WWE Raw and Smackdown Live Thoughts – September 11th & 12th, 2017
I’m back after not reporting too much on WWE the last few weeks. Besides the John Cena/Reigns shoot promo three weeks ago and a few other things I mentioned on my Facebook page, I didn’t get excited enough to write about either program.
Last week, I thought things picked up quite a bit but I has getting back into the swing of things at work and thought one more week not giving my two cents on either program wasn’t going to hurt. Both programs had some great stuff happen this week (particularly on Smackdown) so it’s time for me to get back at it!
I guess I’ll touch upon the huge talking point from Raw the last few weeks: the shoot-style promos between John Cena and Roman Reigns. I found them all to be quite engaging and while some may have thought this week was just more of the same or too much of it, I was surprised with some of the content. Just when you think these two could have potentially said everything to break kayfabe over the last few weeks, John Cena pulled out Reigns’ past suspension because of the wellness policy violation after seeming to be rubbed the wrong-way about not being able to break into Hollywood like Reigns’ cousin, The Rock. I wasn’t expecting that.
I don’t know if the point of these exchanges is to get people more excited to see these two fight by integrating backstage politics and insights from the internet wrestling community into their feud or but it’s working for me. At first, I really couldn’t have cared less who would win this or really to watch this match but that has changed. Cena has gotten the better of Reigns in all three verbal encounters, in my opinion, but something tells me all this will be leading to Reigns defeating Cena in the ring to still try and get him over – unless it’s all leading towards a full WWE initiated heel turn if Reigns takes a loss then loses it on Cena after the match.
Jason Jordan, another wrestler WWE threw into an awful story line that makes no sense (the whole “son of Angle” crap), has been gaining ground by facing Cena last week and Reigns on Monday. Jordan performed very well and hopefully he really benefits from it.
I enjoyed Jordan’s match with Cena more than the one with Reigns because it was more believable. You knew both Cena and Reigns would both be winning over Jordan because why would one lose to a mid-carder “rookie” before a heavily hyped match? Jordan’s match with Reigns was a typical Reigns match. Reigns got his ass handed to him all match, kicked out of everything, and then beat Jordan with like three moves. I hate that kind of booking.
While I’m on the subject of shoot promos, the one between The Miz and Enzo was another “oh no he didn’t” segment. Bringing in The Miz’s past of getting kicked out of the locker room and talking about Enzo’s recent backstage heat was all really surprising. The Miz got the better of Enzo in the ring and on the mic and showed the world again why he’s the best Intercontinental Champion in the last five years. Now will WWE Creative please give him something meaningful to do – like build a feud with someone over the championship?
Two more ladies have been added to the Raw Women’s title picture in the last two weeks: Nia Jax and Emma. I’m not a fan of Nia Jax at all don’t think she should be in the title picture yet, but I understand adding her for dynamics. I don’t like her work and I don’t like her on the mic. She’s someone that should have been left in NXT for another year. When you see the growth of Alexa Bliss compared to Jax, I think it’s quite obvious.
Emma, on the other hand, has been so mismanaged since her Emmalina vignettes. Mismanaged? That sounds like a trend we’ve seen with Bayley, Sasha Banks, and others, doesn’t it? I know WWE likes shaking things up but I don’t see Emma sneaking in a title win with all the losses she’s been taking. I think Bliss will play the crafty heel that sneaks out wins (or earns them) until Aksuka shows up.
Bray Wyatt and Finn Balor are continuing to feud? Why? I thought this thing already climaxed. I have no idea where they could go from here besides a rubber match between the two.
I’m not sure why WWE put the four man tag match on at the end of Raw this week to close the show. It seems the show went out on a whisper. The current tag division on either show isn’t working for me because it’s the same teams doing the same stuff week after week. I know WWE is trying to wait to do many title matches for the PPVs, but Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Ambrose and Rollins needs to happen at No Mercy and then they have to move on from each other and both need to feud with fresh teams…unless the Hardys can unleash the Broken Universe.
Braun Strowman looked great against John Cena and there’s amazing hype towards the showdown between Lesnar and Strowman at No Mercy. I’ll be giving my predictions for the card next week and at this point, I’m still not 100% sure which way they’re going to go. WWE wants ratings with Monday Night Football back and they can’t be that stupid to keep one of their top belts on their part-timer, can they? Well, they’ve done this part-time champ experiment twice, so I guess that answers that.
Holy crap in a hat. I knew WWE was high on Kevin Owens but the last two weeks really make it apparent. First off, the stuff he said to Shane last week really went for the jugular and the story worked perfectly by making the fans despise Owens and feel empathy for Shane doing what he with Owens crossing the line by bringing family into things. It also makes sense with Vince “firing” Shane for a manager putting his hands on an employee because that’s what should be done in business. It also made for Vince’s announcement for Shane to be brought back as a wrestler to face Owens make sense, too.
Secondly, you can probably count the number of wrestlers that have been allowed to actually assault Vince McMahon on TV. Add to that list the number of people that beat him down to where he wasn’t moving. To make the numbers even lower, count how many people that were actually allowed to bust McMahon open. WWE allowing blood on their program is also another sign they wanted to make Owens the baddest guy on the roster (sorry Jinder). If that doesn’t make Owens THE guy right now, I don’t know what does.
Everything was so well done and Owens showcased disdain for Vince and Shane. It was awesome seeing Owens step back and realize what he had done after headbutting Vince and busting him open, It was like he was thinking, “screw it, I’ve already come this far” and then continued to assault Vince after pausing, allowing the audience to think he was done and perhaps in over his head.
I think there’s going to be a major stipulation added to the Hell in the Cell match as well. We could see a career on the line, which could lead to someone switching brands. Shane will be out for blood, so I would hope this Hell in a Cell will feature some. This feud could also mark the return of HHH to face Owens for beating up Vince, Shane and (potentially) disrespecting Stephanie. What an awesome way to build Owens! The main thing is Owens coming out on top.
Ah, shit. The New Day are champs again? Ugh. Thank goodness for my PVR. We need more tag teams to beat them down!
AJ Styles’ slow program with Baron Corbin isn’t interesting to me. I don’t find Corbin to be exciting at all and Styles deserves more. Hopefully this feud picks up some steam when Corbin faces Styles for the US Championship next week.
I think we’re finally going to see the end of the Hype Bros. While I do lament the fact WWE is splitting up yet another tag team, I just didn’t think the team really clicked in the eyes of many.
Speaking of not clicking, Dolph Ziggler recent stuff on TV isn’t clicking with me. I don’t like the whiny Ziggler we’re getting and the whole thing with him doing other superstars’ entrances isn’t funny or amusing. All someone has to do to retort Ziggler is say, we’re in sports entertainment and emphasize the “entertainment” part – so it’s only logical a good entrance is a part of making the audience pay attention to what you’re doing in the ring.
ZZZ….wha? Smackdown women’s division? Back to sleep…..
To end my weekly rant, I think WWE Creative also needs to really add steam to the Mahal/Nakamura feud. Mahal trying to bust jokes last night just didn’t work well and Nakamura just isn’t shining like he did in NXT. It all makes a feud that should be hot and boiling only be a medium simmer.
I know Smackdown has a longer build to the Hell in a Cell PPV than Raw has to get to No Mercy and things need to be spread out, but the snail’s pace for the main championship needs to be put into high gear. It’s sad to see a feud that has nothing to do with any of the championship belts be the focus of the last few weeks, but also open and close the show. That shows you how important WWE championship and champion are right now…and that’s sad.
* Quick note: if you missed the WWE Women’s Tournament, make sure you watch it from the beginning. There is such a plethora of talent for WWE to now sign, it would be silly not to pursue many of the women featured. While some of the matches could have used another five minutes and every match wasn’t stellar, there was a lot to enjoy. Let’s hope WWE doesn’t turn another successful tournament into a 205 Live affair.