Raw, Smackdown make one last stop before Backlast this week in WWE
Chris Novak: Welp… one last stop before Backlash for the Raw brand. We’re in Montreal, and apparently, we’re really adding another wrinkle to the Lesnar-Reigns feud. As this Chad Patton tweet shows, they’re doing the “Ref made a wrong decision/Roman got ‘screwed over’” angle. Because of course they are. And OF COURSE we’re in Montreal for this. Super amped that this is happening.
Robert O’Neill: Yeah this is dumb. They need to move Roman away from the title. But this segment ended up being kind cool! Jinder came out (whatever) and then hometown boys Kev Owens and Sam Zayn came out and spoke French to the crowd and then everyone beat up Roman but Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman came in for the save leading to a six-man tag match later!
Chris Novak: Here comes Elias! I’m miffed they had him perform tonight and not last week while we were there in St. Louis.
Robert O’Neill: We had another Elias and Bob Roode match. It was good but unmemorable, like most of Roode’s matches. It’s kind of weird to do this two straight weeks.
Chris Novak: Say what you will about that, Rob, but this is some strong booking for Elias. They had him win last week, had a strong showing at the GRR and now just won after basically injuring Roode and his throat.
Robert O’Neill: I should clarify, the match was unmemorable. The finish was good and strong.
Chris Novak: Hey, it’s AOP. We didn’t see them last week, either. Miffed? Perhaps. Looks like they’ll be facing two scrubs. Oh, they aren’t scrubs actually. They’ll be treated as such, but they’re facing 3.0 of CHIKARA fame. Cool! They even got an entrance AND a promo. But AOP squashed them within about two minutes. Now, see, that’s how you book AOP. Stay on this train, and you’ll see what happens.
Robert O’Neill: Pain was Authored.
Chris Novak: Seth Rollins here now. Montreal is largely in favor of him, unsurprisingly. ,
Robert O’Neill: As someone who is tired of Roman Reigns and thinks putting the belt on Braun Strowman presents too many obstacles, I think I’m ready for another Seth Rollins title reign.
Chris Novak: So, Seth says he wants to be the opposite of Lesnar and a fighting champion, instead. Here comes Finn Balor, who wants a title shot tonight. Seth leaves it up to the fans to decide, and they oblige to it as well! So we’re getting Seth-Finn tonight. But here comes The Miztourage! Last week, they wanted to do a better Shield, and a different Balor Club. Now they want to recreate the Four Horsemen. That was actually hilarious. Bo and Axel are two great comedy heels right now. Seth and Finn reject the offer, and a brawl breaks out. But Seth and Finn emerge and stand tall. Oh! And there’s Finn who drops Seth. Good segment there.
Robert O’Neill: And now we’re getting a Sasha Banks and Ruby Riott match! Sure! That should be fun. I’m still not sure what they’re doing with the Riott Squad, but whatever.
It was a really fun match, with Ruby busting out a bunch of weird moves we’ve never seen before. She got the win, too! No sign of Bayley to help Sasha with the numbers game.
Chris Novak: That’s because Sasha’s a bad friend and doesn’t deserve her help. That match was real good. Sasha and Ruby have some pretty good chemistry together, I will say that much. Good stuff. Alexa Bliss is back with another Moment of Bliss!
Robert O’Neill: My God. Alexa was describing a trip to Disney World with Nia in which Nia asked if Alexa was tall enough to ride the rides and gave her a kids menu at the restaurant. This was incredible.
Chris Novak: Titus does an interview with Renee about his hilarious trip. Baron Corbin interrupted him, for some reason, and said it would’ve been more inspirational if he didn’t fall in the first place. Don’t be a dick, Corbin. TItus is just trying to turn a negative into a positive. Let him live.
Robert O’Neill: Baron Corbin might be my least favorite wrestler in the company.
Chris Novak: Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy cut a previously taped promo, in which they inserted themselves into several moments in history. This was kind of funny again. They’re managing to make these two entertaining.
Chris Novak: Six-man tag team action is up next!
Robert O’Neill: The six-man tag was a lot of fun. All six guys are obviously pretty good, Owens and Zayn bumped like crazy, Roman got his stuff in, and Braun got the pin.
Chris Novak: Hopefully things clear up a lot after this, though.
Robert O’Neill: No Way Jose vs. Baron Corbin was fine. NWJ won by a rollup after Titus Worldwide distracted Corbin. That’s what you get for being a dick.
Chris Novak: My question is how long are they going to continue with this bit for Titus. Whatever the case, it’s hilarious.
Robert O’Neill: We close the show with a Finn Balor/Seth Rollins match for the IC title, and once again, this was a banger. Rollins retained to keep his match with The Miz at Backlash, and with Roman Reigns being in a bit of a flux, I’m not entirely sure that Rollins/Lesnar shouldn’t be the Summerslam main event.
Chris Novak: Seth is now one of the best workers in the entire world. If he’s not in your Top 5, I don’t know what to tell you. Balor meanwhile is on the best stretch of his entire WWE career, NXT included. What a torrid run. I love watching these two face each other. Could watch for hours.
Chris Novak: Another, uh, shall we say “weird” RAW. I didn’t think it wasn’t offensive or bad or anything like that. But it’s clear that the GRR muddied a lot of things up for them. Especially with it coming only a week after the Shakeup. Poor timing has also muddied the build for Backlash up big time, as it just feels like it’s… there. After this weekend, things should clear up. For now, this was worthy of a B. Nothing bad, we got two really good matches (Ruby/Sasha, Finn/Seth) but the direction of the overarching storyline needs to be resolved and other things need to, too.
Robert O’Neill: Like last week’s episode, this was always going to be a weird Raw. My advice is to not have a “major event” on the other side of the world three days before Raw and nine days before a PPV you want to make feel important. Does Backlash even matter at this point? No. Regardless of that, this was an entertaining three hours of TV. I’m into what they’re doing with Elias, the Strowman/Lashley tag team is fun for however long it’ll last, and Finn and Seth should fight forever. They still don’t know what to do with Roman Reigns, but they’ll figure it out. Maybe. Probably not. B
Robert O’Neill: PAIGE HERE… to open Smackdown Live! Shane isn’t there tonight cause Braun murdered him in Saudi Arabia.
Miz opened the show, then Jeff Hardy came out, then Randy Orton, then Shelton Benjamin. Surely you see where this is going. The four of them had a tag match (Miz/Shelton vs. Orton/Hardy)
Chris Novak: Thought MizTV was enjoyable, per usual. The tag match was, as well. Benjamin is still such a reliable hand to have around. I wonder if he gets added to the US Title Match for Sunday. Would probably be a pretty smart play. Match ended after Orton hit an RKO on Shelton, who was then hit with a Swanton… and then Orton dropped Hardy with an RKO! Naturally.
Robert O’Neill: It’s pretty wild that the IIconics are already the best female mic workers not named Alexa Bliss in the company. That’ll get you places.
Chris Novak: They constantly have me in hysterics. They’re SO good already. Amazing that they never had a title run in NXT. Have to imagine that doesn’t last on the main roster. Hopefully, at least.
Robert O’Neill: Cass came out and cut a promo about Daniel Bryan, complete with a little person, because Bryan is short. It’s actually quite good, because Cass is a dick and people are gonna love Bryan even more than they already do.
Chris Novak: If Bryan wasn’t going to be around, this was a good way for him to get heat. Apparently they were fearful of a chest infection. I mean, Lord, did you SEE his chest? I’m not surprised.
Robert O’Neill: Samoa Joe wants to face AJ Styles at some point, but has a match with Roman Reigns at Backlash. Shinsuke Nakamura hit AJ with a low blow. Their match at Backlash is no DQ. Again, I hope WWE learns from their mistakes and doesn’t do this Mania-Shakeup-GRR-PPV month again next year.
Chris Novak: Joe vs. Styles in a WWE ring will be one of the most mind-bending things I think we’ll see in a year where we’ve seen quite a lot of mind-bending things!
Robert O’Neill: Lana implied Aiden English is holding Rusev back. Rude.
Chris Novak: Extremely. Hopefully Rusev doesn’t take the bait.
Robert O’Neill: Sheamus and Xavier Woods had a solid match. It’s pretty crazy how good Woods is at this point. He was always good (he’s been wrestling longer than anyone else in the New Day) but WWE never really made him a focal point of things.
Chris Novak: He is the most improved in that group, by far. He will constantly go unnoticed because of his mic work, but he deserves praise.
Robert O’Neill: We close with a six-woman tag, as Carmella and the IIconics fell to Becky/Charlotte/Asuka. It’s kind of weird how they’ve booked the IIconics so far. And by weird, I mean not very smart. I hope they don’t go the way of certain other female tag teams we’ve seen come up in the past year.
Chris Novak: I think the difference to me with the IIconics and Absolution and Riott Squad is, and no offense to those two groups, but Billie and Peyton are ready for prime time. They can work in the ring AND they can talk. The other groups have at least two superstars who are green (Ruby being the only true outlier here). Their performances will pay off, although it’s annoying that they’ve taken two losses in the last three weeks. Maybe don’t have two people (Charlotte and Asuka) in a tag match who can’t take that many falls? Just throwing that out there. SDL’s women’s division has some good talent, but they gotta sort the booking out somehow. This is why I thought they’d add more depth in the Shakeup, but that never came to fruition.
Robert O’Neill: If you were looking for a show to make you excited for the upcoming PPV, this likely wasn’t it. No Daniel Bryan. No Rusev. No Bludgeon Brothers or Usos. It all just felt kind of inconsequential and pointless and like a hard reset is needed. Luckily, after Backlash, they’ll get to do that. C-
Chris Novak: A perfectly fine show with a great main event. All the angles progressed very well and all the right notes were hit. Nothing to really hit home about, but there was nothing offensive. B for me. But I’m an easy grader and easily amused.