once ranging from Braun Strowman getting compacted in a garbage truck to the entire Raw roster battling a viral infection in recent weeks.

·        Backhanded compliment aside, Stephanie put Kurt notice that she wanted results at Survivor Series and named him the team captain who will lead Raw to victory. If he doesn’t, she would have to find a new General Manager as the opening segment came to an end.

·        This was a strong way to start the show. Stephanie McMahon actually saved the segment as she shut down the annoying “What?” that was directed at Kurt Angle early on. Stephanie was willing to give Angle a chance to redeem himself instead of firing him on the spot. Angle lacing up his wrestling boots for the second time in less than a month should be an absolute treat. Seeing him in the ring opposite the likes of AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Bobby Roode will make any fan salivate with excitement. Despite the corniness of Brand Wars 2017, the Men’s Traditional Interbrand 5-on-5 Survivor Series Elimination match should be awesome.

·        Alicia Fox decided that it was in her best interest not to face Bayley due to her team captain responsibilities at Survivor Series and named Nia Jax as her replacement.

·        Jax defeated Bayley with a Running Leg Drop in a decent match. Bayley put up a good fight, but the outcome was never in doubt. Based on her dominating performance, Fox added Jax to Team Raw which should give the red brand the power and size advantage heading into Survivor Series.

·        Welcome back, Samoa Joe! The fans might’ve missed Joe, but he didn’t miss them. At least he’s being honest…

·        Samoa Joe defeated Apollo Crews with the Coquina Clutch in a solid match. Crews had a nice showing, but he was chopped liver from the get-go.

·        Titus O’Neil stood up to Joe, but it was too no avail as the Black Sheep of the Samoan Dynasty put him to sleep with the Coquina Clutch as well. One can only assume that Joe will be added to the Team Raw at Survivor Series based on his badassery alone.

·        The Miz retained the Intercontinental Championship when pinned Matt Hardy with the Skull Crushing Finale in a good match. The Miz dominated the action early on, but Hardy made a nice comeback towards the end. Hardy scored a close near fall when he hit Miz with a Moonsault from the top rope. He followed things up with the Twist of Fate, but Miz had the wherewithal to roll out of the ring before Hardy could make the cover.

·        Hardy tried to pull Miz back in the ring, but Miz slammed Matt’s head into the ring ropes which disoriented The Woken One long enough for Miz to hit his finisher moments later. The match was a bit uneven in spots, but the crowd came alive when Matt was on the brink of winning the Intercontinental Title for the first time in his career.

·        In any event, Miz has beaten both Hardy Boyz over the past couple of months which is an impressive feat, to say the least.

·        Kurt Angle booked Alexa Bliss in a match against Mickie James for the Raw Women’s Championship which will take place during the main event. Based on the positioning, one can assume that a title change is possible. 

·        Asuka destroyed a local wrestler named Stacie Cullen when she made Cullen tap out the Asuka Lock in about 90 seconds. This is the type of match Asuka should’ve had against Emma last week, but WWE decided to go the Even Steven route instead. The company paid the price as the Empress of Tomorrow was greeted with a lukewarm reaction during her entrance and her absolute domination of Ms. Cullen. It’s too early to say that they’ve screwed up Asuka’s transition to the main roster, but she’s on shaky ground at the moment.

·        Daniel Bryan tried to reason with Kurt Angle, but Angle didn’t believe a word out of coming out of Bryan’s mouth. He wanted Bryan to tell Shane McMahon that he was going to bring his Olympic Gold Medal and the Raw roster to SD Live to raise all kinds of hell. It’s doubtful that the ambush takes place tomorrow night since the red brand is heading to Europe for the overseas tour which kicks off on Wednesday. The next available date for Raw to strike is the final episode of SD Live before Survivor Series in a couple of weeks. We shall see how it all plays out soon enough.

·        Team Hell No reunited in the worst possible way when Kane delivered a chokeslam to Daniel Bryan. WWE was smart to turn the lights off in Kurt Angle’s office to ensure that fans couldn’t see Bryan take a bump due to his retirement from in-ring competition. The cell phone lighting reminded me of The Blair Witch Project, but that’s beside the point…

·        Finn Bálor defeated Cesaro with a double stomp to the back of Cesaro’s neck in a good match. The action was technically sound, but the crowd was lukewarm early on. They came alive towards the end when Bálor got back on offense when he laid out Cesaro and Sheamus with a Flip Dive onto the outside which set up the finish moments later. The highlight of the match was Cesaro delivering a beautiful Superplex to Bálor from outside the ring while changing direction midflight. It was a sweet spot that should’ve popped the crowd, but they sat on their hands instead. Baltimore is giving me Green Bay vibes in the worst possible way.

·        Bálor was heading backstage when Kane appeared on the main stage to confront him. Bálor charged after the Big Red Machine, but he got his ass kicked when Kane dropped him with the Tombstone Piledriver on the main stage. Why is it WWE’s mission to make Bálor look like a punk over the past couple of weeks? It’s destroying his credibility as a top-tier star which is beyond asinine.

·        Kane notched another win under his belt when he defeated Seth Rollins with a Chokeslam in a decent match. Rollins had the match won, but Cesaro and Sheamus attacked Dean Ambrose at ringside which distracted Rollins long enough for Kane to pick up the win moments later.

·        Kane tried to chokeslam Rollins again, but Ambrose made the save by dropping Kane with Dirty Deeds. However, the Big Red Machine sat up which allowed Cesaro and Sheamus to attack Ambrose from behind. Kane dropped Ambrose and Rollins with a pair of Tombstone Piledrivers as the segment came to an end.

·        Kane destroying Finn Bálor and The Shield in one fell swoop is nauseating to watch. I understand that he’s getting built up for Braun Strowman, but sacrificing the biggest babyfaces on Raw is not the way to go. The Baltimore crowd’s apathy towards tonight’s show is becoming more understandable at this point.

·        The second annual Trick or Street Fight took place as Heath Slater and Rhyno defeated Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows when Rhyno put Anderson through a table for the win. Anderson and Gallows competed in the same gimmick match last year when they faced off against Enzo Amore and Big Cass in a losing effort. At least the creative team is consistent when it comes to the Good Brothers eating the obligatory pin during Halloween season.

·        Jason Jordan destroyed Elias’ guitar. It’s a sad day for stringed instruments everywhere.

·        Miz trying to avoid a trip to the Upside Down courtesy of Braun Strowman is a super cute reference to Stranger Things. Strowman > Demogorgon. That is all.

·        I love Drew Gulak and his propensity to speak the English language while Enzo Amore stares at him like a crazy person.

·        Kalisto defeated Drew Gulak with the Salina Del Sol in a quick match. However, he didn’t get a chance to celebrate because Enzo attacked him from behind before hitting his variation of Eat Defeat.

·        Alexa Bliss retained the Raw Women’s Championship when she nailed Mickie James with a wicked right hand for the win. The match was solid, but a small portion of the audience decided to go into business for themselves by starting up a “CM Punk” chant. Fortunately, the rest of the crowd booed them down which was nice to see.

·        Mickie James losing so decisively was a little surprising considering how she’s been booked as a legit threat in recent weeks. With her officially pushed out of the title picture, Bliss will face SmackDown Women’s Champion Natalya at Survivor Series. The match should be fine, but it would’ve been nice to see Natalya vs. Mickie James because they’re more compatible due to their in-ring experience and technical prowess.

·        The Miz, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas was about to make a clean getaway when a red garbage truck stopped them in their tracks. The compactor unfurled as Braun Strowman stared down the men (Minus Dallas) that screwed him over at TLC last Sunday.

·        The Miz and his Miztourage got out of the limo and ran for the hills as Strowman climbed on top of the limo and sprinted down the roof with the greatest of ease.

·        He tossed Dallas on the main stage as Miz and Axel tried to fend off Strowman. It was to no avail as Strowman slammed Miz into the LED screen before taking apart the announce table. Axel and Dallas bailed Miz out of trouble, but Strowman chucked both men down the ramp as he set his sights on Miz. Miz avoided certain doom thanks to an assist from Axel, but the Ax Man paid a heavy price for his gallantry.

·        Strowman dropped Axel with six Running Powerslams as the fans begged for more. Strowman hoisted Axel over his shoulder and carried him up the ramp before powerslamming him through the announce table as Miz looked on in horror as Raw went off the air with Strowman standing tall.

·        Outside of The Shield’s ring entrance, Braun Strowman received the biggest pop of the night. Strowman got the full-on babyface treatment as he gave the people what they wanted by destroying everything in his path.

·        My only criticism regarding the final segment is that I wished Strowman saved Finn Bálor, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins from Kane earlier in the show. The destruction would’ve been just as impactful if he smashed Kane, Cesaro, and Sheamus to bits. Perhaps he’s saving his revenge for next week as Raw emanates from Manchester, England. Minor quibble aside, this was a great way to end the show.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw was middling at best. This was a heel-heavy show in terms of the bad guys coming out on top in every match. Seeing Bayley, Matt Hardy, Finn Bálor, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Kalisto, and Mickie James get their asses handed to them was sad to watch. Even when Bálor and Kalisto got their hands raised in victory, it didn’t last long because the heels had to get their heat back. It was a hard pill to swallow until Braun Strowman saved the day. Strowman destroying Curtis Axel ended the night on a high note. Here’s hoping the Monster Among Men brings his unique brand of chaos over the pond next week.

·        In Survivor Series news, Shane McMahon will have something to say about Daniel Bryan getting choke-slammed by Kane at the request of Kurt Angle tomorrow night on SmackDown Live. How will Shane-O-Mac respond to Angle’s not so subtle message heading into the November Classic? We shall find out soon enough.

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The SmackDown Files: The Randy Orton Attended The Cesaro School of European Uppercuts Edition (10-24-2017)

By: Keila Cash 

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After SD Live invaded Raw last night, did Kurt Angle lead his troops into battle while driving a milk truck a la WWF vs. The Alliance in 2001? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order. 

·        Shane McMahon kicked off SD Live and explained why he and his crew ambushed most of the Raw roster last night. McMahon noted that Kurt Angle dug his own grave by asking for a high profile star to replace Bray Wyatt at TLC. AJ Styles was the man for the job and extended his services an extra night by teaming up with The Shield to take on Miz, Sheamus, and Cesaro in a six-man tag team match.

·        Angle showed his arrogance by claiming that the SD Live wrestlers couldn’t hold a candle to their red counterpart. This emboldened the blue brand to take action which led to the biggest invasion angle since The Nexus’ debut seven years ago.

·        Before Shane could continue, Sami Zayn danced his way to the ring in the most sarcastic way possible. Zayn wanted to let bygones be bygones by brushing off his actions at Hell in Cell a couple of weeks ago. Shane-O-Mac wasn’t having it, but Zayn had a better idea when it came to healing their fractured business relationship.

·        Zayn and Kevin Owens agreed to put aside their animosity towards Shane in order to represent Team SD Live at Survivor Series. Zayn stated that Shane wasn’t stupid enough to reject their offer.

·        Shane did just that, but he gave Zayn a chance to earn a spot on the team if he defeated Randy Orton later tonight. Zayn’s shit-eating grin disappeared as the opening segment came to end.

·        This was a good way to start the show. Shane McMahon offered a reasonable explanation for the SD Live Invasion and wanted to prove that his brand was the best by firing the first shot in shocking fashion. I am not a fan of the heels and babyfaces joining forces in order to prove that they bleed red or blue, but WWE continues to push this narrative despite the concept falling flat on numerous occasions. See Bragging Rights 2009-2010.

·        On the flip side, Sami Zayn continues to be an entertaining heel who is snarky and overly giddy for all the right reasons. He is embracing this role wholeheartedly which gives him something meaningful to do for a change. It’s about damn time!

·        Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin defeated The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) when Gable pinned Woods after Benjamin kicked his shoulder blade behind the referee’s back. The match was good, but it was short on time. The Usos were entertaining on guest commentary as they scouted Gable and Benjamin since they are next in line for a SmackDown Tag Team Championship shot. The Usos are clearly being positioned as babyfaces because Gable and Benjamin used underhanded tactics in order to pick up the win. It’s an interesting dynamic, but I expect both teams to deliver the goods in the ring because they are capable of tearing the house down on any given night.

·        For the first time ever, I hated this week’s installment of The Fashion Files. Fashion Dogs resorted to the one thing I hate most when it comes to WWE Comedy: Poopy Jokes. James Ellsworth’s shit-stained boxers was a visual I didn’t need to see. Even The Ascension couldn’t save this dreck of a segment. Here’s hoping the world premiere of Stranger(er) Things is better thought out in terms of humor and execution because Breezango has hit a wall from a creative standpoint.

·        There appears to be tension between Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. Bryan wasn’t a fan of SD Live invading Raw while McMahon explained that his commissioner powers gave him the authority to make such unilateral decisions. Is their business relationship on the rocks or will the hug it out after Brand Wars 2017? We shall see.

·        Sin Cara defeated Baron Corbin via Disqualification when Corbin got DQ’d for pummeling Sin Cara after the five-count. Corbin finished off the Faceless One by dropping him with End of Days onto the floor. It was a cool spot that popped the crowd, but the haphazard booking of Corbin continues to do more harm than good after he beat AJ Styles clean as a sheet a couple of weeks ago. He shouldn’t be struggling to beat someone who hasn’t been on television in six months.

·        Jinder Mahal offered a dry rebuttal to Paul Heyman’s blistering comments about him being a paper champion. It was a dull promo that didn’t foster much believability when it comes to Mahal defeating Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series.

·        Meanwhile, AJ Styles earned the second easiest paycheck of his career when made Sunil Singh tap out the Calf Crusher in about 45 seconds.

·        Styles’ easiest paycheck was when he defeated James Ellsworth to retain the WWE Championship in about 10 seconds late last year.

·        Mahal wanted revenge on Styles and decided to book Samir Singh in a match against the Phenomenal One next week. Mahal is such a brave and honorable WWE Champion. *Insert Sarcasm Here*

·        Becky Lynch made Carmella tap out to the Dis-Arm-Her as she won the right to captain the Women’s Team at Survivor Series. The Fatal 5-Way match featuring Lynch, Carmella, Tamina, Naomi, and Charlotte was fine, but it was nothing special in terms of wow moments.

·        The feud between Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode will come to a head next week when they face off in a 2 Out of 3 Falls Match. Here’s hoping both men deliver the goods because their previous encounters have been so-so at best.

·        Randy Orton became the first member of Team SmackDown when he defeated Sami Zayn with an RKO in a very good main event match. The bout was surprisingly physical and hard-hitting throughout as Zayn took sick bumps in order to put over Orton’s offense. He was selling his ass off which made the match better from a storytelling standpoint.

·        Orton channeled his inner Cesaro by nailing Zayn with a series of stiff uppercuts which added extra grit to the proceedings. Orton dropping Zayn with a Belly-to-Back Suplex on the announce table only for Zayn to counter with a Tornado DDT through the ring post was an early highlight along with Orton hitting Zayn with a crazy Superplex from the top rope.

·        Zayn recovered and went for the Helluva Kick, but Orton moved out of the way which caused Zayn’s foot to get tangled up between the ring ropes. Orton nailed him with the Draping DDT and was about to finish Zayn off with an RKO when Kevin Owens ran down to make the save for his best friend.

·        Owens climbed on the ring apron to distract Orton which allowed Zayn to roll him up for a near fall. KO tried to distract the referee once again, but Orton was hip to his game and delivered a low blow to Zayn before hitting his finisher for the win. The closing sequence was a nice callback from last week as Zayn beat Orton by doing the exact same thing. This was easily the best thing on the show and it’s not even close. The crowd could’ve been hotter, but that’s been the recurring theme when it comes to WWE television in the state of Wisconsin this week.

·        The camera cut backstage to Daniel Bryan telling Shane McMahon that he should breathe a sigh of relief Raw didn’t retaliate tonight. However, their day of reckoning was coming and wanted to make sure that Shane understood that the fallout would fall under his job description as SD Live Commissioner as the show went off the air.

·        WWE was smart to delay Raw ambushing SD Live. It would’ve been too soon for the red brand to strike back. After the ass-kicking they took, the wrestlers need a week to recuperate and formulate a game plan. Here’s hoping the crowd is more receptive in terms of heat because Green Bay had zero fucks to give last night.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was middling at best. The in-ring action was nondescript until Randy Orton and Sami Zayn salvaged things during the main event. Outside of that, it was a boring show to watch for the most part.

·        However, WWE has loaded up next week’s show in Norfolk, Virginia by booking two more Team SmackDown Qualifying Matches on the men’s side as Kevin Owens squares off against Shinsuke Nakamura while Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler blow off their feud in a 2 out of 3 falls match. If both bouts are laid out and timed properly, this could be a strong show from a wrestling standpoint.

·        Most importantly, the company didn’t make a big deal about the broadcast airing on Halloween night. Can the company resist the urge to decorate the ring and main stage with fake spiders, cobwebs, and pumpkins? Will there apple bobbing contest for kicks and giggles? Let’s hope the creative team doesn’t fall into the trap of making next week’s show a macabre freak show for all the wrong reasons. Fingers crossed!

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Raw Exposé: How To End A Brand War Before It Starts - A Survivor Series Story (10-23-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin. A lot has changed since last week’s blog. The entire complexion of TLC changed when Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt were pulled from the PPV due to a viral infection. WWE delivered a major make-good by replacing Wyatt with Styles for the first-ever match against Finn Bálor while Kurt Angle filled in for Roman Reigns as he joined Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in a 5-on-3 battle against The Miz, Sheamus, Cesaro, Braun Strowman, and Kane. It turned a run-of-the-mill show into a must-see event that exceeded expectations.

The focus now switches to Survivor Series as the battle for brand supremacy heats up as Raw and SmackDown Live go to war for the second year in a row. Will the latest incarnation of Bragging Rights live up to the hype or die on the vine instead? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.

·        Kurt Angle kicked off the show by announcing several Raw vs. SmackDown matches at Survivor Series next month which will feature four Champion vs. Champion bouts along with two Traditional Five-on-Five Elimination Matches showcasing the best male and female talent from both shows. The lineup is as follows:

·        Alexa Bliss vs. Natalya (Raw Women’s Champion vs. SmackDown Women’s Champion), The Miz vs. Baron Corbin (Intercontinental Champion vs. United States Champion), Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. The Usos (Raw Tag Team Champions vs SmackDown Tag Team Champions), and Brock Lesnar vs. Jinder Mahal (Universal Champion vs. WWE Champion).

·        Before Angle could continue, The Miz came out to blast Angle for hogging the spotlight at TLC and wanted him to resign as Raw General Manager. Angle scoffed at the notion which caused Miz, Sheamus, Cesaro, and Curtis Axel to circle the ring like a bunch of sharks.

·        Ambrose and Rollins made their way to through the crowd to provide Angle with some backup. Miz chided The Shield for selling out to upper management and warned them that he still had the numbers advantage.

·        Angle evened the odds by booking a Six-Man Tag Team Match featuring The Miz, Sheamus, and Cesaro vs. The Shield and AJ STYLES which took place after the commercial break.

·        This was a hot way to start the show. The lineup for Survivor Series is pretty meh so far due to the underwhelming heel vs. heel matchups with exception of the tag team match featuring Ambrose and Rollins vs. The Usos. They should have the best match on the show unless one of the Traditional Five-on-Five Elimination bouts edges them out.

·        Lesnar vs. Mahal should be the usual five-minute showcase for Lesnar unless The Singh Brothers get involved to delay the inevitable when it comes to Mahal eating the pin. Outside of that, the PPV card feels pretty blasé on paper at the moment. Here’s hoping WWE can sprinkle some magic dust on the proceedings because Brand Wars 2017 feels like a retread from last year for all the wrong reasons.

·        Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and AJ Styles defeated The Miz, Sheamus, and Cesaro when Styles nailed Cesaro with the Phenomenal Forearm for the win. The action was fast-paced and hard-hitting throughout as fans clamored for Styles to get the hot tag. Rollins gave them what they wanted as Styles cleaned house. The match broke down into a parade of finishers which set up the ending beautifully.

·        The babyfaces didn’t get a chance to celebrate as Kane made his way to down to the ring. They charged after the Big Red Machine, but he laid them out with the greatest of ease as Miz, Sheamus, and Cesaro joined in on the quadruple beat down. Realizing that Kane had his own agenda, Miz and his crew left him alone in the ring as the segment came to an end.

·        After another break, Kane explained why he attacked and seemingly destroyed Braun Strowman by tossing him in the back of a garbage truck at TLC last night. He was upset that people were calling Strowman a monster and wanted to see how mean and ugly he really was. Kane was unimpressed and called him a piece of trash that got what he deserved. There was only room for one monster in WWE and he challenged anyone backstage to prove him wrong. Finn Bálor stepped up the plate and accepted the challenge which took place after the break.

·        Kane defeated Finn Bàlor after dropping him with three Chokeslams in a fairly lopsided match. The booking made sense in terms of making Kane look strong, but it hurt Bàlor because he got punked out in decisive fashion. After having a show-stealing match against AJ Styles at TLC last night, Bàlor should’ve had a stronger showing to build momentum for Survivor Series next month. The whole thing was mindboggling to watch. Here’s hoping Kurt Angle still adds him to the men’s Survivor Series team because he should be the captain despite the questionable booking.

·        Shane McMahon made a surprise appearance as he and Kurt Angle had a friendly verbal joust leading up Brand Wars 2017. It was a cute segment and I can’t help but notice Shane’s hard nipples through his tight sweater. Just saying…

·        Asuka made Emma tap out the Asuka Lock in an underwhelming match. I partially blame WWE for showing the Green Bay Packers at ringside which led to a “Go Pack Go!” chant. Due to the fans cheering on their hometown team, it completely killed Asuka’s babyface pop. Throw in Emma inexplicably dominating the action and we have the recipe for a cold debut for the Empress of Tomorrow. At least their match last night was more evenly matched instead of Asuka selling 80% of the time. Here’s hoping this is a blip on the radar because too many NXT call-ups have been botched over the past couple of years. Asuka is too good to be squandered, but history has shown that WWE is capable of fucking up a good thing. Prime Example: Bayley’s Babyface Run.

·        Alexa Bliss felt disrespected and underappreciated and demanded that the fans shower her with a “You Deserve It!” chant The crowd didn’t play along as she went into meltdown mode as she claimed the fans didn’t like her because she wasn’t old with a three-year-old like Mickie James.

·        James came out and nailed Bliss with a wicked DDT while wearing high heel boots. She is the exception to the Trish Stratus Rule when it comes to doing wrestling moves while wearing fancy footwear. James grabbed the mic and told Bliss that she deserved it which was a clever way to end the segment.

·        Jason Jordan defeated Elias via Disqualification when Elias smashed Jordan’s shoulder with his guitar in a sick spot. Booker T condoned The Drifter’s actions which caused Corey Graves to go off on Booker for being an idiot. The whole thing was a hot mess, but Jordan earned style points for being more aggressive in the ring which was refreshing to see.

·        Paul Heyman has zero respect for Jinder Mahal and he read the WWE Champion for filth as he called him a pretender who didn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Triple H, and John Cena.

·        Lesnar wasn’t interested in representing Raw because any show he’s a part of is automatically the best. Therefore, Heyman warned Mahal that a trip to Suplex City was in his future as Lesnar reasserted his dominance as the undisputed Beast, Conqueror, and Universal Champion of the World.

·        As an added bonus, Heyman stated that Mahal would be victimized like Randy Orton at SummerSlam last year when Lesnar broke every moral code in WWE by busting Orton’s forehead open by elbowing him repeatedly. It was a violent spot that caused an uproar in both locker rooms. Heyman informed the modern-day Maharaja that he would suffer a similar fate as the segment came to an end.

·        Heyman was passionate and borderline apoplectic as he ran down Mahal for being a paper champion who didn’t deserve to breathe the same rarefied air as Lesnar. Mahal’s response should be very interesting, but I doubt it will hold much water if Heyman continues to demolish him on the mic.

·        The Triple Threat Match featuring Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Alicia Fox ended in a shocker when Fox pinned Bayley as she became the team captain of the Women’s Traditional Five-on-Five Elimination Match at Survivor Series. Banks defeated Fox three times in a row over the past couple of weeks, but the Crazy Fox Lady gets the golden goose egg instead. Fox’s crazy gimmick is fine in small doses, but her overacting gets on my nerves. To say that I am rooting for ladies on Team SmackDown Live would be an understatement. Go Blue!

·        Gran Metalik, Mustafa Ali, Cedric Alexander, and Kalisto defeated Drew Gulak, Tony Nese, Ariya Daivari, Noam Dar, and Enzo Amore when Kalisto dropped Enzo with the Salina Del Sol for the win. The match was decent, the Cruiserweights being slotted in the 10:30 p.m. Lull Period of Death did them no favors in terms of crowd heat. It’s back to business as usual when it comes to the bastardization of the beleaguered purple brand. It’s sad but true.

·        Raw ended on a shocking note when Shane McMahon led a SmackDown Live invasion which saw the blue brand decimate the Raw roster as Kurt Angle was forced to watch the carnage unfold.

·        The New Day were the ringleaders as they ambushed everyone backstage from Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows to Finn Bálor and Matt Hardy.

·        Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Carmella and Natalya, and Tamina destroyed the ladies from Team Raw in quick fashion.

·        The Shield tried to fight back, but it was to no avail as the numbers game caught up to them. Baron Corbin grabbed Kurt Angle and made him watch the onslaught unfold before escorting Angle to the ring with the blue crew in tow.

·        Shane McMahon told Angle to bring his Olympic Gold Medal and what’s left of Team Raw to Survivor Series so SD Live can finish the job as the show went off the air with Angle looking shell-shocked in the ring.

·        This was an interesting way to end the show. Shane McMahon’s sweet and innocent demeanor was a ruse to lure Kurt Angle into a false sense of security. The invasion worked in the literal sense, but the segment died a thousand deaths live. The crowd didn’t hold up their end of the bargain when it came to pushing the ambush over the top. They were absolutely dead for everything that happened backstage and in the ring. Raw vs. SmackDown might seem big to WWE, but the fans couldn’t care less about both shows jockeying for brand supremacy. It’s a concept that has failed on numerous occasions. See Bragging Rights 2009-2010.

·        Unless there are real stakes on the line when it comes to trades, the whole thing is pointless. Despite these valid criticisms, the Green Bay crowd giving a fuck might’ve saved the segment. Instead, they provided the death knell with four weeks to go until the PPV which is a damn shame. There’s still time to salvage things, but the company had one shot to make Brand Wars 2017 feel special and their fan base let them down something fierce.

·        Despite the disappointing conclusion, WWE was smart not to include Sami Zayn as a proud member of Team SD Live after Zayn put the screws to Shane McMahon at Hell in a Cell a couple of weeks ago. At least there was some sense of storyline continuity heading into tomorrow night’s show. Whew!

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was subpar at best. The first hour of the show was hot, but the rest of the broadcast couldn’t keep up in terms of excitement. The main event segment was good in concept but failed in execution. The Green Bay crowd was lukewarm and their total apathy towards the SmackDown Live invasion was pretty damning. If this happened in any other city not named Pittsburgh or Atlanta, it would’ve gotten over despite the tired Raw vs. SmackDown brouhaha. Here’s hoping the creative team can get things back on track because this was an underwhelming first shot leading up to Survivor Series next month.

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!